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Chapter 2


The primary focus of this chapter is the air and missile threat facing Patriot battalions and batteries in theaters. The threat is more diverse now than ever before and may be encountered in virtually every part of the world.


2-1. The threat in the most probable, identified theaters may include theater missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. Patriot commanders must be knowledgeable of these threats because of the danger posed to deployed forces and assets. In the paragraphs below, threats are described in terms of their characteristics, capabilities, payloads, as well as future trends. Classified threat characteristics may be found in FM 3-01.13.


2-2. TBMs are surface-launched missiles, normally employed in theaters to attack population centers, airfields, seaports of debarkation, logistical areas, and troop concentrations. The enemy TBMs of primary interest to Patriot commanders are the short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), which have ranges up to 1,000 kilometers. These TBMs are usually launched from highly mobile, difficult-to-detect transporter erector launchers and have the capability to carry conventional as well as nuclear, biological, or chemical payloads. Most TBMs are single-stage missiles with relatively modest targeting accuracies (about 1 kilometer circular error probability (CEP) for missiles with a 1000-kilometer range). However, state-of-the-art guidance technologies can improve this accuracy to 50 meters or less.

2-3. TBMs are inherently difficult to defend against. Characteristics that increase TBM effectiveness includes reduced radar cross-sections, high terminal velocities, a variety of difficult-to-kill warheads, and an all-weather salvo launch capability. These characteristics may affect Patriot's detection abilities and engagement timelines, which may result in short notification times for defending forces.

2-4. The major TBM trends are improved accuracy, increased range, and greater payload capacity. TBMs will become more tactically effective. Integration of global positioning systems and terminal guidance features are the current focus of improving accuracy. Tactical utility will increase with improvements in accuracy, range, and payload, allowing them to more effectively target assets that have limited or no mobility. These targets include units in assembly areas, logistical concentrations, command posts, and air defense sites. TBMs can be used to exploit choke points and to create obstacles. Potential adversaries equipped with WMD warheads may also fire them against area targets such as population centers, routes, and likely avenues of approach.


2-5. Cruise missiles (CMs) are unmanned, self-guided aerial vehicles capable of sustaining flight through aerodynamic lift while carrying a warhead or other lethal payload. In a theater environment, they are used to target population centers, airfields and seaports of debarkation, command and control centers, logistical areas, and troop concentrations. CMs are reliable, accurate, survivable, and lethal. They can be launched from a variety of land, sea, and air platforms. They have sophisticated guidance and propulsion systems that allow them to cruise long distances (up to 3000 kilometers) at altitudes as low as 50 meters. They can deliver a variety of payloads with precision accuracy of 10 meters or less when equipped with terminal guidance seekers.

2-6. Defense against CMs is difficult for several reasons. In flight, they are difficult to detect because they have extremely low RCSs and can fly at very low altitudes, often below the radar horizon. They can further evade detection by using natural terrain features such as mountains or valleys to mask their approach, and can attack defended areas from virtually any direction. They carry a wide array of conventional and NBC warheads, to include individually targetable submunitions.

2-7. Threat trends that are being seen, include an increase in land attack CM variants, including missiles with greater range, improved accuracy, reduced radar cross section, and increased lethality. Emerging CMs are incorporating new technologies in airframe and warhead designs, propulsion systems, and improved guidance systems making them accurate and smart. Stealth technologies can be incorporated into cruise missiles, making them an even more challenging target to air defense.


2-8. ASMs are air-launched, precision-guided missiles designed to strike discrete ground targets such as radars, armored vehicles, bridges and other "point" targets. They are similar to air-launched CMs, but are usually smaller, have shorter ranges, and lack the wings and aerodynamic lift associated with CM flights. ASMs are launched by fighter-bomber aircraft and employ a variety of guidance schemes including radio-command, laser, antiradiation homing, or electro-optical guidance systems. Note: A CM can be classified as an air to surface missile.

2-9. ASMs are an extremely lethal threat because of their versatility and pinpoint accuracy. Defense against ASMs is difficult because of their low RCSs, high velocities, and comparatively long standoff ranges. ASMs that employ antiradiation homing systems are referred to as antiradiation missiles (ARMs); they represent the greatest threat to ADA, field artillery (counterbattery), aviation, and intelligence radars. An enemy aircraft firing an ARM normally attempts to launch from outside the lethal envelope of the air defense system defending the asset.

