The Future of Warfare: America’s High-Tech Arsenal


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Always remembered in our hearts
Apr 17, 2002
By Dale Hurd
CBN News Sr. Reporter

January 27, 2003 – WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reports say that if the United States attacks Iraq, it will hit Baghdad with an incredible barrage of 800 Cruise missiles in the first two days. That is more than twice the number of missiles launched during the entire 40 days of the 1991 Gulf War.

The American military has made a quantum leap in technology and firepower since then. And if the world was shocked by the military's effectiveness in the last Gulf War, it has not seen anything yet.

If the United States attacks Iraq, the first sign for Saddam Hussein and his generals could be a black out — more precisely, the complete and permanent destruction of every electrical component in Saddam's bunker, courtesy of a secret microwave weapon in America's increasingly high tech arsenal.
Operation Desert Storm had its smart bombs and cruise missiles, but was still fought mostly like World War II, with a lot of gear that predated the microchip revolution. A second Gulf War would be much quicker and more precise, just on the threshold of a new kind of high tech warfare.

"It's the difference between how old wars were fought and news wars are fought. And what this difference is, is the ability to put a bomb on a target," explained military analyst Jack Spencer. "Think of it in terms of, if before you needed five planes to destroy one target, now you can destroy 25 targets with five planes. That's what accuracy gives you."

And that means that on a single night, 16 stealth aircraft with 200 smart bombs could destroy as much critical infrastructure in Iraq as weeks of bombing did in Desert Storm. In 1991, ground operations began on day 39. Some analysts think that this time they could begin on day four. And the extreme optimists think such a war could be finished in one week.

If it is short and swift, it will be due in large part to the microchip, which has transformed the American arsenal into nothing like the world has ever seen. And Americans will be hearing about those weapons if the U.S. does attack.

The JDAM, or Joint Direct Attack Munition, is unlike a laser guided bomb, which can miss its target on a cloudy day. The JDAM is guided by a Global Positioning Satellite and hits its target in any weather.

The JSOW, or Joint Standoff Weapon, is a "launch and leave" missile that can be fired safely from 30,000 feet up and 40 miles from a target, and can be redirected in mid-flight to hit even mobile targets.

The HPM or High Powered Microwave releases two billion watts of destructive electric energy, as much as the Hoover Dam generates in 24 hours. The impact of those microwaves will fry anything electrical within 1000 feet.

The new bunker-busting bombs are wired with new "hard target smart fuses" that allow them to count how many floors they need to penetrate before detonating.

GPS receivers will be everywhere on the battlefield, showing soldiers exactly where they are. But a weapon that could grab the most attention is the UAV or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles like Predator, which can now carry Hellfire missiles. It is the future of aerial combat.

Spencer said, "It's this marriage of the ability to strike with the unmanned aerial vehicle that will truly be a revolutionary technology that will begin to define the future of warfare as we know it."

And the future is also smaller. Some U.S. Forces in Iraq may experiment with miniature planes. Military analyst David Isby explained, "And by miniature, we mean about a three foot wingspan, one which a soldier can carry in pieces in a backpack. You assemble this and control it by a radio link attached to the laptop. You can send this thing off and it will have a little video cam that will stream data back to your laptop."

High tech weapons make war more efficient. One example of old warfare is what the Russians did to Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Just to subdue a band of rebels, the Russians flattened everything using so-called dumb munitions. That kind of fighting is devastating, expensive, and many non-combatants are killed.

The future of warfare will require fewer troops and cost less money. And it may sound weird, but fewer people will die, especially innocent civilians.

"We can destroy targets with far less firepower because of accuracy," Spencer said. "The fact of the matter is, with each war that takes place, that the United States is involved in, fewer and fewer people are being killed, fewer and fewer civilians are being killed in the combat, and this will again be the case in Iraq."

But we are only on the threshold of high-tech warfare. Most of the military is actually still low-tech.

"The military has these big systems, tanks, airplanes, aircraft carriers, ships, most of which were bought in the 1980s, in the Reagan buildup, designed before that," Isby said. "And so they largely predate the microchip revolution. This is something where the military is lagging behind."

But it is catching up. Field testing is already underway on instruments that let soldiers see through walls, and lasers that knock down rockets and artillery shells.

Colonel Douglas MacGregor, a senior fellow at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., said, "Most of the dramatic change of course is facilitated by micro-circuitry and communications, which leads you into miniaturization and a whole range of possibilities there. In addition to that you have directed energy, charged particle beam weaponry, biochemical engineering, genetic engineering. Many of these things will produce dramatic new outcomes in military affairs."

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says the change will be continual. "I like to say we combined 19th century horse cavalry and 50-year-old bombers, but with modern technology we made it true 21st century capability. That's what transformation is about, but there's going to be a lot more of that kind of thing. That's just the beginning."

And as impressive as these weapons are, the U.S. military's lead in technology over the rest of the world is only expected to grow in the years ahead.


Jan 6, 2003
Wheee Heeew !!!
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Jul 22, 2001
While the stated abilities of these weapons is very impressive the reality on the battlefield, unfortunately, I suspect will be different. GWI demonstrated that with the first generation of smart bombs. As I've stated in another thread, the cost of war (purely from a financial and replacement standpoint) can only be waged by superpowers and even then not for a very sustained period of time. We are talking weeks at most when engaged in an all and all out effort. The cost of men, materials and machines is so rapid that they can not be replaced fast enough to sustain a long campaign.

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