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what new technology for this war?(20 posts)

what new technology for this war?DougSloan
Feb 7, 2003 8:47 AM
Remember the new technology unleashed/unveiled in the Gulf War (or soon to be known as GW I), Patriot, Stealth Fighter, laser guided/smart bombs...?

What do you suppose we (the general public) will find out about this time (assuming this is going to happen)?

Most of it will disappoint you.sn69
Feb 7, 2003 9:00 AM
The most meaningful changes in the past 12 years have been in computer networking, systems infrastructure and real-time information sharing. What that means is that the AWACS, JSTARS or UAV gathers the info, sends it to the Combat Air Operations Center, and it is instantly split into appropriate "chunks" and forwarded to the various strike aircraft. It's called network-centric warfare. You'll see very little of it, but it means a lot to us.

Beyond that, there will be some new whiz-bang gizmo's that we've used in Afghanistan with great succes, including JDAM (GPS-guided bombs), new versions of the Hellfire missile, newer versions of TLAM (Tomahawk), and possibly even some directed energy weapons like mocrowave devices. The M1A3 Abrams main battle tank is new since the last conflict, and our carrier battle group composition is different with more Aegis ships and new F/A-18E/F strike fighters, more F-14Ds, and vastly upgraded HH-60H CSAR/SpecWar helos.

Again, however, most of what you'll see will seem boring. The computer geeks ARE, in fact, inhereting the world.
Feb 7, 2003 9:09 AM
I heard the GPS bombs might not work because of GPS signal jamming technology. Heard a $15 device from Radio Shack (essentially) could do it.

Also, I guess we'll see a lot more of the drones, with computer geeks "piloting" the things. As you said... Do the armed forces now issue pocket protectors?


Feb 7, 2003 9:53 AM
After GW1 (gosh, that sounds weird and ominous to say that), the process behind GPS jamming/meaconing was studied. True, it's easy, but not the military frequencies. Of course, the last president largely realxed those. Since then, you can rest assured that steps have been taken to fix the problems. Also, JDAMs and other munitions can be directed by other means.

Pocket protectors? No. PDAs? Yes. I'm serious.
In TIME magazine a few weeks ago...PaulCL
Feb 7, 2003 10:08 AM
..there was an article about some new missille/bomb/thing??? that sends out an EMP (electro magnetic pulse) that fries electronic circuits within a 5-6 mile diameter. Goal is to take out communications components.

Heard of that one???

Would really suck if you were an Iraqi with a pacemaker
Yup...uses microwaves.sn69
Feb 7, 2003 10:14 AM
It reminds me of the EMP thingy in "The Matrix"

Here's more food for thought. Think back to what you've seen with UAVs in Afghanistan and compare/contrast that with what you might be seeing if we really do this thing. UAVs shoot missiles now. That's the way of the future for tactical strike aircraft. The Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22 Raptor (dumb, typical Chair Farce name) might be the last manned tactical aircraft that we buy. As I like to tease my fighter friends with, 20 years hence, their successors will fly their aircraft with joysticks and computer terminals. BUT, there will still be some poor schmuck flying a 65 year old B-52 or a 50 year old Huey.
From GW I to GWIIvelocity
Feb 7, 2003 9:20 AM
Uncanny. Doug thanks for highlighting this, whatever it means ;-).
From GW I to GW IIDougSloan
Feb 7, 2003 9:26 AM
kind of gives you the heebie jeebies, huh?

From GW I to GW IIvelocity
Feb 7, 2003 9:33 AM
sure does.
As much as 'the war on war?' 'the war to end war?' ...rwbadley
Feb 7, 2003 10:15 AM
'war on terrorism'. My favorite... "War to make the world safe for Peace'

It all boils down to 'killing so we won't have more killing...' (?)

Or, 'do unto them before they do unto us'

The "myth" of Patriot missiles?Jon Billheimer
Feb 7, 2003 10:42 AM
The other night on W-5, a Cdn. public affairs program similar to 60 Minutes, the whole hour was devoted to the performance of the Patriots in intercepting Saddam's scuds. Seems like a bunch of investigators who testified before Congress, as well as the Israelis, completely refute DOD's claims that the Patriots worked. According to the Israelis only one and possibly none of the scuds were knocked out by the Patriots. Raytheon, the manufacturer, won't publicly comment. Evidently the Patriots, which are slower than the scuds, mistake pieces of incoming scuds, which are breaking up, and intercept the missile's trajectory, but do not destroy the warheads which go on to strike their targets. Pretty unsettling, I'd say.

