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[] The Dawn of Network Centric Warfare?,

The Dawn of Network Centric Warfare?

          22 January 2002

          By Ben Moores, Industry Analyst (Europe) Frost & Sullivan

          At the start of the Afghan conflict I wrote a short article on
my initial perceptions on the impact that new technology was having on
          the outcome of the conflict and how this related to the lack
of European long range ISR platforms. Now that the first stage of the
          against terror' is over, there are some clear lessons emerging
from various military and academic circles that European industry and
          Procurement agencies will doubtlessly be listening closely to.

          I previously stated that display of ISR platforms in the
Afghan conflict demonstrated the significant gap between American and
          European capability. However, what has emerged since the end
of the conflict is the impact of networking between various American
          platforms. The result of this was that the Afghanistan
conflict saw many 'firsts'; it was the first time an offensively armed
UAV was
          utilised in conjunction with ground troops, the first time
that UAV's and piloted strike craft operated together and the first time
we saw
          'persistence over the battlefield' through jointly fused

          It is becoming increasingly apparent that the 'prophets' of
network centric warfare; John Gartska, Fred Stein and their champion
          Admiral Cebrowski have correctly predicted the future of
warfare in the same way that Vauban, Gribeauvel and Guderian did in a
          previous ages. Information superiority through the application
of network centric warfare allowed US forces to lower the sensor to
          shooter loop time considerably which had a marked effect on
the way the war was fought. Already there are proponents of the concept
          that ground forces will increasingly become the eyes and ears
for military strike platforms in those hard to reach places.

          However if one looks a little closer it becomes apparent just
how far US forces were in having a true network centric capability. Most

          the sensor fusion integration progression was carried out in
the field, or at home as the campaign progressed. Importantly, much of
          data that was transferred was through satellite networks as
opposed to true network capability. Many aircraft were reliant on the
          Airborne Warning and Control System for satellite
communications as they lacked on board capability. The Taliban did not
          anti-satellite capability but future opponents may well do and
could impair the weak link in the chain.

          The second element that had a profound impact on the
battlefield was the increased capability of sensors and ISR. The ability
to spot,
          and react in time to shoot, Taliban troops as they moved
around the country paralysed support and logistic traffic and thus the
          lines became so brittle that they collapsed/ changed sides as
soon as they were nudged.

          As the Afghan dust settles future procurement patterns begin
to emerge and the big question is what does this mean for the defence
          industry? If one believes that NATO / European forces are
going to continue to fight forces that seek to evade air power by
          or concealing themselves, then research and development is
most likely to be concentrated in the areas of Sensors, C2 and

          There is going to be a marked increase in investments in
datalinks and communication networks as they receive higher priority
          The combat multiplier effect of advanced communications has
shown its worth in combat. To exchange sensor data in real or near real
          time for data fusion is going to require significant leaps in
technology and lateral thinking in order to build systems that can keep
          with the demand for ever increasing quantities of data.

          Whilst at the same time the HD/LD (High demand/ Low density)
ISR platforms that form the 'hubs' in information networks are in
          significant shortage. The solution will not be in a single
system, too expensive, too risky; the real challenge will continue to
grow in the
          communications field as the military tries to fuse the various
data sources.

          With regards to sensors the switch to "persistence over the
battlefield" will mean a greater lean towards ISR that unmanned and that

          can loiter instead of manned and space based platforms that
have limited loiter periods. Already the USAF is looking to expand on
          number of Global Hawks and upgrade its integrated suite of
electro-optical/ infrared and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors.
          moving target indicator (GMTI) sensors have demonstrated their
worth again and the impact of this likely to accelerate investment and
          the European program equivalent of Joint STARS and ASTOR,
called SOSTAR.

          We can also expect further development into the C2,
Communication systems and Optics for UAV's. UAV's played a very
significant part
          at an operational level for the first time in a conflict. No
longer constrained to minor tactical observation tasks technology has
          them to play a number of roles with significant impact and
improvement in overall warfighting capability. UAV's have proved
          on the battlefield, the problem now is how to maximise the
systems on the platforms we have or are currently under development.

          For the various European military arms this is yet another
round of challenges. It is simply imperative now more than ever for
          squabbling and petty nationalism to be put aside in order to
create a pool of inter-European resources that can be called upon in
          to project power and stop the trend of Europe becoming a
political giant and military dwarf.

          For the European Defence industry it's a great opportunity to
harness the significant technological base that Europe has in
          communications and sensors and adapt this technology for
military purposes. Those companies that can continue to focus their
          in these areas can expect the next five to ten years to be
rich ones. There have been signs already of European companies preparing

          themselves for this and they have made the correct move. Joint
ventures across Europe or with America could provide the solutions to
          the problems that NATO will continue to face as the dawn of
the network centric age continues to break upon us.


                                     A copy of Ben Moores' previous
article is available from Nikki Cole @ Frost & Sullivan.

          Frost & Sullivan is an international marketing consulting
company that monitors a comprehensive spectrum of markets for trends,
market measurements and
          strategies. The Frost & Sullivan Aerospace & Defense section
can be viewed @


Olivier Minkwitz___________________________________________
Dipl. Pol., wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
HSFK Hessische Stiftung für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
PRIF Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
Leimenrode 29 60322 Frankfurt a/M Germany
Tel +49 (0)69 9591 0422  Fax +49 (0)69 5584 81
Mobil   0172  3196 006
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