New Use for Surplus Munition

Over a 64-day period, Air Force weapons specialists at Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base, both in Florida, successfully modified surplus armor-piercing ammunition from World War II to provide Air Force Special Operations Command with a lower cost round for use in AC-130 gunship training and potentially in combat scenarios like urban operations where collateral damage must be limited. They have added a pyrotechnic spotting charge to a 40mm round that was first introduced in 1942 and of which the US military has a large stock. With the charge, AC-130 gunners can use the round effectively in training with the aircraft’s 40mm Bofors cannon since they can see the impact of their shot placements, something that would not be evident with the unmodified round. Use of the modified round will allow AFSOC to conserve its quantities of scarcer and more expensive high-explosive incendiary ammunition for combat use and could save the Air Force between $10 and 20 million per year and up to $70 million in total before all of the surplus rounds are expended. Plans are underway to modify the armor-piercing rounds so that they could be available in quantity within a year. But already the first of these rounds may enter training use later this year. (Hurlburt report by Maj. Scott Covode)