Shutting the bomb factory: technology so far has proven no match for relatively low-tech bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Three-quarters of the 1,800 or so deaths and 10,000 injuries suffered so far by US forces in Iraq are due to IEDs, which are bar none, the number-one threat in the field, according to US Marine Corps Maj. Bruce Patterson, director of the IED Working Group at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory. IEDs are not just small blasts that a soldier holed up in a tank can feel safe from. Maj. Patterson, speaking at the July 26-29 Naval-Industry R & D Partnership Conference in Washington, DC, showed a video of an IED that detonated underneath a Humvee: the whole vehicle flew into the air and landed in a smoking heap of metal a hundred feet or more away.
With its use of IEDs, the insurgency in Iraq has caused as much destruction as it took the Irish Republican Army in Britain 30 years to do, Maj. Patterson said a British Army officer told him. While technology such as jammers and detection devices may be part of the answer to stopping IEDs, it is not all of it, because military forces need to be able to intercept bombers before they plant their bombs. By the time the IEDs are put in place, it is probably too late.
To being with, the materials for bomb making in a place like Iraq are seemingly everywhere. Each IED consists of four main things: a detonator; a battery or other power source; a main charge and casing; and a circuit board and related components, which serve as the trigger for the detonator. In a country like Iraq, where every house-hold has guns and the country as a whole has been at war off and on for decades, explosives are never far away in the form of ammunition dumps of one form or another. "So many ammo dumps are unguarded in Iraq, it would blow your mind," Maj. Patterson said. "And if they don't have that material, they'll use fertilizer and diesel fuel. You name it; they'll use it."
Military officials acknowledge that forces in Iraq are doing a terrible job guarding munitions dumps, and not for lack of trying, but simply because there are so many that they cannot possibly all be guarded. Various fixes are being attempted, from spreading substances on the ammo dumps like putrescene, which smells bad; to tagging ammunition in some way so that, if it is used in a bomb, it can be traced back to its source; to spraying unspecified materials on the dumps that make them unusable by anyone. Blowing them up takes time and puts people nearby in danger, and moving them to a safer spot for demolition takes even more time and trouble, requiring specialists in explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD) who are too few in number and in high demand.
Guarding these dumps, meanwhile, can be highly problematic for troops because people are all around them, and as is typical for military operations in urban areas today, figuring out who is the enemy and who is the innocent civilian is very difficult. If soldiers see a father and son gathering scrap metal, which could well be intended as filler for an IED, are they supposed to shoot them? This could lead to a news story on Al Jazeera or some other media outlet or website--an example of more US "atrocities." Typically, troops just shoo the rubbish collectors away, and they just come back the next day. "It's impossible to guard all of these places," said USMC Lt. Col. Jean Malone (ret.), who previously served in Iraq and currently works for EDO and the Marine Corps on developing countermeasures for IEDs.
No Quick Fixes
Besides the problem of readily available bomb material, forces currently in the field lack sufficient technology for detecting and disposing of them, though many companies and military organizations are working hard to provide it. From jammers designed to prevent radio-frequency signals from reaching the detonators that set off explosives to various types of vehicles carrying technologies that somehow trigger explosives in the ground (see, for example, "US Military Aims to Zap IEDs in Iraq," JED, August 2005, p. 18), work has been ongoing since virtually the first moment IEDs began going off. In fact, much of the technology for detecting explosives that is being studied for use in countering IEDs has its origins in technology for detecting mines (see "Blast From the Past," JED, June 2004, p. 43).
But a major problem with developing solutions to countering IEDs, whether it be procedures or technology for detecting and disposing of them, is that the threat constantly changes, either in the technology used in the bombs or the way they are placed and used. Originally, simple command wires were used to set off the bombs. Then came radio-controlled bombs, then car bombs--sometimes called vehicle-borne IEDS (VBIEDs), which today are the IED of choice in Iraq, as they can be used as a kind of guided missile, said an Army officer speaking at an Urban Warfare conference held July 19-20 in Arlington, VA, and sponsored by Marcus Evans Defense.
The bombers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere have great flexibility in how they build their bombs and where they put them. "The enemy is very loosely organized, and they may not even like each other, so they don't share much information," Malone said. "They merely want to cause casualties; they don't need to target any particular road or supply line. If conditions are not right, they will not set off an attack. They will let the convoy pass by." Forces faced with the IED threat are just never sure where one might be. Insurgents in Iraq may use the same hole to plant IEDs again and again, Malone said. The question is, when will the insurgents fill up the hole again? It may or may not be wired to blow, and it is one of many holes.
The improvised nature of the bombs' composition in Iraq and elsewhere around the world is a major reason why they are so difficult to counter. The very simple electronic devices that are used to trigger some IEDs, such as the key fobs used to unlock or lock cars, or garage-door openers, are available in marketplaces in every town in Iraq, Malone said.
None of the technology or techniques used by bombers in Iraq today are anything really new, officers say. The effectiveness of IEDs there is at least partly due to the insurgents' ability to alter their methods depending on how US forces typically respond to actual or potential IEDs. The Army officer speaking at the Urban Warfare conference said that Iraqi insurgents observed that US troops got into the habit of moving off the road in the same pattern when a potential IED was discovered, typically stopping about 300 meters behind the threat. So hoax IEDs were set up along the road, to trick to Army convoys to pull over to the side, where real IEDs were more carefully concealed.
Sometimes, after Western patrols were observed moving to the opposite site of the road where abandoned cars were feared to conceal IEDs, insurgents place IEDs in those spots opposite the cars. In addition, understanding the importance of EOD teams--and their relative rarity--insurgents will use IEDs as a means to attract the "first responders," then use additional IEDs or mortars or rocket-propelled grenades to attack the EOD teams. "It's almost diabolical the way the insurgents act," Malone said.
To date the technology provided for forces in the field has been better than nothing, but not good enough. The Army officer, who is part of a US joint task force working on solutions for countering IEDs, said that one major problem with jammers is that they may protect the individual patrols or vehicles equipped with them, so that three, five, seven patrols may pass by an IED unharmed, but what about the next vehicle or patrol that passes through without a jammer? Malone said that, in many cases, jamming may work very well, but he noted that it is essentially a power game. "You can only up the power of the signal before you draw down too much power on the vehicle," he said. In addition, if the power of the jamming signal is too strong, it may interfere with forces' own communications. When that happens, the jammers simply get turned off. In any case, if the jammer is not on the same frequency range as the device used to trigger the IED, the jammer simply won't keep the bomb from going off. Jammers used in the field today typically cover no more than eight to 10 frequencies, but work is underway to increase the ranges.
As for other solutions, robots have been a great means of dealing with IEDs, but are essentially an extension of the eyes and ears of the average soldier on patrol, which has proven to be the best means of finding IEDs. Troops will remember what they see, and notice that, say, those rocks weren't in that spot the last time they passed by. Military dogs are also great but take a long time to train and, therefore, are not a quick fix.
Because of the difficulties in finding IEDs already put in place, the best, solution is to stop bombers before they get a chance to plant their bombs. Hence, the defeat of IEDs requires a comprehensive understanding of how bombers find their materials, build the IEDs, find locations to place them, determine when to set them off, and make their escape, officers say. The US Navy has established what Chief of Naval Research RADM Jay M. Cohen calls a "mini-Manhattan Project," separate from the task forces established by the US Marine Corps and US Army, to develop not just immediate solutions to the problem of IEDs but technology and techniques for stopping their use that could take five to 10 years to create.
RADM Cohen said that in 2003 then-Navy Secretary Gordon England, who has since been appointed assistant secretary of Defense, requested that the Navy began working on a comprehensive effort to detect and defeat IEDs at "range and speed," which RADM Cohen said he later defined as 100 feet away at 60 mph--the speed at which a Humvee or other vehicle might be traveling, and at which the human eye simply cannot detect possible bombs hidden in the road or other nearby locations. Not every idea examined may pan out, RADM Cohen said--"You need to start with 5,000 flowers to get 1,000 products, three prototypes, and one George Foreman Grill"--but such is the nature of basic research that produces innovations like radar, sonar, and the Internet. The effort to defeat IEDs is so important, RADM Cohen said, because while they may be used predominantly in Iraq today, with the occasional bombing in Madrid, London, and elsewhere, they will inevitably be used in the US someday. "I don't know when they will come to our shores," he said. "I assume they will."
For solutions to the problem, the US Navy, Marine Corps, and Army, collectively and through their individual task forces and research programs, say that stopping the bombers before they plant their bombs is the goal, and achieving this requires greater understanding of the entire process of bomb creation. Ben Riley, chairman of the Office of Naval Research Combatting Terrorism Technology Task Force, said at the Naval-Industrial R & D conference that developing technology for finding and disposing of IEDs already in place is like a doctor treating the symptoms of a disease rather than the disease itself, especially since within seven to eight months (and others say within as few as 10 days) of a new counter-IED technology or technique being introduced into the field in Iraq, some type of counter to the counter-technology will have been devised by the insurgents, Riley said.
Thus, the solution to the problem will involve, among other things, better information operations--what Riley said he calls "deterrence and dissuasion." Something needs to be done to counter the romantic associations that some people in the Middle East and elsewhere form about bombers Malone described a video game very popular now in the Middle East featuring, as its protagonist, a suicide bomber. In winning the game, the player enters a mosque where the pictures of real-life suicide bombers are on the walls everywhere. How to counter the romantic associations of suicide bombers--the equivalent of having Michael Jordan posters on teenagers' bedroom walls? That is a challenge, officers say.
In addition to information ops, more sophisticated means of electronic intelligence could be applied to surveillance of suspects, including the increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to patrol routes where IEDs might be placed and help forces identify new objects or suspicious activity that could signal the location of an IEDs. For instance, bombers are known to rip up sections of pavement one day, then come back the next with bombs molded to fit the cavity, over which the replace the pavement, creating a hidden bomb nearly impossible to detect by sight when forces are moving rapidly along the road in their, vehicles Cameras and other means of surveillance could be better employed to watch for such activity.
Dr. Starnes Walker, chief scientist of the Office of Naval Research, said IED creation and distribution can be compared to the illegal-drug chain, entailing cultivation of materials, distribution, sales, and so on. "If I understand all the dynamics of the chain of development, then I can understand the 'kill chain,' and I know the places to look," Walker said. Rather than a single solution, stopping IEDs will entail a fusion of information and science, done through an interdisciplinary approach. As all of the researchers and military officials working on the problem readily note, no single magic solution will solve the problem of improvised bombs.--Ted McKenna
Brazil Buying French Mirage 2000s
The Forca Aerea Brasileira (FAB, the Brazilian Air Force) has finally decided on a replacement for its aging Mirage III fighters, choosing second-hand Mirage 2000s from the French Armee de l'Air (French Air Force).
Brazil is purchasing 12 second-hand aircraft--10 single-seat Mirage 2000Cs and two Mirage 2000B two-seaters--from the French Air Force for a sum said to be in the neighbor-hood of $200 million, a figure well below the previously planned $700 million under the FAB's beleaguered F-X BR fighter-replacement program. Most of the aircraft are 20-years old with an average of 2,500 to 3,000 hours of flying time on the airframes. This price includes transition training of all Brazilian Mirage III BR pilots to the Mirage 2000 at Orange AB in France, as well as technical assistance.
