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Along with today’s military focus on major regional contingencies (MRC),* moderate-sized conflicts, airmen must also prepare for war with a future peer. While major regional contingencies are more likely and deserve immediate attention, planning for them won’t suffice for war with a peer. War with a peer would involve higher degrees of scope, casualty tolerance, national mobilization, and—most importantly—enemy military capabilities. In a war with twenty-first century equivalents of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, the risks and downsides of a US defeat would be great—far greater than in an MRC-level war. To twist a cold war phrase, war with a peer would not be a “greater included case” of an MRC.
*The term Major Regional Contingency (MRC) was defined by US Secretary of Defense Les Aspin in Report of the Bottom-Up Review, October 1993.
A peer competitor is capable of fielding multiple types and robust numbers of both emerging and present weapons, then developing a new concept of operations (CONOPS) to realize the full potential of this mix. Its goal is to capture a vital interest of the United States, then defeat the US military response.
Fortunately, the chance of war with a peer is remote. The US has unquestioned military superiority over all possible adversaries. No potential peer nation is arming for war with the United States. The US currently exceeds every defense budget in the world by at least a factor of four, spending as much on defense as the next eight largest defense budgets in the world combined.1 The US is at peace with the few nations capable of reaching peer status; war with a peer is not on the horizon.
Unfortunately, this favorable environment won’t last. If history teaches us anything, it teaches us times change. Despite current optimism, humankind has not seen the end of major war. Major war may happen in 10 years (unlikely), or 15 years (possible), or sometime after that (virtually certain). Defense planners should regard conflict with a peer as inevitable; only the timing is unknown. For discussion purposes, this book assumes the early edge of the window—it discusses war with a peer beginning in 2010.
This 2010 time frame is arguable. Some may view 2010 as too far away; they believe it a waste of time to fine-tune future decisions because we’ll revisit today’s decisions many times between now and 2010. On the other hand, others consider 2010 too close; because it’s only 15 years away, they say, most of our present inventory will still exist. In fact, they point out, some systems in the current program objectives memorandum (POM) will still be in production in 2010. They recommend that we really stretch our thinking and consider a war in 2020 or 2030. To clarify the reason for a 2010 focus, it might be helpful to draw an analogy with the interwar period.
In the mid-1920s, the “war to end all wars” had just ended. Democracies were triumphant. International tensions were few. Military spending was tight. Few people thought another war between the great powers was probable. In fact, most people considered such a war inconceivable. Unfortunately, however, World War II was only 15 years away. Great power conflicts sparked by unforeseeable events initiated rearmament in the mid-1930s—and global war five years later. In this short period of 15 years, international politics radically changed. Linear projections of the future became worthless. Conflict with a peer went from being inconceivable in 1925 to the national purpose 15 years later.
It is important to understand that the rapid change of the interwar period was not unique. Swift, discontinuous change is the norm throughout modern history. The normal course of events is to experience fundamental change in short periods of time. However uncomfortable this history is for planners, we must recognize rapid change in international politics and technology is a given. The change witnessed between the Treaty of Locarno (1925) and the Battle of Sedan (1940) reflected many other 15-year periods in history. For example, consider the 15 years starting in 1945. Imagine giving a speech in 1945 in which you predicted that, by 1960, the US would
- begin 40+ years of “cold war” with the USSR,
- see the Soviets test an A-bomb before the end of the decade,
- see the USSR launch the first space satellite,
- see China “fall,”
- fight a communist China in Korea,
- strongly back the new Jewish state in Palestine,
- build atomic-powered ships, and
- face a communist Cuba.
You would have been laughed off the stage. Your audience would have rejected the possibility of these changes. Nonetheless, each event occurred, with profound impacts on the US military. Policymakers had to face a radically different strategic situation. Another example would be the next 15-year period (1960–1975). The US lost a war, witnessed a president assassinated, saw a president and a vice president resign in disgrace, watched as France withdrew from NATO’s military structure, began the “Great Society” program, went off the gold standard, and saw one-dollar-a-gallon gasoline. If you’re still not convinced, take the next 15-year period, 1975–1990. Who in 1975 predicted seeing, within 15 years:
- Computers on every desk
- The US as the world’s number one debtor
- Quarter-trillion-dollar federal budget deficits
- Honda as the number one car in America
- Capitalism in China
- Disintegration of the USSR
- A US-Iraq War (with Russian approval and Syria as an ally)
- Peace between Egypt and Israel
- The Iranian Revolution
- A Polish Pope
As we look towards the future, we should keep these lessons of modern history in mind. The world can change radically in as little as 15 years—and usually does. If we are lucky, change over the next 15 years will be positive and peaceful. We may experience an extended period of “deep peace.” Statesmen may successfully avoid war. Nations may concentrate on internal and economic matters. Whatever change we experience may be peaceful and stable. In fact, we can make a good case “deep peace” is the most likely future scenario. It’s tough to sculpt a credible scenario where great powers have no better option than war. None of the great powers should fight over farmland (food is plentiful and cheap). Nor should they fight over resources. Oil, the only obvious resource that might force a war, should remain abundant for the next several decades.* When building war games, our planners have great difficulty devising a credible cause for major war. Major war is difficult to posit as a likely scenario.
*Some people include "fresh Water" as a future scarce resource. However, given enough oil, a state can convert sea water to fresh water. Other critical resources have either substitutes or multiple sources.
Nevertheless, prudent planners cannot dismiss war’s possibility. The summer of 1914, which saw an assassination turn into a World War, provides sufficient precedent for political stupidity. Whether we like it or not, great powers will eventually “stupid” themselves into war. This war could start after some sort of crisis. Its nature could be environmental, viral, economic, or ideological. Regardless of cause, we must assume a major war will someday happen. Miscalculations by one or more of the parties will eventually escalate a crisis into a major war.2
With this possibility in mind we must add another variable. Just as the international environment can change quickly, so can military operations. Again, the interwar period is instructive. In the short period between 1925 and 1940, the science of war changed radically. Armies, navies, amphibious forces, and air forces underwent revolutions. The German army developed armored warfare. The US and Japanese navies developed carrier warfare. The US Marines developed amphibious warfare. The Royal Air Force and the US Army developed aerial warfare. Advances in technology and doctrine revolutionized warfare. As a result, the character of war fought in 1940 was entirely different from that possible in 1925.
Changes in air force inventories illustrate this point. In 1925, biplane bombers such as the Curtiss B-2 were state of the art—and extremely expensive. Within 15 years they were obsolete. Aviation technology sped past the biplane. The heavy bombers and monoplane fighters of World War II>, with their training, logistics, and basing infrastructures, bore little resemblance to the inventory of the Army Air Service in 1925.
Figure 3. Radical Change in 15 Years
Although the equipment of 1925 quickly became obsolete, the thinking of this era directly affected initial WWII operations. During the interwar years, prophets like William (“Billy”) Mitchell and groups like the Air Corps Tactical School built the doctrine of strategic bombing. Their thinking, combined with the civilian aircraft industry’s emphasis on large aircraft, drove the Air Corps focus on heavy bombers. As a direct consequence of this focus, most of the funding during the tight budget years of the Great Depression went to heavy bombers. This procurement made B-17s available at WWII’s outset; B-17s embodied the Air Corps doctrine of strategic bombardment.
At the same time, this doctrine dampened development of long-range fighters. For this reason, large numbers of P-51s and P-38s did not arrive in Europe until two years after the war began. Even when these long-range escort fighters did arrive, it took several months of trial and error to devise their optimum CONOPS.3 This shortfall in long-range fighter inventories and CONOPS was a direct result of interwar thinking.
During this short period, both the inventories and the doctrine of airpower underwent fundamental change. Of these two changes, developments in doctrine were far more enduring. While the inventories of 1920–1935 were irrelevant to WWII, the doctrines developed during that era dictated the initial employment of airpower in WWII.
Although major conflict is currently improbable, given current international conditions, history tells us that those conditions will quickly—and radically—change. For reasons unknowable today, major conflict will erupt at some time in the future. For planning purposes, we must assume (1) some sort of major crisis will eventually heighten international tensions; (2) these tensions will spark a military buildup, and (3) war will follow.
Could all this happen within the next decade? Very unlikely. The stream of events required to produce a major conflict between great powers will take time. Only when we project beyond 15 years do we enter the realm of the possible. Unlikely to be sure, but still possible at the early edge of this window. Given the downsides inherent in being unprepared, we believe it necessary to explore this possibility.
To envision this future war, planners should start with possible future weapon systems as their baseline—not what is currently on the ramp and in procurement. As the WWII experience shows, most of today’s weapons will be obsolete for a 2010 war. For example, it is very unlikely that today’s models of cruise missiles and satellites will reflect the state of the art in 2010. Nor will bombers. Just as advances in engine technologies made the 1925 Curtiss B-2 bomber obsolete in WWII, advances in information technologies will bypass the avionics/computers/munitions in today’s Northrop B-2 bomber.
Although today’s weapons will become obsolete, today’s thinking will not. The doctrines developed today will be critical. If the World War II analogy holds, doctrines developed today will guide rearmament and initial operations in the next war. Today’s planners will develop the operational concepts for a 2010 war; how US aerospace forces fight tomorrow will be guided by how US aerospace planners think today. For this reason, we need to explore the concept of war with a peer competitor in the 2010 time frame.
When projecting a major conflict with a peer, planners must expect both sides to employ significant numbers of advanced-technology aerospace systems. These systems will include
1. Atmospheric and space-based reconnaissance and communications systems. These systems will vary in quality and quantity between opponents. They will, at a minimum, be able to detect massive force movements and relay this information in near real time despite significant enemy countermeasures.
2. Information Age command and control systems. Future C2 will devise and direct integrated taskings with high fidelity in near real time. They’ll be heavily automated and dispersed. Attacks on any single node of this structure will not have catastrophic effects.
3. Stealth aircraft and stealth cruise missiles. Both sides will deploy tens of thousands of aerospace weapons with low signatures. These very low-observable weapons will use state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems to further increase their chances of penetration. Stealthy cruise missiles will be inexpensive, allowing their employment in massive numbers.
4. Precision weapons. Reflecting current trends in sensor technologies, precision weapons will have less than one meter accuracy with brilliant munitions.4 They will guide independently of external positioning systems (e.g., global positioning system [GPS]), and they will have automatic target recognition capabilities.5 Some of these weapons will retain their accuracy regardless of weather or darkness.
