Sensor Testing, Modeling & Installation for Nuclear Detection


In the event of a nuclear attack, a prompt attribution of nuclear weapons use and characterization of the weapon type is essential to a US Government response.


Funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, ARA’s technology capabilities support the United States’ exploratory efforts and actions following a nuclear event.

A ground-based prompt detection and data system determines the detonation’s location, device yield and nuclear reaction history. The system operates via a combination sensors designed to detect seismic, infrasound, overpressure, optical, radio-frequency and gamma signatures.

The 3 functional areas that ARA covers under this project are:

  • Prompt Diagnostics Sensor Installation – complete procurement, retrofitting, and installation of a ground-based prompt nuclear diagnostics sensor suite. ARA is also supporting DTRA in transitioning D.O. to AFTAC for operational use.
    Modeling & Simulation R&D – ARA performs high-fidelity physics M&S to evaluate D.O. capabilities and sensor layout in the goal of detecting prompt nuclear detonation signatures.
  • Test & Exercise Support – provide engineering, experimental test design, data collection, M&S, and analysis for DTRA-sponsored interagency Nuclear Forensics exercises.

ARA’s efforts help to provide the US government with an integrated and improved capability to conduct post-detonation nuclear forensics and supports national effort to attribute acts of nuclear terrorism.

Michael Ortelli  •  Tel: 703-816-8886