Thursday, November 30, 2006

Air Support

While this hasnt been in the blogosphere recently a recent conversation with Roci got me to thinking on the foot soldier. Quite frankly, there is no other way to win a war than by use of the "lowly" foot soldier. Unless, of course, one decides to just nuke the entire country. That would probably be a win too. But the foot soldier shouldnt be regarded as lowly. The are how territory is taken. How an enemy is either killed or subdued.

During WWII today's Air Force was part of the Army. And there were two theories as to what their role should be. Simply, tactical or strategic? Quite obviously the proponents of the strategic theory won out and were able to convince Congress to make them a separate entity. The effectiveness of the strategic use of the Air Force is up for debate and is indeed even debated (still) in the AF, but I think it is safe to say that during the Cold War having the AF focus on strategic use was perhaps their best use. But the Cold War is, for the time being, dead. What we have now is a strong need for tactical use of the AF. What we dont have is much tactical capability. Why? Cuz jets, by and large, dont work very well for close in support. Yes our F-18s are incredible, as are our (beloved) A-10s. But with the extremely high cost of our jets as well as their lack of fuel capacity they are of limited use in today's theaters.

I feel that we need some new, simple designs for close in support. Actually, when I say new I mean well, old. It seems that we must have only new things. Shiny things. If it isnt "new" it cant possibly be good is the mentality. But there are well established platforms and technologies that would work quite well. Take for instance the p-51D Mustang. 4 cannons, 127mm rockets and two hardpoints for bombs (or fuel) and the ability to place it where it would be of great use to the ground forces. And with a cost of say 2 Million a piece (being generous here due to expected gov largess which can always be counted upon) it would be a complete bargain compared to the cost of the F-22 which is about 102 million a piece.

Scrapping just two of the proposed 360+ F-22s would yield a fleet of 100 of these small fighters. And I am betting that with the technology available today we could come up with something even better then the Mustang (I know, that is almost sacriligious!) What do you say Roci. Can you swing the Pentagon around? I'll be more than happy to help them with the design and all that as long as I get one!