Weapons: You Gotta Love That Little Nuisance

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October 17,2008:  Afghanistan is still awash in weapons left over from the 1980s Russian invasion. One of the more common, and still widely used, of these is the B-12 unguided rocket. The is a 42 pound, 107mm, 33 inch long, Russian designed rocket that is very popular with terrorists. This rocket has a range of about six kilometers and has three pounds of explosives in its warhead. Designed to be fired, from a launcher, in salvoes of dozens at a time, it is only good at hitting large targets. But in Afghanistan it is fired individually, with little effect, at military bases. These attacks, like the Palestinian use of similar (homemade) rockets in Gaza against southern Israel, do little damage. But these attacks are popular the users, as well as those in the target area (because the rockets rarely hit anything).

For example, over the last three years, someone has been firing individual BM-12s at Kandahar (in southern Afghanistan) airport. This is actually a military base, staffed largely by 13,500 NATO troops and civilians. About five BM-12s are fired each month, causing little property damage, and only a few minor injuries a month (sometimes from diving for cover when the air raid alert goes off). It could be one guy, with a cache of these old rockets, waging his own war against the "foreign invaders." Or maybe some drug lord or Taliban chieftain is paying the guy, or a small group, for each rocket they can land inside the sprawling air base. In military terms, this is called "harassing fire," and is used to annoy the enemy.

This 107mm design has been copied by many nations, and is very popular with guerillas and terrorists because of its small size and portability.

 


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