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[infowar.de] AWST 30.09.02: Oil Wells, WMD Sites Fall Off Bombing List
Aviation Week & Space Technology September 30, 2002 Pg. 24
Oil Wells, WMD Sites Fall Off Bombing List
U.S. war plans are shifting as the Pentagon factors in new weapon options
and the postwar health of Iraq's economy
By David A. Fulghum and Robert Wall, Washington
Iraq's oil fields and plants for building or storing weapons of mass
destruction (WMD) are off the Pentagon's bombing list and have been
transferred to a growing catalog of targets that would be disabled by
electronic attacks or information warfare.
With worries about world oil markets, the economic future of Iraq, and the
specter of releasing plumes of chemical or biological agents into the air
from bombed storage sites that could drift into neighboring countries, the
U.S. is set to exercise some new "wrinkles" in warfare.
"In the planning for the attack on Iraq, information operations are getting
really big," a senior Air Force official said. "It's going to include
hacking, misinformation and computer network attack." Cruise
missile-delivered high-power microwave weapons that can damage sensitive
electronics and scramble computer memories are also in the mix of options.
"Among other targets, they're going after the oil infrastructure," he said.
"The idea had come up of destroying the oil wells as part of the attack on
leadership targets and the structure that give Saddam Hussein and the
Ba'ath party its power. But the option being offered the White House is to
leave the wells intact but take out the communications, electronics and
computers so they can't pump the oil."
Also on the list of facilities to be disabled are many of the fixed targets
around which the Iraqi leadership has built civilian housing, hospitals and
"You can't destroy those targets without killing a lot of civilians," the
Air Force official said. "Therefore, the priority for targeting [with
conventional weapons] has shifted to destroying the instruments of power
like the palaces and headquarters, primarily in Tikrit and Baghdad, where
Saddam Hussein and his cronies spend their time." Also on the destroy list
are Republican Guard and security units.
U.S. reluctance to damage Iraq's economic infrastructure was reflected in
national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's pledge to encourage
democratization in the Muslim world, promote a unified and democratic Iraq,
and spend money rebuilding the country after Saddam Hussein's removal.
INCREASING IN PROMINENCE on the "to bomb" list is Iraq's ballistic missile
facilities that are again being rebuilt. Many of these were attacked in
1991 and 1998 and are now back on the prime target list. The British
government's newly released dossier on "Iraq's Weapons of Mass
Destruction"--published in Arabic and English--extends beyond what U.S.
intelligence officials have so far revealed about Iraq's current ballistic
"Intelligence has confirmed that Iraq wants to extend the range of its
missile systems to over 1,000 km.," the report states. Satellite
surveillance has shown the development of a new test stand to support
engine testing for a medium-range ballistic missile. "Such a facility
should not be needed for systems that fall within the U.N.-permitted range
of 150 km.," the report said. In addition, the Iraqis appear to be seeking
guidance technology for improved missile accuracy, a need that grows as
missiles travel greater distances.
The British government also detailed the extent to which Iraq has rebuilt
missile development and production facilities damaged by earlier allied air
strikes. For example, a rocket-propellant mixing and casing facility is
being built that's similar to a plant destroyed earlier that was associated
with the 700-1,000-km. range Badr-2000 missile. Similarly, an ammonium
perchlorate manufacturing facility needed for solid-propellant production
has been built with help by an Indian company, NEC Engineers Private Ltd.,
the report said. The company now has export sanctions placed on it.
Iraqi engineers also might have been able to maintain some of the 20
Al-Hussein missiles in good enough condition for operational use. However,
intelligence analysts aren't certain how many of the 650-km.-range weapons
could be employed. Each of them should be capable of carrying conventional,
chemical or biological warheads.
Reports surfaced in early September that Ukraine had violated a U.N.
weapons embargo by selling four locally built Kolchuga radar stations to
Iraq in July 2000. A Kolchuga system uses four receivers and a central
coordination facility to track the emissions from approaching aircraft,
said a longtime Pentagon radar specialist. By analyzing the differences in
time that the aircraft's electronic emissions arrive at the four receivers,
the system's operators can plot the invader's location. Ukrainian officials
said there was no sale, while officials in nearby Belarus denied that they
helped Iraq rebuild its antiaircraft defenses.
