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The inclusion of open cells within general purpose bombs or unitary penetrating warheads has been experimented with for a couple of decades. Using a cellular architecture within the bomb for the placement of explosive material provides differing impact results. One such design was the thin unitary multi-purpose penetrator (THUMP) developed with open linear cells. However, the realization of that design failed due to poor manufacturing processes and a lack of quality control.
For ease of manufacturing, the Air Force has developed a new linear cellular design in which cells are machined by electrical discharge milling (EDM) into a billet of steel. The EDM process creates 12-16 inch sections of the bomb, excluding the nose and fuze well sections. These major sections are then friction welded end-to-end until the entire assembly is created. The welds are then ground down to the surface of the warhead skin. The physically partitioned cells are then filled with explosive material. The design is optimized taking into account compressive strength, shear deflection, minimal stress concentrations, uniform wall thickness, and payload stability.
- Reticulating structures of the open linear cells create controlled fragment distribution and experiments have shown that fragments are typically lighter and faster, with fewer junk fragments than a typical bomb cylinder
- Linear cell bomb design causes forward fragmentation projection
- Janssen effect keeps the explosive from cracking, while undergoing penetration
- Impedance of the interior of the bomb matches the fuze thus allowing direct weak shock communication through the explosive and no ejection of the fuze upon impact
- Open linear cells in of themselves are physical barriers, which can be used as a means to load different kinds of explosives and chemicals into a bomb
- US patent 8,015,924 available via express license
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