Friday, December 21, 2007

Low Tech Vs High Tech

The following picture is of the US Army AH-64D Apache
Longbow helicopter gunship that was allegedly shot down by a farmer with an old bolt action rifle.

The picture is a US Army AH-64D Apache Longbow Helicopter Gunship that was allegedly shot down by a farmer with an old bolt action rifle. In the picture, the composite material rotors of the AH-64D were shredded when hit by gunfire. The damage was actually caused by a 23mm Russian made Anti-aircraft projectile. A 23mm bullet costs less than five dollars, at most. An AH-64D Long Bow Apache helicopter costs more than 60 million USD, which is equivalent to the annual defense budget of a small nation.

This same phenomenon could have occurred in the reverse in Sri Lanka had sophisticated interceptors or anti-aircraft missiles were purchased, which may cost more than its target, the Zlin Z-143. It has now transpired that the government has created a much more cost-effective system of defence against the TAF Z-143s. However, several weeks after the first bombing raid by the TAF's Z-143, the government was contemplating the purchase of a missile defence system from the Czech Republic. They were also contemplating the purchase of Mig-29s. An analyst famously termed this move as being similar to squashing a fly with a sledgehammer.

Considering the nature of insurgents, guerillas and terrorists, a typical insurgent/guerrilla/insurgent tactic is not a frontal attack using military hardware, but continuous harassment to the host nation. Over-consumption of high-tech arms can obstruct the economic development of small nations fighting insurgents. According to the Counterinsurgency Field Manual of the US Marine Corps, conventional operations need a minimum ratio of 1:3, (three men for every insurgent) to maintain superiority. A counter insurgency operation generally requires at least a ratio of 1:20, (20 men for every insurgent). A guerrilla war is vastly asymmetric. Therefore the US Marine Corps suggests a simple and inexpensive way: LOW TECH VS. LOW TECH.

The above example maybe an extreme case, but it demonstrates the need to maintain eye-level in-terms of the cost of military equipment when dealing with Insurgents/terrorists/guerillas. Finally, in Counter-insurgency or Counter-Terrorism warfare, it is the quality of the infantrymen that counts and not necessarily the high technology.


Unknown said...

Defencewire the damage to the rotors seem more likely due to ground strike than from enemy fire no? All the visible rotors show similar damage?

I assume the 23mm shells hit some other component forcing a crash landing and subsequent rotor damage.

Defencewire said...

Yes. I think there is some secondary splinting due to maybe ground impact.

Unknown said...

Gotta agree DW u gotta point dere.......

Unknown said...

Excellent article. LTTE got our defence people all excited after their few bombing runs on some cheap prop driven planes. If we were to go for a huge air defence system that money has to come from somewhere else...which intern means that we will have to cut down other purchases of military hardware.
It's a great this that SLAF has got their thinking caps on and properly think this through before going for Mig29's and fully fledged air defence system to take down a bunch of Zlins...

I'm assuming that the cheap AirDef system is like the good old days... spotter lights and heavy calibre AA guns... If out troops are properly trained and ready for action within seconds of notice... those Zlins won't have a very safe flight out of a target area like they did all these times...
Even at AAB, according to reports the strike team took out the AA positions before calling in the Zlins. It's such a shame that we couldn't figure out the impending air attack and be prepared for it... If a one soldier can take a sniper rifle and knock down a few baddies...don't see why they couldn't direct some fire at the Zlins...
AAB must've had some heavy guns right...or even MANPADS due to it's importance...
Too little too late for us all the time...our guys don't learn fast enough... and end up paying a huge price

Moshe Dyan said...

Roshan Gunatileke is all for the Fulcrum (MiG29); it is definitely an overkill. This move must be resisted by all concerned with the economics of war. Existing 4 Kfirs with air-to-air combat capability is sufficient if managed properly.

A good AA battery system coupled with a little commonsense would do the job. These operators acted like the SLA in early 1980s becuase it was something new though they may have been trained. They must be better trained and better equipped.

But the best defence is to agressively seek and destroy all LTTE's intimidatory planes and air assets on ground.

