Office of Naval Research Summer Faculty Research & Sabbatical Leave Program
Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division

The Indian Head Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center (IHDIV) has the longest, continuously operating history of any Naval ordnance facility in the United States. IHDIV was established in 1890 as the Naval Proving Ground. In 1932, it became the Naval Powder Factory; in 1958, the Naval Propellant Plant; in 1966, the Naval Ordinance Station; and in 1982, Indian Head Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center.

The Indian Head Division carries out full spectrum functions for energetics research, development, manufacturing, testing and in-service engineering. Energetics are explosives, propellants, pyrotechnics, and specialty chemicals, including their immediately related component applications such as rocket and missile propulsion units; warheads; mines; gun projectiles and propelling charges; and cartridge-actuated and propellant-actuated devices. These products require energetic materials such as pyrotechnics, specialty chemicals, propellants, and explosives in their design. The scope of capabilities at Indian Head allows for efficient use of specialized expertise and expensive facilities required for research and development, scale-up, manufacture, and test of energetics.

Specific research, development, and engineering science and technology areas of on-going investigation at NSWC-IHD include:

Energetic Materials:

Chemical synthesis and scale-up of energetic and inert ingredients used in ordnance; characterization of crystal morphology and particle size, as well as binder/crystal interface effects on mechanical and sensitivity properties; characterization of solid/solid phase reactions; formulation of explosives and propellants; and development and modeling of continuous and environmentally benign processing technologies.

Detonation Science:

Development of fundamental detonation and shockwave physics models; modeling of both detonation initiation and growth phenomena, and deflagration to detonation transition (DDT) reactions in explosives and propellants; understanding mechanical and thermal initiation of explosives and pyrotechnics; and design and development of initiation system components; evaluating explosive and propellant sensitivity and hazard analysis.

Applied Mechanics:

Developing warhead dynamic models for undersea applications; understanding penetration mechanics; establishing interior and exterior ballistic codes; and developing models to relate damage mechanisms and theory.

Computer Analysis:

Developing equations of state to quantify linear and non-linear analysis of structural systems/components; employing applications of two and three dimensional Eulerian, and coupled Lagrangian - Eulerian codes to warhead performance modeling of explosives; and establishing material/structural responses to explosion processes (high temperatures, pressures, and strain rate conditions).

Research, design, development, and test capabilities at the Indian Head Division provide the Navy and DoD with the capability to transition all energetics from laboratory to production and on to service use. Important no-cost benefits of this knowledge and experience are the ability to serve as the governments "smart-buyer" and facilities which can serve as a warm base to manufacture energetics in times of emergency need. These capabilities have been extensively used in every conflict over the last 100 years.

  • Located on a 3,500 acre peninsula in Charles County, Maryland
  • A major employer in Charles County with 2,801 employees (civil, military, and tenants)