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JDW DEPLETED URANIUM - FAQs

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  • Snezana Lazovic
    http://www.janes.com/defence/news/jdw/jdw010108_1_n.shtml JANE S DEFENCE WEEKLY 08 January 2001 DEPLETED URANIUM - FAQs What is Depleted Uranium? Depleted
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 9 3:44 PM
      http://www.janes.com/defence/news/jdw/jdw010108_1_n.shtml

      JANE'S DEFENCE WEEKLY
      08 January 2001

      DEPLETED URANIUM - FAQs

      What is Depleted Uranium?

      Depleted Uranium (DU) is only used as a penetrator. It
      is not a warhead, bomb or explosive.

      For what is Depleted Uranium used on the
      battlefield?

      It is used to penetrate the armour of modern, the
      residual penetrator (and the high temperature
      fragments created as it passes through the armour)
      striking everything inside the tank and setting fire to its
      fuel and ammunition. In the Balkans, this would include
      the M84A (Russian T-72) main battle tanks of the
      Bosnian Serb VRS and the Serbian VJ forces. In the
      Gulf war, some of the Iraqi tanks were of the same T-72
      type, manned by Saddam Hussein's Republican
      Guards.

      Who used it in the Balkans?

      During the Balkans operations from 1992 to 1996, only
      the US Air Force acknowledges its use in some of its
      30mm cannon shells fired from the GAU-8A cannon. It
      is true that some guided weapons used depleted
      uranium to increase the penetration effect and that the
      20mm Phalanx close-in weapon system, used to
      protect warships at sea from sea-skimming missiles,
      also has a percentage of DU rounds.

      What about the British Army?

      The British Army fired 88 DU rounds against Iraqi tanks
      in the Gulf war; no such rounds were fired during the
      Bosnian and Kosovan campaigns. No British aircraft
      are equipped with DU warheads on their weapons,
      according to official reports. DU rounds are 'war-use
      only'.

      Any other uses?

      DU is very dense so is also used as a counter-balance
      for large commercial aircraft, including the Boeing 747,
      and in yacht keels.

      Can Depleted Uranium be replaced?

      DU can be replaced (Britain, France, Russia and the
      US are the only commonly acknowledged users of DU
      as the penetrator material in kinetic energy munitions).
      The great majority of armies use kinetic energy
      munitions with tungsten alloy penetrators; however,
      these have a 20% lower penetrative performance, and
      the sintered materials used to make them are more
      expensive. Tungsten may not emit radiation, but, in
      common with DU, its particles are poisonous.

      It is alleged that DU causes leukaemia?

      Leukaemia is caused by (inter alia):
      - Ionising radiation - x-rays, for example
      - Derivatives of benzene (hydraulic fluid, lubricating oil,
      fuel oil, ceramic armour and other products found in
      modern armoured vehicles)
      - Viruses

      What happens when a DU round hits a tank?

      The DU penetrator hits the tank armour, both the
      penetrator and armour partially liquefying under
      pressure. Once the armour has been perforated, that
      part of the penetrator which has not melted, together
      with the molten armour and fragments that break away
      from the interior, ricochet inside the vehicle. This
      usually causes a fire. Studies in the USA, UK and
      France show that when an armoured vehicle burns at
      about 10,000 degrees C, the resulting oxidisation of the
      materials aboard, including benzene products and
      depleted uranium, can create particulates that are
      harmful to the human body; ingested they can affect
      the lungs and kidneys.
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