The Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) threat ranks among the highest in enemy engagements against friendly aircraft. Therefore, it is only prudent to have the best possible flight path analysis for military aircraft to minimize the risk of exposure to these threats. Since terrorists also have easy access to shoulder launched missiles, a similar need arises to have this same flight path analysis for commercial airlines and airports so that the best flight paths can be created to avoid areas of possible missile threat.
DESE Research has developed a software analysis tool that can help protect both military and commercial aircraft from shoulder launched rockets. The Flight Path Threat Analysis Simulation (FPTAS) tool was developed in response to the need by the Joint Forces Command to identify and secure the areas of greatest threat to arriving/departing aircraft against Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS). FPTAS identifies the areas of greatest missile threat to arriving and departing aircraft.
Using the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED), that is available worldwide, the local area commander can visualize the performance of a variety of MANPADS weapon systems overlaid on a terrain map of the area. This facilitates the identification of unique geographic features that may pose a special threat to aircraft. In addition, the local commander can quantify the areas of greatest MANPADS threat and deploy troops against the areas of highest threat first. This prioritized threat assessment capability has not previously been available to the local force protection commander.
DESE software developers created the first line of code for FPTAS in late 1998, and we have been updating and increasing FPTAS capabilities ever since. DESE test analysts have also conducted a variety of airport threat analyses projects using FPTAS to protect both military and commercial airports. We are the experts in using and training for the FPTAS software.
The map manager for FPTAS is similar to Falcon View/PFPS (Portable Flight Planning Software), which is the standard flight-planning tool for military aircraft. FPTAS can also interface with PFPS and allow the flight path and threat analysis to be displayed in Falcon View, thereby only entering the flight profile one time. FPTAS map manager utilizes various map formats to supply a realistic geographic area. The different map formats are digitized terrain elevation data (DTED), computer arc digitized raster graphics (CADRG), and light detection and ranging (LIDAR).
The threat performance of the MANPADS systems is based on an engineering model of each MANPADS and is approved by MSIC. The aircraft flight paths are built via waypoints or imported from actual FAA flight path data.
The infrared signature of the aircraft can be modeled as a function of aspect angle. Atmospheric attenuation of the IR signal is modeled. Line of sight from the shooter to the aircraft is modeled as a function of intervening terrain. Finally, the effects of the sun on the MANPADS seeker is also an option that can be modeled by FPTAS.
SAM engageability on the aircraft is determined by three main engagement parameters: 1) range to aircraft, 2) altitude of aircraft, and 3) elevation limits of the terrain. Other FPTAS options such as the built-in 3D capability (see figure 3), creation of “secure area zones,” and gunner exposure time are also available in FPTAS.
The five different types of FPTAS analysis options, which includes real-time analysis, allow the user to best visualize the MANPADS threat near any given flight path.