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MDA funds Kratos to explore novel seeker window materials

Kratos Defense & Rocket Support Services is to evaluate novel seeker window materials under a US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) innovation, science and technology (IS&T) contract.

Electro-optical/infrared seekers operating in endo-atmospheric flight environments – characterised by high heating rates, temperatures, pressures, and accelerations – require transparent window materials that transmit light from objects in the seeker field-of-view through an optical system onto a detector without loss of window or thermal protection integrity. Thermal gradients across the window, exacerbated by vibration, acceleration, and shock, can cause failure within the bulk of the window or at material interfaces. In addition, thermal emissions from heated windows add to sensor noise.

High-speed vehicles have traditionally used sapphire seeker windows. Studies into alternative materials are expected to consider factors such as cost, producibility, waveband/transmission performance, and thermo-structural performance.

Awarded by the MDA on 4 March, the contract is valued at up to USD16 million if all options are exercised. Fiscal year 2021 research, development, test, and evaluation funds to the value of USD3 million were obligated at the time of award.

The IS&T broad agency announcement (BAA) was released by the MDA in March 2021. Under its contract with the MDA, Kratos will evaluate key system parameters of novel seeker window materials at its Huntsville, Alabama, site. The contract period of performance, including options, runs until March 2026.

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