Pentagon Running Out of U.S. Suppliers of Energetic Materials

bobbymike

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National Defense Magazine:

The Defense Department may have to rely on foreign suppliers of certain raw materials that are used in military munitions because of a shortage of domestic manufacturers, a Pentagon probe reveals.

A team of munitions experts from the office of the secretary of defense warned in a report that the U.S. military is at risk of losing domestic sources of explosives, propellants, pyrotechnics and their ingredients, which are collectively known as energetic materials.

“A large number of materials are at risk of becoming unavailable to the Department over the next couple of years,” concluded a tiger team that Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall chartered in February 2012. The group’s findings were discussed at a recent Precision Strike Association meeting in Springfield, Va. Jose M. Gonzalez, director of land warfare and munitions within Kendall’s office, said the team included participants from all branches of the military, U.S. Special Operations Command, every major defense agency, NASA and the Department of Energy.

The group identified 181 “at risk” materials, and four were labeled “critically at risk.” Of the 181, 131 are made either by a single source producer in the United States or only by foreign manufacturers. The unavailability of any of these materials would affect the production of explosives, gun and rocket propellants, and pyrotechnics. “The supply network is very fragile and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future,” the report said.

Gonzalez did not specify which materials were of most concern to the Pentagon. Army officials in 2010 cited triaminotrinitrobenzene, lead azide and calcium silicide among the energetic materials that had either one or no domestic producers.

The issue was brought to Gonzalez’ attention by laboratories and munitions manufacturers, he said. “There was concern about access to critical ingredients.” Kendall is reviewing the tiger team’s findings, said Gonzalez. The dilemma for the Pentagon is whether it should be subsidizing certain U.S. suppliers if their products are considered indispensable. With budget cuts hitting across the Defense Department, this option might be unrealistic, he said. “Throwing money at a problem is going to be harder to do in this fiscal environment.” His office is studying ways in which the Defense Department can be “proactive” in helping to keep key suppliers financially viable and avert the need of a government bailout.

It is difficult to predict if and when the U.S. energetics materials industry will collapse because of the large number of “potential single point failures,” the tiger team said. “A Defense Department-wide solution which includes industry participation is needed.”

Gonzalez said the Pentagon has taken action to revitalize domestic production of triaminotrinitrobenzene, or TATB, which he called a “good news story.”

To revive the TATB industrial base, the Pentagon resorted to the DoD-Ordnance Technology Consortium, a public-private partnership with 214 member companies. DOTC members were asked to propose ways to produce and reclaim qualified TATB. At least one U.S. contractor, BAE Ordnance Systems, has made the cut, Gonzalez said. “I've been told that BAE at Holston [Army Ammunition Plant, in Tennessee] has made the first 500 pound batch of material and appears to meet specs.”

Gonzalez noted that government-industry collaborations such as the DOTC are examples of how to improve the military procurement process. “It’s an efficient mechanism for putting dollars on projects,” he said. It allows the Pentagon to use the so-called “other transaction authority” in the Federal Acquisition Regulation to expedite contract awards. The DOTC, he said, “allows us to have open dialogue that is not available in other ways." The consortium over the past three years has done $408 million worth of business across 169 projects.

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The military cannot do much without things that go boom :eek:
 

bobbymike

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http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2016/February/Pages/NavalEnergeticsResearchNeedsRenewedFocus.aspx

Now consider the future. News media reported that Russia seeks to develop a new fuel that will power Mach 5 hypersonic missiles. Documents also evidence quests for “super-cavitating” undersea weapons, with speeds of more than 200 mph — a capability greatly dependent on propellants. Additionally, Indian news broadcasts reported their country’s development of CL-20 explosive — created, but not pursued, by the United States — which is four times more powerful than standard RDX explosive.

Foreign weapon advances in multiple domains are improving and expanding.
 

TomS

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CL-20 is not four times more powerful than RDX. It's about 20 percent more energetic than HMX or RDX, and it's rather shock sensitive--not a good characteristic in a military explosive. To make it safe enough to transport you have to mix it with equal parts TNT, at which point why not just stick with RDX?

