Air Weapons: May 20, 2005

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The U.S. Air Force has developed a towed SAM simulator called TAPS (Towed Airborne Plume Simulator). This allows missile detection systems to be tested more thoroughly and realistically. TAPS is a 228mm diameter, 6.75 foot long cylinder that is carried under the wing of an F-16 or A-10. Once aloft, the aircraft deploys the TAPS on a 600 meter cable. TAPS emits plumes that simulate those found on anti-aircraft missiles. The shape of the TAPS also simulates the shape of a missile. The aircraft towing TAPS then flys near an aircraft carrying missile detection systems to be tested. These systems detect the plumes of oncoming missiles, as well as their shape. Before TAPS, there was no really accurate way to test the missile detectors under actual conditions. 

 


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