Fighting the Syrian Regime: There's an App For That

A Syrian Rebel Uses an iPad to Aim His Weapon

September 19, 2013, 2:09 AM

Sept. 19, 2013— -- Resourceful Syrian rebels have apparently found or devised an app to aim a homemade mortar that lacked a sighting component, according to a photo taken this week.

A photo taken on Sept 15 in Damascus shows a member of the Free Syrian Army using an iPad to help fire the mortar.

Paul Szoldra, a former mortar instructor to the school of infantry of the U.S. Marine Corps, speculated that the iPad is acting like a sight unit on standard issue mortars.

"The version in the Marine Corps has a sight unit on the left hand side," he told ABC News. "We would get data from a fire direction center, adjust our sights according to the data and make sure it's level before we drop rounds."

Since the mortar pictured does not appear to have a sight unit, Szoldra suggested that the rebels may be using a level app to better aim.

Stephen Ganyard, an ABC News consultant on military issues, said that the rebels may also be using the iPad's GPS and linking it to a mapping app.

"That data would tell him where he is and where the regime fighters are," Ganyard said. "Then he could calculate and apply the proper elevation angle to the mortar tube to launch mortars at the regime position."

The iPad has gyroscopes and GPS built in, allowing outside developers to possibly take that data and neatly package it together for a more specialized app, he said.

"Apple has apps in the store that you can use for shooting rifles," said Szoldra. "I haven't heard of an app for mortar firing, but it wouldn't totally surprise me if they had that technology."

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