Air Force

General purpose bomb or unitary penetrating warhead

Linear layout of explosives within the bomb leads to faster detonation and greater destructive force

Military Technology

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Unitary penetrator warhead 1 with case 2, (thinned to roughly ½ of its normal thickness), nose 3 and tail 4. The tail comprises an aft fuze well 5 with access plate 6. The bomb has open linear cells 7. The remainder of the cavity of the case, indicated by the reference numeral 8, is filled with high explosive.

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.

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