2008/01/25

Screamers

Do you remember the movie "Screamers"?
This video featured small drones which mostly moved underground to kill soldiers as an independent, target-seeking mine.
I never really believed that the Micro Air Vehicle interest of DARPA was related to reconnaissance as the communication quality doesn't seem to be promising. But every mini drone can carry enough explosives to kill (even from considerable distance with EFP technology...which has been in use for many decades).
Just imagine bird-like drones, rat-like drones, mole-like drones or even - worst case - mechatronic flying squirrels. Such mini-drone technology doesn't seem to be too advanced for even developing countries in 2025.
Millions of mini-drones (price tag like a cell phone each) identifying and killing soldiers ... *shudder*

Well, the good news is that although I'm pretty convinced that the technology and production won't a big problem in 2025 we won't see such an extreme scenario in this world.
It never happens to be that drastic. Planes did not kill all ships, subs didn't, machine guns didn't end offensive infantry tactics, tanks didn't end defensive warfare, anti-tank missiles didn't make tanks obsolescent...and you'll need more than just a thousand truck loads of mini drones to win a ground campaign in 2025.

But there's a catch - the flying mini drone example is an extreme example how a changing technology might render the traditional understanding of air superiority pointless.
Hundreds and thousands of Typhoons, F-22, F-35, Super Hornets, Gripens and Rafales will be completely ineffective against smallish drones.
We should think about future air defense concepts even if we still rule the skies by 2025.
Classic barrage balloons with close-meshed and thin nets, classic heavy AAA (anti-air guns aka "Flak", still known as naval guns in calibers 76-130mm) and probably even UGVs with high-powered machine shotguns might be more relevant for air defense in 2025 than fighter planes (no matter whether manned or not) and large anti-air missile systems like Patriot, Aster and MEADS.
And don't forget to ask the Aussies about underground fences - they have some experience due to their rabbit plague...

The NATO armies have mostly neglected battlefield air defenses under the assumption that NATO air superiority fighters will keep them safe from enemy air attack. It's about time to wake up on this.

The anti-air branches deserve some funds, talents and attention - they will need it. But don't let them waste it on classic battlefield air defense!

Sven Ortmann

1 comment:

  1. nukes are a pretty drastic weapon. it killed everything...

    ReplyDelete

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