Gulf War The new kind of war Essay

This essay has a total of 2890 words and 15 pages.


Gulf War The new kind of war





The Gulf War was much more than a fight to liberate Kuwait. It was the first
non-conventional war; in which new, fairly new, or even experimental weapons were used.
The Gulf War displayed much new technology that you will learn lots about in this paper.
This paper may sound very technical, but that is what it is about, the new weapon
technology vs. the conventional types of weapons used in previous wars. This paper is
about the advancement of weapon technology, and how the military changed the tactics used
before.


TOMAHAWK MISSILE and the F-117 Nighthawk (Stealth Fighter)
The Tomahawk cruise missile is a computer-guided missile fired from U.S. combat vessels
carrying either 1,000-lb. warheads or a cluster of 166 soda-can-sized ‘bomblets’. The
warhead can hit within a few feet of its target. This is one of the backbone attacks of
the war. This weapon allowed allied forces to destroy buildings in a very populated area
without harming any civilians.

The Tomahawk cruise missile (the BGM-109) is a 20-foot-long weapon costing $1.3 million. A
booster rocket shoots the missile off a ship or submarine. Then the small turbofan engine
takes over and the missile jets toward land, directed by its “internal guidance system”
which uses sensors and gyroscopes to measure acceleration and changes in direction. Once
the missile crosses the shoreline, a more precise guidance method, TERCOM takes over.
TERCOM scans the landscape at set checkpoints, taking altitude readings and comparing them
to map data in its own computer memory. The missiles moves at about 550 miles per hour,
and can make twists and turns like a radar evading fighter plane, all the while skimming
over the land at 100 feet to 300 feet.

1

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After covering up to 1,500 miles, the Tomahawk closes in on its target and a third
guidance system then takes over, DSMAC (Digital Scene Matching Area Collator). DSMAC snaps
a picture of the target area and compares that data to a version in its own memory. The
computer then gives the wings and tail fins a final adjustment and takes the warhead to
its target.

The Tomahawk and the Tomahawk Antiship missile (TASM) are fitted on Iowa-class
battleships, cruisers of the Virginia, Long Beach, and Ticonderoga classes, and destroyers
of the Arleigh Burke and Spruance classes.

“Desert Storm was the first combat test of the cruise missile system. It also marked the
first coordinated Tomahawk and manned aircraft strike in history. Within the first few
minutes of Operation Desert Storm, Tomahawk missiles launched from battleships Missouri
and Wisconsin struck with accuracy at Iraq’s presidential palace,” (Hersh, Press, 1994,
p.137).

“During the war, 297 Tomahawks were fired, of which 282 began their mission successfully,
nine failed to leave the tube and six fell into the water after leaving the tube. At least
two, and possibly as many as 6 were shot down, most or all of them in a single mission
profile most of the way to its target,” (Friedman, Naval Institute Press, 1991, p.231).

U.S. Forces used three platforms during the Gulf War that were in the
stealth/low-observability category: the F-117 stealth fighter and two long-range cruise


3
missiles, the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) and the Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile (CALCM).
“The F-117, which flew only two percent attack sorties, struck nearly forty percent of the
strategic targets, and remained the centerpiece of the strategic air campaign for the
entire war,” (Mc Cain, Shyles, Press, 1993, p.183).

Low observability made possible direct strikes at the heart of the Iraqi air defense
system at the very outset of the war. In the past, we fought through elaborate defenses
and accepted losses on the way to the target or rolled those defenses back. In the Gulf
War, the coalition could strike Iraqi air defenses immediately, and they never recovered
from these initial, stunning blows. With the combination of stealth and accuracy possessed
by the F-117 stealth fighter and the Tomahawk Cruise Missiles, these two attacks carried
out all attacks on downtown Baghdad. The F-117 operated at night and the TLAMs operated
during the day. Given American sensitivity to casualties—our own and Iraqi civilians—they
were ideal weapon systems for attacking targets in a heavily defended, heavily populated
city. As well, the F-117 had a psychological utility that was probably shared by only the
B-52. When Iraqis saw either, they ran for cover. Both were aircraft of a kind that only a
super-power could possess, and both could deliver destruction with no advanced
warning—small wonder, then, that both figured prominently in psychological operations
pamphlets that were showered upon Iraqi troops.

