Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Tactical Air Warfare [report]

DEFENSE SCIENCE BOARD WASHINGTON DC
1993 unpublished
In addressing the findings of this report, we need first to highlight one point. It has to do with lessons from military conflicts in our country's history, especially lessons not learned. In every war, both sides are exposed to very costly lessons from mistakes and missed opportunities. History reveals that, unfortunately, many of the lessons are n learned and the same mistakes and missed opportunities are repeated in the next conflict. There are many reasons why this occurs but it doesn't
more » ... but it doesn't have to continue now. To learn the lessons, actions must be taken to remove limitations and gain advantages over previous ways of conducting operations and acquiring new capabilities. At the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf War, the DoD delivered to the Congress the report "Conduct of the Persian Gulf War," April 1992. It is noteworthy that. with respect to Tactical Air Warfare, that report calls for many of the actions this task force recommends. The lessons will not be learned until such actions are taken. In this study the Task Force has emphasized the need to redress in the near term -over the next five to ten years -the most serious deficiencies in the systems and forces comprising our tactical air warfare capabilities. The greatest current imbalances in capability are in inadequate numbers of precision-guided weapons and associated target engagement systems, both on-board tactical aircraft and off-board sensors and associated data links. Among precision-guided weapons and platform delivery capabilities, the most important current shortfalls are in allweather and standoff weapons, and we have strongly recommended that development and procurement of weapons in the latter categories be accelerated. There is substantial payoff for PGMs in that they require fewer sorties to achieve target destruction. Thus cost savings result not only from less munitions tonnage that needs to be delivered to the target, but also less fuel burned for the platforms required to go on the mission, and for the supporting aircraft that are also required. This payoff will have significant impact on the logistics system needed to supply particular scenarios. However, the area in which we found the greatest opportunities for high-leverage improvements in tactical warfare effectiveness was in the integration of targeting and combat information systems linking JSTARS and other off-board sources of target information into a network capable of providing data directly to the weapon delivery platforms. The development of an effective end-to-end, wide-area surveillance and targeting system for both air-to-air and air-to-surface targets is essential. These systems should focus around AWACS and JSTARS respectively and provide for rapid dissemination of multi-source surveillance and targeting data to all elements of the force structure. This ultimate capability will require improvements and integration of our current surveillance and targeting systems and the development of a tactical warfare systems information architecture for effective and timely distribution of the required data. We also believe that UAV systems should be explored more aggressively now in both development and joint operational exercises. These systems offer the potential for operations over hostile territory with reduced vulnerability and risk. The Task Force emphasized that the need to maintain the balance among weapons, platform delivery capabilities, and target engagement and information systems will be more importment in the future than it is currently, and strongly urged that this perspective guide the overall tactical air warfare R&D programs of the Defense Department Our overall Tactical Air Warfare capability depends on effective utilization of aircraft, weapons, off-board sensors, information distribution, and logistics systems. We need to establish the capability to evaluate trade-offs between different combinations of these systems. It should be noted that substantial and important near-term gains in our tactical air warfare capabilities do not require new aircraft programs to be achieved. Such gains can be achieved by equipping our carrent force with precision weapons and associated delivery systems and improving the surveillance and targeting, information distribution, and logistics support systems, making those forces much more effective. We must also exercise the resulting operational systems in realistic environments and demonstrate that we have learned the lessons of recent conflicts.
doi:10.21236/ada275347 fatcat:bjqkixoqbbg4dkt72ujs7ardua