Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

The Military Issues & History Forum is a venue to discuss issues relating to the military aspects of the Indian Armed Forces, whether the past, present or future. We request members to kindly stay within the mandate of this forum and keep their exchanges of views, on a civilised level, however vehemently any disagreement may be felt. All feedback regarding forum usage may be sent to the moderators using the Feedback Form or by clicking the Report Post Icon in any objectionable post for proper action. Please note that the views expressed by the Members and Moderators on these discussion boards are that of the individuals only and do not reflect the official policy or view of the Bharat-Rakshak.com Website. Copyright Violation is strictly prohibited and may result in revocation of your posting rights - please read the FAQ for full details. Users must also abide by the Forum Guidelines at all times.
Rahul M
Forum Moderator
Posts: 17052
Joined: 17 Aug 2005 21:09
Location: Skies over BRFATA
Contact:

Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Rahul M » 05 Oct 2020 01:19

Surprised not to see any thread on this.

I know it's being discussed on a number of threads on BR. please report those with a request to move to this thread and I will do the honours.
in terms of miltech this is possibly the first full blown conflict in which UAVs are playing a big role, so its too interesting to miss out.

Feel free to post relevant articles, images, tweets etc with proper attribution.


I will start
https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-ne ... huXyH.html
Azerbaijan’s No. 2 city targeted in fighting with Armenia

https://www.wionews.com/world/azerbaija ... ict-332438
Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of bombing another city, escalating conflict

Karan M
Forum Moderator
Posts: 19840
Joined: 19 Mar 2010 00:58

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Karan M » 05 Oct 2020 02:35

The infowar being waged by Azerbaijan via high res drone attacks needs to be given close attention.

vimal
BRFite
Posts: 646
Joined: 27 Jul 2017 10:32

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby vimal » 05 Oct 2020 02:43

Azerbaijani officials said Sunday that Armenian forces attacked Ganja, the country’s second largest city.

Seems like a nice place to get high.
How does this conflict affect India if at all?

Mukesh.Kumar
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 06 Dec 2009 14:09

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Mukesh.Kumar » 05 Oct 2020 03:02

RahulM ji, good to see you back.

Ok, this is being discussed across forum threads, so while we wait for people to come here, let me put up a few facts quickly:
  1. First the Maps
    The South Caucasus- As you can see it's a very strategic location and Russia considers it it's zone of influence. Along with Iran and turkey who all have ambitions in the area.
    Image
    Nagorno-Karabak Enclave
    Image
  2. I went to see what Russian sourceswere saying given their claim to it as an area of influence. Quite a mixed lot. Apparently, this war was started by Armenian provocation. Yes, Turkey is helping Azerbaijan along, but seems that Armenian Prime Minister is on the rolls of $0R0$ and some funny money changed hands. Speculation, but that's what closer sources are saying. Turkey has also pushed in Syrian and Turkish mercenaries. In fact even now Azerbaijan is negotiating with S1 with Russia. God only knows who is playing which side?
  3. Russia is still on the sides, facing difficulties moving resources through Georgia, but they turned an Azheri General through his nephew based in Moscow who sold the plans for Azheri offensive which resulted in Armenians inflicting high casualties.
  4. In unconventional tactics the Armenians tried to attack the Mingachevir Dam (the largest in the South Caucasus as they had threatened earlier. Impactcould be disastrous for Azerbaijan.
  5. Another unconventional attack that could bring Baku to it's knees is an attack on the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan pipeline carrying crude and the South Caucasus Pipeline carrying gas. Disruption will roil energy markets globally and may even involve NATO intervention. But Russia would like to really disrupt this.

    Image
  6. Here's a decent Armenianforum- Use Google translate with high quality images.
  7. Drones have been heavily used but today bad weather is still a serious limiting factor.
  8. Also there have been attackson the airport at Ganja. It would be interesting to see the kind of weapons used because Russian forums are claiming that the airbase is not out of action. Of interest to us as it has lessons on how airbases can be put back in service and how much pain we would have to inflict on opponent airbases to take them out.
  9. Apparently the Azeri's are using some kind of kamikaze drones that are very hard to detect. The Armenian Pantsir radars cannot detect them. Here are a few videos released by the Azeri government.



    Apparently, if the drones don't find the target, they deploy a parachute and land safely.

Rahul M
Forum Moderator
Posts: 17052
Joined: 17 Aug 2005 21:09
Location: Skies over BRFATA
Contact:

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Rahul M » 05 Oct 2020 03:11

Thank you MK sir, I never went away but these days get very little time to post.
================

This is background of the disputed region, from their POV. While not strictly military, althought it does cover some of those, it's still good starting point to understand the genesis of the conflict. This channel in general does a decent job of covering issues others dont and does not toe the 'party line'.
When I first watched this couple of years back I had no idea this would snowball into a war.
Strongly recommended.

Mukesh.Kumar
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 06 Dec 2009 14:09

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Mukesh.Kumar » 05 Oct 2020 03:12

vimal wrote:
Azerbaijani officials said Sunday that Armenian forces attacked Ganja, the country’s second largest city.

Seems like a nice place to get high.
How does this conflict affect India if at all?


The raid on Ganja needs to be studied to understand the kind of punishment that an airbase can take and remain operational. From what i could collect (and my Russian even with google Translate is primitive) is that they attacked it with MRBL's. It is still active.

Mukesh.Kumar wrote:Also there have been attackson the airport at Ganja. It would be interesting to see the kind of weapons used because Russian forums are claiming that the airbase is not out of action. Of interest to us as it has lessons on how airbases can be put back in service and how much pain we would have to inflict on opponent airbases to take them out.

Mukesh.Kumar
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 06 Dec 2009 14:09

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Mukesh.Kumar » 05 Oct 2020 03:21

Rahul M wrote:in terms of miltech this is possibly the first full blown conflict in which UAVs are playing a big role, so its too interesting to miss out.

Feel free to post relevant articles, images, tweets etc with proper attribution.



One thing I keep coming across regarding the drones is that the NgK militia's seem to lack basic training/ discipline. There are report after report of basic camouflage netting not in place. See from this point 17 s.


Pasting a comment from Glav.su/forum

Azerbaijan's display of the destroyed equipment of Karabakh is impressive.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-xqOcO8YWw
This is due, first of all, to the almost complete suppression of the Armenian air defense, and the complete confusion of their soldiers and officers.
And how to fight against an enemy who uses dozens, if not hundreds of kamikaze UAVs?
Air supremacy for Azerbaijan, and this is the dominance of the position on the battlefield, even without active or offensive actions on the ground.
What is typical. The equipment builds all without camouflage nets. Air defense suppressed.
Of course, this may be all too exaggerated, but the facts speak for themselves.

