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Posted: 2/22/2006 2:57:33 PM EDT
Killer Heat

At some point, forces will need to attack a target that is likely to contain chemical and/or biological agents. The U.S. Navy has patented a weapon system that can penetrate and destroy targets associated with weapons of mass destruction.

The U.S. Navy has patented a weapon system, more particularly weapon systems, that can penetrate and destroy targets associated with weapons of mass destruction, including manufacturing and storage facilities. In particular, the concept is for weapon systems that can penetrate and destroy chemical and biological manufacturing and storage facilities and warhead and weapons storage and bunker facilities without dispersing chemical and biological agents that could cause severe collateral damage.

Weapon systems have been designed to effectively destroy myriad types of targets. Most of these systems have been designed with two criteria in mind. First, the weapon system must be able to reach the target. Second, the weapon system must then be able to destroy the target. However, in dealing with targets that contain chemical or biological agents, such as manufacturing and storage facilities, a third criterion also must be addressed. These chemical and biological agents must be destroyed in such a manner to preclude or minimize the release of the chemical and biological agents outside the facility to minimize dispersal of these agents to avoid severe collateral damage.

Previous Concepts

While many current chemical and biological manufacturing and storage facilities are located above ground, in the future these facilities could well be relocated to underground, fortified locations that are more difficult to reach or may not be reachable by conventional weapons systems due to their deeply buried hardened construction. Various weapon system concepts have been developed to address delivering a destructive payload to these hardened deeply buried targets and other such difficult-to-reach targets.

For example, a 1990 patent from Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm GmbH of Germany describes a warhead that uses a forward hollow charge in order to create a passageway for an internal, follow-up projectile to be fired into fortified or armored targets.

A 1998 patent from Diehl GmbH & Co. of Germany details a similar type of two-stage device comprising an armor-piercing hollow charge that clears a region or path for the missile to reach its final destination, where upon impact, a post-firing fragmentation explosive charge is released due to inertia.

A 1996 patent by Rockwell International Corp. discusses a projectile that includes multiple warheads separated by casings with independent detonators wherein the warheads are detonated sequentially in order to penetrate the target.

A 1999 patent from Raytheon Company describes a missile warhead comprising a tungsten ballast to provide high warhead cross-sectional density to increase pressure upon impact.

Finally, a 2001 patent by the United States of America as represented by the secretary of the Navy describes a variable output warhead comprising several compartments separated by a shock-absorbing shield, each filled with explosive material. The shield prevents sympathetic detonation from one compartment to another. Depending upon the target, a specific number of compartments can be selected for initiation.

While these and other designs have provided some success in attacking hardened and deeply buried targets, none of these weapon systems addresses the need to destroy the final target in such a manner to minimize dispersal of chemical and biological agents. There have been systems designed to safely destroy chemical and biological agents.

A 2000 patent by Battelle Memorial Institute describes a method to destroy chemical weapons by acid digestion. Further, a 2002 patent describes a method and apparatus to destroy terrorist weapons by detonation of these weapons in a contained environment. However, these and other known methods were developed to destroy chemical and biological agents that are in the users’ control and in some type of controlled and contained environment.

With no other known solutions, the Navy still needs a weapon system that can penetrate both surface targets, or soft targets, and deeply buried hardened targets, or hard targets, containing chemical and biological agents and destroy these agents in such a manner to minimize dispersal of these agents and avoid severe collateral damage.

The Navy Way

A concept proposed by the Navy comprises a weapon system capable of meeting the requirement to engage both surface and buried targets that contain chemical and biological agents. It also can be used to engage surface and buried targets that are sensitive to incendiary devices such as petroleum and fuel storage facilities, conventional weapons bunkers containing high explosive and blast fragmentation weapons, and other targets. In engaging chemical and biological manufacturing and storage facilities the system then destroys the chemical and biological agents to minimize dispersal of these agents to ensure that collateral damage is also minimized.


The target is reached using a kinetic energy penetrator warhead that can engage both surface and buried soft and hardened targets. One kinetic energy penetrator warhead is the 2,000 pound BLU-109 penetrator. Another is the 1,000 pound J-1000 warhead. However, depending upon the target, various warheads could be used.


