Electronic Weapons: American Magic Is Real


June 4, 2009: The Taliban claims that the U.S. is giving its agents in Pakistan small electronic devices, to plant near high value targets, so that American UAVs can find and hit those targets with Hellfire missiles. Despite all the chatter (and videos of American "spies" confessing to their use), the Taliban have not been able to display one of these "electronic chips" (as they like to call them).

But such devices do exist. They are small (half an inch thick, but otherwise the size of two or three pennies). These "remote tagging systems" can be used to transmit its location for months, enabling aircraft, or UAVs, overhead to collect the location information. These have been used to find Taliban and al Qaeda safe houses and bases. But in Pakistan, they are apparently used by a local American operative to show which building in a village or compound, the bad guys are in. The UAV comes along, picks up the tagging system device location, then fires the Hellfires.

This was one case where the Islamic terrorists got the technical capabilities of an American device right. In the past, the Islamic radicals tended to attribute more capabilities to the American gear than was justified. The most widely talked about magical devices are the air conditioned body armor and the x-ray sunglasses. Both of these far-fetched speculations have a basis in truth. The U.S. does have a water cooled vest for crewmen in armored vehicles and helicopters. There is an x-ray device that sees through walls, and clothes, but it is not small enough to fit into sun glasses. The smaller ones, however, can be carried by infantrymen on raids.





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