By Nick Steadman
SADW is a monthly electronic publication from Nick Steadman Features. Nick, intrepid world traveling reporter for much of the arms industry, files this 40,000 to 50,000 word report once a month to his loyal subscribers. Those lucky ones pay a mere $50 (US) £32.50 (UK) per year for the privilege of getting the hot tips and insights from one of the industry’s insiders. Nick’s unique perspective is globally based, as is his wit. Each issue is full of insight and information for those with an interest in Small Arms, as well as his observations on world travel.
NEW WEAPONS & EQUIPMENT
.303” AMMUNITION: Bremmer Arms in the UK has instructed its ammunition producer MFS in Hungary to tool up for .303” ball ammunition to meet substantial UK target shooter and other markets now that the British military stockpile has been sold off. This ammunition will be brass-cased, Boxer-primed and reloadable. Bremmer’s existing .30-06 own-label ammunition, from the same source, appears to be producing excellent results, with minute-of-angle results claimed even in the company’s two-groove ’03 Springfields. As we write, Bremmer, which is definitely still on the acquisition stump, is still finalising two major deals, one to buy a leading UK name in the gun trade (cited by Shooting Times as Parker-Hale Ltd), the other to acquire the manufacturing rights for a highly innovative military weapon. More later!
.408 CHEYTAC SYSTEM
Dr John Taylor, a Michigan cancer specialist and university professor, is the inventor of the .408 Cheyenne Tactical (CheyTac) cartridge, a wildcat based on the .505 Gibbs case necked down to .408. He recently wrote about this project, which is still very much developmental, in Tactical Shooter magazine. Its primary purpose is long-range sniping, but Taylor also believes it could be an extended-range replacement for 7.62mm NATO in existing GPMGs such as the FN MAG 58, subject to improving the taper of the case. We must confess we are very sceptical about this last aspect, since we would imagine such an up-calibred weapon would be a bear to shoot, and 7.62mm NATO designs might not be up to the task, though the .408 might well make a decent heavy machine gun round.
But there’s also the old chestnut of the military being extremely reluctant to abandon existing NATO-specified ammunition. Mind you, we never thought the .338 would catch on for combat sniping, but it has. The .338 Lapua Magnum has so far been the only current contender in the ‘power gap’ between .300 Win Mag and .50 Browning, and it is derived directly from the US experimental military 8.58x71mm round developed by Research Armament Industries, based on the .416 Rigby case.
Taylor’s philosophy is that even if one could build a .50 BMG system (most of which have hitherto been primarily anti-materiel weapons) that was accurate enough for precision long-range anti-personnel work, it would still be too big and heavy. He initially considered, as Lapua & Accuracy International have done themselves, whether the .338 Lapua Magnum, primarily a weapon for killing people, could also have an anti-materiel role, but correctly observes that Lapua appears to have had no luck so far developing a planned API bullet in .338. Also, that the offensive payload capacity of a .338 bullet is inadequate in any event.
Hence the .408, as a midway point twixt .338 and .50, loaded with a more substantial bullet of up to 500grs. Taylor envisages it as a 2,000 metre cartridge, though we would point out that even some .50 rifle makers admit that unforeseen problems often intrude beyond maybe 1,500m, not least of which is seeing the target clearly enough. The .505 Gibbs cases Taylor has been experimenting with were obtained from the Bertram Bullet Co in Australia, and have reinforced webs to cater for the more substantial operating pressures of the .408. In future MAST Technology in Las Vegas is likely to be the case supplier. Taylor’s long, VLD-style trials bullets are 440gr solids turned from SAE 660 bronze with a short .408” diameter driving band, the remainder of the parallel portion of the projectile a bore-riding .400”.
