Electronic Weapons: October 10, 2001


The campaign in Afghanistan will allow the US to test a new concept it has been developing since the Gulf War. The US wants to reduce the amount of time between when a target is detected and when an attack aircraft can hit it with a bomb or missile. The magic number is 10 minutes, the amount of time that a Scud missile launcher needs from the moment it rolls to a halt to the moment the missile is launched. (This time is needed to erect the missile and spin up the gyros.) The basic idea is the "fusion" of several types of sensor data, from EC-135 signals intelligence aircraft, from E-8D JSTARS radar aircraft, and unmanned drones with both synthetic aperture radar and electro-optical systems. All of this data is processed through a computer and when a target is confirmed, a circling tactical aircraft is dispatched to destroy it. While this technology was intended to destroy Scud launchers, it should work against the Taliban's horde of "technical" gun trucks which form the bulk of its mobile firepower.--Stephen V Cole


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