Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Document created: 1 March 2007
Air & Space Power Journal - Spring 2007
Ricochets and Replies
|We encourage you to send your comments to us, preferably via e-mail, at firstname.lastname@example.org . You may also send letters to the Editor, Air and Space Power Journal, 401 Chennault Circle, Maxwell AFB AL 36112-6428. We reserve the right to edit the material for overall length.|
I have a question about Maj Collin T. Ireton’s article “Filling the Stealth Gap and Enhancing Global Strike Task Force Operations” (Fall 2006). The F-22 apparently lacks a laser designator. If so, that would definitely be a flaw, but couldn’t it easily be fixed? If I recall correctly, the F-22 has quite a lot of signals intelligence/communications intelligence hardware/software on board. Maybe a certain version of the F-22 could have a laser designator in place of that other gear. Something similar happened when the F-15C air-superiority model gave rise to the F-15E Strike Eagle, but maybe an all-purpose F-22 is just not the right idea. What do you think?
Mr. Frank Gerlach
The question is an excellent one; my answer will point out the difficulties in adapting a highly optimized aircraft (the F-22 in this case) to a new mission. It may appear simple to modify an existing aircraft for another mission, but it is often complicated and expensive, especially when low observable (LO) or stealth technologies are involved. Consider the F-15E: it was not LO and capitalized on a highly capable platform but still took significant resources and years to develop. I should make it clear that I’m no expert with regard to the F-22; however, I can confidently say that the suggested modification is not trivial.
The Raptor’s “signals intelligence/communications intelligence” equipment is probably not made up of independent subsystems but is highly integrated with an array of sensors and processors that cannot simply be removed to make way for an infrared (IR) or charged coupled device (CCD) camera seeker and laser designator. Removing the hardware to generate the required space and rewriting the software to control the device would be a large design-and-test effort—a multimillion-dollar, several-year effort. Additionally, this notional IR/CCD tracker/laser designator would have to be created. The space within the F-22 would, no doubt, be unique and small. I know of no off-the-shelf device that would fit. Existing LANTIRN [low-altitude navigation and targeting infrared for night], Sniper, and Litening pods are designed for outside carry (for cooling, etc.), which is unsuitable for a stealthy platform. A system is being tucked into the F-35, but it is specially designed for the jet’s small and irregularly shaped bay. Its design and integration represent a significant area of risk for the F-35, and the same would apply to any F-22 effort. But let’s assume that the Air Force had the resources to create this pod and to redesign the F-22’s internal architecture and structure to accommodate it.
The next step would be to redesign the weapons bays: they can’t accommodate a 2,000-pound bomb. Could you put a 1,000-pound laser-guided bomb (LGB) in the bay? I haven’t done a fit check, but I doubt it. The laser guidance kit for the GBU-16 (1,000-pound LGB) adds nearly half a meter to the weapon’s length and a considerable amount to its girth. A change of this type would likely require extensive structural rework—a multimillion-dollar, several-year effort. Still, the weapon system would suffer from nearly all the woes I’ve already pointed out. It would lack the flexibility of employing a dedicated penetrating weapon or opting for the better blast/fragmentation of the 2,000-pound warhead. But let’s assume that the Air Force had the resources to create the pod, redesign the internal architecture and structure of the F-22, and redesign the bomb bays to fit the GBU-16.
The next step is to redesign the F-22’s LO characteristics. It is optimized for air-to-air operations—“first look, first shot, first kill,” beyond-visual-range fighting. Again, I’m no F‑22 expert, but I suspect that the design focuses stealth capability in the front quarter. An LGB must be guided, and the most common source of guidance (laser illumination) is the releasing aircraft. This would mean that the aircraft could not release from 20 nautical miles and leave; it would have to descend below any weather and stay to guide the weapon. If its LO strengths are aimed toward the front quarter, it simply would not be survivable in a mature, integrated defense system under these conditions. To change its LO signature would be a multimillion-dollar, several-year effort. It is not my intent to discuss all the tactical implications—only to provide an inkling of the many problems an LO aircraft, optimized for air-to-air combat, would encounter with a mission change.
Even if the Air Force had the resources to create the pod, redesign the internal architecture and structure of the F-22, change the bomb bays to fit the GBU-16, and remold the aircraft’s external stealth characteristics, it would not do so because even with these changes, the jet would still be ineffective in flexible air-to-ground operations. If the Air Force had such resources, I’d suggest that the service fill the stealth gap by keeping the F-117 around until a credible, flexible, precision stealth platform becomes available.