On the other hand, the F-117 and long range cruise missiles also had limitations, both
were less flexible and considerably more expensive than most conventional systems.

4

“The F-117, a subsonic, light bomber, had to operate at night to maximize stealthiness,
and nearly nineteen percent of the strikes attempted by F-117s were adversely affected by
weather, misses or no drops,” (Atkinson, Press 1994, p.247).

While not quite as sensitive to weather conditions as the F-117, cruise missiles had a
smaller payload, required a lengthy targeting process, and could not be re-targeted after
launch. Even without the flexibility of other aircraft, however, these platforms were able
to set to terms the air operations over Iraq and bring the reality of war home for the
residents of Baghdad.


AH-64 APACHE HELICOPTER
The AH-64 Apache is specifically designed for an attack role. My uncle said that during
the war the soldiers called it the flying tank. It’s Hellfire anti-tank missiles have a
range of more than 3.7 miles and can penetrate the armor of any known main battle tank.
The Apache may also be armed with 1.75inch folding-fin aerial rockets carried on two stub
fins that provide additional lift and may serve as attaching points for external fuel
tanks.

“Hard to kill, the Apache was designed to be cashworthy. Armor made of boron carbide
bonded to Kevlar protects the Apache crew and helicopter’s vital systems,” (Francoa,
Press, 1999, p.352).

Blast shields, which protect against 23mm rounds or smaller high-explosive incendiary
ammunition, separate the pilot and copilot weapons system operator; thus,


5

both crew members cannot be incapacitated by a single round. Armored seats and airframe
armor can withstand .50 caliber rounds. The aircraft is 48 feet long, 12 feet high and can
weigh 21,000 pounds maximum at take off. Top speed is 184 miles per hour, range is 300
miles and service ceiling of 21,000 feet.

In the weeks and months before the war, the Apache’s Bravo Company had developed new
tactics that they hoped to use against Iraqi tanks and armored vehicles. The Apache
helicopter was a ground-attack aircraft; tanks and fighting vehicles were it’s principal
targets. The tactics developed by Bravo Company pilots were considerably different from
the ones practiced in Europe. There the Apache pilots had been trained to fly low, using
hills for cover, and popping up to fire. In the desert there were few hills high enough to
use to hide behind. To compensate, Bravo Company had devised what they called high-energy
and low-energy tactics. In both approaches the pilots line up their six helicopters
shoulder to shoulder, in three teams of two. In low-energy tactics, the two helicopters in
a team would fly 300-500 meters apart; there would be an 800—1000 meter spread between
teams. The helicopters flew just 30 feet off the ground, inching forward just fast enough
to leave a dust trail from their rotor behind them. It was not foolproof, however, in the
relative flatness of the desert terrain, the tactic did not give Apache pilots as much of
a chance to pull off a surprise attack as they would hope for. Low-energy tactics were for
nighttime, then they would be virtually invisible. The high-energy tactics were for
daytime use, when they would choose to move faster.



6

They called for the two-Apache teams to spread out with about 1½ kilometers between them.
Then they would circle and fly in at the target at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. The
idea was to get close, fire, and get away fast.

The Apaches’ hellfire missiles were laser guided, as well as the 30-mm guns. The laser
accounted for the speed of the aircraft, as well as the wind, and the aircraft’s movement
for seven seconds prior to firing. Attached to the pilot’s helmet was a two-inch-square
semi-transparent monocle that extended about an inch or two in front of the pilot’s right
eye. Projected onto the monocle was the targeting information that came from the Apache’s
infrared targeting systems. There was also a cross hair-type targeting device. All of the
Apache’s weapons systems were linked electronically to the monocle. All a weapons officer
had to do was look at a target, lay the cross hairs on it, and fire his weapon of choice.
Continues for 8 more pages >>




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