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[infowar.de] FWST 29.09.02: War Could Feature New U.S. Arsenal
Fort Worth Star Telegram September 29, 2002 Pg. 1
War Could Feature New U.S. Arsenal
Pentagon strategists may employ a range of futuristic weapons in a war
By Dave Montgomery, Star-Telegram Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON--A U.S.-led military strike against Iraq could offer a glimpse
into the wars of tomorrow, combining traditional weaponry with an exotic
mix of robotics, unmanned aircraft and even smarter smart bombs.
Included in the potential arsenal, defense analysts say, are advanced
weapons designed to pre-empt chemical and biological agents that allegedly
constitute the most menacing elements of Saddam Hussein's aging military
machine. U.S. planners are also exploring the precise blend of technology
needed to undercut Saddam's attempts to draw invasion forces into congested
Although plans for an invasion remain tightly guarded in the inner reaches
of the White House and the Pentagon, military analysts say the attack would
probably become a test for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's goal of
transforming the U.S. military from its Cold War underpinnings into an
agile, futuristic force.
Technology still in its infancy on the battlefields of Afghanistan -- such
as unmanned aircraft and minirobots used for surveillance -- could come of
age in Iraq. U.S. strategists may also deploy E-bombs, little-known devices
that create an electromagnetic field that paralyzes an enemy's electronic
systems, including computers.
As in wars past, the need to defeat the foe could prompt the Pentagon to
step up its timetable for deploying weapons that are still being tested,
including some that are still secret and largely experimental.
"Much of the warfare of tomorrow is developed in the warfare of today,"
said Clark Murdock, former deputy director for strategic planning in the
Air Force and now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington. "These things may be extremely
classified, but to the extent they're needed, they'll be used."
President Bush is pressing for a military assault to take out chemical and
biological weapons that the administration says Saddam has secretly amassed
since the end of 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Consequently, one crucial objective for war planners is to prevent Saddam
from using those weapons against U.S.-led invaders. They are also pondering
how to take out the weapons facilities without unleashing lethal chemical
and biological agents into the atmosphere.
One weapon of choice, says retired Rear Adm. Stephen Baker, former senior
weapons-testing officer for the Navy, could be the E-bomb, which destroys
technology but not people.
The U.S. government does not acknowledge that such a weapon is under
development, but according to published reports, Britain may be
experimenting with E-bomb technology with support from the Pentagon.
The weapon, which can be dropped from a plane or launched on a cruise
missile, sends out electromagnetic pulses far more destructive than a
lightning strike and could destroy the electronic nerve-centers of weapons
plants and military installations.
"You would think, at minimum, they would accelerate these weapons," said
Baker, now an analyst with the Center for Defense Information. "Because of
the desire to have such a weapon in the inventory, there is certainly the
potential, absolutely, to use it."
U.S. forces could also fall back on a similar weapon: the previously
classified BLU-114B "blackout bomb," which detonates over its target and
dispenses carbon filaments that descend onto transformers and high-voltage
equipment, causing short-circuits. Similar bombs, delivered by Tomahawk
missiles, were used briefly in the Persian Gulf War to attack Iraq's power
Other analysts familiar with U.S. weapon planning say the United States'
arsenal of electronic weapons also includes ultra-sophisticated hacking
systems aimed specifically at shutting down the enemy's computers.
Unmanned aircraft such as the Predator and the Global Hawk, both now used
in Afghanistan, are expected to play an even greater role in Iraq,
depending on the duration of the war.
Although used largely for reconnaissance, they may be armed with missiles
or outfitted with sensors to detect biological agents in the air. With
their ability to stay aloft for hours at high altitudes, unmanned aircraft
would also prove more adept at finding Iraq's Scud rocket launchers than
conventional aircraft were during the Persian Gulf War.
Radio-controlled robots, considered a novelty in Afghanistan, may be used
more extensively in Iraq. Standing about two feet tall, they can clear
mines, snoop behind enemy lines and provide information on enemy strength,
relaying information back to their programmers. Military officials have
also considered arming the robots with grenade launchers.
Lessons learned during the last war against Iraq are clearly guiding
military planners as they assemble their arsenal for a coming offensive.
Despite early acclaim, the old Patriot missile failed to stop many of the
Scuds fired during the Persian Gulf War. A new version of the Patriot, the
PAC 3, being developed by Lockheed Martin's Missiles and Fire Control unit
in Grand Prairie, is considered far more accurate and lethal and may be
brought into service quickly if the United States carries out its threats
to use military force against Saddam.
Also known as the Patriot Advanced Capability 3, the missile is equipped
with an onboard target finder to seek out enemy aircraft and missiles and
destroy them with a direct hit. One potential assignment: knocking out
incoming Iraqi missiles armed with chemical or biological warheads.
Another Lockheed Martin product could also make its combat debut in Iraq.
The Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, is a stealthy cruise
missile "bunker buster" that can burrow into formidable underground
targets. Weighing more than 2,200 pounds, the missile can be launched from
an airplane well beyond the range of enemy air defenses.
A far larger bunker buster weighing 20,000 pounds contains incendiary
chemicals that burn at more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, instantaneously
destroying chemical or biological agents. Smart weapons -- missiles and
bombs guided directly to the target by lasers or global positioning system
navigation devices -- will be used in far larger numbers, more varieties,
and with greater sophistication than any previous war, analysts say.
During the Persian Gulf War, says Mike Vickers, a former CIA and Special
Forces officer, about 7 percent of the allied munitions were
precision-guided. The percentage increased to about 30 percent during the
U.S.-led NATO attack in Yugoslavia in 1999 and is now about 60 percent in
The use of smart weaponry in the next war, says Vickers, an analyst at the
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, is likely to increase to 80
percent. The most advanced weapons are undeterred by inclement weather and
can hit their targets with dead-on accuracy, diminishing the potential for
Baker, who authored a report about potential weaponry in an Iraqi campaign,
predicts that U.S. forces will rely heavily on thermobaric bombs and
rockets, which combine a giant fireball with an intense concussion that
fills spaces, turning corners and climbing floors.
Thermobaric weaponry is just now entering the inventory of all the
services, Baker says, and could prove vital in building-to-building combat
if U.S. forces are drawn into urban areas.
U.S. troops in Afghanistan have used thermobaric weapons against enemy
forces holed up in caves. Baker says that Marines in Iraq may use
shoulder-mounted thermobaric weapons to take out hard-to-penetrate bunkers
An Iraqi campaign is also likely to be a more extensive testing ground for
computerized warfare already being used in Afghanistan. Special operations
forces, Baker says, are experimenting with a laptop program called "Rover"
that allows ground troops to transmit detailed target information to an
Although planners are reportedly considering a range of options, most
analysts believe that the opening days of the campaign would employ an
immense air campaign to knock out strategic command posts and anti-aircraft
installations. The campaign is expected to deploy virtually all U.S.
warplanes, including the venerable Fort Worth-made F-16, and for the first
time may use all 16 B-2 bombers at once.
On the ground, troops may roll out the Stryker, a new lightweight infantry
carrier that can perform like a minitank but at higher speeds. A new
Stryker Brigade Combat Team has been involved in intense training at Fort
Lewis, Wash., throughout the summer.
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