Scott, do you have any comments?
It's a physics problem (and I did BAD in physics),sn69
Feb 7, 2003 11:08 AM
and it's very similar to the pinata full of bees that SDI represents. Basically, it comes down to shooting a really fast bullet with a slower bullet, only the first bullet is on an assumed trajectory that cannot be tracked with 100% accuracy.

The history behind Patriot is linked to the Navy's development of the Aegis system. The latter was developed in the late 1970s as a means to provide anti-missile defense for our carrier battle groups. Soviet tactics were to lob dozens of aircraft-sized cruise missiles simultaneously at our ships to overwhelm their defenses. Thus, Aegis was designed to provide a system that could detect, track, classify, illuminate and engage the incoming wall of missiles. Aegis was (and continues to be) a great success.

Patriot was developed using spin-off technology, and was initially inteded for battlefield airspace denial for enemy strike aircraft. Eventually, much like Aegis, it was adapted for use against other missiles.

The problem is that anti-ship missiles come in at speeds of mach 3 or less. Our missiles, in turn, travel at speeds in excess of mach 3. The intercept geometry is relatively easy. Ballistic missiles, however, can come in at speeds in excess of mach 20! Nobody has AAW missiles that can travel that quickly.

In that case, the tracking system becomes the critical element, whereby the computer has to predict the incoming missile's path so that the intercepting missile can be targetting ahead to meet it. OK, that seems easy, but reaction times can be measured in seconds. Also, SCUDs present another facet to the issue that's difficult to compensate for.

Basically, they are primitive weapons not much more advanced than Nazi V-2s. They are highly inaccurate and have circular error probabilities often measured in tens of miles. That means that what you aim at isn't necessarily what you hit. Just like V-2s, they work great against cities as terror weapons since your only goal in firing one is to kill a whole lot of people on the other team. What's more, however, is that they have a nasty tendancy to break apart in the air, and the warhead isn't necessarily the center of mass. The largest chunks--those that produce the greatest radar signature--aren't always the parts that go boom.

You compensate for that by salvoing several missiles at the incoming SCUD. We did that in GW1. Again, that's only a band aide fix, though. You can only terminally control a finite number of Patriots (called "illuminating the target"), so it's not as if you can salvo 2 dozen missiles to whack one SCUD and it's many SCUDlings as it breaks into peices. Rather, I'm guessing that you fire 2-3. I'm not a missile guy, so I don't know system specifics.

OK, so what that means is that you are trying to engage numerous targets, all travelling on largely unpredictable ballistic paths at "ludicrous speed." Oh, and you have a limited number of anti-missile-missiles, AND they go slower than the incoming targets. AND you've only got seconds to respond.

Why not make the Patriots faster? The new ones are, but when you're talking speeds in excess of mach 10, you need Saturn V sized motors to get the required juice. It's not feasible. In the very near future, you'll see directed energy weapons used in this role.

In the meantime, the Patriots did okay given their limitations. "Okay," however, might be measured in terms of a 25% succes rate. Today's Patriot, the Navy's SM2-ER, and the Israeli's Arrow are even better. Still, the physics are daunting and hard to overcome.
thanks; side question about mach numbersDougSloan
Feb 7, 2003 11:21 AM
Is "mach" relative to altitude, or in absolute speed based upon speed of sound at sea level. For example, if a plane is traveling at ground speed of 1000 mph (forgive use of non-nautical speed) at sea level (mach 1.2 or something like that), if it then travels the same ground speed at 40,000 feet, does the mach number change due to the speed of sound changing at that altitude? (I was thinking about this as the discussions about the Shuttle's mach numbers occured over the weekend, something like mach 20... at 200,000 feet). Thanks.

Yup, it's relative to altitude...sn69
Feb 7, 2003 11:28 AM
and air density (directly proportional to altitude). Basically, for normally aspirated aircraft, mach equates to somewhere between 650 and 750 mph.

