International interest in Insensitive Munitions

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In 1986 and 1987, the international interest in the U.S. Navy’s Insensitive Munitions program grew. The British Ordnance Board formed a “Joint Insensitive Munitions Working Group” to assess the impact of IM and formulate a recommendation to the Ordnance Board. Australia also became interested and, after studying the concept, issued a working paper on IM in January 1989. The Australian IM working paper states:80

“The message for Australia is clear. Our allies will increasingly adopt IM, and weapon systems purchased from our allies will increasingly conform to IM guidelines. If ADF [Australian Defense Force] is not IM equipped, the strategic benefits of interoperability of the appropriate systems will be lost. The policy of the U.S. Navy and RN [Royal Navy] and [sic] it impinges on joint operations etc could have a strong influence on RAN [Royal Australian Navy] policy in particular.”

On 25 September 1990, the British published Ordnance Board Proceeding 42657.81 The Ordnance Board reviews all ordnance items and provides the British military with recommendations on safety and suitability for service. The Board considered the application of the Insensitive Munitions technology to U.K. weapons and published their criteria for Insensitive Munitions. The U.K. adopted the same tests and criteria as the U.S. Navy and recommended that “…the requirement for Insensitive Munitions be addressed in Staff Targets and Requirements”.

In its Proceeding, the Ordnance Board stated the following:

“The benefits of IM will accrue in both peace and war: in peace, the lower risk of adverse events occurring and the reduced accident damage will lead to economies in logistics; and during combat, through improved overall effectiveness by improving safety and survivability of weapon systems. The survivability of the weapon system platform – be it ship, tank or aircraft – in or on which they are carried will be improved; this applies particularly to HM Ships which carry embarked armament stores, and to RAF carrying reloads. If such ships are attacked, the embarked armament stores can substantially increase the resultant damage and loss of life, as occurred in the attack on LSL ‘Sir Galahad’ in the Falklands.”

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80Australia Ministry of Defence IM Working Paper of January 1989.
81U.K. Ordnance Board Proceeding 42657, “Insensitive Munitions Pillar Proceeding”, Board Project No. C88/005, issued on 25 September 1990.