a reply to: Zaphod58
Wow that’s a bad argument on many levels.
Desert Storm was 30 years ago. It’s almost irrelevant for the battlefield of today or a near-peer conflict ten or twenty years down the line.
You cannot pick a single-use case from 30 years ago to support your economic arguments of operating a stealth fleet in the threat environment of the
Does this even need explaining?
Aerospace warfare has changed drastically to what was possible a generation ago. Technologies and capabilities have improved tremendously and will
continue to evolve in the coming decade. Aerial warfare today is nothing like it was 30 years ago and it will be different again 10 or 20 years from
So yes, F-117s back in 1990 were able to hit more targets on the first night than a conventional, much larger strike package. But what of it?
First, the first hour / first night is an extreme use case anyway. Conventional aircraft were perfectly able to perform strike at high-efficiency
levels once Iraqi AD was degraded. And this is true for every conflict everywhere. Once the enemies AD is rendered ineffective, Stealth becomes
irrelevant very quickly.
Second, back in 1990, the F-117 was a new plane with the very latest targeting and weapon tech, while conventional strike packages often relied on
significantly older, basically 70s hardware to get the job done. This very unique situation is not in any way relevant today.
Third, if they think the F-117 went in without support they are kidding themselves. Whether you believe the Companion stories or not, they did have at
the very least EF-111 support and air cover.
Fourth, the most economic solution today, tomorrow or back in 1990 is, was and ever will be standoff weaponry deployed from ships or strategic
platforms. You don’t need to send in a 40 or 20 aircraft strike package. A couple of Tomahawks or a single B-52 using JASSMs (or ALCMs back in the
day) is far superior.
So, moving forward, what would a Desert Storm like conflict look like today?
First off, both conventional and stealth aircraft have basically identical targeting capabilities. There is no practical difference between using a
late Block F-16, Strike Eagle, or an F-35. Yes, the F-35 has superior technology but both, 5th and 4.5th Gen would be able to hit assigned targets
without any difficulty.
The same is true for the bomber department, it really doesn’t matter if a B-21 or a B-52 or B-1B drops the JASSMs or JDAMs. It just works and
we’re not talking edge case here.
And you won’t need one aircraft for one Aimpoint either, if it came down to it. Fighter jets today are perfectly able to attack half a dozen or more
targets with quad-packed precision weaponry. And a single strategic platform today could reliably take out the aim points assigned to multiple fighter
squadrons in 1990 in one sortie. It’s just not comparable, it’s ridiculous.
Sidenote - if they want to argue economics, they should look at sortie rates in any case. A modern conventional fighter jet (if properly supported)
can fly significantly more combat missions in any given timeframe compared to the 1990s. Just look at how the IAF was able to boost their sortie rates
over the last ten years alone. Stealth jets have yet to demonstrate similar rates in wart time conditions.
Moving on, strike packages. The main point is, whether you fly conventional or stealth, after the first day there’s no difference anyway. Against a
second-tier opponent you’ll just knock out the AD on the first day and after that, your stealth fleet converts to hauling ordnance externally
The entire ‘oh conventional aircraft are so inefficient because they need so much support’ just doesn’t fly since it’s at best only relevant
for the very first few missions to kick in the door.
Never mind that against a first-rate opponent, the Stealth fleet too would be heavily supported. You’d have a fighter escort component as well as
standoff jamming support. Just like they had in 1990.
And since they mention the B-21, the entire freaking program is built around a family of systems supporting the penetrating bomb carrier. If the B-21
is ever going up against targets defended by an integrated air defense system, it will do so with at the very least a recon and a jamming component in
support. The idea of the single stealth platform flying through enemy airspace just isn’t a thing.
Maybe it was for a brief period in the 90s against a second-rate opponent but this is just not relevant anymore.
You just wouldn’t penetrate the enemies AD to drop short range laser-guided bombs today. The whole concept is just asinine.
The US arsenal has changed since Desert Storm and is changing even more rapidly today. Engagement ranges have increased dramatically. SLAM-ER and
JASSM family missiles offer an extreme range strike precision strike capability. SiAW is just around the corner. 1990 SEAD/DEAD was a joke compared to
what’s possible today with AARGM or even ordinary conventional precision glide bombs. Tomahawk are deployed in ever larger numbers and are in the
process of receiving groundbreaking upgrades.
Not to mention the looming revolution that is hypersonic weaponry. It again will change the picture in its entirety and offer strike capabilities
inconceivable even ten years ago.
So no, the lesson to take away is not stealth means fewer aircraft sorties, but that the fighter jet no matter the generation is the wrong platform to
deploy modern standoff weapons against a first-tier opponent.
I could go on and put it in a more organized form but geez, I certainly don’t get payed to pick this bs apart
Don't rely on a conflict from 30 years ago to support your argument for the fight 10 years down the line.