Arms and Innovation: Entrepreneurship and Alliances in the Twenty-First-Century Defense Industry

By James Hasik | Go to book overview

6
Mountains Miles Apart
PowerScene, the Dayton Peace Talks, and the Demise
of Cambridge Research Associates

The fidelity of this thing is outstanding. It's as good as you would see in real life. We're
using it on every mission we can… We come at some targets at 600 to 700 miles an
hour. We have seconds to identify the target or we don't drop. PowerScene helps us
recognize the target faster and gives the angle we'll be looking from. That can make the
difference between dropping and not dropping. The bottom line is, a higher percentage
of our bomb runs have been successful.1


Background: War and Peace Settlement in Bosnia

The 1991 war against Iraq was the first in which mission planning and rehearsal systems (MP&RS) were intensely used. MP&RS offer two main advantages to air arms: improved bombing accuracy and reduced collateral damage.2 U.S. forces in 1991 employed two systems: the USAF's Mission Support System II (MSS II), which was used by F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and F-117 Nighthawk crews; and the USMC's Map, Operator, and Maintenance Station (MOMS), which was used by AV-8B Harrier pilots.3 In the campaign, the MP&RS ran on laptop computers and generated plans, routes, and maps for flight crews and commandos. The hardware and software could generally produce images of target areas similar to those that would appear on radar screens in less than a minute. This was not simple programming: the software would need to show the locations of air defenses, define critical sun angles, display clouds and haze realistically, and allow users to select particular vantage points from which better to understand their missions.4

To improve on the relatively simple displays of MP&RS that used 1980s computing technology, the U.S. Navy subsequently launched a program to combine digital maps, ortho-rectified imagery, and digital terrain elevation data to produce three-dimensional visualizations of terrain. The contract was awarded to a small information technology company in McLean, Virginia, by the geographically inappropriate name Cambridge Research Associates. Cambridge was, at the time, a roughly thirty-person firm that was completely focused on computer systems work for the Pentagon. The firm was quite effective at securing some of the most enticing “crumbs”—in particular, the most

-98-

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Arms and Innovation: Entrepreneurship and Alliances in the Twenty-First-Century Defense Industry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • 1: The Fast and the Many 1
  • 2: Dream Teams and Brilliant Eyes 17
  • 3: Unmanned, Unafraid, and Underscoped 32
  • 4: Five Bombs in One Hole, and Cheaply 54
  • 5: Dili and the Pirates 76
  • 6: Mountains Miles Apart 98
  • 7: Drop Your Purse 111
  • 8: The Two Towers 136
  • Notes 153
  • Index 185
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