Skip to comments.Saddam's bunker under allied bombing
Posted on 04/03/2003 10:06:15 AM PST by HAL9000
DUBAI (AFP) - US forces claiming to be 15 kilometers (nine miles) from downtown Baghdad Thursday have targeted the bunker of President Saddam Hussein, which its designer says can withstand anything short of a hit by a Hiroshima-size bomb.
The US Central Command said Wednesday that coalition forces had targeted the presidential bunker and residence in Baghdad's Republican Palace district and the New Presidential Palace in the Al-Khark section west of the Tigris River, using precision-guided munitions in early-morning raids.
Karl Bernd Esser, the German architect who says he designed the bunker buried deep underneath the palace complex, recently told Germany's ZDF television that the walls were three meters (10 feet) thick and could withstand temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius and survive anything short of a direct hit from a nuclear weapon the size of that which destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.
Two underground passages lead directly to the Tigris.
Esser says on his company's Internet website that the bunker, built in 1982 to the highest specifications, has a total area of 1,800 sq meters (19,370 sq feet).
It cost 66 million dollars to build, but proved its worth in the 1991 Gulf War, withstanding aerial bombardment.
The website of the company he works for, Sheltex, shows pictures said to be of a command center in the bunker as well as the presidential bedroom, part of the air-conditioning system and a hideaway.
The Sheltex website claims it plans, builds and delivers bunkers worldwide and is the only company supplying them to NATO, US, German, Swedish and Swiss standards.
The site includes a design for a two-level bunker of 400 sq meters and capable of holding 60 to 90 people.
It could withstand a direct hit by a conventional 250-kilogram bomb, while protecting its occupants from the effects of a nuclear, chemical or biological (NCB) attack, the accompanying text explains.
Apart from his bunker, Saddam is said to have ordered the construction of two others in Baghdad that should enable his army command to resist up to six months.
One is said to be close to the air force HQ south of the capital, an area that has repeatedly come under allied bombing since the United States and Britain launched war on March 20.
A Swiss newspaper reported last month that several of the underground bunkers used by Saddam's government were built with the help of a Swiss specialist firm during the 1980s.
Sonntagsblick said the bunkers benefitted from the same technology -- including blast-proof doors -- used in the network of community and private shelters which are a fabled part of neutral Switzerland's civil protection system.
"That's correct, we took part in the construction of a bunker for the (ruling) Baath Party. In all we helped equip about 10 bunkers," Ulrich Haug, head of the Swiss firm Zellweger Luwa, was quoted as saying.
The US military has developed a variety of "bunker buster" bombs over the past decade.
Existing "bunker busters" are conventional bombs with hardened, tapered nose cones that can bore through dirt, rock or reinforced concrete and then detonate at a specific depth.
The Pentagon is studying the use of tactical nuclear weapons to penetrate deeply and incinerate chemical or biological agents.
The GBU-37, which US air force commanders have nicknamed "the crowd pleaser," is a 2.25 tonne (5,000-pound) bomb that guides itself to the target using Global Positioning Satellites and steerable fins.
Its hardened nose and 13 foot (4.0 meter) length is designed to penetrate six to nine meters (20 to 30 feet) of reinforced concrete before exploding. Its fuse can be set to explode at varying depths depending on the target.
It is delivered only by the B-2 stealth bomber, which can carry eight of the bombs.
A laser guided variant of the bunker buster, the BLU-113, is delivered by B-52 bombers and F-15E strike aircraft.
For smaller jobs, the air force also has a 900 kilo (2,000-pound) bomb with earth penetrating warheads.
It's mostly an old artillery tube. Most of the weight is the steel of that tube. It's dropped from fairly high altitude, and doesn't have much air drag, so it's moving very fast when it hits the surface. Sheer momentum, and a fairly small frontal area to apply all that force on, carries it through the concrete, bending the re-bar aside as it goes. Then it explodes the ~650 pounds of tritional it carries, which does finally blow up the tube, along with whoever or whatever might be in the general vicinity. Even if it didn't explode, it would still make a mell of a hess.