“The testing went very well,” said Tim Garrett, director of field operations, Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives. “Processing times and the scrap from the operation were very consistent. The testing confirms the process is very effective and safe.”
The testing was conducted to show the warheads that are safely punched and drained and then sealed into a protective canister can be effectively processed in an SDC unit, Garrett said.
Experts from the Redstone Test Center in Huntsville, Alabama, configured 30 simulated warheads for the tests in the Anniston Army Depot SDC unit by adding a simulated agent heel, a burster and a fuze to each punched test warhead body, Garrett said. High-performance brake fluid was used to simulate the agent heel, as it has very similar thermal properties such as vapor pressure and flash points as VX agent. The same explosive used in M55 rockets was used for the burster. The test warheads were placed in the same kind of containers that will be used for the real warheads, sealed and processed in the chamber.
“We’re simulating as closely as possible a drained M56 rocket warhead that will go through the Blue Grass process,” Garrett said. “We have duplicated the identical explosive train of the rockets in storage at the Blue Grass Army Depot to analyze how the detonation chamber will handle the load.”
In Kentucky, Rocket Warhead Containerization System equipment is being installed at an off-site training center and will be used to train workers in the containerization process.
Development of the SDC 2000 site continues. The SDC unit of the Explosive Destruction Technology system is currently processing mustard munitions and the off-gas treatment system will be upgraded to process nerve agent when the mustard campaign is complete.