AFRL demonstrates critical new warhead technologies for high speed weapons

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFRL) – The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) successfully demonstrated new warhead technologies for high speed weapons at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, Nov. 18, 2020.

AFRL and two small business partners, Energetic Materials & Products Inc. and Hydrosoft International, developed the warhead technologies. Holloman’s 846th Test Squadron conducted the test on their High Speed Test Track.

The sled test was a success with the warhead reaching high speeds and detonating at the exact moment intended. Michael Denigan, the Principal Investigator for the technology demonstration, described the test, saying, “A rocket sled accelerated the warhead at high speeds and an electric circuit at the end of the track detonated the warhead precisely on target. This demonstration gives our industry partners confidence that this smaller warhead solution will perform well in actual flight.”

AFRL and its partners designed a novel warhead that is less than half the weight of a conventional design while maintaining the same effectiveness.

Col. Garry Haase, Director of the AFRL Munitions Directorate, described the importance of the technology, stating, “These warheads take up a lot less space allowing high speed weapons to carry more fuel, increasing the distance they can travel.”

The successful demonstration of the warhead provides the U.S. Air Force with the technology needed to enable current and future high speed systems.

image of test rocket

An experimental high-speed conformal warhead awaits testing at the Holloman Air Force Base High Speed Test Track in new Mexico. (Courtesy photos)