Air Force

Retrofit that adds a spotting charge to shells

Addition of visual and audible impact signature for non-explosive containing ammunition and other projectiles provides immediate accuracy assessment at reduced cost

Military Technology

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An AC-130 Gunship carries a 40mm Bofors cannon which can fire rounds retrofitted with this spotting device.

High-explosive incendiary shells are in both short supply and expensive, severely limiting their use for training. At the same time, there are a large supply of surplus World War II 40 millimeter armor-piercing rounds that are used for training, but because they don’t contain any explosive, it is difficult to visually determine strikes into the dirt, vegetation, or mud.

Without an impact signature, aircrews and ground crews cannot assess shot placement and correct the fire control system for errors. A need exists for retrofit units to convert normally non-explosive shells (dummy warheads) to spotting charge projectiles. Prior attempts to meet this need have resulted in complex mechanisms or have been limited to use with hard targets.

Air Force scientists and engineers have developed a new spotting charge capsule assembly for non-explosive containing projectiles, such as armor-piercing rounds or practice rounds, that converts them into spotting shells. The new capsule is inserted into the front of a projectile and provides both visual and audible signatures on impact with both soft and hard surfaces, providing a shooter an absolute reference point of impact.

The design includes an opening and bore at the front of the capsule insert that forms a venturi, or venturi-like, tube for focusing a jet of soft surface material, such as dirt, sand or mud, through the tube to strike and break a thin wall section at the inside end of the tube. The broken section acts as a high-speed flier plate which then strikes and ignites an incendiary material in a cavity behind the tube.

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