Follow TV Tropes

Following

Rock Beats Laser / Real Life

Go To

  • Although generally, overwhelmingly averted in native conflicts with European settlers, especially later on, there are a few occasions where the guys with the spears and the rocks come out on top. But first, it must be noted that one of the major common factors in the subjugation of native populations early in the colonization era were European diseases. These diseases, in fact, spread more quickly than the Europeans themselves did, killing large numbers of natives and throwing their societies into chaos before the colonizers were able to bring in proper armies. At least one historian has made the comparison of what Europe might have looked like if the Black Plague of the 14th century was immediately followed by another major Mongol invasion. Simply put, the numbers of people killed by European military technology is a minuscule fraction of the number who died from natural diseases like smallpox.
    • In 1879 the British Army suffered its greatest defeat at the hands of a native army at the battle of Isandhlwana. The Zulus, despite being equipped with iron spears and rawhide shields, were known for their tactical cunning, their rigorous training, and their suicidal bravery. The British were armed with the latest breech-loading rifles and even had some machine guns and cannon on hand. Feeling that their technological advantage rendered the result of the upcoming battle a foregone conclusion, they spread their forces thin and severely underestimated the numbers facing them. The Zulus ruthlessly exploited the Brits' complacency, easily out-flanking and annihilating the much better-armed force. One must remember that the reason that the Zulus were such a famous example is that they were an exception in more ways than one. The Zulus were an organized army optimized for pitched battles; while fearsome against other African kingdoms due to their numbers, discipline, and training, they were often soundly defeated and quickly worn down in other battles with the British, whose superior technology inflicted unsustainable casualties on Zulu forces. Natives who used the same tactics they used for tribal warfare and hunting generally lasted longer, even if they aren't remembered as fondly.
    • Advertisement:
    • Spear throwers and slings, long forgotten in Europe, proved an effective weapon against Conquistadors. It was said by Cortés that the dents and holes left by these weapons were indistinguishable from those left by muskets. There are also stories of Spaniards replacing their metal breastplates with native cotton armor, as well as guns being outshot by arrows, spears, and slings. On the other hand, the Spaniards' use of cavalry, cannon, steel weapons were fairly instrumental in conquering the Aztec Empire. It mostly helped that there were plenty of other people who were ready to use the visitors to help take out the Aztecs once and for all, however.
    • During the Philippine-American War, Filipino fighters (largely armed with swords and machetes) resisted gunfire from the newly-introduced .38 Colt revolver by wrapping ropes around their bodies, which helped staunch bleeding and may have even deflected bullets. Even after taking direct hits, the natives were still in fine condition to rip apart their colonizers. Many no doubt died of blood loss later, but that didn't do the American soldiers they'd hacked up in the meantime any good. This forced the U.S. to bring the recently retired .45 Colt revolvers back into service, as a stop-gap until newer firearms and ammunition could be introduced. This led directly to the M1911 .45 semi-automatic pistol and the .45 ACP cartridge, to give both more shots and greater stopping power than the older revolvers.
    • Advertisement:
    • Speaking of the Filipinos, this was in force way before the Americans came, during the Battle of Mactan, where the Spaniard expeditionary force under Ferdinand Magellan (who died in the same battle) lost to local natives under King Lapu-Lapu. Although the natives were partly armed with steel weapons, many were armed with nothing more than bamboo lances tipped with poison. This trope was also taken nearly literally in that the Filipinos also took to hurling rocks, coconuts, jackfruit, and allegedly, their own bodily waste at the invaders.
    • Australian colonial history is bloodier than some might think, and the Aborigines often had the advantage. Colonists had muzzle-loading muskets; the natives carried four or five spears, and could throw them all in about the time it took the musket to be reloaded, often with the aid of a spear-thrower. Their hunter-gatherer lifestyle also gave them an edge in stealth and tracking; it was fairly common for troopers to spend weeks chasing native sheep-thieves and never even see them.
