HomeFeaturesDailyBriefingsRapidReconSpecial ReportsAbout Us

Intermediate Technology; Immediate Threat

An interesting and informative post at Danger Room (a must-visit site for the technological angle to the war) related to EFPs:
Where are Iraq's superbombs coming from, really? The Pentagon is claiming -- again -- the Iranian government supplied the deadly "explosively formed penetrators" (EFPs). But the more you study these devices -- which use an explosive charge to a convert disc-shaped metal 'lens' into a high-velocity slug capable of smashing through thick armor at an extended range –- the more likely they seem to be home-made in Iraq.
The author then goes on to note, without a sense of irony:
It took years for the American military to learn how to make these weapons on the fly. And yet insurgents in Iraq already have essentially the same capability. It's an example of what has elsewhere been called 'Intermediate Technology' which takes a lot of time and money to develop, but when it exists it can be quickly and cheaply copied.

“Intermediate technology” is how some developed nations improve the lot of under-developed nations. It isn’t an attempt to rush the developing nation into first-world status, but a provision for essentially “good enough” technology that lies between what the grantor would consider sub-standard but the grantee considers a gift from heaven.

As far as the people who work the EFP problem in Iraq for a living are concerned, this was not an indigenous technology. The "knock off” EFPs being made in Iraq now are based on precision-made devices that earlier in the conflict were traced to Iran, along with the passive infrared triggering mechanisms they were paired with. The author draws parallels to the knock-off AK-47 industry, but anyone with some spare steel, a forge and a ball-peen hammer can make an AK-47; substantially more expertise and technology are required to make a reasonable facsimile of a Swiss-made rifle. Still, while there may be an Iraqi cottage industry churning out pseudo-Steyr-Mannlichers, the original technology and expertise had to come from somewhere else.

Having a healthy sense of skepticism about war-related intelligence is a good thing, but discounting the likely origin of these weapons is not.