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The War Nerd / March 23, 2011
By Gary Brecher

Who ever imagined Libya…I mean Libya, with a record of O-and-Forever, with a knockout from Chad on its record…would put on a show like this? Some of the pictures I’ve seen are so amazing I’ve been trying to figure them out for days. Like this one of a dead Libyan tank after the French Air Force hit it. Look at that turret! Flew clean off, like the turret-chassis joint’s almost intact, and landed 30 yards away. That’s what they call a precision air-to-ground munition.

I’ve been trying to figure out what munition did it, in fact. It’s like going back to my yout’, when Jane’s was a bunch of big blue books, actual leather books that gave your arms a good workout and couldn’t be taken out of the Reference Room. But even zipping around the net googling “French air ground antitank” I don’t get a sure line on what hit that tank. The French were using Rafales in that strike, and the Rafale can carry the Apache, Exocet or AASM air-to-ground munitions.

But the Apache is a huge cruise missile, their version of a Tomahawk (they even stole the Injun idea for the name) and is mainly for popping out runway-cratering submunitions. It’s clearly not what hit that tank; if it had, with those cluster bombs, there’d be a bigger mess instead of this clean decapitation. It’s like something peeled the lid of this Soviet tin can, and it wasn’t cluster bombs. If the Apache had been carrying HE warhead instead…well, the damn thing weighs more than two tons, so with a simple HE warhead there’d be no tank left to photograph. OK, so it wasn’t an Apache.

Exocet? Maybe, but I doubt it. Exocet is another giant weapon, an antiship missile. In the Falklands War, an Exocet hit a British destroyer and sank it even though the warhead failed to explode. The missile itself just gutted the ship. Way too big to’ve made this clean chop on the Libyan tank.

That seems to leave this third, weird weapon, the AASM.

It’s a cheap kit solution to smartening up your dumb gravity bombs, sort of like making your Halo-zombie stepson sit next to a Korean in Algebra. But the bomb it’s usually fitted to is 250 kg, 550 pounds, which would’ve made tank salad, not a clean popped turret.

The French AF has to be using something else to kill tanks, but those are the three weapons the references list for the Rafale. Am I missing something obvious—like, can you fit some basic tank killer, HOT or Milan, to a Rafale? I’m asking readers: anybody have a better idea what the French used? They must have some smaller smart air-to-ground weapon but they don’t seem to be advertising it very well.

And I mean “advertising” seriously. The French sell a lot of weapons and this war is a giant showroom/infomercial for their defense industry. They should be sending pictures of that tank turret decorating the Sahara and stamping the name of the munition that did it on every copy. No way to run a bomb factory, damn it.

We can probably find out ourselves. I’ll bet somebody out there in NATO-land knows what the Rafales used. So let me know in the comments and I’ll try to follow up. After all, this daily blog thing should make two-way communication easier.

Ship Killers

Speaking of antiship weapons, I was checking out what the Libyans have, or had. They’re compulsive shoppers, Qaddafi’s procurement officers, and a lot of what they buy doesn’t make much sense. Like the “Libyan Navy,” if you can say that without laughing. But just thanks to the law of averages, they make a buy now and then that’s so good it’s scary, especially if you’re a French aircraft carrier sitting in the Mediterranean. I’m talking about the Russian antiship missile “Moskit” (“Mosquito”). The Russians sold them to Libya in 2009 as part of a deal for three anti-ship fast patrol boats of the Molniya class.

The Moskit is supposed to be the fastest antiship missile in the world, hitting Mach 2.2 at low altitude. Unstoppable by shipborne defenses. If you ask me, ALL shipborne missile defense is bullshit, with as much chance of stopping a serious missile swarm as an embroidered “God Bless This Naval Vessel” hanging on the bow, but an antiship missile that fast is even more lethal than the slow cruise-missile type (like the Exocet or our Harpoon—both fly about 1/3 as fast as the Moskit but they’ll still kill ships.)
The problem is that the Libyans bought this fantastic-sounding weapon as part of a sucker package like big weapons-dealing countries always sell dupes like Qadaffi. The real profit is in the boat itself, these three Molniya class platforms. Useless. No navy on earth will let a Libyan military vessel onto the Mediterranean to launch those missiles. Not the way to do it at all if you’re a non-air power.

