Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Colt M4 Carbine Finishes Last in Latest U.S. Army Small Arms Reliability Test

Defense Review
Based on the results of the test, should the US Army drop the M4 and try the other 3 rifles? Well, opswarfare finds that more tests should be done to verify the findings, plus look into other areas, for example lethality. The age old question of the power of the 5.56mm round still remains. Instead of the 6.5mm or 6.8mm round being promoted in some circles, opswarfare recommends a return to the 7.62mm round.

This solves a few problems. Existing 5.56mm rounds can still be used by the 5.56mm light machine guns. Also, choosing the 7.62mm means that you get a round with more power, and yet without the disadvantages of introducing a new round, since the 7.62mm round is already in use for medium machine guns.

A more powerful round also compensates for the decreasing length of rifle barrels to suit urban warfare, which is one of the reasons cited for the lack of "punch" of the 5.56mm round.

7.62mm SCAR anyone?

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Land-based Phalanx Weapon System (LPWS)

A Counter-Rockets, Artillery, and Mortars (C-RAM) system in action. This is the Land-based Phalanx Weapon System (LPWS).

Friday, 7 December 2007

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Exercise Pacemaker 07

Österreichs Bundesheer - Evaluierungsübung Pacemaker 07
Exercise setting:
Based on a UN Security Council Resolution, military forces separated 2 conflicting parties, within a fictitious Europe, into A-Land and B-Land.

Subsequently, UN Forces were maintaining a safe and secure environment within a demilitarized zone set up between both countries.

After renewed attacks of terrorists organizations, which UN Troops were not able to prevent, A-Land started again attacks against B-Land and occupied parts of its territory.

On demand of the UN, the EU committed military forces to the conflict area. Under the lead of the Austrian 7th Infantry Brigade, a Multinational Task Force is on its way to this area in order to re-establish a safe and secure environment and to separate the conflicting parties, if necessary by force.
Quite a scenario, I must say. More great photos at Military photos.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Ford Everest SUV replaces Landrovers in SAF



The Straits Times has reported that the Ford Everest has been selected to replace the Landrover Defender in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). In the photo published, one can see the following add-ons to the normal Ford vehicle
  1. bull-bar
  2. roof rack
  3. bracket for antenna
  4. snorkel
  5. tow hook
opswarfare previously wrote about the situation faced by various armies about how to replace the venerable Landrover.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Army Combat Shirt

Latest Version of Army Combat Shirt Debuts

One of the few benefits of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) are rapid fielding initiatives like the new Army Combat Shirt (ACS). The ACS sounds like a great idea, as heat and burn injuries occur quite often in Iraq and Afghanistan.
-------------------------
Latest Version of Army Combat Shirt Debuts

Sep 14, 2007
BY Debi Dawson

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 14, 2007) - In response to Soldier feedback, Program Executive Officer-Soldier has designed the new Army Combat Shirt to be even more breatheable.

The flame-resistant ACS is in development for use under body armor. It is designed to replace two layers, the Army Combat Uniform jacket and moisture-wicking T-shirt, thus reducing bulk and heat stress.

"As providers of the world's best equipment to the world's best Soldiers, we collect and rely on Soldiers' input and ideas to constantly improve all of our products," said Brig. Gen. R. Mark Brown, Program Executive Officer Soldier. "All of our clothing and equipment is battle-proven and live-fire tested. Those labels can't be earned in a laboratory."

The ACS features a mock-turtleneck, long sleeves in the universal camouflage pattern, flat seams that reduce bulk and chafing and built-in anti-abrasion elbow pads. The shirt is moisture-wicking, anti-microbial and odor-resistant.

The latest version of the shirt includes upgrades based on Soldier feedback collected since the shirt was first distributed in the spring for limited-user evaluations.

"Even though we developed the Army Combat Shirt to be lighter, more comfortable and breathable, we listened to Soldiers who tested it and said they wanted it to be even more breathable and comfortable," said Maj. Clay Williamson, assistant product manager for clothing and individual equipment. "The fabric that made up the torso of the ACS was replaced with a fabric that provides breathability that is off the charts."

However, to retain modesty, the original fabric was maintained in the mid-chest area. Both fabrics have a four-way stretch.

Another change that increased breathability was replacing the elastic cuffs designed to keep out sand with adjustable cuffs similar to ACU jacket cuffs. The cuffs can be loosened for ventilation or tightened to keep out sand and other debris. Changes were also made to the neck band.

Although the ACS was designed to be worn under the Interceptor Body Armor, test participants noted the short breaks between patrols made it impractical to change into the ACU jacket. They wanted changes to the ACS that would identify them and their unit. In response, hook and loop tape was added to the right sleeve to accommodate a name tape, rank and infrared flag. The left sleeve also sports hook and loop tape for a unit patch.

The ACS with the most recent improvements will be available in late September for follow-on user evaluations. The shirt is still a developmental garment, and further fielding will be determined by the Department of the Army.

(Debi Dawson works for the PEO Soldier Strategic Communications Office.)

Monday, 12 November 2007

Taking on the Taleban -The Soldiers' Story

A BBC Panorama special, a reporter follows the Queen's company to Afghanistan. Part 1 of 6 below. While opswarfare salutes the British troops for their bravery in fighting, the way it is fighting the Taleban seems low-tech and indecisive. I hope those reading this will pardon me as I point out where the British Army can move to the next level.
  • Holding ground virtually
    • This was mentioned, at least twice in the programme.
    • The lack of manpower means that the troops cannot safely defend their new position
    • Recommend that the British troops place ground sensors to at least help monitor enemy troops movement in lieu of holding ground
  • Close air-support, UAV-style
    • Conventional air-strikes take too long to call and deliver
    • A loitering platform, like the Reaper that the UK is getting, can help detect, monitor, and eliminate enemy forces
    • Smaller bombs, like the Small Diameter Bomb (with a payload of 250lb) is the order of the day, providing precision killing with little collateral damage
    • Smaller bombs also mean that they can be dropped while friendly friendly troops are very close by and being pinned down by enemy fire
  • Night vision
    • Firing at night without a night sight is frankly quite wasteful (and dangerous)
    • This was seen towards the end when the outpost at Sangin was attacked
    • Night vision also gives an extra edge by providing the commander with more options when deciding the time of attack, thus causing the enemy more problems as he cannot easily predict the time of battle
  • Armour platform
    • Armoured vehicles provide 3 advantages
    • Firepower
      • A 25mm Bushmaster (or even a 0.5-inch HMG) provides great suppressive fire
      • A 40mm AGL allows for accurate indirect fire over the low mud walls in Helmand
    • Mobility
      • Troops energy levels are preserved by patrolling in vehicles instead of foot patrols
    • Protection
      • Slat armour has proven itself relatively well against RPG attacks
However, there are positive points to take away from the operations seen
  • SIGINT
    • One portion in the video suggest that the ANA managed to listen in to Taleban radio communications
    • There are many ways to take advantage
      • Direction-finding
      • Jamming
      • Fake communications
  • Close-cooperation
    • The British Army and Afghan National Army seemed to work well together, this is crucial as the Coalition cannot be there forever
    • This on-the-job training bodes well for the future

Thursday, 8 November 2007

NATO About to Lease Troop Helis for Afghanistan?

Defense Industry Daily (defense procurement, military acquisition, defence purchasing)

Its a disgrace that NATO countries cannot help each other in Afghanistan. This helicopter shortage is just one of the many NATO-coordination problems seen on the ground in the combat zone.

It also previews the potential problems that could crop up for the NATO Response Force that has recently turned operational.

The Globe and Mail article is reproduced below.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Beleaguered NATO set to charter helicopters; Though it highlights rift within alliance, decision will help protect Canadian troops

1025 words
24 October 2007
The Globe and Mail
English
2007 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

WASHINGTON -- NATO plans to rent helicopters to resupply front lines and remote bases in southern Afghanistan – an unprecedented move that could reduce ground casualties even as it exposes the unwillingness of major European allies to send their choppers into dangerous, Taliban-infested areas.

Defence ministers meeting today in the Netherlands are expected to approve chartering up to 20 large helicopters, flown by civilian contractors, to provide vital airlift and reduce the number of military convoys exposed to roadside bombs. Most Canadian casualties this year have been caused by roadside bombs.


Senior officers from countries doing the bulk of the fighting are tightlipped about the scope of the commercial helicopter deal, although there is no secret about the deepening rift in the alliance between those countries willing to fight and those unwilling to help those fighting.

Outsourcing helicopter services will also relieve the severely overstrained U.S. helicopter squadrons in Kandahar whose deployment has been repeatedly extended.

NATO's Military Committee, chaired by Canadian General Raymond Henault, “recently passed to political authorities, advice for their consideration to outsource some of NATO's air transport requirements to meet airlift shortfalls in Afghanistan,” said his spokesman, Colonel Brett Boudreau.

Canada, the only country with a major fighting role in southern Afghanistan that has no applicable helicopters of its own, may reap much of the benefit if NATO opts for commercial helicopters and pilots of fortune to fill the gaping holes in airlift capacity caused by Europeans unwilling to venture into conflict zones.

Italy, Spain and France are among the Western European countries with large numbers of big, modern helicopters protected by sophisticated anti-missile defences and flown by highly trained crews. All three countries have turned a deaf ear to repeated pleas to deploy their aircraft to southern Afghanistan.

In the past few weeks, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer made a final appeal for military-transport helicopters. He was turned down by Germany, France, Turkey, Spain and Greece, according to a NATO source.

Several of those countries, with troops deployed in northern Afghanistan, far from the worst of the fighting, have urged the Harper government to extend Canada's commitment beyond the current cut-off date of February, 2009. “We have run out of options, if we can't get support from allies, I guess we will have to rent it,” said one frustrated NATO officer who asked that neither his rank nor his nationality be disclosed.

