Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS) for Hypersonic Weapon Systems

S²MARTS Project No. 21-01

Canceled – FY21 budget shortfall and de-prioritization of this requirement.

The DoD has a requirement to develop an Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS) that reduces range safety costs by eliminating much of the range safety tracking sources and decision logic onboard flight vehicles. The desired capability will require a small size, weight, and power (SWaP) that does not currently exist. Through this project, the capability is to be developed, prototyped and proven for hypersonics programs.

Existing range safety systems rely on tracking radars and other systems which are expensive to operate and maintain. Traditional flight termination systems (FTS) for rocket/missile launches require extensive ground support systems such as radar arrays and transmitter facilities and are highly labor-intensive during launch operations. Current concept of operations requires the use of a human-in-the-loop flight safety officer utilizing data from terrestrial data collection assets placed around the world.

The Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS) is a system-of-systems that integrates both airborne and ground-based components to provide an enhanced alternative to the traditional flight safety approaches still used by nearly all launch complexes and government ranges today. The contractor shall design an AFSS, with small footprint, that offers a distributed configuration to permit the vehicle provider maximum flexibility in locating each AFSS. In addition, alternative technology will be reviewed and assessed if it is determined that it can be applied to the flight safety solution and can be qualified, as desired.

The project goal is to provide an on-board Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS) that independently assesses flight and vehicle performance against mission parameters and provides termination capabilities without the costly support infrastructure. Reduce the cost of flight testing by reducing the number of terrestrial safety assets that need to be deployed.