In addition to these emerging technologies, both sides will possess large numbers of nuclear weapons plus delivery systems capable of worldwide reach.* This strategic nuclear threat will significantly constrain military operations. Due to the possibility of nuclear retaliation, each side may place restrictions on attacks against the other’s homeland. Political leaderships may prohibit attacks on certain strategic targets (e.g., leadership, satellite ground stations, enemy stealth facilities) within the enemy’s borders, regardless of means. Both sides will have substantial resources and strategic depth. Neither will be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Both will have an economy capable of producing large numbers of state-of-the-art weapons. Both will have enough territory to permit maneuver.**
*This book does not assume international nuclear disarmament.
**A precise definition of a peer in terms of size and depth isn't possible. If size is a valid criterion, it seems safe to say that small countries, along the lines of Singapore and Israel, could never attain peer status. Countries with the size and wealth of Korea, Brazil, and South Africa could.
War with a future peer will present challenges of a different nature from those posed by an MRC scenario today. Both sides will use multiple sensors to detect large force movements and relay this information in near real time to stealthy aerospace weapon systems. Possibly operating from a sanctuary, these stealthy aerospace weapons will likely penetrate aerospace defenses in significant numbers. Once in the target area, they will strike with great accuracy. Most importantly, these weapons will be employed and controlled in an innovative fashion. Both sides will employ emerging technologies in ways that maximize their unique capabilities. Defense forces will face a combination of advanced surveillance and communications, innovative command and control, stealthy attack systems, precision munitions, nuclear weapons, and robust resources in the hands of an innovative attacker.
The fact that this war-fighting environment will be challenging and destructive does not mean US aerospace forces can’t surmount it. Quite the contrary. If the US plays its cards right, it could thrive in this environment. The US already possesses early generations of the key emerging technologies. For example, the US is experimenting with fourth generation stealth aircraft while other nations are still trying to understand stealth's basic physics. Stealth ownership allows the US to devise counters and improvements to stealth in practice while others must rely on theory. In addition to stealth, the US leads most potential enemies in precision weapons, space platforms, all-weather enabling technologies, information war, and simulation. As a result of this head start, the US can refine and integrate a series of key emerging technologies while other militaries are still trying to build them.
In any war with a peer, US force structure would be far greater than currently programmed. We can anticipate substantial US rearmament as a peer competitor arms itself and relations sour. As that happens, the US will draw upon its resources to rapidly field large numbers of the latest generation of weapons. The US will not “sit pat” while a potential peer enemy arms for war.
But technology alone doesn’t win wars; operational art is decisive. Given rough parity in weaponry, whoever best employs its weapons wins the battle. History is replete with examples where both sides employed roughly equal forces but with quite different employment schemes—and completely different results. Sedan (1940), Midway (1942), and the Bekaa Valley (1982) are but three examples of campaigns in which the victor used a superior concept of operations to overwhelming advantage. As in past wars, future battles will be won by the side that has the best concept of operations.
Today’s aerospace planners must devise superior employment concepts for future weapons. Given the US lead in technology and resources, the US should have superior weaponry in a war with a peer. Whether the US will have a superior CONOPS is less certain. In building a future CONOPS, planners should start by forecasting future weapons capabilities for the US and its peers. They should then ask themselves whether current US offensive and defensive CONOPS will thrive in that environment. If the answer is yes, our problem is greatly simplified; planners need only incorporate these new weapons into current plans. If the answer is no, however, planners must build new US offensive and defensive aerospace CONOPS.
As a first step, we should ask ourselves: Will the current US air defensive CONOPS suffice against a peer in 2010? Unfortunately, the answer is probably “no.”
The current air defense CONOPS for all American military forces assumes beyond visual range (BVR) detection of enemy aircraft and missiles. We assume that long-range sensors, primarily radar and infrared, will detect and track enemy aircraft and missiles far from the target area. Given this long warning time, air defense C2 will have time to sculpt a response. We further assume that commanders will have sufficient time to pick the most efficient weapon, task that weapon in a positive manner, and perform cross-checks to decrease the chance of fratricide. For example, current US weapon systems are built on the assumption that long-range sensors will acquire the target. Patriot, AIM-7, AIM-120, and AWACS assume that the target has a high radar signature; DSP and AIM-9 assume that the target has a high infrared signature. Thus, a key assumption throughout the current aerospace control CONOPS is that enemy aerospace platforms will reflect or emit high signatures.
Figure 4. Automated Versus Man-in-the Loop Decision Making
Unfortunately, that assumption will not prevail; future warfare will involve thousands of stealthy cruise missiles and aircraft with low signatures. The heat signatures of aircraft and cruise missiles will be below the tolerances of spaced-based infrared surveillance systems, making them difficult to detect upon launch. Stealth technologies will decrease their chance of detection by radar. In addition, aircraft and cruise missiles will avoid intense defenses by varying their routes. Even if detected in flight, their target will be uncertain. For all of these reasons, alerting specific terminal defenders will be difficult.
Our present CONOPS also assumes limited numbers of attacking missiles and aircraft. Due to the multimillion dollar unit costs of aircraft and accurate ballistic missiles, we can assume that any attack by these systems will be limited. For example, the entire US Air Force (active duty, guard, and reserve) inventory totals only 6,814 aircraft.6 While large in a relative sense, this number is small in an absolute sense. A limited inventory means limited attacks. Attacks can involve only a few hundred at a time; at most a thousand. Reflecting this limitation, coalition air forces launched only 931 attack sorties during the first 24 hours of Operation Desert Storm.7 Given these relatively limited numbers, the current aerospace defense CONOPS is appropriate. A few hundred costly attackers justifies multiple defensive shots by less expensive (but still costly) SAMs and AIMs. Stealthy cruise missiles, however, change this exchange ratio.
Stealthy cruise missiles are cheap. One US defense contractor reported his company could build a –30db (front and rear aspect) cruise missile with 300 NM range for $100,000. He then added that one should not buy this missile from his company; a company with less overhead could build the same missile much cheaper.8 Expected advances in production technologies combined with economies of scale (driven by large procurement runs) should cut the costs of very low-observable cruise missiles even further.
Such low unit costs will allow a peer attacker to employ stealthy cruise missiles in waves. At $100,000 per copy, a fleet of 100,000 stealthy cruise missiles would cost only $10 billion. Such a sum is well within the range of any peer anticipating war with the US. A fleet this size could launch waves of attackers. Each cruise missile would be cheaper than the US defensive weapon sent against it (SAMs, AIMs). The current US aerospace defense CONOPS, which shoots expensive missiles at even more expensive aircraft and ballistic missiles, is ill- suited to a massive, continuous attack by cheap cruise missiles.
Figure 5. Massive Stealthy Cruise Missile Attack
Another factor that must be considered is command and control. Current C2 concepts for US aerospace defense are ill- suited to the emerging environment. With few exceptions (e.g., Patriot batteries in automatic mode against incoming missiles), lethal attacks on aerospace targets require human decisions. Human fingers control every trigger. Usually, voice commands are required prior to missile launch. In an era of multiple penetrating targets, each with low signatures, such positive control may prove insufficiently responsive. Only an automated C2 structure will have the speed to react in sufficient time to defeat a mass attack by low-signature missiles. Unfortunately, the culture of current aerospace organizations will slow the understanding of this shortfall.
Another C2 shortfall is in the area of doctrine. US adherence to the doctrine of decentralized execution9 will degrade defensive operations. Because of the increasing range of defense weapons, multiple defenders may fire on the same target at the same time. They may all have the motivation and opportunity to engage the same target simultaneously. Different batteries of SAMs and flights of interceptors may also overlap coverage of specific targets. We need to deconflict firing decisions across our broad array of defensive weapons in this environment.
Given a fast, lethal, and low-signature target, several defenders may feel the need to quickly take any shot that presents itself. Given decentralized C2, several aircraft/ batteries might fire on the same target simultaneously. Or one platform might shoot while another makes a counter-productive maneuver. Or no one might shoot, each thinking that another defender has the lead. The most appropriate defender may even withhold its fire due to fears of threats yet to appear. Low-signature targets pose a considerable problem for future defenders.
Stringent rules of engagement (ROE) may solve the deconfliction problem if all possible circumstances are worked out in advance of the war. But such prescience is unrealistic. It would require an accurate projection of enemy capabilities and friendly vulnerabilities in advance of the war. There’s no historical precedent for such an accurate projection. Therefore, an alternative is necessary. Only a centralized C2 system has the potential to deconflict these factors in the chaos of war. Directing long-range defensive missiles against short-range targets presents an immense C2 challenge. Decentralized execution, effective in past wars, won’t answer this challenge.
For all of these reasons, sophisticated stealth in the hands of a peer enemy would render our current aerospace defense CONOPS obsolete. If the US attempts to use its current air defense CONOPS against a future peer aerospace threat, it would not be able to enforce air supremacy.10 Stealthy attackers would likely penetrate in high numbers. Taking advantage of modern surveillance and precision, they would hit crucial targets with substantial effect. In essence, high leverage enemy air attacks against US deployments would be probable. Therefore, the US needs a new aerospace defense CONOPS to survive in this future environment.
In this same context, we must also review future offensive operations. Will the current US offensive CONOPS suffice in the future? Unfortunately, the answer again seems to be “no.”
The current US aerospace CONOPS anticipates extensive use of in-theater systems. The overwhelming majority of these in-theater systems (e.g., AWACS, KC-10, F/A-18E, F-15E, Army Tactical Missile System [ATACMS]) emit or reflect high signatures. If employed against a future peer, they would be highly vulnerable to detection by multiple layers of enemy sensors. With this information, the peer enemy will inflict substantial attrition. Stealthy interceptors (whether manned or unmanned) will attack the airborne platforms. Stealthy cruise missiles and bombers will attack their bases. Short-legged US stealthy systems, such as TLAM, F-22, and F-117, would also be vulnerable. While survivable in flight, they depend on high-signature support systems (e.g., surface ships, AWACS, air refuelers, fixed air bases). By attacking these high-signature support systems, a peer enemy could significantly degrade short-legged US stealth. These vulnerabilities point to a recurrent theme in future warfare theory: high-signature systems won’t survive. This theme applies to aerospace forces as well as their ground and naval cousins.
The stealthy cruise missile symbolizes this threat. Future stealthy cruise missiles will (1) fly against critical targets, (2) penetrate into target areas in large numbers, and (3) hit within feet of their targets. Stealthy cruise missiles, properly supported by information and precision technologies, will make high-signature, immobile forces extraordinarily vulnerable. Air supremacy, which is required to protect ammunition ships needing days to unload, airlift aircraft needing hours to off-load and refuel, large air bases with “tent cities,” and air refueling aircraft parked nose-to-tail in the open, may not be possible. In this emerging environment, the United States may not be able to protect high-signature, theater-based aerospace forces. Absent a reasonable certainty of protection, any CONOPS dependent on their survival is suspect.
Simply stated, we’in which the current US aerospace CONOPS will prove inadequate for dealing with an enemy employing advanced information, C2, penetration, and precision in a sophisticated manner.
In addition to its impact on war fighting, this vulnerability also raises a stability issue. Lacking an ability to absorb an enemy attack in this new environment of advanced information, C2, penetration, and precision, we will be tempted by an overwhelming incentive to preemptively attack. This defines a dangerous situation: Absent adequate defenses, whoever strikes first wins. When either side in a crisis perceives an overwhelming advantage by striking first, that crisis will be inherently unstable.
Nuclear deterrence doctrine during the cold war addressed crisis stability in great depth. To induce crisis stability, both sides built large inventories, redundant systems (e.g., the TRIAD), extensive surveillance, hardening, and innovative CONOPS (e.g., airborne alert). The intent of these measures was to heighten crisis stability. The nuclear deterrence theorists did more than envision how to fight a nuclear war; they also described how to avoid “use or lose” situations. Today’s aerospace planners must sculpt similarly effective crisis stability regimes for the emerging stealth environment.
In summary, today’s aerospace planners must devise a future aerospace CONOPS with three projections in mind. First, aerospace defenses must anticipate a massive, low-signature target set. CONOPS that assume long-range detection of limited attackers will not thrive. Second, offensive aerospace forces must de-emphasize high-signature, theater-based forces. Their attrition in the emerging environment will be sufficiently high to preclude high-tempo operations. Third, planners must take steps to induce greater crisis stability into the US force structure and CONOPS. Absent greater redundancy and more effective defenses, the US could find itself in a “use or lose” predicament during a crisis.
With these three themes in mind, the following 11 operational concepts will be critical to aerospace operations in a future war with a peer.
- Conduct a defensive counterstealth campaign.
- Degrade enemy cruise missile guidance.
- Establish ballistic missile defense.
- Control and exploit space.
- Integrate ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) systems.
- Support the Information Campaign.
- Conduct offensive strikes within enemy homeland.
- Attack enemy invasion/occupation forces.
- Avoid deployment of critical targets within range of enemy stealth.
- Position JFACC in CONUS.
- Airlift critical supplies and spare parts into the combat area.
Conduct a Defensive Counterstealth Campaign
“Stealth” is synonymous with low observability—not invisibility. Stealth systems will reflect or emit signals intermittently during flight. Their “stealthiness” will vary depending on aspect. While their frontal aspect may present a very low-observable signature (–25 to –30 db), their side, rear, or overhead aspects may reflect to a much higher degree. Different radar bands will also offer different levels of detection. By thoroughly fusing different types of sensors throughout the battlespace, defenses might increase their detection of stealth systems—thus enhancing the cues available for friendly fighters and air defense batteries. Once cued, those defense systems could focus their sensors on a specific area to track and target. The mix of defense sensors should include these six characteristics:
1. Long-wavelength radars
a. Land-based (due to power requirements)
b. Airborne (to expand line-of-sight range)
2. High-altitude, possibly space-based, radars (to give a vertical aspect)
3. UAVs with radar, infrared, and imaging sensors
4. SIGINT (to cue airfield attack, detect sortie generation)
5. High-power, short-range radars/lidars* arranged along likely attack corridors (mobile to degrade preemption efforts)
6. High-fidelity and near-real-time kill assessment
*Lidar = light detection and ranging (a laser radar).
Sensor deployment must keep three principles in mind. First, all sensors must feed an integrated database. Stealth systems will not allow many “hits.” The few detections received might give a targeting solution if thoroughly fused. A fused system of sensors might also decrease the chance of enemy spoofing. Second, these sensors should be arranged in a circular, vice linear, fashion. Stealth platforms have varied signatures based upon aspect. It will be far easier to detect a stealth missile/aircraft from the side or rear than from head-on. In addition, because stealth platforms attempt to reflect radar energy away from the transmitter, it would be a great advantage if radar reflections from pulses emitted from one location could be received in a second location. Third, as the enemy tries to spoof sensors or as expected signatures fail to mirror reality, field units must have the capacity to rapidly adjust sensor algorithms.11 It will do little good to identify every inbound stealthy target if multiple false targets are concurrently displayed. The sensors must be designed to allow rapid adjustment by trained operators.
Once wide-area defense sensors detect stealth missiles/aircraft, they will cue air defense interceptors and missiles. The interceptors will need the following nine characteristics:*
*These characteristics will apply to all interceptors, whether manned or unmanned. Teleoperated interceptors may be practical by 2010. If so, they would need capabilities along these lines.
1. Data link with the sensor fusion center. Onboard sensors will not suffice to acquire and target enemy stealth. Interceptors will need real-time updates from offboard sensors.
2. Long range. Interceptor bases should be beyond the range of enemy cruise missiles (as should aerial refueling bases). Interceptors must sortie from rear bases and loiter in the expected engagement area.
3. Air-to-air missiles with multispectral seekers. At different aspects of the engagement, different sensors may have a lock on the target. Some combination of radar, acoustic, imaging, and IR sensors on the missile will be preferable to single- sensor missiles.
4. Missiles with long-range autonomous guidance
5. Missile warheads with increased blast radius
6. Superior maneuverability. The best way to defeat stealth fighters may be through visual acquisition and guns (as in WWII).
7. Large numbers on combat air patrol at any one time. Since most detections of stealth aircraft and missiles will occur at short range, interceptors must be nearby to effect the intercept.
8. Light logistics. Air bases should be mobile. Squadrons must regularly redeploy to complicate enemy attack planning.
9. Stealth. Interceptors will need low signatures. High-signature interceptors won’t survive in this environment. Both surface- and air-launched missiles (SAMs, AIMs) will increasingly be capable of autonomous tracking.
Air defense batteries will need these four characteristics:
1. Multispectral trackers and warhead seekers. At different aspects of the engagement, different sensors may have a lock on the target. Some combination of radar, acoustic, imaging, and IR sensors, both on the ground-based tracker and on the missile, will be preferable to single-sensor reliance.
2. Multiple shot and rapid reload. Assuming a low-signature target, individual SAMs may have low Pk. Advantage will accrue to systems capable of firing with only a marginal solution vice a system needing a high Pk shot (which might not happen). This will require inexpensive missiles and a rapid firing capability. Laser and/or directed energy weapons may prove to be weapons of choice.*
*Due to attenuation caused by the atmosphere (e.g., severe weather), a mix of weapon types may be preferable.
Note: This is a major issue. If cruise missiles are cheap, current missile defense concepts may find themselves on the adverse side of the expense ratio. For example, using an $800,000 Patriot missile to intercept a $100,000 cruise missile is grossly inefficient. This inefficiency will increase if more than one air defense missile is needed for each attacking cruise missile (due to a less than 1.0 Pk) and large numbers of air defense missiles are needed for every possible target area in case of saturation attack.
3. Mobility. Units must move daily to complicate enemy attack planning. Movements should result in minimal downtime with continuous positive C4I.
4. Integrated effort with air defense fighters. Just as fighter interceptors shoot targets with friendlies in the engagement zone, air defense batteries must be able to fight in airspace occupied by friendly air defense fighters (joint engagement zone).
The overall approach should be to (1) fuse sensors to cue and track very low-observables, (2) integrate defense weapons so the most appropriate can be tasked whenever sufficient target information is available, and (3) wrap the entire aerospace defense system in an “OODA” loop of only a few minutes.
Degrade Enemy Cruise Missile Guidance
Classic counterair operations seek to destroy enemy aircraft either in the air or on the ground. Neither approach works well versus stealthy cruise missiles. Their inherent stealthiness makes radar and visual interceptions very difficult. Nor are attacks on cruise missile bases practical. Future peers will rely on mobile launchers; no readily identifiable bases will exist. For all intents and purposes, cruise missiles are less vulnerable to the two pillars of current defensive counterair doctrine: air interception and airfield attack. Cruise missile defense requires an additional approach.
The most exploitable weakness of cruise missiles may be their guidance systems. It may be possible to degrade enemy cruise missile effectiveness by targeting their navigation and terminal area guidance. For example, if attacking cruise missiles use GPS, defenders could manipulate the GPS unencrypted civil code within 1,000 NM of enemy launch areas. Because the GPS signal is very weak (.000001 watt), it is highly vulnerable to low-power jammers. Scattered 10- or 25-watt jammers could degrade GPS accuracy in specific areas. These jammers could either be on the ground or aboard HALE UAVs; this would complicate possible jamming countermeasures by varying the jamming direction. The GPS signal could also be manipulated by spoofing or by turning off the unencrypted civil code on those satellites within the field of view of route/target area (the US would retain military mode for US operations).*
*As civil dependence on GPS increases, it will be politically impossible to "turn-off" GPS except in dire circumstances. War with a peer over a vital US interest, however, would meet this restriction.
Because of rapidly decreasing costs in inertial guidance (e.g., quartz or fiber-optic INS), these counters may have limited usefulness. The peer may not depend solely on GPS for guidance. The peer may also jam GPS theater-wide. However, if the peer uses external systems to either update or navigate cruise missiles, they’ll present a possible weakness.
Terminal seekers “look” for specific patterns in the target area. These patterns may involve an infrared, radar, image, or acoustic signature (or some combination). Depending on the sophistication of the seeker’s algorithm, it may be possible to spoof the terminal seeker. By understanding the pattern the seeker is programmed to find, decoy teams could devise returns which would attract the terminal seeker to benign areas. For this reason, understanding the seeker’s algorithm should be a prime target of US intelligence. The job of spoofing terminal seekers should be a primary mission of air defense units (in addition to their physical interception mission).
