National Academies Press: OpenBook

Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances (2005)

Chapter:4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare

« Previous: 3 Challenges to Information Superiority
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

4
Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare

INTRODUCTION

For the past 50 years, the United States has enjoyed air dominance in all of its conflicts. No U.S. warfighter died from attack by an enemy aircraft during that time. In addition, in several recent conflicts, U.S. aircraft have been consistently able to penetrate hostile airspace, attack targets with unprecedented accuracy, and return to base with few or no losses. What technologies have led to this unprecedented success, and how much longer will the United States continue to enjoy these advantages? The answers to these questions form the basis for new research to maintain current U.S. advantages and a search for new technologies to allow it to stay a step ahead of developments elsewhere.

Several technologies have been responsible for this U.S. supremacy. The first that merits discussion is radar stealth. In the 1970s it became obvious that, through the use of special coatings and aircraft shape management, the radar cross section (RCS) of an aircraft could be reduced enormously, thereby enabling operations within hostile airspace with relative protection from gun-laying and missile-tracking radars. Aircraft such as the B-2 and the F-117 were developed employing these technologies. Their success has been spectacular.

Getting to a target undetected, however, is only half the challenge. Once there, an aircraft must identify the target and destroy it. Technologies for precision all-weather target strike were developed that reduced target-miss distance to just a few feet. Probably most important to this achievement were the invention and deployment of the Global Positioning System (GPS) for positioning and munition guidance, laser target designation, and enhanced aircraft avionics systems.

Underlying all of these aspects of U.S. air dominance is the infrastructure that supports them—an infrastructure that is difficult for others to replicate owing to the resources required. Besides the quality of the aircraft themselves and the highly trained aircrews who fly them, the primary enabler is the tanker fleet that allows long-range strike to anywhere in the world from the United States. This capability is best exemplified by the 30-hour missions flown by the B-2 in recent conflicts. Even forward-based aircraft need tanker support to reach many targets or to loiter before being called in.

While U.S. air dominance is unlikely to be jeopardized by symmetric means, particularly in the near term, technology trends in commercialization and globalization suggest that new types of threats may be

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

on the horizon. The United States has long since lost the lead in the manufacture of electronics (the technology of which is driven by worldwide commercial and consumer concerns rather than by aerospace, as was the case in the 1950s and 1960s). Now, the United States is also no longer dominant in the manufacture of commercial aircraft in terms of either manufacturing or technology. In addition to competition from foreign producers, U.S.-“produced” aircraft are assembled from parts largely made overseas. Even U.S.-“made” subsystems and assemblies are increasingly assembled from parts engineered and produced in areas where costs are lower, such as China, India, and the former Eastern bloc. Large U.S. aerospace and electronics companies have set up research organizations in these regions for economic reasons. This offshore sourcing is having the effect of building up research, development, and manufacturing capability in other countries in aerospace and related fields.

One pillar of U.S. airpower in the past has been the capabilities of its major platforms. These sophisticated platforms now require investments of tens of billions of dollars spread over decades, investment levels that few foes can match. However, the life of the advanced technology in these platforms can now be less than the development cycle. Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) offer a counter to large platforms—while much less capable than the large platforms at present, they can have much shorter and less costly development cycles. These factors contribute to the proliferation of such vehicles around the world, especially at the smaller sizes (Munson, 1996).

The new technologies delineated above combined with the globalization of the aerospace and electronics businesses imply that current U.S. aerospace supremacy will face new classes of challenges from new adversaries—a few of which are described below.

Obviously, negating radar stealth must be high on the list of technologies for RED forces to pursue. The antidote to this nation’s stealth advantage takes two forms—direct and indirect. To negate U.S. radar stealth advantages directly requires the development of radars with different and improved characteristics. For example, the power of the radar can be increased to illuminate even small RCS targets. Changes in frequencies and radar-emanation management can also help. On an indirect basis, other sensors could be perfected that can precisely track aircraft, such as improved infrared (IR) or optical sensors. All of these require a high degree of sophistication to invent, but they can be sold to and used by relatively unsophisticated buyers with hostile intentions.

The difficulty of GPS interference has been the subject of great conjecture. Suffice to say that RED forces could profit enormously if the system could be shut down or biased in such a way as to interfere with weapons accuracy.

Other ways to interfere with or reduce the advantages of U.S. airpower include the use of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) radiation to shut down onboard targeting systems, the spoofing of targeting systems, the burying or hardening of high-value targets, population shielding (urban targets), the use of laser absorption material, and many more.

The scope of this report does not allow delving into all of these possibilities. Thus, to make the task manageable, the complex challenge of successfully attacking urban targets is discussed as an example of one mission scenario. This scenario was selected in part because the committee believes that it represents a current as well as an enduring challenge, with particular relevance to the global war on terrorism.

