Press Release

Lockheed Martin Awarded Patent for a Three-Axis Flap Control System for Reentry Vehicles

By SpaceRef Editor
June 3, 2003
Filed under , ,

The United States
Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted Lockheed Martin Corporation a
patent for an innovative, three-axis flap control system that promises to
revolutionize the steering of rocket-launched, hypersonic and supersonic
reentry vehicles/projectiles.

The advanced design enables a single, simple, low-cost control system to
steer the reentry vehicles in all three axes (pitch, yaw, and roll). The
three-axis flap control system provides quick response and increased
capability and controllability for difficult aerodynamic maneuvers, as well as
increased accuracy and weapon effectiveness. The patent (Patent Number
6,502,785 B1) was issued on Jan. 7, 2003.

“This is a significant technological breakthrough,” said Roger Teter,
director of Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Reentry Systems at Lockheed Martin
Space & Strategic Missiles and one of the three principal inventors of the
system. “The three-axis flap control system represents a major step toward
achieving low-cost, highly maneuverable reentry vehicles for many different
high priority precision strike military missions such as defeating hard and
deeply buried targets.”

The control system employs four aft flush mounted movable flaps (or
control surfaces) of uniform design, which decreases machining and
manufacturing costs. The flaps are positioned on the vehicle orthogonally, but
offset from the vehicle centerline. By actuating various combinations of flaps
into the airstream, any desired vehicle orientation may be achieved. The
flaps, which are all independently controlled, may be extended (deployed) from
the stowed, non-deployed, position to any desired deployed position, providing
a variable control system for rocket-propelled projectiles and reentry

A demonstration of the flap control system was conducted in October 2002.
A prototype three-axis flap control system was fabricated and integrated into
a full-scale, fully instrumented Navy Mk 4 reentry body and successfully flown
from a Trident II D5 FBM during a routine operational test flight. The
three-axis flap control system performed flawlessly during the mission and
precisely navigated the reentry body to the intended target. Further tests of
the three-axis flap control system are planned for the near future.

In addition, the U.S. Navy now intends to incorporate this new technology
development into its Enhanced Effectiveness (E2) Demonstration Program, which
will demonstrate a near-term capability to steer a Submarine Launched
Ballistic Missile (SLBM) warhead from a Trident II D5 missile to Global
Positioning Systems (GPS)-like accuracy. This program is scheduled to start in
FY 2004.

In January 2003, Technology Review — published by the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT) — for the third consecutive year ranked
Lockheed Martin first in the aerospace industry for the technological strength
and innovation of its patents. Last year, USPTO issued 199 patents to Lockheed
Martin scientists and engineers.

Space & Strategic Missiles is a key element of Lockheed Martin Space
Systems Company, headquartered in Denver, Colo., one of the major operating
units of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space Systems designs, develops, tests,
manufactures and operates a variety of advanced technology systems for
military, civil and commercial customers. Chief products include space launch
and ground systems, remote sensing and communications satellites for
commercial and government customers, advanced space observatories and
interplanetary spacecraft, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin employs about 125,000
people worldwide and is a global enterprise principally engaged in the
research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced
technology systems, products, and services. The Corporation reported 2002
sales of $26.6 billion.

For more information about Lockheed Martin Space & Strategic Missiles, see
our websites at:

SpaceRef staff editor.