Studying Battle Networks

A comprehensive study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments on the evolution of battle networks, based largely on electronics, concluded that as the networks became more sophisticated and essential to modern warfare, the competitive cycle of capability versus countermeasure accelerated until someone either lost or moved into another “competitive regime.” In air warfare, the study said, the clash between strike and integrated air defenses became so intense and expensive in the Vietnam War that the US leaped into the new regime of stealth to offset the rapid improvements in air defenses that relied heavily on radar. The study, which was requested and funded by DARPA, involved extensive analyses of the network competition in submarine warfare in World War II and the Cold War, and air combat in WWII, Vietnam, and Desert Storm. It concluded that the metrics used to determine what a network should do can have a major effect on its complexity and cost. An air defense net designed for “virtual attrition” by impeding attacks can be effective at lower cost than one intended to destroy large numbers of aircraft.