Blow Pipe -- how effective was it?

#1
Had a chat with some one last week who served in the South Atlantic event and suggested that Blow Pipe was a great success with at least one Argentinian 'kill' to its credit. My recollection of the system in 1980 ish (a 10 min demo by my FOO) was that it was cumbersome, dangerous, inaccurate and generally a waste of space. Did it actually hit anything in its career and when did it disappear?.
 
#2
Had a chat with some one last week who served in the South Atlantic event and suggested that Blow Pipe was a great success with at least one Argentinian 'kill' to its credit. My recollection of the system in 1980 ish (a 10 min demo by my FOO) was that it was cumbersome, dangerous, inaccurate and generally a waste of space. Did it actually hit anything in its career and when did it disappear?.
A Bdr I knew was medically downgraded after firing one in the FI campaign - I THINK he scored a kill but cannot confirm. It was guided to its target by the operator so inaccuracy was an operator problem. Special training dart systems were issued to allow the operator to train keeping on target when the missile left the launcher and the weight and CoG changed.

Edited to add - the Bdr was a fecking good bloke and should have made RSM and then commissioned.
 
#3
#4
It required a fair amount of operator training, but was quite a potent weapon for the size. Its bad press is a bit unfair, as it was never really used in its intended role - as a point defence system against oncoming targets. Had the Cold War kicked off, I think it would have done ok - particularly against helis.
 
#6
The Gunners in 83 and 84 were allowed to fire off the ones the Argies left behind.

We were allowed to play on the stimulator up on BYRON Hights as there was a chance to win a shot with a real one.
There was a site "draw" and one of the RAF chefs one the chance to go down to fire off one real one.

he was fiing from a trench and the booster thingy went off early and blew him out the tench and the missile shot off and buried itself in the peat,started a fucin huge fire and the rest of the time was spent trying to put said fire out.

I did feel sorry for the gunners tho, as it was winter both times they were the air cover and we had 20 hrs of daylight at the time . Stgging on with a blowpipe and a Gimpy must have been geat fun - not.
 
#7
In 79/80ish, I was putting up 81mm Illum as targets for Blowpipe. They then flew a skeet as a target. Don't know why. If they couldn't get anywhere near a slow-moving, hot, bright object dangling from a parachute, what chance did they stand againt a truly-moving target?
 
#9
I would say it depended on which poison was used on the tip. Some tribes in the Amazon and Sumatra still use them to great effect.
A very cheap and effective weapon .
 
#10
It's deployment with the mujahideen in Afghanistan [circa 1983-4]was unsuccessful.
Neither the training nor the cumbersome nature of firing the missile and then guiding onto target gained the confidence of the afghans.
Stinger was subsequently deployed with far greater acceptance and success.
I understand that Stinger was also deployed to the F.I.
 
#11
It's deployment with the mujahideen in Afghanistan [circa 1983-4]was unsuccessful.
Neither the training nor the cumbersome nature of firing the missile and then guiding onto target gained the confidence of the afghans.
Stinger was subsequently deployed with far greater acceptance and success.
I understand that Stinger was also deployed to the F.I.
Used by them IIRC. Didn't Andy McNab write something about a load of them going to the States for training on the Stinger. A gobby instructor came in larging it, because he fired a live shot at a drone once a year, where as everyone else was only allowed to use the simulator.

He was taken down a peg or two by the member of them who had shot down a jet with one in the Falklands :D

According to the wiki, Blowpipe was designed as a SAM for subs ?!

Blowpipe was developed as a SAM for submarines, fitted as a cluster of four missiles into a mast that could be raised from the submarine's conning tower under the name Submarine Launched Airflight Missile (SLAM) trialled on HMS Aeneas (P427) in 1972.
 
#12
I remember being shown a video of Blowpipe by an RA recruitment team comprising a Lt , Capt and Major in 1979 .
The video showed a missile bringing down a Meteor.
When I asked whether it had brought down anything more modern than the Meteor the Lt referred the question to the Capt who referred it to the Major. He could confirm any other kills .
 

Travelgall

LE
Kit Reviewer
#13
In 79/80ish, If they couldn't get anywhere near a slow-moving, hot, bright object dangling from a parachute, what chance did they stand againt a truly-moving target?
Note this coment is discussing something lost in the mists of time...

