Monday, April 28, 2014


There was a little buzz a few weeks back about the Navy deciding to end production of the Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles in the next couple of years. Evidently the Defense Department believes we have enough of them (estimated 10,000), to handle any possible contingencies that may crop up in the 10 years or so before their replacement missile system has cleared the acquisition acceptance hurdles and joins the war at sea. It will cost five times as much, weigh twice as much, fly slower and less far than Tomahawk but it will be the pinnacle of robot warfare when it flies. Why even bother?

There were a number of valid arguments made for continuing production of the missiles at least until their replacements came on line and joined the fleet, but I'm a contrarian so few of the arguments made much sense to me. I had marshaled facts and evidence to support a counter point of view but I don't need them, a little thought and the words speak for themselves.

Tomahawks were designed to penetrate the most exclusive airspace in the world and defeat the most highly sophisticated air defenses of the era. They were first class weapons of war designed to sneak up on targets through a 1000 miles of intensively defended and surveilled airspace and successfully hit what they were fired at from a 1000 miles away and thereby destroy hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Command, Control, Communication and Information Systems, crater runways to prevent aircraft from taking off and landing and to destroy aircraft in either armored bunkers or open revetments. They would roll back terminally lethal air defenses in order to let the bombers follow up and destroy what remained.

They were designed to carry nuclear warheads to seek out and destroy targets that nobody today can even conceive of attacking. Not because of the value of the target, but because nobody believes people seriously planned to use nuclear weapons to defeat our enemy by striking his headquarters, air bases, naval bases, missile bases, hydro-electric damns and generators, power plants and bridges. Nobody believes anybody is capable of doing that anymore.  All their lives the people on duty with the USN today have seen us piss those incredible robot missiles away on distant tents in the desert, camels, terrorists, caves, worthless Telecommunication infrastructure, and the occasional airplane or pharmaceutical plant.

We no longer need additional Tomahawk missiles with software and maps that allow them to fly through the enemy's valleys and mountain passes using Terrain Contour Mapping and GPS guidance and demonstrate the ability to fly through major air defenses to destroy air defense installations as the lead-in to a major air and land assault. Just as the days when our U2s were flying into that kind of threat environment are long over, so too, is the time when we required robots to do it alone. The U.S. will still attack such targets but it has better methods that reserve a capability we might need again for another fight at a later date which will require the instant simultaneous destruction of air defense networks and C4I installations.

If we want to kill camels, tents, airplanes, terrorists, etc., we send a Reaper and the CIA kills it with a Hellfire missile that still costs a bit but Reapers each carry a couple of them and carries a video camera and data link that lets you see immediately if you were successful and hit the target and each drone can kill hundreds of targets. The operator and National Command Authority can watch in real-time as our enemies are killed by our better and smarter robots.

Where we once fired clouds of killer robots into Third World countries which lacked any kind of air defenses, we send killer drones. That fact alone should drastically reduce the demand for Tomahawks.

Try to guess which country manufactures 50% of the electronic components in all our drones.

Did you see recently that Space Exploration Technology is complaining that the Air Force and Spy Inc. have cut them out of all competition in the space launch business for spy satellites since the Air Force prefers United Launch with 100% of its rocket engines made in the USSR? Oddly, no retired Air Force generals work for SPACEX.

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