Maj Collin Ireton, USAF
I am the Red Flag program manager at Headquarters Air Combat Command. I had an opportunity to read Lt Col Rob Spalding’s article “Why Red Flag Is Obsolete” (Fall 2006). He is either unaware of the exercise’s broader context or has not been to a Red Flag in the last three years. Red Flag has evolved significantly in recent years. We are well beyond the “go low, go fast” Vietnam-era mentality. We have exerted great effort and spent lots of money to ensure that the opposing force threat is current and realistic. We have expanded the mission scenarios to include current in-theater taskings such as urban close air support, convoy escort, and nontraditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Having said that, we do have limitations. We cannot be everything to everyone. The primary training audience is and will remain the aircrews. We try to maximize training for supporting elements such as intelligence; the combined air operations center; and command, control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, but we have limited range time and dollars, which are becoming even scarcer. Lieutenant Colonel Spalding makes several references to the Predator’s role. The Predator is a regular participant in every Red Flag, as is Rivet Joint, the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, and, sometimes, the U-2 aircraft. The Predator’s role is direct support of close air support and time-sensitive-targeting missions. We have neither sufficient time nor sufficiently large range blocks to send intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets up two hours early to do a complete intelligence preparation of the battlefield. As a result, intelligence has to work with inputs from the exercise control group for each mission instead of real-time data. In summary, my biased opinion is that Red Flag is not only relevant but also the best place to practice composite-force integration for both the current battle and battles of the future.
Gary “Buch” Sambuchi
Langley AFB, Virginia
Gen Tom Hobbins’s article “Interdependence: Key to Our Common Success” (Fall 2006) led me to ask if he has considered the vulnerabilities that interdependency can cause. The Air Force, like most large organizations, is both interdependent and dependent. Vulnerabilities are inherent in this scenario and can be identified and addressed before they adversely affect an organization’s goals or a mission’s success, whether those entail taking out an enemy position or delivering food to starving refugees.
Robert W. Foedisch, President
Critical Infrastructure Protection Team 3814
Mr. Foedisch, I appreciate your thoughtful question and comments. I would like to address your question on the vulnerabilities of interdependency and share some of the successes we have had working with other nations. While there are always vulnerabilities in what we do, by working closely with our partners and allies, we take the necessary precautions to mitigate them through careful joint coordination and planning. As the allied air component commander at Ramstein, I visit our partner NATO nations and their senior leaders frequently to discuss security, upcoming missions, training, and exercises. Being interdependent in the alliance has proven, over the years, to make us stronger rather than more vulnerable. Examples include the NATO Response Force’s support to Hurricane Katrina and Pakistan earthquake victims. In Pakistan, 42 nations and more than 1,000 troops were involved, offering assistance along with 11 C-130s from six different nations—Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, and England. We also sent a mobile NATO medical team, helping more than 2,000 patients. The coalition’s air-policing mission is another example of multinational cooperation. We have a theater that has delivered proven coalition forces. Seventeen of 22 Operation Iraqi Freedom coalition members and 12 of 19 Operation Enduring Freedom coalition members are all from this theater. Interdependence has been our way of life for 64 years; we live together, we work together, and, when needed, we fight together. We are truly in a global war, and being interdependent and interoperable enables us to better accomplish those missions you specifically mentioned. Taking out an enemy position and delivering food to refugees require efficient coordination among many moving parts—a process that would take a lot longer without interdependent planning and preparation. Although interdependency does require a degree of trust, this trust has been proven and allows us to accomplish the missions jointly. It should be noted that I also believe strongly in the USAF having a very strong independent service, as does Gen T. Michael Moseley, our chief.
Gen William T. Hobbins, USAF
Ramstein Air Base, Germany
I just read Maj Rodolfo Pereyra’s great article “Clausewitz and the Falkland Islands Air War” (Fall 2006). That very interesting piece offers lots of succinct information about air-component operations in the Falklands War. Making such a good connection between Clausewitz’s work and that war was a good idea and is helping me write a research paper about how moral, physical, and conceptual factors affect war fighting. My compliments to Major Pereyra.
Lt Col Mircea Gologan, Romanian Army
LCDR Thomas D. Vandermolen’s excellent article “Molecular Nanotechnology and National Security” (Fall 2006) identified the important difference between the near-term nanoparticles/nanomaterials of nanotechnology (NT) and the far-term, autoproductive mechanosynthesis nanofabricators of molecular nanotechnology (MNT). I would add that Robert Freitas is compiling a list of the growing number of experimental and theoretical studies that detail the emergence of diamondoid mechanosynthesis (see http://www.molecular assembler.com/Nanofactory/AnnBibDMS .htm). Also, planar assembly will be almost as fast as convergent assembly—and supposedly much simpler to design (see http://www.niac .usra.edu/files/studies/final_report/1030 Phoenix.pdf and http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2022170440316254003). Lieutenant Commander Vandermolen also did a great job of touching on the indirect effects of NT. The right questions will offer insight into the magnitude of the challenges he describes. For economics, the question is, “When artifacts are as cheap as dirt and sunshine, what is really valuable?” NT expert Eric Drexler has identified two valuable items: new scientific knowledge and land area on Earth. I would add the trust and love of other people, especially those with the power to hurt others.
For difficult social issues, the important question is, “What is a human?” Our positions on today’s explosive political issues depend on how we answer this question. The author points out that it’s going to get worse. We can’t even figure out cloning, abortion, and fetal stem-cell research, so what is going to happen when we face the wide range of claimants to personhood made possible by MNT? Drexler has proposed the solution: give them all the benefit of the doubt.
