O-044(Rev) Can Insensitive Munitions & Hazard Classification Testing be Harmonized?

November 1998
Rodrigue Boulay (Mitigation Methods), Patrick Touzé (Detonics and Terminal Ballistics)

In 1997, NIMIC held a Workshop on IM Testing. The aim of the workshop was to write guidance on full scale IM testing in order to improve confidence in and achieve international acceptability and broader applicability of test results. Some of the recommendations arising from the workshop could affect how a munition's response is assessed. This paper discusses how Insensitive Munitions (IM) testing and Hazard Classification (HC) testing can be harmonized.

Currently, the determination of the NATO Reaction Type, which ranges from a detonation (Type I) to a burning reaction (Type V), is a qualitative assessment of a munition's response to a given stimulus. This evaluation relies on the experience of the test engineer. The boundaries between Reaction Type are not always clear and the interpretation of one test is likely to be subjective. It is proposed that a munition's response be measured quantitatively, rather than qualitatively, in terms of its effect on the surroundings. The parameters of interest are the overpressure, the fragment throw and the thermal flux for which threshold values for injuries to humans are suggested. This new concept of Level of Response proposes that for given distances, the threshold values cannot be exceeded.

A parallel has been drawn between the new Level of Response and the NATO Reaction Type. An equivalence with the UN Hazard Classification has also been shown. This quantitative approach to assess a munition's response is a step towards harmonizing IM and HC assessment. This could be instrumental in reducing the number of tests required to qualify a munition for service. It also establishes a link between IM and HC.

Finally, the participants of the Workshop undertook a review of the IM full-scale test procedures. The concept of "standard" and "tailored" tests has been proposed. A brief discussion of the tests common to IM and HC and how they could be harmonized is presented.

Presentation details

Paper presented to the 1998 Insensitive Munitions & Energetic Materials Technology Symposium held on 16-19 November 1998 in San Diego, California, USA