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You know things are bad when the greatest military in the world -- which spends untold billions every year on R&D for the most technologically sophisticated hardware ever seen -- sends troops into combat who have to protect themselves with sand and water.

A Stryker crew had filled hundreds of five-gallon water bottles with a mixture of sand and water and strapped them inside the vehicle's slat armor (the steel 'birdcage' designed to pre-detonate an RPG warhead) in an effort to protect themselves against an EFP attack.

"This is what [soldiers] are doing to try to stop it
, and I'm trying to tell them: We tested this, it doesn't work," Fuller explained.

EFPs are explosively formed penetrators. They pierce armor and are responsible for many of the deaths inflicted on our troops in Iraq. Basically, an EFP is a piece of metal that is hurled by a bomb that penetrates armor and kills.

So, to protect themselves against these EFPs, troops fill water bottles with sand and water and surround their vehicles with them, hoping that the hot metal slug from the EFP will be slowed as it passes through the water and sand.

Colonel Peter Fuller, the Army's Stryker Brigade Combat Team project manager, called that an "urban legend" and said it doesn't work.

But maybe it's not such an urban legend.

Tests carried out by the Forsvarets Institute in Norway have shown water is an effective barrier to high velocity bullets: they tumble and lose energy in it just like they do when they hit the body. So the institute is patenting (WO 2004/40228) a vehicle with several large flat watertight tanks built into its sides.

Each tank is thin, like a domestic radiator, and made from plastics or light metal and with a sandwich of several energy absorbing carbon-reinforced fibre sheets stacked inside. When empty, the sandwiches give no protection, but add very little weight. Before a risky journey, the tanks are filled with water. The institute reports that bullets from a rifle are easily stopped by the combination of fibre sheets and water.

So, water can stop a rifle slug. But can it stop an EFP slug? Remains to be seen, I guess.

But we probably won't find out any time soon because the military says it is an urban legend.

Fuller says the Army is going to provide new and improved armor for those Strykers.

Instead of 'urban legend' armor, the Army is speeding new Stryker upgrades to the field, including an EFP protection kit and ballistic shields that will go around the hatches instead of sandbags. Those empty water bottles, on the other hand, will have to be recycled.

Yeah, right.

The check's in the mail. I'll respect you in the morning. I'm from the Pentagon and I'm here to help.

Originally posted to quaoar on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 07:20 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Use MREs instead of water and sand...warmed food (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quaoar, Rogneid, myrealname, mpwife

      We could scrape off and donate the tons hardened gum from  under school seats and movie theater seats.  I'm fairly naive, but I suspect that stuff could contain high explosive blasts better than sand...or at least absorb the brunt in a huge multi-colored bubble first.

      If their guys can blend into the crowds, why can't ours?
      Drive armored garbage trucks through Baghdad, add a few RPG launchers and heavy machine guns.  Takes care two kinds of policing at once.  Drive water trucks, gas trucks, portable generator trucks, EMT evacuation vehicles and Iraqis might start viewing us as useful again.

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 07:41:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quaoar, Bronx59, mpwife

    This has some good information.  Thanks.  I'd certainly be willing to try sand and water, if I was in Iraq in one of those LAVs.  My question, though, is about weight.  Would the added weight cause problems with maneuverability and speed?

  •  Mythbusters did an episode (6+ / 0-)

    on the Discovery Channel about firing into water. Although the parameters of their tests don't quite match what you're talking about here, the results were, IMHO, instructive. Water is very effective at absorbing the momentum of a projectile.

    I'm not saying it will stop the EFP's completely, but any mitigation of their destructive force could mean the difference between a soldier dying and surviving. Well worth the effort if you ask me.

    Nor am I saying we should ignore the issue. The fact that troops are forced into this predicament of relying on "urban legends" for their protection is an indictment of the entire military chain of command, right up to the "deciderer" himself.

    "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." - Albert Einstein

    by scoff0165 on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 08:00:28 AM PDT

    •  I remember that episode (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rogneid, scoff0165

      A bit surprising, but you have to remember that they were firing into pools of water.

      I am afraid the troops containers just will not be enough.

    •  IIRC (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      EFPs aren't the same as bullets really. They form a cone of explosive that's designed to burst through heavy armor.

      Water may be effective against high velocity bullets, but that's not the same as an EFP.

      Zapp Brannigan: Stop exploding, you cowards!

      by LnGrrrR on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 09:20:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Water might not stop an EFP (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But if it slows it down enough and causes it to tumble it might be enough to prevent it from piercing the vehicle's armor.

        I wonder if it would have any effect on the projectile if it was trying to penetrate water that had an electrical current running through it.

        qui tacet consentire

        by quaoar on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 09:34:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  EFP aka shaped charges (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quaoar, scoff0165

          form jets of copper plasma, or maybe focuses it into a small point, which thenn cuts through hardened steel like a hot knife through butter.
          I would imagine you would need 12" of water to slow it down, which would be horrible for weight and vehicle handling, if movable at all.
          Modern ex Soviet tanks use counter explosives to reflect back or disrupt the plasma jet, reactive armour.
          The British Army are testing an electrical discharge system to neutralise the plasma jets with a discharge, this seems to be the best method and light weight.

