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Subject: Top RAF officer suggests suicide missions
AdamB    4/3/2007 10:44:03 AM
Top RAF officer suggests suicide missions in terror fight By NICK MCDERMOTT 3rd April 2007 One of Britain's most senior RAF officers has raised the prospect of fighter pilots flying suicide missions as a last resort in the war on terror, it emerged last night. Air Vice Marshal David Walker spoke of kamikaze flights in a 'provocative' discussion about the life-and-death decisions air crews have to make in battle. Speaking to air crews during a training exercise, he said: 'Would you think it unreasonable if I ordered you to fly your aircraft into the ground to destroy a vehicle carrying a Taliban or Al Qaeda commander?' The 50-year-old officer suggested a suicide mission could be considered as a 'worst-case scenario' once a pilot had run out of ammunition or his weapons had malfunctioned. He could then use his jet to attack a hijacked plane in British airspace for example, or a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan. The consequences of such an attack would mean almost certain death for the pilot, as well as the loss of equipment worth up to £50million. Defence officials confirmed last night that the Air Vice Marshal had raised the scenario at a recent conference for air crews, but insisted he was only posing a theoretical question. Air Vice Marshal Walker is a former fighter pilot and the commander of Number 1 Group - commonly known as Air Combat Group - which controls the RAF's fast-jet aircraft, including Tornado, Typhoon and Harrier fighters and bombers. Speaking in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, he told the air crew, including newly qualified Typhoon pilots, they knew they would have to risk their lives when they signed up for service. During World War II, he said, Spitfire pilots knew what would be expected of them if their guns jammed as they flew over Adolf Hitler's car below. Kamikaze, which means 'divine wind', was coined in the 13th century after Japanese priests prayed for typhoons which drove back the Mongol invasion fleets. During World War II, the word took on a more sinister meaning when Japanese pilots crashed their planes into Allied ships in suicide attacks towards the end of the conflict. Comments 'don't represent MoD policy' Last night, MoD sources stressed that Air Vice Marshal Walker's comments, delivered during a lecture and discussion session at his Strike Command headquarters, did not represent a new policy, or any intention to send British pilots on suicide missions. An insider said: 'This was by way of a provocative discussion. He was trying to get his audience to think the unthinkable, and shake-up is consider the worst-case scenarios they could face as military air crew, and what they would do. 'The point he was making, and wanting them to confront, was that servicemen and women are sometimes called upon to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the people they protect, and the RAF is no different. 'It's clearly an important part of their training that our people think these issues through clearly in their own minds.' A RAF spokesman said last night: 'The Air Vice Marshal did not say he would order his crews on suicide missions. As part of a training exercise he wanted them to think about how they and their commanders would react faced with a life-and-death decision of the most extreme sort. 'For example, terrorists flying an aircraft into a British city being followed by an RAF fighter suffering a weapons failure. 'These are decisions which, however unlikely and dreadful, service people may have to make, and it is one of the many reasons why the British people hold them in such high esteem.'
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AdamB       4/3/2007 10:45:08 AM" border=0>
Controversial: Air Vice Marshal David Walker has suggested RAF officers fly suicide missions
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asavery    Much a-do about little...   4/3/2007 11:18:20 AM
This was, if anything, a hypothetical...  and one that should at least be considered.
For another what-if scenario... What if in the future a hostile Russia sends nuclear-capable bombers towards London or other unknown targets.  Air Defense fighters take down all but a few. 
You are in a Tornado F3, out of weapons.  No other fighters are able to intercept before the bomber reaches London... Do you ram the bomber to take it down???
If the 9/11 Commission cites a "failure of imagination", one should at least be willing and open to such possible scenarios.
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asavery    Much a-do about little...   4/3/2007 11:20:17 AM
To add... there was similar thought after 9/11 to the possiblility that if unarmed fighters (F-16s I think) might have been able to intercept hijacked airliners, what would they do???
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Yimmy       4/3/2007 11:43:55 AM
If the media reported everything said on training exercises, a lot of people would be upset!  Of course this was just hypothetical.  Of course, the rules of appropriate force always applies, and there were famous instances in the past, such as when a Hurrican pilot during the Battle of Britain rammed a German bomber heading for Windsor Castle.

I would be rather bemused if the RAF started thinking of their very expensive fighter aircraft (and equally expensive pilots), as expendable on a whim however.

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reefdiver       4/3/2007 12:23:52 PM
I wonder how many English, American, and German pilots sacrificed themselves in sucide in WWII?  I'm sure there were some (hey - I saw some in the movies...).  Are there any documented cases on the Allied or German sides?
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SGTObvious       4/3/2007 1:32:33 PM
Of course, Adam, the American thinking would be:

Suicide missions?   yeah, we could throw away the lives of valued service members...
We could program a computer to carry out the exact same mission with a UAV and throw IT away!
This is why Silicon Valley, Microsoft, and Google are American things.  We like that approach better.
When you think about it, every Tomahawk launch is a kamikaze mission for one very simple, very primitive artificial intelligence.  (Speaking of which, it's been years since they were launched, we must be saving them for something special!)
And how in hell was a Spitfire pilot supposed to be able to identify 1) Hitler's car, and 2)  the presence of Hitler in it?
And Finally, if you are really, really good, like that amazing Israeli F-15 pilot, you CAN survive a catastrophic aerial collision and land your aircraft.  It's only a suicide mission when you stop thinking you can survive.
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Rasputin       4/3/2007 1:36:35 PM
I know that on the allied side they were plenty or ramming attacks from the Poles, Russians and Brits during WW2.

On the Axis, there was ofcourse the Japanese.

But for the germans, were there any pilots that bothered to die for hitler? there could have been when the situation was dire near the end of WW2, but are there any recorded cases?

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Softwar       4/3/2007 4:04:53 PM

To add... there was similar thought after 9/11 to the possiblility that if unarmed fighters (F-16s I think) might have been able to intercept hijacked airliners, what would they do???

ON 9/11 two F-16s from the DC National Guard were the first aircraft on duty over Washington immediately after the attacks on NYC and the Pentagon.  They were armed with 300 training rounds (non explosive) 20 mm cannon shells.  No missiles.  This lack of armament was a hold over from the previous administration and its poor military budgeting - forcing the DC guard to withdraw on-deck ready planes from service.
The two pilots were not sure if they could down a 767 with the limited ammo so they jointly agreed to ram any hijacked intruder if need be.
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asavery       4/3/2007 4:17:09 PM
Thanks Softwar, knew it was something like that...
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