Estimation and Prediction of Ballistic Missile Trajectories

by Jeffrey A. Isaacson, David Vaughan

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To examine the capabilities satellites can bring to bear in a theater missile defense (TMD) environment, the authors describe a methodology, based on Kalman filtering, for the estimation and prediction of ballistic missile trajectories and then apply the methodology to a notional theater ballistic missile. One useful application is in estimating the uncertainty associated with the location of a missile launch. Determining missile location uncertainty at any point along the trajectory is another application. Filters optimized for random errors alone as well as random plus bias errors are outlined. Harnessed in a theater of operations, the type of information described in this report can be used to enhance the capability of active and passive defenses and attack operations.

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