The ultimate return on our science and technology investment is warfighter capabilities. As the manager of the Department of the Navy Science and Technology Program, the Office of Naval Research will continue to ensure that the portfolio includes the best available mix of investment partners and research performers. And since our ultimate shareholders are sailors and Marines, the return on investment we look for in Naval science and technology is not profits, but capabilities. The Navy and Marine Corps operate on—and above, and under, and from—the sea.
Committee for Undersea Weapons Science and Technology
The maritime environment extends from the sea floor to earth orbit. It is complex and challenging, and it makes Naval operations inherently difficult and dangerous even under the best conditions. The Department of the Navy has therefore historically placed great emphasis on maintaining a vigorous science and technology program in those areas where research is critically important to maintaining United States Naval superiority.
A lot of those areas, uniquely important to the Navy and Marine Corps, are simply not addressed by research investments from the other Services, or for that matter from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, other federal research establishments, or even private industry. This means that the health, strength, and growth of our scientific and technical capabilities in those fields depend upon the Department of the Navy.
On behalf of the Department of the Navy, the Office of Naval Research must ensure continuing United States leadership in these vitally important scientific and technical disciplines. It does so through research, recruitment, and education, all done with a view to sustaining an adequate base of talent and the critical infrastructure necessary to carry out research and experimentation. ONR Presents. The strategy includes a continuation of fundamental research 6.
To facilitate the transition to efforts in higher budget categories, about half of the 6. The spikes are to have approximately 3- to 5-year lifetimes and include scheduled milestones. It is understood that National Naval Needs should have continuity and a stable budget. The processes for executing this strategy are under way. The chapter also reviews the program from the point of view of the issues listed in the terms of reference and attempts to answer the two questions posed there.
The questions posed in the statement of task are then addressed. Planned 6. Figure 2. As the vehicles that are the targets of the torpedoes become smaller and are presumed to be less robust, the new thrust is to achieve the same explosive lethality with a smaller, lighter warhead. Lighter warheads with constant lethality would reduce the negative buoyancy of the torpedoes and permit them to run at lower speeds. Lower speeds might also enable longer run times, permitting the torpedo to loiter or search as well as attack. Certainly more energetic materials are known than those employed in current torpedoes.
Unfortunately, the higher the energy, the more unstable the compound tends to be. One of the principal directions of explosive materials research has been the formulation of insensitive warheads that provide both high yield and operational safety. The search for more effective explosives has usually followed the synthesis of chemicals that have a high energy density.
SBD, simulation-based design. The oxygen in the nitrate group NO3 provides the oxidant for the carbon and hydrogen. A compound called RDX is widely used in Navy warheads. A compound designated as HMX is about 10 percent more energy dense and has been superseding RDX when safe applications can be found. There are indications that HMX may be nearing the upper limit of energy density that can be made safe from inadvertent explosion, i.
A new and promising explosive, CL, is now in the process of being certified as insensitive. There are other families of chemicals that are not based on the nitration of organic compounds. Perchlorates ClO4— , for instance, are also high explosives, and their balance of energy density and sensitivity can be favorable.
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ONR has supported research and development on perchlorates, and some formulations are in use. Undersea explosives intended to destroy the hulls of ships and submarines often include aluminum in order to produce a large bubble, the dynamics of which in turn can place a large stress on the metal structure under attack.
The advantage of using aluminum is partially lost by the passivation of the surface of the aluminum particle in the explosive by an inert layer of Al2O3, which leaves unreacted aluminum under the surface layer. Doing so enhances the energy release, since the fluorine tends to undermine the Al2O3 and increases the activity of the aluminum by causing it to react more completely. This approach, however, may also sensitize the material, so a sufficient but partial insertion of NF2 appears to be necessary and is being investigated.
ONR has a long record of supporting studies of insensitive munitions. Formulations with various plastic materials have been highly successful. Unintended detonations are probably initiated by abrasion of the explosive particles.
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Formulations with nonexplosive binders usually commercial plastics can reduce sensitivity at the cost of dilution and lost energy density. ONR sponsors efforts to find optimum compositions. For example, the use of reactive binders e. ONR is supporting research into the origins of insensitivity. Good progress is being made using techniques that can characterize chemical reactions on very short time scales.
