Vol. 1 No. 4 – December 2020

Table of Contents

    Gregory J. Scaven | President, PacSci EMC

    An Electronics Evolution

    Wrapping up another year of great growth at PacSci EMC.

    I’ve been associated with the pyrotechnics industry now for over 30 years. It was August 1989 when I was stationed at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland that I drove out to the Eastern Shore to attend a summer class at Washington College. Dr. John Conkling was teaching a class entitled “The Chemistry of Pyrotechnics.” Dr. Conkling, a past executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, has made fireworks his life passion. While the colors you see in firework shows certainly have become brighter and bolder due to new chemical mixtures, the basics associated with pyrotechnics are still pretty much the same. You want yellow? Think sodium. Blue? Copper. And red? Strontium. I always remember that one just because to be honest, I really don’t know of many other uses for strontium!

    Of course, all those colors that we like to ooh and aah at don’t just happen because we’ve got the right fuel and the right oxidizer mixed in the right ratios. We need energy input into that chemical mixture to get things going. It is this technology that differentiates PacSci EMC from many other companies in the relatively small energetics industry because we live at that interface when an electric signal in gets converted to a pyrotechnic signal out. We use that pyrotechnic signal to perform some work – to initiate, to detonate, to separate, to generate, to actuate – that supports our customers’ mission success. Our industry has a reputation of adopting dramatic technological change slowly. I don’t say this disrespectfully – proven performance and heritage make a critical difference when you want to reduce the risk that something could potentially occur that’s unexpected. As ordnance engineers, we’re trained in fact to design for extremely unlikely scenarios as a part of ensuring we have design margin so that things don’t turn catastrophic. But while the chemistries associated with pyrotechnics may not have changed that much over the past 30+ years, how
    we deliver those electric signals in certainly has.

    Just think about it yourself. The electronic designs of the 1980’s were pretty advanced as compared to the 1960’s, but we’re here in the year 2020. It’s no longer an analog world that any of us live in, but a digital one. The B-52 Stratofortress will always be an impressive airframe, but it’s not flying today on the same avionics that it had back when it first flew in the 1950’s. It’s those very same avionic upgrades that keeps a 50-plus year old aircraft not
    just relevant, but still fearsome. By extension, I believe the pyrotechnic industry is also enabled by our underlying electronic and digital advancements.

    The simple analogy I often use when I tell people about this involves light bulbs. Think about the last time you went to go buy one. They’re really not the same anymore – in fact, it’s getting pretty hard to find a standard incandescent bulb. You know – filament based, just like Thomas Edison first conceived of them. Nowadays, it’s all about LED based bulbs. The electric input signal is the same, as well as the output – in this case, emitted photons. But you can do so much more with those LED-based bulbs. Through the miniaturization of electronics design through the decades, we can now incorporate circuitry on the boards with those LED’s that allow you to talk to them through the internet to turn them on, turn them off, or even change color.

    The bridgewire in a pyrotechnic device can be likened to a filament in a light bulb. It’s possible today to substitute bridgewires with other means to convert an electric signal to a pyrotechnic signal out. There are exploding foil initiators (EFI’s), and semiconductor bridges (SCB’s) that – when combined with the right chemical mixture – can also perform the very same pyrotechnic work as a bridgewire device. There are also Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (LASER) based initiation systems. In this case, a LASER diode generates high intensity light from the electrical input signal to ignite the pyrotechnic composition and subsequently provide the necessary work output. We can incorporate circuitry that controls theu initiation of these EFI’s, SCB’s and LASER Diodes with all the same safety protocols that we have with our bridgewire devices. If different or more stringent protocols must support that customer’s mission, we can change the board design to allow this without changing the basic pyrotechnic mechanism. Similarly, we could even use these same boards in line – think of it as a switch – to control even our standard bridgewire initiators and detonators.

    The first uses of these integrated electronic-pyrotechnic (IEP) designs has been in missile applications here at PacSci EMC. It wasn’t just recently either – we’ve been in production of our IEP-enabled ignition safety devices for several years now. This very same electronics capability helps to sequence dozens of initiation events today as a part of our nation’s strategic missile defense initiative. We leverage that same electronics expertise and heritage to release dozens of satellites in low-earth orbit as a part of a constellation. In this example, we’re responsible for the control and sequencing of hundreds of initiators. We even have our IEP designs down-hole to help with oil field exploration. PacSci EMC will always be a part of mission success at that interface of electric signal in-pyrotechnic signal out – and as the electronics capability evolves allowing for greater customization, greater control and potentially even greater safety, we will be at the forefront securing our own legacy.

