Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Saturday, March 29, 2003

Iraq, Testing Ground for US Hi-tech Weapons

Since the beginning of the US-led war in Iraq, TV viewers across the globe have been presented with astonishing scenes in Baghdad: sky-high columns of smoke rising from buildings hit by US bombs and missiles.


Since the beginning of the US-led war in Iraq, TV viewers across the globe have been presented with astonishing scenes in Baghdad: sky-high columns of smoke rising from buildings hit by US bombs and missiles.

Some military analysts here believe that the United States is using newly developed hi-tech weapons including some that have never been tested in a real battle in the country, a move turning Iraq into a testing ground for its hi-tech weaponry.

According to US media reports, Pentagon has used or might use a long list of new weapons US defense contractors have developed over the 12 years after the Gulf War. New weapons in the American arsenal include:

The E-bomb, capable of wiping out electronic equipment with a huge burst of electrical energy into the atmosphere, is one of the newest weapons the United States has developed. The sudden explosion of the bomb results in an electromagnetic pulse or EMP, working like a lightening that knocks out TV or computer, only on a citywide scale.

The circuits and wiring in electrical devices act like antennas and pick up the invisible EMP wave as it moves through the air. The affected electronics will either become temporarily disabled or completely overloaded and destroyed by the excess energy.

"Virtually any solid state device is going to go, whether it's a cell phone or a 6 million US dollar computer," said Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst with ABC News, a major US TV networks.

Delivered by cruise missiles, the E-bombs can fire millions of watts of energy in microwaves, destroying computers, radios, telephones, and almost anything that uses transistors, circuits, and wiring.

US media believe that Iraqi army's underground command-and-control stations would be high on the list of targets of the E-bombs.

Sensor Fuzed Weapons
In the 1991 Gulf War, US pilots hunting Iraqi tanks often flew at low altitudes. Today, US pilots may not have to fly such risky missions because they can drop Sensor Fuzed Weapons when they are cruising at a high altitude out of the reach of Iraqi anti-aircraft guns.

When dropped above groups of tanks, the bomb distributes several smaller bomblets that float toward earth on parachutes. Each fires four hockey puck-sized "skeet" that can home in on vehicles using laser seekers, according to Steve Butler, engineering director of the Air Armaments Center at Eglin Air Force Base near Pensacola, Florida. He said one aircraft toting 30Sensor Fuzed Weapons can puncture and blow up vehicles across 30 acres.

Jake Swinson, a spokesman for Air Armaments Center, told reporters that the bombs were available in the 1999 Kosovo war in the former Yugoslavia, but US forces never found an appropriate concentration of Serbian armor on which to test them.

Local media analysts believe Pentagon may test the weapons this time in the ongoing war in Iraq, if they can locate a large concentration of Iraqi tanks on the desert.

Agent Defeat Bombs
Agent Defeat is a kind of penetrating bombs developed by the Pentagon to attack storage facilities, usually deep underground tunnels, of chemical and biological agents, without letting the fatal material leaking into the atmosphere.

Martinage and Andrew Koch of Jane's Information Group said that the precision-guided "agent defeat" bombs are supposed to puncture the warheads with titanium rods, and then incinerate the agents inside without allowing vapor to escape.

The Pentagon has been saying that Iraq has not disarmed itself of weapons of mass destruction and suggesting that the Iraqis may use chemical and biological weapons against US-led coalition troops. If the Pentagon has any information on suspected storage facilities of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq, apparently it will slam the facilities with Agent Defeat bombs.

Laser Weapons
The United States also has developed advanced laser weapons, which are designed to blind opponents or disable weapons' firing optics, and are equipped its Army with it.

Rupert Pengelley, technical editor of Jane's Information Group, was quoted by an Associated Press report as saying that the laser weapons also might see their first use by US forces in Iraq. The US Army equipped its Bradley Fighting Vehicles with laser weapons in the 1991 Gulf War, but they were never used, the report said, quoting sources in the Federation of American Scientists.

Human Rights Watch urged a ban on laser arms in 1995, calling it "unnecessarily cruel and injurious." But media quoted Pengelleyas saying that the US military, which has been developing lasers for roles that include missile defense and air-ground attacks, believes it "can now use this in a fitting and legal manner on the battlefield."

Digitalized Armored Vehicles
Military experts said that many conventional weapons now used by US soldiers in Iraq bear resemblance to those they used 12 years ago. But under the superficial resemblance lies the remarkable improvement made to raise their targeting accuracy, firing power and communications capability.

Abrams main battle tanks are one example. With little change in appearance, today's M-1A2 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles are equipped with computerized-mapping systems that permit the crew to know precisely where they are, see the whole terrain, coordinate their targets and control fire distribution.

"Over radio, just finding where everybody was used to take 75 percent of the time," a Knight Ridder Newspapers report quoted Lieutenant Colonel Dan Baggio of the US Army as saying.

The US Army's 4th Infantry Division, now flying to the Gulf region to reinforce US troops already there, is called the first digitalized division of the US Army, because it is equipped with the improved tanks and armored vehicles.

Today, even the ordinary soldier of the US Army may be more effective than his Desert Storm counterpart. The soldier who might have worn night-vision goggles in 1991 now might be equipped with goggles with house sensors, which can detect the heat of a human body in the night.

Like what the US media concluded, the technological advance over the past 12 years has transformed the entire US military.

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