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates was almost as blunt in advance of today's gathering of NATO defence ministers.

“I am not satisfied that an alliance whose members have over two million soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen cannot find the modest additional resources that have been committed for Afghanistan,” he said.

For more than a year, the helicopter shortfall has been among NATO's most pressing priorities and Canadian field commanders in Kandahar have repeatedly said how much they are needed.

Never before has the world's biggest military alliance rented aircraft and hired pilots to fill in combat zone roles.

Details have yet to be worked out but it's unlikely that NATO soldiers, including Canadians, will be flown in the ill-defended chartered helicopters. Rather they will airlift supplies, and ammunition. That will free up the stretched Dutch, British and U.S. helicopters based at Kandahar to transport soldiers and evacuate casualties as well as maintain supply lines.

By mid-winter, large, vulnerable, helicopters – likely aging Russian Mi-17s – will be clattering across Afghan skies delivering everything from bullets to beans to Canadian soldiers deployed in remote outposts across Kandahar province.

Finding helicopters and pilots capable and willing to work in southern Afghanistan, where extreme heat and rugged mountains make flying difficult even without the prospect of being shot at with shoulder-fired missiles or rocket-propelled grenades, will be very expensive.

According to industry sources, a U.S. helicopter charter firm with long experience in deploying large helicopters to remote parts of the globe has already been asked to begin identifying a fleet of available helicopters.

Many Western commercial operators are expected to shun flying in Afghanistan because the risks will be very high. At least 18 military helicopters – all of them armed and equipped with defensive systems such as flares to decoy heat-seeking missiles – have been shot down or crashed, killing 110 soldiers and airmen since the U.S.-led coalition toppled the Taliban in 2001. The most recent was a large U.S. Chinook that was shot down in May just after it unloaded scores of troops in southern Afghanistan. Five U.S. airmen, a Canadian military photographer and a British soldier were killed.

The cost of chartering large helicopters is expected to be very high. At standard commercial rates, an Mi-17 – the civilian version of the widely used and rugged Russian workhorse capable of lifting four tonnes – could exceed $100,000 a week, yet fly far less than the punishing days endured by U.S., British and Dutch crews. Given the high costs of maintenance and the premium civilian pilots can be expected to demand for risking their lives, the cost could easily soar. A flock of 20 Mi-17s or a smaller number of the even larger Mi-26s, might cost more than $100-million a year, one industry source said.

“We need helicopters everywhere and one of the options being studied is leasing contracts,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai said earlier this month.

Although the chartered helicopters would be leased by NATO'S International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and available for use throughout the country, a senior officer said he expected most of them to be based at Kandahar airport.

Risk reduction

It is hoped that the new NATO heavy-lift helicopters will keep Canadian troops off Afghan roads, and away from deadly improvised explosive devices.

Canadian deaths in Afghanistan by incident, 2002-present

IED: 31

Combat: 15

Suicide attack: 12

Friendly fire: 8

Other: 6

SOURCE: DND

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Suter

Suter is the name of a system that is able to infiltrate enemy radar systems and take control. This is another way to effect the suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) as compared to firing anti-radar missiles, jamming radars, or flying stealth aircraft...some related links below

Black Surprises
Lebanon Fighting Produced Info War Coup
Technology Will Be Key to Iraq Buildup

SAF to issue body armour for training

Good news on the home front. opswarfare previously wrote about issuing body armour for troops on training, and this has come true...

The Request for Information (RFI) has been issued. Among the requirements mentioned in the RFI, the Integrated Body Armour Vest (IBAV) shall
  • be dual function, as a Load Bearing Vest or a Body Armour Vest
  • be designed to spread its weight over the waist and front instead of relying only on the shoulder
  • have a quick release mechanism
  • include a detachable hydration bladder pouch, and a velcro strap at the front of the IBAV to hold and secure the drinking tube
  • have a groin pouch built into the front of the IBAV for the storage of the detachable groin panel
  • have 4 D-rings for attaching bulky items
  • have grommets to provide rapid drainage of trapped fluids
  • defeat a NATO 9mm round fired from a sub-machine gun for the soft armour
  • defeat a NATO 7.62mm round for the hard armour inserts
The few points above presents us with some questions.
  • will the current Load Bearing Vest (which is just being newly issued) be out of commission once the body armour is issued?
  • some of the requirements are very specific, this may exclude some manufacturers who may not find it profitable to modify their existing off the shelf products to comply. Would this reduce the competition?
Last but not least, the RFI includes a modified test requirement as compared to the specified National Institute of Justice (NIJ) document.

The original paragraph 5.13.4.3
"Mark the front armor panel, plate, or insert for six impacts, evenly spaced on the panel according to the spacing criteria of a minimum of 76 mm (3.0 in) from any edge to center and 51 mm (2.0 in) from any previous impact (center to center). Wet condition the armor panel, plate, or insert per the requirements of section 5.9.3."

