Find a Security Clearance Job!



Munitions come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They are color-coded during the manufacturing process for easy identification purposes.

Hand grenades are small explosive- or chemical-filled munitions designed for throwing at short range. Grenades that may be encountered as UXO include fragmentation, smoke, and illumination grenades. All grenades have three main parts: a body, a fuze with pull ring, and safety clip assembly. Fragmentation grenades are the most common type of grenade used. They have a metal or plastic body filled with an explosive material. Most use a burning delay fuze that functions 3 to 5 seconds after the safety lever is released, but some activate instantly when the lever is released (smoke grenades).

A rocket uses gas pressure from rapidly burning propellant to transport its warhead to a desired location. Rockets can range from 1 inch to more than 15 inches in diameter, and they can vary from 1 foot to over 9 feet in length. All rockets consist of a warhead section, a motor section, and a fuze. The warhead section of the rocket is the portion that produces the intended effect; it can be filled with explosives, toxic chemicals, white phosphorus, submunitions, riot-control agent, or illumination flares.

Fuzes may be located in the nose of the rocket or internally between the warhead and motor. Fuzing on rockets can be impact, time-delay, or proximity fuzing. Impact fuzes function when they hit the target. Delay fuzes contain an element that delays the explosion for a fixed time after impact. Proximity fuzes are intended to function when the rocket reaches a predetermined distance from the target. Do not approach! The proximity fuzing may activate, causing the rocket warhead to explode. Fired rockets may still contain residual propellant that could ignite and burn violently.

Projectiles can range from approximately 1 to 16 inches in diameter and from 2 inches to 4 feet in length. Projectile fuzes can be located in the nose or in the base. Like rockets, projectiles may be stabilized during flight by fins or bands fixed around the circumference of the projectile.

Mortars range from approximately 1 to 11 inches in diameter and can be filled with explosives, toxic chemicals, white phosphorus, or illumination flares. Mortars generally have a thinner metal casing than projectiles, but use the same types of fuzing and stabilization.

The most commonly used projected grenade is the 40mm grenade. This grenade is also among the most commonly found UXO items. The 40mm grenade is about the same size and shape as a chicken egg. It contains high explosives and uses a variety of fuzes, including some of the most sensitive internal impact fuzing systems. Because of their relatively small size, 40mm grenades are easily concealed by vegetation. They are extremely dangerous and can explode if moved or handled.

Submunitions include bomblets, grenades, and mines filled with explosives or chemical agents. They may be antipersonnel, antimateriel, antitank, dual-purpose, incendiary, or chemical. Submunitions are typically spread over a large area by dispensers, missiles, rockets, or projectiles. These delivery systems disperse the submunitions while still in flight, scattering the submunitions over a wide area. Submunitions are activated in a variety of ways, depending on their intended use. Some are activated by pressure, impact, movement, or disturbance. Others are activated in flight or when they come near metallic objects. Some submunitions contain a self-destruct fuze as a backup. The self-destruct time can vary from a couple of hours to several days. Submunitions are extremely hazardous, because even very slight disturbances can cause them to explode. Some types of submunitions require stabilization to hit the target straight on. Stabilization can be provided through an arming ribbon, parachute, or fin assembly.

Bombs range in weight from 1 to over 3,000 pounds and in length from 3 to 10 feet. Generally, all bombs have the same components--a metal container, a fuze, and a stabilizing device. The metal container, or bomb body, holds the explosive or chemical filler and may consist of one or multiple pieces. Bombs use either mechanical or electrical fuzes, typically located in the nose or tail section, either internally or externally. Mechanical fuzes are generally armed by some type of arming vane. The arming vane operates like a propeller to line up all the fuze parts and thus arm the fuze. The fuzes may be configured as impact, proximity, or delay fuzes. Bombs are stabilized during flight by fin or parachute assemblies attached to the rear section of the bomb, which often detach after impact.

Whether present in an area by design or by accident, UXO poses the risk of injury or death to anyone in the vicinity. To lessen the danger of UXO hazards and prevent placing others at future risk, certain precautions and steps should be taken by anyone who encounters UXO.

Join the mailing list

US Policy Toward Africa: Eight Decades of Realpolitik - Herman J Cohen's Latest Book
Page last modified: 06-12-2017 17:40:38 ZULU