If only they’d listened to me…or van Rypen. I wrote about how Gen. Paul van Ripen beat the US navy in war games off Iran, using civilian planes, fishing boats and anything else he could use to distract the fleet’s defenses.

What Qadaffi should’ve done is buy the Russian missiles and associated gear, fit them in the dirtiest trawler he could find, refit the trawler and base it as far away from other Libyan military installations as he could.

Because those bases are smoking ruins now, just when there’s a juicy aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, heading out from Toulon for Libya.

Another useless weapon

Carrier captains are so desperate to prove they’re useful they’ll jump in anytime, like your couchsurfing friend when it’s time for one of any chores that don’t involve actual sweat. That means that there’ll be a target big enough to end the war just winking at Qadaffi from now on: “Hit me, Muamar, you bad boy.” And he can’t, because he’s put the weapons that could do it on platforms that come straight out of WW II.

The key to fighting this kind of war is hiding behind civilians. Qadaffi knows that in his mongoloid way, which is why his surviving tanks all ran for Benghazi when the cruise missiles started hitting, like a freeway fugitive ducking into a mall parking lot where the ghetto birds can’t track him. But he doesn’t realize it as totally as he ought to. He needs weapons platforms that make flinchy NATO commanders reach for the Maalox. Fake fishing trawlers that look exactly like the Tunisian anchovy fleet. Fake pleasure boats, fake Cessnas, and best of all…fake refugees. You’re not going to like me for this, but I’ll tell you the perfect NATO-ship killing platform: an old leaky Haitian-style fishing boat full of weeping civilians, all covered by heavy machine guns in the cabin ready to sweep anybody who stops weeping off the deck at .50 force. And a Russian antiship missile where the crew’s cabin used to be. Just imagine the tender scene, those refugees waving to a NATO destroyer or maybe if you get lucky the carrier itself (a long shot, I admit)…then half the cabin wall is kicked into the Med and that giant Moskit spits out. A lot of sentimental news correspondents are going to get some great footage, but at the expense of their pension plans, watching it zoom toward their press deck.

But I’m just sayin’. Passin’ the time. Unless there’s a new career in this. Remember the RV in Stripes that was refitted as an “urban assault vehicle”? Comedy then, but not now. Pilots don’t fire without permission; controllers don’t give permission if there are going to be pictures on the big internet news services showing dead civilians. There’s a big future for that Harold Ramis battlewagon out there.

Read more:, Gary Brecher, The War Nerd

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Add your own

  • 1. karel  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I do not think gadafi saw it coming like sadam.

    I think he spend his energies buying of the europeans without a plan b.

    sadam had a plan b and c. You have got to admire his delicate balancing act and timing to have the fury of hades brewing and maturing just as the occupiers entered with enough durability to outlast them. Decades of war give you that – ask the vietcong.

    Paragua was finished of by a war like this that consumed all the able bodied men for a decade. Old men and virgin brides had to remake the nation…

  • 2. kingtoots  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 11:15 am

    couple of things:
    -I love your column, keep it coming.
    -I think what you were seeing wasn’t a tank but a Self-propelled gun. Can’t be certain because I don’t know what picture you were looking at but the ones I saw on the TeeVee and a couple of wire services were definitely SPs.
    -Again, don’t know specifics and don’t have the time to check but as far as I know, most armoured vehicles, the turret is free running and is held in place with gravity so tipping them will separate the turret. No extra work required.
    – I suspect that what did the SPs in was the 500 pound bomb with the extra accuracy package as you said. I think the tin can opener effect was HE/and/or gas cooking off inside said SP. Again, just speculation on my part.
    – Finally, when Government minders took BBC reporters to the “training facilities” that supposedly didn’t have any munitions, I saw a silkworm on its rails still there but surrounded with ripped metal. So Libyan government forces had at least 1 silkworm (or russian equivalent, didn’t get a long or close look at it).

  • 3. helplesscase  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Don’t know much about military hardware, but according to the Rafale’s wiki page, it can also be outfitted with a GBU-12 Paveway II smart bomb, which is described on some random hardware site as “suitable against small, hardened targets such as battle tanks and other armored vehicles.”

  • 4. kingtoots  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Oops, I see the picture now (don’t know why I didn’t see it before) and it looks the same as the others that I saw. Can’t be totally sure though.

