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Military Transformation Uplink: March 2006

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Military Transformation Collage

Militaries around the world are moving to modernize and transform themselves to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our mission is to deliver a monthly cross-section of relevant, on-target stories, news, and analysis that will help experts and interested laypeople alike stay up to speed on key military developments and issues. Stories are broken down by military category and presented as fast bullet points that orient you quickly, with accompanying links if you wish to pursue more in-depth treatments.

Some of This Month's Targets of Opportunity Include: New 'bunker busters' that tunnel through stone; India moving toward more "strategic reach"; Euro UCAVs; Hunter-killer standoffs and Hellfire Jr.; FCS and urban warfare; Exoskeletons; Shooting down RPGs; Secret weapon - green laser pointers; Or how about laser blimps?; Conventional ballistic missiles and ray guns; USAF Smart Operations 21 process improvement; Budget games; QDR 2006 links and reactions; The Pentagon's FY 2007 budget request; The Pentagon's broken accounting system.

Your editors Murdoc and Joe Katzman present this monthly briefing as part of a team that includes professional publications Defense Industry Daily, Military.com's DefenseTech, and eDefense Online. To contact us with story tips, email transformation @windsofchange dot net.

AIR & SPACE SECTOR

  • Congress killed the RNEP nuclear bunker-buster program, but the ability to reach buried targets with precision strikes is still important. Meet Deep Digger, first of a revolutionary new generation of unconventional conventional bunker-buster bombs. This literally ground-breaking new technology uses cannon fire to tunnel through solid rock, drilling a channel for the bomb. DefenseTech has the special feature: Part 1 | Part 2.
  • In the Pacific, the USA is proposing a transformational system for its allies in the region: a shared Pacific "pool" of ultra-long range Global Hawk UAVs based in Guam. The proposal before Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand includes options for a shared and commonly funded fleet along the lines of NATO's E-3 AWACS model, or an option in which countries acquire their own Global Hawks and make them available to the common regional fleet on agreed terms. The Global Hawk is also competing for a maritime patrol aircraft RFP in India, so the pool could deepen.
  • Speaking of India, India's Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi remarks that Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to acquire more advanced fighters, sophisticated defence systems and smart long-range weapons, as the country's "strategic boundaries have been redefined" by its growing energy needs and participation in disaster management operations. Tyagi said the current scenario "necessitated a strategic reach..."
  • The laser-guided Hellfire missile is a mainstay in the US arsenal, but these missiles don't come cheap at $100K to $150K apiece. Designed to take out heavy Soviet tanks, they're often overkill on today's battlefield. The APKWS II "Hellfire Junior" (target price $10K) is a laser guidance system that fits onto a standard 2.75 inch rocket, creating a low-cost light alternative that puts more precision weapons on more platforms. Lockheed-Martin recently conducted a successful ground-launch of the system.
  • Lasers aren't just for guiding bombs, either. The Airborne Laser (on the nose of a 747) and its little cousin the Airborne Tactical Laser (on the belly of a C-130) are still struggling through development. Meanwhile, Tactical Relay Mirror System could someday use mirrors (perhaps mounted on giant blimps) to let lasers shoot around corners.

C4SI DIMENSION

  • "ROVER" is an unimpressive looking piece of equipment. Mostly, it looks like a ruggedized laptop with antennas. Lt. Col. Gregory E. Harbin, of the 609th Combat Operations Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, SC says "...the ROVER is bringing a phenomenal capability to our people on the ground." Read why.
  • Maj. Gen. Charles Cartwright says the US Army's Future Combat Systems electronics will probably have a Linux/Intel base because 'it works best with the service's current and future applications.'

LAND SECTOR

  • Maj. Gen. Roger Nadeau, who heads the US Army's research and development command, looks at the lessons of Iraq and says, among other things: "If [the $120+ billion Future Combat Systems set] were here in its entirety today, how would the soldier's life in that city [amidst urban warfare] be better? If we can't answer that, we're probably going down the wrong path and we need to make some modifications."
  • Rocket propelled grenades are second only to improvised explosive devices in the insurgent's arsenal. The Army's Stryker vehicles carry a heavy and bulky "bird-cage" of slat armor to defend against the threat, and it's worked pretty well. But what if the incoming RPGs were shot down instead? Raytheon Company's new Quick Kill System means to do just that. eDefense Online has more, and Defense Tech has background and links about various "active defense" systems here.
  • The Patriot missile system alternates between hero and scapegoat, but the Army says software upgrades, data links, and improved training will solve the problems by next year.
  • The quest for "Starship Troopers continues: Exoskeletons Make You Tough. Background, links, and the Invincible Iron Man over at Defense Tech.

