Table of



The primary focus of this chapter is the air and ground threat facing Patriot battalions and batteries in contingency theaters. The mature theater threat is not discussed, as the world is changing and the nature of this threat appears to be rapidly diminishing. Europe and the former Soviet Union have historically been viewed as the most likely areas of conflict for US forces. Recent Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) reductions in conventional forces, combined with the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the unification of Germany, have caused the threat to ebb in Europe. The threat is more diverse now than ever before and includes almost all regions of the world. Regional powers continue to increase the sophistication and size of their military forces, thus posing a significant threat that the US Army must address.


The threat in a contingency theater may lack the capability to conduct a massive Soviet-style air operation. However, most regional power adversaries have significant numbers of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, as well as sophisticated tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs). It is important for Patriot commanders to take this threat into account because even a small air force can make it difficult to establish and maintain a successful lodgment operation, especially if that air force is well-led and attempts to retain the initiative.

Rest of world (ROW) threats are many. Identifying each country, its tactics, weapon systems, and capabilities is an overwhelming task for a battalion S2 officer. Identifying and defining the basic characteristics of the primary air threat in the contingency area are very important. Combining the primary threat characteristics with a thorough IPB is the starting point for identifying the threat in any contingency operation. IPB is discussed in Appendix C.

Listed in the following text are the primary threats to air defense in a contingency operation. A working knowledge of these threats is needed to effectively counter them.


A drone is a land, sea, or air vehicle that is remotely or automatically controlled. There are several categories of drones, the most common air threats being UAVs and RPVs. A UAV is a powered air vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic force to provide air vehicle lift, and is designed to carry a payload. A category or subset of UAV is the RPV. An RPV is an unmanned air vehicle controlled by a person from a distant location (once it is in operation) through a communications link.

Types of UAVs

The US military has classified four types of UAVs: close range, short range, medium range, and endurance. Categories and missions for these UAV types are identified in Table 2-1.

Mission of UAVs

The missions of UAVs vary. Their primary use is to obtain intelligence on opposing forces with reconnaissance, aerial surveillance, and targeting data. However, they have been used as decoys for aircraft and missiles. Using special electronic countermeasures (ECM) payloads, UAVs have been used to activate surface-to-air missile (SAM) radars. UAVs can also be used in laser designation, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) radar target acquisition, harassment bombing, and chemical detection.


Rotary-wing (RW) aircraft in the hands of regional power adversaries are limited in numbers as well as in operational effectiveness. Because these countries have not yet developed a sophisticated doctrine for combined arms, their use of RW aircraft will likely be limited. Most RW aircraft in the contingency threat originate from the CIS, France, and Germany. Many countries have RW equipment and tactics that come from many different sources. This may inhibit their use over a prolonged period due to maintenance, repair, and resupply equirements. The most common RW aircraft within the third world are the Hip, Hind, Gazelle, and B0 105. Additionally, there are many RW aircraft, now used for transport or liaison, that can easily be converted for combat missions. The avionics sophistication of the RW aircraft is also limited. Night operations are virtually nonexistent. Basic tactics such as flying nap of the earth and flying in pairs are to be expected.


There are two basic types of surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs). They are tactical ballistic and cruise. Tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs) are rocket-powered during the initial stages of flight only. Therefore, the missile follows a ballistic trajectory once the rocket burns out. The long-range ballistic missiles fly much of their trajectories outside the atmosphere. Cruise missiles (CMs) use a booster rocket during the launch stage but during flight depend on an air-breathing engine similar to those used in airplanes. They may fly at low or very low altitudes. In the next decade, cruise missiles will pose a serious challenge. ROW countries will have access to land attack CM technology. The guidance systems use navigational signals transmitted by satellites. A receiver, costing only a few thousand dollars, enables the missiles to have an accuracy within 100 meters. CM warheads may include such variants as cluster munitions, intelligent submunitions, and fuel-air explosives.

