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Apparatus and method for automated feedback and dynamic correction of a weapon system


Title: Apparatus and method for automated feedback and dynamic correction of a weapon system.
Abstract: A method, apparatus, and system for adjusting a targeting solution of a weapon system are provided. The weapon system may fire a projectile at a target, where the projectile comprises a location device. The location device may be active or passive. A location notification is received about the first projectile. An impact location of the projectile is determined based on the location notification. The targeting solution of the weapon system is adjusted based on the determined first impact location. The targeting solution may be adjusted directly or indirectly. An indirect adjustment of the targeting solution may include displaying a projectile-status display and/or providing a suggested targeting solution. ...



Browse recent Honeywell International, Inc. patents
USPTO Applicaton #: #20110059421 - Class: 434 16 (USPTO) - 03/10/11 - Class 434 
Inventors: Stephen O. Hickman

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20110059421, Apparatus and method for automated feedback and dynamic correction of a weapon system.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

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This invention relates to targeting of the weapon systems generally, and specifically to adjusting targeting solutions of weapon systems based on location notifications about projectiles fired by weapon systems.

BACKGROUND

Weapon systems, such as mortars and artillery pieces, are widely used by military forces worldwide. The weapon systems are used to fire projectiles, such as artillery shells or mortar rounds, at a target. Once fired, the projectile flies toward the target and lands at an impact location. The projectile may carry a payload designed to explode upon impact. Upon impact, the projectile may use concussive and explosive forces to further injure and/or destroy the target. Some projectiles also carry fragments of metal, ceramic or other materials to injure or destroy the target. The projectile may destroy the target if the impact location of the projectile is within a “lethal radius”, or close enough to destroy the target. The projectile may injure or partially destroy the target, such as when the target is near, but not within, the lethal radius.

There are many reasons to reduce the number of targeting adjustments and therefore the number of projectiles fired at the target. Current weapon systems, though generally accurate, require targeting adjustments to land projectiles within the lethal radius of the target. To verify a targeting adjustment is accurate, at least one projectile must be fired at the target. Firing projectiles may be expensive, as each projectile may cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Further, firing even one projectile from a weapon system may damage people and property not at the targeted location. The location of a weapon system may be given away after firing a projectile, possibly leading to an attack, such as counter-battery fire, that harms or kills the users of the weapon system as well as the weapon system.

SUMMARY

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Embodiments of the present application include methods and apparatus for adjusting a targeting solution of a weapon system using location notifications received about projectiles fired by the weapon system.

A first embodiment of the invention provides a method for adjusting a targeting solution of a weapon system. The weapon system fires a first projectile at a target. A first location notification is received about the first projectile. The first projectile includes a location device. A first impact location of the first projectile is determined based on the first location notification. The targeting solution of the weapon system is adjusted based on the determined first impact location.

A second embodiment of the invention provides a projectile-tracking device. The projectile-tracking device includes a processor, data storage, and machine-language instructions stored in the data storage. The machine-language instructions are executable by the processor to perform functions including: (i) determining a first target of a first weapon system, (ii) receiving a location notification from a projectile fired from the first weapon system, (iii) determining a first impact location of the projectile, and (iv) determining a second target of the first weapon system based on the first impact location.

A third embodiment of the invention provides a system. The system includes a weapon system and a projectile-tracking device. The weapon system is configured to fire a projectile at a target. The projectile includes a location device. The projectile is configured to send a location notification. The projectile-tracking device is configured to (i) receive the location notification and (ii) display a projectile-status display. The projectile-status display includes: the location of the projectile based on the received location notification, a location of the weapon system, and the target of the weapon system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

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Various examples of embodiments are described herein with reference to the following drawings, wherein like numerals denote like entities, in which:

FIGS. 1A and 1B are block diagrams of a side view and a top view, respectively, of an example of a weapon system, in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a depiction of an example weapon system firing a projectile at a target, in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 3 shows an example of a projectile, in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 4 shows an example scenario with a projectile-tracking device tracking a plurality of the projectiles fired by a plurality of the weapon systems at a plurality of targets, in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 5 shows an example projectile-status display of a projectile-tracking device, in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a block diagram of an example computing device, in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a schematic view of an example location notification, in accordance with embodiments of the invention; and

FIG. 8 is a flowchart of an example method, in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

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The instant application describes use of location notifications received about projectiles to adjust a targeting solution of a weapon system. A location notification is an indication of a location of the projectile after being fired from the weapon system. A location notification may indicate an in-flight location or an impact location of the projectile. An in-flight location of a projectile is a location of the projectile between the time when the flight of the projectile begins (e.g., when the projectile is fired) and the time when the flight of the projectile ends (e.g., when the projectile lands). An impact location of a projectile is a location where the flight of the projectile ends. One or more location notifications may be received by a projectile-tracking device about an in-flight location and/or an impact location of the projectile.

