Astrolite liquid land mines

Discussion in 'Weapons, Equipment & Rations' started by IndependentBoffin, May 1, 2011.

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  1. I found a fascinating read last night about a very interesting liquid land mine concept using Astrolite. Astrolite is the only known liquid explosive that can be used to wet the ground and remain viable to detonate a few days later, even after rain on a previous day (see attached picture).

    Astrolite G can be made from a reaction of 2 parts by weight ammonium nitrate with 1 part by weight of anhydrous hydrazine (done in a fume hood due to the copious amounts of ammonia gas evolved), while aluminised versions also exist, e.g. Astrolite A-1-5 with 20% by weight >100 mesh aluminium powder.

    Astrolite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Does anyone know if these were actually used by the military at any degree or if this application is in reality just a technological curiosity? Presumably not used by the UK in recent history, because of the Ottawa Treaty.

    Hydrazine of course is extremely toxic, costly and difficult to procure, the toxicity sufficiently so that even national space agencies get twitchy around it. So don't worry - Terry won't be getting his hands on this!

    Attached Files:

  2. Yes and hydrazine is horrible stuff on its own. Not the type of material you want to leak or leech onto flesh. I believe a certain aircraft uses up to 16Kg of it for starting purposes.
  3. Is this the gunge that SOE used to spread on roads in France to blow up trucks in WW2?
  4. The aircraft that .338 lapua refers to is the F16, which actually uses it for the emergency power system, not for starting. The Lightning used Avpin for starting, which is a monofuel with interesting properties. So interesting that the stuff was stored in its own building a long way from everyone and everthing else.

    The Astrolite sounds interesting because hydrazine spills are normally washed away with large amounts of water; the addition of the ammonium nitrate, which is highly soluble in water, appears to make a difference.

    I very much doubt that anyone used Astolite in WWII, certainly not Partisans, saboteurs or secret agents. They were content with conventional plastic exlosives.
  5. I stand corrected Driligaf. My understanding of the Astrolite family is that in general terms it is most useful when used as a paste. I don’t think that much of the work on this material is best discussed on open forum, irrespective of what is available on line.
  6. I think you will find that MACV SOG either experimented with this or used it for prisoner snatches on the Ho Chi Minh trail during the vietnam war
    (See SOG-The Secret War Of America's Commandos In Vietnam" - John L Plaster (Autobiography).)

  7. Suppose you have a buried bunker you want to destroy as a soldier on the ground without the support of air-dropped bunker busting bombs.

    If you think intuitively about it, if you mixed in a given quantity of a liquid explosive with the soil and set it off, it should be much more effective than the same mass of an alternative explosive as plastic explosive bricks or cast in a metal casing. The reason for this is that if the target is buried underground, the brisance of higher performance solid explosives like HMX is not going to shatter anything given the shock attenuating aggregate media between your explosive and the bunker.

    So the main target defeat mechanism you'd be going for will be heave to crush the bunker. If a liquid explosive is mixed in with the soil, you'd get much better heave than you would with solid explosives on the surface or even (inconveniently) drilled into boreholes. This is because for the former you have excellent coupling between the explosive and the soil, whereas in the latter you have separate phases of explosive and soil with shock reflections at the interface and densification of air gaps between the soil particles.

    I haven't done any tests to confirm my line of reasoning (haha what will the neighbours think?!) so I may stand to be corrected :)
  8. Erm... this probably is best not discussed on an open forum but bunker defeat munitions already exist that work along more pushing lines than relying on brisance. I'm sure if you think about you'll get it or with a little research it'll become clear.

    On the subject of liquid explosives the only widely used one I can think of is the fill for russian PFM-1 AP mines, wouldn't work without a det though.
  9. Folks as I work alone I have absolutely no idea what is classified or not.

    By the same token as I am usually in my desk, lab or workshop and have no prior soldiering experience the more practical side of things is what Arrse has helped me out a lot with.

    So my point is that is if it secret (hard to think I can come up with anything secret by myself as a lone inventor with frankly the kitchen sink as "facilities") then fine we won't talk about it anymore. But please don't be hasty (not that I'm saying you are, just in general) and immediately pull out the secret card because I learn a lot by discussions on Arrse.
  10. Two issues worth thinking about. One is of course the potential classification on any current work being done or exploited by Government or business. The other is that in open forum those who may wish to use knowledge to do harm MAY find some of what is discussed useful in their attempt to construct devices.

    The ability to separate what is junk and what is useful on the internet is what separates those who have formal training and those who don’t. Far safer to keep it that way.
  11. For the former, from a business perspective some aspects of my existing and future products must be revealed for manufacturing outsourcing and marketing reasons. Again as a lone individual I have absolutely no guidance on what I can and can't say.

    For the latter, frankly, history has shown that Terry tends to innovate around the implementation of simple devices and not do much legwork in developing e.g. laser guided missiles. Even Hamas with all their funding from nebulous sources (relatively wealthy compared to basement terrorists) thankfully do not bother with developing their own sophisticated weapons, but what they can improvise (e.g. their dodgy ballistic rockets) or buy off the shelf (Kornets).

    I don't have any formal military training but can separate the junk/useful stuff on the internet based on universal physical principles, common sense, consensus among different sources or source credibility. Formal academic training I do have and have already maxed that out.

    One decision I made when I decided to venture out on my own as an entrepreneur is that I can be ruled by fear and keep my nose down, stay employed in a large defence company, give all patents to them, toe the line, get a mortgage, retire and basically take no risk throughout life.

    But then I decided we only have one life and it is too short to be a slave to circumstance. So I thought screw it, I'll bear the risk risk and try to succeed as an entrepreneur. So you see, by nature I am very averse to concepts of pre-emption based on presumption. If something causes a hazard then I'd like to see evidence that it does. Otherwise any non-evidence based fear mongering is not my cup of tea, frankly (I don't think you're doing that - I'm just saying this because I feel some of you are scratching your head trying to figure me out).
  12. All terrorist organisations have some people who can sort out the junk from the 'useful', often however due to the way these organisations are set up the practicalities of manufacturing does not get to the 'foot soldiers'. An example of this was the attempted attack of Glasgow airport by otherwise well educated and intelligent individuals.

    Although you are confident that you have sorted out much of the published material available you still have little understanding of the tactical aspects of such munitions. Unfortunately that happens to come two ways: formal training and experience on the ground. As history has shown, something that looks like a winner on the drawing board turns out to be disastrous on the ground.

    It must be said, I do appreciate the situation you find yourself in however you must understand the reluctance of many on this forum to divulge information. Further, as I am sure you well know, there are many ways of parting a feline from its coat.
  13. I'm not trying to play the secret card and I wish you luck in your experiments. I actually quite enjoy discussing this kind of thing but I am very wary of accidentally revealing information to potential enemies. I suspect you only have good intentions (although in reality you could be anybody) but in this setting anyone with an internet connection can read our discussions. You say that as a lone inventor with a kitchen sink you can't come up with anything secret, maybe maybe not, but things achievable by small numbers of people with limited facilities are actually particularly sensitive given the nature of the threats we face.

    Some areas I and others will happily discuss others we won't/shouldn't.
  14. If you've no idea about what is and what is not class, take advice from those who do, IB.
  15. Frankly with the MoD trying to leverage its scarce funding these days and engage industry, you'll be surprised what is and isn't secret anymore.

    For example I have a document from DSD Whitehall saying that the invention whose production route was part funded by them and my company has mastered (spontaneously combustible very reactive shaped charge liners, and the stabilisation of them during storage) is unclassified. Basically excellent news from a sales point of view (subject to export licenses, ofc).