Shortly after midnight on 6 August 2011, a Chinook helicopter carrying NATO and Afghan security forces was prepar- ing to land near the Tangi Valley in Afghanistan. As the helicopter was descending, a Taliban fighter fired a rocket- propelled grenade (RPG)1 at the dangerously exposed aircraft. The helicopter burst into flames, breaking apart as it plummeted to the ground. Thirty-eight people died in the crash, including 22 US special forces troops, making it the deadliest single incident of the war for US forces (King, Dilanian, and Cloud, 2011; Riechmann, 2011). An unclassified summary of a US military investigation into the incident confirms that the helicopter was hit by a ‘rocket-propelled grenade’ but provides no additional details (US CENTCOM, 2011b).
Most media accounts also refer to the weapon simply as a ‘rocket-propelled grenade’,2 but there are many kinds of RPGs from various sources and with very different capabilities. These differences matter—and not just in the case of the downed helicopter. Whether Taliban arsenals are filled with 30-year-old Soviet PG-7 rounds or PG-29V rounds for the deadly RPG-29 Vampir has profound implications, yet detailed data on illicit weapons in Afghanistan is scant.
These data gaps are not limited to Afghanistan. Details on the model, country of origin, age, and condition of illicit weapons are rare, and the little information that is available is usually anecdotal and incomplete. Thus, we are left to wonder what models of RPGs and other weapons are most readily available to terrorists, insurgents, and criminals. How technologically advanced are these weapons? Is it possible to keep them out of the hands of indi- viduals and groups that are likely to misuse them? How old are they, and how many are still functional? Answers to these questions have the potential to shape efforts to stem the flow of illicit weapons and shed light on the threat they now pose. This chapter inaugurates a multi-year project to provide such answers through data-driven analysis of illicit small arms and light weapons worldwide.
The project consists of three overlapping phases. This chapter distils the findings of the first phase, focusing on ‘war weapons’, namely small arms and light weapons illicitly acquired and used by non-state actors in high-intensity conflict zones. Phase two will look at illicit small arms in low-intensity armed conflicts and in countries affected by high-intensity organized criminal violence. The third and final phase will examine countries affected primarily by indi- vidual criminal violence.
Read More: http://www.hamdancommunications.com.com