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Posted: 6/17/2009 1:58:12 AM EST

The U.S. Air Force wants to look at arming fighter jets to shoot down ballistic missiles, according to a letter from Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz to the head of the U.S. Defense Department's Missile Defense Agency.

U.S. AIR FORCE Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz wants to examine the viability of a system called Air Launched Hit-to-Kill. (SENIOR AIRMAN LAURA TURNER / U.S. AIR FORCE)
The June 2 letter from Schwartz, addressed to the MDA director, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, called for a study of arming F-15s and F-16s, and possibly F-22s and F-35s, with specialized munitions under a concept dubbed Air Launched Hit-to-Kill.

"This examination indicated several ALHK approaches may be operationally suitable for employment from Air Force fighters," Schwartz wrote.Schwartz said a 2008 war game, based in the European theater in 2020, piqued the interest of the Air Force to study the ALHK concept.

An accompanying white paper said the growing threat of increasing ballistic missiles in smaller nations could outstrip the military's ability to overcome a missile attack.

The ALHK strategy would have roving packs of fighters, along with a support network of tankers and reconnaissance and radar aircraft to intercept missiles in rapidly established protection zones.

The paper said the mission could be carried out by F-16s and F-15s, with more study need to explore the possibility of equipping F-35s and F-22s. The fighters would be armed with two types of missiles that could bring down ballistic missiles in their launch phase or from higher in the atmosphere.

For high atmospheric interception, the paper suggested the Air Force consider a modified Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile, a 1,500-pound version of an Army ground-based missile.

For use lower in the atmosphere, the paper suggested using an Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile designed to intercept shorter-range ballistic missiles. The missiles, according to the developer, Raytheon Co., would fit into any AMRAAM-capable fighter with minimum modifications.

The request to the MDA comes on the heels of the cancellation of the Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser, designed to kill ballistic missiles in their early launch phases, and recent North Korean ballistic missile tests that have raised tension in the South Pacific.

Link Posted: 6/17/2009 2:00:02 AM EST
What was old, is new again.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 2:01:06 AM EST
How would this be better than the Boeing airborne laser?
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 2:25:02 AM EST
So a way to keep F15s and F16s still flight worthy when they're retired? Cool.

Buy more F22s!

Lasers are our future and they canceled it.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 2:27:31 AM EST
I can't believe they are killing the YAL laser with it basically being a finished product. All it had to do to finish testing was an actual shoot down, it had passed all it's other initial flight and targeting testing. FUCK Obama!!!!!!!!!!
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 2:27:37 AM EST
Instead of wasting all the flight hours, maybe just stick with the ground-based system we already developed? Oh, wait, that protects too large of an area so it pisses off the Russians.

Link Posted: 6/17/2009 2:36:03 AM EST
This is a round about way to discuss the US Navy's RESPONSE to China's anti-ship missile developments which would make the Pacific unfriendly to carriers at least as far as the littorals around the Philippines, Korea, Japan and Taiwan. The closest we'd be able to get would be 1500 miles from their shores.

With "roving bands of fighters" (which we always have around carriers anyway) we'd be able to operate much closer in.... and potentially be able to hit their ballistic missiles at launch or in their terminal phase... or at least mess up their terminal guidance telemetry, etc.

FYI, the Chi-coms basically stole the Pershing II missile and have rebuilt it under their own name. Fortunately, we know all about the Pershing II's capability and we probably have a couple to use for our own 'realistic tests'.
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