By Mrs. Jaime Thompson (AMC)May 24, 2011
McAlester, Okla - Rarely do you find a process that solves numerous issues at the same time, but with the Improved Conventional Munitions Recycle, Recovery and Reuse Demil process , it not only helps to preserve and optimize our Army Demil ranges, but it also returns dollars back into the Demil Enterprise.
The ICM R3 Demil Process is the first fully automated R3 capability for the demilitarization of M42, M46, and M77 submunitions. It was developed by the Defense Ammunition Center Demil Technology Directorate and Sandia National Laboratories.
The Department of Defense has more than 750,000 D563 projectiles that contain eighty-eight individual M42/M46 submunitions and more than 300,000 Multiple Launch Rocket System warheads that contain 644 individual M77 submunitions. This equates to over a quarter of a billion individual submunitions that are currently slated for demilitarization in the near future.
"Because of this incredible volume of material to be processed, the Demil Enterprise is interested in not only automating the ICM disassembly processes, but also in maximizing the recovery and/or reuse of this valuable recyclable metals and explosive materials, said Dr. Keith Clift, Senior Physical Scientist, DAC Demil Technology Directorate. "Depending on the markets for these recovered materials, it has been estimated that well over $40 million could be realized from the recovery of material from just the D563 and MLRS."
Another reason why the process is so important to the community is that it helps to eliminate the risks associated with potential range contamination in the event of accidental scattering of submunitions during open detonation of the ICM rounds.
"Given the sheer number of submunitions associated with these two munition items, there is a good statistical probability that eventually some of these submunitions could end up being inadvertently "kicked-out" during OD operations and scattered on our demil ranges, leading to possible restriction or even loss of this valuable demil capability," explained Clift. "By removing this volume of ICM rounds from the range, it not only protects our ranges from potential ICM contamination, but also helps to free up valuable range capacity for other munition items that currently have no other demil alternative except OD."
The new ICM R3 process has met all preliminary safety assessments conducted by the United States Army Technical Center for Explosives Safety and completed a successful full scale demonstration/validation test on inert submunitions at SNL. Currently, the process is being installed at Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot where it will undergo formal Low Rate Initial Production runs in the fall of this year.