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Agent Defeat Warhead (ADW)

Operation Desert Storm highlighted the need for pre-emptive strike capability to disable chemical and biological (CB) agent munition production facilities and stockpiles. Currently the United States must resort to conventional warheads as the only means of crippling the enemy CB agent capability. Use of explosives to destroy a CB agent production or storage bunker could result in the release of large quantities of lethal agents. Such agent releases can produce significant collateral casualities and destroy the local environment. In line with the latest national security directives (promoting non-lethal, disabling weapon technology development over current lethal nuclear and conventional weapon systems), new technologies must be investigated which can disable CB agent munition production facilities and stockpiles while minimizing collateral casualtites.

The overall objective of the Agent Defeat Technology Program is to develop and demonstrate warhead technology capable of destroying, disabling or denying use of chemical and biological (CB) agent munition production facilities and stockpiles with minimal collateral damage (minimal agent dispersion.) The ADWD program objective is to develop and demonstrate a warhead with a payload specifically tailored for use against fixed ground targets associated with the development, production, and storage of chemical (C) agents, biological (B) agents, and CB weapons (CBW).

The ADW shall, as a minimum, be effective against one of the following relevant target categories: hardened chemical targets, soft chemical targets, hardened biological targets, or soft biological targets. Effectiveness shall be understood to imply both the ability to achieve widespread physical damage within the target, and to limit collateral damage resulting from the unintended release of CB agents. Candidate kill mechanisms for achieving the desired results include, but are not limited to, thermal effects derived from high temperature incendiary (HTI) materials, low blast fragmenting warheads or submunitions, neutralizing chemicals, and other mechanisms which may be identified during the ADWD program. The ability of the ADW to deny the enemy access and/or use of the target and/or its contents is considered desirable, but only as a fallout capability occurring in conjunction with wide spread physical damage within the target structure. A hybrid warhead payload that employs a combination of the referenced kill mechanisms may be required to achieve program goals. Kill mechanisms that are not considered appropriate for the ADWD include those employing nuclear fizzle material or radioisotopes.

The ADW shall, within acceptable tolerances, be designed to same external dimensions and closely approximate the mass properties as those for the 2000-lb class BLU-109 warhead. The ADW shall be designed for physical and functional compatibility with the following Air Force guidance kits: GBU-24, GBU-27, AGM-130, and GBU-31 (JDAM). The intent is to allow those weapon delivery systems, when equipped with the ADW, to hold a wide variety of CBW targets at risk, thereby minimizing the additional cost and operational burdens required to realize such a capability. Accordingly, the ADW shall also be compatible with existing Air Force ground handling, storage, and transportation equipment used to handle the 2000-lb class warhead common to those delivery systems.

The Air Force Research Laboratory, Munitions Directorate, Ordnance Division (AFRL/MNMI) did not receive an acceptable proposal for development of an Agent Defeat Warhead (ADW) Demonstration (ADWD). The closing date for proposals was 29 April 1999. The acquisition strategy for this program is under reevaluation.


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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Monday, November 29, 1999 1:32:39 PM