Tactical Ballistic Missiles

TBMs are perhaps the most alarming air threat in the ROW regions. Commonly known as the "poor man's air force," their proliferation was rapid during the 1980s and will continue through the 1990s. Regional powers have access to many different types of missiles, some available with ranges extending to thousands of kilometers. Short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) are missiles with a range of 200 kilometers or less. The most common SRBMs in the third world are the free rocket over ground (FROG) and the SS-21. The Scud and SS-12 are also abundant. These are considered medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) with ranges from 200 to 900 kilometers.

Missile Availability

Many countries already possess the capability to manufacture their own rocket systems. These countries then deploy or export them to other countries. Presently, countries that have deployed ballistic missiles are Libya, North Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Iran, Kuwait, South Yemen, Taiwan, Cuba, North Korea, Pakistan, Algeria, and South Korea. A correlation exists between the acquisition of missiles and the acquisition of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) programs. Three countries are believed to have nuclear weapons in stock or ready for easy assembly. They are India, Israel, and Pakistan. Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Iraq have significant nuclear programs. Countries believed to have stockpiles of chemical weapons are Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, North Korea, South Korea, South Africa, Syria, and Taiwan. The four countries alleged to have stockpiles of biological weapons are Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Syria. The next two tables outline the ROW countries that most likely have ballistic missiles.

Political or Military Use

TBMs can be used as political weapons or military weapons. Because there are few long-range targeting assets in the third world, it is most likely that political, religious, and economic targets will be attacked, rather than strictly tactical or operational targets. Iraq's use of ballistic missiles during the Persian Gulf War is an indication of how these missiles might be used in the future, especially if they are equipped with chemical or nuclear warheads. Attacking an enemy's population centers creates psychological terror. Unless such missiles are credibly countered, public or international support for friendly military operations may be weakened.

Military Use

Militarily, TBMs can be used in fire support or preemptive strikes. They maximize the advantages of speed, surprise, and disruption. Ballistic missiles can be used in all weather conditions and at night.


Fixed-wing (FW) aircraft will always be a priority for the Air Force. However, the ADA community must stay in tune with the ROW aircraft imports and avionics developments. Since the Persian Gulf War, several Middle East countries have sought to replace their aging aircraft. Most Middle East countries are turning to the US for imports. The CIS, France, and Britain are also exporters of aircraft and aircraft systems. It is less expensive and easier to improve aircraft by advanced avionics than purchase new aircraft. Therefore, many older aircraft may be used with updated avionics and weapons.


To effectively counter the regional threat, a thorough evaluation of the threat's capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses must be conducted. The Patriot battalion commander should ensure that intelligence information on regions and countries that may become areas of conflict for the battalion is continuously gathered, evaluated, and disseminated. The battalion's intelligence officer should keep abreast of this information and, immediately following alert notification, be able to address the questions in Table 2-4.


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. During Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia, Patriot units deployed on the heels of airborne units. When the threat of TBM attack exists, Patriot will likely be deployed early because the defense of the lodgment is so critical to the rest of the operation. The lodgment is the base of operations for US forces deployed from CONUS. Assets likely to be targeted within the lodgment would include seaports, airfields, lines of communications, command and control headquarters, logistical resources, and ground forces. Sabotage and terrorist actions remain a danger, and commanders must ensure that their soldiers stay alert to this threat as well as the sentiments of the local populace. Also to be considered is the threat to friendly population centers and commercial activities (Figure 2-1).


As friendly forces begin combat operations or movement beyond the lodgment, the enemy is likely to employ TBMs, CMs, UAVs, and 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--some examples are the FROG, SS-21, and SS-23.

TBM delivery of persistent chemicals or tactical nuclear weapons could cut off support for forward forces. Medium-range missiles, like the Scud and its variants, could be used against Patriot units in rear areas, as well as against command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) nodes and logistics support facilities. Air defense of the lodgment area remains critical because the threat against it may exist throughout the operation.

The threat facing Patriot units in contingency theaters is diverse and capable. The air battle in such a theater may encompass the full range of threat TBMs, CMs, UAVs, aircraft, and electronic warfare. 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.