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Thread: Really Surgical Artillery?

  1. #1 Really Surgical Artillery? 
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    I wonder how feasible it would be to build artillery munitions that break apart into something similar to a shotgun's scatter shot just before reaching their target, instead of exploding.

    I'm imagining a bunch of marines pinned down in a city, with a bunch of terrorists shooting at them from behind a wall, and thinking how cool it would be if they could call back to an artillery station, tell them approximately where the terrorists are at, relative to their own position, and then basically have a whole bunch of shrapnel fall out of the sky right there.

    No explosion, hopefully no civilians getting hit (unless they're right by the terrorists), and the problem solved.

    Of course, I'm not military myself, so there's probably a very good tactical reason it wouldn't work. Anyone want to go to the trouble to explain it to me?


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    It's called air burst munitions and not a new idea. It's in the U.S. national anthem: "the bombs bursting in air". It's not exactly surgical either. Israel's use of airburst rounds has caused accidental civilian casualties in the recent Gaza conflict.


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  4. #3  
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    Oh.


    So, is there basically no way to use Artillery in urban combat without causing a lot of accidental civilian casualties?


    What if instead of "bursting" the shrapnel just comes unglued? Maybe the separate flichettes could all be specially shaped and initially oriented in directions that naturally cause their paths to diverge slightly from the effects of wind resistance?

    It seems like there should be a way to make them fairly surgical. I mean, even if most of the examples we see on the battle field today happen to be very un-surgical, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a technical impossibility.
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    um yeah.... i thik you missed a part or twon in the definition of "artilley"...

    unless you have GPS targeting artilory fire is the equivalent of opening fire at a target with an assalt rifle on full auto.

    as for fletchetts,.... yeah.... no... im not entirely sure what you mean in your idea, but i just have an over welming feeling that tiny pieces of metal flung around is just a bad idea for sergical strikes.


    the best possible sergical you could get with a howitzer is to have a fin stabalized and steered bomb round. it's the equivalency of putting a artillery round charge behinde a GPS guided bomb.


    aside from that, aristrike or airsupport is your best chance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What if instead of "bursting" the shrapnel just comes unglued? Maybe the separate flichettes could all be specially shaped and initially oriented in directions that naturally cause their paths to diverge slightly from the effects of wind resistance?
    It's called an artillery flechette. Looks like a dart. If the munition were to just become "unglued" it would not have enough velocity to do damage. The munition explodes and is directed towards the target, but a relatively wide dispersion is necessary as the round is not extremely accurate.

    Again, this is the same weapon criticised in for accidental death of non-combatants in the recent Gaza conflict. These flechettes have been found in homes of slain families though to be fair, Hamas fighters have been known to use civilians as human shields in many of these incidents.
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    Hamas fighters are considered terrorists and fight like it. if any one here feels simpathy for hamas defense forces, or any anger for the isralies for there invasion, you are sorely mistaken. civilian casualties are regretful but usually accidental.

    as for fletchets, they can be some really nasty weapons when used certin ways.
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    Roger that. Hamas are the bad guys here, though I'd like to see Israel take more precautions to avoid civilian casualties ie: stop using "willy pete" in cities. There's a tricky balance saving civilians and getting the job done.
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    i had to do a little reserch on that one, i didnt know they were using it that way. but yeah, perfect point.
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    Sorry, any opportunity I have to use a fun acronym or clever byword for something, i'll take. By willy pete I mean white phosphorus.
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    As I recall in the first gulf war they eventually started dropping precision-guided 500 lb bombs on Iraqi tanks that were just filled with 500 lbs of concrete instead of 500 lbs of explosives. The pilots were able to control their bombs so well that they were directly hitting the tanks. Someone did the math and figured out that if you can actually drop that much mass directly onto a tank from thousands of feet up, you can punch a hole through it even without explosives. Since concrete is more pleasant for everyone involved than explosives (unless it actually lands right on top of you) they started filling the bombs with concrete instead.
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    meh, i dont really using concrete would be better, mabey cheaper, but you kinda lose half of the "shock & aww" formula....

    and yeha i knew you were talking about white phosphorus, i hadnt known they were even using it, nor what it was really used for except being able to set things on fire.
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    I'm a little fuzzy on the legality of using white phosphorus, but the general practice in the US military is to use it as a marker rather than firing for effect.

