Monday, May 14, 2012

Because we'll always be fighting insurgents

Critics of the F-35 and other military projects are fond of using our present situation in which we're essentially fighting an insurgent enemy as the new norm.

By that standard, then, they can claim to see into the future and guess what, "Cold War relics" such as the F-35 and the like are just not needed.

I wish I had a dollar for every such pronouncement by "experts" who seemingly knew what our next war would bring.  In almost every case, each and every one has been wrong.

Anyone who actually believes that the "new norm" in global conflict can be predicted hasn't studied much history or apparently gotten out much.

Add to that the role the US has taken, by default, as the world's only super power with global interests it must protect and it seems completely naive to believe that all future warfare will be confined to putting out insurgences in low level conflicts.

Of course our current "insurgencies" have required ten years worth of the use of our air power.  Libya's "no-fly zone" required even more.  And meanwhile, as our "experts" continue to claim that these "relics" that are being developed need no place in our future defense structure, Russia and China continue apace developing their own 5th generation stealth fighter aircraft.

Here's the ground truth: regardless of the type future wars we'll fight, each and everyone of them will have as a prime condition of victory the establishment of air dominance.

It is under the umbrella of air dominance that our strike fighters can operate with the impunity necessary to best support our ground troops.

Without air dominance the possibility exists of losing both strike aircraft and troops on the ground to enemy air.  And should enemy air establish air dominance, then defeat is a possibility as well.

Obviously, enemy air may not always exist in every scenario, but again I point out that someone is going to be flying those 5th generation fighters that Russia and China are developing and it may not just be Russia or China.  It is entirely possible that we'll see them at some time in the future.

More ground truth as specified by retired generals Corley and Looney writing in today's Washington Times:
Many of today’s pilots are flying multirole fighters that were designed - and in some cases built - before they were born. While these aged aircraft were the most capable of their generation, their airframes are wearing out, and they cannot be retrofitted to equal the F-35’s stealth and avionics capabilities. Worse is that these fighters can only be operated at increasing cost - in force size and support assets - all while raising a conspicuously high level of risk in the threat environments of today and tomorrow. Continuing down this path will not only seriously increase taxpayer expenditures, but also cost the lives of numerous pilots and compromise national security.
In reality, and given the uncertain nature of the future as well as the unchanging principles of war and victory, the F-35 is an aircraft not only whose time has come, but one we can't afford not to build.


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