ELi5 What happens when you demilitarize munitions/weapons, and why is it a thing?

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ELi5 What happens when you demilitarize munitions/weapons, and why is it a thing?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

Basically just trashing them.

Mostly the point is to show others, hey, we were ready to blow you the heck up, but since we came to an agreement to not do that to each other, we’re going to start reducing our weapons stockpiles while you guys do the same, so neither one of us can just suddenly turn around jump the other one with lots of planes and bombs and whatnot.

Because of the intent it’s generally important to render those weapons inert in a way that still leaves them identifiable as weapons. That way some foreign inspector/ambassador can show up on a visit, look at it and go, yep that’s 10,000 destroyed missiles/rifles/shells/etc. And they aren’t just disassembled so they can be put back together easily, but are filled with concrete so that’s good.

As another example as part of an international arms reduction treaty the US was required to destroy a bunch of B-52s. The ones that carry nukes. There’s an aircraft boneyard out there where they chopped a bunch of em up with a huge guillotine and crane and left them out for people to take satellite photos of.

Anonymous 0 Comments

why: normally its treaty compliance (ie “we aggreed with the russians that we’d both reduce our nuclear bomber fleets by 50 planes”) or they are looking to scrap weapons in a safe manner (ie not sell off fully functional anti-tank weapons to Joe Bloggs form Dorset, for him then use in his boundary dispute with Mr Doe, who at number 51 next door), or to make it a display piece or trophy and want to ensure its legal to be hung on the wall of a office or parked by the gate to look cool.

what: basically, you render the weapon unfireable, in such a manner that you’d need access to a full factory to repair it. for rifles and such, you can do stuff like immerse them in concrete (which will get inside, fill up cracks, and generally prevent anyone form using it again, as it will never work reliably again), or weld the bolt carrier shut, remove the firing pin, and stick some sort of blocking material into the barrel, and for bigger guns like tank cannons, a common method is to remove the breech block of the gun, as its a high quality, precision part that needs to be strong withstand the pressure of the cannon firing, so its hard to manufacture a new one.

for ammunition, you do stuff like just pour out the powder and remove the primer. bigger shells, your cheapest option is just a controlled detonation, or else you disassembling the entire shell to laboriously remove all explosive filler.

a lot of this stuff is, strictly speaking, repairable or reversible, but the tools, expertise and cost required to do so are enough that anyone who could, would be able to just make new weapons themselves for less effort.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It means making it no longer functional as a weapon. For example by blocking the barrel of a gun and filing off or removing the firing pin. Generally it has to be irreversible. Or removing the gunpowder from munition. In some countries this is mandatory if a civilian (even a museum) wants to own it.
It is mostly done in places with strict weapons laws where people still want to collect these items for personal or historical reasons.
The rules and requirements for demilitarisation vary wildly per country. In Germany, for example, you can privately own drivable armored vehicles such as tanks and APC’s but you must replace certain parts of the armor with sheet metal that is thin enough to be reliably penetrated by standard 9mm bullets.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It depends a lot. Most military equipment is demilitarized in order to resell it on the private market. The process usually involves removing any distinguishing marks and either remove any weapons or make sure the weapons can not be fired any more. For example if the military have a car they want to get rid of they can remove any weapons and weapons mounts, any expensive or secret components, possibly replace lights and other items to make it road legal, then repaint it. A tank is similar but it is not practical to remove the main gun so instead they weld a plug to the barrel and possibly drill out a hole in the side of the barrel. They might also remove the breach or disable it in some way. This way a civilian can buy a tank that does not have any working weapons, most of the time it is a scrapyard buying them but there are a number of tanks driving on the streets as well.

Weapons can also be demilitarised, usually for museums and other collectors. Just like a tank gun you add metal where there should not be any and remove metal where there should be some so that the weapon can not be used again but still look complete. Similarly ammunition can be demilitarised by removing all the explosives including the primer. Again it is sold to museums and collectors. It is not that uncommon to have an artillery cartridge as an umbrella stand, flower vase or a lamp.

More advanced weapons like missiles, nukes or torpedos are also sometimes demilitarised by disassembling them. There are a few gutted weapons found in museums but all the working components have been removed.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are various ways of disposing or demilitarize munitions and weapons. For example, an artillery shell can be disassembled, removing the explosive charges which are then disposed of or repurposed. This makes the shell an inert chunk of metal which can’t cause any real damage besides dropping it on your toes.

Firearms can likewise be disassembled or plugged. Using artillery as an example again, the barrel of the gun can be welded shut or plugged shut with concrete. You can also remove the firing mechanism. so the gun will be unable to fire since the parts have been removed.

The safest way of disposing of explosives is usually to blow them up in a controlled fashion.

Weapons are disposed for various reasons. One can be that they are being replaced by a newer generation of weapons, and thus the old ones need to be disposed of safely so they don’t end up in the wrong hands, like criminals or terrorists.

Weapons can also be disposed of as part of a disarmament agreement. Here, two parties can decide that in order to reduce the risk of war, they agree to destroy or dispose some of their weapons. Again, this must be done in a controlled fashion to ensure that the weapons being disposed of can’t be used by someone else afterwards.

So, in general, disposal of weapons is used whenever there’s a need to get rid of them. And the exact way to safely dispose of a weapon can vary slightly depending on what type of weapon it is and if there’s a secondary intention, like putting them in a museum for display.