Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Experiments with weapons-Part I

The LTTE is not running large weapons factories in the Island anymore. Almost all the weapons and ammunitions are imported or manufactured from outside Sri Lanka, with the most recent being brought in Indian fishing trawlers and unloaded at Veduthalthivu and Chalai.

However, there is evidence that the Tigers continue to experiment with the manufacturing of improvised Explosive devices (IEDs) while importing other conventional weapons via south India. The Indian government investigated the LTTE arms production in southern India many years ago under the Jain Commission. The Commission Report (Vol 6, Ch 40) states;

"An estimated 30-40 LTTE cadres led by its leaders including Kiruban and Romeo were found to be controlling the LTTE bases in Tamil Nadu. Their activities included revival of fabrication of rifle propelled grenades ARUL-89 at Coimbatore, Pasilan- 2000, purchase of explosives at Tiruchengode, Salem, receiving injured cadres and providing them medical treatment at Madurai, Salem, Erode and Madras and facilitating ferrying of explosives and raw materials for fabrication of weapons"

It is possible that the Tigers are still involved in arms smuggling across the palk straight. One of the glaring possibilities is the use of international waters further from the Indian coast. Recent LTTE activities around Maldives are an indicator of this phenomenon.

Tiger local arms production is a hindrance to the Security Forces particularly in the maintenance of law and order. In the battlefield, trained soldiers can disarm IEDs but when used as roadside bombs targeting civilians in southern areas, security threats become political dilemmas.


The most commonly found LTTE IED is the Claymore Mine.

Regular 2.5kgs and 10kgs LTTE fiberglass casing Claymores with words 'Front Toward Enemy' etched in Tamil

A claymore is a directional Anti-Personnel mine. The LTTE uses claymore for regular missions or terrorism attempts. Some LTTE made claymores share a lot of similarities with Russian MON series. They may have scratched metal sheets instead of steel balls on the front side, like for example, pineapple grenades. These are different to US made standardized M18A1 directional AP mines. Russia has various sizes of claymores from MON-50 to MON-200, for various purposes (Anti Personnel or Vehicle).

The 'Pineapple' Claymore

The specification of captured LTTE’s claymore shows that it is exactly the same type of MON-200 (Claymore with 25kg of total weight, including 12-14kg of TNT, and metal sheet for splinter effect during explosion.

The latest trend

The 'Raghavan'
Another invention is the seven layer remote-detonated mine that shoots steel balls in a 360 degree angle. This could be similar to a jumping mine. The mine is thought to be called 'Raghavan' . It is like a dumbbell with seven disks on a metal pole stuck on the ground. The detonator is on the top. This mine has been used only twice so far.

Last year, during the liberation of the East, the mine killed 4 Special Forces and 8 regular infantry who were traveling in a tractor in Vaharai. The bomb-maker was later captured by Military Intelligence. The same type of IED was discovered by troops from the 58 Division in Mannar last week. The IED weighed over 50kgs. Troops managed to disarm the device safely.

Pasilan's rebirth?

Further confirming our fears of LTTE experimentation with Pasilan 2000, troops in the Vanni front have heard large booms from a canon. This sound was emanating from a crude LTTE experimental mortar/rocket launcher with rockets weighing 15-20kgs called 'Samadanam' meaning Peace.

Nalliah Amirthalingam alias 'Major Pasilan killed on 8th November 1987 by the Indian Army at Mulaithivu
The short-range weapon emits a large noise similar to the former Pasilan 2000. Samadanam uses chargers from 122 canons, much like a howitzer. The canon is brought to the battlefield and dragged away again using a tractor, again like Pasilan. However, the range and battlefield effectiveness of the weapon as a force multiplier has not improved at all and remains to be a crude weapon, still at the earliest experimental stage.

Ending the threat

Experimental weapons and IEDs require explosives, which is the hardest material to find for a device of that nature. Other materials like steel balls, wire, circuitry etc can be smuggled in from civilian areas. The primary focus in counter-insurgency and counter terrorism is to therefore prevent such materials from reaching the insurgents/terrorists.

The Tigers will continue to innovate in secrecy with small batches of practical and tactical weapons, particularly explosives that will harass troops and assist a long-standing insurgency/terrorism.

At present, the effectiveness of these weapons is confined mainly against civilians as seen in the numerous bus bombs in the south. This could have an indirect impact on the Security Forces and the Police and also on the country's political stability and economy.

The hard responses would include SLAF targeting of LTTE assets that will disrupt the experimentation and development of deadlier IEDs.A recent such success was the direct hit on a major factory of the LTTE manufacturing light weapons (including Pasilan 2k) and other IEDs, which was destroyed in an air-raid on 16th January 2008 at Puthukudiirippu.

