ADA and ModSAF:
An Overview of US Army Air Defense Capabilities Air Defense Operations and Capabilities
CDT Pedro Moya, USMA '98
August, 1997

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

ADA OPERATIONS

WEAPONS SYSTEMS

ARMY AIR DEFENSE PLANNING

STINGER MAN PORTABLE AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM (MANPADS)

BRADLEY STINGER FIGHTING VEHICLE

AVENGER

ModSAF SCENARIOS

CRITIQUE OF ModSAF SCENARIOS

WORKS CITED


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INTRODUCTION

Air Defense Artillery has become one of the pivotal assets in determining the outcome on the modern day battlefield. The performance of ADA in Operation Desert Storm proved to be extremely effective. The well-documented success of the PATRIOT missile helped boost the morale of the NATO soldiers and was a combat multiplier. However, with the exception of the brief war in the Persian Gulf, the effectiveness of the United Statesí Air Defense systems in a wartime mission has not been seriously tested. Because of the need to determine the capability of unproven weapon systems and the limited funding available to conduct actual training with these systems, the United States has developed an extensive modeling and simulation program that attempts to recreate events on a battlefield as realistically as possible. Computer simulations with exact specifications of actual or experimental weapon systems can duplicate what might actually occur on a battlefield under very specific conditions.

One of these computer systems is called Modular Semi-Automated Forces, or ModSAF. ModSAF allows the user to control almost every aspect of the battlefield in order to create almost any feasible wartime scenario. The only factor not left to the userís discretion is the capability of the weapon systems. The simulation can involve several different parties, all of which have control over various battlefield assets. This helps create a war time situation in which all branches of the armed forces can interact as they would in a real mission and provides all soldiers a chance to learn about joint operations. While joint operation exercises are very important to the readiness of our armed forces they are not conducted as often as they should be because of the cost and the difficulties in organizing the logistics of such exercises. Computer simulations, therefore, have become integral in preparing soldiers for battle.

The purpose of this report is twofold. First, it examines the performance of the primary air defense weapons used by the United States in various ModSAF scenarios against various fixed-wing aircraft, both foreign and domestic. Second, it provides a basic understanding of how the Army cooperates with other branches of the armed forces in counterair operations. We begin with a discussion of basic doctrine and air defense tactics will introduce the reader to ADA operations. This is followed by a description of the ModSAF scenarios and an analysis of the events that occurred when they were played out. Finally, we critique ModSAF on its usefulness in training soldiers for war. Appendix A is Chapter 3 from Army FM 44-100, which discusses joint counterair and theater missile defense doctrine.

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ADA OPERATIONS

WEAPONS SYSTEMS

The primary surface-to-air asset the United States uses is the stinger missile. It is highly versatile in that it can be either carried or mounted on a vehicle. The Stinger weapon is a man-portable, shoulder-fired, infrared radiation (IR) homing (heat-seeking), guided missile system. It requires no control from the gunner after firing. Stinger has an identification, friend or foe (IFF) subsystem that aids the gunner and team chief in identifying friendly aircraft. Operations at night or in adverse weather conditions are somewhat restricted by the gunnerís ability to see and identify the target. Stinger provides short-range air defense for maneuver units and the less mobile combat support units. The Stinger system is designed to counter high-speed, low-level, ground attack aircraft. Stinger is also a lethal weapon against helicopter, observation, and transport aircraft.

