"NATO Draht"

Something small and simple for a change.

I leave this here because every now and then I mention this privately and it's handy to have the stuff compiled in one link:

Military 'barbed wire' isn't barbed wire any more, and hasn't been in decades. It's rather a stamped steel sheet. The exact shapes vary (multiple types can be seen here), but they have in common that
  • they're much more difficult to cut than actual barbed wire
  • they're usually stored and applied in coils
  • sometimes even a single deployed coil can stop a light AFV while 10 coils can be considered a convincing obstacle to all kinds of AFVs*
  • you rather don't try to jump over it with all of the weight of your individual infantry equipment
  • nobody likes to handle this stuff, it's a mess even with special gloves and tools
  • to deploy such obstacles is rather slow
  • its difficult to cut these obstacles silently, even with appropriate tools
- - - - -

I've heard different claims about how well such obstacles resist explosive charges. My personal guess is that 120 and 125 mm HE-frag shells should be satisfactory at clearing, while small charges such as hand grenades may not be.
A promising clearing method would likely be small continuous rod charges or linear explosive formed penetrator charges (there are linear shaped charges, so I suppose at >110° cone angle linear EFP would work as well, but maybe the linear shaped charges themselves suffice already).** I have never heard of either in service, so I suppose I'm either poorly informed on post-1980's engineer demolitions equipment or nobody really bothered to go much past 1940's solutions in this area.

I tried to check this, and the U.S. Army knows linear shaped charges, but doesn't seem to use them itself. Military engineer demolitions equipment really doesn't seem to have experienced much improvement after the 1940's, safe for plastic explosive sheets and the 1950's invention of explosive foxhole excavators.

Well, the least messy method of making a S-Draht obstacle trafficable may be to simply lay a bridge or carpet over it. Blowing stuff up may merely be the male-typical approach. ;-)


*: There's a rule of thumb in a German field manual, but I am not sure I memorised it correctly. A standard obstacle would be 3 coils, two on the ground and one on top of them - all linked. Nobody even thinks of trying to jump over or crawl below that without tools.
**: Bangalore torpedoes are more bulky, and about 2 kg of bundled or  stacked hand grenades seem inefficient and are no good answer to some other obstacles and structures that might be in need of explosive problem solving.


  1. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ntWkFAWtvuE

    Not sure if those bangalores are in use in Finland, the mine and ATM fuze are approved war material and in use.

    1. Now that looks nice. I didn't see it before - it was all guessing about the suitability. Its aluminium liner seems right for saving weight.

      There seems to be one problem with Bangalore Blade, though; I don't see how one could tell upside from downside at night, and this matters because the EFP effect is directional.

    2. I just received a reply from the Bangalore Blade maker to an inquiry.

      "Correct orientation of the Bangalore Blade is very easily arranged: it does not matter which way round it is placed with respect to the target.

      The case of our Bangalore differs from the traditional round tube in that it is approximately square in transverse section. Each of the four sides is slightly concave and generates a cutting blade when the charge detonates. Thus a length of the charge, inserted through a wire loop will cut the loop in at least four places! Unlike most traditional charges, the Bangalore Blade severs razor wire as well as old-fashioned barbed wire. It can also be used as a powerful demolition charge.

      The corners of the tube are not sharp but each of them is flattened and itself is slightly concave, thereby producing a smaller linear projectile itself. "

      He attached a photo that confirms this shape:

  2. Two marginally man portable systems:



    Clearing wire obstacles with artillery is too slow and uses too much ammunition.

    The quick and easy method of overcoming simple wire obstacles is to throw a carpet over it and simply climb over the obstacle. Surely lightweight ballistic cloths could do the job.


    1. RAMBS 3 is a backpack-sized system of that kind, meant to clear a 60 m x 60 cm lane. Not sure if it would clear NATO Draht.


    2. Not simple or cheap, but there is also the JDAM ASSAULT BREACHING SYSTEM, which handles wire, obstacles, and mines.

      And of course the MCLICs, and combat engineer vehicles like ABVs, Trojan, Panther...

      Finally, it turns out that MK 84 bombs work well against wire and obstacles too. I know that FAE had good results, but apparently not against all mine types.