Friday, April 29, 2011

"Now, go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!"

France is deploying an new old weapon in Libya this week : concrete filled bombs, remarkably similar to...giant rocks. While earlier press statements falsely noted that the 660-pound “training bombs” were being employed due to a lack of explosive munitions, it turns out in some cases they are actually preferable to traditional explosives, as they can cause massive damage to Qaddafi's forces-especially tanks- without the shrapnel that could harm nearby civilians.

Destroying tanks while avoiding damage to nearby civil infrastructures and civilians certainly seems like a good idea, which may make Americans wonder why we ever departed from the strategy in the first place, as American fighter pilots used similar concrete devices in Iraq in 1999. However, while, damaging a single tank may be easy, one could imagine that destroying a cave or camp would actually be better done with the use of shrapnel devices that work in a wider radius, when the purpose is to cause harm.

Interestingly, in the NYT article linked above, Steven Lee Myers notes that "The concrete bombs are also an apt symbol of a low-level war against Iraq that is dictated as much by political and diplomatic sensitivities as strategic or military concerns." Sounds familiar, eh?

However, this isn't to say that throwing stones should be a strategy we resort to in the budget crisis, as even 600 pound concrete bombs have to be guided by modern technology, whether it be a GPS or lasers. Some estimates put the French GPS kits at around $125k, and US kits at $40k. Then again, $40k bomb bomb kit sounds expensive....until you realize it's destroying tanks that cost 1-2 million dollars.

Now, imagine how devastating they could be if we could launch them from space instead...... oh wait, we're actually researching that. Probably not quite what Einstein imagined when he said "I do not know how the third world war will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the fourth… rocks".

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