In future conflicts, guided mortars could be “the next IED,” Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) analyst Tom Erhard said in remarks this morning at a congressional conference on Directed Energy Systems.
Erhard noted that if the Dept. of Defense and industry don’t start taking seriously the need to field directed energy weapons, when insurgents inevitably start launching guided mortars at American forces, the military will have to rehash the whole sped-up acquisition process that we’ve seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Do we want to go through all that again? Do we want to go through JIEDDO again?” he asked.
Andrew Krepinevich, Erhard’s boss at CSBA, added that “the canary in the mineshaft were the [mortar] attacks on the Green Zone” that peaked in 2006 and 2007, which exposed the need for better counter mortar defenses. Krepinevich also pointed to the Israeli / Hezbollah war in 2006 where Israeli air power was unable to knock out Hebollah’s rocket launching sites, forcing Israeli forces to storm prepared defenses in a messy ground war. Hezbollah fired some 3,900 rockets over the border during the fight, and while they were mostly ineffective (ignoring the psychological “win” they scored), Krepinevich pointed out the destruction that might have occurred if even one percent of those rockets were GPS guided.
The answer, the analysts said, is fielding non-chemical, electrically generated Solid State Laser (SSL) technology that can act as a deterrent against both guided and unguided mortar fire.
It also happens to be useful for grade A combatants too. Not just insurgents. Aircraft? UAVs? Possibly RPGs if you had something with a fast enough slew rate.