Air Force Research Laboratory|AFRL

Science and Technology for Tomorrow's Aerospace Force

JASSM To Fly With New Explosive Formulation

Cleared For Public Release: AFDTC/PA 98-422


When JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile - a weapon under joint development by the Air Force and Navy), goes into production, its warhead will contain a new explosive formulation developed at the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate, Ordnance Division, Energetic Materials Branch. Designated AFX-757, this new formualtion boasts of higher blast characteristics, is less sensitive to many physical effects which can trigger unwanted explosions, uses less expensive ingredients, and is easier to process than current explosive fills like Tritonal and PBXN-109. AFX-757 is also being considered as the primary fill for other new warheads in various stages of development.


AFX-757 was developed and tested through an in-house research project, the Advanced Penetrator Explosive Technology (APET) Program. It is a propellant-like, plastic bonded explosive (PBX) developed to maximize the blast energy output. As illustrated during the Gulf War, targets are becoming harder and more deeply buried. Today's hard target penetrating weapons have higher impact velocities and must survive intense countermeasures. Futureweapons will need to do that plus their explosive charge will need to be more energetic and less sensitive to shock if they are going to be effective against deeply buried, hardened targets.


The ingredients of AFX-757 are less expensive. The cost savings over current formulations is significant. It is also easier to process and load into the warhead case. A safer environment for the war fighter will also be realized because AFX-757 is very insensitive to shock. This alone will reduce unwanted secondary explosions saving valuable lives and assets. Safety test results are so positive that AFX-757 may receive a reduced Hazard Classification. This significant achievement would allow munitions filled with AFX-757 to be stored much closer to the aircraft reducing the time required to prepare an aircraft for a mission, increasing readiness and sortie effectiveness, as well as expediting warfare.

The specific characteristics of AFX-757 were accomplished by having the proper fuel (aluminum) and oxidizer (Ammonium Perchlorate) ratios allowing for more complete combustion in the product reaction zone. Additionally, the formulation was tailored to reduce the detonation velocity and increase the reaction temperature. All these techniques are combined to ensure more of the available chemical energy to be released in the blast.

For more information on this or other Munitions Directorate emerging technologies contact the Technical Publications Editor, (850) 882-8591, Ext. 1305.