network enabled capability

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by noodle, Jul 23, 2004.

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  1. Call me a bluff old traditionalist but this week's white paper has me laughing my socks off. For those of you who have copies, flick to page 6 where a "armoured reconnaisance patrol" spots some hoods in a technical shooting up the bush. Having sent via bowman to unit hq to bde to jflcc who tasks watchkeeper who reassigns astor who then involves skynet5 which then via JFACC uses TIEC to task an E3D and 2 harriers to eventually drop a maverick.

    Impressive stuff and in only 30 minutes.

    In my time the Corporal in charge of the wagon would turn to his gunner with the call "coax traverse right" and the engagement would be over in a matter of 30 seconds using a 1970's CVRT and a couple of quids worth of gpmg ammunition.

    So THIS is why we can now get rid of soldiers. The light dawns......
  2. What? So cheap? So quick? When you've spent all that money on all that 'whistles and bells' hardware and software? Now that would be real stupid wouldn't it? 8O
  3. Yes, isn't it convenient in this scenario that both an E-3D and an ASTOR will be providing 24/7 coverage with the flexibility to take on any tasks that come along and with plenty of air-to-air refuelling, extra crews and a nice runway with force protection to operate from?!? Not forgetting the 2 Harriers.

    What a cost-effective solution that, moreover, allows enormous redundancy for the unexpected and has no vulnerable mission-critical nodes!

    (switch off sarcasm).

    One thing about these UAVs - they are bloody vulnerable and I wouldn't like to be dependant on one of these if there are a lot of manpads or even RPGs kicking around!

    The bluff old traditionalist gets my vote. I have seen some of this NEC kit working and it is impressive but it is a force multiplier and no substitute for the eyeball/brain/rifle combination.
  4. Just to be accurate - PHOENIX is bloody vulnerable. It's a crap piece of ... well... crap that can't get to any sort of altitude if it's fat wheezy useless life depended on it. In a hot climate it can't even get off the ground and has to fly only at night when the air is denser. It makes more noise then the NAAFI at closing time on Friday night and has to get close to the target to see it through its cracked bottle top NHS spectacles. It's about as survivable as a very non-survivable thing in an extremely threatening environment.

    However .... a decent small to medium UAV can cruise in these days high enough to avoid man-portable threats and see everything that needs to be seen. Of course the more sophisticated the enemy the more vulnerable it is but the threats involved will be prime targets as they'll threaten manned aircraft as well.

    Though I do agree - using one to replace 30 secs of coax as described elsewhere in this thread is a criminal waste of its capabilities.
  5. One of the original ideas behind using UAVs were that they were cheap and expendable and did not involve loss of (expensively trained) life. I can't see them lasting long against much of the SAM kit out there that we now consider obsolete. They don't fly anywhere near as fast as our FJs, they have no countermeasures and are not manouverable! To make these things critical assets in a network at the expense of "traditional" recce is barking! They get shot down, you are blind!

    As for the re-roling of AS90 batteries to operate UAVs...who wants to see less artillery?!?

    As I have said before, NEC has a lot to offer but it is neither a panacea for all ills or a replacement for boots on the ground. The scenario described elsewhere in this thread is complete nonsense as the rationale behind NEC should be to deliver large amounts of data to lots of users quickly enough to be of tactical use. The location of two hoods can be delivered quickly enough using map, prismatic compass and radio or even laser designator if you want to be high-tech! And the coax solution speaks for itself!

    I'm so glad to be getting out before this new fad becomes reality. It will be dangerous! :evil:
  6. If you buy the right sort of UAV it is fairly cheap and has small signatures. Not the easiest thing to shoot down for older SAM kit. Operate it at a proper altitude and things tip even more in your favour as MANPADS cant reach you. And the enemy get a dilemma - unmask for a cheap UAV and maybe get hit - not a good exchange - or wait for a more tempting target to happen along.

    I agree though, use it to do only what armd recce do and you're wasting it. It can't do everything someone on the ground can do anyway - you'll still need someone on the ground to check things out properly.

    The other problem is that the gunners are the wrong people to operate all Army UAVs. Sure, they need something small and simple to spot for the guns but that's all they need.

    You could give the larger ones to the recce units - at least the operators might understand ISTAR as opposed to blowing stuff up. Or maybe the AAC, you'll need aviators to drive them if you want to share the sky with anyone else. The Int Corps may daydream of driving them because they'll know what they're looking at and can tell you what it means but their management will never manage to make their minds up.

    What you really need is a multi-capbadge unit - nah, never happen !
  7. As an experienced E-3D mission crew operator and instructor who's operated over Bosnia, Kosovo/Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq, may I offer a Crab perspective? No, oh well, you're going to get it anyway!! 8)

    You guys are utterly correct. Technology generally - and NEC in particular - is being used as an excuse for cutting back the forces by the politicians. It seduces the public and sounds sexy to them. I've seen my E-3D and a myriad of other ISTAR platforms including UAVs develop hugely in the last 13 years. However, I would say that the UK are at least 15 years away from a true sensor - shooter NEC.

