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GIS Based Missile Targeting System

Asdullah Khan Ghalib, Shakeel Sharif, Ather Ashraf 
Assistan Professor
GIS Center Punjab University

Almost all the military operation and planning are spatial in nature. GIS is most successful way of handling spatial data. Thus a GIS can play an important role in military operations and planning. In this research we focused on one of the operation of military that is missile target. The purpose of the research is to prove the concept and development of a GIS model to achieve accurate and perfect targeting of missile using satellite imagery and digital elevation model (DEM). This data help in calculating best and optimal trajectory of the missile. Application developed provides an easy interface, better visualization, navigation, and easy way to calculate missile trajectory. Application can be used during military exercise, war planning and during war.

The missile Ranging System is Multi Environment System that provide Range Services to facilitate training, tactics development and evaluation for air to air, air to ground, ground to ground and subsurface weapon system. In developing countries Defense Forces are testing their missile ranging system mainly based on Contours maps, survey sheets and Trajectory. This GIS based missile navigation system enabled us to calculate accurate missile ranging through Remote Sensing and GIS technology such as DEM (Digital Elevation Model), DTM (Digital Terrain Model),satellite imagery and Trajectory.
GIS Based Missile Targeting System (GBMTS) developed to utilize in passive defense; attack operations; and Battle Management/Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence
The primary goal of the application is to demonstrate the functions and potential of GIS technology to calculate the missile trajectory. In the model built technical data complexity and accuracy is not a primary concern. Basic geographical data and 3D models are created on Digital Elevation model.
The Defense forces use Survey Sheets and contour maps to study the topography of the earth. These maps are not accurate when we overlay sheets of same area with the same scale; therefore the results of trajectory were inaccurate. Keeping in view the above short comings, proposed system will use digital model of the earth surface. The result based on accurate data and calculated by efficient system, Will produce accurate results. GIS technology is used to achieve the following objectives.


  • GIS base Missile Ranging System Development
  • Calculation of Missile Trajectory
  • Visualization of Missile Flight path in 3-D.

Method of Trajectory Calculation
To calculate trajectory path, time and height, application takes two points, launching and target point. Launching and target point is easy to take as whole image is open for the user. Range is calculated from the user input. Total range is divided into twenty equal parts. Using10 angle trajectory height and velocity is calculated for each part of the total range. Height of the DEM is also calculated for the same part of the range. Application makes comparison between DEM and trajectory height and if the trajectory height is less than the height of Dem than angle is increased by five degrees. The process continues till the safe trajectory path is calculated. If the trajectory finds very sharp edge of terrain and it attain 85 degree angle process stops. User can aim new launching and target points. Formulae used in the process:

Implementation/Functional Description
The GIS based Missile Targeting System interface display North West Frontier Pakistan. Elevation is 8327 feet. The geographical feature data set include features such as landmarks. To prepare the land use map we have downloaded the satellite image of the area of concern from the Google earth. Google earth is web based dynamic global viewer. We use SRTM DEM which is available at USGS site free of cost. Resolution of DEM is 90 meters. High resolution DEM is also available and can be purchased by cost.

Digital Elevation Model is a digital representation of ground surface topography or terrain which contains elevation values expressed as “feet above mean sea level”.Fig:1

Fig: 1: Digital Elevation Model and Image
Application has option for user that he can add DEM and Image of its own selected area. As user click the add Dem button located on the tool bar, a form will be displayed with the name add data as shown in figure 2.

Fig: 2: Add Dem

User will click on add source and destination point button on tool bar, Then user will click source and destination points on DEM or image if user want to change its area of interest there is also a button namely “Clear” on the tool bar to clear the selected point for new selection and the location information of source and destination point will be displayed on the form namely “Get Target Points” As shown in figure 3.

Fig: 3: Add source and destination points

After selecting the source and destination point, user click a button namely “Calculate Trajectory” application will prompt that trajectory is calculated taking few seconds. To see the calculation regarding trajectory user click button “show missile Trajectory calculation” located on tool bar, this button opens a form which shows total time of missile flight path in seconds, launching or initial velocity in meter/sec of missile, missile range in meters, maximum height of DEM in meters, maximum height of missile in meters and launching angle of missile in degree. Figure: 4

Fig: 4: Trajectory Calculation

Calculated trajectory can be visualize and analyze in different views by clicking the button “3D view of trajectory” on tool bar as shown in figure 5 (a), (b), (c)& (d).

Fig: 5 (a): 3d view of Trajectory

Fig: 5 (b): 3d view of Trajectory

Fig: 5 (c): 3d View & Animation of Trajectory

Fig: 5 (d): 3d View & Camera Animation of Trajectory

The application develop is not for a specific missile. It is general missile trajectory calculation application and optimal path of trajectory can be calculated by changing source and destination just clicking the “Refresh” button.
The GBMT system objectives are to support the Missile Defense System with the following:

  • GIS base Missile Ranging System Development
  • Calculation of Missile Trajectory
  • Designing Missile Flight path in 3-D.

The GBMTS team utilized ArcEngine software development kit with visual studio2005 (vb.net) to achieve the above objectives in conjunction with the ERDAS image processing package. It is fact that GIS technologies could play a major role throughout the life cycle of a weapon system. However, the primary problem with any engineering analysis is data acquisition and validation.

Further research
This work can be extended in number of ways. Presently our model is calculating trajectory using Digital elevation model, we believe that we can extend our techniques in the following application.
The extended application could also simulate the scenarios of operational planning, track planning, real time tracking and off-track testing. The extended system could also simulate the real time tracking of all active components of the scenario as they travel on their pre-defined paths in 3D projections. The 3D projection could be rotated, tilted and zoomed to enhance viewing of the presentation. As an additional feature can be enhanced in our model that could provide a function that emulates a real time debris zone which is created by either target interception or missile impact in the target area. An expansion factor associated with the debris area could allow for growth of the area over time. The expansion area’s growth can be modified to take other environmental factors into consideration as part of the predicted debris spread. The debris area could also displayed 3D presentation In future our application may provide query functions and view tools to allow users to query on both geographical information and also tabular data relating to the facilities, environment, streets and utilities.