The two primary vehicles that are used by the U.S. Armyís ADA are the Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle (BSFV) and the Avenger. The BSFV tremendously enhances air defense protection in the forward area of the battlefield. Although the primary weapon system on the BSFV is the Stinger missile, other firepower systems provide target engagement alternatives. The weapons are characterized as dismounted and mounted systems. The Stinger is the primary air defense weapon in the BSFV. The Stinger team maintains a basic load of two weapon-rounds and four missile-rounds. The BSFV has three mounted weapon systems that support the surface-to-surface and surface- to-air mission. The BSFV has a 25-mm fully automatic gun. The dual-feed weapon system al-lows the crew to select two types of ammunition: Armor-piercing discarding sabot-tracer (APDS-T) and high-explosive incendiary tracer (HEI-T). Tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided (TOW) missile system. The TOW is a command-guided surface attack weapon that can destroy stationary and slow-moving aerial targets as well as armored vehicles. It may also be used against fortified bunkers, gun emplacements, and other protected positions. The coaxial machine gun is a belt-fed, gas-operated, fully automatic weapon that can be used against unmanned aerodynamic vehicles (UAVs), fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, dismounted infantry, crew-served weapons, and unarmored vehicles. The BSFV has acceleration and speed far superior to the APC. Its mobility, survivability, and maneuver-ability are commensurate with that of the supported force.

The Avenger weapon system is a lightweight, day or night, limited adverse weather FU employed to counter low-altitude aerial threats. The FU consists of two turret-mounted standard vehicle mounted launchers (SVMLs), a machine gun, a forward looking infrared (FLIR) sight, a laser range finder (LRF), and an identification, friend or foe (IFF). The gyrostabilized turret is mounted on the high-mobility multipurpose-wheeled vehicle (HMMWV). The FU can launch a missile or fire the machine gun on the move or from a stationary position with the gunner in the turret. It can also be remotely operated from a location up to 50 meters away. Onboard communications equipment provides for radio and intercom operations. The system is capable of climbing a 31-degree slope at 4 MPH and traversing a 22-degree side slope from either side of the vehicle.

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ARMY AIR DEFENSE PLANNING

The mission of the Air Defense Artillery is to protect the force and selected geopolitical assets from aerial attack, missile attack, and surveillance. To accomplish this mission, extensive preparation must take place in order to assure that units have success on the battlefield. The first important step in planning an air defense mission is making an estimate of the situation. The air defense estimate provides information regarding the air defense supportability of proposed courses of action. It also provides recommended air defense priorities and an air defense scheme of maneuver. Depending on the amount of time available for planning a mission, an estimate can be either an oral command or an extensive written statement. Factors such as METT-T and OCOKA must be taken into consideration when making the estimate. These factors help determine the survivability of a unit in combat and whether or not a certain unit is appropriate for the given mission.

Once an estimate of the situation is made, different courses of action are developed and analyzed. The different courses of action should include priorities, fires, schemes of maneuver, task organization, command and support relationships, passive air defense measures, and combined arms for air defense active measures. Once the courses of action are developed, the commander can choose what units are best prepared to accomplish the mission. The different U.S. air defense weapons systems have different capabilities and specialize in different types of operations. Therefore, each weapon system must be examined individually to understand the standard operating procedures for forward area air defense (FAAD) operations.

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STINGER MAN PORTABLE AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM (MANPADS)

The stinger missile team is usually the last line of air defense from an air attack. Modern threat forces have the ability to launch aircraft in great enough numbers and speed to penetrate and saturate our forward area air defenses. Therefore, high-to-medium altitude air defense (HIMAD) units such as Patriot, Nike Hercules, and Hawk, can no longer expect the relative security previously provided by their rear area locations. HIMAD units can use MANPAD teams to provide some protection from these mass air attacks.

HIMAD units use MANPAD teams to compensate for system limitations. MANPAD teams can be incorporated into their defense to counter this low-flying aircraft threat. HIMAD radar systems are vulnerable to electronic countermeasures (ECM). Since MANPAD systems are not radar-directed missile systems, they do not fall prey to ECM tactics. Another advantage in positioning MANPAD systems with a HIMAD unit is that they can be used to engage threat aircraft in the HIMAD systemís dead zone. Stingerís head on engagement capability can be effectively used to provide this needed close-in protection for the HIMAD unit. In effect, by adding MANPAD systems, the HIMAD unit is allowed to concentrate on its primary mission-high-to-medium-altitude air defense.