  • 5. Homer Erotic  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Just thought of something: Libya is one of only four countries in the world (the others also being African backwaters) with the dubious distinction of having been conquered by freaking Italy. And you know what they say about Italy: “The only thing worse than the Italian Army is the Italian Navy.”

  • 6. Pingu  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 11:21 am

    When the narcissistic dictators of the 21st century start taking your advice, we’re going to have to go back to investing in human intelligence in a big way, like putting 10 percent of Africa on the CIA payroll. Probably better social policy than sending food trucks anyhow.

  • 7. Mr. Bad  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 11:49 am

    My guess is the ammunition mag exploded, happens pretty often, especially with a shot through the turret roof.

  • 8. Coriolan  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 11:51 am

    You forgot AS-30L missile.

    A 500 pounds armor piercing missile flaunched from Raffale aircraft, which can explain why the turret suffered little damage. The missile detonates a little inside the tank, the turret pops like a champagne cork.

  • 9. john ricker  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    This ends when Qadaffi runs out of ammunition. The embargo will largely be effective and given the lack of fire control on the part of the Libyans they are cutting through some serious ammo. Yeah, some gun runner will make some fat cash off of a few shipments, but it will not make up for the burn rate we are seeing. And when Qadaffi’s supporters/ human shields run out of bullets the swarms for badly trained, but very enthusiastic rebels will overwhelm Qadaffi.

  • 10. ZeroCool90  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Maybe the turret was blown off by the tank’s ammunition exploding from the inside rather than a missile hit.

  • 11. Eddie  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    If you are sure it was a pure Rafale strike then it was AASM. They come in a 125kg version.

    My guess based on the damage would be the Brimstone. But that is carried by the Tornado.

    Video of Brimstone here

  • 12. SVV  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    First time visitor to your site and I’m impressed Gary. I will definitely be returning. I especially like your analysis in this post of effective platforms negating our Western “advanced” weapons. Military folks need to be thinking about scenarios like the trawler hiding a carrier killing missile. That’s a nightmare in so many respects and as far as I know there isn’t a way to counter it.

    I’m not an expert in munitions but couldn’t these AASM smart bombs be downgraded to a 125 kg, delayed fuse armor-penetrating weapon explicitly for busting tanks like this?

  • 13. Eddie  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    A common mistake repeated in all the missile hitting tank videos I have seen is that the tank is empty and un-fueled. Kind of strange considering that most of the time the tank will be carrying as many rounds that it can fit and as much fuel as it can. I’m guessing you don’t need much of a bang to kill a fully loaded tank. All you need is to ignite the ammo and a fuel and you get a big bang.

  • 14. Arto  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Could the damage be from an AGM-65 Maverick? I don’t think that MILANs can be fitted to aircraft, though it doesn’t rule out that a ground-based MILAN shot by either by rebels or unannounced Western troops took the tank out (2REP anyone?)

  • 15. James  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    What do you make of this photo of downed F15, bullet holes?

  • 16. abc123  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Hello war nerd. You don’t seem to understand that an aircraft carrier is designed to stay far away from any potential enemy and constantly in motion. Good luck chasing down an aircraft carrier on the high seas with a trawler…

    These type of war games are high controlled, limiting where the contestants are allowed to move. In fact this was how a Nimitz class aircraft carrier was defeated by an AIP-submarine during another war game, by limiting the aircraft carrier to a very small area where the AIP-sub could easily hunt it down.

    You can’t chase down an aircraft carrier in an AIP-sub or a trawler and the chance of being lucky enough for the aircraft carrier to come to you is next to zero.

    Further more, it’s not like aircraft carriers go alone. There are escort ships that carries a large degree of air-defence capabilities.

    Finally, you seem to think that the Phalanx is meant to deal with saturation of large quantities of missiles by itself. The idea is that the escort ships tries to defeat the threat before they launch the missiles (which is very likely, since carrier strike groups have many highly capable sensors, radars, etc.)

    If they fail, then the SeaRAM is suppose to attempt to defeat the missile, when that fail, then, only then, the Phalanx will make an attempt to defeat the missile, and yes, this attempt is a last ditch effort and is probably not very effective.

    Also, it’s not the munition that blows of the turret of the tank like that, it is the ammo storage inside the tank that, when it explodes inside the tank, will blow the seal between the turret and the chassis. This happens mostly to older Russian tanks that lacks solutions to prevent the ammunition from exploding when the tank is hit.

