Fuel-Air Explosives in Iraq

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the start of the ground offensive against Iraq. I had the opportunity to share a few beers with a fellow who was there, and he told me a rattling good yarn.

According to this fellow, the Coalition was in no mood to root out the deeply dug in Iraqi troops just north of the Kuwaiti border. The Americans decided to play a little psychological game with them. One day a C-130 flew over a section of line and dropped leaflets, which said in essence, “we highly recommend that you surrender before this time tomorrow or we’re gonna smoke you.”

The next day another C-130 flew over at a much higher altitude and dropped a fuel-air bomb, slowed by a parachute. When the package descended to about 5000 feet, it deployed, creating an enormous but largely harmless explosion.

On the third day, yet another C-130 flew over the same section of line, back door wide open, and dropped leaflets again, this time saying, “surrender now, or you know what’s going to happen to you.” This time, they did just that.

As an aside, the fellow who told me the story said that the line was under close observation by American LRPs and British SAS. The Americans had been tipped off as to what was going to happen, but a foul up resulted in the SAS men not being informed. Therefore, when the bomb went off, the SAS guys frantically radioed headquarters saying that the crazy Americans had just nuked the Iraquis.

Great story, no? But is it true? This site largely echoes what my friend told me, but it doesn’t look to be the most reputable source. Many Internet sites claim that a FAE was used in an attempt to clear a minefield. http://www.af.mil says nothing about this.

I’m a little skeptical. After all, supposed Iraqi development of FAEs was counted among the “weapons of mass destruction” that George Bush railed so loudly against. Anyone got the real story?

I’m not sure what part your skeptical about. A FAE sounds like a device of mass destruction to me but the fact that we used them ouselves is a moot point. We just wanted to deny them to beligerent countries like Iraq.

As for the pilot mistaking a mushroom cloud for a nuke he must not have paid any attention to his NBC warfare training. Had he thought for a moment that there was no blinding flash before the cloud was spotted he might have not have misidentified the blast.

I don’t know anything about the instance you are speaking of, but FAE can be quite devestating in a open battlefield. A large enough one will flatten most soft targets with the shockwave and burn all the oxygen in the vicinity. Very, very nasty. I do know that they were used to clear minefields in the war.

Poor choice for urban enviroments though, since the reinforced concrete buildings would work quite effectively to dissipate the shockwave.

Hmmm, I didn’t really answer a damn thing that you were asking, did I? :wink:

Wouldn’t the British and US command structures be pretty communicative with each other? I guess what I’m thinking is that the SAS would have assumed themselves in the loop, and the headquarters they were reporting to would have had good communications with US command. Then again, you hope the SAS recruits folks who are a little smarter than that…