Establish Ballistic Missile Defense
The principal advantages of ballistic missiles (speed, range, and mobility), make them integral to any weapons inventory. Assuming sensor-to-warhead target data transmission, a near-real-time (NRT) decision cycle, and warheads capable of identifying/tracking mobile targets (e.g., ships, TELs), ballistic systems offer unique and important military capabilities. Most importantly, they can kill targets with limited windows of vulnerability.
However, ballistic missiles have a major vulnerability. They offer a high signature. Ballistic missiles have a large infrared signature at launch and are radar reflective. They have minimal maneuverability. They can be tracked from launch through impact. Given these attributes, we can conceive of several ways to defeat ballistic missiles. Improved aerospace technologies (e.g., lasers, kinetic kill), integrated with improved computing technologies, offer considerable promise.
Key to ballistic missile defense (BMD) will be an integrated architecture which targets all aspects of a ballistic missile’s life cycle. This life cycle includes: production; transportation; support personnel; C4I; defenses; and the missile’s three phases of flight (boost, post-boost, and terminal). This air defense architecture should have unitary command (except for point defenses) and be thoroughly exercised in peacetime. Finally, fixed, high-signature BMD will prove too vulnerable to the stealth cruise missile threat. Therefore, interceptors and sensors must also be mobile.
Unfortunately, a leak-proof BMD is probably impossible. As the Air Force Chief of Staff opined in 1995: “I’m not sure we’re ever going to have 100 percent capacity to catch inbound missiles.”12 Because some leakage is probable, operations dependent on large force concentrations are untenable; we must devise military forces capable of dispersed operations.
Control and Exploit Space
Space will undoubtedly be a center of gravity in any future war with a peer. Space offers a medium for near instantaneous, cheap, worldwide communications. It offers the possibility of continuous surveillance of terrestrial events plus highly accurate positioning. These are war-deciding capabilities. If one side can exploit space for communications, collection, and positioning—while denying similar capabilities to its enemy—it will gain a decisive advantage. In 1986, the Chief of Naval Operations recognized this point directly:Today we know that in wartime, even in a conventional war of limited duration, the two superpowers would fight a battle of attrition in space until one side or other had wrested control. And the winner would then use the surviving space systems to decide the contests on land and sea.13
In general terms, war in space will mirror any other kind of war. It will have offensive and defensive aspects. Militaries will attack enemy satellites while trying to defend their own satellites. Space war will be fought over distances great and small. Targets will range from the surface of the earth (ground stations) to GEO (geosynchronous earth orbit), plus everywhere in between. Weapons will be manned and unmanned, kinetic-kill, and energy-kill. Environmental damage will temper operations. Targets will include all facets of each space weapon (e.g., C2, infrastructure, production base, personnel, and defenses). While the physics of space will dictate unique weapons technologies, future war in space will involve goals similar to those applicable in terrestrial warfare.
If left unchallenged, space architectures will provide war-winning information. Prior to war, space sensors will unobtrusively observe enemy force deployments, national and military infrastructures, and physical characteristics of potential areas of operation. These capabilities parallel much of what the US Army stresses in METT-T (mission, enemy, tactics, terrain, time). Two of the five (enemy, terrain) are observable from space; mission and tactics can be inferred from satellite reconnaissance. Having this information prior to a war has immense military value.
During the conflict, space will act as the “grid” on which critical information architectures “hang.” Satellites will surveil enemy maneuvers, assess friendly forces, aid positioning, and facilitate communications. These capabilities will support both the offense and the defense. They will help guide targeting decisions while alerting terrestrial units of possible enemy attacks. These are critical warfighting capabilities. They’ll enable every facet of combat, combat support, and combat service support.
Space will also serve as a transit medium. Ballistic missiles and some sensors will transit space on suborbital trajectories. Either side in a war may wish to attack those platforms while still in space. For these reasons, neither side in a major war can allow its opponent unchallenged use of space.
Challenges to satellites will fall into four areas: ground- and space-based lasers; exoatmospheric EMP/MHD/HPM*; jamming; and kinetic kill. These systems will vary in effectiveness. The first two (lasers and frequency weapons) pose the lesser challenge. Lasers can be negated through shielding. Proven technologies can dissipate laser energy throughout the target. Frequency hardening (especially against EMP) is a well-understood, though expensive, process. Although a single type of shield cannot defeat all types of frequency weapons, shielding can protect satellites. To negate lasers and frequency weapons, military satellites should incorporate these features. For weight and cost reasons, however, COMSATs will not.
*EMP: electromagnetic pulse (<1MHZ); MHD:magneto-hydrodynamic (1-100MHZ); HPM: high-powered microwave (100-200MHZ).
The latter two space interdiction threats (jamming and kinetic kill) are more problematic. Engineers can passively degrade the jamming threat to communications via frequency-hopping and narrowly-focused signals (e.g., EHF, laser). However, many forces will continue to rely on unfocused UHF signals. Such signals could remain susceptible to high-powered jamming. Their best defense may reside in using suppression forces against the jammers. Because jammers emit, they give away their precise location to antiradiation missiles. The inherently high signature of jammers is a substantial vulnerability.
Suppression of low-power jammers, however, will prove difficult. If the satellite is broadcasting or receiving low-powered signals, a low-powered jammer may suffice to interfere with its signal. This interference may render normal transmissions unreliable. Such low-powered jammers could be deployed in large numbers. They could also be mobile (space, air, land). Either technique would make suppression through interdiction difficult.* Also, jammer inventories will be important. Jammers produced and deployed by the thousands throughout the theater could overwhelm directional antijam filters installed on receivers.
*A jammer aboard a satellite in close proximity to a GPS satellite would be exceptionally difficult to defeat. By co-orbiting the jamming satellite slightly ahead of the GPS satellite, an enemy would make some US interdiction efforts difficult. For example, a kinetic kill of the jamming satellite might scatter debris in the GPS satellite's orbit.
The interdiction threat will vary depending upon target orbit. Because satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) can be reached by air-launched ASATs and space-based interceptors (e.g., Brilliant Pebbles), they will be vulnerable to frequent, short-warning, and relatively inexpensive attack. Their best chance for individual survival probably rests in increased maneuverability and threat detection. By changing orbit when an ASAT/interceptor is en route, the target satellite may degrade the ASAT/interceptor’s targeting solution (and its Pk). Unfortunately, this solution requires significant payload penalties. Extra fuel for maneuvering (and reacquiring the orbit) means less mission payload. Another possibility is co-orbital escort satellites. Just as fighters regularly escort reconnaissance aircraft and bombers within the atmosphere, escort satellites could escort/protect high-value collection satellites in space. The escort satellites would target ASAT/ interceptors attempting to intercept the protected satellite. These concepts of escort and maneuverability have significant downsides, however, principally in terms of magazine capacity and launch costs.
The best chance for architecture survivability will require a combination of maneuverability, escort, and—most importantly—rapid replenishment.* In a sense, satellites in the next war should take a page from heavy bomber survival tactics in WWII. Although WWII bombers were readily detected and flew predictable routes (similar to satellites), their limited maneuverability and escorts provided enough protection for operations to continue. This protection sufficed because bombers were readily replaceable.** As soon as one bomber was lost, another took its place. For example, the Eighth Air Force lost, on average, 12 percent of its fleet each month in 1943 and 1944.14 Despite these losses, Eighth AF heavy bomber inventories rose during that time. Although protection of the bombers was never very good, defensive measures and robust production sufficed to keep gains ahead of losses. LEO satellites in the next war should be as replaceable as bombers were in WWII.15 Assuming that satellites in LEO will face similar attrition because they will operate in a similar situation (a high-value target, operating over enemy territory, on a predictable route), a replacement regime on a par with that for WWII bombers is mandatory.
*Before dismissing this analogy out of hand, readers should put themselves in the places of military planners in 1925. From a 1925 perspective, the costs and attrition of WWII were horrendous. Nevertheless, they happen. The costs and attrition of a 2010 war with a peer will also be horrendous. Nevertheless, we must prepare with the scale of previous peer wars in mind.
**Bomber aircrew attrition, a most important factor in evaluating bomber operations, is omitted here because aircrew attrition has no direct comparison in satellite operations.
Satellite maneuverability would severely complicate ASAT targeting—if the enemy’s space tracking capabilities were degraded prior to any maneuvering. Satellite locations are, at best, estimates based on studies of previous flight paths; change the flight path and you change the expected location. If the enemy is unable to construct a new flight path after a satellite's maneuver, it would be unable to predict an intercept location. For this reason, satellite tracking facilities will be prime targets in any war with a peer.
Satellites in GEO should experience higher survivability. They’ll also be vulnerable to ASATs, but three constraints will mitigate these vulnerabilities. First, sophisticated ASATs (with extensive maneuverability and multiple sensors) will probably need a heavy booster to reach GEO. Heavy boosters require a considerable launch infrastructure. The limited number of such space-launch facilities could be targeted by nonlethal (e.g., conventional EMP) means.* Second, because easterly tracks along the equator are the most efficient for air launches into GEO, combat air patrols along likely launch tracks might degrade launch efforts. Third, an ASAT would need considerable time to climb to GEO for the intercept. During this time, countermeasures (e.g., maneuvering, a defense antisatellite weapon [D-ASAT], electronic intrusion) could occur. While satellites in GEO will be vulnerable to interception, these factors will make GEO satellites more survivable than satellites in LEO.
*Should nonlethal weapons fail, the NCA might approve a conventional attack on the ASAT launch facility.
Offensive operations against enemy space systems will parallel these defensive measures. Enemy systems without the proper shielding, frequency management, maneuverability, and encryption will be vulnerable to interdiction. One caution: It is doubtful that the NCA will authorize a first strike on enemy space systems and infrastructure. We should assume that the enemy will strike first. Given this assumption, the US must have replacement satellites (and their launchers) ready at war’s outset.
Protecting the information flow will become as important as protecting the information collectors. Loss of either has the same effect. If US forces depend solely on satellites in GEO for data relay (e.g., SATCOMs, such as the military strategic and tactical relay satellite [MILSTAR]), it would present the enemy with a “single point failure” target set. By destroying the limited number of US military communications satellites, the enemy would make many US reconnaissance satellites less effective. To lessen this vulnerability, alternate information flows are needed. The most obvious is the civilian communication constellations projected for the near future. Iridium, Globalstar, and Teledesic, for example, promise to provide considerable bandwidth. However, these satellites will have two major weaknesses. They will orbit in LEO and won’t be maneuverable. Enemy ASATs will take advantage of these weaknesses. They will likely “attrit” COMSATs in LEO (unless the enemy is also using the same LEO satellites for communications).
