Leadership: You Can't Take The Sky From Me

Archives

July 2, 2007: The battle, between the U.S. Army and Air Force, over who controls the air space over the battlefield, continues to heat up. What's happened, in effect, is that that, because of UAVs and smart bombs, most of the aircraft over the battlefield belong to the army. As a result, the army wants to have control over that air space, even though, traditionally, the air force has been in charge. The army is pushing the fact that most of the aerial vehicles (UAVs, helicopters, artillery shells, rockets) at low altitudes (under 20,000 feet) are army. For example, the army currently has over 1,300 UAVs in Iraq, over 200 helicopters, and dozens of rocket launchers and 155mm guns. In effect, over 95 percent of the aircraft at low altitudes belong to the army. It makes no sense to have the air force calling the shots. To handle all this traffic, the army has developed an air traffic control system (TAIS, or Tactical Airspace Integration System) which uses a laptop screen to show all air traffic in a several hundred square kilometer area. TAIS systems cost about $3 million each, and draws data from many sources, to allow army commanders to have a 3-D view of what's up there. The army has TAIS link to air force ATC (air traffic control), but the air force attitude is that they have always called the shots over who does what up there, and that's the way it should stay.

To further inflame relations, the air force keeps pushing to take control of developing all larger UAVs (that operate at above 10,000 feet). This would include the army's new Warrior (literally, Predator Lite) UAV. The army has dug in its heels on this one, and has shipped over 30 TAIS systems to Iraq and Afghanistan, to stake its claim on air space control.

The air force has never considered itself just a "support service" for the army (although that has always been the army attitude). However, smart bombs have made it appear that most of what the air force does is just fly in circles, dropping smart bombs where and when the army guys down below call for them. The air force pilots are eager and willing to come down low to use their cannon, or fly around for hours using their targeting pods to look for the enemy on the ground. But the air force brass are not too keen on risking their expensive fighters that close to hostile heavy machine-guns. Nor are the air force generals satisfied that all that targeting pod use is worth the effort.

So despite the fact that the air force and the army are working together more effectively than they have in decades, the disputes are also more heated than they have been for a long time.

 


Article Archive

Leadership: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
$0
$2000

Help Keep StrategyPage Off The Rocky Shoals!

January, February and March are notoriously low ad revenue months online. And StrategyPage has not been spared. We need to raise $2000 in combined subscriptions and contributions to keep us cruising into next month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close