Tuesday 10 September 2013

The Mystery Component Of The UMLACA

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been working on piecing together a previously unidentified munition linked to alleged chemical attacks (which I've named the UMLACA).  I've collected images and videos of the munition, including measurement and detailed photographs from local activists, and assisted Human Rights Watch in the producing the following image for their report, Syria: Government Likely Culprit in Chemical Attack

There is one part of the munitions that still remains a mystery.  It's acquired the nickname of the "bicycle pump", and has been shown in relation to three of the munitions recorded by groups in Syria.  The most complete example has been shown in a video that shows an unexploded example of the high explosive variant of the UMLACA being dismantled

The "bicycle pump" can be see at the start of the video, and later on the ground next to the munition

What appears to be the partial remains of the "bicycle pump" also appears in two other videos, from munitions linked to alleged chemical attacks

It appears these are possibly two different sections, with a screw thread visible on the piece with possibly wires or cables sticking out the other end.  I put together the following image to compare the different objects

One thing the does seem to stand out is the type recovered from the high explosive type doesn't actually appear to be a perfect match.  The ridge appears to be in a different position, and the holes appear to be in a different area.

The other question is where does it actually go? Some people have suggested it could be a fuze, but I don't think that's possible, at least in the version of the UMLACA linked to the chemical attack.  The suggestion has been that it would sit in the middle of the central column of the warhead, shown below

The problem with that theory is what's at the front end of that central column

This large metal plug would make it impossible for anything to extend into the central column.  My current theory is this metal plug would have sat part way down the central column, with the explosive charge sat on top of that.  This would force energy of the explosion sideways, bursting open the outer skin of the warhead.  This would account for the bending and sheering of the metal we can see in the above picture.

So, that seems to eliminate the front of the warhead as the location of the "bicycle pump".  On the other end of the warhead we have another candidate:

These two ports either side of the central column are present in the UMLACA linked to chemical attacks, while the high explosive type only appears to have one port.  The port on the left side appears as if it can be some sort of access port, and is generally shown to be even sealed, as shown above, or heavily damaged and broken.  The port on the right side appears to be open in all the videos, and in the videos showing the HE version of the UMLACA, which only have one port, its also appears to be always open, as shown below

This might point towards a common type of port on both type.  The below images show the view of the ports from inside the munition, with the open port at the top

While considering these ports, it might also be relevant to consider the following video, showing the launch of the same type of munition

At around 4m 20s it appears the man wearing red is screwing something in or out of the base of the warhead.  At 6m 20s he appears to be attaching a cable to the same position, and then gets off the truck, and seems to indicate to everyone else to leave.  Minutes later the rocket is launched.  Could this be the rocket being prepared for launch, and if it is, does it relate to the hole in the rear of the warhead?

So far, no-one has been able to identify the "bicycle pump", but it seems it's a key part of understanding how this munition works, and may give some clues to it's origins.

More posted on the subject of the August 21st attacks can be found here, and other posts on chemical weapons and Syria, including extremely informative interviews with chemical weapon specialists, can be found here.

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmoses@gmail.com.


  1. No mystery at all. You can see the same exact part documented in the patent for the SLUFAE, on which this "mystery" is based. I've said it time and time again, and it's been ignored time and time again. I've also gone out of my way to show that "red numbers" means FAE, black is HE... find another color and we can talk about chemical variants. One port is for filling of the fuel, the other port is for arming with a fuse and controller. It gets screwed on prior to launch. As it's a FAE, the container is designed to burst in a predictable fashion, downward, with the fuse traveling through the cloud and igniting it for detonation. The rocket itself, as it's at an epicenter of a fuel air explosion, remains pretty much intact. If there is deflagration or unburnt fuel, then yes, it's toxic and the effect is well documented to cause the symptoms exhibited. The reason there are no parachutes, is due to creation of a sitting target to shoot at that defeats the intended effect. The other reason to have two ports for a FAE is to allow for better filling as it must be able to vent the displaced oxygen as well as be able to be drained for proper storage.

    So, the claim that "So far, no-one has been able to identify the "bicycle pump"", is just false, I have already done it, it just doesn't fit in with your agenda. Nor would a chemical munition be filled in a manner that causes or even risks pre-flight mixing.

    As per the comment of "well, if it's so deadly this way, why not just launch them all like this", it's actually far LESS deadly than sarin, and not nearly as useful when what you want is a thermobaric explosion to drive out terrorists from dug-in positions. Dead animals die from the shock or the oxide as it destroys internal organs and sucks out oxygen from the lungs... dud or not, there's still deflagration. Which is why there is scorching seen in all accounts. Unless of course, you choose o believe that this inaccurate munition is being deployed in pairs to somehow cover up a sarin attack, with the kicker-charge magically vanishing every single time. The lengths some people will go to to buy believe own bull is astounding. Ignoring the obvious in favor of yellow journalism and warmongering.

