Is a mortar calculation iPhone app helping terrorists?

19 November 2015, 04:31

UPDATE 20 Nov 2015: is now reporting that the apps discussed below have been removed from the App Stores around the world.


Russian site reports that a military expert is concerned about some military-grade ballistics apps being sold in the App Store – and their potential use by terrorists.

One such example is MBC — Ballistic Calculator, officially sold via App Stores in certain parts of the world, which can be used to calculate the trajectories of mortar rounds. The App Store description reads:

Mortar ballistic computer designed for standalone ballistic calculation. MBC provides rapid and accurate firing data for mortars of all calibers.

The author of the app, Vitalii Gryniuk, also offers Sniper – Ballistic Calculator, which he claims is “Best calculator for .308 Winchester (7.62×51mm NATO)” although can be used for “recreational long range shooters”.

Russian military expert Alexei Rummy points out that most armies don’t require apps to calculate ballistic payloads. Instead they rely upon ready-made printed tables and calculations, along with training and experience. Therefore, it’s difficult to see what legitimate use the apps could have.

“To fire a mortar, you need a rangefinder, weather data and a number of parameters,” quotes Rammy as saying. “As the regular troops have all the necessary equipment, the app is [surely] made primarily for illegal armed groups”.

Apple has no prohibition against such apps, although Mac Kung Fu noted that the apps discussed above weren’t available in every country’s app store.

Apple is already facing pressure from world governments over its stance on strong encryption for data protection and messaging, which it’s been suggested is helping terrorists carry out their business without fear of surveillance. Countries such as the United Kingdom are attempting to introduce anti-encryption laws that have the potential to make Apple devices illegal.

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