Business

July 30, 2014

Engineers developing safer, more accurate tracer round

Tags:
Audra Calloway
Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.

Tracer rounds enable the shooter to follow the projectile trajectory to make aiming corrections. However, the light emitted by these rounds also gives away the position of the shooter. Engineers at Picatinny Arsenal are part of a joint effort to develop a new type of tracer that reduces the visible signature of tracer rounds.

Engineers at Picatinny Arsenal are researching a way to develop a new type of tracer round that not only would perform its function during the day as well as night, but also improve shooter accuracy and keep soldiers safer by reducing their visual signature.

Tracer rounds, which are usually loaded as every fifth round in machine gun belts, provide essential information to soldiers firing at an enemy target by creating a line-of-sight that allows them to track the trajectory of their bullets and adjust their aim.

However, the pyrotechnic streak they emit also gives away the shooter’s location by allowing the enemy to follow the line of pyrotechnic back to the shooter.

The One-Way Luminescence, or OWL, tracer round being developed by engineers at the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, known as ARDEC, will give only those at the shooter location the ability to see where the round is headed without revealing their position. This will keep soldiers safer because their location will not be observable to the enemy.

Current tracer projectiles have a longer jacket, in comparison to their ball projectile counterparts, in order to incorporate a cavity that is packed with pyrotechnics. As the bullet flies through the air, the pyrotechnics burn and emit a flame from the back of the round, which allows the enemy to see the shooter’s position.

“OWL is a technology approach that doesn’t allow an enemy target to trace back to who is firing rounds at him, even if the target is using night vision goggles,” said Christel Seitel, Quality Assurance Lead for the OWL program.

 

The photo shows the differences in shape and size between the 7.62mm legacy tracer, legacy M80 ball, and M80A1 rounds.

Development challenges

ARDEC engineers are experimenting with a variety of potential solutions. With one of the OWL technology concepts, “we’re just putting a thin layer of material on the back of the ball round. So, instead of burning pyrotechnics, our luminescence is like a glow-in-the-dark sticker. You excite it with specific wavelengths of light. “

“The ultimate goal is to replace the tracer rounds with the OWL rounds and, potentially, put OWL on the back of every ball round,” Seitel said.

A ball round is a standard general purpose round, which was developed to be lethal. ARDEC scientists are currently exploring options to achieve this, looking at different coatings and materials to find a solution that satisfies the Army’s requirement to be both a day and night tracer.

“Finding something that burns brighter than the sun is difficult,” Seitel said of the technology development goal. “You want to have something that’s bright enough to give you that contrast [with the background].”

Because little to no material is ejected from an OWL projectile, finding a technology that meets or exceeds the light output of a current pyrotechnic tracer is extremely challenging.

“Because we don’t completely know what path we’re taking, we’re looking at all our options and we will hopefully down select in a few years.”

In addition to the in-house design effort, multiple contracts have been awarded in fiscal year 2014 using the Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium process to seek competitive prototype designs from industry.

 

A cut-away view of the current tracer round, which burns pyrotechnics to produce a streak of light.

Heightened accuracy

A final OWL design is anticipated to be down selected in fiscal year 2017, and transition to an Engineering and Manufacturing Development program at that time. Current pyrotechnic trace rounds lose mass as the pyrotechnics burn, so they don’t completely mimic the trajectory of the ball rounds, which don’t lose mass.

Since it is anticipated that OWL will be applied to all ball rounds, effectively making ball rounds trace without the need of a cavity, they will all have the same trajectory. And since the shooter can see the exact trajectory of where their round is heading, they can quickly make adjustments to get on target faster.

 

Safer to manufacture

The OWL also has the potential for safer manufacturing.

Because many of the OWL concepts will not contain pyrotechnic material, it will also be safer and less sensitive to handle in a production environment. However, there are a few OWL concepts that contain limited amounts of energetic material to try and overcome the sun’s light output.

Tracer rounds ricochet off of a tank as security police fire a mounted .50-caliber machine gun.

“Currently, the pyrotechnics have a separate wing in manufacturing plants due to safety concerns. But if you can just make your bullets and then paste something on the back, you won’t have the costs of special handling.”

OWL is a joint effort by ARDEC, the Program Executive Office for Ammunition, the Joint Service Small Arms Program Office, Army Corps of Engineers, Army Research Laboratory, Naval Research Laboratory and Night Vision Laboratory.

PM-MAS, which is also part of the joint effort, has supported ARDEC in obtaining science and technology funding, and plans to transition OWL to a formal acquisition program in fiscal year 2015.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines September 15, 2014

News: Navy identifies pilot presumed dead in crash - A Navy fighter pilot presumed dead after two fighter jets crashed in the far western Pacific Ocean has been identified.   Business: Boeing eyes 737-700 solution for new JSTARS - Boeing is officially planning a variant of its 737-700 commercial jetliner as a competitor for the Air Force’s...
 
 

News Briefs September 15, 2014

Australia contributing planes for anti-IS campaign Australia is preparing to contribute 600 troops and up to 10 military aircraft to the increasingly aggressive campaign against the Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sept. 14. Abbott said Australia was responding to a formal request from the United States for specific...
 
 
Courtesy graphic

Lockheed Martin conducts flight tests of aircraft laser turret for DARPA

AFRL photograph The Aero-adaptive Aero-optic Beam Control turret that Lockheed Martin is developing for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Research Laboratory has completed initial flight testing. T...
 

 

Lockheed Martin advances live, virtual, constructive training in flight test

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jvXmOW8L3mU Lockheed Martin successfully tested a new solution for integrated live, virtual and constructive training during a flight demonstration at the company’s Aeronautics facility in Fort Worth, Texas. During the flight test, a pilot flying in a live F-16 engaged in a synthetic training exercise with a pilot flying as wing...
 
 
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover arrives at Martian mountain

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has reached the Red Planet’s Mount Sharp, a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the center of the vast Gale Crater and the rover mission’s long-term prime destination. “Curiosity n...
 
 

Raytheon begins full rate production on TALON Laser Guided Rockets

Under a $117 million contract awarded to Raytheon, Raytheon Missile Systems has begun production of the TALON Laser Guided Rocket. In 2013, the Armed Forces General Headquarters of the United Arab Emirates awarded Tawazun a contract to procure the TALON Laser Guided Rocket. “Full rate production of the TALON LGR is a significant milestone for...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>