Warplanes: April 11, 2001


KICK DOWN THE DOOR: How the Air Force will fight the next war. A conflict erupts in a distant region. The Air Force calls up its highest alert Air Expeditionary Wing and sends it to allied bases in the region. Dozens of attack aircraft land within 24 hours and are followed within hours by transports loaded with bombs and maintenance crews. The attack aircraft quickly load up with bombs while the pilots review the latest intelligence reports. The aircraft roll out of the ordnance stations and line up on the ramp to prepare for take-off. An enemy ballistic missile then destroys the airfield and the entire Air Expeditionary Wing. When the next Air Expeditionary Wing tries to fight its way into the theater, Russian-built S400 missiles with a range of 250 miles knock down the tankers and AWACS planes in their stand-off support areas. Well, that didn't work. Knowing all the above, the Air Force has drafted a new plan. When the conflict erupts, the Air Force will take the six B-2 bombers and 24 F-22 fighters from the highest alert Air Expeditionary Wing, and the six B-2 bombers and the 24 F-22 fighters from the second highest alert Air Expeditionary Wing and send them on an immediate strike from US bases. These 60 aircraft will penetrate the enemy's airspace and drop 270 precision-guided 1,000-pound and 2,000-pound bombs, destroying the enemy's primary air defense sites, command bunkers, and ballistic missile sites. The strikes will not have to wait for dark; the F-22s will destroy any enemy fighters that try to close on the B-2s for visual attacks. Cruise missiles and armed recon drones would take out some targets. The second day, a few B-2s (carrying 500-pound bombs) and 24 F-22s (now loaded with smaller smart glide bombs) will conduct a second round of strikes destroying 426 targets (aircraft hangars, remaining air defense sites, command posts, and other key targets). A third day of long-range stealth strikes can be used if some unforeseen circumstance (e.g., bad weather) means that there is still some enemy air defense or offensive missile unit in operation. By this time, the high alert Air Expeditionary Wing will have safely reached the allied bases in the region and can begin a systematic campaign to destroy the enemy. If necessary, the US tactical aircraft can strike targets directly from bases in US, then land briefly at the allied bases in the region to refuel, rearm, and attack again before returning to the US. The intention is to mass the attacks without having enough aircraft on any vulnerable base to make it worth an attack.--Stephen V Cole




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