Analyzing helicopter evasive maneuver effectiveness against rocket-propelled grenades
- Publisher: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
It has long been acknowledged that military helicopters are vulnerable to ground-launched threats, in particular, the RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade. Current helicopter threat mitigation strategies rely on a combination of operational tactics and selectively placed armor plating, which can help to mitigate but not entirely remove the threat. However, in recent years, a number of active protection systems designed to protect land-based vehicles from rocket and missile fire have been developed. These systems all use a sensor suite to detect, track, and predict the threat trajectory, which is then employed in the computation of an intercept trajectory for a defensive kill mechanism. Although a complete active protection system in its current form is unsuitable for helicopters, in this paper, it is assumed that the active protection system’s track and threat trajectory prediction subsystem could be used offline as a tool to develop tactics and techniques to counter the threat from rocket-propelled grenade attacks. It is further proposed that such a maneuver can be found by solving a pursuit–evasion differential game. Because the first stage in solving this problem is developing the capability to evaluate the game, nonlinear dynamic and spatial models for a helicopter, RPG-7 round, and gunner, and evasion strategies were developed and integrated into a new simulation engine. Analysis of the results from representative vignettes demonstrates that the simulation yields the value of the engagement pursuit–evasion game. It is also shown that, in the majority of cases, survivability can be significantly improved by performing an appropriate evasive maneuver. Consequently, this simulation may be used as an important tool for both designing and evaluating evasive tactics and is the first step in designing a maneuver-based active protection system, leading to improved rotorcraft survivability.