Warhead casings that increase explosive impact undergo tests

The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) is testing a new material that will replace steel in warhead casings and increase the likelihood of a hit on an enemy target.

By combining several metals with standard manufacturing techniques, the new High-Density Reactive Material (HDRM) is said to have the potential to dramatically increase the explosive impact of most weapons with little or no compromise in strength or design.

Unlike conventional munitions, the innovative materials approach reportedly integrates the casing with approved warhead explosives for increased lethality. In addition, ONR said the unique design for fragmenting warheads allows release of chemical energy after impact, increasing the probability of a 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 the high acceleration of missile launch and the forces they are exposed to during the detonation event,’ said Dr Clifford Bedford, ONR’s energy conversion programme officer.

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 in mid-August at Blossom Point. A large-scale demonstration against multiple stationary targets is tentatively planned for September.