EOD related question

I just watched a TV documentary called “In harm’s way” about EOD operations in Cambodia. They locate a UXB and detonate it, no salvaging. There was an RPG sitting upright, they said it was very unstable and could explode while handled. Why don’t they just shoot it, the impact of a bullet would set it off?

I’m not an “expert” but to start discussion: The USAF researched disruption of sub-munitions by small arms fire at some length, using 7.62 X 51 and 12.7 X 99, at least.
In general, however, there are problems:

  1. Every EOD troop is not inherently a “marksman” to hit the device squarely at a point to ensure detonation. 2. small arms fire is not always a reliable initiator of explosives, esp. if encased in a thick bodied munition. A counter-charge or a perforator, carefully placed would be more reliable.
  2. You must be sure of your “backstop” with a firearm, that could well exceed the frag zone for the item being destroyed.
    Just some thoughts.

Shootig at explosove ordnance is usualy only done when the situation requires it.
This might be:

  • During combat situations (often time critical or enemy is near)
  • In very special situations when no demolition charge can be placed or it will be very difficult to do so (more often with improvised explosive devices - IED)
    The drawbacks are:
  • The ordnance item may be hit but will not detonate, thus creating a need for a second or more shots which will be difficult to carry out when the target has moved or flew away after the projectile’s impact. (unless it is and IED and it is desired to keep the components for forensic investigation but there is whole string of other procedures as well)
  • The projectile fired needs to be calculated into the safety zone and also ricochets are not really predictable. So it creates a secondary danger.
  • If the target is not getting hit in a way that it will explode it has a good chance to be ruptured into pieces and being scattered all over the area. Leaving lumps of explosive and an armed fuze (or even more). Cleaning this up will involve a demolition then anyways and in the worst case things may be missed in the following clean up.

So a controlled demolition is the best to do since the EOD operator has the choice how, from what direction, with how much force (qty of explosives) and in what exact moment the item in question will be destroyed.

This is the reason why EOD operators do this job and no snipers.