    "See that cloud of smoke? That's where the bad guys were."
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    Quote Originally Posted by slayer-72
    meh, i dont really using concrete would be better, mabey cheaper, but you kinda lose half of the "shock & aww" formula....

    and yeha i knew you were talking about white phosphorus, i hadnt known they were even using it, nor what it was really used for except being able to set things on fire.
    I get the impression that all "shock and awe" accomplishes is to increase the enemy's determination. Sort of like how Nixon's "mad man theory of war" only served to convince all the fence sitters that they needed to band together against the madman. You don't surrender to a lunatic. You die fighting, or you keep going until you're dead.


    Concrete has the pleasant byproduct that it kind of humiliates your enemy, and on lookers start to see us as maybe a little less insane, and less kill happy. They might actually consider surrendering to someone who isn't a total massacring nut job.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I get the impression that all "shock and awe" accomplishes is to increase the enemy's determination. Sort of like how Nixon's "mad man theory of war" only served to convince all the fence sitters that they needed to band together against the madman. You don't surrender to a lunatic. You die fighting, or you keep going until you're dead.

    Concrete has the pleasant byproduct that it kind of humiliates your enemy, and on lookers start to see us as maybe a little less insane, and less kill happy. They might actually consider surrendering to someone who isn't a total massacring nut job.
    "A total massacring nut job." How articulate.

    I'm afraid your impression is entirely wrong. The enemy does surrender often at the mere sight of a coalition flag for two reasons: the US lead coalition is one of the most dominant military forces in world history and resistance borders on suicide. The second reason is that we are known to treat prisoners humanely, save for a few scattered incidents by miscreants who are prosecuted for their crimes. During the Iran, Iraq war, both sides were determined to fight and win because the alternative was ill treatment at the hands of the enemy. In contrast during the Gulf War, Iraqi's surrendered readily and en mass. The numbers of prisoners processed during the conflict was so high that it was feared that they would bog down coalition forces and slow the advance. EPW's were fed and processed humanely.
    One 2nd Squadron scout platoon took a battalion’s worth of prisoners, to include a lieutenant colonel who reported all his artillery had been destroyed. The condition of many of the prisoners, most of them conscripts, was horrible. Some 1st Squadron soldiers gave their spare boots to barefoot EPWs.
    But we are "total massacring nut jobs". Why can't we just leave them to kill people who are of a different religious sect from them, as they wish? We're such a bunch of killjoys. All they want to do is blow up families on their way to the mosque and we're just ruining their day. I feel terrible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slayer-72
    meh, i dont really using concrete would be better, mabey cheaper, but you kinda lose half of the "shock & aww" formula....
    Better in that you don't need to worry about an accident while handling it, or secondary explosions if someone attacks you or something. As for the shock and awe, they were mostly dropping them on tanks that were sitting out in the desert - there's not really anyone to intimidate other than the tank crews.

    As for the psychological factor, I'm not sure which would be worse. Soldiers expect that if they hear/see an explosion on a tank, the tank might be destroyed. It would be pretty disconcerting to just hear a loud "thud" and find that the tank had been wrecked without any apparent explosion etc.
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    Better in that you don't need to worry about an accident while handling it, or secondary explosions if someone attacks you or something. As for the shock and awe, they were mostly dropping them on tanks that were sitting out in the desert - there's not really anyone to intimidate other than the tank crews.

    As for the psychological factor, I'm not sure which would be worse. Soldiers expect that if they hear/see an explosion on a tank, the tank might be destroyed. It would be pretty disconcerting to just hear a loud "thud" and find that the tank had been wrecked without any apparent explosion etc.
    a good point on the secondary explosions, but a concrete "bomb" isnt really a bomb by deffinition it's more like droping a really heavy bullet on some one from far up. im not saying it's not effective, in fact if you were to have infintry on the field or near the tank, it would be a perfect alternative to explosives.

    but it feel to me that "shock and aww" would be like the first impression your enemy gets of you, if your just droping concrete blocks on them they're not going to all that shocked. they're just going to think "hey, we could do that just as well"

    but if you roll in, on the first assalt wave, dropping 4K lbs bombs left and right, cutting a swath through enemy lines it seems more intimidating than just having tanks and buildings being crushed.