The first four Mirage 2000s in Brazilian colors will be ferried to Anapolis AB in the state of Goias, near Brasilia, in December of this year. They will be used to re-equip the 1[degrees] Grupo de Defesa Aerea (1st Air-Defense Group, or 1[degrees] GDA), which continues to fly the remaining twelve of some 23 Mirage III EBR/DBRs purchased in two batches in 1972 and 1986. This prestigious outfit--one of the very first to fly Mach-2-capable fighters in South America in 1973--is dedicated primarily to the air defense of the federal capital of Brasilia.
A final decision to acquire the second-hand Mirage 2000s from France was finally made in May after Brazilian President Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva gave the green light. A formal announcement of and a final price for the transaction were held off, however, pending the official visit of the Brazilian president to France. During his visit to France from July 13 to July 15, President Lula was accompanied by several members of the Brazilian government and high-ranking FAB officers, including Brazilian Foreign Relations Minister Celso Amorim, who signed the Mirage 2000 contract, and LtGen Luis Carlos da Silva Bueno, FAB chief of staff, who officially announced that the FAB had selected the Dassault Mirage 2000 RDI.
For several years now, since the mid-1990s, the FAB has been running, with a series of fits and starts, its F-X BR program, aimed at replacing its Mirage III interceptors with an equivalent number of aircraft. Contenders for the F-X BR program were many and included the Russian IAPO Su-35, the Swedish Saab JAS-39C Gripen, the French Dassault Aviation Mirage 2000BR (aka Mirage 2000-5 Mk.2), the US Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 52, and other entries. It was no secret that the Brazilian fighter community's obvious preference went to the Su-35 fighter, with its long-range missile and high level of autonomy that would enable the 1[degrees] GDA to reach, within hours, any area around the country (which is roughly the size of the continental US).
The French proposal, meanwhile, was strongly supported by Brazil's number-one aircraft manufacturer, Embraer, which is 20% owned by Dassault and had its eye on sharing the construction of the Mirage 2000BR under a likely joint venture with the French company. However, while interesting to the Brazilian government, the Mirage 2000BR was considered too expensive, as were most other proposals (with the exception of the Su-35 proposal, which included plans to have the 12 aircraft assembled in Brazil by Avibras, although the Russian bid was clouded by many uncertainties regarding logistics and supplies).
Faced, however, with a serious military budget shortage during Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso's two terms, no official decision was ever made, and the Mirage IIIs were rapidly wearing out, while the F-X BR program almost became extinct. Postponed again during the first years of Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva's presidency, a final decision, nevertheless, had to be rapidly taken before the end of 2005--the ultimate deadline for the commencement of the Mirage III's planned retirement.
With the Brazilian government's procrastination on the Mirage III replacement and out of sheer necessity, LtGen Bueno said in late 2004 that the service, then just a year away from the withdrawal of the Mirage III from service, should make either a quick choice for a stopgap aircraft or leave the skies over Brasilia undefended. Meanwhile, alternative and more affordable offers were being made to the FAB for second-hand former South African Air Force Cheetahs (refurbished Mirages produced by Atlas, now Denel, in South Africa), former Israeli Air Force Kfir 2000s (reworked Kfir C7s), and eventually ex-US Air Force F-16As that were to be pulled out of storage.
It was at this stage, in early 2005, that LtGen Bueno met with his French counterpart, General Richard Wolsztynski. The French chief of the air staff came up with the idea that the Armee de l'Air (French Air Force) could help the FAB alleviate its lingering F-X BR program issue by passing directly to Brazil a batch of second-hand Mirage 2000s under a simplified military-to-military sales procedure. The idea was simple and clear: to provide the FAB with a turnkey fighter directly transferred to the 1[degrees] GDA at Anapolis AB from an existing operational French Air Force squadron.
The feasability of such a transfer was studied closely by MajGen. Jean-Pierre Rayssac, head of the international department of the Armee de l'Air in Paris, and followed by LtCol Didier Paquet, the French air attache in Brasilia, himself a former Mirage 2000 pilot. Thanks to the bilateral Cruzex series of exercises conducted by the two air forces in Brazil every other year, many Brazilian fighter pilots already had an opportunity to fly in Mirage 2000 two-seaters. Moreover, conversion from the Mirage III to the Mirage 2000 is a relatively easy task, as the two fighters have much in common, while the fly-by-wire controls of the Mirage 2000 make the aircraft even easier to fly. To solidify the deal, the Armee de l'Air would provide full conversion training in France and full logistical support, both for the airframe, engine, and weapon systems. In April 2005, a brief of the French deal was provided to the Brazilian Conselho de Defesa Nacional (National Defense Council) by LtGen Bueno, who stressed that only the French offer would allow for a quick restoration of the FAB's air-defense capability while providing more than a mere stopgap measure.
In a brief interview, LtGen Bueno said that his decision to buy the Mirage 2000s was well received by the FAB Mirage community, which will be able to transition from the Mirage III to the Mirage 2000 in a very short time. It will also help in developing closer links with the French Air Force, notably in the operational field, he said. The first Brazilian pilots earmarked to start the conversion course on the Mirage 2000 in France should arrive at Orange AB this fall.
All 12 Mirage 2000s should be operational at Anapolis AB by mid-2006, in time to participate in the Cruzex 2006 bilateral military exercise with the French Air Force and other South American air forces. Cruzex 2006, according to LtGen Bueno, should take place in Campo Grande AB, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, near the border with Bolivia and Paraguay. Over the coming years, the FAB's Mirage 2000s will join the French Mirages for seasonal DACT exercises expected to take place in the new air-combat range under construction near Kourou in Guyana, a French territory that shares a 650-km border with Brazil--the longest common border, in fact, that France has with any country.--Jean-Michel Guhl
USAF to Locate Enemy Using RWRs
The US Air Force (USAF) recently awarded Raytheon Electronic Warfare Systems (Goleta, CA) a $10-million contract to further develop a networked passive geolocation capability for the company's AN/ALR-69A(V) radar-warning receiver (RWR) that would be used for pinpointing the locations of enemy radio-frequency (RF) emitters, particularly for the lethal suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD).
While such a capability would be applicable to any enemy RF emitter, the focus for the Air Force are emitters associated with enemy air defenses and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), especially relocatable SAMs that can employ "shoot-and-scoot" tactics. "This will be a great enhancement of suppression of air defenses," said Rob Deaton, Raytheon's ALR-69A(V) senior program manager. "It will enable the move from suppression to destruction."
The contract to Raytheon, awarded by the USAF's Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (Robins AFB, GA) under the Advanced Tactical Targeting Technology (AT3) program, calls for the development of the necessary software algorithms and a Frequency and Time Module (FTM) that would provide this new capability to the all-digital, wideband ARL-69A(V) RWR--itself an upgrade of the ALR-69(V), which is currently installed on USAF F-16, A-10, C-130, and MH-53 aircraft. RWRs with these enhancements fitted onboard multiple aircraft could then share their time and frequency measurements, along with GPS data, via datalink, to come up with a much more precise location of an enemy emitter. Because it is a completely digital, wideband system, the ALR-69A(V) can perform the necessary signal processing at sufficient speeds for such accurate and rapid geolocation, Deaton explained.
Applying AT3 requires a minimum of two aircraft equipped with the enhanced RWR to share their data, but to achieve the most rapid solution, you need to use at least three aircraft, Deaton said. The geolocation data thus acquired and shared among the aircraft could then be used to target SAM sites with precision-guided munitions, weapons that could be launched or dropped, for example, by non-dedicated fighter aircraft in the area.
The USAF's AT3 program is a continuation of work done under an advanced-technology demonstration (ATD) originally begun by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which saw Raytheon build a prototype receiver, based on the Raytheon Missile Systems (Tucson, AZ) High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) Targeting System, that was flown on a non-tactical aircraft (see "Lethal SEAD Contractor Downselected," JED, July 2000, p. 24). This ATD program was completed in 2003, but Raytheon continued its work on AT3 using Air Force funding for the ALR-69A(V) development, a contract for which was awarded to the company in March 2004. The recent $10-million contract awarded to Raytheon, though, officially marks the beginning of Phase I of the system-development phase, culminating in test flights using three AT3-capable F-16s in late 2007, which will be the first time the capability has been flown on tactical aircraft.
The USAF is looking at equipping not just F-16s but a variety of aircraft with the AT3 capability and particularly F-15s and A-10s. In fact, Raytheon has already responded to a request for information (RFI) from the F-15 Special Program Office (SPO) geared toward acquiring just such a capability for the F-15E Strike Eagle. Providing this capability to the Air Force's tactical aircraft, Deaton said, is a major step toward network-centric capabilities and toward implementation of the service's sensor-networking concept of operations.
And the Air Force isn't alone in its interest in acquiring AT3 capabilities. According to one source, the US Navy has also expressed interest in providing AT3 for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. Although the Super Hornet is equipped with the ALR-67(V)3 RWR, that system is also being upgraded to an all-digital version, which would enable it to perform AT3's geolocation measurements.--Brendan P. Rivers
USAF Continues Push to Field LAIRCM
Using supplemental funding for the global war on terrorism the US Air Force (USAF) is continuing its efforts to outfit more of its transport aircraft with the Large Aircraft Infrared Counter-measures (LAIRCM) system.
The USAF awarded a contract worth just over $78 million to Northrop Grumman (Rolling Meadows, IL) on July 19 for additional AN/AAQ-24(V). LAIRCM systems. The order calls for the installation of the LAIRCM system on 10 Air Force Reserve C-130 Hercules transports and the LAIRCM Lite system, which uses a single jamming transmitter instead of the three employed by the full-up system, on USAF 22 C-17 Globemaster IIIs. In addition, LAIRCM systems will be fitted onboard an unspecified number of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) MC-130 Combat Talon aircraft and two AFSOC C-130 transports, the latter of which are replacements for two LAIRCM-equipped C-130s lost during recent operation in Southwest Asia (though these were not lost to the IR-guided threats against which the LAIRCM system is designed).
Modifications to enable the C-17s to accept the LAIRCM systems will be done by Boeing (Long Beach, CA) as part of a $31.2-million contract awarded on July 7, while modification work on C-130 types is conducted by Crestview Aerospace (Crestview, FL), under subcontract to Northrop Grumman.
This move using the additional wartime funding serves to further accelerate the Air Force's plan to outfit the vast majority of its transport aircraft with the LAIRCM system to protect them from the threat of IR-guided man-portable air-defense systems, a push that began even before the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom (see "USAF Wants LAIRCM--Stat!" JED, February 2003, p. 20). Under current plans, the USAF will equip all 118 of its C-17s and some 150 of its 186 C-130s with the LAIRCM system. In addition, the service hopes to similarly outfit its entire fleet of C-5B Galaxy transports (see "LAIRCM for Galaxy Not Far, Far Away," JED, December 2004, p. 16), along with 20 unspecified tanker aircraft. Indeed, Northrop Grumman received a contract on May 24 that included funding for a trial installation on an Air Mobility Command C-5B. All together, the Air Force has slated a total of 444 aircraft to be equipped with the system.
