How to Produce a Dolphin-Shaped Missile Head

The Palbam Company, a manufacturer of metal elements for the defense industries, is often called upon to cope with unusual challenges and is currently shifting its business focus

How to Produce a Dolphin-Shaped Missile Head

The Palbam Company is currently faced with an unexpected professional challenge: manufacturing the warhead for the world’s first asymmetrical missile.

The missile in question is the Stunner interceptor, developed jointly by Rafael of Israel and Raytheon of the USA, and the fact that the challenge has been presented to the Palbam company is no accident: to this day, the company has taken part in the development of dozens of weapon systems in cooperation with Rafael and other defense industries.

The challenge presented by the Stunner interceptor missile stems from the fact that the missile’s head is shaped like a dolphin, namely – it is relatively flat on one side and rounded on the other side. The missile had been designed and developed so that the flat side will contain as many sensors and data processing systems as possible while ensuring that the asymmetrical shape will have no adverse effect on the aerodynamic performance of the missile.

When the developers of the US-Israeli missile were devising the new concept, they still had not taken into account the fact that manufacturing an asymmetrical missile head will require new methods. Only recently, pursuant to substantial development efforts, have Palbam and Rafael managed to develop a method based on the casting of metal under high pressure that would enable efficient manufacturing of the missile head, using specialized equipment. This development is based on the use of a metal type that possesses unique capabilities.

This recent solution by Palbam provides a peek into a less familiar area of the arms industry: the companies engaged with the physical production of elements using manufacturing methods that are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, with the defense industries demanding even further streamlining and efficiency improvement with regard to the manufacturing processes.

According to Gal Schwartz, VP Marketing at Palbam, the market where his company operates is just as dynamic and fascinating as the market where the arms manufacturers who contract various jobs to Palbam are operating.

Schwartz says that Palbam had been established decades ago as part of the technologically advanced industrial complex owned by Kibbutz Ein Harod (Ihud) in the northern part of Israel. A few years ago, pursuant to an organizational revision, the Ricor Systems Company (which also belongs to Kibbutz Ein Harod) sold a part of its shares to a venture capital fund. Ricor Systems specializes (among other things) in miniature cooling systems for missiles and electro-optical systems.

Unlike Ricor Systems, Palbam, which belongs to the same Kibbutz, decided to focus more and more on the defense and aerospace sector, at the expense of its production lines for the civilian market.

Today, Palbam has a workforce of about 70 employees and specializes in an extensive range of technologically advanced metalworking processes. Among other things, they manufacture parts for the doors of Boeing passenger aircraft (as a subcontractor of the Cyclone Company, a member of the Elbit Systems Group), as well as the head of the EXTRA Extended Range (150 km) Artillery Rocket by IMI.

Palbam is also involved in a series of projects with Indian companies, in the context of industrial cooperation agreements, as some of the Israeli industries that develop weapon systems are obliged to carry out parts of those projects in India, in the context of offset procurement agreements.

Among other things, in the context of the Israeli-Indian cooperation, launching canisters have been manufactured by Palbam. The development and the first series of production are performed in Palbam’s factory, while the serial production is performed by Palbam in India, in collaboration with local industries. 

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Photo: Neta Schreiber, Osnat Tirosh (Chief People and Corporate Development Officer for Cellebrite), Adi Guzi, and Ronnen Armon (Chief Products and Technology Officer for Cellebrite). Photo: PR / Cellebrite

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