- AGM-154A is a cluster munition variant that carries a payload of 145 BLU97B Combined Effects Bomblet submunitions.
- AGM-154B is an anti armor variant designed for the U.S. Air Force.
- AGM-154C is a Navy only variant equipped with a BLU-11I unitary warhead.
Guided to its target by GPS coordinates, JSOW will allow aircraft from Carrier Air Wing Nine (deployed on board the Nimitz ) to strike targets accurately in high-threat areas from a safe stand-off distance during daylight, night, or adverse weather. The JSOW and its cousin JDAM represent a revolutionary advance in strike warfare, leaping ahead of the capabilities of other precision-guided munitions. Both offer significant stand-off distances: 12 mile stand-off range for JDAM and up to 50 miles for JSOW. With a reported circular error probable of three meters, JDAM also offers a precision surpassing that of most laser-guided bombs.
Because of their inherent advantages, the liberal use of these weapons holds the potential not only to save the lives of aircrew, but also to shorten any potential conflict. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Defense Department intends to purchase more than 87,000 JDAMs alone for use by the Navy and Air Force.
Because of the stringent targeting criteria they require and the limited ability of the intelligence community to deal with these criteria, however, these weapons are unlikely to be used in the near future beyond limited contingency strikes. Moreover, their stand-off capability has significant implications for the way bomb hit assessment (BHA) is conducted. It is important that operational commanders understand these limitations; those responsible for targeting and intelligence should take steps now to work around these obstacles so that the weapons may be employed effectively.
Carrier Group One recently examined the impact of JSOW and JDAM on the targeting process during exercise Silent Fury, part of Commander Third Fleet's Fleet Battle Experiment Bravo (FBE-B). The Silent Fury targeting cell was asked to identify the potential chokepoints involved in supporting high volume JSOW/JDAM operations, to assess the national and organic targeting architecture's ability to support emerging target development and engagement within the 72-hour air tasking order cycle, and to identify communications capabilities and limitations as they pertain to the brokering of targeting work to various agencies.
Silent Fury confirmed that that the primary point-of-failure in targeting support for the two weapons lies in the requirement for precise and highly accurate GPS coordinates. Ironically, the factor that provides such a great advantage—GPS guidance—also creates huge obstacles for the targeting intelligence community. Before the advent of GPS-guided munitions, every air-to-surface munition was dependent on human intervention for its terminal accuracy. Since these weapons did not rely on coordinates for their accuracy, aimpoint locations could afford to be inexact. Even in cases where precise coordinates were required (as in the case of the A-6 Intruder, where coordinates were plugged into the aircraft's onboard computer), these coordinates were used to narrow the large error inherent in using "dumb" bombs. Even the development of laser-guided weapons did not change the degree of required aimpoint accuracy. These weapons rely on reflected laser energy (aimed and controlled by the pilot or a cooperative platform) for terminal guidance. Their accuracy is only as good as the accuracy of the laser spot, which is initially aimed by manual intervention.
GPS-guided munitions (GGMs) rely on preprogrammed geodetic coordinates for their terminal guidance, and thus there is no human intervention involved once the aircraft releases them. Unlike other precision-guided munitions, they are not steered to an aimpoint by electro-optics or reflected laser energy. The precise coordinates of a specific aimpoint must be programmed into the weapon, either prior to take-off or, in some scenarios, while in the air before release. The accuracy of such a munition, therefore, is only as good as the targeting coordinates.
Deriving those highly accurate and precise coordinates is the main challenge facing the targeting intelligence community. The focus on coordinate production and mensuration requires more than just a move to greater accuracy (down to a thousandth of a degree); it also entails a move from two-dimensional coordinates to three dimensions, including elevation. The targeting difficulties in developing these coordinates fall into two categories: imagery availability and target suitability.
Imagery Availability . Silent Fury clearly demonstrated that imagery support centers such as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) and the Cruise Missile Support Activities (CMSAs) easily could mensurate imagery to the fidelity, speed, and volume required for operational employment of GGMs if they have the proper imagery of the target available. Unfortunately, the type of imagery required for support of JDAM and JSOW is limited. Not just any image of a target will suffice. GGM fidelity aimpoint coordinates can be derived only through mensuration of WGS84 stereo imagery that is either digital or controlled by digital imagery.
