The worlds most powerful and influential countries have been so busy modernizing their militaries for large scale battles with potential equals that they have completely surpassed nations that can barely update equipment to the 21st century. Case in point is Libya a relatively large and well stocked military for the region that was steamrolled by the worlds most advanced aerial firepower that wasn’t even at 100% capability. The problem however is that the small scale conflict cost the nations involved, mainly Britain and France, an arm and a leg to use technology that had no real predator.
With the global recession still weighing heavily on everyone the day’s of bombing some of the poorest countries in the world into submission just doesn’t make financial sense. Sending fifth generation fighter jets and large contingents of support aircraft to fight an enemy who is still using cold war technology could end up breaking the bank for nations such as Britain and France. The friendly aircraft downed in Libya were not shot down instead they experienced mechanical problems. Libya’s fleet of aircraft was never able to make it off the ground and even if they did they would have just made for target practice. The Eurofighter Typhoon and France’s Rafale fighter jets’ only real enemy in the skies belongs to other allied nations and not some crumbling regime.
Now the problem that countries such as our own face is having to spend even more money to develop aircraft and other equipment that can be cost effective against third world countries. According to Defense Tech many are looking to highly advanced propeller driven aircraft but make no mistake this isn’t your grandpa’s P-51 Mustang. The Air Force was looking at the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 (shown above) and Embraer’s Super Tucano which would feature today’s latest in technology and weapons capability. These aircraft were meant to help train pilots in the Afghan Air Force but Libya showed NATO nations that the need for a light attack aircraft is now.
Budget cuts have already threatened the Air Forces chances of getting their hands on the small turboprops but many within the government including Special Operations Command have been advocating for these types of aircraft. In places where allied nations have air superiority it simply would be to expensive to uphold a no fly zone with aircraft that suck fuel and require tedious maintenance. The current fighters we have, have been forced to take on multiple roles such as bombers and reconnaissance with much success but as Special Operations is quick to point out they would like something that can fly low and slow enough to effectively engage a small force. An F-15 is great to have above you if you’re at risk of being engaged by an equally equipped enemy but it isn’t effective in areas such as Afghanistan where the enemy moves in small groups and rarely uses vehicles worthy of a 2,000 pound bomb.
I’ve said for a long time that the wars of tomorrow are going to be small scale skirmishes with ill equipped armies. NATO nations need to adapt so that their military can quickly adapt to those small scale battles while still being able to easily change back if a large threat such as China starts making waves. A lighter more cost effective military that is able to maintain superiority while remaining cost effective is something that the government has only dreamed of but Libya has kick started the need to take it seriously. We and our allies can’t afford to spend millions of dollars on an enemy that could be defeated with half of the cost. Technology provides a great edge however that edge dulls quickly when being overused.Source: Defense Tech