Success often comes through soft responses combined with hard responses. These include elicitation and analysis of HUMINT, both local and foreign. Investments would have to be made in 'turning' insiders into informants, providing them with advanced communication equipment etc.

It also involves closer ties with foreign agencies, particularly regional and global maritime security agencies. In some instances, Sri Lanka may have to bribe corrupt foreign officials assisting LTTE weapons smuggling or raid their logistical points with support from other foreign intelligence agencies. A section of Military/Naval Intelligence may have to be redeployed to seek and destroy the sources of Tiger arms smuggling, depending on the requirement.

The Navy's activities in curbing the importation of weapons and explosives in fishing trawlers is under scrutiny. Their recent blue water escapades must not be overshadowed by domestic failures. They are up against an innovative foe who will invent new ways of smuggling in the required military hardware. For example, the ship blasted in International Waters off Kirinda many months ago had loaded weapons onto fishing trawlers to be later unloaded in Chalai.

These are important lessons for the Navy. There are valuable lessons that foreign Navies, coastguard units and maritime intelligence units all over the world have learned throughout the years. They can help the Sri Lanka Navy, having successfully prevented deep-sea piracy, smuggling and transnational criminal networks for generations. Technology is also a weapon at our disposal, although we might not possess the means to procure them ourselves.

The Navy, as the first line of defence in the island, must be bold enough to challenge smuggling of weapons into the island despite potential losses to its fleet. There are much simpler remedies like aggressive patrolling and surveillance of certain areas of the sea for example. This may require additional vessels and men or a redeployment of existing resources strategically.

The annihilation of the floating warehouses alone is insufficient to win the war. Losses of Gun Boats and Fast Attack Craft in dangerous maritime operations could be minimized through intelligence, proper equipment and training.

The Sri Lanka Air Force must also upgrade its maritime surveillance and strike capabilities through cost effective means and must not limit itself to acquiring ground-based targets alone. If recent trends are neglected, the Tigers, armed with both locally manufactured terrorist/insurgent weapons and internationally reputed infantry weapons, could stalemate the war and again gain the upper hand.


LKDOOD said...

Sri Lankan bishop appeals for peace zone near prominent Marian shrine


LKDOOD said...

Court restrains lab from delivering prints of 'Prabhakaran'


Long - Ranger said...

For the interested,


On the post, I have to tell you it is very impressive.

Further to add, the use of locally made crude munitions also indicate that the Tamil Tigers are short of foreign made munitions. :-)

Unknown said...

Fantastic run DW.


The larger types of claymore mines used resemble the MON-200 indeed.. We then must be on the lookout for crude EFP mines which the tigers might lay in the path of the Mech. and armor units...

About the rifle grenades the tigers make..has any study shown its armor penetration or kill radius?? or do they change because of the non standard production methods??

Some time back (when the sampur Op was on) there were reports of a sailor KIA by a long range projectile which looked like a steel rod/SABOT.. any idea if the tigers had converted a W-54 in to a single shot anti material rifle or some thing like that??

Thanks again... keep em coming

Defencewire said...

The Arul was very crude. However we are seeing in some LTTE pictures, unidentified weapons.

As for the EFPs, we saw mostly gunny-sack covered trenches in Muhamalai I. Once they fell in, then LTTE would surround them and fire HE RPG7s. Currently they have built concrete steps with lampposts ahead of FDL and widened/deepened the trench in its 2FDL. This will be most likely again. We are now looking into suitable weapons systems to prevent this.

Unknown said...

Thanks DW,

I think you misunderstood..

when i said EFP i meant Explosive Formed Projectile.. like the US M2 SLAM and the Italian VS-HCT4...these are not too difficult to make...Iranian made EFP are killing Armored Veh. crews all over iraq, some have come up in afgan.. and even places like Chechnya and tiger might catch on... if so the relatively weak side armor of our Type-92A and Type-85 APCs which form the bulk of the Mech. would need some additional protection.

Defencewire said...

I understood your question, but was trying to explain the nature of the last engagement. The fighting in Muhamalai (where tanks and APCs will be deployed) is totally different to Iraq. In Iraq (what I see and hear), IED's are placed along the side of the road. The attacker's line of sight is not disturbed. He/she can detonate the IED once the tank/APC pull upto it on the road. Up in the north, the line of sight is disturbed.The roads have vegetation on the sides. So the Tigers try to divert the tanks off the road to some clearance with a ditch waiting for it to stop the Tank, then get a clean shot with a RPG HEAT.

Unknown said...

Thanks DW, my bad.

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