The sources for such imagery also are limited. The National Imagery and Mapping Agency's Digital Point-Positioning Data Base (DPPDB), Tactical Airborne Pod Reconnaissance System (TARPS) digital imagery, Hunter unmanned aerial vehicle digital imagery, and the DPPDB's newer Mark-85 imagery were tested during Silent Fury as potential sources for aimpoints. With the exception of DPPDB, none of these has proved fully reliable.
While NIMA has started converting imagery to digital WGS-84 format, this will take time. Consequently, many areas of potential concern do not yet have any digital imagery available. Planners cannot rely on getting needed imagery in wartime; the work must be done before hostilities commence. As Desert Storm demonstrated, the overhead imagery system is not capable of keeping up with all of the imagery requirements levied on it during wartime. Competition during wartime for imagery resources will lead to delays that may ultimately limit the use of GPS-guided munitions in some instances, and force strike planners to opt for other weaponeering combinations to strike and destroy vital targets.
Target Suitability . Because of the requirement for highly accurate and precise coordinates, only certain targets are suitable for these two weapons: mobile targets—such as Scud batteries or mobile coastal defense sites—will be difficult to hit. It is difficult enough to find and strike mobile targets when using general purpose bombs or LGBs; the detailed imagery-derived coordinates that must accompany any JSOW or JDAM planning make the use of these weapons virtually impossible in this situation, at least until we can put reliable real-time imagery in the cockpit.
Battle Damage Assessment . Employment of JSOW and JDAM also will have a significant impact on battle damage assessment—the evaluation of a strike against a target, taking into account physical damage, functional damage, and target system damage. One of the most important steps is the Phase I assessment (also known as bomb-hit assessment), in which the local commander (usually the battle group commander or the joint task force commander) determines the initial physical damage to the target. In Operation Desert Storm, more than 75% of Phase I BHA was based on initial pilot reports or on cockpit video. Decisions on whether to restrike a target often are based on these initial reports.
The stand-off range of JDAM and JSOW will eliminate this source of intelligence, since strike crews will never actually see the target, much less the impact of the weapon. Systems such as the one being fielded now on the Nimitz , designed to help speed the BHA process by allowing the digital transfer of cockpit video, will be useless if there is no cockpit video to transfer. Without these initial reports, timely assessments of battle damage will be difficult to achieve, compounding the problems of deciding whether to restrike a target. To make up for this shortfall, the targeting intelligence community must rely on more creative use of nontraditional sources and methods. Among these are:
- More vigorous use of unmanned aerial vehicles deep in the battlefield, timed to coincide with a GPS-guided munition strike
- Greater reliance on nonimagery sources, namely signals intelligence (SigInt) such as electronic indications that systems have shut down
Beyond its impact on BHA, the elimination of cockpit video has another profound effect: no more video clips of exploding bunkers for Cable News Network (CNN). While this may seem laughable to some, it is arguable that televising precision-guided munition strikes on CNN was critical to gaining and maintaining public support during Desert Storm.
While JSOW and JDAM represent a revolutionary advance in strike warfare, innovative ways must be used to overcome the challenges posed by these weapons. The following recommendations, devised by the members of the Silent Fury targeting cell, may assist in this effort:
- Creation of a national GPS-guided munition targeting center: Such a facility may alleviate some of the problems outlined in this article. Acting in a role similar to that played by the Cruise Missile Support Activities in support of Tomahawk, this center would serve the vital role of brokering production of mensurated aimpoints, giving deployed units and Joint Forces Air Component Commanders a central location for all JSOW/JDAM support. Such a center also could act as a clearinghouse for completed target materials.
- Reexamination and remensuration of existing target materials. NIMA has begun the prodigious task of converting existing target materials to the format and fidelity required to support JSOW and JDAM. While certainly needed, this process does not go far enough. The new weapons present new possibilities in targeting, allowing targets to be struck more precisely and with fewer weapons. It is necessary to reexamine existing target materials to ensure that the aimpoints selected are the ones that will allow the most effective use of these weapons. An aimpoint on the center of a building, for example, may not suffice. Targeting an air conditioning unit on the roof of a building may be as effective in neutralizing a command bunker as expending several dumb bombs to try to bust a hole in the building itself.
