Here is a separate link to the At War post about the expanding use by Libyan rebels of air-to-ground rocket pods mounted on pick-up trucks. The photograph, above, is of one of the first systems to show up at the front. There are now many, many more.
More photographs offer another level of detail, if you look closely. This next image shows the fuses at the end of the 57-millimeter rockets, ready to fire in a partially loaded pod. You can see the mount to the pickup. It’s a welded base, which in turn has been bolted to the pickup’s chromed roll bar. Look as well at the wires at the image’s bottom left corner.
Let’s follow those wires, visible on a wider shot from the pickup’s right side.
One set of cables leads to a battery for the firing system’s power source. The other leads to a firing switch.
Although some trucks have ammunition in their beds, often the ammunition follows in a separate truck, where presumably it is less likely to be damaged or accidentally cooked off when the rockets are fired. Here is one of the resupply trucks.
Here is a close-up of the munitions.
And of the fuses, which are packed inside the green cans. You can see that this system, while simple, has several parts.
Weapons like these resonate with many readers for many reasons. I spend time on them because they crystallize almost perfectly how large legacy stocks of military weapons can be recycled in new lives, and put to lethal use in ways their designers and purchasers likely never intended. The weapons that show up for wars can vary. The phenomenon of government stocks migrating to battle in novel ways is consistent.
In this case Libya’s rebels, high-spirited and desperate, have chosen to assemble and deploy weapons that might not be in their best interests. And that statement is not a case of taking sides. What you think of the Libyan revolution is your own business. Let’s talk about the mechanics of violence, not the politics behind the violence, or whether the violence is supportable and justified. When it comes to the mechanics of violence, these weapons — no matter how fascinating or visually impressive, no matter which millenial movie they call to mind — are extremely risky in use. They are the sorts of systems — inaccurate, ferocious and wielded by men with neither the training nor means to use them discriminately — that can readily make the wrong people dead.
See more on At War.