CL-20 even has its own "Things I Won't Work With" blog entry:

http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2011/11/11/things_i_wont_work_with_hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane
 

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This is dynamite information - thanks for sharing. I wonder what the MOABs use for its explosive punch. -SP
 

TomS

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MOAB?

I believe its filling is H-6, which is a blend of RDX, TNT, and aluminum powder.
 

bobbymike

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I have read a couple of interesting articles one in an Army publication another in a Navy publication talking about nano-energetics coming closer to fruition that will be 3 to 4 times the power of current explosives. I will try and find and post.
 

John21

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The Army wants 40MM grenades with the lethality effect of 155MM Artillery. WTF kind of compound could cause that kind of effect?
What this can do for the Army is huge, he said. With new material science advances, researchers foresee a 40mm grenade that a Soldier fires from a rifle to deliver dramatic effects.

"You can really change the dynamic of what that Soldier is able to do," Jadus said. "It may mean a 40mm grenade with 155mm artillery effects. We may not get there, but it is certainly where this can take us. It can also radically increase the range of our weapons"
http://m.army.mil/article/132953/Investing_in_the_Army_s_future
http://m.army.mil/article/132849
 

Grey Havoc

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John21 said:
The Army wants 40MM grenades with the lethality effect of 155MM Artillery. WTF kind of compound could cause that kind of effect?
A few things that come to mind are:

-Octol
-Metallic Hydrogen
-Blast silicon
-Nanite based explosives
 

sferrin

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Grey Havoc said:
John21 said:
The Army wants 40MM grenades with the lethality effect of 155MM Artillery. WTF kind of compound could cause that kind of effect?
A few things that come to mind are:

-Octol
-Metallic Hydrogen
-Blast silicon
-Nanite based explosives
I'd think antimatter would almost be more viable than metallic hydrogen. As soon as pressure was removed from metallic hydrogen what's to keep it from reverting to gas? Octol doesn't seem that much more powerful than any other conventional explosive (it's already being used). Never heard of "blast silicon".
 

Grey Havoc

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sferrin said:
I'd think antimatter would almost be more viable than metallic hydrogen. As soon as pressure was removed from metallic hydrogen what's to keep it from reverting to gas?
It, ah, decompresses explosively (and then some!).

Octol doesn't seem that much more powerful than any other conventional explosive (it's already being used).
It's quite expensive, so is generally used in small amounts, usually in combination with other less powerful explosives.

Never heard of "blast silicon".
Sorry, that's my own personal nickname for Nanoporous silicon explosives.
 

sferrin

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Grey Havoc said:
sferrin said:
I'd think antimatter would almost be more viable than metallic hydrogen. As soon as pressure was removed from metallic hydrogen what's to keep it from reverting to gas?
It, ah, decompresses explosively (and then some!).
Exactly. It's the equivalent of setting off a bomb and then trying to stuff the explosion back into it's casing for later use. There is no casing strong enough to contain it.
 

TomS

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A while back, the flavor of the month was metastable metallic hydrogen. But no one has been able to demonstrate metastable hydrogen outside a lab (and maybe not even there).

After that, it was nuclear isomer (hafnium) explosives, but depending on who you ask, those are either impossible or indistinguishable from fission explosions.
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
A while back, the flavor of the month was metastable metallic hydrogen. But no one has been able to demonstrate metastable hydrogen outside a lab (and maybe not even there).

After that, it was nuclear isomer (hafnium) explosives, but depending on who you ask, those are either impossible or indistinguishable from fission explosions.
Thought it was metastable helium? (Could swear it was in an Air Force Magazine back in the 80s or 90s.)

Hah! Looks like Air Force Magazine has a decent search engine for their back issues. From their August 1984 issue:

"Superenergetic Materials

Basic research now under way also provides evidence that superenergetic materials have great potential as the fuel, power, and explosive sources of the future.