    1. I agree with you on most items and I to am about to give up, some of this is simple stuff. I am not going to go back over the components that I already commented on in other posts but I will simply point out some items that are still wrong in my opinion, one last time.
      1. Item f is the same as item I; Its called a rocket motor and there are some additional plates between the front of the rocket motor and burster/fuze.
      2. Bicycle pump; My best guess and I am almost sure I am right. It is a single pulse (possibly double pulse) Cartridge Activated Device (CAD) probably connected to the nose fuze. The most likely warhead type I can see it used in is a FAE warhead but there is a possibility it may serve some type of purpose in assisting chemical agent dispersal. Primarily I believe its purpose is to ejects the cloud detonator/s used to ignite the dispersed fuel air cloud.
      3. Item g. 99 percent positive on this component. Item g is the port/component receptor well for the CAD device covered above (the bicycle pump).

    2. About the only really interesting thing to poke around with on this anymore is figuring out how they modified the SLUFAE design. Something like 95% of it is just flat out copy. "bicycle pump", aka component #72, is the communication link. The holes are curious, I'll give it that, but the patent is not overly specific. It would be great to see actual design specs for comparison. Then again, it would also be great to see some design specs for the russian thermobaric rocket system. I'm going to assume that there's been some fusion of concepts. Simplification of the US design which is probably causing issues. The lack of an obvious parachute is the main difference. As the Russian system does not use one, I can only assume that that's the basis for modifications. It looks like a single filling port which is capped off, and a port linked to the com-link which can be connected to a control for the fusing/cloud detonator.

      For FAE without chutes, timing of cloud detonators is a giant pain in the ass. It's microsecond timing required to make it work right. These are obviously not high-tech devices, they were made on the cheap. So modifications were made to cheapen it. That's the 5% unaccounted for in the difference from the SLUFAE patent.

      If this was a chemical weapon, at the very least, you'd be seeing both ports clearly capped, with the interior section separated for binary components. A very small charge initiated in-flight to trigger the mixing followed by a charge for dispersal. Considering how deadly actual sarin is, especially freshly-mixed, the membrane would have to be stable enough to ensure rigidity during transport. And again, obviously, you don't use that much of it. You don't "dilute" it either, as that's just idiotic on multiple levels. If you're going to use it as a warhead, the warheads are small. Or you go with the obvious canister-based release mechanism to spread it out... in which case there would be shells everywhere.

    3. You pretty much nailed the FAE concept. Remember all FAE warheads have as a minimum these three components in common. Nose Fuzing (proximity or stand off probe), Burster, and cloud detonators located in ports on the rear outside skin area of the warhead or in port/s in the warhead baseplate off set from the warhead center line. People also need to remember that the areas where they are finding these expended warheads is the same areas that have been pounded by lots of different types of ordnance for an extended period of time. These areas will show lots of damage and will contain a wide array of functioned munitions residue and associated damaged components.

    4. @ Daniel S. if you bring them the original SLUFAE with all its documents and design drawings they will just ignore it and will keep saying ( the mystery rocket ) and ( why two holes not one Hmmmm )

      its just a false flag but some ppl like to make drama of everything!!!!

    5. jody wave - pls. look at my notes below and tell me what you think. The back assembly are two solid rings. From fron to back:

      An inner solid ring that fits inside the central tube (you can see the central tube has been crimped on it). Then comes a 350mm baseplate with 12 bolt holes. Then comes the tail casing flared with 12 bolt holes, and then comes the back ring which you can see in the photos with 12 bolts.

      This baseplate is then welded to the central tube which has its own front and back plates (a few millimeters less in OD).

      This solves the mystery of the back plate. The front plate is more complicated. I think it is a compartment that is about 5 cm thick, one end is that heavy round plate (figure a) we have seen, and the other end is that plate you identified in vid #5. So the burster is sandwitched between these two heavy plates and the barrel's front plate (again may be double plated) of much less rigid material such as aluminum.

    6. jody - I have two more posts below.

    7. Khalid-that sounds logical if I am understanding your description correctly. The entire central tube is a rocket motor that is capped only on the forward end (forward rocket motor solid bulkhead). The small space/pocket between the front of the capped rocket motor and nose assembly is where the burster is located.

    8. And I am 100% agree with Daniel S, the number one weapon in a modern urban warfare is the FAE.
      For attacking sniper positions and close combat, you use the RPG7-EI Thermobaric warhead.

      The use of Sarin is to difficult and to risky, you neat the right protection etc. they hate to work with it.

    9. Jody, I do not think the detonator is a CAD type. The detonator is immersed in the fuel and it has cables coming off the 7 hole portal into some controller/arming device. There is also a flat wire that goes to the fuze, or is a heat sensor when the rocket motor starts burning at the front, as an arming device or timing device.

      The detonator goes off in place, and ejects a long stream of intense flames in all directions 360 degrees around the detonator (see the patterned holes in the middle of the bicycle pump). There is no cartridge ejecting. There is no room for a cartridge in the tiny cavity where the cables exit, and because of the doughnut effect, it does not make sense to eject that parallel to the tail direction.

      What do you think?

