Low-impact bomb disruptor

Designed by a joint Navy and FBI team of experts to reduce the risk of an explosion while disabling pipe bombs

Military Technology

In cooperation with the FBI, U.S. Navy experts have designed a novel tool for disabling homemade explosives, with special emphasis on two-inch steel pipe bombs “commonly used in IEDs in the United States.” The patented design is available for license to companies that would turn it into a new product for military or civilian customers.

Two airmen from Malmstrom Air Force Base’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team assisted state authorities with the dismantling this steel pipe bomb by using a robot to shoot the caps off with a shotgun slug. (C.J. Reeves/Air Force)

The low impact threat rupture device is an advancement for percussion activated non-electric (PAN) disruptors, which disable bombs by piercing the casing. The design improves upon the existing PAN disruptors by increasing the penetrator’s weight up to two pounds by lengthening its shaft and lowering the projectile velocity from 2,000 feet per second down to below 500 feet per second using low-velocity blank cartridges.

The combination of increased weight, slow speed, and the addition of a 3-inch wide chisel head allowed the test penetrator to pierce and disable a 2-inch diameter steel pipe bomb without creating a shock wave or compressive heating that has caused similar bombs to inadvertently detonate.

Army Capt. Ashley Philbin adjusts a PAN disruptor into place during training. (Christopher Bush/Army)

“The dramatically increased length of the shaft portion of the novel projectile was proven to be ideal for steel pipe bombs and rupture and defeat other kinds of (improvised explosive devices),” according to the patent issued on September 4, 2018. “Testing has verified that lowering the velocity of a PAN projectile and increasing its mass and length can dramatically reduce the likelihood of ignition of IEDs and eliminate detonation of smokeless powder inside IEDs.”

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