One potential energy source is metastable helium, or MSH. MSH is helium with its electrons raised to an excited state — a state in which energy is stored — and stabilized in that state. Currently, it appears that this material can be produced by bombarding liquid helium with electrons to achieve the energized state, applying a polarized laser to align the spic of the atoms, and then using a magnetic field to facilitate stabilization of the new material. Theoretical work suggests that this material will have strong bonding between atoms, resulting in a solid with a high melting temperature and a usable life span of measured in years. The right trigger mechanism will cause the MSH to return to its normal state while releasing a tremendous amount of energy.

As an energy source, MSH will offer a number of advantages, including its being manufactured from materials readily available in the United States. It can be used for electrical power. Its energy density is more than 1,200 times that of lithium batteries. Further, it may be useful in powering lasers.

MSH has more than five times the stored energy capacity of TNT. An MSH munition will outperform a TNT weapon — with thirty times the overpressure on a target of a TNT munition of similar weight at the same miss distance.

Perhaps the most exciting potential use of MSH or another superenergetic material is as a fuel source for aerospace vehicles. MSH will have about six times the propulsion efficiency of a liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen mixture. In addition to saving weight and space, it will be more easily stored and handled than the fuels now in use, and its byproducts are environmentally inert."
 

TomS

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Hydrogen was also discussed in a far future sort of way though it's unclear whether anyone ever managed to demonstrate anything even at lab scale.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13642819908205741?journalCode=tphb20
 

bobbymike

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LANL 3D printed explosives

http://lanl.gov/discover/publications/1663/2016-march/_assets/docs/1663_26_explosive-3d-design.pdf
 

bobbymike

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https://nice.asu.edu/nano/nanoenergetics-explosives-and-propellants-0
 

bobbymike

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Good News? I would fund as robust an energetic research program as possible. Get there first (propulsion) with the biggest bang (explosives)

https://medium.com/@RDECOM/army-scientists-synthesize-high-performing-energetic-material-8a5673ff28be#.tct25prv1
 

NeilChapman

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Grey Havoc said:
John21 said:
The Army wants 40MM grenades with the lethality effect of 155MM Artillery. WTF kind of compound could cause that kind of effect?
A few things that come to mind are:

-Octol
-Metallic Hydrogen
-Blast silicon
-Nanite based explosives
You sweet talker you ;D
 

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Orionblamblam

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John21 said:
The Army wants 40MM grenades with the lethality effect of 155MM Artillery. WTF kind of compound could cause that kind of effect?
Boomex. Avoid mixing with Ovalkwik.
 

sferrin

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Orionblamblam said:
John21 said:
The Army wants 40MM grenades with the lethality effect of 155MM Artillery. WTF kind of compound could cause that kind of effect?
Boomex. Avoid mixing with Ovalkwik.
I see stuff like that and wonder about micro-nukes. I've always heard there was a minimum size due to having sufficient critical mass but I'd think density would be more important than absolute mass.
 

bobbymike

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http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/air-space/strike/2016/05/13/rocket-motor-congress-defense-policy/84321310/

According to a memo obtained by Defense News with both Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne’s logos stamped across the top, the legislation is necessary to help a suffering solid rocket motor industrial base in the US.

“Limited new tactical motor programs, coupled with few planned upgrades to existing tactical missile programs, have placed the domestic industrial base of [solid rocket motors] at risk, a situation made worse by outsourcing rocket motor production to foreign suppliers,” the memo said.

The number of domestic producers of such rocket motors has dropped since the 1980s from five suppliers to two due to a “significant” reduction in the number of new tactical missile programs and the tendency by the Pentagon to cut missile procurement in order to pay other bills, according to the memo.