- Development of an online target material database. Silent Fury targeteers were unable to gain rapid access to target materials. There is a dearth of target materials available online. Requesting hard-copy target materials (such as Basic Target Graphics) is a time-consuming process that further slows the already slow process of choosing and mensurating aimpoints. As JSOW or JDAM target materials are produced, these files must be made available online, in a centralized data base that any deployed unit can access.
Unless we overcome the obstacles, we will remain unable to employ these weapons with the volume and intensity needed on the battlefield.
BuPers Weighs Anchor for Tennessee
By Vice Admiral Daniel T. Oliver, U.S. Navy and Rear Admiral John T. Natter, U.S. Naval Reserve
The Bureau of Naval Personnel (BuPers) will weigh anchor this summer and depart the Navy Annex in Arlington, Virginia, for Memphis, Tennessee. Long responsible for every permanent change of station (PCS) move a sailor makes over a career, the Bureau will finally PCS itself in a move mandated by the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).
Arlington has been home to BuPers since its inception in 1942. The new home for the Bureau will be Naval Support Activity (NSA) Memphis in Millington, Tennessee, formerly Naval Air Station Memphis, and erstwhile home of numerous 'A' schools for aviation ratings.
The Bureau has a long and distinguished history in Washington. The responsibility for managing the Navy's personnel originally rested with the Secretary of the Navy, and it was not until 1861, when the Office of Detail was created, that a distinct and separate organization with the mission of handling personnel matters was deemed necessary. Since then, BuPers has been known as the Office of Detail, the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting, the Bureau of Navigation, and the Naval Military Personnel Command. One constant, though, was the Bureau's presence across the Potomac from Washington. Many wonder how its relocation will affect the fleet.
Although the Bureau will have a new home effective I June 1998, its mission will not change. It will remain responsible for implementing Chief of Naval Operations policies for planning and directing the procurement, distribution, administration, and career motivation for military personnel in the Navy; exercising centralized coordination and control of professional standards criteria; and developing and implementing service-wide programs for improved human relations and quality of life.
The new facility will provide significant improvements in the Bureau's ability to fulfill its mission, thanks to new state-of-the-art technology. Extensive computer and communications upgrades will enable detailers to be more responsive to our sailors. Among these will be the transition to the new Electronic Military Personnel Records System (EMPRS—an acronym pronounced "empress") that will replace the 20-year-old microfiche system. The new system will allow detailers to call up complete personnel records with a simple keyboard entry. Presently, they must request a microfiche, often waiting hours or longer for reproduction of the requested records (microfiche copies still will be available for individuals in the fleet who request copies of their records).
EMPRS also should reduce considerably the time and effort required to conduct assignment and promotion selection boards. The current selection board process, which has been in use for decades, must be brought up to speed with technology. The hundreds of hours normally required by BuPers to prepare for a selection board will be reduced significantly, since there will be no requirement to update and reproduce records. Currency of information will be maintained in the system's data base. The record review portion of selection boards, a laborious process of sorting through microfiche records, will be performed on computer terminals instead of microfiche readers.
Personnel records will be projected in the infamous voting "tanks" via computers, eliminating the need for projectors or paper copies of records. Voting also will be conducted using computers, with results tabulated and projected immediately to the voting members. In time, it should be possible to make the process completely paperless. The first selection board to use the process will convene in September 1998.
The building complex that will house the Bureau is undergoing a $60 million renovation; the complex is centrally located at NSA Memphis and all buildings will be linked by a local area network. The complex is located in a park-like setting with connecting walkways and vistas between the buildings, and extensive landscaping. Each building will be equipped with an Electronic Badging and Access Control System that will improve security by controlling access.
Additional modernization includes video teleconferencing capability within all buildings; when funding becomes available, desktop video teleconferencing using personal computers will be installed. With compatible software, sailors will be able to have face-to-face conversations with their detailers. Electronic mail, in use today, allows sailors to communicate with their detailers 24 hours a day, and will remain the preferred method of communications.
People assigned to the Bureau will enjoy enhanced quality of life at NSA Memphis. One distinct change from Washington will be the noticeable absence of traffic congestion. Also, city, urban, and rural lifestyles can be found within a 30-minute commute to the base.
The Millington area also offers a wealth of cultural and recreational attractions, including operas, plays, wineries, and major sporting events. Parking, a thorny issue in Washington, is readily available for everyone at NSA Memphis.