On the first day of the offensive, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported on the suppression of 400 point targets, mostly from the air.
Here is the first, large-scale strike of dozens, and possibly hundreds, of kamikaze and other UAVs on the Armenian army.
The opposite side cannot boast of anything like that.


This war will surely be instructive for us to understand the use of UAV's in MilTech. Given Sugarland's impressive ability in this sector.

Mukesh.Kumar
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 06 Dec 2009 14:09

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Mukesh.Kumar » 05 Oct 2020 03:35

Rahul M wrote:Thank you MK sir, I never went away but these days get very little time to post.
================

This is background of the disputed region, from their POV. While not strictly military, althought it does cover some of those, it's still good starting point to understand the genesis of the conflict. This channel in general does a decent job of covering issues others dont and does not toe the 'party line'.
When I first watched this couple of years back I had no idea this would snowball into a war.
Strongly recommended.


Thank you. This was very educational.
Even now BP has a strong stake in Azerbaijan. It's a sad story. But as he said, freedom is only guaranteed by guns.

John
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2509
Joined: 03 Feb 2001 12:31

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby John » 05 Oct 2020 04:00

Armenians have taken out and captured a couple of T-90s. Those videos are too gruesome but here is another T-90 (or T-72) hit.

https://youtu.be/utD6tYeduEg

m_saini
BRFite
Posts: 297
Joined: 23 May 2020 20:25

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby m_saini » 05 Oct 2020 04:16

Supposed video of cluster munitions being used by Azerbaijan (No Gore)

Link goes to reddit which is a cesspool so browse at your own risk :mrgreen:

kvraghav
BRFite
Posts: 968
Joined: 17 Apr 2008 11:47
Location: Some where near the equator

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby kvraghav » 05 Oct 2020 05:48

Armenia bought some WLR from us . So we should be on the side of Armenia and also turkey is supporting Azeris.

Sanju
BRFite
Posts: 1201
Joined: 14 Aug 2005 01:00
Location: North of 49

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Sanju » 05 Oct 2020 06:00

kvraghav wrote:Armenia bought some WLR from us . So we should be on the side of Armenia and also turkey is supporting Azeris.


Add Pakis to the list. An Armenian official has speculated that there are Paki mercenaries with the Azerbaijanis.

vimal
BRFite
Posts: 646
Joined: 27 Jul 2017 10:32

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby vimal » 05 Oct 2020 06:05

Hmm, this refreshes some memories. Turks were responsible for the Armenian genocide, so this old feud between them.

saip
BRF Oldie
Posts: 3932
Joined: 17 Jan 2003 12:31
Location: USA

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby saip » 05 Oct 2020 06:46

I worked for an Armenian Co - a real estate and textile - (the textile part was taken over by Pakis later). At that time I remember my boss (the owner) visiting Armenia. He even sent his deputy ,an architect, to fix and renovate the Armenian Pope's residence. Armenia is a tiny country and not exactly rich. Being a Christian country I am sure they won't be happy with Azeris or turks.
Their names usually end with 'ian'. Kardashian and Ohanian (Serena William's husband) for eg.

John
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2509
Joined: 03 Feb 2001 12:31

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby John » 05 Oct 2020 08:46

We been supplying arms to Azerbaijan as well

https://twitter.com/kabirtaneja/status/ ... 18340?s=21

Two main things I see from this conflict
- Need to have cheap and easy way to defeat loitering UAVs.
- Tanks and APC need a APS to operate effectively in current battlefield

kvraghav
BRFite
Posts: 968
Joined: 17 Apr 2008 11:47
Location: Some where near the equator

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby kvraghav » 05 Oct 2020 11:32

We are not supplying anything to Azeris and there is no public record for the same.

Aditya_V
BRF Oldie
Posts: 12423
Joined: 05 Apr 2006 16:25

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Aditya_V » 05 Oct 2020 12:02

A common thread is paki and Turkey Twitter accounts like Syria are claiming S-300's knocked out by Bhakitayar drones with Video game resembling images. similarly all the artillery and SAM's being knocked out, if this was true by now Azeris should have routed out the Armenians as well as the Russians in Syria and Turkey should have finished the war in Libya.

Is there some exaggeration in Turkish Drone capability in the Twitter accounts from Paki Turkey sources - I wonder??

Philip
BRF Oldie
Posts: 21060
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: India

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Philip » 05 Oct 2020 13:14

This round has the blessings of the lattet-day Ottoman Pretender-Sultan, Erdo-the-gun. His ambitions range from Syria,Libya, Greek islands,to Armenia,which was once part of the Ottoman empire.The Turkish genocide against the Armenians is too well-known to repeat here.Tens of thousands of Armenians fled to India and made significant contributions to business and society.
My great-great grandmother was Armenian incidentally.The Armenians actually where in Indis from thr 8th century AD.Thomas Cana was an affluent merchant.Treaties were signed with the "Armenian Nation" from Mughal days to John Co.Many held high posts in the various kingdoms .

The issue with NK as often is ethnicity,like E.Ukraine,Russian speaking,the Crimea,etc. Here in the enclave the majority of the population are of Armenian ethnicity and some time ago overthrew the then ruling Azeri faction and joined Armenia. Russia traditionally have supported Armenia,but here have good relations with both sides,supplying arms to both.The earliest Orthodox Christian churches are to be found in Armenia,many deztroyed by the genocidal Turks. This conflict if no ceasefire is quickly established will suck in larger powers. Unfortunately,in its global retreat,barring the Asia- Pacific,the US has little leverage of the feku Sultan and the Russians too who have been expanding their influence are both diplomatically and militarily stretched.The UN as usual as impotent as ever,a mere spectator. It's ending up into another round of Muslim vs Christian conflict in the region.

PS: The Bosnian/ Balkans war was yet again a flashback to the Ottoman Turks lording it over the Orthodox Christians. Poor Yugoslavia has been dismembered into ethno-religious states ,no thanks to NATO and its machinations,who were determined to destroy Yugoslavia ,causing untold suffering for millions.

John
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2509
Joined: 03 Feb 2001 12:31

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby John » 05 Oct 2020 23:43

kvraghav wrote:We are not supplying anything to Azeris and there is no public record for the same.