2-10. ASMs are becoming smarter and more versatile, reliable, accurate, and lethal. New capabilities may include a lock-on-after launch or loitering capability to attack enemy radars (for ARM variants). Newer missiles may use dual mode seekers for increased reliability and combat capability.


2-11. UAVs are unmanned aircraft used to perform a variety of missions, ranging from reconnaissance and battlefield surveillance to attack and electronic warfare. Enemy UAVs conducting reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) missions are used to detect, identify, and locate friendly targets and conduct battle damage assessments. UAVs equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and data links can provide near real-time targeting for fire support systems, maneuver forces, and aircraft. Those UAVs that are used to conduct electronic warfare (EW) are employed to jam C2 centers and sensor nodes.

2-12. UAV payloads consist of daylight television, infrared video, and film cameras (for reconnaissance missions). Other major payload categories include EW, electronic intelligence, radar, and attack warheads. Several threat nations are developing and fielding antiradiation homing UAVs with the primary mission of attacking battlefield radio frequency emitters (radars, communications). These platforms have a variety of launch options and are usually fire-and-forget systems. Other attack UAV systems employ terminal guidance to kill tanks or fighting vehicles.

2-13. UAVs are difficult to detect, track, or engage because they have relatively low RCSs, and low flight speeds. In addition, their flight profiles take full advantage of terrain, thus masking their presence and increasing survivability. UAVs conducting RSTA missions fly at altitudes safe from small arms fire. In addition, UAVs can stand off and detect from up to 25 kilometers.

2-14. Future UAV roles, in addition to information gathering, will include electronic combat, decoy, ground attack, and suppression of enemy air defense. Standoff ranges may exceed 50 kilometers. A significant new capability involves the direct linkage of a reconnaissance UAV to an artillery unit's fire direction center. This linkage provides near-real-time information to ground commanders, followed by immediate fire and damage assessment. UAVs are also good candidates for stealth technology and spin-off technologies from cruise missile development programs.


2-15. Although enemy fixed-wing aircraft no longer present the most challenging threat to air defenders, they remain a formidable threat. They are used to perform a variety of missions in both offensive and defensive counterair operations, as well as-air interdiction, strategic attack, close air support, EW, and RSTA. They can be used to attack friendly troops, convoys, armored vehicles, C2 centers, air defense systems, and other battlefield targets.

2-16. Fixed-wing aircraft are challenging to air defenders for several reasons. First, they can employ a variety of munitions, including guns, rockets, CMs and ASMs. Integrated navigation/bombing computers and related mission equipment provide the newer combat aircraft with a precision-strike capability day or night and in bad weather. New aircraft also incorporate such features as radar warning receivers, on-board jammers, chaff, flares, and a lower radar cross section to improve survivability and mission success rate. The production of fixed-wing aircraft throughout the world increases the probability that opposing forces may employ the same aircraft in a conflict, thus aggravating the already challenging problem of identification.

2-17. Future technological advances in low-observable materials, aerodynamics, power plants, armaments, and aircraft systems will result in highly capable, but very expensive, aircraft. With the costs of new fighter aircraft increasing, aircraft inventories will probably decline. Increased costs will spur a move toward multirole capabilities (rather than dedicated, single-mission platforms) and increased use of precision, and standoff munitions. Aircraft survivability will continue to improve with the incorporation of advanced electronic warfare suites, advanced countermeasures development, and reductions in radar and infrared signatures. The upgrading of current aircraft (versus replacement with next-generation aircraft) will become the norm.


2-18. Rotary-wing aircraft are used to perform a variety of missions including attack, RSTA, EW, assault, and transport. They can be used to attack troops, armored vehicles, convoys, C2 centers, and other battlefield targets, including air defense systems. Weaponry and payloads include guns, rockets, antitank guided missiles, mines, laser systems, and electronic countermeasure systems.

2-19. Rotary-wing aircraft is difficult for air defense systems to detect, acquire, and engage because they are capable of flying at very low altitudes, using terrain features to mask their presence. Improved fire control and weapon capabilities enable rotary-wing aircraft to search, acquire, and fire at ground targets from longer standoff ranges, thus increasing their survivability and effectiveness.

