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

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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. ...


USPTO Applicaton #: #20110059421 - Class: 434 16 (USPTO) - 03/10/11 - Class 434 
Education And Demonstration > Organized Armed Or Unarmed Conflict Or Shooting >Gunnery

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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.

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FIELD OF THE INVENTION

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

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

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

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).



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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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