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PlayStation (Games) The Military Games

Playstation Controller Runs Syrian Rebel Tank 232

SternisheFan writes "As Syria's rebels work to overthrow the tank-equipped Assad regime, they've learned that it helps to have tanks of their own. They deserve bonus points for integrating video game technology. This is no exaggeration. Have a look at the opposition forces' "100 percent made in Syria" armored vehicle, the Sham II. Named for ancient Syria and assembled out of spare parts over the course of a month, the Sham II is sort of rough around the edges, but it's got impressive guts. It rides on the chassis of an old diesel car and is fully encased in light steel that's rusted from the elements. Five cameras are mounted around the tank's outside, and there's a machine gun mounted on a turning turret. Inside, it kind of looks like a man cave. A couple of flat screen TVs are mounted on opposite walls. The driver sits in front of one, controlling the vehicle with a steering wheel, and the gunner sits at the other, aiming the machine gun with a Playstation controller."
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Playstation Controller Runs Syrian Rebel Tank

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  • Novel (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @10:37AM (#42241983) Journal

    Novel, but let's hope there's no electrical failure or a single wire in that video system that comes loose, otherwise they are sitting in a dark metal box without a single port or window. Military tanks have multiple methods the driver can see outside in addition to any electronic systems - optical periscopes, a hatch directly above the driver that they can raise their seat and literally stick their head out while driving, etc.

    • Re:Novel (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @10:43AM (#42242043)

      There's an interesting battlefield trend over the decades where if they can see you, you're pretty much dead.

      • Re:Novel (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @11:06AM (#42242287)

        There's an interesting battlefield trend over the decades where if they can see you, you're pretty much dead.

        Try the last century or so, the British learned the lesson about what happens when you loose air superiority and show your ass in open country the hard way at the battle of Cambrai in 1917, entire battalions and even regimental sized units were badly torn up by German attack aircraft during the British retreat. Mind you, on this same occasion, the Germans them selves learned a few painful things about the massed use of armor from the British who them selves learned that Tanks can be knocked out by aircraft and that anti aircraft guns with their flat trajectories and high muzzle velocity are good for shooting at more things than aircraft. One has to give the Taliban and the rest of these Middle Eastern guerrilla forces credit for being very, very good at not showing their ass in open country and when they do they usually distribute their forces to the point where airstrikes boils down to the USAF hosing off a $100.000 PGM to kill 6 guys carrying a $150 Khyber Pass AK47 copy and maybe 30 bucks worth of grenades and ammo each.

      • by TheLink ( 130905 )
        Yeah. For USD10k I'd prefer to have 20 x RPG-7s and extra ammo. Or 10 x RPG-29s plus extra ammo.

        Whether I was on foot, in a tank or in a helicopter, the enemy having plenty of RPGs would scare me more than enemies in mobile metal coffins.

        Getting those RPG-7s might be tricky, but supplies and logistics is part of winning wars. If you really had the cash, I'm sure you could find someone willing to sell you the RPGs even near a warzone.
    • Modern combat rely on increasingly longer distances of detection and engagement so this won't do a damn there. This is more of an armored car/transport that probably won't be used to bust through fortification. And view ports might compromise the design as someone could just stick their gun in there or just shoot through it.
      • by icebike ( 68054 )

        Modern combat rely on increasingly longer distances of detection and engagement so this won't do a damn there. This is more of an armored car/transport that probably won't be used to bust through fortification. And view ports might compromise the design as someone could just stick their gun in there or just shoot through it.

        That's exactly my read on it as well.
        This might be sufficient against small arms fire from small caliber weapons. But the first PRG that hits it or goes under it renders it useless scrap metal.

        Props for ingenuity. But against anything other than unmounted under-armed ground troops it is useless.

    • They still presumably have access to the door(hopefully placed somewhere not-too-wildly-dangerous-to-bail-out-through).

    • Yeah, and if this were a tank developed for a modern military force with an American military budget, it would have those things. Mother of invention and all that.

    • Re:Novel (Score:5, Insightful)

      by davydagger ( 2566757 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @11:33AM (#42242523)
      or better yet, it might look cool, or dangerous, but what about the scrap grade steel is made out of, how ballasticly sound is it?

      This "hillbilly armor" is the same welded on cheap steal armor that the humvees started using when they first when to armor. It wasn't that great and it really didn't stop bullets all too well.