  • Advertisement:
  • A note on military technology: New equipment is often designed to outperform or counter what is currently common, with effectiveness against even older technology being taken for granted as the current standard is always supposed to have superseded everything before it. Even if this assumption is not present, compromises have to be made during the design process and it is simply more logical to balance performance against the threats of today (which an army is almost certain to face on the battlefield) than those of a decade ago (which are likely to have been phased out altogether). As a simple example, medieval plate armour was designed to be effective against swords and spears, where the shape of the metal would cause the sharp edges/points to be deflected to the side rather than penetrate the armour; however, a sufficiently heavy club swung at a helmeted head can knock out or even outright kill its wearer. Similarly, modern bulletproof vests are designed to stop bullets by absorbing and spreading their kinetic energy over a larger area; however, a knife (or pretty much anything with a sharp point/edges) could force its way through by continual application of force. In any case, armed forces tend to hold on to old equipment for a long time due to the sizable investment, so if someone is beating your lasers with rocks, you should still have some rocks of your own to send right back.
  • A real-life example took place in the Millennium Challenge, a 2002 wargame carried out by the U.S. military (as mentioned in Blink by Malcolm Gladwell). A test for a new information-gathering system, it was unofficially a resounding failure. The opposing military, whose modern communications had been jammed or would be intercepted, communicated with the front by motorcycle courier and used light signals to launch planes. Most notably, they swarmed a U.S. naval force in the Persian Gulf using speedboats armed with missiles twice their size, with the magic ability to teleport around the game board. Backed up by regenerating shore-based missile batteries, he "sank" a fully-crewed aircraft carrier. The U.S. military reset the game, pointing out that the OPFOR commander's tactics were impossible under the circumstances, and were completely impractical given the operational environment, essentially amounting to an abuse of game mechanics. His supporters however, argued that the OPFOR commander was simply doing his duty to find whatever flaws in US strategy that a potential enemy could exploit, and that the ones in charge of the exercise were simply using it as a propaganda show to validate existing US strategy and placate the traditionalists. Either way, the entire exercise was discredited.
  • Inverted during late 19th century by the Qing Dynasty of China when they clashed with the French in 1880s over Vietnam and then the Japanese in 1890s over Korea. China spent enormous sums of money buying up the very best European arms and equipment but did next to nothing to update their military doctrine, training technique, or organization, and were often hindered by internal division and corruption. Consequently, the Chinese were often actually better armed than both the French and the Japanese, but performed poorly against both.
  • Canadian and Australian submarines built in the 1960s routinely "sink" modern American carriers in wargames. The standard tactic was to try and get ahead of the carrier battlegroup, and then go absolutely silent and unmoving and let the fleet run over them. Inevitably the subs were "sunk" when they executed an attack on the carrier, but more often than not they'd have gotten their torpedoes off first, trading a few dozen men and a dinky little diesel-electric boat for a multi-billion dollar fleet carrier crewed by thousands and carrying dozens of planes. Mind, awareness of the threat posed by diesel-electric subs is the whole reason they get invited to these wargames.
  • The North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong during the The Vietnam War provide a textbook case of how a technologically-inferior armed force can prevail against a far better-equipped enemy through a combination of sheer perseverance and ruthless cunning.
    • In fact, the Vietnamese employed tactics similar to those used by Le Loi's men in the Vietnamese rebellion against Ming Dynasty China in the 15th century. Politics aside, the main reason why the Vietnamese prevailed was because dense jungle nullified many of the advantages possessed by outside invaders, whether it was in armoured horsemen or main battle tanks. As for the United States, its performance during the war provided a textbook case of how supposedly superior military equipment cannot ensure military superiority in local conditions, even if it worked as intended.
