NatSecTech - Weapon Systems Evaluation– Intelligent Weapon Power Scores

NatSecTech - Weapon Systems Evaluation– Intelligent Weapon Power Scores

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 15:46
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By Navneet Bhushan

Predicting combat outcomes between two military forces - armed, organized, developed and evolved over a period of time is not a trivial problem. In fact, it is one of the most complex ones. Human mind and its various intellectual faculties and produce in terms of sciences and judgments, however, has never shied away from attempting to solve such problems, even within the limitations of fog of war, substantial difficulty in understanding the ways of war – especially intense combat and tactics, strategy, plans and military operations designed by army commanders of various hues and colors.

One of the ways to solve this most complex problem is to develop mathematical models of combat between two military forces. This is further exacerbated by the increasing impact of changes in technology and new-age combat systems that are emerging continuously and many times in a disruptive manner. One of the key sub-problems under this gamut of intellectual human foray is to estimate and predict the performance and effectiveness of a weapon system in real combat.

One way to do so is to assign a number to different weapon systems to indicate and reflect its potential to contribute to the combat. Let’s assume, a score of 1 to a rifle indicating it produces 1 unit (arbitrary unit) of combat value in a real combat, and an artillery gun produces 100 units of combat value and a battle Tank produces 1000 units of combat value.

It is like in chess you assign one point to pawn, 3 points to Knight and Bishop and 5 points to rook and 9 points to Queen. King is not assigned any “combat value” as it is the “Target”. Assigning such points or scores to various arms and weapon systems, however, is not as straightforward, though one can use some form of expert judgment to assign relative combat value to each weapon system. These can be used for comparison of two opposing forces.

Fire Power Scores

There exist various techniques for force comparison taking into account quality or effectiveness of weapons besides the quantity of weapons held by opposing forces. These were commonly referred to as Fire Power Scores (FPS) methodologies. Basic idea in FPS methodologies is to assign a numerical value to different weapons indicating their war-making capability. The aggregated product of quantity and fire­power scores of various weapons in a force gives the Force Strength (FS) of the force.

Various firepower score methodologies have been developed on the basis of expert judgment, historical data analysis and combat simulation. Some of these methodologies are Weapon Effectiveness Index (WEI)/Weapon Unit Value (WUV) which is based on expert   judgment, Potential Anti-Potential (PAP) Method which uses combat simulations, and Operational Lethality Index (OLI) based on historical data analysis, etc.

Firepower Scores to Weapon Power Scores

Most of the FPS methodologies for so called static analyses of combat give less importance to other factors such as self-protection capability of weapon system, ability to operate in all weather conditions and at night time, etc. In 1998, author proposed augmentation of FPS with survivability of the weapon system to give a realistic picture of combat potential of a force. The new score was termed Weapon Power Score (WPS). Later in author’s book [1], Weapon Power Scores were modified and extended to incorporate other factors such as on-board self-protection capability, operability and ability to communicate with other weapon systems through Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) links.  Expert judgement has been used for the evaluation of WPS.

The evaluation of WPS involves assigning a numerical value to each weapon system of Armed Forces of adversaries indicating its combat effectiveness. WPS is defined as

WPS = Operational Lethality Index (OLI) ´ (1+Self Protection Index (SPI)) ´

            (1+ Operability Index (OI)) ´ (1+Integration Index (II))                                    (1)          


Lethality of a weapon is expressed as Operational Lethality Index (OLI). In this method, empirical formulae are provided for determining lethality indices of different weapon systems. The method divides all weapon systems into two broad categories, namely mobile fighting machines and non-mobile fighting machines.  For non-mobile weapons the OLI is defined as a function of various factors such as Rate of Fire, Number of Potential Targets per Strike, Range Factor, etc. For mobile fighting machines, the OLI is calculated by adding the separately calculated OLIs of all of the weapons on the mobile fighting machine and multiplying this result by several performance factors. The methodology is valid only for land warfare with close air support for army operations.


Besides lethality, it is observed that other factors such as on-board self-protection, operability and capability to get integrated with C3I system also plays important roles in weapon effectiveness. Weapon capability is enhanced if the weapon has characteristics that improve its ability to survive in the battle.


The characteristics may include on-board radars, decoys/chaff, Electronic Counter Measures (ECM), Electronic Support Measures (ESM), armor protection, etc. There are certain on-board systems that enhance the self-protection capability of the weapon system. This is reflected in the Self-Protection Index (SPI). The SPI takes value in the range (0,1), is added to 1 and the result is multiplied with OLI.


