Canada trials SRM-encased artillery shells
The Canadian Army's research and development arm is trialling artillery shells encased in structural reactive materials (SRM) rather than conventional steel.
The new shells are being trialled to assess their potential to increase the power of artillery munitions while reducing collateral damage. The results of initial trials conducted at the Defence Research and Development Canada’s (DRDC) Suffield Research Centre in Alberta in fall 2017 are positive, but research of up to five more years is still required.
SRM reacts itself and with the air – burning and increasing the explosive power and blast pressure within the lethal radius of the munition. It also produces smaller fragments that have more deceleration than with steel, travel less distance and cause less damage outside the intended blast area.The rounds function similarly to thermobaric weapons, which use combustible liquids or aerosols, but with one key difference.
Fan Zhang, lead scientist at the Suffield Research Centre, said: 'Solid SRM can be used for munition shells owing to its high mechanical strength, with its fragments having a similar effect of combustion and spreading out but in a solid state and with only one fuse, one explosion.
'So it very much simplifies the whole process, while giving significantly higher energy output than current explosive yields.'
Making the blast power adjustable is also one of the DRDC’s objectives.
The most recent trials saw separate elements of the Canadian armed forces collaborate. The army assessed the viability of SRM in an artillery context, and the Royal Canadian Air Force researchers tested it in the form of 500lbs air-dropped bombs.
Maj Travis Maxwell, with the army’s Directorate of Land Resources, said: 'The Canadian Army needs artillery ammunition to exploit technological advancements that improve precision, limit collateral damage and concentrate effects so that commanders have options appropriate for a wide spectrum of tactical problems.'
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