Friday, February 13, 2009

Coming to a knife fight with a gun

Mark Bowden’s piece in this month's Atlantic Monthly, “The Last Ace,” is a good depiction of how rapidly technology is changing the battlespace. Our relying on aging F-15s against modern air defense and newer and updated fighters with newer avionics and technology may end our complete dominance in the air or at least make us pay more in blood. We will still have to rely on aging fighters to see us through for many years.

... complete dominance is eroding. Some foreign-built fighters can now match or best the F‑15 in aerial combat, and given the changing nature of the threats our country is facing and the dizzying costs of maintaining our advantage, America is choosing to give up some of the edge we’ve long enjoyed, rather than pay the price to preserve it. The next great fighter, the F‑22 Raptor, is every bit as much a marvel today as the F‑15 was 25 years ago, and if we produced the F-22 in sufficient numbers we could move the goalposts out of reach again.

This prospect has been has been explored by Rebecca Grant’s Mitchell Institute study, Losing Air Dominance, and by our own Magazine. Wonder who will stand up and take the blame when this happens?

This country has paid the price before for not preparing for the next war; but then again, they didn’t have the dreaded disease of next-war-itis, and who knows, as the author states, how many wars have been averted by having complete air dominance? This is a risk this country shouldn’t accept.

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