Saturday, February 18, 2017

The United States Aerospace Force

The Air Force needs to migrate to being an Aerospace Force.

In science fiction, we have space navies. And maybe for missions away from the Earth-Moon system, such a way of looking at space warships makes sense.

But for the Earth-Moon system that impacts our ground, doesn't that kind of force mesh more as an Air Force mission asset? If so, while the concept is good, calling a future space force a Coast Guard in space just concedes the mission to the Navy doesn't it?

I noted this notion of a Coast Guard in space back in 2012. An effort to have a routine presence in space is good.

But I still think that the Air Force should take the lead, aim high, and become an Aerospace force.

I refined my notion in the years after that initial post 11 years ago. But the basic concept remains valid, I think.

Which is why I like whatever the heck we are doing with the X-37B (tip to Instapundit):

A miniature, reusable space plane just thirty feet long, the X-37B has been in space for 636 days, a long voyage that is quickly becoming typical for the craft. What we still don't know is, what exactly it is doing up there?

There are two X-37B spaceplanes, and they are launched from U.S. Air Force Atlas 5 launch vehicles. Similar to the old Space Shuttle in appearance, the X-37B is just one quarter the size. Unmanned, it lacks a crew and life support systems.

The cargo bay is the size of a pickup truck bed.

Whatever it is doing, it is doing it for a long time. Which means a scaled-up version could do the same one day.

The Air Force clearly doesn't really like to provide ground support to troops, as the longstanding aversion to the A-10 shows. So the Air Force should pull in space missions and migrate the mission and funds for close air support to the Army--matching what the Marines already have.

If that is done, it will be interesting to see what the Army does with armed helicopters and drones once those assets aren't in-house alternatives to fixed wing aircraft provided by another service. Will the Army fund airplanes at the expense of helicopters and drones? Just what asset will the Army value the most?