Supposedly signed a deal to supply body armor from MKU

https://azeridefence.com/hindistan-azər ... xrac-edib/

brar_w
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9280
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby brar_w » 06 Oct 2020 01:57

John wrote:- Need to have cheap and easy way to defeat loitering UAVs.


Which is just scratching the surface as these things have already proliferated, to a degree. The next chapter is intelligent swarming munitions that respond, as a group, to being targeted. Basically, you need to SEE everything below a certain altitude (at the tactical level as area defenses will always have gaps) and then absolutely hit targets with very high PK, every-time. Troops out in the open and exposed are highly vulnerable as well as armor that is not protected. It's not all doom and gloom but short ranged, and portable air-defense systems need to deliver against this threat at very high rates. It isn't the UAV, helicopter and fast jet threat. Its those tiny decoys, loitering munitions, and glide munitions that fly different trajectories and have much different RCS profiles to the more traditional targets. This has implications - low cost high fidelity all-weather seeker tech needs to mature by leaps and bounds, as well as low cost high frequency (MMW band perhaps) radars to fit on more applications and for smaller targets and seeker guidance.

Cain Marko
BRF Oldie
Posts: 4623
Joined: 26 Jun 2005 10:26

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Cain Marko » 06 Oct 2020 03:06

brar_w wrote:
John wrote:- Need to have cheap and easy way to defeat loitering UAVs.


Which is just scratching the surface as these things have already proliferated, to a degree. The next chapter is intelligent swarming munitions that respond, as a group, to being targeted. Basically, you need to SEE everything below a certain altitude (at the tactical level as area defenses will always have gaps) and then absolutely hit targets with very high PK, every-time. Troops out in the open and exposed are highly vulnerable as well as armor that is not protected. It's not all doom and gloom but short ranged, and portable air-defense systems need to deliver against this threat at very high rates. It isn't the UAV, helicopter and fast jet threat. Its those tiny decoys, loitering munitions, and glide munitions that fly different trajectories and have much different RCS profiles to the more traditional targets. This has implications - low cost high fidelity all-weather seeker tech needs to mature by leaps and bounds, as well as low cost high frequency (MMW band perhaps) radars to fit on more applications and for smaller targets and seeker guidance.

Can't CIWS types handle these type of dangers? The ak 630, which I believe India produces could work? There was even talk of having these mounted on tatras.

brar_w
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9280
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby brar_w » 06 Oct 2020 03:25

Cain Marko wrote:
brar_w wrote:
Which is just scratching the surface as these things have already proliferated, to a degree. The next chapter is intelligent swarming munitions that respond, as a group, to being targeted. Basically, you need to SEE everything below a certain altitude (at the tactical level as area defenses will always have gaps) and then absolutely hit targets with very high PK, every-time. Troops out in the open and exposed are highly vulnerable as well as armor that is not protected. It's not all doom and gloom but short ranged, and portable air-defense systems need to deliver against this threat at very high rates. It isn't the UAV, helicopter and fast jet threat. Its those tiny decoys, loitering munitions, and glide munitions that fly different trajectories and have much different RCS profiles to the more traditional targets. This has implications - low cost high fidelity all-weather seeker tech needs to mature by leaps and bounds, as well as low cost high frequency (MMW band perhaps) radars to fit on more applications and for smaller targets and seeker guidance.

Can't CIWS types handle these type of dangers? The ak 630, which I believe India produces could work? There was even talk of having these mounted on tatras.


I think the intention would eventually be to provide some sort of "scalable" escort to multiple systems instead of relying exclusively on stand-alone defense systems like a CIWS. So if you have mobile formations, armored or not, you will have to sprinkle in these C-UAS, counter-swarm, and counter munition platforms and capabilities including, possibly, dissagregating sensors and shooters across vehicles for redundancy and effectiveness (coverage). Traditional air-defense systems and architectures may not be very well suited for defeating these targets from both a technical perspective (how they are architectured or optimized to defeat) and from a cost perspective. While in a war you will shoot at a target by disregarding any cost-exchange ratios, in reality you must buy inventories in peacetime therefore you have to be able to buy and stock in quantities that can deter potential of drone swarms, coordinated munition attacks, decoys, and suicide drones. So this will require some thinking on how to reduce cost of interceptor assemblies (seeker, fuse, warhead, data-link etc), and sensors etc.

Some of the low cost systems and the innovation happening is truly looking at fielding these smart munitions and loitering systems is going to challenge traditional air-defense systems unless they can adapt which basically requires shedding the traditional AD architectures of large monolithic sensors designed around a different threat. Similarly, the need to disaggregate shooters means optimized miniature interceptors which again forces you down a certain path as far as seeker concepts are concerned. You also need highly accurate sensors to guide small, and relatively cheap interceptors which will push you into the MMW frequency range for better optimization (will also help in detecting and discriminating against tiny sized swarms). So in a nut shell, this will require a substantial investment to create a new class of air-defense system (s) along with their own, highly automated command and control. Folks will try to adapt existing systems in the interim, but I think most will eventually create specific systems for this threat (high volume, low-cost, small, low-to-medium altitude swarming drones/munitions/decoys etc).

We have drones launching recoverable drones, and munitions that are coordinating strike with one another as part of a self-healing smart network. This is a major movement in warfare technology, and nothing like this has happened since affordable PGM's became appearing in mass. Like PGM's, this too will eventually proliferate so the defenses have to catch up and react to the RMA that is unfolding.
Last edited by brar_w on 06 Oct 2020 03:40, edited 1 time in total.

Kakarat
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2124
Joined: 26 Jan 2005 13:59

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Kakarat » 06 Oct 2020 03:38

Cain Marko wrote:
brar_w wrote:
Which is just scratching the surface as these things have already proliferated, to a degree. The next chapter is intelligent swarming munitions that respond, as a group, to being targeted. Basically, you need to SEE everything below a certain altitude (at the tactical level as area defenses will always have gaps) and then absolutely hit targets with very high PK, every-time. Troops out in the open and exposed are highly vulnerable as well as armor that is not protected. It's not all doom and gloom but short ranged, and portable air-defense systems need to deliver against this threat at very high rates. It isn't the UAV, helicopter and fast jet threat. Its those tiny decoys, loitering munitions, and glide munitions that fly different trajectories and have much different RCS profiles to the more traditional targets. This has implications - low cost high fidelity all-weather seeker tech needs to mature by leaps and bounds, as well as low cost high frequency (MMW band perhaps) radars to fit on more applications and for smaller targets and seeker guidance.

Can't CIWS types handle these type of dangers? The ak 630, which I believe India produces could work? There was even talk of having these mounted on tatras.


