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Executive Summary In response to a request from the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology and from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Committee on Advanced Energetic Materials and Manufacturing Technologies conducted a study of the scope and health of U.S. research and development efforts in energetic materials. The study focused on six major technical areas: New energetic materials synthesis and development Thermobaric explosives Reactive materials Nanomixtures and nanocomposites Advanced gun propellants, and Exotic physics. Based on information gathered from meetings, site visits, and presentations from the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and academic and industrial organizations, the committee's major findings are as follows: . . Although all modern defense systems and weaponry rely on energetic materials as an explosive fill or a propellant from guns, rifles, missiles, and rockets, the U.S. effort in research and development of energetic materials is small, fragmented, and suboptimal, leaving this critical national technology area at risk. The suboptimal U.S. effort is characterized by severe resource limitations across the entire spectrum of energetic materials research and development, but particularly in the funding for scale-up and advanced development studies of potential new materials and in the training of replacements for the aging workforce. · The current focus in the Department of Defense is on limited theater actions, with an emphasis on deployment of precision strike smart weapons that are smaller, cheaper, and at the same time more lethal against all target classesdemands that 1
2 ADVANCED ENERGETIC MA TERIALS advanced energetic materials can address. . Current funding sources for the military services for advanced energetic materia research are most often narrowly focused on near-term individual service requirements associated with hyperbole in news accounts of foreign weapons effects, as well as overly dramatized intelligence reports of foreign capabilities.) Such short-term efforts can reflect perceived technology capability gaps. The resulting competition for scarce resources inhibits cooperative research and development efforts across the government aimed at more global national requirements. In addition to the specific technical recommendations presented at the end of each chapter in the report, the committee offers the following two major recommendations: 1. The committee recommends that the Department of Defense redirect attention and resources to focus on strategies for reducing transition barriers to scale-up. IS This effort should be closely coupled to the ongoing efforts of the services to improve target lethality and weapons effects. Such an approach would ensure an extensive technology effort from the energetic materials community and would help provide for an adequate supply of well-trained scientists and engineers to meet the nation's future defense requirements. 2. The committee recommends that the Department of Defense consider centralizing its management of energetic materials research and development in order to achieve a longer- term, cross-service perspective. One possible approach to such a restructuring might include establishing an Energetic Materials Technology Office in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Similar to the Office of Munitions, such an office would require a unique program element funding line as well as the charter and authority to lead a national, coordinated energetic materials technology thrust effectively. A clear benefit of this approach would be a robust and productive national effort in energetic materials technology. The recently initiated Advanced Energetics Initiative could perhaps be the cornerstone of this national effort.2 However, any approach to implementing this suggested office would require establishing broad oversight and coordination responsibility as well as authority over all the energetic materials programs of the Department of Defense and a charter to develop Backgrounder on Russian Fuel Air Explosives ("Vacuum Bombs"~. Human Rights Watch, February 2000. Avai la ble at http://www. hrw.org/press/2000/02/chechO215b.htm. George Smith.2002. Weapon of the Week: The Thermobaric Bomb. The Village Voice, December 18-24. Available at December 18-24, 2002. Accessed November 2003. Noah Shachtman.2003. When a Gun Is More Than a Gun. Wired News, March 20. Available at http://www.wired.com/news/conflict/0,2100,58094,00.htm 1. Accessed Novem her 2003. The Advanced Energetics Initiative was proposed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense for maturing the fundamental technologies required to transition the next generation of energetics materials into field use.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY cooperative engagement with and coordination of industrial and academic programs of the National Laboratories focused on energetic materials. The overarching issue remains one of priority. Energetic materials are a key component of the nation's defense strategies. A coordinated and sustained effort in research, technology transition, and production technologies is needed to maintain the contribution of these materials to U.S. national defense. 3