World's deadliest gun: Australian storm of metal terror

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - 10:00

Wanda Fish

It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on. — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In the wake of the London bombings and angry condemnation of terrorism, the Australian invention of the world's deadliest gun delivers a weapon of ultimate terror that will be used by those countries that claim to fight terrorism.

Metal Storm, an Australian company whose shares have recently skyrocketed on the stock exchange, has developed a robotised killing machine capable of firing more than 1 million rounds a minute — enough to shred an entire building in the blink of an eye.

The potential applications, being developed with the US Department of Defense, Boeing, Lockheed and Dragonfly Pictures (aerial surveillance company), threaten to make the death and destruction caused by terrorists a mere footnote in the killing of innocent civilians. Their stated intention is to deploy the lethal weapon in "hostile urban environments" and it has been reported in the mainstream media that this deadly weapon will be used in Iraq.

Metal Storm technology, invented by a Brisbane grocer, is an electronically initiated, stacked projectile system, which removes the mechanical steps required to fire a conventional weapon. In effect, the only parts that move in Metal Storm's weapons are the projectiles contained within the barrels.

Multiple projectiles are stacked in a barrel, each separated by a propellant load. The technology allows each projectile to be fired sequentially from the barrel.

Metal Storm's fully loaded barrel tubes are essentially serviceable weapons, without the traditional ammunition feed or ejection system, breech opening or any other moving parts. Metal Storm barrels can be effectively grouped in multiple configurations to meet a diversity of deadly applications.

Working with the US Army and other weaponry and surveillance companies, Metal Storm's terrifying force can ultimately be deployed on land, underwater, over water and from the air with unmanned robots and helicopters that are remote controlled. Despite claims that Metal Storm's work is shrouded in secrecy, this information is accessible on the net from the company's own website, mainstream press reports, stock exchange information and is even published Defense Review articles.

In one such posting, David Crane reported that Metal Storm had successfully completed a series of live-fire tests in front of senior personnel from the US Department of Defense using a 16-round prototype 40mm grenade launcher system which was mounted to an unmanned ground vehicle.

The Defense Review article also mentioned that an in-flight live-fire demonstration of an unmanned aerial vehicle did not receive clearance due to "operational restrictions". The test would have mounted the Metal Storm 40mm weapon onto a Dragonfly unmanned aerial vehicle that would essentially create an unmanned combat air vehicle, capable of hailing down deadly arsenal of apocalyptic destruction. However, more recent announcements from Metal Storm's CEO infer that a live test will be conducted soon, and that the aerial weaponry may be available for military application soon.

Multiple applications

The development of this weapon takes on a new and frightening application in the war on terror, where authorities are now encouraging police to "shoot to kill" in urban environments. Metal Storm proudly boasts that the technology can be used for "non-lethal" or lethal applications in "hostile urban environments".

The potential for this weapon to be used by civil authorities to control angry crowds of protesters cannot be dismissed. Given the overwhelming response by millions of anti-war protesters prior to the invasion of Iraq, it seems only logical that Coalition of the Willing governments are keen to find new and more effective means of crowd dispersal, particularly if pre-emptive invasions of nation states continue.

But it is the wartime applications that are most disturbing. With Metal Storm's technology, Coalition soldiers can remain safely behind the front line while the Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UVG) uses sensors and targeting capabilities to attack hostile urban areas. This development could be the turning point in the Iraq occupation which has tainted the enthusiasm of the dwindling number of American pro-war supporters as around 2000 US soldiers have been killed during an occupation in which more than 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians have died.

Now, the surviving Iraqi civilians face the terrible spectre of a robot that can devastate every living creature in a hailstorm of more than one million bullets a minute.

While the Iraqi death toll has the potential to mount to tsunami proportions, American soldiers can "safely" annihilate entire urban populations without personal risk. Metal Storm's UVGs will be able to penetrate resistance pockets such as Fallujah, and indiscriminately kill every man, woman, child and animal in a storm of lethal bullets.

"Integrating Metal Storm's electronic weapon system with small, lightweight UAV helicopters, will enable them, for the first time, to undertake small scale strikes to support ground troops by day or night, escort convoys, clear roads and retaliate against mobile, man-launched ordnance such as those used in Iraq recently", said Mike O'Dwyer, the inventor of this formidable death machine which has become the world's only known fully electronic ballistics system. In the time you have taken to read this, Metal Storm's super "gun" can have fired several million bullets.

O'Dwyer recalls watching World War II footage of kamikaze aircraft attacking Allied ships, and the difficulty of dealing with them. When he developed the weapon and launched the company in 1999, he had no way of understanding how this invention could turn the tide in a war waged by suicide bombers and a world besieged by terrorism.

Profits of war

The company, which is now listed on the Australian stock exchange and the Nasdaq Small Cap Market, has offices in both Australia and the United States. Metal Storm employs 60 staff, is headquartered in Brisbane, Australia and incorporated in the US, with offices in Washington DC and a defence engineering capability located in Seattle, operating as ProCam Machine LLC.

Its partnerships with the US military, Boeing, Lockheed and Dragonfly have pushed Metal Storm's share price up by more than 50% in six months, with many unsuspecting anti-war investors sharing indirectly in the profits of war. The top 20 shareholders of Metal Storm include ANZ, Citicorp, Comsec and JP Morgan. News of these top shareholders will be of significant interest to Australian investors, many of whom are moving to ethical investments that do not profit from war.

In December 2004, Metal Storm announced that DARPA, the central research and development organisation for the US Department of Defense, had selected the company's proposal titled "Metal Storm Weapons for Urban Environments" for a contract award, subject to successful completion of contract negotiations.

O'Dwyer is a passionate advocate of applying technology to modern warfare and networking in defence thinking.

Now he runs his company with like-minded warriors. Recently appointed CEO David Smith was president and chief operating officer of SenSyTech Inc, a publicly traded high-tech defence organisation. David Smith signed a contract with Dragonfly Pictures Incorporated (DPI) in June 2005, and reported to shareholders and the public on the Metal Storm website that the contract "will be the first opportunity for Metal Storm to conduct live airborne test firings and one of the first tests of its kind utilizing a Class III UAV. It provides us with an outstanding opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities and advantages of our weapons system for airborne operations and should generate great visibility into the very large Unmanned Aircraft Community."

The board of directors is also stacked with retired American warriors. The current deputy chairman is General Wayne Allan Downing who still uses the title of "General" although he is retired from the US Army. Appointed as a director of Metal Storm Limited in October 1999, General Downing resigned from the board in October 2001 following his appointment as US deputy national security advisor for combatting terrorism. Following "completion" of this role, he was reappointed a director of the company in October 2002. Downing commanded all US special operations forces during the 1989 invasion of Panama and commanded a joint special operations task force deep behind Iraqi lines during Gulf War 1.

The former chairman of Metal Storm was Admiral Owens who was a submariner for more than 20 years and commanded the US 6th Fleet from 1990 to 1992, which includes the time of the Persian Gulf War (1991). From 1994-96, he served as vice chairperson of the joint chiefs of staff. Now retired from the military, he is vice chairperson and co-chief executive officer of Teledesic, a satellite communications company.

There is indeed a deadly storm brewing on the horizon of the war on terror. Only this time it is not the suicide bombers who threaten our world. It is Metal Storm in the hands of the coalition of killing.

[Wanda Fish has lived and worked in the United States, South-East Asia and Australia. After a 30-year career, Wanda left the corporate world and began to campaign for human rights, peace and a just world. To get in touch go to <http://www.eftel.com/~cleverfish>.]

From Green Left Weekly, August 10, 2005.

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From GLW issue 637