Research & Development at Capco

The Capco Research and Development teams develop systems, devices and materials to address existing capability gaps and to meet emerging requirements.

Our team of talented scientists and engineers utilize Capco’s extensive capabilities to quickly, effectively and affordably perform basic and applied research and development, delivering exceptional prototypes, documentation and results to our  customers.


“CAPCO’s high levels of agility, nimbleness, and intensity in the approach and execution of R&D objectives/tasks never fail to amaze me.”

– DoD customer and collaborator

Capco R&D Process

The Capco R&D team works directly with our DoD customers using Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), National Armaments Consortium (NAC) and Collaborative Research and Development (CRADA) vehicles to develop focused, innovative solutions for emerging requirements.

Typically consisting of multi-phased efforts spanning basic research through prototype development and qualification, our DoD funded research efforts involve consistent, direct communication with our customers to ensure requirements are met, on-time and under budget.

Unlike many of our competitors, Capco R&D efforts are bid and executed as firm fixed price (FFP) contracts, placing the financial risk on Capco’s shoulders – not the DoD’s – and allows us to provide the greatest value to our customer.

Capco is a NAC Non-Traditional Defense Contractor.

REQUIREMENT: The primary function of the ignition pellet in the Safe and Arm (S&A) for Airborne Expendable Infrared Countermeasures (AEIRCMs) is to quickly and reliably ignite the flare grain subsequent to ignition and ejection by the impulse cartridge. Therefore, it is critical that the pellet maintains consistent flame ignition sensitivity, burn rate and output energy throughout its service life.

The Magnesium/Teflon/Viton (MTV) composition used in flare ignition pellets is susceptible to reaction with atmospheric humidity. Water oxidizes the magnesium, reducing both the flame ignition susceptibility and thermal output energy. The reaction is accelerated in high temperature environments; a particular problem for Navy countermeasures, which are routinely subject to high temperatures and humidity during normal operations and storage.  As a result, a critical need exists for a flare ignition pellet with low moisture susceptibility

SOLUTION: During the Phase I SBIR effort, the Capco team developed an igintion composition that showed reduced moisture susceptibility and significantly improved impulse cartridge ignitability in comparison to the currently fielded MTV composition, with good ignition transfer to the flare.

As part of the effort, the Capco team also developed a novel test method allowed for the quanititative comparison of the ignition sensitivites of flare ignition pellet formulations, before and after accelerated aging.  The Ballistic Ignition Sensitivity (BIGS) Tester replicates the internal ballistics of the flare tube, utilizing standard impulse cartridges and a variable length breech to expsoe the ignition pellets to the same pressures and temperatures they would experience in a flare ejection environment.

By varying the breech length, the exposure time of the ignition pellet to to impulse cartridge is varied, providing for a precise comparison of the ignition sensitivities of powders:  a hgihly sensitive powder will ignite at a much shorter breech length than a less sensitive powder.  By compariing the average breech lenghts required for ignition of the ignition compositions tests, we can determine not only the effect of aging on each of the powders, but compare the realtive ignition sensitivities of each powder in comparison to others.

RESULTS: The as-developed powder shows better ignition sensitivity after 6 weeks of accelerated aging than un-aged MTV, utilizing commercially available constituents with a per-gram cost on par with that of MTV.  The flame ignition sensitivites exceed that of MTV, and the flame output meets that of MTV.

Capco’s Continuing Innovation

Our team of research scientists and engineers create innovative solutions to existing and emerging problems.

We utilize Capco’s extensive capabilities to quickly, effectively and affordably deliver data, prototypes, and results to our customers.

Capco researchers are performing pioneering work in the development of systems and materials for the 3D printing of energetic materials.  Additive manufacturing has the potential to transform explosives technology, facilitating novel behaviors such as precisely tailored burn rates, directional detonation, reduced warhead size and improved insensitive munition response.

Recent progress includes the development of nitramine-based thermoplastic filaments (patent pending) and UV curable composite propellant formulations  (patent pending).