In 2000, what is the likelihood that the U.S. National Command Authorities will send air crews instead of missiles on strikes against prominent, fixed, and heavily defended targets? The last time the United States launched an air strike from the sea against a foreign country, we opted for Tomahawk missiles. Analyses show that the life-cycle cost of the missile option is lower than for equivalent manned strike forces, and, of course, Tomahawks make lousy prisoners.
Like it or not, there is a message here for aviators. It raises important questions about the viability of both U.S. Air Force strategic bombing and the classic Navy strike mission ("going downtown"), which has been emphasized as the raison d'etre for our carriers.