Bombs with exploding shrapnel

Popular Mechanics:

When most bombs go off, they release a spray of deadly shards of steel. Now, imagine that those shards were themselves explosive, detonating in a massive chain reaction. It's for real: Defense contractors are harnessing the strange alchemy of reactive materials (RMs) — in which two or more inert materials are mixed to create an explosion — to develop smaller, more lethal warheads, as well as new ways to protect troops against mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades.

RMs generally consist of powdered metals, such as aluminum or titanium, combined with an oxidizing agent. Whether that agent is another powdered metal or a nonmetallic compound, such as Teflon, contact alone isn't enough to trigger an explosion. A powerful impact, however, will chemically mix the materials, igniting them and leading to a massive shock wave. "A big challenge is making [RMs] strong enough to survive launch, but fragile enough to react on impact," says Judah Goldwasser, program manager at the Office of Naval Research, which is developing RMs for potential use in antimissile systems. Instead of punching small holes in a target, Goldwasser says, RM shrapnel could cause an entire enemy missile to break up in midair.

This is a photo showing a prototype bomb being used to destroy an F-14 and other things in the blast radius. The bomb has both offensive and defensive uses. On defense it would be used with a system to destroy incoming mortar and rockets, providing a shield to troops in a fixed position. It might also be used to defend ships from incoming missiles. Check the picture for an offensive use.


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