How Ukraine can inform military modernization efforts

todayMarch 31, 2022

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We solely know huge [platforms], and we’re two generations late in adopting the smaller, more practical, extra environment friendly instruments of battle.

—  Vice Adm. Bob Harward (ret.), Defend AI government vice chairman of worldwide enterprise and a former member of the U.S. Nationwide Safety Council

The Ukrainian battlefield ought to inform U.S. and allied navy modernization efforts. All of us began with a plan, and it’s time to soak up latest data and regulate accordingly.

The quite a few movies of Stinger missiles and man-portable air protection programs annihilating Russian helicopters — simply because the Afghans did to the Russians within the Eighties — or the rows of destroyed tanks — simply because the U.S. destroyed Iraqi tanks within the Nineteen Nineties — ought to inform our modernization efforts.

The truth that we’re sending 17,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to counter tanks begs the query of why Poland is about to spend $6 billion for 250 tanks, or why any nation would convey tanks to the trendy battlefield.

The maths right here is easy, simple and blindingly apparent:

  • A $10 million tank is defeated by a $175,000 Javelin, a $6,000 Carl Gustav rocket (this writer’s favourite weapon as a SEAL) or a $100 improvised explosive system.
  • An $18 million Russian Mi-28 assault helicopter is defeated by a $120,000 Stinger missile. Once you add in pilot coaching and proficiency prices (doubtless $5 million to $10 million every), virtually $30 million was destroyed by a less expensive, extra cellular weapon system.

On tanks: They’ve their place on sure battlefields, for sure missions, in opposition to sure weapon programs. However by and huge, an important discount is required, as these battlefields are few and lowering quickly. Anti-armor weapons, anti-tank weapons, and armed drones have merely made the tank out of date. Kudos to the Marine Corps for chopping its tank MOS in 2020; the Military ought to think about the identical. Armor that’s ineffective just isn’t armor — its heavy, cumbersome and an costly waste.

On assault helicopters (not transport helicopters): It is a more durable one for me, as assault helicopters have a particular place in my coronary heart as a result of they delivered unimaginable worth on my deployments in Afghanistan. However MANPADS weren’t extremely proliferated in Afghanistan and if the trendy battlefield might be full of MANPADS, as we’re seeing in Ukraine, we should fill the assault helicopter mission with one thing far cheaper and cheaper. The Achilles’ heel of a $35 million Apache helo is a $120,000 MANPADS. And that may maintain true for all future assault helicopter programs, so we have to discover a option to accomplish these missions with cheaper property.

Synthetic intelligence-powered swarms of extremely smart drones will quickly be capable to execute most assault helicopter missions (to incorporate destroying tanks). Additional, they’ll quickly be capable to execute most missions that different susceptible, costly plane just like the International Hawk and Predator usually execute. “Quickly” is outlined as within the subsequent couple years, or earlier than any next-generation assault helicopter is launched.

It’s unlikely the drone value will attain parity or be lower than the MANPAD. However dropping a $1 million drone that’s half of a bigger swarm is much better and extra financial than dropping a $35 million Apache and the 2 extremely skilled, skilled pilots who fly it.

Each nation contemplating shopping for a brand new helicopter, a big (Group 5) drone or a chunk of armor ought to pause and take into consideration the way it can accomplish the identical mission for much much less. Sure, we nonetheless want sure giant property for sure missions. However these missions have gotten sparser, and as such we must always cut back the variety of giant property we purchase.

We had a pair sayings within the SEAL groups: “Plan your dive, dive you intend” and “the enemy will get a say, so learn and react.” These two sayings are in pure rigidity with one another; the primary about sticking to the plan, the latter about adjusting the plan.

The trick is realizing when to remain the course or when to regulate. Let’s be taught from the Ukrainian battlefield and regulate our modernization efforts and legacy arsenal accordingly.

Brandon Tseng is the co-founder and chief progress officer of Defend AI, in addition to a former U.S. Navy SEAL.

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Written by: soft fm radio staff

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