Free Weapons Systems Analysis Term Paper Sample
Weapons System Analysis
In a bid to increase their military strength and neutralize potential military threats, countries such as the USA have been slowly developing weapon technology that will give them an upper hand during a war. However, the progress is slow as there is no current threat hence no justifiable reason to create and test the weapons. In the last decade, there has been a drastic increase in the development of stealth technology. Stealth military technology is resourceful in the collection of intelligence information as well as supplanting enemy forces in full-scale war. Countries such as USA, China, Russia and Germany are in the forefront in the development of weapons that employ stealth technology.
Stealth technology also referred to as low observable technology is a weapon system being designed to make aircrafts, submarines, missiles and even satellites invisible to enemy states. Normally, these military machineries would be detected by use of radar infrared. Therefore, stealth technology can be termed as one, a counter radar measure. Radar uses emissions such as radio frequency spectrum, audio and visible light to detect the presence of military machines. Stealth technology is meant to reduce the emission of the above mentioned so as to reduce chances of radar detection. Stealth technology can also be termed as a passive avoidance of detection of any kind. The main goal is to know what aspect of detection wants to be concealed. Aircrafts can be detected by sight, by the heat they emit, by the gas produced, by the sound among many other aspects. The technology is meant to come up with a way of providing zero detections. To the point that an aircraft may be flying across the sky and when a civilian and military personnel looks up, they are unable to detect the unmanned or manned military aerial vehicles.
The idea for the employment of stealth technology was conceptualized during the two world wars. The Germans attempted to use a transparent covering material known as Cellon to attempt reducing the visibility of their aircrafts. However this attempt failed as the material reflected sunlight hence making it more prone to detection. It was also noted that the Cellon could not withstand the high temperatures in the sky, not the friction thereof. Another almost successful attempt was by Britain when they modified a military craft known as the SST Class airship. They modified its engine to silence it and used as a black bag to cover its gas as the gas produced by such aircrafts appear white against the sky. This craft was far more efficient; the only challenge was that it could only operate at night. As a result, the British also abandoned the idea.
In order to understand the modern development in stealth technology, one needs to understand how radar operates. The understanding of radar will enlighten on how stealth technology seeks to counter it. Radar captures mainly radio signals that are reflected by the metallic body of an aircraft. The radar is continually reducing signals; the signal once reflected by the body goes off in all directions hence the radar can capture back this signal. The radar then calculates the distance of the aircraft based at the time the signal takes to travel back to the source. Therefore, stealth technology aims at reducing the radar reflective capacity of aircrafts.
Radar Cross Section is the measure of detectability of an object by radar. It measures the power emitted by certain machinery that disposes it to be detected. Several measures have been developed to reduce this. First is shaping an aircraft like a diamond. The planes and sharp edges radiate the entire radar signal away from the receiver making it impossible for the radar to receive bounced back signals, hence the aircraft goes undetected. The first model of this kind was called the hopeless diamond developed by Russian Scientists. If the aircraft is carrying any weapons or armoury, they are supposed to be transported in the aircraft. Any bumps or curves on a plane make it easier to be detected. Fans and blades are also not externally fixed as they produce too much energy.
The other method is by using a special cover that absorbs radio signal. The cover is referred to as Radar Absorbing Material. The material absorbs part of the radar signal and converts it into heat reducing its energy. Other suggestions that have been raised that bring minimal solutions are fixing the gas emitter on the top side of the plane to reduce visibility or to put coolants in areas of the aircraft that are prone to release more heat. The material can be formed from carbon or iron. However, using the Radar Absorbing Material is disadvantageous as it weighs down the aircraft hence reducing its speed. Along with this, a technique known as active cancellation has been applied. The cancellation involves destroying the echo produced by Radar; hence no signal is transferred back to the radar receiver.
The stealth aircrafts are used against heavily armed enemy camps. They are meant to gather high-level security details. They are therefore mainly dispatched around the main command and control centre of an enemy camp. The data picked may be in the form of images or radio communications.
The Geneva Conventions came up with laws relating to war. Although there was no specific mention of autonomous weapons, it prohibited weapons that cause mass suffering of people. It also prohibited weapons that cause destruction indiscriminately. The autonomous nature of stealth aircrafts is bound to cause such in two folds. First of all, the weapons are designed to be invisible to most methods of detection meaning that a targeted location may not have ample time to prepare for the attack or ensure safety of citizens. Secondly, due to the autonomous nature, the aircrafts may release fire indiscriminately causing harm to civilians and military personnel. It is also to be noted that the stealth aircrafts can ferry weapons of any form including chemicals that are prohibited as weapons of war.
