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LM Demonstrates Penetrator Performance During Final RATTLRS Sled Tests

The RATTLRS simulated penetrator warhead approaches a hardened bunker at a speed of more than mach 2 to successfully conclude sled testing. Credit: Lockheed Martin.
by Staff Writers
Palmdale CA (SPX) Oct 19, 2006
Lockheed Martin completed penetrator warhead sled tests to successfully conclude the high-speed payload employment testing component of its Revolutionary Approach To Time-critical Long Range Strike (RATTLRS) effort. RATTLRS is a supersonic, science and technology missile flight demonstrator sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.

A simulated nose and inlet structure of an air breathing cruise missile demonstrated warhead penetration performance and survivability against hardened bunkers. During the tests, the RATTLRS airframe was accelerated to supersonic speeds of greater than Mach 2. The warhead penetrated cleanly and completely through the concrete barriers. Recovered hardware shows that the warhead remained structurally intact.

This testing validates that lightweight penetrator warheads, when coupled with high-speed vehicles, provide the penetration depth of significantly heavier penetrators. According to Neil Kacena, vice president, Advanced Development Programs deputy, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, "With this third demonstration, the RATTLRS program has shown that integrated aero-propulsion technologies enable enhanced performance capability for a variety of missions including mobile, time sensitive targets and buried targets."

The sled test program is part of the overall risk reduction effort for RATTLRS, culminating in flight demonstrations in late 2007. Lockheed Martin conducted the supersonic sled test at the Holloman High Speed Sled Track in New Mexico. Previous sled tests addressed the high speed dispense of guided munitions, while this test demonstrated the performance capability of a high-speed penetrator warhead against a hardened target.

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The 1935 crash of the Navy zeppelin USS Macon off the California coast marked an inglorious end to a unique experiment in aviation. Four times longer than a modern Goodyear blimp, the Macon could carry 100 crewmembers, including pilots specially trained to fly small reconnaissance airplanes stowed in the zeppelin's massive hull. The giant airship was one of only two "flying aircraft carriers" ever built, and both went down in the ocean without ever seeing combat.

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