nettime's_indigestive_system on Mon, 29 Mar 1999 05:29:00 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> hardware speculations digest [human being, mediafilter]

Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 14:40:08 -0800 (PST)
From: human being <>
Subject: Military infrastructures [1]

 new photo-essay: Military infrastructures [1 of 2]

 18 slides with thoughts on technological enthusiasm, Operation
 Urban Warrior, aesthetics, and a Nuclear submarine....


 a r c h i t e x t u r e z : an online community
 for hacking and cracking the architectural code

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From: mediafilter <>
Subject: low-tech beats hi-tech
Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 19:30:45 -0500

The Myth of Techno-War (in brief)

In the days of the Cold War, when the perceived threat of
"nuclear holocaust" struck a deep fear in all cognizant
humans, the Reagan Administration went on a spending
spree with US tax dollars to persue the most technologically
advanced weapons development program in history.  The
Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) cutely named "Star Wars"
cost billions, and was the turning point of the US economy
from the position of the world's creditor, to one of the word's
greatest debtor nations.

Out of the Star Wars progam, such technological marvels
as the cruise missile, global positioning system, space and
land based anti-missile systems,  "stealth" aircraft and ships,
and a long list of other hi-tech war systems emerged.

The deployment of the Reagan-era weapons in the 1991
Gulf War was hyped as a victory in US technological innovation--
the investment "paid off" in the amount of time, money and lives
that it saved the US Military in its perceived "victory" over Iraq.
Just how that perception of success was created depended
on a finely orchestrated public relations campaign crafted by
outside contractors, and staged by Norman Schwartzkopf
and Colin Powell during the now infamous tv briefings, which
showed (only) the successful "hits" of the tv bombs hitting
their targets, and championed the "air superiority" that let
the "stealth" fighters attack with seeming impunity.

During the mid 80's, I was pondering the thought of just how
effective hi-tech weapons really are--the geek in my heart,
of course wanted to believe so, but the stronger skeptic in
me caused me to look deeper into the ultimate efficacy of
techno-warfare.  One thing always came back to my mind,
after years of experience in dealing with mechanical and
electronic devices--that all technology has its limits, and
will inevitably, at some point, break down.  Then I got to
thinking about simple analogue things (nature) and came
to a thought--If I were the Soviet Union, and I didn't' have the
"Star Wars" technology to help my missiles penetrate US
defenses, what would be the easiest and cheapest method
of defeating such "sophisticated" and certainly expensive
countermeasures?  Well, the first simple answer came to
mind--to defeat laser countermeasures against a missile,
the easiest and cheapest way to protect the missile or
warhead would be to cover it with mirrors.  When the
Laser would strike, it would merely bounce off, leaving
the missile and warheads unharmed.  Cheap and simple.
Shortly after, I saw a documentary on PBS in which
Physicist and inventor of the hydrogen bomb Edward
Teller had another cheap countermeasure:  to knock out
the space-based laser system: all the Soviets had to do
was launch a payload full of SAND, and let it loose in the
vicinity of the orbiting mirror used to guide the laser to
its target.  The sand would collide with the mirror, scratching,
penetrating, and totally destroying the reflective surface
rendering it R&D necessary...

Most recently, in the bombing of Serbia by NATO forces,
the Serbs, often criticised of being "50 years behind in
technological development" have proven once again that
techno-war is defeatable.  After the air raids wiped out
some of the Serbian radar-based air defense systems,
some clever Serbian military person had the great idea
to simply SWITCH OFF the radar systems.   Once the
systems were off, they no longer generated any signals
for the tomahawks or air-to-ground missles to lock in on.
Without the exact physical location of the facilities, some
of them mobile, and without a visual sighting, targetting
became nearly impossible, thereby preserving them from
destruction.  Once the radar air defense systems were
switched off, the "stealth" of the stealth fighters and
bombers became irrelevant, since there was no radar
to be "invisible" from.  Now, the Pentagon has not yet
"released" the cause of the recent downing of the US
F-117A "stealth" figher, but if I were to venture a guess,
some Serbian fighter on the ground with a sharp eye
and a shoulder-mounted surface to air missile (SAM)
spotted the "invisible" fighter jet coming over the horizon,
and "splashed" it with a well-pointed heat-seeker.
Since the "stealth" aircraft are "invisible" (nearly) to
radar, it makes sense to use the old analogue standby--
human vision, and quick reflexes.  Score one for the
lo-tech solution and  chalk one up for the "technically-
challenged" Serbs.

--Paul Garrin

note:  this text in no way endorses the actions of either
          side in this conflict.

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