Friday, March 31, 2006

700 tonne explosive

Reading this article over at US to test 700 tonne explosive in the desert outside Las Vegas. Not knowing what a tonne is, I looked it up. A tonne is a metric ton, 1000 kilograms. So, doing the math, the explosive would be 700,000 kilograms, or 1,540,000 pounds of explosive.

Great Golly Gosh! That is one hell of a lot of explosives.

I've got to call bullshit on this one. How in the world are they going to move 1.5 million pounds of explosive, much less detonate it?
"We also have -- are you ready for this - a 700-tonne explosively formed charge that we're going to be putting in a tunnel in Nevada," he said.
Anyone here familiar with shaped charges? I am.

Shaped charges are used to penetrate armor. Tank penetrators take two forms, the kinetic energy rounds normally called SABOT rounds, and shaped charges, normally called HEAT rounds. The both work well, but differently and tank crewmen can choose between them to complete a mission. Shaped charges work by funneling the energy of the explosion onto a small portion of the target. The shaped charge sets up a plasma wave and cuts through the armor. The science is much more technical, but you get the idea
."And that represents to us the largest single explosive that we could imagine doing conventionally to solve that problem," he said.
What problem? A five pound shaped charge will penetrate all known vehicle armor currently used by our adversaries. I can see using a larger charge to penetrate bunkers and buildings, but 1.5 million pounds? Seems like overkill to me.
The aim is to measure the effect of the blast on hard granite structures, he said.
And to determine how much standoff is needed to remain safe. I think anything under a couple of miles might be considered Danger Close.

Of course, the reported underground nuclear program in Iran probably doesn't ahve anything at all to do with this. Just pure science, trying to decide how much of X explosive it takes to penetrate Y feet of granite. Purely coincidental, I'm sure.

I think this report is bullshit, but then again, if it isn't, I'm glad these guys are on our side.

Oh, and someone might ought to let Las Vegas know what is going on.

Hat tip to the Rottweiler.


Anonymous said...

700 tonne = 771.617918 short tons

a coal car can carry about 120 tons of coal

That's about 6 and a half railroad cars if it's about as bulky as coal. Trains with 160 cars are common everyday things.

I don't see this as unmanageable amount of explosive.

Pawpaw said...

Okay, granted, we can haul it in a coal car. Hell, we could fill a train with composition B-4 and create a hell of a hole.

But, from a military standpoint, how are you going to deliver a weapon with that much explosive in it? A weapon that size is no good unless you can get it to the target, and the largest plane in the inventory, the wonderful C-5 Galaxy, can only haul something over 100 tons.

This might be great science, and I applaud the research, but dammit.... how ya gonna deliver it?

Rivrdog said...

I think you're all missing the point. There are computer equivalents of conventional explosive to nuclear. These have been some of the first large data banks, were run up on Univacs in the Dark Ages in the 50's.

What they are doing with this super-explosive is simulating a nuke. By using 700 metric tons, the simulation will be a useful fraction of the actual nuclear explosive.

It's also a "maskikrovka". I expect by now that small nuclear explosives have been developed that have little if any surface signature. Even if a little radiation DID leak out of the Iranian smoking hole, we would say that it was their nuke material and our "conventional" mega-bomb that did it.

Might fool a few people.

I think the tactic to be used on these underground installations will be to hand-haul in a suitcase nuke by some SpecFor troops and detonate it in the underground chamber. It would be about a kiloton.