U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

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2006 Pioneer Award Winners

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Mr. Edward D. Walters

Hit-to-Kill Technology

Mr. Edward D. Walters displayed superior management and engineering skills that enabled the United States to demonstrate hit-to-kill intercepts of Tactical Ballistic Missiles (TBMs) within the atmosphere. Mr. Walters and his Vought Corporation engineering team designed and developed an agile interceptor for the U.S. Army's Advanced Ballistic Missile Defense Agency, which later included fabricating flight-worthy interceptors and conducting flight demonstrations. In January 1983, after the Army Strategic Defense Command restructured the agile interceptor program to include a Small Radar Homing Interceptor (SRHIT) that could conduct hit-to-kill intercepts within the atmosphere, Mr. Walters and his team fabricated flight hardware to demonstrate hit-to-kill intercepts utilizing a Ka-band seeker and off-the-shelf propulsion hardware that was available from the Army's Multiple Launch Rocket System. In 1984, the Army's ballistic missile defense programs, including SRHIT, were absorbed by the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) upon its formation.

Mr. Walters, serving as the SRHIT Deputy Program Manager and Chief Engineer, planned and managed the effort that succeeded in completing three of four hit-to-kill intercept attempts. The SDIO renamed the project the Flexible Light-weight Agile Guided Experiment (FLAGE) in 1986, and in May 1987, completed the third successful intercept, against an Army Lance tactical ballistic missile. The SDIO then advanced the endo-atmospheric hit-to-kill interceptor program into the next phase called the Extended Range Interceptor Technology (ERINT) program, which focused on intercepting TBM targets at higher altitudes within the atmosphere. Mr. Walters, as the ERINT Program director, worked on restructuring the program to develop a next generation tactical hit-to-kill interceptor that could be adapted to improve the air defenses of U. S. and allied forces. In February 1994, the U.S. Army selected the ERINT prototype missile interceptor to improve the missile defense capability of the Patriot air defense system, and in October of that year, Mr. Walters and his team began designing, developing and producing the next generation interceptor to meet the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) operational requirement. Mr. Walters retired in September 1997, after he and his team successfully completed the first developmental flight test of the PAC-3 missile.

Dr. Edward T. Gerry

High Energy Lasers

Dr. Edward T. Gerry is the System Architect for the Missile Defense National Team, a team of five aerospace companies, led by Boeing, responsible for the systems engineering of the integrated ballistic missile defense system being developed by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Dr. Gerry has been with the National Team since its formation in January 2002. Prior to that, he served as the Chief Technologist for the Boeing Missile Defense Systems Division. Before joining Boeing, Dr. Gerry's earlier career included serving as the Systems Architect for Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) and its successor; the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), during the first Bush administration; and as acting Deputy Director for several months at the start of the Clinton administration. From 1975 until he joined SDIO, he also served on several high level advisory boards including the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and the Army Science Board, and participated in several Defense Science Board studies. Following President Ronald W. Reagan's March 23, 1983, Strategic Defense Initiative announcement, Dr. Gerry participated on the Fletcher Panel, which laid the groundwork for the formation of the SDIO; he also chaired the Boost Phase Intercept Concepts Group. From 1971 to 1975, Dr. Gerry served in the Strategic Technology office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), first as Chief, Laser Technology Division, and later as Assistant Director for Technology. DARPA's interest in High Energy Lasers was for both Tactical and Strategic Weapons including Ballistic Missile Defense. DARPA supported much of the initial work on the high energy carbon dioxide (CO2) Gas Dynamic laser, the Hydrogen Fluoride/Deuterium Fluoride (HF/DF) chemical laser, and the Electric Discharge CO2 laser.

Dr. Gerry's accomplishments also include pioneering work in lasers. In the 1960s, he led the High Energy Laser Group at Avco Everett Research Laboratory in Massachusetts in Laser application and development. Avco's interest in High Energy Lasers was in their potential use for ballistic missile defense. Avco recognized that the limitation on average power for all the lasers of the time was eliminating the waste heat, and that the best way to eliminate it was to flow it away. So, if one wanted to get from the tens of watts level of the non-flowing lasers of the day to the megawatt level needed for weapons, one had to introduce gas dynamics. If a fraction of a percent of the power associated with a rocket engine could be converted to coherent laser radiation the result would be megawatts. That thought process led to the development of the CO2 Gas Dynamic Laser, the first of the high energy lasers, and Dr. Gerry was its principal technical leader. That concept was scaled from initial experiments at the ten kilowatt level in shock tubes to in excess of one-hundred kilowatts at Avco in a combustion driven device. The concept was further scaled to megawatt level by Pratt & Whitney. Dr. Gerry also helped develop the high power e-beam stabilized flowing gas Electric Discharge Laser, an electrically driven device also using CO2. His leadership brought the Gas Dynamic Tri-Service Laser into existence and into the hands of the Services. This laser provided their first experience in High Energy Lasers and also produced several meaningful demonstrations of engaging airborne targets, such as shooting down a drone aircraft at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, in 1973. Dr. Gerry supported many system level analyses of high energy lasers, including in 1968, an evaluation for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Organization (SAMSO) of space-based gas dynamic lasers for boost phase ballistic missile interception.

