To fulfill its statement of task, the committee held five meetings (see the “Acknowledgments” section in the front matter of this report for a list of the committee’s guest speakers) and made a site visit to the AFRL Propulsion and Power Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The committee received presentations from the sponsor and government research agencies, key industry participants in the propulsion and materials science domains, and academics from the materials science and metallurgy fields, as well as from General Kenneth Eickmann, chair of the 2006 NRC study A Review of United States Air Force and Department of Defense Aerospace Propulsion Needs.
In addition, the committee was given access to a document titled Materials for Advanced Aerospace Propulsion and Power Systems (AFRL-RZ-WP-TM-2008-2171). Restricted by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), that document (hereinafter referred to as the plan) contains the current plan for materials development within the AFRL and served as the point of comparison for the committee’s first task (see the preceding section), which requires an assessment of “whether current and planned U.S. R&D efforts in materials for aerospace propulsion are sufficient (a) to meet U.S. military needs and (b) to keep the U.S. on the leading edge of propulsion technology.”
The committee addressed the statement of task in the following manner. Chapter 1 presents the origin and background of the study. Chapter 2 addresses the process of materials development and the second task. The first task is addressed in Chapter 3, and the committee’s specific assessments of the AFRL plan are included in Appendix D, the content of which is governed by ITAR/Export Administration Regulations restrictions and so is not included in the publicly released version of this report. Chapter 3 also contains a limited assessment of international materials development efforts, to aid in the determination of which nations are near the “leading edge” of propulsion technology. The issue of intellectual property protection is covered in Chapter 4, which addresses the third task. Chapter 5 outlines the recommended path forward by describing the key elements of an effective R&D strategy, addressing the fourth task.
Appendix A presents the committee’s statement of task. Appendix B provides an overview of the work being done throughout the world at the leading edge of aerospace propulsion as described in open-source literature. Appendix C presents the biographies of the committee members. The text of Appendix D, which contains the committee’s ITAR-restricted analysis of the current plan for materials development within the AFRL, is not releasable to the public under ITAR. Appendix E offers some materials development case studies. Appendix F defines the acronyms used in this report.