Naval Weapons Principles

Course length:

4 Days



Course dates

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This four-day course is designed for students that have a college level knowledge of mathematics and basic physics to gain the “big picture” as related to basic sensor and weapons theory. As in all disciplines knowing the vocabulary is fundamental for further exploration, this course strives to provide the physical explanation behind the vocabulary such that students have a working vernacular of naval weapons.

What You Will Learn:

Scientific and engineering principles behind systems such as radar, sonar, electro-optics, guidance systems, explosives and ballistics. Specifically:

  • Analyze weapon systems in their environment, examining elements of the “detect to engage sequence” from sensing to target damage mechanisms.
  • Apply the concept of energy propagation and interaction from source to distant objects via various media for detection or destruction.
  • Evaluate the factors that affect a weapon system’s sensor resolution and signal-to-noise ratio. Including the characteristics of a multiple element system and/or array.
  • Knowledge to make reasonable assumptions and formulate first-order approximations of weapons systems’ performance.
  • Assess the design and operational tradeoffs on weapon systems’ performance from a high level.

From this course you will obtain the knowledge and ability to perform basic sensor and weapon calculations, identify tradeoffs, interact meaningfully with colleagues, evaluate systems, and understand the literature.

Course Outline:

  1. Introduction to Combat Systems: Discussion of combat system attributes
  2. Introduction to Radar: Fundamentals, examples, sub-systems and issues
  3. The Physics of Radar: Electromagnetic radiations, frequency, transmission and reception, waveforms, PRF, minimum range, range resolution and bandwidth, scattering, target cross-section, reflectivities, scattering statistics, polarimetric scattering, propagation in the Earth troposphere
  4. Radar Theory: The radar range equation, signal and noise, detection threshold, noise in receiving systems, detection principles, measurement accuracies
  5. The Radar Sub-systems: Transmitter, antenna, receiver and signal processor (Pulse Compression and Doppler filtering principles, automatic detection with adaptive detection threshold, the CFAR mechanism, sidelobe blanking angle estimation), the radar control program and data processor (SAR/ISAR are addressed as antenna excursions)
  6. Workshop: Hands-on exercises relative to Antenna basics; and radar range analysis with and without detailed losses and the pattern propagation factor
  7. Electronic Attack and Electronic Protection: Noise and deceptive jamming, and radar protection techniques
  8. Electronically Scanned Antennas: Fundamental concepts, directivity and gain, elements and arrays, near and far field radiation, element factor and array factor, illumination function and Fourier transform relations, beamwidth approximations, array tapers and sidelobes, electrical dimension and errors, array bandwidth, steering mechanisms, grating lobes, phase monopulse, beam broadening, examples
  9. Solid State Active Phased Arrays: What are solid state active arrays (SSAA), what advantages do they provide, emerging requirements that call for SSAA (or AESA), SSAA issues at T/R module, array, and system levels
  10. Radar Tracking: Functional block diagram, what is radar tracking, firm track initiation and range, track update, track maintenance, algorithmic alternatives (association via single or multiple hypotheses, tracking filters options), role of electronically steered arrays in radar tracking
  11. Current Challenges and Advancements: Key radar challenges, key advances (transmitter, antenna, signal stability, digitization and digital processing, waveforms, algorithms)
  12. Electro-Optical theory. Radiometric Quantities, Stephan Botzman Law, Wein’s Law.
  13. Electro-Optical Targets, Background and Attenuation. Lasers, Selective Radiation, Thermal Radiation Spreading, Divergence, Absorption Bands, Beers Law, Night Vision Devices.
  14. Infrared Range Equation. Detector Response and Sensitivity, Derivation of Simplified IR Range Equation, Example problems.
  15. Sound Propagation in Oceans. Thermal Structure of Ocean, Sound Velocity Profiles, Propagation Paths, Transmission Losses.
  16. SONAR Figure of Merit. Target Strength, Noise, Reverberation, Scattering, Detection Threshold, Directivity Index, Passive and Active Sonar Equations.
  17. Underwater Detection Systems. Transducers and Hydrophones, Arrays, Variable Depth Sonar, Sonobuoys, Bistatic Sonar, Non-Acoustic Detection Systems to include Magnetic Anomaly Detection.
  18. Weapon Ballistics and Propulsion. Relative Motion, Interior and Exterior Ballistics, Reference Frames and Coordinate Systems, Weapons Systems Alignment.
  19. Guidance: Guidance laws and logic to include pursuit, constant bearing, proportion navigation and kappa-gamma. Seeker design.
  20. Fuzing Principles. Fuze System Classifications, Proximity Fuzes, Non-proximity Fuzes.
  21. Chemical Explosives. Characteristics of Military Explosives, Measurement of Chemical Explosive Reactions, Power Index Approximation.
  22. Warhead Damage Predictions. Quantifying Damage, Circular Error Probable, Blast Warheads, Diffraction and Drag loading on targets, Fragmentation Warheads, Shaped Charges, Special Purpose Warheads.
  23. Underwater Warheads. Underwater Explosion Damage Mechanisms, Torpedoes, Naval Mine Classification.v


Craig Payne recently retired as a principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. His expertise is in the “detect to engage” process with emphasis in sensor systems, (sonar, radar, and electro-optics), development of fire control solutions for systems, guidance methods, fuzing techniques, and weapon effects on targets. He is also a retired U.S. Naval Officer from the Surface Warfare community and has extensive experience naval operations. During a tour of duty at the U. S. Naval Academy he designed, taught, and literally wrote the book for the course called Principles of Naval Weapons. This course is provided to all U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen, 62 colleges and Universities that offer the NROTC program and taught abroad at various national service schools.

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