Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant Static Detonation Chamber units processed conventional ammunition in December 2021, demonstrating the ability to destroy the explosive components of 4.2-inch mortar rounds.
“Processing conventional 57mm ammunition is a brief test for our operators to see how the system reacts to explosives,” said Andy Shaffer, test coordinator, PCAPP.
Conventional ammunition processing was one of the final steps of the first phase of SDC non-agent testing. Testing followed a detailed 14-week timeline intended to demonstrate the SDC units can operate as designed, using surrogate chemicals and inert munitions.
The 57mm projectiles and 4.2-inch mortar rounds contain similar fuzes, energetics and propellant charges. The explosive content in one 57mm round equals the explosive content in four 4.2-inch mortar rounds.
“Conventional ammunition testing gave us an acute pressure spike, proving we can destroy the explosive components in the 4.2-inch mortar rounds,” said Kim Jackson, plant manager, PCAPP.
Additionally, both types of rounds make similar sounds when deflagrated.
“Control room operators can use monitors to see everything going into the SDC vessels, but once the detonation chamber closes, they have to rely on the sound and pressure pulse to confirm deflagration. They’ve never heard what deflagration within the detonation chamber sounds like, which is part of their training,” said David Duff, chief engineer, PCAPP. “We cannot use agent-filled rounds for training and the 57mm rounds are an effective alternative.”
Only 10 of the 57mm rounds were needed to complete conventional ammunition testing satisfactorily and prove that the units could accommodate explosive material.
“There were no issues during conventional ammunitions testing and the units performed well,” Jackson said.