A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Identification and Evaluation of Novel Concepts for Deeply Buried Hardened Target Defeat
Branscome, Ewell Caleb
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The objective of the work described was to identify and explore a paradigm shifting solution that could offer leap-ahead capabilities to counter current and future DBHT threats while mitigating or eliminating the self-deterrence issue. A multidisciplinary approach to the problem was formulated and implemented. Systematic evaluation of DHBT defeat alternatives lead to the selection of a thermal subterrene as a hypothetical means of providing such a capability. A number of possible implementation alternatives for a thermal subterrene were investigated, resulting in the identification of the RadioIsotope Powered Thermal Penetrator (RIPTP) concept for providing an effectively unlimited, self-contained hard rock penetration capability using near-term technologies. However, the proposed approach was novel and thus required formulation and application of a physics based multidisciplinary analysis code to enable evaluation of design alternatives and analysis of performance. The following disciplinary analyses were composed into a multidisciplinary analysis code for a RIPTP: packing of RIPTP components in available volume; close-contact melting analysis; transmutation of isotope species by neutron activation; reactor neutron economy; radioisotope power generation through decay; metamodelled radiation shielding calculations for a RIPTP; and steady state thermal analyses for a RIPTP in various scenarios. Performance analysis of the identified baseline Thulium-170 RIPTP suggested that the predicted low penetration rate of about 10 meters/day could be a significant negative factor with regards to possible viability of the concept. Consequently, a survey for potentially enabling technologies was performed using an adaptation of the Technology Impact Forecasting (TIF) approach. It was found that the greatest potential for improving performance of the baseline Thulium-170 RIPTP resulted from increasing overall power density of the penetrator. Several possible technology approaches to achieving significantly increased penetration rates are proposed.