Yet another significant factor is the lower cost of living in the Millington area. See Table 1 for a cost of living comparison between the Washington and Memphis areas.
The Cost of Living Index measures differences between the cost of various consumer goods and services, excluding taxes and non-consumer expenditures. It is based on 59 items for which prices are collected quarterly by the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce Research Department. The weighting factors are based on a typical middle-management style of living.
With this relocation, the fleet will receive better, faster service from the Bureau. Personnel assigned to the Bureau should experience less frustration because of improved working conditions and lower cost of living, and cutting edge technology will improve our operations and save time and money for the Bureau and its sailors.
From its new home in the Heartland, the Bureau of Naval Personnel will continue to carry out its venerable mission: to provide and care for the world's finest sailors who constitute the world's greatest Navy.
Air Force Course Blends Technology with Humanity
By Commander Peter W. D. Morford, U.S. Navy
With today's pressure to get through the milestones to command earlier and the competition getting tougher, taking advantage of any opportunity to get ahead is no longer just a good idea. Add the requirements of Goldwater-Nichols to the traditionally aggressive pipelines of the career naval officer and it quickly becomes clear why so many officers find themselves hitting career milestones late in the game.
One such opportunity, worthy of the attention of any junior officer at the lieutenant/lieutenant commander mark, is the distance learning program offered by the Air Force's Air Command and Staff College (ACSC). Not only does this program offer the path to earning credit for Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) Phase I, it also lets the junior officer shed the Navy view for a few hours a week to view the world through the eyes of a different service. (Completion of Phase I is the first of a triumvirate of requirements for designation as a Joint Specialty Officer [JSO]; attaining this status establishes an officer as one of tomorrow's "players.")
Lieutenant commanders/majors—or those selected for those ranks—from any branch and any designator may register for the program, as may civilians above the grade of GS-11. A call to the Education Office at the nearest Air Force Base will steer you to a seminar group, most of which meet at bases once a week in the late afternoon or around the lunch hour over the course of an academic year. For those unable to commit to weekly meetings, a correspondence course is available, although it lacks the obvious benefits of collective effort and the discipline of a lockstep schedule.
After one enrolls in late summer, a deceptively simple package arrives in the mail containing a lone CD-ROM, replacing the several boxes of books that once comprised the reading materials for the course. The CD-ROM does, in fact, contain several thousand pages of material; the readings, however, are broken down into digestible chunks in 11 modules on topics ranging from war theory to command and leadership. The key assistance, though, comes in the support garnered from up to a dozen fellow students in each seminar in attaining the learning objectives.
Mastery of the material is gauged through four multiple-choice exams scheduled by the student through the Base Education Office.
How Technology Helps . The program also excels in its blending of the excitement of technology with the tried and true value of social learning. The CDROM allows the course developer to present more than just traditional text. Embedded "toolbooks" use a variety of media to guide the student through such things as Hannibal's battle at Cannae or MacArthur's campaign in the South Pacific. One particularly imaginative lesson even includes period music as a background for an exploration of Lord Nelson and his exploits. Far from being mere gimmicks, the program's use of creative graphics coupled with appropriate sound bites and animated video clips make for a multichannel educational assault on the senses.
Educational psychologists have long been fascinated by the benefits of bringing home learning on other levels besides the familiar printed page, a concept not lost on the course designers.
Yet another strength of the CD-ROM toolbook format is the opportunity it offers to skip around lessons at will. The hotlinks made famous by the Internet allow the student to tailor learning by concentrating on difficult areas while skimming more familiar topics. The power of the concepts of entertainment and control when applied to learning are not to be taken lightly, even in the mastering of such heady topics as those required for entry into the joint arena.
Finally, the CD-ROM saves about $50 per student by replacing stacks of books. Given an annual enrollment of several thousand students, the savings are substantial. Vice Admiral P. A. Tracey, the Navy's Chief of Naval Education and Training has stated that "the cost of training is not overhead, it's the price of doing business." Cutting that price through the intelligent application of technology makes sense in this era of tight budgets.
