Simulating A Bullet Hitting A Bullet

Missile defense hit-to-kill engagements have been likened to hitting a bullet with a bullet – But what really happens when this occurs, particularly if one bullet is much larger than the other, as is often the case in missile defense? While there will likely be significant damage, there may not be complete destruction. This has been shown in missile defense testing, but such testing can be challenging and expensive, making it difficult to perform enough tests to fully understand what will happen for all possible targets being hit by all possible interceptors for all possible engagement geometries and closing speeds. This is why Modeling & Simulation (M&S) is so important across missile defense, including for missile defense engagements.

How we started this capability:

PeopleTec has been working on M&S for missile defense engagements for over 15 years and some of our personnel have been working in this area for twice as long. Our initial focus was on developing fast-running M&S including an end-game lethality tool to compute damage to the missile payload for numerous engagement geometries and closing speeds; an intercept debris tool to characterize the signature and velocity for every debris fragment resulting from an engagement; and a post-intercept effects tool to determine where missile payload agent and debris fragments will impact the ground based on aerodynamic and weather effects.

Fast-running M&S allow multiple cases to be executed quickly so that engagement, statistical, or weather variations can be assessed. Fast-running M&S can also be used within real-time frameworks where missile defense hardware and software are combined for more realism. Our missile defense M&S tools are used by hundreds of users in the missile defense community and help determine optimal aimpoint for interceptors to best defeat target missiles, along with techniques for mitigating negative debris effects and exploiting positive debris effects.

How we are growing this capability:

As our capabilities and expertise developed, we became more involved in real-time M&S frameworks for missile defense including the system-of-systems enterprise. We have focused on innovations to allow higher-fidelity M&S, faster-running M&S, and M&S to address the ever-evolving missile threat. While we have a background in testing to support M&S validation, recently PeopleTec has increased our capabilities in the impact testing area including projectile and target development. To augment test data for M&S validation we have expanded our first-principles code efforts. PeopleTec has invested in High-Performance Computer Systems, a high-fidelity laser scanner, and even in our own light-gas gun to augment this growth.

Fun-fact: PeopleTec personnel were responsible for collecting debris M&S validation data from the land speed record test of 6453 mph or Mach 8.5 using a rocket sled.