Third World Traps and Pitfalls Ballistic Missiles, Cruise Missiles,
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIRPOWER STUDIES
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Two examples from twentieth-century conflicts demonstrate the potential that missiles possess to disrupt an opponents land-based airpower and achieve significant political consequences. Iraqs use of Scud ballistic missiles in the 1991 Persian Gulf War produced nearly instantaneous political effects. The Scuds did not threaten the coalition military forces opposing Saddam Hussein, but instead threatened the existence of the coalition itself by nearly bringing Israel into the war. Negating this threat demanded an urgent response from land-based airpower, and large numbers of coalition aircraft were forced to perform a new mission Scud Hunting. Almost 50 years before Desert Storm, the Allies in World War II had faced a similar threat from the V-i and V-2. Thousands of sorties were diverted to bomb missiles that were chiefly fired at London and Antwerp. In both conflicts, coalition and Allied forces possessed enough airpower that the diversion did not prevent them from performing other necessary missions. Yet, in the future, as the United States Alr Force USAF dwindles in numbers, the ability of land-based airpower to deal with the missile threat becomes problematic. In addition, the improved capabilities of ballistic and cruise missiles threaten airpowers ability to achieve the staple of modern combat operations-air superiority. The increased range and refined accuracy of missiles offers third world nations a chance to develop airpower on the cheap, and the missile forces created may well stymie Americas ability to apply conventional airpower in a crisis.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Air- and Space-Launched Guided Missiles
- Surface-Launched Guided Missiles