      This is not a "tank", but a ghetto version of an armored humvee, without the protection that modern ones have (will stop all rounds short of .50 BMG).

      Its not much of a "tank" by todays standards, more like an armored car. Tank implies 360 degree turret, think armor and decent sized cannon for main armament.

      MBTs, or main battle tanks, the only real tanks left (there are no more light, medium and heavy tanks in the modern age), are heavily armored, tracked vehciles, with large main gun cannons, designed as anti-vehicle weapons, and quick moving mobile guns.

      Yes, I know my shit on tanks. Yes its first hand. This is not one.
      • Re:Novel (Score:5, Insightful)

        by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:03PM (#42243431)

        Hold on, are you trying to suggest that a vehicle that took a month and $10k to design and build doesn't have the same capabilities as an M1A2? Have you notified the author?

        Seriously though, cut the guys some slack. It might not fit your definition of a "tank", but it's pretty impressive that these guys are able to design, build, and field vehicles like this. If the fighting goes on for too much longer then I'm sure we'll see version 3 of this vehicle. I doubt they are trying to put these things up against T90s, but it's a novel idea when they need a machine gun out there and an advantage against the other troops. It's like an IFV without the I.

      • Looks more like a metal coffin...or, if I'm being more politically correct it's a metallic enemy body parts containment vessel which is great as it makes for easy cleanup.
      • You don't give toys to soldiers just to make them win their battles, but also to raise their morale and make them move into dangerous areas.

      • It is better than nothing.
        While say a "real" tank could probably take some direct hits, this thing could probably survive a barrage of fragments from a nearby explosion, as well against normal bullets. It may not stand up to a real tank, But it would be good against ground troops.

      • by g1zmo ( 315166 )
        Seeing as how the previous iteration was something like this [], I'd say it's a fair engineering improvement.
      • Well, it's not a 'tank' by definition either because it's not a tracked vehicle. It's more of an APC. The designers admit that its armor will only stop small arms fire. But for certain situations -- avoiding sniper fire, transporting wounded in a battle area, flushing out infantry -- it has its use. The Libyan freedom fighters were building similar armored vehicles. Necessity is the mother of invention.

    • You know that we're talking a hodgepodge-jury-rigged device, not a device built by a company specializing in military hardware after a bidding war with other companies and having been chosen as the "best" (read: the one with the biggest kickbacks), yes?

      It's one of those things where cheap trumps reliable. If that crate fails, it is probably already done for. Get out while you can, climb into the next and continue the game. In their game, "winning" means "making the enemy spend more on warheads than us on st

  • in 3... 2... 1...
  • by ninjacheeseburger ( 1330559 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @10:40AM (#42242003)

    Judging by the buttons 1,2,3,4 I'd say this is a generic pc gamepad not a playstation controller.

  • by AAWood ( 918613 ) <aawood@gm a i> on Monday December 10, 2012 @10:41AM (#42242017)
    Umm, that's not a Playstation controller, or at least not an official first-party one. Give how many PC controllers have used that style, it's more likely just some generic PC controller.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @11:08AM (#42242301) Journal

      Umm, that's not a Playstation controller, or at least not an official first-party one. Give how many PC controllers have used that style, it's more likely just some generic PC controller.

      These guys are out to smash the state; but they aren't the sort of depraved nihilists who violate EULAs!

    • by Eberlin ( 570874 )

      Of course it's not a first-party PS1 controller. You wouldn't want to show off your real weaponry to the public. In the future we'll hear about the mythical SHAM-alamadingdong Tank that was used to Dual-Shock and Awe the Syrian government and totally pwn those n00bs. It's all about the plans within plans, man.

  • and ps2 run there missile guidance systems

  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @10:48AM (#42242097)

    are going to be on the ITAR list?

    Seriously though, the gap between technology available to consumers and that available to the military only has narrowed drastically over the last decade or two. And I think it's a good thing - it helps to level the playing field between oppressive regimes, (or would-be oppressive regimes), and citizens.

    Anything that puts power into the hands of the otherwise disenfranchised is probably, on the whole, a good thing.

    • "Military grade" equipment has rarely been about capabilities- it's about reliability. The reason a military walkie-talkie costs 20x what the ones they give to shopping centre security staff cost is not because they have much by way of extra features (although they might have some, that's not what costs the money); it's because they expected to work faultlessly for years in deserts and swamps and to never unexpectedly stop working when you're in the middle of calling in the cavalry.

