Pressure activated safe/arming device for air-dropped munitions

Safer handling of pressure triggered bombs

Military Technology

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“First Dropping of a Bomb from an Airplane” (Richard Locher via National Archives)

As used in explosive devices, the primary purpose of a safe and arm (S&A) device is to prevent accidental functioning of the main charge of explosive in a fuze prior to arming. Typically, in an electromechanical S&A device, a sensitive primary explosive is physically separated from a booster explosive by an interrupter or barrier component. The barrier component, often a slider or rotor, interrupts the explosive path and thus prevents detonation of the booster and main charge prior to arming. Arming occurs by moving the barrier component to align the explosive elements.

In some applications, it is desirable to operate an S&A device according to a fluid pressure differential, such as in the event of dropping a bomb from an airplane. But if there is a direct link between the barrier component and the pressure differential then the device may be sensitive to pressure fluctuations other than those meant to arm the device.

Navy scientists have now developed an S&A device wherein arming is indirectly affected by the pressure differential. This launch sensing, fluid pressure activated S&A device for a fuze in a bomb functions explosively when the proper target environment is provided. The device utilizes a piston and a drive shaft to spin a rotor in and out of the safe position. The piston is operated by a difference in air pressure that enters the fuze as the bomb leaves its delivery vehicle.

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