The modified paragraph
"Mark the front armour panel, plate, or insert for six impacts, RANDOMLY spaced on the panel WITH ONLY A minimum of 26mm (1.0inch) from any edge to centre and WITH ONE OF THE SIX IMPACTS AT 51mm (2.0 inch) from any previous impact (centre to centre)..."

opswarfare is still researching on what this change will do to the protection levels as compared to the NIJ standard.

To see who could be the conten
ders, let's take a look at the body armour used by various armed forces.
USMC - Modular Tactical Vest
US Army - Improved Outer Tactical Vest

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oct 9, 2007
Life-saving body armour for all army units
It will be used not only during operations but also when soldiers train
By David Boey

LOCAL troops will be better protected against bullets and shell fragments, with the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) planning to introduce body armour to all units.

Mindef has asked defence companies for information on the armour, worn as vests to protect the body from the neck down to the waist and groin area.

The Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) - the national authority that buys weapons and equipment for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) - will assess what is available in the market, after which Mindef will progressively equip all army units with body armour.

Colonel Darius Lim, Mindef's director of public affairs, explained that the body armour will be used not only during operations, but also for training purposes such as during route marches, live-firing and urban warfare exercises.

Body armour is not new to the SAF, but it has been issued mainly to crack units, such as the Commando Special Operations Force, or SAF units involved in hazardous operations such as peace-keeping duties with the United Nations.

Armies worldwide have found that body armour and better military medical care save lives. Statistics kept by United States medical units indicate that some 30 per cent of all injured American troops died during World War II.

Better medical care saw that figure drop to 24 per cent in Vietnam but in Iraq, just 9 per cent of the injured lose their lives.

Body armour is usually made of soft bullet-resistant fabrics, or hard plates made of ceramics or resins. Such armour is numbered with Roman numerals from I to IV according to the protection they offer. Smaller numbers indicate lighter protection.

For the SAF troops, DSTA said the body armour should comprise:

# The basic vest - built of tough and lightweight fabrics like nylon, the vest is designed to hold armour panels. DSTA said it should be 'inert to saltwater and mud' and 'printable with camouflage patterns'.

# Removable soft ballistic armour panels - lightweight and water-repellent, the panels should repel 9mm rounds fired from submachine guns like the MP5.

# Removable hard ballistic armour plates - these should resist 7.62mm bullets fired by general purpose machine guns.

# Detachable soft protection pads for the neck and shoulder, and the groin - made of the same material as soft armour, the pads should be fitted when needed.

To ensure the vests work fine in Singapore's environment, DSTA said the vests should be able to withstand 98 per cent humidity and tolerate 'heavy rain conditions'.

Military equipment suppliers told The Straits Times they are steeling themselves for fierce competition when DSTA issues the body armour tender.

dboey@sph.com.sg

Sunday, 7 October 2007

MoD kept failure of best tank quiet - Telegraph

MoD kept failure of best tank quiet - Telegraph

Sobering news that a RPG29 managed to penetrate the frontal armour of a Challenger 2 tank.
-----------------------------------
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:37pm BST 12/05/2007

One of the British Army's Challenger 2 tanks was pierced by an Iraqi insurgent missile more than eight months earlier than the Government has previously admitted.

The Ministry of Defence had claimed that an attack last month that breached a tank's armour was the first of its kind in four years of war in Iraq. But another Challenger 2 was pierced by a powerful rocket-propelled grenade in August last year during an attack that blew off part of a soldier's foot and injured several others.

The injured soldier's family has accused the Government of a cover-up and demanded to know why soldiers manning Challenger 2 tanks had not been warned of the failings with the tank's armour.

Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said he would challenge the government on why the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had apparently misled the public over the timing of the first incident in which the hugely robust defences of the Challenger had been breached.

He said: "Obviously, no armour is indestructible and there is no doubt that the insurgents have increasingly sophisticated technology but it is important in maintaining public confidence that the MoD and the Government tell the truth to the British public."

The Challenger 2 is reputed to be one of the most sophisticated tanks in the world and those used in Iraq by the British Army are built with Dorchester armour, the composition of which is top secret. The tank is also fitted with explosive reactive armour (ERA) at its front that should deflect any weapon fired at its hull.

The MoD has finally confirmed that the tank's armour was breached last August and has said that an investigation was conducted to discover why the ERA appears to have failed. However, the department refused to comment on its findings, citing security reasons.

In the August attack, which occurred during an operation to arrest a leading insurgent in the town of al-Amarah, in southern Iraq, the Challenger was damaged when a Russian-made rocket-propelled grenade, known as an RPG-29, defeated the ERA and penetrated the driver's cabin.

The RPG-29 is a much more powerful weapon than the common type regularly used by insurgents to attack British troops. It is specifically designed to penetrate tank armour, although this is the first occasion on which it has managed to damage a Challenger.

