American Carrier Air Power at the Dawn of a New Century by Benjamin S. Lambert

By Benjamin S. Lambert

Contemporary campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq have confirmed that American provider air energy can behavior coordinated deep-strike missions well past coastal reaches, offering round the clock goal insurance, constantly actual aim assault, and a number of profitable targer assaults according to sortie.

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Because of the long-duration combat sorties, fighter aircrews 28 American Carrier Air Power at the Dawn of a New Century averaged 70 flight hours a month, well over twice the normal peacetime rate. Key Operational Achievements As indicated by statistics compiled by the CAOC during the 76 days of bombing between October 7, when Enduring Freedom began, and December 23, when the first phase of the war ended after the collapse of the Taliban, some 6,500 strike sorties were flown by CENTCOM forces altogether, out of which approximately 17,500 munitions were dropped on more than 120 fixed targets, 400 vehicles and artillery pieces, and a profusion of concentrations of Taliban and al Qaeda combatants.

In the past, they had focused mainly on jamming enemy surface-to-air missile (SAM) radars. 4 Those operations were supported by an elaborate inflight refueling scheme, with carrier-based S-3 tankers orbiting off the coast of Pakistan to top off inbound Navy strike aircraft just before the latter proceeded to their holding stations over Afghanistan. Air Force KC____________ 3 Thomas E. Ricks and Vernon Loeb, “Initial Aim Is Hitting Taliban Defenses,” Washington Post, October 8, 2001. 4 Randy Woods, “Prowler, Hawkeye Pilots See Roles Expanding in Enduring Freedom,” Inside the Navy, May 6, 2002.

The FTI system uses a two-hour tape recorder and transceiver enabling the RIO to capture and store any video imagery acquired by the aircraft’s systems, including the TARPS pod, the pilot’s head-up display (HUD), the Television Camera System (TCS, essentially a daytime zoom lens), and the LANTIRN pod. Enhancements made to the system allowed the F-14 to decrease the imagery transmittal time from 90 seconds to around 25–30 seconds, with an average data cycle time, including storage and transmission to a carrier, of around two minutes.

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