The Axis's New Weapons Exports: EFPs and .50s?

Explosively formed projectiles are all the rage amongst extracurricular (in the sense that the Chief of Staff didn't know about the briefing or agree with it's contents) DoD briefings these days, implicating Iran in the manufacture and distribution of these deadly, and oh-so-sophisticated IEDs. Effectively, we are claiming that Iran is committing acts of war against us, since these weapons have been used to kill over 170 American personnel in Iraq. Needless to say, with the Bush Administration's track record, such an escalation needs to have it's basis examined rigorously.

The EFPs are reminiscent of a less sophisticated HEAT shell, used by modern militaries to kill tanks for decades. The EFP shapes a "finely manufactured" copper plate into a molten slug that can bore through armor, rather than just transferring energy via the shock wave. The great thing about EFPs is that they can kill from standoff distances of up to 100 meters. You can imagine the opportunities such an unexpectedly long range affords. In fact, the insurgents were recently able to shoot down one of my beloved C130s with just such a weapon. That surprised me.

Regardless of the hype about the difficulty of manufacture that the Army briefing touted, I am not impressed. We've had kits to field assemble EFPs for our ground forces for many years, and almost any machine shop could lathe a copper disk into an almost perfectly symmetrical ashtray. From the first news of the briefing, I was suspicious.

Furthermore, I thought I had heard about shaped charges in Iraq for many years, so I went and tracked it down. It turns out that EFP use started in 2005, two years after Iran's grand diplomatic entreaty that Dr. Rice has forgotten about.

Here's a nice picture of one of our guys with a pile of EFP slugs in their pre-slugged form:
Sorry, the picture was taken down. He had stacks and stacks of the formed copper plates. The picture was on a story from late 2005.
Do those look like artifacts of space-age engineering to you? We were to believe there was no one in Iraq that could have manufactured them? Please.

And check out this fully assembled EFP:

The top of that isn't even close to symmetrical. The lack of precision on this bomb would limit the range, but it could still kill any of our armored vehicles if it was close enough - say, under a bridge or buried in the road.

This is the type of border tech that makes the War on Terror so dangerous. It may be hard to optimize the design in the first place, but once that work is done it is easily copyable, unlike nuclear weapons, which, even if you have perfect knowledge of the field are still hard as hell to create. This type of threshold technology is what makes the prospect of asymmetric warfare so daunting. Defending from attacks gets harder all the time, while every individual's lethality is also increasing continuously.

Ha! Doing a little further research, I stumbled upon this: wanna know how to make one yourself? Yet more evidence that these fiendishly genius "Iranian" munitions aren't nearly as sophisticated as we're being spun.

Also, the first one we heard about was in the hands of Sunnis... if you don't yet know why that makes it impossible for Iran to have been the source, then you must be a Republican Congressman. :)

Finally, we have one last nail in the EFP coffin: An Ongoing Order for Stamped out Copper Disks in Iraq.
This find...is forcing U.S. officials to reassess their belief that such bombs were being built in Iran and smuggled fully assembled into Iraq...."We originally thought these came into Iraq already created, and now that intelligence has been totally relooked," said Capt. Clayton Combs, who led the raid. "It's like a playground kit you get in the mail: You can plot the instructions and start putting it together on-site, and that's what we have here."
So, I think we can conclude that these weapons did not come from Iran - or, at least, that the more likely explanation is domestic production, cobbled together from pieces manufactured all across the middle east.

Another ridiculous claim made by the DoD was that the .50 Caliber sniper rifles found in Iraq were evidence of Iranian involvement. But the .50 Cal sniper rifles also aren't proof. It's like saying the AK47s being used by the combatants proves Russian involvement. It's laughable.

You may also have heard of Iran's purported Space Missile, potentially capable of delivering their burgeoning nuclear armada. Should we be worried? The experts give it an emphatic no. It's nothing more than a tweaked SCUD, not capable of heavy payloads. Finally, the scary "space missile" has a whopping 185 mile range.

I would call these lies of the type that lead us into the Iraq War. Let's hope the press can get over being called a traitor for questioning these things this time around. It's not hard to do.

No comments: