Aggressive employment of aircraft carrier battle groups (CVBGs) lies at the heart of the U. S. Navy’s maritime strategy.1 To do their job, these forces will have to “go in harm’s way.” Much of that potential harm will come from long-range Soviet Naval Aviation (SNA) aircraft carrying antiship cruise missiles (ASCMs).2 The CVBG’s first line of defense against the SNA (aside from hitting it on the ground first) is the outer air battle (OAB).
The outer air battle will be fought in the “battle space” stretching between the range from a carrier at which an ASCM platform may first be destroyed to that where the latter is able to effectively employ its weapons. It is much easier to shoot down ASCM launch platforms than their small, fast, and generally high-altitude weapons.
The OAB is normally considered the domain of fighter aircraft. Although an ongoing effort to place guided-missile cruisers at long ranges from the carrier will enable them to “shoot archers vice arrows” and introduce a great deal of uncertainty in the mind of an attacker, it may also expose these ships to rollback attack (except where these ships may be placed in locations that are shielded by land masses, such as in the Mediterranean) and removes their improving capability as a last line of defense against ASCMs. But using fighter aircraft in the OAB diverts scarce resources and flight deck space from the CVBG’s primary power projection mission. Even when power projection does not compete with antiair warfare (AAW) for resources, there is considerable doubt about whether the CVBG can defend itself against the formidable threat of an SNA attack, especially at effective power projection ranges. Consequently, tacticians, planners, and commanders are searching for solutions to a complex AAW problem that bears directly on the efficacy of the maritime strategy itself.
This concern with the OAB threat does not mean that the maritime strategy is bankrupt. The Navy is well on its way toward improving its AAW weapon systems—as long as the Aegis cruiser, the remanufacture of the F-14A to the F-14D, and new defensive weapons are not sacrificed in Washington budget battles. However, if CVBGs are to become survivable enough to execute the maritime strategy in an era of budget austerity, the Navy must do everything it can to find high leverage procurement, tactics development, and training opportunities to improve CVBG antiair warfare. Several such opportunities become apparent when the problem is considered in terms of relationships between three key processes of naval warfare: scouting, firepower, and maneuver.3
Before examining these key processes, let us review the arena in which the CVBG will fight the OAB during execution of the maritime strategy. This is the lens through which the problem must be viewed if we are to correctly prepare in peacetime to counter the SNA threat in wartime.
During the “transition to war” phase of the maritime strategy, multicarrier battle forces (CVBFs) will attempt to transit large ocean areas covertly en route to forward positions.4 Although carrier air wings often demonstrate their ability to conduct strike operations at very long ranges, these forward positions are necessary because the amount of effective conventional firepower that an air wing can deliver decreases dramatically with an increase in range to the target. It is from these forward positions that CVBFs will “carry the fight to the enemy” in the final phase of the strategy.
Moving from the transition phase to the power projection phase of the maritime strategy will not be easy. Offensive and defensive forces must “seize the initiative” by creating a sanctuary for aircraft carriers. Many tacticians believe that this means SNA must be defeated before CVBFs reach effective power projection ranges. If the Soviets cooperate by attacking at extremely long ranges, U. S. battle forces will be able to fight the SNA on their own terms. Carriers will be able to enhance their survivability by orienting their flight deck configurations exclusively to defend against aviation, surface, and submarine threats. Unfortunately, the Soviets may wait. How close the Soviets will allow a battle force to approach before attacking it will be influenced by their estimates of carrier air wing and SNA range-versus-firepower trade-offs, the decrease in their ability to localize carriers with an increase in range, and the overall pace of the conflict. In other words, tacticians counting on defeating the SNA at long ranges may be disappointed by an adversary who is unwilling to come out and fight on the CVBFs’ terms. Carrier battle forces will probably be required to defend themselves and project power simultaneously.
