CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – The chamber is officially open at the Letterkenny Munitions Center’s Ammonium Perchlorate Rocket Motor Destruction facility.
Senior Army leaders and distinguished guests gathered Thursday to celebrate the official opening of a new, one-of-a-kind facility built to support demilitarization of Ammonium Perchlorate based Composite Rocket Motors. The new facility provides a comprehensive closed disposal solution for more than 85 percent (by net explosive weight) of the entire Department of Defense tactical missile demilitarization inventory.
“Today’s ribbon-cutting symbolizes Army Materiel Command’s commitment to safeguard our Nation’s most treasured resources, our people and our environment,” said Lisha Adams, executive deputy to the commanding general of Army Materiel Command, keynote speaker for the event and staunch supporter of the ARMD facility. “I’m extremely honored to share in this very special day.”
The ARMD chamber facilitates an environmentally-friendly means to dispose of AP-based rocket motors, such as Multiple Launch Rocket System and Sidewinder rocket motors. The current static burn process releases harmful hydrochloric acid into the atmosphere, something the ARMD facility is designed to eliminate. LEMC’s ARMD facility will greatly reduce the need for static burn of rocket motors, reducing both noise and environmental pollution. This new process ensures air pollution compliance by removing 98 percent of harmful pollutants generated during thermal treatment.
LEMC’s ARMD process for rocket motors consists of enclosed firing of the rocket into a chamber, processing the combustion gasses through a pollution abatement system, and subsequent disposal of the combustion solids and PAS brine materials. The confined burn of rocket motors allows for the combustion exhaust products to be captured and treated rather than being released directly into the environment. LEMC’s new facility will greatly reduce the need for static burn of rocket motors, reducing both noise and potential environmental pollution. The ARMD is designed to process a wide range of rocket motors of various sizes. The ARMD can process intact rocket motors up to a net explosive weight of 680 pounds of propellant or segments up to 805 NEW of propellant. The PAS is designed to remove more than 98 percent of the acid gasses and more than 99 percent of the solid particulates from the exhaust stream. The ARMD is designed to process approximately 23 different rocket motors variants from the Army, Navy and Air Force inventory.
“This new facility is a win-win-win effort because it will reduce the surplus, obsolete and inoperable stockpile of Army, Navy and Air Force rocket motors, it will prevent ammonium perchlorate exhaust products from being released into the environment and most importantly, it will provide essential safety to operators,” said Ms. JoEtta Fisher, executive director for ammunition and deputy to the commander of Joint Munitions Command.
Previewed to local leaders and media in September 2016, the ARMD is a $38 million project, which began in 2014. It consists of a confined burn chamber, which is 110’ long, 19’ in diameter with 1.25” thick armor plating that weighs 325,000 lbs.
The chamber is constructed based on state-of-the art technologies. An advanced corrosion-resistant thermal protective called Arc Sprayed Metal Cladding is applied to shield the interior against the harshest operating environments. The chamber contains extensive data sensors, heat and pressure, to ensure unparalleled safety to operators.
“This is the Army’s first, and only closed loop rocket motor demilitarization apparatus” said Lt. Col. Timothy Ballas, LEMC commander. “This effort will improve the safety of our operation, mitigate the impact on the environment and enable LEMC to successfully demilitarize a wide range of rocket motors in our inventory.”
Low Rate Initial Production Operations were completed in April 2021 and the ARMD is currently scheduled to transition to Full Rate Production operations by September 2021.
In the future, LEMC will construct a third building for segmenting larger rocket motors such as ATACMS and Mark 70. Additionally, a capability upgrade is planned for fiscal year 2022 that will allow for firing multiple motors simultaneously in the ARMD.