Monday, January 24, 2005

Excess Air Power?

If memory serves me, we had fewer than one thousand combat aircraft for the Iraq War. Strategypage notes that one most days a half dozen combat aircraft are kept airborne to support combat operations. And to support 6 aircraft up in the air presumably most of the time? Well:
The coalition usually has 500 combat aircraft available for Iraq and Afghanistan. About 80 percent of these planes are for Iraq, and include U.S. Air Force F-15s , F-16s, AC-130s and A-10s, U.S. Navy F-14s and F/A-18s, U.S. Marine CorpsAV-8s and F/A-18s and British GR-4s and GR-7s. There are also about 50 reconnaissance aircraft available, including Global Hawk and Predator UAVs, plus U-2s, RC-135 electronic signal collection) and E-8Cs (J-Stars ground radar). There are also several dozen tankers and transport aircraft. The ground troops also have dozens of helicopter gunships available as well.

I've speculated many times that some time after our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is filled this spring that stuff will start happening in Iran. We've had quite a lot of time to seek support within Iran for a revolt of the soldiers and people against the nuke-seeking mad mullahs. Now, this report says we have 400 aircraft allocated for Iraq and 100 for Afghanistan? Isn't 400 rather a lot to support 6 planes in the air--even assuming 6 are in the air 24/7?

I don't know, but it sure seems like we have excess capacity for purely Iraq operations. Granted, with our ground troops spread out hunting Baathists we'd really need significant airpower to blunt a sudden Iranian or Syrian thrust into Iraq should they get world-class stupid, but still... 500 planes around Iran? With long-range bombers able to add their weight from outside the region?

Is this capacity there for an Iran contingency? If we are supporting Iranian dissidents and army units revolting against Tehran, this airpower directed by special forces embedded in the Iranian rebels would be quite effective.