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[] OS 21.03.03: Computerized weapons aim at increasingly specific targets,

The Orlando Sentinel March 21, 2003
Computerized weapons aim at increasingly specific targets

By Christopher Boyd
Sentinel Staff Writer

The defining moment in the war on Iraq might be its opening act -- the 
ambitious missile and bomb attack on a Baghdad building where Saddam 
Hussein and two of his sons were thought to be meeting.

Trying to take out Iraq's leader with the war's opening shots was 
audacious, but the tools of the attack -- computer-guided weapons -- are 
nearly as striking. Technology developed in the past decade has turned 
powerful but relatively inaccurate bombs and rockets into surgically 
precise instruments.

"In World War II, the object was to take out a German power plant. Now, the 
object is to disable the generator inside the power plant," said Harlan 
Ullman, a military analyst with the Center of Strategic and International 
Studies in Washington, D.C. "The technology may not be perfect, but it is 
very good. You can now take out a target with one or two weapons that would 
have once required a major mission."

If all goes as planned, the armed forces will sweep across Iraq without 
devastating it. Guided missiles and so-called smart bombs will strike 
targets with pinpoint accuracy -- not only hitting individual buildings, 
but actually targeting rooms within those buildings.

The Tomahawk cruise missiles being fired on Baghdad had guidance systems 
that could be configured in minutes. The Tomahawks that dazzled television 
viewers during the Gulf War of 1991 could take days to program.

Improvements in military technology in the past decade parallel dramatic 
advances in computers, optics and communications that have changed daily 
life. Just as personal computers have become smaller and many times faster, 
the guidance systems underlying the latest weapons are exponentially improved.

If the war in Iraq involves large air and ground actions, they will be far 
better organized than military campaigns of the past. One of the key 
components on the battlefield will be a flying command post built in 
Melbourne by Northrop Grumman -- the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack 
Radar Systems, or Joint STARS.

Think of a Joint STARS as the director's chair in the theater of battle. 
Flying miles above Earth, the plane is packed with a huge arsenal of 
electronics that coordinates a battlefield. It gathers vast amounts of data 
from the ground and air. Using Global Positioning System satellites, the 
Joint STARS can direct an airstrike against enemy positions almost as 
quickly as they are identified.

But as Joint STARS and other airborne command posts orchestrate battles, a 
new array of equipment will likely be used for specific actions.

Precision-guided weaponry accounted for about 10 percent of all the bombs 
dropped on Iraqi forces during the Persian Gulf War. This time, about 90 
percent of the ordnance will arrive on target guided by lasers and satellites.

The joint air-to-surface stand-off (JASSM), built by Lockheed Martin's 
Missiles and Fire Control Division in Orlando and Dallas, is an advanced 
missile that might be used in combat for the first time in Iraq. The 
stealthy weapon with a range of 200 miles is satellite-guided and uses an 
infrared device to recognize targets.

Other weapons will appear with improvements. Upgraded conventional bombs 
called JDAMs (joint direct attack munitions) turn the streams of bombs 
dropped from the bellies of B-52s into weapons with pinpoint accuracy.

"The very high success that we had with these new weapons in Afghanistan 
proved their value," said Peter Arment, vice president of JSA Research, a 
military research firm in Newport, R.I.

Afghanistan offered a glimpse of what the military has developed. President 
Bush's pledge to hit Iraq with stunning strength suggests that a wider 
assortment of new technology will be unveiled during the campaign.

In Afghanistan, troops arrived with night-vision goggles and weapons. In 
Iraq, the military expects to own the night using the technology. Like much 
of the Pentagon's new equipment, night vision has broad use outside the 
military. Today's television images of Baghdad under night attack now offer 
much better resolution than those broadcast in 1991.

All the new and improved weapons are designed to have a single effect: 
overwhelming the Iraqi army so completely that it capitulates.

"The United States is gambling that the precision of its weaponry and the 
speed of the attack will prompt Saddam's forces to simply run away," said 
John Pike, a military analyst and director of director of in Washington. "Warfare is ultimately about the 
psychology of the combatants, and battles are normally decided by breaking 
the will of the enemy to resist."

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