Functional concept and technical design of existing and developed high-precision systems weapons (WTO) is largely determined by the features of the information support that is used in these systems. Without pretending to the clarity of the chronology of the appearance of certain types of information support of the WTO systems, they can be associated with the development of the following methods of targeting impact weapons to the target:
- team targeting in the image of the target;
- homing on the target with "locking" on the image of the target;
- homing at the target on the laser spot of the external target designator;
- homing on the target with automatic recognition of the image of the target;
- homing on target based on programmed control with satellite navigation.
The last of these methods became the methodological basis of the general approach to the development of combat technology and WTO systems, adopted in the late 90s in the West and then around the world, designed to fulfill the shock tasks of isolating the battlefield and direct aviation support for ground forces. The impetus for this was the relatively low cost of precision bombs with programmed aiming at the target. However, this did not detract from the importance of such a factor as the accuracy of the use of the WTO. And, as was shown in the author’s previous publication on this subject (“Murderous power delivered to the exact address”, “NVO”, No. 18, 2010), over time, problems were discovered here, the solution of which led to a certain evolution of the WTO systems of the combat missions under consideration .
EVOLUTION OF WTO SYSTEMS, BATTLE ISOLATION AND AVIATION SUPPORT OF GROUND-TAKERS
NATO’s view of the technology of how to perform the percussion tasks under consideration using the WTO initially looked like this. It was believed that the performance of a combat mission was initiated by a request for air support coming from the advanced ground forces unit to the central command post indicating general information about the location of the target that had found itself. The decision of the command post developed on this issue is transmitted to the mobile army communications center RAIDER for subsequent transfer to aviation systems supporting ground forces. A specific executor of aviation support in the WTO system is an aviation combat complex that has all the avionics systems and weapons necessary to perform its functions in a particular WTO system.
If the forward-based spotter is very remote from the ground command center, to ensure information communication within the WTO system, it may be necessary to have structural elements in this system that perform the functions of communication repeaters. This may be a multipurpose information complex with the function of a repeater and a multipurpose combat complex with the same functions or only the last one. The presence of these structural elements in the WTO system may, in particular, make the presence of a ground command center in it unnecessary. Its functions can be transferred to a multi-purpose information complex or even a multi-purpose aviation combat complex. The need to perform the combat tasks under consideration in the USA, and then in other countries, with the mobility of the targets being attacked, led to a “refined”, in a certain way, view of the combat technology and the functional appearance of the WTO system implementing this technology. “Revision” was associated with a number of additions, namely:
- expanding the possibilities of programmed control, known as the AMSTE method, which ensures the use of impact weapons without terminal targeting of moving targets;
- the use of centralized network management of hostilities based on the global information network;
- the use of terminal targeting weapons.
The overall scenario of the combat task of isolating the battlefield with moving targets is also initiated by the forward-based spotter indicating that a target appears in his area of responsibility. This message is transmitted to the information network deployed over the zone of combat operations, and is received by the enemy’s radar observation complex (RLNP). Using its own information tools, the RNLP complex conducts a more thorough analysis of the situation on the battlefield, identifying the targets that have appeared there. In the event that they are among the targets prescribed for defeat, data about them through the information network is transmitted to the ground command post. If there is a decision to destroy targets there, the RLNP complex begins continuous tracking of target movement, periodically dumping data about their azimuth into the information network, from where they get on board the combat aircraft that received instructions from the command post about attacking the targets.
It is assumed that the on-board radar of this aircraft allows it to be used as an addition to the radar of the complex RLNP as part of the aiming means of the WTO system. The intersection of the two azimuth directions to the target gives the exact value of the current position of the moving target on the ground. Correction of target designation of weapons is also made through a common information network, which includes a two-way data line, which is supposed to be on the weapon. Complicated? Yes very. But all for the sake of accuracy hitting the target in real combat conditions.
Such a technology of military operations, “refined” with a certain development of information support of the WTO system, was considered by American experts in relation to the F-22 “Raptor” combat aircraft and the high-precision SDB bomb. Therefore, the described example of the WTO system and the technology of the implementation of hostilities should be considered as the previously established purely promising view of American developers on the performance of the combat task of isolating the battlefield in conditions of mobility of targets. And it is interesting to compare it with a perspective view on the solution of this issue that exists among American developers today.
Information on this topic was contained in the report of the head of the Aviation Armament Center, Colonel of the US Air Force G. Plumb, made at the Aviation Armament Summit organized by the IQPC information club in London at the end of 2008. According to today's idea of a promising technology of combat operations in the task of isolating a battlefield with moving targets, weapons will be delivered to the target zone using programmed control, and the following will be involved in the performance of the combat mission:
- ground based forward-based spotter;
- combat aircraft (in particular, F-22 "Raptor");
- high-precision bomb (specifically SDB).