To determine a location notification, a projectile to be fired by the weapon system may comprise a location device. The location device may be “active” and send location notifications or be “passive” and allow a device, such as a range-finding device, to send location notifications based on passive location device observations made by the range-finding device.

The projectile-tracking device may determine an impact location of the projectile based on the location notification. The determined impact location may be estimated by the projectile-tracking device, based on the ballistics equation of motion and/or curve-fitting algorithms.

Information provided by the projectile-tracking device may be used to adjust a “targeting solution” of the weapon system, based on the determined impact location. For example, the projectile-tracking device may directly or indirectly adjust the targeting solution. The projectile-tracking device may directly adjust the targeting solution by changing the targeting solution of the weapon system. The projectile-tracking system may indirectly adjust the targeting solution by displaying information, such as a projectile-status display, to a user of the weapon system for the user to adjust the targeting solution after reviewing the displayed information.

Turning to the figures, FIGS. 1A and 1B are block diagrams of a side view and a top view, respectively, of a weapon system 100, in accordance with embodiments of the invention. FIG. 1A shows the weapon system 100 with a gun tube 102 having a muzzle 104, a breech 106, and a firing mechanism 108. The weapon system 100 may be used to fire one or more projectiles, such as projectile 110. A soldier or other user of the weapon system 100 may insert the projectile 110 into the firing mechanism 108, typically via a door (not shown) in the firing mechanism 108 providing access to the breech 106 of the gun tube 102. The soldier may fire the weapon system 100 causing the projectile 110 to leave the weapon system 100 via the muzzle 104 to fly along a trajectory. After the projectile 110 flies along the trajectory, the projectile 110 may impact at an impact location.

The elevation of a weapon is the angle between a horizontal plane representing the ground and a direction of a gun tube of a weapon system. FIG. 1A shows an elevation 180 of E° for the weapon system 100. FIG. 1A depicts the elevation 180 as a dashed line indicating the angle between a horizontal plane 182 running along a bottom of the weapon system 100 and a direction 184 of the gun tube 102 of the weapon system 100. The elevation may be expressed in angular units such as degrees, radians, or as a quadrant elevation (QE). The QE may be expressed in terms of degrees or “mils” or units of rotation. (There are 6,400 mils of rotation in a circle; for example, a QE of 800 mils corresponds to a 45° angle.)

The azimuth indicates a direction of fire for the weapon system (i.e., the direction of the gun tube or barrel of the weapon system) expressed as an angle from a reference plane, such as true north. FIG. 1B indicates an azimuth 190 of A°. FIG. 1B depicts the azimuth 190 as a dashed line, indicated with respect to a reference plane 192 and a direction of the gun tube 102. The azimuth may be expressed in angular units such as radians, degrees, or in mils. Another term for the azimuth is a “quadrant direction” (QD), often used when the azimuth is expressed in mils. Note that some weapon systems 100 may not have a gun tube 102, so the azimuth and elevation may be expressed with reference to a direction of fire or other reference rather than with reference to a gun tube as described herein (i.e., rails for a rail gun).

FIG. 2 is a depiction of the example weapon system 100 firing the projectile 210 at a target 220, in accordance with embodiments of the invention. The weapon system 100 may be aimed at the target 220, and may fire one or more projectiles, such as the projectile 210. The projectile 210 is shown in FIG. 1 with a circular shape. However, the projectile 210 may have a different shape, such as a conical or bullet shape, rather than a circular shape. A targeting solution may be specified to aim the weapon system 100.

The targeting solution may comprise a location of the weapon system 100, as well as the elevation and the azimuth. The weapon system 100 may be mobile, such as a self-propelled howitzer or gun mounted on a tank. As such, the location of the weapon system 100 may change. In some situations, mobile weapon systems may not choose to change locations; such as when moving a mobile weapon system would draw enemy attention to the weapon system or if movement of the mobile weapon system could harm friendly forces.

FIG. 2 shows the weapon system 100, the projectile 210, information sources 240, a projectile-tracking device 250, and a ballistics engine 260 connected to a network 230. The weapon system 100 may have a network interface to connect to the network 230. The network interface of the weapon system 100 may be configured to send and receive data and may include a wired-communication interface and/or a wireless-communication interface. The wired-communication interface, if present, may comprise a wire, cable, fiber-optic link or similar physical connection to a wide area network (WAN), a local area network (LAN), one or more public data networks, such as the Internet, one or more private data networks, or any combination of such networks. The wireless-communication interface, if present, may utilize an air interface, such as an IEEE 802.11 (e.g., Wi-Fi) interface to a WAN, a LAN, one or more public data networks (e.g., the Internet), one or more private data networks, or any combination of public and private data networks.

