This is the expended container of a MAT-120 round, fired from a mortar tube, that held 21 high-explosive submunitions scattered onto Misurata, Libya. Evidence of MAT-120 strikes is readily available here in Misurata, where they have been fired repeatedly.
The New York Times first identified these munitions and published information about their use in the Libyan war yesterday. Since then, several readers have asked me on email or on Twitter how these weapons, which Spain itself banned in 2008, came into the possession of the forces of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.
This is a very good question. Unfortunately, I can’t turn my attention to this, as much as I would like to. Our brief now is to cover the war here on the ground, and there are not enough hours each day for even that. My hope is that other investigative journalists and organizations will take on the questions of how the Qaddafi forces’ MAT-120s moved from Spain to here.
Look at the photo above, it shows that this particular round was the third production batch of 2007. Other MAT-120 components from other strikes carried markings saying they were part of the second production batch of the same year.
One starting point would be to ask a set of obvious questions of Instalaza SA, the manufacturer, whose name is clearly displayed on the fin marking of another expended round, below. And some entity, presumably, signed the end-user certificates saying where these round were intended to go.
Here, below, is another look at various MAT-120 components. All of these images were made today in the Beera neighborhood of Misurata, which has been hit many times by cluster munitions. Once again, I’d like to thank the friends and sources in the ordnance community who helped me identify this munition. These are not typical battlefield finds. The specific indentification, initially made from a submunition, was not easy. I am very grateful.
Update: as I was typing this tumblr post via satellite connection, I received an email on my work account from the man who principally helped. Quite a back story. I will try to get permission to publish it Q: How were these rounds identified? Hint: It involved a network of specialists on social media.