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NORTHCOM Commander: New Warplanes Needed for Homeland Defense
F-16 jets can handle the “fast and high,” but U.S. Northern Command’s new leader says that, for homeland security missions, he wants aircraft that can do slow and low.
 
“F-16s don’t fly slow very well,” said Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, who has been in charge of NORTHCOM and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) since May.
 
Winnefeld told reporters in Washington D.C. Thursday that he’s watching closely studies and tests on a variety of hardware “to see what the art of the possible is with a light fighter-type aircraft.” Something other than an F-16 would be better for loitering during large outdoor events or political conventions, he said.
 
Winnefeld intends to discuss the idea more with the Air Force and Air National Guard, which currently flies an aging fleet of F-16s, before issuing an official requirement for a new aircraft. If he decides to move forward, that requirement could come within a year, he said.

The solution might simply be a fast helicopter or light jet, he added.
 
The admiral also said he hopes to focus more on the Arctic as projected warmer temperatures melt the ice and open the ocean up to traffic. He said that a better coordinated effort to collect and use data in the Arctic is needed to prepare for future threats. Intelligence agencies, the Navy and commercial partners can stand to better share and leverage information.
 
“Some people have the impression that suddenly all of the ice has melted and there’s an enormous amount of traffic flowing back and forth across the Arctic and that’s just not the case right now,” Winnefeld said. While there currently is no political threat in that region, NORTHCOM will work closely with everyone, especially Canada, to ensure that the Arctic opens up peacefully, he added.

Comments

Re: NORTHCOM Commander: New Warplanes Needed for Homeland Defense

Seems to me if you want "slow and low" then a C-130 J model might be the ticket. Or the DoD can come up with a newer model of the venerable C-130 and make it specifically suited for observation, detection and recon. Gee, that almost sounds like one of the several types of unmanned drones we have in our inventory right now. Choices, choices, choices...
Hoodman at 9/10/2010 1:46 PM

Re: NORTHCOM Commander: New Warplanes Needed for Homeland Defense

Just about all intercepts involve accidental incursions by small/light aircraft. The military could buy ordinary light aircraft such as Beechcraft Bonanzas or Cessna 172s. Most involve similar aircraft that will change course when directed, so no armament is needed. These aircraft could be bought immediately, given the present state of the second hand market. This would be a stimulus for the aviation industry. It is also infinitely less expensive than F-16s. Even light jets as suggested would be overkill.
John Daniell at 9/10/2010 3:08 PM

Re: NORTHCOM Commander: New Warplanes Needed for Homeland Defense

I guess I would look for a COIN type aircraft,  Like an updated version of the A-10 or OV-10 which could intercept all light aircraft short of some biz jets,  have a good loiter time and carry a good weapons / sensor load.  Use of this type of aircraft for NORTHCOM might allow for greater utility in CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM etc.

Rick Bunn at 9/13/2010 10:47 AM

Re: NORTHCOM Commander: New Warplanes Needed for Homeland Defense

anyone remember the Cavalier Mustang then Piper Enforcer conversion from the 60's? Took a P-51 airframe and added a turbine on the nose. Then, you already have the T-6 Texan II, and adding a couple of .50 cal (maybe some 20mm) and a couple of 'winders would still get the job done, with plenty of trained pilots...You get an operational radius of 350+miles at 300 knots, no need for tankers, and plenty of support nationwide. Gotta be cheaper than a new jet.
rob williams at 9/13/2010 11:34 AM

Re: NORTHCOM Commander: New Warplanes Needed for Homeland Defense

Maybe time to dust off the F-20?  Light fighter, low cost, ease of maintenance, etc.  Guess we should have bought some as opposed to subsidizing its export competition.  Perhaps the Swedes could lend us a few JAS 39 Grippens?  Great performance and its in production too. 
Too bad nothing will come from this. 
The C-130 good idea for surveilance, but you'll need a fast mover at some point.
Joe Molinari at 9/13/2010 11:57 AM

Re: NORTHCOM Commander: New Warplanes Needed for Homeland Defense

I can understand where he is coming from.  Why not go back to WWII and the Korean War era and build newer versions of the P51 Mustang or the P60 Black Widow? Come up with new technologies with propulsion packages and it might be possible to produce versions that not only flow low and slow, but also are well armed with a variety of modern weapon and sensor systems. It is needs high speed sprint capability, it might be possible to produce updated versions that can fly 500 mph or more. Then we can retire most of the F15, F16, and F18 inventories.  After all, the current SECDEF has fired a number of Army and Air Force generals and Navy admirals for dare suggesting that future war might be much more symmetrical than the current ones.  Therefore, no need for fancy fighters, fuel hungry, fighters. 
Dave at 9/13/2010 6:36 PM

Re: NORTHCOM Commander: New Warplanes Needed for Homeland Defense

Why not some of the current turboprop trainers? Capable of being armed. cheap to maintain, 2 seater for observer, fast when they need to be, slow when not, external tanks for loiter time and available now at already in production prices. Nah, too simple, lets completly go nuts and make it a billion dollar, behind schedule, over budget program that has 19 states fighting for the plant to build it. Ron
Ron at 9/14/2010 12:15 AM

Re: NORTHCOM Commander: New Warplanes Needed for Homeland Defense

Bah, SecDef Gates will just say that the F-35 will do the job. Never mind it's a turkey.

Anywho, I say we just do what's been suggested here and take the P-51 design, put a more powerful engine in it, and add a pair of Sidewinders to it. Cheap, easy, and best of all, Mustang fans gets to see their object of affection return to the skies of battle... against Cessna! XD
Donald at 9/20/2010 11:52 AM

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