The Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) as a Navigational Tool for Hypersonic Weapons Systems

10.27.2020 Update:

S2MARTS 21-03 IMU RFS Final
IMU 21-03 Attachment A Sec 889
IMU 21-03 Attachment B – Section 889 Verification and Representation


The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division is seeking prototype support to address Inertial Measurement Units (IMU) within Hypersonics. IMUs have a long history of applications and technology refinement. New Department of Defense (DoD) systems, notably hypersonic vehicles, require the performance of current IMU technology, but with reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) required. Specifically, it is desired that an IMU with comparable specifications to top-performing IMUs is designed to minimize volume required within the vehicle.

Specific technology areas and/or domains impacted by this prototype project will include hypersonics, missile defense solutions, aircraft, and small satellites. This project will inform and advance the military’s portfolio of future weapons and sensors by combining and evaluating IMUs in a novel weapon system application.

Inertial Measurement Units, in conjunction with inertial navigation systems (INS) and/or GPS, are essential to navigation and control. The use of IMUs on missiles and other glide vehicles are not constrained by the same stringent size requirements as a hypersonic vehicle. Currently, IMUs of 8 cu. In (approximately 2 inches on a side) are already developed and in use but, as the size is reduced, there are concerns with accuracy and quality of data. It is desired that an IMU with comparable or improved performance is designed while reducing the SWaP, with emphasis on volume reduction of the IMU for the hypersonic vehicle.

The Government’s goal of the IMU as a Navigational Tool for Hypersonic Weapon Systems prototype project, is to develop, miniaturize, and demonstrate a hypersonic-capable IMU with performance comparable to or better than current IMU technology while reducing SWaP, specifically focusing on minimizing the volume required within the hypersonic vehicle. The IMU shall be capable of withstanding harsh hypersonic conditions. The resulting prototype hardware will be integrated first into sub-scale, developmental flight test, such as on a sounding rocket, and finally into a full-scale test. It will provide geo-referencing position determination. Integration into both developmental flight testing and full-scale flight testing will require low SWaP to permit integration.