In either case, until an aircraft carrier sanctuary is created, CVBFs will be subject to attack by concentrated raids composed of SNA Backfire, Bear, and Badger bombers.5 While the Backfire, with its supersonic dash capability and superb electronic countermeasures suite, is the most capable threat ASCM platform, the Soviet philosophy of massing firepower indicates that, depending on range, all three types will come to the fight.6 As the battle group closes to within an acceptable striking distance of its targets, threat sectors will widen, SNA bombers will be able to fly faster profiles, and other aircraft types will be able to join the attack. Raids will likely be supported by massive radar and communications jamming and, depending on range, by fighters, thus greatly complicating the carrier battle force’s AAW problem. ASCMs may be launched in large waves in an attempt to overwhelm CVBG defenses. The Soviets emphasize surprise, and thus can be expected to take hard- and/or soft-kill actions against facilities that supply indications and warnings to battle group commanders. This suggests that, in many cases, the only available indications and warnings of an SNA attack will exist within the carrier battle force, yet indications and warnings must be timely enough for defensive firepower to be positioned correctly.7 The Soviets may attempt to coordinate these raids with simultaneous surface and subsurface attacks, further tying up CVBG assets. The SNA’s long-range strike capability dictates that carriers will be exposed around the clock, requiring an AAW posture that can be continuously sustained during a campaign-length operation, day and night.
It is naive to think that the Soviets will flinch in this battle or that they are incompetent; the threat will be numerous, capable, and determined. It is also naive to think that U. S. Navy ships—especially carriers—will survive unscathed; some losses must be expected. Throughout the fight, the “fog of war” will be thick in an arena that has never been encountered by either side.8 Simplicity, striking the enemy’s firepower with power projection forces first, and minimizing losses during early enemy attacks are key to survival and victory for CVBFs during the later stages of the maritime strategy’s execution.
Firepower and Scouting
Effective scouting enables a commander to preserve both offensive and defensive firepower and is one of the few means by which a numerically inferior force (which the CVBG will almost certainly be) may take advantage of a superior one.9 Hence, scouting may be the most important and difficult process associated with defending the CVBG from air attack.
Yet firepower is also critically important: “If the enemy’s scouting and weapons ranges are both superior, then . . . defensive Firepower . . . must be vastly superior.”10 Clearly, given the threat described, unprecedented amounts of OAB firepower will be required in a war with the Soviets. What good does it do to find the enemy if he cannot be destroyed?
Scouting has dominated OAB tactics development in recent years at the expense of firepower. This is partly because current tactics development and training exercises expose deficiencies in scouting tactics more clearly than in firepower tactics. A small number of platforms can identify a force’s scouting deficiencies, except those involving its ability to accurately achieve a “raid count” at long range. But accurately simulating firepower requirements demands large numbers of threat platform simulators (some with a long-range supersonic dash capability and others with fighter escorts) and massive electronic countermeasures (ECMs), both of which are usually available only in small amounts. In addition, weapons are seldom as effective in wartime as they are in carefully controlled peacetime firing exercises. Thus many tacticians get an incorrect picture of the amount of firepower required by this battle.
As a result, important scouting deficiencies are routinely exposed during fleet exercises, while those that apply to firepower are more often disguised. (Some of these firepower deficiencies will be addressed as they relate to maneuver.) Unfortunately, in addressing CVBG scouting problems, very little attention has been paid to the serious technical deficiencies inherent in the carrier’s primary scouting asset—the E-2C Hawkeye.
The talented and dedicated aircrews in the U. S. Navy’s airborne early warning (AEW) community currently operate an aircraft that fails to fill the sustainable, long-range scouting requirements of the maritime strategy. Although it has been updated, the E-2’s radar does not counter jamming as well as it should. It is limited in range and ability to discriminate targets, and demands an extremely skilled operator to see well over land. In a climate of rapidly increasing emphasis on passive warfare, the aircraft’s capability in this area is limited. The aircraft’s communications suite is very restrictive. Two of the E-2’s aircrew-' the pilots—are undertasked while the other three are often swamped by numerous command and control missions that leave little time for attention to its very operator-intensive sensors.
Even if a quick radar fix were available, the E-2 is simply the wrong airframe for the job. It is slow and cannot be refueled in flight, giving it little endurance at range. The E-2 is restricted in how high it can fly, which limits its radar range. Its large size takes up precious room on carrier flight decks. Worse, this complex aircraft has not benefited from technological improvements in reliability: It is virtually impossible for an air wing to keep one airborne continuously over a campaign-length operation. In short, while the E-2 was a quantum improvement in its day, its shortcomings are hobbling naval aviation’s ability to carry out the maritime strategy.