AIRPOWER IN URBAN WARFARE

In general, the current use of U.S. airpower in urban warfare can be grouped into the following four broad categories that underpin the operational concepts delineated in Joint Vision 2020 (the concepts are Dominant Maneuver, Precision Engagement, Focused Logistics, and Full Dimensional Protection) (JCS, 2000):

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
  • Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR);

  • Transport of personnel and material;

  • Strike (the destruction of pre-identified targets); and

  • Close air support (strike in close cooperation with and in support of troops on the ground).

The urban environment is the arena in which U.S. airpower is currently the least effective and decisive. Masking from urban clutter can be severe, greatly reducing the field of view and utility of most airborne sensor systems. Transport is restricted to rotary-wing or vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aircraft, since landing areas are small and such vehicles are under severe threat at low altitude from small arms, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and so on. Strike and close air support with precision munitions can be effective when ground troops identify targets, but the effects of current weapons can be on a larger scale than is desirable (e.g., destruction of buildings rather than rooms) and differ little from those of precision artillery.

Historically, ISR, transport, strike, and close air support have been executed by manned, fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, to and from which information flows through other aircraft or space assets (which are not discussed further in this chapter). The definition and nature of airpower are changing, however. Within the past decade, UAVs such as the Global Hawk and Predator have taken over some ISR missions. UAV strike missions that have been demonstrated in combat with existing aircraft and experimental unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) designed specifically for strike are now flying (the X-45 and X-47). While unmanned, these UAVs of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, respectively, are as large as manned aircraft. As part of its Future Combat System (FCS), the U.S. Army plans to adopt relatively large, automated, fixed- and rotary-wing vehicles as well (Gabbert, 2004). However, the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps also plan to field much smaller aerial vehicles—down to a few inches in wingspan—which can be carried and deployed by individual soldiers (Tousley, 2004). Indeed, a motivation for these so-called micro air vehicles (MAVs) is urban warfare, in which bird- or even insect-sized vehicles could be of use for surveillance and reconnaissance in the cluttered urban environment, even within buildings.

The committee believes that the ability of RED forces to field large forces of MAVs developed with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products represents a significant threat to U.S. air dominance—particularly in the area of surveillance and reconnaissance in urban environments. Given trends in the global commercial marketplace, future adversaries will have low-cost options that could negate the advantage held by today’s BLUE forces.

Assessments of future threats to U.S. airpower must take into consideration the full range of future airpower—including U.S. and adversary air assets ranging from large, manned platforms at medium and high altitudes, to low-flying rotary aircraft, to MAVs flying among and inside buildings. In the following sections, the committee discusses some challenges to U.S. airpower, describing the high-level characteristics of RED systems that could constrain or defeat this power and technology developments that may enable such systems.

CHALLENGES TO U.S. AIRPOWER

A major objective of U.S. airpower is to enable access to the battlefield for U.S. ground, sea, and air forces while denying that access to an adversary. Such access forms a foundation upon which U.S. military plans are constructed and has been achieved with little serious challenge for the past five decades. The advantages of this access are readily apparent to the world’s military organizations, and antiaccess strategies and tactics are a major focus of military planners. Evolving and disruptive tech-

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

nologies, used with innovative tactics, may offer the potential to challenge and disrupt U.S. airpower as currently envisioned.

An adversary can potentially challenge, reduce, or even negate the impact of U.S. airpower in many ways. These approaches can be characterized as either offensive or defensive:

  • Offensive

    • Threaten, disable, or destroy aircraft (manned or unmanned);

    • Disrupt targeting (jam GPS, compromise “identification friend-or-foe” [IFF], regulate proximity of restricted facilities); and

    • Disrupt information flow (jam communications, disrupt asset management within network-centric operations, disrupt sensors, and so on).

  • Defensive

    • Disperse forces geographically, and

    • Hide (camouflage, spoof, bury or harden structures, disrupt sensors).

Offensive Techniques That May Be Employed by an Adversary

Threatening, damaging, or destroying aircraft are obviously effective techniques for constraining U.S. airpower. These can be manifested as traditional air-to-air threats (fighters and air-to-air missiles), traditional surface-to-air threats (guns and ground-to-air missiles), and high-technology worries yet to be seen on the battlefield (such as electromagnetic pulse [EMP] weapons, lasers, stealth aircraft detection, and chemical and biological threats to the aircraft). While to an adversary, threatening a U.S. aircraft may not be as satisfying as destroying it, a threat can be effective in denying the access that U.S. forces need. The results of such threats may be (1) to force vulnerable U.S. assets (such as tankers or ISR aircraft) back from the battlefront, (2) to force attack aircraft up to altitudes at which they are less effective, (3) to funnel aircraft into specific corridors, (4) to constrain or prevent aerial resupply, and (5) to constrain the types of aircraft that the United States is willing to employ to those of which it has very few (such as stealthy and electronic countermeasures [ECM] aircraft). These outcomes can all serve to reduce the effectiveness of U.S. airpower to a significant degree, given an imposing threat.