Using the Internet . The program maintains a web site to augment the CD-ROM for enrolled distance-learning students. Upon entry with a password, students around the world can communicate with each other and to subject-matter experts based at headquarters—Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama—via electronic bulletin boards. Lesson summaries can be downloaded or thorny issues debated before a student follows links to other related Defense Department web sites. Admittedly lacking the benefits of face-to-face interaction, the web site is, nevertheless, another facet of the course designers' efforts to keep the human element intact despite the nontraditional format.
The Human Aspect . In the headlong rush by educators to embrace technology and its potential savings, the social aspects of learning must never be ignored. In incorporating the CD-ROM and the Internet into its distance-learning program seminars, the Air Force has recognized the synergy in blending human interaction with technology. Although there probably never will be a substitute for sitting in a lecture hall hearing the well chosen words of a seasoned professor, the technology-based seminar approach makes for a commonsense compromise for the officer without the latitude to spend a year in residence at a war college.
Mid-grade officers looking for ways to get ahead while cultivating a healthy curiosity about life in another service would do well to investigate the program's distance-learning opportunities. The seminar program lays to rest any concerns that the humanistic aspects of social learning have been driven out at the hands of technology. Technology is neither a crutch nor the raison d'etre. Applied to education, it is merely another tool for achieving the same objective: preparing the best war fighters and decision makers possible for America's military of tomorrow.
Our Antimissile Defenses Are Overrated
By Joseph Cirincione
Based on all available evidence, it is reasonable to assume that when the United States' new high-altitude, ballistic-missile defense systems are used in combat, they will fall far short of predicted effectiveness.
It is unlikely that the systems will fail completely, but the indications are not promising. Military commanders would be wise not to base troop deployments or engagement strategies on unrealistic expectations of the protection these defenses will offer. Planners should consider reallocating the excessive funds devoted to overlapping and duplicative new systems and concentrate on more realistic development schedules.
The evidence available includes:
- Patriot missile system performance during Operation Desert Storm
- High-altitude missile defense system performance in tests to date
- Present test plans for proposed systems prior to production and deployment
The Patriot Experience . In the United States, confusion over the Patriot's performance during Desert Storm still fuels overly optimistic estimates of the effectiveness of proposed defensive systems. Based on initial wartime reports, many believed that the Patriot had achieved a near-perfect intercept rate. Later, claims were revised downward from 96% to 80%, then 70%, and—after a 1992 congressional investigation—to 52%, although a U.S. Army report (the only official government assessment ever conducted on the Patriot's performance) notes that destruction of only 25% of the Scud warheads is supported by reliable evidence.
Independent evaluations conclude that the Patriot hit few if any Scuds during the war. These evaluations include assessments conducted by the Israeli Defense Force, the Congressional Research Service, the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the staff of the Government Operations Committee.
The GAO report—based on the Army's own methodology and evidence—indicates that Patriots probably hit only 9% of the Scud warheads engaged, and there are serious questions about these few hits. The speed of the Scuds, the limitations of the Patriot missile system, and the confusion and targeting difficulties caused by the breakup of the Scuds as they reentered the atmosphere seem to have contributed to the high failure rate.
Patriot missiles equipped with a new multimode seeker failed in two out of three intercept tests conducted after the war, and the Army declared it "operationally unacceptable." The new replacement interceptor missile, the Endo-Atmospheric Reentry Vehicle Interceptor (ERINT), will not be deployed before 1999—until then, U.S. forces cannot intercept reliably even the short-range Scuds encountered in the Gulf War.
Whatever the Patriot's kill ratio, the few unclassified hard figures released by the Army should serve as a sobering reminder of how combat conditions can wreak havoc on systems that performed well on the test ranges—as did Patriot.
Of the 158 Patriot missiles fired at fewer than 47 Scuds during the war:
- 86 (55%) were launched at real Scud targets approaching Saudi Arabia and Israel.
- 47 (30%) were launched at Scud debris mistaken for targets.
- 25 (15%) were launched against false targets caused by radar backlobe and sidelobe interference (including one launched by accident from Turkey).
The fragmentation and electronic problems were known at the time (the Scud fragmentation had been observed during the Iran-Iraq war) but were not included in deployment and operational planning for the Patriot, nor were they included in any tests of the system.
The Historic Test Record . Most of the proposed new missile-defense systems employ hit-to-kill interceptors that rely on the kinetic energy of the encounter to destroy the target. Patriot interceptors, on the other hand, used proximity fuses and explosive warheads to scatter pellet-size fragment in the path of the intended target.
