Missile Defensive Systems and the Civil Reserve Air Fleet
One of the United States’ greatest military advantages is rapid global mobility. The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) provides a crucial supplement to the military’s mobility resources in time of war or national emergency. The proliferation of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), however, poses a growing threat to the CRAF and its critical airlift capacity. In this study, Lt Col Glen Downing describes the US government’s historical and potential future uses of the CRAF during contingency operations. He examines current CRAF policies, the operating environment, and the MANPAD threat, describing the negative consequences of the shoot down of a CRAF airliner. Positing several options to counter the threat, he analyzes each following the parameters of unit cost, operating cost, funding sources, insurability, and crew training. The study concludes with a thoughtful recommendation to the Department of Defense on a course of action to confront the MANPADS threat to the CRAF.
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