As with collection satellites, UAVs may offer an alternative.* A HALE UAV at 80,000 feet has a horizon of approximately 400 NM. Thus, it has line-of-sight connectivity with a similar UAV at the same altitude 800 NM away. A string of HALE UAVs, each 500–800 NM apart, could relay communications over several thousand miles. The last downlink could be to a ground station, connected via fiber optic cable with the national communications grid.** This downlink receiver could be either civilian or military, overt or covert.***
*HALE UAVs could also back up positioning (e.g., GPS) satellites.
**Any third wave country could supply the downlink station. All are connected with the information grid through fiber-optic cable.
***An ability to rapidly lay fiber-optic cable would further enhance this alternative.
This UAV relay system would not replace a SATCOM system, but rather provide an alternative channel to satellites. It might also provide two additional benefits. First, a UAV architecture allows modifications of existing hardware on a daily basis. Unlike SATCOMs, which are “frozen” in R&D long before launch and, once launched, do not allow further hardware modifications, a UAV fleet could receive continuous hardware updates. Given the rapid pace of telecommunications technology, this is no small benefit. Second, an additional communications channel would induce a measure of stability in a crisis. As both sides postured for possible war, each would be tempted to preemptively attack the other’s satellites. Given the vulnerability of satellites and their critical role in a future war, this “first strike” temptation may prove overwhelming. However, an alternative communications system would lessen the military advantage gained by a first strike on communications satellites. As a result, it could heighten crisis stability.
The concept of first strikes in space raises an important point. It is likely the US will operate with five disadvantages in any space war. First, the NCA will probably deny first strikes by US forces against enemy satellites, thus sacrificing the initiative in any war with a peer. Second, it is doubtful that the US will equip its satellites with nuclear power plants. If the enemy uses nuclear powered satellites, they will have decided power advantages over US satellites. Third, the enemy may have a faster acquisition cycle for satellites (dependent on solar and battery power). If it takes the US 10 years to design, build, and launch a satellite, and if the peer enemy can do the same job in five years, the US may be operating with inferior equipment. Fourth, a peer may aggressively weaponize space despite US and world opinion. This weaponization could include an extensive ASAT capability. Fifth, a peer may pursue an attrition campaign in space. A peer may build an architecture that is quite unlike the current US emphasis on expensive, multimission satellites. The peer might emphasize large numbers of single-mission, readily-replaceable satellites. Unit inefficiencies would be offset by their greater survivability in an attrition war. Should these five potential disadvantages prove true, the US disadvantage in any space war would be severe.
Integrate Intelligence, Surveillance,
and Reconnaissance Systems
Aerospace collection and communications platforms come in three varieties: space-based; unmanned atmospheric; and manned atmospheric. In other words, satellites, UAVs, and aircraft. Sensors aboard these platforms also come in several varieties. Passive sensors include imagery intelligence (IMINT [photography, infrared]), SIGINT (exploiting an enemy’s communications), and electronic intelligence (ELINT [pinpointing electronic emissions]). Active sensors include lidar and radar platforms (e.g., space-based wide-area surveillance [SBWAS], joint surveillance target attack radar system [J-STARS], AWACS, tactical reconnaissance aircraft [U-2, TR-1]). Each platform and sensor has unique capabilities and vulnerabilities. It makes considerable sense to integrate these systems into a whole.
Commanders need the capability to tap whatever intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sensor they deem necessary. If the peer should successfully target one aspect of the ISR system, other platforms must transparently assume that particular task. For example, both satellites and HALE UAVs are capable of wide-area surveillance and cueing. “National” systems such as DSP, “theater” systems such as J-STARS, and “tactical” systems such as an airborne early warning/ground environment integration segment (AEGIS) radar, also have overlapping capabilities. Should the enemy successfully interfere with one of these systems, commanders need the flexibility to task another system with replacement capabilities. The successor system would assume all or part of the mission. Such a transfer would require both a centralized tasking structure for ISR assets and a universal connection of all ISR assets to an overall C4I system.
Another reason commanders need more than one ISR system is that they can use different types of sensors concurrently to decrease the effect of enemy spoofing. Enemy “targets” identified by electronic sensors might, when concurrently identified by imaging sensors, prove to be decoys. No sensor is ever perfect; but because independent probabilities are additive, two or more different sensors looking at the same target will give a higher-confidence product than a single sensor (or single type of sensor).*
*For example, suppose an ELINT satellite detects a target with 70 percent confidence. Concurrently, a SIGNET UAV identifies the same target with 50 percent confidence. Intelligence would assign an 85 percent confidence factor to that target (70% + [30% x 50%]) = 85%. This is the same method we use with missiles. One AIM-7 has a .7 Pk, two AIM-7s have a .91 Pk (.7 + [.3 x .7]) = .91.
AWACS, J-STARS, and TR-1 will have little utility in a war with a peer.16 They emit continuous signatures, have little maneuverability, and are highly reflective. They will be prime targets for stealthy interceptors. A peer’s stealthy interceptors will likely penetrate into autonomous missile range of these aircraft.
In addition, a peer might field stealthy cruise missiles having an antiaircraft capability. These missiles would take cueing from land-based passive sensors (via triangulation), use antiradiation sensors for long-range tracking, then switch to a radar or IR sensor in the terminal phase.
This combination of attacking stealth aircraft and stealth cruise missiles would put high-value, emitting aircraft continuously on the defensive. They would contribute only intermittently to the overall campaign. High-signature aircraft such as AWACS, J-STARS, and TR-1 may still prove useful in rear-area defense roles, such as protecting an air base, port, stream of airlifters, or a convoy of ships.
Aerospace force structure should emphasize space-based systems and stealthy UAVs for 24-hour conflict surveillance, while de-emphasizing high-signature, high-value aircraft.* They should have redundancy between types of platforms, overlapping coverage among types of sensors, and connectivity with a common C4I architecture. This integration will allow dominant battlefield awareness in a highly competitive environment.
*To achieve continuous collection with a variety of sensors, the US should have hundreds of UAVs available for a war with a peer. In comparative terms, a few hundred UAVs would cost far less than the project J-STARS inventory. UAVs would also have significantly lower life-cycle costs.
Support the Information Campaign
Aerospace forces should expect heavy taskings in support of the Joint Force Information Component Commander’s (JFICC) campaign. Satellites, UAVs, and manned aircraft will collect data on the enemy’s information and C2 architectures. Satellites and UAVs will relay this data to the JFICC’s fusion and analysis centers. These centers will identify priorities and critical nodes within these architectures, which the JFICC will use to orchestrate offensive and defensive campaigns. In support of these campaigns, aerospace platforms (ASATs, missiles, bombers) will deliver munitions (both lethal and nonlethal) against JFICC-directed targets. Other military forces will also support the JFICC’s campaign, but aerospace forces should expect sizable taskings.
This support will be a part of the theater CINC’s normal apportionment process. The CINC will apportion a certain percentage of sorties to JFICC support (e.g., a certain percentage of UAV sorties on a certain day will fly in accordance with JFICC taskings). Just as aerospace forces are sometimes apportioned to support naval or ground campaigns, future information campaigns will see the joint force information component commander tasking aerospace forces in accordance with the theater CINC’s overall guidance. The CINC will integrate this information campaign with ground, naval, and aerospace campaigns to effect a strategic victory.
At the same time, the peer enemy will be conducting its own IW campaign against the US. A prime target will be US military forces. Therefore, US aerospace forces must operate efficiently while under information attack.
The peer will undoubtedly attempt to corrupt information vital to US aerospace operations. The enemy’s IW effort will probably center on four general areas: (1) deployment (e.g., the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] network); (2) employment (e.g., the air tasking order [ATO], battle management); (3) surveillance (e.g., downlinks from ELINT satellites); and (4) logistics (e.g., supply requests). To mitigate the effects of such intrusion, aerospace forces must incorporate a series of defensive measures. These measures should include regular exercises in a corrupted information environment, software protocols which flag nonstandard inputs, redundant information links which check message fidelity while providing back up information routing, and extensive encryption that is changed regularly. Despite these efforts, we should expect at least modest success by enemy IW. We must learn to live with it—successful IW will be a given in future war. Just as army units have long operated under the threat of air attack, aerospace units must have the ability to operate while under information attack.
Key to successful operations in any war will be decision cycles. Both sides in a peer conflict will attempt to detect and task in near real time. Each will attempt to make snap decisions—faster and better than its opponent. Whoever builds the tighter decision loop will gain a significant advantage. This struggle for tighter decision loops will occur at all levels of war. Opposing fighter pilots (tactical), JFACCs (operational), and NCAs (strategic)—all will try to observe-orient-decide-act faster than their opponents. Each side will strive towards near-real-time decision cycles because they confer war-fighting advantages.
The advantage of near-real-time decisions carries with it a risk. Near-real-time decision cycles will require extensive use of automation and threat/opportunity triggers. By understanding either the algorithms inherent in the enemy’s automated decision architecture or the key factors which trigger certain reactions, the commander can manipulate enemy responses. Therefore, a concerted effort to understand and exploit the enemy’s decision process is mandatory. If effective, such an operation would initially drive the enemy toward bad decisions. After a series of bad decisions, the enemy would be forced to insert added cross-checks into its decision process, thus slowing down its decision cycle. As a result, snap decisions may be poor decisions if your opponent properly understands your decision process.
Conduct Offensive Strikes
within the Enemy Homeland
In a future war with a peer, strikes on the enemy homeland are mandatory. The peer will have key facilities within its homeland integral to its war effort. These targets could include political and military leadership, weapons of mass destruction, command posts for operational forces, sources of national wealth, military sustainment depots, satellite ground stations, satellite tracking facilities, power projection forces (e.g., missile/bomber bases), and a national information network, among others. Successful strikes on these targets will have a critical effect at the strategic and operational levels of war.
Despite the critical nature of these targets, aerospace planners should expect significant political restrictions on these attacks. These restrictions will derive from a fear of nuclear retaliation. By definition, any peer will have nuclear-armed ICBMs. A peer will probably threaten to answer any strike on its homeland, nuclear or conventional, with a nuclear-armed ICBM strike on CONUS. This threat may inhibit the NCA from authorizing a strategic air campaign on the peer’s territory. At the very least, the NCA will want military options that don’t include massive attacks on a nuclear-armed enemy’s homeland.
