O-183 Laboratory Setback Activator Tests for Gun Launch Explosive Suitability

August 2017
Dr Ernest L. Baker, Dr Michael W. Sharp, Emmanuel Schultz, Martin Pope

A major safety concerns for energetic materials present in gun launched munitions is the exposure to severe set-back forces which develop as the shell is accelerated.  Table I presents a listing of typical projectile accelerations associated with different gun launches [1,2].  Under these conditions, energetic materials have been observed to occasionally react prematurely. The term in-bore premature is used for the explosion of a munition whilst it is still travelling down the barrel.

This is not a new phenomenon and a number of nations have developed laboratory setback actuator testing that can be used to understand ignition mechanisms for energetic material when exposed to an acceleration environment. However, these capabilities appear to be used mainly for research purposes and there is little evidence that they are mandated as part of a nation’s formal qualification assessment process.  None are included in NATO Standards on qualification of energetic materials.

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