It seems that network centric warfare (NCW) is the phrase of the moment in many armies and airforces.
But many that use it do not fully understand what it means. In some places the meaning is clear, critical and demands everyday solutions.
When you talk with the Israeli Air Force (IAF), you hear the phrase a lot. The reason is obvious – in recent years the IAF has attacked thousands of targets, mainly in Lebanon and Gaza in the Mediterranean and, according to the international press, in places as far away as Sudan.
There was a common denominator to all the targets that were attacked or allegedly targeted by Israeli jet fighters or combat helicopters – the need to know when the target was vulnerable. But even more important was the need to know that it was a legal target.
To achieve this companies such as Rafael are developing very fast and reliable communication networks that can take the output of a sensor and present it to all the relevant people in such a way that a green light for an attack can be given in seconds.
In many cases that is the timeframe to achieve a precise hit without affecting the surrounding area.
This is, in my opinion, only the first phase of NCW.
The elusiveness of the targets and their “popping up” simultaneously will demand that a great part of the loop will be fully automatic.
Will that happen? Not in the near future. But circumstances will stretch the capabilities of NCW to a point where a change will be required to the way technology rules the combat.