Planners must reconcile the need to disable strategic targets within the enemy’s homeland with probable NCA restrictions on doing so. A permissible option may involve precision strikes with nonlethal weapons. Although usually discussed in terms of low-intensity conflict, nonlethal weapons may have considerable utility in a war with a peer. Their employment against soft targets (e.g., electric grid, political organs, nuclear facilities, air defense C4I nodes, fuel storage) could cripple the enemy’s war-making capacity without presenting an excuse for a nuclear response.* For example, MHD bursts over stealth aircraft bases might cripple that fleet (at best) or its sortie generation (at worst). Spraying anti-fuel microbes on enemy air bases would also degrade sortie generation. Such strikes, if successful, would impair the peer’s ability to orchestrate either strategic defenses or operational attacks.
*However, there should be no attacks with any type of warhead on any aspect of enemy ICBM forces (to include early warning satellites). Planners must avoid putting enemy strategic nuclear weapons in a "use-or-lose" situation.
Similarly, conventional EMP bursts near key electrical and information facilities might impair national C2. EMP bursts near space launch facilities might deny the enemy access to space. In addition, some enemy targets, such as cruise missile facilities or military leadership, may prove impractical. They may be hardened or so dispersed as to be unreachable. In such cases, attacks will center on supporting infrastructures. Targets will include communications links and critical support (e.g., electricity). These nonlethal warheads could be delivered by stealthy cruise missiles launched from sea and air platforms during the day, or by long-range stealth bombers launched from CONUS at night.17
Bomber penetration of the enemy’s homeland will require defense suppression and escort. After all, enemy defenses against bomber attacks will have three factors in their favor. First, the enemy will know likely target areas (e.g., air defense headquarters within the capital city). This knowledge will narrow the focus of defense efforts. Second, peers may obtain limited cueing of bomber locations from long-wavelength radars or SIGINT intercepts. Partial information might suffice to enable visual interceptions. Third, high unit costs will keep stealthy bomber inventories low; loss of even one stealthy bomber will be significant. For these three reasons, bomber attacks on an enemy homeland warrant a pair of precautions. First, stealthy cruise missiles should precede bombers into defended target areas. Similar to the old Tacit Rainbow program, these missiles would autonomously suppress active defenses. They could also act as decoys, emitting signatures similar to those of bombers. Second, stealthy fighters should escort stealth bombers. The bomber needs some protection in case an enemy fighter acquires it. Because interceptions of stealthy bombers are a possibility, bombers need suppression and escort. Both the escort fighter and the defense suppression UAV must be stealthy to avoid compromising the bomber. Bombers should not penetrate alone.
Attack Enemy Invasion/Occupation Forces
War with a peer will probably involve contested territory outside the peer’s borders. Unless someone figures out a way to occupy territory without putting soldiers on the ground, the peer’s invasion/occupation forces will require large land forces. Such forces need equipment to take territory. They need tanks, artillery, and helicopters. These weapons need supporting trucks, ships, and logistics bases. All in all, invasion and occupation is a large-signature operation.
This weight is needed for a simple reason. To overcome modern defenses, massive numbers of mobile forces are a prerequisite. For example, Warsaw Pact plans for invading Western Europe envisioned massive numbers:
It was estimated that in order to overcome the main line of defense, it was necessary to have at least a sixfold superiority over the opponent. The breach of subsequent defense lines required only a threefold superiority.18
Unfortunately for the invading soldiers, massive numbers equate to a high signature—which results in a high chance of detection and targeting. This situation gives the defense an advantage.
Whether the invasion force moves by land or sea, the result should be the same. US space-based and atmospheric unmanned platforms will detect large-signature forces. Satellites and UAVs will provide awareness and cueing of operational-level enemy maneuvers. The primary sensor will be a phased-array radar with moving target indicator (MTI) capability aboard satellites in LEO.19 MTI radars will search large areas and detect massed surface forces on the move. Electro-optical (EO) sensors aboard satellites in GEO will have sufficient resolution to keep a watch on main operating bases and probable avenues of attack. To complement satellite surveillance, UAVs would carry MTI/SAR (synthetic aperture radars) and EO sensors. UAVs would provide high revisit rates of specific areas of concern. UAVs would also replace satellite broad-area surveillance if the enemy degrades satellite operations. On land, possible attack avenues could be monitored by unattended ground sensors (UGS). These could be camouflaged and stealthily seeded by either aircraft or UAVs. Miniaturized ground sensors, incorporating robust microelectronics and communications, will sniff, watch, listen, and analyze. They could be densely distributed in high-interest areas and/or broadly seeded over areas of lesser interest.* After cueing by any or all of these sensors, UAVs would recce probable enemy formations and identify specific targets/locations for attack.
*At sea, sound surveillance system (USN) (SOSUS)-type sensors would perform the broad area detection function. Probable detections would be interrogated by more precise sensors (UAV, satellite, J-STARS for surface targets; sonar buoys delivered by aircraft/UAVs for subsurface contacts).
This data will be cross- or up-linked via satellite to a secure JFACC. JFACC will fuse this data (using wide-area automatic target recognition software) to rapidly identify enemy forces. Accompanying software would automatically assign priorities to these targets based on threat and commander’s intent.* After coordinating with the other component commanders (e.g., the land and naval component commanders), JFACC would then distribute taskings to worldwide units, which would conduct precise interdiction on enemy forces. After the attack, collection platforms would surveil the damage and, if necessary, reinitiate the process.**
*This capability does not presently exist. A substantial development effort will be required to build this capability. This effort will take advantage of expected advances in parallel processing software and hardware, artificial intelligence, rule-based programming, novel database architectures, and networking.
**Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) after long-range strikes will pose a severe challenge. The abilities to identify and strike targets at long range are only two-thirds of a war-fighting capability. The attacker must also know quickly and surely whether or not the attack succeeded. BDA ranges must equal strike ranges. One technique may be to lace explosives with signature chemicals visible to UAV and satellite sensors.
Given these future capabilities, the theater CINC would probably levy the following operational goals on US aerospace forces:
- Degrade enemy invasion/occupation forces (e.g., stealth bomber strikes with brilliant munitions, cruise missile attack with an antiship warhead or mines).
- Hollow-out the enemy invasion/occupation force through attacks on logistics areas and LOCs (e.g., with cruise missile-delivered cluster bomb units [CBU], bomber-delivered mines).
Nonlethal weapons should prove especially effective against massed ground maneuver forces. Weapons such as high-power acoustic generators, high-power microwaves, EMP, anti-POL agents, and antirubber chemicals—applied against units in road march—should cause bunch-ups and disorganized advances. Conventional attack (e.g., a stealth bomber carrying 800 submunitions) could then inflict more permanent damage.
Satellites and UAVs will also identify large logistics bases. Once identified, JFACC will task the most appropriate munitions and delivery platforms to strike them. Logistics bases may prove an aggressor’s greatest vulnerability. In the face of informed and precise attack, the enemy should be unable to develop the logistics infrastructure necessary for multidivision invasion/occupation.
US Army operations in Operation Desert Storm illustrate both these points. During the ground offensive, the US VII and XVIII corps required 1,600 truckloads of fuel and ammunition per day.20 These supplies came from two logistics bases (“Charlie” and “Echo”) which, themselves, took a month-long effort of continuous traffic to fill. When operating at full speed, an average of 18 trucks per minute arrived at these logistic bases.21 Assuming an aggressor will have roughly similar logistics requirements, the signature and vulnerability of their logistics bases and convoys will make them highly vulnerable. Such massive logistics will be readily targeted in the new war-fighting environment. By hollowing out their logistics, US aerospace forces could immobilize enemy invasion/occupation forces.
US Military Vehicles at Ad Damman, Saudi Arabia
US Army Troopship, General W.H. Gordon, Departing Korea, 1951
An ability to retask strike missions en route would prove a great benefit in this environment. Because of the long flight times involved (e.g., some stealth bomber sorties will originate in CONUS), the tactical situation may change significantly between final aircrew briefing and time over target. When attacking maneuver forces, an ability to retask attackers en route is mandatory. The type of information processing systems required to make retasking work will be the main difference between today’s stealthy bombers (i.e., B-2) and those of 2010.
Targeting invasion/occupation forces is crucial to an overall approach to a future peer competitor. It is important for planners to recognize the advantages inherent in the defense in this 2010 war. Advances in information, C2, penetration, and precision will make large surface forces highly vulnerable. This vulnerability will be highest during the initial stages of an invasion when the invader must mass to overcome indigenous defenses. It is at this stage that the US must engage the peer enemy. Failure to engage the enemy at this stage would prove disastrous. Once the enemy gains control of its objective, the US would find itself at a severe disadvantage. As the US tried to mass forces to capture the lost territory, its logistics, convoys, build-up areas, etc., would come under heavy attack. In essence, the process outlined in this paragraph would be turned against the US.*
*For this reason, naval platforms (arsenal ships, aircraft carriers, SSNs with cruise missiles) will have secondary roles to long-range, land-based bombers. The time needed to sail ships with their escorts to the AOR may exceed the vulnerability window of the peer's power projection force.
Overhead View of Tent City at Shiekh Isa, Bahrain,
During Operation Desert Storm
Avoid Deployment of Critical Targets
within Range of Enemy Stealth
It has always been a sound tenet of military doctrine to keep friendly forces—to the maximum extent possible—outside the range of lethal enemy systems. Units close with the enemy only when necessary to accomplish specific objectives. This tenet will not change in a future war with a peer. If anything, the concept will become even more important as information, C2, penetration, and precision capabilities increase. Complicating this situation will be concurrent increases in weapon range.
In a future war with a peer, prudence dictates that aerospace forces base few assets within range of enemy stealth. To the maximum extent possible, US aerospace forces must base outside the range of enemy stealth systems. For example, if the peer enemy’s cruise missiles have a 1,000-NM range, US aerospace forces should base >1,000 NM from the likely operating area(s) of these missiles. High-value airborne platforms (e.g., AWACS, J-STARS, Rivet Joint) would launch and recover from bases >1,000 NM from the enemy. The US goal should be to concentrate fire, not forces.
