Raytheon Lands IR Contract

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Raytheon Co. was recently awarded a $7.5 million contract to develop an improved composite material for infrared windows and missile domes by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The two-year contract calls for the development of "significantly enhanced materials and manufacturing processes compared to those currently in use for windows and aerodynamically shaped domes in the 3 to 5-µm midwave infrared band," said Mark Russell, vice president of engineering at Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems.

The Phase 1 contract is being performed for the Office of Naval Research as part of DARPA's Nano-Composite Optical Ceramics program. The objective is to develop a processing method for the manufacture of infrared transparent missile domes capable of higher-speed operation and greater particle impact resistance than sapphire, the current material. If options are exercised in subsequent phases, the full program has a potential value of $14.4 million.

Phase 1 goals include achieving midwave infrared optical transmission exceeding that of spinel with mechanical properties greater than those of sapphire," said Rick Gentilman, Raytheon's program manager. "These efforts will include the development of new classes of infrared materials for windows and domes based on multiphase nanocomposites designed to be substantially stronger than existing single-phase infrared materials."

Joining Raytheon's project team are Rutgers University, the University of Connecticut, the University of California-Davis and three small businesses -- Nanocerox, an Ann Arbor, Mich., producer of mixed-metal oxide spherical nanopowders; CeraNova, a Marlborough, Mass., maker of electroceramic composites for smart materials systems; and CBW Tech Services of Framingham, Mass.

Raytheon's work on the contract will be performed by its Integrated Defense Systems in Andover, Mass., and by Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz.

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Published: May 2007
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