Insensitive Explosive Formulation Technology- XM7 Spider Grenade System

Friday February 20, 2009

What is it?

Insensitive Munitions (IM) are designed to prevent reaction to unintended detonation. The XM7 Spider Grenade System uses the PAX-41 explosive which is insensitive and safer for Soldiers without decreasing performance. In development now, the XM7 is a man-in-the-loop grenade dispensing system consisting of sensors, communications and 252 grenades. Recently, the Spider Grenade System Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) Project successfully optimized the PAX-41 explosive formulation and loading process to enable large-scale production of the grenades. Until this breakthrough ManTech development by the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command's, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), PAX-41 explosives had been produced only in limited laboratory scale quantities.

What has the Army done?

IM formulations differ somewhat from each other thus making explosive selection process for a given munition more complex. The ARDEC, with its industry partners, lead the ManTech effort to determine the optimum processing conditions for manufacturing and loading of PAX-41. As a result of these efforts, manufacturing of PAX 41 at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant, Kingsport, Tenn., and the loading of the Spider grenade body with PAX-41 at the Milan Army Ammunition Plant, Milan, Tenn., is consistent, high quality and lower costing material proven during first article testing. The ARDEC ManTech project reduced the explosive loading cost by 33 percent with roughly a 2:1 cost avoidance return on the ManTech project investment.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

Planned technology developments on networked munitions, like the XM1100 Scorpion System (formerly named the Intelligent Munition System), will provide the warfighter with the ability to remotely operate and monitor ground based systems. The ARDEC will continue to develop and optimize IM explosive formulations and manufacturing processes through current Man Tech projects like the PAX-3 and future projects in both new and legacy munition systems.

Why is this important to the Army?

The Spider advanced, man-in-the-loop, area denial munition provides commanders a new capability to shape the battlefield, protect the force, and respond to changing battlefield environments. By warning of dismounted enemy approach, disrupting infiltrations and permitting selective engagement, Spider minimizes risk to friendly troops and non-combatants. New IM explosive formulations and ManTech enabled processes like those developed for PAX-41 in the XM7 system, will give Soldiers effective, safer, systems at lower costs.


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