Such basing will be possible only if the US aerospace inventory emphasizes long-range operations. Aircraft will need long legs for flights from rear area bases to enemy targets, and aircrew ratios must support long sortie durations.* Inventories of aircraft and munitions must be sufficient to deliver effective, sustained firepower on the target set from bases >1,000 NM away. Deployment kits must support extended operations with minimal support. This will enable split unit operations and frequent changes of bases. Finally, because of enemy aerospace defenses, these long-range strike systems must be stealthy.
*Although aircraft may fly multiple sorties in one day, aircrews will not.
Having said that, however, we must understand that significant forces will still have to operate routinely within range of enemy deep-strike systems. For example, the CINC may deploy surface-to-surface missiles into the theater to threaten time-critical targets (TCTs). In addition, UAV, C2, and BMD units will deploy close to the fight.
Several measures will increase their survivability. Their arrivals in theater should be covered by ground and airborne air defenders.* They would deploy/disperse/camouflage during darkness. Most importantly, forces deploying within range of enemy stealth must be mobile. They must constantly shift their location, if only by a few miles. If they simply deploy to one location and sit pat, enemy surveillance systems will eventually pinpoint their location; enemy deep-strike stealth will likely penetrate with precision. Immobile facilities necessary for operations should adopt ship and tank antimissile defenses: (1) kinetic-kill (e.g., Phalanx) or directed-energy weapons (DEW) for point defense; (2) reactive armor to decrease warhead explosive effect; and (3) decoys.
*Air defense fighters over airheads would attempt to visually acquire attacking enemy stealth fighters. We should assume stealthy cruise missiles will not be observable in flight. Individual missiles may be visually acquired and shot down, but this will be an exception, not the rule.
Position JFACC in CONUS
Our current C2 CONOPS deploys the JFACC* to the theater of operations. Forward deployment has the advantage of allowing face-to-face contact between the theater commander (the CINC) and the JFACC. It also fosters personal relationships with coalition partners. However, this deployment has two significant downsides.
*As stated previously, this book uses the term "JFACC" to encompass all aerospace C2 above wing level (e.g., AOC, TACC, ROCC,LRR, ASOC).
First, deploying JFACC to the theater puts a high-value/high-signature target within range of enemy stealth systems. As the key aerospace battle manager, the JFACC will top the enemy’s target list.* With its large infrastructure (e.g., antennas, tents, vans) and robust communications, sooner or later the enemy will pinpoint the JFACC's location.22 If this location is within range of enemy stealth systems, those systems will eventually penetrate US defenses and precisely attack the JFACC's headquarters.
*Just as the Iraqi Air Defense HQ was a high priority during the opening phase of Operation Desert Storm—which the US attacked with stealth systems (i.e., F-117).
Second, JFACC is unable to direct the campaign while physically deploying to the theater. While en route, and until the key staff with its equipment and defenses are in place, JFACC will have neither the knowledge nor the connectivity to orchestrate an aerospace war. This delay is a critical shortcoming. The peer enemy is most vulnerable during its invasion phase. Logistics are massed; routes of march exposed. Giving the enemy a “breathing space” during its most vulnerable time is a questionable CONOPS.23
A solution to both problems is to base the JFACC in CONUS.* This basing would keep the JFACC outside the range of enemy stealth systems and avoid creating a fixed, in-range, high-value target for the enemy. It would also allow immediate planning/tasking of the air campaign. There would be no delay imposed by waiting until JFACC (with its defenses) has deployed and set up operations. Instead, the JFACC could begin directing the air campaign immediately. Planners would have immediate access to all-source intelligence. A CONUS JFACC would allow well-exercised connectivity with combat units (e.g., fiber-optic cable connections with CONUS-based stealth bomber wings).24 They could take advantage of CONUS databases and expertise; JFACC computers could be hardwired to a secure information net. All data relayed by satellite (including data from national systems) would downlink to a fixed JFACC facility. It would fuse the data, filter out extraneous material, and distribute distilled information. In essence, JFACC would immediately have the exercised expertise to turn information about the situation into knowledge about the war. After running computer simulations to determine the best tactical options, JFACC would issue the ATO. This centralized ATO would direct all air assets, whether based in-theater, in CONUS, or in adjacent theaters.
*The logic of putting the JFACC in CONUS may also apply to other component commanders. For example, the naval component commander in the 1991 Gulf War owned forces operating in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea. His presence aboard one ship operating in one of these locations did little to improve his decision making over other NAVCENT forces.
This approach is compatible with the current communications concept of “smart push, warrior pull.” If JFACC were colocated with the worldwide intelligence manager, unit taskings and the applicable intelligence information could be distributed concurrently (“smart push”). Intelligence officers sitting alongside the operational tasking officers would “attach” the requisite intelligence information.* Issuing both the tasking and the accompanying intelligence would decrease ATO cycle times, as units could immediately begin mission planning based on the most current information (as opposed to drafting an information request and waiting for the response). It would also provide the most appropriate information to the units whether or not the units were aware of its existence. Finally, it would provide an alternative to the tendency to make “everything” available to the tactical level. The tendency to make everything available to the warrior has the potential for overloading users and transmission means. Of course, units would retain the authority to query the database for additional specific information (“warrior pull”) as they saw fit.
*Computers would handle most of this function. Certain types of targets would automatically generate certain types of intelligence. They might also automatically generate certain intelligence taskings.
Complexity is another factor arguing for a CONUS JFACC. Orchestrating an aerospace war is anything but simple; it is extremely complex. Weapons are air-, space-, land-, and sea-launched. Targets are fixed and mobile, hard and soft, terrestrial and space, strategic and operational. Some platforms move at tens of thousands of miles an hour (in space); others move at a few knots (at sea). Squadrons are scattered around the globe, their strike packages coming from equally scattered units. Support comes from an alphabet soup of agencies: CIA, DIA, CIO, NRO, DISA, DMA, NSA. Data requirements are measured in terabits. If JFACC must deploy to the theater, this orchestration must be accomplished by a mobile C4I structure— adding another factor of complexity to an already incredibly difficult process.* Establishing a permanent CONUS JFACC would delete at least this additional level of complexity.**
*Even if JFACC is already positioned in theater (e.g., the HTACC at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea), a back-up facility must be capable of assuming this complex orchestration. However, any HTACC back-upwill not be effective; it's unreasonable to expect equal capabilities from back-up facilities/personnel. Thus, putting JFACC at Osan provides the DPRK a high-value target.
**Another argument could be standardization. Given rapid advances in information technologies, it is likely that theater commands (EUCOM, PACOM, CENTCOM) will build different C4I structures. This will hamper training. Units will have to prepare to interact with several different command structures.
Airlift Critical Supplies and Spare Parts
into the Combat Area
The CINC will probably direct a substantial airlift flow into the combat theater to support its accompanying C4I, component forces, and indigenous forces. Airlift operations must reconcile their CONOPS with the peer’s information, C2, penetration, and precision capabilities. As an entering assumption, airlift planners must allow for the probability that all large airlift operations will operate under some measure of enemy observation. As a result, airlifters operating within range of enemy weapon systems must also operate within the enemy’s OODA loop. They must be able to arrive and depart before enemy C4I can detect the airlifters, direct an attack, and deliver warheads onto the target. By operating within the enemy’s OODA loop, airlift sorties can flow into the theater.
This will require minimal ground times by all sorties into bases within range of enemy systems.* Rapid off-loads are mandatory in this environment. Arriving forces would disperse immediately after landing.
*If the threat is enemy cruise missiles, ground times could be as much as an hour (due to time of flight). If the threat is from electromagnetic launchers (railguns), ground times should be less than 10 minutes.
Civilian airlifters (CRAF) will have little use in this environment. They are neither configured for rapid off-loads (“roll-off”) nor hardened against EMP. Their need for long ground times to off-load cargo will place them outside the enemy’s OODA loop. The enemy will have time to detect, launch, and strike civilian cargo transports on the ground. If these strikes carry conventional EMP warheads, precision will not be necessary. An EMP blast within a mile of a civilian airplane, with its unshielded fly-by-wire controls, could disable that airplane. Despite the heavy costs incurred by relying exclusively on military airlifters, they’re required for airlift operations during a war with a peer. In addition, because any military airlift fleet will have a finite size, airlift requirements for aerospace forces must fit within a much smaller ton-miles/day capacity than is presently assumed.
This chapter has discussed operational concepts for US aerospace forces in a future war with a peer around the year 2010. In such a war, both sides will undoubtedly possess thousands of state-of-the-art aerospace weapons. These weapons will include stealth systems (cruise missiles and manned fighter-bombers), information systems (surveillance and communications), nuclear weapons, and ballistic missiles with intercontinental range. A peer enemy will also possess sustainable and redundant military capabilities. Because of the geopolitical environment, it is safe to assume the majority of conflict will occur on the enemy’s borders and that these borders will be several thousand miles from the CONUS.
This future war will be fundamentally different from those possible today. The biggest difference will lie in the inability of aerospace defenses to protect high-signature forces from attack. In a future war with a peer, we must assume stealthy cruise missiles and aircraft of both sides will penetrate aerospace defenses in significant numbers. These systems will target critical vulnerabilities (due to modern surveillance systems) and will hit what they target (due to modern precision). Each side will also have near-real-time C2, redundant capabilities, and long-term sustainability. Unlike Operation Desert Storm, critical nodes in these systems will operate from sanctuary; the threat of nuclear retaliation will place restrictions on homeland strikes. Taken in aggregate, this environment differs markedly from current conditions. It will require fundamental changes in our concepts of operation. In a sense, our situation is similar to the one faced by military strategists during the interwar period.
Between WWI and WWII, developments in aircraft and armored vehicles fundamentally changed the conduct of war. Those who succeeded in opening stages of that war were the ones who adjusted their CONOPS to fit the new technological environment. If we posit a major war 15 years from now (in 2010), we should expect similar magnitudes of change. Driven by stealth and information technologies, the magnitude of difference between a war today versus one in 2010 could be comparable to the difference experienced in the interwar period (1925–1940). The time interval is the same. If the WWII analogy holds, critical weapons and CONOPS, proven in the past and relied on today, will become obsolete over the next 15 years.
As we project a war in this environment, two themes keep repeating. The first theme is that we must engage peer aggressors when they are in the invasion mode. This is when they are most vulnerable. The new generations of weapons can detect and destroy massed surface forces on the move. If we fail to engage the aggressor immediately, we’ll find ourselves on the adverse side of this exchange ratio; we’ll be in the invasion mode, trying to move large forces in the face of advanced enemy information, C2, penetration, and precision systems.