The warhead contains a high-temperature incendiary (HTI) fill capable of destroying chemical and biological agents in such a manner to minimize dispersal of these agents.

The high-temperature incendiary fill, through reaction, produces convective heating, thermal radiation and a biocide in order to defeat both chemical and biological agents while minimizing dispersal of these agents. The high-temperature incendiary fill comprises either a single- or two-stage intermetallic composition that generates heat. These intermetallic compositions generate a thermal impulse having a maximum temperature from about 750 to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, depending upon the size of the target engaged, in order to destroy the agent with high heat, by exceeding its normal temperature range and by agent combustion.

The thermal impulse needs to maintain a high temperature for as long as possible in order to ensure that the chemical and biological agents are destroyed by raising the temperature of the agent outside the bounds at which it can survive. A preferred thermal profile would include a thermal impulse burning rate of over 400 degrees Fahrenheit for several minutes, and preferably over five minutes.

The intermetallic composition also will contain a large number of wicking fibers in the fill. The purpose of the fibers is to “wick” up chemical and biological agent and to present a local to ignite the chemical agent by the burning fill, much like lighting a candle wick, and to initiate and maintain the burning of the agent in pool fires.

Finally, the intermetallic composition needs to achieve the desired thermal impulse above low-overpressure, normally in the range of 0.2 to 0.5 psi, in order to ensure minimal dispersion of the chemical and biological agents during defeat.


Bomblets are incorporated into the warhead and are ejected, with the HTI fill, to penetrate the chemical and biological agent containers and tanks. This allows the product of the reaction of the warhead fill to react with and destroy the agents.

The bomblets are designed to penetrate tanks and containers of chemical and biological agents so that the agents spill out of the containers. Any number of bomblets may be used, although a standard range for the number of bomblets for a BLU-109 warhead is from about five to 10. The function of the bomblets is to open a sufficient number of biological or chemical agent storage tanks in a “limited damage” approach where the bomblets will not, in general, open and release more biological agent or chemical agent than the weapon can destroy, thus reducing collateral damage.

Typically, bomblets have copper plates with a rubber backing with a high explosive material placed against the rubber backing, and perhaps C-4, RDX or HMX-based fills. The bomblets are attached to a thermal detonator that initiates them when the reaction temperature of the high-temperature incendiary fill reaches a certain point, usually somewhere between 300 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Finally, the system may also contain a layer of material capable of generating a biocide immediately upon ejection from the warhead prior to the ejection and burn of the bomblets. The biocide agent is added to the back of the payload to address a situation where the warhead penetrates a container containing a biological agent before the high temperature incendiary fill can be deployed.


There are a variety of warhead guidance systems including a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guidance kit. The JDAM employs a GPS-updated inertial guidance system to effect guidance to the target coupled with a movable tail control kit, for aerodynamic control, which retrofits to the existing bomb inventory including, but not limited to, Mk-84, 82 and 80 series bombs and BLU-109. Another option is the semi-active laser guidance system which is used in the Guided Bomb Unit-24. In use, this system illuminates the target with a laser beam and the weapon guidance kit interprets the reflection of the laser energy from the target in such a way to provide steering commands to the canards on the nose of the bomb to effect aerodynamic control to steer the bomb.


Preventing collateral damage is a high priority to protect non-combatants as well as any localized friendly forces. When dealing with any weapon of mass destruction agent, the potential collateral damage is more far-reaching because blast and concussion damage is not the only concern. Agents released into the open air can spread in a variety of uncontrollable directions multiplying the risks exponentially. Developing a single system that can not only reach and breach the location of the agent but also neutralize it at the same time is a necessary weapon in the toolkit.

Link Posted: 2/22/2006 6:48:08 PM EDT
night crew bumpitude...
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 3:28:32 AM EDT
Them bombs is right purty. But didn't anyone ever tell them that patents are totally useless?

If anyone knows the patent numbers, I'd like to snarf 'em.
Link Posted: 3/1/2006 6:42:42 PM EDT
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