The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [casi] What killed a U.S. tank?

"What killed a U.S. tank?"

My guess would be it was top-secret US experimental weaponry of some sort,
which got out of control while being tested in Iraq by Rumsfeld's special
force outfits.

I wonder also, how many coalition troops are being killed by
US/UK unexploded cluster bombs.  Either accidentally, or by Iraqis turning
unexploded American munitions into 'improvised explosive devices'. In
Vietnam. the Vietcong were ingenious at modifying US weapons they found.

And there certainly are plenty to find now in Iraq.  And the US wonders 'who
is providing the Iraqis with weapons?' .. Answer:  WE ARE.

>From today's Independent:

"... The HRW report says its researchers visited 10 Iraqi cities between 29
April and 1 June, and found neighbourhoods littered with unexploded
bomblets. It estimates that the 13,000 cluster bombs dropped contained two
million bomblets."..

Allied cluster bombs blamed for 1,000 deaths in Iraq
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
12 December 2003

----- Original Message -----
From: "Hassan" <>
To: "CASI" <>; "IAC discussion"
Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2003 10:59 AM
Subject: [casi] What killed a U.S. tank?

Army Times - October 27, 2003

'Something' felled an M1A1 Abrams tank in Iraq - but
Mystery behind Aug. 28 incident puzzles Army officials

By John Roos
Special to the Times

Shortly before dawn on Aug. 28, an M1A1 Abrams tank on
routine patrol in Baghdad "was hit by something" that
crippled the 69-ton behemoth.
Army officials still are puzzling over what that
"something" was.

According to an unclassified Army report, the mystery
projectile punched through the vehicle's skirt and
drilled a pencil-sized hole through the hull. The hole
was so small that "my little finger will not go into
it," the report's author noted.

The "something" continued into the crew compartment,
where it passed through the gunner's seatback, grazed
the kidney area of the gunner's flak jacket and
finally came to rest after boring a hole 1 to 2
inches deep in the hull on the far side of the tank.

As it passed through the interior, it hit enough
critical components to knock the tank out of action.
That made the tank one of only two Abrams disabled by
enemy fire during the Iraq war and one of only a
handful of "mobility kills" since they first rumbled
onto the scene 20 years ago. The other Abrams knocked
out this year in Iraq was hit by an RPG-7, a
rocket-propelled grenade.

Experts believe whatever it is that knocked out the
tank in August was not an RPG-7 but most likely
something new - and that worries tank drivers.

Mystery and anxiety

Terry Hughes is a technical representative from Rock
Island Arsenal, Ill., who examined the tank in Baghdad
and wrote the report.

In the sort of excited language seldom included in
official Army documents, he said, "The unit is very
anxious to have this 'SOMETHING' identified. It seems
clear that a penetrator of a yellow molten metal is
what caused the damage, but what weapon fires such a
round and precisely what sort of round is it? The bad
guys are using something unknown and the guys facing
it want very much to know what it is and how they can
defend themselves."

Nevertheless, the Abrams continues its record of
providing extraordinary crew protection. The four-man
crew suffered only minor injuries in the attack. The
tank commander received "minor shrapnel wounds to the
legs and arms and the gunner got some in his arm" as a
result of the attack, according to the report.

Whatever penetrated the tank created enough heat
inside the hull to activate the vehicle's Halon
firefighting gear, which probably prevented more
serious injuries to the crew.

The soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment,
1st Armor Division who were targets of the attack
weren't the only ones wondering what damaged their
69-ton tank.

Hughes also was puzzled. "Can someone tell us?" he
wrote. "If not, can we get an expert on foreign
munitions over here to examine this vehicle before
repairs are begun? Please respond quickly."

His report went to the office of the combat systems
program manager at the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and
Armaments Command in Warren, Mich. A command spokesman
said he could provide no information about the

"The information is sensitive," he said. "It looks
like [members of the program manager's office] are not
going to release any information right now."

While it's impossible to determine what caused the
damage without actually examining the tank, some
conclusions can be drawn from photos that accompanied
the incident report. Those photos show a pencil-size
penetration hole through the tank body, but very
little sign of the distinctive damage - called
spalling - that typically occurs on the inside surface
after a hollow- or shaped-charge warhead from an
anti-tank weapon burns its way through armor.

Spalling results when an armor penetrator pushes a
stream of molten metal ahead of it as it bores through
an armored vehicle's protective skin.

"It's a real strange impact," said a source who has
worked both as a tank designer and as an anti-tank
weapons engineer. "This is a new one. . It almost
definitely is a hollow-charge warhead of some sort,
but probably not an RPG-7" anti-tank rocket-propelled

The well-known RPG-7 has been the scourge of lightly
armored vehicles since its introduction more than 40
years ago. Its hollow-charge warhead easily could
punch through an M1's skirt and the relatively thin
armor of its armpit joint, the area above the tracks
and beneath the deck on which the turret sits, just
where the mystery round hit the tank.

An RPG-7 can penetrate about 12 inches of steel - a
thickness far greater than the armor that was
penetrated on the tank in Baghdad. But the limited
spalling evident in the photos accompanying the
incident report all but rules out the RPG-7 as the
culprit, experts say.

Limited spalling is a telltale characteristic of
Western-manufactured weapons designed to defeat armor
with a cohesive jet stream of molten metal. In
contrast, RPG-7s typically produce a fragmented jet

The incident is so sensitive that most experts in the
field would talk only on the condition that they not
be identified.

One armor expert at Fort Knox, Ky., suggested the tank
may have been hit by an updated RPG. About 15 years
ago, Russian scientists created tandem-warhead
anti-tank-grenades designed to defeat reactive armor.
The new round, a PG-7VR, can be fired from an RPG-7V
launcher and might have left the unusual signature on
the tank.

In addition, the Russians have developed an improved
weapon, the RPG-22. These and perhaps even newer
variants have been used against American forces in
Afghanistan. It is believed U.S. troops seized some
that have been returned to the United States for
testing, but scant details about their effects and
"fingerprints" are available.

Still another possibility is a retrofitted warhead for
the RPG system being developed by a Swiss

At this time, it appears most likely that an RPG-22 or
some other improved variant of the Russian-designed
weapon damaged the M1 tank, sources concluded. The
damage certainly was caused by some sort of
shaped-charge or hollow-charge warhead, and the
cohesive nature of the destructive jet suggests a more
effective weapon than a fragmented-jet RPG-7.

A spokesman for General Dynamics Land Systems, which
manufactures the Abrams, said company engineers agree
some type of RPG probably caused the damage. After
checking with them, the spokesman delivered the
manufacturer's verdict: The tank was hit by "a
'golden' RPG" - an extremely lucky shot.

In the end, a civilian weapons expert said, "I hope it
was a lucky shot and we are not part of someone's test
program. Being a live target is no fun."

*John Roos is editor of Armed Forces Journal, which is
owned by Army Times Publishing Co.

Do you Yahoo!?
Protect your identity with Yahoo! Mail AddressGuard

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]