  • 17. gildasd  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    A couple of 20mm sized AP holes in a wing will not put a F15 in a flat spin (one was documented landing with 3/4 of a wing ripped off). In any case, this would not even happen because F15 are operating above trippleA and 40mm AA, let alone 20mm max altitude.

  • 18. joe  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    It seems the tank suffered an internal ammunition explosion. All the hot pressurized gas that was supposed to propel shells down the barrel instead fills the cabin. The weakest link in the armor is the ball-bearing racetrack around the neck of the tank. You get about a ton of force trying to push the lid off with every psi of overpressure. The lid pops off like a cork. It also appears the back escape hatch was blown off.

    This is the reason the Abrams stores its ammunition in the turret behind blast away panels with the crew protected by a blast wall.

    Perhaps the tank was hit with a 30 mm incendiary anti armor round. such as:

  • 19. Parl  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    If we are talking about the picture in the article that doesn’t much look like a tank. Looks to be a self-propelled 155mm howitzer tube. See:

  • 20. Eddie  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 2:15 pm


    You conveniently leave out that an aircraft carrier is a huge radar target that can be tracked by anyone with a radar. I don’t understand your chase down scenario here. Missiles move at high mach numbers. I’m pretty sure they can catch up with your carrier. You just need to be say 180KM away from the carrier in case you own an Exocet. Same applies if you are in an AIP sub. You would most likely never see that carrier because you don’t need to. You just need to know where it is. The missile will do the rest.

    As far as detecting the missile, I doubt it. It flies just a few meters above the water. Unless you are a few km away from the missile you will never know it’s there.

  • 21. robotslave  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    While I do love all the responses you’ve got from your fellow cameo-aspergers sufferers, I think one might also consider the role that sheer dumb luck plays on an actual live battlefield.

    In particular, you dismiss the bigger boom-makers on the grounds that they’d have done more impressive damage with a direct hit, but despite what they show you on the War News Network, not every bomb crawls up a tank’s tailpipe, and nobody can honestly predict what kind of damage will happen when a humongous bomb goes off merely next to your tank, rather than inside it.

  • 22. CB  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks abc123, we had no idea carriers traveled in carrier groups. There certainly haven’t been any war games where an entire carrier group’s defenses were overwhelmed by small craft, and certainly not one discussed in an article by the War Nerd linked from within this article.

    I used to be on the side of thinking our carriers (implicit: with their escorts) were nigh-invulnerable floating fortresses. Or at least, not vulnerable to any militaries not sophisticated enough to float their own carriers. But over time the defense just sounded more and more desperate. “Oh there’s layers of defense, see.” “You’ll never get close enough to it!” “Um… and neither will the thousand other cheap-ass boats you launch…” “Nope, no way you can overwhelm the most awesome ships ever with a large number of cheap vessels and munitions… nope..”

    I think you’re right about one thing, though: They are *designed* to stay away from potential enemies. “Do” is another thing. Right now we’ve got carriers in the Gulf, and the French have one heading to Libya, that are staying where they are because they assume there’s no threat. The first time a carrier gets sunk, that’ll change real quick.

  • 23. abc123  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    CB: First off, I did mention the war game. I pointed out that those war games are controlled to test certain parameters. Generally controlled in the area which participants are allowed to sail.

    Secondly, I’ve never said anything about invulnerability. In fact I agree that carriers most likely are highly vulnerable to long range shore launched anti-ship missiles, if you can detect the carrier group that is.

    Thirdly, the part about the Phalanx was due to the fact that another Breecher article stated that such a system would quickly run out of ammo due to saturation. This is true, but it was never meant to handle saturation, it was means to catch “strays” as the carrier group were suppressing the enemy.

    Forth, you people started talking about many sinking air craft carriers before the Iraq war and nothing happened. They stay away from potential enemies until the area has been cleared from the primary threats (in this case Iraqi forces). And yes, I do recognize that countries like Iran could attack them in peace time while they are in the gulf, but it is no different than that Iran could use nuclear bombs against US cities. It is something that could trigger a war, but nothing that could be done defensively during a war.

    In fact, everything can be attacked once in peace time, a city, an air craft carrier, a base, it’s virtually impossible to guard against that happens as an opening to a conflict, and you could make the case that there are too many people on board such a ship to risk that, but the question is what happens then, how do you take on carriers in an ongoing conflict?

