Robot warriors

The New York Times Magazine has an interesting piece on plans for remote control fighters and other types of robotic warfare. The piece does discuss some of the vulnerabilities of these weapon systems, but omits probably the biggest. All these systems as well as the systems that permitted unprecedented coordination, rely on micro chip technology. If you have looked inside the latest computers, one thing that is noticable is the hardware needed to keep the advanced processors from frying themselves. In the runup to the war one of the new weapons in the US arsenal was a charged beam weapon that could destroy the Iraqi command and control computer chips. It does not take much imagination to see how important such a weapon would be in the hands of an advisary as US forces rely more and more on micro chips to fight. The weapon the US has, apparently, is delivered by a cruise missile because it would destroy the electronics of a plane delivering it. Some type of anti aircraft charged beam weapon would give both manned and unmanned flight systems problems. These weapons might also disable the electronics on the 4th ID's upgraded M1 Abrams tanks.

In the war the Abrams tanks were at times vulnerable to the advanced Russian rockets that were illegally sold to Iraq. Future adversaries might avoid using tanks and "technical" vehicles which are vulnerable to the US's precision weapons, and just use disbursed infantry with advanced antitank rockets. It is clear that the Iraqi tanks were effectively targeted to the extent that in many cases the crew would not stay in them. The Soviet era tanks and RPG launchers were no match for the US equipment. I am sure the Russian and Chinese military are scratching their heads over this problem.


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