L-103 RS-RDX Technical Meeting Report

February 2004
Frédéric Peugeot (Warhead Technology) , Duncan Watt (Energetic Materials)

The aims of the meeting were:

  • To identify what is meant by Reduced Sensitivity
  • To identify analytical methods that can be used on the crystalline material to distinguish RS-RDX from normal RDX
  • To develop a plan for a program that will result in a STANAG describing both normal RDX and RS-RDX. This will include analytical method development and validation


In recent years much interest has been generated in samples of RDX which when incorporated in PBX formulations can confer reduced shock sensitivity. Clearly, this is of interest to the Insensitive Munitions community who strive towards reducing the vulnerability of munitions.

There are now a number of suppliers who state that they are to deliver reduced sensitivity RDX (RS-RDX). This prompts the questions:

  • What is RS-RDX?
  • How do we discriminate between RS-RDX and normal RDX?

Currently there are no agreed analytical methods for discriminating between the different RDX sensitivity grades at the crystal level. A meeting was proposed in order to clarify the situation. The purpose of this meeting was to identify candidate techniques, develop appropriate laboratory procedures and validate procedures through round robin testing of a wide variety of normal RDX and RS-RDX.

Ultimately AC/326-SG1 Energetic Materials will rely on the results of this work to update STANAG 4022 to include a specification for RS-RDX.

The first part of the meeting, days 1 and 2 (17-18th November), consisted of a series of presentations covering:

  • Who makes RS-RDX?
  • What do we know about RS-RDX?
  • How do we characterise the different sensitivity grades of RDX?
  • How do we know which RDX we are buying?
  • What analytical techniques can be applied at the crystal level to distinguish RS-RDX from normal RDX?

The second part of the meeting consisted of group discussions dealing with the identification of appropriate analytical techniques to distinguish between normal and RS-RDX (Group 1) and with development of a program for a round robin testing between various organizations (Group 2). Attendance of this part of the meeting was by invitation only (19-20th of November).