    And excuse my ignorance, but what is TIEC?! I've got 4500 hrs on the E-3D and have operated as a rep at the JFACC, but have never heard of it!! This doesn't bode well for Mr Hoons vision!!

    Another thing which many people forget is that although politicians talk lovingly about sensor - shooter NEC enabling engagements within seconds, this only works if you have a weapon system (be it a squaddie or a Harrier) seconds away!

    In TELIC, the RAF did maintain a 24 hr AWACS orbit for the entire conflict. But it would be impossible to do that with ASTOR. We're only buying 5, and the AAR capability has been removed as a cost/weight saving measure (I give it 5 years before the AAR probe is bolted on again!!). We would need to coordinate it with JSTARS and Global Hawk to offer 24 hr coverage.

    As far as UAVs go, actually they are fairly survivable and many are now operating with self defence systems such as chaff/flares and towed decoys. The USAF Predator is an excellent piece of equipment which has operated in harms way for 12 hrs at a time without getting knocked down very often. It has an excellent sensor/weapons capability which has been operationally proven in all recent ops. Hopefully, now that the RAF is about to lease some, you should see Predator operating more closely with UK forces.

    Likewise Global Hawk is a highly capable bit of kit which rivals the U-2 in capability and has even more potential for both ISTAR and weapons employment. However, that costs a fair bit of money!

    As MrP suggests, NEC (even in it's current highly immature form) offers many advantages. But you can't man road blocks and win hearts and minds with data links and UAVs.

    I'm a firm believer that the reason that UK forces are still the best is exactly because we've not lost sight of using our brains over (technological) brawn. The US have fallen into that trap, and that's why their forces have such an appalling record of frat and turning nations against them.

    We have no choice but to invest heavily in NEC otherwise the US will simply not allow us into the party next time (although while Bush is in charge, that may be no bad thing!!).

    But technology should not be allowed to seduce people away from the basics. Even the US do not have a true NEC and will not have for at least 10 years in my opinion. NEC has it's place, but is not the be all and end all.

  8. Food for thought - the 3 services between them do not have a common unit of measurement or grid reference system!!! Nautical miles vs kilometres, kilometre grids vs lat/long, degrees vs mils etc! How are we meant to be interoperable electronically if we can't even do it on paper?!? :roll:

    Height seems to have been sorted though - feet for everyone! How long before the metre is imposed on us?!?!
  9. Feet are used for altitude by international agreement and have been for a century or so. So when the air traffic controller tells you to go to "twenty thousand" you don't have to worry about conversion tables. The Soviet Union used to use meters but following the breakup the resulting countries all moved over to feet. In fact, as far as I know the only people who still use meters for altitude are the gunners because, well, they're gunners.

    Mils as well are another bodge which could probably be binned - it stands for milliradian but isn't. A radian is another angular measure, and there are 2 pi radians in a circle. A milliradian is a thousandth of a radian, so a circle is 2000 pi milliradians - around 6283.1 etc etc milliradians. However that was a difficult number to work with (being irrational and all) and it got rounded up to 6400 mils in a circle. So it's not even accurate. And it offends my obsessive engineering tendencies - so it must die !

    A properly designed nav system (note caveat) can translate between nautical miles and lat long (a nautical mile being around one second of arc) and klicks and a grid. So as long as you agree which one you use in what type of message you should be OK.
  10. But in the fancy 50 grand promotional videos with CGI graphics and dramatic voice overs they potray just that!

    Ministers and procurement are completely dazzled by the make believe scenarios appearing before them...

    Sign me up I`ll take 20.
  11. German Parachuting Altimeters are in Meters, which does add a little confusion when planning 'break-off' height for a jump.

    As for Mils, who cares if the name is correct. 3400 units is 17.7 x more accurate than 360 units.

    Kmh/mph/Knots... m/s/fps.... Degrees/mils... Ft/m... there are too many, but you aren't going to change it overnight
  12. Well, mils are not more accurate per se if you enter the dark and mysterious world that lies to the right of the decimal point. Or use minutes and seconds if you've a hankering for that pre-decimalisation feel. Accuracy is a function of the measuring device anyway. I'll stop being an engineer now.
  13. Not.... quite. My engineer's soul has to spout that you're confusing "precision" and "accuracy" here; mils may be more precise than degrees, without being more accurate.

    Best example I've heard: having hundredth-of-a-second timers on the stopwatch function of your wristwatch. Hit the button, and it's precise; but without the fancy beam-breaking start/stop, it's not accurate.