Predicted performance gives an MV of 2,935 fps and ME of 8,438 ft lbs. Compare this with the respective (all computed) figures for .338 Lap Mag (3,002 fps & 5,019 ft lbs) and .50 BMG (2,700 fps & 12,165 ft lbs). At 1,000m the retained energy computed for the .408 is 3,230 ft lbs, more than double that of the .338, and the advantage is similar at 2,000m (1,254 ft lbs as opposed to 542 for the .338). Taylor’s trials weapon, as yet unfired, incorporates an Anthony Gilkes long magnum receiver, modified by Sea Horse of Michigan and 5 Star GR, complete with a 30” heavy Krieger chrome moly barrel and McMillan stock. It is a five-shot bolt-action repeater which will have a detachable magazine, fully-adjustable Jewell trigger and McArthur PGRS muzzle brake. The scope is a Leupold 32x50mm.
Formal testing of the rifle will be carried out in a couple of months on the 8,000m Camp Grayling artillery range in Michigan. At present Taylor is trying to interest Picatinny Arsenal in the .408 as a new proposal to meet future US military sniping requirements. He is also, separately, still hoping to pursue the GPMG aspects.
STICKY FOAM IS QUIETLY BURIED
“A few years ago the Marine Corps used sticky foam in their training videos for Somalia. Now sticky foam keeps rearing its ugly head. We used it to reinforce barriers, but that was where the benefits stopped. It has no other application. It has too many problems”. (Col A Mazzara, USMC, director of the US joint non-lethal weapons directorate, quoted in National Defense).
ACCU-COUNTER ‘BLACK BOX’ FOR SIG/SAUER PISTOLS
The Accu-Counter device, built into a special right-hand grip panel for SIG/Sauer pistols, has been shown before, but only (we recall) as a round counter, though we also remember the developers were promising additional functions. Well, now they’re available – the Accu-Counter II also records the following data, for each shot fired:-
– Time (to the millisecond)
– Compass angle of shot (to one degree)
– Angle of elevation or depression
Data on up to 5,000 rounds can be stored and downloaded later to a PC or laptop by infrared link. The manufacturer can also supply the necessary software to track & monitor all the firearms in a police department. Accu-Counter is an undeniably neat little item, with only minimal external protrusion from the normal grip configuration, so standard holsters can still be used. Also, we understand the logic of storing weapon usage information to assist in preventative maintenance programmes. Indeed, Heckler & Koch has developed an electronic device for the same purpose, for installation in the pistol grip of a G3 rifle. However, an exact count is not essential even for this purpose, and decent unit records of training sessions should be able to provide the same indications as to when parts should be replaced.
Nor do we believe that a simple round-counter should be relied upon by a user to determine when he should reload. Or that users should even allow themselves to worry about how many rounds they have left, unless ammunition is in short supply. They should fire as many shots as are needed and reload or top up their magazines according to the exigencies of the situation. It is an indication of the dire state of litigation in the USA that Accu-Counter should feel it worthwhile including the new functions, and they appear to be somewhat ‘over the top’. But if this is the way things are indeed going, we guess some police departments will feel compelled to avail themselves of this extra data to cover their rears. Also, the likelihood nowadays is that once national agencies get wind of technologies like this, (as with gun locks and the upcoming Smart Gun ideas) it’s entirely likely such devices may end up being officially specified, drastically limiting user choice.
(Accu-Counter, Tel +1(606)342-9001, 1-800-894-2228, Fax +1(606)342-8874, E-mail: Accucount1@aol.com)
MARSHAL ARMS PISTOL GOES TO SEP
The US army ARDEC at Picatinny Arsenal has submitted the 9mm Marshal Arms Inc pistol/sub-compact SMG project (see previous issues) for consideration under the army/USMC Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP). Marshal has also signed up Nehemiah Sirkis, the peripatetic Israeli firearms designer, as a consultant. Sirkis – who is behind several Israeli and US pistol designs, was also responsible for the bullpupped M14 sniper rifle and completed development of the caseless Voere VEC rifle – is apparently interested in designing the Marshal production prototypes.
CAMO COVERS FOR AUG STOCKS EXPLAINED
One of our Australian sources checked out the camouflage cloth stock cover we earlier reported seeing with Australian troops on a 5.56mm AUG. Apparently it doesn’t feature in any official lists and is assumed to be a local initiative, but various other equipment items such as web belt pads and padded vests apparently started the same way. Our source points out that orders have been issued in Australia forbidding units from painting the stocks of their F-88 AUGs, since some paints can attack the polymer material. As to the rationale behind the cloth cover, our source says the AUG stock quickly gets very hot when exposed to the sun, and a cover of some kind makes sense. Living in a chilly climate, we hadn’t immediately thought of that.
