The fact that an unidentified B-1B bomber pilot stuck his neck out this morning isn’t news. After all, B-1B pilots fly a non-stealthy aircraft with a defective defensive suite. What else do you expect?
But this B-1B pilot stuck his neck out by challenging the chief of staff of the air force on a fundamental point of the service’s strategy. Namely, the pilot asked, since stealth is so expensive, why don’t we do something else?
Gen Norton Schwartz, to his credit, did not reward the pilot’s boldness with an automatic Article 15 disciplinary action and a reassignment to the Adak weather station. Instead, Schwartz heard him out.
What if, the B-1B pilot suggested, the air force equip non-stealthy aircraft, such as the B-1B, with high-energy lasers? The pilot cited the example of the Electric Laser on a Larger Aircraft (ELLA), which involves exactly such a concept. If such non-stealthy aircraft could be more cost-effective than a stealthy platform, could that change the paradigm?
Schwartz wasted no time making clear such a concept would never happen — not during his own tenure, nor the B-1B pilot’s. Why?
“There are those who would say that ‘I’m very comfortable being shot at because I can sort of interrupt the process. I feel comfortable with that scenario,’” Schwartz says. “Well, frankly, I’d just as soon not be shot at.”
USAF chief still prefers invisibility (stealth) to invincibility (lasers)
By Stephen Trimble on 30 March, 2010 in Uncategorised
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