Magazine article National Defense

Guided Mortars: The Next IED?

Magazine article National Defense

Guided Mortars: The Next IED?

Article excerpt

* Can improvised explosive devices become smart weapons?

"I call guided mortars the next IED," says Tom Ehrhard, a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments senior analyst.

Just as insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan learned how to juryrig explosives and detonate them beneath U.S. military convoys, they and potential adversaries may soon get their hands on the smart munitions that are readily available on the market today.

"From intel briefings, I can assure you that threats from guided rockets, artillery, mortars and missiles are very real," says Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee's strategic forces subcommittee.

In retaliation for precision-guided weapon attacks in the Middle East, insurgents have launched Iow-tech mortars and rockets into so-called green zones where U.S. forces are based. If such munitions were equipped with guidance systems, the enemy would have had an increased lethal advantage.

"The canary in the mine shaft was the attacks on the green zone," says Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. He and his colleagues point to the 2006 Lebanon war as a case in point. In the conflict, Hezbollah was able to hold off Israeli defense forces by firing Katyusha missiles and other non-guided artillery during the 34-day war. …

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