The memo noted that the US industrial base is further affected by missile prime contractors choosing foreign solid rocket motor suppliers. It specifically pointed to AMRAAM relying “solely” on a “Norwegian” supplier for rocket motors and said that the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile for the US Navy also uses a foreign supplier (also Nammo). Additionally, Raytheon’s Sidewinder and Lockheed’s Hellfire missile programs are considering foreign suppliers, according to the memo
I personally can think of a few dozen tactical and strategic weapons I'd develop using solid rockets............... :'(
 

quellish

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sferrin said:
I see stuff like that and wonder about micro-nukes. I've always heard there was a minimum size due to having sufficient critical mass but I'd think density would be more important than absolute mass.
It is more complicated than that, but your assumption in general is correct.
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016/05/heres-way-out-our-rare-earths-mess/128250/
 

marauder2048

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Grey Havoc said:
http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016/05/heres-way-out-our-rare-earths-mess/128250/
A bit poignant for me as I interned with Magnequench (actually based in Anderson, IN); the EPA closure of the Mountain Pass mine was particularly devastating and my abiding
memory was the ominious accumulation of Neodymium Fluoride bags emblazoned with Chinese brand marks.
 

sferrin

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You read this stuff (and many, many other things) and it's obvious our government is either unbelievably incompetent or completely corrupt. :mad: :'(
 

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sferrin said:
You read this stuff (and many, many other things) and it's obvious our government is either unbelievably incompetent or completely corrupt. :mad: :'(
No-count parenting (uneducated parents), piercings, tats, legalized pot and home-made bongs are the main contributors to this agonizing reappraisal of 'whatever you call it.' -SP
 

bobbymike

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https://www.army.mil/article/169673/

Nano-energetics
 

bobbymike

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http://www.ndia.org/Divisions/Divisions/ScienceAndEngineeringTechnology/Documents/ARL_Sept2013.pdf

Page 11 Poly-CO potential energetic material 7X RDX. Is this the material up the thread described as "putting 155mm artillery in a 40mm grenade?"
 

bobbymike

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https://medium.com/@RDECOM/at-molecular-level-picatinny-arsenal-seeks-to-develop-versatile-transparent-explosives-ed8d0f1c1e5d#.ieodzsjmf
 

bobbymike

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http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/11/if-newly-created-metallic-hydrogen.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2Fadvancednano+%28nextbigfuture%29&utm_content=FaceBook

A book about 4th generation nukes seemed to indicate metallic hydrogen had enough energy to be used for pure fusion weapons??
 

sferrin

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They've been talking about this since at least the 80s. Metastable hydrogen and helium. I've never heard what mechanism is supposed to keep this pressurized material compressed once you release the pressure though. The other question is cost.
 

bobbymike

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Los Alamos energetics presentation

http://permalink.lanl.gov/object/tr?what=info:lanl-repo/lareport/LA-UR-15-29091
 

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Sorry the file is damaged and cannot be opened.
 

bobbymike

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https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2018/05/22/the-us-is-running-out-of-bombs-and-it-may-soon-struggle-to-make-more/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ebb-5-23&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

WASHINGTON ― The Pentagon plans to invest more than $20 billion in munitions in its next budget. But whether the industrial base will be there to support such massive buys in the future is up in the air — at a time when America is expending munitions at increasingly intense rates.

The annual Industrial Capabilities report, put out by the Pentagon’s Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, has concluded that the industrial base of the munitions sector is particularly strained, something the report blames on the start-and-stop nature of munitions procurement over the last 20 years, as well as the lack of new designs being internally developed.

Some suppliers have dropped out entirely, leaving no option for replacing vital materials. Other key suppliers are foreign-owned, with no indigenous capability to produce vital parts and materials ― setting up the risk that a conflict with China could rely on Chinese-made parts.
https://partner-mco-archive.s3.amazonaws.com/client_files/1527002508.pdf
 

Grey Havoc

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https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2019/01/16/trump-to-use-federal-funds-to-prop-up-us-bomb-makers/
 

sferrin

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Grey Havoc said:
https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2019/01/16/trump-to-use-federal-funds-to-prop-up-us-bomb-makers/
Well THAT'S not a political headline. Federal funds are SUPPOSED to prop up US bomb makers. (Well, if the .gov expects to buy bombs anyway.)
 
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