Another technique for countering U.S. airpower is to disrupt targeting (deny Precision Engagement). In this case, while the United States has located a target, the opponent has taken action to reduce the ability or willingness of the United States to destroy it. Increasingly, facilities are deeply buried to reduce their vulnerability to conventional weapons (this also makes them more difficult to locate or identify precisely). A related approach is to position a facility so that geographic masking combined with the kinematics of missile and bomb dynamics frustrates weapons trajectories. The previous two cases are examples of reducing the U.S. ability to destroy a target.

Often as effective, and much cheaper than reducing the ability of the United States to destroy a target, is positioning a target so as to reduce U.S. willingness to destroy it. This includes target placement within, under, or near such civilian structures as schools, hospitals, marketplaces, and houses of worship (an approach well suited to urban environments). These are passive, low-technology approaches to frustrating U.S. targeting. Active approaches are possible as well. They might include foiling of the systems that the United States uses to identify its forces on the battlefield (so-called IFF and BLUE force tracking technologies). Compromising or spoofing these systems can permit a foe to masquerade as U.S. forces or to introduce uncertainty and fear of friendly fire. Even more active techniques involve the jamming of precision-guided weapons GPS and electro-optical navigation guidance systems. Such

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

active techniques require sophisticated knowledge of precision-guided weapons technologies, can be sensitive to counter-countermeasures, and so are of most value when used with tactical surprise.

Defensive Techniques That May Be Employed by an Adversary

Airpower is most effective when the adversary masses its forces. Historically, it is least effective when the enemy disperses. Operation Strangle in World War II (again in Korea) and Rolling Thunder in Vietnam are historical examples in which interdiction has been shown to be ineffective when the enemy disperses its forces. Likewise, during the air war over Serbia, when the Serbs dispersed their tanks and did not move them, U.S. airpower was relatively ineffective against their armor. Many will argue that tank killing was not a primary mission, but in fact an enemy dispersed creates a situation that reduces airpower’s effectiveness. Similarly, in the current operations in Iraq, the ability of the enemy to remain dispersed, but to be able to mass in time and at a place to achieve limited tactical advantage has proven to be a unique challenge for the U.S. military, despite tactical superiority.

If this historical trend continues, there is every reason to assume that future adversaries will migrate away from force-on-force situations whenever possible, because whenever they mass, they become vulnerable. The unique challenge for airpower in the future is to become effective against an adversary that disperses, in order to be able to provide the intelligence regarding enemy positions and intent before the enemy masses at the tactical level. For the future enemy, the challenge will be to acquire technologies that allow it to remain hidden, communicate at will with dispersed forces, then form at the time and place of its choosing.

While dispersion is a tactic as old as warfare, advanced technology can enhance an adversary’s capability to disperse, remain hidden, and coalesce when the time is right. Technologies that aid dispersion include the following:

  • Secure communications. Secure communications, especially low-cost military or commercial implementations, enable rapid force dispersal and constitution. There are many aspects to communications security, including security of the waveform (spread spectrum, temporal compression, and so on), security of the information (encryption), and security of fixed infrastructure. As commercial and consumer users become more concerned with communications security, commercially available strong encryption and the incorporation of such encryption into low-cost cellular phones, walkie-talkies, and personal digital assistants will enhance an adversary’s dispersal capabilities.

  • Low-cost, portable stealth technologies. These technologies would enhance a dispersed foe’s ability to hide assets such as vehicles. Specifically, the development of lightweight, flexible multispectral (light/radio frequency [RF]) “camouflage netting” would reduce the effectiveness of many advanced U.S. airborne and spaceborne sensors.

  • Advanced, low-cost multispectral decoys. These decoys would reduce the effectiveness of many advanced U.S. airborne and spaceborne sensors, require the expenditure of additional (and perhaps expensive) munitions, and mislead the United States as to the effectiveness of its activities.

Traditional air superiority combined with precision munitions (Precision Engagement) has given the United States the capability to destroy almost any target that it can locate. Thus, hiding from U.S. forces is an attractive counter for adversaries to use. Hiding can take many forms, such as traditional camouflage (netting, hiding under foliage, and so on), burying or submerging targets, or actively disrupting sensors (RF or optical jamming). Notwithstanding its sophisticated sensors, the United States has yet to demonstrate on the battlefield that hard problems such as tanks under trees and decoy discrimination

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

have been solved. Nevertheless, as the sophistication of U.S. sensors increases, so must the art of hiding: camouflage must be multispectral; burying must account for infrared (IR) perturbations; and acoustic, magnetic, and electromagnetic signatures must be reduced.

