Armed Forces News | SMAW

The technical director of the Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technology Division highlighted development of a new SMAW (shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon) for Marines in close combat situations. Marines can fire it from cover, with less risk of injury from sound pressure or blast waves, noted EOD tech directory Ashley Johnson at recent three-day Navy League of the United States Sea-Air-Space Exposition in Oxon Hill, Md.

Johnson noted that some gun propellants that date back to the turn of the 20th century are still in use. Success in the future, he said, hinges upon matching new technologies with old platforms. Energy density – essentially, improved battery storage, is a key aspect of this. The more energy that can be packed into small spaces and devices, the more capable Navy war fighters would become, Johnson said.

EOD Technical Director Champions Energetics

Johnson described uphill challenges he faces as he works to draw attention toward the EOD’s mission: outfitting the Navy with energetics such as explosives, pyrotechnics and propellants.

While the tie to ordnance and fuel would seem obvious, Johnson believes there is little understanding among other sea-service communities about how pervasive and essential his charges’ mission is. During several presentations and interviews he delivered Sea-Air-Space Exposition, Johnson called for an “energetics renaissance” – to enhance awareness.

Hopefully, he believes, such a higher profile would translate into more robust partnerships with other communities, and industry as well. Rocket motors or warheads are good examples of energetics, he said in an interview for the exposition’s daily publication.

“But when you start to talk about, ‘OK, what does this do for me?’ it gets harder to describe the influence that energetics has,” Johnson said.

When energetics function properly, ordnance explodes when it is supposed to. Propulsion systems ignite and deliver their payloads. Pilots whose aircraft fail can would eject safely when they pull the lever.

“On the F/A-18, there are 120 separate energetics systems that provide for the safety of the pilot,” Johnson said during one presentation at the exposition.