Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Bear Bomber Bullshit
The issue isn't intercepting Russian bombers. It's that, if those bombers were going to attack North America, they would have launched their attacks long before our fighters arrived on the scene. The Russian bomber fleet no longer bombs. They launch long-range cruise missiles. Some of the latest Russian weapons are estimated to have ranges in excess of 5,000 km. Like the old Ban Deodorant ads, "it takes the worry out of being close."
Rather than running tail chases on empty bombers, we'd need our small force of fighters to locate and destroy masses of incoming cruise missiles. When it comes to the uber-pricey F-35, how well would it do at that job? Not very well at all.
Lockheed Martin gives the F-35's radius of action at about 730 nautical miles. Since we don't have a lot of northern airfields, that gives the Russians some enormously wide missile corridors beyond the effective reach of the fighters. Worse yet, that 730-nautical mile radius is based on the F-35 at cruising speed and cruising altitude. Put it wide open, down in the weeds hunting ground-hugging cruise missiles and that 730 nautical mile figure becomes enormously degraded.
Put simply, the F-35 can do a lot of things, many of them much better than the current CF-18s. However as a means to defend North America against a Russian air-launched cruise missile attack, it's essentially useless.