posted on Jun, 16 2006 @ 04:59 PM
The RC-135s are about to get new engines, and a massive overhaul of their electronics systems to make them more effective. They're the best airframe
for the mission, because they carry a large crew and are capable of looking for SAM sites, communications sites, HQ sites, and other places all at the
same time. Drones will be good for photo-recce or listening in, but not all the missions the RCs can perform at once. Sattelites will let you look
for SAM sites by taking pictures, but they don't have the listening or loitering ability of the RC. Not to mention that most major countries know
when the sattelites come over their head and hide anything they don't want you to see, and they're predictable. An RC-135 orbiting off your coast
can move to another area, leave or fly in at any time. If you try to do that with a sattelite you burn off all the fuel and it becomes useless.
Any new version of the RC will most likely be a 737 or 767 airframe. There won't be a need for stealth since it will stay in international airspace.
If there is an AWACS in the area they monitor and "guard" them against interception, and the RC can monitor the ground control frequencies and tell
when there are fighters launched against them. They're not fast, but they'll have a head start and fighters are fairly short ranged so they should
be able to get away. A Gulfstream would be a good compliment to the RCs, but it wouldn't be able to completely take over the mission and perform it
at the level the RC does now.