I think any AD gun with good radar should do it, detection is the key. Another option is using Electronic warfare counter drone systems, develop large area systems & use them in combination with AD guns

Truck mounted AK-630
Image

brar_w
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9280
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby brar_w » 06 Oct 2020 03:47

Kakarat wrote:I think any AD gun with good radar should do it


A Ku band AESA radar (augmented by S band AESA radar for surveillance) coupled with CIWS wasn't considered enough of a defense against some of these systems and it warranted the US Army to invest in drone hunting drones also guided to target by the same fire control radars (even those don't solve 100% of their problems). This because, ISR and kinetic effects can be generated from outside the envelope of these CIWSs and because they aren't the best at responding to drone attacks from multiple vectors, especially if they are coordinated. So while they may work in a capacity if the drones get into their range but if all that a drone attack is doing is unleashing stand off weapons, or if it is providing ISR for other effects (like an artillery attack) then you are out of luck. You could also not field enough of these systems in all formations without a huge cost and mobility imposition. So while it may be easier to employ these for fixed site defense, you are still left wanting for a more ubiquitous solution that protects pretty much everything that isn't nicely fortified within the confines of a fixed installation.
Last edited by brar_w on 06 Oct 2020 04:11, edited 2 times in total.

ashbhee
BRFite
Posts: 118
Joined: 15 Aug 2016 07:05

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby ashbhee » 06 Oct 2020 04:03

It looks like Iran has deployed 200 tanks on Azerbaijan border.
https://eurasiantimes.com/iran-deploys- ... n-reports/

Mukesh.Kumar
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 06 Dec 2009 14:09

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Mukesh.Kumar » 06 Oct 2020 04:19

Cain Marko wrote:
brar_w wrote:
Which is just scratching the surface as these things have already proliferated, to a degree. The next chapter is intelligent swarming munitions that respond, as a group, to being targeted. Basically, you need to SEE everything below a certain altitude (at the tactical level as area defenses will always have gaps) and then absolutely hit targets with very high PK, every-time. Troops out in the open and exposed are highly vulnerable as well as armor that is not protected. It's not all doom and gloom but short ranged, and portable air-defense systems need to deliver against this threat at very high rates. It isn't the UAV, helicopter and fast jet threat. Its those tiny decoys, loitering munitions, and glide munitions that fly different trajectories and have much different RCS profiles to the more traditional targets. This has implications - low cost high fidelity all-weather seeker tech needs to mature by leaps and bounds, as well as low cost high frequency (MMW band perhaps) radars to fit on more applications and for smaller targets and seeker guidance.

Can't CIWS types handle these type of dangers? The ak 630, which I believe India produces could work? There was even talk of having these mounted on tatras.


Sir the analysis I have been seeing is that typical air defence systems cannot see these drones. Pantsir typically cannot see them.

And it's not easy to shoot them down through optical observation.

One of the ways that they have tried to disable is using high frequency radio jammers but with poor performance.

brar_w
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9280
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby brar_w » 06 Oct 2020 04:22

Mukesh.Kumar wrote:
Cain Marko wrote:Can't CIWS types handle these type of dangers? The ak 630, which I believe India produces could work? There was even talk of having these mounted on tatras.


Sir the analysis I have been seeing is that typical air defence systems cannot see these drones. Pantsir typically cannot see them.

And it's not easy to shoot them down through optical observation.

One of the ways that they have tried to disable is using high frequency radio jammers but with poor performance.


Yeah there is problem in seeing them with traditional sensors that are also tasked with tracking and defeating a whole host of other things. However do keep in mind that what you've seen in battle against these systems (drones, munitions or swarms) can hardly be considered state of the art so the higher end systems will be even more capable and harder to defeat. This is why I mentioned affordable high frequency, ideally MMW, AESA radars for both tracking these systems and guiding highly optimized, low-cost interceptors and so that they both can be integrated with minimal SwaP penalty. And low cost interceptors and of course directed energy.

Within this threat set, there are two distinct problems -

1) High volume, low-cost targets, and
2) Low volume, high (er)-end targets.

The former are the "effects" themselves. So cheap drones, loitering munitions, and extremely low cost, small swarmers (like THIS). In the near-mid term, you'll begin to get smart munitions that exhibit swarming behavior also begin coming into this category. #2 are the "effect generators", that can fly very similar profiles but have the capabilty to command and control or share inforfmation for 1. or other effects (like artillery and traditional strike). No one system can defeat all #1 and #2 types and you can't do area-defense for both types in all scenarios. So some sort of hybrid disaagregated capability needs to be spread out anytime your forces are exposed. These capabilities must be developed within a cost constrained environment. The threats can range from $5,000 to $500,000 and designing, or attempting to design kinetic options, against some will just lead to nowhere so you have to suck up the unfavourable cost-exchange-ratio until your DEW's are mature, tested and fielded. For others, kinetic options can be viable as long as they are designed around an architecture that is aimed at this threat. Highly capable, scalable (even if they are expensive) sensors supporting cheap interceptors is a good strategy because your exchange ratio with "consumables" is still favorable (or at least something you can "live with" within peacetime budgets). Your sensor is doing the real "work" so your interceptor doesn't have to. The same strategy is applied in highly optimized BMD architectures.
Last edited by brar_w on 06 Oct 2020 19:45, edited 1 time in total.

Cain Marko
BRF Oldie
Posts: 4623
Joined: 26 Jun 2005 10:26

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Cain Marko » 06 Oct 2020 08:08

↑So, looking at the Perdix swarm drones in the article you posted, at what range will they work and how will they attack? Just kamikaze into the ADS radars?

These are a serious menace.

Cain Marko
BRF Oldie
Posts: 4623
Joined: 26 Jun 2005 10:26

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Cain Marko » 06 Oct 2020 08:10

Mukesh.Kumar wrote:One of the ways that they have tried to disable is using high frequency radio jammers but with poor performance.

Thanks for the heads up. Had not really kept up with this fast evolving threat. And no sir for me please. Reserve that for the admiral wonlee...

brar_w
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9280
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby brar_w » 06 Oct 2020 08:24

Cain Marko wrote:↑So, looking at the Perdix swarm drones in the article you posted, at what range will they work and how will they attack? Just kamikaze into the ADS radars?

These are a serious menace.


Swarming ISR drones that can also do exactly what you describe (small detonating charge that can kamikazee into soft targets and do so repeatedly). But it isn't this particular vehicle (which has a great utility in ISR and getting real time awareness in a denied environment for the fighter to release and get out) but others that can be much more dangerous.

