By Robert C. Owen

Does most likely persisted U.S. involvement in counterinsurgencies demand including really expert airplane, education, or different assets to the overall airlift fleet? ordinarily, latest U.S. airlift forces can accomplish so much such missions successfully. yet persevered operations most probably would require reinforcement of the overall airlift fleet and, maybe acquisition of a small fleet point optimized for convinced counterinsurgency missions.

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The Army could continue to improve the performance and damage tolerance of its helicopters incrementally. The Army also could introduce tilt-rotor aircraft into the mix, although it remains to be seen whether their higher cruise speed will offset the high vulnerability to ground fire that they share with helicopters. As in other areas of counterinsurgency airlift, precision airdrop systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, and small and agile fixed-wing transports also might take over portions of the MOUT airlift mission.

There are numerous options for improving MOUT airlift or reducing the need for it. Units conducting MOUT could move their supplies and evacuate their wounded on the surface, perhaps in armored transport vehicles. The Army could continue to improve the performance and damage tolerance of its helicopters incrementally. The Army also could introduce tilt-rotor aircraft into the mix, although it remains to be seen whether their higher cruise speed will offset the high vulnerability to ground fire that they share with helicopters.

Thus, the latter approach has far greater utility and relevance for actual military operations. For example, modern man-portable surface-to-air missiles (a common feature of a low-threat environment) might pose no significant threat to fighter aircraft at medium or high altitudes yet could make most low-altitude flight by transport aircraft or helicopters prohibitively dangerous. Therefore, we use the term limited to describe threats that pose only a minor chance of inflicting losses against aircraft operating in their envelopes using routine self-protective measures, serious to describe threats that substantially constrain the freedom of aircraft to carry out their desired missions but in which it is nevertheless possible to conduct operations without suffering more than occasional losses, and severe to describe threats that can be expected to inflict significant losses on aircraft operating in their envelopes even when all feasible defensive measures are employed.

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