      There are many details wrong with the BM diagram, but essentially correct. The only mystery is the burster assembly and I don't think it looks like the diagram. (f) just the extension of (i).

    10. Daniel, most of what you wrote except for two or three points are incorrect.

      Also, the video with the UN investigators examining the head-buried UMLACA at a partly demolished wall shows a lot of dry bushes all around the munition. None of it scorched or burnt, which is what will happen when you have deflagration or detonation of FAE.

      Also Soviet military doctrine is to saturate the area subject to a CW attack with FAE attacks in order to coverup the chemical attack. The best way to do that is fire FAE weapons before, after, and during the event.

      Also, you have missed the main plot. That is the empty FAE weapon is filled with a solution of Sarin, or the FAE fuel is emptied and replaced with Sarin.

      That is why the CW munitions have red lettering.

      The warmonger here is Assad whom you support. He initiated through massacres.

    11. Daniel, here are your answers: The 7 white holes are where the detonator (bicycle pump) cables pass through. That are is dry because the fuel can't get into the detonator and into the white holes area.

      And it is not two filling ports. Only one where they pour the fuel or Sarin solution. The other port with the white 7 holes is the detonator and nothing to do with filling.

      The detonator goes off approx. 200 ms after the burster disperses the fuel/Sarin. It has no affect on the Sarin. The well cavity (7 white holes) is to program the detonator delay and to arm the thing. There is a wire going from the well to the nose fuze. You can clearly see it.

      No, this is not a binary CW. The Sarin is premixed and either applied pure or diluted and poured into the barrel - no binaries.

      There is no membrane.

      The burster disperses the Sarin, and that is the end of it. No need for detonation. Detonation is just for the FAE.

      To claim that you cannot replace the fuel with Sarin is idiotic at multiple levels.

  2. The part of the rocket I'm still unsure about is the very front. According to the HRW diagram and other depictions I've seen, it has a flat front. On the other hand, in an image of the weapon being launched it appears to have a nose cone. Which is it? Does the nose cone detach in flight? Do the FAE and CW have different configurations - one with a nose cone, one without? The answer to this question could have implications of where the fuse would be located.

    1. This image is totally unrelated to the UMLACA. This is another weapon, similar in appearance, but much larger. It is an experimetal weapon.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. It seems to be some kind of improvised self-made jihadist launcher on that truck. Rocket motor, tail section behind the warhead is definetly more than 2000 mm. most likely ca. 2500 mm. Entire rocket length is something between 3500-4000 mm. You may compare this rocket dimentions with MB Actros 4x2 truck dimentions by itself. Launched rockets on the ground seems to be some kind of slightly “modified” 345 mm. M130 SLUFAE rocket design. These are not some self-made improvised rockets. Maybe these were produced somewhere just as limited batch for some specific mission? Wearing red berets on battlefield not very wise move either, professional soldiers should wear camouflaged kevlar helmets on the battlefield. What´s the idea behind all these red berets… hey i´m from Syrian Republican Guard, now im starting to launch a rocket with possible CW warhead, are you able to shoot bullet into my head…? More likely some intel. agen. false flag op.

  5. Brown Moses, we have some very interesting FAE related explanations in the comment sections of your blogs. To me they look credible and well suported by documentation and may explain what happened on the 21st Aug. Yet you dedicate only a single sentence in your summary blog to them. Would you think the FAE option deserve more of your attention, perhaps even a separate blog?

    1. Ethylene Oxide is not neurotoxic. It'll give you a headache and interfere with your sleep (check Wiki). There has to be a large concentration (about 1 gr/m3) in a closed enclosure to result in death after an hour, if the victim decides to remain in the enclosure. None of these is probable.

      If an undetonated FAE results in such massive deaths, why does Assad even bother to use a detonator. Just disable the detonator and you get more deaths than if the thing has exploded. If ExO is so potent, then you would bet Assad is disabling the detonators and killing families by chemical action, not explosion. Assad would now be using a chemical weapon.

    2. what wiki said is:

      Ethylene oxide causes acute poisoning, accompanied by the following symptoms: slight heartbeat, muscle twitching, flushing, headache, diminished hearing, acidosis, vomiting, dizziness, transient loss of consciousness and a sweet taste in the mouth. Acute intoxication is accompanied by a strong throbbing headache, dizziness, difficulty in speech and walking, sleep disturbance, pain in the legs, weakness, stiffness, sweating, increased muscular irritability, transient spasm of retinal vessels, enlargement of the liver and suppression of its antitoxic functions.[109]

      Ethylene oxide easily penetrates through the clothing and footwear, causing skin irritation and dermatitis with the formation of blisters, fever and leukocytosis.

      and also:
      The median lethal doses (LD50, or a dose required to kill half the members of a tested population after a certain time) for ethylene oxide are 72 mg/kg (rat, oral) and 187 mg/kg (rat, subcutaneous injection)

      add to all that, NO ONE examine the dead ppl over there and you have no report about the cause of dead ppl we saw on TVs only and of course there is no prove about how many really dead in that day

      so a lot of evidence is missing and no one can get a real explanation supported by proves and evidence to say who did and what is the true and after all that you want to go in one direction which lead only to Syrian government!!!

      if you really care about the ppl who died over there then you should follow the real killer who ever did it, just follow the truth and don't ignore the facts

      i can give you a hundreds of fake photos and videos provided by the rebels since the day one of the Syrian conflict which make us to think about all what we see from them and from the government too....

