Military researchers ask industry to develop rugged materials for hypersonic radomes and infrared windows

March 16, 2020
Hypersonics need radomes and windows to protect sensitive electronics from heat and vibration, while providing transparency for radar infrared sensors.

ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. military researchers are asking industry to develop rugged RF radomes and infrared windows able to withstand the severe heat, shock, and vibration of hypersonic flight.

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., issued a broad agency announcement on Thursday (HR001120S0038) for the High Enthalpy Aperture Technology (HEAT) project.

HEAT seeks to demonstrate new material approaches and solutions to enable RF and IR apertures on hypersonic missiles and aircraft to withstand extremes in heat and dynamic pressure. Hypersonic vehicles typically fly faster than five times the speed of sound.

The HEAT program is a classified effort, so any contractors participating must have facility clearance licenses and personnel with collateral secret security clearances.

Related: Extreme Environment Sensors project seeks flight control instruments for hypersonic aircraft and missiles

High speed aerospace systems like hypersonics require RF radomes or IR windows to protect sensitive electronics from the environmental extremes of high-speed flight while providing transparency for radar and RF communications transceivers, as well as infrared sensors used for guidance, communications, and sensing.

These aperture materials must withstand extreme thermal, mechanical, and chemical environments during hypersonic flight that can limit their performance. For example, shock waves and high heat loads can impose wavefront distortions and boresight errors on guidance electronics.

Solutions may involve affordable and manufacturable means of controlling thermo-optical and elastic-optical effects; maintaining desired transmission amplitude and bandwidth; and reducing thermal deformation, mismatch, and radiation.

HEAT program is a four-year, two-phase effort, which is divided into three technical areas: integrated RF aperture materials; infrared aperture materials; and next-generation aperture materials.

Related: Just in a nick of time: U.S. military researchers finally get serious about Mach 5 hypersonic weapons

Performers should consider new materials approaches that combine metals, ceramics, and coatings into innovative high-performance structures, as well as new computational capabilities necessary to develop these materials.

The program's first phase will develop integrated aperture materials, and the second phase will involve ground testing.

Companies interested must submit abstracts no later than 9 April 2020, and full proposals no later than 21 May 2020. Email questions or concerns to the HEAT program manager, William Carter, at [email protected].

More information is online at

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