2-20. Future trends in rotary-wing aircraft include enhanced fire control and aircraft survivability. The most sophisticated technology will be found in dedicated attack helicopters. Six trends stand out—

  • Retrofit of existing airframes with modular upgrades.

  • Modular equipment (the main focus being electro-optic sensors, weapons, and countermeasure equipment) that facilitates maintenance and reduces cost.

  • Expanded night and adverse weather capabilities.

  • Improved fire control systems and engagement capability (standoff hovering attacks at greater distances with much improved accuracy).

  • Improved infrared countermeasures against infrared-seeking missiles.

  • Improved antitank guided missiles with ranges in excess of 10 kilometers.


2-21. Large caliber rockets (LCRs) are organic to field artillery units. They are expected to remain the most serious threat to personnel and to all but the most heavily protected vehicles and other equipment.

2-22. LCRs are classified as those of 200 mm and greater. They are unguided, surface-launched, indirect fire rockets with ranges that may exceed 100 kilometers. They can be fired from single or multiple-launch platform. The ability of LCR to deliver high volumes of fire and a variety of warheads makes them ideal weapon systems for fire support missions.


2-23. Electronic warfare (EW) is military action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to attack the enemy. EW can cause misinterpretation of the information received by electronic systems. The three major subdivisions within electronic warfare are: electronic attack, electronic protection, and electronic warfare support.

2-24. Adversaries can use EW as an essential component of warfare. EW can be used in conjunction with counterintelligence to protect their command and control while attacking Patriot locations. Electronic warfare, used effectively by the enemy with maneuver and fire support, can locate, identify, damage, and possibly destroy Patriot battalions and batteries.


2-25. Weapons that are capable of a high order of destruction, and can be used in such a manner as to destroy large numbers of people. Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) can be high explosives, nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons.

2-26. The use of WMD can have an enormous impact on the conduct of all operations. Not only does their sheer killing and destructive power redefine the tactical battlefield, but the strategic, operational, psychological, and political impacts of their use affect campaign designs. The effects of these weapons can cause large-scale shifts in tactical objectives, phases, and courses of action at all levels.


2-27. During entry operations, friendly heavy forces will normally enter a lodgment through seaport and airport areas that are secured from ground attack by light and special operations forces. However, long-range air attacks and missile strikes remain a major concern. During disembarkment into the lodgment, heavy forces are most likely to be attacked by enemy missiles, FW aircraft, and artillery. Once the lodgment has been secured from ground attack, Patriot units may be deployed at any time. When the threat of TBM attack exists, Patriot will likely be deployed early because the defense of the lodgment is critical to the rest of the operation. The lodgment is the base of operations for US forces deployed from CONUS or OCONUS. Assets likely to be targeted include seaports, airfields, lines of communications, command and control headquarters, logistical resources, ground forces, population centers and commercial activities. Sabotage and terrorist actions also pose a danger, and commanders must ensure their soldiers are aware of this threat as well.


2-28. As friendly forces begin combat operations or movement beyond the lodgment, the enemy is likely to employ TBMs, CMs, UAVs, RW, and FW aircraft against maneuver units and their support mechanisms. Missiles likely to be used in forward areas include the full range of short-range TBMs-example is the SS-21 missile.

2-29. TBM delivery of persistent chemicals or tactical nuclear weapons could cut off support for forward forces. Theater missiles could be used against Patriot units in rear areas, as well as against C4I nodes and logistics support facilities. Air and missile defense of the lodgment area remains critical because the threat against it may exist throughout the operation. Lodgment areas ensure the continuous landing of troops and materiels. Because they provide sufficient maneuver space for the buildup of combat powers, air defense must protect its force and all selected geopolitical assets from aerial surveillance during this time.

2-30. The threat facing Patriot units in all theaters is diverse and capable. The air battle in such a theater may encompass the full range of threat TBMs, CMs, UAVs, and aircraft. In some cases, we may face military organizations that are larger than our own. Tactics, weapon systems, training, and capabilities vary from region to region. The threat may possess weapons that are in some ways superior to ours. The key to winning is thorough intelligence preparation of the battlespace.

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