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carl
08-03-2007, 01:33 PM
UAVs, Other Aircraft Being Misused, ACC chief Says (http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=defense&id=news/UAVS062107.xml)

Jun 21, 2007

Michael Fabey/Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
Using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and pod-equipped combat jets to find improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is often a misuse of time and resources, said U.S. Air Force Gen. Ronald Keys, commander of Air Combat Command.

Often, requests for airborne surveillance are based on the assumption that such aircraft help find IEDs and save ground forces from such attacks, he said. Certain military leaders feel they need the full-motion video feeds to locate the explosives. The truth, he said, is much different.

Based on Air Force analysis, the number of IEDs found by UAVs, surveillance aircraft or combat jets outfitted with advanced targeting pods per 100,000 flight hours is very low, according to Keys. "It's a waste," Keys said June 20 during a morning keynote speech at the Transformation Warfare 07 conference and exhibit in Virginia Beach, Va.

"People come to me and tell me they want a Predator," he said. "I ask, 'What are you looking for?' Tell me what you're looking for, don't just tell me you want a J-STARS."

Unfortunately, the military is basing some of its decisions on anecdotes instead of real metrics, he said. Indeed, the only metric being used is whether the Air Force is meeting certain tasking orders, instead of making sure those assets and flights are effective and the best use of time and aircraft. "This is no way to fight a war," he said.

Keys said ACC has developed a "concept of deployment" to help fight IEDs that is air-centric "to a certain point." Without going into specifics, he said, "We ought to be attacking the system - to the left of 'the bang,'" meaning the process before the IED is emplaced. What needs to be looked at is the network, "not the thing that's buried out there," he said.

Flying pod-outfitted F-16s up and down streets no one will be on for another 12 hours will not help the IED fight, he said. Looking for buried IEDs in Iraq in that fashion is not the best way to stop attacks. "It's a junkyard out there," he said, adding there are too many false positives.

and

More News from Recent Precision Strike Assn. Symposium Aviation Week & Space Technology 07/23/2007, page 11
Edited by Patricia Parmalee

Printed headline: More From Virginia Beach

U.S. Navy Capt. Scott Stearney, commander of Carrier Air Group Seven, which just returned from duty in the Middle East, says his recent deployment was the first in which nonkinetic effects were emphasized during operations. Kinetic and nonkinetic effects—such as electronic warfare—were “equally important” during recent ops, he said during the association’s symposium. On the kinetic side, use of the GBU-38, a 500-lb. GPS-guided bomb, was widespread but pilots are increasingly turning to strafing to kill targets in Iraq, he says. The Army’s systems, meanwhile, are becoming so precise and reliable that operators are using the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) in an air support role to help troops under fire. GMLRS is so reliable that during recent engagements 83% of them were fired in an urban environment—earlier rocket systems were typically not used in this role. And, 69% of the rockets fired were used to support troops under direct enemy fire.

Two very interesting points of view.

Steve Blair
08-03-2007, 04:09 PM
Interesting viewpoint. I'd love to see how the AF envisions being able to attack IED networks from the air. I wonder what they'd do if the Army was able to go back to the old Pink Team system?

carl
08-03-2007, 09:28 PM
The most interesting thing about Gen. Keys' comments is he is saying, pretty bluntly, that they can't find IED's from the air. The effort should be on finding the people who emplace the IED's and stopping them. This is a most remarkable comment coming from an Air Force general.

The Navy officers mentions the importance of strafing which relates to several ongoing discussions in the forum about CAS airplanes.

Whatever happened to the VN era tactics? A Kiowa was shot down on July 3rd and it was a long time before help could get to the crew. I don't know what formation or tactics the Kiowa was using but help sure was a long way away.

Rob Thornton
08-03-2007, 10:07 PM
Looking for hot spots from the air does seem to be a crap shoot at best. Even KWs and UAVs operating looking for suspicious activities that may be IED emplacers has a low probablity if its during the white noise of an urban environment - ex. a guy stringing a wire across the road could either be emplacing a CMD Det IED, or he could be just running one of a thousand lines to a local generator.

Knowing where the generators are at (just one of many things), knowing where the MSRs and tier 1 IED sites are at (usually the tier 1s are on the MSRs), and tying that to who is out on the battlefield and a likely target can really help determine if what you see is a threat or just another thing that only makes sense in Iraq.

