Warplanes: May 13, 2001


The US had intended to send a unit of Predator unmanned recon drones to Kuwait to relieve the unit that is there. That unit provided the key targeting systems for the last large-scale raid on Iraq. The problem, however, is that there are only so many Predators and units to operate them, and the developing crisis in Kosovo meant that the unit scheduled for Kuwait had to be sent to the Balkans. This illustrates the continuing problem with the two-war scenario. There are simply not enough key units to operate two indefinite wars at the same time, and the peacekeeping mission in the Balkans and the blockade mission for Iraq don't count as either of the two nominal regional wars. The two-war theory is that if one war starts because of a mad dictator, no sane dictator would start a second war knowing that the US had enough combat power to deal with them as well as the first war. In a continuing turf battle, Air Combat Command and Materiel Command are fighting for control over the purchase of new Predators. Materiel Command seems to be winning, since Air Combat Command is not accustomed to the rapid purchase of replacement aircraft. Predators have a high loss rate and constant supplies of new aircraft are needed.--Stephen V Cole




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