AJDABIYA, LIBYA 6/8/2011 – Alive in Libya concludes our War Time Inventions coverage this week with a look at modified tank rounds and rocket launchers.
What happens when you have a lot of tank rounds, but no gun, and a lot of rocket launchers, but no rockets? Libyan rebels on the front lines near Ajdabiya have opted to combine them.
“It was an idea by one of the engineers,” says Mohamed “Bata” Jadalah, an army volunteer. “He noticed we had many of the tank rounds, but no ammo for the launchers.”
Ammunition for 103mm tank guns is modified to fit into 107mm rocket launchers. The base and locks for the rocket launchers remains the same, though they have added remotes and mounted them on the back of trucks, creating the ubiquitous “technicals”.
In addition to allowing them use of both the ammunition and launchers they have on hand, the modifications have the added benefit of increasing the range from 7km to 11km (4 – 7 miles).
Displaying one of the modified rounds, Jadalah announces proudly, “It’s never been mounted on a luncher before this war in Libya.”
As for how long they’ll be fighting with their improvised armaments, Jadalah is firm. “Moammar is getting out no matter what. We’re here until that happens”
Two weeks after U.S. and NATO forces began military operations in Libya, the public’s reaction to the situation remains mixed. Half (50%) say the United States and its allies made the right decision in conducting airstrikes in Libya, while 37% say it was the wrong decision — a balance of opinion virtually unchanged from a week ago.
However, despite President Obama’s speech to the nation explaining the justifications for military engagement last Monday, an increasing percentage say that the military action lacks a clear goal — 57% today, up from 50% a week ago. And by an overwhelming 66%-to-25% margin, most say they would oppose the U.S. and its allies sending arms and military supplies to the anti-government groups in Libya.
The US indicated on Monday night that it had not ruled out arming the rebels, though it was assumed this would take some time because of a UN arms embargo which applies to all sides in Libya.
But Clinton made clear that UN security council resolution 1973, which allowed military strikes against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, relaxed the embargo. Speaking after the conference on Libya in London, Clinton said: “It is our interpretation that [resolution] 1973 amended or overrode the absolute prohibition of arms to anyone in Libya so that there could be legitimate transfer of arms if a country were to choose to do that. We have not made that decision at this time.”
Egypt’s military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington’s knowledge, U.S. and Libyan rebel officials said.
The shipments—mostly small arms such as assault rifles and ammunition—appear to be the first confirmed case of an outside government arming the rebel fighters. Those fighters have been losing ground for days in the face of a steady westward advance by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.