This work could lead to strategies for the synthesis of new families of more energy-dense but safe materials. ONR also supports the development of warheads with an improved shaped charge. Shaped charges can significantly reduce the amount of explosive needed to achieve the desired level of lethality. As pointed out above, a reduction in warhead weight might be used to enable improvements in other important weapon performance characteristics.
Under ONR sponsorship, progress has been achieved in the safety, arming, and fusing of undersea weapons.
With the use of advanced commercial electronics and microelectromechanical systems, the volume of the exploder has been reduced by more than 80 percent. While a reduction in the size of the fuse is important in all explosive-carrying undersea weapons, it is essential to the development of the new 6. Modeling of warhead-target interactions is another important area of study that ONR sponsors. These models are important adjuncts to experimental programs, as they will enhance understanding of the physics of the process, reduce the costs of development, and provide estimates of warhead lethality in situations that are difficult to test.
The committee noted that ONR research on explosives should be applicable also to sea mines. No example of this aspect of the research was presented. In addition, the energy and propulsion systems are usually the noisiest components in most torpedoes. The OTTO-fuel II system operates as an open cycle and discharges the exhaust to the ocean, while the SCEPS system has a closedcycle engine, a constant overall weight, higher energy density, and less radiated noise.
The absence of atmospheric oxygen provides a challenge for many energy systems in undersea vehicles. Other oxidants must be used, such as sulfur hexafluoride SF6 in the SCEPS unit, and there is only limited experience with such systems. Reliability and safety are important concerns for these energy sources because of their novelty and because these systems usually involve very energetic reactions. The ONR program for the propulsion of undersea weapons has two main thrusts: low-rate energy sources and high-rate energy sources.
The low-rate energy sources would be used in unmanned underwater vehicles UUVs targets, small delivery vehicles, and other low-speed vehicles, while the highrate energy sources would be used in high-speed weapons. Energy sources that can be switched from a low rate to a high rate would be applicable in weapons that have a low-speed search mode and highspeed attack.
The conventional low-rate energy sources are electrochemical devices such as rechargeable batteries and fuel cells. ONR activities are concentrated on high-energy-density electrochemical systems, including rechargeable lithium batteries and the new semifuel cells. It has aluminum or magnesium anodes that are consumed during operation and an oxidant that interacts with the catalytic cathode. Research is also being conducted using thermal units to provide low-rate energy sources.
The thermal conversion activities include the development of a small, closed-cycle Stirling engine coupled to a lithium-sulfur hexaflouride thermal-energy source. A novel wick combustor is being developed for this unit using capillarity to distribute the liquid metal. High-rate energy sources are being evaluated for potential use in torpedoes and in countermeasure applications. The HYDROX energy system produces gaseous oxygen from liquid lithium perchlorate and hydrogen from the reaction of water and a lithium-aluminum alloy.
The gaseous hydrogen and oxygen produced are burned in a combustion chamber to produce steam for a closed Rankine-cycle system.
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The same gas source could provide the hydrogen and oxygen for a fuel cell. The gases could also be used in a combined system utilizing a low-power unit for low-speed search and a high-power unit for highspeed operations. The innovative wick system to distribute liquid metal is being developed for use in the SCEPS lithium-sulfur hexafluoride upgrade. A novel vortex combustor is being developed for the water ramjet that would propel the high-speed supercavitating vehicle. Aluminum particles are burned in a vortex arrangement in a reaction with water. This unit, although potentially useful as a source of high-density energy for the supercavitating ramjet, could be used in other applications.
The production of large volumes of gaseous hydrogen from the aluminum-water reaction could, perhaps, be utilized to increase the energy density. The HYDROX system could be used in highrate, low-rate, or hybrid modes to enable smaller vehicles or superior performance.
The aluminumseawater vortex device could provide very high speed in special applications. These innovative approaches are good examples of revolutionary technology from ONR programs. The electrochemical area is the largest component of the undersea weapons 6. Guidance and Control The operational effectiveness of modern torpedoes has eroded in the face of countermeasures, reflected clutter or reverberation in shallow water, and the diminishing strength of acoustic targets. During the Cold War, quieting and countermeasures were the major challenges.
The technology under development for handling weak and false targets in each of these areas focuses on the use of sophisticated waveforms, enhanced processing, and improved sensors.