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Controlled Payload Release Mechanism for Pyrophoric Air Expendable Decoy



OBJECTIVE: Develop and produce a controlled (timed) payload release mechanism for multiple stacks of pyrophoric foils in a single decoy device cartridge. 

DESCRIPTION: Pyrophoric decoys are part of a family of advanced Infrared (IR) decoys designed for use by Department of the Navy fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft to successfully decoy advanced-threat missile systems in current and future operational environments. Pyrophoric decoys utilize a special, high surface area metal foil, which rapidly oxidizes when exposed to oxygen. When dispensed from the host aircraft, the special pyrophoric alloy material payload reacts with air to emit intense IR radiation that is not visible to the naked eye. The IR radiation diverts or decoys IR-seeking missiles away from the host aircraft [Ref 1]. The current pyrophoric decoy is composed of pyrophoric iron coated onto steel foil. Several hundred pyrophoric foils comprise the payload of a typical decoy and are currently dispensed simultaneously from an airtight casing via the action of a single impulse cartridge which incorporates Hazard from Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance (HERO) Safe features. The Navy seeks a pyrophoric payload release mechanism that can either bind or contain multiple (3 or more) discrete sub-payloads of pyrophoric foils upon dispense from a device and then release the material in a controlled, timed manner such that multiple discrete bursts of infrared energy are produced from the dispense of a single cartridge. The candidate mechanism should not be susceptible to HERO within the sealed aluminum cartridge; should make efficient use of volume as the total volume available for payload is approximately 5 inches in length by approximately 1.3 inches in diameter; should utilize the force and/or flame from the CCU-136 impulse cartridge to initiate the dispense/release sequence [Ref 2]; should function reliably after significant shock from the impulse cartridge; should provide consistent and controllable timed release of the pyrophoric material payload, and should be variable to optimize the timing of the release of the individual stacks of pyrophoric material. Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DSS and NAVAIR in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract. 

PHASE I: Design and demonstrate feasibility of prototyping and manufacturing a controlled payload release mechanism for application to multiple inert sub-payloads dispensed from a single decoy cartridge. The decoy cartridge must be a standard Navy round 36mm MJU-49/B decoy form-factor compatible with the AN/ALE-47 Airborne Countermeasure Dispenser System. The Phase I effort will include the development of prototype plans for Phase II. 

PHASE II: Manufacture and demonstrate a representative prototype countermeasure payload release mechanism utilizing non-reactive payload material and Government-furnished reactive payload material in both ground tests and flight tests. It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details). 

PHASE III: Manufacture, for assessment, flight function testing, and qualification testing, units that maintain physical integrity and function properly when subjected to a 40ft drop, aircraft and transportation vibration, and a 28-day temperature and humidity cycling. They must meet performance specifications over a range of temperatures (-65°F to +165°F) [Ref 3]. The timing mechanism developed may have use in the commercial/entertainment pyrotechnics industry. 


1: Viau, C. R., (2012). "Expendable countermeasure effectiveness against imaging infrared guided threats." EWCI, Second International Conference on Electronic Warfare, 2012, Bangalore, India.

2:  MIL-STD-331C, Department of Defense Test Method Standard: Fuze And Fuze Components, Environmental and Performance Tests For, 5 Jan 2005,

3:  MIL-DTL-82962J, Detail Specification: Cartridges, Impulse, CCU-136/A and CCU-138/A, 21 Jan 1997,

KEYWORDS: Countermeasure; Decoy; Pyrophoric; Aircraft; Electronic Timing; Infrared 


Caroline Wilharm 

(904) 317-1938 

Glenn Marshall 

(301) 342-6735 

Jeffrey Campbell 

(812) 854-2861 

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