Think of a small UAV/UCAV carrying a couple of dozen very tiny munitions, each independently able to strike a target or, even more alarmingly, able to co-ordinate and adhere to a swarm like behavior and do all these crazy self-healing and target prioritization tasks that a group of munitions needs to do to be called a swarm.

The swarming technology isn't going to be very different from what Perdix and other programs are developing and demonstrating. The munitions already exist. Other programs are developing the communications and other components required to make this happen. They will start with an SDB sized weapon (live demo expected in the coming months) but rest assured they will get smaller and smaller and right down to the micro-weapon size so that they can be packed inside attritable UAV/UCAVs.

Here's a type of munition that will eventually be a ripe candidate. Sub 3 kg and less than a foot long. You can probably stack quite a few of these together in a palletized or bay configuration.

Northrop Grumman has achieved a technical readiness level (TRL) 7 milestone with its Hatchet unpowered precision strike munition, following the completion of a campaign of live end-to-end guide-to-hit trials in August. The next milestone will be full platform integration...

The campaign, which was continued from the end of 2018 to allow for new range time logistics, provided for a series of multiple target live guide-to-hit engagements, a company spokesperson told Jane’s . The release platform type, target types, heights of release, range to targets, location and results of the trials campaign, were not disclose

An earlier test programme in October 2018 culminated in a full guide-to-hit release of two inert rounds against threat representative targets, both of [which] were successful, the spokesperson said. “Those trials also successfully demonstrated the release sequence, including deployment of wings and control surfaces, flight stability, and GPS guidance,” he added.

A company internal research and development (IRAD) funded initiative, Hatchet was originally unveiled in April 2012 as a low-cost gravity-dropped weapon concept to equip unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The design has since emerged as a lightweight, low-collateral damage, precision-glide munition, optimised for UAS platforms in an armed reconnaissance role. Hatchet’s compressed carriage configuration allows for a deep magazine capacity on a single platform.

Designed for compressed carriage, Hatchet can be deployed as a single weapon against lightly protected targets or as a single strike multiple munition capability in wide area or multiple target engagements.

Hatchet features a tri-form fold-around mid-body wing and deployable aft control surfaces. The munition weighs approximately 2.72 kg (6 lb), is 60 mm (2.4 inches) in diameter, and approximately 30.1 cm (11.9 inches) long.


https://www.uasvision.com/2019/10/11/no ... tegration/


Image

Image

This is stuff that future (not too into the future but still a few years away from showing up in a battlefield at scale) military scenarios will employ just as PGM's were the thing in the 1990s and proliferated later. No one has any great answer to how to defend against these things credibly but it would need to be figured out sooner rather than later. Limited defense, coupled with tactics and mobility would need to provide the survivability in the interim.

chaitanya
BRFite
Posts: 196
Joined: 27 Sep 2002 11:31
Location: US
Contact:

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby chaitanya » 06 Oct 2020 09:47

brar_w, as always, thanks for the very insightful posts!

Has there been any analysis on how such swarms would fare when targets are spoofed? For example, by creating physical decoys as the Chinese seem to be employing near the LAC. electronic decoys seem to be more ideal, and to me, would seem to be the smartest way to confuse and destabilize the algorithms governing such swarms. In the future, hologram generators could prove useful at generating fake targets as well...

brar_w
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9280
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby brar_w » 06 Oct 2020 09:57

chaitanya wrote:Has there been any analysis on how such swarms would fare when targets are spoofed?


Actually, utilizing these cheaper networked effects, is an affordable way to overcoming very high end deception but regardless, that is an ISR challenge and so you don't need to necessarily provide these weapons with organic discrimination capability. However, the way passive RF and IIR sensors are going in terms of performance, space, draw and cost, it wouldn't be too far fetched to see systems that cost a fraction of what the cutting edge weapons used to cost a few decades ago but with many times the ability to discriminate and process.

For example, decoying a radar with an emitting dummy is easier when you are trying to fool just one sensor on one platform. What happens when you have multiple passive sensors "looking at" the dummy radar antenna from different directions/angles? Can you simulate the main and side lobe characteristics of the simulated radar exactly with a dummy or at least with high enough fidelity to throw off these attacks on a consistent basis? How much intel on the system does your enemy have to build threat libraries on performance? These are important nuances but the point is that it gets harder when you have multiple, possible disparate (heterogeneous) sensors looking at you from different directions and they are able to exchange notes.

So it is going to be more difficult to spoof a networked of passive sensors which are collaborating on developing a common operating picture.But regardless, deception and deocoying has to step up and can be part of a legitimate solution to at least some of these problems. But you are up against a challenge because high fidelity RF or IIR sensors and networks are getting better, cheaper and finding themselves into smaller and smaller applications. And whether it is an alternator tied to a very small propulsion unit in a powered UAV/weapon, or a very high density battery tied to an electrical glide (or electric powered) you are looking at multi-mode seeker capabilities coming in smaller and smaller form factors (they've packed in a tri-mode seeker into the SDBII for example, and that thing isn't even powered by a motor).
Last edited by brar_w on 06 Oct 2020 20:02, edited 4 times in total.

Cain Marko
BRF Oldie
Posts: 4623
Joined: 26 Jun 2005 10:26

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Cain Marko » 06 Oct 2020 10:14

Didn't Russia claim that one of its bases in Syria was attacked by a drone swarm? Its already happening...

brar_w
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9280
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby brar_w » 06 Oct 2020 10:35

Cain Marko wrote:Didn't Russia claim that one of its bases in Syria was attacked by a drone swarm? Its already happening...


A bunch of cheap drones sent to attack a target is not a swarm. The latter describes a collaborative behavior and the ability to exist as a combined unit, self heal as a unit and do all sort of collaborative actions with environment or the intended target(s). It's a completely different beast.

https://www.airspacemag.com/daily-plane ... 180967820/
Last edited by brar_w on 06 Oct 2020 19:14, edited 2 times in total.

