March 24, 2008 If you're sitting behind a 20 foot thick wall of compressed, steel-reinforced concrete you could be forgiven for feeling somewhat invulnerable to outside attack - but think again. Raytheon has developed a new bunker-busting conventional warhead technology which is lighter and more powerful than current conventional systems. The Tandem Warhead System achieved penetration of 19 feet, 3 inches in a 330-ton, reinforced concrete block during tests conducted in late January and the technology could be applied to any strike weapon system within in 18 months.
The new Tandem Warhead System consists of a shaped-charge precursor warhead backed by a follow- through penetrator explosive charge. The January 31 test saw more than 110 million foot-pounds of energy delivered to the target in under 10 milliseconds using a 1,000-pound-class warhead. This set a new penetration record by punching through all but the last 9-inches of a 20-foot, 330-ton, steel rod-reinforced concrete block rated at 12,600 pounds per square inch compressive strength. According to Raytheon most conventional weapons in the same weight class cannot penetrate targets rated at more than 6,000 psi.
"Bunkers are getting harder and deeper, and high-value ones are extremely well protected," said Harry Schulte, Missile Systems' vice president, Strike product line. "The warfighter has a need for increased capabilities against this challenging target set, but because conventional warheads in the inventory can't meet this requirement, Raytheon self-funded the development of this new warhead."
The project moved from the drawing board to the proving grounds in fewer than nine months and Raytheon believes the adaptable, scaleable nature of the technology could see its use expand rapidly.
"Now that we've demonstrated it's possible to create a conventional warhead that weighs approximately 1,000 pounds and provides unmatched capability, we're looking at scaling the technology," Schulte said. "We believe we can place a warhead that uses this new technology on any strike weapon system in the inventory in 18 months or less."