WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. In previous episodes, we explored the two largest military platform markets: ground combat vehicles and tanks, and fighter planes and bombers. This time, we’ll take a look at the third market for big iron: warships and submarines. I’m going to throw a lot of numbers around in this composition but don’t take them as absolute. Warships sink all the time (Ukraine has sunk or damaged 17 Russian ships in the war so far), and shipyards are launching a new warship now and then. So, look at these numbers as estimates. Let’s start from the top.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. Last time, we looked at the market for ground combat vehicles and tanks. Now, it’s time to look at the second largest volume platform market in the military: fighter planes and bombers. Let’s start at the top. According to Flight Global, there were about 53,250 military aircraft in the world in 2021. The U.S. flies about 25% of that total (13,250), Russia flies 8% (4,170), and China flies 6% (3,280). This includes fighters, bombers, tankers, cargo planes, ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) planes, and helicopters. Keep in mind that these numbers move around. Military aircraft crash all the time, and Russia has lost about 175 aircraft in Ukraine in 16 months.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. In our last adventure, we explored the worldwide military markets using three recent reports, and integrated those into the TAM-SAM-SOM model (total addressable market, serviceable addressable market, and serviceable obtainable market). That expedition gave us a macro-view of things. Now, it’s time to put on our rubber gloves, get out the sharp knives, and carve the military market into edible segments. The most objective way to dismember this massive creature is to cut it up by platform, so we’ll start with the largest volume segment: ground combat vehicles (GCV) and tanks.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. As previously promised, we are fearlessly embarking upon a challenging project here, to integrate the demand-side and supply-side data about the world military markets. The best method to attack this problem is from the top-down. Going from the bottom-up would create debilitating confusion, misconceptions, and illusions.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. As I was putting together my notes about all the Army’s Project Convergence Exercises, I got a notice that the planned PC-23 exercises had been cancelled and rescheduled for 2024. That’s a great disappointment, so let's drown our sorrows in a vintage bottle of data from the three previous exercises: PC-20, PC-21, and PC-22.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. Let’s take a break from studying the Kill Web and explore something else. Back in the late 1940s, Harvard linguist George Kingsley Zipf picked up a copy of James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses” and read it. Although it was acclaimed by the pompous literary pundits in rumpled suits as a masterpiece, Zipf could not believe how incomprehensible and boring it was. In case you were not exposed to it in college, reading “Ulysses" is like being mercilessly waterboarded with the English language by shallow characters, in a dull story with no detectable plot, for an unbearable period of time.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. If you have been a fervent reader of these Kill Web articles, you know that the Army has been connecting their sensors and weapons together into a tactical network under their IBCS initiative (Integrated Battle Command System). The Navy has been secretly connecting their ships and planes together with their CEC program (Cooperative Engagement Capability). The same goes for the Air Force’s planes under their ABMS initiative (Advanced Battle Management System) and the Space Force’s satellites (SF-ABMS).
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. So far, we have covered the Army (IBCS), the Navy (CEC), and the Space Force (SF-ABMS) programs. So now it’s time to explore what the Air Force is doing to join the Kill Web. Their primary effort is called ABMS (Advanced Battle Management System), that seeks to connect all their aircraft, weapons, and sensors together into a tactical mesh network where they can talk to each other in real time. Maybe the best way to present this information is by comparison to what the other services have been doing. That might be more informative.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. So far, we have studied how the U.S. Army (IBCS) and Navy (CEC) programs have been conducting experiments, to integrate their weapons and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems into the Kill Web mesh network. Now, let’s take a look at what the Space Force is doing. The Space Force was formed as the fourth armed service in 2019 and operates under the Air Force.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. Last time, we looked at the Army’s IBCS (Integrated Battle Command System) program and Project Convergence exercises, through the eyes of their advanced AI (artificial intelligence) Kill Web algorithms (Rainmaker, Prometheus, FIRESTORM, and SHOT). Unfortunately, the Navy doesn’t talk much about AI algorithms, so that forces us to reluctantly abandon the trusted engineering principle of consistent analytical continuity and view their progress through what they do talk about: their platforms.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. In our previous adventure, I introduced the pyramid model to identify each service’s Kill Web program and their experimental activities. Sitting at the peak is the Pentagon’s JADC2 program (Joint All Domain Command and Control) and the GIDE-XX exercises. On one side is the Army's IBCS program (Integrated Battle Management System) and Project Convergence exercises. On the next side is the Navy’s CEC program (Cooperative Engagement Capability) and their highly classified Project Overmatch exercises. On the next side is the Air Force's ABMS program (Advanced Battle Management System) and Onramp exercises. Since the Space Force stills falls under the Air Force, we’ll call their program SF-ABMS. They make up the final side of the pyramid. Space Force has been conducting a number of experiments under different names so we’ll decode those in the future.