Getting multiple eyeballs, people who can convey what they see and people who can reason out what that means into the area when operations are providing targets for IEDs increases the probability that we will defeat the IED emplacers and the networks that cue them. While the AIF are not stupid, they do rely on CF and ISF to provide the them the opportunity and to maximize that opportunity they go to likely spots and set IED ambushes at likely times. Understanding how the enemy is operating should drive our application of resources

Culpeper
08-03-2007, 11:33 PM
Agreed. USAF is really reaching on this one. Personally, the best way to deal with IEDs is with snipers. It also has a psychological impact. You're already a little nervous setting one of these things up and then to add the randomness of being in the wrong place at the wrong time in someone's scope. IED are personal and so should anti-IED tactics. Nevertheless, I have seen footage of inspiring or would-be IED planters running down the road and some smart bomb lands right in the middle of them. This had to hurt. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yyf2oeZPqDw)

TWC
08-06-2007, 02:58 AM
Agreed. USAF is really reaching on this one. Personally, the best way to deal with IEDs is with snipers.

You are missing the point of what Gen Keys is saying...his point is that employing air assets to patrol highways (especially in a urban environment like Rob points out) to find IEDs is an inappropriate way for the joint force commander to employ his air assets....and he's right. There are far more effective ways to use limited air assets. He isn't saying that airpower can solve the problem, he's saying that we need to be smarter in how we employ them and recognize the inherit strengths and weaknesses.

Culpeper
08-06-2007, 05:08 AM
I thought I was agreeing...:)

Steve Blair
08-06-2007, 12:52 PM
You are missing the point of what Gen Keys is saying...his point is that employing air assets to patrol highways (especially in a urban environment like Rob points out) to find IEDs is an inappropriate way for the joint force commander to employ his air assets....and he's right. There are far more effective ways to use limited air assets. He isn't saying that airpower can solve the problem, he's saying that we need to be smarter in how we employ them and recognize the inherit strengths and weaknesses.

But he's also hinting that they have some way to take out the networks from the air.

I still think that sniper teams combined with helicopter assets (shades of the Pink Team again) would work better for this than what might end up being another tech-heavy, airpower-centric ACC creation. That part, to me, sounds like another pitch to gain at least partial control of something. I could be wrong, but I tend to get a touch wary when hazy concepts like that pop up.

Uboat509
08-06-2007, 07:09 PM
Snipers are a good temporary fix but risk averse Big Army commanders do not like them. They want to roll with a platoon with uparmors at a minimum. The thought of two or three guys with rifles laying on a hill top makes the hair on the back of their necks stand up. In any case, as I said it is only a temporary solution anyway. IED emplacers are cheap and easy to replace and after four years the enemy is getting pretty good at it. Using these air assets may be an imperfect solution to the IED threat but I have yet to hear what they should be doing instead, particularly the UAVs. Has there been a shortage of A/C available for CAS because they are doing reconnaissance? If there is, I have not heard of it.

SFC W

LawVol
08-06-2007, 09:03 PM
IED emplacers are cheap and easy to replace and after four years the enemy is getting pretty good at it. Using these air assets may be an imperfect solution to the IED threat but I have yet to hear what they should be doing instead, particularly the UAVs. Has there been a shortage of A/C available for CAS because they are doing reconnaissance? If there is, I have not heard of it.

SFC W

Maybe I'm not tracking here. It's a good idea to use air assets to counter IEDs even if its not working just because there may not be anything else for them to do? That's like saying I have to make the square peg fit in the round hole because I can't find a round peg.

If we're using expensive air assets on something that isn't working, it needs to be stopped. Perhaps that money can be spent on something else; like gas for a C-130 rather than an F-16. And even if there isn't a shortage of CAS because of the recon, the same rule applies. Also, wear and tear on jets isn't cheap.

Rob Thornton
08-06-2007, 10:16 PM
If we're using expensive air assets on something that isn't working, it needs to be stopped. Perhaps that money can be spent on something else; like gas for a C-130 rather than an F-16. And even if there isn't a shortage of CAS because of the recon, the same rule applies. Also, wear and tear on jets isn't cheap.

Something to think about there! As one of the most versatile platforms around, the C-130 variants have lon "on station" time, could be outfitted with COIN packages such as WAS (Wide Area Surveillance), other optics, ECM/C-IED, SIGINT collection, C2 Retrans, maybe even a limited weapons capability. Put those together with an analyst package that is communicating and reaponding to the folks on the ground and you get a substantial COIN package that goes after the all aspects of the IED problem. Give it the ability to interface with other Joint C4ISR systems such as BFT, FBCB2 EPLRS, ABCS, CPOF and you get an up to date Common Operating Picture. Throw in a aerial refuleing capability and you could a persistant one!

It could also be the Joint clearing house for directing other Joint assets and doing assessments on a number of levels from BDA to some limited PMESII type assessments (such as damage to critical infrastructure, providing information to HN EMS, etc).

It also might not be a bad thing to explore such an A/Cs role in providing a platform where UAVs and other ISR type sensors could be manged by a Joint (Army/AF) analyst/collection manager team? How about A2C2?

