Survivability Benefits from the Use of Standoff Weapons by Stealth Aircraft 1999-01-5503
Survivability of combat aircraft has significantly increased with the use of low observable (LO) technology. This technology has dramatically reduced the ability of an air defense to detect, track, intercept and destroy a penetrating stealth aircraft. The Iraqi Desert Storm conflict demonstrated to the world that LO aircraft are a significant threat and they are developing counters to that threat. Many countries are rapidly improving their air defenses by purchasing more advanced radars, surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and integrated air defense systems (IADS). Another defense technique is to concentrate defense elements so there is significant overlap, making it difficult for even stealth aircraft to penetrate. A counter to these defense improvements and highly defended areas is already being used by non-stealth aircraft: standoff weapons. Stealth aircraft can penetrate a hostile airspace and use standoff weapons to attack heavily defended areas with little survivability risk. This paper will survey current US stealth aircraft and standoff weapons and will demonstrate the ability of those aircraft to penetrate existing hostile air defenses and use standoff weapons to either destroy those defenses or directly attack the targets those defenses are protecting.