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Israel pwns Syrian RADAR with US-supplied infowar software
October 9, 2007 10:31 PM   Subscribe

Report: Israel 'blinded' Syrian radar. After Israeli missile strike on Syria confirmed by both sides, the question remains – how did Israel's non-stealth jets infiltrate Syrian airspace undetected? US aerospace experts tell Aviation Week magazine that Israel used new US-developed technology that lets users invade and manipulate enemy communication networks.
posted by scalefree (55 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
INVISIBLE JOOS
posted by Poolio at 10:39 PM on October 9, 2007


SEÑOR PROM WILL GET YOU
posted by blacklite at 10:40 PM on October 9, 2007


Don't these Experts know the meaning of Himitsu?
posted by Rubbstone at 10:50 PM on October 9, 2007


The Syrians had spent a fortune on an up-to-date Russian air-defense system, and when they finally needed it, they discovered that they had bought worthless junk. A lot of people out there are mad about this, not just the Syrians. And I hear tell they're asking the Russians a lot of pointed questions about it.

For 30 years, Russia (or the USSR) has been selling military hardware to the world, and it's all been junk. Every time it's ever faced western equipment it's always gotten trashed. But recently, they've been trying to sell the idea that they've finally gotten it right. "This time for sure!" (in a Bullwinkle voice.)

Well, they didn't. It's still worthless junk.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:57 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ooooook.

If I am reading this correctly, it sounds like the air force, using unmanned drones, A) eavesdropped on radar installations B) execute man in the middle attacks on them, allowing for the spooks to point their dishes in other directions.

If this is true, what about public key encryption, or hell, private key encryption? Anyone know the state of information protection on late model soviet radar?
posted by zabuni at 11:18 PM on October 9, 2007


If I am reading this correctly, it sounds like the air force, using unmanned drones

Is there any other kind of drone? Drone? They're all pilotless drones! Drone! Drone!

Get it? Hah! Get it?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:27 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Steven C. Den Beste: Well, they didn't. It's still worthless junk.

I don't know if that's really fair to draw from this sort of confrontation. When one considers an off-the-shelf air defense system with non-native operators (who are likely not terribly well trained) being put against the technological expertise of the Israelis, the phrase 'terribly overmatched' comes to mind. I'd have been surprised if it had worked against them.

I think it might have fared better if it had been set up in a first-world country with the greater infrastructure (redundant systems, a better technological and education base, etc.) or had been used against a country of similar tech level to the Syrians. What the Israelis did is what any smart attacker does in a situation where the enemy relies on one strong point of defense, when they can - they worked around it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:32 PM on October 9, 2007



USA kicks so much ass.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:33 PM on October 9, 2007


Maybe the U.S. secretly lent stealth bombers and pilots to Israel.
posted by stavrogin at 11:34 PM on October 9, 2007


The 'useless' Russian junk did well in Vietnam.

Other useless Russian junk, like AK-47s is currently giving the US a fresh new defeat in Iraq.

It seems to do OK sometimes.

30 years is an odd time frame to select. Why not go back all the way to WWII?

Soviet hardware shot down 71 Phantoms in Vietnam. The Phantoms got 41 kills.

This is interesting though. It should be remembered that pretty much everyone looks good fighting conventional Arab armies in the field.
posted by sien at 11:37 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is there any other kind of drone? Drone? They're all pilotless drones! Drone! Drone!

It's not pwns! It's "owns"! Owns! Owns!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:09 AM on October 10, 2007


This is interesting though. It should be remembered that pretty much everyone looks good fighting conventional Arab armies in the field.

Well, everybody but Louis VII.

Point taken, though.
posted by Avenger at 12:43 AM on October 10, 2007


This sounds more like an Independence Day hijack than reality.

If true, why would the Israelis use — and thus reveal — such methods for a few Scuds? Knowing now what was done, couldn't the Russians simply change their communication frequencies/protocols?
posted by cenoxo at 1:30 AM on October 10, 2007


WRONG
Soviet hardware shot down 71 Phantoms in Vietnam. The Phantoms got 41 kills. You must be referring to one type of F4

The first had problems but these were soon corrected. The Navy, Air Forces and USMC all flew F4s

The various incarnations of the F-4 scored more than 100 Mig kills in Vietnam.

Firing both the AK & the M-16 and you know right off the M16 is a much better weapon.

