By Tony Lopez, Joint Munitions CommandNovember 7, 2019
MCALESTER ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT, Okla. -- Repurposing bomb material is one example of how the Army's Joint Munitions Command continuously reviews its processes to be more efficient, while providing the munitions enterprise cost savings. The McAlester Army Ammunition Plant recently determined that scrap explosive material, PBXN-109, which is generated during the bomb production loading process, can be used as an effective explosive donor material for open detonation operations.
"Using scrap PBXN-109 and production High Explosive material for the Organic Industrial Base will reduce labor costs associated with the handling and disposing of the ash residues, and also help to augment current donor supplies while freeing up available demilitarization capacity at MCAAP," said Dr. Keith Clift, physical scientist, JMC.
Currently, open detonation operations consume approximately five to six million pounds of donor material per year. The OIB uses 1.1 High Explosive material to execute the demilitarization mission. PBXN-109 scrap material generated during bomb production at MCAAP was previously demilitarized by the open burning process. This process reduced the PBXN-109 to an ash which was loaded into barrels and transported for local disposal.
"This project reduces the open burning requirement as well as the final disposition cost of the scrap material at the burning grounds," said Col. Shane Upton, commander, MCAAP. "The savings to the Army for reuse of this scrap material as a donor is estimated at more than $10 million over the next six years."
The PBXN-109 was tested and found to be fully detonable, with sufficient energy to function during ammunition demilitarization operations and was accepted into the MCAAP range standard operation procedure. The project developed an improved process and standard for energetic use of PBXN-109 as donor material to remove scrap HE material from production lines and to offset donor use.
The Army's ammunition mission, to include demilitarization, is coordinated through an enterprise management effort. Demilitarization and disposal are the final steps in the life-cycle management of materiel. JMC manages and operationalizes the conventional ammunition stockpile by planning and executing demilitarization projects at its organic and commercial sites.
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant is a Department of Defense bomb - and warhead-loading facility. It is one of 17 installations of the JMC and one of 23 organic industrial bases under the Army Materiel Command, which include arsenals, depots, activities and ammunition plants. MCAAP is an important element in ammunition stockpile management and delivery to the Joint Warfighter for training and combat operations to provide lethality that wins.