Artillery - Modern Operations - Air Burst

Air Burst

The destructiveness of artillery bombardments can be enhanced when some or all of the shells are set for airburst, meaning that they explode in the air above the target instead of upon impact. This can be accomplished either through time fuses or proximity fuses. Time fuses use a precise timer to detonate the shell after a preset delay. This technique is tricky and slight variations in the functioning of the fuse can cause it to explode too high and be ineffective, or to strike the ground instead of exploding above it. Since December 1944 (Battle of the Bulge), proximity fuzed artillery shells have been available that take the guesswork out of this process. These embody a miniature, low powered radar transmitter in the fuse to detect the ground and explode them at a predetermined height above it. The return of the weak radar signal completes an electrical circuit in the fuze which explodes the shell. The proximity fuse itself was developed by the British to increase the effectiveness of anti-aircraft warfare.

This is a very effective tactic against infantry and light vehicles, because it scatters the fragmentation of the shell over a larger area and prevents it from being blocked by terrain or entrenchments that do not include some form of robust overhead cover. Combined with TOT or MRSI tactics that give no warning of the incoming rounds, these rounds are especially devastating because many enemy soldiers are likely to be caught in the open. This is even more so if the attack is launched against an assembly area or troops moving in the open rather than a unit in an entrenched tactical position.

Read more about this topic:  Artillery, Modern Operations

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