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Laser Ignition Manufacturing Technology

U.S. ARMY MANTECH

Develop a manufacturing process to provide an affordable, production capable process for a high shock tolerant laser ignition system (LIS) for use with US 155mm large caliber weapon systems.

OBJECTIVE / SOLUTION

Improve affordability of a militarized solid state laser ignition system (SSLIS) by demonstrating a robust production capable manufacturing process and reducing unit cost by 40%. The SSLIS supports the M-777A2 155mm Light Weight Howitzer (LW155) and carries potential for application to M109A6 Paladin 155mm Howitzer and other US 155mm caliber weapons.

This effort will utilize unique fabrication processes, advanced materials, and component confi gurations not typically found in industry standard manufacturing practices.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Program is in its third year of funding.
Signifi cant advancement has been made toward achieving the program goals for the development of a manufacturing technology to provide an affordable, production-capable process for a high shock tolerant diode pumped laser ignition system (DPLIS) for use with the US 155mm large caliber weapon systems.

FY09-11 efforts developed manufacturing processes for fabricating diode laser bars that:
― Operate at temperatures up to 115°C, exceeding current industry temperature capabilities
― Developed unique robust manufacturing processes and techniques for a high shock-high temperature laser igniter
― Improved design and manufacturing processes for a robust high pressure chamber window that provides an optically clear path for transmitting the laser beam and seals the high pressure-high temperature combustion gases in the gun chamber
― Improved design and manufacturing processes for the laser pulse generator
― Successfully conducted DPLIS live fi re testing with over 2,700 rounds fi red during engineering testing without failure
― Obtained safety releases and successfully conducted a Limited User Assessment (LUA) with a 10 man US Army gun crew live firing a LW155 howitzer with laser ignition for the first time.

BENEFITS

The SSLIS has potential for replacing primer based ignition systems conventionally used with US 155mm large caliber artillery. Primer based ignition systems require the manufacture, storage, surveillance, resupply and demilitarization of explosive primers (black powder filled brass cartridges). Current LW155 primer based ignition systems have known operational issues which are attributed to mechanical jamming of complex, high maintenance primer feed mechanisms (PFM) and premature firing due to primer sensitivity. The SSLIS has potential to eliminate the need for primers and the PFM by using laser energy to ignite the propelling charge rather than using explosive energy from primers. Laser ignition has potential to reduce weapon logistics and provides the Soldier with safe and reliable propellant ignition.

STATUS

Process work on key laser ignition system components has commenced at several potential suppliers.

WEAPON SYSTEMS / SECONDARY ITEMS IMPACTED

• M-777A2 155mm Lightweight Howitzer (LW155)
• M109A6 Paladin 155mm Howitzer

POTENTIAL COST AVOIDANCE

• Return on Investment of 3.9 to 1 with a cost benefit of $18.6M

POC: Army ManTech Manager, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), Energetic, Warheads and Environmental Technology Directorate, B321, ATTN: RDAR-MEE-P, Picatinny Arsenal, NJ 07806-5000

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