The Pentagon is getting in the black powder business but not to arm a battalion of troops with muzzle-loading rifles.
Black powder, the original form of gunpowder, is not just for fireworks and Civil War re-enactors. It is still used as a propellant for artillery and other weapon systems crucial to the U.S. military. Minden, Louisiana-based GOEX is the only company in the United States that produces it, Defense Department officials said this week.
Operations at the plant were shut down in June 2021 after a fire, according to local media reports. Black powder, first formulated in China more than a millennium ago, is a mixture of sulphur, carbon and potassium nitrate.
The Pentagon stepped in with a $3.5 million initial investment through the Defense Production Act to spur the production of materials considered critical to the nation’s security. The Defense Department said the investment will allow production to resume at the northern Louisiana plant within two years.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to support this U.S. company as it works to restart the American-based supply chain of this important propellant,” Halimah Najieb-Locke, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Resilience said in a statement.
The investment also will allow the company to hire at least 30 more workers, Pentagon officials said.