Because scouting’s technical shortcomings have received so little attention (if money is an accurate measure of attention), the only solution has been to develop new scouting tactics that use fighters as long-range scouts, with the E-2 playing a secondary role. This concept has flaws involving every key process of naval warfare:
- Firepower: So many fighters are required to support scouting requirements that very few are left on deck to counter the threat once it is discovered. And, in a superb example of Sun Tzu’s maxim, “He who prepares everywhere will be weak everywhere,” airborne fighters are so spread out that they cannot defend against a concentrated attack.11 Instead, airborne scouting fighters must be rapidly remarshalled to provide firepower when a raid is detected.
- Scouting: Fighter active and passive sensors are not designed for scouting roles. Their radar range is limited, and they cannot see 360°—they are blind when their backs are turned. Fighters have only one radar operator. Their high-performance designs do not satisfy the endurance requirements of a scouting platform.
- Maneuver: Because this scheme must keep large numbers of fighters airborne continuously, it keeps the carrier predictable. For such a posture to have any hope of being sustainable during a campaign-length operation, precious strike aircraft must be used as airborne refueling assets. Using fighters in continuous, high-tempo scouting operations may affect fighter availability at the worst time. Moreover, in power projection scenarios, fighters will be needed to escort strikes.
- Command and Control (C2): Using fighters as scouts poses awkward C2 problems. Fighter communications suites are not optimized for this role, especially at long ranges. When using fighters as scouts, more aircraft must be kept airborne—the overall C2 required increases non-linearly with the number of airborne assets. The need to remarshal scouts to oppose a raid presents extremely difficult C2 problems, especially with multi-carrier battle groups.
Clearly, using F-14s and F/A-18s to initially detect SNA threats only addresses the symptoms and not the causes of the problem, and requires the carrier to use her precious firepower assets for scouting. Captain Wayne Hughes alludes to this when, in summing up trends and constants of naval warfare’s key processes, he says that tactical commanders “have had to devote more of their attention to scouting and less to firepower” (a trend) and “must be prepared to re-allocate forces and sacrifice fleet firepower for purposes of scouting” (a constant).12 Nowhere is there a more painful example of this than in the outer air battle. The firepower is available, but its hands are tied by scouting requirements.
The cure for this problem is to replace the E-2C with a different scouting platform or combination of platforms. This is the most urgent procurement issue facing AAW planners today. It is also a sensitive political football, because the call for a new platform may threaten proposed interim improvements to the E-2. Nevertheless, a new, dedicated scouting platform is urgently required, and must have the following capabilities:
- State-of-the-Art Sensors: The E-2’s replacement must carry a long-range radar that is extremely jam-resistant. This will require it to be able to fly a high power-out system to a high altitude. In addition, the radar must have good overland capability because many OAB (and power projection) scenarios may occur over land. Because an accurate “raid count” is useful when launching interceptors, excellent target discrimination at range is important. Since active radars are vulnerable to detection and even hard kill by anti-radiation missiles, this platform must incorporate passive warfare; it requires at least the same passive capability as the EA-3 Skywarrior and the EA-6B Prowler.
- Endurance and Speed: These factors equate to the ability to quickly position a scouting asset at long ranges from the battle group. This means earlier warning, a more sustainable scouting posture, and more scouting options for the battle group commander. In an environment in which scouting platforms will be priority targets (on both sides), speed also equates to survivability. A new aircraft that can stay airborne longer will enable a carrier to carry fewer scouting platforms, releasing scarce flight deck space for more tactical aircraft.
