Defense Media Network

Newest Defense Media Network Promotion

Kinetic Fireball Incendiary (KFI) Munitions: Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Fire

U.S. Air Force explores munitions that could incinerate nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons facilities

As part of its Heated And Mobile Munitions Employing Rockets (HAMMER) program, the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Systems Interface and Integration Branch, located at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is seeking information and/or conceptual designs to modify the service’s current BLU-109 “penetration weapon” to dispense Kinetic Fireball Incendiary (KFI) munitions.

The patent goes on to highlight the value of an incendiary munition able to raise facility room temperatures to over 1,000 degrees F in a non-explosive manner, for an extended period of time, as a way to neutralize certain of these threats “with minimum collateral damage.”

According to the Sept. 6, 2013, request for information, the KFI munitions have been patented by patented by Exquadrum Inc.

KFI patent image

Image from the patent application for the KFI sub-munition, showing how they would fit inside what appears to be an existing BLU-109B. US Patent Office/Google

 

The abstract for that patent, which was filed on May 15, 2006, and granted on Oct. 9, 2007, describes a KFI munition as “having an outer shell or bomb casing, one or more incendiary submunitions therein, and an igniter therefore. Each of the submunitions includes an incendiary portion and at least one rocket motor that propels the submunition inside of a target volume. The submunitions liberate sufficient heat to produce elevated temperatures inside of a target structure, without creating a substantial overpressure or explosive effect. The incendiary portion includes a solid propellant and, optionally, one or more energetic materials selected from the group consisting of phosphorous, boron, magnesium, aluminum, Fluorinert™-aluminum and BKNO3. The incendiary submunition may be in the shape of a ball or a circular disk with a rocket motor therein.”

KFI patent image

Image of Kinetic Fireball Incendiary, or KFI, from the original patent application. US Patent Office/Google

Noting that “trends in recent world events” have pointed to the increasing likelihood that armed forces will face hostile groups, including terrorist groups, armed with nuclear, biological and/or chemical weapons, the patent goes on to highlight the value of an incendiary munition able to raise facility room temperatures to over 1,000 degrees F in a non-explosive manner, for an extended period of time, as a way to neutralize certain of these threats “with minimum collateral damage.”

Notional specifications for the Air Force BLU-109 integration effort include:

  •  Capability of dispensing and igniting a payload of KFI devices that will each be 5.5 pounds, 4.5 inches in diameter, and are covered with a solid incendiary propellant that heats the target area (mixed perchlorate formulation)
  • Capability of dispensing payload into a specified volume after weapon penetration into a hardened or bunker target in such a way as to allow the payload to deliver its intended incendiary effects
  • Payload integration into a standard BLU-109 gravity bomb warhead case without changing the outer mold line of the case
  • Payload and dispensing system fitting within the current BLU-109 payload volume
  • System compatibility with the use of the FMU-152 fuze kit
  • No disruption to the air worthiness of the BLU-109 (weight and center of gravity (CG)) / mass properties within the BLU-109 tolerance levels
  • No impact on legacy hardware/aircraft interfaces, aerodynamic properties, GBU guidance systems for the BLU-109, or penetration properties of the warhead (to minimize development costs, risks, and schedule)
  • Capability of of dispensing the payload with low energy collateral effects to minimize blast and fragmentation damage to the structure
  • System reliability “when experiencing the extreme forces of impact associated with a penetration type weapon such as the BLU-109.”

Industry responses, which are requested within 30 days of the RFI announcement, are to include the following representative elements:

  • Identification of components in any proposed system
  • Size dimensions and weight of both the entire system and individual components
  • In depth description of payload dispensing concept, including number of KFIs to that can be dispensed
  • Ability to use the proposed dispensing system with other unique payloads
  • Availability of alternative payloads “which could provide KFI-like incendiary and kinetic damage effects”
  • Other possible mission sets that could be fulfilled by the notional integration effort

By

Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...