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A new kind of missile makes for even bigger explosions

August 22, 2011
A new kind of missile makes for even bigger explosionsThe US Navy is introducing a new kind of missile. Instead of taking explosives to the target, the missile will be a chemical reaction held in readiness until it hits the target. The navy says it will reduce the deaths of innocent bystanders while increasing the effect of the explosion.

How does it work?

So far, the bodies of missiles have just been a convenient way of getting explosive materials to a certain point. The outer steel shell is meant to be a durable and aerodynamic frame, to house the inner explosives. It doesn’t do anything itself. That is about to change. Instead of regular steel, the new missiles will have High-Density Reactive Materials in them. These materials, called HDRMs, will add to the explosion when they hit the target.

Instead of solid steel, these new missiles will have shells made out of a combination of metals. Also mixed in is an oxidizing agent. Oxidizing agents help aid combustion, usually by giving oxygen over to the combusting material. When an ordinary missile hits the target, the energy in the steel shell doesn’t go into the explosion. Instead, it’s scattered as shrapnel around the area of the explosion. When this combination of oxidizers and metals hits a target, the materials are combined by the force of the explosion, and they explode themselves. This makes for a bigger localized explosion, but doesn’t send pieces of steel flying over the area. The navy believes that this change will lead to a smaller amount of bystander deaths.

They also believe that the overall explosion will be more effective. One of the proposed uses for the new HDRM missile is in missile defense. Instead of shooting several missiles at incoming projectiles, checking to see whether they hit anything, and then firing again, the navy is hoping to fire just one. The larger explosion, and the detonating shell of the missile will, they believe, make it easier to hit incoming missiles.

The HDRM missiles are technologically ready, but currently several time more expensive than regular missiles. If they prove successful and cost effective, the military may move on to hand grenades or machine gun bullets made of the same substance.

Via The BBC.

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