The U.S. Army has approved a new BAE Systems explosive as an alternative to replace TNT in artillery. The decision is a major step toward the production and use of a new family of high-performance insensitive munitions that are designed not to detonate under conditions other than the intended mission.
The company’s IMX-101 explosive is significantly more stable than conventional TNT, making it safer for troops to transport and handle. TNT typically behaves violently if subjected to an accidental stimulus, such as fire. TNT-loaded munitions also are susceptible to enemy attack.
Conversely, the new generation of insensitive munitions is designed to sustain chemical stability when subjected to mechanical shocks, fire, and impact by shrapnel, while performing as intended, when needed.
“IMX-101 explosive has the potential to revolutionize military ordnance,” said Jerry Hammonds, vice president and general manager of ordnance solutions for BAE Systems. “This transformation will help save lives on and off the battlefield.”
The Army has initially slated the explosive formulation as a TNT replacement in the new IM M795 155-millimeter artillery munitions. It also has deemed IMX-101 a suitable replacement for any large-calibre munitions requiring the energetic performance equivalent to TNT, added Hammonds.
BAE Systems developed IMX-101 in partnership with the Army at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingsport, Tennessee. BAE Systems manages and operates the Holston plant for the government, with a total of about 700 employees and subcontractors.