Tuesday, January 13, 2009

DIME bomb - method of operation

Method of Operation

DIME weapons consist of a carbon fiber casing filled with mixture of explosive and a very dense powder of a heavy metal tungsten alloy (HMTA) composed of tungsten and other metals such as cobalt and nickel or iron.

Two common HMTA alloys are:

  • rWNiCo: tungsten (91-93%), nickel (3-5%) and cobalt (2-4%)
  • rWNiFe: tungsten (91-93%), nickel (3-5%) and iron (2-4%)

Upon detonation of the explosive, the casing disintegrates into extremely small particles (vs. the shrapnel which results from the fragmentation of a metal shell casing). The HMTA powder acts as micro-shrapnel which is very lethal at close range (about 4 meters or 13 feet), but loses momentum very quickly due to air resistance, coming to a halt within approximately 40 times the diameter of the charge. This increases the probability of killing people within a few meters of the explosion while reducing the probability of causing death and injuries or damage further away. Survivors close to the lethal zone may have their limbs amputated (as the micro shrapnel can slice through soft tissue and bone) and may subsequently contract cancer (rhabdomyosarcoma) from the HMTA micro-shrapnel embedded in their body tissue.[2]

Toxic/Carcinogenic Effects

The carcinogenic effects of heavy metal tungsten alloys (HMTA) have been studied by the U.S. Armed Forces since at least 2000 (along with depleted uranium (DU)). These alloys were found to cause neoplastic transformations of human osteoblast cells[3].

A more recent U.S. Department of Health study in 2005 found that HMTA shrapnel rapidly induces rhabdomyosarcoma cancers in rats.[4]

The tungsten alloy carcinogenicity may be most closely related to the nickel content of the alloys used in weapons to date. However, pure tungsten and tungsten trioxide are also suspected of causing cancer and other toxic properties, and have been shown to have such effects in animal studies. [5]

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