Each data network in the network 230 may be secured using physical and/or cryptographic security of network connections; for example, all network transmissions to and from the weapon system 100 may be encrypted. Securing network connections increases the chance that an enemy will not intercept and/or scramble data on the network connections. Data may be transmitted in an encrypted format for security using cryptographic protocols and/or algorithms, such as DES, AES, RSA, Diffie-Hellman, and/or DSA. Other cryptographic protocols and/or algorithms may be used as well or in addition to those listed herein. If data is sent in an encrypted format, a device receiving the data, such as the weapon system 210 or the projectile-tracking device 250, may decrypt the data, such as the location information.

FIG. 2 shows information sources 240 connected to the network 230. The information sources 240 may provide information to the projectile-tracking device 250. For example, information sources 240 may provide meteorological information, tactical and/or strategic information, information about targets and their activities, as well as many other types of information to projectile-tracking device 250. The projectile-tracking device 250 may integrate and provide information from information sources 240 to a user of the projectile-tracking device 250.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may track one or more projectiles. To track one or more projectiles, the projectile-tracking device 250 may receive location notifications. The location notifications may be sent from a plurality of the projectiles fired from a plurality of the weapon systems at a plurality of targets and/or from one or more range-finding devices.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may track profiles by assigning an identifier to each projectile 210. The projectile-tracking device 250 may assign an identifier to a projectile by: (a) assigning an identifier to each weapon system, (b) maintaining a count of the projectiles fired by the weapon system, and (c) generating the identifier for the projectile based on the assigned identifier for the weapon system and/or the count of the projectiles fired. For example, if the weapon system “WS3” has already fired 4 projectiles, projectile-tracking device 250 may generate an identifier such as “WS3-5” for the next (fifth) projectile to be fired by WS3. Many other assignment algorithms are possible.

The identifier of the projectile may be pre-assigned. For example, a pre-assigned identifier may be painted on the projectile or encoded as a bar code. The bar code may be printed on a sticker that is affixed on the projectile and later read from the sticker, perhaps with a bar code reader.

In an embodiment of the invention, an identifier of the projectile is an identifier that can be used for secure communications with the projectile, i.e. the identifier is used a cryptographic key. The use of secure or encrypted communications provides additional security when communicating with the projectile. The cryptographic key may be used to encrypt and/or decrypt communications with the projectile using cryptographic protocols and/or algorithms, such as DES, AES, RSA, Diffie-Hellman, and/or DSA. Other cryptographic protocols and/or algorithms may be used as well or in addition to those listed herein.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may receive location notifications from projectiles fired by one or more weapon systems, such as the projectile 210. Projectile-tracking device 250 may receive a location notification including an in-flight location of the projectile 210 and/or an impact location of the projectile 210.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may determine the impact location based on location information provided by the projectile 210 in one or more location notifications. For example, the projectile 210 may provide the impact location as location information in a location notification.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may determine an impact location of the projectile by estimating the impact location of the projectile 210 based on one or more in-flight location notifications from the projectile 210. For example, the projectile-tracking device 250 may determine a curve (e.g., a parabola) that passes through or passes close to the locations provided by the in-flight notifications using a curve-fitting algorithm. Based on the determined curve, projectile-tracking device 250 may be able to determine an impact location.

For example, assume a curve determined by a curve-fitting algorithm is: y(t)=245*t−4.9*t2, where y=distance above ground in meters and t=time in seconds. By setting y=0 and solving for t, the projectile-tracking device 250 may determine that t=50 seconds. Further assume that the projectile is traveling at 245 meters/second from the weapon system along the azimuth (i.e., in the direction of fire). Then, after 50 seconds, the projectile-tracking device 250 may determine that the impact location will be 245*50=12,250 meters from the weapon system along the azimuth.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may estimate the impact location of the projectile using a mathematical model. For example, the well-known ballistic equation provides a mathematical model of an ideal trajectory of the projectile. NATO Standardization Agreement 4355, which is incorporated herein by reference, provides a detailed mathematical model based on the ballistic equation, for trajectory simulation of artillery projectiles for NATO Naval and Army forces. [NATO Military Agency for Standardization, NATO Standardization Agreement 4355, Subject: The Modified Point Mass Trajectory Mode, p. 1, Revision 2, Document No. MAS/24-LAND/4355, Jan. 20, 1997 (“STANAG 4355”).]

Based on projectile location information, including impact locations, the projectile-tracking device 250 may adjust a targeting solution of the weapon system 100. A targeting solution of the weapon system 100 may comprise the azimuth, the elevation, and/or the location of the weapon system 100. For example, if a location notification from the projectile 210 indicates that the impact location of the projectile 100 was short of the target 220, the projectile-tracking device 250 may adjust the elevation of the weapon system 100 to be closer to a possible maximum range angle of 800 mils (45°). Similarly, the projectile-tracking device 250 may adjust the azimuth of the weapon system 100 if a projectile does not impact on or near a direct line from the weapon system to the target. If the weapon system 100 is mobile, the projectile-tracking device 250 may adjust the targeting solution of the weapon system 100 by changing the location of the weapon system 100 (e.g., move the weapon system 100 closer to the target 220). The projectile-tracking device 250 may simultaneously adjust any combination of the location, the elevation, and the azimuth of the weapon system 100 in adjusting the targeting solution of the weapon system 100.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may adjust the targeting solution based on previous targeting solutions and/or previous impact locations as well. The weapon system, once targeted, may maintain a previous targeting solution until later adjusted. As such, a targeting solution may depend on the previous targeting solution.

