While many Americans use their iPads to check e-mail on the go, play Candy Crush or catch up with early seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix, Syrian rebels use the Apple tablet computer to help them lob mortar shells at forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
From photos that have appeared in the media showing rebels holding iPads next to their mortar tubes, experts have speculated that the rebels are using a common app, available free in Apple’s iTunes Store, to help them make sure the tube is level so that the mortar shells will be fired with at least some degree of accuracy.
In one Arabic video, rebels can be seen using an iPad to figure out mortar trajectories. That video can be seen below.
The Syrian rebels are notoriously short on resources. Reportedly, they have jerry-rigged giant slingshots and even mediaeval-style catapults to arm themselves against the government forces trying to stamp them out.
But how could a hand-held tablet computer help them fire a cannon?
According to Paul Szoldra, a former Marine mortarman and now a reporter for Business Insider, the rebels appear to be using an app that shows them whether or not their tube is at an improper angle for firing.
The app is possibly iHandy Level, designed to help carpenters insure that they have a level surface.
Without sights on the mortar tube, the shells are almost impossible to aim. The app could provide at least some help in figuring out the right angle for the tubes to deliver their explosive payloads, Szoldra says.
But the app can only help so much. Without proper aiming equipment, whether or not the mortar rounds hit their targets is pure chance.
The rebels are "simply dropping a round and praying,” Szoldra says.
SOURCES: Washington Post, Daily Mail, Business Insider, Apple iTunes Store