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 Four
DEFENSIVE RESPONSES TO AN
ENEMY-MISSILE THREAT

In this chapter, we discuss two different sets of defensive options available to the USAF to counter submunition-carrying missiles. The first set consists of several passive defenses the USAF could adopt to help protect forward-deployed assets; the second set consists of activedefense measures.

Passive defenses are defenses employed by the defender to reduce the impact of attacks by enhancing its own ability to absorb and recover from attacks. As the name implies, once constructed, passive defenses just sit there. They have taken many forms throughout human history, from wood-and-mud stockades around a group of huts, to the walls of medieval cities, to the barbed wire and trenches of World War I. They are remarkably effective because they are usually simple, reliable, require little or no operator effort to use, and the defender can construct obstacles and protective shelters at leisure before a conflict starts. In contrast, the adversary must wait until the war has started to breach or dismantle these defenses and must do so under fire.

Active defenses have traditionally required an operator—whether an archer on a castle wall, a machine gunner in a foxhole, or a surface-toair missile battery operator—to detect, track, identify, engage, and hit an attacker. They tend to be more complex than passive defenses and require considerable operator skill and training. However, they have an advantage: Instead of delaying or deflecting attacks as passive defenses do, they have the potential to cause substantial damage to enemy equipment and inflict serious casualties.

As is often the case in warfare, active and passive defenses, when combined, tend to produce far better results than either could alone.

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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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