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M112 Composition C4 Block Demolition Charge

CHARACTERISTICS: The M112 block demolition charge consists of 1.25-pounds of Composition C4 packed in a Mylar-film container with a pressure-sensitive adhesive tape on one surface. The tape is protected by a peelable paper cover. In blocks of recent manufacture, Composition C4 is white and packed in an olive-drab, Mylar-film container. Relative effectiveness factor is 1.34.

USE: M112 block demolition charge is used primarily for cutting and breaching all types of demolition work. Because of its moldability and high brisance, the charge is ideally suited for cutting irregularly shaped targets such as steel. The adhesive backing allows the charge to be attached to any relatively flat, clean, dry surface that is above freezing point.

ADVANTAGES: The M112 block demolition charge can be cut and molded to fit irregularly shaped targets while being easily attached to the target. The color of the wrapper aids in camouflage.

LIMITATIONS: Odd weight makes calculating charge weights difficult. Adhesive tape will not adhere to wet, dirty, rusty, or frozen surfaces. Composition C4 explosives are poisonous and dangerous if chewed or ingested; their detonation or burning produces poisonous fumes.

STATUS: In production to support peacetime losses. C4 will replace current stocks of TNT, PETN, and Military Dynamite.

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) possessed 14,151 M757 demolition charge kits requiring chemical agent detection tagging and 795 unserviceable and environmentally damaged (wet) Linear Demolition Charges (LDCs) in material condition codes "H" and "P". The LDCs, located at Hawthorn Army Ammunition Plant (AAP) and Crane Army Ammunition Activity (CAAA) were scheduled for demilitarization and the C-4 plastic explosive burned. To prevent the loss of this valuable asset, the Program Manager for Ammunition, MARCORSYSCOM, and the Marine Corps Ammunition and Logistics Department of the Ordnance Engineering Directorate, Crane Code 403, working with Holston Defense Corporation (HDC) at Holston AAP developed a recovery plan. The intent of the plan was to recover, reprocess, and chemically tag (to meet a new Government requirement) 1,681,832 pounds (Lbs) of explosive C-4 (290,582 Lbs of Class II C-4 and 1,391,250 Lbs of Class III C-4) from the unserviceable LDCs. The special process developed for this program was originally estimated to recover 90% of the material. However, innovative in-process changes/controls resulted in reclaiming 99.985% of the original C-4 back into a usable condition resulting in loss of only 200 Lbs of contaminated C-4 that required a controlled special burn at Holston AAP. Through this effort, the USMC saved an estimated $19,237,642 versus the cost of procuring new C-4. These savings do not include the intangible environmental impact mitigation of not destroying over 1.6 million Lbs of C-4 plastic explosive by burning. There have been other reclamation projects in the past, but this is believed to be the first to actually return weapons grade explosives to military use. This Resource, Recovery, and Reutilization (R3) harvesting effort for C-4 from LDCs yielded over 1.68 million Lbs of serviceable C-4. The LCD/C-4 R3 initiative will increase the USMC M183 Demolition Kit stockpile from 13% to 87% of the Approved Acquisition Objective (AAO) by the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2000.

The 1995-1996 USMC Ground Ammunition War Material Requirements (WMR) Study resulted in a 51% increase to the Combat Requirement for Demolition Kits, M183, (DoD Identification Code (DODIC) M757). The Demolition charge M183 is used primarily in breaching obstacles or demolition of large structures where large charges are required (Satchel Charge). The charge assembly M183 consists of 16 block demolition charges M112, four priming assemblies and carrying case M85. Each Priming assembly consists of a five-foot length of detonating cord assembled with two detonating cord clips and capped at each end with a booster. The components of the assembly are issued in the carrying case. The demolition charge M112 is a rectangular block of Composition C-4 approximately 2 inches by 1.5 inches and 11 inches long, weighing 1.25 Lbs. When the charge is detonated, the explosive is converted into compressed gas. The gas exerts pressure in the form of a shock wave, which demolishes the target by cutting, breaching, or cratering.

The 51% increase to the M183 WMR for the USMC was a dramatic change in itself and was compounded by other factors. The primary issue surrounded extensive production delays of funded delivery orders due to fluorine contamination of all virgin bulk C-4 in the existing Government wholesale stockpile. These delays were primarily caused by factors effecting the Holston AAP, where HDC had been the sole U.S. producer of raw C-4 since the 1940s. Due to the ever increasing cost of C-4 coupled with the desire to enter into a Firm Fixed Price contracting method, the Single Manager for Conventional Ammunition re-competed the contract for future sources of demolition type explosives and energetic materials. Marine Corps Systems Command had the opportunity to be innovative in fulfilling this critical shortfall. The result was an unprecedented challenge since the USMC was facing an 85% deficit in its AAO for M183 and a dramatic cost increase for C-4. The advent of the Anti-Terrorism Act, driven by interest in this type of plastic explosive by Terrorist Groups resulted in a Congressionally mandated requirement to add chemical detection agents into all plastic explosives to meet International and statutory requirements for security and safety in the out-years. This Act created its own unique challenges in this effort.

In a cooperative agreement reached between the Commander, MARCORSYSCOM and the Commanding General, U.S. Army Industrial Operations Command (IOC), the USMC offered 238,000 Lbs of tagged C-4, as Customer Furnished Material. This arrangement permitted the IOC to extend to American Ordnance (AO), with whom a joint venture contract for the operation of Milan and Iowa AAP's had been entered, the opportunity to produce 11,868 M183 demolition kits under the Fiscal Year 1999 procurement. In addition, the USMC also contracted with CAAA to Load, Assemble and Pack (LAP) M183 demolition kits. The successful completion of these projects provided the USMC with a cost-effective solution to eliminate damaged items from current inventories in lieu of demilitarization, and to have reliable and reproducible weapons grade plastic C-4 explosive readily available for use.

The reclaimed C-4 will enable the USMC to increase our AAO of M183 Demolition Kits by 25%. As stated earlier, the life cycle of the C-4 was extended by its reclamation from LDCs that were no longer in field-use condition into M183 Demolition Kits that are acceptable for field use. Use of reclaimed materials vice new materials resulted in significant cost, time, and effort reductions as well as negating additional demilitarization to an already overburdened demilitarization stockpile. In light of International requirements for the detection of plastic explosives, this project has shown that any serviceable C-4 can be re-processed to add a chemical detection agent. This will extend the life cycle of any serviceable C-4 and preclude its destruction solely because it does not contain a chemical detection agent, thereby reducing the environmental concerns.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:51:50 ZULU