Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR NOV 2014 Contents TECHNOLOGY FOCUS
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 04 | NOV 2014
FOR DECADES, OUR opponents, both state and non-state
actors, have been working on ways of countering American and
Western advantages in conventional military power. Many of
the approaches they are using are relatively cheap, but could be
extremely e ective.
One approach is to use numbers -- aircra , rockets, missiles
and small boats -- to overwhelm defences. Hamas hoped to do
this with its recent missile and rocket attacks on Israel only to
discover the power of that country's Iron Dome system. China
has deployed a massive arsenal of ballistic and cruise missiles
intended to be employed in saturation attacks on US and allied
land and at-sea targets in the Western Paci c. Iran's Republican
Guard has amassed a large otilla of small boats and fast attack
cra precisely for the purpose of conducting swarming attacks on
US Navy (USN) ships in the Persian Gulf.
Another approach is to counter the West's domination of air
and space and its ability to see, track and strike land targets with
a combination of dispersal and cover-and-concealment tactics
(including in locations occupied by civilians). Proliferating
targets can create lots of casualties but simultaneously exhaust
the enemy's inventory of missiles, shells or bombs. Concealment
can challenge an adversary's rules of engagement or negate the
e ectiveness of available weapons.
e West has struggled to nd counters to these relatively
simple, low-cost asymmetric challenges. Against high priority
and well-defended targets or long-range ballistic missiles that
could carry weapons of mass destruction, the response has been
to develop sophisticated and e ective but costly platforms and
weapons. But against low-cost, proliferated threats, a di erent
solution is needed.
e West is now investing in a new generation of guided
munitions and advanced weapons that could radically alter the
cost-exchange ratio in its favour, reduce collateral damage and
even defeat concealed targets. ese munitions and weapons
incorporate two critical features of the information technology
revolution. e rst is extremely precise position location and
navigation. e second is miniaturisation of the fuses, sensors
and guidance systems on the munitions themselves. As a result,
The advent of a new breed of
precision weapons could provide
the West with the ability to turn the
tables on its adversaries.
ABOVE: The high load-out potential of smaller and lighter
precision weapons is evident in this photo of a USAF F-15E Strike
Eagle carrying no less than 20 SDBs.
New gen munitions offer
the size of projectiles and weapons can be reduced while their
lethality and engagement ranges are increased.
Air-delivered weapons have been the rst to bene t from these
advances. Everyone is familiar with laser-guided bombs and the
GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition kit for dumb bombs.
Improvements in technology are leading to radical reductions
in the size of aircra weapons with equal or greater lethality.
An example of this is the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). Using a
combination of GPS-aided inertial navigation and infrared/radar
seekers, the SDB can attack a wide range of above ground targets
relatively cheaply. At 250lb (113kg), four SDBs can be carried in
place of one standard 2,000lb (907kg) bomb. Another example is
the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System [and similar weap-
ons] which converts an unguided 70mm rocket into a laser-guid-
ed precision weapon.
Even more signi cant advances are coming in artillery projec-
tiles and tactical rockets. Guided, long-range projectiles such as
the Copperhead and Excalibur and tactical missiles such as the
Army Tactical Missile System red from the Multiple Launch
Rocket System have demonstrated the value of long-range, ex-
tremely precise indirect re support.
New developments will soon provide additional range and
accuracy at lower costs for both naval and land artillery. e
USN's state-of-the-art DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer is
armed with two 155mm Advanced Gun Systems capable of ring
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