The mad scientists at the Force Protection and Explosively Formed Penetrator Branch at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey have done it again.
The same place that designed the smart mortar and cased telescoped ammo is on the cusp of fielding an artillery shell that has both more consistent fragmentation and can be dialed in to burst shrapnel that's appropriate for personnel targets or equipment.
“When you’re targeting certain things like personnel or vehicles, you’re looking to get a fragment that’s a particular size,” said Peter Rottinger, a mechanical engineer at Picatinny Arsenal’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC).So they essentially designed an inner core to the shell -- whether it's a 155, 105 or 40mm -- that produces fragments that are generally the same size. This so-called "single mode" design evolved into a "multi-mode" iteration that allows Joes to set the fragmentation for the target.
“With natural fragmentation, you may get some fragments that are not going to be lethal and you may get some fragments that are over-lethal, like four times the size that you really needed to defeat that target, so it becomes inefficient,” Rottinger added.
On detonation, the fragments are dispersed according to a desired pattern, depending on whether they are intended for soft targets with smaller fragments, or materiel targets like trucks that require larger shell pieces to be effective.We're checking to see whether this technology is being tested out in Afghanistan or Iraq and when it could be available for troops in the field. If anyone's got any gouge on it first hand, please let us know. Any time technology can make "dumb" munitions smarter, we're all for it.
According to Rottinger, the advantages of the multi-mode warhead are enhanced lethality and greater effectiveness against a wide range of targets.