06 december, 2007

Death from above..

Terroristerne får det sværere og sværere i Irak. Det amerikanske militær har i en årrække benyttet sig af såkaldte UAVs - ubemandede fly - til recognoscering og i visse tilfælde direkte angreb. Fraset nogle små UAVs til recognoscering har den amerikanske hær imidlertid ikke haft kontrol over nogle af de større, der bruges til blandt andet bombetogter. Det er nu ved at ændre sig med planer om at bevæbne hæren med 500 fjernstyrede mini-bombefly. Fra Strategypage:
The U.S. Army loves the Predator UAV. But that aircraft is controlled by the air force. That results in the army getting one for a mission, less than half the time it requests one. In response, the army is building its own forces of Predators. General Atomics, the manufacturer of the Predator UAV, is developing the new Sky Warrior UAV, which won't enter service for another four years. The army now wants 45 squadrons (each with 12 UAVs), at a cost of about $8 million each (including ground equipment). The Sky Warrior weighs 1.5 tons, carries 300 pounds of sensors internally, and up to 500 pounds of sensors or weapons externally. It has an endurance of up to 36 hours and a top speed of 270 kilometers an hour. Sky Warrior has a wingspan 56 feet and is 28 feet long. The Sky Warrior is very similar in weight, size and capability to the Predator. Basically, it's "Predator Lite", and that's why the air force is nervous.

The air force and army use their UAVs differently. For the army, the UAV is a tool for the local combat commander. That's why each combat division will get a Sky Warrior squadron. Combat brigades will also get detachments (of two to four UAVs) as needed (even though the brigades always have several smaller UAVs assigned.) The air force uses Predator and Warrior class UAVs more as strategic recon aircraft. ..

...the army wants to rely more on the software, than trained pilots, for flying the UAVs. In fact, the army will not use pilots at all as operators. This appalls the air force, which is scrambling to turn fighter and transport pilots into Predator operators. ....

The size of the army UAV force also scares the air force. The Sky Warrior will be carrying Hellfire missiles and Viper Strike smart bombs. The army has also been discussing developing its own version of "JDAM Lite." This would be a hundred pound GPS guided smart bomb, which would have about fifty pounds of explosives. That's about the same bang as the new air force SDB (the 250 pound "Small Diameter Bomb"), which also has a steel penetrator. The Hellfire carries about ten pounds of explosives, and Viper Strike two pounds. The GPS guided 155mm Excalibur artillery shell has about 20 pounds of explosives, and the 227mm GPS guided MLRS rocket, with 150 pounds of explosives. "JDAM Lite" would fit into this arsenal nicely. The air force sees all these army "smart weapons" as replacing the need for air force close air support. That's what the army is thinking, as they want to control their own "death from above," and not be forced to ask the air force (which often turns them down.)