      A hand-held controller is

    • "Anything that puts power into the hands of the otherwise disenfranchised is probably, on the whole, a good thing."

      I've heard that a few places now. Unfortunately the term 'disenfranchised' (as you call them) depends strongly on whether they are 'poor victims of oppression' (if you agree with them) or murderous, brutal, desperate thugs and terrorists (if you don't).

      By and large, I'm not terribly fond of weapons in the hands of anyone 'motivated' enough to murder with them, 'correctly' motivated or not.


  • by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @10:50AM (#42242113)
    Call of Duty: Duct Tape Ops
  • by zippo01 ( 688802 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @10:52AM (#42242127)
    WOW, this is not a tank, its a death trap. An old diesel car with light steel construction? I wouldn't drive this to my local geto grocery store much less a war zone with real tanks and explosives. Nice try, but fail...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zippo01 ( 688802 )
      So I did some more looking and it really is a death trap. The wheels are still exposed, and the steel is at most 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, which would easy be penetrated by an AK-47 or an Nato 556 round. It is really just a death trap.
      • The armor, from the front, does still provide additional protection since it's unlikely to take a bullet head on. Bullets hitting that portion are going to be hitting closer 6/10-7/10" of steel and the angle itself may make a deflection more likely. That said, it's still a death trap.

        • bullets at a far range might be deflected.

          reality is, probably save the weight from the armor, just use a lighter vehicle and rely on speed for a troop transport, to transport light infantry, before speeding away.

          If this thing comes under concentrated fire, from even small arms, it, and its drivers are fucked. This is a death trap, and whoever designed it has delusions of graunder.

          6/10-7/10" of rusted mild steel armor is nothing and won't do shit, except made stop shrapnel/debris.
          • On the other hand, this is version 2 so they obviously had a version 1 and decided that one wasn't obviously useless enough to entirely scrap the concept of homemade tanks. This may not be a terribly good design but apparently they think it's worth fielding.

            Given that they have more experience getting shot at in Syria than anyone on Slashdot I'm inclined to assume that it adds at least some value over just sending out two guys with assault rifles.
      • by BcNexus ( 826974 )
        A-la the Granby bulldozer, it needs metal-concrete-metal composite armor and tank treads. Also, protect the cameras with acrylic cases to prevent damage to them and fit compressed air guns onto them to clear off debris. Imagine how much more protected it would be then!
      • Seriously? 1/2 inch thick steel is easily penetrated by common rifle ammunition? That doesn't sound right. 1/2 inch?
        • I actually read TFA, and they're saying it will withstand 23mm autocannon fire. I imagine they're exaggerating a bit, but I also imagine they at least tested it with the weapons they had on hand, like the 7.62mm LMG they mounted on it.

          • One minor problem is that the exposed tires won't withstand fire from a .22 or, say, small pieces of battlefield rubble.

            • Given the weight on top, I find it hard to accept that they are air filled tires.

              Since it doesn't go fast anyway, solid rubber tires, (or tires filled with an inert solid of some sort) would make much more sense.

              In which case, a .22 round is only going to either get lodged in the tire, or bounce off. Simply because the tire is exposed doesn't mean the tire is air filled. (In fact, an air filled tire would be beyond the critical limit for sidewall pressure with that much improvised armor on top. They would

          • 23MM AP rounds your aving a laugh. I doubt they have easy access to case hardened Armour plate and why no Schürzen skirts on the sides to detonate RPG's before it hits the main armour plate.

            Not that having an up armored technical with protection for the DHSKA crews makes does not make sense.
        • Half inch mild steel might stop lead. Even .308 AP will go straight through without even slowing down. I have a whole box of such plates in my shop.
      • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:08PM (#42243475)

        How do you get 1/4 - 1/2 inches from 2.5cm? 2.5cm is .98 inches. Both articles cite 2.5cm as the thickness of the steel.

      • The article states the walls are 2.5 cm thick, which is almost an inch

    • well at least its not a petrol (gas) engined car as the base vehicle - the petrol fueled Sherman where not called "Tommy Cookers" by the Germans for no reason.
  • You'd probably be safer on foot than inside that box if a real tank shows up for a fight... Even some rusty export-grade T-34 stolen from a museum and bodged back into shape.

