McALESTER, Okla. (Feb. 25, 2015) – A new process at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, or MCAAP, will make more recovered projectile bodies viable for reuse in the production of field artillery training rounds and provide the military with a cheaper and safer munition, Army officials said.
An estimated 95 percent of obsolete and unserviceable D563 projectile bodies recovered from the “soft touch” demilitarization process can feasibly be reused in the 155 mm M1122 high explosive, or HE, munition being manufactured at the plant. The new process changes how the base plate is removed from the projectile so the threads remain intact.
“The new ‘soft touch’ of the manual download line will allow us to use almost all of the downloaded projectiles for M1122 and other programs that reuse those bodies,” said Scott Sullivan, M1122 project manager at MCAAP.
“The value is that units get more training for their training dollars,” he said. “It’s basically half the price. It’s also environmentally-friendly and it’s an insensitive munition, which means it’s safer to store, transport and handle. It could also be used by other military services.”
The new round is manufactured with Insensitive Munition Explosive-101, or IMX-101, which replaces TNT and Composition B. IMX-101 provides a more stable fill because it’s less likely to explode if it’s in a fire, hit by another munition or mishandled during transport.
The work is being funded by Project Manager for Combat Ammunition Systems in coordination with Product Manager for Demilitarization, both at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., and is estimated to save the Army $79 million through fiscal year 2020, according to the M1122 Project Office at Picatinny Arsenal.
The new “soft touch” download process is expected to begin in March.
Projectile bodies recovered at MCAAP are also shipped to Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas, where they are used to manufacture M1123 infrared and M1124 visible light illuminating artillery rounds.
Manufacturing the M1122 entails salvaging the old projectile body and base, removing and demilitarizing the submunitions inside the old Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition, or DPICM, round, and loading, assembling and packing the new round.
“This is a new program that is really the right product at the right time,” Sullivan said.
While MCAAP has manufactured projectiles for the Air Force and Navy for many years, Sullivan said there are differences between them and the M1122 artillery round being produced for the Army.
“There are more critical quality characteristics on a single 155 projectile than there are on a bomb and every one of these must pass X-ray inspection,” he said.
The new workload is welcome news for the MCAAP workforce.
“Between the download of the DPICM rounds, the cleaning and inspection of the bodies we will reuse, and the load, assembly and pack of the 1122, it represents jobs for 40 to 50 people,” Sullivan said.
MCAAP completed first article acceptance testing of the M1122 and began full-rate production in June 2014. Sullivan said the current projection has the plant work-loaded through 2019.
“We see this as a good stable source of revenue for years to come,” he said.
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant is the Department of Defense’s premier bomb- and warhead-loading facility. It is one of 14 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial bases under the U.S. Army Materiel Command, which include arsenals, depots, activities and ammunition plants. MCAAP is vital to ammunition stockpile management and delivery to the Joint Warfighter for training and combat operations.