New material increases the explosive force of weapons

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The US Navy has announced the development of a new material that increases the explosive force of warheads and increases their accuracy, making it a potential replacement for current steel warhead casings.

The US Navy Office of Naval Research (ONR) said that by combining several metals with standard manufacturing techniques, High-Density Reactive Material (HDRM) has the potential to dramatically increase the explosive impact of most weapons with little or no compromise in strength or design.

For more than five years, ONR has been developing and testing high density reactive materials for fragmenting warheads. The results of these investments have the potential to place the Navy on the edge of revolutionary change in ordnance design and effectiveness, the Navy said.

Unlike conventional munitions, the innovative materials approach integrates the casing with approved warhead explosives for increased lethality. In addition, the unique design for fragmenting warheads allows the release of chemical energy after impact, increasing the probability of a catastrophic kill.
“Recent testing and demonstrations have consistently shown that the new casings can be integrated into naval missiles and are durable enough to withstand both high acceleration of missile launch and the forces exposed to during the detonation event,” said Dr. Clifford Bedford, ONR’s energy conversion program officer. “The HDRM fragments can penetrate a target’s skin, followed by a rapid and sustained combustion/explosion.”

The last test shots were fired at the Army’s Blossom Point Field Test Facility in Maryland at the end of June.

HDRM has the strength of common aluminium alloys yet the density of mild steel, making it an ideal replacement for steel components. This is important because, in order for existing weapon systems to maintain probability of a hit, they must have a density similar to that of steel.

ONR is planning additional test shots this month at Blossom Point. A large-scale demonstration against multiple stationary targets is tentatively planned for September.



The reactive materials team at Naval Surface Warfare Centre, Indian Head Division, a partner with ONR, was recently honoured with a Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year award for developing the material.