The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), in partnership with the National Armaments Consortium (NAC), hosted the 70th annual Ordnance and Ballistics Technology Working Group, Aug. 3-5, combining top academic, industry and government leaders in a classified setting to discuss the latest innovations in explosives, warheads, and terminal ballistics.
The working group serves as a unique role for partners to discuss research and ideas at the classified level and is limited only to military and personnel from the Department of Defense and related agencies. The workshop consisted of seven different sessions on topics ranging from shaped charges to armor to additive manufacturing of warheads.
“It's really the only classified meeting where people in a relatively small field of ordnance, explosives, ballistics, and terminal effects can get together and share their research,” said James Miller, the Chair of the Working Group. “The fact that you can share classified details about test data with each other makes it really unique. Not only can we have the meetings and presentations, but the time we have together is invaluable.”
Department of Physics Chair Dr. Joe Hooper, the NPS coordinator for the conference, believes it is a crucial piece in the advancement of ordnance and ballistics.
“A lot of the information in this field isn’t neatly summarized in a textbook or existing literature,” he said. “Much of it is more like tribal knowledge, and gets passed down and shared in meetings like this. Being able to do this in a fully classified setting at NPS is particularly beneficial.”
Although the event accomplishes multiple objectives, Miller stated the main goal was to make sure everyone was on the same page and working together.
“The primary goal is to highlight the research that's going on across all the services,” said Miller. “Unless you have a meeting like this, I don't really know what everyone else is working on, so having a chance to see their results, their analysis, their testing, it helps everybody get better and further the research. Because in the end, we're trying to develop weapons and get them to our war fighters as soon as possible.”
The event was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, but Hooper and Miller both agreed that this year made up for last, saying they had a record-number of participants and considered the event to be a “major success.”