NATO Insensitive Munitions Information Center (NIMIC) formed

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Gen. Michel Thevenin, the Chairman of AC/310 and Dr. Ron Derr the U.S. representative to AC/310 championed the IM effort in NATO. AC/310 sponsored an Insensitive Munitions Workshop in London in October 1986. Seventy representatives of NATO governments and industrial agencies attended. The participants of the workshop agreed that the reduction of the sensitivity of munitions used interoperably by the NATO forces was desirable and that new technology could make this goal attainable. They also agreed that the formation of an Insensitive Munitions Information Center (NIMIC) in NATO could facilitate the exchange of technical information among the NATO countries.

Because of the U.S. Navy’s schedule for a complete transition to insensitive munitions by 1995, the need for a formal mechanism for exchanging information was immediate. The U.S. proposed the formation of a NATO Pilot NIMIC located in the United States. The Pilot NIMIC would develop the information exchange concept, begin exchanging information among the participants, and formalize plans for establishing a permanent NIMIC at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

Not all of the NATO countries were interested in participating; however, in May 1988, France, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, establishing the Pilot NIMIC. Canada joined in April 1989. Each Nation contributed funds and technical personnel for the project and the Pilot NIMIC was established at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Columbia MD.

On 17 May 1990, RAdm. Lockhart, OP-35, issued the following statement:

“The NIMIC will enhance the ability to achieve the U.S. desire for equality of conventional munitions within the alliance in the area of insensitive munitions program requirements, thus improving their inter-operability potential, and overall safety concerns in transportation and storage. …The Navy agrees to provide funding…for the establishment of the NIMIC…”76

After successfully completing the pilot phase in the United States, the NATO Insensitive Munitions Information Center moved to the NATO Headquarters in Brussels on 1 May 1991. The NIMIC now has a collection of IM technology information and it is staffed with scientists capable of analyzing technical data and recommending ways to reduce the sensitivity of munitions to all types of aggressions. Also, the NIMIC maintains a data bank on weapon systems safety.

As a part of its responsibility for publicizing IM technology, the NIMIC has sponsors workshops in various locations. As an example, the following is a list of the topics for the Workshops sponsored by NIMIC between 1992 and 1995:

Bullet/Fragment Impact 9 to 11 June 1992
FRAGMAT Users Forum 26 April 1993
Cook-Off 23 to 25 June 1993
Damaged Material Sensitivity 19 to 21 July 1993
Energetic Materials 22 to 24 June 1994
Sympathetic Reactions Between Munitions 13 to 16 June 1995

The formal reports issued after the above Workshops are available from the NIMIC.

Funding for the NIMIC is provided entirely by the participating countries. The funding is on a share basis, which assigns two shares to the larger nations like France, the U.K., and the U.S., and 1 share to the others.

At the time of this writing the NIMIC is comprised of ten nations. These are Australia, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Australia is not a member of NATO but was given a special exception by the NATO Council to join the NIMIC.

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76OPNAV ltr Ser. 35/OU587461 of 17 May 1990; Subject: NATO Insensitive Munitions Information Center.