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Australian Small Arms Modernization   Small Arms <20mm

Started 1-Oct by gatnerd; 5986 views.
stancrist

From: stancrist

2-Oct

schnuersi said:

       Refleks said: Any major western power investing in new small arms but neglecting weaponized drones at fireteam/squad level is behind the curve, IMO.

I have to disagree. It makes little sense to equip fireteams or squads with drones. Within the engagement range of the smallest units such systems are not necessary.

In the near future small and light missiles in the class "anti personel guided missile" will fill this role. These are much more reliable, powerfull and more difficult to counter. They are also fully mil spec and can be handled like all other missiles.

Small, guided missiles like the Pike do offer some advantages, but I'm not sure they are a necessarily better choice for the squad.

The drones that I think Refleks is referring to are also fully mil spec, and seem like they would be quite useful at the squad level.

gatnerd

From: gatnerd

2-Oct

schnuersi said:

The combat effectiveness of small, simple and cheap drones also is very limited.

Off the shelf quadcopters dropping 40mm equivalent warheads or scouting ahead for enemy positions (often both) have proven shockingly effective in Ukraine, and Syria before then.

One major advantage over missiles like PIke is that they can hunt for an enemy, and drop munitions into trenchworks / foxholes that would be difficult to hit with a rocket or missile. Top attack also allows even the smallest of HEDP warheads to penetrate top armor of even Tanks (a few days ago a quad droped 40mm killed a T80 tank).

A militarized compact quadcopter with a dropable micro munition (think optimized ~40-50mm HEDP) would likely be extremely useful. Especially as it would be re-usable and allow for surveillance and strike capability. 

Off the shelf, there are currently folding drones, which can fold down into the size of ~a 200rd SAW pouch. So a squad level drone would be quite doable. Especially if paired with some limited AI (fly forward 1k along this trail, send notification if FLIR detects anything human temperature).

  • Edited 02 October 2022 17:27  by  gatnerd
Refleks

From: Refleks

2-Oct

"I have to disagree.
It makes little sense to equip fireteams or squads with drones. Within the engagement range of the smallest units such systems are not necessary.

The combat effectiveness of small, simple and cheap drones also is very limited."

You're not wrong with regards to having more range than a squad is typically expected to need, but that isn't the goal, it's just a side effect of where the technology is and of being a loitering capable munition, so it's a non issue for me. Besides, there will be occasions where a such a range would be useful.

As far as the combat effectiveness of small, simple and cheap drones being limited I have no idea where you're getting that from, but this is not correct.  These are rounds of ammunition that can potentially fit in a typical 40mm grenade pouch (meaning a single soldier can carry as many as 12 in a typical 40mm bandolier), require no separate launcher, and can not only by and large fulfill the desire for a counter defilade asset at the squad level, they can do much more than that. 


Munitions you describe (small and light missiles, presumably like pike, bumblebee, etc) also have their place and purpose in the squad, these are not mutually exclusive nor do they fulfill each others roles sufficiently to render the other irrelevant.

  • Edited 02 October 2022 18:15  by  Refleks
schnuersi

From: schnuersi

3-Oct

gatnerd said:

Off the shelf quadcopters dropping 40mm equivalent warheads or scouting ahead for enemy positions (often both) have proven shockingly effective in Ukraine, and Syria before then.

Not really. They have been overrepresented in the public discussion because they are over represented in footage.

For starters these drones are weapons of desperation. They are used because there is a lack of proper military equipment. Theses drones simply do what a mortar normally would.
Second and this can not be emphasised enough the limited successes such improvised measures had are theatre and situation specific. They are used mostly in static situations and trench fighting. They are the current equivalent of the trench catapults and improvised grenade launchers from 100 years ago.
Last but not least such measures are only viable because in the theatre the opponents does not have the equipment to counter them. At least not enough for full coverage. Not only the UA AD has been successfull in shooting down drones. The RU AD as well. RU is also very good at ECM and ECCM. They are capable at detecting and quickly pinpointing drone guidance signals. They are just shit at getting fire onto this position quickly.

In the current phase of the war in UA which changed from very static trench fighting, almost siege warfare back to mobile manoeuver warfare payload drones and small loitering munitions are much less off an asset and their use has been reduced accordingly. Now recon drones are far more important.
The thing is if you have a recon drone and a mortar you don't really need a drone that drops small grenades.