M139 VOLCANO MINE
Writing in ‘World Disarm’, a publication we haven’t seen before, one Steve Wright from the Omega Foundation says that the US military discussed the future of non-lethal weapons at a conference in London late last year. We note no-one invited us! Amongst the largely familiar litany of US devices Wright lists, he describes the ‘M139 Volcano mine which projects a net which can cover the size of a football field laced with either razor blades or other ‘immobilisation enhancers’’, and vortex ring guns with ‘quick changes between lethal and non-lethal operations’.
We can’t say we’ve heard of either of these before, at least described in these terms. Nor can we imagine what a ‘vortex ring gun’ might be, other than perhaps the much underestimated Ring Airfoil Grenade (RAG), an Abe Flatau design (like PMC’s Tubular copper bullet), possibly reintroduced from reserve stocks, where it’s been languishing for years.
Grizzled readers may remember the RAG was a muzzle-launched doughnut-form projectile with an airfoil-shaped leading edge. Chief characteristic was its stable flight path, largely unaffected by drop. There was a plain version for simple kinetic energy impact, plus a teargas-enhanced Sting RAG variant. But no – a note in Jane’s IDR suggests the Vortex Ring Gun or VRG is something entirely different; it ‘produces combustion-driven ring vortices that can be focused on to a specific individual’. Jane’s goes on to say it could be used to deliver human incapacitation agents or chemical compounds to corrode or disable vehicles.
This approach sounds excessively complex for the projected tasks; besides, we understood that most of the earlier non-lethal chemical/biological ideas for attacking vehicles, planes & other transportation had been abandoned because of concerns about the acceptability of any new chem/bio agents under international conventions. As to the M139 Volcano, we don’t have a lot of time for nets as a class, since they don’t immobilise very well and are intrinsically full of holes, so they offer no shootback or stab prevention either. Lacing them with ‘razor blades’ is a new one on us, but it sounds likely to serve only to enrage the nettee, like quite a few other new riot control ideas. Having your captive emerge looking as if he’s just had a close encounter with a 1960s Glasgow razor gang is not most people’s definition of a light touch.
.22LR AUG & 40MM ADI DEVELOPMENTS
Australian sources report that ADI (Australian Defence Industries) has developed a Steyr AUG training rifle chambered for .22 rimfire, which the company hopes it will be able to sell to the Australian forces. We’re also told the Australian military is looking for three thousand 40mm grenade launchers, and that ADI has produced two adaptations of the R/M Equipment Co’s 40mm M203 PI quick-detach launcher system in anticipation of this bid.
The first apparently utilises an R/M mounting adapter clamped around the barrel (but with noticeable clearance) and the forward vertical handgrip removed. Our sources say this approach rather leaves the M203 trigger hanging in mid-air. The second is apparently an ADI in-house modification, which local sources say has already cost A$0.25m to develop. This utilises what is thought to be an aluminium mounting rail for the M203 PI, bolted to a large, two-piece assembly around the front of the AUG’s ‘trigger guard’, the whole thing apparently held together by a large stainless bolt. The forward AUG handgrip is again removed and the mounting rail is relieved for the barrel release. The whole affair is closer to the barrel axis than the R/M rail but the ergonomics of the mounting block around the ‘trigger guard’ are reportedly poor.
Of course, to be fair, the AUG was never designed to accommodate an M203, so any modification is likely to look a bit queer. Bullpups are a particular problem in this respect. But the real question is probably not so much whether the 40mm launcher can be reasonably integrated with the rifle, but whether it should be. Combo systems, like a 5.56mm rifle with a bolt-on launcher, are invariably unwieldy and tend to destroy the balance of the host weapon. The current 5.56/20mm Objective Individual Combat Weapon is much better integrated than its predecessors, but will likewise inevitably prove too heavy and ungainly.