COMMITTEE FOCUS: SYSTEMS THAT CAN DEGRADE U.S. AIRPOWER

The system-level performance criteria of a new technology determine how and to what degree it can challenge U.S. airpower. These system-level parameters can then be devolved into specific engineering requirements that new technologies must meet in order to be effective. Clearly, this can be a very large set. Here the committee chooses to list a few specific examples of particular relevance to urban warfare:

  • Increased effectiveness of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADSs);

  • User-friendly, smart weapons;

  • Acoustic/RF mines;

  • Shrinking of the systems listed above in size and/or cost;

  • Micro systems with the effectiveness of large ones; and

  • Exploitation of commonly available devices.

Two illustrative examples are presented below. The first example, involving man-portable air defense systems, illustrates the evolution of an existing threat class. The second example, involving micro air vehicles and missiles, illustrates the emergence of a new class of threats.

Man-Portable Air Defense Systems

MANPADSs are antiaircraft missiles small enough to be carried and launched by one or two people. These are currently a major threat to low-altitude aircraft. The nature of the threat ranges from short-range, low-accuracy rocket-propelled grenades to sophisticated guided weapons with cooled, multiband sensors and ranges of several kilometers. The importance of the threat stems from MANPADSs’ relatively low cost (and so, ready availability and proliferation), lack of prelaunch warning cues (such as radar illumination), and the low level of training and logistics support required.

The effectiveness of a particular missile design is a strong function of the performance of its seeker and vehicle kinematics. Here, “seeker” refers to the combination of the sensor and guidance system. The seeker performance determines the target acquisition range, the aspect of the target that can be attacked, the resistance of the missile to countermeasures, and target closure accuracy. The vehicle dynamics set the missile range and maneuver performance.

Technology trends are already making such missile systems easier to support, deploy, hide, and use. Improved system characteristics such as those described below may further increase the effectiveness of MANPADSs, and thus the seriousness of their threat.

Increased Range and/or Reduced Signature
  • Increasing range. Improving this characteristic would increase the threat footprint; threaten mid-and high-altitude aircraft, including ISR assets; and increase the slant range so that, for example, transports that stay within an airport perimeter would be at risk from remote launch sites.

  • Low-optical-emission propulsion. Many aircraft missile countermeasure systems use the optical emission from the missile launch to queue the defense. Thus, no signature, no warning, no

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

defense. Extending the definition of reduced optical emission to include smoke helps to mask the launch location and thus increase the tactical utility of the missile.

Enhanced Guidance, Navigation, and/or Targeting
  • Multimode seekers. This improved technology would reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of countermeasures or permit non-line-of-sight launches. In addition to multiple optical bands (an approach currently popular), this might include acoustic or RF cues to allow a missile launch against a target not in sight from the launch position. With sufficient range and RF seeker performance, large radar and battle management aircraft can be placed under threat.

  • Increased accuracy guidance. The warhead size of a man-portable missile is of the order of a kilogram. Thus, it must detonate very close to a critical location to be effective. Increased guidance accuracy, along with any necessary increase in maneuverability, will improve the lethality of these small missiles, especially against large aircraft.

Enhanced Lethality
  • Autonomous launch. With sufficiently capable sensors, automated decision making, and hardening, these small missiles can act as aerial mines, threatening any aircraft that flies within range. Remote queuing could increase the effectiveness of such systems.

  • Expanded mission capability. By integrating relatively simple GPS guidance, laser capability for precise geolocation, and data link capability, an adversary could transform a MANPADS from a surface-to-air weapon into one that can also perform precision engagement missions in the ground-to-ground role in a wide variety of mission areas.

The interaction among the system characteristics described above is a complex topic beyond the scope of this discussion. Simply put, some of these factors are synergistic, some antagonistic, but they are all quite technologically challenging. Realizing such a system is even more challenging when cost is introduced as a prime consideration. Many weapons owe their effectiveness not to their performance or capabilities but rather to their ubiquitousness. An advanced MANPADS threat is a combination involving cost and performance.

An advanced threat with a potential impact similar to, or more serious than, that of the advanced MANPADS discussed above would be the non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse generator, as discussed in Chapter 3. The urban environment in particular is rich in opportunities to conceal such weapons.

Milli to Micro Air Vehicles and Missiles

Milli to micro air vehicles and missiles1 are generally defined as aerospace systems massing a few kilograms or less. The confluence of microelectronics, GPS, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) now make it feasible to engineer very small UAVs and missiles, the capabilities of which will evolve as the enabling technologies advance. The U.S. Army and the Defense Advanced Research

1  

Micro UAVs were defined by DARPA to be less than 6 inches in any dimension, but now the Army has been using the term for 12 to 18 inch vehicles. DARPA has been trying to define “nano” as under 2 inches (insect size), despite opposition. The committee believes that practical working definitions are as follows: micro = bird sized; nano = insect sized; milli = larger than the largest bird but smaller than a Piper Cub.