Endurance will also enhance the battle group’s countertargeting effort. (Countertargeting is defined as a battle group’s ability to deny the enemy information about its exact position. Countertargeting expands battle space inward by forcing the enemy to fly closer to launch his weapons.) Although there is little doubt that the Soviets will be aware of a CVBG’s presence, “today’s missile battle will center on keeping the enemy uncertain of his target and its position.”13 There is a great deal of Navy emphasis on tactical countertargeting through careful control of a battle group’s electronic emissions (EmCon). Despite the claims of carrier survivability critics, who have never made a 500-mile round trip from a carrier and returned to a ship that does not wish to be found (even when her position was known at the beginning of the flight), battle group commanders are actually quite good at hiding their carriers from aircraft—including their own. Thus, one of EmCon’s greatest advantages is one of its worst enemies when large numbers of airborne aircraft must find their way home (and land at night), as occurs when using fighters as scouts. A scouting platform with endurance will drastically decrease the number of aircraft that a carrier must keep airborne, giving battle group commanders much more flexibility to operate in the strictest EmCon. This will also force a carrier into the wind less frequently, making it less predictable and thus harder to find.
- C2 Ability: The E-2’s replacement should not be swamped by its other C2 functions. This will require efficient use of its operators and a robust communications suite. It must also be able to fully link with all platforms participating in the OAB.
A new scouting platform will release sorely needed firepower for the engagement phase of AAW or, even better, shift the asset balance more toward power projection. It is ironic that a key to increasing the amount of AAW and strike warfare firepower available to a CVBG commander depends in large measure on procuring an aircraft that carries no weapons. The firepower preserved by such an asset will greatly enhance the carrier’s survivability. It will also release fighters for escorting strike aircraft on power projection missions into an intense air-to-air arena.
What form should a new scouting platform take? If carrier-based, a new platform should be as common as possible with an existing aircraft, such as the S-3. A new platform need not be carrier-based, however. Though limited in radar range owing to altitude constraints and speed, an airship might even be part of the solution, because of its excellent endurance. According to one Soviet writer, “the air defenses of a multi-role carrier force would be provided by 4-5 dirigibles patrolling at a radius of 370 km from the formation. With the dirigibles operating, there is no need for a constant defensive patrol of fighters, which can be off the carrier’s deck on a five minute alert” (italics added).14 Space-based sensors also hold great promise for OAB scouting.
One solution is to use an airborne warning and control system (AWACS)-type aircraft that is specifically tailored to the maritime environment. This aircraft is flying right now and, with a few modifications, will have all the requirements mentioned. While some battle group commanders may be uncomfortable with a non-CVBG asset, a land-based alternative has numerous offsetting advantages, such as endurance, avionics space, radar power available, number of operators, and use as an off-board C2 center. If it is an AWACS-type aircraft, the Navy must either own it or have total control over it (with Navy aircrews on board), for two important reasons. First, training exercises and real-world operations with AWACS aircraft have clearly demonstrated that U. S. Air Force crews are very skillful operators, but are unfamiliar with the flavor of CVBG operations and associated requirements. Despite the existence of interoperability courses, the amount of interaction required to correctly train AWACS crews for this mission is impractical and will seriously detract from their other mission training requirements. Second, AWACS aircraft will be in high demand during a conflict with the Soviets. The CVBFs’ scouting requirements are simply too important to be left to interservice priority conflicts about scheduling. Such a platform will not sell as a primary scouting platform to battle group commanders unless these two requirements are met—and rightfully so.
The best solution will not place all of the scouting eggs in one basket. It should employ at least a minimal carrier-based presence to fill in the gaps left when a primary land-based asset is temporarily unavailable or not required (such as during certain routine peacetime operations).
It is uncertain whether a replacement for the E-2 is feasible in the near future, given the current funding constraints and a late start. Meanwhile, there are two scouting imperatives. First, we must continue to find innovative ways to use fighters as scouts. This must include using the F/A-18 Hornet and shore-based aerial refueling assets (should they truly be available to a CVBG during wartime15). Both of these assets will help preserve firepower. Optimum ways to use them must be developed and practiced, for there are many implications for how the OAB is managed when they are present.
Second, we must take more seriously the inclusion of AWACS aircraft in battle group training exercises in order to teach them to operate effectively in the maritime environment. Although their presence may not be guaranteed in a conflict, they still offer the Navy a potent scouting asset which can preserve a CVBG’s defensive firepower.
Note that both of these imperatives call for Air Force support. It is true that Air Force tactical air cannot easily replace Navy tactical air in theaters of maritime interest. However, Air Force scouting and refueling assets can make room on carrier flight decks for more offensive and defensive firepower.
