The military is beginning to make its switch from explosive material like TNT to an innovative substance that is said to be less dangerous called IMX-101.
Developed by BAE Systems, IMX-101 is described as an insensitive munition eXplosive (IMX) that serves as a replacement for TNT in artillery rounds. BAE late last week announced its up to $780 million, 5-year contract with the military to provide explosives. Of this, $18.4 million was initially awarded to produce more IMX-101.
M795 projectiles are being equipped with IMX-101. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Christopher R. Rye)
The announcement came just a couple days after seven Marines were killed in an explosion during a live training exercise at a military depot in western Nevada, which was known to store ammunition and explosives.
According to BAE, the material produced at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Tennessee is more stable than TNT and Composition B, which makes weapons safer as they are transported and handled by troops. The Army approved it as a safe and effective alternative for TNT in 2010.
"The work we do at Holston is critical to the defense of our nation and to the safety of our men and women in uniform," Erin Moseley, president of BAE Systems' Support Solutions sector, said in a company statement. "IMX-101 is truly innovative and is revolutionizing military ordnance. Once fully fielded, it will help save lives on and off the battlefield."
Unlike TNT, which if handled in a violent manner can explode, IMX-101 can withstand mechanical shocks, fire and shrapnel impact. Here's more about the explosive from an Army article published in 2010:
Numerous tests by the Picatinny team have proven that IMX-101 is a safer alternative to TNT in the Army and Marine Corps' existing large-caliber projectiles, especially during transportation, storage and loading.
"If you were involved in an incident near a traditional TNT projectile hit with an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) or an improvised explosive device, you wouldn't be standing here today to tell about it," said Charlie Patel, a program-management engineer for Project Manager Combat Ammunition Systems here. "But with IMX-101, all that would happen is the explosive would deflagrate (burn quickly), and the shell would break into a few pieces. You wouldn't have the big detonation that would wipe out the vehicle and driver or a whole storage area and crew."
"Because it's less sensitive, the Army can store more shells in a magazine, and store more in one building at a closer distance to the Soldiers," said Anthony Di Stasio, project officer with the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, known as ARDEC here. "It significantly reduces the logistics burden both here in the U.S. and overseas."
For its innovative properties and potential to save lives, IMX-101 was named one of Time magazine's greatest inventions of 2010.
Watch IMX-101 in action:
Time noted in its 2010 report that IMX-101 is more expensive than TNT -- $8 per pound compared to $6 per pound.
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(H/T: Fox News)