McAlester Ammunitions Plant Develops A Safer Bomb

Thursday, September 29th 2011, 7:29 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

McALESTER, Oklahoma -- Making weapons for the American military is a dangerous business. The McAlester Army Ammunitions plant has developed a new bomb that's designed to reduce the risk of accidental explosions.

The Army Ammunitions Plant in McAlester is busting with activity. The 70 square mile base is the country's premiere bomb making facility.

But it's the 500 pound bombs that have employees buzzing.

"Anyone who handles them it's safer for," said Cris Clayton, Bomb Program Manager.

The technical term for the new bomb is "insensitive munitions." For the layman that simply means they won't accidentally explode.

"They will just get hot and off gas instead of getting hot and blowing up," Clayton said.

Think of it like this, if an airfield is full of these bombs and it gets attacked and one bomb suffers a direct hit and explodes, the others may get hot but their special design allows them to release the heat without detonating.

"Kind of like the domino effect, if one goes down in the past they all would tumble," Clayton said.

From start to finish it can be as quick as one week for the bombs to be ready for their final destination, on board Navy or Air Force fighter jets.

The base has only started making the new bombs so numbers are not available, but last year it churned out more than 53,000 other bombs for the military.

Colonel Timothy Beckner is commanding officer of the base.

"We do it so well and efficiently we meet all required delivery dates 99.9 percent to the war fighter," Colonel Beckner said.

The base is always looking for ways to improve safety. For example, they're testing to see how sound waves can be used to mix the explosives. The traditional way caused friction that could cause the material to get hot and potentially explode.

The people here take great pride in their role for the military. They say finding new and creative ways to protect our servicemen and women is priority number one.

"It feels great knowing we're designing something that helps the war fighter. Our main goal is supporting the war fighter and we're at war so it's pretty satisfying," Clayton said.

Right now the ammunitions plant is making the bombs at 500 and 1000 lbs. They eventually plan to make one that's 2000 lbs.