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Meeting Challenges Across Defense and Beyond: Energetics R and D in Systems Engineering

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Journal Article

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Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division Indian Head United States

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When U.S. Marine M1A1 tanks advanced on Basrah International Airport on March 21, 2003, the defending Iraqi T-55 tanks didnt have a chance. The U.S. tank was built to outrange opposing armor. It is enabled by a high-density, chemical propellant. Each grain is uniform, with measured holes, allowing more surface combustion, and energy release. A 120mm cannon, built for high pressures, focuses this energy, propelling a round down range. At the center of the M1A1 tanks design was energetics R and Dthe study and use of materials for explosives, propellants, and pyrotechnics. It was part of a systems engineering process that made U.S. weapons unequalled in war. In the Cold Wars aftermath, this process became less focused and this R and D became an afterthought. Today, energetics R and D, integral to a systems engineering process, is needed more than beforeand not just for developing munitions. Tomorrow, it will be vital to helping America meet a multitude of challenges.

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