AK is heavier & fires a heavier cartridges, It's got a hell of a rise on full auto, the only shot that will hit will be the first. IT is very loud.There is only single or full on selector, higher rate of fire, it will fire dirty, and is easier to break down. It is sloppy sheet metal feels really lose. The range is limited to less than 100 yrds. It has a wooden stock( warping can be a factor) it is very hard to mount scope, flashlight or laser sight. Bullets on contact stay intact moderate cavation. safety sucks, Cheaper

M16 is lighter, much better accuracy will shot out to 1000yrds, Bullets are lighter so can carry more, has single & 3 round burst, little rise and saves on ammo, fiberglass stock no warping, easy to mount scopes and other fixtures like a grenade launcher,, minimal rise, kick and noise is much less, the round on hitting target splits in 2 main parts and splinters (these are killing wounds) large cavation, cleaning is easier.

The only thing that might be better is are the new generation of RPGs and their biological warfare is light years a head, also have bigger nukes and FAE
posted by Rancid Badger at 2:04 AM on October 10, 2007


There's a number of reasons.

First, the Syrians and the Russians were going to figure it out sooner rather than later, anyway, as it happened to their equipment.

Second, the sabers have been rattling at Iran, who have been operating under the belief that their air defense was up to the task of keeping the Americans and the French from their airspace. Now they know it can't even keep the Israelis out.

Third, it's a warning to China to knock off the skript-kiddee 1337h4xX0r bullshit by showing them a tiny bit of what real info-war looks like.

Fourth, it shows the US is still solidly behind Israel.

Fifth, it's a not-so-subtle reminder to Putin that Russia is in no shape to enter into another cold war. The U.S. is so far beyond what the Russians have available, it might as well be science fiction.

The U.S. hasn't ramped down it's military R&D since the Iron Curtain fell. In some ways this is bad - we have spent next to no money, manpower or time working on counterinsurgency or nation-building measures. In some ways this is good - it's unlikely any conventional military threat will emerge in our lifetime, and makes sure nascent regional powers don't get expansionist itches they think they can scratch.

Allowing Israel to do our dirty work in this instance is a remarkably effective strategic maneuver, elegant and understated and multifaceted and completely out of character for this Administration. Not Rumsfeld-ian at all.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:24 AM on October 10, 2007 [8 favorites]


No one is amazed by this except for those not really paying attention to military matters. Everyone who does pay attention to such knows US tech is top-of-the-line, they all know that the US and Israeli millitaries are at their best when it comes to destroying conventional armies and installations from the air, and they all know that in modern war offense beats defense almost every time, especially surprise-attack offense. What would have been astounding is if the Syrians had actually defeated this attack.

Meanwhile, the US Army and Marines are stuck fighting in a third-rate, third-world country in an counter-insurgency operation with hazy goals that we just can't quite bring to completion.
posted by moonbiter at 2:53 AM on October 10, 2007


Is it not possible that they flew in 'detected'?
posted by romanb at 3:00 AM on October 10, 2007


For 30 years, Russia (or the USSR) has been selling military hardware to the world, and it's all been junk. Every time it's ever faced western equipment it's always gotten trashed. But recently, they've been trying to sell the idea that they've finally gotten it right. "This time for sure!" (in a Bullwinkle voice.)

Partly the problem is buying junk. The other part is that you are buying high tech gear from somebody else and you don't really control it.

I'm betting all the US high tech equipment sales contain backdoors so that if say the F15 turn against US troops it starts pinging it's locations nice and loud.

Your supplier doesn't always have your best interests at heart.

Who is to say this technology isn't just some ass covering BS and that Putin just handed over keys in exchange for some more soulfull eye contact from Bush?
posted by srboisvert at 4:14 AM on October 10, 2007


My Israeli military pals tell me that they are trained to act like a guy having sex : get in. Get out. Let someone clean up the mess for youl
posted by Postroad at 4:14 AM on October 10, 2007


The New York Times reveals that Turkish officials presented Damascus on Oct. 6, with an “Israeli dossier” on a Syrian nuclear program [which Israeli relayed to Washington before its Sept. 6 air strike]. However Assad “vigorously denied the intelligence and said that what the Israelis had hit was a “storage depot for strategic missiles.”

DEBKAfile’s sources add: Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan, who presented the Israeli dossier to president Bashar Assad, also delivered his reply to Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert in a one-on-one conversation in Jerusalem Oct. 7. Washington is now demanding Israel’s response to Assad’s claim. The purpose of relaying the “Israeli dossier” to Ankara in the first place was to demonstrate that Syrian nuclear activity aided by North Korea potentially menaced neighboring Turkey as well as US regional interests and Israel.