Under this most recent contract all of the aircraft will be fitted with the laser-based version of the LAIRCM system, except AFSOC's planes, which will receive the earlier lamp-based system. The reason for this, according to Jack Pledger, Northrop Grumman's director of business development for IR countermeasures, is that AFSOC was the original launch customer for the LAIRCM system and, as such, received the earlier version of it (see "DIRCM for Special Ops C-130s," JED, July 2002, p. 27). AFSOC wishes to maintain the integrity of the fleet they have (which will be returned to a strength of 60 with the two aircraft to replace those lost in combat operations), Pledger explained, though the command has expressed the desire to upgrade to the laser-based version of the system eventually. AFSOC's MH-53 helicopters, meanwhile, and the CV-22 Ospreys it will acquire are receiving a laser-based system (see "DIRCM Flies on CV-22 Osprey," JED, August 2005, p. 25).
A further upgrade to the LAIRCM is in the works as well. On Feb. 1, Northrop Grumman received a $23.6-million contract to conduct system design and demonstration activity of the Guardian Pointer Tracker Assembly (GPTA) to replace the Small Laser Transmitter Assembly (SLTA) currently installed in the laser-based LAIRCM system. The GPTA, along with the company's Viper laser, will provide enhanced supportability and effectiveness over the SLTA.
To date, variants of the LAIRCM system equip over 300 aircraft of 27 different types in the US and UK inventories. Although the UK Ministry of Defense keeps a tight lid on the specific aircraft that it has outfitted with the system, sources indicate that at least some of its C-17 transports and AH Mk I Apache and EH101 helicopters are so equipped.--Brendan P Rivers
US Army Helos Getting False Alarms
The AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) alerts pilots to the presence of incoming missiles, but US Army CH-47 Chinooks and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters equipped with the system and flying in Iraq and Afghanistan have been experiencing problems with false alarms, receiving alerts in the form of audible and visual warnings when there are no threats.
In addition, as if these false alarms in themselves weren't enough of a problem, they also trigger the countermeasures systems onboard the helicopters, which then launch flares that--along with unnecessarily depleting the stores of the decoys on the helicopters--can also give away their positions, particularly during nighttime operations.
The CMWS, produced by BAE Systems (Nashua, NH), first began being fielded onboard US Army CH-47 and UH-60 helicopters in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively, early this year, and efforts to improve the system's false-alarm rate are already underway and "significantly ahead of schedule," according to a spokesman for the Army Aviation and Missile Command (Redstone Arsenal, AL).
The solution, sources say, lies in developing a software upgrade to the CMWS. "The CMWS is software-intensive, which is one of its strengths," said Chris Ager, business-development manager for BAE Systems. Ager said that the Army and BAE Systems "are in the continuous process of improvement" in terms of the software and anticipate that, just in the current low-rate initial production phase, the necessary software enhancements can be made.
BAE Systems is currently under contract to produce an initial 200 systems (see "US Army Helos to Receive New IR Countermeasures," JED, December 2004, p. 16), a large percentage of which Ager said have already been delivered. A further 284 systems could be ordered by the Army under the contract as well, and perhaps a whole lot more, as the Army has boosted its stated requirement for the systems such that it now plans to order a total of 1,076.
The contract was awarded to BAE Systems in September of last year, following an urgent material release for accelerated fielding to OIF and OEF forces. The Army spokesman said that testing conducted prior to this release was successful and "proved that the CMWS provides outstanding protection against infrared-guided surface-to-air missile threats." He noted, however, that the Army has concluded that efforts to optimize the system's performance for the theater in Southwest Asia are needed.
Although he declined to say when fixes might start hitting the field, Ager said that very good progress has been made in updating the software to reduce false alarms without increasing the danger to aircrews, which he said takes a tremendous amount of effort. "You'll never get false alarms down to zero," he said, explaining that there is an inherent tradeoff between the level of protection the system provides and its false-alarm rate. "We're not going to reduce the probability of [threat] detection to reduce false alarms."--Brendan P. Rivers
US Army ACS Faces Battle of the Bulge
The US Army has dropped from consideration for the new Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) aircraft the Embraer ERJ-145 business jet, saying it is too small to accommodate what is apparently becoming a larger and heavier system than first planned. Reportedly, at least six other commercial aircraft are now in the running to launch ACS the replacement for the RC-12 Guardrail airplane, the Airborne Reconnaissance-Low aircraft, and the Navy's EP-3E Aries II.
Even before the Army and prime contractor Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems and Solutions (Gaithersburg, MD) had officially made this announcement to the general press, competitors had gotten wind of the situation and had already started pitching their aircraft for the program. These include Airbus (with its Corporate Jetliner), Boeing, Bombardier (Global Express XRJ or CRJ 900 jetliner), Gulfstream (with the G450 or G550), and (again) Embraer (with the EMB-190).
Embraer (Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil) had just celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony at Cecil Commerce Center, Jacksonville, Airport, FL, to launch the building of a plant to assemble its ERJ-145 for the ACS program. The city had agreed to give the company an $11.3-million incentive package, including $6.5 million in hangar space built by the Jacksonville Airport Authority, and to provide space rent-free for 10 years.
Lockheed Martin won an $879-million contract in August 2004, to design and develop the new system. Lockheed is to deliver five RC-20 aircraft to the Army by 2010 and 33 more by 2018. The Navy has an option to buy an additional 19 aircraft but has not yet signed for such deliveries, despite being involved in initial project reviews and analyses. This development is more than a little ironic when one considers that the Navy's P-8A Multimission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) was originally dropped as the EP-3E's replacement for being too large and heavy. If the MMA airframe is finally chosen for the ACS, the cycle will have come full circle.
Undeterred, Lockheed Martin is making "excellent progress" during the current System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase, a company spokesman said. Development and integration work on the ACS's sensor suite is ongoing and follows what Lockheed describes as a successful SIGINT [signals-intelligence] review in March, a successful architecture review in April, and completion of several interim preliminary design reviews (PDRs) of subsystems.
A spokesman for the Army's ACS Program Office added some detail. The requirements for the overall system performance have been remarkably stable, he said. The problem with the ERJ-145's size seems to relate to mission systems integration--especially the weight of and heat from the miles of cabling and adapters that connect the systems--rather than the separate systems themselves. As the design of the mission equipment progressed, it became apparent that greater airframe size, more electrical power, larger engines, and greater cooling capacities would be needed. The Army is currently looking "across the board" at commercial-derivative aircraft that more closely match the mission and payload requirements. As noted above, the Army is not ruling out using the P-8A airframe to meet its requirement. The Army is now assessing the cost, schedule, and technical implications of using a larger aircraft. Any specific changes in budgeting, production, and fielding will only be determined following an airframe solution, according to the Army spokesman.
Some industry analysts remain skeptical of the explanation that it has only recently become apparent that a larger airplane is needed. The problem with this explanation, they say, is that a significant amount of engineering has to go into the bid process, so suddenly discovering a big airframe discrepancy afterwards makes the contract-award process look shoddy. Although both Lockheed Martin and the Army are maintaining that they have no timetable for making a decision on a new airplane, industry analysts are saying they can't recall a situation in which an airframe maker had been replaced in a military aviation program after the contract had been awarded, despite the fact that, in this case, the capability of the airframe is secondary to the mission equipment needs.
The Army's proposed total of 38 airplanes is expected to be worth approximately $7 billion. The Navy's potential additional 19 may bring the total to $10 billion over 20 years. Although the Navy has yet to formally enter into the ACS program, a spokesperson for the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) did state that the service still intends to join the program eventually, after current airframe and integration issues have been resolved.--Kenneth B. Sherman
US Navy to Begin Fielding UAVs in '08
US Navy officials on July 13 outlined plans to begin fielding new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in 2008, with some programs not expected to be ready until 2018.
For the moment, the Navy has two types of relatively small UAVs in field tests. The first is the ScanEagle, in use by the US Marine Corp in Iraq, as well as the Navy in the Persian Gulf to, among other things, guard oil platforms. The prototype Neptune, meanwhile, which lands via parachute or on the water like a seaplane, is being tested by Navy SEALs (for more on new UAVs, see "Evolution in Unmanned Vehicles," JED, August 2005, p. 14). Both of these types of UAVs have relatively small ranges and sensors.
Officials speaking at the Navy-Industry International Dialogue, held July 13 at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA, and sponsored by National Defense Industrial Association, noted that budget constraints have forced delays in development of larger, more ambitious UAVs.
The first of their major vehicles to come is the Fire Scout, a vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) UAV that the Navy has been testing for several years and now expects to place on its new Littoral Combat Ships starting in 2008 (see "LCS Construction Underway," JED, March 2005, p. 20). Along with the Fire Scout, which was originally expected to be ready by 2007, the Navy also hopes to field a Tactical Control System that could be used for various types of UAVs, making operating (and training to operate) UAVs simpler, as well as cutting down on the burdensome amount of equipment required to operate and support UAVs.
After Fire Scout, the next major UAV to be fielded, the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) system, was originally planned for 2009 but will not now reach initial operating capability until 2014. No specific UAV has been chosen for BAMS yet, but the vehicle is expected to be used in general for maritime surveillance and reconnaissance and to work in conjunction with the Maritime Multimission Aircraft operating at lower altitudes.
The Navy has purchased two Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAVs to test concepts related to BAMS, but officials at the industry event cautioned that the Global Hawk would not necessarily be the vehicle chosen for the program.
Finally, the Joint Unmanned Air Combat System (J-UCAS) will be ready by 2018. The J-UCAS, under development in partnership with the US Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) and the US Air Force (USAF), will carry a large payload--some 4,500 lbs.--of sensors, communications-relay equipment, and weapons, and will be able to travel long distances--at least 1,300 nm, according to the objectives established by the program overseers.
Is the Navy being too slow with its UAV development? CAPT Steven Wright, the Navy's UAV-requirements officer, said that while the Navy may not be as advanced as, say, the USAF in development and fielding of UAVs, it has not necessarily been slow. "It just takes time to develop them," he said.
Asked whether vehicles planned for fielding as many as 13 years away will be obsolete, CAPT Wright noted that the programs are designed to incorporate new technology as it becomes available--for example, with the sensors. "With the airframes, those are more difficult to alter," CAPT Wright said, "but it is the payloads that are more critical--more so than the airframes themselves."
Apart from the time required to develop the sensors, control systems, and other aspects of UAVs, officials noted that problems related to the use of UAVs in civilian airspace will also take time to resolve. Ultimately, UAV operators want unmanned aircraft to operate within airspace as easily as manned aircraft, but this requires coordination with civilian airspace authorities such as the US Federal Aviation Administration, as well as simply giving UAV operators the technical capability to spot and avoid other airspace traffic.
