Limitations of Guns as a Defence againstManoeuvring Air Weapons
In the near future strategic and other critical assets will be subject to attack from a newrange of air threats including highly accurate aircraft-launched weapons that offer longstand-off ranges, and are capable of travelling at high speed and manoeuvring at high
rates.This paper examines the value of current generation air-defence guns against this type ofhighly manoeuvrable stand-off weapon (SOW). The rationale for this study is that whilstguns may have the advantages of offering a low cost-per-shot and reasonable magazinecapacities, they are also severely limited in their abilities as they are only designed to fireat a predicted intercept point in space. As a result, should the target alter its directionduring an engagement, the target will no longer pass through the projectile’s flight path.This study uses simple probability theory to determine the number of gun munitions thatwould be required for a 50% chance of hitting a generic SOW capable of conductingmanoeuvres in any direction at the precise moment an air defence gun would have begunto open fire.Based on this approach, it has been determined that even under ideal conditions, the bestcurrent generation air defence guns, which either employ air bursting munitions with theirgreater area of influence, or low drag munitions fired from guns with extremely fast cyclicrates, would have little likelihood of success against a stand-off weapon capable ofmanoeuvring at high
rates, at engagement ranges greater than 500 m. Even then, dueconsideration would have to be given to any practical limitations and logistics associatedwith the number of guns that could be deployed on the battlefield and on the mobility ofany such arrangements.It must be pointed out that had the additional effects of high SOW transit speeds (i.e. mach5+), gun and computational error budgets as well as target terminal effectiveness beentaken into account, there would be little doubt that none of the current generation airdefence gun systems would have had any chance of success at preventing fast andmanoeuvrable SOWs from reaching their intended target.