  • 24. John  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Gotta get a radar lock to fire that Moskit.

    Locking on a carrier with it’s screen is going to need a very sophisticated targeting system to get through the snow being thrown out.

    And then there are the Growlers with synthetic aperture radars that can identify the electronics of the seeker head and fry it from 30,000 feet at the touch of a button.

    It’s not that easy to sink ships with modern EW the argentine successes were ships detached from the fleet screen and generally with their EW switched off for various reasons.

  • 25. postman  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Dear War Nerd,

    it is very easy. There is a massive imagery (photos and videos) fakery project going on regarding Libya in the Mainstream Media. There are loads of pictures and videos which if you look at them, you can say they are totally faked, computer-generated images, simulated CGI crowd scenes, like this tank turret business, or staged happenings filmed in another country. You will not find out what hit the tank, because this is a faked CGI image in the first place. Lots of “rebels battle” images are insulting your intelligence if you look at them using simple common sense or basic military logic.

  • 26. rothko  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Hey postman, you’re an idiot.

  • 27. matt  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    great work as usual, just one minor problem

    “Pilots don’t fire without permission; controllers don’t give permission if there are going to be pictures on the big internet news services showing dead civilians.”

    should be amended to “when the cameras are on”

    for more on this see Collateral Murder.

  • 28. Rob  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    If you click on “WAR NERD” on the blog menu bar above, this article doesn’t show up. It shows the last post as being in January of 2009.

  • 29. Funkystuff  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    It’s possible that France adapted the Franco-German PARS 3 LR to the Rafale, but that’s just conjecture.

    Also, speaking as someone who knows first-hand about carrier battle group operations, the Charles DeGaulle is in very little danger. Yes, the Moskit is a scary scary weapon, but the Libyans have about zero capability when it comes to the over-the-horizon targeting necessary to utilize it properly. Sure, they could just point it blindly out to sea and hope that it finds a target on its own, but it’s more likely to hit a civilian target than it is a warship.
    Also, when these types of weapons have to perform their own searches for their targets, they do this by popping up to around 500 feet to get a bigger picture. At this altitude, they become vulnerable to systems like Aegis which are quite capable of splashing ASM’s – even at high Mach speeds.

  • 30. Eddie  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    @John, abc123

    So your whole argument is that carriers cannot be sunk because they cannot be detected. Wow.

    The technology for detection is moving at a blistering pace. Even technologically retarded nations like Iran have advanced UAV’s that can search large areas of open oceans. Not to mention the fact that carriers launch planes that themselves can be detected or their radar detected. Assuming that the carriers cannot be found is childish.

    Here is an Iranian UAV tracking a US carrier.

  • 31. Eddie  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 11:16 pm


    Whenever i hear solutions involving missiles hitting other missiles I laught out loud. Your Patriot system is a case in point. It has a low chance of hitting a Scud, a missile that is unguided and has a perfectly predictable flight path. If you have problems with a Scud then hitting a missile at low altitude that is designed to have an unpredictable flight path is pretty much out of the question.

  • 32. postman  |  March 24th, 2011 at 12:28 am


    The only difference in our opinions is I can prove my claim, while you will have a hard time proving that I am an idiot.

    If you say there is no newsmedia fakery operation going on, answer three questions:
    1. The rebels are waving the pre-Gaddhafi flag since day one on the protest pictures. Did they keep it in formalin in secret, waiting for better days to come since 1st September 1969, or were their women sewing those flags in secret for weeks 24/7 before the spontaneus uprising?
    2. If the battle pictures are legit, tell me how come the two rebels are alive, hiding behind the firing Katyusha on this picture?:
    3. If the battle pictures are legit, where is the smoke and flame backlash from firing the Strela-2 launcher and rocket on this picture?:

    And I can quote examples till the cows come home. And I can even tell you the how and the why but I refrained so far to post A/4 sized comments.

  • 33. General Dan Quayle  |  March 24th, 2011 at 12:34 am

    The War Nerd blog is like crack with tracers. Like it, centurion, like it.

    Aye, that wreck looks like a Palmaria SPG. And the photos of the F-15E pile is good for an extra $25bn in the next war supplemental.

    Q: who’s re-supplying Qaddafi? Even without half the army taking a better offer, and their equipment with them, ammunition stocks have to be running low.

