Ingenuity Helps Keep Troops Armed

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McAlester News-Capital | James Beaty

Once Jim Medley gets it running, the Automated Tactical Ammunition Classification System spits out bullets with rapid frequency.

This device is not for firing bullets, though. It’s used to separate, categorize and if necessary, reject them.

The machine, known as ATACS, is one of several pieces of new equipment at the U.S. Army Defense Ammunition Center, which is on the grounds of the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.

Medley, a quality assurance specialist for Ammunition Surveillance at DAC, says bullets and other ammunition sometimes have to be checked in by American servicemen and women.

When that happens, every single piece of ammunition must be inspected, to determine whether it’s safe or not for other troops to use.

“This is the ammo the troops have to turn in when they’re being redeployed,” Medley said.

The ammo which must be checked includes everything from the ammunition military personnel carry with them on a daily basis, to any extra bullets left in ammo belts from past battles.

In addition, different lots of ammunition also must be inspected every five years, Medley said.

The ATACS machine can take the place of 40 people — which could include soldiers — who would otherwise have to manually separate the ammo bullet by bullet.

Bruce Ramm, project engineer and equipment specialist at DAC, said the ATACS system will not only save time and labor, it will keep huge piles of ammunition from piling up because of the labor-intensive effort which has been used to separate ammunition.

“The ammunition was building up; it was all being done by hand,” he said.

ATACS uses a more high-tech system.

“It uses lasers and cameras,” Ramm said.

In addition to separating ammunition by caliber, the lasers in the ATACS system also look for any defects in the bullets. When the rounds come through, the lasers in the ATACS system determine whether rounds are serviceable or not, Medley said.

Those that are not go into a reject bin.

Working with DAC, the Cybernet Corp. in Ann Arbor Michigan developed the ATACS system.

The ATACS system will soon be transported overseas, with the purpose of freeing up more time for the nation’s warfighters.