It also isn't true that western militaries don't invest in drones, drone warfare or defenses against them. Just most of the work done in this field is classified. To a much higher degree than small arms. There is also lots of work done by the industry. The potential problem has been identified quite some time ago and systems and tactics are allready being implemented. It is highly doubtfull that drones would be as effective against a western military or NATO force as they have been in the conflicts befor. Since their true effectiveness in these conflicts is usually vastly overrated the effect against a proper equiped and prepared force will most likely be neglectable.

schnuersi

From: schnuersi

3-Oct

stancrist said:

Small, guided missiles like the Pike do offer some advantages, but I'm not sure they are a necessarily better choice for the squad.

This one is a APGM. On the small end of the scale. From my point of view its also a result of the last decades. Its a piece of kit optimised for COIN and LIC. It might even be a good or great piece of kit.
I just don't see the necessity to equip all infantry squads in every theatre regardless of mode of warfare with it.

In UA we see more or a less a peer war HIC. The way infantry operated there is very different from what we saw in the last decades. For example engagement ranges are short for small arms. With 300 m allready being the exception. Also heavy weapons reign the field. In such an environment i do not think the approach for squads or platoons working independent and having to handle anything by themself until fast air can support, if this is greenlighted at all, is a viable. What we see in UA is more or less traditional combined arms warfare with combat elements in at least company size. Usually batallion sized units or battlegroups are deployed to specific goals.

I am not saying recon or other drones can not be given to squads and used by them. This is certainly possible. But to me it currently seems that this is a case of mission conflict. The infantry squad as part of a larger combined arms force is supposed to quickly get close and take and hold an objective. Why give them equipment that does not only not advance this mission but actively hinders hit because the now have assets that are best used from far away and if used prevent quick and agressive movement.
As support assets on company or maybe platoon level this might make sense. But for a squad? The smallest combat element. The one that actually has to get close and allready has problems carrying all the equipment they need. I really so not see it.

For small Spec Op teams and the lone squad in hostile territory during COIN this is certainyl different. But this is not what has been proposed. Drones as standard issue for infantry on squad level has. That makes no sense to me and there is currently no evidence that it does.

schnuersi

From: schnuersi

3-Oct

Refleks said:

As far as the combat effectiveness of small, simple and cheap drones being limited I have no idea where you're getting that from, but this is not correct.

I am getting it from reading reports from UA and reading analysis of the situation there.
And yes I am correct or rather I am just presenting the correct information from my sources.

Refleks said:

These are rounds of ammunition that can potentially fit in a typical 40mm grenade pouch (meaning a single soldier can carry as many as 12 in a typical 40mm bandolier), require no separate launcher, and can not only by and large fulfill the desire for a counter defilade asset at the squad level, they can do much more than that.

Its not about the technical possibility of building a drone that does that.
Its about this drone actually succeeding. Also there the the problem of mission conflict I mentioned in the other post. The counter defilade asset at squad level is something very specific and IMHO LIC and COIN driven. Concidering that a squad is part of a combined arms battlegroup the counter defilade asset is a call for fire support away. No need for a specific weapon for that at squad level. Even if not available counter defilade is done by tactics. Supression fire onto the hostile position, the manoeuver elements close in and flush the enemy out with hand grenades (THE counter defilade weapon par excellence). A typical infantry squad has the assets to do that for at least 100 years now.
Furthermore the cargo drones that are proposed here are very easy to counter. And I am not talking about soficticated ECM or AD systems. It can be dones by tactics. Using positions with overhead concealment will reduce the effectiveness conciderably. Overhead cover will nullify it. The cargo drones also tend to by rather slow and for droping hover in place. Which makes it easy to shoot them down even without a FCS. I also wonder how a squad will fight it several of its members are busy guiding drones and do not shoot at the enemy. This again can be used in tactics. Engage at long range from defilade to distract and make the launch drones and once this happening conduct a short range assault onto the distracted troops with the hidden main force.
IMHO its also foolish to assume that high value and highly important targets like bunkers or crucial defensive positions will not be protected against drone attacks as part of their design and the layout of the defenses in general.

