THE NEED FOR GOOD WEAPONS
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor BATTLESPACE
‘When great forces assemble for battle it is obvious that the armies must be properly equipped and be supplied with the best possible weapons and equipment. We need not look far back in history to see what happens when this is NOT done. And in this respect it must forever redound to our shame that we sent our soldiers into this most modern war with weapons and equipment that were quite inadequate; we have only ourselves to blame for the disasters that early overtook us in the field. Surely we must never let this happen again; nor will we. And we can show our earnestness in this respect during this ‘Salute the Soldier’ Campaign. (Source: The Memoirs of Field Marshall Montgomery, Collins 1958)
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have ushered in anew dimension to warfare, the Improvised Explosive Device or IED. The IED first appeared in numbers as a petrol bomb or Molotov Cocktail in the Second World War, the IRA refined the petrol bomb into a very effective device that could disable a vehicle at medium range using throwing techniques developed on the cricket field. These devices could be hidden in clothing and thrown at a moment’s notice directly into the vehicle or under it causing fire and disablement. Added protection techniques developed by the British Army caused these devices to become more cumbersome and therefore less portable so the pipe bomb was developed quickly followed by home-made SHAPED charges which caused a major uparmouring of Police and Army vehicles. The Editor was involved in this process in 1980 at SMC Engineering. Hotspur Armoured Products had u-armoured the Humber Pigs repurchased from a Belgian scrap dealer at great price. Once delivered there was a new requirement for the existing 4×4 land Rovers to be upgraded to carry more armour. To enable this Hotspur contracted with SMC to develop the 6×6 Sandringham 6 which became the Hotspur 6×6 Armoured Land Rover. Later threats required the Army to purchase some heavier U.S. vehicles.
The 90s ushered in the requirement for fat deployable light forces so the trend then was to lighten vehicles either using no armour and added armament as deployed in the Land Rover WIMIC and other fat attack vehicles and HMMVs. The long war in Africa against the ANC ushered in greater use of anti-vehicle mines and South Africa became a world leader in anti-mine vehicles using the ‘V’ shaped hull techniques and heavier armour. This has spawned a number of companies and products such as Force Protection in the USA, whose technology is derived from a South African ballistics expert. The U.S. saw the value of this technology after a number of attacks in Iraq and arranged for the technology to be transferred to Force Protection Inc. Force Protection, Inc. manufactures ballistic- and mine-protected vehicles through its wholly owned subsidiary. These specialty vehicles are protected against landmines, hostile fire, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs, commonly referred to as roadside bombs). Force Protection’s mine and ballistic protection technology is among the most advanced in the world. The vehicles are manufactured outside Charleston, S.C.
The late nineties created the remote detonation of IEDs using mobile phone technology, and thus this new threat was born. Heavily armoured vehicles including MBTs and APCs had been designed to defeat shaped charges, tungsten rod and overhead attacks thus new effective products such as Chobham Armour and Explosive Reactive Armour ERA were developed to defeat such attacks. ERA came about through threats met by the Israeli Army against its many foes whilst Chobham arose from the T-62 Cold War threat. As well as developing new armoured protection against this new threat a number of new electronic systems had to be develop to disable the signals emitted by these mobile phones. Firms such as TRL Technology, who had developed similar systems for Northern Ireland and Selex ha