Dr. William G. D. Frederick

High Energy Lasers

Dr. Robert Van Allen has been a leader and innovator in the conceptualization, development, test and eventual deployment of High Energy Laser (HEL) systems for missile defense for more than thirty years. As a designer, engineer and operator of the beam control and air missile tracking function for the U.S. Air Force Airborne Laser Laboratory (ALL) in the mid-1970s, Dr. Van Allen was materially responsible for the first successful demonstration of HEL weapons as missile defense enablers. In the late 1990s, he leveraged that early success with his performance as the initial leader and architect of fire control system development for the Airborne Laser (ABL) program.

In the mid- to late 1980s, while assigned to the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO), Dr. Van Allen’s leadership and innovation were demonstrated as he led the planning and execution of both the Starlab and Relay Mirror Experiments, paving the way for subsequent HEL-based missile defense developments. Throughout this period Dr. Van Allen has either led or been a major contributor to a number of “firsts” in the application of HEL systems to missile defense: the first successful HEL engagement of a tactical Sidewinder air-to-air missile (AIM-9); the first active track of a satellite from a ground based laser/beam director; and the first plume to hard body track of a tactical missile in flight.

However, his most significant contributions to the advancement of directed energy weapons for missile defense have come since his retirement from the Air Force in 1989. Dr. Van Allen has been an effective and tireless advocate for the broadest possible application of HEL system technologies to non-HEL, but very important missile defense system applications. For example, under his leadership the control system methods and algorithms developed for HEL systems have been extended to discrimination and targeting mission applications, while the advanced processor technologies developed for high bandwidth sensing systems have migrated to HEL systems. The result of these migrations has been substantial system performance growth in both areas.

Dr. Robert Van Allen

From the early days of the Strategic Defense Initiative until his sudden death in 2006, Dr. John O'Sullivan was committed to the development of U.S. missile defenses. As one of the first members of the Phase One Engineering Team, or POET, his technical expertise was recognized and respected throughout the missile defense community. He applied his considerable talents to POET's work on behalf of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization to identify and assess obstacles to achieving the goals of the proposed Phase One Architecture. He later served as the director of POET, exhibiting superior leadership in his oversight of numerous activities focused on the resolution of high priority missile defense issues.

Dr. O'Sullivan's signature contribution to the development of missile defense technology, however, was his remarkable work on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, program. He led the study that first identified the need for an upper tier missile defense capability to support the PATRIOT system in defending U.S. deployed forces. He later established the framework for the development of the THAAD program and directed POET support for the THAAD program office. He led the effort to identify and assess existing technologies that would provide THAAD with the capability to intercept missiles both inside and outside the earth's atmosphere. He also served as the chief technical advisor in the process of selecting the prime contractor for the program and was instrumental in THAAD's transition from research and development to testing.

Dr. O'Sullivan's tireless commitment to the THAAD program in particular, and his selfless dedication to the Phase One Engineering Team in general, have been essential to the development of a missile defense capability for the United States. His death came as a tragic blow to his friends and colleagues in the missile defense community. His legacy lives on in the technologies that are now ensuring the safety and security of our nation.

Delta 180 Experiment Team

Mr. John Dassoulas, Dr. Michael D. Griffin, Mr. Thomas B. Coughlin, Dr. Larry J. Crawford, Dr. J. Courtney Ray, Jr. & Mr. Thomas L. Roche

Mr. John Dassoulas, Dr. Michael D. Griffin, Mr. Thomas B. Coughlin, Dr. Larry J. Crawford, Dr. J. Courtney Ray, Jr., and Mr. Thomas L. Roche, members of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), contributed as a team to the success of the Delta 180 experiment, which completed the first boost phase intercept of a target, providing the proof of concept of one of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization’s (SDIO’s) founding principles.

