28 mars 2014
March 27, 2014: Strategy Page
Back in 2010 the Israeli Air Force decided to halt upgrading its older AH-64A Apache helicopter gunships to the all-weather AH-64D "Longbow" version. At that point 17 of 47 Israeli AH-64s had been upgraded. The issue was cost and eventually less expensive Israeli sources were found for the electronics needed to achieve many of the capabilities of the D model. Using Israeli electronics also meant it was easier integrating AH-64 systems with Israeli made communications and battle management systems. This also reduced the cost as has the decision to switch to Israeli missiles instead of the American Hellfire.
With the improved electronics the AH-64 can be used at night and in bad weather, and be able to spot things on the ground and far away (about ten kilometers). Up to sixteen missiles (plus its 30mm cannon) can be carried, and these weapons are particularly useful for urban warfare, where you want to minimize civilian casualties. It was the civilian casualties sometimes caused when Israeli AH-64s were used against Islamic terrorists in Gaza that created political opposition to the U.S. selling Israel more AH-64s or allowing them to upgrade using American suppliers.
Since 2009 Israel has used the original AH-64A and the few AH-64Ds it received from the U.S. against Islamic terrorist group Hamas in Gaza. Based on past experience, Israel developed tactics that integrated the AH-64s closely with the ground units. The Israelis examined how the U.S. has been using AH-64s in Iraq and Afghanistan, and picked up some tips there as well. Now the Israelis are using all that knowledge to upgrade and refurbish their AH-64s with Israeli equipment and ideas.
Israel currently has 44 AH-64s and 33 older (but often upgraded) AH-1 helicopter gunships in service.
6 décembre 2013
December 5, 2013: Strategy Page
Denmark recently received the first six (of 16) LITENING G4 targeting pods for its 30 F-16s. These pods cost nearly $3 million each and have annual maintenance costs of over $50,000 each. The pods, packed with electronics and sensors, are very popular with fighter pilots, mainly because they contain FLIR (video quality night vision infrared radar) and TV cameras that enable pilots flying at 6,200 meters (20,000 feet) to clearly make out what is going on down on the ground. The pods also contain laser designators for laser guided bombs and laser range finders that enable pilots to get coordinates for JDAM (GPS guided) bombs. The G4 version, introduced in 2008, has improved sensors and software, including the ability to have the software identify many military vehicles and systems automatically. The 200 kg (440 pound) LITENING G4 pod hangs off a hard point, like a missile, bomb or fuel tank.
Safely outside the range of most anti-aircraft fire (five kilometers up and up to fifty kilometers away) pilots can literally see the progress of ground fighting and have even been acting as aerial observers for ground forces. These capabilities also enable pilots to more easily find targets themselves and hit them with laser guided or JDAM bombs. While bombers still get target information from ground controllers for close (to friendly troops) air support they can now go searching on their own in areas where there are no friendly ground troops.
In 1990 the first targeting pods (the U.S. two pod LANTIRN system) were nearly ready for service. These first electronic targeting pods, which looked like thin bombs, contained laser designators and night vision equipment. LANTIRN got a workout in the 1991 Gulf War, even though the system was still undergoing testing. Israel soon followed with a cheaper, more reliable, and more capable LITENING system. An American manufacturer then brought out the Sniper XR and XTP pod. All this competition has made the pods (one pod is all that is needed now) more capable, easier to use, more reliable, and cheaper. Over 1,200 LITENING pods are in use by 25 countries. The first version of LITENING entered service in the 1990s.