Refleks said:

Munitions you describe (small and light missiles, presumably like pike, bumblebee, etc) also have their place and purpose in the squad, these are not mutually exclusive nor do they fulfill each others roles sufficiently to render the other irrelevant.

I think you got me wrong. I think APGM have no place at squad level too.
These are platoon or most likely company assets. I also see them as limited issue for COIN and LIC. For HIC they offer little that other assets do not offer allready.
In my point of view a drone and a guided missile are basically the same thing. They are a delivery system. In a nutshell: The main difference is that drones often are reusable and there is a data link so the drone can be controlled in flight. Missiles are one use only and much faster. Missiles that have a data feed allready blurr the line. The problem of drones is the data feed and lack of speed. They are easy to detect, interfere with or shoot down. Missiles are much more likely to penetrate the defense of a target.
From my point of view drones for recon and missiles (or indirect fire) for delivering payloads make more sense than trying both with a drone.

It makes absolutly no sense at all to me to try and stuff any conceivable capability into the smallest combat element.

  • Edited 03 October 2022 7:59  by  schnuersi
stancrist

From: stancrist

3-Oct

schnuersi said:

[Pike] is a APGM. On the small end of the scale. From my point of view its also a result of the last decades. Its a piece of kit optimised for COIN and LIC. It might even be a good or great piece of kit. I just don't see the necessity to equip all infantry squads in every theatre regardless of mode of warfare with it.

Is there reason to think that Pike is intended to equip all infantry squads in every theatre regardless of mode of warfare?

Is it not more probable that a small APGM like Pike would be issued on an as required basis, depending on the situation?

There are many different types of 40mm rounds, but they are not all issued to each grenadier, for every combat scenario.

schnuersi said:

In UA we see more or a less a peer war HIC. The way infantry operated there is very different from what we saw in the last decades. For example engagement ranges are short for small arms. With 300 m allready being the exception. Also heavy weapons reign the field. ... What we see in UA is more or less traditional combined arms warfare with combat elements in at least company size.

I am not saying recon or other drones can not be given to squads and used by them. This is certainly possible. But to me it currently seems that this is a case of mission conflict. The infantry squad as part of a larger combined arms force is supposed to quickly get close and take and hold an objective. Why give them equipment that does not only not advance this mission but actively hinders it...

As support assets on company or maybe platoon level this might make sense. But for a squad? The smallest combat element. The one that actually has to get close and allready has problems carrying all the equipment they need. I really so not see it.

All very good points.  I'm inclined to agree.

gatnerd

From: gatnerd

3-Oct

schnuersi said:

For starters these drones are weapons of desperation. They are used because there is a lack of proper military equipment. Theses drones simply do what a mortar normally would. Second and this can not be emphasised enough the limited successes such improvised measures had are theatre and situation specific. They are used mostly in static situations and trench fighting. They are the current equivalent of the trench catapults and improvised grenade launchers from 100 years ago. Last but not least such measures are only viable because in the theatre the opponents does not have the equipment to counter them. At least not enough for full coverage. Not only the UA AD has been successfull in shooting down drones. The RU AD as well. RU is also very good at ECM and ECCM. They are capable at detecting and quickly pinpointing drone guidance signals. They are just shit at getting fire onto this position quickly.

I question how effective most enemy SHORAD is against small drones. Drones are certainly shot down, but many are not.

Heres a small drone literally flying on top of a BUK-2M air defense vehicle and guiding artillery onto it. 

https://www.reddit.com/r/CombatFootage/comments/xsdtn0/ukrainian_drone_guided_artillery_destroying_a/

I'd be surprised if any enemy will be able to fully blanket the skies against these things, especially if radar and ECM guided munitions are employed. 

A major advantage of the Squad copter is that it gives the squad its own tiny airforce, capable of conducting small strikes, but far more importantly being able to locate the enemy from a safe position / render seeming safe moments unsafe:

https://www.reddit.com/r/CombatFootage/comments/xuqje9/a_ukrainian_drone_dropping_a_munition_on_two/

A militarized copter would likely feature basic AI such as the ability to fly a designated route without radio control, as well as to locate targets based on thermal signature. They could be tremendously useful and dangerous. 

stancrist

From: stancrist

3-Oct

gatnerd said:

A major advantage of the Squad copter is that it gives the squad its own tiny airforce, capable of conducting small strikes...

