We sure hope so as they are now our major air defense for the country!
An issue or two before this, I expressed concern about our massively stretched military and reserves in two foreign wars, threatening a third and what about the ability to protect our home front, to protect America?
Whether natural disaster or enemy attack, out troops, our reserves and our National Guard are off doing repeated 15 month tours in Iraq, the ground units often have to leave their equipment for the next relief company that comes in and vehicles are being shred faster than they can be made.
An unexpected example of the effects on the American population came suddenly to light the past few weeks. The bulldog of American air defenses is the F-15 attack fighter. It is the main plane at all of our ‘alert’ sites in the U.S. - the ones that have to respond at a moments notice. Since November, all the F-15’s world-wide have been grounded ‘indefinitely’ due to severe structural problems caused by the stressors of this machines capabilities and several of them simply disintegrating in mid flight.
The F-15 isn’t the only plane capable of protecting America, there are the F-16’s and the F-22’s. The problem being that almost all the F-16’s are based and being used in Iraq and there aren’t enough F-22’s around yet and few squadrons have been fully trained in them.
The result? Canadian CF-18 Hornets have been covering the airspace over Alaska. The Vermont Air National Guard has been covering the entire Northeast of the country. The Minnesota Air National Guard is covering Hawaii with the Illinois Air National Guard filling in. The California Air National Guard is covering California, Oregon, Washington and parts of Arizona and Nevada.
While the F-16’s that most of the Air National Guard units use are excellent fighter aircraft, their range is about 1/3 of the F-15’s. This means they can intercept threats to the U.S. at about 350 miles (175 miles round trip) whereas the F-15’s were able to run about 1100 miles round trip to meet threats further out and more time for assessment and response.
Just another little thing to worry about – thank heaven we have a Defense president whose hobby is threatening and/or doing war around the planet and has our forces stretched to around 300 foreign bases in some 110 countries. Heaven forbid that we might just prefer them here