U.S. eyes new generation of ships, radios, cameras and other tools for potential conflict with China

TAMPA, Fla. — As warfare in the 21st century becomes increasingly futuristic, the U.S. military needs a new generation of tools — from heat-sensing cameras that can detect enemy machine gun nests miles away to drop from helicopters , a handheld underwater controller capable of operating the drone overhead.

Tensions between the U.S. and China could one day erupt into a particular risk of military conflict in the Pacific, U.S. officials said, expanding the need for more advanced sea-based weapons and reconnaissance capabilities.

The recent U.S. Special Operations Conference in Tampa brought together military leaders and their defense industry allies, including companies from partner nations such as Australia, who would find themselves standing in the face of such a conflict with the Chinese Communist Party’s war machine. on the front lines.

As China invests billions of dollars to build a military capable of confronting the U.S. military, U.S. defense leaders are building new capabilities that will give the Pentagon an edge in any future battle.

Some of the most advanced tools are integrated into camera imaging systems on various combat vehicles.

“The sensors can see so far, we can see the whole bridge. We can scan it with thermal imaging and zoom in, and then if we do find someone’s signature on it … see if they’re carrying weapons, or Whether they work on machine gun stations or something like that,” said Douglas Pillsbury, CEO of tactical video solutions company Aries Defense.

His company’s products, along with state-of-the-art digital imaging equipment made by Teledyne FLIR in the US, are aboard the groundbreaking Whiskey Project tactical vessel, a prototype on display in Tampa, designed and engineered by the battle-proven Australian Navy. Build Veterans and be known as the next stage in warship development.

“This allows us to remove the element of surprise from our warfighters so they can see what they’re going to engage in from far greater distances than our adversary’s weapons can engage us,” Mr Pillsbury said on Project Whisky As it passed, reporters were told Tampa Bay was hitting 40 knots, while the onboard cameras and sensors captured stunningly clear video from the surrounding ocean and coast.

“The idea is to sense first, see first, strike first,” Mr Pillsbury said of the industry’s approach to maritime conflict with future adversaries.

Project Whiskey’s multi-mission reconnaissance vessel is an example of a new wave of maritime vehicles, weapons, equipment and cameras that are either already deployed or in further development.

In the event of such a military conflict, the United States and its key Indo-Pacific allies could rely heavily on the cutting-edge technology to counter the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its growing military capabilities, industry sources said.

Inside the Pentagon, war planners have spent years preparing for such a conflict. In public, defense officials often refer to China as a “rhythm challenge” for the United States. The term is a nod to China’s investment of time, money and resources in its own armed forces.

National security analysts say Beijing aims to either compete militarily with the U.S. armed forces or use its own military force for deterrence, appearing so strong that if the People’s Liberation Army engages in any major offensive operation, such as a full-scale deployment Large-scale offensive operations, Washington may not intervene. invade Taiwan.

The core of China’s strategy is “anti-access and area denial” (A2/AD).

This approach relies on a combination of defense systems, artillery, radar and other tools designed to deter an enemy’s ability to occupy or pass through a specific land, air or sea area.​​​

For U.S. war planners, the possibility of fighting China marks a major shift in strategy over the past two decades, during which the U.S. military has primarily focused on ground combat, counterterrorism and urban special operations missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa .

Conflict dynamics in the Pacific will be quite different, and U.S. forces will need to move quickly across seas to counter Chinese defenses.

“In the event of a war, internal forces will use the region’s maritime geography to form an initial defensive barrier, which may would immediately challenge Chinese military operations,” in an analysis recently posted on the U.S. Naval Institute’s website.

“These forces will challenge China’s air superiority, sea control, and information superiority; delay and deny China’s ability to project power to achieve its goals, such as seizing the territory of a U.S. ally or partner, while preventing China from projecting power to the first island off-chain; and downgrade China’s critical systems to create gaps in the A2/AD network,” Mr Manken wrote.

tools of war

Unlike the great power wars of the past, a Sino-American conflict will not result in two large armies fighting on land. Instead, U.S. special operations capabilities at sea and in the air are critical and could be the difference between winning and losing.

A central component of U.S. military strategy in any future war will be communications systems that allow U.S. forces to share information across domains in real time. One such system is the MPU5, manufactured by the American company Persistent Systems, which has been called “the world’s first smart radio”.

“Think of it as the internet without wires,” Jack Moore, the company’s vice president of business development, told The Washington Times on the floor of the sprawling convention center earlier this month at the U.S. Special Operations conference in Tampa.

“You can relate things to this — anything,” he said. “It’s way beyond the capacity of the radio.”

This radio looks traditional, but it is capable of handling multiple data sources from around the world and comes with its own onboard Android computer system.

Paired with the company’s “rugged display and controller” device, field service personnel basically have the value of internet control at their fingertips. The controller itself resembles a modern console, making it easy to operate and suitable for today’s generation of warriors.

For example, divers can use it to control an overhead drone or other small craft.

“You can dive. You can jump off it from 30,000 feet or 20 meters,” Mr Moore said. “All the data is here. But this is a general controller with multiple robots, multiple sensors.”

“It’s very standardized, especially for the younger generation,” he said.

In a theoretical sea battle, where a small group of American personnel also needs to get to shore quickly and safely, attention needs to be paid to a new generation of small inflatable boats that can be brought into theater by submarine or lowered from below. a helicopter.

Jacob Heimbuch, vice president of government sales at California-based Wing Inflatables, said his company’s cutting-edge “combat rubber assault boats” provide that capability. Its V-bottom design allows for smoother rides and safer transport of any equipment required for the mission, he said.

“It has a dead end that cushions the shock. It’s not like a standard boat,” he told The Times. “It went through the water instead of being flat.”

“No other vessel can get in and out with this older technology with eight people with their equipment and fuel,” Mr Heimbuch said. “With this new technology, you can fit everyone on board. You can get where you’re going, and you can go out with your whole team.”

Mr Heimbuch said Wing Inflatables was recently awarded a five-year Marine Corps contract to supply up to 900 ships.

Such high-priced offshore capability contracts will only increase in the future. Leading Pentagon officials readily admit that their approach needs to evolve.

“Over the past 20 years, as we’ve been modernizing, there are things that frankly need to be updated,” Jim Smith, acquisition chief for U.S. Special Operations Command, told the audience at the Special Operations Conference.

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