One thing that the U.S. has learned is that the "Shock and Awe" strategy of overwhelming force, tried out on Iraq in 2003, does not always work. It left shattered infrastructure, lots of rubble to provide cover for the enemy and, worst of all, dead and injured civilians. Out go 2,000-pound bombs; in come weapons one-quarter and one-eighth the size. But with neither the time nor the money to invent all-new weapons, the goal is to solve problems with off-the-shelf technology and components.
About three-quarters of targets for U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are mobile, according to Defense Department officials. At the same time, as combat operations become a fixture of ongoing life in those countries, U.S. officials eagerly look to refine and restrict bomb explosions to allow their use in populated areas.
JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition), JSOW (Joint Standoff Weapon) and SDB (Small-Diameter Bomb) are all in-theater and working. Stuart Koehl, a military analyst at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Transatlantic Relations, writes "I've got total air supremacy, I've got all-weather capability, ... a JDAM dropped from overhead is going to go right down the pipe, no matter what."
What's the next step? Moving-target and low-collateral upgrades under so-called urgent-request efforts, adapting existing weapons to keep costs as low as possible
Two programs in particular seem directed to the moving-target effort: the Direct Attack Moving Target Capability (DAMTC) and the JSOW.
The DAMTC would modify the existing inventory of "direct-attack" JDAM and Laser Guided Bomb weapons for a dual-mode weapon that is capable of hitting moving targets up to 70 miles per hour. A JSOW C-1 version, meanwhile, will provide a moving target capability to the standoff JSOW via the addition of a datalink and guidance software improvements to the JSOW-C variant, which employ an imaging infrared seeker, Global Positioning System/INS and an augmenting charge with a follow-through penetrator bomb for use against hardened targets.
The Army this month is supposed to test, introduce or expand use of several new precision strike munitions, including the GPS-guided Excalibur projectiles.
Meanwhile, a first step in going smaller was the induction last August of the SDB, a 250-lb.-class GPS-guided munition, into service. And Air Force and Navy officials are looking at other industry proposals like the SDB-variant Focused Lethality Munition and the Small Contained-Area Laser Precision Energetic Load weapon, which is based on the Enhanced Laser-Guided Training Round but with a modified seeker. The Army also is working on a 200-pound class high-explosive warhead Unitary version of the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System.