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Research Area 9: Lethality, Vulnerability, and Survivability

  1. The Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate has the mission to assess the performance and effectiveness of conventional inventory and conceptual weapon systems, both kinetic energy and directed energy, lethal and non-lethal, against a myriad of potential targets. The objective of this effort is to support AFRL/RW in assessing inventory and concept weapons against existing and developing targets. This work is broken out into three areas: 1) Target Vulnerability and Weapon Effectiveness, 2) Computational Mechanics, and 3) Novel Test Instrumentation and Techniques.

1) Target Vulnerability and Weapon Effectiveness: The goal of this work is to collect data, conduct research, develop/modify and employ responsive modeling tools, target models, and processes as part of AFRL’s R&D efforts. These efforts will identify potential vulnerabilities in targets and their subcomponents for conventional or concept weapons to exploit. They will also enable understanding and predictive capability for the effectiveness of inventory, developmental, and conceptual munitions when deployed against targets and critical components. Targets of interest can include, but are not limited to, mobile, fixed (above and below ground), hard and deeply buried, chem-bio, and air-to-air. This research will allow development of new techniques or enhancement of existing techniques to measure and compare weapon effectiveness, collateral damage, and potential collateral hazards. Research will include improvements in our ability to predict and measure component vulnerability and functional defeat allowing assessment of weapon effects that degrade a target’s ability to perform its intended functions without necessarily destroying it. It could also include research and modeling of new or conceptual damage mechanisms. Development of new target and associated functional models as well as advanced methodologies to capture the physics of structural response to conventional weapon effects would improve our abilities to assess current and conceptual weapons and ways to exploit high-interest targets or newly discovered vulnerabilities. Research to enhance or develop methodologies to account for the target-critical equipment/components, and their interconnections, and associated failure logic and failure modes could be required. Mathematical methods related to statistics and stochastic modeling, as related to lethality and vulnerability modeling are of interest. Tools of interest for this section include, but are not limited to, AJEM, ARM, BLASTX, BRL-CAD, Endgame Framework, FastCD, FASTGEN, FATEPEN, IMEA, JWS, CUSP, ORCA, PENCURV, PDAM, STMG, VALUE, WEAPS, and WinBLAST. In addition to improving any existing toolset, new methods for integrating high-fidelity computational mechanics codes into existing lethality frameworks and toolsets are an area of emerging interest. Simulation frameworks of interest are Endgame.

2) Computational Mechanics: The performance assessment and development of advanced conventional weapon systems requires the capabilities to model complex weapon/target interaction phenomena and to predict environments produced by impacting, penetrating, and detonating warheads. The emphasis of this effort is the development and validation of first principles continuum mechanics codes (finite-element, finite difference) yielding high-fidelity weapon and target simulations. Areas of particular interest include penetration mechanics, high-strain-rate fracture dynamics and constitutive modeling, modeling the shock survivability of fuze electronic components, predictive models for the change in material properties due to thermal cycling (energetics and electronics), fragmentation, mesoscale modeling (metals and energetics), the use of molecular dynamics and computational chemistry to guide the development of more accurate continuum scale and meso-scale material models for reactive (energetics, reactive metals) and non-reactive materials, localized shear band formation, high-pressure/high-strain-rate modeling of geologic and geologically derived materials, modeling of reacting droplet and particulate flows, equation of state and constitutive models for chemical and biological agents, numerical modeling of neutralization mechanisms for biological and chemical agents, hydrodynamic ram, atomization and aerosolization of chemical and biological agents, direct numerical simulation of detonations, coupled detonation physics and multi-phase flow, turbulent flows, accurate and efficient boundary interface treatments, the ability to span several orders of magnitude in spatial and temporal length scales, and advanced numerical methods. In addition, statistical and stochastic, machine learning, and deep learning methods to generate special-purpose, fast-running models from large-scale datasets produced with computational mechanics codes is an emerging need. In order to meet emerging needs in digital engineering and digital twins, we are interested in approaches using Physically Inspired Neural Networks (PINNs) or similar approaches to developing machine learning surrogates of our weapon design and analysis codes. These codes typically perform numerical solutions of systems of partial differential equations with complex material models for material response.

3) Novel Test Instrumentation and Techniques: The goal of this area is to research and develop new test instrumentation or equipment, and/or, techniques for gathering and analyzing test data in order to: 1) gather data with respect to new damage mechanisms and/or novel effects, and 2) reduce the cost and/or manpower needed to collect weapon effects data using existing methods.


Keywords: Modeling; Simulation; Directed Energy; Conceptual Weapon Systems; Lethality; Vulnerability; Computational Mechanics.


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