Early in the war with
Iran, the Iraqi government engaged world renowned
artillery expert Gerald V. Bull, whose lifetime
obsession was a the construction of a "Supergun,"
a huge howitzer able to fire satellites into space or
launch artillery shells thousands of miles into enemy
territory. While he did not accomplish that dream, Bull
did manage to design some of the most effective
artillery pieces in the world.
astrophysicist, Bull had earlier research contracts with
with the United States Army, the Canadian Department of
Defense and McGill University. While working on the Canadian Velvet Glove missile project, he realized that scientific instruments could also be fired
from a gun and survive if put in a proper casing. In
1962 Bull obtained US military support for the joint
U.S./Canadian High Altitude Research Program [HARP].
Initially working from a facility on the island of
Barbados, a small 5-inch gun was used to fire
projectiles to an altitude of over 70 km, and a 7-inch
guns fired projectiles to nearly 100 km. Subsequently,
in Arizona a larger HARP gun was fabricated by welding
together a pair of 16-inch battleship guns, forming a
barrel some 30 meters long. The gun was used to fire
light-weight sub-caliber discarding-sabot projectiles
called Martletts. On 19 November 1966 the gun
fired a 185-lb Martlet to an altitude of 180 km. The 16
inch HARP gun was intended to launch a small three stage
rocket carrying a 10 kg payload into space. However, the
Canadian and US governments terminated HARP funding in
Bull severed his
association with the Pentagon in the 1970's and set up
companies and agreements to sell improved versions of
technology he developed to a number of foreign
governments, including Iran, Chile, Taiwan and China.
Working through his own Quebec firm, Space Research
Corporation, and a Belgium subsidiary, European
Poudreries Reunies de Belgique, Bull was able to produce
his most formidable battlefield artillery piece, the
GC-45 gun, known to fire a shell 25 miles with a throw
weight twice that of guns used by Western armies. He was
sentenced and jailed for one year in 1980 for illegally
selling weapons [encouraged by the CIA] to South Africa,
despite the US arms embargo.
Shortly after the
Iran-Iraq War began, the Iraqi government dispatched a
private aircraft to Geneva to take Bull to Baghdad. So
began a long association between Bull and the government
of Iraq, and its then-defense minister, Saddam Hussein.
Bull dealt with Iraq for almost 10 years. Iraq was one
of many states with guns developed by Bull. His clients
are known to include his native Canada, the United
States, South Africa, Iran, Chile, Taiwan, China, and
Most worrisome in Iraq's
arsenal of guns developed by Gerald Bull from mid-1981
until he was assassinated on 22 March 1990 [probably by
Israeli intelligence], were its 300 155 millimeter
howitzers, all versions of the GC-45 gun that Bull
developed in the 1970's. Two hundred of these guns,
termed GH-N-45 and manufactured in Austria, were shipped
to Iraq via Jordan in 1985 for use in the Iran-Iraq war.
The remaining 100 were manufactured in South Africa,
where they are marketed under the name G-5. The G-5 can
deliver a tactical nuclear warhead, chemical shells or
any NATO standard 155mm shell.
Bull also designed two
advanced self-propelled artillery systems for the
Iraqis: the 210-millimeter Al Fao and the 155 millimeter
Majnoon. The Al Fao, which weighs 48 tons, can fire four
109 kilogram rounds a minute for 35 miles from its
11-meter barrel. The Iraqis claim that the Al Fao and
Majnoon can attain a top speed of 72-88 kilometers an
hour on the road.
Also worrisome were
Bull-modified missile warheads, which increased the
range of Iraq's Scud missiles.
Under Project Babylon,
Bull extended his HARP gun design to build the barrel in
segments, with a total length of 512 feet. The gun would
be able to fire 600 kg projectile to a range of 1,000
kilometers, or a 2,000 kg rocket-assisted projectile
As a component of Project
Babylon, Bull built a smaller gun, nick-named Baby
Babylon, as a prototype for the larger gun. This 40
meter long gun was first constructed for horizontal
testing in the summer of 1989, and installed at Jabal
Hamrayn, ninety miles north of Baghdad, in central Iraq
[Jabal Hamrin MTS 34°30'N 44°30'E]. The gun was
positioned along a mountainside at an angle of about 45
In documents filed with
the UN Special Commission 18 July 1991, Iraq admitted
possessing a gun with a barrel 350 millimeters wide and
45 meters long and that it was building a second one.
The commission noted that the gun would have been
inaccurate for conventional armaments, and that it was
trying to determine if the weapon was intended for
chemical, biological, or nuclear use. The superguns were
potentially capable of firing chemical, biological and
nuclear weapons to a range of up to 1,000 km.
The high-ranking Iraqi
defector Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majeed said Iraq was
working on a space weapon launched from the supergun.
"It was meant for
long-range attack and also to blind spy satellites.
Our scientists were seriously working on that. It was
designed to explode a shell in space that would have
sprayed a sticky material on the satellite and blinded
He also said the supergun
could have delivered a nuclear device.
Following the Gulf War UN
teams destroyed one 350 mm. supergun, components of a
1000 mm. supergun, and supergun propellant.
Iraq used the
petrochemical complex two (PC-2) project as a front to
purchase components for Gerald Bull's super gun. Matrix
Churchill was a long established Midlands based machine
tool manufacturer which was purchased in 1987 by an
Iraqi controlled company, TMG Engineering Ltd, which was
in turn controlled by another Iraqi controlled company,
Technology and Development Group Ltd (TDG). The military
uses of Matrix-Churchill machines are the prime reason
Iraq was interested in purchasing the company. Acquiring
Matrix-Churchill gave Iraq access, not only to the
machine tools, but also the computer programming,
tooling, and other components needed to make a wide
variety of munitions as well as other applications in
aerospace and nuclear industries. The Iraqi NASSR
Establishment for Mechanical Industries contracted with
the company for the supply of machine tools for a
project, code named "ABA", to manufacture
parts for multi launcher rocket systems. In addition,
supergun components were fabricated in separate parts by
factories in England, Spain, Holland and Switzerland.
Acting on an anonymous tip, British Customs seized the
final eight sections of the Super Gun in November 1990.
The work skirted the law but remained legal, as
illustrated by Britain's unsuccessful prosecution of the
case, following the joint British-American sting
operation that uncovered key supergun equipment