These POV Smart Bomb Videos Are Surreal
Way back in 99' before Saddam fell, we dropped bombs on Iraq with cameras on them. This is the footage.
The slow cruise of the black and white video creeps towards a muddled target in the distance. The targeting system floats in the middle of the screen locking on. Unknown military voices chatter. You can hear faint hissing as you experience the visceral reality of being a descending bomb.
"Oh yeah!" yells a voice as the video falls rapidly into the what appears to be a radar system, disappearing into a fuzzy screen.
What you're seeing isn't the cruel 2-D renderings of a 90s military video game, but the seemingly slow speed descent of an AGM-130 air to surface missile dropping on an Iraqi Fan Song radar system in 1999.
In another similar video below, the smart bombs finds the target in an open field. At impact you can notice an Iraqi soldier taking cover before the screen goes blank.
At the time, the US Air Force commenced a bombing campaign against Iraqi Surface to Air Missile sites threatening aircraft as they attempted to impose a no fly zone over northern Iraq. The Soviet Fan Song's helped guide those Iraqi missile systems, and were targeted by American aircraft for annihilation.
Dropped from an F-15 Strike Eagle multirole fighter, the AGM 130s had cameras outfitted in the tips of the missile, which streamed back to a command centre guiding the missile using an infrared imaging system.
The results of the footage is an anxious historical artifact from the nineties, as the viewer slowly waits for the bomb to strike. But you're spared the gruesome explosion, because being the bomb is the principle experience of the viewer.
There's also shades of the first Gulf War, which was sometimes dubbed the "Video Game War" for the famous images of laser guided missiles overwhelming Iraqi targets that played out on CNN. The glee and casualness of the operators is almost as disconnected as a Call of Duty player shooting up fake insurgents.
More importantly, the videos are part of long lineage of Iraq war bombing images that have inundated the popular consciousness of late. Just look at WikiLeaks and the infamous helicopter video, or the endless explosions involving militants and soldiers alike.
Even so, that tradition is ongoing. With fresh bombings on the Islamic State and reports of buzzing drones all over Iraq, the future of declassified smart bomb videos might even be more displacing.
For now, you can see what an airstrike on Iraqi targets looks like from the ground, or reminisce with the horror of the AGM 130s.