Wednesday, April 25, 2012

USAF long-range exercise may have had China in mind

A nation-wide bombing exercise involving aircraft based in Japan highlighted the US Air Force’s ability to operate in a large anti-access target area 

A long-range strike exercise held by the US Strategic Command earlier this month may have been intended as a practice run for a future contingency involving China, military analysts have said. 

The exercise, codenamed Operation Chimichanga, was held at the US military’s Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex near Eilson Air Force Base, Alaska, and involved a variety of combat aircraft and bombers, including F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, B-1 bombers, E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) and KC-135 Stratotankers air-refueling aircraft. US Air Force F-16s from Misawa Air Base in northern Japan also took part. 

The exercise involved launches of a combination of real and computer-simulated weapons at mock targets scattered across the Joint Pacific Alaska Range. 

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.


Michael Fagan said...

The new, strike-capable F-22s are only a handful of planes, so unless they were to be suplemented with F-15Es (and give or take a few "silent" eagles), then it may be an open question whether the U.S. Airforce would even have enough strike/fighter planes to pull the thing off. And I'm presuming the hypothetical mission was only suppression of access-denial systems and is not supposed to encompass a strike on the PRC's nukes.

So... would you have any idea on how the numbers might stack up?

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

@Mike: F-22s would likely play an air-superiority function, with the B-1s and F-16s with AESA capability + JDAMs doing the bulk of the bombing. I'll leave it to the USAF to decide whether nuclear sites would be targeted.

Michael Fagan said...

Of course - the F-15Es aren't equipped with AESA radars yet which puts them at a disadvantage relative to the F-16.

However, a JDAM from a stealthy F-22 is better than a JDAM from an F-16.