    • During the early days of radar-guided and heat-seeking missiles, many US military planners were so confident of their superiority that the F-4 Phantom fighter was initially designed without guns, as they believed that missiles would make Old School Dogfights a thing of the past. This was quickly disproven in the Vietnam War: Vietnamese pilots quickly learned to fight close to the ground, where ground clutter and thermal reflection greatly confused early missile guidance systems to the point of uselessness, and could leverage the superior low-altitude/low-speed characteristics of their older and supposedly more primitive MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighter aircraft. Even if Phantom pilots managed to outmaneuver their adversaries, the lack of guns meant that they couldn't engage at closer distances; often the Phantoms had to resort to their superior speed and climb rate to escape. note 
    • Earlier in the Vietnam War however, there is an instance where older American A-1 Skyraiders (propeller-driven ground-attack aircraft) managed to outfight more advanced North Vietnamese MiG-17s (jet fighters). Lacking air-to-air missiles, two of the Skyraiders used their 20mm cannons to shoot down one of the MiGs in a head-on pass. It was one of the few occasions since WWII that piston-engine aircraft were able to shoot down jet aircraft.
    • Improvised man-traps in general can be extremely effective in dense vegetation of all kinds, despite most designs being indistinguishable from what Stone Age hunters would've employed. One of the nastier tricks employed by Vietnamese guerillas involved a literal application of Bamboo Technology: pungi sticks. These were fresh bamboo shoots, cut to a point, hardened by fire, and used in several different types of traps, from swinging logs to pitfalls. If getting impaled didn't kill the victims, it would certainly take them out of action. Most notoriously, they were often covered in feces, which meant that any wound had a greater risk of becoming badly infected. To further add insult to injury, Viet Cong insurgents reportedly neutralized American M18 Claymore mines by urinating on them.
    • On the other side of the Vietnam war, the US used older cluster bombs because their submunitions had much greater chances at failing to fire on the initial drop and becoming deadly unexploded ordinance. As it turned out, having a bunch of unexploded bombs on the ground was much more damaging to the Vietnamese than having a whole area blown away in one go. In fact one the United States's most lethal cluster bomb munitions was known as the Lazy Dog, and it was essentially a lump of steel shaped like a blunt-nosed dart. Simply using gravity, these things would build up the inertia of a fifty caliber round during their decent. Each one cost just pennies to make and thousands could be deployed by a single airplane. Additionally, Lazy Dogs could be deployed from any kind of aircraft imaginable, including C-130s, which would fake a mid-flight cargo ejection to lure NVA/Vietcong troops out in the open before spraying the area with them.
    • Slightly Inverted when it came to small arms. In the beginning of the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong and NVA were armed with the AK-47 assault rifle (which was dismissed by the American higher-ups as cheap and ineffective), while the Americans were initially armed with the M14 rifle. The M14, while outranging the AK-47, weighed nearly 9 pounds and was just over 3 feet long. It's Crippling Overspecialization meant that American troops could only carry limited ammo and were left vulnerable against the lighter and more maneuverable AK, which was perfectly suited to the short-range fighting of the Vietnam jungle (negating the one advantage the M14 had). The US would respond by rushing the M16 into combat, only to find the M16 unable to stand up to the humidity of Vietnam and prone to failure, compared to the almost legendary reliability of the AK. The M16 was eventually improved with the introduction of the M16A1. But those early issues still plague the gun's reputation to this day, despite its design becoming a world-class battle rifle in subsequent M16 variants and the M4 carbine family, with the M4A1 carbine having replaced most M16A2s in US Army service.
  • The woefully underequipped Finnish army destroyed hundreds of Soviet tanks during the Winter War, using such equipment as Molotov cocktails and wooden logs. Hell, the Finns named the Molotov Cocktail after the Soviet foreign minister who claimed that the Red Air Force was dropping breadbaskets, not cluster bombs (thus, the Finns made a cocktail to go with the bread).
  • Repeated, to some degree, in Grozny during the First Chechen War, when Chechen fighters occasionally took on modern T-72s and T-80s with Molotov cocktails. More commonly, the Chechen weapons of choice were more modern RPG's and ATGM's, though. Either way, Russians lost hundreds of tanks in a disastrous assault on what was supposed to be a ragtag group of "criminals and outlaws." Worth noting, as the USSR and Russian Federation had universal conscription, many if not most of the Chechen fighters had previously served in the Russian military, hence their familiarity with anti-tank weapons and tactics.