However, all these elements of the WTO system have certain differences from those considered earlier. So a high-precision SDB bomb of the second generation (SDB-II), in addition to thermal imaging seeker with automatic target recognition system, should also have a laser seeker. This provides the possibility of using in this case, in addition to homing at the target with automatic recognition of the target image, also guidance on the laser spot. In contrast to the previously considered WTO systems, the duty of the spotter in the general technology of combat operations here is not only the transfer to the command center of the message about the appearance of the target, that is, the functions of one of the information sensors of the WTO system, but also the issue of target designation to the weapon. This is done by laser illumination of the target and requires the presence of appropriate equipment in the technical equipment of the spotter - a laser target designator.
The transfer to the ground-based spotter of certain control functions in combat technology when performing a combat task of isolating the battlefield and the more active use of ground-based spotter guidance weapons for laser targeting of the ground-based spotter distinguishes the current view of American experts about the functional appearance of advanced WTO systems used in the combat tasks under consideration representations that they expressed four to five years ago.
Destruction of several units of enemy armored vehicles on the battlefield is no longer considered a task deserving for its implementation the involvement of the RLDN information systems and global information networks. The locality of the combat missions performed determines the locality of the WTO systems used for this, the structure of which is actually limited to one aviation combat complex and ground forward-based spotter.
As they say, "cheap and cheerful." But the implementation of this requires an appropriate strike weapons on a combat aircraft in the air and the corresponding forward-based spotter on the ground. Therefore, it is impossible not to dwell specifically on these components of the WTO system.
A set of equipment "strategic soldier": laser designator, GPS-navigator, computer, radio station.
DEVELOPMENT OF IMPACT WEAPONS WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE GENERAL EVOLUTION OF WTO SYSTEMS
The recent evolution of the general understanding of American experts on the functional appearance of promising WTO systems designed to perform combat missions of isolating the battlefield and direct air support to ground forces became a defining moment in the development of strike weapons designed to accomplish these tasks. Basically, this development took place within the framework of modernization programs for existing types of weapons. And here it is necessary to note the programs for the further development of such high-precision aerial bombs as the American JDAM and the French AASM.
Held respectively by Boeing and Sagem, these programs primarily, of course, monitor the interests of their national armed forces. Nevertheless, they have a lot of similarities. And we can talk about the presence in the American and Western European practice of some common trends in the development of high-precision strike weapons in the framework of the overall evolution of the WTO systems intended for the combat tasks considered here.
The development process of the JDAM family of impact weapons designed for implementation during 2002 – 2010, which in its original form was conventional 900, 450 and 250 kg aerial bombs, includes seven separate directions of development that comprehensively affect the entire technical appearance of these weapons. First of all, it was supposed to implement the SAASM and PGK programs, which aimed to install on the JDAM family bombs, respectively, the anti-jam GPS anti-jam satellite navigation system and the thermal imaging GPS with the DAMASK target recognition system built on the use of civilian technologies. Following this, weapons modifications related to the installation of a wing that opens in flight, new versions of a warhead (CU), data lines and a laser seeker were to follow. Highlighting the immunity of the navigation system of the bomb and the implementation of its autonomous terminal targeting reflected in the number of top priorities reflected the state in which all high-precision impact weapons appeared after the appearance of local jamming systems for high-precision strike weapons with satellite navigation.
The use of these areas of modernization has taken its place in the implementation of a promising technology of combat operations for the isolation of the battlefield and aviation support for ground forces. However, the emergence in the American practice of new ways of further developing this technology has led to the fact that in recent years, the attention of developers related to JDAM weapons has drastically switched to using another homing method. Implementation of the terminal targeting of the JDAM family of laser target designation has been considered as the primary task of developing this strike weapon. It was assumed that the target designation itself would be carried out mainly by ground-based spotters equipped with appropriate systems for laser illumination of targets.
The need to use the JDAM bombs modified in this way also for moving targets supplemented the upgrade package by installing data transmission lines on this weapon, which make it possible to adjust the coordinates of the target in the bomb control program. Conducted within the framework of the special program DGPS (MMT) & AMSTE, these improvements led to the creation at the end of 2008 of the first samples of bombs of the JDAM family, adapted for use in the framework of the WTO systems, implementing a promising technology of combat operations in its present presentation by American specialists. At the end of 2008, the first tests of a high-precision JDAM bomb, equipped with a data transmission line and a laser seeker, took place. Designated Laser JDAM (or L-JDAM for short), the bomb was tested as part of the A-10C combat aircraft, the primary ground support aircraft used by the United States Marine Corps.
Development programs similar to those discussed above have been conducted in recent years in Europe, for example, the work of the French company Sagem on the development of strike weapons AASM. Originally created as a high-precision aerial bomb with a 250 kg caliber warhead and programmed aiming at the target, this weapon was then supplemented with variants with 125, 500 and 1000 caliber warheads.
