In Service Surveillance
In-service surveillance of ammunition is undertaken to ensure that ammunition
continues to meet the required quality standards throughout its entire life cycle. As explained by Mr. Adrian Wilkinson, surveillance is undertaken to ensure "that the ammunition continues to meet the required quality standards throughout its life. Quality, from this perspective, includes the performance of ammunition during use and its safety and stability during storage. The chemical, electrical, and mechanical properties of ammunition change and degrade with time, leading to a finite serviceable life for each munition. The accurate assessment of munition life is of paramount importance in terms of safety and cost."
For further explanation on the requirements for the in-service proof and surveillance of ammunition see "Stockpile Management: Surveillance and Proof" by Adrian Wilkinson in Conventional Ammunition in Surplus, Small Arms Survey, 2008,
Checklist on In Service Surveillance
The Protocol V Generic Preventive Measures checklist includes questions on in service surveillance, which are set out below.
(a) Is there an ‘In Service Surveillance’ procedure and organisation to assess reliability and safety during the lifecycle of munitions? For pyrotechnic parts? For electronic parts? For other parts?
(b) Is there a system in place to check that all the explosive and pyrotechnic parts within the munition remain safe and reliable?
(c) Is there a system in place to check that all the explosive and pyrotechnic parts within the fusing chain are capable of initiating the next stage as required?
(d) Is the integrity of the pyrotechnic and explosive train checked (e.g. gap between components, integrity of components …)?
(e) Is there a procedure to identify and remove degraded munitions from operational service (i.e.: regular inspection of munitions)?
(f) Is there a procedure to increase/reduce the operational lifetime of munitions?
(g) In case of an increase in the operational life time of munitions do the tests and analysis maintain confidence in the previously required level of reliability and safety?
(h) Is there an ‘In Service Surveillance’ procedure and organisation to record the environmental conditions that the munitions have been exposed to/ tested in?
Testing is an important component of the "development to production" phases for ammunition and the in service surveillance. Testing is the key process for verifying the reliability and safety of ammunition and determining its shelf life. This should preferably be done by live-firing.
Useful resources on testing
Allied Ammunition Safety and Suitability for Service Assessment Testing Publication - Guidance, NATO Standardization Agreement, STANAG 4629
The United States of America's presentation on "Overview of testing" across the life cycle of a munition to the 2009 Meeting of Experts
"Origin of Test Requirements and Passing Criteria for the Qualification and Final (Type) Qualification of Explosives" by Ken Tomasello, Michael Sharp, John Adams and Richard E. Bowen. IMEMTS Munich, Germany 11 - 14 October 2010
"Test Requirements for Primary and Booster Explosive Qualification" by Ken Tomasello" by John Adams and Michael Sharp, ISSC 2011, Las Vegas, Nevada, 8 - 12 August 2011
Other useful resources
IATG 03.10:2011, Inventory Management. UNODA. 2011