    • Arguably more a case of 'Don't let your tanks roll into a city with infantry support along a road with huge blocks on both sides'. If you do expect the enemy to make scrap iron out of your tanks.
  • In 1940, the Norwegian garrison at the Oscarborg Fortress guarding the approaches to Oslo sank the Blücher, a modern German heavy cruiser, using guns and torpedoes that were more than 70 years old (originally delivered by Germans, ironically). Not quite "rocks," but certainly quite old and outdated technology.
  • Until the advent of the breech-loading rifle, bows were generally superior to guns in terms of lethality at range, rate of fire, and accuracy; they also had the advantage of being able to arc over cover, as Custer found to his dismay. Indian rulers usually retained their archers even after they adopted Western-style firearms, and the Duke of Wellington, who had himself served in India and seen the effectiveness of such weapons, attempted to form a Longbow Corps during the Peninsular War, to act as an elite rapid-response force. However, by Wellington's time, the musket had completely displaced the bow, to the extent that there were neither sufficient skilled archers, nor fletchers to make the arrows.

    It is frequently forgotten that the primary reason that muskets took over from bows was not their greater efficacy, but rather the fact that they were much easier to train men how to use properly. Early firearms were inferior to bows in most respects, but training a longbowman was much harder than training someone to use a musket; an expert longbowman had to be trained pretty much from childhood on up (giving rise to the old quote "To train a longbowman, start with his grandfather."), but an expert musketman could be trained and ready for battle in a few weeks to a few months. More importantly, unlike an archer, a man using a musket would not grow nearly as tired from using his weapon, nor would the power of his weapon depend on his strength, and a musket man could carry half a dozen balls and powder for each arrow carried by the archer. Likewise, military crossbows, for all their similarities and comparative advantages, required more skilled labour to manufacture and relied on muscle power, which would grow weaker over the course of a battle.
  • Played with in Real Life with concrete bombs. Need a target in an urban area destroyed while minimizing the collateral damage using shrapnel-and-blast-force-inducing high explosives? Just drop a slab of good old-fashioned concrete right on top of your pesky target. Who needs fancy high-explosive mixtures when you have the simple blunt force of a solid chunk of concrete dropped from the sky? Catch is, this straight-forward blunt force weapon is only effective when laser-guided. The "Rods From God" concept takes this a step further, replacing the chunk of concrete with large metal darts launched by satellites in orbit. They don't weigh as much an actual meteorite, but they make up for it with the sheer velocity of what is essentially a solid metal meteorite.
  • During the NATO operations in the former Yugoslavia, two F-117 stealth aircraft were lost (one was shot down; one was hit and managed to return to base, but never flew again). This was due to, among other things, old radar sets that operated on a wavelength that the aircraft weren't so stealthy against, combined with prodigious application of anti-aircraft cannons and SAM spam. Notably the same battery scored both. Partly attributed to carelessness on NATO's part, who flew the F-117s on the exact same flight path for every mission. It is worth noting that the conventional F-16s flew over three times as many sorties, with the exact same number of losses. Basically, the loss rate for the F-16 was roughly seven times less than that of the F-117.
  • It is nearly legendary that a SEAL team was put up against an "amphib" ship (looks like a small carrier — think "helicopter and Harrier carrier" and you've got it; they are used to deploy marines; an example would be the LHD) and quickly took out all the defenses... except for engineering, which was armed with foot long bits of pipe ("pipe wrenches", used to shut water tight doors) and safety netting, which they deployed at every level of the vertical shafts... basically, there wasn't any way to invade or drop a bomb without either exposing oneself to pipes or getting caught in safety net.