Firepower and Maneuver
Maneuver may best be described as the combinations and positioning of forces made before and during a battle.
In a community that places great emphasis on “macro” scouting tactics and “micro” platform-versus-platform firepower engagements, maneuver is the often-ignored “middle ground” of AAW. Many opportunities to improve CVBG AAW using maneuver do not require technical solutions and are thus “free.”
At realistic power projection ranges, the amount of firepower needed to counter an SNA raid is currently more than even a multi-carrier battle group force can realistically keep airborne continually during a campaign-length operation. Thus, the lion’s share of the killing will have to be done by deck-launched interceptors (DLIs), except for the rare occasions when unusually good indications and warnings present the opportunity to preemptively launch fighters (which should be considered DLIs in this case anyway). Many more manned alert fighters than are typically used in peacetime will be required. Getting these fighters to the correct place quickly with plenty of firepower on board has a number of wide-ranging implications involving maneuver.
- Rapid Response: Carriers must be able to get this massive alert response off the deck quickly. Every minute wasted against an inbound Backfire raid can cost more than 20 miles of precious battle space. This is especially important as the CVBG approaches effective power projection ranges, where battle space is at a premium. In fact, because the killing will have to be largely done by DLIs, their response time is a major limiting factor both on how close a CVBG can maneuver to an SNA threat before a sanctuary is reached and how good its countertargeting must be.
Two important factors slow F-14 alert response time. First, on most carriers the F-14 is hindered by its dependence on ground support equipment and an outdated inertial navigation system. Yet, every day the F/A-18 Hornet demonstrates the value of having an on-board auxiliary power unit. Although there are difficult technical problems involved, incorporating a similar capability in the F-14D will solve this problem (and address several others). Second, because scouting dominates fighter assets, carriers rarely practice starting and launching large numbers of fighters quickly. Like anything else, it takes lots of practice to get it right, and time is precious in this arena. Massive launches should be practiced as often as possible, especially when a carrier is constrained during work-up periods to operating at ranges from simulated threats that are inappropriate for realistic scouting practice. The best time to practice long-range scouting tactics is during transits. Units deployed to the Indian Ocean also have an excellent opportunity to practice these tactics against the US-3s that bring the mail.
- Fighter Profiles: The best profile for a newly launched interceptor depends on the detection range and speed of an inbound raid and the performance characteristics of the interceptor. A supersonic F-14 will get there fast, but a subsonic F-14 will fly much further; there is a large grey area between the two extremes. Little information is available to F-14 crews on subsonic and supersonic profiles, and they are rarely practiced. There is no published information on the infinite number of hybrid profiles available. Choosing the correct profile optimizes the amount of available critical battle space. More analysis and practice must be undertaken in this area.
- Fighter Loadouts: Another means of enhancing a CVBG’s defensive firepower is to increase the number of weapons its fighters carry. OAB exercises typically use fighter missile loadouts oriented toward scouting rather than killing. The result is relatively lightly loaded fighters for greater endurance and, since a scouting fighter usually returns with its ordnance, light landing weights. A fighter on a killing mission will be able to carry more ordnance than is typically carried by a “scout.” New tactics that minimize the number of fighters used as scouts and, eventually, a new scouting platform will release more fighters to be used as interceptors. This will enable commanders to use varying loadouts between fighters, depending on whether they are earmarked for scouting or killing. Surprisingly, this is rarely done.
- Ordnance Management: Managing all this ordnance will be difficult. Peacetime loading exercises for both aircraft and ships demonstrate that the complexity of modem ordnance greatly lengthens the time required to break it out of a magazine and load it. Shouldn’t additional personnel be trained in ordnance handling, and shouldn’t we practice it more realistically? What rules are we willing to relax in an urgent situation? This topic is rarely formally addressed.
- Aircrew Endurance: During a campaign-length operation, a very high alert posture combined with support for strike operations will stretch fighter aircrews to the breaking point, especially if fighters are also being used as scouts. This is an aspect of maneuver that is rarely considered in war games. Though plans undoubtedly exist for augmenting squadrons during wartime with more aircrews (and acknowledging that it is dangerous to practice in peacetime with tired aircrews), this aspect of the OAB (and carrier operations in general) during the late stages of the maritime strategy deserve more attention.
