Leadership: November 13, 2001

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The Afghanistan war is forcing the US to rethink it's strategic thinking. The air force is no longer talking about the aircraft carrier being made obsolete by long range bombers. Of course, this is a song the zoomies have been singing for fifty years, and regularly getting shot down when a situation comes up where the carriers prove their worth. Even so, the navy has also been caught short by it's decision two decades ago to make the F-18 (a fighter) into it's new attack aircraft. The problem was range; the F-18 doesn't have it. What saved the navy over Afghanistan was the decision in the 1990s to give it's "fleet defense" fighter, the F-14, bombing capability. The F-14 has longer range than the F-18 and has been able to get more bombs per plane into Afghanistan than the F-18s. But a major problem has been reconnaissance, and everyone is looking at UAVs to solve the problem. UAVs can fly 24 hours or more, allowing them to stay over a battlefield to pick out for targets before the bombers arrive. The Afghanistan war will also provide more support for a new generation of recon satellites that can sustained and more detailed coverage (using better and more numerous satellites.) But all this new stuff will cost more than the taxpayers will likely tolerate. So some of the current weapons programs will have to be cut.

 


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