  • The US Navy's air division spends incredible amounts of time on "FOD" control — that is, Foreign Object Damage control, making sure there's not so much as a pebble or an earring where it could, possibly, by any chance be thrown into the engine of a jet. It is amazing how a tiny object can utterly destroy a sufficiently advanced bit of equipment. That's why the first thing done at beginning of each day of duty on a carrier is a line of personnel walking together the length of the flight deck in strict formation to remove any piece of debris before any air traffic happens.
  • The A-10 Thunderbolt II. Built according to design principles set out by World War II ground-attack aircraft, it was not very aerodynamic, had low-power engines designed for subsonic efficiency rather than performance, and originally had a bare minimum of electronic navigation and targeting equipment required to fly. It is also ridiculously durable, armed with the GAU-8 Avenger, a gatling gun the size of a VW Beetle that can punch through the top of a tank with superb accuracy. As it turned out, the emphasis on subsonic efficiency meant that the "Warthog" could loiter around combat zones for long periods of time and made it a very stable platform for carrying large amounts of ordinance and unleashing it upon its targets. There are few combat aircraft in the world that can claim to withstand more punishment, or to have successfully carried out more ground missions under fire, with significantly higher mission availability and fewer friendly fire incidents to boot.
  • The Bismarck was attacked by a small squadron of the obsolete Fairey Swordfish biplane, outdated and primitive even before the war started — though not as is occasionally assumed a World War I design, having been designed in the 1930s (the Swordfish was simply obsolete before it was even designed). The planes crippled the battleship by taking out her rudder with a torpedo hit, leaving her unable to do anything but run in circles until the rest of the Royal Navy caught up. The Bismarck couldn't track and hit the slow-moving, low-flying biplanes since she had been designed with medium-velocity C33 105mm anti-aircraft guns but these had been substituted while under construction for the more modern high-velocity C37 105mm. Nobody told the fire control designers about the change and the fire control system was still optimized for the C33. As a result, the fire control system unerringly pointed the guns at the wrong place and overshot the planes. By some incredible chance five Swordfish were damaged but none shot down. Important to note the hit on the rudder (which was blind luck, ordnance from planes at the time couldn't really be aimed reliably) was the only hit by the planes that actually did any damage to the Bismarck. Outside of that, this trope was not Truth in Television as the planes' out-of-date torpedoes were too weak to inflict damage to anything besides the rudder.
  • Shaped charge munitions can be easily made far less effective or nullified completely simply by putting up a relatively solid obstacle in their path to detonate the warhead before it reaches the target. As it turns out, forcing the resulting explosive jet to travel two feet through open space will protect a vehicle far better than 6 inches of steel armour.
  • During the 1990s at the National Training Center, the resident OPFOR had no trouble employing simple effective countermeasures against advanced American equipment, including digital C4I systems and Apache Longbows. In one occasion, a group of Longbows launched their entire load of simulated Hellfires on burn barrels that looked like a group of armored vehicles on their sensors, before being shot down by MANPADS teams waiting by their battle positions.
  • The US army discovered that insurgents could use cheap, commercially available equipment to intercept and view camera footage being transmitted by American UAVs. However, this is subverted, as the information would not be particularly useful to them and in the case of hunter-killer drones, would only tell them how many more seconds they have to live.
  • China has been arming its police officers with crossbows instead of traditional guns. The reason for this is because China has to defend against Islamist rebels crossing the border from Pakistan, and crossbows allegedly have less chance of setting off bombs than a gun. This also makes it less likely for anyone else to get ahold of a gun. This has cultural tradition behind it, as well: crossbows have been used in China for at least 2400 years.
  • Similar to the above , during the breakup of Yugoslavia, the crossbow manufacturer Barnett sold crossbows to Serbian paramilitaries due to crossbows not being banned under the UN arms embargo. The Paramilitaries and even some army units used the crossbows as virtually silent sniper weapons. The crossbows also had a terrifying effect on the soldiers who came under attack from them, as the crossbows were so quiet they never knew they were being attacked. During the mentioned breakup of Yugoslavia, one of the main weapons of the rebelling side, with less than half the men, all the siege and air war machines moved to Serbia, were sinks and heating boilers carried and dropped by firefighting aircraft with over 80 year outdated engines.
