You’ve Got Indirect Mail, Now With GPS!

Well, this doesn’t seem particularly fair.

Army Deploys First GPS-Guided Mortars

Finally, the U.S. army is giving this this infantry workhorse a 21st-century update, fielding GPS-guided mortar rounds for the first time.

One Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan has already received the new rounds, known as Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative cartridges (APMI), and seven more are expected to receive them in the next sixth months. The GPS-guided 120-millimeter mortar rounds will offer infantry commanders precision-strike capability, offering them an alternative to blanketing an area in indirect fire.

. . .

The APMI XM395 cartridge employs a standard 120-millimeter projectile body, but packed in the nose is a GPS receiver and controller that ensures the aerodynamic directional fins guide the shell toward the target. It also contains a multi-functional fuse that can be programmed to detonate upon impact, in the air, or after it penetrates the ground or a structure. Coordinates are dialed into the round using a computer.

See also:
US Army fields first precision-guided mortars to troops in Afghanistan
New GPS-guided mortar fires first round in Afghanistan
Army Fields GPS-Guided Mortar in Afghanistan
Army launches first GPS-guided mortars in Afghanistan
Army delivers GPS-guided mortars to soldiers in Afghanistan
GPS military weapon gives soldiers an edge
GPS Guided Mortar Debuts In Afghanistan

So, now we’ve got programmable bombs, bullets, grenades, and mortar rounds. The main thing that worries me about these systems is that they depend on batteries. If your batteries die and you don’t have spares, you’re screwed, and screwed is one thing you do not want to be in combat.

/how long will it be before we can deploy infantry robots to fight with all these precision guided armaments and we can take our human soldiers out of harm’s way?

Advertisements

North Ain’t Where You Thought It Was

In case you haven’t noticed already, your magnetic compass is now pretty much worthless, you may as well toss it in the trash. There goes all that Boy Scout orienteering training.

Magnetic north shifting its position

Magnetic north, the point at the top of the Earth that determines compass headings, is shifting its position about 64 kilometres a year. In geologic terms, it’s racing from the Arctic Ocean near Canada towards Russia.

As a result, everyone who uses a compass, even as a back-up to modern GPS navigation systems, needs to be aware of the shift, make adjustments or obtain updated charts to ensure they get where they intend to go, authorities say. That includes pilots, boaters and even hikers.

“You could end up a few miles off or a couple hundred miles off, depending how far you’re going,” said Matthew Brock, a technician with Lauderdale Speedometer and Compass, a Fort Lauderdale company that repairs compasses.

Although the magnetic shift has little effect on the average person and presents no danger to the Earth overall, it is costing the aviation and marine industries millions of dollars to upgrade navigational systems and charts.

See also:
Ordinary Compasses Thrown Off by Changes in Earth’s Magnetic Field
Natural change in earth’s magnetic field causes issues for some pilots
Randy Mann: Magnetic pole angles toward Russia
Pilots, boaters adjust to shift in magnetic north position
Magnetic north drift affects airports
Map: Shift in magnetic north
Headed north? It might not be where you think it is
Which Way Is Magnetic North?
Natural change in earth’s magnetic field causes issues for some pilots
Magnetic North Is on the Move. Time to Panic?

Of course, now we have GPS to do our navigating for us. But what happens when the batteries go dead or, in a worst case scenario, GPS is no longer available because the satellites have been destroyed or there’s been an EMP attack? There’s no reliable backup anymore, now that magnetic compasses are pretty much useless.

/how many people nowadays are trained in celestial navigation or sextant use?