M18 smoke demonstration
An M18 colored smoke demonstration at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark.

PINE BLUFF, Ark., June 22, 2011 -- Pine Bluff Arsenal’s Directorate of Ammunition Operations has good reason to be proud. They achieved the two million mark in their M18 colored smoke grenade production May 9, 2011. That is two million grenades without a failure, according to lot acceptance tests that were conducted May 11.

“We have passed 174 lot acceptance tests with this product to achieve this milestone,” said Roch Byrne, director of Ammunition Operations. “This is quite an accomplishment."

"I can’t take credit for it," he said. "The men and women who do the hard work every day, put the coveralls on, load up the buses early in the morning and work on the production lines are awesome. They have tough jobs. They really do great work.”

The M18 production lines have produced no lot failures since 2006, according to Byrne.

“We since added to the two million and plan to continue on and are looking toward three million without a failure,” he said.

A lot of the success of the program comes from the addition of a starter patch, which greatly improved burn times, said Byrne.

“Not only did it improve the reliability of the product, it helped one of our vendors (one that makes the M201A1 fuse),” he said in an article from 2008. “When we went from starter slugs to patches, the quality of the fuse was the same but the end product quality was better.”

The starter patch looks like a wafer and sits between each slug which is doughnut shaped. The patch allows for a different ignition method because the fuse ignites the patch and puts the fire between the layers, thus pushing the smoke mix. The introduction of the patch greatly increased start times with the grenades and decreased the lag time.

“That is the vehicle that allowed for the two million grenades to be produced. Without the hard work and dedication to details and quality by the men and women who work for production this wouldn’t have happened,” explained Byrne.

The folks at Pine Bluff Arsenal know how to make grenades, he said.

“If we have all the components we need, we will make a good grenade that is the bottom line,” Byrne said in a 2006 article. “This really shows we know what we are doing and we have the people to do it.”

Ammunition Operations has a full workload in front of them with other programs going on besides the M18 grenades.

“We will have a brief slow down in June and July,” he said. “This is not really typical in recent years, however, this year we have to make some critical infrastructure safety improvements with the replacement of aging fire suppression systems at the grenade press operations, pyrotechnic mix operations and starter patch operations areas."

"It is time for these areas to be upgraded,” he said.

Byrne said that the process is expected to take 90 days.

Page last updated Tue June 21st, 2011 at 00:00