Analysis of Air-Based Mechanization and Vertical Envelopment Concepts and Technologies
The Army After Next (AAN) concept of rapidly deployable mechanized battle forces in a tactical environment requires the forces to be readily transported by vertical, or near-vertical, lift aircraft. In the nonlinear AAN battlefield, this may require the forces to be deployed near the enemy's second echelon. The authors examined the performance of the notional AAN advanced airframes to survive this initial air maneuver/insertion under a variety of conditions. These included level of situational awareness and intelligence provided to pilots, level of SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses), flight tactics and ingress routes used by the pilots, and signature characteristics of the airframes (both RF, IR, and optical). The authors used high-resolution constructive simulations to explore and assess the airframes' survivability against an integrated air defense system operating in mixed terrain. The air defense system was one the Russians are capable of deploying today. The results of the analysis indicate that no one approach can guarantee aircraft survivability. Combinations of aggressive SEAD, use of stealth technology, and enhanced situational awareness can, under certain conditions, result in good survivability rates for the aircraft. The large size and slow flight speeds of the aircraft,however, make them susceptible to optically guided munitions. These weapons are difficult to both find and counter. New technologies, tactics, and techniques will be needed to deal with this threat if the AAN air insertion concept is to succeed.