- DLI Engagement Logic: As mentioned previously, one of the advantages of using DLIs rather than remarshalling scouting fighters is that DLIs are fresh and come from a common starting point. It is important to correctly apply this firepower over an inbound raid, which may come over a wide threat sector and be very deep. In other words, it would be unfortunate to have all the DLIs try to kill the same raid cell. Most battle groups have not had to address this C2 problem. In some situations, fighter distribution can be handled by an offboard C2 aircraft such as an E-2. However, confusion and communications jamming might deny this real-time, active C2. Communications cannot be substituted for C2. As Lord Nelson would surely insist, doctrine must exist in advance for autonomous decision making by DLIs based on simple information given to them at launch by means of a vector board.17 It is especially important that this passive form of C2 be addressed from the point of view of multi-carrier battle groups.
- Scouting and Firepower Distribution on the Flight Deck: The entry of the F/A-18 Hornet into the fleet introduces another capable OAB asset. The question is: How should the Hornet be used? Should Tomcats and Hornets share scouting and firepower roles, or should there be a division of labor? The F-14’s radar and endurance are superior in the OAB scouting arena, and its weapons capability gives it the edge in firepower. In terms of maneuver, the F/A-18 has better speed at altitude and quicker DLI response, and the Hornet will grow enormously in firepower capability when the advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) enters the fleet. This seems to argue for using F-14s as scouts and F/A-18s as DLIs. Yet how does the fact that both have other missions (especially if the F-14 gains a strike capability) affect this question? And will not a fighter scouting posture be more sustainable if the sorties are distributed among more aircraft? This poses a formidable management problem, however, owing to the aircraft’s different performance characteristics. Hornets and Tomcats mix well in power projection scenarios, but the best way to coherently mix their differing flight, sensor, and weapon capabilities in the OAB remains largely an unanswered question.
- Scouting and Firepower Distribution in the CVBF: If fighters are used as scouts, then battle force commanders must carefully consider how to distribute scouting and firepower responsibilities between carriers within a single battle force. Should the division be among key processes (e.g., scouting and killing) or threat sectors? The advantage of the former is easier C2; that of the latter is faster DLI response. How is the question influenced by threat sector size, other defensive missions, and the number of carriers present? What about carrier class and air wing type? Where do surface missile shooters come into play, and how should they be stationed? These questions must be asked by battle force commanders, addressed by war gaming and analysis, and answered at sea in exercises.
One hopes this discussion will stimulate debate as to what the OAB will be like in a war with the Soviets and what the U. S. Navy must do to improve its ability to fight it. The existence of a formidable threat, the need to get relatively close to this threat to project power, and a 24-hour battlefield will require a sustainable, high-quality scouting posture and a massive defensive firepower response to make carrier entry into the arena possible. This means that the E-2 must be replaced as soon as possible by a more capable asset. When an improved scouting capability enters the fleet (whether by means of technology or tactics), commanders must emphasize operational planning, tactical innovation, and training to manage the firepower released from the scouting role by making efficient use of maneuver. Meanwhile, efficient, simple command and control must be programmed into every level of procurement and tactical decision making.
In our zeal to defend the carrier, it is important that we not lose sight of the its true purpose: power projection. If by the threat of attack alone the Soviets succeed in forcing us to cram our flight decks with defensive assets, they have succeeded in neutralizing the carrier battle group as an effective component of an aggressive, forward-deployed maritime strategy. High leverage opportunities exist now to improve the battle group’s ability to fight the outer air battle. In the balance hangs the vulnerability of the U. S. Navy’s primary conventional striking force and, therefore, a substantial portion of the maritime strategy itself.
All Screwed Up.
The factory representative of the British ejection-seat manufacturer who made the emergency escape system installed in our Navy aircraft visited our squadron periodically to give us a refresher and update on the equipment. On one visit a new ensign persisted in asking, “What if this doesn’t work?” or “What if that fails?” of each automatic function of the seat. The English gentleman patiently explained the built-in redundancies of manual overrides.
Finally he was asked, “And what do you do if the parachute doesn’t open?”