The previous targeting solutions and/or previous impact locations may be compared to determine error patterns in the weapon system 100. For example, suppose a mathematical model using targeting solution t (e.g., the ballistics equations) predicts an impact location would be at a point x. Further suppose the actual impact location of a projectile fired by the weapon system 100 using targeting solution t is at a point x′, where the azimuth of the point x′ is slightly to the left of the predicted impact location x. If this pattern continues; that is, if many or all projectiles fired by weapon system 100 have impact locations slightly to the left of predicted impact locations, the targeting solution may be adjusted to account for this error pattern of the weapon system 100 shooting slightly to the left. Similar adjustments may be made for the elevation and location components of the targeting solution as well.

User input may confirm, partially override, or completely override adjustments to the targeting solution provided by the projectile-tracking device 250. For example, suppose the projectile-tracking device 250 adjusts a targeting solution of the weapon system 100 by attempting to change the elevation and azimuth of the weapon system 100. A user of the projectile-tracking device 250 may confirm the adjustment to the targeting solution. The user of the projectile-tracking device 250 may also partially override the targeting solution by accepting the attempted change in elevation but not the change in azimuth or vice versa. In another example, suppose projectile-tracking device 250 adjusts a targeting solution of the weapon system 100 by attempting to change the location of the weapon system 100. The user of the projectile-tracking device 250 may determine movement of the weapon system 100 is unacceptable and completely override an adjustment to the targeting solution that involves changing the location of the weapon system 100. In an embodiment of the invention, no user input is required to adjust the targeting solution of the weapon system 100 (i.e., the adjustments to the targeting system are fully automatic).

User input may provide one or more adjustment ranges that the projectile-tracking device 250 can make to the targeting solution of the weapon system 100. Intervening objects and/or people may make some targeting solutions invalid; for example, targeting solutions that involve firing shots into a building housing only noncombatants or housing friendly forces are generally invalid. Each one or more adjustment ranges may indicate that the adjustment range is either valid or invalid.

The one or more adjustment ranges may be provided to the weapon system 100 via an information source 240, such as a command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) information source. The C3I information source may indicate to the weapon system 100 that valid targeting solutions are (or are not) within one or more adjustment ranges. The C3I information source may also confirm, partially override, or completely override adjustments to the targeting solution provided by the projectile-tracking device 250.

Therefore, the targeting solution may be fixed to permit projectile-tracking device 250 to adjust the targeting solution of the weapon system 100 within a valid adjustment range of elevation values, azimuth values and/or locations of the weapon system 100. For example, if friendly forces are located south of the weapon system 100, an adjustment range of elevation, azimuth, and/or location values may prohibit invalid targeting solutions, such as azimuths of 3000-3400 mils from true north (i.e., a range of azimuths south of the weapon system 100) may be provided to the projectile-tracking device 250.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may adjust the targeting solution of the weapon system 100 indirectly, such as by displaying information about the targeting solution of the weapon system 100. After reviewing the displayed information about the targeting solution, a user of the weapon system 100 may then adjust the targeting solution of the weapon system 100. For example, the projectile-tracking device 250 may display an impact location of the projectile 210 fired by the weapon system 100. Based on the displayed impact location, a user of the weapon system 100 may adjust the targeting solution of the weapon system 100. The projectile-tracking device 250 may also display a suggested targeting solution as well (e.g., change elevation from 1000 mils to 980 mils or move the weapon system forward 100 meters).

User input may be provided to configure the projectile-tracking device 250 by selecting direct, indirect, or both direct and indirect adjustments to the targeting solution, by specifying adjustment ranges, by requesting a display of suggested targeting solutions, and/or by specifying which parameters of a targeting solution may be adjusted by the projectile-tracking device 250.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may make a series of adjustments to the targeting solution of the weapon system 100 based on multiple impact locations of the projectiles fired by the weapon system 100. If the weapon system 100 fires a first projectile at the target 220, the projectile-tracking device 250 may adjust the targeting solution of the weapon system 100, based on a first impact location of the first projectile. Then, the weapon system 100 may fire a second projectile at the target 220. The projectile-tracking device 250 may adjust the targeting solution of the weapon system 100 based on a second impact location of the second projectile. The projectile-tracking device 250 may adjust the targeting solution of the weapon system 100 based on multiple impact locations (e.g., both the first impact location and the second impact location). The adjustment of the targeting solution of the weapon system 100 based on multiple impact locations may be repeated as needed (i.e., as long as projectiles are fired at the target 220).

