Open Letter to Ukrainian Arms Dealers

I have developed an Android application to do mortar fire control and I have had it translated into the Ukrainian language. This app is for spherical shells, which are better than conventional fin-stabilized shells in an urban environment. Fin-stabilized shells have a high ballistic coefficient because they are designed to have a long range when fired at low (45° to 60°) angles of elevation. For instance, the Nona, which uses spin-stabilized shells below 50° or fin-stabilized shells above that, was really meant to be a sort of miniature Acacia. It does not work well in urban environments – much to the chagrin of Bashar al-Assad – because its shells cannot be dropped behind nearby buildings.

Spherical shells have a lower ballistic coefficient and thus a steeper angle of descent. Also, they turn over at their apex more smoothly than fin-stabilized shells when fired at near vertical angles of elevation. Spin-stabilized shells are useless above 50° because they continue pointing upwards even as they descend; fin-stabilized shells are useless above 75° because they wobble at their apex when they are moving too slowly for the air flow to catch their fins.

I propose that a Ukrainian arms dealer produce a mortar specifically designed to kill Russian snipers and MANPAD gunners positioned on the roofs of skyscrapers. This is what your target looks like:


These Green Men cannot be killed by helicopter gun runs because of their MANPADs and they cannot be killed with Shmel flamethrowers because they are using the civilians in the building and on the street as human shields. But a purpose-built mortar can rid the Ukraine of this scourge with only two more inventions beyond my fire control software:

1) An arm/disarm switch that arms the shell to explode at rooftop level but, in the event that the gunner misses the rooftop, the switch disarms the shell before it falls to the street. The streets are typically crowded with friendly civilians demonstrating against the Russian presence in their city and it is very important not to drop any shells on them.

2) An optical sight that attaches to the mortar tube and allows the gunner to adjust elevation and windage by dialing in the correct adjustment on his scope and then holding on the roof line. This is a very different procedure for sighting a mortar than the conventional technique of using a forward observer to report where shells landed relative to their target. My Android app can also communicate with a forward observer, but this feature is not helpful when aiming at a rooftop.

I can do (1) with a vertical speed indicator (VSI) similar to the device used on airplanes to maintain level flight through updrafts and downdrafts. It will disarm the shell when the downward speed is great enough to indicate a complete miss of the rooftop. I can do (2) with a 3D printer to make a scope mount with 100-mil indents, a custom-made reticule with 10-mil dashes on the cross hairs and dials incremented in half mils. All that is left for the Ukrainian arms dealer to do is construct the steel mortar tube – Kron Metals can supply you with seamless steel pipe – and the spherical steel shells. I will manufacture the sights and the arm/disarm switches here in America and ship them to you in the Ukraine. You can download the fire control software from the Android marketplace.

The spherical steel shells must also be manufactured in the Ukraine. My arm/disarm switch will have a standard electric connector so it can be plugged into commercially available detonators; the Ukrainian military can then load the shells with high explosive so neither I nor the arms dealer need touch any controlled substances. My contacts in the U.S. military assure me that I will be allowed to test the weapon with smoke shells on high rise apartment buildings in abandoned American military bases. So there is no concern that the weapon will not have been thoroughly tested before it is brought to the front where there are friendly civilians on the streets below where high explosive shells are being dropped.

The Ukrainian arms dealer must approach the Ukrainian military to sell them on this new weapon system. The military has lost enough aircraft by now that they should realize the importance of specifically targeting MANPAD gunners. When the U.S. entered World War II, we were plagued by German U-Boats; our greatest mistake was that we never designed a purpose-built submarine hunter but relied on destroyers and corvettes, which were ill-equipped for this task. Today, I see the Ukrainian military making a similar mistake. They are plagued by MANPAD gunners on the roofs of skyscrapers and yet are making no effort to design a purpose-built weapon to go after them. It is not too late for the Ukrainians to learn from the mistakes made by the Americans!

Victor Aguilar