    3. To kill 1400 plus people with ethylene/propylene oxide would take extremely large industrial size quantities like railroad tanker car loads full and even then I don't believe it would kill people over such a wide area. I believe the attack was a CW agent. This is a war zone, if you looked around those same neighborhood you will find all different types of functioned munitions residue including apparently FAE warhead remains.

    4. @jody wave, you are right about that, BUT did you saw the 1400 plus dead ppl and did you saw them died on big area or in small area??!!!

      sir, all what we saw is ppl in one or two rooms, where they come from?? they could be in one building or two, so you cant build any case starting from what they said it happened, there is no even one photo or video showing the dead ppl in them original location where they dead

      and add to that, that the rebels used to add additional drama to every single attack or victims die specially when an attack cause ppl to get poisoned or what ever and they know that the UN is 2 KM far from them so for sure they will do them best to use this and make it big as they can.... the problem is when they do things like that and they think its helping them they actually losing them credibility so you cant trust any photo or video or saying of the both sides and the Truth gone with the victims

      in the theory of the FAE and Ethylene lead us to many Conclusion
      1- if we say the Ethylene MAYBE cause of that then for sure there is one rocket failed to burn those Ethylene so it cannot be a three rockets failed or even two
      2- the rocket which hit the Field and burn the grass around the hit point is looks like a success FAE and the video showing this rocket one guy said there is one guy killed there then the other guy told him no no no they are all dead in this building!!!

      the first guy was telling the truth but as usual there is always who want to add more numbers to the victims and that's why they did not filmed the real location where the ppl get killed

    5. I think we will just have to wait for the UN report to get more facts. You also have to remember that the UN teams main focus is determining if chemical weapons were used and what type agent was used. The UN report may not go into much detail about other type weapons that may have been used in the same general areas where they are looking for chemical warfare agents. I personally believe chemical warheads were used in the Damascus attack that killed 1400 people. I also believe that FAE warheads, high explosive warheads, and other types of ordnance were also used at some point (before, during, after the chemical attack) in the same general area.

    6. Do the math housam - .187 gr/kg by injection. So by inhalation or skin absorption it will have to be at least 5 to 10 times more and the subject must be totally immersed in this with no chance of escape.

      So assume .187 * 5 = .935 gr/kg or 65.6 gr needed to kill an adult of 70 kg. You can't absorb this amount by skin action or inhalation in a matter of minutes. It'ld take a much longer time. There would be enough time for the subject to escape the gas.

      This theory makes little sense and a weapon expert such as jody will immediately tell you that it is bunk.

      If you release liquid ExO in the air and it starts spreading/moving, I doubt more than 1% of that cloud will be absorbed by the victim. So you need about 6.5 kg to kill 1 person. The 55 l barrel contains about 50 kg of ExO. Therefore an undetonated FAE can kill about 7 adults.

      1005 (adult victims)/7 = 143 undetonated FAEs. So the total FAEs fired are: about 700.

      There is no evidence that 700 FAEs were fired between 3 AM and 4 AM of 8/21.

    7. @Khalid

      You know what truly is bunk?

      Believing the MDF numbers (which, btw, are only 355 deaths, not 1400) that claim that 3 hospitals dealt with 3600 patients in 3 hours, that morning.

    8. Gemis, you forget that the 1400 figure is based on more than the 3 hospitals MDF was talking about.

    9. So you're saying there were not 3600, but around 14000 (thousands) killed and wounded together (respecting the MDF ratio), that somehow were managed by a few medical facilities, in a few hours, that morning?

      Are you sure you grasp the dimensions of these numbers?

    10. All I'm saying is the 1400 figure isn't based off just three hospitals, like the MDF figure of 355 is. Your comparison of the two figures appears to suggest you hadn't grasped that.

    11. You're taking too personal, I wasn't clear enough, it seems.

      MDF said: in [their] 3 hospitals, in 3 hours, they report 3600 patients, out of which 350 died.

      If anywhere near the same dead-to-wounded/affected were to respect for the entire 1400 of casualty number, that would mean over 10,000 people that needed and received medical care in a few hours, in some suburbs of Damascus.

      As a MD, with more than 2 years of ER experience, I find that beyond belief.

    12. Gemis - most emergency room visits would be people who received a low or very low dosage. There is little than can be done about these people, as I don't expect these hospitals to stock antidotes. They would be sent away. What makes you think they were admitted?

  6. BM, it is pretty clear the bicycle pump is the detonator needed for both the FAE and CW types, but of no use in the CW type.

    The detonator can be adjusted for timing before the rocket is launched. That is what the red guy is doing. And that is why the wires exit from those 7 holes to a device that resides in the cavity behind the 7 holes and insulated from the fuel.

