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Material Solution for Lightning Survivability


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Hypersonics; Advanced Materials


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: Identify materials and/or coatings to add lightning survivability capability to missiles without significant change to size, weight, or power requirements, and without impact to missile performance.


DESCRIPTION: Lightning protection is a component of an MDA core standard, MIL-STD-464.  Atmospheric lightning discharge can be triggered during fly-outs (launch timing not discretionary) and reflect decrement to missile reliability.  Coatings and other lightweight materials for lightning protection represent a potentially low cost method to mitigate this liability.  Focusing on SM-3 Block IIA, evaluate innovative materials and techniques for improving the survivability of existing missiles when exposed to the effects of direct and indirect lightning.  Identify materials that could be applied to existing missile structures and are resistant to damage from typical handling and fixtures that are used with missiles.  A key focus of the study is to ensure that likely lightning attachment points, which are expected to occur on a missile in flight, would move aft quickly and not result in damage to underlying features.  Ability to apply coating for lightning protection without extensive hardware re-qualification of existing components.


PHASE I: Establish the technical basis of the solution, with small scale validation and theoretical analysis of the effectiveness.  The effort might include independent testing on small scale coupons and materials testing.


PHASE II: Down select any competing technologies and provide more extensive testing.  If the solution purposes new apparatus, prototypes would be developed for technology demonstration.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The solution would be utilized in relevant test environments, through collaboration with OEMs or whoever the next higher tier user would be.  The technology would be further developed for commercial applicability.



  1. Lightning Protection Guidelines for Aerospace Vehicles  
  2. Lightning strike protection strategies for composite aircraft


KEYWORDS: lightning protection, missile flight, novel materials, survivability, lightweight

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