Not bad for a first generation Anti Aircraft missile though. If I remember correctly it had the advantage over Stinger in that it couldn't be decoyed by flares. I fired it on a simulator but it wasn't very user friendly, from memory the controller worked the opposite way - i.e. you move the botton left and it goes right. They ditched MCLOS for SACLOS pretty quickly.
 
#14
I've got to be fair in my comments, though. The unit I was supporting had recently re-roled from 25 pdr to Blowpipe. It was their final shoot with the 25 pdr and possibly their first live shoot with Blowpipe.
 
#15
I suspect all AD systems are better on the range than against a manouvring enemy. Rapier was sold as a "hiittile" with kill probabilities over 50%. Any system relying on operator skill is likely to be downgraded in battle.

Two bits of trivia to add to this thread...

1. Two chums were marooned in St Kilda when the Falklands kicked off. They thought it would be a wizard wheeze to send a signal to the world on 1st April 1982 saying that due to flash blindness Blowpip[e operators needed to keep their eyes closed for the 1st three seconds of flight.

2. A gunner AD officer based at Woolwich commanding a training troop on holiday in Pakistan in 1986 was offered a lot of money to help the mujahadeen to make Blowpipe work.
 
#16
The Mujahideen reported that it was too complicated to operate and too cumbersome to be used effectively as a hit and "run" weapon. Especially when working in pairs or 4's to increase the chance of a hit.
 
#17
Blowpipe was an excellent bit of kit as can be determined by all the overseas exports to first rate military nations. Stinger by comparison was rubbish as, again can be judged by its lack of exports when compared with Blowpipe. If my memory serves me right the boys from Hereford were miffed, in the FI, when some cnut forgot to pack their Blowpipes and they had to acquire some Stingers instead. I might have got this wrong as I have not been taking all my tablets recently because of all this hot weather we have been having
 
#18
I am serving with an LE Major who shot down an Argie Skyhawk with a Blowpipe as a Gunner from the deck of a merchantman in Bomb Alley in '82. This is cold fact and indisputable.

The Blowpipe was a more complicated system than Stinger and relied on the operator for guidance. This man-in-the-loop made the missile far more difficult to decoy but did incur a significant training burden - an issue for guerillas but not so much for a Cold War army of professional soldiers. It is attributed with several fast-jet hits in the Falklands conflict, including an RN Harrier (from an Argie Blowpipe).

As first generation the system was bulky, complicated and reliant on then current battery technology. However it spawned Javelin MCCL and then S15 which became potent CAD point defence systems. Strarstreak/HVM took this to new limits of accuracy but IMHO was over optimised for AH, thus losing some of S15s flexibility and potency against other air and ground target sets. The softer launch of S15 and the slower speed of flight also made it a better shoulder launched system.

Operator-guided missiles are still far more difficult to detect and to decoy. By attacking head on as opposed to being heat seaking, tail chasers they give you a chance of hitting the target or deterring the attack before weapon release as opposed to a revenge attack (if your still alive!). They also assist in preventing fratricide, as long as the operator's aircraft recognition is up to scratch.

Red eye or stinger are (slightly) shorter range fire and forget weapon sustems that require very little operator training. However, MOD decided that it would rather not have every grunt, gun-bunny, driver and cook letting loose at her precious aircraft in time of conflict and would rather leave it to the professionals!

uqfegd

pp
 
#20
I once had a long conversation with a Gunner IG (Instructor in Gunnery) who had done a full tour on Benbecula in the seventies, and had witnessed many firings of all sorts of things.! His opinion was that Blowpipe was a good weapon in the right hands. He rated BP over both Stinger and Strela (SA 7) for two reasons:

1. Ability to engage incoming targets.
2. Size and capability of the warhead. The BP had a much larger warhead than the other two, with a proximity fuze. Hits on target drones with Stinger and Strela usually only ended up with punching a hole in the tailpipe or heat source. The BP warhead was usually fatal.

His main emphasis was however that performace was really down to the firer, and that BP firers were born not made! From observation, his opinion was that the best BP shot was usually the battery drunk and there was little correlation between simulator training and actual performace. Poor shots would contantly correct during flight, a good shots were "almost ballistic". For untrained people, Stinger and Strela were probably better...

We had a long discussion as to the reason for this, and we thought there may have been a correlation between flying a supersonic missile with your thumb, and long hours of practice on the pinball/fruit machine...

We thought a research project would be interesting, but decided we would never get the funding!
 

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