The Backbone of the Air Force

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - A German government affiliated think tank is drafting scenarios for future German wars. The Bundeswehr must adapt itself to counterinsurgency operations and removing reprehensible regimes from power, explained the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). According to this research institute, the Eurofighter, which is certified to have a "multifunctional capability," will play a principal role. Because of the various types of bombs it carries, this jet fighter is considered excellent for close air support for ground troops, which has regularly led to massacres of civilians in Afghanistan. Secondly, the Eurofighter is considered essential for the "neutralization" of enemy "air warfare potential," to create the conditions for "constant bombing" such as in Libya. In general, the SWP sees the Eurofighter as a "airborne computer network" with "perpetual update capabilities," which has the capacity for becoming the "future backbone" of the German Air Force. The combat jet has also chances of being a good export item. After the Eurofighter went through its "baptism of fire" in the NATO attack on Libya, there were numerous interested buyers, particularly in the Middle East.

Multifunctional Capability

In a recent study published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Lt. Col. Detlef Buch writes that the Air Force is "of special political importance" in future wars and therefore "an indispensible instrument in the Bundeswehr's tool chest." It is well suited for measures of counterinsurgency warfare, as in Afghanistan, as well as for operations to remove reprehensible regimes from power, as in Yugoslavia or Libya, the officer explains. In both cases, "air supremacy" had been the "basic prerequisite for the deployment of other combat units." In the framework of both of these mission scenarios, the author points to central roles of the Eurofighter combat jet, a product also of EADS.[1] Because of its "multifunctional capability" it can be used not only to fight enemy aircraft and their defenses, it can also combat "strategic ground targets."[2]

Counterinsurgency

Buch first discusses "close air support" (CAS) for ground troops, which, according to his estimation, constitutes "80 percent of all combat missions" carried out by the Air Force in Afghanistan. This is where combat fighters provide "cover fire" for the infantry, thereby facilitating their further "advance" against an "asymmetrically" fighting adversary. As the SWP researcher explains, the weaponry for future Eurofighters will be precisely adapted to this mission. A laser "electro-optical pathfinder" could be locked in on the targeted insurgents' positions that will be "autonomously" destroyed by the GBU-48 laser-guided bomb, dropped from the Eurofighter. Alongside the eight bombs of this type - each carrying 200 kg of explosives - the Eurofighter will, in the future, also carry "Trojan Improved Penetrator" (TIP) bombs. These TIPs carry only 20 kg of explosives, but with a much greater power of penetration. Lt. Col. Buch explains that, because of the reduced amount of explosives, "TIP" bombs can be dropped in the "close vicinity of the own or allied ground forces" without endangering them. This new type of bomb has also been "optimized" for missions "in urban areas."

Hi-Tech Nuisance

The Eurofighter's espionage and "electronic warfare" capability is closely connected to the liquidation of enemy troops with so-called smart bombs. With the use of a new type of digital camera, this combat aircraft is capable not only of reconnoitering potential targets; it can also monitor the impact of its hi-tech weapons in action. According to SWP, the "lethal effects" of its weaponry will be supplemented with "non-lethal" ones. Equipped with the latest in the radio technology, the Eurofighter could also be deployed as a "hi-tech nuisance." "Along with shutting down aviation defense radars or radio communication networks, it is also currently necessary to shut down cell phone networks to prevent the ignition of mines by remote control."

No Fly Zones

The SWP proposes a second scenario for future wars - the establishment of so-called "No Fly Zones" (NFZ). They represented an indispensible prerequisite for NATO's attacks on Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, because they denied the named countries access to their own Air Forces, according to the study. According to the author of the SWP's study, the Eurofighter is excellently suited for this sort of mission because of its "multifunctional capability." "In the early phase of the establishment of a NFZ, Eurofighter reconnaissance would supply important intelligence on the enemy air war potential. At the same time, it could neutralize enemy radar stations and other command and control operation centers for enemy air defenses." If "air supremacy" is then achieved, the Eurofighter's mission would not only be to combat the enemy air force but also "enemy ground troops, for example tanks." Here also, the Eurofighter, with its board rockets, guided missiles and "smart bombs," is the more effective means available.

Baptism of Fire in Libyan War

The SWP attributes an "enormous growth potential" to the Eurofighter because of the "constant updatability" of its board electronics and weapons systems. it predicts that, as an "airborne computer network," this combat jet will become the "future backbone" of the German Air Force. Since the Eurofighter was successfully used by Great Britain in the war on Libya, thereby having gone through its "baptism of fire," the fighter has also chances of being a good export item. The list of "interested buyers," spans "from Oman via South Korea all the way to the United Arab Emirates," explains Buch. However, according to his proposal, only older models of the aircraft, models that the Bundeswehr has decommissioned, should be sold abroad. "To sell the most modern versatile machines (...) would be foolish, in light of its multifunctional capability and its security political significance."

[1] Der Eurofighter wird von der Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH mit Sitz in Hallbergmoos bei München gebaut. Das Unternehmen befindet sich im Besitz der Rüstungskonzerne EADS (Deutschland/Frankreich, 33 Prozent), BAE Systems (Großbritannien, 33 Prozent), Alenia Aeronautica (Italien, 21 Prozent) und Casa (Spanien, 13 Prozent).
[2] s. hierzu und im Folgenden: Detlef Buch: Die Zukunft des Eurofighters. Multifunktionalität als entscheidender Vorzug. Studie der Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik. Berlin, Februar 2012