  • Since the Vietnam War, a popular and easy way to mark mines and explosives was to put some shaving cream on them. In the Afghanistan and second Iraq Wars, soldiers use silly string to check for tripwires, since the foam can reveal their positions yet is light enough not to set them off.
  • In WWII, most armies were already using metal detectors to find mines. The Germans got around this by making them almost completely out of wood or GLASS. However, the problem then would be that no one could find them after the war was done, and so mines made out of non-metallic materials were subsequently banned by the 1949 Geneva Convention.
  • Played with during the US war in Afghanistan. In 2001, US Special Forces that were inserted in the country to assist anti-Taliban tribes were forced to learn how to fight on horseback, as this was the tribesmen's primary method of transportation. While it is true that cavalry charges were on occasion somewhat successful against Taliban mechanized units, what is often not mentioned in the rock beats laser narrative is that smart bombs and other aerial support were called in by the US special forces ahead of the charges and were essential to their success — without air support, the horses would be easily driven off by enemy armor.
  • There has been a resurgence of interest in blimps and other lighter-than-air aircraft, which have a number of advantages over fixed wing aircraft such being cheaper to maintain, longer flight time, and greater carrying capacity. The US is already using several blimps as testbeds for carrying radar equipment to bolster air defense systems.
  • The Naval Battle of Campeche, fought in 1843, pitted warships of the Republic of Texas and the Republic of Yucatan (both of which had declared independence from Mexico) against warships of the Mexican Navy. It has the distinction of being the only time that sailing ships have defeated steamships in battle.
  • The Russian Antonov-2 is a large all metal Bi-plane designed between WWI and WWII as a transport and scout plane. Today, it is still in service because it is very forgiving to fly: it can take off from anywhere, is near impossible to stall, and can actually travel backwards if heading into a strong enough wind. North Korea still employs them for actual military uses, including as a transport plane for special ops teams.
    • Its also relatively difficult for fighter aircraft to shoot down as it can move so slowly that fighter launched missiles won't be able to effectively target it.
  • The Polikarpov Po-2, a 1928 wooden biplane used mainly for flight training and dusting during peacetime, was successfully fielded by Soviet night bomber units in WWII: they could glide over German army camps with the engines turned off, undetected until they actually started dropping bombs on the barracks. The Po-2's top speed was also lower than the stall speed of German planes (the slowest speed a plane can do without actually losing the ability to stay airborne), which meant that pursuing German fighters would only be able to shoot a short burst of fire at the Po-2 before actually overtaking it.
    • The Po-2 is also the only biplane credited with a documented jet-kill, as one Lockheed F-94 Starfire was lost while slowing down to 110 mph – below its stall speed – during an intercept in order to engage the low flying Po-2.
  • Taking the trope literally, lasers in real life do not (yet) make very effective weapons, due to prohibitive power requirements, range limitations due to the "blooming" effect caused by the atmosphere, and various other drawbacks. Basically, any laser weapon that can be built with modern technology will be outperformed by a more conventional weapon. This only applies to lasers intended for causing physical damage to enemy targets, though. They are still quite effective in target guidance systems, gun sights, and for blinding enemies. They are also finding use in missile defense systems.
  • After the reunification of Germany, NATO managed to get their hands on Soviet-made East German weapons systems — which resulted in some shocking instances of this trope. NATO had created advanced flares designed to spoof IR missile guidance systems, and so NATO seekers in Sidewinder missiles had been improved to compensate for such flares. The Soviets, however, continued using cruder dirty-burning flares. In a serious technological oversight the Sidewinder's developers had optimized the missile seeker to discriminate the thermal patterns of NATO flares on the assumption that the Soviets had developed something similar. You know where this is going. This oversight was corrected in later versions of the missile.