    Sort of like how Nixon's "mad man theory of war" only served to convince all the fence sitters that they needed to band together against the madman. You don't surrender to a lunatic. You die fighting, or you keep going until you're dead.
    first off i've only ever liked two people's idea's on how wars should be fought. those two people are Regan, and Ted Nugent.

    the way i see war, i've always thought that america should be seen as(and should be) Ravenging Berserkers on the battle field, but be the same as Kukhri described when it comes to the treatment of POW's/Civilians
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    As I recall in the first gulf war they eventually started dropping precision-guided 500 lb bombs on Iraqi tanks that were just filled with 500 lbs of concrete instead of 500 lbs of explosives. The pilots were able to control their bombs so well that they were directly hitting the tanks. Someone did the math and figured out that if you can actually drop that much mass directly onto a tank from thousands of feet up, you can punch a hole through it even without explosives. Since concrete is more pleasant for everyone involved than explosives (unless it actually lands right on top of you) they started filling the bombs with concrete instead.
    Say I run a nuclear plant and want to dispose of depleted uranium. This is difficult. I placed a local classifieds ad "FREE DU. Have tons. U pick up." but had to withdraw it for legal reasons. Do you think the military could take this off my hands and put it in munitions? That would be legal disposal right?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    The second reason is that we are known to treat prisoners humanely,
    No doubt that's the Pentagon's definition of humane you are using there..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Say I run a nuclear plant and want to dispose of depleted uranium. This is difficult. I placed a local classifieds ad "FREE DU. Have tons. U pick up." but had to withdraw it for legal reasons. Do you think the military could take this off my hands and put it in munitions? That would be legal disposal right?
    I guess so, although I'm sure you would rather sell it. Is DU legally controlled? It's not really radioactive in any significant way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Is DU legally controlled? It's not really radioactive in any significant way.
    Apparently it's comparable to lead or asbestos. Properties like tungsten. Industry should be able to use this as freely. The arms manufacturers argue for DU saying its density is perfect for punching through steel and concrete. Okay... civilians punch through steel and concrete... heck we commonly drive masonry anchors with explosive charge, like a gun. If DU is so appropriate to that mundane operation why must one live in Iraq to see it?

    I think it's being dumped.
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    depleted uranium is a highly dense round, only seconded by mercury(as far as i've seen). but since it isnt as soft as lead, it makes an extreamly adept AP round. however, because depleted uranium is a decayed from of uranium, it still remains a little bit radioactive. because of this, it isn't used in hand held ammunition, like .223 and the what not. instead it is used in the larger 20mm + sized rounds. the most famous use i can think of, is it's use in the GAU-8 vulcan cannon on the infamos A-10 Warthog that is used for ground support. because of the the GAU-8's hihg rate of fire and the ammo's AP cappability, it can punch a hole slap through a tank and still have plenty of energy to pummle the other side. battle field reports have noted that tanks decimated by depleted uranium rounds ratain a slight radio active signature.

    it's probubly that radioactive capability of it that keeps you from being able to sell it to just any one. im not that informed on the making of atomic bombs, but i dont think it requires a lot to make a dirty bomb.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slayer-72
    depleted uranium is a highly dense round, only seconded by mercury(as far as i've seen). but since it isnt as soft as lead, it makes an extreamly adept AP round. however, because depleted uranium is a decayed from of uranium, it still remains a little bit radioactive. because of this, it isn't used in hand held ammunition, like .223 and the what not. instead it is used in the larger 20mm + sized rounds. the most famous use i can think of, is it's use in the GAU-8 vulcan cannon on the infamos A-10 Warthog that is used for ground support. because of the the GAU-8's hihg rate of fire and the ammo's AP cappability, it can punch a hole slap through a tank and still have plenty of energy to pummle the other side. battle field reports have noted that tanks decimated by depleted uranium rounds ratain a slight radio active signature.

    it's probubly that radioactive capability of it that keeps you from being able to sell it to just any one. im not that informed on the making of atomic bombs, but i dont think it requires a lot to make a dirty bomb.
    I suspect that it not being used in small arms is more a matter of cost than anything else. It's only an alpha particle emitter, and it doesn't emit many of those. Even your outer layer of skin is enough to block alpha particles, so unless you eat it, the radiation wouldn't be a hazard. And even if you do eat it, the fact that it's a toxic heavy metal like lead would probably be a much bigger concern than the radiation. But according to the internet depleted uranium costs about $16/kg, while lead is about $1/kg.
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    well yeah, thats because you have to let it decay first. thats the only way you can get it in a usable form. and since it takes a while to use up it's energy in say a power plant, there is a limited supply, and the same amount if not more demand. thus the price of it increases.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slayer-72
    well yeah, thats because you have to let it decay first. thats the only way you can get it in a usable form. and since it takes a while to use up it's energy in say a power plant, there is a limited supply, and the same amount if not more demand. thus the price of it increases.
    Most DU doesn't come from power plant fuel; spent power plant fuel is full of all sorts of nasty radioactive crap in addition to the DU, and it's too expensive to separate the uranium out. DU comes from the leftovers when people enrich uranium.
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    ok then,... you said it your self. depleted uranium is expesive because it has to be enrihed before it can be used. again, there is a low supply ability, and a reletively high demand for it. thus prices go up.

    there's a big difference between lead and DU anyway. lead you can find in your back yard some were. try doing that with uranium.

    and on top of that, a quote from wikipedia:

    Nuclear weapons

    Depleted uranium is used as a tamper in fission bombs and as a nuclear explosive in hydrogen bombs.