Pratyush
BRF Oldie
Posts: 8311
Joined: 05 Mar 2010 15:13

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Pratyush » 06 Oct 2020 10:53

Any thread where Brar_w is an active participant is a good learning opportunity. :)

brar_w
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9280
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby brar_w » 06 Oct 2020 18:43

The videos below describe what a swarm is a mil context. Early swarm experiments are focusing on combined situational awareness development, target prioritization, BDA and re-routing based on sensory inputs. Think of a bunch of munitions collaborating on attacking targets, and a bunch of them get shot down, the remaining can re-route , re-task and focus on the most important targets first (and be smart enough to determine what they are independently). Similarly, other complex actions could involve swarms introducing behaviors that illicit a particular response from an air-defense system and then make use of that predictability and attempt to target it. Like, for example having a mix of low-cost, sensor-less companions that attack targets first and elicit a kinetic response and then send the more capable drones in the second wave. Or sense a particular response, re-orient, split into attack-groups and execute a time-synced action from either a pre-determined playbook or something more dynamic.

As sensors, you can unleash swarms of smaller drones to lead your kinetic weapons in. Think of them as passive RF sensors helping a group of cruise missiles route themselves through an Air Defense rich region by helping them organically sense and direct their route instead of relying on a pre-programmed route which is usually based on intel on active air defense radars from many hours prior (info used when the flight profile was programmed into the weapon). This likewise, isn't too far fetched. There are operational weapons (cruise missiles) that can already sense pop up RF threats and re-route autonomously to avoid those threats if possible (LRASM is already operational with this capability). That capability can be enhanced if there is a lead set of drones alerting it of these threats much earlier. Cheaper companion drones can also help affordably provide this capabilty to weapons that cost much less than the $3 MM LRASM (which is 3x the cost of a standard JASSMER). Like a 200 km long JDAM-ER, or a similar weapon that clocks in at around $100-$150K. In a way this is the "loyal wingmen" for munitions and missiles. But the underlying enablers are very similar and quite scalable.



The sort of very early collaborative work in practice (demo) -



This isn't science fiction. Early demonstrations and proof of concept work, with operational munitions (upgraded for this role) is already happening and this will shift into a completely new gear when new munitions, designed specifically for this role, begin showing up.

Air Force researchers in October will test whether a software version of the service’s developmental weapons swarm can make its way through a combat mission and reroute itself as conditions change.

The demonstration is part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Golden Horde initiative, a high-profile project to create munition swarms that autonomously work together when fired and “think” on their own to attack targets that match criteria given to the software.

Golden Horde assets could be used for traditional airstrikes, or carry sensors and other payloads for missions from reconnaissance to electronic warfare to aerial refueling.

“We’re actually going to be demonstrating digital twin-enabled operations … where we’ll be using a software variant of a collaborative weapon flying out in a swarm mission, encountering some issues along the way that it did not expect, and collecting that data back over through an [Advanced Battle Management System] cyber-assured cloud, to then feed a digital twin model using some [artificial intelligence and machine learning] techniques to ascertain where we might put either some different playbooks or a software improvement into the weapon system,” Craig Ewing of AFRL said during a Sept. 21 presentation on digital systems engineering in the Air Force.

Digital twins are virtual models of hardware that can be used in simulations to refine engineering work and speed up development of new military systems without relying as much on physical prototypes. They are a core piece of the Department of the Air Force’s new push to adopt digital engineering more broadly across its inventory.

Golden Horde is one of AFRL’s three fast-tracked “vanguard” programs that receives more attention and resources from across the service because it is so promising.

Program officials will use technology developed for Gray Wolf, an earlier effort to develop a swarming cruise missile, as the model for the demonstration. The Air Force said last year it would abandon Gray Wolf in its early stages of development at Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to focus on networking existing munitions through Golden Horde instead.

The data collected on Gray Wolf will help hone algorithms to ensure Golden Horde, a collection of Collaborative Small Diameter Bombs and Miniature Air-Launched Decoys, works as intended in real life. Scientific Applications and Research Associates and Georgia Tech Applied Research Corp. are networking those weapons together for the Air Force.

Gray Wolf is a potential experiment surrogate for the Golden Horde munitions, Christopher J. Ristich, head of AFRL’s Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation office, said Sept. 16.

“We’re looking at a whole variety of things, from small [unmanned aerial vehicle] systems to explore the behaviors of these collaborative weapons, up to actual surrogates for the weapons themselves,” he said.

While the AFRL website notes that demos will begin late this year and “ultimately lead to an integrated capstone test event with … weapons working together to prosecute simulated targets in the fall of 2021,” Ristich said officials are rethinking aspects of the program as well as the schedule.

Defense News reported earlier this year that F-16 fighter jets would flight-test the CSDB-1 in 2020, followed by tests of the CMALD on the B-52 bomber next summer.

The first flight test scenarios will be simple, helping the Air Force gauge whether the weapons are properly communicating across the network and acting in accordance with the mission playbook,” Defense News wrote. “For example, a team of CSDB-1s could come across a threat while en route to attack a target and would have to change trajectory to avoid it.

The Air Force may vet the concept as an integrated swarm in 2022. LINK
Last edited by brar_w on 06 Oct 2020 20:00, edited 11 times in total.

Rony
BRF Oldie
Posts: 3285
Joined: 14 Jul 2006 23:29

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Rony » 06 Oct 2020 18:45

Turkey’s Drones Are Coming In All Sizes These Days

Turkey is developing an increasing variety of lethal armed drones, ranging from large, high-flying, bomb-laden ones to very small, low-flying UAVs that can form deadly swarms.

In recent years, Turkey has developed an impressive local drone industry from the ground up. Armed Turkish-built Bayraktar TB2 and Anka-S drones have proven themselves in combat in operations in Syria, Iraq, and as far afield as Libya.

Ankara is presently building a variety of bigger and smaller drones that will fulfill a multitude of different roles for the Turkish military. In September, Turkey’s upcoming Aksungur drone, built by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), completed a 28-hour-long test flight. According to TAI, the turboprop carried 12 Turkish-built MAM-L (Smart Micro Munition) guided missiles under its wings — a much bigger payload than what can be carried by the Bayraktar TB2 or Anka-S.

MAM-L missiles weigh 22 kilograms and can hit targets up to 14 kilometers away. They can also be fitted with different kinds of warheads – from high explosives to warheads specialized in penetrating tank armor. The missiles proved their worth in February-March drone campaign against Syrian ground forces in Idlib province when Turkish Bayraktar TB2s and Anka-S drones successfully used them against several Syrian tanks and other vehicles.

The Aksungur reportedly became the first drone to drop a Mark 82 general-purpose bomb attached to a Turkish-built Teber guidance kit, which converts ‘dumb’ conventional bombs into precision guided ‘smart’ bombs.

Turkey’s upcoming Bayraktar Akinci turboprop drone is also quite large, with a 65-feet wingspan, and can also carry MAM-L munitions as well as larger conventional bombs of the kind Turkish jet fighters carry, such as the Mark 82, and even long-range Turkish-built air-launched Roketsan SOM cruise missiles.

