Diamond tipped missiles could soon be hanging from the wings of fighter aircraft around the world thanks to a breakthrough by British scientists working for the Defence Research Evaluation Agency (DERA).

"The protective dome for hyper-velocity missiles represents a difficult challenge for materials science," says Project technical leader Dr Tim Mollart. "DERA has joined forces with De Beers Industrial Diamonds (DEBID) to produce a novel solution - domes made from diamond.


"The ability to produce diamond domes, one of which is on display at DERA's stand (D40 Hall 1), is globally unique to DEBID/DERA and opens the door to a new generation of seeking missile technology.

"An infra-red seeking missile dome must combine the required optical properties with the ability to withstand rapid heating when launched, while also resisting long term sand and rain erosion during flight carriage at Mach speeds," he says. "It has been a long-term goal to find new materials that can be used as a dome on future systems, to enhance performance, but lowering the ownership costs."

While Mollart describes the prototype domes as "priceless" he says they would be "affordable" once mass production began.

Source: Flight Daily News