  • 34. Joey  |  March 24th, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Guess we won’t be needing them old fighter jets no more:,0,377247.story

  • 35. Joey  |  March 24th, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Um… are the “people” we’re “helping” required to stick to the rules of the Geneva Convention? Are we in violation by proxy?

  • 36. mhr  |  March 24th, 2011 at 3:08 am

    Dear War Nerd:
    Les avions effectuent trois types de missions dans le ciel libyen : interdiction aérienne (chasse) pour faire respecter la zone d’exclusion aérienne, reconnaissance et frappes au sol… les armements employés sont des bombes guidées GBU-12 et des A2SM, l’armement air-sol modulaire.

    Armour in the picture is Oto Melara “Palmaria”

    The first customer to order the Palmaria was Libya, with an order for 210.

  • 37. RC  |  March 24th, 2011 at 3:19 am

    “At this altitude, they become vulnerable to systems like Aegis which are quite capable of splashing ASM’s – even at high Mach speeds.”

    Word. This is probably one of the main reasons why Spain is contributing an AEGIS frigate to the effort:

  • 38. Mitchell  |  March 24th, 2011 at 3:35 am

    postman, you should start a blog about this!

  • 39. Marcus  |  March 24th, 2011 at 3:36 am

    Hello, War Nerd

    I have been reading you columns for quite a long time.

    As a french reader, I must thank you for your old anti-french-bashing.

    So I will answer your questions to the best of my knowledge.

    The Rafale cannot launch our small anti-tank weapon (HOT, Milan) because they are wire guided.

    New weapons like the english Brimstone or the german PARS could be certified but the european missile market is quite a mess now. So a definitive anti-tank missile for the french army is not yet chosen.

    The AS-30 was a french laser-guided anti-bunker that could fit the bill but it is to be replaced by the AASM and so was not certified for the Rafale.

    So the culprit here must be the AASM.

    There is a feature in the AASM design that may explain the photograph : it is quite agile for a bomb and propulsed. So the impact angle can be optimized to be as vertical as possible.

    The french army were glad to find during tests that even if the AASM misses a tank by some yards, the turret is blown away by the explosion wave.

    Hope that helps to answer your questions.

    Best wishes


  • 40. Eddie  |  March 24th, 2011 at 5:37 am


    It’s called RAM-jet. Basically by breathing air at very high speeds you can use the pressure of the air itself for your combustion chamber. No need for compressors or any other moving parts. Saves a whole lot of fuel that you can use for forward motion instead.

    We in Europe use it in the MBDA Meteor. It extends the range of the missile and is theoretically very useful in Air-Air missiles.

    Personally I’m not convinced that radar guided missiles are any useful against aircraft. They have never worked in a real world scenario against a serious adversary. It will blow the Libyans out of the air but you will have some issues with it if you want to use it against the Chinese. Perhaps just as well, the Chinese are a cunning and populous foe that should be avoided at all cost. By all means buy there cheep plastic trinkets but do not fight them on their terrain if you can avoid it.

  • 41. Parl  |  March 24th, 2011 at 5:40 am

    @robotslave; a good point, a turret blown clean off is usually the side effect of a secondary explosion of tank’s own ammunition storage. And there is any number of shocks that can potentially cause such a thing.

    Eg: this was caused by a hit from a relatively punny M79 rocket launcher. And this was a land mine kill:

  • 42. Hanko  |  March 24th, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Does anybody know what type the destroyed tank is?

  • 43. franc black  |  March 24th, 2011 at 9:35 am

    “It’s a cheap kit solution to smartening up your dumb gravity bombs, sort of like making your Halo-zombie stepson sit next to a Korean in Algebra.”

    Fuck you make me laugh … despite what you may think of yourself, you are a great person. Keep it up ! Daily Blogs! WOO HOO !!

  • 44. @notpjorourke  |  March 24th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    This tank was almost certainly hit with a hellfire missle. Interesting that the FAF hans’t listed this in their arsenal…

    You seriously overestimate the offensive capabilities of high speed anti-ship missles. First of all a “swarm” attack assumes you have access to a sufficient number of missles AND the command and control to group target them. That’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.

    Even the the Aegis ADS was designed for exactly this scenario and the improvements in CIWS technology has seriouls decreased the hit probability of ASMs. This is especially true to the high speed units like the Mosquito, in fact a high speed missle is far more easily tracked and targeted than a slower sea skimmer that can get lost in sea clutter. The high speed allows quick identification and targeting because multi-phase radars easily pick up the Doppler effect of high speed vehicles.