Stealth weapons are morally wrong. The tactic of camouflage has been used since time in memorial especially among hunters. However, this was in relation to non-human creatures. When attacking a human opponent, the basic rule is, do not attack your enemy with their backs turned. Bravery was recognized as facing a challenge when both opponents are prepared. The stealth weapons are used as surprise weapons; hence the other party has no opportunity to defend themselves. Article 25 of the Hague Regulations on Land Warfare prohibits the attack of unarmed or defenceless cities. By the fact that stealth aircrafts are undetectable, the sites that they may attack qualify as defenceless. The attack of such sights that, in this case, includes all targeted sites is both legally and morally wrong. It may be claimed that the stealth aircrafts are semi-autonomous. However with the improvement of technology, the aircrafts may be heading towards the same path as drones and automatic robots.
However, some authors have argued that failure to use autonomous stealth technology is a moral wrong. They claim that if there is an option of saving lives it should be used as it is the morally and ethically the right thing to do. Therefore, stealth technology protects the conscience of the state using it as there are lesser human casualties, at least from the end of the attacking nation. The argument is based on the assumption that these aircrafts will be precise hence not “overstep” their set targeted areas.
International humanitarian laws advocate principles such as distinction and proportionality in war. Stealth aircrafts used in war exercise neither distinction nor proportionality. The principle of distinction entails that an attacker to be aware of his target and distinguish combatants from civilians. Whereas the principle of proportionality refers to the balancing of goal, between anticipated military advantage and the civilian casualty and general damages accrued as a result. Neither does it protect soldiers from unnecessary suffering and cruelty that is also a consideration applied when using weapons as provided by the International Humanitarian Laws.
It is argued that stealth technology that is autonomous will cause greater political advantage. The reason being that it will lead to less human involvement in a war hence fewer casualties. There is, however, a high chance that these weapons will be fighting hand in hand with human soldiers. For example, the stealth aircrafts are deployed to control cites of an enemy state. At these sites, there are human soldiers carrying out various activities including control of machinery. In such a situation, the soldiers are at a disadvantage as they are in no position to defend themselves, neither are they in a position to counter-attack as they were not aware in the first place that they had been targeted.
It is also said that it will be less costly to states as much would not use in arming military personnel. However, this excludes human involvement in a war leaving the fate of enemy states to machines. The main question one would ask is whether these machines are fighting against other machines if this is the scenario, and then this leads to a worse situation known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). This is a scenario where two rival states are using military weapons of high technology hence resulting in almost equal destruction on both sides. It is also not a guarantee that civilians will not be caught up in the exchange. The autonomous character of stealth technology lacks the human ability to distinguish machinery from persons.
The assumption by states that the use of automatic stealth aircrafts reduces loss of lives may motivate states to engage in constant wars to get whatever they need. As a result of this, states with this technology can easily manipulate states that appear weak due to lack of advancement in technology. The end scenario would be like colonization only in a different dimension and level. Stealth technology, therefore, raises the emotional toll from the state making war a more appealing solution to problems.
The invention of stealth aircrafts has both advantages and disadvantages. However, there are no set laws that regulate their application. A stealth aircraft has a lot of other smaller technologies added to it such as the ability to carry weapons and its autonomous nature. The technologies should all be controlled and unified worldwide. There is also a prerequisite to ensure that these aircrafts are not used to acquire private data both from individuals or the government. Data acquired through this uncouth manner can be used for blackmail or to force a nation to act against its will in order to protect its citizen. The international humanitarian Laws provide for the right to privacy and sovereignty of nations. The use of stealth technology is a compromise to both. Stealth technology raises the question of accountability. In a case where an automatic stealth aircraft causes mass destruction and loss of lives, who is to be held accountable? There have been suggestions that a law should be created to determine accountability in such cases.
Technology that protects human life is a positive technology. However the technology that assumes to protect lives at the time of use but leads to a greater casualty risk later on is not a positive technology. Stealth technology may be this kind of technology. However, with the current trend, it is highly unlikely that this technology will be abolished. All that is hoped for is that sober and clear laws will be developed to control and contain any emerging situations. For this to materialize, there must be a mutual understanding between nations.
Jensen, Geoffrey , and Andrew Wiest. 2008. War in the Age of Technology: Myriad Faces of Modern Armed Conflict. New York: NYU Press.
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Heather, Roff. 2011. "Responsibilities, Liabilities and Lethal Robots." In Killing in War, by Jeff MacMahan, 133-145. London: Oxford University Press.
Sparrow, Robert. 2013. "Robotic Weapons and the Future of War." In New Wars and New Soldiers: Military Ethics in the Contemporary World, by Paolo Tripodi and Jessica Wolfendale, 118-128. New York: Ashgate Publishing.
Wallach, Wendell, and Colin Allen. 2010. Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong. New York: OUP.
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