Article by OHI Technical Director Jonathan Sperka
Over the past 2+ decades DoD has spent tens of millions of dollars on target discrimination technologies (i.e., geophysical sensors and algorithms to differentiate buried UXO from non-hazardous debris / scrap metal). The reasoning behind the massive investment in this area has always been to "save money" by focusing digs on targets that are "more likely" to be UXO and leaving non-UXO targets in the ground. Some in the UXO industry argue that this narrowly focused investment has come at the cost or sacrifice of other areas of the UXO problem such as minimal investments / improvements in UXO recovery and disposal technologies.
Well over 100 studies have been done on discrimination. Admittedly I have not reviewed them all, but the ones I have reviewed seem to miss an important fact when it comes to UXO and ranges - that many ordnance items are designed to leave discernible pieces of range scrap left over from the body or carcass of the expended munition when the munition functions as designed. Examples include practice ordnance such as practice air dropped bombs, cluster bomb units (CBUs), illumination rounds, smoke rounds, and CS (tear gas) filled munitions. These are explained in more detail below.
Practice ordnance such as practice air dropped bombs are designed to simulate larger high explosive (HE) filled munitions. They are used for training pilots on delivery or deployment techniques. Pilots drop practice bombs such as the MK 106 and the MK 76 as shown in images below for training. The MK 106 Mod 5 practice bomb (shown on the image to the left) is a 5-lb impact signal generating practice bomb made of sheet steel. The MK 76 (shown on the image to the right) is a 25-lb impact practice bomb with a cast iron body designed to hold a signal cartridge that acts as a spotting charge providing the pilot a visual of target impact location. Both the MK 106 and MK 76 practice bombs shown in the images have fully functioned as they were designed to and are typical of the remaining carcasses "expected" to be on the range after the items have been deployed.