    PacSci EMC will always be a part of mission success at that interface of electric signal in-pyrotechnic signal out – and as the electronics capability evolves allowing for greater customization, greater control and potentially even greater safety, we will be at the forefront securing our own legacy.


    Electronic Safe and Arm Devices

    An overview of our electronic safe and arm devices – the history, why we have them, how they work and more.

    Future Vertical Lift

    Future Vertical Lift (FVL) is #3 of 6 U.S. Army Modernization efforts. It is the follow on to the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) helicopter technology effort. FVL is a Department of Defense program led by the US Army to develop a family of advanced technology rotorcraft for the United States Armed Forces. The rotorcraft could be a traditional helicopter with one main rotor (i.e. H-60 Blackhawks) or two rotors (i.e. CH-47 Chinooks), compound rotors (i.e. SB>1 Defiant™) or tilt rotors (i.e. V-22 Osprey). It is estimated The Army’s total vertical lift-addressable market for industry is roughly $8-$10 billion annually over the next decade. Most of today’s rotorcraft technology dates back to the 60’s through 80’s, notably the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter with some upgrades to avionics and weapons systems. For FVL, the US Army is seeking more open architecture and commonality between platforms.

    The program’s objective is to replace the current fleet of UH-60 Blackhawks, AH-64 Apaches, CH-47 Chinooks and OH-58 Kiowas (already retired) helicopters. The other military services are also providing input to FVL to replace their aging helicopter fleets. This amounts to about 3,400 helicopters that will most likely be replaced over the next 10-15 years in the US Military alone. 4,000 plus isn’t out of the realm of possibilities taking into account foreign military sales to our allies in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America to replace their aging fleets.

    Five different capability set categories define FVL stemming from the original JMR efforts. These sets, including the mission’s functions, require further definition by the stake holders. What we have been able to determine from news reports and Army briefings is below:

    Capability Set 1:

    Future Assault Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) replaces OH-58 Kiowa and part of the AH-64E fleet, enter service in 2025-2026.

    Capability Set 2:

    Medium Light, Replaces US Navy’s MH-60 Seahawk fleets, not fully defined,

    Capability Set 3:

    Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) replaces US Army’s UH-60 Blackhawks & USMC UH-1Y fleets, enter service in 2030 time frame.

    Capability Set 4:

    Variant of FARA in the medium category replacing the balance of AH-64, enter service in 2030 time frame

    Capability Set 5:

    Heavy lift rotor craft replacing the Ch-47 Chinooks and possibly the CH53K. Some primes don’t see this set occurring until the 2050s or later PacSci EMC’s interests are a result of continuing support of today’s active fleet of helicopters. On the AH-1 Cobra and AH-64 Apache we supply the emergency escape system that separates

    the stationary windows and hinged door windows so the aircrew can safely exit. We are in the process of upgrading the AH-64 Apache with our Underwater Emergency Egress System (UEES). This system increases safety in the event of water landing by containing all the by-products of combustion and reducing the effects of the explosive by-products on the aircrew. We supply the squibs for the H-60 and AH-1 programs to initiate the fire suppression system for the engines, auxiliary power units and gear boxes. Our small squibs, pressure cartridges and detonators coupled with guillotine cutters, valves and actuators on the CH- 46, S-70 and commercial helicopters initiate flotation systems in water ditching and/or open hooks or sever cables to release an unstable load. PacSci EMC also sees the possibility of offering electronic solutions to improve integration with the overall aircraft system and drive down overall rotorcraft support costs. All of our products give the aircrew the opening or time to escape or recover a distressed helicopter.

    The FVL concept is to have the same aircraft capable of performing multiple missions instead of one type helicopter designed for only one mission. Additionally, aircraft need to have the same engines, drive train, open architecture and cockpit components where possible. Aircraft are proposed with similar basic capabilities like carrying a payload of 12 troops and four crew, hover out of ground effect at an ambient condition of 6,000 feet and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and self-deploy 2,100 nautical miles at a speed of at least 230 knots. This should result in reductions in the types of rotorcraft (28 today), smaller fleet due to multiple mission types on one helicopter, a smaller number of different spare parts and people able to work multiple platforms with similar systems for sustainment. A shared pool of maintainers, more common parts and equipment would drive logistics cost down.