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

Projects Agency (DARPA) have been sponsoring work on many small air vehicles, and there is considerable interest around the world on size classes down to a few inches, so-called micro UAVs (Davis et al., 1996; Grasmeyer and Keennon, 2001).

The United States anticipates using very small UAVs for reconnaissance and surveillance. In urban warfare, perch-and-stare applications are receiving attention. Of course, these capabilities are of use to a foe as well. Such capabilities may be particularly advantageous to an adversary who cannot overcome large U.S. aircraft at medium and high altitudes.

Advantages for small vehicles include very low cost, covertness, maneuverability in a complex urban environment, and freedom from extensive logistics requirements. Conceptually, these small vehicles can be armed and thus be employed as antipersonnel and anti-emitter weapons—in effect, three-dimensional mines. Vehicles at this size add a new dimension to the concept of air superiority and may be especially applicable in an urban environment.

Small vehicles need not be short-ranged. Eleven-pound aircraft powered by model-airplane engines have flown the Atlantic, navigating to a precise landfall with GPS (Wicks, 2004). Attempts are now underway by amateurs to fly the Pacific. Hundred-pound intercontinental ballistic missiles have been designed (Francis, 1999). Both aircraft and missiles of these sizes have inherently low signatures and so will be difficult to locate and track. These ranges imply that U.S. logistics and staging areas can be put at risk. The payloads of these small vehicles are concomitantly small, a few pounds, but are sufficient to represent a significant threat if carrying chemical, biological, or radiological payloads. Given sufficient precision, even conventionally armed attacks on rear areas may have more than nuisance or political value. These factors combine to create a potential RED force capability that could diminish the advantage provided by U.S. airpower. In particular, counters to these weapons may consume disproportionate U.S. resources compared to those expended by the attackers.

The micro air and space vehicles are enabled by several emerging technologies, the evolution of which will pace the vehicles’ utility as weapons systems. Several examples, again grouped by the system-level capabilities enabled, are described below.

Increased Range and/or Reduced Signature
  • Quiet, efficient micro air-breathing propulsion systems. Such systems include very small piston and gas turbine engines with fuel economy approaching that of larger engines; they range in power from a few kilowatts down to the watt level.

  • Micro bipropellant liquid rocket engines. These engines use storable propellants with fuel economy and power density of the best large engines; their sizes range from a hundred pounds down to pounds.

Enhanced Guidance, Navigation, and/or Targeting
  • Micro guidance and navigation systems. These systems consist of capable, chip-sized GPS receivers, MEMS gyros and accelerometers, and low-power processors.

  • Large geographic databases. Such databases provide precise, GPS-compatible maps of large regions of the world, including habitation and economic data, for non-time-critical targeting information.

  • Micro digital storage devices to hold large databases. These devices are sufficiently compact that large, target databases can be deployed with the micro vehicles.

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
  • Integrated GPS communications systems. These systems are for timely updates keyed to geographic databases.

All of the enablers listed above exist now at various levels of performance. Their continued development and integration could yield extremely capable micro flight vehicles, well suited to mounting a low-cost challenge to aspects of U.S. air dominance, especially in an urban environment.

IDENTIFICATION AND ASSESSMENT STEPS OF COMMITTEE METHODOLOGY

The preceding discussion focuses on the system level. Here the committee considers individual technologies, which, if realized and integrated into a system, can result in significant challenges to U.S. airpower. The technologies are again grouped according to the system-level capabilities enabled (increased range and/or reduced signature; enhanced guidance, navigation, and/or targeting; and enhanced lethality); in addition to the previously described categories, a “counter-BLUE” category has been added.

Given the time available for this task, the examples presented reflect the expertise and experience of the committee members rather than representing the result of a systematic, comprehensive study. In each case the committee identifies the technology and the capability that it may enable, and postulates open source indications and motivators for domestic or foreign researchers to work in this direction.

Increased Range and/or Reduced Signature

The signature of a vehicle’s propulsion system is a major contributor to the overall vulnerability of the vehicle. The propulsion system and its fuel make up 40 to 90 percent of the initial mass of powered-flight vehicles, while the payload is usually only 10 to 20 percent (even less for launch vehicles, at 1 to 2 percent). Thus, small changes in the performance or characteristics of the propulsion system can have a large impact on the payload, range, maneuverability, or vulnerability of an aircraft or missile. Technological advances considered here (see Charts 4-1 through 4-6) include propulsion systems as well as other techniques that could extend the range or reduce the signature of air vehicles.

Enhanced Guidance, Navigation, and/or Targeting

The technologies described in this subsection (see Charts 4-7 through 4-12), which are likely to emerge in the global commercial marketplace, provide improved performance for guidance and navigation or targeting systems.