At 200K feet, however, you have to extrapolate adiabatic lapse rate, geometrically decreasing pressure/density curves, linnear and curved speed differental, etc....

Bottom line frame of reference. Today's fastest strait line fighters can do about 2.5 mach. The SR-71 officially did 3.3sumthin' mach. The shuttle can officially fly "really stinkin' fast."

More importantly, however, is that I was assured many years ago that there would be no higher math, agebra or calculus in adulthood. ;-)
Feb 7, 2003 11:35 AM
So, just to make sure I understand... mach 3 at 40,000 feet is faster ground speed than mach 3 at close to sea level?

Temperature dependantContinental
Feb 7, 2003 12:06 PM
To a close approximation the speed of sound is directly proportional to the square root of the temperature. This is because the speed of sound is directly proportional to pressure and heat capacity ratio and inversely proportional to density. Air at low pressures behaves pretty close to ideal gas, so heat capacity ratio is nearly constant and pressure and density are inversely related, leaving the speed of sound proportional to the square root of the absolute temperature. Temperature varies with altitude in a complex way. Temperature and speed for Mach 1 initially drops as you increase altititude, then temp and speed for Mach 1 begin increasing again at high altitudes. Mach 1 at 40,000 feet is lower than Mach 1 at sea level because the air is colder at 40,000 fth than it is at sea level. Mach 1 at 100,000 ft is a higher speed than mach 1 at 40,000 ft because the air is warmer at 100,000 ft than at 40,000 ft.
FYI: Escaping Earth's gravity/entering orbit requires about 17,600 MPH velocity. -nmTig
Feb 8, 2003 3:49 PM
It's a physics problem (and I did BAD in physics),Jon Billheimer
Feb 7, 2003 11:33 AM
You gave a more detailed version of the essential content of the W-5 program. However, consulting engineers from MIT, I believe, as well as the Israeli defense minister and his engineers rate the Patriot success at close to zero. Also, DOD's generals testifying before Congress modified their claims from 100% down to the 25 - 40% range, finally testifying that "success" didn't really mean that any SCUDS were knocked out of the sky, but simply that SCUD/Patriot trajectories at some point intersected. Pretty faint comfort for the people who were killed or wounded, including American servicemen in Dakar.

Further info. given on the Patriot program stated that the 40% success rate was in Raytheon's testing against predictable, slower drone targets.

The Israelis, by their own statements, are hoping if they fire enough Patriots AND Arrows that they'll get at least some of the incoming SCUDS. This is a far cry from the Pentagon's PR spin.
It's a physics problem (and I did BAD in physics),sn69
Feb 7, 2003 11:46 AM
There's a subtle contributing factor in all of this that you alluded to. The contracting system is not designed to accurately mirror the real world environment. In Patriot's case, it was developed in the 1970s before it evolved into a theater defense weapon. It's only role was to shoot down incoming MiG 23s and such. And, if that's all the contract specification called for at the time, then that's all that the contractor was required to provide.

Contract specifications do not always mirror real-world parameters, nor can they account for every contingency or mission growth over the typical 30 year lifetime of the average weapon system. For example, in air-to-air missile development, the candidate prototypes are rarley fully tested against violently maneuvering targets that are trying to stay alive. Thus you get problems like those encountered with the early AIM-7 Sparrows during Vietnam, which had succes rates in the low teens.

Real world conditions can only be accurately simulated to a point, although high-powered micro processors can crunch enough numbers to offset some of those discrepancies via simulation modeling.

What this all points to is the REALITY of warfare. It's not neat, clean, antiseptic or surgical. America's perception of war is a smart bomb going down the air vent of the bad-guy building. What they didn't see was the logistics train it took to get that F-117 in the air and the other bombs that didn't hit the target.

The ultimate lesson of warfare is embodied in the lowly infantryman. Remember, the ground ain't your 'til the grunts plant the flag. They are my heros....
Watch Mail Call on the History Channel. . .js5280
Feb 7, 2003 12:53 PM
Great show, and I'm not that big of a military buff despite being a Navy brat. R. Lee Ermy though is a great! You may remember him from such movies as Full Metal Jacket. Very entertaining and informative, Sunday nights 10pm Eastern.

If you need a refresher, check out the intro on his web page :-)