The Delta 180 program was spawned by a rare combination of circumstances; a national strategic need; the new, forward looking SDIO; available funding; adaptable hardware; and most importantly, an innovative group of people in government, industry, and academia who became the Delta 180 team.

In 1984, the newly established SDIO began working with APL. Their teamwork, with many other subcontractors, began with the successful Delta 180 experiment in 1986, the first in a series of Delta programs that set new standards for accomplishing orbital missions executed rapidly and cost-effectively.

Streamlined program management and reporting procedures resulted in significant schedule and cost compression; instead of the normal timeline of three to five years at a $300 to $500 million cost, the experiment took fourteen months and cost $150 million. For example, the program adopted an unwritten “badgeless” mentality that effectively removed all organizational impediments to accomplishing the mission. Also, top management exercised prudent, but non-intrusive oversight.

The Delta 180 experiment’s primary focus centered on understanding the problems of tracking, guidance, and control for a space intercept of an accelerating target, and demonstrating this in a flight test. What became equally important was the urgent need for multi-spectral data on rocket plumes, post-boost vehicles, and the background against which they would be viewed. At that time, very little sensor data had been collected on intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) threats, and no thrusted intercept against a thrusting target had ever been attempted in space.

The Applied Physics Laboratory undertook the role of technical advisor for the overall experiment, and also had the responsibility for designing the sensing spacecraft that was part of the target vehicle. The theme throughout was to understand and develop sensors that SDIO could use in a deployed architecture from ascent through the midcourse phase of a booster trajectory. The team’s efforts in supporting SDIO constituted a major element in the assessment of sensor technology. In particular, the development of ultra-violet sensor technology through space-borne observations of rocket plumes provided significant data for use in the development of deployed sensor architecture. The Delta 180 team served as the core that led this effort, provided key technical guidance, and ultimately enabled its success. Their efforts and the resulting success of the experiment proved some of the basic concepts of boost phase intercept.


Mr. Richard S. Matlock, Dr. William T. Carpenter, and Dr. Michael Leal

Mr. Richard S. Matlock, Dr. William T. Carpenter, and Dr. Michael Leal each played a critical role in the design, development and execution of the Lightweight ExoAtmospheric Projectile (LEAP) Program. In 1985, the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) began the LEAP program, pioneering the development of small, miniaturized kill vehicle technology. A year earlier, the U.S. Army demonstrated a successful exoatmospheric kinetic energy kill vehicle in the Homing Overlay Experiment. The kill vehicle in that experiment weighed over 200 kilograms and was about the size of a refrigerator. The challenge the LEAP team accepted was to drive down that weight by more than an order of magnitude to roughly ten kilograms. In just six years from inception, they "flew" the first LEAP kill vehicle at SDIO's National Hover Test Facility, Edwards Air Force Base, California. That first generation LEAP vehicle, the size of a loaf of bread, weighed less than seven kilograms.

This technological breakthrough, coupled with existing Service capabilities, led to the rapid deployment of a ballistic missile defense capability. While the LEAP team conducted flight tests of the basic configuration at the White Sands Missile Range, Mr. Matlock explored integrating the LEAP kill vehicle into the U.S. Navy's surface-to-air Standard Missile, the Army's Minuteman-based missile defense interceptor, and the U.S. Air Force's air-to-ground Short Range Attack Missile-A (SRAM-A). In 1992, the Navy launched the first LEAP-equipped missile from the U.S.S. Jouett, a Leahy-class guided missile cruiser, off the California coast. By the time of the decommissioning of the Leahy class, the Navy and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), SDIO's successor, conducted three more flight tests, setting the stage for integration aboard the Navy's top-of-the-line warships, the AEGIS cruisers.

Mr. Matlock, Dr. Carpenter, and Dr. Leal were ahead of their time in vision, drive and innovation. In all prior intercept attempts in space, the kill vehicles weighed more than twenty times the LEAP, requiring large, land-based boosters. Also, the team defined and executed the LEAP program during a time when many thought hit-to-kill intercepts were not possible. Today, AEGIS cruisers patrol the Pacific armed with the LEAP-equipped, Standard Missile -3. This first generation Ballistic Missile Defense System element has successfully intercepted ballistic missile targets in more than six operational flight tests.

Mr. Matlock, as SDIO's LEAP Program Manager, was instrumental in driving this program forward. His vision and passion for miniaturizing kill vehicle components were key elements leading to the funding and successful completion of this program. He worked closely with the prime contractor on design trades, development and testing. His close working relationships with Air Force, Army and Navy leadership forged an interservice team that led to fielding this unprecedented technology in record time.