The multiplication indicates that the lethality of the weapon system is considered to be contributing to effectiveness and the extent to which the weapon system has on-board self-protection capabilities improves its effectiveness. The value of SPI for various weapon systems also takes into account the environment in which the weapon system will be operating. Thus, for example, SPI for infantry weapons is considered as 0.85 as it has been observed the infantry casualties in a battle are usually 10 per cent to 15 per cent.  


The effectiveness of a weapon system also depends upon its ability to operate in adverse weather/environment conditions and night-time operations. This is reflected in the Operability Index (OI) of the weapon system.  The OI indicates the ability of the weapon system to operate in adverse weather and night-time operations.

The value of OI is chosen from the interval (0,1), added to 1 and is multiplied to the product of  OLI and (1+ SPI) indicating the fact that a weapon which can operate only under ideal conditions will have effectiveness as OLI ´ (1+ SPI) (i.e., OI = 0). However, if the weapon can operate in extreme conditions as well, then its effectiveness is enhanced i.e., OI > 0 indicating the flexibility of the weapon system.

Another factor enhancing effectiveness of weapon system is their ability to get integrated in the C3I system. This factor depends upon the communication links of the weapon system with various Surveillance systems and Command and Control systems. This is represented as the Integration Index (II) of the weapon system. The value of II is also chosen from the interval (0,1).

Network Centric Warfare and Weapon Power Scores

After 1991 Gulf war, and near the end of the last millennium, the concept of Network Centric Warfare (NCW) was projected as a radically different way to prosecute wars compared to the existing ways which were considered as extrapolation of past wars. The network centricity in Warfare is enabled by advances made in technologies for what is called the C4ISR (Command Control Communication Computers Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) Systems. Combat systems-based force or platform centric combat forces of the previous eras were needed to transform to Network centric combat forces to take care of fundamental shifts in the way networks are replacing hierarchies in various domains – defense, business, governance or even in society at large.


The Weapon Power Scores were enhanced to include the C4ISR effectiveness assessment on the combat potential of a force. However, instead of adding newer factors to the WPS equation, the C4ISR were added as an add-on index to the combat-based nodes which still relied on weapon power – substantially lethality. We called the new integrated index as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) force index (Please see [1])

Towards Intelligent Weapon Power Scores (iWPS) for C5ISR force assessment

For evaluating weapon power scores (WPS), the capabilities that were considered are - lethality, self-protection, operability and integration of combat systems with other systems. However, we have seen a remarkable evolution of technical systems in the last three decades with extreme capabilities in information and information processing i.e., computing, becoming the key in the modern combat systems. We describe this trend as law of increasing intelligence of technical systems [2].

In the light of this law, we propose that weapon systems capability needs to be evaluated and scored by including three new capabilities – that is – information processing, decision-making and system learning. This leads us to propose a new metric and methodology termed intelligent weapon power scores (iWPS) to evaluate any weapon system on a same capability plane. This concept of iWPS can be used for static force comparisons, in war simulations, war games and combat scenario evaluation for the new world.


Further, the evolution of network centric combat force to the C5ISR (Command Control Communication Computers Combat Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) force will require us to understand and estimate these capabilities of each node in the network. We propose the Intelligent Weapon Power Score (iWPS) which augments the WPS with three more capability assessments - information processing, decision making and system-learning and foresight. The new iWPS is a function of 7 capabilities – Lethality, on-board self-protection, Operability, Integration, Information processing, Decision-making/enablement and System-learning and foresight.

Hence the picture of a node in the new C5ISR looks as shown. Value of such an assessment is that each node in the C5ISR system will be evaluated on these 7 capabilities in a consistent manner. Also, the new technologies as they become more and more embedded can be included in the model for future “intelligent” warfare forces.


[1] Bhushan, N. and Rai, K, Strategic Decision Making – Applying the Analytic Hierarchy Process, Springer UK, 2004

[2]Bhushan, N. Law of Increasing Intelligence of Technical Systems (

NatSecTech (National Security Technology) is a fortnightly column covering Futures, Analysis, Architecture, Innovation, Design and Assessment (FAAIDA) of technologies involved in national security.

navneet *Author worked as a Defence Scientist from 1990-2000. He is founder director of CRAFITTI CONSULTING ( – a Strategy, Technology, Innovation and Intellectual Property Consulting firm focused on co-crafting solutions for global problems. He regularly writes on defence and security. He is the principal author of Strategic Decision Making- Applying the Analytic Hierarchy Process published by Springer-Verlag, UK, as part of the Decision Engineering Series. Navneet Blogs at can be contacted at navneet(dot)bhushan(at) crafitti(dot)com