During the attack Trooper Sean Chance, a 20-year-old serving with the Queen's Royal Hussars, lost half of his left foot; two other crew members were injured.

The unit's commander described the moment the tank was hit by the missile in a letter he wrote to the wounded soldier in March. The officer wrote: "I recall seeing it [the RPG-29 being fired] and thinking, 'Oh Christ, that's bad.'

"As it slammed into the hull, I was picked up by the shock wave of the blast and thrown against the back wall of the turret. The explosion singed my eyebrows and burnt my face slightly. The tank was full of acrid smoke and fumes. I became aware of you screaming, 'I'm hit, I'm hit. My foot's off.'

"Daz [another crew member] and I looked at each other in slight disbelief - after all, what could possibly breach a CR2's [Challenger's] armour?"

Tpr Chance's mother Kay, 49, from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, said her son had been told that the Challenger was the best in the world and essentially impenetrable to any weapons the insurgents possessed.

She said: "Sean often told me he felt totally safe because he was in the best tank in the world. But we now know that is not the case. The Government has covered it up.

"If I was the mother of the poor soldier who lost his legs last month I would be horrified to think that an earlier attack like this had happened before but none of the soldiers were told about it."

His brother Luke said that Tpr Chance had been "abandoned" by the Army following his injury. He said: "Sean has been forgotten about. He hasn't received his Iraq medal. He's been told he is going to be medically discharged because of his injury but no one has told him when and what sort of pension he might get. It's a disgrace."

A spokesman for the MoD said: "We have never claimed that the Challenger 2 is impenetrable. There is no question of a cover-up. Any suggestion that this was the first successful attack against a Challenger 2 tank was given in good faith based on the information available at the time.

"We would like to reassure the family that lessons were learnt from the incident last August and measures were taken to enhance the protection of our personnel."

On April 6, a Challenger was damaged by a roadside bomb in Basra. In that attack a soldier lost both his legs. Details of the incident were not made public until April 23, when

the MoD claimed: "This was the first successful attack on a Challenger 2. It's the first bomb to have damaged it."

Thursday, 27 September 2007

SIGINT equipment

The cover story in the 8th August 2007 edition of Jane's Defence Weekly (JDW) highlights the various airborne assets deployed by the US to defeat the IED threat. Some of the equipment mentioned include the below
  • RC-135V/W Rivet Joint
  • Guardrail SIGINT
    • Guardrail Eagle signal exploitation upgrade package
    • Delta Wing
    • X-windows Multi-user Interactive Development and Analysis System (X-MIDAS)
    • Hyper Wide
  • EP-3E
  • E-8C Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS)
  • Horned Owl
    • modified Beech C-12R utility transport
    • AN/APY-8 Lynx synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
    • King Air-based Aerial Reconnaissance Multi-Sensor (ARMS)
  • Constant Hawk
    • US Army 345th military Intelligence Battalion
    • modified Shorts 360-300 utility transport
  • Air National Guard RC-26B
  • EA-6B Prowler
    • low-band jamming pod
    • VAQ-141
    • VMAQ-1, -2 and -4
  • EC-130H Compass Call
    • 41st & 43rd Electronic Combat Squadrons
opswarfare intends to do some searching to find out more about their capabilities.

Friday, 14 September 2007

The law of armed conflict (LOAC): teaching file

ICRC
As conflicts become more complicated (e.g. urban operations, combatants not in uniform, operations other than war, etc), the chances of civilian casualties are much higher than before. This is one of the areas where the law of armed conflict is used to guide armed forces in their conduct. The above is a Red Cross teaching file.

A few quick points spotted while reading lessons 1 & 2...
  • combatants will be accorded proper POW treatment only if they are wearing uniforms
  • besides punishment on the armed forces, soldiers may be personally liable if they violate the law of armed conflict
  • the white flag is a flag of truce, not a flag indicating the intent to surrender
Update (6th October 2007)
opswarfare has just experienced LOAC training while in reservist training. Very realistic, very useful for real combat operations.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Staggering Eagle

Staggering Eagle
Great insights and stories from a monthly newsletter of a British Territorial Army Infantry unit, the E (Essex & Hertfordshire) Company, 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment.

Welsh soldiers take on the Taliban

Operation Chakush
Details of a British army operation in Afghanistan. The video below is from the Army news page.
Map of Afghanistan with Helmand  هلمند highlighted.
The Helmand region (highlighted above in red in a graphic from wikipedia) has seen plenty of heavy fighting, and this operation seems to be another attempt to wrestle control from the Taliban.

In the video, it can be seen that some of the troops are wearing T-shirts instead of their normal uniform tops (but of course still wearing their body armour), which shows how hot conditions are over there.

Is the Cold War back?

The Russian armed forces have tested a new bomb. The western media is rightfully skeptical at the moment. The original Russian TV clip is below.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Bold Quest 07 begins to test Coalition Combat ID

News From USJFCOM
This is the latest in a series of fratricide prevention exercises conducted by various western nations. opswarfare's view is that the equipment should be deployed in actual operations as soon as possible.

opswarfare first wrote on the issue of fratricide prevention in 2005, and has been following the issue as it passed another milestone in 2006.