Sri Lanka is in many ways in Israel's position though there is no threat from its neighbours. It must follow Israeli strategies to defend itself. A classic case in point is how the Israeli AF pre-empted Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian AFs in 1967.

Good stuff DW; thank you.

GoldenEagle said...


I sent you guys an e-mail a day or so ago. Did you guys get it?

C. Coin said...

I was always wondering, how effective it would be to have a swarm of World war II type propeller attack air crafts or a swarm of helicopter gun ships and carry out frequent air raids all over tiger territory ? wouldnt it be a cheaper and much more effective option ? this is, of course , in addition to the existing fighter fleet. (sorry i am a laman when it comes to military things)

tangara said...


I don't think that is a good idea mate..
First we don't have hundreds of pilots to sacrifice..Then finding aircrafts to form a larger assault group is also impossible..

Sarinda Perera said...

Great eye-opener, DW. I reckon this is a great post.

Defencewire said...


I will respond shortly.

Welcome back!

TropicalStorm said...

I completely agree with the last line of the article.

This was has to be finished on the ground, and the end result must be a 'hearts and minds' solution in which the tamils in the Vanni understand the status quo, while having the ability to determine how they live within a unitary state of Sri Lanka. The quality of the infantry will be the tool to deliver this solution.

It is not practical to expect a pilot of a loaded Mig-27 to cultivate friends in hostile places he's supposed to bomb.

tangara said...

The topic reminds me the famous movie "The Black Hawk Down"..

At one point you can see the Somalia's Farah Idid Millitias employed Child Soldiers to work as US aircraft spotters, armed only with a simple mobile phone...

We need to do exactly that BUT NOT WITH CHILD SOLDIERS, OFCOURSE..

LTTE will not be able to attack a target 100km away and go back safely if we get the correct intel on movements of their ZLINS.

Next time they will not come a long way to attack..Instead they will attack somewhere close to Vauniya , Mannar or Trinco..They might even consider launching Ground/Sea Tiger/ZLin attack on our Naval Targets.

We need to employ survillence teams outside every millitary installation to keep the tigers at bay.

Another attack on KAB cannot be ruled out.

KAB is amoung the top 10 LTTE targets in the South.

tangara said...

Intresting, Sunday Observer repeats the same story..

Unknown said...

Defencewire well done sirs, looks like you are getting some recognition even in the main press (though they don't mention the name):

"The sophisticated weapons in the possession of the Tiger hit squad had initially been highlighted by a Sri Lankan military blogsite , one of several blogs, which though largely unknown, deliver some of best analysis of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict"

Lakbimanews Defence Column Sunday Dec 23rd

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

and I do AGREE the fact that it is important to have well trained AF personnel on using AA guns. we could have easily shot it down. The air force intercepting using kfirs should be a last resort sort of thing.

Unknown said...

By the way, I fail to realize this is an "Ethnic conflict" according to sunday observer or anyone else because if it was an "ethnic conflict" then the sinhalese in the south would be killing the majority of the tamils living in the south along with the sinhalese. Racism on the otherhand exists in every country, even in a well developed U.S. if you have dark skin, good luck traveling to the south and eating at restaurants as they have the right to refuse anyone. Yet Sri Lanka is nothing like that THANKFULLY. This is not an ethnic crisis, but a man made, terrorist crisis.

Illegal.existence said...

Low tech vs. Low tech? Is that how we killed Tamilselvam and apparently almost got Prabhakaran? It's about using the best solution for the situation.

Srilankan said...

moshe dayan..I have read moshe dayans autobiography..He was an exceptional man and brave peace maker.Whatever you may think the egyptian army fought very bravely (according to a russian plan)and if not for US help the israelis would have been in a fix.I think on the 2nd day of that war the israelis had columns of tanks(aucquired from the US) engaging the egyptian army and the egyptian troops (instead of running away like the south vietnamese) actually fought hand to hand with the israeli troops...just out of interest.:):)Full credit goes to Hon pres well.(who was killed by a brainless moron?).I forgot initially the israelis took the egyptians for fools and used their airfoce which suffered enormous losses due to russian sam-7's i think.. very long time ago:):)

Unknown said...

if it wasnt for U.S. , i too think Israel wouldnt be what it is now. But it was amazing how they took on all those countries. They should make a movie about it, just like one day hopefully motion pictures will make a movie about sri lanka and the LTTE. The story is so complicated, lots of twists and turns and just one amazing piece of history.

