Not sure how to go about designing that new tank or anti-aircraft missile the generals are clamoring for? Find out in this sprawling and very technical primer on systems engineering.
Debut author Bar-Shlomo, an Israeli engineering professor, offers a wide-ranging overview of the multifarious requirements of modern armaments—focusing on missiles, artillery, and tanks—that are so complex that they are no longer weapons but systems. Topics covered include performance-tracked or aerial platforms and the constraints of mobility and counter-defense against attack; navigation systems that must guide missiles up to thousands of miles and homing devices that keep them on the tail of evasive targets, like dogs pursuing hares; propulsion systems and the many trade-offs to be made between fuel, weight, and range; sensing and surveillance systems that let soldiers find and recognize targets and alert them to incoming threats; and warheads and the factors that influence their size and accuracy. The book also examines operational research that works out doctrine for using a weapons system in battle; economic cost-benefit analyses; and management processes and politics, which often involve heavy lobbying to get hide-bound brass to countenance an unfamiliar weapon concept. Bar-Shlomo treats all these subjects in lavish detail, with many tables of data on everything from the characteristics of explosives to the optimal weight of metal in a fragmentation shell, and throws in illustrative case studies of Israeli weapons systems like the Iron Dome anti-rocket missile battery. The text, which delves into game theory, queueing theory, detection theory, and a lot of other theories to ground the discussion, is lucid, if a bit dry, but also heavily mathematical, with hundreds of hairy equations and lengthy numerical calculations. It’s not for casual readers. But students pursuing graduate degrees in engineering with an eye to working for defense contractors should find this an effective framework to organize their thinking.
A solid academic treatment of basic concepts in military design and procurement.