Magazine article National Defense


Magazine article National Defense


Article excerpt

Truck Armor

I enjoyed the December 2004 article, "Survival in Combat Zones Requires 'Layers' of Protection," but I can't resist two comments:

It is not the value of the vehicle to be protected that dictates the type of armor but the allowable weight of the armor system. In short, it is a tradeoff between weight and cost that determines whether ceramics/composites (aramids, polythylene, glass) or metals are used. The critical value of weight made ceramic helicopter seats one of the first applications where the cost of boron carbide/composites was justified. A more recent example was the need to reduce the weight of breast plates (Small Arms Protective Plates or SAPI) so the plates would actually be worn. The result was the use of $400 boron carbide (and reaction bonded boron carbide) with Spectra Shield vs the old twicethe-weight, 1/4 the cost, alumina plates.

The issue of intellectual property is not a significant barrier to the use of Mantech funds for manufacturing development. I have direct experience, with a company I ran, and as a consultant for others, where we successfully used Mantech money and did not compromise or proprietary technology.

Robert Wolffe

Wye Mills, MD

Electronic Warfare

I have read with interest the article "Air Force rethinks approach to electronic attack", October 2004, by Eric Gons.

Desert Storm was fought in 1991, and at that time the U.S. Air Force had learned the lessons of Vietnam and Yom Kippur Wars. But more mobile and lethal SAMs, like SAM-10 and SAM-12, were first deployed in the 1980s, about 10 years before Desert Storm.

The USAF response was stealth technology. After Desert Storm, the Air Force decided never to buy another non-stealthy aircraft because it argued that the cost of stealth was more than compensated by the costs savings represented by active and passive defensesuppression assets rendered unnecessary by stealth. At that time, Air Force planners decided that jamming was no longer needed, assuming that the advent of stealth jets would make it obsolete. So they retired EF- 111 Raven in 1995 (it was a great mistake!) in order to save money for the F-22 Raptor. But the shoot-down of the F-117 during Allied Force in 1999 showed that it had not turned out to be the case, and so the Prowler fleet quickly became overstretched.

The old and slow Prowler became a highdemand asset, and pilots were used to saying: "No Prowler, no mission!"

Of course, stealth is a great thing, but it is not silver bullet. It reduces vulnerability, but does not grant invulnerability. …

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