Saturday, March 11, 2006

Military Intelligence

The term is not an oxymoron, but it's worth bearing in mind that weapons that make sense to one service seem misconceived to the others. Here are two examples.

Now:

The U.S. Army has found a long range rocket it really likes...these rockets use GPS guidance to hit targets up to 300 kilometers away with a 500 pound, high explosive, warhead. Sort of like the popular 500 pound JDAM smart bomb used by the air force.

These rockets cost about a million dollars each. A 500 pound JDAM costs about $25,000, although you can add a few thousand dollars more to cover the expense of operating the jet bomber that delivered it.
Assuming (generously) that the JDAM bomber delivery doubles the weapon cost, the Air Force solution costs just 5% of the Army solution.

Then:

In WW2, the German Air Force attacked London with the V-1 drone, and their Army attacked it with the V-2 rocket. Here's the cost comparison from David Irvine (previously a good historian, now banged up by the Austrians for Holocaust Denial):

WeaponPayloadCost (un-inflated)
V-11 ton£125
V-21 ton£12,000


That makes the V-1 about 1% of the cost of the V-2.

Then and now the Armies figured that it's harder to shoot down a rocket than a plane, and a 500 pounds or 1 ton shell is huge. Plus, you can't rely on the flyboys when you need them.

Air Forces always expect to penetrate defenses with acceptable losses, and see a 1 ton bomb as nothing special. Plus they can put a fast-moving bomber whenever it's needed across hundreds of miles, and don't have to drag artillery all over the place.