I started a thread today about US deployments that were making me nervous. After a couple of questions that came out in that thread about one or two
aircraft involved, I thought I'd do a primer on the more important US aircraft that are currently in play near North Korea.
This aircraft is fielded by the Navy, originally as a command post for relaying orders through VLF/ELF radio signals. The reason that this aircraft
is somewhat important is that after the EC-135 Looking Glass aircraft was retired, the E-6B was refitted with a Battle Staff position, to carry a
staff of commanders that are capable of relaying orders from the NCA to the military units in the field, including submarines.
One of the more interesting features of the E-6B is the Trailing Wire Antenna system, used to talk to submarines. It's basically a metal cone, on a
wire that extends several miles behind the aircraft. When in use, the entire cable holding the cone becomes a radio antenna. Two E-6B aircraft
recently left Tinker AFB, deploying to the region it is assumed.
The B-1B is one of the main bombers in the Air Force inventory. It's capable of supersonic speeds, and a large payload. It's a swing wing design,
where the wings will move forward and back depending on the speed of the aircraft (forward for slow speeds, back for high speeds). It holds multiple
records for speed over a closed course, climb speed, payload, and many others.
The Lancer is capable of multiple types of payloads, from JDAMs, to cruise missiles, to Small Diameter Bombs. Seven B-1Bs deployed from Dyess AFB,
requesting weather en route to Anderson AB. There are an unknown number already deployed there (probably 5-6).
84 500-pound Mk-82 or 24 2,000-pound Mk-84 general purpose bombs; up to 84 500-pound Mk-62 or 8 2,000-pound Mk-65 Quick Strike naval mines; 30
cluster munitions (CBU-87, -89, -97) or 30 Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispensers (CBU-103, -104, -105); up to 24 2,000-pound GBU-31 or 15 500-pound
GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions; up to 24 AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles; GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition
(or BUFF for Big Ugly Fat.....Fellow)
The B-52 is by far the oldest aircraft in the inventory. The youngest of them was delivered in 1962. The version in use today is the H model,
equipped with four pods of two turbofans each, for a total of eight engines. They have a very impressive electronic warfare suite on board, but are
limited to attacking targets that are in less defended areas, due to their age. They are generally used as a cruise missile launch platform in the
early days of a conflict.
The B-52 was the primary bomber in use during the Cold War and was used extensively during Vietnam. They would fly missions from the US mainland, to
Vietnam, landing at a base in the area afterwards for crew rest, after which they would return home, or stay in the area flying missions. They would
also fly 24 hour long missions known as "Chrome Dome" where they would orbit near the North Pole carrying nuclear weapons on airborne alert. There
are currently 6 B-52s from Minot AFB deployed at Anderson AB.
The B-2 is probably the best "known" of the bombers. It's the youngest in the inventory, and has a history of flying insanely long bombing missions
out of their home base in Whiteman Missouri, usually returning there after hitting their targets.
There are currently two B-2s forward deployed at Anderson AB Guam. The bombers are capable of carrying between 40,000-60,000 pounds of ordinance, in
various configurations. More importantly however, is the B-2 is the only aircraft in the US inventory capable of carrying the Massive Ordnance
Penetrator (MOP), a 30,000 pound bomb capable of hitting targets buried deep underground. The B-2 is capable of carrying two of the bombs.
RC-135S COBRA BALL
The RC-135 family is a signals/electronic intelligence aircraft based on the KC-135 platform. Originally equipped with basic electronic intelligence
capabilities, depending on the model (of which there are many), they are capable of tracking ballistic missiles, to eavesdropping on a cell phone call
in the middle of Times Square, to many things in between.
The RC-135 family was recently reengined with the CFM-56 used on the KC-135R model aircraft. This gives them a greater range and loiter time. The
RC-135S is equipped with a "cheek" mounted phased array radar system designed to track missiles from launch, as well as a pair of high resolution
cameras mounted inside the fuselage. Interestingly, the models with cameras will have the right wing painted matte black, to dull any sun reflection
to keep from blinding the cameras.
RC-135s have been used to identify and plot SAM sites, in a very dangerous cat and mouse game. They would fly along an area of border, staying in
international airspace, then fly towards the suspected SAM site, trying to get them to bring their radars up and lock onto the aircraft. The site
could then be plotted, and identified by the radar used.
And there you have the (currently) most important players in the region. I'm leaving out the fighters, because there are too many, and right now,
they're pretty much non-entities, until or unless the shooting starts. These are the aircraft to keep an eye on up until that point.
4/6/2013 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)