Enhanced Lethality

The evolving technologies described in Charts 4-13 through 4-19 may serve to enhance the lethality of RED force capabilities.

Counter-BLUE

The technologies described in Charts 4-20 through 4-23 could be used to negate the BLUE force advantage.

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

CHART 4-1 Technology Assessment: Jet Engines

Technology

Observables

Jet engines: Very small (1 to 50 lb thrust), low-cost jet engines.

Small turbojet engines of appropriate size now sold internationally for the hobby market (Wilkinson, 2003) (see also www.wren-turbines.com/specifi.htm; last accessed on April 8, 2005); a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project to improve the performance of such small engines by a factor of 4 (see also www.darpa.mil/baa/baa04-12mod8.htm; last accessed on April 8, 2005); a robust research community in the United States, Europe, and Asia (Gerendas and Pfister, 2000).

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 2

Warning

Negate man-portable air defense system (MANPADS) launch warning; greatly extend MANPADS range; extend unmanned aerial vehicle range (to thousands of kilometers) and speed.

CHART 4-2 Technology Assessment: Storable Liquid Propellant and Micro Rocket Engines

Technology

Observables

Storable liquid propellant, micro rocket engines

Microelectromechanical system research papers in the United States (London et al., 2001), Europe (Miotti et al., 2004), Asia (Takahashi, 2004); Missile Defense Agency-sponsored work in the United States for kinetic kill vehicles.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 3

Warning

Negate man-portable air defense system (MANPADS) launch warning; extend MANPADS range; antisatellite interceptors; micro intercontinental ballistic missile or launch vehicles.

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

CHART 4-3 Technology Assessment: Higher-Performance Small Rocket Engines

Technology

Observables

Higher-performance small rocket engines

New players entering business motivated by X Prize, perceived commercial opportunities, micro satellite enthusiasm.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 3

Watch

Small intercontinental ballistic missiles and space launchers.

CHART 4-4 Technology Assessment: Nanoscale Surface Machining

Technology

Observables

Nanoscale surface machining

Thermophotovoltaics, university research (Sai et al., 2003).

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 2

Watch

Optical/IR stealth.

CHART 4-5 Technology Assessment: Electronically Tuned Surface Coatings

Technology

Observables

Electronically tuned surface coatings

Cancelled university programs in electro-optics, smart paper development (Lu et al., 2001; see also www.eink.com/technology/index.htm; last accessed on April 8, 2005).

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 2

Warning

Optical/infrared stealth.

CHART 4-6 Technology Assessment: Negative Index of Refraction Materials

Technology

Observables

Negative index of refraction materials

University engagement of the technology (Wiltshire, 2001; Shelby et al., 2001).

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 2

Watch

Improved infrared, optical, and radio-frequency stealth.

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

CHART 4-7 Technology Assessment: Low-Cost, Uncooled, Low-Noise Infrared Detector Arrays

Technology

Observables

Low-cost, uncooled, low-noise infrared (IR) detector arrays (especially mid-wave infrared (MWIR) and long-wave infrared (LWIR))

Automotive market, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency programs, microelectromechanical system bolometers (see also www.xenics.com/Products/Lwir.php); last accessed on April 8, 2005), nano machining.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 2

Warning

Improved capability and range in man-portable air defense systems.

CHART 4-8 Technology Assessment: Narrowband, Tunable Frequency Agile, Imaging Infrared Optical Filters

Technology

Observables

Narrowband, tunable frequency agile, imaging infrared optical filters

Microelectromechanical system, commercial and weapons of mass destruction sensors, (example, monochrometer).

Accessibility

Maturity

 

Consequence

Level 2

Warning

Improved capability, countermeasure robust man-portable air defense systems.

CHART 4-9 Technology Assessment: High-Accuracy Microelectromechanical Systems Gyros and Accelerometers

Technology

Observables

High-accuracy microelectromechanical systems gyros and accelerometers

Automotive market, military investments.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 3

Warning

Very long range small unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles, and launch vehicles.

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

CHART 4-10 Technology Assessment: Automated, Ad Hoc, Cellular Phone/Computer Systems

Technology

Observables

Automated, ad hoc, cellular phone/computer systems

Commercial integration of cellular phones and computers, Web-based distributed computing.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 1

Alert

Remote queuing/targeting for man-portable air defense systems and mines; large, informal sensor and/or computer arrays for antistealth.

CHART 4-11 Technology Assessment: High-Speed Processor Chips and Mega-Flash Memories

Technology

Observables

High-speed processor chips and mega-flash memories

Security violations among algorithm-developer institutions.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 2

Warning

Targeting and/or discrimination algorithms.