When employed with Chaparral units, MANPAD teams can be used for self-defense, augmentation of a defense, or as a substitute weapon. As a self-defense weapon for a Chaparral unit, MANPAD can be used to cover a nonoperational fire unit. In augmenting a Chaparral defense, the MANPAD team(s) may be used to provide low-altitude coverage to areas inaccessible to the fire units. Stinger can be used as a substitute weapon for Chaparral because of the similarity in the two missile systemsí effective ranges.

In a self-defense role, Stinger protects exposed Chaparral fire units. One example of this is when an emplaced Chaparral fire unit is completely masked on one side by hilly terrain. A threat attack helicopter, using a pop-up tactic, can rise behind the terrain and fire at the Chaparral fire unit. A Stinger team in this instance can be positioned on the other side of the hill to counter such an attack.

Stinger can be used to augment Chaparralís defense of a critical asset. The teams are positioned to cover vulnerable areas in the low-altitude defense. These vulnerable areas are formed because of the limited number of Chaparral units allocated to the critical assetís defense. Surrounding terrain features, which may deny access to Chaparral fire units, can form these areas. For example, Stinger teams can be positioned on steep hills that the Chaparral fire units cannot climb.

MANPAD provides continuous air defense coverage while the Chaparral fire unit is nonoperational. This may occur during rearming, refueling, maintenance downtime, or for other reasons. Since the effective range of the Stinger missile is close to that of the Chaparral missile, the Stinger system can temporarily replace the Chaparral system. It is also during these vulnerable periods that Stinger can be utilized as a self-defense weapon. When employed in these situations, the Stinger team should be positioned as close to the fire unit as possible, observing safety restrictions.

When Chaparral elements are displacing to another location by convoy, they are vulnerable to air attack. MANPAD teams must be used to protect these elements on the road. The MANPAD quick reaction time can be most valuable to the Chaparral units at this time. MANPAD teams supporting an ADA unit in convoy are integrated into the March column to take advantage of the Stinger missileís head-on engagement capabilities.

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BRADLEY STINGER FIGHTING VEHICLE

The primary aerial threats that must be countered by BSFVs are unmanned aerodynamic vehicles (UAVs), cruise missiles (CMs), and rotary-wing (RW) and fixed-wing (FW) aircraft. BSFV platoons will be in support of maneuver units. The BSFV platoon should be integrated in the formation of the lead maneuver elements, positioned behind the lead vehicles of the lead company teams, and weighted toward the most likely air avenues of approach. Stingers augment air defense coverage of maneuver forces and provide flexible force protection to air defense commanders. BSFVs should be positioned forward and on the flanks of maneuver formations. The BSFV platoon must synchronize its movement so it does not mask fires of combined arms elements but optimizes observation and fields of fire on suspected air avenues of approach. This is key to BSFV operations since they are the first line of defense against an aerial attack.

The BSFV provides freedom of maneuver to heavy forces, thereby providing the ground force commander with the opportunity to seize the initiative and achieve rapid, decisive victory. They provide the flexibility and versatility needed on a fluid battlefield by augmenting the coverage of other FAAD systems. The BSFV mission is paramount during the decisive operations stage. BSFV platoons will be in support of maneuver units. They will be primarily used to counter CAS threats such as rotary-wing aircraft and lethal UAVs.

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AVENGER

Avengers shield the force from the enemy reconnaissance and attack and ensure success of future operations. Avenger platoons are primarily concerned with countering potential enemy reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition (RISTA) efforts, thereby providing force security and preventing surprise attacks. The primary aerial threats that must be countered by Avenger systems are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), cruise missiles, and rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.

When conducting a counter-RISTA defense for critical assets, Avenger should be positioned far enough forward and away from the asset (along anticipated air avenues of approach) to negate an enemy UAVs standoff detection capabilities (most stressing aerial RISTA threat). With Avenger positioned forward and out from the asset, the UAV will be well within the Stinger missile's engagement envelope prior to collecting any target information. Positioning the fire unit too close to the critical asset may result in its inability to engage the UAV before it obtains RISTA data. Since Avenger platoons operate in areas that are isolated from the rest of the force, they must be extremely flexible in planning their missions.