WARFARE EVOLUTTION BLOG. There’s been a lot of activity going on in the past few months, testing different technologies and operational concepts. We need a model to organize those events to avoid confusion and reduce complexity. So, we’ll use the basic structure of the Kill Web to make sense of it all. The JADC2 (Joint All-Domain Command and Control) program sits at the top. That’s the Pentagon’s vision of how all ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems, weapons systems, satellites, logistics, and operations from all the different services are connected together and share data in realtime. Off to the side is the JAIC (Joint Artificial Intelligence Center), that develops and feeds different artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms into JADC2 and the different services’ activities.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. On 25 June 2021, the Director of National Intelligence (DDNI) released the much-anticipated UFO report. It’s only NINE pages long, and includes the status of 144 UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, the new and improved name for UFOs) collected by the AATIP (Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program) from 2004 through the first half of 2021. One of those UAPs was identified as a deflating weather balloon, and the remainder were designated as unknown. There is also a classified version of this report (17 pages long) submitted to congressional Intelligence and Armed Services Committees. I suspect those additional eight pages just contain secret sources and collection methods rather than additional facts. You can read the unclassified report on the web.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG: There’s been a number of advancements in technology going into the Kill Web lately but none of them, individually, would warrant a focused article unless I overhyped their potential, wildly speculated about their capabilities, or just made-up some stuff. That approach could seriously jeopardize my standing as an amateur blogger and irritate my publisher. So, let’s avoid that possibility and briefly cover a few of the developments here.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. In my previous articles, I may have left the impression that with the technology we have today, hooking all ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) and weapons systems together into a seamless, multi-service, multi-domain battle network should be straightforward. Technologically, it is achievable. But operationally, there are serious complex trade-offs that make the decisions difficult. Let’s look at a few of them here, so you have a better idea why building the Kill Web will take some time, lots of testing, and continuous updates to make it function properly.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. During the night of 7 October 2001, [Central Intelligence Agency] CIA-controlled Predator drone 3034 was flying over a mud-walled compound in Afghanistan, the suspected hideout of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. The infrared (IR) sensors picked-up heat signatures from three vehicles and a motorcycle leaving and heading toward Kandahar. The drone pilot, and the weapons officer controlling the two on-board Hellfire missiles, were sitting in a trailer on the grounds of CIA-headquarters (HQ) in Langley, Virginia. The video images from the Predator were being streamed, via satellite links, to the big flat-screen TVs at Langley, to the offices of military brass at the Pentagon, General Franks' office at central command (CENTCOM) in Tampa, Florida, to the offices of General Deptula in Qatar (who was controlling Air Force fighter planes and bombers over Afghanistan), and the office of General Jumper, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Ordinary soldiers call this video network "Kill TV," for reasons that will become obvious.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. Back in 1991, U.S. and coalition forces decimated the Iraqi Army in 42 days during Operation Desert Storm. At the time, Iraq had the world’s fifth largest army. Can we do better than 42 days in the future? Yes, with the help of cloud computing and a supercomputer.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG: DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) officials announced the concept of the Kill Web at the C4ISRNET Conference in May 2018. Throughout the history of war, many elements of the Kill Web were being developed independently, but the dots were not connected until Admiral William Owens wrote a paper about a “system of systems”. He proposed integrating command-and-control, the intelligence from the sensors, and the weapons together in the mid 1990s. He also coined the acronym ISR (for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance).
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. In late 2013, Combat Aircraft Monthly magazine published an article about the Iranian military’s encounters with UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects). The article states that in November 2004 and again in January 2012, the Iranian Air Force scrambled their fighter planes to intercept unidentified aircraft flying over their secret nuclear facilities. The pilots reported that the invading aircraft were spherical, emitted a greenish light, executed maneuvers that defied the laws of physics, disabled the electronic systems onboard their fighter planes, and flew away at MACH 10 (7672 MPH). Iranian authorities insisted that these unidentified aircraft were advanced-technology reconnaissance drones flown by America’s CIA. This incident, among many others, demands that we explore UFOs and how they fit in the kill web.
WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. Unmanned autonomous fighter planes are the most interesting elements in the advanced kill web, even more intriguing than the manned super-stealthy 6G fighter planes we discussed in previous articles. UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles) have the potential to render our enemy’s A2/AD (anti-access/area-denial) strategies completely obsolete. These platforms appear under different names: Loyal Wingman, ATC (Airpower Teaming System), Dark Sword, Taranis, Remote Carriers, nEUROn, and Sidekicks. To understand how they enhance the kill web, we need to look at their specifications and their missions.