CHART 4-12 Technology Assessment: Large Geographic and Economic Web Databases

Technology

Observables

Large geographic and economic Web databases

Economics, disaster management (see also http://www.nytimes.com/pages/world/worldspecial4; last accessed on April 8, 2005), Global Positioning System receivers in cellular phones.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 1

Warning

Low-cost targeting of U.S. assets.

CHART 4-13 Technology Assessment: Increased Energy Density or Slow-Burning Energetic Materials

Technology

Observables

Increased energy density or slow-burning energetic materials

New Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program; warheads for small unmanned aerial vehicles, foreign research (Talawar et al., 2005).

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 2

Watch

Extend man-portable air defense systems range; increase lethality.

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

CHART 4-14 Technology Assessment: High-Power, Low-Cost Microwave Radio-Frequency Chips and Arrays

Technology

Observables

High-power, low-cost microwave radio-frequency (RF) chips and arrays

Security violations among identified state-of-the-art RF chip manufacturers; export of this technology as embedded in Future Combat Systems.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 3

Warning

Frequency agility command detonation devices; antifuse system.

CHART 4-15 Technology Assessment: Very Low Cost Radio-Frequency Proximity Fuses

Technology

Observables

Very low cost radio-frequency proximity fuses

Commercial radar detectors, U.S. Army Research Laboratory demonstrations (Caito, 2004).

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 2

Warning

Aerial mines; smart improvised explosive device.

CHART 4-16 Technology Assessment: Increased-Speed Digital Signal Processor and Processor Chips

Technology

Observables

Increased-speed digital signal processor and processor chips

U.S. success with antifuse systems, improved-capability video games.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 3

Warning

Antifuse systems.

CHART 4-17 Technology Assessment: Very High Pulse Power Systems

Technology

Observables

Very high pulse power systems (also see Chapter 3 in this report)

U.S. vulnerability and dependence on microelectronics, Soviet legacy.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 2

Warning

Non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse.

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

CHART 4-18 Technology Assessment: Bioagents

Technology

Observables

Bioagents (which attack aviation lubricants, fuels, transparencies, or composites)

Foreign military use of nonoptimal elastomers, fuel additives, literature on bioenvironmental cleanup.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 2

Futures/Watch

Neutralization of U.S. aviation.

CHART 4-19 Technology Assessment: Tactical Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse

Technology

Observables

Tactical nuclear electromagnetic pulse

Foreign experimentation with nuclear devices; export of high-speed video games with gigahertz-speed processors; atomic research laboratory security violations and missing material (hardware, software, plans), U.S. government concerns on domestic infrastructure vulnerability.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Unknown

Unknown

Disabling of aircraft while in flight or on the ground; disabling of most of U.S. military.

CHART 4-20 Technology Assessment: Very Low Cost, Compact Near-Infrared Images

Technology

Observables

Very low cost, compact near-infrared images

Automotive market.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 3

Watch

Inexpensive, pen-sized laser illuminator warning receivers, trackers.

CHART 4-21 Technology Assessment: Wireless Technology, Frequency Modulation Techniques, Global Positioning System Crypto Capture

Technology

Observables

Wireless technology, frequency modulation techniques, Global Positioning System (GPS) crypto capture

The maturing of commercial wireless technologies and power sources focused in the 1 1/2 gigahertz range (available today). Attempts to capture GPS element with crypto gear along with attempts to imitate dynamics of the GPS satellite constellation.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Jamming: Level 1

Alert

Improved, low-cost GPS

Spoofing: Level 3

Watch

jammers and spoofers.

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

CHART 4-22 Technology Assessment: Multistatic Systems

Technology

Observables

Multistatic systems

Foreign military demand.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 2

Warning

Mitigate current radio-frequency stealth technologies.

CHART 4-23 Technology Assessment: Strong Commercial Encryption for Personal Digital Assistants and Cellular Phones

Technology

Observables

Strong commercial encryption for personal digital assistants and cellular phones

Global commercial marketplace.

Accessibility

Maturity

Consequence

Level 3

Warning

Force dispersion.

SUMMARY

Future threats to U.S. airpower in urban warfare owe much to two factors—the trend toward globalization in aerospace and electronics, coupled with what has been observed to be the best way to defeat U.S. airpower: that is, not necessarily the head-to-head, platform-to-platform approach of the Cold War, but rather the exploitation of asymmetries.

This chapter discusses in broad terms the threats posed by advanced MANPADSs and milli to micro air vehicles and missiles, considering system-level characteristics such as increased range and reduced signature; enhanced guidance, navigation, and/or targeting; and enhanced lethality. For each area, technologies that may enable such RED force capabilities are identified and assessed. Finally, several technologies that may enable RED forces to counter BLUE forces—either directly or indirectly—are identified and assessed.

Although U.S. air dominance is unlikely to be jeopardized in the near term by symmetric means, the committee believes that global technology trends suggest new types of threats that may be on the horizon.

