PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - Eighteen U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center scientists and engineers recently were presented the 2007 Army research and development achievement award during brief ceremonies held at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. and Watervliet Arsenal, N.Y.

The award is presented annually to a select group of individuals whose outstanding achievements have significantly advanced Army capabilities and contributed to the national defense. The 18, ten from Picatinny and eight from Watervliet's Benet Weapons Laboratory, are among 96 Army researchers recognized for their distinguished work.

The Benet team of Wayland P. Barber, Robert L. Cooley, Edward W. Holmes and David C. Smith received the award for developing a new breech loaded 120mm mortar cannon. The new weapon, dubbed the XM325, incorporates a brand new design that is significantly lighter than any similar system in the world. The XM325 also is uniquely different than its predecessors, because it uses devices for firing existing 120mm ammunition.

Christopher J. Aiello, Daniel L. Cler, Christopher M. Smith and Stephen M. VanDyke-Restifo, also from Benet, were honored for developing the 155mm XM324 cannon assembly. An extremely lightweight device, the XM324 is designed for automatic, unmanned operation. One of its unique features is its use of electric breech actuation, laser ignition and a propellant retention device.

Three Picatinny-based teams also received the award.

Dr. Ernest L. Baker, Stanley DeFisher and Nausheen Al-Shehab were recognized for developing a venting process for warheads that prevents catastrophic explosion caused by fires. The technology prevents warheads from exploding when exposed to fire and is another step forward in efforts to make Army munitions completely insensitive to accidental detonation and extreme fire.

Dr. Reddy Damavarapu, Sanjeev Singh and Dr. Rao Surapaneni from Picatinny also received the award for developing and synthesizing a new melt cast explosive ingredient which is insensitive yet more powerful than TNT and RDX. Picatinny-site employees Patricia Alameda, Thomas Coradeschi, Robert Pinto and Gregory Schneck were honored for developing the Army's first suitcase-sized, portable digital fire control system that works with any current artillery and mortar system, particularly Excalibur.

David J. Shaffer, deputy to the commander of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, presented the awards at respective ceremonies at each location.