Low cost nozzles tested for Trident missiles
17 April 2000
The US Navy's Trident II D5 missile is getting low-cost commercial technology in its nozzle section. A Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Integrated Product Team, which includes the US Navy Strategic Systems Programmes, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Alliant TechSystems and the Thiokol Corporation, recently conducted its second successful static-test firing of a demonstration motor using the new technology.
The test firing, conducted at the Naval Air Weapons Centre at China Lake in California, represents a trend in the industry to use emerging commercial products to drive down the cost of high-tech weapon systems. Programme officials estimate the low-cost nozzle components used in this test represent a 60 percent reduction in the direct cost of materials and processing relative to those used in the current Trident II D5 missile.
"This nozzle demonstration was a follow-on to several technology evaluation projects conducted between 1994 and 1998 where lower cost designs, materials and process technologies were identified and demonstrated for potential application to strategic rocket motors,'' said Andy Baldi, Space Systems director of FBM propulsion systems. "The primary objective of these low-cost programmes is to make economical alternatives available for FBM boost motors, should the need arise. Additionally, we want to design motors that use more environmentally acceptable materials.''
The team will continue investigating motor design changes that will reduce the number of parts, simplify manufacturing and leverage advances in the commercial sector.
The Navy selected Lockheed Martin as its prime missile contractor in 1956. Since then, the FBM team has produced the Polaris (A1), Polaris (A2), Polaris (A3), Poseidon (C3), Trident I (C4) and the Trident II (D5) missile. The FBM team recently conducted its 86th and 87th straight successful test launches of a D5 missile.
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