CFD Research Corporation (CFDRC) has been awarded a contract for development of new salt-based propellants to support the US Military’s future air-launched and shoulder-fired missile launches.

Awarded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the $750,000 contract covers development and demonstration of a propellant formulation featuring enhanced energy and density, and will be capable of maintaining low-observability and insensitivity.

CFDRC principal investigator Dr Debasis Sengupta said the high-energy minimum-smoke propellants would enhance the soldier’s operational flexibility by increasing the stand-off distance and lowering the signature associated with the launch platform.

"All of these platforms are intended for use by joint and allied service warfighters to destroy high value stationary, moving, and relocatable land and naval targets."

"All of these platforms are intended for use by joint and allied service warfighters to destroy high value stationary, moving, and relocatable land and naval targets," Sengupta said.

The company has selected Alliant Tech Systems (ATK) as a key partner in the project, which also includes a wide range of undisclosed university and industry partners.

ATK advanced technologies and products director Dr Robert Wardle said: "The innovative use of high-energetic salts in propellant systems offers the potential to create an important technological advancement, which will provide increased performance and handling safety and advance the system for the warfighter."

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CFDRC will use a molecular modelling based approach it has demonstrated in a previous project to produce ingredients of the energetic salts-based improved performance next-generation solid propellants.

Combining the computational design of materials approach together with experimental synthesis and evaluation, the company hopes to enhance the efficiency, safety, as well as success rate of the development project.

Upon the programme’s conclusion, CFDRC is also scheduled to demonstrate improved impulse-density of one or more compatible energetic materials, while simultaneously maintaining or augmenting their smoke signature and insensitive munitions (IM) response.