    PacSci EMC looks forward to supporting Future Vertical Lift, the primes, and other suppliers in providing the best future technology to all variants meeting the performance and logistics goals of the program

    Sikorsky/Boeing SB>1 Defiant
    Bell Flight V-280 Valor
    Sikorsky/Boeing Raider X
    Bell 360 Invictus


    Portable, non-lethal vehicle arresting system.

    What are hypersonics?

    Hypersonics… Wait, What?

    What are Hypersonics?

    Hypersonic vehicles travel within a flight regime from Mach 5 to Mach 10 while high Hypersonic vehicles travel Mach 10 to Mach 25. Mach 1 is 767 mile per hour (mph) so at the high end, a Mach 25 vehicle is cruising at 19,175 mph! Put in perspective, a commercial airliner travels at approximately 500 mph so when your grandchildren boards that Mach 5 hypersonic airliner they will be traveling at 3,835 MPH. That means a trip from Los Angeles to New York City will take  approximately 44 minutes. The movies will likely be shorter.

    How do they get that fast?

    There are two design approaches to achieving > Mach 5 speeds. One approach is to launch a hypersonic glide body using a booster motor while the second approach is the use of a SCRAMJET or supersonic-combustion ramjet. What sets these apart from ballistic missiles is just that. Ballistic missiles achieve Mach 25 in the midcourse phase but fly a predictable flight path versus a hypersonic vehicle that is highly maneuverable.

    How do you defend against a hypersonic vehicle?

    To quote an old western movie, it’s “the quick or the dead” solution. The OODA Loop (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) is measured in minutes so the entire chain must be rapid and may ultimately require Artificial Intelligence for success. Presently,
    the U.S. is developing a layered ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) satellite-based network in addition to integrating our existing land-based phased array radar networks for the Observe phase. The ISR system will also provide flight path information to solve the Orient question. The next two steps, Decide-Act, will require pre-set Rules of Engagement (ROE) to eliminate confusion that will result in delay. The Missile Defense System has an existing process that will likely be leveraged.

    What do they look like?

    Back to the two types, a Glide Body design and a SCRAMJET design as shown below:

    Glide Body

    Where is the U.S. right now?

    Developing Hypersonic vehicles and related defense systems are a national priority. $14B is budgeted in the current FY20 FYDP (Future Years Defense

    Program) and significant increases are expected in the FY22 FYDP. Over 40 flight tests across the services are planned for FY20—24. The U.S. Air Force Air-Launched Rapid Response (ARRW), Lockheed Martin as prime, will be first to be fielded in FY22, designated the AGM-183. Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) is a joint Army/Navy initiative utilizing a common glide body. The Army will conduct live fire tests from a M870A4Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL) in 2022 while the Navy will conduct cold launch from a SSGN in 2025 followed by Virginia class SSN IOC in 2028.

    What are some of the technical challenges?

    The flight regime is harsh. Lockheed Martin identifies four primary challenges:


    At hypersonic speeds, friction and air resistance create an incredible amount of heat, which needs to be managed through tough but lightweight heat shields and thermal protection systems. Instruments, like sensors and electronics, must also be equipped and protected to stand up to these extreme conditions. 


    Managing extreme heat and speed requires inventing and deploying new solutions, advanced materials and composites that can withstand extreme environments.


    Hypersonic systems are designed to operate in contested environments and must be capable of overcoming a wide range of defenses. At hypersonic speeds, maneuverability is a big challenge that demands extensive calculation and development.


    Basic operations, like communications, become significant during hypersonic flight. Personnel need continuous connectivity to operators and decision-makers through global communications and sensor systems that can operate within these high-speed environments.

    What role is PacSci EMC playing?

    Like many complex systems, the use of pyrotechnic devices provides the most work for the lightest weight. PacSci EMC has a variety of applicable products. These span our extensive CAD/PAD product lines such as propulsive bolts to cutters used
    in a number of vehicle subsystems. From our linear explosive product line, Explosive Transfer Lines (ETL) and Linear Shaped Charge (LSC) are effective solutions. Our Integrated Electronic/Pyrotechnic (IEP) capability provides Arm-Fire Devices (AFDs) and Electronic Safe-Arm Devices (ESADs). In addition, these vehicles are demonstrated at test ranges across the country. If the vehicle does not perform as intended, the Range Safety Officer can destroy the vehicle in flight. PacSci EMC has designed Flight Termination Systems (FTS) that when commanded will cause the destruction of the vehicle. The FTS is governed by requirements of RCC319 and the FTS is qualified to those requirements.