The Akinci is expected to become Turkey’s “main aerial vehicle for intelligence-surveillance-target acquisition (ISTAR) and command-control-communication (C3) tasks in the next decade.”

Complementing these large turboprop drones are much smaller quad-copter drones that will likely prove lethal in more close-quarters combat.

Take the Kargu-2 loitering munition, for example. The light 15-pound quad-copter is designed to operate in swarms of 20, which can overwhelm and devastate their targets. The Turkish military is acquiring 500 of these so-called ‘kamikaze’ or ‘suicide’ drones in the near future.

Operators can recall these tiny drones if they cannot locate any targets for use another time. Furthermore, they can be outfitted with three different kinds of warheads, a basic high-explosive fragmentation warhead, a shaped charged warhead, and a thermometric warhead for attacks against enemy targets in enclosed spaces.

“With a mixture of different warheads options presently available for Kargu, a group of the drones might be able to carry out more complex attacks, as well,” noted military analyst Joseph Trevithick at The War Zone.

As with other advanced loitering munitions, the Kargu-2 can operate autonomously using computer algorithms, stay airborne for 30 minutes and reach speeds of up to 90 miles per hour. The drones will reportedly also possess facial recognition technology, making it potentially effective for independently locating, identifying, and then assassinating selected individuals.

Alongside the Kargu-2s, Turkey is also developing another tiny, super lightweight loitering munition called the Alpagu. This drone can be carried and operated by a single soldier on the battlefield, or several can be carried on multiple launchers attached to armored vehicles.

“Alpagu is distinguished by its lightweight structure, diving speed, low radar cross-section, and its ability to do pinpoint damage to high-value, important targets,” claimed a report in Turkey’s state-run press.

Mukesh.Kumar
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 06 Dec 2009 14:09

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Mukesh.Kumar » 07 Oct 2020 06:08

From what I am reading in Russian press, it seems that the conflict may wind down. The Azeri President has been making re-conciliatory noises, and even the Armenian PM has softened his tone,France/ US/ Russia have issues joint statement condemning the violence.

MOSCOW, October 5 / Radio Sputnik. The foreign ministers of the Russian Federation, France and the United States condemn in the strongest terms the unprecedented and dangerous escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh , according to a trilateral statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry website on Monday .
The text of the document states that Sergey Lavrov , Jean-Yves Le Drian and Mike Pompeo "condemn in the strongest possible terms the unprecedented and dangerous escalation of violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and beyond."


For me the biggest lessons this conflict has resulted in are:
  1. Importance of local language skills to monitor local fora- Opening up Russian sites for reports you come across much more details. Locals know more, and by focusing on English we miss out details. E.g. a sample of translated content on Turkish influence in Azerbaijan...
    The armed conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh exposed the internal political games in Azerbaijan and the opposition of Turkish influence on Baku to Russian influence. The Pashayev clan, whose interests are represented by no one else, but the wife of President Ilham Aliyev, First Vice-President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva, stands for the Turkish side. The family has its own interest, they are the beneficiaries of Pasha Bank with branches in Istanbul, as well as owners of shares in subsidiaries of the Azerbaijani state corporation SOCAR with many Turkish projects. So it is beneficial for Aliyeva to introduce young Turkish politicians to Baku.

    The Aliyevs (Pashayevs) succeed in ousting pro-Russian politicians quite well. For example, in 2019, the head of the presidential administration of Azerbaijan Ramiz Mehdiyev, who had held this position for decades, was removed from office. Mehdiyev was considered a comrade-in-arms of Sergei Lavrov and a lobbyist for profitable and stable relations between the two countries. But he was replaced by a young technocrat Samir Nuriyev, who is close to Mehriban Aliyeva's team.

    From that moment on, global purges of pro-Russian politicians began, and in July, against the background of the conflict over Karabakh, they escalated altogether: first, the parliament was reorganized, where the Pashayevs managed to give the necessary mandates to their people. Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov was dismissed, a criminal case was initiated against the ambassador of Azerbaijan to Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Prosecutor General Eldar Hasanov. Both had warm relations with Moscow and had their own business interests in Russia.

    A separate story is the campaign against the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, Najmeddin Sadykov. Against the background of aggravation along the line of Nagorno-Karabakh in the Azerbaijani media, news about his resignation and that he is a Russian agent have become practically the number one topic.

    The rhetoric against Russia is intensified by rallies, military exercises and all methods of propaganda, as in the best textbooks.


    We saw the same with Ravi_B ji's contribution in the Chinese threads. It seriously time we at BRF created a forum for learning. We need to read and understand Arabic, Urdu, Chinese and Sinhala definitely. We already have the infrastructure of members collating information and analysing. Now we just have to build capability of understanding conversation that flies below the English radar. Any ideas to start off?

Contd (below)...

Mukesh.Kumar
BRFite
Posts: 1183
Joined: 06 Dec 2009 14:09

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Mukesh.Kumar » 07 Oct 2020 06:58

Contd....

  1. The revolution brought about by proliferation of disruptive tools like UAV's and Loitering munitions-Besides Turkey it seems that the Israeli's have supplied UAV's. Here's a partial list I could decipher:

    1. Orbiter-Israeli, now being produced in Azerbaijan. This supposedly is one of the kamikaze drones with 2 kg HE warhead for top attack and 2-3 hour endurance.
    2. Heron- Israel, MALE. Apparently the Azeri's have only 1 now (??). For reconnaissance
    3. Searcher 2- Israeli, reconnaissance- Up to 10
    4. Aerostar- Israeli, reconnaissance- Up to 4
    5. ELBIT Hermes 450: Israeli, Reconnaissance- 15
    6. ELBIT Hermes 900: Israeli, Reconnaissance- 15, 2 shot down as of yesterday
    7. Bayraktar: Turkish, these seem to be another of the kamikaze drones. Capable of a 55 kg warhead, 27 hour endurance. They were used earlier in Syria but as a surveillance tool only. Weaponized with two ATGM's in 2015This is the first conflict where they are being used as a weapon. We can expect to see this UCAV we can expect to see our western neighbour get their hands on soon.
      Image

Rahul M
Forum Moderator
Posts: 17052
Joined: 17 Aug 2005 21:09
Location: Skies over BRFATA
Contact:

Re: Armenia Azerbaijan Conflict - 2020

Postby Rahul M » 07 Oct 2020 09:21

How to fight a tank war under an opfor UAV umbrella. Very good points made here. Worth a read

https://rusi.org/publication/rusi-defen ... t-shooters

The Key to Armenia’s Tank Losses: The Sensors, Not the Shooters
Jack Watling
RUSI Defence Systems, 6 October 2020
Amid a lively debate about the viability of the UK’s heavy armour, the loss of over 42 Armenian T-72s to Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh requires further analysis.