This problem of airspace integration is not unique to the US Navy. US Coast Guard CDR Mellissa Hoffman, who is helping oversee development of a UAV called the Eagle Eye, testing for which will begin in 2008, with initial operating capability in 2009, said that her program's vehicle would typically be used some 50 miles off the coastline, which sees a lot less civilian air traffic and, thus, somewhat lessens potential airspace-integration problems. CDR Hoffman said the program is developing radar that can identify nearby aircraft but has not yet worked out how to present that information to the UAV operator.--Ted McKenna
US Navy's New Minehunting System Enters Production
The US Navy this month gave the green light for the beginning of low-rate, initial production (LRIP) of the AN/WLD-I Remote Minehunting System (RMS), built by Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors-Undersea Systems (Syracuse, NY) and being developed under the direction of the Program Executive Office for Littoral and Mine Warfare. The RMS is reported to have met or exceeded all its critical performance parameters during sea trials.
The RMS will be operated from the Navy's latest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers and from the new Littoral Combat Ships. An unmanned vehicle, the RMS was designed to provide continuous over-the-horizon mine-warfare capability. It uses a 13,000-lb., 23-foot long diesel-powered, semi-submersible vehicle that carries a high-resolution, side-looking, multibeam sonar system and an electro-optical identification/streak-imaging laser for providing real-time images to operators. The system detects, classifies, and localizes a variety of mine types for mine clearance.
Under LRIP, Lockheed will build three vehicles in 2005. However, the Navy plans to acquire a total of 47 RMS systems between FY05 and FY11, along with an undetermined number of other mine-warfare systems, including the AN/AQS-20A sonar mine-detection set, the AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System, the AN/ALQ-220 Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep, the AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization System and the AN/AWS-2 Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System.
The RMS was tested last year aboard the USS Momsen (DDG 92), at the time the newest Arleigh Burke-class ship in the US Navy.
The RMS prototype was completed in 1994, and fleet deliveries began in 1999, with the system then using the older AN/AQS-14 detection system. The prime contractor for the new AN/AQS-20A is Raytheon Naval and Maritime Integrated Systems (Portsmouth, RI).
The current estimated value of a 47-unit production run through 2011 is approximately $575 million, according to a spokesman at the Naval Sea Systems Command. According to Lockheed Martin, they will be built at its facility in Riviera Beach, FL. During the low rate production--to last through FY06--the RMS system will continue developmental testing and operational assessment. A decision on full-rate production will likely come following testing through 2006, according to a Lockheed Martin spokesman. While delivery schedules for the RMS and the specific ships to receive them are yet to be determined, Lockheed Martin indicates that the RMS is slated to equip Arleigh Burke-class Flight IIA destroyers (DDG 91 through DDG 96) and the Littoral Combat Ship Flight 0 vessels. The Lockheed Martin spokesman indicated that while the Arleigh Burkes will carry just one RMS each, the LCSs may carry two apiece, yielding enough systems for the last six Arleigh Burkes plus nearly two dozen LCSs. Integration of the RMS into other fleet platforms is not planned at this time.--Kenneth B. Sherman
Future of Joint Common Missile Still Uncertain
The US Army-led Joint Common Missile (JCM) program faces an uncertain future, but its fate should be decided when the Senate passes its version of the defense appropriations bill.
In December of last year, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) issued Program Budget Decision (PBD) 753, which, eliminated FY06 funding for the JCM program, citing cost concerns and calling the program unaffordable over the long term. However, the House of Representatives reinstated $50 million for the program in its version of the appropriations bill, and it appears likely that the Senate will fund the program as well.
The JCM, being developed by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (Orlando, FL), is the next-generation missile intended to replace the Hellfire and Maverick air-to-ground missiles currently in the arsenal of the US Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. It employs a multimode warhead and a tri-mode seeker--imaging-infrared sensor, semi-active laser, and millimeter-wave (MMW) radar--for active and passive precision targeting and guidance. In all, the three services were eventually expected to procure up to 54,000 JCMs to replace the Hellfires that equip AH-64 Apache and AH-1 Cobra helicopters and the Mavericks used by F/A-18 Hornets.
Lockheed Martin was awarded an initial development contract for the JCM, worth $53 million, in May 2004. Over the course of 20 years, Lockheed Martin, at the time of the initial contract award, estimated the total potential value of the program at up to $5.5 billion.
Right now, the program continues to move forward under its FY05 funding, having just completed its preliminary design review (PDR) in late June, as well as a successful flight of a control test vehicle on June 27 that demonstrated that the JCM met the range requirement of 16 km set by the services (indeed, the test missile actually flew a little over 17 km). Lockheed Martin and the Army have worked out a plan under which that funding has been "spread to extend a bit into FY06," according to Rick Edwards, the company's vice president for tactical missiles. Beyond that, however, the program will require further funding to allow it to continue to its next milestone, which would be a critical design review (CDR) in late FY06.
Aside from any funding that has been reallocated for work into FY06, however, PBD 753 effectively terminated the program beyond FY05, and the Army now hopes simply to leverage some of the technologies that have been developed under the program so far. According to a statement provided by the JCM program office at Redstone Arsenal, AL, "The JCM program manager is currently evaluating the path ahead, given the guidance of PBD 753, with the intent being to benefit from the technologies demonstrated to date, continuing maturing those technologies and bringing the project to a logical conclusion. The technologies being developed in JCM have broad application to a number of missile systems and services. Specifically, three JCM primary technology efforts--the multimode seeker, the multimode warhead, and the boost-sustain propulsion system--are continuing to mature as planned."
When asked if the Army had any plan for the JCM program in place should the Senate, along with the House, decide to reinstate funding for the program, an Army spokesman said the service would prefer not to speculate on any "what-ifs."
Lockheed Martin, though, as might be expected is not content to let the JCM program go without a fight. According to Edwards, the company has been lobbying Congress, attempting to make their case for the continuation of the program. To this end, he said, the company has been working actively with members of the Senate, particularly Senator Richard Shelby [R-AL], in whose home state the JCM was slated to be produced. Edwards also said that Lockheed Martin had pitched a plan to the Army that would see the program through to its CDR and subsequent test flights should funding be reinstated.
Edwards claimed that the cost concerns cited by PBD 753 were unfounded. "Money certainly is tight," he said, "but I think all of the services were surprised by the PBD action," which, he also pointed, out came just six months into the company's work on the program. Edwards said there were some misconceptions about the costs entailed in developing and producing the JCM. "There are people who say a tri-mode seeker will be the sum of three seekers," he said, for instance. "That's not the case at all, since the seekers are all integrated in a single package and would not be individual units." (Think of the cell phones now available that also have camera functions.) "Each of the first four seekers built for JCM," Edwards said, "cost less than the 10,000th one produced for the Hellfire." Indeed, all told, Edwards says the JCM would cost less in production than the Hellfire.
In its first year, Edwards characterized the program as "essentially flawless," being on schedule, on budget, and with no major action items identified in the recent PDR, which included 17 subsystem reviews. He characterized it as being "as close to a model program as you'll ever see," adding that the program "could've passed a preliminary design review the day the contract was awarded."
Should the JCM program not be continued, however, the services--particularly the Army--could find themselves in quite a quandary. Funds have not been allocated. Edwards noted, for future purchases of additional Hellfire missiles to compensate for the unavailability of the JCM. As Edwards put it, "This is a big problem."--Brendan P. Rivers
JASSM in Jeopardy
The way ahead for the Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) program remains uncertain, as program officials await the US Senate Appropriations Committee's mark-ups to the defense budget.
The AGM-158 JASSM is a long-range, precision-guided cruise missile, designed to destroy high-value, well-defended, fixed and mobile targets with a 1,000-lb penetrator warhead, while keeping aircrews safe at stand-off ranges of up to about 200 nautical miles (for more on the JASSM and other precision-guided weapons, see "Hammers of the Gods," JED, September 2002, p. 48). It employs an imaging-infrared terminal seeker, in addition to its GPS/inertial midcourse guidance. The "Joint" in its name, however, is a bit of a misnomer now, as the Navy decided to opt out of the program earlier this year, leaving only the Air Force, which intends to procure a total of 4,900 of the missiles for its F-16, B-1B, B-2, and B-52 aircraft (the Navy had a planned procurement of 453 for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornets). The Air Force has already acquired 176 JASSMs under the first two production lots and is currently getting 240 more under Lot 3, deliveries for which are slated for completion early next year.
The House, in its mark-ups, slashed $148 million from the $150 million requested for JASSM Lot 5 procurement, leaving just $2 million to close out existing contracts, while the requested $67 million in research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT & E) funding for the program remained intact. The committee also recommended that the program be terminated and noted in a June 7 release that the JASSM "has repeately failed reliability and performance tests," reportedly including a test conducted earlier this year in which a JASSM launched from a B-52 bomber reportedly did not deploy from the aircraft properly and crashed before striking its target.
Lockheed Martin, prime contractor on the JASSM program, now faces "the very immediate challenge to address Congress's concerns," said Mike Inderhees, the company's JASSM program manager. "We share their disappointment and know they've voiced some very serious concerns." However, he noted that there is a very hard requirement for the JASSM within the US Air Force, in particular, and called the House's decision to cut procurement funding and recommendation to terminate the program "premature."
Inderhees said that the program entered 2005 having just completed a review by an independent reliability enhancement team (RET), as requested by the Air Force. The review, he said, validated the program's design and testing efforts, as well as its value to the warfighter, and noted that the failures that were experienced during testing were to be expected. The RET also recommended that ground tests of the system be conducted, in addition to the 13-vehicle flight-test program that was already planned for this year.
So far this year, the JASSM program has completed five of its planned flight tests--two contractor evaluations and three run by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC). Both contractor evaluations were successful, Inderhees said, while two of the three run by AFOTEC resulted in "flight-test discoveries" that need to be addressed, though he declined to specify what these were. The eight remaining flight tests will be run by AFOTEC and are expected to begin soon. The added ground tests, meanwhile, should get underway this month at Eglin AFB, FL, and will run through September.
Meanwhile, development of the extended-range variant of the JASSM, the JASSM-ER (with a range of over 500 nautical miles versus the standard JASSM's 200), continues to progress. Inderhees said wind-tunnel testing of the JASSM-ER engine is already underway, with the full-up version of the missile itself expected to enter such testing this summer and flight tests scheduled for the second quarter of next year. In addition, there are plans to add a datalink to the JASSM-ER for in-flight retargeting. This effort is currently an advanced-concept technology demonstration (ACTD), but a full development program is expected to kick off early next year.
What will happen, though, if the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) goes the way of the House? Inderhees said that, while Lockheed Martin has clear insight into the House's concerns with the JASSM program and is currently coordinating with the Air Force to address those concerns, the company is in a wait-and-see mode until the SAC completes its mark-ups. Should the SAC's mark-ups on the JASSM program match those made by the House, Inderhees said the company would have to work with both the Air Force and Congress to determine how to go forward, particularly with the JASSM-ER, development of which would clearly be impacted by severe cuts to or even outright termination of its parent program.--Brendan P. Rivers
Counter-MANPADS Bill Targets Airbus A380
Equipping large commercial aircraft with electronic-countermeasures (ECM) systems to protect them from a potential terrorist attack by a man-portable air-defense system (MAN-PADS) is the purported goal of legislation recently introduced in the US House of Representatives. However, the bill, proposed by Congressman John Mica [R-FL] targets just one aircraft in particular the new Airbus A380.