    Hypersonic Program Overview

    DARPATerminal Boost Glide (TBG)Operational FiresHypersonic Conventional Strike
    U. S. Air ForceAdvanced Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW)Hypersonic Convention Strike Weapon (HCSW – “Hacksaw”)Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), Joint program with DARPA
    U. S. ArmyLong Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW)Intermediate Range – Conventional Prompt Strike (IR-CPS)
    U. S. NavyIntermediate Range – Conventional Prompt Strike (IR-CPS)

    Daily Visual Management

    Daily Management is in our DNA at Pacsci EMC. It is how we achieve our targets and sustain our work. Measurement alone will not improve performance. Real impact is the result of continuous improvement rigorously applied to the way we work. Daily and Visual Management is how we ensure the success of what we do.


    Visual Daily management makes our work visible so everyone can see it and therefore effectively manage it. It is a way to visually communicate expectations, performance, standards or warnings in a format that requires little to no training to interpret.

    There is no single way to do visual management. It should be customized to the goal of what it is to be communicated, how the audience will use it, or the organization that it will be used in. Think outside the box when designing your Visual Management to make it as simple and as clear as possible! No matter what the design is, there are some common benefits we see at PacSci EMC that our Visual Management provides.

    Makes it Easy to Quickly Understand Information

    Proper visual management allows information to be understood very quickly and easily. With good visual management, you should be able to tell the condition of an area in 5 seconds from 5 feet away. Often red and green or up/down arrows are used
    to communicate current status.

    Reduces Miscommunication

    Miscommunication is often reduced or eliminated by using visual management. Displaying the information and making it visual in the simplest way, the information is understood in the way it was intended. This is very helpful to communicate between different groups, functions, or shifts in an organization. Visual Management can help eliminate mistakes, or even safety hazards.

    Improve Employee Involvement and Morale

    The purpose of visual management is to take the focus away from solely bottom line or numbers driven metrics and give each employee an opportunity to see and communicate their progress, and for management to give them the support they need to succeed. Visual and Daily management links together the work of individual team members with the company’s overall objectives, allowing the employee a greater sense of being part of something bigger. This becomes empowering and will lead to more engaged employees. Often, if we have a good grasp on what the goals are, we can actually slow down the pace to meet our customer’s demands so that we ensure a higher quality product. This becomes more apparent as we get more engaged in Visual Management in small areas, like a manufacturing cell and those employees’ problem solve quality issues out of their areas. Visual management allows everyone to see how the team is performing and helps connect employees to the goals of the
    organization. When what is required to be done is displayed and is easy to understand it helps employees do their job and understand the current condition. Our daily meetings at the metric boards (SQDIP) is one example on how any given team is performing. It also facilitates discussion on what needs to be done as well as any ideas on how to get there. It can help change the thinking throughout an organization by displaying what once my have been considered bad or “reds” on a board to now be thought as an opportunity for improvement, or a challenge to brainstorm how to get back on track. The response I received today when I asked an employee about using their Daily Visual Management for the first time on a new build; “I know what has to be done and I feel I did a good job when I get it done on time each day.” This is how every employee should feel when they leave at the end of the day!

    Planning objectives can be seen by anyone

    Visual management takes a plan from a spreadsheet or post-it notes and places it out “on the line” where everyone can see it. This creates an environment where everyone can discuss it and agree on the goals. Changes can easily be made, and everyone can see the impact of those changes when a schedule is visually displayed. It also allows for on the fly decision making, versus having to refer back to a stand-alone computer or document.

    We can see priorities

    When a schedule is displayed visually, we not only see the priorities, be we can see if they are the CORRECT priorities. Having team input helps solidify we are working on the right things at the right times.

    Bottlenecks or roadblocks are instantly visible

    When the correct priorities are visually displayed, it’s easy to not only see roadblocks, you may also better predict future roadblocks. This allows you to plan for them so you have time to eliminate them before they happen.

    Allows other functions to see when they need to step in

    With a visual schedule, you can communicate with other parts of the organization when they will be impacted to play their part. This gives them vision to see what they need to do to be successful in helping the overall organizational goals.