Infantry: March 2, 2001


The British Army has asked for bids on an Infantry Anti-Structures Weapon which could be used to destroy bunkers, buildings, and fortifications. British infantry today must use either the Milan anti-tank missile or the LAW-80 anti-tank rocket for such targets, and neither of these weapons is really suited for the task. The new IASW is to weigh 10kg, have a range of at least 150m, be carried and fired by one man, must penetrate and explode inside a typical bunker, and troops must be able to fire it from inside a building. (The Milan and LAW-80 have too much backblast to be fired from inside a building.) The British are looking for an off-the-shelf weapon with a complete training program. In a surprise move, the British said they would consider a thermobaric weapon. These are advanced fuel-air explosives, and a small rocket warhead can produce the effect of a 155mm artillery shell. The thermobaric warhead disperses a fuel aerosol and then detonates it, producing a considerable blast. The Russians are the most pervasive user of these weapons, having found them to be the key to fighting inside Grozny (Chechnya). Human rights groups criticize these weapons as they produce more casualties, destroy property, and have a greater chance of causing civilian casualties.--Stephen V Cole


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