The projectile-tracking device 250 may suggest other solutions to hit the target beyond adjusting the targeting of the weapon system 100. For example, projectile-tracking device 250 may use different projectiles with a higher “charge level” or amount of propellant to reach a longer distance if shots fired at the maximum range angle are short. If multiple targets are available, the projectile-tracking device 250 may suggest a targeting solution aimed at a different target if the current target is out of range or otherwise difficult to hit.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may determine a lethal radius of the projectile 210. The lethal radius of the projectile 210 may be determined based on a type and amount of payload carried by the projectile 210. For example, a projectile carrying a payload with a large amount of high explosive may have a larger lethal radius than a projectile with a smaller payload and/or a less powerful type of explosive. The lethal radius may be determined based on a model of an explosion of a type and amount of payload. The projectile-tracking device 250 may use a lookup table to look up the lethal radius based on the type and amount of payload. The projectile-tracking device 250 may determine the lethal radius based on the construction of target as well; for example, the lethal radius of a concrete building may be smaller than the lethal radius of a wooden shed.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may determine a status of the target 220. The status of the target 220 may be based on the construction of the target 220, the projectile 210, and/or one or more impact locations. For example, the status of the target 220 may be based on determining an impact location is within a lethal radius of a target. As described above, the lethal radius may depend on the construction of the target 220 and the payload of the projectile 210.

A categorical status of the target 220 may be determined. The term “deflection” is the distance from the target 220 to an impact location of a projectile fired at the target 220. For example, if the deflection is within the lethal radius of the projectile 210, the status of the target 220 may be “destroyed”. If the deflection is near, but not within the lethal radius of the projectile 210, the status of the target 220 may be “partially destroyed”. If the deflection is not near the lethal radius of the projectile 210, the status of the target 220 may be “intact” or unchanged. A numerical value may be used for the status of the target as well (e.g., 80% destroyed or 50% intact).

The determination of a deflection being “near” the target may be performed by comparing the distance between the target and an impact location to one or more thresholds. The one or more thresholds may be based on the lethal radius. For example, a first threshold of a deflection being “near” the target may be two times the lethal radius, and a second threshold of a deflection being “far” from the target may be four times the lethal radius. In this example, if the deflection is within the lethal radius, the status of the target may be “destroyed”; if the deflection is “near” or outside the lethal radius but close to the first threshold, the status of the target may be “nearly destroyed”; if the deflection is between the first and second thresholds, the status of the target may be “partially destroyed”; otherwise, the deflection is “not near” and thus the status of the target is unchanged. The status of the target may be adjusted based on multiple impact locations as well; e.g., if a target has been nearly hit by multiple projectiles, the status of the target may be adjusted from “partially destroyed” to “nearly destroyed”.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may adjust the targeting solution of the weapon system 100 to fire at a different target based on an impact location of a projectile. For example, if the impact location of a projectile is within a lethal radius of a projectile, the projectile-tracking device 250 may determine that the status of the target 220 is nearly or completely destroyed. After determining the status of the target 220 to be nearly or completely destroyed, the projectile-tracking device 250 may determine that the weapon system 100 is to be aimed at and then fired at a different target. The projectile-tracking device 250 may accept user input to confirm or override an adjustment of the weapon system 100 to aim at and/or fire at a different target.

The projectile-tracking device 250 may determine that no more projectiles are to be fired at the target 220. For example, the projectile-tracking device 250 may determine that no more projectiles are to be fired if (a) no more targets are available to the weapon system 100 (i.e., all targets have been destroyed or are out of range of the weapon system 100), (b) no more projectiles are available for the weapon system 100 to fire, and/or (c) based on user input to the projectile-tracking device 250.

FIG. 2 shows the weapon system 100 connected via the network 230 to ballistics engine 260. An example ballistics engine 260 is described in the U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, entitled “Method and Apparatus for Analysis of Errors, Accuracy, and Precision of Fire Control Mechanisms”, Honeywell Docket No. H0018175-5548, filed on ______, which is incorporated herein by reference.

The ballistics engine 260 may simulate the performance of the weapon system 100, such as determining simulated trajectories and/or impact locations of shots fired by the weapon system 100. Based on simulated shots of the weapon system 100, the ballistics engine 260 may determine performance results of the weapon system 100, such as an analyzed-impact-location graph comprising mean point of impact, standard deviation, and center error probable information. The projectile-tracking device 250 may adjust the targeting solution of the weapon system 100 based on information from the ballistics engine 260, including simulated impact locations, simulated trajectory information, statistical results, and/or the error-weighting function of the weapon system 100.

The ballistics engine 260 may receive location notifications directly from projectile 210 and/or indirectly via a device connected to network 230, such as the projectile-tracking device 250 or the weapon system 100. Simulation data, such as but not limited to detailed error-source descriptions (DESDs) and/or error-source weights, of the ballistics engine 260 may be adjusted or otherwise updated using the location notifications, including impact locations, from the projectile 210. The weapon system 100, the projectile 210 and/or the projectile-tracking device 250 may also provide information about the projectiles fired by the weapon system 100, such as charge levels and types of propellant, to the ballistics engine 260.