The British gentleman demonstrated how the parachutist should twist his right leg in front of and around his left leg and, with arms extended overhead, twist his left arm in front of and around his right arm.
“What good’ll that do?” scoffed the ensign.
“It shan’t do you any good at all,” was the droll reply. “But it will make it a bit easier for the bloody rescue party to unscrew you out of the ground.”
1. The importance of carriers to the maritime strategy is referred to frequently by then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. James D. Watkins in “The Maritime Strategy,” a special U. S. Naval Institute supplement published in January 1986. It is reemphasized by VAdm. Henry C. Mustin, USN, in “Maritime Strategy From the Deckplates,” Proceedings, September 1986, pp. 33–37.
2. The Soviet Air Force is also capable of anticarrier warfare and should be included as part of this threat. Hamlin A. Caldwell, Jr., makes a strong argument for the fact that the Soviets may choose to equip these aircraft with nuclear weapons in “Nuclear War at Sea,” Proceedings, February 1988, p. 63.
3. These processes are superbly described by Capt. Wayne P. Hughes, Jr., USN (Ret.), in Fleet Tactics: Theory and Practice (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1986). Command and control is another key process affecting the OAB, and will be considered throughout.
4. Some of these forward positions may be in so-called “havens.” The U. S. Navy has practiced battle group operations from the safety of Norwegian fjords. See VAdm. Henry Mustin, “Ocean Safari Lessons Learned,” Proceedings, September 1986, p. 37.
5. There is a great deal of speculation as to whether the Soviets’ new Blackjack bomber will serve as an anticarrier platform.
6. For an interesting discussion of Soviet philosophy regarding anticarrier tactics, see Norman Polmar’s Guide to the Soviet Navy (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1986), pp. 31–32.
7. In the author’s opinion, the amount of non-CVBG I&W available to a battle group commander and useable in wartime is greatly exaggerated. Some I&W tripwires that are useable in peacetime, such as Backfire forward deployment, should be expected in wartime and do not necessarily indicate that a raid is imminent. Many critical I&W nodes are also very vulnerable to attack.
8. Tom Clancy provoked a great deal of unclassified discussion in the U. S. Navy’s AAW community by describing an SNA Backfire raid that was preceded by a wave of Badgers firing AS-5 Kelt missiles in Red Storm Rising (Berkley Paperback edition, pp. 240–250). This is a superb example of the enemy’s unexpected tactic contributing to the argument for massive amounts of firepower in the OAB.
9. The term “scouting” is not used every day by contemporary naval professionals. Earlier in this century, however, fleets had a scouting force and a main body. In fact, aircraft carriers in World War II had squadrons of bombers devoted to the scouting mission. The author therefore prefers “scouting” to “early warning.” After all, who’s heard of an “early warning fighter”? See also Hughes, p. 197.
10. Hughes, p. 268.
11. Paraphrased by the author. Sun Tzu, The Art of War (Oxford University Press, 1963), p. 98.
12/ Hughes, pp. 198–199.
13. Hughes, p. 78.
14. Capt. 1st Rank Ye. Nikitin and Col. (Ret.) I. Voronov, “The Rebirth of Dirigibles,” Morskoy sbornik, No. 4, 1987, pp. 80-86, as reprinted in Soviet Press, 24 February 1988, p. 21.
15. Although USAF KC-10 tankers have recently been invaluable in the Gulf of Oman, the issue of U. S. Navy use of these assets in a conflict with the Soviets remains unresolved. The lack of definitive information severely ties the hands of contingency strike planners and AAW planners alike. See Maj. Bemie Fullenkamp, USAF, “Double Duty Tankers,” Proceedings, February 1988, pp. 103–106.
16. The author participated in a recent deployment during which DLI profiles were to be tested on the transit home, but money for fuel was not available.
17. The Nelsonian style of not substituting communications for command is described by Michael A. Palmer in “Lord Nelson: Master of Command,” Naval War College Review, Winter 1988, p. 114. Surprisingly, vector boards are still used on board carriers even though they could easily be replaced by a digital “scoreboard” mounted on a carrier’s island. This arrangement would enable tactical action officers to give instructions to fighters on the catapult more efficiently during EmCon conditions.