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ModSAF SCENARIOS

The ModSAF scenarios were intended to determine the effectiveness of Army FAAD systems against fixed-wing aircraft (FWA). While Naval and Air Force air defense units primarily control FWA defense systems, the Army ADA is capable of countering an enemy FWA air attack if needed. However, since this is not the primary mission of the Armyís ADA, soldiers rarely conduct training involving FWA. The scenarios in ModSAF were designed to create a situation in which Army units react to contact with an unexpected FWA attack.

The first scenario involved two separate engagements in which U.S. aircraft (F16s and F14s) attack an Armor company that is accompanied by an Avenger platoon and an Army platoon that is accompanied by a stinger MANPAD team. The ground units react to the air attack by scattering and setting up a hasty perimeter to identify the threat. The FWA engaged the company in a relatively open area, although some cover and concealment was available to the ground units. They engaged the Armor company at an altitude of 300-400 feet.

In each iteration of the simulation, the Avenger platoon was very quick to engage the enemy FWA. The speeds of the FWA were varied to determine the maximum effective range that the Avengers could engage the targets. The Avengers consistently hit aircraft flying at speeds up to Mach 1.5. Their accuracy at aircraft speeds exceeding Mach 1.5 was significantly lower, although some hits were recorded. At aircraft speeds below Mach 1, the Avengers were almost flawless in their accuracy. In one iteration where the aircraft were flying at low speeds, all of the aircraft were destroyed in the first pass.

The scatter technique used by friendly company seemed to be very effective in minimizing casualties. The Armor and Avenger units consistently suffered very few casualties from the air attack. The skill level of the pilots was relatively high, yet they had trouble engaging their designated targets. All of these factors led to very one-sided battles the majority of the time. In ModSAF, the Avenger platoon and stinger team successfully engaged the U.S. FWA consistently without suffering hardly any casualties.

The second scenario involved Avengers and MANPAD teams reacting to contact with Soviet MIGs. Invariably, the results were very similar to those of the first scenario. U.S. FAAD systems had tremendous success against FWA in ModSAF.

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CRITIQUE OF ModSAF SCENARIOS

While the ModSAF scenarios may be useful in determining the capability of certain weapon systems, its use as a training tool is limited without a better visual representation of the battlefield. Senior planners of theater level operations can best utilize ModSAF because it offers such a detailed background of weapon system capabilities and the ability to control the battlefield environment. Its function as a virtual sandtable on which senior officers can test their planning strategies and tactics and practice joint operations with other branches of the armed service is invaluable.

The scenarios discussed above, however, must be tested on a real battlefield environment in order to provide a better knowledge of U.S. FAAD capabilities. It is difficult to believe that these weapons systems would be as accurate as the ModSAF simulator portrayed them to be. Training with actual systems under less stressful conditions than those portrayed in the scenario have proven to be considerably less successful than the ModSAF simulation.

Another limitation of ModSAF training is the need for extensive knowledge of all armed forces to run an independent simulation. The simulations discussed above may not be representative of what an actual mission might entail because of my limited knowledge of FWA and their tactics. Because of the simplistic imagery, some of the actions by both friendly and enemy units were difficult to understand because of the inability to actually see what was happening on the battlefield. Terrain models do not give the planner an accurate account of what is actually occurring on the battlefield. This seriously limits ModSAFís effectiveness as a training tool, as evidenced by the simulations examined in this report.

However, technology has been developed that will eventually lead to a three-dimensional simulator that gives soldiers realistic computer simulations in which soldiers can train on a virtual battlefield. This will allow the armed forces to better assess new weapons systems without having to spend millions of extra dollars training with real equipment. Virtual reality models and simulations are the future of military training.

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WORKS CITED

All field manuals listed below can be found at the following Internet address:

http://bliss-www.army.mil/CATD/ca_dopub.htm

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