REFERENCES

Published

Davis, W.R., B.B. Kosicki, D.M. Boroson, and D.F. Kostishack. 1996. Micro air vehicles for optical surveillance. Lincoln Laboratory Journal 19(2):197-213.


Francis, R. 1999. A System Study of Very Small Launch Vehicles. Master’s Thesis. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Gerendas, M., and R. Pfister. 2000. Development of a Very Small Aero-Engine. Paper presented at ASME Turbo Expo, Munich, Germany.

Grasmeyer, Joel M., and Matthew T. Keennon. 2001. Development of the Black Widow Micro Air Vehicle. Reston, Va.: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Available online at http://www.aerovironment.com/area-aircraft/prod-serv/bwidpap.pdf. Last accessed on February 8, 2005.

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×

JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff). 2000. Joint Vision 2020. Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, J5. Strategy Division. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. June


London, A.P., A.H. Epstein, and J.L. Kerrebrock. 2001. A high pressure bipropellant microrocket engine. Journal of Propulsion and Power 17(4):780-787.

Lu, Yunfeng, Yi Yang, Alan Sellinger, Mengcheng Lu, Jinman Huang, Hongyou Fan, Raid Haddad, Gabriel Lopez, Alan R. Burns, Darryl Y. Sasaki, John Shelnutt, and C. Jeffrey Brinker. 2001. Self-assembly of mesoscopically ordered chromatic polydiacetylene/silica nanocomposites. Nature 410(6831):913-917.


Miotti, P., M. Tajmar, C. Guraya, F. Perennes, B. Marmiroli, A. Soldati, M. Campolo, C. Kappenstein, R. Brahmi, and M. Lang. 2004. Bi-propellant Micro-Rocket Engine. Paper presented at CANEUS 2004-Conference on Micro-Nano-Technologies, Monterey, Calif.

Munson, Kenneth, ed. 1996. Jane’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Targets. Jane’s Information Group, Coulsdon, Surrey, United Kingdom.


Sai, Hitoshi, Yoshiaki Kanamori, and Hiroo Yugami. 2003. Selective Emitters for Thermophotovoltaic Generation by Means of Metallic Surface Microstructures. Power MEMS 2003. Kyoto, Japan.

Shelby, R.A., D.R. Smith, and S. Schultz. 2001. Experimental verification of a negative index of refraction. Science 292(5514):77-79.


Takahashi, Koji. 2004. Micro Thruster For Miniaturized Space Systems—Need and Perspective. Power MEMS. Kyoto, Japan.

Talawar, M.B., C.N. Divekar, P.S. Makashir, and S.N. Asthana. 2005. Tetrakis-(4-amino-1,2,4-triazole) copper perchlorate: A novel ballistic modifier for composite propellants. Journal of Propulsion and Power 21(1):186-189.


Wicks, Frank. 2004. A model mission. Mechanical Engineering 126(12):44-46.

Wilkinson, T. 2003. SIMJET’S 1200 turbojet on test. Simply Excellent: pp. 18-21. Available online at http://www.simjet.com/Simjet1200.pdf. Last accessed on February 8, 2005.

Wiltshire, M.C.K. 2001. Bending light the wrong way. Science 292(5514):60-61.

Unpublished

Caito, Steve. 2004. Full Spectrum Active Protection Close in Layered Shield. Presentation to the Board on Army Science and Technology, June 8.


Gabbert, LTC Jeff, Product Manager, Medium Altitude Endurance UAV Systems. 2004. Army UAV Systems Overview. Presentation to the Board on Army Science and Technology, December 17.


Tousley, Brad. 2004. Update for MAV ACTD and OAV2 for the BAST. Presentation to the Board on Army Science and Technology, December 17.

Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page45
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page46
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page47
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page48
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page49
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page50
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page51
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page52
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page53
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page54
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page55
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page56
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page57
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page58
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page59
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page60
Suggested Citation:"4 Future Threats to U.S. Airpower in Urban Warfare." National Research Council. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11286.
×
Page61
Next: 5 Combatant Identification in Urban Warfare »
Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances Get This Book
×
Buy Paperback | $46.00 Buy Ebook | $36.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

The global spread of science and technology expertise and the growing commercial access to advanced technologies with possible military application are creating potentially serious threats to the technological superiority underpinning U.S. military strength. Key to dealing with this situation is the ability of the U.S. intelligence community to be able to provide adequate and effective warning of evolving, critical technologies. To assist in performing this task, the Technology Warning Division of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) asked the National Research Council (NRC) to undertake a study examining technology warning issues. This report provides the first part of that study. It presents an assessment of critical, evolving technologies; postulates ways potential adversaries could disrupt these technologies; and provides indicators for the intelligence community to determine if such methods are under development. The intention of this report is to establish the foundation for a long-term relationship with the technology warning community to support the examination of technology warning issues.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!