MARITIME SECTOR

  • It was just revealed that the US Navy successfully tested the AN/BLQ-11 Long Term Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS) unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) in January 2006, by having it find and dock with a sub. The LMRS is designed to enable submarines to conduct clandestine undersea surveys to locate mines.
  • The US Navy is looking to field a conventional warheadded Trident sub-launched ballistic missile for "Prompt Global Strike" capability against targets within less than one hour of the order to launch. But the proposal is under fire. And the Air Force thinks land-based missiles are better-suited. Did we mention that the Air force operates those land-based missiles?

SUPPLY AND SUPPORT

  • The USA continues to step up its use of Radio Frequency ID (RFID) tags throughout its logistics chain, and there are programs afoot to create interoperable systems with allies for coalition operations.
  • In its search to improve aircraft maintenance turnaround and improve quality, The US Air Force spliced elements of several civilian efficiency programs to develop "Smart Operations 21." The program is based on both Lean and Six Sigma business process improvement tools.

TRANSFORMATION: POLICY & DOCTRINE

  • The biggest recent event on the military transformation policy front was the USA's 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review. Overall, the services seem happy but the broader buzz is not good. Defense Industry Daily has a comprehensive QDR roundup from the Pentagon, the services, and outside commentators.
  • So what about this year? Winslow T. Wheeler is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information in Washington, with 31 years experience on national security issues for US Senators from both parties and the GAO. He dissects the USA's FY 2006 military budget, including controversies re: its real size and some of the dodges and tricks to watch out for when looking at it.
  • Finally, technological transformation isn't everything - the human element is still decisive. This account of how an 'obsolete' Serbian missile battery shot down an American F-117 stealth fighter and survived NATO's Kosovo air campaign provides a vivid and memorable example.


Contributors to this issue included: Murdoc, Defense Industry Daily, Military.com's DefenseTech, and eDefense Online.

Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Defense Transformation Uplink".

The Comments section can be used to brief us on new developments, or contribute your thoughts. Note that WindsofChange.NET has earned a reputation as a site for grown-up debate, where argument is often strong but participants demand quality. As back-up, designated Marshals are on hand to enforce a baseline level of order and civility. Their approach is generally diplomatic, but they have other options at their disposal if need be. If you have what it takes to be part of such discussions, you are more than welcome here!

8 TrackBacks

Tracked: March 15, 2006 7:11 AM
Excerpt: Militaries around the world are moving to modernize and transform themselves to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our mission is to bring you a cross-section of relevant, on-target stories, news, and analysis, with a necessarily greater but not exc
Tracked: March 15, 2006 8:36 AM
Defense Industry Review - 15 Mar 2006 from Security Watchtower
Excerpt: Each Wednesday, Security Watchtower presents the Defense Industry Review, a glance at the stories and news items as they relate to the defense industry in the United States and abroad. This feature is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of the...
Tracked: March 15, 2006 7:06 PM
Military Transformation Uplink: March 2006 from Defense Industry Daily
Excerpt: Militaries around the world are moving to modernize and transform themselves to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our mission is to bring you a cross-section of relevant, on-target stories, news, and analysis, with a necessarily greater but...
Tracked: March 15, 2006 9:03 PM
Murdoc gets all high-falutin' from The Ministry of Minor Perfidy
Excerpt: Murdoc of Murdoc Online, skirting the edges of responsible journalism, has been recruited/drafted/shanghaid/volunteered for the job of MC for Winds of Change's new feature the "Military Transformation Uplink." In concert with Joe Katz...
Tracked: March 16, 2006 1:30 PM
MO is three years old today from Murdoc Online
Excerpt: Happy Birthday to Murdoc...and he survived the Ides of March. Three years ago I decided to stop sending my friends and family unasked-for emails about...
Tracked: March 16, 2006 4:02 PM
Military Transformation from Dean's World
Excerpt: Hey, check it out, Murdoc is writing for Winds Of Change now, and has up the first installment of a new series: Military Transformation Uplink, a compilation of the l...
Tracked: April 26, 2006 8:22 AM
Excerpt: Militaries around the world are moving to modernize and transform themselves to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our mission is to deliver a monthly cross-section of relevant, on-target stories, news, and analysis...
Tracked: April 28, 2006 7:15 AM
Military Transformation Uplink: April 2006 from Defense Industry Daily
Excerpt: Militaries around the world are moving to modernize and transform themselves to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our mission is to deliver a monthly cross-section of relevant, on-target stories, news, and analysis that will help both experts...

3 Comments

Major kudos for an incredible piece of work. Bravo.

I will enjoy trolling through it.

Cordially,

Uncle J

Cannot wait, the Land Sector link brought me to Baghdad Bob. He says you do not exist, lying fool, I'll check back, later.

desert rat: I fixed the links. Thanks for the heads up.

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