Airbase Vulnerabiltity to Conventional Cruise-Missile and Ballistic-Missile Attacks: Technology, Scenarios, and U.S. Air Force Responses

By John Stillion; David T. Orletsky | Go to book overview

Chapter One
INTRODUCTION

The tremendous success of U.S. Air Force (USAF) operations against the Iraqi military during the 1991 Gulf War was a stunning achievement. Videotaped images of laser-guided bombs being dropped from USAF stealth aircraft with impunity onto targets deep inside Iraq contain the seeds of both the popular perception of how the war was fought and the “lessons learned” the USAF took away from the war. During the course of the 43-day war, the USAF flew 69,406 sorties, attacked 28,295 targets, shot down 36 Iraqi aircraft, disrupted Iraqi command and control and transportation systems, and directly attacked the Iraqi army in Kuwait, destroying many of its vehicles and severely damaging its morale before the ground offensive began. All of this was achieved at the cost of just 14 aircraft, which were lost to ground-based air defenses, not in air-to-air combat.1

The USAF's success in Operation Desert Storm changed the way military commanders and the general public view airpower in particular and modern warfare in general. The public expectation is now that the USAF could attack almost any target at any time and effectively destroy it, with little risk to U.S. military personnel or to noncombatants on the ground. As well, the war left the impression that, while certain aspects of USAF operations such as bomb-damage assessment could be refined to improve the efficiency of operations, the basic concept of deploying large numbers of combat aircraft and support personnel to vulnerable bases within a few hundred nautical miles of

____________________
1
Eliot A. Cohen, ed., Gulf War Air Power Survey [GWAPS], Vol. V: A Statistical Compendium and Chronology, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993, pp. 316, 418, 651–654.

-1-

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Airbase Vulnerabiltity to Conventional Cruise-Missile and Ballistic-Missile Attacks: Technology, Scenarios, and U.S. Air Force Responses
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • Figure vii
  • Tables ix
  • Summary xi
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Abbreviations and Acronyms xxi
  • Chapter One - Introduction 1
  • Chapter Two - Emerging Threat Technologies 5
  • Chapter Three - Illustrative Scenario and Implications 19
  • Chapter Four - Defensive Responses to an Enemy-Missile Threat 29
  • Chapter Five - Stand-Off Options 49
  • Chapter Six - Conclusions 59
  • Appendix A - Damage Calculation for Parked Aircraft 61
  • Appendix B - Sortie-Rate Model 81
  • Appendix C - Fast, Long-Range-Attack Aircraft 85
  • Bibliography 95
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