We’re unashamed fans of the 40mm option (as opposed to rifle grenades, the only practical alternative), but not at the expense of other considerations, and we feel it’s a great pity that multishot launchers have been marginalised and eschewed by most Western armies in favour of compromises such as the M203. As far as we can elicit, the US army’s adoption of the M203 was as much about saving the dedicated grenadier posts in infantry units as ensuring better grenade-launching facilities.
CIENER’s NEW M1911 KIT
SHOT Business reported that Jonathan Ciener in Florida has a new $249 ‘Platinum Cup’ .22LR conversion kit for the M1911A1 pistol, which includes Millett adjustable sights, a flat sighting plane on the slide and other competition features.
(Contact: JA Ciener, 8700 Commerce St, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920, Tel (407)868-2200)
ALL CHANGE IN INDONESIA (ROUND ONE)
May’s big world story (barring India & Pakistan’s newly-rekindled interest in irradiating each other) was the departure of Indonesia’s 76-year-old and thoroughly out-of-touch President Suharto, and his replacement – albeit only on a temporary basis – by Dr Jusuf Habibie, best known for his establishment of IPTN, the Indonesian aircraft manufacturer.
It was massed student protests that finally persuaded a reluctant Suharto to see the light. The authorities reported some 550 people killed in the serious rioting and looting that preceded his departure, and the Chinese commercial community again bore the brunt of the mob’s anger, as is often the case in SE Asian civil unrest. However, the local Human Rights Commission claims the death toll was 1,188 and other evidence suggests at least 100 women may possibly have been raped, with others sexually abused.
There were a number of incidents in which ball ammunition was reportedly fired at protestors, though it was very clear the way the wind was blowing when we began to see footage of troops fraternising with students. Suharto had already lost it.
Troops on the street appeared to be armed almost exclusively with Bandung–produced 5.56mm Belgian FNC rifles, though the motorcycle-mounted riot police (some masked), pictured early during the riots, each bike with a second armed officer riding pillion, all appeared to have 5.56mm Steyr AUGs. Reports also appeared of injuries from ‘rubber bullets’, including at least one person struck in the eye, and an unconfirmed account said that two students lying on the ground were shot by troops.
A Times item quoted an Opposition MP as saying “The soldiers were drunk. They were red in the face and they were acting crazy. After the students felldown, they were kicking them and shouting ‘you must die, you must die’.”
Habibie is now expected to call free elections within a year or so, and those Indonesians who were opposed to Suharto are clearly hoping to ensure that neither Habibie (who is – rightly or wrongly – seen as a Suharto crony) nor any of the generals waiting in the wings get the presidential post.
Should there be any undue delay in elections or if the outcome is sufficiently unpopular, we could easily see things in Indonesia deteriorate once more, so the present lull should for now be regarded as just that.
Meanwhile, The Engineer said that the delivery of 16 more Hawk aircraft to Indonesia by British Aerospace, starting early in 1999, would be dependant on how things shaped up over there in the intervening period. The phrase ‘we told you so’ kind of springs to mind.
UK MERCENARY PROVIDERS TO BE REGULATED?
Sunday Business suggested that the UK Home Office might extend its upcoming legislation on regulating the private security industry to include ‘private military companies’ (the new ‘in’ term for defence consultancies supplying arms & mercenaries abroad). The possibility of legislation was apparently prompted by the Sandline affair.
One likely outcome could be a system of registration. However, the Times suggested in a later report that the UK Foreign Office was also considering the subject and might be aiming to set up a system along South African lines, whereby mercenary activities are now to be directly regulated, and providers will require a government license before they can finalize any overseas assistance contracts. We must say this is rather a pious hope – countries or regimes seeking outside military assistance will very often feature on someone’s embargo list.
So, if provision of private troops is effectively brought under the same licensing system as government-to-government arms deals, the raison d’etre of private military companies is seriously challenged. In all likelihood, theywill in future be compelled simply to base themselves in less fussy countries where no specific controls exist.
