Information Warfare: November 3, 2000

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NETFIRES: WAR FOR THE FUTURE; The US Army and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are working on two new missiles for use by the Future Combat System; these are to be flight tested in 2003. The overall concept is called "NetFires" and operates on two principles. First, that a synthesis of information from many recon platforms will provide a nearly total picture of enemy forces on the battlefield. Second, that precision-guided weapons with very long tactical ranges could be used from anywhere on that battlefield to destroy an enemy unit on any other part of that battlefield. The primary killer will be PAM, the Precision Attack Missile. With a range of 40km and a 12.7kg warhead, PAM will be able to destroy any tank in the area with a top attack. PAM will be vertically-launched from a containerized unit that is 4x6 feet square and four feet high. This unit will hold 15 missiles. It could be carried on any kind of truck (including a Humvee) or on the Future Combat System (which will have a "docking well" able to accept such a module). Alternatively, such containers could simply be scattered around the battlefield. When an enemy force is detected, the commander could destroy it by selecting missiles from any of several units. Responding to the developing situation, immobile launchers would be used up first while mobile units would be repositioned to cover likely enemy avenues of approach, assembly areas, battle positions, or reserve concentrations. In an attack, launchers could be positioned near the front line and would fire the initial salvoes. (By the time the enemy could target them with counter-battery fire, all 15 missiles would have been launched.) Truck-mobile units would then maneuver behind friendly lines to bring their missiles to bear on any counter-attack or reserve forces. More missiles on armored FCS tanks would then conduct a breakthrough attack, destroying enemy units before they could get within direct-fire gun range of the US force. (The containerized launcher could carry PAM, LAM, or anti-aircraft missiles.) The other missile will be the LAM, or Loitering Attack Missile. This will have a range of 40km, but will be able to loiter over the battlefield for half an hour waiting for a target to show itself. This missile will have only a small 4kg warhead, not enough to take out a tank but sudden death for trucks, command vehicles, radar stations, power generators, howitzers, or other key targets. LAM will have a two-way datalink and could be retargeted in flight. It would be equipped with a laser radar to precisely locate its targets, and would have automatic target recognition software. It could, literally, be told to orbit over a given area and attack anything that looks like, for example, a bridgelauncher. And air-launched version of LAM (LAMA) is being developed to arm the Apache helicopters of the "Legacy Force" and give them new capabilities. The term "legacy" refers to equipment leftover from the previous generation after a major paradigm shift.-Stephen V Cole

 


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