O-119 Towards safer munitions with MSIAC
When munitions release their energy at an unwanted moment they become a threat to friendly forces and to the general public. Mishaps involving munitions have happened and will happen, this is a statistical fact.
Can we make munitions safer, in order to decrease both the probability and consequences of such mishaps? Yes we can! However, although safety is an essential requirement, safety is not everything. There are other essential requirements, like performance, that munitions must also comply with. Therefore, safety is sometimes wrongly seen as competing with these other requirements. In addition, increasing safety also requires specific technology, which is often assumed to mean additional costs.
Insensitive Munitions (IM) are a specific category of particularly safe munitions. They do not react violently to fires or to projectile impacts. Also, if one IM reacts for any reason, no mass detonation will be propagated to nearby IM, thereby greatly limiting the risk of a catastrophic event. And IM still meet other operational requirements.
After reviewing some munitions accidents, this paper presents the concept of Insensitive Munitions, the current status of IM technology, as well as the peacetime and wartime benefits to be gained from fielding safer munitions, and especially IM.
It then presents the Munitions Safety Information Analysis Center (MSIAC), a NATO Project Office in charge of supporting its member nations in raising the safety level of their munitions. The roles of MSIAC, its membership, as well as some of its products and services, are described.
This paper was presented to the International Symposium Energetic Materials (ISEM2008) held on 24-25 April 2008 in Tokyo, Japan