According to the NYT, the debate in the Bush administration is over whether the Israeli evidence points to a Syrian nuclear program that does indeed pose a significant threat to the Middle East and should therefore lead to critical changes in Bush administration policies for the Middle East and North Korea.

Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials argue Israeli intelligence is credible and should cause the United States to reconsider diplomatic overtures to Syria and North Korea, whereas Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice does not believe the intelligence presented so far merits any change in American diplomatic approach. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was cautious about fully endorsing Israel’s warnings that Syria was on the way to a nuclear weapon.

Cheney’s faction is uneasy about the decision to proceed with the supply to North Korea of economic aid in return for disabling its nuclear reactor. They argue that Israeli intelligence shows that North Korea cannot be trusted.

It has long been known that North Korean scientists have aided Damascus in developing sophisticated ballistic missile technology. There is little debate that North Koreans frequently visited the sit in the Syrian desert that Israel jets attacked Sept. 6.

A CIA veteran Bruce Riedel told the NYT: ”Israel would not have launched the strike in Syria if it believed Damascus was merely developing more sophisticated ballistic missiles or chemical weapons… Those red lines were crossed 20 years ago.”

Another former intelligence official said Syria is trying to develop an airburst capability for its ballistic missiles which would allow warheads to detonate in the air to disperse its contents more widely.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report this type of warhead is capable of damaging much broader areas than the conventional warhead. In particular, any radioactive materials it contained would scatter and contaminate wide, densely populated urban areas. Of late, US sources have voiced strong suspicions that Syria and Iran have acquired “dirty bombs.”

The question is whether North Korea has been helping Syria build missiles packed with radioactive materials and fitted with an airburst capability to boot.

Print
posted by Postroad at 4:42 AM on October 10, 2007


Firing both the AK & the M-16 and you know right off the M16 is a much better weapon.

Not much on guns, I'm more of a spoon man, but isn't it true that the the AK can take M16 ammo, and the M16 don't take that gook/commie/sand-arab ammo?
posted by mattoxic at 4:45 AM on October 10, 2007


It's true that the AK-47 is much more reliable, easier to clean, easier to fix, jams less, and in general, works much better in adverse conditions. (covered in gunk, jammed with sand, etc.) At least, such is my understanding.
posted by absalom at 5:18 AM on October 10, 2007


Not much on guns, I'm more of a spoon man, but isn't it true that the the AK can take M16 ammo, and the M16 don't take that gook/commie/sand-arab ammo?


No. The AK-47 shoots short 7.62mm ammo, the M-16 uses NATO-standard 5.56mm (SS-16, I think?). There is a derivation of the AK series that is chambered for 5.56mm NATO, though.

Oh, and as for Rancid Badger's claims about the M-16 - it is a great weapon, but 1) I'd really like to see someone shoot 5.56mm standard rounds out to 1000 yards with any kind of accuracy in a combat situation, and 2) that claim about the 5.56mm bullet breaking apart sounds like horseshit to me, but I'll retract if he (or someone else) can provide a cite, particularly as it'd be illegal under internation conventions.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 5:23 AM on October 10, 2007


Actually, it can't, mattoxic. Needs modifications to take capitalist running dog ammo, just as you might expect.
The AK is also heavier, and less accurate...it's a more even tradeoff than you might think, absalom.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 5:24 AM on October 10, 2007


Steven C. Den Beste: For 30 years, Russia (or the USSR) has been selling military hardware to the world, and it's all been junk. Every time it's ever faced western equipment it's always gotten trashed.

Serious question: How much of that is due to poor implementation, poor deployment, or lack of training?

I mean, some of those Russian-made planes are hella sweet. Especially when they've crazy Russians at the stick.
posted by lodurr at 6:36 AM on October 10, 2007


The only thing that might be better is are the new generation of RPGs

You mean these?
posted by lodurr at 6:44 AM on October 10, 2007


Ooops. I was way wrong about F4 losses over Vietnam. From the wikipedia link in total the US lost 761 F4s over Vietnam and got 107.5 kills.

Mind you, no F-15 has EVER been lost to hostile fire and seeing it's now been replaced that is some record.

How the Syrians go isn't necessarily indicative of Soviet hardware. Training and the element of surprise count for a lot.

