O-100 Reduced Vulnerability Minimum Smoke Propellants for Tactical Rocket Motors

August 2005
Ian J. Powell (Mitigation Methods)

Minimum smoke rocket propellants (classified as AA in STANAG 6016) have been in use for over 60 years. The principal benefit of these types of propellants is their lack of visible signature. This enables the firing position to remain concealed and thus less vulnerable to hostile action. In common with other propellant types, the main emphasis has been on increasing the performance. This has traditionally been achieved by the addition of nitramines to the composition. These materials are both highly energetic as well as smokeless, although they do have limited ballistic parameters (i.e. burning rate range). Although performance is still an important factor, the rocket motor designers must now ensure that the vulnerability is as low as practicable. Unfortunately the conventional nitramine filled minimum smoke propellants are very shock sensitive and can detonate on bullet impact, fragment impact as well as sympathetically. As a result there has been much effort to reduce the vulnerability to shock. This paper provides an assessment of what has been achieved in pursuit of reduced vulnerability minimum smoke propellants. This includes both solid as well as gelled formulations, but does not cover rocket motor design issues such as case configuration or mitigation devices.

The most effective methodology in designing any motor to be IM compliant is to use a systems approach. This concept has been described in detail in various references and will not be repeated here. In summary, the designer needs to consider the propellant, case design as well as packaging. As this paper is focused on propellants, it will only address one aspect of the system design the propellant.

Presentation details

This paper was presented at the 41st AIAA/SME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibition held at Tucson, Arizona, USA on 10-13 July 2005