Reverse Engineering for War

Reverse engineering is the process of taking an existing product and figuring out how to manufacture it by taking it apart. This has been done throughout history by all nations of the world. The concept has been especially useful in military terms.

Famous examples of Reverse engineering for military purposes:

The Egyptian chariot was the “shock and awe” weapon of its day. The Assyrian army dominated with their chariots, and the Egyptians captured one, reverse engineered it, and went on to mass produce their improved design. With this new weapon of war, the Egyptians dominated the region for the next thousand years.

The Roman navy was inferior to the Carthaginians during the first Punic war. They simply had no answer for the feared Carthaginian Quinquireme. A storm wrecked several quinquiremes on the Italian coast. Roman engineers copied the design and constructed several of their own ships to bolster the Roamn Navy. In 241 BC the Roman fleet sank 50 Carthaginian ships in the Battle of Aegus.

Tupolev Tu-4: Three American B-29 bombers on missions over Japan were forced to land in the USSR. The Soviets did not have a long range, heavy strategic bomber, so they decided to copy the B-29. Within a few years they had developed the Tu-4, a near perfect copy.

Soviet R-1 Rocket: Western Allies captured technical plans and hardware for the German V-2 rocket. The Soviets captured several German scientists who worked on the V-2 project. They worked with Soviet Scientists to recreate the rocket from the few documents they had. The V-2 rocket led to the space race between America and the Soviet Union

Vympel K-13 Missile: In 1958, an AIM 9 Sidewinder Missile was fired from Taiwan at a MiG-17 fighter. It did not explode upon impact. Instead, it became lodged into the side of the jet. When the pilot landed, Russian scientists reverse engineered their own copy.

BGM-71 TOW missile: In 1975, Iran was in negotiations with the U.S. for the purchase and production of the TOW and Maverick Missile. The revolution in 1979 brought an end to diplomatic relations between the countries, but Iran had reverse engineered their own copy and they are still producing it today.

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