case of smart bombs with a clever, and unexpected, twist. The Lebanese air force created an
improvised helicopter bombing system for their recent operations against
several hundred Islamic terrorists who had barricaded themselves in a northern
town (technically a Palestinian refugee camp). Needing some precision bombing,
so as not to hurt nearby civilians (who refused to be evacuated), bomb racks
from retired Mirage 3 jets were mounted on the underside of American UH-1
helicopters. The landing skids were lengthened a bit for this. The bomb release
mechanism from the Mirage 3 was then installed in the helicopters. Instead of
smart bombs, the helicopter crews carried 500 and 900 pound dumb bombs, but
flew them to GPS coordinates of their targets then, at an altitude of about
3,500 feet, and released the bombs. The accuracy was amazing, usually the same
as GPS guided smart bombs (within 33 feet of the GPS coordinates). Troops on
the ground, or the helicopter crew, could use laser rangefinders equipped with
GPS (a commercially available product) to get the coordinates of the target.
Then, using the GPS in the helicopter, you fly the chopper until you are right
over those coordinates.
Apparently no one ever
realized that, combining GPS, and a hovering helicopter with bomb racks, you
can get about the same accuracy as a JDAM. Of course, one other factor was
keeping down the ground fire. The army troops surrounding the terrorists could
open fire as the helicopter approached, to make the bad guys keep their heads
down. Bombing attacks could also be made at night, to make it more difficult
for machine-gun fire to hit the choppers.
At 3,500 feet, a UH-1 is a pretty small target. And at night, very
difficult to hit from the ground.
It's another case of.
"desperation is the mother of invention."