Thursday, March 19, 2009
PLAAF bombers drop bombs on the Yellow River to break ice.
The Chinese government has ordered the army and air force to try and prevent flooding on the Yellow river, by using bombs and shells to break up the temporary ice dams that sometimes form near the Mongolian border, and cause Spring melt water to back up and flood towns and farms along the river. The 5,500 kilometer long river, the second longest in China, has this ice dam problem in 800 kilometers of the river that flows through chilly Inner Mongolia.
Using bombers and artillery is a long shot, as the ice dams are often several kilometers long. But the warplanes have dropped some bombs as tests, and found that the explosions do bust up quite a lot of ice, especially the half ton bombs. The 152mm artillery shells (weighing about 90 pounds each) are less effective, but the army has a lot of older ammo it doesn't mind firing before the stuff becomes too old and unstable. One thing the army and air force have to take careful note of are bombs and shells that don't go off. That leaves potentially dangerous duds at the bottom of the river, ready to endanger future dredging or bridge construction projects.
Alas, all this is a public relations exercise. If you wanted to use explosives to break up ice jams, it would be easier, cheaper, and more effective, to just move explosives by truck and helicopter to the river. The military could do this, but it does not have the PR impact of falling bombs and booming artillery.