Dr. Carpenter was Hughes' Program Manager during the critical hover test phase of the program. His background in guidance, navigation, and control was critical to the development of hit-to-kill guidance algorithms. He was also instrumental in the Terrier LEAP demonstration. In only nine months, the LEAP vehicle was reconfigured from a liquid to solid divert and attitude control system, and successfully hover-tested at the Edwards Air Force Base Hover Test Facility.

Dr. Leal was part of the LEAP Program Team from the beginning. He originally served as the Systems Engineer, then as the chief engineer, and finally as the LEAP/Standard Missile-3 Kill Vehicle program manager, as it transitioned from a demonstration program to the AEGIS-LEAP Program, and finally the AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense Program. He was instrumental in the early development of the hit-to-kill algorithms, component miniaturization, and finally the transition from demonstration all the way to deployment. He was the Program Manager when the program achieved its first intercepts in space from U.S.S. Lake Erie.

X-Band Radar Team

Dr. John Krasnakevich, Mr. William Z. Lemnios, and LTC (Ret) Stephen B. Peth

A team composed of Dr. John Krasnakevich (Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems), Mr. William Z. Lemnios (Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] Lincoln Laboratory), and LTC (Ret) Stephen B. Peth (Strategic Defense Initiative Organization [SDIO]), contributed significantly to missile defense X-Band radar development. Their work in the late 1980s and early 1990s collectively created the acquisition strategy and technical foundation for the Family of X-Band Radar using solid-state technology.

These radars are well known success stories in the missile defense community and are part of the current Ballistic Missile Defense System. They are the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Radar (including its User Operational Evaluation System [UOES] used in early THAAD testing), the Ground-Based Radar-Prototype (GBR-P), the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) Radar, and the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX). The hallmark of the team's contribution was the creation and utilization of modular design and common components across the entire Family of X-Band Radar. The resulting modularity completely eliminated duplication of radar sensor development and provided the United States government with a significant savings in both time and money. The team's vision to include solid-state technology and a modular design added X-Band radar capability with no equal in the world today for the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System.

In the early 1990s, the SDIO did not have a funded radar program, and Ambassador Henry F. Cooper, the SDIO Director, charged LTC Peth, the SDIO System Element Manager for Radar, to develop a replacement program for the U.S. Army's canceled strategic defense radar program. Ambassador Cooper also directed LTC Peth to find a way to reduce the development costs for both tactical and strategic radar programs. LTC Peth, working with industry, MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, and the SDIO staff, created a single program that addressed the needs of both the THAAD Program and the National Missile Defense Program, and named it the X-Band Family of Radar. LTC Peth guided the program through the approval process in the Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense and secured the necessary funding to start the Family of X-Band Radar procurement. The competition resulted in a contract award to the Raytheon Company as prime contractor.

While many sources formulated the technical basis for the program, ultimately the concepts provided by Raytheon's Dr. Krasnakevich, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory's Mr. Lemnios, provided a leap forward with solid-state technology, a first for X-Band radar. Dr. Krasnakevich formulated a radar design concept using a common back end (Signal Processor, Data Processor, Receiver /Exciter) integrated with different aperture antenna designs. This design concept was based on experience with several X-Band radars developed at Raytheon. These radars included the Low Altitude Defense (LoAD)/Sentry (Terminal Defense) program, the Thermal Imaging Radar (TIR) for the High Endo-atmospheric Defense Interceptor (HEDI) program, and the Ground-Based Radar-Experimental (GBR-X) for the Midcourse Defense program. All of these radars had back end designs with considerable functional similarity but were integrated with different antenna designs tailored to meet mission requirements. Along with an aggressive push into solid-state transmit/receive devices, these designs created the modularity necessary to make the Family of X-Band Radar a reality.

Mr. Lemnios worked with LTC Peth and Dr. Krasnakevich throughout this period, providing expertise and guidance. As the head of the Radar Measurements Division at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Mr. Lemnios provided support and technical expertise to SDIO. His positive recommendations regarding the proposed Family of X-Band Radar to the SDIO Director and OSD officials were instrumental in garnering support and funding for the program. Without the collaboration, vision, teamwork, and untiring efforts of LTC Peth, Dr. Krasnakevich, and Mr. Lemnios, the fruits of the X-Band Family of Radar would not have been available for early testing of THAAD and the National Missile Defense System, and the ongoing deployment of the BMDS.