Long Range Precision Fires

jsport

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jsport

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Josh_TN

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The use of balloons is novel, though I assume you have hope the wind is at your back. Still, super cheap way to deploy a sensor package and probably obnoxious to detect and shoot down.
 

DWG

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The use of balloons is novel, though I assume you have hope the wind is at your back.
The article notes "The balloons are very agile," which, given they're not describing them as powered, I'd interpret as potentially meaning in altitude, in which case they can probably hop back and forth between winds in different directions in different altitude bands to remain roughly in the one area.
 

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It is possible that they are trying to keep up their sleeves that the balloons are actually full aerostats, with the manoeuvrability & flexibility that would imply.
 

jsport

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Three rules of thumb help explain the relationships between the range, size, and unit cost of missiles and other munitions. First, as range increases, so does a missile’s size; more range, means more fuel for their engines, bigger boosters to extend flight, sophisticated guidance systems to maintain trajectory, and so on. All of these add cost. Second, surface-launched missiles are generally larger and more expensive than air-launched missiles with similar ranges and payloads, because they must have larger boosters to propel them from the ground into airborne trajectories to reach distant targets. Third, the faster a weapon flies, the more costly it is.

Long-Range Hypersonic Weapons could give Army batteries located in Guam and other U.S. territories the ability to attack targets in China, but at a cost that could reach $40 million to $50 million each. The cost of LRHW could quickly exceed the cost to buy, operate, and support additional stealth bombers over a 30-year period, including the cost to acquire next-generation Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW) missiles. Bombers, moreover, are reusable assets, while an LHRW is expended just once. Similarly, a non-stealth B-52 bomber could launch airbreathing (scramjet) hypersonic cruise missiles costing $4 million to $5 million each, a fraction of the cost of LRHWs and their launch battery.

The effectiveness of different weapons against challenging targets such as mobile or relocatable missile launchers, hardened or deeply buried facilities or targets located deep in an adversary’s interior, is also a factor. The longer it takes a weapon to reach its designated aimpoint, the less effective it will be. Depending on its speed and trajectory, an Army ballistic missile launched from Japan could take 10 to 15 minutes to reach a mobile threat in China, such as an HQ-9 SAM. Still more time might be needed to complete all the Army’s operations in the kill chain, such as relaying target data from a remote sensor to a joint command and control center, assessing the data, deconflicting airspace for a missile launch, and then commanding a launch. HQ-9s are designed to employ “shoot-and-scoot” tactics, which means they can begin to relocate within about 5 minutes of a launch. That means an Army missile might successfully strike its aimpoint, buy do so after the HQ-9 has already departed the location. Stealth bombers and fighters, however, offer a shorter response time and can be ready to engage fleeting targets by penetrating contested airspace and attacking from shorter ranges. B-2s, F-22s, and F-35s—and future B-21s—can also use onboard systems to find, fix, track, target, and engage targets without outside support, further reducing latency in their kill chains.

Of course, munitions can be equipped with active sensors such as a millimeter wave radar (like the SDB II) and passive infrared or optical sensors capable of adapting to a moving target; these can help find and characterize the mobile target, and then guide the weapon to a new point of impact. While this can greatly improve weapon effectiveness, weapons must also be able to change their trajectories to reach their new aimpoints, which may not be possible for ballistic missiles in their final stage of flight. Unlike cruise missiles that can loiter in a target area while waiting to find and attack mobile/relocatable targets, ballistic missiles that trade speed for range over long trajectories may not have enough kinetic energy and steering ability from their small control surfaces to make major course corrections.

In general, long-range stand-off weapons also cannot carry large enough warheads to kill targets that are structurally hardened or deeply buried, as is common in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and elsewhere. PrSMs with 200-pound class warheads would be ineffective against such targets. Penetrating bombers, on the other hand, can deliver 5,000-pound “bunker buster” weapons and even the 30,000-pound GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator. It is unrealistic for such heavy weapons to self- launch and fly very long ranges.

More Operational Issues


PrSMs upgraded with sensors needed to attack moving ships could contribute to sea denial operations for parts of the East China Sea and South China Sea, depending on where the Army postures its PrSM launchers. However, this maritime strike capability would duplicate the Marine Corps’ anti-ship initiatives and would require the Army to develop new infrastructure to support expeditionary operations, possibly in austere locations.