    The HE detonator has to be different from the FAE detonator because they are detonating very different explosives. For example the FAE must detonate after a delay of 200 ms, while the HE must be immediate.

  7. The detonator (bicycle pump) should not be confused with the burster, another explosive used to spread the FAE or the CW.

    The detonator resides not in the central tube, but in the fuel or HE itself.

    There are really 2 mysteries still remaining:

    1- how does the back plate attach to the barrel without the fuel leaking out, and where do the 12 bolts go, as they are not going into the barrel. I think the answer is that the back plate is actually two plates welded together, and there is a solid metal ring inside the central tube where the bolts go.

    2- where is the burster in the front plate assembly.

    There are several problems with your drawing. What you say is a heavy metal plug at the front is actually the top end of the rocket, and is not sold metal. Your video #5 most likely shows the solid piece that separates the burster from the rocket top.

    Another problem with diagram is that the tail is not attached to the rocket. There is an outer skin (casing) that the fin and barrel are attached. The motor slides into that and then up the central tube.

    1. There is a second plate (ring) welded to the rear of warhead baseplate. This second plate has female treads. The other mating plate (ring) is welded to the outer rocket motor tube. The warhead is fitted over the rocket motor and these two plates (rings)are bolted together which in effect makes the entire assembly one complete system(warhead/rocket motor).
      Example; Think of the burster as if it were a small high explosive warhead. When the burster detonates it will do significant damage to its outer housing just like any other small high explosive warhead. The pieces of the burster housing are still in the general area but will be much smaller and highly stressed from the burster detonation forces.

  8. I appreciate the FAE theory, hopefully the UN results will be out soon and clear things up.

  9. The part with seven holes in, sticking out of one of the holes in the back of the warhead section, resembles many NATO military connectors, except that those have a bayonet rather than a screw ring to hold the connector in. I expect that the bursting charge blew the crimp connector pins out of the insulating block, making it look like a plumbing fitting rather than an electrical one.

    If it's hooked up just before launch, I expect it's a time-delay fuse, electronically programmed just before launch and set going at the same moment as the rocket motor. Seven wires would be about right.

    1. Actually Medawar, it is not a connector. they are just portal holes where the thick black cables of the detonator pass through. There appears to be 4 cables per detonator. I believe this sets the time delay between the burster and the detonator. You can notice another flat wire coming out of this port and looping back into the central tube and going forward to the nose impact fuze.

  10. Jody, did you notice the wire going from the detonator to the fuze?

    In at least 3 picture you can see a flat wire about 4 mm wide exiting detonator port and looping back to the tight space between the rocket motor and the central tube. No doubt this goes forward to the fuze. How this wire can take the heat of the rocket motor without losing its insulation, I have no idea. Asbestos wire?

  11. I looked and can't find the wire. I can see a thin piece of the rocket motor tube that is bent back and pointing in the direction of the port on the rear of the warhead base plate assembly. One thing to keep in mind is all rocket motors have an igniter. This igniter is located inside the rocket motor tube and is in contact with the rocket motor propellant. The rocket motor igniter will have wiring and this wiring "normally" runs rearward from the rocket motor igniter to the rocket venture/nozzle assembly. This rocket motor igniter wiring will be connected to an external contact connection point " normally" on the rear of the rocket motor. This contact connection point is normally mated to the rocket launcher firing system when the rocket is loaded into its launcher.

    1. Jody, it is clearly shown in the 8th image from the top (blow it up) showing the back plate of the barrel.

      The wire goes either to the nose fuze or it is a combustion sensor to arm the weapon when the motor fuel burns up to the top of the motor.

      In the slide show, it is #9 of 13. This is the image (if the URL works).


    2. I have seen this in 2 other images as well, including a side view.

    3. Khalid-Look at BM Blog dated 6 Sep 2013; Titled: Close up images of the unidentified munitions etc, etc. In the slide show photo #2 of #10 and photo #8 of #10 are of the same component in your ref. See if the photo in # 8 of #10 more clearly shows what you are attempting to describe.

    4. OK, photo #8 shows that the "wire" is actually a strip of the motor casing that was sheared off. It has been sheared off so consistently that it appears like a wire. Therefore, there is no wire there.

      Look at #5 & #6 in the same set. You can see a lip on the back plate circumference. This lip holds the skin by welding. I believe that is actually two sheet metal plates welded together, one with a slightly larger OD. But I don't see weld marks. Any ideas? We know the barrel is thick sheet metal. But not thick enough to create a lip. How did that lip get created?

    5. I believe this outer base plate assembly lip is machined into the base plate. The outer thin skin of the warhead is one piece component that is mated to this lip on the warhead base plate assembly. The outer thin skin of the warhead is then welded, externally only, to the warhead base plate assembly outer machined lip. This same process is also used to attach the nose assembly to the thin warhead outer skin. This essentially is scoring of the rear and forward portion of the thin warhead outer skin at the attachment points both front and rear. This is a designed failure point for uniformly separating the outer skin from the warhead when the burster functions. Also keep in mind its standard for base plates and nose assemble to be the heaviest constructed components on warheads.

