Shaped charge

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A shaped charge is an explosive charge shaped to focus the effect of the explosive's energy. Various types are used to cut and form metal, to initiate nuclear weapons, to penetrate armor, and in the oil and gas industry. A typical modern lined shaped charge can penetrate armor steel to a depth of 7 or more times the diameter of the charge's cone (cone diameters, CD), though greater depths of 10 CD and above are now feasible.

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Overview

Shaped charges are frequently used as warheads in anti-tank missiles (guided and unguided) and also gun-fired projectiles (spun and unspun), rifle grenades, mines, bomblets, torpedoes and various types of air/land/sea-launched guided missiles. Perhaps the earliest shaped charge weapon to be introduced into service being the British No. 68 AT Grenade anti-tank weapon of 1940. The common term in today's military terminology for shape charge warheads is HEAT (high explosive anti-tank). They are also used to demolish large obsolete structures by implosion with precisely placed and timed cutting charges with the intent of causing an inward collapse that confines the debris to the structure's footprint. Shaped charges are today used most extensively in the petroleum and natural gas industries, in particular in the completion of oil and gas wells, in which they are detonated to perforate the metal casing of the well at intervals to admit the influx of oil and gas.[1]

A typical device consists of a solid cylinder of explosive with a metal-lined conical hollow in one end and a central detonator, array of detonators, or detonation wave guide at the other end. The enormous pressure generated by the detonation of the explosive drives the liner contained within the hollow cavity inward to collapse upon its central axis. The resulting collision forms and projects a high-velocity jet of metal forward along the axis. Most of the jet material originates from the innermost layer of the liner, about 10% to 20% of its thickness. The remaining liner material forms a slower-moving slug of material, which because of its appearance is sometimes called a "carrot."

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