Snipers in Afghanistan Use iPhone to Kill Taliban

| 28 Dec 2009 17:42

Think smartphones are just a fad? You might want to consult with military snipers in Afghanistan who use a $19 iPhone app to help their bullets hit home.

When you think about it, sniping is actually a hell of a lot more complicated than it is in, say, Team Fortress 2, where it's essentially "point crosshairs and shoot." In real life, there are tons of factors that can affect where exactly your bullet ends up once it leaves the barrel of the gun: ballistics, wind velocity - even something like the rotation of the Earth itself. That's part of the reason that military sharpshooters get special training, of course... but to make it even easier on snipers currently at work battling terrorists in Afghanistan, there's an iPhone app for that sort of thing.

BulletFlight, a program for the iPod Touch and iPhone, helps work out the ballistics of any given shot, taking into account the wind and rotation of the Earth - and even predicting the wounds that the target will suffer if the bullet finds its mark. Though given the power of most modern sniper rifles, I'd be very surprised if the program didn't just default to "acute case of death."

The program was reportedly developed from videogame software and repurposed for practical use, which is a departure from the "traditional" idea of technological advancement: The military invents something, and it finds its way down to public use. "But, increasingly, modern consumer gadgets are so powerful and so highly competitive that they're often ahead of the game - and much cheaper to buy in and adapt," said Stuart McDougall of BAE, who is working on "3D graphics technology from the PS2" to help advance upcoming military engineering. (They do know that we're now on the PS Triple, right?)

BulletFlight, is one of many apps officially endorsed by the US military for use in Iraq and Afghanistan - others include "maps, survival books and tactics guides." It does make one wonder, though ... this sounds like an incredibly convenient program to have, and I can understand why snipers and sharpshooters would want to take advantage of it. But if it's so useful, why wouldn't the military just requisition a portable stripped-down device that's built to just run this program instead of requiring all their sharpshooters to buy iPhones? Eh, politics.

BulletFlight can be downloaded by anybody for just $19, though if you aren't actually in the military be prepared to get some very strange looks. And please stay out of line of sight of me at all times.

(Via The Mirror)


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