Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comparing Reapers to F-16s

In today’s Air Force Times, reporter Michael Hoffman recounts the following vignette from the SECDEF’s visit to Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Gates made the remark in response to a question from one of the students:
“Gates told the officers that upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review, a four-year blueprint for the military, would address the requirements for more long-range bombers. He went on to explain the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft has a range of 3,000 miles, similar to a B-2, and the ability to carry the same weapons load as an F-16.” For the full transcript, with Q&A, go here.

Is he serious? Since when do four Hellfire missiles equal the weapons load of an F-16?  He didn't mention that the Reaper flies at a speed of only about 150 knots, flies below an altitude of 20,000 feet, cannot evade threats, has no self-defense capability, and can only perform in a permissive environment once somebody else—the fighter force—has established air superiority.  Give me a break!  This notion that Reaper is a "fighter equivalent" or a “bomber equivalent” is pretty astounding. Of course, the Secretary is saying some pretty breath-taking things these days.

1 comment:

Tim Snook said...

The SECDEF came from General Dynamics. It looks like he brought with him GD's management philosophy -- not "What have you done for me?" but "What have you done for me lately?" and a focus on the bottom line for this quarter. He is unable or unwilling to admit to threats beyond the horizon, and demeans military planners when they work so hard to ensure the nation has the capability necessary to defend itself from "all attacks, foreign and domestic".

Now, he wants to delete CSAR capability. I see that as closing all fire departments and just use volunteers with pickup trucks to fight fires!

I fear for my country and my Air Force.