  • In World War II the American codebreakers were easily able to break Japanese codes, yet the Japanese were never able to do the same, primarily because the Americans employed Navajo speakers who created a code from their native language, and since the Japanese did not have anyone who knew the language, they stood no chance of deciphering the American signals. Army forces in Europe sometimes employed a similar tactic, with other Native Americans using their languages, though they didn't go so far as to create codes from them as the Navajo did. A similar trick was used by the Italians during World War I, as they recruited radio operators from Sardinia and had them speak in their local language, that only other Sardinians could understand.
  • At the Second Battle of Bull Run, Confederate troops ran out of ammunition and repulsed several Union attacks with hand-thrown rocks.
  • US nuclear missile silos are controlled by computers that still run on 8-inch floppy disks. The reason is because not only were these silos built decades ago when more advanced computers were unavailable, but also the fact that because practically nobody else uses floppy disks and the computers cannot connect to external networks like the internet, they are essentially impossible to remotely hack.
  • There's a gif floating around of an Early Middle Ages at a Russian faire taking out a drone with a spear. He didn't think it all the way through and was suprised when he actually hit the thing. Everyone was in good spirits about it and made a rune stone of the spear thrower killing the drone monster.
  • The Great Emu War, when the Australian military in 1932, equipped with Lewis light machine guns, fought the emu population of Australia, as they were ravaging farmland. The emus won, and this is considered a national embarrassment by Australia (and the subject of plenty of jokes by Australians).
  • There is an allegation that a perturbed Spaniard managed to shoot down a lightweight recon helicopter with a stone. Whether this is possible or not is hard to say, as helicopters are notoriously fragile and extremely sensitive to even the slightest forms of rotor blade damage. You be the judge.
  • With the advent of GPS, many modern militaries have become increasingly reliant on it or similar systems as a navigation aid or to guide their weapons. However, there are a number of high tech counters to GPS that involve jamming or spoofing the signal, or just outright shooting down the GPS satellites. To get around these high tech GPS counters, the US is reviving an old Cold War era technnology: astro navigation. It was essentially a mechanical computer that tracked the user's position in relation to the stars that was installed in ballistic missiles and high flying aircraft like the SR-71 Blackbird and B2 Spirit. And today, astro-nav is greatly benefited by advances in miniaturization and digitization. Since astro-nav is a completely self contained system that does not require a connection to an external source, it is completely unaffected by anything that would counter GPS.
  • The reason that the US Navy held onto the Iowa class battleships for so long wasn't because they were invincible, but because it forced the Soviet Union to invest in weapons that could counter them. The sinking the Italian battleship Roma proved the guided armor piercing missiles were an effective counter to battleships and the pacific proved appropriately armed aircraft could do the same. So everyone phased out battleships and as a consequence, everyone phased out anti-battleship weapons. So America just dusted its own battleships off, strapped missiles on them, and showed them off to a world that had no counter to battleships.
    • During the Falklands conflict, there was a lot of fear in the Royal Navy that Argentina's American built WWII-era cruiser, Gerneral Belgranonote  could pull something similar in combat. The Royal Navy simply didn't have missiles with enough penetration to defeat the cruisers armor, and didn't have ships with enough armor to withstand the cruiser's guns are added missiles. Fortunately for the Royal Navy, they had some rocks of their own, and sank the Belgrano with a WWII era torpedo (fired from a nuclear sub).
  • The Millennium Challenge 2002 was a military combat exercise meant to showcase the power of the US's new communication tools, with them battling Red Force, an opponent meant to have the capabilities of an unnamed nation (it was Iran). They were expecting an easy Curb-Stomp Battle, but the commander of Red Force managed to inflict some pretty lopsided casualties through a mix of low-tech communication methods (including refusing to turn on detectable communications) and spamming so many cruise missiles that the defenses were overwhelmed. Eventually, the exercise went so badly that it was called off and repeated, with Red Force ordered to carry out a script specifically to ensure the Americans could beat them easily.
Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report