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Executive Summary

Most doctrinal manuals and papers concentrate on the high intensity end of the
operational spectrum, despite the acknowledgement that future wars will be at the
other end: few Gulf Wars, many Bosnians. According to British Defence Doctrine
(Joint Warfare Publication 0 - 01):

  “The selection of targets for long range attack by aircraft and missiles is
  crucial. However, this deep attack can be politically sensitive and it must be in
  accordance with international law, using proportionate force and minimising
  civilian casualties. Therefore targeting is a complex process which relies on
  very accurate and up-to-date intelligence and the use of accurate, effective

This statement covers all types of operations.

Engagement of targets now in Kosovo and Serbia is being carried out exclusively by
very accurate weapons launched from long range (cruise missiles) or from shorter
range by long range platforms (aircraft). Artillery can plan no part in such a process
now, with its limited range and its lack of precision accuracy. But artillery could play
a vital part in the future and it is imperative that it does so for its platforms are
cheaper and less vulnerable than aircraft. It is the only part of an Army division
which can engage an enemy at a distance while remaining relatively invulnerable.

The artillery of the future can have such a capability, provided the question of range
and precision is answered correctly and fast. What MOD should be demanding now
is munitions which can be launched from MLRS with ranges of very much more than
100km (up to, say, 500km) using surveillance data from ASTOR and elsewhere to
cue long range target acquisition UMAs (SPECTATOR), to engage a variety of
targets with a family of warheads, each with the accuracy to place that warhead
precisely where it will do the required damage. In short, we need munitions which
can be launched to destroy that enemy tank parked next to that school with a
confidence that civilian casualties will be zero.

Technology can give us such a capability. What is needed now in MOD is the clarity
of vision to fund it without delay, and to write the requirement for the future not for


Apart from its earliest days when it had only a direct fire capability, artillery has
traditionally provided combat support for the „teeth arms‟ of the infantry and
armoured corps. On its own, it has not been able to act as a true strike force
because it has lacked the accuracy and lethality to destroy armoured vehicles, dug-in
infantry and buried or hardened command centres. Nor has it had the range to

isolate the tactical battle, a role which has devolved upon the Royal Air Force, often
using the eyes of reconnaissance forces on the ground.

Artillery has been left to neutralise enemy forces at relatively short range and for
relatively short periods. To do this, it levies a heavy price in logistic support. Artillery
has been, and still is, an essential part of the all-arms battle, but on its own, it has
not been a battle winner. However, that looks set to change as technology
eliminates its hitherto enduring weaknesses in range, accuracy and lethality, thus
providing artillery with the potential to become a strike force in its own right.

Artillery is, and must remain, a system of systems. It is of no use having hundreds of
kilometres of range if accuracy or lethality at the end of it is inadequate to do the
necessary damage. Nor is it of much use if, having established an operational three-
legged balance between range, accuracy and lethality, the necessary targets cannot
be found or the data cannot be communicated to the launchers in time or the
launchers cannot be replenished with munitions when necessary. All these aspects
need to be compatible in time, space and language.


Range has to date been technologically limited. In the past, it has only been
possible to buy range by increasing gun size, and consequently, decreasing tactical
and strategic mobility of the gun or launcher. This restriction has become
increasingly irksome as the battlefield has expanded in size and become „less
dense‟, so that each unit or formation has had increasingly large areas of
responsibility and interest (see Table 1).

More recently, manoeuvrist doctrine has placed further demands on artillery range,
not only in terms of supporting forces a hundred or more kilometres from the main
force, but also in terms of reducing the time spent out of action in moves to keep up
with the speed of the battle. In the past, we have taken what range technology can
provide, but now technology can give us all the range we need: the in-service
Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) can fire the Army Tactical Missile System
(ATACMS) to 150 kilometres now and to 300, 500 kilometres or more in the near
future. Surprisingly, MOD seems to be resisting such technology: current staff
targets for future indirect fire systems are stating 60 kilometres as the requirement
for the year 2007 and „over 100 kilometres‟ in 2011. Outranged by foreign artillery
now, we seem intent on perpetuating this crippling disadvantage.

