Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Flushing out terrorists can be lot easier: HEMRL

Flushing out terrorists can be lot easier: HEMRL

Sun, Sep 28 02:15 AM

84-mm incendiary ammunition can penetrate brick wall, create high temperature effects and suffocating fumes; was demonstrated to army in June

Operations to flush out terror suspects from hideouts need not witness any unnecessary spilling of blood and if scientists at the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) in Pune are to be believed, the bloodshed in the recent shootout between the Delhi police and terrorists could have been avoided.

That is, if the army had taken into its arsenal the ammunition developed by the HEMRL for such situations, say the scientists. They had demonstrated the capabilities of the 84-mm incendiary ammunition to the army around three months back.

The ammunition is designed to penetrate a brick wall, create high temperature effects and produce suffocating fumes, the combined effect of which can force the enemy including any anti-national elements holed up inside a room or a building to come out.

In fact, the ammunition had been developed specifically on the request of the army to be used against terrorists. Its capabilities had also been demonstrated to Lt General Rajender Singh, Director-General, Artillery, in June at HEMRL. But ever since, there has been silence from the army, said Dr RK Pandey, joint director, HEMRL.

"We have perfected it to the last detail and all tests have been carried out. It's the result of two years of R&D by our team. We demonstrated its capabilities to the Director General, Artillery, when he came here in June. He was impressed and said it was just what the army needed. After that, there has been no word from the army with the whole thing is presumably caught in procedural delays," Pandey said.

"The sanction should not really take so long because the ammunition has been proven and tested and is ready for supply. In the recent case of terrorist crossfire in Delhi, the police could have well benefited from this technique and the death of the police officer could have been avoided and perhaps the terrorists could have been caught alive," said Dr Amarjeet Singh, associate director, HEMRL, the leader of the product development team.

According to Singh, the material used in the ammunition is similar to what is used for making matchsticks, that is red phosphorous, which is modified by adding other incendiary materials. The simultaneous effect of high temperature and suffocating fumes is created by an unusual composition combining a high temperature producing metal and suffocating fume producing chemical dispersed in a polymeric binder.

"This ammunition can be effectively used to counter terrorists in urban areas without causing collateral damage to the populace and installations in the surroundings. Also, the production technology of such a unique composition can be readily transferred to ordnance factories," added Pandey.

Earlier, a 38-mm shell was developed two years ago by HEMRL and given to the Border Security Force. This, said Pandey, is being extensively used by the BSF to counter insurgency and flush out ant-national elements from their hideouts in the northern states, particularly Jammu and Kashmir.

This shell contains a 250-gm composition and can penetrate wooden doors, windows and barricades and one-inch-thick wooden planks from a distance of 60-70 metre, as opposed to the latest 84-mm munition that has a three-kg projectile with composition payload of 1.2 kg and a maximum range of 300 metre.

"Since this is heavier ammunition it should be ideally used by the army and paramilitary forces while the earlier lower one can be used by BSF. In fact even the 38-mm shell could have been used in the Delhi encounter," said Singh.

The HEMRL scientist are hopeful that the procedural delays would soon be overcome and orders would be placed for the 84-mm ammunition that has now acquired significance with a shift in the terrorist activities from border areas to heavily populated cities.

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