I disagree with Lieutenant Commander Vandermolen about two items. First, he posits a nanofabricator that can’t be hacked. But that is like building a machine shop that can’t build another machine shop or a computer language that can’t compile programs that print copies of themselves. Second, I disagree about the possibility of effective nanotech regulation. Who enforces the regulations? Do we allow them to have MNT powers to do their job? Who guards the guardians? There might be solutions for both items. We might make nanofabricators open source and make society transparent (as described by David Brin [see http://www.davidbrin.com/privacyarticles .html]). That way, everyone has power, but it is balanced by everyone else’s power; we all guard the guardians. It won’t be an easy transition, but it’s the only scenario in which we keep our lives, freedom, and property.
Mr. Tihamer T. Toth-Fejel
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems
Michigan Research and Development Center
Ann Arbor, Michigan
I want to compliment Col Robyn Read for his outstanding article “Effects-Based Airpower for Small Wars” (Spring 2005). The article is a bit jargon heavy for an ordinary civilian like me, probably due to the audience for which it was intended, but I was able to make sense of most of it. In no major area of either the Iraq war or the global war on Islamic Fascism are we actually winning the information war. We are at best holding our own, and in some cases, we are actually losing. The type of innovative thinking in Colonel Read’s article is precisely what we need to prevail in the future. It dovetails nicely into a strategy that I suppose might be called “feed the beast”—the media beast. The “Arab Street” has a huge appetite for—and directly or indirectly, an increasing amount of access to—various (mostly non-Western) media outlets. Thanks to al-Jazeera and similar channels, viewers even have some measure of substantive choice about what program to watch. That, plus the 24-hour news cycle, means that even pure-propaganda outlets like Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV have an insatiable appetite for fresh, compelling footage that keeps their audience from changing the channel. On occasion, they can’t help showing it, even if it may conflict with the dominant narrative of so-called coalition atrocities and Arab/Muslim victimhood. Semiautonomous outlets like al-Jazeera have thus affected the way wholly state-controlled (or Hezbollah-controlled) propaganda outlets operate; once an issue (e.g., civilians forced at gunpoint to attack coalition forces, as has happened) has been raised in the Arab/Muslim media space, that issue must be dealt with in some manner. An Air Force program cognizant of these emerging realities and designed in part to feed the beast with compelling and—equally important—genuine (meaning real, as opposed to manufactured or doctored) footage would be an invaluable information-warfare asset.
I was impressed by the detail and concepts presented in Mr. James Michael Snead’s “Near-Term Manned Space Logistics Operations” (Chronicles Online Journal, 31 August 2005) and would like to offer a few thoughts on the subject. First, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is planning to build the Ares 1, Ares 5, and Orion vehicles, which are similar to those in the author’s presentations. By planning to utilize these systems and/or their components, one could build most of the concepts presented in Mr. Snead’s article by using NASA’s space junk (i.e., components placed in space and discarded). It is very unlikely that NASA is interested in recovering these components. A partnership between the Air Force and the private sector could use these discards to build the infrastructure outlined in the article. Second, under the right conditions, it is possible to tap billions in private-sector funding to develop the concepts outlined by the author. For example, with a fixed-price, fixed-term lease (similar to NASA’s lease of the Mir space station), it would be possible to fund reusable launch vehicles, space tugs, and so forth. Such a lease could potentially generate favorable credit terms comparable to the government’s cost of borrowing. The problem is not lack of money but finding a viable partner on the government side of the deal. The private sector could fund the development (at no cost to the government) and then provide the systems, based on long-term use/lease agreements to the government, which would be very cost-effective. Third, near-term, reusable launch vehicles such as a dual Titan IV solid-rocket motor upgrade or a single space-shuttle solid-rocket booster combined with a reusable orbiter vehicle could speed time to market and reduce development cost. NASA’s Ares 1 is tagged at about $8 billion, but a commercial vehicle with the same capability could be built for less than half that amount by combining existing rocket engines such as the AJ26-60, Vulcain II, LE-7a, or J2 with new airframe thermal-protection systems, such as advanced carbon/carbon. Fourth, the second stage of the Ares 1 could be used in space in many ways that have been proposed for the shuttle’s external fuel tank. In fact, if it were possible to refuel this stage on orbit, there would be little need to build Ares 5. This use of resources that would otherwise be discarded could jump-start space development on a massive scale and lower the cost of lunar and Mars missions.
Mr. Royce Jones
I’m a member of the Brazilian air force infantry and am writing a master’s thesis about ground threats to air bases. During my research, I found Maj David Briar’s article “Sharpening the Eagle’s Talons: Assessing Air Base Defense” (Fall 2004) very valuable to the “air base defense community,” especially because few technical articles about air base defense are available in the international media. Major Briar’s work is a real gem for us.
Maj Luiz C. Topan, Brazilian Air Force
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University
[ Home Page | Feedback? Email the Editor ]