Despite the heavy Armenian armoured losses, the key lessons from the videos Azerbaijan has published online are not about armour. Rather, they reflect how the density of sensors on the modern battlefield is changing the balance in combined arms warfare.

Before tackling this, some myths need to be challenged. There is a tendency for Western soldiers to dismiss what can be learned from these incidents because the videos show limited tactical proficiency being displayed by Armenian troops. This is misguided for several reasons. The snippet videos usually show armour manoeuvring, when camouflage is hard to maintain, and which Western forces would equally have to do if they were to affect the outcome of battle. The videos have also been selected as examples of Azerbaijani successes. However, there is actually a lot of evidence of Armenian forces digging in, concealing positions, and deploying decoys, of which at least two were struck by Azerbaijani forces.

More importantly, this dismissal of evidence suggests a lack of appreciation of just how naked the modern battlefield has become. Against a peer adversary it is entirely reasonable to expect the battlefield to be swept by ground-moving target indicator (GMTI) radars, with tactical units able to scan terrain out to 150 km. Night or day, unusual cross-terrain movements, coordinated spacing, and lack of adherence to civilian roads, all make military vehicles highly distinct to trained operators.

A further layer of scrutiny will come from electronic warfare units. Dependency upon radio in Western operations is a hard habit to kick, especially given the stringent safety standards in exercises. Western forces tend to leave a tell-tale map of electronic signatures for an adversary to analyse. Even platoon infantry attacks tend to see a lot of exchanges on the company net. For a competent adversary these signatures offer another potent tool to map Western forces’ movements.

Such stand-off ISTAR techniques are unlikely to provide track-quality targeting solutions, unless the adversary intends to saturate a large area. It is the threat of area targeting that has driven the UK to experiment with dispersed manoeuvre with its STRIKE concept, rendering long-range area saturation uneconomical. But these techniques will be quite capable of identifying areas of interest to prioritise the allocation of UAVs and other electrooptical sensor bearers.

The hope that camouflage will conceal vehicles from observation is highly optimistic. The proliferation of infrared and thermal imaging cameras makes concealment harder – by night or day – and even vehicles under thermal screens can often be given away by personnel leaving those screens to urinate or similar, all too human, needs. More importantly, some traces are hard to cover. The best evidence that armour will be unable to hide is that Western tracked vehicles struggle to avoid observation by friendly UAVs on exercise, which can quickly follow track marks on the ground to the woodblock where a vehicle is hiding.

To conclude from this that the tank’s days are numbered, however, is a serious error. From the videos in Nagorno-Karabakh it is evident that unarmoured vehicles and dismounted infantry are faring no better, even those dug into positions with camouflage screens. Indeed, the lack of protection means they will likely fare worse since there are more kinds of munitions that are lighter and easier to employ that can kill them.

Besides the vulnerability of other kinds of vehicle, the ability to inflict persistent attrition upon an adversary at reach does not change the fact that land warfare is about taking and holding ground, and the ground will still ultimately need to be assaulted. Once committed to an assault on defended positions, armour remains critical to rapid success with acceptable losses. The challenge is to get a combined arms formation within striking distance without it having suffered heavy losses before entering the direct fire zone. Armenia, for instance, has lost the equivalent number of tanks to more than a third of the UK’s heavy armour inventory.

The lessons are far reaching. Heavy formations must likely disperse to avoid being engaged by area-of-effect munitions at reach. This makes protecting them from UAVs and air attack more challenging, requiring the integration of short-ranged air defences (SHORAD) across tactical units, along with EW – specifically electronic attack – capabilities. This means a move away from camouflage towards hard protection, able to sanitise areas of the battlefield of enemy ISTAR assets. This does not prevent detection, however, since finding UAVs and engaging them will require radar – especially at night – which implies the need for emissions detectable by enemy EW.

Therefore, a broader shift in mindset is required as to how combined arms manoeuvre functions. Infliction of attrition against enemy ISTAR must be prioritised to degrade the enemy’s sensor picture to a point where they will struggle to distinguish decoys from real targets. Deception, saturating the electromagnetic spectrum, and other active rather than passive means will be needed to protect the force as it moves into direct contact. Once in contact many traditional tactics and capabilities will remain relevant.

A critical challenge to be worked out is how to transition from a dispersed approach to a concentrated attack, since at the forming-up point there will be a significant vulnerability to artillery, anti-tank guided weapons and other threats. This is a key area of focus in developing robust tactics.

Challenges like this transition – ultimately resolvable through tactics and the employment of systems of technologies – highlight how the debate over future capabilities needs to shift. The challenge is not whether tanks are obsolete, but how a system of capabilities can be fielded and trained that gets the force to where it needs to be, with enough combat power to achieve the desired result. It is the system, not the platforms, and the balance within that system that we need to get right.

That new system of fighting – understanding the balance of capabilities critical to the future of combined arms operations – must also go further than articulating how to blind the enemy’s sensors. It must also outline how to reverse the calculus and impose comparable challenges on the enemy. Here there are more difficult structural questions to be resolved. The British Army had intended to disband 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, responsible for employing tactical UAVs, because it felt that UAVs should become organic across the force. There is a risk, however, that this would leave UAVs as an enabler to augment what regiments do already. The absence of a community of excellence to challenge thinking, develop new tactics and inform other units about the implications, is a problem, which has led to the regiment ultimately being retained. At the same time, keeping UAVs as a capability integrated throughout the force promises to encourage combined arms employment. Similar challenges might be asked about counter-UAV and EW systems. Should they be grouped at echelon, or attached organically to manoeuvre elements? If the latter is pursued, how can British forces avoid fratricide in the electromagnetic spectrum?

The answers to these questions can only be found through experimentation. In that sense while the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh highlights some key deficiencies in British forces – SHORAD, EW, UAVs – the answer cannot be a series of binary trade-offs between platforms. Instead, it cuts to the heart of what the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, highlighted in his recent address on the Integrated Review: the British Army should build a force fit for a new age of warfare.

Jack Watling is Research Fellow for Land Warfare in the Military Sciences team at RUSI.


Return to “Military Issues & History Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 88 guests