  12. @jody wave These numbers are over exaggerated by John Kerry.
    Ethylene Oxide is a deadly toxic.

    Calculations of Lethality of Ethylene Oxide/Fuel Air Explosive Chemical

  13. Jody, do you think that with these barrel rockets, the fuel is not poured into the barrel until about firing time?

    Also, did you have to use chem masks when you were dealing with ExO?

    1. Jody, what is your best idea where the burster resides? In a well in the central tube, or sandwiched between the forward plate of the barrel and the heavy top plate that carries the fuze, as seen in image 1/13? I lean towards the 2nd option.

    2. I concur with your second option.

    3. Then there must be a heavy metal outer ring (with female screw wells) that directs the burster to the barrel. It would be a few cm wide to create that burster sandwich compartment.

      I can now see how that odd plate in vid #15 protects the motor head, and directs the charge to the soft barrel forward plates.

      The odd #15 plate if you notice has a lip on the outside. This is where the 2nd forward soft plate sits, before it is welded to the forward barrel plate.

      I will try to draw a diagram.

  14. I also find it mildly annoying that the comments section is way ahead of BM ATL, and BM seems not to read the comments section.

    1. I read all the comments, and I'm currently discussing everything with specialists and collecting more data for on the munitions. I'd rather not speculate too much while I'm still collecting evidence.

  15. I'm open minded as to whether we're looking at a FAE or a CW weapon, but what puzzles me is that in the various videos, including from the UN, showing fired UMLACAs there's never any sign of a fire - even if a FAE failed to explode correctly, there would surely still be a fire from the spilled fuel?

    1. Don't have to, and if it catch fire they think it's Napalm.

      With a FAE you see that all the vegetation is gone or dead.

      Unusual fire and explosion hazards:
      Vapors of EtO will burn without the presence of air or other oxidizers.
      EtO vapors are heavier than air and may travel along the ground and be ignited by open flames or sparks at locations remote from the site at which EtO is being used.

      Special fire fighting procedures:
      Dilution of ethylene oxide with 23 volumes of WATER renders it non-flammable.


    2. The focus of the UN teams is trying to verify the type of CW agent used and its associated weapons system. You probably wont hear to much detail about other ordnance being used including FAE weapons. Trying to get in the weeds on other weapons types would just slow them down. In other words, if its not a potential chemical agent/chemical munitions they will move on to the next suspected chemical attack location. The UN teams have limited time and the folks in power want answer yesterday.

    3. AC - There is evidence of scorching around some of the FAE munitions in the videos.

      If the FAE cloud does not detonate, then there may not be a fire.

  16. This is probably relevant to the discussion

    "U.N. inspectors have collected a "wealth" of evidence on the use of nerve agents that points to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against his own people, according to a senior Western official.

    The inspection team, which is expected on Monday to present U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon with a highly anticipated report on a suspected Aug. 21 nerve agent attack in the suburbs of Damascus, will not directly accuse the Syrian regime of gassing its own people, according to three U.N.-based diplomats familiar with the investigation. But it will provide a strong circumstantial case -- based on an examination of spent rocket casings, ammunition, and laboratory tests of soil, blood, and urine samples -- that points strongly in the direction of Syrian government culpability.

    "I know they have gotten very rich samples -- biomedical and environmental -- and they have interviewed victims, doctors and nurses," said the Western official. "It seems they are very happy with the wealth of evidence they got." The official, who declined to speak on the record because of the secrecy surrounding the U.N. investigation, could not identify the specific agents detected by the inspector team, but said, "You can conclude from the type of evidence the [identity of the] author.""

    1. Syria Analysis, Matthew Asheville.

      We are thankfully getting closer to a point where the UN inspection team will hopefully be able to resolve this issue and tell us conclusively what the exact nature of the munitions seen in these videos.

      My hope is that the inspectors have broad enough expert experience in weapons beyond just chemical warheads to be able to accurately identify the type and purpose of the munitions in question.

      I have some concern that the UN inspectors will have seen so few FAE weapons in any context (they are very rarely deployed in Western militaries) that they will be less knowledgable about FAEs.


    2. I'm pretty sure the UN inspectors know what they are doing, and don't forgot the samples are being tested blind in labs.

    3. Is the "western official" Elizabeth O'Bagy?

      Mate, anyone trying to support the claim that a few days after finally letting the UN inspectors in, unknown Syrian Army units fired unknown weapons carrying an unknown chemical agent at unknown targets with an unknown military purpose, either has an agenda, is trying to fool the ignorant masses, or both.

    4. Rachel, I don't believe the UN inspectors care so much about the weapon of delivery. You recall that Russia and Assad made sure their mandate did not include blame fixing. What do they have to hide?

      Gemis, then why did Assad come up with all sorts of excuses to delay the investigation, making sure Sarin was well gone, and why did they prevent the UN from blame fixing? Just shows your theory is bunk, because neither Assad or Russia have any urgency to prove it was carried out by the rebels.