The second theme involves the question of a CONUS-based versus theater-based JFACC. This question requires extensive examination. Our preliminary judgment leans towards the former because forward deployed headquarters are vulnerable, require time to set up, and have inherently poor connectivity (compared to a centralized approach). Spending valuable hours and sorties to move a headquarters—especially one that will have inferior communications—within range of the enemy’s missiles is a questionable way to operate. Furthermore, the theater will extend over millions of square miles. Critical assets, such as satellite control and long-range bombers, will base outside the theater. There is little to be gained by placing JFACC within several hundred miles of some subordinate units; practically all communication between them will “bounce” off satellites. Theater-to-CONUS communications will take the same time and routing as theater-to-theater. The important question is, where can the JFACC get the best information? A centralized, CONUS-based JFACC structure seems the best alternative.
The following aspects of future peer warfare deserve special emphasis:
- Aerospace defenses must anticipate massive numbers of low-signature attackers. If unit costs of cruise missiles decrease to the $100,000 range, both sides will likely employ large numbers of very low-observable attackers.
- Offensive aerospace forces must de-emphasize high-signature, theater-based assets. Their attrition in the emerging environment will be sufficiently high to preclude high-tempo operations.
- Planners must take steps to induce greater crisis stability into the US force structure and CONOPS, especially with regard to space. Absent greater redundancy and more effective defenses, the US could find itself in a first strike predicament during a crisis.
- Planners must avoid deployments of critical fixed targets within range of enemy stealth. Fixed facilities will face an unacceptable risk of destruction by precision stealth systems.
- Planners should integrate satellites and UAVs for communications, navigation, and surveillance. UAVs promise sufficient loiter times—and survivability—to accomplish these missions. Integration will allow rapid substitution and reduce the effects of deception (through cross-checking).
- Space will be a center of gravity in any future war with a peer. Both sides will rely on satellites for communication, positioning, and collection. Satellites in LEO will be particularly vulnerable. They will require both active and passive defenses, including shielding, maneuverability, rapid replacement, frequency management, and redundancy. Satellites in GEO will be secure if enemy launch facilities capable of GEO reach are destroyed.
- Future peer aerospace forces will include stealthy interceptors. As a result, high-signature atmospheric platforms (e.g., AWACS, J-STARS) will not thrive in a future war with a peer.
- JFACC should base in CONUS. Fixed, permanent basing will allow immediate tasking of worldwide assets while excluding a high-value, high-signature target (JFACC HQ) from the range of enemy stealth systems.
- JFACC will provide NRT information on allied and enemy maneuvers to allied forces. This transfer will require specialized equipment and liaison teams.
- Satellites are lucrative targets absent (active and passive) defensive measures.
- Defensive counterair must emphasize sensor fusion. Because a significant portion of the enemy aerospace force will be stealthy—and stealth systems in flight will intermittently reflect and emit—a thoroughly fused sensor network is important. It holds the possibility of successful detection and targeting. This system must be mobile to preclude targeting by ballistic missiles.
- Degrading enemy cruise missile guidance will be a top priority. By manipulating external guidance systems (such as GPS), and by positioning decoys in the target area, defenders will attempt to exploit any algorithm weaknesses in the enemy system.
- Planners must devise a concentrated offensive against key targets within the enemy homeland. C4I is the highest priority. The NCA will probably restrict these strikes due to the threat of nuclear retaliation. For this reason, nonlethal weapons, delivered by stealthy bombers and cruise missiles, will assume a leading role.
- The aerospace campaign will attempt to deny enemy invasion/occupation, primarily through long-range bombers with precision munitions and cruise missiles. Logistics will be the most lucrative target set.
- When airlifting critical supplies and spare parts into the combat area, operators must minimize ground times. Depending upon distance from enemy missile launchers, ground times will usually be measured in terms of minutes, not hours. Airlift must be capable of efficient operations despite an information-corrupted environment (to include nonavailability of GPS).
- Future aerospace forces will attack critical enemy targets in a parallel fashion, denying their ability to adapt or repair in advance of subsequent strikes. Their goal will not be attrition; they will attempt to paralyze enemy C2.
- Defenses will take advantage of ballistic missile vulnerabilities (large infrared signature at launch, radar reflective in flight, minimal maneuverability). Having said that, a 100 percent shield is probably impossible.
- Aerospace forces should expect heavy taskings in support of the joint force information component commander’s (JFICC) campaign. Operations will center on (1) destroying nodes (such as collection platforms, relay networks, and fusion centers) and (2) distorting information by viral insertion and spoofing. Because the enemy will also conduct IW, aerospace forces must prepare to fight in an information-corrupted environment.
These themes should guide aerospace planning for a future war with a peer. Because evolving technologies will allow thousands of precision strikes per day, planners must devise a new CONOPS to take full advantage of this new capability.
1. The Military Balance, 1994–1995 (London: The International Institute of Strategic Studies, Brassey’s, 1994). The US budgeted $261.7B for defense for FY 1994. The next eight largest defense budgets (in order): Russia ($79B); Japan ($42B); France ($35B); United Kingdom ($34B); Germany ($28B); Italy ($16B); South Korea ($14B); and Saudi Arabia ($14). Total: $262B. China's military budget is difficult to state with precision. The Military Balance estimates somewhere between $7B to $27B (see page 170). Note: Dollars for defense are not an absolute gauge of military capability. They are only a rough indicator. However, ratios of four, eight, or 20 to one suffice to preclude military equivalence.
2. Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Dimension (New York: Doubleday, 1990), 313–48.
3. Richard G. Davis, Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe (Washington, D.C.: Center for Air Force History, 1993), 358–60. In January 1944, Eighth AF’s escort fighters changed their CONOPS from “close escort” with bombers to “ultimate pursuit.”
4. Brilliant sensors can discriminate between targets (e.g., identify a tank versus a truck).
5. Full ATR under all weather conditions is foreseen within 10 years. See Aviation Week & Space Technology, 6 February 1995, 20.
6. “USAF Almanac 1995,” Air Force Magazine, May 1995, 50. Figure is TAI (Total Aircraft Inventory).
7. Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Gulf War Air Power Survey, vol. 5, 1993. (Secret) Information extracted (Table 75) is unclassified.
8. Proprietary conversation between OSD/NA and a corporate vice president of a major US defense contractor, May 1995.
9. Air Force Manual (AFM) 1-1, Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force, vol. 1, fig. 2-2. “Centralized Control/Decentralized Execution” is a “Tenet of Aerospace Power.” “Execution of aerospace missions should be decentralized to achieve effective spans of control, responsiveness, and tactical flexibility.”
10. AFM 1-1, vol. 2, defines air supremacy as “That degree of air superiority wherein the opposing air force is incapable of effective interference.” Air superiority is “That degree of dominance in the airbattle of one force over another which permits the conduct of operations by the former and its related land, sea, and air forces at a given time and place without prohibitive interference by the opposing force.”
11. During the 1991 Gulf War, the USAF deployed prototypes of the E-8 J-STARS to the Gulf with six software specialists. These specialists wrote 17 upgrades to the J-STARS software in order to adjust expected conditions to the realities of the Gulf. Many viewed this deployment of code writers with a weapons system as a unique event, necessitated by the rush to employ J-STARS ahead of schedule. However, future deployments of software experts with weapon systems may become the norm. Alternatively, the code writers could remain in CONUS if they are well connected with the deployed systems.
12. USAF Chief of Staff Gen Ronald R. Fogleman, quoted in Inside the Air Force, 3 February 1995, 9.
13. Colin S. Gray, quoting Adm Carlisle A. H. Trost, USN Retired, “Space Power Survivability,” Airpower Journal 7, no. 4 (Winter 1993): 27–42.
14. Davis, appendixes 7 and 8.
15. Message, 122007ZJUN95, Chief of Naval Operations Weekly Update, 05-25. A rapid replacement CONOPS would have to overcome two current cultural impediments: (1) our reliance on only two launch centers and (2) the considerable time we take to check out vehicles prior to launch and satellites after reaching orbit. For example, the fifth UHF Follow-on Advanced Communications Satellite, launched 31 May 95, needed two months of on-orbit testing before being turned over to Naval Space Command for operational service.
16. On 25 April 1995, USAF Chief of Staff Gen Ronald Fogleman stated: “I see a future without AWACS. Instead, space-based assets will be providing the air picture and (have the benefit of) not tying up tankers.” Quoted by Tanya Bielski, “Air Force Chief Embraces Information Warfare,” Defense Daily, 26 April 1995, 125.
17. For a broad discussion of nonlethal weapons in strategic attack, see Jonathan W. Klaaren and Ronald S. Mitchell, “Nonlethal Technology and Airpower: A Winning Combination for Strategic Paralysis,” Airpower Journal 9 (Special Edition, 1995): 42–51.
18. Interview with Gen P. S. Grachev, Russian Minister of Defense, Izvestia, 2 June 1992, 2. Quoted by Michael M. Boll, “By Blood, Not Ballots: German Unification, Communist Style,” Parameters, Spring 1994, 66.
19. William P. Delaney, “Winning Future Conflicts” (Unpublished manuscript, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 15 October 1992). Essentially a space-based version of J-STARS. Three-meter resolution would suffice to identify military convoys. An eight-satellite constellation would give 30-minute revisit times for areas at 50o latitudes. Each satellite's returns would be fused to enable constant dwell time.
20. William G. Pagonis and Jeffrey L. Cruikshank, Moving Mountains (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1992), 147. Also, even if current efforts to reduce logistics requirements succeed, logistics signatures will remain high. For example, if these two corps reduced fuel and ammunition requirements by 25 percent, they would still expose a target set of 1,200 trucks.
21. Ibid., 146.
22. During Operation Desert Storm, the JFACC headquarters in Riyadh consisted of 2,000 personnel. See Gulf War Airpower Survey, chap. 5.
23. If the war’s in an immature theater, this “breathing space” could be quite long. “The several months needed to create the ad hoc communications, tasking, processing, and information reporting systems used in Desert Storm represents an unacceptable readiness posture.” Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Global Surveillance, December 1993, 3–8. (Secret) Information extracted is unclassified.
24. According to Lt Gen Carl O’Berry, Headquarters AF/SC, a high-bandwidth fiber-optic network connecting all 111 AF bases in the CONUS would cost $1.3B. See “Bandwidth or B-2 Bombers?” in Government Computer News, 5 June 95, 68.