Piss-Off - Precision Strike Suite for Special Operations Forces

April 25th, 2006  

Topic: Piss-Off - Precision Strike Suite for Special Operations Forces

The following article was taken from the military.com website. I would like to hear from the artillary types (especially USArmy) what you think of this system.

Army Artillery Gets a MakeoverInsideDefense.com NewsStand | Jen DiMascio | April 24, 2006
The combination of newly developed precision munitions and precision targeting software will help Army artillery regain its role on future battlefields, the commander of the Artillery School said last week.

Army artillery, which is embedded in the service’s modular brigade combat teams, has been sidelined by Air Force capabilities, the threat of collateral damage and rules of engagement governing today’s crowded, urban fighting zones, Maj. Gen. David Ralston told Inside the Army after speaking at an April 19 conference sponsored by the Precision Strike Association.
Artillerymen have “been out there walking patrol, doing patrol,” Ralston said. “That’ll continue now, but they’ll also have the dual mission of being able to fire artillery, because you can do it precisely.”
Within the next year, the Army will see a change in the way artillery is used.
“Now we’ve got everything for precision fires. The Air Force really kind of cornered that market for a long time, and they did a great job. But the smallest thing they have is a 500-pound bomb. Now, with a 50-pound warhead on an Excalibur, we can give them with our precision targeting, the same accuracy. We think now we’ll be firing more, because we bring this new asset to the fight,” Ralston said.
A key component of this new capability is the Army’s Employment of a new program -- the Precision Strike Suite for Special Operations Forces. The software program may be fielded to soldiers in Iraq within the next three months, Ralston said.
“We got it from the special ops guys. The acronym, of course, is ‘piss off,’” Ralston quipped during his speech.
The program enables soldiers at the tactical level to precisely locate a time-sensitive target for fires within about five minutes, he said.
Previously, confirming a target took more time than the Army wanted.
Even in 2004 and 2005, “mensuration” was performed at the theater level, Ralston said.
“That is where we come up with a set of grid coordinates, the Air Force takes it, they go through some very long and painful verification and truly turn . . . into a very precise grid that they can attack with certainty. It was done only in theater and it took hours to do, and that’s the best case,” Ralston said. “We said that doesn’t allow you to attack time-sensitive targets, and it doesn’t necessarily help the tactical guy in the field when he needs it.”
A soldier using PSS-SOF employs the Global Positioning System to find his own location. Then he takes a laser and lases to a target, so he can see the target on grid coordinates and also on a map. PSS-SOF then draws on three-dimensional imagery from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency so the soldier can see whether the target he’s about to shoot is correct. If the location is wrong, that soldier can drag and drop an icon on his computer screen to the correct location so that a precise munition can be called to fire at the target, Ralston said.
“It’s a great system that is actually very easy to use,” he said, adding that “this is not mensurated targeting, it is near-mensurated. But it is close enough that it will get you ‘precise’ targeting,” defined as targeting the right spot within 10 meters.
Because it depends on stock imagery that is not updated, the system can’t be used for mobile targets, like tanks. Rather, it is best used to attack buildings where insurgents may be meeting during a specific time, he said.
PSS-SOF is becoming a program of record for all the services and is being incorporated into the Army’s existing Forward Observer Software, Ralston said.
The need for such a targeting system was uncovered as Ft. Sill studied what the service needed to use in Iraq, Ralston said.
“We realized that as we developed these precision munitions, we had to have the ability to do precision targeting,” he said. Combining PSS-SOF with precision munitions the service is fielding or is on the verge of fielding brings precision fires to the “pointy end of the spear.”
In addition to the munitions piece, the Artillery School at Ft. Sill also started an operational warfare class and a course to train joint fire observers, Ralston said.
It also plans to use precision munitions -- the unitary portion of the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System and the Excalibur munition.
The recently fielded GMLRS provides greater precision with a smaller bang than Air Force firepower, Ralston said, because it fires a 200-pound warhead as opposed to dropping a 500-pound bomb.
Excalibur, an even smaller munition at 50 pounds, is even better for urban fighting, because it drops nearly vertically over its target, he said.
Excalibur remains in testing at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, Ralston said, but he’s hoping that it will be in the field by this time next year. Officials at Ft. Sill have been hoping for an early fielding of the munition, which has been requested by combatant commanders, for more than a year.
“The testing community said ‘We’re just not sure. Before we put it over in there and use it, let’s make sure that we’re comfortable with it,’” Ralston told ITA.
Users of the munition are so enthusiastic about Excalibur, they want the munitions in theater even if only six out of 10 of them work, a program official said during the same conference.
Please give us your opinions redlegs.
April 25th, 2006  
G Connor
What's the range of the Excalibur system? Seems to me the issue with artillery is getting the firing tube close enough to the target toemploy the system. Strategic/tactical aircraft have a much longer reach and avoid putting assets at risk on the ground in the theater. Maybe the answer is something more target/size appropriate than a 500 weapon.
April 25th, 2006  
It is only because of the many duds that arty send down range that some of us are alive today.