Why does the US military use depleted uranium?

18 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    In military applications, when alloyed, Depleted Uranium is ideal for use in armor penetrators. These solid metal projectiles have the speed, mass and physical properties to perform exceptionally well against armored targets. DU provides a substantial performance advantage, well above other competing materials. This allows DU penetrators to defeat an armored target at a significantly greater distance. Also, DU's density and physical properties make it ideal for use as armor plate. DU has been used in weapon systems for many years in both applications.

    DU can be used to engage the enemy at greater distances than tungsten penetrators or high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds because of improved ballistic properties. When they strike a target, tungsten penetrators blunt while DU has a self-sharpening property. DU ammunition routinely provides a 25 percent increase in effective range over traditional kinetic energy rounds.

    On impact with a hard target (such as a tank) the penetrator may generate a cloud of DU dust within the struck vehicle that ignites spontaneously creating a fire that increases the damage to the target. Due to the pyrophoric nature of DU, many of the DU particles and fragments that are formed during and following impact and perforation will spontaneously ignite, resulting in a shift of the particle size probability distribution function to a smaller mean diameter. As a result of physical differences between DU and its oxides, the oxide particles tend to crumble under relatively weak mechanical forces, further shifting the particle size to an even smaller mean diameter.

    The amount of depleted uranium which is transformed into dust will depend upon the type of munition, the nature of the impact, and the type of target. The number of penetrators hitting a target depends upon many factors, including the type and size of the target. On average, not more than 10% of the penetrators fired by planes equipped with large machine guns hit the target (20 - 30 mm rounds). DU munitions which do not hit hard targets will penetrate into the soft ground or remain more or less intact on the surface. These will corrode over time, as metalic DU is not stable under environmental conditions.

    Everything you need to know about DU here.

    (Real info, not that Anti-war conspiracy crap)


    Source(s): USN Vet
  • Roslyn
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Should look up the meaning of the word depleted. Depleted uranium rounds have been tested and retested and found not to pose a radiation hazard and the testing has been by non-military and military personnel. The continued talk about the high radiation hazard cannot cite any reputable study and is just a continued mantra from anti-military groups. Yes they have a radiation hazard warning symbol on them but so does the compass and watches issued to the military because they do emit minute amounts of radiation; you would be shocked if you really looked around your house and found how much of the stuff you use daily does-probably very close to 100%. So military force is never justified in your opinion; you have that opinion and can express it because others don't agree with it and felt a duty to ensure you could have that blind/Polly Anna attitude by protecting you from those who don't. As stated many times they are wolves, sheep and between them you have the sheep dogs who keep the sheep from being eaten.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Because it's a lot heavier than other things they can use to make bullets and heavy bullets hit harder. Depleted uranium is not the health hazard that many people say it is. What about the word depleted do they not understand?

  • 1 decade ago

    Depleted uranium on the tip of a round, at impact, makes enough heat to melt through its target (thus the armor penetration).

    After impact, the uranium (which is very heavy and cannot remain airborn) falls to the ground and is only a problem if you come in physical contact with it and it sticks to or penetrates your skin. This is why it remains a problem when used in urban areas when civilians pick through the remains of a terminated target.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Due to its denseness and hardness, DU penetrators can defeat the armor of vehicles without shattering. Normal steel shot flying at a high muzzle velocity would shatter when hitting the armor of a tank.

    DU rounds are not used on individual soldiers; that would be a waste of expensive ammunition.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Its really less radio active then natural uranium, it just thats its tougher then steel as john c said

    IT is very heavy and dense..

    Ammo- can destory any steel armored target. its super heat upon fire melts thourgh armor like butter. IN ADDITION!! as it pierces, unlike steel armor, it actually gets sharper rather then blunt

    As armor- its the toughest **** around, steel cored or lead core ammon cannot penetrate it because it is dense and has a much much higher melting temperature

  • Luvvie
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Two reasons:

    1. Because of its density.

    2. Because it is so hard.

    (remember, lead has density but is quite soft)

    The combination of these two things make it extremely useful as a penetrating round, or as other people seem to have forgotten, as a coating on armour to make it even more impenetrable (Dorchester).

    It was also thought to be inert but that has now proven to be untrue so the use of DU in rounds is under review.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Its really less radio active then natural uranium, it just thats its tougher then steel

  • 1 decade ago

    Because of its mass, it can deliver more energy than lighter substances such as steel which makes it ideal for armor penetration rounds.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Because of it's density... It's used in ammunition to cut through heavy duty stuff (i.e. metal, brick, etc.)

    FYI - lead is nowhere near as dense.. and much more maliable.. but it expands well on impact, which is why it is used in ammo used on people.

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