Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Libya reveals much
The limited war being waged in Libya reveals several truths:
1. As I said in my last post, UAVs could have made this operation vastly cheaper and more capable.
A Tomahawk missile costs over a million dollars. Using one to take out something that isn't a million dollar target doesn't make sense. A UAV dropping smart bombs could do the same job for so much less--and with even less warning.
2. The bottleneck isn't the technology. It's the military top brass and their patrons/future employers in private industry, with a titanic vested interest in expensivo manned weapons systems and cruise missiles. The problem with UAVs is that they don't make as much profit for military contractors and they don't give pilots enough glory. Landing a plane on a carrier under combat conditions, at night, in rough seas, is one of the bravest, most skilled things I can imagine a human being doing.
Another is a President standing up to those promoting the status quo and getting our armed forces the tools and training they really need--including UAV carriers and aircraft.
That this foot-dragging is a real problem is borne out by a comment on my last post quoting Aviation Week about military aviation top brass disdaining UAVs.
3. President Obama should use the Libya incident as an excuse to light a fire under the military to greatly expand UAV roles and to hasten the development of UAV carrier systems. There's plenty of money to be made here by military contractors--just not as much.
4. For Libyan-type operations we especially need the UAV equivalent of the A-10 ground attack aircraft. Its rapid-fire cannon could kill tanks as fast as it could do attack runs on each one.