    That said, it could prove to be quite a nasty surprise for any infantry caught without RPGs or anti-armor ammunition.

    • by Scutter ( 18425 )

      1/4" (or even 1/2") scrap steel won't stop a rifle round. They'll hardly need anti-armor munitions to punch finger-sized holes all over it. This isn't even an armored car, let alone a tank. It's got barely more steel in it than a regular automobile.

      • For my edification, how much punch will it have left for the lucky driver after heading through a 1/4 or 1/2 inch plate? Is that "why did you even bother?" territory or "Congratulations! You've received an upgrade from 'fatality' to 'casualty'"?

        • Re:More of an AFV... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @11:25AM (#42242449) Journal

          Here's 3/8" steel scrap at 50 yards with 7.62x39 fired from an AK47. I recommend muting the volume.


          It'll go right through it and then proceed to shred the occupants of the vehicle, incidentally also spraying whoever is missed with molten steel.

        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

          Casualties cause more problems than fatalities. If they're dead you can leave them there for days. If your friend is screaming for help, you'll risk your life to save him and get him out of the line of fire. Then you'll need a good 2-3 guys to carry him to the equivalent of a field hospital. Said hospital needs to be staffed and protected. Etc. Logistically speaking dead soldiers are a lot easier to deal with than injured ones, so long as they're not dying faster than you can train them up.

          As for the "arm

      • Still, it's better than what they had before. From the description I gather it's just a car with some armoring for the driver (only).

        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
          Umm not really. Now it's a magnet for bullets. It's a lot harder to conceal. It can be easily spotted from the air. Yeah you can't kill it with a rock or a bottle, but even WW1 tanks were more heavily armored than this. Against real military equipment it will fail instantly.
      • The article states it's 2.5 cm or about 1 inch thick

    • bullshit.

      a medium machine gun, should rip this thing apart.
    • And I guess that's the idea behind it. It forces the enemy to bring along heavier guns and spend more time, money and personnel. Military-wise it sure ain't the latest and greatest, but it forces your enemy to react. It's already an advantage if you force your enemy to use full metal instead of hollow point (Hague convention? What's that?) because they might get to shoot at something but "soft" targets.

  • by rwyoder ( 759998 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @10:56AM (#42242163)

    ...I'd say it was designed and built in Granby, Colorado.

    • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @11:12AM (#42242339)
      The Heemeyer Bulldozer was arguably a much more potent vehicle than this little steel-plated car. He wasn't stopped until a combination of a blown radiator and getting stuck high-centered on a basement wall got him- I think that ramming this little steel-plated car with a pickup truck would take it out of commission. Heemeyer took out numerous buildings and vehicles and despite being shot at repeatedly managed to keep going. Had he done a more thorough job armoring his radiator (yes, I know that it needs airflow and that one can only armor it so much) and knowing his environment (not getting stuck in the basement) then he might have managed to continue his rampage until military forces with a portable rocket launcher showed up.

      I have a friend that owns a WWII Ford M8 Greyhound and has several other WWII-era light armored vehicles, like a half-track armored truck. The designer of this car seems to have missed the important part that too much open interior is not necessarily an advantage. That half-track doesn't have a lot of interior space, literally enough for the soldiers and their equipment, and because of that, the same amount of mass for the vehicle can accommodate thicker armor where it matters, around the people. The vehicle isn't meant to survive a pounding, it's meant to keep its occupants alive when hit, so that they can get out and counterattack. This little car doesn't strike me as designed with that in mind.
      • "The Heemeyer Bulldozer was arguably a much more potent vehicle than this little steel-plated car."

        that man understood "composite armor", a ghetto but effecient/effective versions. steel-concrete-steel. It also used a more potent starting vehicle better suited for the task, and fresh, unweathered steel(arguablly thicker).

        he also had the resources of a first world nation, and all the time in the world to built it, with no pressure from lets say, a government attacking him instead of vice versa.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2012 @10:56AM (#42242173)

    Everyone knows you use a mouse and keyboard! This choice of input devices has doomed the rebels to failure!

  • *insert pun about the tank being a sham here*
    • *insert pun about the tank being a sham here*

      I'm still reeling from the shock of learning that Vince Offer is in Syria...

  • Not a tank (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7&cornell,edu> on Monday December 10, 2012 @11:00AM (#42242209) Homepage

    Light Armored Vehicle maybe, but not a tank... Tanks have a heavy caliber main gun with machine gun as backups. A vehicle with only a machine gun isn't a tank... Probably well within the category of LAV though.