The legislation introduced by Congressman Mica on June 15 (H.R. 2905) would require ECM systems on all turbojet aircraft with a passenger capacity 800 or more and a maximum takeoff weight of 500 tons or greater that is used to provide commercial air transportation, even intrastate, within two years of the systems being certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Interestingly, the only aircraft that fits in this category is the A380, built by Airbus (Toulouse, France), which has a maximum takeoff weight of over 600 tons and, in certain configurations, can seat up to 840 passengers. The bill does not cover commercial jets produced by Boeing (Chicago, IL), such as the 747, which has a maximum takeoff weight of 455 tons and a seating capacity of up to 524.
Two other bills that would require ECM protection for commercial airliners were also introduced in Congress in June--one by Senator Barbara Boxer [D-CA] and another in the House by Congressman Steve Israel [D-NY]. Neither of these, however, targets a specific aircraft, instead mandating the systems for all commercial turbojet passenger aircraft. The Commercial Airline Missile Defense Act (S. 1193), introduced in the Senate on June 7 by Senator Boxer, would direct the assistant secretary of Homeland Security for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to issue regulations requiring turbojet aircraft used by commercial air carrier to be equipped with countermeasures against MANPADS. Should the bill pass, such regulations would have to be issued within 90 days and would have to establish a schedule for the purchase and installation of the countermeasures systems for all turbojet aircraft currently in service, as well as those ordered before the regulations are issued. Countermeasures would then be required for all turbojet aircraft ordered and manufactured afterwards. Congressman Israel's proposed legislation (H.R. 2780), essentially mirrors Senator Boxer's bill in the upper house even having the same title and was, in fact, introduced on the same day.
Guy Hicks, a spokesman for EADS, the parent company of Airbus, said that he is sure Congressman Mica's "intentions are well-founded regarding the safety of airline passengers." However, he added, "If security is that critical for one type of aircraft one would think that those concerns would apply to other aircraft as well."
Hicks declined further comment on the proposed legislation. "The legislative process is long and uncertain," he said. "It's too early for us to speculate on the legislation and its [potential] implementation and practice."
In a press release on June 15 issued by Congressman Don Young [R-AK], chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, of which Mica is a member, the representative from Florida was quoted as saying. "When you launch a new aircraft that can carry the population of a small village, it must require--at a minimum--a missile-defense system as standard operating equipment."
According to Gary Burns, Mica's legislative director, the congressman has long considered the A380 as "a tempting and irresistible target for the terrorists," noting that the aircraft is "the biggest target out there." He also said that the A380 is seen as a "starting point" and that it would always be an option to extend such protection to other aircraft in the future.
Burns denied that the bill is a jab at Airbus specifically, shrugging aside the notion, saying, "People can read into it what they want."--Brendan P. Rivers
US Congress Questions Skyrocketing Space Costs
Highly optimistic cost estimates and a rush to get technology fielded too quickly have led to busted budgets and program delays for US space programs, according to testimony on Capitol Hill.
Experts testified during a July 12 hearing of the US House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Strategic Forces that initial budgets for space acquisition programs typically cover as little as 20% of actual costs, leading inevitably to cost over-runs for such programs as Space-Based Infrared Radar System-High (SBIRS-High) and Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) Satellites.
Spending on space-based capabilities in 2006 will total more than $20 billion, noted subcommittee Chairman Terry Everett [R-AL], and is expected to rise another 40% by 2010, yet "repeated cost growth and schedule delays in several space programs indicate larger systematic problems." Everett said in his opening statement.
SBIRS-High, for example, which is a program to put a constellation of satellites into high orbit to identify and track ballistic-missile launches, originally was estimated to cost $3.9 billion but now stands at $9.9 billion, according to Robert E. Levin, director of acquisition and sourcing management at the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), who said that the US Department of Defense (DoD) generally starts more programs than it can afford to develop.
As a result of competition among various programs, moreover, program managers hoping to keep their programs alive tend to focus on near-term results that will attract continued funding, as opposed to the end result, Levin said. Research and development, in many cases, is still occurring after the acquisition phase of the programs has begun, but such research needs to be done earlier, "within a more for-giving type of environment" that accepts and even expects failure and experimentation.
Often lowball estimates for programs originate from private contractors, who underestimate costs in their rush to win contracts, said Thomas Young, a former CEO of Lockheed Martin, who last year oversaw an advisory group that looked at problems with US space acquisition programs. Recapitalizing programs that are based on unrealistic budgets winds up costing the government a lot extra because of the new development requirements that they create, such as integration of different technology.
Add-on costs for initially under-funded programs are usually about two-and-a-half times what they would have been, said Young, who told the committee that not only must realistic budgets for individual programs be established from the beginning, and proper research conducted prior to the acquisition phase of the programs, but Congress must also set aside "reserve" funds for programs so that, in the event that extra funds are required, managers have them available without having to go back to Congress.
Questioned about the billions of dollars in cost overruns and numerous delays in the development of various space programs, General Lance Lord of the US Air Force Space Command said that program changes are being made but will need time to take effect. Gen. Lord, who oversees all of the US Air Force's various space and missile programs (see "USAF General Stresses Importance of Space," JED, November 2004, p. 30), said that a prior emphasis on keeping costs down, as opposed to focusing on successful technology development, ironically helped create problems with cost overruns and program delays.
In addition, space-launch failures during 1990s that wasted a total of $11 billion are also partly responsible for current budget shortfalls, he said.
Smaller aircraft could be a means of cutting high costs and scheduling difficulties stemming from large programs, according to Gen. Lord, who mentioned as an example the hypersonic aircraft program called Force Application and Launch from the Continental US (FALCON), which the USAF is developing in partnership with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Subcommittee ranking member Rep, Silvestre Reyes [D-TX] asked Gen. Lord whether "near-space" technology could, in some cases, eliminate the need for more expensive space-based technology. Operating at altitudes of 65,000 feet or more, near-space aircraft would not have the high launch costs associated with space vehicles yet could provide some of the same capabilities. New types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) able to fly for days at a time are being studied for such purposes as surveillance and communications relay, though, at this point, they are only in the prototype stage (see "Evolution in Unmanned Vahicles," JED, August 2005, p. 14)
Gen. Lord specifically mentioned communications as a potential application for near-space vehicles, saying that they could be used to quickly set up communications relays for commanders on the battlefield when satellite capacity might be limited or unavailable. Along with UAVs, Gen. Lord said that tests of lighter-than-air vehicles for such purposes as communications relay have also shown promise (see "Blimp Demo Over Washington," JED, November 2004, p. 19)
Given that the DoD has tended to take on more programs than it can afford to fund, according to the panelists at the hearing, will Congress decide to cut some of the programs currently underway? None of the subcommittee members at the hearing made any comments on the merits of particular programs. Yet those kinds of difficult choices need to made, according to the GAO's Levin, who said that DoD officials, when faced with shrinking budgets, "would rather make across-the-board cuts to all space programs than hard decisions as to which ones to keep and which ones to cancel or cut back."--Ted McKenna
The US Army next year will walk a fine line between supporting current operations and reforming the Army for future missions, said Secretary of the US Army Francis Harvey in a speech on July 7 to the Institute of Land Warfare in Arlington, VA.
Continuing his promotion over the last few months of an Army "strategic framework" for 2006, including a similar speech to a public-affairs symposium in late March, Harvey said that new US Army technology, doctrine, and training are emerging as a result of problems encountered during ongoing deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
One problem the Army faces, though, is balancing the introduction of new technology, such as new communications networks, with support for operations that depend on the equipment that will eventually be replaced. Introduction of new. Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs), some of which employ new types of vehicles and technologies stemming from the Future Combat Systems program (see "US Army's FCS Gets Green Light," JED, July 2003, p. 36), must also be managed while traditional divisions are in the midst of deployment.
In the area of technology, the Army for the past several years has been working to develop the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (see "US Army Speeds Up WIN-T," JED, October 2004, p. 16) and the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), out in the meantime, soldiers are making do with a hodgepodge of systems. Giving that operations are ongoing, timing the transition from the old to the new is tricky. "I like to say that migrating from Platform A to Platform B is very easy," Harvey said. "But when do you turn off the SINCGARS system, for example, and go fully to JTRS? The real challenge is the migration path--how you manage the systems you use today."
As for progress in the introduction of BCTs, Harvey said the number of BCTs in the "rotational pool" is expected to rise from 48 currently to 77 next year. As the Army increasingly shifts to BCTs, which are more uniform in their components and, therefore, easier to rotate into and out of the field, the individual soldier's length of deployment will become easier to predict, allowing the Army to meet its goal of serving one year in the field and two at home, or one year of deployment every five years for National Guard members. "As anyone in the audience who was recently deployed knows, no two brigades in Iraq were the same," said Harvey, adding that this has been one of the factor in making the lengths of deployments difficult to predict.
Changes in the way soldiers are trained, meanwhile, have already been established at centers like Ft. Polk, LA, where as recently as 2000, soldiers were still being trained for the type of traditional, conventional warfare expected from former adversaries such as the Soviet Union, Harvey said. Now the battlefield soldiers are being trained to encounter is urban, populated by Iraqi-American role players, sheiks, mayors, translators, insurgents, and so on. Soldiers face simulated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and they practice missions where success depends as much on cultural understanding and independent decision making as on warfighting skills.
The plan by the Army in training soldiers of the future is to create "pentathletes" whose attributes include first and foremost, being a strategic thinker, followed by the ability to lead teams, top warfighting skills, cultural understanding, and diplomatic finesse. Instead being trained to be obedient killing machines, US soldiers of the future would be molded rather like Jesuit missionaries--able to operate in strange lands and with unfamiliar people in the course of pursuing their mission, mixing their experience in cultural interactions and their ability to make decisions independently with the traditional martial skills of the soldier.
The result is a vision of a soldier who is no mere grunt, but a culturally sophisticated warfighter employing new weapons who is able to do many of the tasks normally associated with peacekeeping soldiers. Such are the demands of the 21st-century security environment faced by the US, said Harvey, in which the Cold War has been replaced by the global war on terrorism.--Ted McKenna
US DoD Ponders China Threat
Insurgencies, terrorists, asymmetric warfare--these are threats that the US military is being revamped to tackle more effectively in the years to come. The Army is creating self-sustaining brigades (see "Renaissance Soldiers," p. 30 of this issue), for instance, for smaller deployments, and the Navy is designing lighter ships for operating in littoral areas (see "LCS Construction Underway," JED, March 2005, p. 20). But what about more old-fashioned, conventional threats? In molding its fighting forces to more effectively fight the "Global War on Terrorism," will the US overlook potential state-based threats like that of China, which some defense analysts believe is willing to trigger war with the US by invading Taiwan?
