Together with the Singapore Armed Forces Ammunition Command (SAFAC), DSTA has been conducting trials to validate the hazard classification of in-service ammunition.

Hazard classifications are assigned by the ammunition manufacturers based on technical studies or actual test results. However, manufacturers tend to be conservative and err on the safe side by assigning higher classifications, instead of conducting more extensive tests to determine the actual hazard classification. Using these conservative classifications as a guide, the SAF could be observing unnecessary safety zones and establishing inappropriate emergency responses.

To determine the classifications accurately, trials would have to be conducted. As it is costly to conduct hazard classification trials with the wide variety of ammunition in the SAF’s inventory, the DSTA team was challenged to identify the ammunition that would reap the most benefits from these trials. The team thus drew up clear guidelines, assessing ammunition based on its explosive characteristics and its impact to operation safety.

This enabled the potential ammunition to be identified systematically in a short time. In November 2012, a device used by the SAF for initiating explosives was re-classified successfully from Hazard Division 1.1 to Hazard Division 1.4. This new classification means that the effects of the explosion are confined within its packaging instead of propagating and damaging its surroundings. The device can be stored with shorter safety distances, optimising land use as a result.

Playing a key role in the hazard classification trials, DSTA has helped the SAF to enjoy greater flexibility in its ammunition storage and transport options, and to establish an appropriate emergency response. On top of cost savings, the safety of servicemen is also enhanced.