The combination of functionality of the projectile-tracking device 250 and the ballistics engine 260 may be performed by transmitting data between the projectile-tracking device 250 and the ballistics engine 260 and/or combining software functionality of the projectile-tracking device 250 and the ballistics engine 260. The simulated results can be transmitted from the ballistics engine 260 to the projectile-tracking device 250, and actual results may be transmitted from the projectile-tracking device 250 to the ballistics engine 260. The combination of simulated results determined by the ballistics engine 260 and actual results determined by the projectile-tracking device 250 may lead to improved modeling of the weapon system 100 by ballistics engine 260 and/or improved adjustments of the targeting solution of the weapon system 100 by the projectile-tracking device 250. In an embodiment of the invention, the functionality of both the projectile-tracking device 250 and the ballistics engine 260 is combined.

FIG. 3 shows an example of a projectile 300, in accordance with embodiments of the invention. FIG. 3 shows the projectile 300 with a location device 310, a payload 320, and a sensor 330.

The location device 310 may transmit one or more location notifications. Location notifications are described in more detail with reference to FIG. 7 below. The location device 310 may provide one or more location notifications before, during, or after a flight of the projectile 300. In-flight location notifications about the projectile 300 may be used to determine an impact location of the projectile 300.

A location notification provided after the flight of the projectile 300 also may provide the impact location of the projectile 300. A highly accurate determination of impact location of a projectile may be made by a location device designed to survive projectile impact and thus provide a location notification with the actual impact location of the projectile. However, a location device not designed to survive projectile impact may be cheaper, more available, and/or more reliable than a location device designed to survive projectile impact.

Providing location notifications of the projectile 300 near, but not at, the impact location allows use of location devices not designed to survive projectile impact while still providing information needed to make an accurate estimate of the impact location of the projectile 300. In an embodiment of the invention, the projectile 300 provides only one or a few in-flight notification when the projectile is near the impact location. Providing one or a few notifications may minimize both power requirements for the location device and minimize the amount of communications required as well.

The location device 310 may estimate an impact location of the projectile 300 before reaching the impact location. After estimating the impact location of the projectile, the location device 310 may provide a location notification with the estimated impact location. For example, some weapon systems (e.g., anti-tank weapons) have projectiles carrying two or more sub-payloads: the first sub-payload may be a “precursor charge” used to detonate reactive armor or otherwise prepare a target for the impact of an explosion. The second sub-payload may be a “main charge” located in a position to explode slightly later than the precursor charge to provide more severe damage to the target after the precursor charge has exploded. The location device 310 on a projectile carrying multiple sub-payloads may send a location notification when the first sub-payload impacts the target as an estimate of the impact location of the main charge. The location device 310 may also be able to determine an estimated distance to the target, such as by emitting a pulse of energy (e.g., a radar beam) and measuring the time before receiving an echo of the emitted pulse of energy.

The location device 310 may determine the location of the projectile 300 using one or more techniques involving one or more technologies. The location device 310 may determine the location of the projectile 300 using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. The location device 310 may measure the velocity and/or the acceleration of the projectile 300 and determine the location of the projectile using dead reckoning techniques based on the initial location, velocity, and/or acceleration of the projectile 300. The location device 310 may determine the location of the projectile 300 by comparing the current location of the projectile to estimated or actual distances to known landmarks. The location device 310 may determine the location of the projectile 300 by detecting location signals, such as GPS transmissions, lasers, and/or radio-frequency waves. Other signals are possible as well. Then, the location device 310 may report a location notification with location information about the detected location signal.

The location device 310 may provide location information via a “video feed”, or series of images, from the projectile. The video feed, such as a view from the projectile 300 while in flight, may be used to determine the location of the projectile. The video feed from the projectile 300 may be compared to other video information to determine location information of the projectile 300; e.g., comparing landmarks in the video feed from the projectile 300 to landmarks from video from other projectiles or other video information of the area. The video feed comparison may be performed by the location device 310 and/or on a device not on the projectile, such as projectile-tracking device 250. The video feed may also be used to provide information about the target as well, such as the structural integrity of the target, and other targets, personnel, and/or structures near the target.

The location device 310 may provide information via transmitted electromagnetic energy. In particular, the location device may provide information via a laser, directed radio-frequency (RF), or other electromagnetic radiation transmitter. One example of providing information via transmitted electromagnetic energy is providing information via a wired or wireless interface. A wired interface may comprise one or more wires, fibers, or the like that connect the location device to a weapon system and/or a network and permit data transmission between the location device and the network. A wireless interface may comprise a wireless network interface to connect the location device to a network and permit data transmission between the location device and the network. The wireless interface may use one or more wireless communication protocols, such as, but not limited to, WiMAX, Wi-Fi, CDMA, GSM, and/or 3 GSM.

