- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Given the time he spent in the Pentagon, I am surprised how little appreciation Frank J. Gaffney Jr. seems to have for the deployment and employment of weapons systems (“Second to none?” Opinion, Wednesday).

First, the comparison between deployment of a JSTARS surveillance test bed and of an airborne laser test bed is like the difference between night and day. Second, there are issues of installing aerial refueling capability on the airborne laser (ABL) aircraft, providing combat air patrol (CAP) to protect it and establishing an orbit where the launch trajectory is always within range. For an Iranian threat, that probably means orbiting over Iraq, Afghanistan or a former Soviet republic. All have political issues as well as logistic issues for the ABL, its refuelers and CAP. A Korean scenario is only slightly less challenging depending on the trajectories. An effective defense would require multiple aircraft and constant airborne alert.

Unless Mr. Gaffney is imitating his mentor, former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, by espousing the virtues of scarecrows over real capability, the ABL is not yet in position to meet the threat - nor was it programmed to be in the last budget of President George W. Bush.


U.S. Air Force (retired)

Arlington, Va.

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