Teams from the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., completed an ammunition disposition request May 31, 2018, at the Nellis Air Force Base Demolition Range.
ADR serves as a way for the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection to permit Nellis AFB to properly destroy munitions determined to be unsafe for transportation or storage.
“For this ADR, we destroyed a bunch of old aircraft flares, their modules, bomb fuses and then a Mark 82 bomb – all of which had reached their shelf lives,” said Staff Sgt. Myles Corbin, 99 CES EOD technician. “We had a total of three detonations. One for the flares and fuses, one for the Mark 82 bomb and then a final one to clear up any unexploded ordnance.”
57th Munitions Squadron, the team responsible for aircraft munitions, has various ordnance that has a shelf life. If it isn’t used within a particular time period, they have to get rid of it with an ADR, said Corbin.
Although performing ADR missions is uncommon, the demolition range is capable of handling anything from small flares to 500-pound bombs or an F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet ammo drum loaded with hundreds of 20mm rounds.
“Last year, we had a pretty large detonation with an F-16 ammo drum,” said Corbin. “It was basically determined unsafe to ship or store anywhere because there was still live ammo jammed in the drum. So, we had to blow it up on our demolition range.”
When dealing with any kind of munitions, safety is a huge factor. Although the team used time, distance and shielding to protect themselves, they also prepared the munitions in a way the munitions would safely detonate.
For the first detonation of flares and fuses, EOD technicians placed C4 around the crate to ensure every component was completely destroyed.
To minimize the blast radius of fragmentation and debris for the second explosion, EOD technicians buried the 500-pound Mark 82 bomb underground and then covered it with dirt, which also reduced the impact a large bomb would have on the area.
The third explosion was just to clear up any unexploded ordnance in the area before the teams returned to the site to assess the impact of the demolition and clean up any remaining debris.
Nellis AFB strives to be good stewards of the environment, said Corbin, so by controlling the location of the ADR, it diminishes the risk to the personnel handling the munitions, the teams disposing of the munitions, and the surrounding environment that is impacted by the munitions.