The test track record for hit-to-kill interceptors indicates the need for caution when projecting future capabilities. Of the 20 intercept attempts conducted by the Department of Defense since 1982, only 6—about 30%—actually hit their targets. Worse, only 2 of 14 intercepts were successful against higher-altitude targets similar to those the new missile defense systems are intended—to counter a 14% success rate. These numbers justify deep skepticism.
The most promising new lower-tier system, the improved Patriot system, or PAC-3, is designed to intercept Scud-type missiles of the type now deployed by potential Third World adversaries. These 300- to 1,000-kilometer-range missiles will be a challenge, but one that the PAC-3 should be capable of intercepting. The system's new ERINT missile successfully intercepted two targets (although at relatively short ranges) in a shoot-off with the Patriot multimode missile in 1993, but it has since undergone some design changes and has not had an intercept test since then. The PAC-3 had two flight tests at White Sands in December 1997 (no intercepts were attempted); five intercept attempts are scheduled during fiscal year 1998. The Navy Area Wide (lower-tier) system (an upgrade
to the Aegis radar-Standard Missile system) and the multinational Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program also are aimed at these lower-range threats. No tests of these systems are scheduled during fiscal year 1998.
Without realistic tests it is impossible to predict performance, but these lower tier systems hold out the best possibility of successfully intercepting existing Third World missile threats armed with single warheads. (Missiles armed with submunitions released after the boost phase would defeat any known kinetic energy missile defense system.)
The lower-tier systems rely on previously developed radar and hardware; because they intercept their targets within the atmosphere after any decoys deployed would have been stripped away, they do not confront the difficult discrimination problems faced by exo-atmospheric interceptors. Despite decades of effort, countermeasures remain one of the major unsolved technical barriers for any missile defense.
Potentially more threatening than Scuds are medium-range missiles that travel from 1,000 to 3,500 kilometers. No nation hostile to the United States currently has such missiles, but this is the threat represented by systems reportedly under development in North Korea and Iran. Both the administration and Congress favor developing higher-tier systems to intercept these missiles, with Congress trying to force a faster development and deployment schedule. To date, tests of the most promising candidates, the Army's Theater High-Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) and the Navy Theater-Wide (Upper Tier) system, have been disappointing. While both systems are technically feasible, THAAD is zero for four of its test intercept attempts, and the Navy has gone zero for two.
Dismayingly, these were tests against specially designed targets, with known trajectories and characteristics, well within the expected performance range of the systems. The THAAD tests were conducted against Storm and Hera targets, which have a maximum range of about 750 and 1,100 kilometers, respectively. A suitable long-range target—of 2,000 kilometers or more—does not exist, nor is any funded through 2003, according to General Accounting Office reports.
The Navy plans to use surplus Terrier missiles as targets for the Theater Wide tests. THAAD is scheduled for three tests—one each during the second, third, and fourth quarters of fiscal year 1998—while the Navy Theater-Wide system will undergo two flight tests: one each during the second and fourth quarter of the year.
Test Plans Fall Short . Despite the lack of success in the two programs or in previous intercept attempts over the past two decades, the last approved THAAD acquisition plan calls for significant production of deployment hardware almost two years before independent operational testing begins to assess the system's effectiveness. The current contracts for the THAAD system allow the award of a production contract after one successful intercept.
The Pentagon's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation has urged this condition be revised, and the General Accounting Office is concerned that the number of test flights planned as the basis for entering the engineering and manufacturing development phase was reduced from 20 to 9 flights, partly to stay on schedule. GAO recommended in December 1997 that the Secretary of Defense "direct the Ballistic Missile
Defense Office (BMDO) to delay low-rate initial production of the THAAD system until after the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, has certified, based on sufficient independent testing in an operational environment, that the system can meet its key performance requirements."