          •  The Norwegian design (0+ / 0-)

            is sort of like a radiator, with layers of "energy absorbing carbon-reinforced fibre sheets" stacked inside and then water is poured around them. The sheets, I imagine, reduce the weight and increase the stopping power.

            There is a link to the article on this design in the diary.

            qui tacet consentire

            by quaoar on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 02:37:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Not to belittle the point of the diary but (6+ / 0-)

    standard armor pretty much stops rife bullets, but not always an EFP.  Let's face it, thats what an EFP is designed to do, penetrate armor.  Build better armor, somebody builds a better penetrator, you buld better armor.  It's a never ending cycle.  The tendency for troops to use anything handy to try and "up-armor" their vehicles is understandable and as old as armored vehicles itself. Take a look at old pictures of armor from WWII, sandbags, extra steel, tool boxes, even segments of track fastened to the side.  Gotta carry that stuff anyway, why not put it between you and the enemy. It may not always work, but psychologically, do something, anything to give yourself a little edge.  The downside is if it begins to downgrade the performace of the vehicle, and that is the argument the brass and pentagon will use to discourage/prohibit modification (like that will stop our guys from doing it as soon as they turn their backs, and good for the troops).  Frankly if in-field modificiations take a few miles/years off the life of the vehicle, so be it.  vehicles can be replaced, people can't (except in the numbers game the higher ups play)

    •  There was an NatLampoon spoof (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quaoar, dsteffen, Snarcalita

      of a sporting magizine once.  At the top of the ad page was an ad for cow armor (for hunting season).  At the bottom of the page was an ad for armor piercing bullets.

      Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them - T Paine

      by breezeview on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 08:44:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Will have to point this out to my husband (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As someone who was a bomb tech, he'd be able to either confirm or debunk whether this works or not.  I have seen where bomb squads have used sand bags to contain the area before.  

    "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

    by mpwife on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 08:10:40 AM PDT

    •  only works on small stuff (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quaoar, mpwife

      and only really designed to slow and reflect it upwards.
      A gallon of water weighs 8lb, a cubic yard of soil weighs 1 ton !
      Desperation forces them to try such methods, its a wake up call to get the hell out of dodge, if they have such substandard equipment.

      •  Unfortunately (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        They've had substandard equipment ever since going over there and we've sat and watched the false promises of our lawmakers all this time.

        "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

        by mpwife on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 10:44:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Strange obsession (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:

    What if our imperial troops were invulnerable? Would this be a good thing? Would it be a good thing for the next country we invade?

    We are producing an increasing number of useful goods and services for increasingly useless people. -- Ivan Illich

    by ANKOSS on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 08:32:27 AM PDT

    •  You seem to welcome death on our troops (0+ / 0-)

      so I am troll rating you.

      •  I disagree. ANKOSS asks a legitimate question. (0+ / 0-)

        Look at our behavior as the "world's only superpower" and imagine what would restrain us if we could have invaded Iraq while being guaranteed no US casualties. Imagine a war where the only dead were enemy soldiers and civilians. For us, no flag-draped caskets, no wounded, no Walter Reed scandal.

        Then think how Wall Street would react to such a war.

        ANKOSS, good question.

      •  You appear to be unable to see shades of gray (0+ / 0-)

        The support the troops monomania is puzzling to me. I don't support the illegal occupation of Iraq, so how can I support the troops who are doing it? I don't want anybody to die, but I recognize that body armor is not the most significant issue. People obsessing over body armor are exhibiting a kind of tunnel vision that enables them to avoid the larger issue of our culpability for the death and destruction we are wreaking in Iraq.

        Are the lives of American soldiers more important than the lives of the people of Iraq? If so, how many Iraqi  lives are worth the life of one American soldier?

        We are producing an increasing number of useful goods and services for increasingly useless people. -- Ivan Illich

        by ANKOSS on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 11:46:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nice (0+ / 0-)

          You say having our troops being 'invulnerable' is a bad thing.

          So you welcome their deaths.

          There is no gray in what you said.

          I stand by my troll rating.

          And to answer your question and this will piss people off, the lives of our soldiers are more important then an Iraqis.

          •  I stand by my comment (0+ / 0-)

            Making our troops invulnerable and invincible would unleash an era of horror on the world such as has never before been seen. Think of Cortez and the Incas. We are no better.

            I do not welcome the deaths of American soldiers, I simply recognize the probable consequences of making our military invincible.

            Since you consider the lives of our soldiers more important than the lives of the Iraqis, please tell me how many Iraqi lives the life of one American soldier is worth. Is is 10, 100, 1 million, or an unlimited number?

            We are producing an increasing number of useful goods and services for increasingly useless people. -- Ivan Illich

            by ANKOSS on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 08:51:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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