By Mrs. Rachel C Selby (AMC)August 9, 2018
Pine Bluff Arsenal's Directorate of Ammunition Operations achieved a major quality milestone in April, when it produced its four millionth M18 colored smoke grenade without a failure. The directorate pass the three million mark in July 2014.
The success of the grenade program in recent years has come from the addition of a starter patch -- produced at PBA -- which greatly improved burn times. The patch, which looks like a wafer and sits between each doughnut-shaped starter slug, allows for a different ignition method.
The fuse ignites the patch and puts the fire between the layers, thus pushing the smoke mix faster. The introduction of the patch greatly increased start times with the grenades and decreased the lag time. The starter patch was first used in December 2006 on a batch of fiscal year 2007 M18 green smoke grenades.
"The 2006 lot really started the clock ticking. We had the patched and were trying to figure out how to integrate them. The good news in our failure was we had something waiting," said Don Scifres, AO director. "We first started using the patch with the LVOSS grenades, and then integrated it into the M18 grenades."
Scifres said during grenade production last year, a test was done wrong so the production line though a failure had occurred. "We went back through all the paper work during testing. We were doing a water immersion test. There is a certain depth you have to check it against," he said. "We had doubled the amount of the depth."
M18 grenades are used primarily during operations for signaling and marking. They have been a mainstay in the Arsenal's ammunition commodity profile for many years.
Roch Byrne, PBA's Deputy to the Commander and former AO director, said reaching this milestone is a major accomplishment.
"Back in 2006, we were having quality and reliability issues with long delays when the grenade was set off and problems with both the starter cup and slug," he said. "Now four million grenades later, our solution -- the starter patch -- was a big collaboration between many individuals."
The success of this program boils down to the fact that Pine Bluff is providing a more reliable, more consistent M18 colored smoke grenade to the Warfighter, said Byrne.
"This is amazing. The men and women in Ammunition Operations who build the grenades, make the mix, fill them, press them, test them, etc…,and the support organizations here on post who work to get them to the final customer -- the Soldier, they are the ones who make those four million grenades. My hats off to the entire team for getting this done."