There have not yet been any intercept tests of the proposed National Missile Defense system (NMD) and few are scheduled before a deployment decision is to be made. Noting that the NMD schedule is shorter than most other major system acquisition programs, the GAO recently warned of the high risks inherent in the program:
Because of the compressed development schedule, only a limited amount of flight test data will be available for the system deployment decision in fiscal year 2000. By that time, BMDO will have conducted only one system level flight test, and that test may not include all system elements or involve stressing conditions such as targets that employ sophisticated countermeasure or multiple warheads. As a result, not all technical issues, such as discrimination, will be resolved by the time of the deployment review. Also the current schedule will permit only a single test of the integrated ground-based interceptor before production of the interceptor's booster element must begin. If subsequent tests reveal problems, costly redesign or modification of already produced hardware may be required.
The Safeguard system, the only other U.S.-based ballistic missile defense system, had an acquisition schedule twice as long as is planned for the NMD program. Safeguard also had Ill flight tests, compared to only three intercept tests and one system-level flight test for the present system. The GAO notes that even this system-level test will not be comprehensive because it will not include all system elements, and "the single integrated system test . . . will not assess the NMD system's capabilities against stressing threats such as those that use sophisticated countermeasures or multiple warheads. The test is to be conducted against a single target with only simple countermeasures such as decoys. No test against multiple warheads is planned."
Even if everything in an NMD system worked as planned, its 100 ground-based interceptors supported by space-based sensor satellites might be able to intercept only a few warheads. Deputy Secretary of Defense John White reported to Congress in June 1996:
If the number of threats increases or the complexity of the threats increases then this basic system is likely to provide poor protection of the U.S. This poor protection is due partly to a lack of sufficient discrimination capability against complex threats, which will cause the interceptor inventory to be depleted by shooting at warhead decoys, allowing some real warheads to penetrate the defense.... The system is not designed to protect against an unauthorized launch which might contain a large number of warheads (e.g., a full load of warheads from a Russian SSBN [nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine].
In addition, the National Defense Panel report, "Transforming Defense: National Security in the 21st Century," recommended a go-slow approach to national missile defense. Panel Chairman Philip Odeen said in a December interview:
We think the technology just is not ready. To deploy a system now you are likely to have a not-very-effective system. And the threats have not developed. We think you have enough time, if you are smart about it, to deploy in time to protect yourself as these threats emerge. And the longer you wait, the better technology you are going to get. I think the hedging kind of concept the administration is following is the one we support.
There are no plans to test either the THAAD, the Navy Theater-Wide, or the NMD system against realistic threats such as multiple-warhead missiles that deploy warheads with decoys or jammers, or that take evasive maneuvers as they reenter the Earth's atmosphere. This approach can hardly give military commanders and defense planners much confidence in the ability of these systems, if deployed, to provide their troops, the nation or U.S. allies any appreciable degree of protection against longer-range ballistic missiles.
Defense planners should consider whether more realistic schedules and elimination of duplicative programs could reduce the approximately $20 billion planned for missile defense efforts over the next five years—and the savings be allocated to more pressing defense needs.
Hawkeyes and Devil Dogs: Altitude Is Everything
By Lieutenant Commander Leigh Armistead, U.S. Navy
U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeyes are logical platforms to expand and enhance the command, control, and communications capability of a Marine expeditionary unit (MEU)-size force. Specifically, they can assist assault support and offensive air support operations—two of the six doctrinal Marine Corps aviation missions—that carrier airborne early warning (VAW) squadrons have rarely supported in the past.
Responding to the increased emphasis on littoral operations, and the publication of the Navy white paper, "Forward . . . from the Sea," however, these squadrons have flown several test missions to determine Hawkeye effectiveness for these missions.
Assault support and offensive air support missions normally are controlled by personnel from within the Marine Air Command and Control System, operating from the Supporting Arms Coordination Center (SACC) when command is afloat—typical of MEU operations—and from the Direct Air Support Center (DASC) when command shifts ashore. Because both of these facilities normally rely on procedural control (they don't have radars), the Hawkeye can improve the watch standers' situational awareness by providing them surveillance coverage (real-time positions) and additional communications links. Typically this comes in the form of Link-16 tracks that are fed through the Marine system or the Navy Tactical Air Control System (NTACS) agencies. Ashore, these would include the Tactical Air Command Center and the Tactical Air Operations Center, which can receive this information and enter it into a computer data base for presentation in the DASC. On board the amphibious ready group flagship, NTACs personnel can receive link data, which then can be displayed in both the SACC and the Landing Force Operations Center. Either way, the commander landing force now can follow the progress of his assault support and offensive air support aircraft.