While rocket launchers lose their earlier range constraints, guns will remain range
constrained in the immediate future. In-service 155mm gun ammunition is limited to
38km (the maximum range of the extended range bomblet shell or ERBS) and future
developments increase gun range in the next decade to only around 60km or a little
more. But further downstream, research into still longer gun range is proceeding
apace, concentrating on fin-stabilised (rather than spin-stabilised) munitions and
shell glide techniques. The US has a technology demonstration programme of an
extended range guided munition (ERGM) to a range of 120km and is funding early
research into rail guns with ranges of up to 300km.


       Date                           Divisional Area                  Troops/sq km

                           Depth (km)                Width (km)

       1815                     5                          1               1000
       1915                    10                          5                 200
       1940                    15                         10                  30
       1985                    25                         30                   7
       2010                   150?                       150?             Fraction

                                                                            Source BA 2000
                             Table 1: Divisional Frontages

Lethality and accuracy

Whatever the range, the munition must have the ability to strike the target with
enough punch to destroy or disable it, without causing significant collateral damage
(a factor of increasing importance particularly in lower intensity operations). Targets
will include buried headquarters, air defence sites, groups of armoured vehicles and
single high value vehicles. No single lethal mechanism can be expected to cope with
such an array, even though research into a „dial-a-warhead‟ capability is being
conducted. More likely, a family of munitions (ideally fired from existing platforms
and supplied in identical pods or containers) will be required.

These lethal mechanisms will have to be delivered with the accuracy needed to
destroy the target. This will vary. Against soft-skinned equipment (e.g. groups of
unarmoured vehicles, certain electronic targets and some logistic installations), this
will be no more than is needed now against area targets, although achieving it at the
longer ranges will require the ability to correct the trajectory in flight using GPS and
inertial navigation. But for other targets, the accuracy required is much greater:
precision targets demand terminal guidance, using either multi-spectral sensors (IIR,
millimetric radar, laser radar etc) or man-in-the-loop (MITL) visual or IR guidance in
the final stages using pictures of the aim-point transmitted in real time through a fibre
optic link. Both give the ability to hit individual vehicles, but each has its own
strengths: multi-spectral terminal guidance is autonomous, once fired, while the fibre
optic missile (FOM) gives the greater reassurance that the target is the correct one
before it is hit.

Surveillance and target acquisition (S & TA)

Attacking targets at much longer ranges can only be achieved if these targets can be
found. Our current divisional S&TA systems, and those in development, are
designed to support artillery ranges of no more than about 40km. For this the mix is
ideal: a counter-battery radar (COBRA), a target acquisition unmanned aircraft
(Phoenix), an acoustic weapon locating system (ASP), together with artillery
observation officers. Reconnaissance vehicles, such as TRACER and attack


helicopters with a range of sensors, may have the ability to acquire some of these
deeper targets, but they are not primarily artillery acquisition systems and may well
be tasked differently. So on current plans, the divisional artillery commander may
have to rely on data collected by systems commanded at higher levels, which is not

Long range precision means that target acquisition sensors must operate with a line
of sight between sensor and target. And long range line of sight means airborne
sensors. The airborne stand-off radar (ASTOR) certainly has the range (around
300km) but it is primarily a surveillance system with only limited ability to provide
accurate target acquisition data. It is ideal for cueing unmanned aircraft (UMAs)
such as Phoenix, but Phoenix is relatively short-ranged. SPECTATOR, a UMA with
a range of 150km is currently at the research or concept stage, but even if this is
introduced into service quickly (its projected ISD is 2009 and it is not yet funded), the
divisional artillery commander will still have to rely for target acquisition on assets at
the operational and strategic level, such as ASTOR, long range intelligence
gatherers, air reconnaissance and satellites which all have the required range.

The mix of S&TA systems therefore will exist but can the data, from those above
divisional level and from those within it, reach the artillery platforms in time?