As such, the location device 310 may be operable to receive information from the network 230 and/or the weapon system 100, such as shown in FIG. 2. Such received information may comprise requests to transmit or retransmit data, such as a request for a location notification or retransmission of a garbled location notification. The location device 310 may be operable to receive information to adjust a target of the projectile. For example, a projectile may have an engine or other device operable to provide in-course adjustments to a trajectory of the projectile based on the received information to adjust the target of the projectile.

Location devices and/or location sub-devices may operate on multiple frequencies, timing, and/or codes. The location device 310 may operate on multiple frequencies simultaneously for redundancy and to make blocking signals from the location device 310 more difficult. The location device 310 may operate using different timing patterns (i.e., one or more fixed timeslots allocated per projectile or a predetermined offset from a reference timing cycle) to reduce the number of overlapping transmissions to and/or from a plurality of projectiles. The location device 310 may operate using multiple codes, such as the identifier of the projectile 300, to identify transmissions to and/or from a given projectile.

As shown in FIG. 3, a location device 310 may one or more location sub-devices 312, 314, and 316 as part of the location device 310. Multiple sub-devices of the location device 310 allow location determination using multiple technologies and/or techniques and provide redundancy in case of failure. For example, projectile 300 may have three location sub-devices that use different technologies, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) location sub-device 312, a radio-frequency (RF) transmitter sub-device 314 to permit triangulation of RF signals transmitted by RF transmitter sub-device 314, and a laser reflector location sub-device 316. Many other location sub-devices are possible as well.

The location device 310 may be a passive location device. A passive location device may provide location information about the projectile 300 indirectly, such as in combination with a range-finding device. An example of a passive location device is a mirror or other reflector. For example, the location device 310 may reflect electromagnetic radiation (e.g., laser light) and, thus, the location of the projectile 300 may be determined by use of a laser-range finder or other device capable of radiating electromagnetic radiation acting as a range-finding device. An example laser-range finder may send a laser pulse toward the location device 310. Then, the laser-range finder may determine the distance to the projectile 310 by (1) measuring the time taken for the pulse to be reflected from the location device 310 and returned to the laser-range finder and (2) determining the distance to the projectile 310 based on the measured time. Other methods of determining the distance to the projectile are possible as well, including but not limited to the use of seismic triangulation.

If other types of electromagnetic radiation are reflected from a passive location device 310, a human eye, radar detector, or other electromagnetic radiation detector may act as a range-finding device. The range-finding device may send one or more location notifications of the projectile, including a location notification of an impact location of the projectile, based on the determined distance to the projectile.

Further, a range-finding device may provide observations beyond the location of the projectile in the location notification. As part of determining a position of a projectile, the range-finding device may make other observations such as temperature and/or humidity gradients and make those other observations available via the location notification. For example, humidity gradients may be determined based on radar observations of the atmosphere, such as observations made while observing a flight of a projectile. A range-finding device may make many other observations beyond these examples as well.

The location device 310 may comprise a radio-frequency identification (RFID) device. An RFID device may passively await a request signal and respond with a response signal. The response signal may comprise a location notification. The RFID device may have a battery, preferably a long-lived battery, to power the active RFID device and provide a stronger response signal. Alternatively, the RFID device may not have a battery, and thus depend on the power of the response signal to generate the response signal.

After the projectile 300 has been fired by a weapon system, such as weapon system 100, the payload 320 of the projectile 300 may explode. The payload 320 may explode after an amount of time has passed after projectile 300 is fired, upon projectile 300 reaching a certain altitude, or for other reasons.

The payload 320 may comprise an explosive charge made of high explosive, a nuclear warhead, and/or other materials that act as an explosive. The lethal radius of projectile 300 may depend on the force of the explosion caused by the explosive charge of the payload 320 and/or any materials caused to fly because of the explosion of the projectile 300. Such flying materials may be fragments of the projectile 300, shrapnel or other foreign bodies carried by projectile 300, portions of a target, and/or other materials caused to fly because of the explosion of the projectile 300. The payload 320 may partially or wholly comprise non-explosive material, such as iron or depleted uranium. Other non-explosive materials may be used as part or the entire payload 320. The payload 320 may be divided into two or more sub-payloads, such as the precursor charge and main charges described above. The non-explosive material may be used to provide additional kinetic energy when the projectile reaches an impact location (e.g., anti-tank projectiles, rail gun projectiles, and cannonballs).

FIG. 3 shows that the projectile 300 equipped with a sensor 330. The projectile 300 may also be equipped with one or more sensors to provide sensor-based information, such as projectile velocity, projectile acceleration, temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction, and/or other sensor-based data. The sensor-based information may be used to aim the weapon system 100, among other uses.

