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Chinese-Made 107mm Rockets Are the Workhorses of Insurgencies (and Goons)

If the design virtues of rocket-propelled grenade launchers prove time and again to be ""cheap killer[s] of technology"":http://changeobserver.designobserver.com/feature/on-the-shoulders-of-rebels/26108/ riding, durably, on the shoulders of rebels and...

If the design virtues of rocket-propelled grenade launchers prove time and again to be “cheap killer[s] of technology” riding, durably, on the shoulders of rebels and insurgents and thugs the world over, so too can Chinese-made 107mm rockets be chalked up as the no-bullshit workhorses of the underdog, however that may be defined.

No matter that the People’s Republic (probably) doesn’t even deploy 107s throughout its infantry anymore. The warheads are ubiquitous. And together with towed Type 63 rocket launchers – 12-tube launchers first produced by the Chinese and exported to over a dozen countries throughout Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Horn of Africa – they represent a gritty, continually bottom-up threat to power à la AK-47s. Look no further then a recent attack on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, that shelled Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey’s transport plane and injured two American crew members.

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No one’s saying anything for sure just yet. NATO certainly isn’t. And yet there’s good reason to believe 107s were behind the flare up. This sort of thing is a nagging enough occurrence at military bases in Afghanistan that most officials would tell you that the Chinese-made projectiles account for the lion’s share of the ramshackle attacks.

107 casings, with hand grenade for scale (via)

It comes down to ease-of-use. As the CS Monitor reports:

The rockets can be easily set up on a rock or another firm surface and crudely aimed in the direction of its target, sometimes up to three miles away. Accuracy is mostly guesswork, which probably explains why there are comparatively few casualties despite them being a common occurrence.

No wonder such a varied lot, be it Libyan or Syrian rebels, Taliban fighters or Iran, keep taking to what could be called the Perfect Explosive with such aplomb. It’s at the point now that all the drones and recon blimps that the U.S. can chuck (China’s) money at can do little to stop the barrage of 107 attacks on its bases. Sure, it’s not hard to reverse-course an attack – and then in the U.S. and NATO’s case, immediately pummel suspected mountain outposts to high Hell. Only with ease-of-use comes an equally cunning, almost hilariously facepalmed blast-craft – when America and its allies turn their leading-edge firepower toward the hills from whence 107s rain, the culprits are likely long gone.

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You remember the “(presumed) man” variously known as “Rocket Man” and “Elton John” who somehow evaded capture while hurling rockets and mortars from as little as two miles outside a U.S. base in the Uruzgan province? The theory holds that he set his 107s to some sort of off-site trigger mechanism, or even on a basic clock-timer. But the best theory to date? His 107s were weighted to a block of ice. Once melted, the weight change would join two trigger wires. And the rest is the crude history of the workhorse.

Top: Libyan rebels firing what appears to be a 107mm (via)

Reach this writer at brian@motherboard.tv. @thebanderson

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