    5. Rachel, EtO is not a big deal. A one time heavy contact will be irritating, but will not kill you and you can escape the cloud. Only prolonged exposure requires protective gear.

      Barking up the wrong tree.

    6. @Khalid - friend, I don't have a theory. I just see huge wholes in some others, that people seem to just throw around.

      To the point: I have no idea what excuses that "Assad came up with" are you talking about. If you are referring to the delay before the UN team actually got on the ground, I'm pretty sure that's been debunked/explained a while ago, in a UN press conference they admitted they submitted the official request that late, and that the syrian reply was in fact fast.

    7. Khalid, where you get this info

      "Russia and Assad made sure their mandate did not include blame fixing"

      as i know that USA who refuse to give the UN inspectors that mission!!!

      and lets read the story from a other view: you have a UN inspectors came to investigate about khanalasal then suddenly you hear by news about CW and 1400 ppl dead and all that is far 2 km from the UN inspectors so do you think you will send the UN inspectors to the area you don't control it just like that??!!

      if am the one who will decide i will ask in one second those questions:

      1- is this a trap from the rebels??
      2- is those UN inspectors or at least one of them have a connection with the rebels and they plan that to get a fake evidence??
      3- in Iraq the UN inspectors was a CIA related so why should i trust them??!!
      4- its enough for one of them to put some Sarin on any rocket and take it with him to the lab to close this case as he want

      so when you are a government you don't just trust ppl and tell them yeah just go as you like

      as waled almoalem said in his conference he said John Kerry called him after one day at Thursday and asked him to let the UN inspectors to visit the ghota but moalem says the UN inspectors asked to visit the ghota at Saturday and it toke one more day to get from them the exact locations they want to visit then they let them go so all this is four days and if they have something to hide they should delay for at least one week to make sure that will be nothing to be find

      i have one more question about Assad CW theory:
      if Assad approved to his army to use CW why he did not use it to protect his many air bases which rebels got it and killed all the Syrian army in it?!!
      those air bases located outside the cities and the attacker with hundreds and maybe thousands so how come he did not use the CW there against his real enemies but he use it in civilian area 2 kn far from UN inspectors and in his main city Damascus?? i really don't get it, its like someone hammering his head !!

    8. The press reports, which you should read, say that the inspectors were fuming because Assad wouldn't let them go there (after request was made), and held them back for many days under the false pretense that it is not safe to go. This all the time while the rebels were begging for the inspectors to come.

      Hmmm... Assad delayed them for almost a week for the Sarin to dissipate, while the rebels are begging them to come. Another circumstantial evidence that Assad is a gasser.

    9. press report of Obama and john Kerry u mean??

      well here is the link of the Financial Times for example:

      and they said :
      "The UN disarmament chief Angela Kane arrived in Damascus to press the Syrian government for access to the alleged site of the chemical weapons attack.
      UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said this week he was determined to “conduct a thorough, impartial and prompt investigation” into the events.
      He has sent Ms Kane to press the Syrian authorities to allow a team of 20 experts on chemical weapons – already in Damascus – to investigate the claims."

      so Ms Kane officially asked at Saturday which August 24 at Sunday they define the four locations they want to visit and get the arrangement of the safety for the inspectors from the both sides and at Monday they went there which is August 26...
      you should count starting from UN officially asked not from john Kerry asked!!!!

      so the real question now why USA delayed the UN investigators to come and check khan alasal for ((((5 MONTH )))) and when they came they got a new attack just 2 km far from UN inspectors???!!!
      do you have a list of the 1400 dead ppl names??
      do you have any video show more than 100 ppl at least or its just repeated faces?
      if you trust all the news against Assad why don't trust the same news sources about the rebels?
      i don't care about Assad himself but i care to not let the real killer escape just because i have a political agenda with this part or that and you should argue both sides when there is no evidence to support what they are saying, news reports and ppl says is not enough to side here or there

  17. The FAE warheads could already be prefilled or they could be filling them sometime just prior to firing. The rebels are pretty much operating on the fly in a very improvised manner so nothing would be a surprise.

    Filling FAE warheads (this was 25+ years ago); We used a smaller type specialized fuel truck apx 1500 gal capacity. The only person that put on protective clothing was the person filling the warhead and everyone else waited up wind about 100ft until the filling operation was complete. The individual filling the warheads wore protective rubber gloves, a long sleeve full frontal coverage rubber apron, and SCBA. I really don't remember it being a big deal, just fill the warhead and move on to the task.

    1. Correction; I did not mean to say rebel forces, it should say forces loyal to the Gov.

    2. Yep, for FAE, a premix makes sense. Khalid refuses to understand the toxicity for whatever reason though. There are numerous studies showing what excessive acute exposure will do within a very short timeframe (under an hour). And it's essentially a perfect match. Combined with the scorching and it's just obvious.