RO STILL IN THE 9MM BUSINESS
While the UK MOD’s offshore award of its last major 9mm ammunition order to IMI in Israel was a significant blow to Royal Ordnance, the RO Radway Green ammunition plant is definitely not giving up the ghost on its police 9mm ammunition venture.
Far from it. In fact it reports its share of this market is actually growing, though slowly, and it is also continuing to sell 9mm ball to overseas customers.
HIRTENBERG 9MM EMB CARTRIDGE
Hirtenberger in Austria has a new 9mm EMB (Expansions-Monoblockgeschoss) cartridge with monobloc gilding metal expanding bullet. It is designed specifically to penetrate to a depth of approx 12” in 10% ballistic gelatine (which it achieves), with good expansion, while still retaining the ability to defeat hard targets, including angled car windscreens. The bullet design is redolent of the Federal Hydra-Shok. Imagine that – before swaging the ogive – the bullet is an open metal cylinder with a solid base. In the centre of the cylinder is a large-diameter post extending most of the way to the base of the bullet, with fractional clearance around it.
Then imagine the ogive being formed – this closes the outer walls at the tip, against the post. Finally, weakening cuts in the outer surface of the ogive promote petaling & thus ‘expansion’. There you have it. Bullet weight is 77 grs and MV 1,465 fps. ME is 367 ft lbs. Recovered bullet diameter is approx 11 – 13.8mm in gelatine tests, less (eg 9.2mm) when fired through automobile steel or windshields (eg 9.7mm). Its expansion mechanism is the peeling back of the outer portion of the bullet into six petals about 110 degrees away from the central post.
Gelatine penetration is not conspicuously degraded by heavy clothing. Shot through angled glass, subsequent gelatine penetration is increased to approx 21”, presumably due to inhibition of the expansion mechanism by impact damage.
The EMB round is said to feed reliably in a range of typical service semi-auto pistols; it will also function popular SMGs. And the light bullet is also said to reduce felt recoil. 50 metre accuracy is to 55mm with ten rounds from a NATO 20cm test barrel. Another version in .40 S&W calibre is apparently planned. Students of the BATF list of ‘armour piercing’ ammunition will know that this document zeroes in on solid metal bullets, so a question mark currently hangs over whether the EMB would be saleable in the USA other than to police & government agencies.
Hirtenberg already makes the 9mm Defender, which was probably intended as the Austrian answer to the MEN QD and Dynamit Nobel Action rounds. Defender is a gilding-metal, partition-design bullet weighing 124grs with a large nose cavity and lead fillers front and rear. It penetrates about 50% deeper (ie at least 18”) in 10% gelatine and is largely unaffected by intervening cover such as automobile steel.
INDUSTRY & FOREIGN NEWS
COLT BUYING SACO DEFENSE
We were rather surprised to learn that Duchossois Industries Inc, owners of Saco Defense in Maine, had reached preliminary agreement with the New Colt Holding Corporation to sell Saco to Colt’s Manufacturing Company, a deal expected to be wrapped up by 31 Aug 98. No price was stated. Assuming it goes through as planned, this will be a de facto first step in the strategic consolidation of the US small arms industry.
Saco, which apparently dates from 1813, manufactures 7.62mm NATO M60 and .50 Browning machine guns, plus 40mm automatic grenade launchers, including the new lightweight Striker. More recently it has also taken on the production of Weatherby sporting rifles and some of the Magnum Research Desert Eagle pistols.
Colt, which dates from 1836, has been owned since Sep 94 by an investor group led by Zilkha & Company, a private investment firm based in New York. Clearly, Colt is moving on Saco to boost its military product line, which has suffered ever since the award of the main US government M16A2 contract to FN Manufacturing Inc.
However, the US army is now adopted the FNMI 7.62mm NATO M240 in place of the Saco M60, and the dependable old Browning M2 lasts forever. Also, Saco’s US army 40mm Mk19 grenade launcher contracts will run out eventually. On this basis the main benefit to Colt would appear to be the lightweight 40mm Striker, though this is – as yet – an unproven design. But Saco has additionally had the lightweight Fifty/.50 machine gun up its sleeve for some years – could Colt be planning to bring this weapon back to life?