So what's next?

Well, for a start, the scenarios where most fratricide incidents have occurred should be first to try out the equipment in actual combat. The first scenario that comes to mind naturally are air-strikes, especially close air support missions that are "on call".

For this phase, equipment can be mounted on vehicles (tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, trucks, etc.) which are currently in theatre (e.g. Iraq or Afghanistan). The typical scenario could involve a unit, pinned down by enemy fire, calling for a quick air-strike from a loitering aircraft in the vicinity. The aircraft will take one additional step before releasing ordance on the target, namely "painting" the target with the emitter (most likely using encrypted millimetre-wave radio waves) to confirm that the target is not "friendly".

Saturday, 8 September 2007

US Sets Contract Terms for Next Tactical Radio Upgrades (defense procurement, military acquisition, defence purchasing)

Defense Industry Daily
The very first "modular" radio sets involved several components.
  1. radio transceiver
  2. vehicle adaptor
  3. amplifier (for vehicle configuration)
  4. battery (for manportable configuration).
Later improvements came in the form of added security (encryption and frequency-hopping), multi-band capability (one radio for VHF, HF, and UHF), and location-finding (GPS, blue-force tracking) capability.

However, the radio sets remained bulky, with separate configurations needed for vehicles and dismounted troops respectively.

The new radio sets mentioned in the Defense Industry Daily (DID) article features a "plug and play" design which allow for seamless transition from mounted to dismounted operations. This is done by incorporating a rechargeable battery into the modular radio, and also by reducing its size from a manpack to a handheld.

The soldier simply "unplugs" the walkie-talkie portion of the system and uses when dismounted, and "plugs" it back when back at the vehicle, to recharge the batteries, and also make use of the amplifier on the vehicle set for longer range.

The 2 competing products are from Harris and Thales.

Monday, 20 August 2007

The Preventive Maintenance Monthly (PS Magazine)


PS Magazine
Great articles on preventive maintenance, cool comic graphics...

The feature story covers the CROWS remote weapon system, and how problems occur when the system is handed over from one unit to another. The article reminds soldiers to hand over all items, including "weapon adapter kit for the M2 and MK19 machine guns, items from the boresight kit, and tools."

Military Simulation & Training

opswarfare recently came across a free magazine online, called Military Simulation & Training

Regular readers will know that opswarfare places quite a big emphasis on the areas of fratricide prevention and realistic training, so this magazine would be likely a treasure trove for future articles, and to update existing opswarfare articles on these issues.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Underground warfare

opswarfare came across a few instances of underground warfare recently, the recent israeli-lebanon war, and the US-vietnam war. opswarfare finds the concept worth further development, as a possible defensive tactic useful for urban warfare scenarios. For a start, having underground tunnels negate (or at least reduce) the damage from air-strikes. They also allow movement of forces under cover, which increases the element of surprise when fighting enemy forces. Definitely worth doing a feature article...watch this space.

Monday, 25 June 2007

HARSH TRAJECTORIES

Aviation Week & Space Technology

8/7/2006, Vol. 165, Issue 6

Israel continues to attack Hezbollah's rocket arsenal, but larger and more destructive threats loom

Israel's ability to sustain prolonged around-the-clock air combat operations is partially due to fielding of sophisticated sensors. But the technology advance has not enabled the Israelis to avoid costly targeting missteps, or to suppress the Hezbollah rocket threat or pinpoint the adversary's weapons supplier.

Hezbollah rocket launchers have been a primary target for the Israeli air force's F-15s, F-16s and bevy of unmanned aircraft, which have all been fitted with electro-optical/infrared sensors to spot and engage those targets. And, while launchers are taken down daily, the rate of Hezbollah operations appears unaffected, and there are signs of potential escalation in the projectiles' lethality and range.

Moreover, information gathered by the airborne sensors is raising as many questions as it answers for military planners, particularly when it comes to identifying the main suppliers of weaponry to Hezbollah.

(Full text can be accessed through the NLB eDatabases)

Friday, 22 June 2007

Improved Outer Tactical Vest


While the Interceptor vs Dragon Skin debate rages on, improvements to the Interceptor body armour are coming online.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

NLB eResources

opswarfare was recently introduced to a new database offering on-line versions of print articles, eBooks, music, video, and the such.

This treasure trove of information can be found under the "eResources" heading under the National Library Board (NLB) website. Only registered NLB Digital Library users are allowed to access the information, but that's not an issue as registration is free.

