Raytheon missile identified
April 2, 2003 3:41 PM   Subscribe

BINCS is an online database of suppliers and identification numbers maintained by the Defense Logistics Information Service. It was used to look up the CAGE code on a fragment of the missile which allegedly hit a Baghdad vegetable market. This confirmed that the fragment was from a missile built by Raytheon Company, and was probably either a HARM or a Paveway. I wonder if the system will remain available online after this. Investors can rest assured that this incident will not affect Raytheon's standing in the Perpetual War Portfolio in any way.
posted by homunculus (8 comments total)
That's incredible. Also, a missile named HARM. We are living in interesting times.
posted by gwint at 8:19 PM on April 2, 2003

These sites are surreal to me homunculus. I clicked on Defense Logistics and a was greeted by the cheery voice of some bot named Phyllis who was eager to answer my questions. I stumped her with "Why are we at war?" though...she didn't know the answer, but assures me she is constantly learning new things.

At the Raytheon site, it is good to learn that "customer success is our mission." Their ads are interesting - who are they written for, do they really need ads? And why does their site include a product list? Just in case governments want to buy weapons systems online?
posted by madamjujujive at 8:29 PM on April 2, 2003

Tim Blair was all over this story and has a lot of the details here, and here.

And what might prove to be the most damning information about the incident:

Assuming the piece was recovered at the marketplace site and noting that it was part of a HARM, we should give Fisk credit for proving that Iraq is committing a war crime. The HARM will home on a radar that paints a US aircraft. That the HARM ended up in a marketplace means that the Iraqi military has sited air defense radar(s) in marketplace(s), a clearcut violation of the Geneva Conventions. As the Convention states, the party that sites military equipment in civilian locations bears the entire responsibility for any resulting civilian causalties and damage. So, congratulations Robert, a journalistic job well done in nailing the Iraqi regime.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:00 PM on April 2, 2003

They're surreal to me too, juju. I don't know who those pages are for, but reading the product descriptions and then reading the account of the missile hitting the market is sickening.
posted by homunculus at 9:49 PM on April 2, 2003

Thanks for the links, Steve. The article in the Independent suggests another possibility:
Despite its manufacturer's claims, it also has a record of unreliability when fired at a target which "disappears" if, as the Iraqi forces do, the target's operators switch their radar signal rapidly on and off. Nick Cook, of Jane's Defence Weekly, said: "The problem with Harms is that they can be seduced away from their targets by any sort of curious transmission. They are meant to have corrected that but there have been problems." During the Kosovo conflict four years ago, a farmer and his daughter were badly injured when a missile exploded in their village. A shard of the casing was found near by with a reference very similar to that found in Baghdad: "30003 704AS4829 MFP 96214."
posted by homunculus at 9:57 PM on April 2, 2003

(Hit post too soon) The guy from Jane's Defense makes it sound like the missiles are not hard to trick. But I also agree with Blair's readers that the fragment may not have even come from the site. We'll probably never know, but it certainly is interesting that we can investigate online so easily. Interesting times indeed.
posted by homunculus at 10:06 PM on April 2, 2003

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