The willingness of allied nations to host the Army’s new weapons is also an issue. McConville has said basing these weapons is “a political decision … up to the policymakers and the diplomats.”
Yet MRC missiles would need to be postured in western Japan and other First Island Chain locations, posing significant challenges:

Host nation permission is required to station new U.S. land-based, long-range strike batteries on their sovereign territory. Convincing any nation along the First Island Chain to host launchers aimed at Chinese targets, even on a rotational basis, will be a tough sell. In South Korea, domestic opposition was fierce and the diplomatic pressure from China was strong after South Korea agreed to host a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery. THAAD is purely defensive; hosting offensive systems will be significantly harder. Noted retired Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, “Today, there is probably not one of our regional partners in the First Island Chain that would be willing to base Army—or any other service’s—long-range strike missiles in their country.”

Second, even if the United States can find regional partners willing to host the Army’s missile launchers, problems remain. In a crisis, a host nation could deny launch permission for a wide range of reasons, including a desire not to risk retaliation by China. Or permission could be granted on a case-by-case basis or even a weapon-by-weapon basis.



In contrast, basing requirements for combat aircraft are more flexible. Bases can be chosen based on aircraft’s range and the availability of aerial refueling. Bombers stationed in the United States, Guam or other U.S. territories, Diego Garcia, and elsewhere can attack targets throughout China and do so from multiple aspects. This also gives commanders options in the event of political opposition within a given allied country. Ships at sea also offer the ability to operate independent of host nation concerns.

Duplicating Sensors and Networks


To enable medium-range sensing and targeting in a theater like INDOPACOM, the Army is developing the Airborne Reconnaissance and Targeting Multi-mission Intelligence System (ARTEMIS). ARTEMIS would be able to operate at around 40,000 feet, enabling it to identify targets more than 400 km away. ARTEMIS, however, duplicates existing Navy and Air Force high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAVs such as the MQ-4 Global Hawk and Triton. It will also be more vulnerable than these aircraft, which can fly at higher altitudes, enabling longer standoff distances from air defense threats.

To provide targeting for long-range fires, the Army is pursuing space-based sensing systems, like the Gunsmoke-J satellite. Like ARTEMIS, these small satellites duplicate multiple existing space-based sensing systems, as well as the growing array of commercial and military satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), among them the Missile Defense Agency’s Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking and Surveillance System (HBTSS), DARPA’s Blackjack, and HawkEye360’s signals intelligence system.

The merits of the Army’s plan must be weighed against the opportunity costs of forgone investments that might provide greater overall value to joint combatant commands. Of particular note, U.S. military forces and installations throughout the Indo-Pacific remain nearly undefended against Chinese air and missile attacks—this is USINDOPACOM’s top unfunded priority. It is also an Army core mission that the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act noted is being left unfulfilled: “In too many respects, the Army Missile Defense (AMD) forces fielded today fall considerably short of being an effective foundation for the kind of conflict envisioned by the National Defense Strategy.”

The problem is so great that today, the threat of massive air and missile attacks on U.S. and allied air bases in Japan, Guam, and elsewhere could pose the greatest threat to the joint force’s ability to generate combat power under stress. The Army has yet to demonstrate how its long-range fires would mitigate this risk. DOD should compare the net gain in the number of targets it can strike with the addition of Army long-range missiles against the number of targets left vulnerable to attack if undefended against Chinese air and missile attacks. The addition of high-energy lasers and high-power microwave systems with the potential to kill incoming cruise missiles and armed drones for pennies per shot, along with hyper-velocity projectiles that cost $65,000 to $85,000 each fired by Army howitzers, could provide a robust theater air base defense.

Chinese missile attacks pose a threat not only to forward air and naval bases, but also the Army’s long-range strike batteries. Even if the Army’s mobile launchers prove difficult for the Chinese to target, they will not be immune from attack. If the Army can strike China’s mobile targets, China probably can reciprocate. Moreover, the Army’s caches of missile reloads must be stored in easily targeted depots, which likewise will demand theater defenses of their own.
 

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The Vertical launch system based Mid-Range Capability system that is currently being produced (prototypes) for a FY-23 delivery to the Army.
Yeh Gods, what a Rube Goldberg device.

Fair, but honestly if they can throw together an entire mid range capability inside a three year window using off the shelf missiles, trailers, and containers, I'll be impressed despite the Frankenstein look of it.
 

sferrin

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You'd think it would be easier to mount four or five cells on one of these. I'm sure they have their reasons but damned if I can figure them out.

m1074__33690.1610571958.jpg
 

bring_it_on

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The Vertical launch system based Mid-Range Capability system that is currently being produced (prototypes) for a FY-23 delivery to the Army.
Yeh Gods, what a Rube Goldberg device.

