now you tell us

This Clinton person is making sense, on Israeli politics, on settlements, and on this:

Moreover, Clinton said, Hamas militants will soon have military technology that will allow their relatively low-damage attacks on Israeli population centers to have greater accuracy and lethality.

“It’s just a matter of time before the rockets have a GPS system on ‘em and a few rockets will kill a whole lot of people. Netanyahu understands that,” said Clinton.

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9 Comments on "now you tell us"

  1. I think I must be missing a lorry-load of irony here.

    Wouldn’t you need

    a) pretty fast feedback from the GPS – a lot quicker than the ‘finding satellites’ I get when I turn mine on.
    b) target location programmed in
    c) some snazzy maths to work out the corrections to be applied to
    d) a missile flight control system – be it fins or thrusters.

    Is Hamas technology anywhere near that good ? I got the impression all their homebrew rockets were completely unguided and the detonator consists of a nail/spring/cartridge. I’d have thought the testing and development of such homebrew missiles would attract serious IDF attention, too – the only place you could do it would be in Syria or Iran.


  2. Sadly, this is plausible. To address your points:

    You turn the GPS on and let it find the satelites at leisure, before firing the rocket.

    Target locations are available from maps, or Google Earth.

    The snazzy maths is in textbooks these days.

    Yes, you need a missile control system. But you can buy servos these days. They’ll probably need quite a lot of test fights to gwet it working right, but these rockets are very cheap.

    No, Hamas can’t develop missile guidance technology from scratch in any reasonable time, they don’t have the resources. But they have engineers and most of the stuff they need is buyable on the civillian market these days.

    There’s a simple defence for Israel: jam GPS. That deprives their population of in-car satnav, and plenty of other useful things, and their military of GPS-guided weapons. Which is presumably just fine with Hamas.

    But rocket science is no longer “rocket science”.


  3. @Laban:

    This is entirely feasible with off the shelf technology. JDAMS are GPS + some inertial nav + fins.

    Hamas technology doesn’t need to be that good, they don’t have to create the whole technology stack from scratch. Available technology needs to be that good, and it is. I suspect Hamas knows how to use Google, and can find sites like this.

    It remains to bee seen whether they can adapt available technology to guide homebrew rockets, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

    Even an incremental increase in accuracy would be a threat. Imagine a system with db in it with potential targets identified. Fire the rocket in the general direction of a target cluster and it steers towards the highest value target it can hit.


  4. Informed readership: good.

    GPS is pretty cheap (I mean, the actual GPS receiver – Garmin gets away with charging sillymoney for all the stuff around it). Microcontrollers are cheap, as are servos.

    Put the guidance package in the *warhead*, and let it go up ballistically and down under guidance. That way you can forget about guidance under power (which is harder) and also avoid the problem of having to stand around with your assembled rocket waiting for a GPS fix. Leave the warhead outside to get its fix, then assemble at the last second, light the blue touchpaper, and retire to the proverbial safe distance.

    *your safe distance may vary


  5. Impressed with the informed readership.

    I hadn’t realised inertial sensors were so cheap. But it would still pretty much have to be the inertial guidance route, as GPS feedback wouldn’t be fast enough.

    I don’t know though. “If” wiki is right that the current jobbies are unrotated and detonated by nail and cartridge, it seems that servos and inertial guidance are some way off.

    I’m surprised Iran haven’t got a ‘make missiles from easily obtainable parts’ programme on the go – maybe they have. The UK certainly seems to have a ‘make explosives from easily obtainable chemicals’ programme – as witness that poor chap who got blown up at Shoeburyness in 2002.


  6. @Laban:

    Highly accurate rockets may not serve their goals.

    The oversized bottle rockets they’ve been firing till now still create fear and uncertainty. I’m assuming there are sirens, people have to run into shelters, etc. If disruption and fear is the goal of the attacks then it doesn’t really matter how accurate they are; you then want to optimize for number of attacks not accuracy.

    A well built and guided system would probably cost many times as much (cash, hardware, skilled people, etc). Why bother?
    Maybe fire a few a year just to increase the fear levels…

    One of my friends was stationed in Kandahar for a while and there are constant, low accuracy attacks there but once there are more than a few a day it is seriously disruptive to base operations.


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