Concerns about China color the development of strategic documents like the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) that the US Defense Department is expected to complete this year, according to panelists at a July 7 forum sponsored by the Heritage Foundation research group on "The 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review: China and Space--the Unmentionables."
For now, much of the focus of the US military appears to be on battling asymmetric warfare, as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as protecting domestic borders. These concerns are expected to be at the heart of US future defense strategy, as expressed in among other things, the next Quadrennial Defense Review (see "Guessing Game: Quadrennial Defense Review 2005," JED, August 2005, p. 28).
But concerns about China's military intentions, though, including suspicions in some quarters--whether founded or not--that it might seek to try to take out US satellite capabilities in the event of a conflict (see "Are Space-Based Weapons inevitable?" JED, June 2005, p. 10), appear to be a significant factor in how the US calculates the importance of technologies and weapons systems such as sophisticated fighter aircraft like the F/A-22 that are not so useful for fighting terrorists or insurgents but are critical to waging war with major states.
Strong trade between the US and China to some extent muffles the drumbeat to war that more conservative commentators on China appear to hear. Economics ties between China and the US are significant, with the US economy basically dependent on China for its strong consumer spending. Dr. Michael Krepon, president emeritus of the Henry L. Stimson Center, noted that 70% of the goods sold by the largest US retailer, Wal-Mart, are made in China. China also holds some $230 billion in US debt, on which the US last year paid interest to China of some $9.8 billion.
As seen in government reports such as the annual one issued by the Pentagon on China's military capabilities, the most recent version of which was due to be provided to Congress on March 1 but has been delayed, the US military clearly keeps tabs on what it sees as a major country making significant investments in its military capabilities. Recent comments from officials like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld indicate growing suspicion about Chinese intentions.
China now has the third-largest military in the world, according to Rumsfeld in a recent speech in Singapore, and continues to acquire advanced technology. "One might be concerned that this buildup is putting the delicate military balance in the region at risk--especially, but not only, with respect to Taiwan," Rumsfeld said. "Since no nation threatens China, one wonders--why this growing investment?" (For more on Taiwan-China tensions, see "Flashpoint Taiwan Straits," JED, November 2004, p. 51.)
Dr. David Finkelstein, the director of Project Asia at the CNA Corporation research group, said the Chinese People's Libation Army (PLA), inspired by the technology used by US forces in the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, including precision-guided weapons, has been "transforming" its force with network-centric capabilities since the mid-1990s. This transformation includes not just acquisition of the technology--from new radar and navigation devices to submarines, both diesel- and nuclear-powered--but also the doctrines that dictate how the technology is used.
"What US officials and others have been describing as new capabilities are actually the result of decade-plus reform by the PLA," according to Finkelstein. "The '91 Gulf War had a profound affect on the PLA, and it forced the PLA to conclude that they were 20 years behind other militaries and ill-equipped to function in the modern world."
Part of the PLA's transformation has been the reduction in its forces, most recently with a cut of 200,000. According to theories about network-centric warfare, new communications and precision-guided weapons should more than compensate for a reduction in forces. As the PLA has transformed itself, moreover, its focus on certain types of military acquisitions indicate an interest in invading Taiwan and defending against military opposition to such an invasion, according John J. Tkacik, a research fellow on China policy at the Heritage Foundation, who said the country's submarine fleet currently numbers 69 and is expected to grow to at least 89.
Some defense experts say that the US DoD may be overestimating China's defense spending. A US Air Force-sponsored report in May by the Rand Corporation research group estimated China's defense budget in 2003 at between $31 billion and $38 billion. While actual defense spending by China may have been around 1.7 times what China officially admitted to spending on defense procurement, the report found, it was not anywhere near the $60 billion or so that the Pentagon has estimated.
Does China serve as an excuse for acquiring big-ticket defense items that were originally conceived of during the Cold War? Both the US Air Force (USAF) and the Navy, as well as the Army, are scrambling to create new strategies and budgets in the face of the developing "21st century security environment," with the changing production plans for the F/A-22 aircraft being just one example. Where the USAF had once planned to build over 500, today that number has been reduced by budget cuts to 170, though officials argue that more would be needed to effectively oppose a large, conventional military such as China's.
The Navy, meanwhile, though it is attempting to develop new types of smaller ships, is still organized as if on call to re-fight the Battle of Midway, said a former Naval officer attending at recent speech by US Army Secretary Francis Harvey on the Army's 2006 strategy. "China is everyone's reason for a big Navy," he said.
For its part, the Chinese government has sought to downplay its increased defense spending as a military threat. For example, in a recent opinion piece that ran in the government-sponsored English-language People's Daily Online website, the notion of China as a military threat is ascribed to "US right-wing forces and military, [which] are accustomed to regarding China as the 'target' so as to consolidate [their] power and position in the US political circles."--Ted McKenna
First UK-Modded ASTOR Aircraft Takes Flight
The first Sentinel R Mk 1 aircraft modified in the UK for the Royal Air Force's Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) program took to the air for the first time on July 26 from Hawarden Airfield in Broughton, North Wales.
During the flight, which lasted four hours, the aircraft reached an altitude of 17,000 ft. and a speed of 320 knots. Further test flights for this aircraft will be conducted over the next three weeks, followed by further testing and integration of the ASTOR system.
The Sentinel R Mk 1 is a modified Bombardier Global Express business jet. This particular aircraft, designated ZJ 691, is the second one to fly. The first was modified and flown on May 26 at L-3 Communications' facilities in Greenville, TX, where the work was directed by Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems (Greenville, TX), producer of the ASTOR system, and the aircraft is currently undergoing final integration work there prior to delivery to the UK. The second aircraft, meanwhile, was built in the UK, with integration performed by Raytheon Systems Ltd. (RSL) (Broughton, UK), the prime contractor for the ASTOR program. The ASTOR fleet will eventually consist of five aircraft, and RSL is responsible for modifying all of the remaining aircraft to the ASTOR standard. Modification of the third and fourth aircraft has already begun, and work on the fifth is scheduled to begin later this year.
The key component of the program, of course, is the ASTOR system itself, a large active antenna array, capable of generating synthetic-aperture-radar (SAR) imagery, along with ground-moving-target indication (GMTI). The resolution in SAR mode is better than 30 cm, and while the radar's range is classified, sources put it in the neighborhood of 160-200 km. The radar data can be simultaneously displayed on ASTOR workstations on the aircraft and on the tactical ground stations, the latter of which are being developed in the UK.
The first flyable radar was delivered to Greenville, TX, earlier this summer, after passing a series of static tests at Raytheon's facilities in El Segundo, CA. This radar has already been installed on an aircraft and is undergoing ramp testing now, including electromagnetic and electromagnetic-interference (EMI) testing at operational power levels, according to Justin Monger, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems' program manager for the ASTOR radar. The first flight of the radar-equipped aircraft, he said, is planned for the end of August, although the first two times the plane takes to the air will be for "functional checks" only. The first flight in which the radar will actually be operated is slated for early September, with flight-testing to run for just under nine months.
Over the course of the flight-test program, a number of issues will be examined, most notably regarding the Defensive Aids Group (DAG), particularly the radar-warning receiver (RWR), to ensure that there are no EMI problems between the RWR and the ASTOR system, Monger said. Much of the testing of the DAG, developed by BAE Systems (Nashua, NH), was to have been done as part of the UK's Nimrod MRA4 program, but delays in that program shifted the burden to the ASTOR program.
System-acceptance testing of the ASTOR onboard the Sentinel R Mk 1 is expected to begin in the UK in the third quarter of next year will full operational capability (i.e., all five aircraft plus ground stations) for the Royal Air Force slated for 2008.
The ASTOR system will be a key node in the UK's concept of network-enabled capability (NEC). As an airborne ground-surveillance system it will provide commanders at various levels with theater-wide, detailed tactical information. It will not serve as an airborne command post, though, as it has only marginal airborne control capabilities. Instead, it will feed the network with information that can then be fused with data from other sources to create a common recognized tactical picture.
This is a markedly different approach than that of the NATO Air-Ground Surveillance (AGS) program, under which a very large platform, the Airbus A321, will fill both the airborne surveillance and command-and-control roles, acting as an "information feeder" in support of large manned aircraft. The UK Ministry of Defense opted not to join the NATO AGS program, in which almost all other NATO members are participating through financial and/or industrial contributions. The ASTOR program, however, appears to be moving along smoothly, while NATO's effort is stumbling, primarily because many of the participating condition their contributions to the program on technology transfer, mostly from the US to Europe.
Recent UK policy is not to launch any military operation on its own--as it did in the Falklands (or Malvinas) in 1982--but to contribute to coalitions instead. So why go with a national system like the ASTOR? It is an indication that the UK believes NATO will not succeed in fielding the AGS, and as such, in the case of an EU-run military operation, the whole contingent would be left without an air-to-ground surveillance capability--a situation unacceptable to a theater commander of the 21st century.--Brendan P. Rivers, with Michal Fiszer
Germany Demonstrates New SEAD System
During the 2005 Paris Air Show in June, EADS Defense Electronics (Ulm, Germany) unveiled a new electronic reconnaissance system, mostly suitable for the suppression-of-enemy-air-defenses (SEAD) mission. The Fast Emitter Location System (FELS) is a development based on the electronic-intelligence (ELINT) system designed for the Northrop Grumman/EADS RQ-4A EuroHawk demonstration campaign in 2003. Although EuroHawk has not yet been ordered by the Bundeswehr, a decision about the system procurement is expected as soon as German Parliament approves it.
Despite using some of the hardware and software of the EuroHawk's ELINT system demonstrator, the FELS is not specifically part of the EuroHawk program. Wolfgang Felser, FELS program manager, said that both the ELINT system for EuroHawk and the FELS are based on digital receiver technology newly developed by EADS Defense Electronics and that the technology allows the evaluation of ELINT data virtually in real time. The FELS is intended for SEAD missions, electronic-support measures (ESM), and electronic reconnaissance.
Under the EuroHawk project, the ELINT was tested on a Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which performed six test sorties between October 21 and November 4, 2003. During the tests, the system demonstrated the capability to operate in an automatic mode for continuous monitoring of a wide area of the electromagnetic spectrum and a manual mode for detailed analysis of transmitters. The package includes a data-recording system for post-mission analysis of all of the transmitters monitored during flight. The FELS is an outgrowth of this work. The main additional feature of the FELS is the ability to locate an emitter accurately in a very short time--approximately 10-15 seconds--from just a single platform. Generally to achieve accurate measurement of emitters (not only bearings but also distance to the tracked emitter), it was required to make a minimum of two measurements separated by some distance flown by the ESM aircraft to enable those measurements to be made at different azimuths. The problem was that the measurements were also separated by time necessary to cover the required distance: The process of precision emitter location typically needed more than a minute. This method is not acceptable in the case of a "hot" SEAD environment, when enemy fire-control radars associated with air-defense systems are turned on and off relatively quickly, and when the number of emitters in the area is often too high to be handled effectively in real time by a wide-area stand-off ELINT system. The other method was to use two to three synchronized stand-off platforms to make measurements from different points at the same time, and this had its attending problems of mission planning and asset availability.
