Friday, March 21, 2014

Better Not Forget the WD-40

The new destroyer U.S.S. Zumwalt is one of the most advanced fighting machines afloat. It fires guns that will put more than half of its GPS-guided, rocket-assisted shells less just more than half a football field away from a target 100 miles distant.

And most of the aiming work is done by the guns before shell ever fires, using the same kind of technology that allowed the Mighty Mo to pound the snot out of Imperial Japanese forces 70 years ago. The Zumwalt uses the same kind of mechanical analog computers that helped aim warship guns before digital technology was even envisioned, and if you read the Ars Technica story at the link, you'll read how the navy studied the situation back when digital sensing and fire control systems were first being developed. The officer in charge of that department said the study showed no discernible improvement when using non-analog systems.

Of course, when the incoming shell weighs the same as a Volkswagen Beetle, then whether it's off by a couple of feet would seem to be a somewhat academic exercise.

(ETA: Forgot; H/T Unequally Yoked)

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