In recent years, however, the attention of French developers has focused on the issues of terminal aiming weapons at the target. Characteristically, the original attention of developers in addressing these issues was drawn to the use of thermal imaging and target identification systems in this weapon, which led to the appearance of the corresponding version of an AASM bomb with a 250 kg caliber of warheads. However, in recent years, the attention of developers has shifted towards the use of a data line on this weapon to adjust the programmed control of the bomb during its flight to the target and a laser seeker to implement terminal guidance. Moreover, judging by the information provided at the “Aircraft Armament” summit mentioned above, the deployment of this variant of the AASM bomb in service is currently a priority.
We could continue to consider examples of the creation of new and upgraded samples of high-precision strike weapons with passive aiming at a target on a laser spot. But it is worth touching on the structural component of modern WTO systems, which provides an active imposition on the target of this laser spot.
GROUND-BASED ADJUSTMENT BASE
The conclusion on the analysis of information that suggests itself about the reorientation abroad of developers of strike weapons using methods of active or programmed targeting to the method of passive and semi-active targeting using laser targeting may not be completely clear without further explanation. First of all, it is necessary to emphasize once again that in this case we are talking only about two combat missions - aviation support of ground forces and isolation of the battlefield - and that strike weapon, which is focused on its technical appearance and characteristics on the implementation of these particular tasks. And most importantly, it must be borne in mind that the focus on the attention of developers on the long-known technology of aiming weapons at the target - targeting by laser targeting - occurred at a new level of its use. In this one can, obviously, see the justice of the well-known position of dialectics that the process of development moves in a spiral and periodically turns out to be in the same place, but at a qualitatively new level.
The essence of this “new level” is that today, as a source of target designation, carrying out laser illumination of a target, it is not the carrier of the weapon itself (combat aircraft or helicopter) that is considered, but an advanced forward-based ground spotter. Methodically, this means that the implementation of target designation (as well as the destruction of the target) went beyond the limits of the aviation combat complex and became a function of the WTO system as a whole.
A wide discussion at the Aviation Armament Summit of the IQPC information club, held in London at the end of 2008, the use of strike weapons with aiming at laser target designation could not but address the issue of the participation of an advanced forward-based ground spotter in this process. (Recall that in foreign practice he was given the designation FAC, and in the case of consideration of the action of coalition or mixed armed forces - the designation JTAC). At the same time, all voiced opinions and assessments regarding the role of the forward-based ground based spotter in the WTO system were based on the experience of recent hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Based on this experience, Colonel D. Pedersen, who represented NATO headquarters at the summit, said: “The FAC is not just a soldier, and certainly not just a soldier. This is a soldier with a certain set of knowledge and strategic thinking. This is a strategic soldier. ”
The strategic importance of the ground forward-based spotter was reinforced by information at the summit about the qualified training and operation of this “strategic soldier”. The consequent idea of the functional face of the ground forward-based spotter as an element of the WTO system is as follows. FAC (JTAC) is:
- a soldier from among the former pilots who received experience in staff work in the planning of hostilities;
- An officer whose military rank is, as a rule, not lower than the captain's one;
- a person who has the ability of personal command on the battlefield.
The last feature of the functional face of the “strategic soldier” is due to the specifics of its functioning within the WTO system. The actions of the FAC (JTAC) are not individual in nature, but take place within the framework of the actions of a special combat group guarding the “strategic soldier” from being captured by the enemy. According to the information sounded at the summit, in the course of the hostilities in Afghanistan, the hunt for ground-based spotters of forward-based coalition forces manifested itself as a specific form of combat operations by the Taliban units.
A special issue is the implementation of information support for FAC actions (JTAC) when it performs the functions of an element of the WTO system. Although in order to provide information communication with FAC (JTAC) with other elements of this system, foreign military points of contact were specifically considered in foreign practice, the use of portable means such as PRC-346 radio stations included in a typical set of technical support for ground-based corrector services should be considered typical. forward based. In addition to the radio station, it includes laser target illumination equipment, a GPS navigator and a military-style personal computer.
The special role that the ground-based spotter is assigned today as an element of the WTO system involuntarily raises the question of the quantitative availability of these "elements." Indeed, to a certain extent, the combat capabilities of the WTO systems will be determined not only by the stock of high-precision weapons in the warehouses, but also by the number of “strategic soldiers” available. The answer to this question is unlikely to be made public. But in qualitative terms, there are no special secrets about this.
The previously mentioned informational club SMi, the author planned to hold in 2010 a special summit on “Aviation support of ground forces in urban environments”. And its main topic should be the preparation of forward-based ground spotters. The planned reports are devoted to training programs for the “strategic soldier”, simulation tools and simulators used in this training in special training centers, practical experience of the participation of the FAC (JTAC) in combat operations in Afghanistan. It is characteristic that the training of “strategic soldiers” deployed today in the West has gone beyond the scope of those countries that are leaders in the development and production of the WTO. At the said summit it will be possible to learn about the activities of the FAC Special Training Center (JTAC), created by the Netherlands Army, and about the training in the USA of "strategic soldiers" for the armies of Poland, Hungary and Latvia.