At this point, it is worth noting that lethal SEAD capabilities are probably the only area in which Europe is (at least temporarily) ahead of the US. The most capable NATO SEAD platform is the Tornado ECR, equipped with the older but modernized emitter-location system (ELS) and armed with AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs). A total of 35 such aircraft were produced for the Luftwaffe, and a smaller number of Italian Tornado IDS aircraft have been modernized to this version. All of the German aircraft serve with the 32nd Fighter Bomber Wing (JBG-32) in Lechfeld, a dedicated SEAD unit. German Tornado ECRs took part in combat during the operation Allied Force April-June 1999. The aircraft performed more than 600 sorties, launching 236 HARM missiles against Serbian emitters, without a loss.
The FELS was developed to meet future SEAD requirements oriented towards out-of-area operations, and so against a wide range of potential air-defense systems and associated radars (see "Tornado Watch: ELITE 2002," JED, August 2002, p. 36). Exact technical data on the system are classified, but it was released that the FELS operates in C-J band. The number of targets tracked has been greatly increased over the Tornado ECR's ELS, and above all, the threat library has been expanded to include a variety of systems anticipated in remote war theaters of war. The Tornado ECR's ELS was optimized for the European theater and Soviet/Russian threats, in particular. With the ability to locate an emitter quickly, FELS data can be used for the targeting of HARMs or even other precision-guided weapons that are now are able to hit detected targets accurately, even when the target emitter is turned off.
To achieve this, the FELS is equipped with a unique phased-array type of antenna system that employs a long-baseline-interferometry (LBI) technique in addition to the short-baseline-interferrometry (SBI) technique employed by the EuroHawk's ELINT system. This enables more precise bearing measurement based on the phase of the received signal, as well as fast emitter location. Additionally, LBI measures the Doppler frequency (change rate of the phase) of the signal, a key capability since the FELS platform will be an airborne one and, thus, moving. The Doppler frequency depends on the relative speed difference of the receiving antennas and the emitter. When the receiver platform's speed is constant, the relative speed of approach to the emitter depends on the angle between the azimuth to the emitter and the platform's heading. When the angle is 90 degrees or zero, the Doppler frequency is zero; when the angle is 45 degrees, the Doppler frequency is maximum.
The FELS was ready for tests in early 2005. Between February and May 2005, a specially modified Tornado IDS aircraft performed five sorties and proved the concept was practical. The aircraft was equipped with a digital receiver, one SBI antenna placed on the left side of the front fuselage (the left gun was removed from the aircraft to make space) and an LBI antenna placed in the left wing's leading edge. The installation was just half of the antenna array planned for the eventual combat platform, since for test purposes, it was enough to cover only one side of the aircraft's route. Additionally, in the second cockpit, the existing tactical cathode-ray-tube (CRT) display was replaced by a color liquid-crystal display (LCD) on which ESM data from the FELS was displayed, overlapped on the tactical situation and moving map. During the tests, the aircraft carried an EADS Military Aircraft Avionics Demonstrator Tornado (ADT) pod, which included a mission computer, data-transmission/receiving system, and a digital data recorder. The pod enabled the transmission of FELS data so they could be uploaded to a [C.sup.4]I system where it contributed to the creation of a common recognized tactical picture.
The FELS system is not associated with any particular aircraft. It can be used for Tornado ECR modernization or as a module for modification of any Tornado IDS aircraft. It can also be fitted to any other tactical fighter or to an adequately large UAV.
The FELS system is being developed as a private venture of EADS. However, it is expected that such a system will be needed soon by the Luftwaffe, since the Tornado ECR's systems, developed in the mid-1980s and modernized only modestly, are deemed inadequate against present and future threats. A Luftwaffe source said that no such program exists as of yet but that requirements for an advanced SEAD system will likely emerge soon. Such a program would most probably require a tender, but having such a system in hand would put EADS ahead of potential competitors.--Michal Fiszer
Dutch Marines to Get Bowman
The Royal Netherlands Navy on July 14 awarded a contract to General Dynamics UK Ltd (Oakdale, UK) to deliver the New Integrated Marines Communications and Information System (NIMCIS) to the Royal Netherlands Marines. Under the terms of the $113.6-million contract, the Dutch Marines will receive 937 Bowman radios to equip three battalions of its single brigade, as well as its support units, although only two of these battalions will be considered fully operational with the system.
The NIMCIS will consist of secure data and voice UHF, VHF, and HF radios; communications management equipment; and network-enabling software. The radio sets--from short-range, man-portable types to vehicle-mounted, long-range units--employ software-defined-radio (SDR) technology. The Bowman radios will replace various older types in service that are approaching the end of their service lives. The communications system will cover the brigade level down to the squad level (27 infantry squads are in a Dutch Marine battalion). It is expected that operational life of NIMCIS will be 25 years.
Interestingly, the Bowman communications system will only be used by the Marine brigade and is independent from the future selection of the other armed services. This does not mean that the future Army or Air Force systems will not be interoperable with the Marines. But one of the main reasons for the selection of Bowman is that the Royal Netherlands Marines are more likely to be fielded alongside the UK's Royal Marines which are receiving Bowman than other Dutch armed forces (see "Future European Infantry Requirements," JED, April 2005, p. 55).
The Netherlands, like some other European countries, has decided to base its security on a collaborative system. Therefore self-sufficiency in the defense area was given up in favor of contribution to multinational efforts. The multinational structure is presently embodied by NATO, but in the future, there might be actions undertaken by a EU Common Foreign and Security Policy system to which the Netherlands would contribute. In the expected scenarios, Dutch Marines would rarely act independently. Instead, they would form part of a coalition force, such as the current UK/NL Landing Force (LF) that is part of the NATO Response Force.
Typical scenarios for Royal Netherlands Marines operations are as follows:
* Crisis management or emergency operations related to Dutch national interests, such as noncombatant evacuation. This would involve one or two Marine battalions with support and logistic elements along with the brigade headquarters.
* Initial phase of crisis management, when Dutch forces form an advance party for an international contingent. Forces would be configured as above, with the addition of Dutch Navy and Air Force combat elements.
* Crisis management directed by NATO, when the UK/NL Landing Force forms the core force.
* NATO or EU combat operations with the employment of the UK/NL Landing Force as a whole or in part.
* Stabilization operations run by an ad-hoc coalition (UN, NATO, or EU) to which the UK/NL Landing Force contributes some elements or where Dutch Marines report to a UK brigade or division HQs, such as the present situation in Iraq.
According to most of these scenarios, interoperability and even compatibility of Dutch Marines with UK Armed Forces in general and with Royal Marines in particular is even more important than full compatibility with the Dutch Army and Air Force. Using the same command and communications system in the form of Bowman will enable mutual support of Dutch and British marines down to a single company or even a platoon.
According to information from the Dutch Ministry of Defense, interoperability between the Marines and other Dutch services can be fully achieved by attaching of modules of the Theater Independent Tactical Army and Air Force Network system, used by the Army and Air Force, to Marine battalion and brigade headquarters.
Since most of likely operations and scenarios also involve US Armed Forces, it is also emphasized that, through Bowman, the Royal Netherlands Marines will get full interoperability with the Joint Tactical Radio System (ITRS) being developed for the US military.--Michal Fiszer
Testing of Complete SAMP/T Missiles Underway
The first qualification test of Eurosam (Paris, France) SAMP/T air-defense missiles was successfully conducted on July 26 at the Landes test range of the French DGA's (Delegation Generale pour l'Armement, France's military-procurement agency) Centre d'Essais de Lancement de Missiles (CELM, Missile Test Launch Center) in southwest France it was the first test of the SAMP/T in its basic configuration and involved an evaluation of the complete engagement cycle. The elements involved in the test were the target-engagement module, the Arabel radar and target-identification module, the vertical launcher, and the Aster 30 missile.
During the engagement sequence, the Arabel radar acquired the target, which was an MBDA (Paris, France) C22 target drone flying at an altitude of 7,000 m. The target was intercepted at a distance of 26 km, before which the Arabel radar executed a mid-course update The engagement process was fully controlled by the SAMP/Ts target-engagement module. According to MBDA spokesman Louis Bordes, a direct hit was achieved. For this engagement, the target was not maneuvering and no electronic countermeasures (ECM) were employed, but tests involving such conditions are to take place in a later qualification phase.
The ability to engage sharply maneuvering targets was demonstrated by an Aster 30 missile on June 1, during a test of the naval version of the system, the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS), also conducted on the Landes test range. The C22 target was engaged at very low altitude, executing a sharp 90-degree turn, at a distance of 10 km. If all of the tests continue satisfactorily, the SAMP/T will enter service with the ground forces of France and Italy in 2007.--Michal Fiszer
Russian Guided-Bomb Trials Nearly Complete
India and China are expected to be customers for the new KAB-500S Glonass/Navstar-guided bomb, state trials of which are nearing a successful conclusion, according to reports in the Russian press. The bomb was first dropped in February 2000, but it took five years to overcome all of the technical problems.
Unlike the US Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), the KAB-500S is a newly built bomb, not a modification kit for existing bombs (as the JDAM is). The KB-500S has a warhead equivalent to 500-kg high-explosive bomb. The new weapon was integrated by OAO MKB Kompas (Moscow, Russia), a design bureau and research institute. The same company developed the PSN-2001 receiver (PSN--Pribor Sputnikovoi Navigatsi, or a device for satellite navigation) that is mounted internally in the bomb and uses two separate antenna systems. The 24-channel PSN-2001 receiver can cooperate with Glonass or Navstar satellites and has an automatic switch from one system to another The bomb can be dropped from altitudes between 500 m and 10,000 m at speeds of 550-1,100 kmph. The hit accuracy is claimed to be within 5-10 m.
The Glonass system is currently not fully operational. The minimum complement for effective operations around the world is 18 satellites. The system is to reach this status in 2007, when Glonass-M and Glonass-K long-endurance satellites are to be placed on orbit. According to the Russian Air Force, the new KAB-500S bombs are to be introduced only to the units operating the most modern equipment, like the Su-27SM, Su-34, and the PAK-FA future fighter Interestingly, it was announced that Tu-160 bombers will also be armed with KAB-500S bombs, which means that the aircraft will have a dual role: tactical conventional attack and strategic nuclear deterrence.
The bomb is also offered for export under designation KAB-500S-E. India and China are expected to eventually be customers, and OAO MKB Kompas claimed that the Su-30MKK2/3 and the Batch 3 Su-30MKI could be easily integrated with the system.--Michal Fiszer
New Indian Procurement Rules Stress Offsets, Strategic Relationships
In a decision that will have far-reaching implications for future military procurements, the Indian government has set new guidelines regarding acquisitions from other countries. The most controversial clause of the new guidelines, which came into force on July 1, pertains to the mandatory purchase of Indian defense equipment by any foreign vendor who wins a defense contract worth over $70 million. In addition, the government has also incorporated a new clause stating that the lowest bidder for a program may not necessarily be the winner of a contract, as considerations of strategy and politics may also be taken into account. This clause will particularly affect the planned $9-billion purchase of 126 medium-range multirole combat aircraft for which the Indian Air Force has issued a request for information (RFI), with a formal request for proposals (RFP) expected in the next six months (see "Indian Defense Budget Rises 7.8%, to $19B," JED, April 2005, p. 19).
