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bitmasher's picture
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Depleted Uranium and M1 Tanks

I'm posting this simply because I thought it was amazing. A few weeks back the wall street journal ran an article about safety testing on depleted uranium (DU) balistics.

DU is dense, heavy, and according to the article has "60% of the radioactivity" of naturally occuring uranium ore. Because of these properties the military uses it to harden anti-tank rounds. Plus some M1's are outfitted with a DU "flack jacket" of sorts that coats the external metal of the tank.

Here was the part that blew me away. The pentagon sited a case during desert storm where an M1 was taken on by 3 Iraqi tanks (some how the M1 got seperated from its squad). The Iraqi tanks shot at the M1 but the shots bounced off because Iraq does not have hardened rounds. The M1 then proceeded to quickly destory 2 of the Iraqi tanks w/ depleted rounds. Here is the real kicker; the final Iraqi tank hid behind a sand dune, but was still destroyed because the M1 captain fired though the dune with a DU round.

I found the last statement particularly amazing.

expatriate's picture
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Depleted Uranium and M1 Tanks

I didn't see the article. The key question is how much dune it shot through. If he hit a bit low and went through the crest of the dune, it might not be that much.

DU is nearly twice as dense as lead, which makes it great for punching through armor, as well as for armor plating in applications that can handle the weight. Arguments about safety are generally charged for political reasons. Yes, it's radioactive, but only slightly so. You could sit in a room full of the stuff and only get about as much radiation as an old fashioned TV. The only real danger is if you ingest it somehow. I've handled DU before; safety precautions consisted of wearing gloves to avoid getting any DU dust on your hands and then wiping your eyes, nose, mouth, etc.

saskie's picture
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Depleted Uranium and M1 Tanks

The story is true - the M1 got stuck in sand and they were waiting for a recovery vehicle while the rest pushed on ahead. They sighted on the one behind the dune using thermal imaging so it couldn't have been very much sand to punch through...still impressive though

bitmasher's picture
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Depleted Uranium and M1 Tanks

The story was in the "B or C" section within the last month. The focus of the story was about the long term safety of DU.

Apparently their was a tank captain that had unfortunately taken a friendly fire DU round during desert storm. The impact destoried his tank and killed at least one of his men. The captain survived but had a good deal of tiny DUfragments in body. The fragments couldn't be removed so military doctors have, year after year, run batteries of tests on the captain to see if their were any ill effects from the DU. None had been noted yet in this case.

The Pentagon noted that they had "other materials" confused? in the works if DU should be phased out, although all evidence suggested their was no safety hazard from DU. Unless of course it is glazed on a rocket and pointed at you....

What I really pondered upon reading this story, was how hopeless life must seem if your in the other guys (non-DU) tank....

expatriate's picture
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Depleted Uranium and M1 Tanks

"Hopeless" is right. The poor saps had to deal with A-10s firing 30mm DU at them from the air, 500 lb laser guided bombs picking them off, cluster bombs tearing up whole areas, plus hellfire and TOW missiles -- all before coming within shooting range of tank that outclasses theirs in every way, including crew.

If I was a bad guy I'd rather be an infantryman in the army any day before I'd sit in a death trap with treads.

bitmasher's picture
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Depleted Uranium and M1 Tanks

Yeah good point about the A-10's, etc... Makes it easy to understand why deserting was a common end game for Iraqi troops.

At one time, I knew a guy that was considering being an Apache pilot. It was a tough choice for him because he really wanted to be a pilot, but the survival stats for Apaches weren't the best. Loaded to the hilt, but slow moving.

expatriate's picture
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Depleted Uranium and M1 Tanks

Quote:


Loaded to the hilt, but slow moving.

I bet you see a lot of those types on guided hunts in Colorado.

bitmasher's picture
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Depleted Uranium and M1 Tanks

Yeah they are the first to get nullified by gorilla style deer-merc attacks.

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