Post-Cold War Warrior Getting New High-Tech Arsenal
EDITH M. LEDERER
Aug. 12, 1993
LONDON (AP) _ The post-Cold War warrior is getting a new high-tech arsenal to cope with smaller, unpredictable conflicts.
British defense researchers are working on a host of military advances from tiny missiles that can distinguish between enemy and friendly aircraft to powerful radar systems that can target numerous supersonic missiles fired simultaneously at a warship.
Scientists are already testing an armored fighting vehicle with twin computers that can track the world outside and a computer system for intelligence analysts which can sift through masses of data, represent it on a screen, and highlight key pieces.
''In this new world order, flexibility, information, and precision have to be the watchwords,'' said John Chisholm, chief executive of the Defense Research Agency, which is owned by Britain's Ministry of Defense but operated as a private company.
''To see and not be seen - this is crucial for the future, the type of technologies that allow us to gain an information advantage ... because we'll be operating in unfamiliar territories,'' he said at a briefing Wednesday announcing the agency's annual results.
The agency, with a staff of 10,500, conducts research in 150 different areas, holds 5,000 active patents and has 400 current licenses with industries exploiting its inventions.
''There's no doubt that the agency ... is the premier research and development agency in Britain and probably in Europe,'' Paul Beaver, publisher of Jane's Information Group, said Thursday.
The powerful radar the agency has developed for warships can function even when partially damaged by an enemy and is ''very, very difficult to jam,'' said project director Tim Crowfoot.
It is similar to the U.S. Navy's highly successful SPY-1 radar system, but is more advanced and cheaper, the agency said. The U.S. ballistic missile defense program is spending $3 million to $4 million to help test the new system in Scotland, Crowfoot said.
Scientists at the British agency have also developed new radar technology that can see through clouds, take raw radar data and produce images which look better than an instant camera's. A number of British and U.S. companies are negotiating to license it, the agency said.
The computer program to help analyze intelligence data has enabled intelligence analysts to do their work in 60 percent less time and get ''much more accurate pictures of what is happening,'' said project director Derek Barnes.
It has been such a hit that it has been rushed into use two years ahead of schedule, he said.
Chisholm said the aim of new weapons research is pinpoint accuracy to avoid civilian casualties and mistaken attacks on friendly forces.
The new generation of ''smart'' weapons are likely to have sensors such as infrared cameras so they can recognize and select targets for themselves, said project director Mike Cooper.
The agency is designing small, light, highly agile missiles with very small warheads that can identify an aircraft and strike the most vulnerable spot on an enemy warplane, he said.
A 21st-century gun system which uses electromagnetic energy is being jointly evaluated by the British agency and the U.S. military. For the ordinary soldier, this would mean not having to lug heavy shells around.
The computerized two-man crew station for armored fighting vehicles developed by the agency will be demonstrated in Orlando, Fla., in November.