Now that this weapon has been used there will be more data for Russian scientists and engineers to figure out what happened.

There are some really nifty Russian weapons. The Oniks anti-ship missiles that the Iranians have may be able to bring down a carrier. Also, the Russian shkval torpedo may be able to do the same. Off bore sight missile aiming is something the Soviets have had for longer than the West.

Russian weapons are probably not up to Western standards in general, but it would be unwise to underestimate what they could do in skilled hands.
posted by sien at 6:47 AM on October 10, 2007


Silly Russians, we have lured your best engineers away with our Web 2.0 bubble and unlimited supply of our imperialist mind-control drug you know as "coca-cola."
posted by b1tr0t at 7:01 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


... no F-15 has EVER been lost to hostile fire and seeing it's now been replaced that is some record.

I'd be more impressed if I knew they were flying into hot anti-aircraft on a daily basis throughout that time. (I'd wager that most of those F4 losses were due to ground fire.)
posted by lodurr at 7:06 AM on October 10, 2007


To completely derail: Russian small arms are terrible - Inaccurate, shoddy quality control, questionable ammunition, weird design, poor materials.

But, if you get a good AK-47, and three out of four of your RPG's fire... you have weapons that are cheaper than three or four orders of magnitude than what the west has to offer. Great for insurgents.

And the M-16 sucks. It's a rifle-range queen that fires a round deemed "inadequate" for hunting 100lb deer in some states and will break down under any sort of abuse at all. Accuracy and a deep magazine are =all= you get out of the deal. Not enough in a real war, as 'Nam and Iraq illustrate.

People get all starry-eyed about the "reliability" and "punch" of the Kalishnikov, but it was a horrble piece of crap that only shone like a star next to the M-16. Next to the FN-FAL and HK G3, it was an especially horrible piece of crap that fired a weak-sister round with shotgun-slug accuracy, and you had one chance in ten of getting a rifle that worked right from the factory, or one chance in five if you ponied up the dough for a Chzech-made model. The Belgian and German designs would fire full-auto submerged in quicksand without blinking, and could send a bullet downrange that could punch through a Buick the long way, and send three more through the same hole with the same pull of the trigger.

I blame McNamara. He shoulda stuck to selling Fords to the gullible, not lousy firearms to the Pentagon...
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:22 AM on October 10, 2007


They should get on to the Japanese Agriculture Ministry and order up some Gundam.
posted by Artw at 7:26 AM on October 10, 2007


I seem to recall that the German Panther was probably the best tank fielded during WWII, and far superior to the American Sherman, but while your average Panther could kill 3 Shermans it was still a losing proposition if, in that time, 5 more Shermans were rolling off the assembly lines.

Sometimes, you don't have to be better. You just have to be good enough and cheap enough.
posted by bl1nk at 7:50 AM on October 10, 2007


Interview with Jim Sullivan, co-designer of the M16:
PAUL SOLMAN: The rifle Sullivan would have his own son use in Iraq today? The opposition's.

JIM SULLIVAN: He should have an AK.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:03 AM on October 10, 2007


This story could be true, but it seems unlikely that if it were true that credible sources would back it up. Folks who do this stuff like their secrets.

What seems much more likely to me is some defense contractor is putting this story out there as a way to get a big cyberdefense contract.
posted by Nelson at 9:07 AM on October 10, 2007


Metafilter is an odd place to be rehashing the merits of M-16 vs. AK-47, but here's the punchline: A hit with 7.62 is more likely to kill a combatant, which makes the guys standing on either side of him really pissed, while a hit with Amurican .223 wounds a combatant and gets the guys on either side of him to carry him out of combat. Thus the accuracy of the lighter, high velocity round effectively takes out three combatants per on-target placement.

Strategy versus tactics. War is not about killing men, it's about winning (land, resources, "hearts and minds").
posted by lothar at 9:20 AM on October 10, 2007


U.S. military technology easily 'won' the war in Iraq: now look at the aftermath. A high-tech raid by Israeli proxies on Syria — perhaps a precursor to larger scale strikes on Iran — may guarantee a similar victory.

From kirkaracha's link to the PBS interview with Jim Sullivan:
PAUL SOLMAN: Meanwhile, the competition, says Sullivan, the Soviet-designed automatic Kalashnikov AK-47, is in its third generation, as the AK-74.

