Electro Optics, Electronic Warfare (EW), Technology

K2 Product Series and Missile Guidance 101

Kapono Kinetic, with strategic partners Photon-X and CICNDT are pursuing a series of integrated systems reliant on Spatial Phase Imaging (SPI) Electro-Optics (EO) capabilities. 

SPI is a novel methodology of acquiring datum from a unique optics system with a set of engineered lenslets vs. a singular focal plane. Algorithms tailored to the optics purpose carry the remainder of the load defined by the application. Our collaboration envisions SPI-EO applications beyond composite inspection, our first joint focus area. 

At a Photon-X demo, Heinks and Lucas identified the value SPI EO in [passive] Positive Identification (PID) [by make/model] to Counter UAS (CUAS) systems and its implications for Electronic Attack supporting ground elements.

Kapono has multiple Special Operations proposals up for review, with one project awaiting kickoff in January.

The AFWERX Agile Prime STTR involves an encodable paint marker (K2DigiInk) and its affiliate ATAK application K2Link.

The K2Tron application support for cUAS Electronic Attack and K2Shaq, an RF/Optical (AI) driven, low yield kinetic system, follow. 

Given a focused intent on missile guidance, it’s worth reviewing fundamental guidance methodologies, particularly from an Electronic Warfare angle. 

A majority of today’s missile systems cold launch vertically, depicted in (fig1), encompassing three different guidance approaches.

Once a missile launches, the system guides (fig2) on an inertial path calculated from pre-launch targeting through electronic means. 

In contrast, the inertial system, such as ring-laser gyroscopic(s) and other methodologies, guides the missile towards the target, often with inflight command inputs (course guidance).

As the missile approaches the target, terminal guidance methodologies employ to define the targeting solution, down to finite adjustments as it nears.

In the terminal phase, guidance methodologies such as active radar, semi-active, home-on-jam, or home-on-radar become primary. The Track-via-Missile (TVM) method is invaluable in the systems terminal phase of flight. 

Command Guidance: requires radar establishment of a target track followed by additional guidance to intercept the target at a determined point. Once launched, the missile requires direction for the entirety of its trajectory, primarily due to the (reasonable expectation) the target will be maneuvering.

Typically, the command guided system will have a shorter range than larger strategic SAM systems. The functional reach of target tracking radar limits the missile’s max effective range. 

“Radar range limit occurs when the energy the radar receives back from the target divided by the noise energy in the receiver is 12 dB. The radar range is a function of the effecting radiated power (ERP) of the radar, the radar cross-section of the target (RCS), the time the target is illuminated by the radar, and the fourth power of the range to the target. (
Dave Adamy, AOC 2017)”


Terminal Guidance: when independent of the primary tracking radar facilitates, lofting the missile at higher angles increases its range, with the limitation being its onboard fuel.

 Active Terminal Guidance (ATG): This is a solution to the challenges of TTR radar range limitations, which encompass the overhead intercept challenge of Terminal Guidance above. ATG (fig.4) is an active guided missile (the missile carries an organic radar), meaning, once the missile reaches and extends out of the radar range of its primary TTR, the onboard ATG becomes primary. 

A sort of hand-off occurs, either mid-flight or at predetermined parameters; TTR fidelity decreases as ATG fidelity increases with a predetermined parameter, a deciding factor as to when the onboard ATG becomes primary for terminal guidance to the target.

Overall, the closer ATG to the target, the higher quality radar return to the missiles onboard system. 

For defensive systems, Ademy notes:

The jammer power required to create an adequate [defense] J/S must be increase to overcome the increased [quality] return power produced by the reduced on-board-radar-to-target range. 

Defensive systems in large aircraft may overcome ATG guidance where enough internal real-estate exists to carry systems capable of enough power to overcome the threat.

It becomes a complicated dance between electronics, power, range, and maneuver. 

Semi-Active Terminal Guidance: Depicted in (Fig.5), a semi-active guidance system involves the use of a target illuminator, which, when active, radiates into a prescribed target area significantly larger than the intended target, which in turn is received by an onboard [the missile] Direction Finding (DF) system which steers the missile towards its intended target. Similar to ATG, as the missile closes on the target, the TTR fidelity decreases, and the reflected illuminator fidelity increases, 

Passive Homing (PH): Depicted in Fig.6,

the PH approach includes “home-on-jam” and “home-on-radar.” Additionally, PH includes homing on a target’s thermal emissions and an observed optical or infrared image of the target. 

 In the context of Kapono research proposals with our Strategic Partners, this includes [capabilities] of homing on predefined, binary encoded markers emplaced by a variety of means to Positively Identify (PID) any series of

targets [for discussion other journals]. 

 Home-On-Jam (HOJ): Home-on-jam capabilities can determine when it is jammed and then command guide to the jamming transmitter. Here, self-protect jamming is impractical because the jammer then becomes the target. 

 If the HOJ missile is lofted, the HOJ system range is extended, enabling its guidance to the Stand-off-Jammer, then flown beyond the range of the tracking radar.

“This forces the stand-off jammer to be stationed much farther away from the radar, which reduces the protection afforded to strike aircraft within the radar’s tracking range.”

 Home-On-Radar: Airborne Early Waring and C2 (AEW-C) aircraft such as the carrier-borne E-2 Hawkeye and the E-3 AWACS operate beyond the range of threat nation missile systems due to their being High-Value Airborne Assets (HVAA). Despite that baseline doctrine, missile guidance packages exist that can home in on these aircraft’s emitted radar signals.

With any homing guidance approach, it is independent of the primary tracking radar; thus, these systems exhibit significant effective range beyond the effective range of the associated target tracking radar. 

 Track Via Missile: defines a missile system with an organic [onboard] radar. The missile sends tracking data back to the tracking radar via data-link, allowing the missile to guide off of two information sources that optimize tracking. 

This approach is beneficial when the missile is at or near the end of its range or when one of these other radar systems are jammed.

Kapono is exploring Track-on-Shape and Track-on-Marker given a predetermined target is marked with K2DigiInk. Spatial Phase Imaging outlines the functionality of guiding towards a shape with a pre-identified relationship to a specific target object.

(Guidance summarized with credit to Dave Adamy of www.lynkxpub.com, a regular contributor to the Association of Old Crows)