Rapid Deflagrating Cord (RDC) | PacSci EMC
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Rapid Deflagrating Cord (RDC).

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Rapid Deflagrating Cord

Rapid Deflagrating Cord (RDC) is a linearized metal sheathed propagation cord that uses a high temperature thermally stable energetic material to provide energy to provide signal transmission, heat / ballistic pressure for ignition and / or actuation. The energetic material has an extremely high deflagration (burn rate) that does not transition to a detonation. Additional protection to the outer metal sheath can be incorporated with the use of plastic extrusions or braided textiles / stainless steel wire.

RDC provides an alternate approach for point-to-point signal transmission when the shock from detonating materials cannot be tolerated due to shock sensitive equipment and/or the material in the surround area cannot withstand the high energy shrapnel from detonating cord. The RDC delivers heat and flame to the surround area when the sheath is liberated. Based on this metal sheath rupture, RDC is currently used for ignition of various propellant applications (pyrogens, rocket motors and automotive passenger side inflators). The coreload (energetic weight per linear foot) can range from 2 grain/ft (transmission and small initiation) to 20 grain/ft or higher (propellant ignition and other forms of work energy release). PacSci EMC can provide end terminations for more defined interconnections (see the RDCTL product page for more information).

Rapid Deflagrating Cords are used on the following:

  • Missile systems
  • Launch vehicle stage separation
  • Aircraft ejection seat sequencing

RDC systems are currently used on the Harpoon and JASSM missiles systems, AGM-130 & Penguin Missile systems and various Navy and Air Force time delays used for ejection seat sequencing.

Caloric Output
700 Calories per gram minimum
Generates a flame pattern of 5-8 inches using a nominal 6 grains/foot lead sheath

Burn Rate
Typical deflagration rate in low coreloads (2-6 grains/foot) is 8000 in/sec and will be 12,000 in/sec for coreloads in the 10 grains/foot or higher

Operating Temperature
-320 °F to +700 °F

Thermal Stability
+650° F for 24 hours (depending on sheath material)

RDC Ignition Methods
Initiated at either end by:

  1. an electrical pyrotechnic initiator
  2. a military grade percussion primer
  3. a blasting cap
  4. another length of RDC

Available Sheath Material
Tin (Patented)


An ordnance device typically is composed of several components that are initiated sequentially. Reliability of this initiation train is critical to its performance. This paper describes the testing and analysis methods used to understand the mechanisms involved and to achieve a high reliability.

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Rapid Deflagrating Cord Technical



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