    .......


    The Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the United Nations Human Rights Commission,[31] passed two motions[32] — the first in 1996[33] and the second in 1997.[34] They listed weapons of mass destruction, or weapons with indiscriminate effect, or of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering and urged all states to curb the production and the spread of such weapons. Included in the list was weaponry containing depleted uranium. The committee authorized a working paper, in the context of human rights and humanitarian norms, of the weapons. The requested UN working paper was delivered in 2002[35] by Y.K.J. Yeung Sik Yuen in accordance with Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights resolution 2001/36. He argues that the use of DU in weapons, along with the other weapons listed by the Sub‑Commission, may breach one or more of the following treaties: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of the United Nations, the Genocide Convention, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the Geneva Conventions including Protocol I, the Convention on Conventional Weapons of 1980, and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Yeung Sik Yuen writes in Paragraph 133 under the title "Legal compliance of weapons containing DU as a new weapon":
    please, next time, JGI
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    The arms manufacturers argue for DU saying its density is perfect for punching through steel and concrete. Okay... civilians punch through steel and concrete... heck we commonly drive masonry anchors with explosive charge, like a gun. If DU is so appropriate to that mundane operation why must one live in Iraq to see it?

    I think it's being dumped.
    Punching through a T-72 tank hull is hardly a mundane operation. Are you suggesting one would wander up to a tank with a masonry drill?

    DU rounds are comonly used in many military applications from stabilizing cruise missiles to sabot rounds for tanks. The latter application is where the soldier has somewhat frequent, direct contact with the munitions. He loads the round into the cabin by hand, and again hand loads it into the cannon breach prior to firing. When stored, the DU is seperated from the passenger cabin by a door designed to shield from accidental "cook off".

    There is some concern over the risk to users, and particularly civilians who live near the dead hulks of tanks that have been destroyed by these rounds. Children use these vehicles as playthings. I am however, unconvinced as to the dangers of DU as much of the evidence presented against it is anecdotal: 'So and so had a child with birth defects and they live near old tank wreckage.' It's good to be wary of new, potentially dangerous materials, but this concern must be tempered with hard evidence about it's hazards. I do know for a fact that DU saves lives as it is an effective munition for killing bad guys who would otherwise kill good guys.

    I suspect that it not being used in small arms is more a matter of cost than anything else.
    Depleted Uranium is used for penetrating armor. Among the reasons it isn't used for small arms is that it's not simply "hard stuff" that makes a bullet effective. You need a number of different qualities for effect and the amount of work that goes into a high performing round is amazing. For example, the Russian made 5.45x39 is a FMJ bullet containing a steel rod, with a soft lead plug in front and a hollow air space in the tip. The bullet's point deforms on impact with soft tissue so that it yaws and tumbles as it travels through the target. Upon impact with bone or barrier material, the steel rod pushes the lead plug into the bullet nose, ruptering and shedding the jacket and allowing the rod to penetrate farther. Top it off with a zinc coating to reduce friction and you have what Afghans call the "poison bullet."
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    Well part of the problem *is* security. Depleted Uranium is not fully depleted of U-235. It's just at such a low concentration that nobody could reasonably extract very much out of it using technology currently available today. That doesn't mean someone won't think of a way tomorrow.

    The small amounts an enemy might collect off of a battle field probably don't contain enough U-235 to make a bomb even if they found a perfect way to extract it, but if you sold it to them by the ton, they might be able to do something. So.... why risk it?
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    uh, im not even rally sure what the question is anymore. DU is used in military elements, and you cant sell it very well comircially because it is radioactive. you can find all that on wikipedia.

    aside from that, what is this "poison bullet" you speak of 0_o
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    Depleted Uranium is used for penetrating armor.
    Still, I would think there would be niche markets for people who want to shoot up vehicles or something with small arms.
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    That's what .50 BMG is for.
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    Yeah, the original question was whether its possible to make Artillery surgical enough to use in Urban warfare without causing a lot of civilian casaulties. And.... the consensus seems to be that it's not possible. (And the reasons are pretty compelling)

    So, on a side note: how useful are missiles for this kind of purpose?
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    Indirect fire systems aren't perfect, but there's nothing like a quick, devestating response from arty or your local mortarman. You can't always rely on a fully fueled and equiped air asset to be on station at all times.

