Embry-Riddle reduces collateral damage in Air Force study of warhead fragments
Written by: Mike Cavalier
Director of News and Media Relations, Embry Riddell
A professor and graduate student from Embry-Riddle University of Aeronautics are developing better methods for predicting where a warhead’s strike fragments will fly, reducing the chance of collateral damage.
Currently, predictions of how warhead fragmentation will occur are made using static tests in which experimental warheads are detonated in the desert without the need for flight. Although some numerical simulations have also been used as indicators of warhead fragmentation, they often do not take into account factors such as gravity and aerodynamic forces.
With a $442,508 grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, aeronautical engineering professor Ricardo Bevilacqua and graduate student Catherine Larsen will combine data from static tests with advanced simulation capabilities, taking into account factors such as warhead velocity, orientation, and use. Artificial neural networks and other machine learning tools to provide better estimates.
“Being able to predict how these systems will work is a way to save money and be more accurate,” Bevilacqua said. “Having a better model of where the shrapnel will go will add safety to the innocent.”
The technology being developed could also eventually be applied in the event of collisions or explosions in space that release fragments of space debris, Bevilacqua said. Being able to predict where this debris will go could protect active satellites from damage.
Tasos Lyrintzis, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering, said the grant represents the largest single Air Force investigator award received by the department.
“It shows how much the Air Force values research,” Lernzis said.
Larsen, who has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, will help create models from data provided by the US Air Force and from simulations provided by the US Naval Air Warfare Center. Having recently decided to pursue a Ph.D., Larsen would like to work at the Department of Defense and would one day be involved in the design and manufacture of satellites and their control systems for scientific research.