An Example Scenario and Projectile-Status Display

FIG. 4 shows an example scenario with projectile-tracking device 250 tracking a plurality of the projectiles 430, 432, 434, 436, 438, 440, and 442 fired by a plurality of the weapon systems 410, 412, 414 at a plurality of targets 420 and 422, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The projectile-tracking device 250 may be connected to a plurality of weapon systems. FIG. 4 shows the projectile-tracking device 250 connected to the weapon systems 410-414.

FIG. 4 shows the projectiles 430-442 fired by the weapon systems 410-414 at a plurality of targets 420-422. FIG. 4 shows the projectiles 430-440 communicatively connected to the projectile-tracking device 250 and projectile 442 is shown not communicatively connected to the projectile-tracking device 250. Each communicatively-connected projectile may provide one or more location notifications to the projectile-tracking device 250.

A projectile may not be communicatively connected to the projectile-tracking device, such as a projectile equipped with only passive location devices/sub-devices. A range-finding device may provide location notifications about projectiles that are not communicatively connected to the projectile-tracking device 250, as described above with reference to FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 shows an example projectile-status display 500 of the projectile-tracking device 250, in accordance with embodiments of the invention. The projectile-status display 500 may provide information about a scenario, such as the scenario shown in FIG. 4. FIG. 5 shows the projectile-status display 500 indicating weapon systems 510, 512, and 514, with the weapon system 510 identified with identifier “Weapon System (WS) 1”, the weapon system 512 with identifier “WS2”, and the weapon system 514 with identifier “WS3”. FIG. 5 shows the weapon system 512 with a type of weapon of “Abrams Tank” and a weapon system status of “90%”. FIG. 5 shows a weapon-system status for the weapon system 510 having a category of “intact” and a weapon-system status for the weapon system 512 having a numerical value of “95%”. A weapon-system status may be indicated in a distinctive font, shape, color, type face, and/or using other distinguishing characteristics.

FIG. 5 shows the projectile-status display 500 indicating a velocity 516 for the weapon system 514, using an arrow for a direction of the velocity 516 with an arrow and a speed or magnitude of the velocity 516 of “10 km/hr”.

FIG. 5 shows the projectile-status display 500 indicating targets 520, 522, and 524, with target 520 identified by identifier “Target 1”, target 522 identified by identifier “Target 2”, and target 524 identified by identifier “Target 3”. FIG. 5 shows target 520 with a type of weapon of “120 mm mortar” and a weapon system status of “90%”. FIG. 5 shows target status for target 522 having a category of “intact” and target status for weapon system 524 having a numerical and categorical value of “90% destroyed”. A target status may be indicated in a distinctive font, shape, color, type face, and/or using other distinguishing characteristics.

FIG. 5 shows the projectile-status display 500 indicating a creek 530. Other geographical features, such as, but not limited to hills, mountains, valleys, other bodies of water (e.g., oceans, seas, rivers, and lakes), and/or deserts, may be indicated in projectile-status display 500. A geographical feature may have an identifier. FIG. 5 shows the creek 530 with an identifier “Battle Creek”. Other display techniques may be used by the projectile-status display 500 as well, such as but not limited to, topographical displays, Mercator projections, displays of latitude and/or longitude lines, displays on a grid, and/or coordinate system.

FIG. 5 shows the projectile-status display 500 indicating a village 540. Other locations of human settlement, such as, but not limited to, houses, huts, igloos, caves, hamlets, towns, and cities, may be indicated on the projectile-status display 500. A location of human settlement may have an identifier. FIG. 5 shows the village 540 with an identifier of “Pennfield Village.” A projectile-status display may indicate locations of human settlement using a distinctive font, color, shape, type face, and/or using other distinguishing characteristics.

FIG. 5 shows the projectile-status display 500 indicating the impact locations 550, 552, 554, 556, and 558. Each impact location may be indicated using a distinctive font, color, shape, type face, and/or using other distinguishing characteristics. FIG. 5 shows the impact locations 550-558 using large black X\'s. Many other possible indications of impact locations of shots fired by the weapon systems are possible as well. The indication of an impact location may indicate a source of an impact location (i.e., which weapon system fired a projectile that landed at the indicated impact location), such as the “WS1” indication of the impact location 550.

FIG. 5 shows the projectile-status display 500 indicating in-flight projectiles 560 and 562. FIG. 5 shows a direction of fire 570 from the weapon system 512 to the projectile 560 and a direction of fire 572 from the weapon system 514 to projectile 562, where both direction of fire 570 and direction of fire 572 are indicated as lines from a weapon system to a projectile in FIG. 5. Other ways, such as arrows or “comet trails”, of indicating directions of fire are possible as well. A direction of fire shown on the projectile-status display 500 may indicate the direction as targeted (e.g., in the direction of the azimuth used to fire a projectile) and/or as determined based on location notification(s) received from a projectile.




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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20110059421 A1
Publish Date
03/10/2011
Document #
12145640
File Date
06/25/2008
USPTO Class
434 16
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
41A33/00
Drawings
9


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