ArabNews: Another Day of Fire, Pain and Death

Or, Robert Fisk is Still an Idiot

BAGHDAD, 9 April 2003 — Day 20 of America’s war for the “liberation” of Iraq was another day of fire, pain and death. It started with an attack by two A-10 jets which danced in the air like acrobats, tipping on one wing, sliding down the sky to turn on another, and spraying burning phosphorus into the skies to mislead heat-seeking missiles before turning their cannons on a government ministry and plastering it with depleted uranium shells. The day ended in blood-streaked hospital corridors and with three foreign correspondents dead and five wounded.

Actually, the A-10 fires both DU (depleted uranium) and HE (High Explosive) shells from the autocannon. Because there are few tanks in Baghdad, it is more than able to handle them with Hellfire missiles and save the cannon for soft targets. When strafing targets like lightly armored vehicles and buildings, HE is preferred. All of the informed reports I have seen say that the A-10s are being loaded with HE only (which only makes sense.)

The A-10s passed my bedroom window, so close I could see the cockpit perspex, with their trail of stars dripping from their wingtips, a magical, dangerous performance fit for any air show, however infernal its intent. But when they turned their DU shells — intended for use against heavy armor — against the already wrecked Iraqi Ministry for Planning, the effect was awesome. The A-10’s cannon-fire sounds like heavy wooden furniture being moved in an empty room, a kind of final groan, before the rounds hit their target.

Not firing DU, Bob. Sorry.

When they did, the red-painted ministry — a gaunt and sinister building beside the Jumhuriyah Bridge over the Tigris which I have always suspected to be an intelligence headquarters — lit up with a thousand red and orange pin-points of light. From the building came a great and dense cloud of white smoke, much of which must have contained the aerosol DU spray that so many doctors and military veterans fear causes cancers. Then a set of F-18 jets swept so low over Baghdad that you could sense the confidence of their pilots. A single anti-aircraft missile soared into the gray skies, a bright red light moving at astonishing speed, but far too slow for the Americans jets.

First, they aren’t firing DU. What he is describing is the effects of an HE shell, not a DU penetrator. Also, DU does not aeresolize unless it hits a significant armor plate. It aeresolizes when you fire it through the front plate of a tank; if you fire it through a wall, then it stays intact due to its density. That density is why we use uranium.

In other words, Robert Fisk is still an idiot.

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