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Availability and Quality Issues with Raw Materials for Rocket Propulsion Systems and Potential Consequences for NATO

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Applied Vehicle Technology

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availability, critical materials, hybrid propellant, Missile propulsion, obsolete materials, quality, ramjet, ramrocket, raw materials, regulations, rocket engine with gelled propellant, solid fuel ramjet, solid rocket


Tactical missiles are most important for strike-, intercept- and self-defense actions from Air-, Land- and Sea-based platforms. The majority of propulsion systems for tactical missiles are solid rocket engines. Less often, small turbojets and ramjets or ram-rockets are used. Rocket motors with gelled propellant, hybrid rockets and solid fuel ramjets are candidates for future tactical missile propulsion. It is of major importance for NATO and NATO nations to ensure development and supply of such tactical propulsion subsystems on demand with regards to quantity, quality and schedule. In the last decade, all manufacturers of solid rocket motors and related subsystems have experienced issues with availability, continuous supply and quality of raw materials for solid propellants, insulations, charge igniters, etc. A shrinking market and severely tightened regulations with regards to manufacture/processing and use of raw materials (e.g. REACH) are drivers for the chemical industry to question the business case for chemicals needed for solid rocket propulsion. Consequences are cancellations in the product portfolio of chemical companies, downsized and/or discontinuous production processes and increased lead times and price for orders. Sometimes raw materials are available only from nations outside NATO.


The task group will exchange information on the experiences on procurement and use of raw materials for tactical propulsion systems. The availability for major raw materials will be evaluated and main issues encountered with the raw materials will be summarized. The task group will also identify critical materials and attempt to define routes for providing alternative materials with equivalent capability. Furthermore, the task group will investigate the formation of a continuous propulsion manufacturers and government bodies network. The aim of this network will be coordination of future activities in obsolete materials supporting security of supply for NATO and NATO nations. At last the task group will evaluate potential consequences for NATO and NATO nations and give conclusive recommendations. The task group will deliver a Final Technical Report which will include the above mentioned topics.


Prepare listing of main group of raw materials to be covered according to usage in missile propulsion systems (solid propellant, ramjet fuel, hybrid fuel, insulation, etc.) Evaluate the availability for major raw materials. Review of obsolescence monitoring process across participants. Critical examination of the issues encountered with these raw materials (suppliers, quantity, quality, lead time and price, regulations). Identify critical materials (short term and longer term) and classify the materials according to supply difficulties and environmental regulations (e.g. REACH, CLP). Examine actions being taken for finding alternative materials with equivalent capability. Evaluate potential consequences for NATO and NATO nations and give conclusive recommendations.

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