MEU-level forces and tactics are important, because these are the forces deployed every day around the world and therefore the most likely forces that a carrier air wing will work with. In a MEU, the aviation combat element consists of a composite helicopter squadron that includes six AV-Bs. The assault support helicopters (CH-46Es and CH-53Es conduct raids, amphibious assaults, noncombatant evacuation operations, and military operations in urban terrain; the squadron's UH-INS, AH-IWs, and AV-8Bs—in concert with carrier air wing strike aircraft—conduct offensive air missions.
The most vital E-2C role when assisting assault support missions is surveillance and communications relay. Because of line-of-sight constraints encountered by low-flying helicopters, communications and radar coverage using ground-based radars and radios from the flagship—usually an amphibious assault ship (LHA/LHD)—normally are limited to about 35 nautical miles. By including the flagship in the TADIL-A/J net, Hawkeyes obviously could extend this range considerably to give commanders the situational awareness that was previously not available.
Communications relay can solve a lot of problems. Because some of the communications are unique to Marine aviation, Hawkeye aircrews will of course have to be briefed on specific terminology, checklists, and formats transmitted message, fax, and voice communications.
Most assault support missions are run by the airborne mission commander, an aviator who often rides in a command-and-control UH-1N side by side with the heliborne unit commander, the infantryman responsible for ground operations. These two officers use the UH-IN's special communications package to talk with the assault support helicopters, ground units, and control agencies, but communications often are interrupted by terrain since many of the players are operating at low altitudes. Here is where the E-2C obviously can contribute significantly by providing automatic or manual radio relay.
Hawkeyes carry lots of radios—as many as ten in some aircraft—which make them natural platforms to help coordinate close air support by passing information to strike aircraft as well as to the forward area controllers (FACs) and the appropriate control agencies. Again, because many of the players are operating at low altitudes, orbiting Hawkeyes can provide invaluable relay assistance. Hawkeye crews can deconflict traffic as well as give heads-up calls on any possible airborne threats to the close air support aircraft. Given that air superiority is a normal precondition for close air support, there may of course still be leakers that a procedurally based air control system cannot detect.
Hawkeye crews also have assumed more responsibilities in the reactive suppression of enemy air defenses. Responding to calls from fighter and attack aircraft that have received surface-to-air missile threat warnings, the crew can marshal the available airborne assets and direct a strike to destroy the threats.
Over the past three years, dedicated flights by the E-2C aircraft from the four Marine Corps Air Station Miramar-based squadrons of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing Pacific all have contributed significantly to the expanding knowledge base for Hawkeye support to these important missions. Four squadrons—VAW- 112, 113, 116, and 117—have flown many missions in support of Marine Air Weapons and Tactics Squadron (MAWTS)-1 and associated Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) training. These missions not only demonstrated the E-2C's capabilities, but also served as testing flights to discover better ways to integrate the Hawkeye with Marine aviation assets. Specifies such as orbits, communication architecture, track management reporting criteria, and crew responsibilities were all evaluated by Marine Corps and Navy personnel to ensure interoperability between units.
Overall, after 6 WTI courses and 40 flights, the results have been uniformly good. On many occasions, Marine commanders have commented positively on the vast amount of information that they were receiving from the Hawkeyes, and they appreciated the quick turnaround time on communications relay. In fact during one flight, Hawkeye crews passed 13 of the 16 execution checklist items within lS seconds of the original transmission. This rapid response gave the landing force commander extra time that may not normally be available in other scenarios to make those crucial decisions.
The VAW aircrews were quick to learn the nuances of assault support and offensive air support and rapidly became a valuable asset. They have learned how to:
- Convert latitude and longitude from degrees and minutes to Universal Transverse Mercator Grid coordinates
- Pass nine-line close air support briefs
- Match close air support (CAS) weaponry with target descriptions
The E-2C's radar brings a new dimension to procedural control. Besides facilitating communications between the FAC and DASC, Hawkeye crews controlled CAS aircraft in and out of the stack; vectored aircraft to tankers; deconflicted airspace; and routed aircraft directly to the FAC. Of course, service differences arose, but overall all participants agreed that the inclusion of E-2C aircraft has increased considerably the amount of information available to the Marine aviation commander. The E-2C can be a force multiplier; let's use the platform to make it happen.