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Dynamical Systems

MAT 5932

The Lanchester
Equations of Warfare
Explained
Friday, June 2, 2017
Larry L. Southard
Agenda

History of the Lanchester


Equation Models
Lanchester Attrition Model
Deficiencies of the
equations
History

The British engineer F.W. Lanchester


(1914) developed this theory based
on World War I aircraft engagements
to explain why concentration of
forces was useful in modern warfare.
Lanchester equations are taught and
used at every major military college
in the world.
Two Types of
Models
Both models work on the
basis of attrition
Homogeneous
a single scalar represents a units combat power
Both sides are considered to have the same
weapon effectiveness

Heterogeneous
attrition is assessed by weapon type and target
type and other variability factors
The Homogeneous Model

An academic model
Useful for the review of
ancient battles
Not proper model for
modern warfare
Heterogeneous Models
CONCEPT: describe each type of
system's strength as a function
(usually sum of attritions) of all types
of systems which kill it
ASSUME: additivity, i.e., no synergism;
can be relaxed with complex
enhancements; and proportionality,
i.e., loss rate of Xi is proportional to
number of Yj which engage it.
No closed solutions, but can be solved
numerically
The Heterogeneous
model
More appropriate for modern battlefield.
The following battlefield functions are
sometimes combined and sometimes
modeled by separate algorithms:
direct fire
indirect fire
air-to-ground fire
ground-to-air fire
air-to-air fire
minefield attrition
The Heterogeneous
model
The following processes are directly or indirectly
measured in the heterogeneous model:
Opposing force strengths
FEBA (forward edge of the battle area) movement
Decision-making (including breakpoints)

Additional Areas of consideration to be applied:


Training
Morale
Terrain (topographically quantifiable)
Weapon Strength
Armor capabilities
Decision Processing in
Combat Modeling
Attrition Target Acquisition

Engagement Decision
Sensing

Target Selection

Physical Attrition Process


Command
Accuracy Assessment
and Control
Damage Perception by Firer
Damage Assessment

Movement
Lanchester Attrition Model

CONCEPT: describe the rate at which a force loses systems as a function of the
size of the force and the size of the enemy force. This results in a system of
differential equations in force sizes x and y.

dx dy
f 1 x, y,... f 2 x, y,...
dt dt

The solution to these equations as functions of x(t) and y(t) provide insights
about battle outcome.

This model underlies many low-resolution and medium-resolution combat models.


Similar forms also apply to models of biological populations in ecology.
The Lanchester Equation
Mathematically it looks
simple:

dx dy
ay and bx
dt dt
Lanchester Attrition Model - Square
Law

Integrating the equations which describe


modern warfare
dx dy
ay and bx
dt dt

we get the following state equation, called


Lanchester's "Square Law":
b( x 2 x 2) a( y2 y2)
0 0
These equations have also been
postulated to describe "aimed
fire". measures battle
ab intensity
measures
relative
a effectiveness
b
Questions Addressed by
Square Law State Equation

Who will win?


What force ratio is required to gain victory?
How many survivors will the winner have?
Basic assumption is that other side is annihilated
(not usually true in real world battles)
How long will the battle last?
How do force levels change over time?
How do changes in parameters x0, y0, a, and b
affect the outcome of battle?
Is concentration of forces a good tactic?
Lanchester Square Law - Force
Levels Over Time
After extensive derivation, the following expression for the X force
level is derived as a function of time (the Y force level is
equivalent):

ab t ab t
x(t ) 1 x 0

a
y e x 0

a
y e
2 b 0
b 0

Square Law - Force Levels
Over Time
X=30, Y=60, a=.04, b=.04 X=30,
Example:
70

60 60

50
50

40
40

e
l

l
v

v
e

e
30

L
e

e
30

c
r

r
20

o
F

F
0 20
10
4
10
0
Time 8
-10 0
12
0 1 2 3 4 5
Y Force
X Force -10

x(t) becomes zero at about t = 14 hours.


Surviving Y force is about y(14) = 50.
Square Law - Force Levels
Over Time
How do kill rates affect outcome?
Reduce a to .01, Increase b to .1

60
50
40
30
Force Levels
20
10
0
0
5

Time -10
10
15

Y Force
20
X Force
25

Now y(t) becomes zero at about t =24 hrs.

Surviving X force is about x(24) = 20.


Square Law - Force Levels
Over Time
Can Y overcome this disadvantage by adding forces?
Increase Y by 30

90
80
70
60

Force Level
50
40
30
20
10
0

0
12

Time
24

-10
36

48
Y Force
60 X Force

Not by adding 30 (the initial size of X's whole force).


Square Law - Force Levels
Over Time
What will it do to add a little more to Y?
Increase Y by another 10 Increase

120

100

100
80
80

e
l

e
l
60

v
60

e
L

L
40

e
c

c
r

r
o

o
20 40

F
0
19 0
Time 38 20
-20
57 Y Force
X Force 0

0
5

5
1

2
-20

This is enough to turn the tide decidedly in Y's favor. T


Square Law - Who
Wins a Fight-to-the-
To determineFinish?
who will win, each side must have victory
conditions, i.e., we must have a "battle termination model".
Assume both sides fight to annihilation.
One of three outcomes at time tf, the end time of the battle:
X wins, i.e., x(tf) > 0 and y(tf) = 0
Y wins, i.e., y(tf) > 0 and x(tf) = 0
Draw, i.e., x(tf) = 0 and y(tf) = 0
It can be shown that a Square-Law battle will be won by X
if and only if: a
x
0

y0
b
Lanchester Square Law - Other
Answers
How many survivors
are there when X
wins a fight-to-the- a 2
x x 0 y0
2
finish? f
b

When X wins, how


y0 a
long does it take? 1
1 x0 b
t x
f ln
2 ab y0 a
1
x0 b
Square Law - Breakpoint Battle
Termination
How long does 1 x x0 a
ln 0 if
ab x BP y0 b

it take if X 2 b 2
t y y y 2
BP 0 x 0
y
wins? 1 BP
BP

ln a otherwise
(Assume battle
termination at x(t) = ab b
y0 x 0
xBP or y(t) = yBP) a

In what case does X
win? y2
1 2 BP

If and only if: x a


0
y 0

y b x2
1 2
0 BP


x 0

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