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 Six
CONCLUSIONS

This report has shown how competent and committed adversaries could take advantage of the way in which the USAF plans to conduct theater air operations. They could do so by combining several wellknown and widely available technologies, such as UAVs, GPS, submunition warheads, and ballistic missiles. Armed with accurate area weapons capable of inflicting substantial damage on soft-skinned targets, such as parked aircraft, tents, radars, and personnel, such an adversary could severely disrupt the USAF's ability to conduct combat operations from theater airbases.

Over the short term, the USAF could respond to this threat by deploying its combat forces with extensive active and passive defenses. However, these measures may be too manpower-intensive, heavy, or expensive to protect all USAF assets required to support combat operations. In addition, some very valuable USAF aircraft, such as airlifters, bombers, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, will be very difficult if not impossible to protect passively because of their size. Another alternative is to operate from dispersed locations or to disperse USAF aircraft more widely at existing facilities. These concepts could work to reduce the effectiveness of a missile attack against USAF assets but have significant drawbacks of their own, such as decreased USAF sortie-generation efficiency, increased logistics costs and complexity, the need to accurately predict the scene of future conflicts, and failure to address the threat posed to tent cities.

Another possible response to long-term increases in adversary missile capability is to shift away from an operational concept that requires

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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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