posted on Oct, 8 2006 @ 02:32 AM
Glide Kits Work When The Aircraft Can Survive Long Enough To Penetrate At Altitude.
Between the more advanced SM-2/3/6 and the PAC-2/3 the U.S. fields some of the most dominant S2A systems on the planet. Only the SA-20 somethings and
ASTER are competitive.
While we also maintain the questionable option of an outer air battle zone manned intercept with AMRAAM and NCTR capable airframes; the reality
remains that ADSAM capabilities will likely provide the ability to engage any airframe crossing the radar horizon within a 500km circle _very soon_
for the USN.
And at least 1/5th this for the Army equivalent.
At which point wing kits go from being 65km wonder weapons to 6-10km death rides often requiring a highly lethal toss maneuver for the delivery
aircraft to gain full flyout.
That the Chinese choose only to copy a commonly known existing technique (see AWADI, JDAM-ER etc.) so blatantly without really /understanding it's
tactical employment vices/ only furthers the image of the monkey-see-do stereotype.
Now if they field a VLO UCAV to go with...
In any case, the copying is all well and good because the Diamond Back on the GBU-39 and JDAM-ER are in fact sourced to an Italian company, Alenia.
But the fact remains that even if this munition were to be 'only for commercial sale' as the Chinese concentrate upon powered weapons designed to
kill much higher valued targets like CVSF; it still ups the ante for regional threat escalation as a function of keeping the U.S. forever chasing a
new standard in arms export at minimum iciteful effort by a nation that nominally is the source of 70% of our trade goods.
i.e. With MFN 'friends' like these...
There are a few other facts which should be noted as well:
1. Cheap IAMs.
Especially those which permit multiple standoff carriage change the nature of the game. Rather than use PGMs on a 'both bombs, one target' basis of
high cost and high risk (DEAD and EA on every penetrating mission rapidly soaks these limited assets) for point targets whose 'value' is often more
related to infrastructure and industry than (evacuated) military facilities; you can begin to hit specific military force targets IN THE FIELD. Or
indeed anywhere they are found. And particularly as applies to the heavier weight munitions, this means the ability to get an airburst within 30ft
may well be sufficient to score a kill 'anyway'. This still does not remove the vulnerability of the launch aircraft. But it does imply the option
to chip away at target sets which normally might not be considered worth the effort to kill.
2. Any Emitter Can Be Targeted.
Again, particularly when you are carrying enough small munitions to undertake the effort. And GPS Jamming is a local area effect which means that a
munition which arrives at the basket from a slingbomb profile may only lose terminal correction vs. primary (midcourse) updating. What this means is
that the JDAM which was /never/ a 'semi precise' 30ft CEP weapon (having averaged roughly a 2.65 meter error rating in two wars) may lose a meter or
two in switching over to pure IMU strapdown but nothing which prevents the munitions from being used on any but the tightest of collaterals protected
targets (and not even then if the warhead weight is small enough).
While U.S. efforts in AJam technologies are ongoing, it remains certain from funding commentaries that AJam modules have been inserted into the
baseline guidance sections so the effects of jamming have been felt.
3. There Are Alternatives.
The French actually began their own IAM munition effort as or before we were finalizing for GAM and JDAM in a program called 'Excalibur'. This
system achieved some success but was never productionized. The follow AASM was however and comes in multiple varieties in the 500-1,000lb class with
the option of a seeker and a rocket booster in a single, unified, case. In many ways, particularly once DEWS and Hunting Munitions come online, such
an approach may prove to be a wiser investment, simply because they allow for conventional aircraft to trade low level risks to trashfire against
'over the horizon' lobshots combining airframe lofting and rocket boost to attain downrange impact values on the order of 10-20nm. While this is
insufficient against a truly advanced ADSAM threat (CEC+), it again opens the field for truly lethal attacks on fielded forces, /provided/ the French
continue the program and overcome certain technical issues within the vibration and positioning signal access on a powered weapon.
The Russians and Chinese now also having IAM programs, the real question becomes one of 'how long' vs. 'how hard' it is to productionize a FOG or
RLG based munition that is cheap enough to manufacture in numbers sufficient to offset any residual inertial-only or inertial plus Euro-GPS/GLONASS
4. Inertial + GPS is not the BAEA.
As multiple efforts with Hammerhead, Orca, DAMASK, AMSTE and even SPICE have shown; it is entirely possible to fit an augmented seeker system which
will function in a fashion similar to Pershing II in taking a snapshot from premission briefed (satellite overhead) or 'live' (airframe sensor
group, on or offboard) targets and matching that chip memory to an onboard X-SAR, MMW or EO seeker image as the bomb descends. In this, the effort to
integrate becomes more difficult but there are still sufficient numbers of advanced bolometric (uncooled) single-chip imagers out there _on the
civillian market_ to render reliance on GPS as more than a 'nice to have' midcourse aid unnecessary. The key seems to be cost with a production
DAMASK unit, based on civillian (Cadillac as I recall) driver visionics running about 12,000 dollars for a system which, though apt to image smeer and
vibrational issues, still gave roughly 2m accuracies.