    Anyways, now we're getting into the very interesting rocket/missile vs. dumb bomb/unguided munition debate. Future military technology... uh, guys have been speculating on whether or not one type will dominate the other for decades.

    Aircraft with the help of a good tactical air controller can do some pretty impressive stuff with a cheap, simple JDAM. I've heard stories of Air Force Combat Controllers requesting ordinance to be dropped into a wall in the next room, to create a new exit to the building.
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    So, once we're using missiles, everything about precision kind of changes? I suppose the biggest strength of the dumb munitions is probably their lower cost.

    How smart can we make hand held missiles? Could you conceivably fire a hand held missile around a corner, or fire it over a wall and have it turn around and hit the wall from the other side? Stuff like that?
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    you could if you could manuver is fast enough. remember the faster an object is going the wider it's turn radius will be. it's just stick with a javalin missil launcher, it's a fire and forget missle and it has the option of direct fire, or you can shoot it in the air and it will come back the the target.
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    hello Slayer-72, Are you related to William McCormick?
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    There is no such thing as a bad guy homing artillery shell or rocket, he who is near the impact dies ,the end! Good guys shouldn't play with bad guys.
    A well placed bullet , yes.
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    ...... um, no im not, but mad scientists do think alike.....

    .....

    There is no such thing as a bad guy homing artillery shell or rocket, he who is near the impact dies ,the end! Good guys shouldn't play with bad guys.
    A well placed bullet , yes.
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    nothing you said helps our cinario... wtf?

    the idea is that the infantry is overwelmed and need fire support. but is evidently in an area that has civillians in it, in which canse civillian casualties are not wanted.
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    well soorry it happens, I spent 2 years in Vietnam , what's your claim to fame?
    What you are asking for is not practical , even if you had the accuracy to drop a shell on the bad guys head, the kill radius of the weapon applies, If a civilian is close by he gets it too. that's the way battle works. wake up to the real world. Who dreamed that crap further up about blowing a new entrance to a building with a bomb ? you ever seen what 500 lbs of HE going off does, new entrance my ass , No Building!
    besides that McCormick is an idiot, take it from there.
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    i dont really know who McCormick and this really isnt the place for talking about him....

    anyway, im not bashing on you, i agree completly, with most of what you said. im just saying it doesnt present any helpful debate related to the topic.

    Who dreamed that crap further up about blowing a new entrance to a building with a bomb ? you ever seen what 500 lbs of HE going off does, new entrance my ass , No Building!
    see now this is helpful, you have a good point there. it would be much more efficeint to use a small explosive. say a few grams of C4.


    What you are asking for is not practical , even if you had the accuracy to drop a shell on the bad guys head, the kill radius of the weapon applies, If a civilian is close by he gets it too
    not nessisarily. yes if your using an explosive round your going to kill every one in the area, but like already mention non-explosive ordinace or even fragmenting ordinance can reduce civilian casualties significantly. im nor sure if your still in the military but warfare has evolved significantly since vietnam
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    Quote Originally Posted by fizzlooney
    There is no such thing as a bad guy homing artillery shell or rocket, he who is near the impact dies ,the end! Good guys shouldn't play with bad guys.
    A well placed bullet , yes.
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    So, I'm wondering: what if the rocket has a very small payload, and actually has to make contact with a person in order to kill them?

    As far as homing devices, they're getting closer and closer to that. You could lock it on to a heat signature, and tell it not to blow up unless it's physically in contact with that specific signature.

    Apparently they've got missile launchers in Iraq right now that can home in on a thermal image. Trouble is that each missile costs about 100k, so they don't like the soldiers to use them unless they really need them. I've been told they have good thermal imaging sights, so even after firing them, you'll want to keep the launcher just for that.
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    well i suppose, but you'd have to individually hit people with the rockets, or specifically target them.
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    Does the idea of using a whole rocket just to kill one person kind of seem inefficient? If figure that's still probably the goal sometimes.

    If you used an ordinary high explosive rocket to kill just one person (say a sniper who's been killing your buddies), would you consider it a waste?
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    Now you're getting into theory again with this miniature rocket business, but it's common to use bombs, rockets and missiles against individual targets. On average, tens or hundreds of thousands of small arms rounds are expended per enemy kill. When you have a shot, you take it and use whatever ordinance is available. Unless collateral damage is a risk, overkill is sometimes the safest option.

    Personally, I like smashing a flies with hammers.
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