Command, Control and Communications (C3)

The UK division in the Gulf War apparently did not receive any timely target
acquisition data from sensors above division. It was, effectively, blind at the longer
ranges. The S&TA systems existed but the ability to pass that information down
quickly in a useable format to the weapon platform did not.

The new communications system BOWMAN, although its ISD is still slipping,
promises to provide, together with SATCOM, adequate tactical voice and data
communications. But the ability to fuse target acquisition data and pass it to the
designated launchers/guns in a timely fashion is much less certain. The Formation
Battle Management System (FBMS) connecting all unit and formation headquarters
has yet to be fully defined while the Battle Group Battle Management System
(BGBMS) to equip armoured units is even further adrift. Both have a Stage 1 ISD of
2002 but this will not be achieved and is likely to slip by two years or more.

Both are vital if we are to improve on the current capability provided by battlefield
artillery target engagement system, BATES. They must do more than BATES: they
must link all sensors with both the relevant decision makers and launch platforms.
TRACER, ASTOR, attack helicopters, COBRA, ASP, Phoenix, EW assets,
reconnaissance vehicles and artillery Ops must all be linked through a central
system which can fuse, process and pass the necessary data within the essential
timelines in a useable format to the guns and launchers before a mobile target
disappears. Data from air reconnaissance, satellites and intelligence must also be
fed in. This is a far from trivial task, but the barrier is not technological. The difficulty
appears to be deciding on exactly what is required and on how to buy it.



Timeliness is critical, not only because increased range dictates times of flights of
many minutes, but also because launch platforms can no longer sit in one place
waiting for a target - at least they cannot against an enemy with any sort of effective
S&TA capability. We have fewer and more expensive platforms than ever before.
They must be survivable.

Speed into and out of action, together with speed of target engagement and long
range, is the basis for survivability of the platform. Even more important in the
future, although of little priority at the moment, will be robotics. A crewless gun
would allow the platform to be smaller and therefore cheaper. More smaller guns
with fewer men will increase survivability and minimise the effect of losses.

However, it is of little use if the platform survives but the munition does not. Stealth
shells and rockets will reduce the time available to the enemy to activate counter-
measures. Dumb shells are not very vulnerable to either hard kill or soft kill
defensive aids, but expensive, smart munitions are and must be designed to survive
these counter-measures particularly in the terminal phase.              Counter-counter-
measures will have to be built-in, including sophisticated algorithms to reject false
targets, flares and spoofing; home-on-jam; and/or multispectral seekers. All this will
push the cost of smart munitions higher. This in turn implies the highest operational
reliability and availability.


Logistics has long been a neglected area. Neutralisation demands large amounts of
ammunition which, in turn, means both large numbers of ammunition vehicles and
high logistic manpower levels. The potential for losing vehicles, ammunition and
men on a dark night in a fast moving battle is frighteningly high.

There are two factors which can reduce the resource bill and the loss factor. The
first is smart ammunition. As high-cost, high-capability munitions replace low-cost,
low capability rounds, the numbers fired at many targets will reduce by orders of
magnitude. Although some neutralisation tasks will still be required, the logistic
resource bill should reduce significantly.

The second is the introduction of logistic command and information systems (CIS).
Hitherto, resupply of artillery ammunition has been a rather hit-and-miss affair, rarely
practised on exercise and never properly modelled in concept studies. A major
overprovisioning on the battlefield has been the answer. This will not be cost-
effective with the much more expensive smart munitions so that logistic CIS systems
must be introduced which not only keep track of what ammunition is where and
when, but also to aid the resupply drivers in the same way as BGBMS should help
armoured vehicle commanders, giving them a clear picture of where enemy and
friendly forces are and helping them to navigate to their objectives.


This paper discusses the key factors of range; lethality and accuracy; surveillance
and target acquisition; command, control and communications; survivability; and

                                                                                         June 1999


The views of the author are his own. The UK Defence Forum holds no corporate view on the opinions
expressed herein. The Forum exists to enable politicians, industrialists, members of the armed forces,
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