Feasibility study on missile launch detection and trajectory tracking
Wong, Chee Mun Kelvin
Yakimenko, Oleg A.
Papoulias, Fotis A.
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With the increased use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in military operations, their role in a missile defense operation is not well defined. The simulation program discussed in this thesis studies the feasibility of utilizing UAVs to patrol a potential Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launch area using a single or multiple Counter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (CUAVs), detecting the launch event and tracking an ICBM using the CUAVs' onboard optical sensors. The ultimate goal is to assess the parameters of ICBM ascent and provide target information to bring the attacking UAVs onto the anti-missile launch course to reliably intercept the threat. This thesis explores the challenges in creating a simulation program to process video footage from an unstable platform and the limitations of using background subtraction method to detect the missile motion. Although the simulation program test results showed that it is unable to consistently detect a missile launch and track its trajectory for all the test videos; the developed algorithms allowed a surveillance UAV to detect a missile launch for most of the videos and also track its trajectory with an accuracy that is sufficient for targeting purposes. This thesis is limited to using the simulation program to detect a launch event offline and is based on the amateur rocket launch data gathered during the launch trials at Mojave Desert in May of 2016.
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