Last week I went to see the movie Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen and I really enjoyed it. It is not the type of movie that will provide intellectual stimulation, an emotional experience or give insight into human character, but it is very entertaining. For those of you who are not familiar with the Transformer story, is basically about an intergalactic war between two races of robots that is being fought on Earth. There are good guys, the Autobots, who are allied with humans, and the Decepticons, who want to wipe out both Autobots and humans. UPDATE: Matt corrects my ignorance about the Transformers story in the comments below.
While I enjoyed the stunning CGI effects and battle scenes I could not help but notice that the humans soldiers, a mixture of British and American special forces, were getting a very raw deal. They were being sent into battle armed with M16s against robots that are about 20-30 feet in height and made out of metal.
What the Robot Fighting Warriors were Carrying
I did not pay much attention to the weaponry as I normally do when watching a movie because I was enjoying all the special effects, but if my memory serves me correctly the human were all armed with M16 rifles that featured some funky, almost triangular, handguard. Below the handguard they had a fore-grip with light attachment. I cannot remember if there were any M203 grenade launchers. If there were they were not using them much.
Major William Lennox (left), leader of the humans, on the run.
The M16 fires the 5.56mm NATO round which is an intermediate (low power) rifle cartridge. Although an armor piercing variant is available, it was never intended as an anti-vehicle round. It is not even considered powerful enough to hunt deer, let alone robots.
How to Destroy a Robot
One word: Power. Lots and lots of pure armor destroying power. Forget about pistols, which can be seen dangling off the legs of the soldiers in the above photo. Forget about low powered assault rifles. Leave them at home.
For most anti-robot needs we must turn to South Africa. Because of the oppressive apartheid régime in South Africa during latter half of the 20th century, arms embargoes were levied against the country. The arms embargoes from Western countries combined with a proxy war in Angola against the Soviets meant that the South African arms industry developed in isolation. The isolation resulted in a variety of unique and very powerful, some would say overkill, small arms.
1. PMP Neopup PAW – 20mm Personal Assault Weapon
The Neopup PAW (Personal Assault Weapon) is manufactured by South African firm Denel. It is a semi-automatic 20mm grenade launcher. As far as I know it is the only semi-automatic grenade launcher designed explicitly to replace a rifle in the hands of a soldier, unlike the XM25 (I believe XM25 operators would carry an M4 or equivalent weapon).
The older variant of the Neopup.
The Neopup fires high explosive 20x42mm grenades. These grenades are designed to have a very flat trajectory, allowed you operator to point and shoot, rather than lobbing shells into the air on a steep trajectory. This is what makes it the perfect robot killer. The user simply needs to aim at the head, neck, chest or any other venerable area and fire a HE (High explosive) round to do some serious damage. Try doing that with an M16! I propose the robot warriors dump their rifles and pick up Neopup PAW.
2. Milkor MGL – 40mm Multiple Grenade Launcher
While the 20mm grenade launcher may offer fast reloading and more accurate shooting, outfitting grenadiers with 40mm “artillery” could turn the tide of a battle.
The Milkor MGL has an interesting history. It is basically a scaled up version of the infamous South African Armsel Striker aka. the Protecta aka. the Street Sweeper 12 gauge shotgun. The design made for a scary looking but very inefficient shotgun. Another South African firm, Milkor, scaled it up from 12 guage to 40mm and developed a very successful multiple grenade launcher that was recently adopted by the US Marines as the M32 MGL.
The weapon can fire six 40x46mm grenades as fast as the operator can pull the trigger, although aimed fired from this heavy recoil weapon does slow down the effective firing rate. At relatively close range a trained operator should be able to hit a Decepticon robot and a high explosive round would do considerable damage. It can also be used to lay down indirect fire much like a mortar.
3. Denel NTW-20 – Long Range Anti-Robot Sniper Rifle
Denel also produces the enormous NTW-20 anti-material rifle. This rifle can be configured to fire the Semi-Armour Piercing High Explosive Incendiary (SAPHEI) 20x82mm rounds or the 14.5×114 mm Armour Piercing Incendiary (API).
This weapon is more than twice as powerful as .50 BMG (12.7x99mm NATO) rifles! It can accuracy fire out past 1000 meters taking the fight to the enemy before than are in range.
The reason I chose the NTW-20 over other anti-material rifles is that is can quickly be broken down in half for portability.
4. Metal Storm MAUL: A pistol that packs a punch
A couple of months ago the Australian firm Metal Storm unveiled the MAUL. It is a lightweight semi-automatic shotgun that is being funded by the US Navy. The unique Metal Storm technology stores the ammunition inside the barrel and then electronically fires it one round at a time. This allows for a shotgun so compact, it can be configured as a pistol!
While this would be no-where as powerful as a full-sized shotgun, due to the short barrel length, if it was loaded with 12 guage grenades it would pack a punch orders of magnitude more powerful than a conventional pistol making it a perfect last ditch defense side-arm to use against ranpaging robots.
5. RPG-7: An oldie but a goodie
This weapon needs no introduction. The Soviet designed RPG-7 is by far the most well known and recognizable grenade launcher and is favored by third world armies, rebels and terrorists.
So why would a nearly 50 year old weapon make a good robot killer? Versatility. The large size of the warhead allows for a wide variety of ammunition.
Different RPG-7 ammunition.
Currently high explosive anti-amour, tandem anti-armour (two charges fired in tandem to defeat reactive armor), fragmentation and even thermobaric ammunition is available. The RPG-7 would make a perfect platform for an anti-Robot weapon such as some sort of Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) device.
The troops in Transformers 2 were very poorly armed. If an alien race of robots landed on earth today, any half-decent arms dealer could could supply much better weapons that what the script writers of the movie came up with.
Hopefully the producers will hire me as a technical consultant before the next Transformers movie comes out 😉
[ Don’t take this blog post seriously ]