JIM SULLIVAN: That AK-74 out-hits the M-16 by two to one on full automatic. And the reason that there was 100 million AKs made wasn't to equip the Russian army. It was to give to our third world opponents so the United States can't win ground wars anymore. It's the rifleman and his rifle, that's what decides ground wars.
You can't keep air power flying forever: sooner or later it has to come back down to earth.
posted by cenoxo at 9:23 AM on October 10, 2007


It's possible that none of this really had anything to do with Syria in the first place.

Obviously, I don't know if that's what really happened, but it accounts for some of the odder details (ditched fuel pods in Turkey, e.g.,) better than anything else I've read. Who knows?
posted by trondant at 9:37 AM on October 10, 2007


Isreal is an ambitious Beta Tester and U.S. Armed Forces proxy. But then you already knew that.
posted by spock at 9:53 AM on October 10, 2007


NAVY MEDICAL MANUEL


When the M16 cartridge is fired and the bullet is propelled down the bore, the bore’s rifling imparts a gyroscopic spin to the bullet. This gyroscopic rotation is needed to maintain point forward stabilization of the bullet as it flies through the air. This method of bullet stabilization is identical to the rotational spin applied to a football when thrown by a quarterback (American football).

The Earth’s gaseous atmosphere is approximately 400 times less dense than the body's soft tissues. When the M16 bullet strikes and plows into the body, the rotational spin that stabilized its flight through the air is insufficient to maintain its stability as it flies through dense tissue. The bullet typically penetrates point forward for approximately 4-5 inches before it begins to seek a state of stability in the body.

The bullet’s pointed shape makes it heavier at its base than its nose, producing a center of gravity that is located aft of its longitudinal centerline. When the bullet hits the body and penetrates, the bullet attempts to rotate 180 degrees around its center of gravity to achieve a base forward orientation. This backwards orientation is the bullet’s stable position in tissue because it places the center of gravity forward.

As the bullet yaws through 90 degrees and is traveling sideways through flesh, the stress of tissue resistance to bullet passage can overpower the physical integrity of the bullet. The bullet has a groove around its midsection called a cannelure. The purpose of the cannelure is to permit the mouth of the cartridge case to be crimped tightly against the bullet shank to hold it firmly to the case. The cannelure weakens the structural integrity of the bullet's copper jacket.

At distances of 100 yards and under, when the bullet hits the body and yaws through 90 degrees, the stresses on the bullet cause the leading edge to flatten, extruding lead core out the open base, just before it breaks apart at the cannelure. The portion of the bullet forward of the cannelure, the nose, usually remains in one piece and retains about 60 percent of the bullet's original weight. The portion of the bullet aft of the cannelure, the base, violently disintegrates into multiple lead core and copper jacket fragments, which penetrate up to 3-inches radially outward from the wound track. The fragments perforate and weaken the surrounding tissues allowing the subsequent temporary cavity to forcibly stretch and rip open the multiple small wound tracks produced by the fragments. The resulting wound is similar to one produced by a commercial expanding bullet used for varmint hunting, however the maximum tissue damage produced by the military bullet is located at a greater penetration depth.
posted by Rancid Badger at 10:07 AM on October 10, 2007


F4 were shot down in significant numbers by AA Fire & SAMs not Migs
posted by Rancid Badger at 10:12 AM on October 10, 2007


It's possible that none of this really had anything to do with Syria in the first place.

I think that is a very plausible scenario. The idea that the Minot nuclear weapon incident was designed to take nukes out of the authorized chain of command also has incredible implications. It really should not surprise us when an administration (that creates it's own "intelligence department" when the CIA does not deliver the intelligence it needs, and hides behind a private firm like Blackwater to get around U.S. law) uses Blackwater personel masquerading as the terrorist organization or military-of-your-choice to drop a nuke wherever it best suits their purpose Du Jour.
posted by spock at 10:33 AM on October 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'll also add that IF the U.S. actually had "new US-developed technology that lets users invade and manipulate enemy communication networks" that would be one of the most TOP SECRET bits of information EVAR. However, leaking such information is designed to make other countries question the validity of the information their communication networks are given them, which is useful militarily in its own right.
posted by spock at 10:38 AM on October 10, 2007


... that would be one of the most TOP SECRET bits of information EVAR.