Non-Indian defense companies are skeptical about the new guidelines and are particularly confused about the operation of the offset clause. Under this rule, any defense contract with a foreign vendor will not become effective until after that vendor has concluded the offset contracts for the required value. Under the new guidelines, 30% of the total cost of any deal above $70 billion will be used as "offsets," which means that the foreign vendor will have to buy defense or other specified equipment from the Indian industry.
Another controversial new guideline pertains to new provisions that would allow the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) to purchase military equipment purely based on strategic considerations, even if the bid of the vendor is not the lowest. The Procedure Guidelines 2005 state: "In certain acquisition cases, imperatives of strategic partnerships or major diplomatic, political, economic, technological, or military benefits deriving from a particular procurement may be the principle factor determining the choice of a specific platform or equivalent on a single-vendor basis. These considerations may also dictate the selection of particular equipment offered by a vendor not necessarily the lowest bidder."
In terms of this new rule's possible effect on the fighter program, Indian MoD officials revealed that the US-made F-16 could be offered for as little as $28 million per aircraft, which would be almost half the price of the Mirage 2000-5 or MiG-29SMT, but the new procurement guidelines could actually sink the sale of F-16s to India, as the Russian MiG-29SMT could be selected simply on the grounds of India's strategic relationship with Russia. Russia has remained the largest provider of arms and equipment to India for the last 30 years, and the two countries have excellent defense and strategic ties. In addition, Russia has proven quite proficient in persuading India to buy Russian defense equipment. In 2003, following years of negotiations, India and Russia signed a deal under which the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov was given free of cost to the Indian Navy, but the latter was then required to buy the MiG-29K aircraft for the carrier at a cost of around $40 million each and to refurbish the vessel in Russia at a cost of $600 million.
The French offer, however, should not be counted out, as India has strong ties with France as well and has been bolstering them even further over the past few years (see, for instance, "India, France Team for Fighter Training," p. XX of this issue).
The Procurement Guidelines 2005 also spell out a broad schedule for completion of different procurement activities. Under the new procedures, procurement of military equipment under any given program should be completed within two to three years including trials. These procedures aim to put an end to problems with long delays in the process and procedures within the various departments of the Indian MoD. An example is the program for the purchase of 66 Hawk jet trainers from BAE Systems of the UK, the deal for which was signed in 2004 after negotiations began in 1995. Indeed, even more recently, Armaris of France informed the Indian MoD that the company's price bid for India's purchase of six Scorpene submarines provided in 2001 is no longer valid, as the MoD has not been able to finalize the deal, even though most of the formalities are over. Now the Scorpene deal could be nixed, as Germany has presented India with a counter-offer of far less expensive U-214 subs (see "India Offered German U-214 Subs," p. 40 of this issue).
These new procurement guidelines have come following the stoppage of future deals with Denel of South Africa in the wake of the company's alleged involvement in influencing Defense Ministry officials to procure defense contracts.
Arms deals have invariably been controversial in India, and political parties are very careful and touchy when it comes to them. In the 1980s, alleged payoffs by Bofors of Sweden led, in part, to the ouster of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's government. In 2001 former Defense Minister George Fernandes was forced to resign following alleged kickback disclosures made public by local online news portal Tehelka.--Pulkit Singh
India Offered German U-214 Subs
India was believed as recently as June to be about to sign a $2-billion deal for six French Scorpene-class submarines, part of a fleet of 24 new boats to be obtained under Project 75. However, with that deal still stuck at the Cabinet level after two years, Germany has countered with an offer of its own--and one that may usher in a new threat to anti-submarine-warfare (ASW) aircraft.
In early July, Germany offered U-214-class submarines, built by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) (Kiel, Germany), for a relative bargain of $460 million per boat (including a 25-30% discount)--far below the estimated $760 million per new Scorpene. HDW had just been exonerated by an Indian court of corruption charges and, thus, freed to make its bid New Delhi last rejected an HDW bid in 2002, having previously bought four U-209-class subs in the 1980s.
The -214s are being offered with new propulsion and weapons options to include both surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles. The surface-to-surface options include the US Harpoon and the Russian Klub-3M-54E1, making them potential ship/carrier killers. Suggesting a nasty surprise for aircrews, the subs may also be armed with the MBDA (Paris, France) Polyphem fiber-optic guided-missile system. The Polyphem has a range up to 35 miles and uses infrared imaging for targeting day or night with real-time operator input for targeting corrections. It delivers a 45-lb. warhead at supersonic speed, resulting in a very bad day for ASW aircraft. To sweeten the deal, HDW is also reportedly prepared to offer several secondhand submarines to fill the gap till the new ones roll down the launching rails.
Offered with the U-214 is the air-independent-propulsion (AIP) system, which uses a fuel cell to create oxygen and hydrogen from water. The oxygen produced allows the sub to run for days or weeks without snorkeling, vastly increasing its lethality and survivability.
By contrast, the French have until now been offering the Scorpene SSK with the Exocet-39 surface-to-surface missile. France, for its part, is said to want a more solid relationship with India in providing for the latter's future weapons-procurement needs, as Russia slowly loses its grip on what had been a long-time solid trading partner with the USSR. (As recently as April, Russia was also said to be bidding new-generation Kilo-class subs, although little further has been heard of this.) Such possible French-Indian joint ventures might include producing the Mirage 2000-5 in India; producing subsystems for a proposed Indian Aegis-like anti-air-warfare ship; and joint ventures in building aircraft engines, airplanes and helicopters, and an advanced tactical missile.
While the HDW delegation arrived in India during the second week of July, it had not yet been cleared for discussions with the Indian Navy beyond having met with a sole Navy official. India currently has 16 submarines of varying utility, 10 of which were obtained from Russia and the former Soviet Union. If a contract were signed this year, the first new boats would not reach India until 2010.
The 1,500-ton, 220-foot-long Scorpene is capable of firing SM-39 Exocet anti-ship missiles, which have a range of 35 miles. It is equipped the EDO Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems (Morgan Hill, CA) AR-900 electronic-support-measures/direction-finding (ESM/DF) system and the DCN (Paris, France) UBTICS combat-management system. It is being offered with the MESMA AIP system, which increases its displacement to 1,870 tons.
The U-214--an upgrade of the U-212 class--displaces 1,700 tons. The first in its class was launched in April 2004 and is scheduled for delivery this year to the Greek Navy, with three more to follow. Four of the eight torpedo tubes aboard the U-214 can also fire a variety of missiles, including an antiaircraft variant of the Polyphem. Its AIP system gives the submarine an underwater endurance of two weeks. The Integrated Sensor Underwater System 90, from STN ATLAS Elektronik (Bremen, Germany), integrates all sensors and command-and-control functions onboard the submarine. BAE Systems provides the Link 11 tactical datalink.
As in nearly all Indian defense matters, neighboring threats loom large. With Pakistan now building its own Agosta 90B subs, and with China, as one senior India Navy officer was quoted as saying, "buying submarines and warships like groceries" (see "Flashpoint Taiwan Straits"), India cannot sit on the submarine fence for long.
As pivotal as India's purchase of new subs in an increasingly menacing Pacific Rim is the addition of a sub-launched anti-aircraft missile to the submarine arsenals of developing countries would be a similarly significant escalation in the dynamic of antisubmarine warfare. Germany had ordered the missile for its new K-130 corvettes, and although that buy was canceled in 2003 because of excessive unit cost, a sale to India and other nations could revitalize production of this and similar weapons.--Kenneth B. Sherman
Canada on Patrol in Persian Gulf
Maritime patrol in the era of network-centric warfighting can sometimes be more about community relations than high-tech surveillance. At least that is the case with the HMCS Winnipeg, a Canadian Navy frigate currently on patrol within the US 5th Fleet's area of responsibility, which includes the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean west of 72[degrees] east latitude and as far south as the Seychelles Islands.
Commander Kevin Greenwood, captain of the Winnipeg, said during a July 12 teleconference with reporters that this vast area contains a huge amount of activity, from supertankers plying the Strait of Hormuz to innumerable dhows--small vessels about 60 feet in length--that may be piloted by fishermen; smugglers transporting cigarettes, booze, TVs, or other items typical of "unregulated commerce"; or, more seriously, small-arms traders, pirates looking to hijack ships carrying valuable cargo, and even members of the Taliban or Al Qaeda (for more on maritime activity, see "Standing Watch," JED, May 2004, p. 40).
While the large coalition of naval forces operating in the area--including the US, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Pakistan, and Japan--has a range of missions in support of the US-led campaign in the Middle East against terrorism, Winnipeg's focus is on the dhows. Given the increased scrutiny at land borders, waterways are a convenient and, perhaps, safer means of transportation for terrorists and their weapons, and cutting off this type of activity is the main aim of the Winnipeg, which carries about 225 crewmembers.
Mainly this is done through boarding of suspicious vessels, providing escort to vessels with legitimate reasons for being on the water, and generally seeking to build confidence between the ship and the local maritime community, in the process collecting intelligence on terrorist activities. CMDR Greenwood said that while high technology does aid in detecting and tracking maritime traffic the best intelligence generally comes through simple human contact.
The Winnipeg is the ninth of 12 patrol frigates built by Canada in the late '80s and early '90s, and it has been fitted with weapons for anti-submarine, -surface, and -air warfare, "but you could say that our teams are at the coal face of the mundane day-to-day intelligence gathering--talking to people, finding out what's going on," CMDR Greenwood said. Information collected through boardings and other means of direct observation and intelligence gathering is transmitted via satellite communications to centralized databases, where it can be combined with other intelligence to form a general picture of activities, plus provide a record of specific boats, their owners, activities, and so on.
"That allows us to compare and contrast what is being seen from one boarding to another, perhaps one from several months earlier," CMDR Greenwood said. "It's not very Tom Clancy at the end of the day, but it's very much important and useful information gathering so that we can get a good picture of what is really going on out there."
According to the ship's official website, the Winnipeg is equipped with 16 Sea Sparrow surface-to-air and eight Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles; Mk46 Mod 5 torpedoes; Mk2 Bofors 57mm, Phalanx 20mm, and .50-caliber machine guns; and countermeasures that include six-barrel chaff launchers and the Nixie towed acoustic decoy. The frigate also carries a CH-124 Sea King helicopter and one rigid-hull inflatable boat and one Zodiac boat.
Compared with 20 years ago, during the Cold War, when Canada and other countries' naval activities were aimed at busily preparing for major maritime conflicts, this new focus on maritime-interdiction operations, beginning with the first Gulf War in 1990 and increasing in intensity after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, certainly represents a major shift in operations, CMDR Greenwood said. "What will we be doing five years from now? Your guess is as good as mine," he said.--Ted McKenna.
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|Comment:||Shutting the bomb factory: technology so far has proven no match for relatively low-tech bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.|
|Publication:||Journal of Electronic Defense|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2005|
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