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Nukes + Tanks = Nasty Business
The AFV ASSOCIATION was formed in 1964 to support the thoughts and research of all those interested in Armored Fighting Vehicles and related topics, such as AFV drawings. The emphasis has always been on sharing information and communicating with other members of similar interests; e.g. German armor, Japanese AFVs, or whatever.
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Doug_Kibbey
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:03 am
Post subject: Nukes + Tanks = Nasty Business

Armor can protect you....sorta'. Then again, your depleted uranium armor just might turn on you....


1.5.4 Neutron Bombs

Neutron bombs, more formally referred to as "enhanced radiation (ER) warheads", are small thermonuclear weapons in which the burst of neutrons generated by the fusion reaction is intentionally not absorbed inside the weapon, but allowed to escape. This intense burst of high-energy neutrons is the principle destructive mechanism. Neutrons are more penetrating than other types of radiation so many shielding materials that work well against gamma rays do not work nearly as well. The term "enhanced radiation" refers only to the burst of ionizing radiation released at the moment of detonation, not to any enhancement of residual radiation in fallout.

The U.S. has developed neutron bombs for use as strategic anti-missile weapons, and as tactical weapons intended for use against armored forces. As an anti-missile weapon ER weapons were developed to protect U.S. ICBM silos from incoming Soviet warheads by damaging the nuclear components of the incoming warhead with the intense neutron flux. Tactical neutron bombs are primarily intended to kill soldiers who are protected by armor. Armored vehicles are extremely resistant to blast and heat produced by nuclear weapons, so the effective range of a nuclear weapon against tanks is determined by the lethal range of the radiation, although this is also reduced by the armor. By emitting large amounts of lethal radiation of the most penetrating kind, ER warheads maximize the lethal range of a given yield of nuclear warhead against armored targets.

One problem with using radiation as a tactical anti-personnel weapon is that to bring about rapid incapacitation of the target, a radiation dose that is many times the lethal level must be administered. A radiation dose of 600 rads is normally considered lethal (it will kill at least half of those who are exposed to it), but no effect is noticeable for several hours. Neutron bombs were intended to deliver a dose of 8000 rads to produce immediate and permanent incapacitation. A 1 kt ER warhead can do this to a T-72 tank crew at a range of 690 m, compared to 360 m for a pure fission bomb. For a "mere" 600 rad dose the distances are 1100 m and 700 m respectively, and for unprotected soldiers 600 rad exposures occur at 1350 m and 900 m. The lethal range for tactical neutron bombs exceeds the lethal range for blast and heat even for unprotected troops.

The neutron flux can induce significant amounts of short lived secondary radioactivity in the environment in the high flux region near the burst point. The alloy steels used in armor can develop radioactivity that is dangerous for 24-48 hours. If a tank exposed to a 1 kt neutron bomb at 690 m (the effective range for immediate crew incapacitation) is immediately occupied by a new crew, they will receive a lethal dose of radiation within 24 hours.

Newer armor designs afford more protection than the Soviet T-72 against with ER warheads were initially targeted. Special neutron absorbing armor techniques have also been developed and deployed, such as armors containing boronated plastics and the use of vehicle fuel as a shield. Some newer types of armor, like that of the M-1 tank, employ depleted uranium which can offset these improvements since it undergoes fast fission, generating additional neutrons and becoming radioactive.

Due to the rapid attenuation of neutron energy by the atmosphere (it drops by a factor of 10 every 500 m in addition to the effects of spreading) ER weapons are only effective at short ranges, and thus are found in relatively low yields. ER warheads are also designed to minimize the amount of fission energy and blast effect produced relative to the neutron yield. The principal reason for this was to allow their use close to friendly forces. The common perception of the neutron bomb as a "landlord bomb" that would kill people but leave buildings undamaged is greatly overstated. At the intended effective combat range (690 m) the blast from a 1 kt neutron bomb will destroy or damage to the point of unusability almost any civilian building. Thus the use of neutron bombs to stop an enemy attack, which requires exploding large numbers of them to blanket the enemy forces, would also destroy all buildings in the area.

More facinating and disturbing information can be found here (which was the source for the above)

Frequently Asked Questions about Really Bad Stuff

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