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Uses for Beryllium in Defense and Security Applictions

Our armed forces rely on beryllium - a critical component of weapons, guidance, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

Reconnaissance Aircraft

Beryllium is crucial to the defense of the nation, the protection of our allies and the security of the homeland. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) reported in 2008 that of all the metals used in its systems, only high purity beryllium was deemed “critical and "strategic.” DoD stated that beryllium is “essential for important defense systems and unique in the function it performs.”

Systems: Military systems depend heavily on electronics for navigation, target acquisition and firing. In critical situations and equipment, stiff, lightweight beryllium components ensure precise operation under extreme conditions.

In military fighter jets, pure beryllium saves weight critical to speed and maneuverability, while also ensuring razor-sharp targeting and strike capabilities. Copper beryllium is used for electrical connectors, fasteners and structural components in fixed-wing aircraft and fighters including the:

  • F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter
  • F-22 Raptor
  • F-18 Super Hornet
  • F-16 Fighting Falcon, and,
  • F-15 Strike Eagle.

In optical systems of military helicopters, beryllium components are designed into enhanced surveillance and targeting systems that help keep crews safe.

The nation’s unmanned aerial systems count on beryllium optical systems for real-time imagery and targeting on surveillance and reconnaissance flights.

For battle tanks on the move, stiff beryllium mirrors dampen vibration and provide a jitter-free optical path for targeting and firing controls.

Beryllium is also integral to the airborne equipment used to detect and destroy improvised explosive devices (IED) and tactical mines.

In emerging guided missile defense systems, beryllium is critical to assure a first line of defense in directing, targeting and ultimately destroying missile threats.

U.S. military satellites rely on beryllium metal for structural and dimensional stability, as well as reliability, in the electrical systems that deliver reliable intelligence from space.

Command and Control Communications: Military communications depend on copper beryllium alloys in network hubs, switches and routers. The strength, electrical and thermal conductivity of this material ensures reliability while maximizing signal speed and bandwidth.

Homeland Security: Behind the scenes at airports, ports, border stations and other public assets, beryllium and beryllium-containing materials support surveillance, inspection and countermeasures vital to security. At countless locations, beryllium components operate in the x-ray machines, sorting equipment and scanners used to inspect baggage and cargo for illegal and dangerous substances.