"Military OKs risky grenade for war use
Faulty fuse makes device unsafe, but worth it in emergency: report
The Ottawa Citizen
November 23, 2003
The Canadian Forces has decided to take delivery of $750,000 worth of unsafe grenades, but will only use the devices in the event of war because of the potential they could inadvertently detonate.
The high-explosive grenades were ordered in 1996, but have remained stored in a factory in Germany after a military safety board determined the devices shouldn't be used by Canadian soldiers without major modifications. In addition, a military audit done in 1999 noted that the grenades were "potentially lethal to the troops using them."
The army ordered more than 3,000 of the grenades knowing that there were safety problems and that the device's fuse design was outdated, according to a report produced last September for the defence minister's office and obtained by the Citizen. Military officials had hoped that the problems could be solved, but later determined that the required safety fixes would cost more than $400,000.
The army rejected those safety modifications as well as a proposal to destroy the grenades. The weapons, which now only have five years of shelf-life left, are for use as an anti-ambush device on Canadian Forces armoured vehicles. They would be fired by the crew from inside the vehicle to kill or wound enemy soldiers.
Among the safety concerns was that excessive vibration could affect the grenade fuse and that soldiers unloading the devices at the end of a patrol could never be sure the grenades wouldn't inadvertently explode as they handled them, according to the military audit.
As well, there were concerns that the grenade's safety pin was too weak for repeated handling. Tests also revealed that radio transmissions might detonate the devices.
In addition, the grenades lack two separate safety mechanisms, considered a standard design feature for modern explosives and a safety requirement for the Canadian military. The military's ammunition safety board determined that the grenades could never be considered safe and suitable for Canadian use unless the fuse was redesigned or replaced with a suitable modern design.
The grenade contract was supposed to be an example of the military buying off-the-shelf equipment, a plan that was originally promoted by senior Defence officials and various Defence ministers as saving money for the taxpayer.
Military spokesman Col. Bob Gunn said in an interview that the Army has decided to take delivery of the grenades but will only use them in wartime or when the level of threat against Canadian troops is significantly increased. In such a case, the risks posed by not having the grenades outweigh the safety concerns raised about the devices, he added.
Col. Gunn, however, said it is still not known when the grenades will arrive in Canada. "We're still having problems within the department sorting out appropriate storage for them and storing them safely so we don't know exactly when they'll come," he said.
If the grenades are needed in an emergency they would be shipped directly from the factory in Germany to troops in the field.
Special handling drills will also be developed for the high-explosive devices, Col. Gunn said. Troops will not train with live grenades but instead rely on videos to learn about the weapons.
Col. Gunn said that no manufacturer makes a similar grenade with the dual safety mechanism that is required by military regulations.
But an audit done by the military's Chief of Review Services took Defence department bureaucrats and officers to task for continuing to ignore the safety issues surrounding the grenades.
The auditors also noted that the company supplying the devices was paid in full in 1998 even though it had not provided requested safety test data. The audit recommended that proper testing be done of equipment before it is purchased and that senior officials be advised when such safety concerns are raised."
See it yourself at: http://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=f996787a-1ec1-4996-84b9-92ab20c8c88f
Not only are these grenades unsafe, but we'll use videos only to train the troops how to use them?!? Can we use videos to train troops how to drive vehicles or fire other weapons too? I can't seem to clear the mental image of some young soldier 'safing' one of these on the side of a LAV III after a patrol, and him joining the 'pink mist society' because of this unsafe fusing system. Or some of them 'inadvertently detonating' on the side of a vehicle while going through a busy market - Geez, after the Afghanis claim Jihad on all Canadians for killing a large number of innocent women and children, it would make Blackhawk Down seem like a poorly conducted minor exercise.
I sure as hell hope not.