Fair, but honestly if they can throw together an entire mid range capability inside a three year window using off the shelf missiles, trailers, and containers, I'll be impressed despite the Frankenstein look of it.

Under their rapid acquisition authority that's exactly what they're doing. If the PEO missile and space decides that the current launcher/trailer set up is not functionally adequate they can then create objective requirements and have the OEM's design to those for the final system that goes through the regular acquisition cycle and gets fielded in numbers. Until that happens they'll continue to field the prototype batteries. VLS commonality is critical here as it basically means that each and every VLS compatible Navy weapon can be added to MRC in the future with minimal modifications. So whether they go for a single cell, 4-cell or 2 cell combo in the future this is going to be important because adding more MRC's doesn't require a dedicated Army production program that it needs to support or require extensive mods which may become cost prohibitive given Army budgets.

Let them build the first prototype hardware and begin firing missiles. If the operator feedback they get is that it needs further refinement then the larger program of record can handle that. This effort was all about fielding meaningful INF range capability within 4 years of getting out of the treaty and about three years from contract award. This mandated that they use existing in production systems and basing it off of the SCO launcher which was already years into development at the time made a lot of sense. The missiles are both in Full Rate Production, and the Army can use a few from the Navy stock for demonstrations and testing. Overall, given where we were on Long range fires just a couple of years ago (ATACMS) this is an eye watering level of capability that is very close to begin being fielded.

I wonder how quickly they'll add a booster to PrSM and launch it off this. Or demonstrate launching the SM-6 1B once that is ready. The Army-Navy collaboration on the LRHW could well lead into a similar partnership on the SM-6 1B. An Army buy could help reduce the cost for both.
 
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I doubt they'll bother boosting PrSM since there is a separate program to give it a more energetic propellent to extend range. But I could see SM-6 blk1b seeing use. That missile must approach hypersonic speed with a 21' primary motor after the Mk72. You also have to wonder if some day they don't employ their own SM-3s, if only for ASAT work. Using a launcher that would fit all USN rounds opens up a lot of off the shelf possibilities now and into the future.
 

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SM-6 1B is going to be relevant as its a multi-domain weapon. Army has in the past said that they won't be using SM-3's on this because of cost and also because of the complexity of integrating it into AIAMD. Also note that DARPA's Tactical Boost Glide program is doing Navy VLS integration and also testing a Navy specific application for it. That is also a possible future payload along with whatever replaces the Tomahawk once its no longer in production.
 

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You'd think it would be easier to mount four or five cells on one of these. I'm sure they have their reasons but damned if I can figure them out.

View attachment 666078
Oh that simple.

length.

Those Hempts loads max out at around 20 feet long.

Which is about as long as a Tomahawk or SM6.

But you still need an added five feet or so for blast direction and general packing for rough terrian bullshit. Like remember that the Air Force's ground launch tomahawks needed a 30 foot trailer for that reason.
 

sferrin

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You'd think it would be easier to mount four or five cells on one of these. I'm sure they have their reasons but damned if I can figure them out.

View attachment 666078
Oh that simple.

length.

Those Hempts loads max out at around 20 feet long.

Which is about as long as a Tomahawk or SM6.

But you still need an added five feet or so for blast direction and general packing for rough terrian bullshit. Like remember that the Air Force's ground launch tomahawks needed a 30 foot trailer for that reason.
These are Mk57-sized cells (the nearest missile is sized for a Mk41 cell:

TEL.jpg


Maybe 4 on a flat pack would hang over the sides and maybe a 2x2 is too tall to fit in an aircraft.
 

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Just had a thought hit me:

The killer app of munition datalinks isn't 'swarming' whatever good that does, but defensive ACM to defeat missile interceptions. One can greatly reduce effective SAM range by correct defensive maneuvers and in salvo competitions the ability to induce wasted shots is huge, and significantly complicate the defense in general.

Using that line of thinking, a hyper-maneuverable high attitude cruise missile may even be a good idea as it out turn defensive SAMs.

The only tricky part is the network and sensors to enable situation awareness on part of the missiles.
 

bobbymike

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I’ll see if I can find the link but they should dust off the Vietnam War concept for a MRBM. When aircraft losses were getting high the proposal was for a 200 miles range 50,000lbs payload missile to hit the Ho Chi Minh Trail instead of using multiple aircraft sorties.
 

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