Electronic Weapons: January 14, 2004

Archives

The latest futuristic electronic gizmo developed by the military is WolfPack, a six pound sensor/jammer that is dropped into enemy territory to get information and, if needed, jam enemy communications. 

Hollywood isn't the only place where old hits are recycled. Such miniature gadgets were first developed and used in the 1960s. These early devices were just a microphone and transmitter. An aircraft overhead could pick up the transmissions, record them, and get them back to a base where the activity (trucks, troops marching, or whatever), where it occurred and the time, could be recorded. In this way, operations along the carefully hidden (under the tall jungle canopy) "Ho Chi Minh" trail could be studied, plotted and bombed. The trail, run by the North Vietnam through Laos (just east of Vietnam), was vital to keeping their troops in South Vietnam supplied. 

In the 1980s, there was an effort to add self organizing networking to a series of smart mines (later called WAAM). This networking is in WolfPack, but didn't survive the end of the Cold War for the 1980s WAAM. One thing discovered with WAAM was that enemy troops would have an incentive to search for them, and kill them (with gunfire.) To make that a more sporting exercise, some anti-personnel mines were to be deployed from each WAAM once it landed (dropped from an aircraft or rocket shell.) This idea was later dropped, as the anti-personnel mines were too likely to later endanger civilians and friendly troops. This made WAAM somewhat less effective, but hardly worthless. 

WolfPack will face the same problem airdropped sensors in Vietnam did; the enemy will go looking for them once they realize the sensors are a danger to them. During the Vietnam war, a partial solution to this problem was to build some of the airdropped sensors so they looked like a bamboo plant. This deception would not stand up to close scrutiny, but the enemy troops were not going to closely examine every bamboo plant when they were sweeping an area for sensors. So this worked (except when, after the war, surplus sensors of this type were shipped to Europe for use their in a future war.) At present, WolfPack is not disguised (except for camouflage paint.) This may change once they are tested extensively with American troops deploying them against each other in field exercises.

When the four inch wide, six pound WolfPack units are dropped in enemy territory (or manually placed outside friendly positions), they will not only pick up electronic information, but will be able to jam enemy signals (including cell phones) on command or as part of their programmed instructions. The ability of WolfPack units to detect other WolfPack units and form a network, and then collectively sort out who is doing what electronically, is a major advance in sensor and jamming warfare. Even if some of the WolfPack units are destroyed, the network will just reconfigure itself. The units cost $10,000 each, and if they work as predicted, the troops will always try to recover them for reuse. 

 


Article Archive

Electronic Weapons: Current 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close