It’s the middle of the night in Afghanistan and an Army howitzer crew receives notification they are needed immediately for a counter-fire mission. They load the 155mm projectile followed by the modular artillery charge system, close the breech, prime the howitzer and wait for the “FIRE” command. The gun crew knows that when the lanyard is pulled, the round is going down-range. As nerves and anxiety flow through each Soldier, the gun crew can rest easy knowing the munition will function as designed due to a team of engineers at the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command headquartered at the Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Ill. The JMC Quality Engineering team assures ready, reliable and lethal munitions through the Ammunition Stockpile Reliability Program.
Fifteen engineers ensure ASRP efforts begin after a munition is produced and accepted into the Army’s ammunition stockpile. The stockpile is located throughout the world, in various environments and storage conditions, handled and transported multiple times, and in some cases is decades old. Therefore, the ASRP tests samples items routinely to ensure reliability and predict potential issues.
“The quality engineering team plans, coordinates and oversees the testing,” said Dan Brown, director, Quality Directorate. “The tests are unique to each item based on the requirements of the military specification for that munition. Tests include visual
inspection and functional firing with equipment such as high speed cameras, radars, electronic pressure gauges and specialty high-precision barrels.”
The testing results are then analyzed and assessed by JMC engineers. The information detects trends due to aging of the stockpile, or even discovers ammunition defects before the defects are noticed in the field. For example, ASRP testing revealed a ballistic defect in the stockpile of 120mm Armor Piercing Tracer rounds for the M1- series Abrams main battle tank. Samples showed signs of target impact dispersion deterioration when fired in extreme cold, -25 degrees Fahrenheit, or extreme heat, +120 degrees Fahrenheit.
“JMC’s finding resulted in the stockpile undergoing modification,” said Brown. “JMC led the technical team that identified two potential rework procedures. Both designs successfully eliminated the issue and improved the rounds’ accuracy. A significant win for the Abrams Warfighters!”
Successes of the ASRP enables JMC to ensure it provides the Joint Warfighters with ready, reliable lethal munitions at the speed of war to provide the lethality that wins! The goal is for the gun crews to complete their mission safely, never really thinking about the significant efforts taken by the JMC quality engineers to ensure they have reliable munitions to complete their missions and arrive home safely.