Financing for these and other projects is believed to come from more than
$8 billion in illegal funds, particularly from illegal oil sales, raised by
the Baghdad government in recent years.
The Kolchuga would be an attractive system for the Iraqis because it does
not itself emit signals like traditional radars. U.S. HARM missiles, for
example, follow radar signals back to their source and destroy the radar
antenna. A barrage of HARMs broke the back of the Iraqi air defense system
in 1991 after U.S. decoys tricked the defenders into turning on their radars.
However, these passive radar systems are not accurate enough to provide
targeting data for an antiaircraft missile, the specialist said. It could
serve only as an early warning system or to cue other active radars that
could provide more accurate data. U.S. aircraft as a rule try to operate in
electronic silence when they are involved in combat prior to enemy air
defenses being crushed. For special operations aircraft that rely on radar
altimeters and similar emitting devices for terrain following navigation,
the Pentagon is developing upgrades to make the signals almost impossible
Passive tracking radars, particularly a system produced in the Czech
Republic, have been on the world market for decades and are touted as
having antistealth characteristics. However, U.S. Air Force officials argue
that the systems appear to fall short of their advertised performance and
that stealth aircraft continue to have the edge over current air defenses.
Within the last few years, Lockheed Martin has produced a more
sophisticated passive radar system that uses the reflections from
commercial radio and television signals and a bistatic arrangement of
antennas to track aircraft from a few tens of miles. Such systems are not
uniquely counterstealth. However, in the HF-VHF range of frequencies,
sometimes there could be enhanced half-wave reflections from stealth
designs depending on the aircraft's size, he said. The problem is that in
wartime, commercial stations will likely be off the air.
There also appears to be some low-level concern about Iraq having obtained
GPS jammers, which have been openly marketed by various countries for
years. The current GPS signal is relatively weak and easy to jam, prompting
the Pentagon to upgrade some of its GPS IIR/F satellites and boosting power
on the new GPS IIIs. Additionally, cruise missiles that are most
susceptible to jamming are receiving antijam GPS receivers, which have been
successfully demonstrated. Disrupting the signal for GPS-guided bombs would
have limited impact. By the time the jamming takes effect, the bomb would
be almost directly over its target and on a trajectory to a near-precision
hit even when relying only on its inertial guidance system.
What could hurt U.S. military efforts is the increasing pinch in
intelligence-gathering aircraft. U.S. Central Command recently suffered the
loss of another Predator UAV, this one having come down in a residential
area in Kuwait. Nobody on the ground was hurt, U.S. officials said. The
accident appears to have been weather-related. It is at least the sixth
Predator that CentCom has lost this fiscal year. Additionally, the Air
Force last month damaged one of its shrinking fleet of U-2Ss at Beale AFB,
Calif. The U-2s and Global Hawk UAVs operate from a forward base in the
United Arab Emirates when in theater.
Furthermore, USAF is temporarily losing the services of Global Hawk in the
region. The Air Force has pulled the remaining vehicles back from Central
Command to regroup after having run low on spares for the developmental
aircraft, according to a government official. But the aircraft is expected
to return to the United Arab Emirates if there's a war in Iraq, which is
why the Air Force has left key ground control elements in place.
Global Hawk had only just resumed flying after a prolonged grounding
following a crash in Pakistan in July while trying to make an emergency
landing after losing power over Afghanistan. It crashed into a ridge that
hadn't been entered in the aircraft's digital terrain elevation data
system. The Air Force is trying to speed production of the next aircraft,
air vehicle No. 7, and of the much-valued electro-optical payloads.
The Pentagon also has been closely managing the use of some aircraft with
an eye to impending operations in Iraq. A senior Army official said the
AH-64D Longbow Apache attack helicopters didn't see service in Afghanistan
because planners thought the new fire-control radar would be much more
effective in the desert environment, and deploying them to Central Asia
could have meant they wouldn't be available for operations in the Middle East.
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