Preliminary Observations Find Army’s Digital Force Wanting

As reported in Defense Daily, a team of retired military officers who observed the Army’s recent battlefield digitization experiment found that the troops equipped with computer equipment were no more lethal than conventional forces. The observations were made following an experiment in which the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division was outfitted with a number of experimental technologies and arrayed against a conventional heavy brigade at the National Training Center (NTC). The exercise tested the theory that digital information systems may allow US forces to locate friendly and enemy forces more accurately and improve their firepower direction efficiency.

However, according to the observation team report, the experiment did not prove the theory and, in one instance, the digital force was worse off than before. As in previous digitization experiments, the digitized forces suffered higher rates of friendly fire than usual in an NTC exercise.

The team found that training among the digitized brigade forces was inadequate. The explanation for this shortcoming included statements that equipment was immature and unreliable, and that too many initiatives were being tested. While the director of operational test and evaluation organization for whom the report was written has a history of focusing on negative aspects of a given situation, the report does raise serious questions. However, at this time, the Pentagon has decided to accelerate the digitization program and intends to field the first digital division in 2000.

Hanscom Air Force Base to Participate in JWID

Hanscom Air Force Base, Bedford, MA, has announced that it will be involved in several events during the 1997 Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID) scheduled from July 7 to August 1 in 45 sites worldwide. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization also will participate in a JWID exercise involving the adversarial mythical countries of Korona, the invader, and oil-rich Kartuna, which asks for assistance.

The main facility at Hanscom will serve as the modeling and simulation center and will execute scenarios that trigger other JWID events. Possible scenarios may include JWID participants acting on information from the airborne warning and control system involving enemy fighters.

Demonstration links will be provided to JWID through the command and control unified battlespace environment. A coalition-wide area network (CWAN) will link all JWID participants and, for the first time, will involve communications with a submarine, the USS Atlanta. The Air Force’s Speckled Trout command and control aircraft will participate and communicate with other JWID elements on the CWAN using the Link 16 jam-resistant, digital communications system. JWID management, which rotates throughout the Department of Defense, is the Navy’s responsibility this year.

New SINCGARS Award Goes to ITT

The US Army’s Communications/Electronics Command has awarded a contract to ITT Defense & Electronics (ITT D&E) for the production of the single-channel ground airborne radio system (SINCGARS). The contract is valued at $190 M with a potential value of $320 M in not-to-exceed options. Under the terms of the contract, ITT Aerospace/Communications, a division of ITT D&E, will produce and deliver more than 35,000 SINCGARS receiver/transmitters to the US military beginning in mid-1998. The contract includes options for an additional 50,000 SINCGARS to be delivered over the following two years. The contract also calls for 20,000 vehicle adapter assemblies (VAA) with options for an additional 25,000 VAAs.

Longbow Hellfire Missile Production Quantity Plans Questioned

A report from the General Accounting Office (GAO), “Longbow Hellfire Missile Procurement Quantities Significantly Overstated” (GAO/NSIAD-97-93), questions the production plans for the Longbow Hellfire missile as it nears full-rate production status. The Longbow Hellfire is an air-to-ground missile designed to be fired from a modified AH-64D Apache helicopter. All 758 Apache helicopters are scheduled for conversion so they can carry a mix of Longbow Hellfire and Hellfire II missiles, which receive targeting information from a fire-control radar mounted on the modified helicopter. The 227 helicopters scheduled to be equipped with the radar will relay targeting information to the remaining helicopters.

Originally, the Army planned to acquire 13,311 missiles over a 10-year period but has since reduced that time frame to eight years –– a move expected to reduce the unit costs from $234 K to $169 K. More recently, the total quantity was reduced to 12,722 to further reduce the overall program cost.

The GAO’s review of the program concludes that the Army made serious errors in its computations of the total number of missiles required. In its computations, the Army used an outdated helicopter-carrying capacity of 16 missiles instead of the current 12. The Army also reportedly double counted missiles when computing the residual readiness portion of the requirement and used an unsubstantiated mix ratio between Longbow Hellfire and Hellfire II missiles. The GAO indicates that correcting these errors will reduce the current missile requirement by 7145. In addition, an evaluation of the total Apache Longbow system revealed that its weight needs to be reduced by 600 lb to achieve its specified rate of climb. Therefore, if the Army reduces the weight of the system by reducing the number of missiles it carries, only eight will be used and 1184 fewer will need to be produced.

According to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Program Analysis and Evaluation, the Hellfire missile procurement should not exceed 8800 missiles. An operational issue that may further reduce the size of the procurement is the fact that nonradar-equipped helicopters do not fire as many missiles as those with the radar equipment. The helicopters with the radar (three out of eight in each Apache company) are supposed to locate and classify targets and then hand them off digitally to those without radar. The hand-off procedure has proved to be time consuming and unreliable in operational tests thus far and the radar aircraft crews usually choose not to transfer targets. The lethality differences between the two types of Apaches have raised questions about the rationale behind purchasing Hellfire missiles for nonfire-control radar aircraft. The GAO recommends that the Army reduce the Longbow Hellfire missile procurement based on the number of missiles the helicopters can actually carry, the correct readiness computational procedures and the proper Hellfire II-to-Hellfire mix ratio.

Spain Designates AEGIS for Its F-100 Class Frigates

Spain’s Ministry of Defense has signed a letter of agreement with the US Navy that designates the airborne early-warning ground integration system (AEGIS) combat system for its F-100 class of frigates. The system includes the SPY-1D radar transmitter and MK99 fire-control system supplied by Raytheon. The agreement is valued at approximately $100 M over a five-year period. Contract awards are expected in July.

The program calls for Spain’s Bazan shipbuilders to build four F-100 class frigates. Raytheon AEGIS equipment will be provided to the Spanish navy through a foreign military sales agreement with the US Navy. Raytheon expects to begin production on the four ship sets of equipment during the third quarter of the year and will be supported by the Spanish defense contractor ENOSA, which will manufacture a portion of the MK99 fire-control system in Spain. ENOSA will also become the logistic support depot for the Raytheon equipment in Spain.