    You do have to respond very quickly though, thus the use of automated air defense systems like Aegis & CIWS…

  • 45. spectral  |  March 24th, 2011 at 10:38 am

    The first one from the link of post 41. it appears to be T-72, the photo is look like from Iraq.

    The second it seems to me T-54, from what I can see from Bosnia.

  • 46. Mark  |  March 24th, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Just FYI- It wasn’t the French Munitions that blew the turret off that tank. When Russian tanks (which I assume they’re using from the photo) catch on fire, the internal munitions are known to explode with the common effect of blowing off the turret. Thats pretty common knowledge…

  • 47. spectral  |  March 24th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Even any of rockets from weapons such as RPG-7, 27, and particularly RPG-29 or German’s Armbrust hit armor at right angle it will bake the crew and everything in the tank. Those armor-piercing projectiles are filled with cumulative explosives and in hand of well drilled soldier this simple weapons are lethal to any kind of armor.

  • 48. abc123  |  March 24th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Eddie: I actually do agree with you, carriers are most likely very vulnerable. Most likely from UAV/small aircraft detection (satellites have been proven poor at detecting ships) and shore/land fired long range anti-ship cruise missile. Ballistic missiles cannot be used, despite what the war nerd thinks, a ship would simply change course and no ballistic missile could keep up. Ballistic missiles are slaves to their trajectories, even quasi-ballistic missiles are very limited in how much they can alter their course. The Chinese idea was to use ballistic missiles to saturate a large area (the area in with the carrier could go after the missiles had been launch) this proved to expensive.

    I do not, however, think any carrier will be swarmed by cheap munitions or something of that nature. It would probably be done with a single very expensive cruise missile. A missile with lots of speed, good sensors and targeting system, and most importantly, large enough to take out several of the watertight compartments that the hull comprise of.

  • 49. Eddie  |  March 25th, 2011 at 2:04 am


    Ok, then we agree on a lot. The only thing I would disagree with is that the missile needs to be very large and expensive. A standard Exocet would cause immense damage to any carrier. The role of the missile is not to destroy a carrier in one shot. Instead it is to start a process that will in the end lead to the same result. Read about the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. Just like a tank can be completely destroyed by simply causing the internal munitions to detonate, a carrier can be made completely unusable by simply by starting a process that given enough time would lead the crew to wish that it was destroyed in one shot.

    Once a carrier has been located and identified it is a dead duck against any missiles. They can be fired from subs, merchant ships, floating barges, speed boats, from the air(civilian helicopters, planes and so on).

    Despite what you read detecting a missile flying at subsonic speed 2 meters above the ocean is very, very hard. Radars only work in the area of line of sight and due to the curvature of the earth useless at long ranges. Also, the missile itself has a perfect radar avoiding shape. In short, you will be lucky to see it before it’s too late. Once it pops up to get the radar lock on the ship it is flying at very high speed and in an irregular pattern that would make it’s trajectory impossible to guess. Then you have few seconds before the missile buries itself in the guts of the carrier igniting fires and starting a long and very painful process of the crew.

  • 50. fajensen  |  March 25th, 2011 at 6:50 am

    If I was in Ghaddafi’s position and I had scary missile tech, I would not bother with gay stuff like carriers.

    I would instead hit Ghawar, Saudi Arabia.

    Kill the Oil, Kill the economies funding the attack, Enjoy the globalised fireworks as everything grinds to a sudden stop and everyone scramble for other peoples ressources even faster.

    PS: I would probably buy myself some oil futures for the retirement account too, since The Coalition nicked the other funds, it is only fair to replenish it.

  • 51. Eddie  |  March 25th, 2011 at 6:57 am


    By the way. The French airforce have a long tradition of using this approach to anti ship combat. Check out these guys.

    The missile would be flying lower and much faster(the last minute or so of the flight).

  • 52. abc123  |  March 26th, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Eddie: You are right, thanks for the links. Perhaps the next generation of aircraft carriers (if there will be a next generation) will have solar powered UAVs (Helios) that follow them everywhere and detects threats.

    I do not think the carrier is a dead concept though. They are a liability and an asset at the same time. They are too useful not to use regardless if they are vulnerable.

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