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  • increasing applications of computer processing as gigaflops grow to teraflops and then petaflops1

  • development of monolithic smart sensors that combine sensing transducers, analog-to-digital conversion, digital-signal processing, communications input and output, and, perhaps, power conditioning on a single chip (could lead to the development of very small, very smart sensor systems and weapons, including affordable smart bullets)

  • integration of autonomous, mobile, communicating sensors that can cooperate to function as single, high-level metasensors

Recommendation. The development of sensor-net technology should be pursued aggressively and eventually incorporated into a fully militarized, deployed system characterized by networking, strong detection and tracking capabilities, robustness, low power consumption, low cost, covertness, low probability of intercept, easy deployment, and disposability.

Recommendation. Investments already being made in new technologies for other purposes should be leveraged and applied to the search for alternatives to antipersonnel landmines.

Network-Centric Battlespace

With major advances in communications, all elements in and supportive of a battlespace are being linked in near real time, making possible what has come to be called networkcentric warfare. The new systems will involve sensors, communication and communication relays from satellites, manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, sea-based and ground-based mobile platforms, and ground stations.

In most cases, the two-way communication link between the surveillance element of a future minefield alternative and a remote operator would not require line of sight, would be secure, and would be capable of working with network-centric architecture. Its primary purpose would be to enable a remote operator to evaluate mounted and dismounted intrusions into the minefield, distinguish enemy from friend and noncombatant, and control the actions of the lethal and/ or nonlethal elements. Its secondary purpose would be to contribute to overall situational awareness in the battlespace.

During the course of this study, a good deal of discussion was focused on the ability (or inability) of a remote operator to remain alert and to control the minefield during an intrusion, possibly under extreme combat conditions. An advantage of integration of the operator-to-minefield communication link with the network-centric architecture is that the operator would not have to be in the combat zone.

Energetic Explosives

Until 1940, military explosives such as TNT and mercury fulminate generated an energy release of approximately 1 kilocalorie per gram. During World War II, advanced compounds, such as nitramines, were increasingly introduced. During the Cold War, the energy content of explosive compounds continued to increase slowly and steadily. Today the energy content of military explosives is approaching 4 kilocalorie per gram.

Research supported by all of the armed services in the past 15 years indicates that the energy release of military explosives, acceptably desensitized, is likely to be doubled in the foreseeable future. This improvement will allow a significant reduction in the size and weight of explosive devices, as well as further advances in special effects. An increase by a factor of two could also have a profound effect on logistics and combat effectiveness.

Minefield Deliverability

Current pure and mixed minefields can be emplaced by hand, ground vehicle-mounted dispensers, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, artillery, and missiles. As lighter forces are used in more situations, tactical minefields that can be quickly and remotely emplaced and quickly removed through command detonation and/or retrieval of the more expensive and reusable components will be necessary. The trend in remote mine delivery modes will be toward artillery, missiles, fixed-wing, and rotary-wing aircraft.

The potential size reduction of explosive devices combined with alternative systems to replace minefields with small alerting sensors will make the timely, remote emplacement of mines easier. Extended range guided munition-like artillery rounds and Army TACMS missiles will provide effective delivery modes. However, the accurate emplacement of the minefield surveillance component, particularly if it is combined with an alternative system, could complicate delivery. For example, the surveillance/kill system could be delivered separately by helicopter or Osprey (V-22) and hand emplaced by the crew once the location of the minefield had been determined, its boundaries known, and the best site for the surveillance/kill systems determined. At some point, precision emplacement of components using GPS, combined with digital maps, will make remote emplacement of the surveillance/kill system feasible.

Location and Precision Emplacement

For precision weapon delivery, modeling, simulation, and operational planning, the U.S. military has long had a requirement that maps be accurate to within 30 meters. In the current geopolitical environment, such maps are required for most of the earth's land surface. The recent Shuttle Radar Topography Mission now promises to provide digital maps of more than 80 percent of the earth's land surface and 95 percent of populated areas with data taken at 30-meter

1 Flops is a unit of computer speed equal to one floating-point arithmetic operation per second. Giga is 109 (one billion), tera is 1012 (one trillion), and peta is 1015 (one thousand trillion).

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