IMX-101: One of the 50 Best Inventions of 2010

December 7, 2010

Photo credit Timothy Rider

Philip Samuels, chemical engineer (left) and Anthony Di Stasio, lead project officer (right), both members of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, look at seven different fuze plugs designed to accommodate the IMX-101-loaded M795 155mm projectile.

National Ordnance and Ballistics Test Center – Camden, Arkansas

The US Army’s explosive formulation IMX-101 has been named one of “The 50 Best Inventions of 2010” by TIME Magazine.  IMX-101 is part of a new family of explosives under development called Insensitive Munitions eXplosives (IMX).  They are significantly more stable than conventional TNT and Composition B munition fills, making them safer for troops to transport and handle.  For example, TNT typically behaves violently if subjected to an accidental stimulus, such as fire, and TNT-loaded munitions also are susceptible to enemy attack.  The IMX generation of insensitive munitions are designed to maintain chemical stability when subjected to mechanical shocks, fire, and impact by shrapnel; while performing as intended when needed.

Earlier this year, the Army team at Picatinny Arsenal and the US Marine Corps approved IMX-101 as an effective replacement to TNT in the new M795 155-millimeter artillery munition.  The Army also has endorsed IMX-101 as a suitable replacement for any large-caliber munitions requiring the energetic performance equivalent to TNT.  That decision has the potential to revolutionize the way military ordnance is stored and transported, saving lives on and off the battlefield.

The US Army Program Management – Close Combat Systems (PM-CAS) at Picatinny Arsenal managed the Research & Development (R&D) Program to identify an effective IM fill replacement for TNT.  NTS-Camden took a proactive approach by becoming involved during the R&D phase of this program.  This enabled NTS to gain a thorough understanding of our customers’, and the end users, needs and requirements.  During the R&D program, PM-CAS ultimately down-selected to three viable explosive fills for MIL-S-2105 Insensitive Munitions testing.  NTS performed all down-select MIL-S-2105 testing for two of the three IM fills; and performed qualification testing for BAE Systems, the formulator and manufacturer of IMX-101, which was the ultimate fill of choice.

NTS provided input in the test protocols and offered advanced planning for testing schedules that suited the PM-CAS program accelerated timeline.  The importance of good communication was evident during this program.  By becoming involved during the R&D state of the program, NTS quickly became an integral part of the success of all customers including the explosive manufacture, load-assemble-pack facility, PM-CAS program office, and the ultimate customer –  the US Solider.

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