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05 August 2012

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Allen Thomson


About JDAM, it took me a while to realize that they aren't just accuratized dumb bombs, though they certainly are that. At least as interesting is that they're de facto glide bombs, and that gives them an enormously expanded release envelope (there's a name for that that I forget), which makes life much more difficult for the air defense people.

See slide 9 in http://guidebook.dcma.mil/38/dpas/12DavisPres.pdf

And, as an extra, the arrival can be considerably off-vertical, handy for attacking adits and the like.

SAC Brat

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a marine and his ... laser designator"

My cousin was a forward air controller during some parts of the Afghanistan conflict. Even artillery is getting smart munitions.

What really impresses me is when they use a bomb filled with concrete instead of explosives. http://defensetech.org/2011/04/29/france-using-concrete-bombs-in-libya/

Babak Makkinejad

These are useful against essentially defenseless countries, yes?

I mean, a state that cannot retaliate in an analogous manner.

Basilisk

I think there are few countries that can actually retaliate in an analogous manner, if you want to be specific. That's what "asymmetric warfare" is all about. In certain cases it would not even be clear there had been an attack, I suppose

Basilisk

Right. And the JDAM and the Small Diamater Bomb even dispense with the laser designator. "Just put it in the GPS, Bro."

SAC Brat

I would expect that during the last seventy years of forward observers calling in fire there have been some artists with a map and a radio or telephone. One person could have a big effect on what happened on a battlefield with communications and a quick response time.

Basilisk

I think you'd have to count in the airborne Forward Air Controllers too. Any forward controller ground or air gets my respect.

Allen Thomson


Well, you raise an interesting point. Other considerations aside, I have believed for some twenty years now that the US should be thinking very seriously about to what to do when -- not if -- other folks get these PGMs. Mortar and artillery rounds with a first-shot CEP of under 10 meters sound interesting in that respect.

SAC Brat

Always. When I was in the Boy Scouts on base our Scout Master had been a O-2 pilot in Vietnam. I like his stories of calling in Naval support. How you can be accurate with a gun platform bobbing on water amazes me, gyros and all.

Basilisk

You know what those battleship sailors used to say, "it shoots a round as big as a Volkswagen, and we can park it in any parking space in Brooklyn."

Did you scout master tell you how far overgross those O-2's were at takeoff? I'm amazed they could fly at all.

Basilisk

Too right. What goes around comes around.

Neil Richardson

It is truly amazing what has become available these days. The Excalibur rounds are astonishing, and GD Ordnance has successfully tested GPS guided 81mm mortar rounds.

The German veterans of WWII almost always rated the Army's artillery as the best they'd faced by far. There were tactical innovations like TOT and FOs in Piper Cubs. However, one aspect that generally gets overlooked is that the United States had the industrial capacity to produce vast quantities of dry cell batteries. Almost all small units had radios which would've been unthinkable for any other armies at the time. And according to postwar studies, the gun bunnies had unmatched response time and were very accurate.

turcopolier

Babak

The F-22 is invisible to radar and can hit you with pinpoint accuracy with PGMs at sltitudes from which you would never know they were there especially if someone else took credit. No other country has an "analogous capability." pl

Basilisk

Radar stealth is kind of like black magic. It's hard to quantify, but you know it when you (don't) see it. Stealth is generally optimized for the frequencies used in air intercept and missile guidance radars. Very low frequency radars can sometimes "see" very stealthy aircraft, but the air defense is still unable to engage. I concur, right now nobody has an analogous capability.

The Twisted Genius

These capabilities are impressive and damned frightening to anyone who may be on the receiving end of them. I first realized the problem when a Combat Talon easily tracked my patrol through a swamp on a cold Georgia night... and that was in 1980. What's the solution? Moscow rules. Find your cover and concealment in populated areas, preferably heavily populated, impersonal areas. The problem with this approach is that there are damned few people with the wit and self discipline to live and operate under cover over extended periods of time. A related approach is to live and operate among a sympathetic population. As Mao said (more or less), be the fish in the sea.

SAC Brat

I always liked the story that after the Kosovo war the USAF interviewed Zoltan Dani on how his group was able to shoot down an F-117 Stealth Fighter. Going after actual data to be analyzed impresses me versus the folks who like to believe their own marketing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zolt%C3%A1n_Dani (since I lack links to Aviation Week or Air Force Magazine)

What would be a real trick is to drop large hail over an airfield.

Babak Makkinejad

Stealth aircraft would be visible to an infrared sensor in low Earth orbit, no?

Babak Makkinejad

So, if an unexplianed explosion occurs with a detonation profile corresponding to this weapon, and no other culrpit is aoround; then one is to conclude that the explosion was a US attack by a JDAM delivered by an F-22?

Basilisk

Really? Between that assumption and the IR detection from a low-orbit satellite I'm going to prescribe an immediate switch to de-caf and no more Clancy novels for six months.

turcopolier

Babak

If you wish, please do so. There are actually many other such weapons. pl

Allen Thomson


Maybe. But the thing about satellites in low Earth orbit is that most of the time they're somewhere else.

I.e., any one satellite can see any patch of the Earth for at most ten or twenty minutes a day, and that's giving them the benefit of the doubt. So a bunch of satellites, like the few-dozen Iridium LEO comsat constellation, would be needed to give more or less continuous coverage. Not impossible, but not easy or cheap either.

Babak Makkinejad

There was an unexplained - as far as I know - explosion in an Iranian missile base last year that demolished many building and killed several high ranking officers.

A supersonic object that is radiating its engine exhaust into the sky vertically is detectable - in principle.

r whitman

All this fancy, expensive weaponry is good, but unless you phyisically occupy the ground, preferably the high ground, kill or capture the enemy combatants and install a puppet ruler to do your bidding, you have not accomplished anything.

You get to go home without a win, just like in Vietnam, Iraq and Afganistan.

Basilisk

Allen,
As you correctly point out there is a geometry/field of view problem and a consequent cost problem, but there is also a radiant energy problem.

FB Ali

r whitman,

Installing a puppet ruler doesn't always work. It has worked for the Russians in Chechnya (so far, at least). It didn't work for the US in Iraq. I doubt if it'll work in Afghanistan.

The problem with these awesome weapons and technologies is that policymakers tend to get carried away in the choices they make, not realising their considerable limitations in getting other countries and peoples to do what you want.

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