Does the rifle squad really need its own tiny air force? 

And are the advantages outweighed by the drawbacks? 

The primary purpose of the rifle squad is close combat.

IMO, schnuersi is right -- a "squad copter" would hinder squad operations.

It would also increase the weight burden of the soldier assigned to carry it.

As it is, carry load will greatly increase if/when the M5 and M250 are fielded.

Since the squad will operate in conjunction with the rest of the platoon -- under direction of the platoon leader -- is it not more logical to have platoon headquarters operate drones?

Perhaps better yet would be to put the drones at company headquarters, which even in light infantry is equipped with vehicles in which the drones can be stowed and transported.

Refleks

From: Refleks

3-Oct

schnuersi said:

The counter defilade asset at squad level is something very specific and IMHO LIC and COIN driven


Perhaps in your country, but there has been great interest in counter defliade assets at the squad level by more than one western country since the mid 1990s, before the major shift in focus to LIC and COIN.
 

schnuersi said:

Concidering that a squad is part of a combined arms battlegroup the counter defilade asset is a call for fire support away.


In theory, sure, but this isn't reflective of reality.  First and foremost, even if your assertion was true -- that counter defilade assets are only useful in LIC/COIN (which I vehemently disagree with), it would still make sense to equip your forces with such assets because major western nations are still more likely to find themselves in a LIC/COIN conflict today than any other form of conflict, including conventional maneuver warfare with near peer threats, and one of the first lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan is that supporting arms are often limited in availability with restrictive ROE, particularly when fighting in built up areas.  Second, while we do need to dust off the capability to engage in conventional maneuver warfare in the wake of the LIC/COIN mindset of the last 20 years, one must also be careful to avoid the pitfall of over-correcting the other way - proper force structure and doctrine should be balanced and capable of operations across the full spectrum of warfare, and that includes LIC/COIN as well as conventional maneuver warfare.

Finally, nothing in my stance implies that having a counter defilade asset at squad level (when the technology is available today) precludes the use of supporting fires if the situation and ROE allows for it. These are not mutually exclusive.
 

schnuersi said:

Even if not available counter defilade is done by tactics. Supression fire onto the hostile position, the manoeuver elements close in and flush the enemy out with hand grenades (THE counter defilade weapon par excellence). A typical infantry squad has the assets to do that for at least 100 years now.


Yes, I'm aware. We can do better while maintaining the ability to conduct those tactics. This is not a controversial idea.
 

schnuersi said:

Furthermore the cargo drones that are proposed here are very easy to counter. And I am not talking about soficticated ECM or AD systems. It can be dones by tactics. Using positions with overhead concealment will reduce the effectiveness conciderably. Overhead cover will nullify it. The cargo drones also tend to by rather slow and for droping hover in place. Which makes it easy to shoot them down even without a FCS.
 

Actually they are not particularly easy to counter (for light infantry anyway), which is why they're frustrating Russia.  Regardless, I'm not referring to commercial drones dropping munitions in an improvised manner, so while the point regarding the drones that are hovering in place is irrelevant with regards to discrediting the applications of these munitions, it does actually bring up a good point - Russia is the nearest near peer threat on paper, and Ukrainians are using commercial drones with well known datalink and video link frequencies (2.4 / 5.8 ghz), so one would think it's trivial to counter them on the electronic front, and yet Russia is struggling to neutralize even these commercial drones.  Never mind military spec quads that can operate off of these commonly used commercial frequencies.  Details of countermeasures and counter-countermeasures is another discussion that can be had, but the punchline is that it would still a valuable asset and worthy addition the vast majority of the time.

schnuersi said:

IMHO its also foolish to assume that high value and highly important targets like bunkers or crucial defensive positions will not be protected against drone attacks as part of their design and the layout of the defenses in general.

I'm not assuming anything regarding this.

Weaponized drones today are like optics on rifles since the 90s. May have been a rare thing initially, but they will be commonplace going forward, and we should not be the last to figure that out.

  • Edited 04 October 2022 2:14  by  Refleks
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