Anyway you cut it, lots of work to be done in all these areas that will conserve lives and other resources and integrate the Joint team!

A great idea LV:)

Uboat509
08-06-2007, 10:45 PM
I don't believe that they said that it is not working, only that it is not working well. I know for a fact that it is working. It's not the most efficient thing in the world but until they start cranking out Rob's idea it's all we got. Let me caveat that by saying that my experience is with the UAVs. I don't really know much about the success rate of the other craft.

SFC W

Rob Thornton
08-06-2007, 11:06 PM
U-Boat, Good point,

I was actually going to update the post and say that the C-130s were being employed in some of those roles to significant effect - however not quite in the single A/C, Joint modular mission payload I'd sort of envisoned. In fact, significant enough to where it should justify a greater investment. What we need is: better understanding by both the USAF on what we need to support COIN and Counter IED, and we need better understanding by the Army on what that means in terms of USAF requirements and limitations. It will require articulation in Joint speak, and commitment on all sides that recognizes the enduring requirement.

I'd also say some other A/C worth bringing back (or some like them) might be the OV-10 Bronco and the OV-1 Mohawk with less capable, but similiar payloads capable of operating cheaper and in greater quantities. While some could argue that RW provides many of these functions, there are some significant upgrades just going to a small FW platform.

slapout9
08-06-2007, 11:20 PM
If somebody wants to look it up the 18th Airborne corps did of study of situations like this in 1956. I think it is in Military Review somewhere. I think the paper was called SKYCAV Operations during Exercise Sagebrush. General Gavin called Distributed Operations "Amoeba Operations" back then and the article delt with Atomic warfare and finding small mobile groups that could assemble and disperse rapidly. This was then adapted to Air Cavalry operations in Vietnam. As I remember it gives a pretty blistering account of Air Force interference in getting proper tactical aircraft.

TWC
08-07-2007, 02:48 PM
I don't believe that they said that it is not working, only that it is not working well. I know for a fact that it is working. It's not the most efficient thing in the world but until they start cranking out Rob's idea it's all we got. Let me caveat that by saying that my experience is with the UAVs. I don't really know much about the success rate of the other craft.

SFC W

I totally agree with using UAVs in that role...the persistance allows the sensor operators to either become very familiar with the area or partner with ground teams to discern whats going on (always tough in a urban, dirty environment). The problem with using fighter aircraft is that they have limited endurance/persistance compared to UAVs (hard to learn the area when you only can focus on it for +/- 60 minutes), and the single seat aircraft is a lot more task saturated (handling comms, flying, trying to avoid hitting UAVs :) A better option IMHO, depending on JFC priorities, is to partner/link the fighter a/c with ground patrols and convoys, similar to WWII column cover. Just my thoughts.

carl
08-08-2007, 12:46 AM
May 14, 2007

Army Praises ODIN



It is interesting how six months and a hearty roles and missions debate can get the military talking. In October, U.S. Army officials declined to discuss the secretive "Task Force ODIN." They confirmed it existed, but wouldn't say what it was. We reported in Aviation Week & Space Technology Oct. 30, 2006 that the specialized task force of sensors and airborne assets was being formed to tackle the problematic issue of detecting improvised explosive devices from the air.

It seems the Army is ready to tout the task force's early successes. And it is no coincidence that Army is being loose-lipped now. The service is, after all, in an all-out defensive posture against USAF Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael "Buzz" Moseley's not-so-subtle attempt to take over procurement of and operational management of all UAV's flying over 3,500 ft.

So, the pressure is on and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody is taking to the air waves at least with a group of tecchie trade reporters that assembled for his press briefing during last week's annual Army Aviation Assn. of America conference in Atlanta.

Cody unveiled a video tape declassified for the press briefing -- of what he says is an example of responsive reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) processes in Iraq resulting from the knitting together of the elusive Task Force ODIN recce assets and the tried and true Apache attack helicopter. (We asked for the video, but the Army's not releasing it yet, fearing it could fall into the wrong hands, it seems).

Though he declined to identify all asset parts of ODIN, he confirmed our earlier report of modified C-12s, fixed-wing UAVs and other sensors.

The video opens with a group of individuals deemed insurgents - displayed in the Apache's forward-looking infrared sensor. They are grouped along a known Army convoy route in Iraq, the general says. The insurgents are within audible range of the helicopter and take shelter under nearby palm trees, though they are clearly visible in the infrared. The Apache, having been spotted, returns to base to refuel.

The targets, however, are handed off to an Army Shadow and Block 0 Warrior a much less capable variant of the soon-to-be produced ERMP Predator variant. At this point, officials in the Tactical Operations Center witness the individuals planting suspected IEDs. Upon target confirmation, an Apache is dispatched to the location with precision coordinates and engages the individuals with its Hellfire missiles.