Currently Saco Defense is part of the Chamberlain Manufacturing Co, a subsidiary of Duchossois, which also owns Thrall Car Manufacturing Co, the Chamberlain Group (consumer products) and Arlington International Racecourse Inc. This latest Colt move follows its unsuccessful attempt to acquire FN Herstal from GIAT Industries, a purchase which would have given it control not only of FN Manufacturing but also Browning USA, Browning Europe and the US Repeating Arms Co (Winchester weapons). The proof of the pudding in this or any other consolidation is not so much who takes over whom, but what the new entity does with its enlarged resources.
It will be interesting to see how Colt approaches marketing of the Saco products it will be getting, and whether it can indeed carve itself out a bigger military niche as a result. Our personal view would be that any strategic US small arms regrouping still really needs to include FNMI.
SAM CUMMINGS (INTERARMS) DIES
On 29 Apr 98, the characterful billionaire boss of Interarms (and former CIA staffer) Sam Cummings, passed away in Monaco, aged 79 years (some accounts said 71). Earlier reports suggested he’d been ill.
Sam was truly one of the grand old men of the small arms business. Despite the fact that he was claimed by America, Cummings was actually a naturalised British citizen, but – curiously – the only proper UK obituary we saw at the time was in The Economist. Cummings’ death may well mark the end of an era, with his Manchester Interarms warehouse demolished in 1997 to make way for a local road scheme, and Walther in Germany now seeking to buy Interarms USA.
We remember the man best for his famous comment that there’s really no such thing as a private arms deal – you’ll usually find a government behind it somewhere. However the Economist gave us another to remember with a grin: ‘Castro was handy with an Armalite’, a reference to a CIA-funded sale of guns to Castro’s then guerrilla forces.
The report, which described Sam as ‘king of the arms trade’ also included a telling comment that’s worth repeating: ‘The market in arms is remarkably free. Britain prohibits its citizens from owning arms more lethal than a catapult, but beyond the English Channel it is everyone for himself.’ A pretty fair assessment. USA Today later noted that Cummings’ daughter Susan received a 60-day sentence and a $2,500 fine in a Virginia court on 13 May 98 for voluntary manslaughter. She had reportedly admitted shooting her Argentinean boyfriend but claimed self-defence, testifying that he had slashed her and threatened to kill her.
PERSONAL PROTECTION WEAPONS IN ULSTER
On a related subject, it emerged in a letter from an Ulster subscriber to Target Sports magazine that the personal protection firearms certificates issued to those judged to be at bodily risk in the province allow for a weapon plus 25 rounds of ammunition, and no further ammunition purchases are permitted.
These weapons cannot normally be used for target shooting and may not be taken outside the six counties of Northern Ireland. There are some 11,000 personal protection certificates held by private individuals in the province. Officially there are none issued on the UK mainland, but this is clearly untrue. We recall years ago it was reported that a retired Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police had one, and we can’t believe only ex-police chiefs are considered to be at risk.
MYSTERY 9mm ROUND
Reports emerged of a 7.62mm NATO case necked up to 9mm and with a .32 blank inserted in the rear. This sounded very much like a 9mm spotter rifle cartridge for the LAW 80 or SMAW anti-armour weapons, but customarily those rounds have a .22 Hornet case in the back – this is propelled rearwards out of the 7.62mm case on firing, to provide the recocking impulse for the self-loading spotter rifle.
We consulted with Royal Ordnance, who make the LAW80 & SMAW spotter cartridges to the original design, but we were that MAST Technology in Las Vegas won the McDonnell Douglas SMAW contract for this ammunition some three years ago. It seemed possible therefore that the US manufacturer might have redesigned the spotter round for SMAW utilising a .32 blank. But when we asked, MAST stated that it was still using the .22 Hornet case, so the mystery remains unresolved. If readers have any ideas, please let us know.