List of military titles available (opswarfare is still searching through the database)
  1. Aviation Week & Space Technology
    • EBSCOHost Military & Government Collection
  2. Armada International
    • EBSCOHost Military & Government Collection
  3. Armor
    • Proquest 5000 International
  4. Defence Studies
    • EBSCOHost Academic Search Premier
  5. Defense Daily International
    • Proquest 5000 International
  6. Defense & Security Analysis
    • EBSCOHost Academic Search Premier
  7. Flight International
    • Proquest 5000 International
  8. Journal of Electronic Defense
    • EBSCOHost Academic Search Premier
  9. Marine Corps Gazette
    • ProQuest Research Library
  10. Military Technology
    • ProQuest Research Library
    • EBSCOHost Military & Government Collection

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Learning from the Three Lions

AAJ_Autumn07_Elwin.pdf
  1. British Army
  2. Infantry Battle School
  3. Platoon Commander’s Battle Course (14 weeks)
  4. explain, demonstrate, imitate, act
  5. immersion training
  6. overseas training, and with local civilians as non-combatants
  7. 3 block war scenarios
  8. urban operations
  9. brilliance at the basics
  10. combined arms at the lowest level (at section level)
Afterthoughts
Regular readers of opswarfare will know that this article epitomises the ethos of opswarfare. That is not to say that there is nothing new here. The immersion training is a great idea, with new trainee platoon commanders being inserted into a foreign country, totally different from conditions back home, plus local civilians going about their normal lives around them. Perfect conditions for training for the 3 block war.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Urban Warfare: A Soldier’s View

scales.pdf
Most readers would know of the emphasis placed by opswarfare on analyzing close combat in urban warfare, which remains an important part of winning wars. The above link is a look at what a soldier needs for the close fight in urban terrain.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

The human dimension of the Hardened and Networked Army: the lessons of friendly fire (PDF)

Land Warfare Studies Centre Papers
This is Part 2 of a 3-part series. Part 1 can be found here.

Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER)

A new equipment which cuts down the sensor to shooter loop tremendously...it basically allows a foward air controller to see what the sensor pod (and the pilot) sees. As a result, errors in targeting are severely reduced. An additional use is for troops on the ground to see potential threats like IEDs, which are revealed by the IR mode of the sensor pods.

opswarfare finds that it will be great if the blue-force tracking capability is weaved into this equipment (or vice-versa). This will reduce fratricide occurrences, and make the designation (and monitoring) of enemy units much more streamlined and presented in real-time.
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$6 billion tech haul for U.S. military

Unattributed
Bloomberg News
September 8, 2005

As an Iraqi sniper fired on US marines during the attack on the Iraqi insurgent stronghold of Fallujah in November, a US airman on the ground peered at a small screen relaying pictures by satellite from a Predator drone.

Using directions relayed by the airman, the Predator's operator in the US zeroed in on the window of a building, fired one of two Hellfire missiles and killed the sniper, according to Lieutenant-General William Buchanan III, chief of the US Central Command's air forces.
The episode marked one of the earliest combat uses of Rover III, designed by L-3 Communications Holdings. The handheld military device, about the size of a personal digital assistant, allows ground forces to retrieve images from drones and other aircraft, giving them an advantage against rebels using roadside bombs and mortars, one of the main causes of US deaths in the Iraq war.

"As a naval officer, I would love to have a piece of equipment like that to help in the decision-making process," says Richard Lofgren of Capital Advisors in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a US army reservist who is now commanding a patrol boat on the Tigris river.

"In combat, any edge you can get helps. As a portfolio manager, we like it that L-3 has been trying to do everything to leverage technology to help troops in the field."

Capital manages $US754 million ($985 million), including 185,000 L-3 shares.

L-3 and other US military contractors are benefiting as the Pentagon diverts taxpayers' money from long-term military programs to meet the immediate needs of its forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The wars have helped speed the development of weapons and tools aimed at limiting US casualties.

Shares of L-3 rose US2c to $US81.90 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Before that, they had jumped 31 per cent in the past year, twice the return of the Standard and Poor's aerospace and defence index for the period.

Rover III "changes the way airpower is employed -- it changes the nature of war", says US Air Force Lieutenant-Colonel Gregory Harbin, assistant director of operations of the 609th Combat Operations Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. "If we didn't have this capability, we'd be in a world of hurt right now."

Colonel Harbin says he was the first officer to operate Rover III in the field. He delivered it to the First Marine Expeditionary Force in April last year.

The system is now being used "a few times a week" in Iraq and Afghanistan, says US Air Force Captain David Small, a spokesman for the US Central Command's air force component.

Earlier versions of Rover were developed after a US Army Green Beret, fresh from Afghanistan, walked unannounced into the Aeronautical Systems Centre at Ohio's Wright Patterson Air Force Base in January 2002, Colonel Harbin says.

The paratroop officer wanted a device that would allow ground troops to immediately access video from aircraft.

Within two weeks, he returned to Afghanistan with a prototype built by the systems centre, based on a C-band receiver that allowed AC130 aircraft to relay Predator images to command posts in the rear.

Air Force Major Stephanie Holcombe declined to identify the Green Beret for reasons of security.