Srilankan said...

Sl making a film is a wonderful idea.

Renegade! said...

Defwire,finally the analysis that we have been long waiting for! Great work.I was out of colombo for some time,so was not able to post or read much.anyways keep it up,defwire!..

Wishing all of you guys who celebrate X'mas a v.merry one!!.

Anonymous said...

seems defencewire is celebrating xmax.

Moshe Dyan said...

Dear DefeceWire Team,

As regards misquoted analyses, it is the result of DW's growing and enormous popularity. Please do not be discouraged; you are doing a great job in providing independant analyses on defence matters. Years of nonsense has fooled Sri Lankans who are yearning for peace.

If there was a shortcut to peace, the world won't be spending nearely a trillion dollars on defence every year. Defence reporting is as important if not more.

Thank you again.

Well I love Moshe Dyan because of his aggressive and innovative defences. Of course Israel was backed by the mighty US; but it was the then defence minister who beat all its enemies in to a meekly submission to protect Israeli interests. His biggest task was to convince his PM for a pre-emptive strike. There were no significant damage to Israeli AF; a pilot once told in an interview that it was like an easy PC game destroying Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian planes, especially Russian heavy bombers like Tu-22/90 planes.

However, present crises in Palestine is blamed on 1967. In an unprovoked development Moshe Dyan moved his forces to capture Jerusalem where Israel was beaten in 1948.

Although there is a consistant US backing for Israel, it has many times been proactive in attacking OsIrak (1986?), Syrian nuclear facility (2007), etc.

If attack is the best form of defence, Israel is undoubtedly the champion. It was Moshe Dyan who pioneered this approach.

However, I do not intend to cause any hurt to Muslim friends here. We all accept their right to their nations. It helps to learn from anything and everything.

Have a Merry Christmas.

Srilankan said...

Moshe Dayan need to recheck the pilots accuracy:):).Actually INITIALLY a lot of israeli planes got caught to russian sam-7 batteries..This resistance was what enabled the egyptians to advance..or else the initial advance would have been halted.due to airpower:):)..which was what israel had in mind naturally.

Renegade! said...

Moshe Dyan,

well,no doubt the israelis used clever tactics,in the 1973 war,however,several of their warplanes were shot-down by egyptian,syrian SAM/AAA batteries.the israelis dint have any answer to that,until they got some us anti-missile flares/decoys installed..& definitely several hundreds of israeli tanks were knocked out by anti-tank missiles & T-55's as well..

Moshe Dyan said...

Dear Renegade,
Please do not make this worthy site another LNP.

Being part Israeli (and part sri lankan), I had my share of nonsense by racist elements; but I bear no illwill towards them. For some reason which I don't understand, a large number of people do not appreciate Israel's right to exist. But it is the pet of almost all the superpowers (more or less).

ISRAEL + KN = SRI LANKE !! (found this from an old love note at home)

Israeli Deborah FACs are engaged in active protection in Sri Lanka. The Israeli own laser-beam-anti-aircraft guns may be suitable as a cheap and safe weapon against LTTE's Czech planes.

Sri Lanka needs to be proactive like the Jewish state in order to survive in manyfold challenges it faces.

As regards the six day war, Israel lost about 40 planes, yes "srilankans" is right. However, their combined opposition lost more than 400 planes.

On topic, we should continue this worthy discussion on low tech V high tech AND APPROPRIATE TECH. Hopefully, Lankan decision makers will take note of it.

Thank you DW again.

Srilankan said...

Moshe Dyan..i support israels right to exist.Compare how the saudi's treat our peoples(SLankan,indian)who work in countries like saudi arabia.I think the biggest problem here is that few SLankans have israeli friends.Goodluck to you.!!

About Us

We are a Non-Political Group of Defence Experts Sharing Our Knowledge For the Good Of Our Country. This is a Voluntary Effort. We Report to No-one But You.

Contact US

You can contact us by e-mail on and on


DefenceWire or its editors are not responsible for the opinions expressed by the contributors to this website.