PNG HOTTING UP
An item in the Wall Street Journal Europe said that Huli tribesmen in Papua New Guinea have always fought each other in clan wars, with bows, spears & daggers, but now things are getting nastier due to an influx of M16 rifles & other modern weapons. But in Port Moresby, the capital, it’s said to be even dicier, with the city clocking up 46% of the country’s crime. Apparently guns flow along the Highlands Highway which runs through several PNG provinces. In mid-Apr 98, press reports said the military armoury at Taurama, near Port Moresby, was raided for the second time and a ‘substantial number’ of weapons, believed to include M16 rifles, was stolen.
In March 98 the New Guinea parliament voted to overturn a complete ban on civilian possession of firearms, agreed in 1996, which would have come into force in late 1999. The March vote was carried 80:2. Anyone who is a ‘fit person’ may now still own weapons. Motivation for the move was the continuing violence problem in PNG and the traditional right of self-defence.
MAJOR UK POLICE MP5 BUY?
There’s a rumour doing the rounds on the Web that a major UK police buy of 9mm MP5 carbines is going down, with quantities maybe in four figures but no-one is saying anything. We’re still trying to verify, but no-one wants to talk.
SNIPERS OUT OF WORK?
A Guardian photo showed the infamous IRA traffic sign in Crossmaglen, Northern Ireland, intended as a warning to British troops, which used to read ‘Sniper at Work’. But since the pre-Easter 98 Ulster Agreement, it’s been quietly changed to read ‘Sniper: Job Seeking’. We wonder what they’ll put on their CVs? Or if they’ll just draw benefit while it unfolds as to whether the 60 pages of good intentions in the Northern Ireland Agreement can be translated into anything concrete, ‘pro’ votes notwithstanding.
EX-YUGO AKs: BOOBY-TRAP WARNING
A curious little item in IWM (Switzerland) said that some Kalashnikov magazines smuggled into France & Belgium from the former Yugoslavia had been found to be booby-trapped with a 35g charge of explosive. Apparently the suspect magazines come pre-loaded with five rounds of 7.62x39mm ammunition. If the magazine is placed in a weapon and a round is loaded or removed the charge will reportedly be detonated. Likewise if further rounds are loaded into it.
There are said to have been casualties already caused by these magazines in both France & Belgium; the original warning was apparently circulated by the French interior ministry in March 98. Whilst caution is always the watchword, we recall a not dissimilar warning went the rounds of all UK county police forces after Desert Storm, only that time it related to booby-trapped AK rifles. It was widely thought at the time that since no-one had actually come across a booby-trapped AK, this was more likely to be a ruse cooked up by the authorities to discourage souvenir hunters, so you must arrive at your own judgement.
THAILAND – LETHAL INJECTION IN LIEU OF MACHINE GUN FIRE?
AP reported that after 80 years of executing people by machine gun fire (those the King didn’t pardon first), the Thai prison authorities had now suggested a switch to US-style lethal injection.
UK MOD SEEKS AMMO LINKER & 7.62MM TRACER
The MOD in the UK is seeking expressions of interest in a contract to link 30 million rounds of surplus cartoned 7.62mm NATO blank ammunition, 15m rounds each in FY 98/99 and FY 99/00. Presumably they want to fire it all off in GPMGs. There is a separate requirement for new-production 7.62mm NATO tracer ammunition (presumably 5m rounds in all), to be linked 4B/1T with ball ammunition provided by the MOD. 25 million rounds of belted 4B/1T are needed, 10m rounds in FY 98/99 and 15m rounds in 99/00. Deadline for interest in either or both deals is 20 Jul 98. Contact: Tel (0117)913-1241, Fax(0117)913-1915.
ALTERNATIVES TO ANTI-PERSONNEL MINES
Defense News focused on Canada’s plans for alternatives to landmines. These include a quantity of Coyote armoured recce vehicles with specialised long-range surveillance suites, manually or electronically-initiated command-detonated weapons, trip flares, grenade-launchers, entanglement meshes, ground sensors & new artillery, mortar and aircraft-delivered munitions. But so far no funds have been voted for any new purchases. SAR
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N11 (August 1998)