Ammo-Handling Devices Shown

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Tulsa World | Manny Gamallo

McALESTER -- Military officials beamed with pride Monday as they showed off new and enhanced systems designed to improve the handling of munitions in a war zone.

Officials with the Army Defense Ammunition Center, which designs and develops such systems, led local leaders and members of the media on a tour of the new systems now in use at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.

One item on the tour was a "ship motion simulator," a behemoth apparatus with six giant hydraulic arms that simultaneously rocked a steel shipping container to and fro, up and down.

Jerry Beaver, a technician with the Defense Ammunition Center, said the simulator can imitate the pitch, yaw and roll of a cargo ship caught in heavy ocean swells.

The apparatus was designed in McAlester to help technicians design better ways of packing munitions in shipping containers to prevent loads from shifting during transport, he said.

Also demonstrated was the "Automated Tactical Ammunition Classification System" -- a high-tech machine that sifts ammunition and sorts the cartridges by their caliber.

The machine comes installed in a converted shipping container for quick setup in a battle zone and for ease of transportation.

As explained by Bruce Ramm, an equipment specialist for the Defense Ammunition Center, the system can sort through as many as 50,000 cartridges -- from 5.56 mm to .50-caliber -- in eight hours.

Ramm said soldiers leaving a battlefield at the end of their deployment turn in all of their ammunition -- dumping it in one big pile, regardless of caliber.

Before the sorting machine was invented, many people would have to sift through the ammunition to get each type ready for redistribution, which was a tedious and time-consuming task, he said.

The system demonstrated Monday is an improved version that also can identify and spit out damaged or defective rounds, Ramm said.

The improved system soon will be sent to a theater of operations in the Mideast, he said.