  • by kryliss ( 72493 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @11:02AM (#42242231)

    by a common spike strip.

    • Not to mention that the only protection for the cameras are little tiny roofs made out of the same metal armor as the rest of the thing (you can see them clearly in the video included with the article). A simple concussive blast on the face of it would probably knock out both front cameras, or else come darn close to doing so, and that's assuming that the RPG or whatever else you were using didn't just punch a hole right through the front of the vehicle outright.

  • It's not a tank (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's more of a light infantry support vehicule. Useless against real armor but could shift the tide in an infantry struggle for a street, for example.

  • Not a tank (Score:5, Informative)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @11:05AM (#42242265)

    That is not a tank. That's an armored car.

    A tank requires three things: heavy armor, a turret-mounted gun capable of anti-tank combat, and the use of tracks instead of wheels.

    This arguably fails all three. It's a wheeled vehicle, and that 7.62mm gun may as well be paintballs to other tanks - it's a common caliber for the coax gun on modern tanks, for use when you don't want to waste your expensive ammo against mere infantry. The armor is definitely insufficient to handle modern tanks, but it would have been enough for 20's and '30s tanks (or perhaps WW2-era Italian or Japanese tanks), so you could probably squeeze it in.

    That said, as long as the rebels use it intelligently, an armored car is a very useful tool. Keep it in the cities, where tanks have difficulty maneuvering, but use its mobility to outflank infantry. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts - it doesn't look like it could handle modern anti-tank missiles, but it *might* stand up to an RPG-7 or so.

    • by Scutter ( 18425 )

      I wouldn't even call it an armored car. That looks like scrap steel, which won't even stop a rifle round. They won't need an RPG to shred the driver. If they're extremely lucky, their attackers will be coming head-on, so the angled front plate will help slightly, but any flank attack with small arms is going to decimate it.

    • "The armor is definitely insufficient to handle modern tanks, but it would have been enough for 20's and '30s tanks (or perhaps WW2-era Italian or Japanese tanks), so you could probably squeeze it in."
      outclassed by M1151 armored Humvees you mean.

      this would barely hold up with armored cars of the 1930s, and certainly not tanks of any era.

      "but it *might* stand up to an RPG-7 or so."

      it might stand up to 9mm pistol rounds.
    • That is why they called this thing sham. It ain't real tank. It is a sham.
    • by REggert ( 823158 )

      Many early tanks (up through WW2) had anti-tank capabilities (indeed, the first tanks had no reason to have anti-tank capabilities - there were no other tanks to fight against). The main distinguishing features of a tank are its armor (which need not necessarily be very heavy - just enough to deflect small arms fire), its tracks, and the fact that it has some sort of weapon mounted on a turret.

      The Panzer I was classified as a light tank but was armed only with MG13 machine guns. The British Vickers Light

    • by Nimey ( 114278 )

      You're right that this is an armored car and not a tank.

      However, a tank need not have a turret-mounted gun. Early British tanks (such as the Mark IV [] from WWI) had no turrets, using instead sponson-mounted cannon and/or Vickers machine guns, depending on the model. Some other tanks didn't even have cannon and mounted only rifle-caliber machine guns.

      A tank need not have heavy armor. Some of the light tanks from WWI through the '40s had just enough armor to stop small-arms fire, especially (as someone else

  • by seyyah ( 986027 )

    No, not a joke about "real" vs "sham" tanks...

    Just wanted to point out that Sham is also the Arabic name for Damascus.

  • They might as well paint a big bulls-eye on the side, because that tank will be the first thing that blows up once it gets rolled out.
  • Tires+caltrops=hot day in the sun

  • Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start

    you get an antiaircraft SAM

  • I think I saw one of those in Fallout: New Vegas, lol.
  • Everyone knows Mouse and Keyboard provide far superior control. These noobs are going to get pwned when it comes to a real fight.
  • They'd be better off hijacking some old shermans then driving that thing around. All I could do is look at it and laugh. One RPG and that thing is toast. They'd be better off with no armor all together or simply buying a humvee and putting a 7.62 on top. Heck some WW2 armored cars were better off then this thing. I'm surprised they don't simply buy some russian surplus... I'm sure there are plenty of t-80s for sale.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein