O-189 Lifecycle of a Flare Countermeasure

July 2018
Rebecca Millar, MSIAC Stokes Fellow (2018)

Traditionally countermeasure flares have been manufactured from a mixture of Magnesium, Teflon® and Viton® (MTV). Unrivalled in their high temperature output, they have protected aircraft for almost 50 years. However, MTV flares are ineffective against modern seeker technology, which is increasingly adept at discriminating false targets spatially and/or spectrally. In response, flares are under continual development to closely match the kinetics and emission output of the platform they are protecting. New spectral flares vary widely in their formulation, often consisting of propellants or even incorporating high explosives. As such, the hazards and ageing mechanisms cannot be read across from their MTV equivalents. There is limited knowledge sharing with regard to testing, ageing, degradation mechanisms and safety incidents because of security restrictions surrounding these formulations.

The lifecycle of a flare varies depending on the country of use, operational use and the platform specific requirements. Currently there is no overarching standard or best practice guidance for qualification of flares. As energetic stores, AOP-7 and AOP-15 provide a guide; but these do not capture bespoke testing which has emerged in response to accidents, incidents and trials. This paper will recommend areas for standardisation. Additionally, it will assess the ageing and failure mechanisms of MTV and selected spectral flares.

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