Rover II, in use since early 2002, was developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems of San Diego, the prime contractor for the Predator. The device lets ground troops see surveillance images transmitted to a laptop computer, although the images are delayed because they first go to US command centres before being relayed to troops in the field.

"You're now going into urban warfare, where everything changes," says Frank Lanza, 73, chief executive of New York-based L-3.

"You can't afford to have U-2s or Global Hawks taking information back to a command centre and then hope someone warns you on a radio that there's a sniper over there."

Rover III, created by L-3 in about 18 months, is more compact than Rover II and can also access digital-multiband video from the Predator and other aircraft, and communicate back in real time over existing secure satellite links.

"What I have is the ability, if I'm flying overhead and I have a town, I could have soldiers on every street," says General Buchanan, 55.

"If they've got a Rover, they can all draw down exactly the same picture to let them know what is out there."

The $US60,000 Rover III, which stands for Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver, weighs about 5.4kg, including a receiver that can be carried in a backpack. It was developed by L-3's Communications Systems West unit, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. So far, Rovers are managed by US air personnel assigned to ground units.

Since last September, 250 Rover IIIs have been delivered to the US Air Force, the Marines, the Army and Special Forces, L-3 spokeswoman Jennifer Barton says, and 260 are on firm order.

About 700 more are likely to be delivered by next June.

Rover IV, which will be delivered next year, will allow better two-way communication, Colonel Harbin says. Operators on the ground will be able to electronically mark a target instead of having to talk warplane pilots through an attack on it.

Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, 1874 US troops and 192 other coalition soldiers have been killed in Iraq and at least 14,120 US troops wounded, according to the Pentagon. Coalition deaths in the Afghanistan conflict number 288, with 571 US troops wounded.

The US has about 138,000 troops fighting in Iraq and 17,900 in the Afghanistan conflict.

Since forming L-3 in 1997 from 10 discarded divisions of Lockheed Martin, Lanza has focused on components, subsystems and small systems rather than competing with the largest companies for military platforms like warplanes, ships and tanks.

That approach allows for faster development and deployment of military products, according to L-3, which counted on government orders for 90 per cent of its $US6.9 billion in sales last year. The corporation's net income has risen by at least 21 per cent in the past 13 quarters.

"Our job is to listen to the user and see what they need and where they are going," Lanza says. "You have to listen before you can talk. We went in listening to a problem and said we had a solution."

Sunday, 13 May 2007

A modern RPG?


opswarfare finds it strange that there is no Western equivalent of the ubiquitous Russian rocket propelled grenade (RPG). The closest weapon similar to the RPG that one can think of is the Panzerfaust 3 series. However, that system is heavier, being designed for anti-tank applications. The closest Western system in the spirit of a multi-purpose manportable rocket, the M72 series, is a one-shot throwaway, instead of being reloadable like the RPG7 series. While there are a few new systems coming to the fore, they seem to be one-shot throwaway solutions. These include the MBT LAW, Panzerfaust 90, and Predator.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

New troops given extra firepower in Afghanistan

TimesOnline
opswarfare feels that this news sort of justifies the strength of heavy combat forces over light forces. The official MOD announcement is here. List of reinforcements below.
  • 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh
  • 1st Battalion Scots Guards (Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles)
  • 19th Regiment Royal Artillery
  • 5th Regiment Royal Artillery
  • 39th Regiment Royal Artillery (Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System)
  • four more Harrier GR9s to provide Close Air Support
  • 846 Naval Air Squadron (four Sea King helicopters)
  • another C-130 Hercules

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

国防预算案

大多数国人对2007年的预算案,最关住的或许就是从5%提高到7%的消费税。但有另一点直得大家多了解的,就是我们的国防开支。opswarfare 认为,除了需要探讨为何国防开支年年有增无减,更重要的是讨论国防开支的透明度。

Radiological dispersal event

Executive Overview: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence
An extract of a Jane's article on the recent issues surrounding the usage of polonium-210 to kill Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian dissident staying in London. The BBC World Service has also done a 2 part radio documentary on this area. This incident highlights the possible use of the same substance to target larger groups, as a terrorist weapon.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

On patrol with the Marines in Afghanistan

International News | News | Telegraph

An intense account of Royal Marine operations in Afghanistan. 1 point does stand out. In a world of high-tech warfare, there are still occasions where a military force doesn't know its position precisely. Goes to show that there is still much to be done regarding the basics of warfare.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

U.S. says "sophisticated weaponry" hit chopper in Iraq | Top News | Reuters.com

Reuters.com
What could this "sophisticated weaponry" be? Most likely some form of man-portable air defence system (MANPADS), perhaps a Russian Igla, or maybe some rogue US Stinger missiles?

Friday, 19 January 2007

Israel decides on Namer as future APC

Israel decides on Namer as future APC
Great to hear that the Namer APC will go into production. There currently exists a gap between MBTs and IFVs. Perhaps the even bigger story is that the Trophy APS will be installed on it, and the Merkava MBT...