Original Date: 09/14/1998
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : High Temperature Composite Structures
Raytheon Missile Systems Company (RMSC0 developed high temperature composite structures using a graphite substrate and a silicone outer shell. These lightweight composite structures feature a graphite/bismaleimide, load- bearing frame with a non-ablative silicone coating for thermal protection. The hybrid design provides leading-edge technology that is capable of meeting the increased performance requirements of high speed, lightweight missile systems.
Fabricated from COTS materials, this composite structure offers a low cost option. RMSC currently uses this high temperature composite structure for the nosecone for its Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile (LEAP) weapon system. The alternative was an exotic metal alloy which met the 2000°F operating requirement. However, the alloy’s high production costs and weight made it an unfavorable choice. RMSC successfully fabricated the complex shaped, varying diameter structure for the LEAP nosecone application by using a filament winding process.
Another application, which RMSC is considering for the composite structure, involves the dorsal fins for the Standard Missile 2 Block IV-A program. Currently, these fins are being fabricated with a laborious and expensive material system. In its first attempt, RMSC successfully produced a prototype hybrid structure fin. The preliminary cost analysis suggests that the replacement of the current material system with the composite structure will result in a more producible part at approximately 20% of the current cost. With four fins on each missile, RMSC could save approximately $48,000 per missile.
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