In today’s budget conscious, environmentally aware climate, the modern military is well used to doing its bit to reuse, reclaim and recycle – and not just drinks cans, paper and packaging. When it comes to ammunition, collecting spent small-arms cases by the tonne for their brass is one thing, but recycling live high-explosive artillery shells that have passed their use-by date is something altogether different. Dr Gareth Evans finds out more about the process.
Dealing with surplus, unwanted or hazardous munitions has always been an issue for armies, but increasingly it is about much more than just making them safe and getting back the scrap value of the metal. Now, improved reclamation techniques, such as the new process that recently came on-stream at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (MCAAP) to turn obsolete munitions into cheaper and safer training rounds for the US Army, mean that it can also represent a significant reduction in direct costs.
Tipped to save an estimated $79m by 2020, the new half-price shells mean soldiers will be able to get more training for their money, while using munitions that closely mimic the ballistics and performance of actual combat rounds.