The explosion on the infrared is large, the result of a direct hit by the Hellfire to the IED, Cody says. The individuals disperse, and Cody switched the video off before the Apache attacks them directly with gunfire. The net result of the engagement: an Army convoy was rerouted to avoid the hostile activity as the Apache engaged.

The key, Cody says, is the direct video feed from the Warrior that relays the entire engagement to the TOC and provides instant battle damage assessment. The kinetic portion of the engagement lasted less than 5 mins, he adds, including damage assessment.


this is part of an article written by Amy Butler

carl
08-08-2007, 12:57 AM
Rob's comments about the C-130 seem to describe the AC-130. There is a link to an article in another thread in "Equipment and Capabilities" in which a former AC-130 aircraft commander contends the capabilties of these aircraft are severely restricted by the way they are used. He said it is currently pre-assigned to one unit rather than being on call for whoever needs it most at the time.

UAV's are nice but they crash a lot, complicate atc and are very expensive. A manned platform like the trusty old C-12 can carry as many black boxes plus some people to work them. They can't stay up as long, but 5 hours should be a useful time on station and they are a lot cheaper.

Rob Thornton
08-08-2007, 03:45 AM
Carl,
Great point about the C-12. Its a part of Army aviation you rarely see. I'm glad to see we are being innovative about their use. I suspect this is an area the Army will continue to improve on.
Ref. the C-130, I was kind of thinking about a hybrid between the AC-130 and and some of the other models.
Also, thanks for the ref. regarding ODIN

You know, thinking about something Conrad Crane said to our BSAP class - a HN COIN force could replicate this air frame relatively cheap with a commercial prop job, and probably buy allot of COTS sensors Its not just us getting hit by the IEDs, and it may be time to start thinking about equipping the Iraqis with a sustainable, good enough solution.

Best Regards, Rob

Kreker
08-08-2007, 04:52 PM
Something to think about there! As one of the most versatile platforms around, the C-130 variants have lon "on station" time, could be outfitted with COIN packages such as WAS (Wide Area Surveillance), other optics, ECM/C-IED, SIGINT collection, C2 Retrans, maybe even a limited weapons capability. Put those together with an analyst package that is communicating and reaponding to the folks on the ground and you get a substantial COIN package that goes after the all aspects of the IED problem. Give it the ability to interface with other Joint C4ISR systems such as BFT, FBCB2 EPLRS, ABCS, CPOF and you get an up to date Common Operating Picture. Throw in a aerial refuleing capability and you could a persistant one!

Rob,
I've heard that the Army is trying to get the Firescout UAV equipped with ASTAMIDS for possible IED detection in the ME?

Cavguy
08-08-2007, 05:00 PM
I did a lot of UAV work in Ramadi with 1/1 AD. UAV's and Aircraft could only detect "hotspots" on the road, which were sent to the units for investigation.

With proper targeting in heavy IED areas, we caught a number of IED emplacers with UAV's through old-skool NAI/TAI methods coupled with precision low-blast munitions.

I had a great video downrange (classified, unfortunately) of IED emplacement cell getting annihilated in Ramadi through that method. (one of my favorite days - that site got lots of marines/soldiers killed)

Later, we would often not engage and track the emplacers to their hide-out, which then was raided or turned into another NAI which was targeted to ferret out the network.

Rob Thornton
08-08-2007, 08:17 PM
Hey Kreker,


I've heard that the Army is trying to get the Firescout UAV equipped with ASTAMIDS for possible IED detection in the ME?

Unless the tech on ASTAMIDS (and maybe even GSTAMIDS) improves significantly (from where it was at last) - I think its of limited utility. However, if the overhead ($$ spent vs. $$ spent on other things) is not to bad, it is an added capability.
Best Rob

Armchairguy
08-26-2007, 07:13 PM
Cavguy says "Later, we would often not engage and track the emplacers to their hide-out, which then was raided or turned into another NAI which was targeted to ferret out the network." Taking down a whole network seems the ultimate anti IED strategy. I noticed a lot about air assets in the previous posts. I guess that is because of the article by the air force guy. Also someone mentions snipers. I don't know what is available in the military inventory, but there has to be some ways to set up small, cheap concealed fixed cameras, pressure sensors, other sensors, that might work in tandem with air assets. I seem to remember something about a grid of fiber optic lines being used as pressure sensors in the Fulda gap. Something like that might also be considered for controlling border crossing areas. Obviously not every solution is applicable to every situation, but like battling fire ants in Texas you have to kill the queen/hive (bomber/network) not the other ants (IED's).