Either that, or something that's traded freely among the unshaven denizens of German hacker cells in exchange for a ham sandwich.
posted by lodurr at 10:43 AM on October 10, 2007


Yup - revealing this super secret sophisticated technology in order to carry out whats basically some schoolyard bullying seems pretty odd. My money is on something else going on.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on October 10, 2007


Ooooooh, war pr0n!
posted by signal at 10:59 AM on October 10, 2007


in some of this speculation one aspect of imporantace ignored: I had read that Turkey alerted Israel to the existence of the nuke facilities and allowed Israel to overfly its territory. That being so, then the raid was not meant for Iran but for Syria. The BBC asked what the heck was going on since the US said it knew nothing; Syria said it chased away some Israeli planes, Turkey said nothing, and Israel said nothing...so much silence because....?and yes North Korea denied any knowledge of the attack or selling materials to Syria. Perhaps nothing took place, right?
posted by Postroad at 11:07 AM on October 10, 2007


The portion of the bullet aft of the cannelure, the base, violently disintegrates into multiple lead core and copper jacket fragments,

Consider my "horseshit" comment retracted, I apologise.

I am quite surprised, though - I thought one of the conventions (Geneva?) banned bullets designed to expand (e.g. Dum-Dums) from use in military conflicts.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 11:13 AM on October 10, 2007


An AK-47 is a little over 9 lbs with a full wooden stock. It's much heavier than its Western counterpart and not as accurate. But the strength of the weapon has been its reliability and its ease of manufacture and simplicity to use. From my understanding, it only takes less than an half an hour to become familiar with it as opposed to the M-16's which has a much higher learning curve. So in essence, the Ak-47 in the hands of anyone will turn them into an instant soldier/freedom fighter/rebel/etc.
posted by cazoo at 11:14 AM on October 10, 2007


Can you imagine if Japan were allowed to make planes or weapons systems? Or small arms? Just look at cars, electronics, etc...
posted by cell divide at 11:21 AM on October 10, 2007


Nice Guy Mike, this article on the IDF's use of 5.56mm ammunition comes to mind in response to your question.
posted by Dasein at 11:36 AM on October 10, 2007


Hooray, an excuse to keep oil prices up. Another big win for Chevron.

Seriously, the shit in the middle east is pure theatre. If it would make the oil companies more money, they would have rest of the world embargo the region until they surrendered every bullet and every sharp stick and there'd be peace for a thousand years.

Instability keeps profits rolling in.
posted by mullingitover at 3:38 PM on October 10, 2007


Nice Guy Mike: I am quite surprised, though - I thought one of the conventions (Geneva?) banned bullets designed to expand (e.g. Dum-Dums) from use in military conflicts.

The Hague Convention, actually.

I think the argument is that the fully jacketed 5.56mm rounds are not specifically designed to fragment, and it's a byproduct of the impact. Dum-dum rounds are typically classified as an intentional weakening of the bullet itself in an effort to cause it to break apart. (Taking a soft, non-jacketed handgun round and deeply grooving a cross into the top will cause it to fragment in unexpected ways on impact.)
posted by quin at 4:14 PM on October 10, 2007


spock. That link on the Israeli raid is worth a front page post. That is really fascinating.
posted by sien at 4:19 PM on October 10, 2007


The Hague Convention bans bullets designed to fragment, not bullets designed to spread.

But the key point is the word "design". It bans bullets deliberately designed to fragment, not bullets which just happen to do so. Gosh, golly gee.

A lot of weapons control treaties are like that, full of weasel words which don't really mean what a lot of people think they mean. The land mine treaty (that the US refuses to ratify) is like that.

It doesn't ban land mines. What it bans is anti-personnel land mines. Anti-vehicle mines would still be permitted. And anti-vehicle mines would be permitted to have anti-tampering fuses.

So what does that mean? It means that small land mines, the ones designed to take off a foot without killing, would be banned. Big ones, designed to destroy tanks and trucks, could still be used, and they would still have fuses that would set them off if infantry (or civilians after the war was over) stepped anywhere near.

By analogy to guns, the treaty bans muzzle loading muskets but still permits machine guns.

I believe that the most important consequence of that particular clause (about fragmenting bullets) in the Hague convention is that it effectively bans shotguns in combat -- not that they haven't been used anyway. And it means that military pistols use less effective rounds than any civilian can buy at his local sporting goods store.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:58 PM on October 10, 2007


Related to the M-16, AK-47 sidetrack: Ballistic gelatin test results for rifles, pistols, shotguns and airguns. Also, the University of Utah's Firearms Tutorial
posted by moonbiter at 2:24 AM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


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