Posted by andreas from dtm2-t9-2.mcbone.net (188.8.131.52) on Friday, December 27, 2002 at 9:12AM :
December 24, 2002
Why any war with Iraq will be over in a flash
by Michael Evans
The power of America's technological trump cards
THE planned war against Iraq is intended to be one of the fastest operations yet conducted, possibly using secret new weapons to overcome Iraqi resistance and topple Saddam Hussein.
The creation of satellite-guided missiles has extended America’s superiority over Iraq by such a large margin that the first night of air attacks could see hundreds of targets destroyed or damaged.
But America’s new technological trump card is the microwave bomb, which is capable of knocking out Baghdad’s electricity supplies without damaging a single building.
An early version of this concept was tested by the Americans in the 1999 air campaign over Yugoslavia when cluster bombs containing carbon fibre filaments were dropped on electricity supply lines in Belgrade and other cities, causing massive short-circuits.
If it is deployed, the latest “directed energy weapon” would involve bathing areas of Baghdad in waves of high-frequency electromagnetic pulses, crippling computers and power supplies linking the Iraqi capital to the country’s air defences.
However, Rob Hewson, Editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, said: “The Americans are being deliberately vague about these directed energy weapons.
“They have reached an advanced stage in development and have been tested. Basically, a microwave weapon would fry the electrics, but it would be indiscriminate, not just turning off electricity for Iraq’s radar stations, but also affecting power to hospitals and schools.
“Will the Americans risk using such a weapon?” It will also be a laptop war. One of the key lessons learnt from Afghanistan, which will be put to good use in Iraq, was the ability of special forces, armed with backpack, satellite-connected laptops, to communicate by data-link with every type of aircraft.
The covert soldiers were able to use a marker pen on their laptop screens to pinpoint moving targets, guiding bombs to within a few feet of the enemy, if not a direct hit.
Twelve years ago, it was the F117 Stealth fighter and Tomahawk cruise missile which dominated the battlefield.
This time, if war becomes necessary, it will be the satellite-linked Joint Direct Attack Munition (Jdam), the B2 Stealth Bomber, and unmanned spy drones watching every move on the ground which will play the big roles in determining Saddam’s fate.
The whole thrust of the new campaign against Saddam would be based on high-tech, high-speed, and ultra highimpact.
The Jdam is just a tail-kit attached to a “dumb” bomb, converting it into one of the smartest weapon systems around.
The kits, each costing “just” £16,500 – extraordinarily cheap in a superpower’s warfighting inventory – link the 1,000lb or 2,000lb bomb to the satellite Global Positioning System (GPS) network, guaranteeing greater accuracy than ever before.
In a space shuttle mission in 2000, sponsored by the Pentagon’s National Imagery and Mapping Agency, special radars collected topographic data for about 80 per cent of the globe, minutely plotting the undulations of the Earth’s surface. With this information, the Jdam bomb will be capable of landing within a few yards of its target.
Another new weapon will be crucial in destroying targets on the move, such as Iraqi tanks and artillery.
The Joint Standoff Weapon (Jsow) is known as a “launch-and-leave” system, fired from an aircraft at a range of about 40 miles and at high altitude.
The missile receives in-flight target updates from a US Air Force-converted Boeing 707-300, known as an E8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint Stars) aircraft.
The Jsow is currently fitted to B2s, B52s, F16s and the carrier-based FA18s.
Four other post-1991 Gulf War weapon systems will also have a big impact on Iraq because they played a noticeably significant role in the campaign over Afghanistan. They are:
The B2 Stealth bomber, to be based at Diego Garcia, the British-owned Indian Ocean island, and possibly at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.
It is estimated that on the first night of air attacks on Iraq, 16 B2s, armed with Jdams, would be able to hit more than 200 targets. This would have taken several weeks in the 1991 war.
The Predator unmanned spy drone, armed with Hellfire missiles. This system is not invulnerable, but it transformed the battlefield in Afghanistan by providing accurate information of al-Qaeda and Taleban movements there.
A Hellfire fired by a Predator using remote control killed leading al-Qaeda figures travelling in a vehicle in Yemen last month.
Thermobaric bombs, which are fuel-rich explosives that suck air out of a confined space, creating a lethal combination of heat and pressure.
They were used for the first time in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden’s suspected cave hideouts. The special warheads were integrated into laser-guided missiles launched by F15s.
The explosives, which burn for longer than conventional explosives, would be particularly effective at incinerating chemical and biological agents.
The US Marines are getting shoulder-mounted thermobaric weapons which, if ready in time for a war with Iraq, could have devastating potential in streetfighting in Baghdad.
The FA18E/F Super Hornet, which is about 25 per cent larger than its predecessor. It also has a greater range and more armaments. The first operational Super Hornets were put on board the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
With such an array of firepower, the US will inevitably dwarf anything Britain will be able to contribute.
The Royal Navy has landattack Tomahawk cruise missiles, but relatively few. The RAF is also waiting for its first delivery of a new air-launched cruise missile called Storm Shadow. It’s behind schedule and may not be ready in time.
However, even if production is rushed through, Mr Hewson of Jane’s said that the RAF was hardly likely to fire too many of them; they each cost about £500,000.
“That’s like launching a three-bedroom house in London at an Iraqi target,” he said.
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