posted on Sep, 24 2006 @ 10:02 AM
It all depends on who is doing the shooting.
I still maintain that the 'best fighter' (SAM site, whatever) is going to be an Airbus or 747 with a massive COIL in it's nose. Go down to
diode/FO levels and that 'fighter' can be a C-130 or Gulfstream (look at the G-550 where they've tripled the electrical generation capacities).
And once you get to altitude, the range of these systems will be measured in HUNDREDS of miles.
At that point, missiles themselves may only be survivable as low altitude and/or throwaway _offensive_ assets. You won't want to be investing in
'payload boosters' which is effectively what manned strike systems come down to being.
That said, if you start to REALLY move (up to 100 miles and Mach 12-20), as a fractional orbital bombardment system, then you can probably sling bomb
from half a hemisphere away and have your warheads skip across the atmosphere before playing RFG like a depressed trajectory ICBM MIRV. The sheer
range will hide you against the earth halo from even an airborne asset and while it will certainly see the inbound KKVs; it is questionable as to
whether it will be able to do much about them.
For most other instances and theaters...ainh. If it's available it will be used but economics will argue against new developments.
'Because it was there' (and they had nothing else that could reliably penetrate at the time), the Iraqis used their MiG-25RB as Peleng bombers
during PGW-I to hit Iranian oil platforms from over 70nm away using specially configured FAB-500/M62 weapons. Yet to do so, they needed to strip the
jet down (pull the recce gear I'm told) and fit a massive centerline tank and even then they were payload and profile limited because the microshocks
setup by the bomb racks were putting 'dents' in the sides of the inlets.
Of course, today, you get much the same capability from a GBU-39 or other winged/powered SOM and you might only have to bring the jet up to Mach 1.2
and 40K to get there with _multiple aimpoints_. Such will be the likely route forward with the AASM, Spice and similar weapons now coming online.
The big deal is targeting.
That oil platform ain't goin' _nowhere_. So it can be hit by anything which can predetermine it's coordinates upwards of YEARS in advance.
While conversely, a fast moving jet _AIN'T STAYIN' LONG_.
Which means if you are trying to hit 'real' targets vice empty buildings; you have to be able to search for hours and hours, sanitizing great wide
voids of empty battlespace. And if there is a combat jet in the hold cue. Great. If there isn't, you're screwed. Because by the time you get one
to your neck of the woods, the TCT may have vanished or become untouchable.
In this a fast mover's chief advantages of penetrating defenses or using standoff munitions to lob-shot over them is largely invalidated. It may
still be nice to be able to transit across a radius faster than other platforms but this is largely to solve the fatigue problems of the baby
If you go subsonic with a platform/profile designed to stay on station at X radius for hours and cheap enough to completely cover the regional area
you are looking to dominate, pulling the Mutant Under Glass factor is a given and trading back for even just four SDBs means the difference between
waiting for a manned asset to get there and gaining release authorization on the spot.
This is where 'get thar fustest with the mostest' should honestly be restated as something more akin to 'stay the longest with the cheapest'.
Simply because you can't do diddly with one platform looking down at one sensor swath 10 miles wide and then going home. But you can with 10
platforms that sweep 100 miles across. Or ten separate roadways or or or.
Because they will find the micro target sets. And they will NEED to put bombs on target before those threats scatter and vanish.
Under such conditions, penetration speed shouldn't be markedly lower than that which D1/R1 doctrine states for manned jets (Mach .85-1.2) but
signature maintenance is more important than top end simply because a high VLO number, coupled with massively greater endurance, means you can
prepenetrate ahead of anything with a stick wiggler attached. And again use stand off munitions to crutch up your total downrange values or TOF
reaction times instead of relying on the airframe to do all the heavy lifting (50 million dollar jet, 500,000 dollar smart missile, which is easier to
upgrade or restock?).