      Seeing as there is no membrane and only one port is being used for filling, this would mean that sarin would be premixed, filled, transported. As degradation of the mixture is fairly rapid, by the time it hits, there would be no point. If you assume it was filled just prior to launch, you are now talking about firing crews handling a stupidly deadly mixture which would be contaminating everything and everyone around them. It would be doable if the fill was simply capsules that dispersed and then released, however there is zero evidence of such a mechanism, and if there were, there would be a lot of debris from it.

      The "inside western official" making comments on the UN report... it's spin at this point. The only facts provided are "inspectors are satisfied with their collected samples" and "the report is conclusive". If it was sarin, said official would have said so. I mean, if despite all the secrecy around it he is willing to leak, why not leak the result? Because it's not sarin, it's EtO.

    3. Jody dealt with EtO routinely and he didn't even bother to wear any protective clothing or breathing gear. In hospitals, nurses use EtO to clean surgical tools. An acute exposure will bring you a headache and make you want to get fresh air.

      It's not going to stick Daniel. Please don't talk about EtO anymore.

  18. Has there been any discussion of an altimeter fuse? that they were triggered pre-impact?

    just curious

  19. I've just posted more images here

  20. Jody, I think this is how the detonator (bicycle pump) works: Before firing, the operator goes to port #1 and 1- arms the detonator, and 2- programs the delay (e.g. 200 ms).

    There is no communication between the nose fuze and the detonator.

    Upon the fuze setting off the burster charge, the detonator becomes detached and is thrown up into the cloud along with the fuel. An acceleration sensor senses this massive shock and activates the timer, which makes the detonator go off after a delay while it travels through the cloud.

    Question: For the cloud to detonate, can that be initiated by a flame or must it be by another charge detonating?

    1. Khalid, look at the BM blog dated 6 Sep 2013, I covered this there in some detail.

  21. Jody, actually you don't need an accelerometer. There is a much simpler method. Those cables from the back of the detonator that go through that socket-like white receptacle with 7 holes, will get ripped off when the detonator is sheared and hurled, and a close circuit will open, and start the timing sequence. Simple and effective.

    This thing is sophisticated both in design and construction. The construction detail is of high quality and obviously a matter of an assembly line where forging, milling and stamping are available.

    There would be no way for a small shop with limited capabilities to design, build, and assure this munition. Even Syria's military institute coudn't create this, but may have been capable of manufacturing them under license.

    The detonator itself is far beyond the capabilities of the rebels.

    1. Khalid, I have to take a pass on this one.

  22. BM thanks for the new pictures.

    The main unsolved item is the front top assembly, in particular where the burster is and how the assembly is attached to the front plate of the barrel.

    There should be remnants of the top assembly buried where the FAE impacted the ground. If they could only dig them out and send pictures and dimensions.

    Also the flat end of the motor. How is that constructed exactly? This will complete the puzzle.

    Slicing a detonator and showing the internals is also very helpful.

    Not that the above unknowns make a difference to the blame fixing. There is no question that the UMLACA is a regime munition.

  23. The toxicity of Ethylene Oxide is over stated. There has been several industrial accidents involving EO but no one has ever died.

    In one case, 900 gallons of EO leaked and poisoned 22 workers. They suffered severe vomiting for several hours but recovered. No one died.

    Furthermore, laboratory animals generally die 1 to 2 days after EO exposure, due to delayed systemic toxicity or lung damage. They don't die immediately.

    EO did not cause the deaths in Damascus.

    “In addition, Thiess [13] summarizes an incident where 22 workers were overcome from a 900-gallon release of EO through a ruptured valve. In an attempt to alleviate the danger as quickly as possible, there was a disregard to donning of any respiratory protection, thus there was direct acute exposure. The durations of these exposures were not reported in detail, but the actions and descriptions during the event indicate significant exposure.

    These included the following specific examples: attempts by a worker to close the main valve which resulted in his being drenched by a thick jet of liquid EO that covered his head and hands; actions of a foreman when removing several injured workers; actions of a fireman who stood for about 10 minutes near the spray from the rupture.

    The principle symptoms of acute EO exposure demonstrated were nausea and periodic vomiting (all 22 workers), that commenced a short time after first exposure and persisted for hours and was characterized for some as very severe vomiting.”


    "Thiess [13] reports on another 19 illnesses from industrial accidents from 1956 to 1962. He states: “So far according to our knowledge there have been no cases reported of fatalities after inhalation of pure ethylene oxide.”"

    Snellings, W.M., Nachreiner, D.J., and Pottenger, L.H., 2011, Ethylene Oxide: Acute Four-Hour and One-Hour Inhalation Toxicity Testing in Rats: Journal of Toxicology, v. 2011, doi: 10.1155/2011/910180.

    A. M. Thiess, “Observations concerning intoxication due to ethylene oxide exposure,” Archives of Toxicology, vol. 20, p. 127, 1963.

  24. Oh, one other thing. Ethylene Oxide boils at 10.7 Celsius. Handling EO would be very difficult, at normal temperatures it is a gas. EO is transported in gas bottles and cartridges.


    Sarin on the other hand is a liquid at normal temperatures, it boils at 158 Celsius.