Light Light Support Aircraft: L2 VMA
1. General. The maintenance of a strong deterrent is a prerequisite to national existence and cannot be neglected. On the other hand, the ability to react rapidly and effectively in a limited or cold war situation is the greatest immediate military problem facing the United States today. It has become obvious that limited or cold war operations are much more likely than an all out war. The Marine Corps, as a "force in readiness," and by the virtue of its composition and amphibious capability, is particularly concerned with the limited war problem. While it is impossible to predict how and under what conditions a limited war would be fought, certain aspects of environment which could become critical in future operations can be foreseen.
2. Political Sanctuaries. One of the most significant limited war factors from an aviation standpoint is that political sanctuaries are not only a possibility, but a probability. Without political sanctuaries somewhere, the war could not be limited. In a limited war between two major powers, sanctuary areas are almost certain to exist because any threat to an opponent's strategic striking force will invite a thermonuclear holocaust. Attack on less vital sanctuaries will almost certainly enlarge the area of conflict. In the Korean War the Chinese Communists operated from a sanctuary behind the Yalu River and United Nations forces at sea or in Japan were not attacked. Many people were angered and dismayed at this development during the Korean War. In the future we must be ready with equipment and tactics to operate in this environment more effectively than the enemy.
3. Air Superiority. The concept that air superiority is the prerequisite to victory and that it is achieved by bombing enemy airfields is inconsistent with a policy of limited war. Counter-air operations or the bombing of enemy airfields can no longer be accomplished except in the immediate combat area. The range of modern aircraft is such that few, if any, probable areas of operation are not within the range of likely sanctuaries. Since there is no way to eliminate the threat of attack from sanctuaries, we will have to be prepared to conduct military operations in spite of the threat of enemy air attack.
4. Air Defense. Another factor that
must be considered is the difficulty of providing an adequate air defense
for large fixed installations like airfields and logistics centers.
If ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads are used, however, defense
is an almost hopeless problem, if the enemy is really serious about
the destruction of certain targets. Almost all anti-aircraft weapons,
fighters, missiles and artillery depend on radar for warning, target
acquisition or guidance. Radar is the bottleneck in air defense. It
can not only be attacked directly with air or missiles, it can be evaded
or its capabilities saturated. In the most likely limited war areas
such as the Middle East or Indo-China, overland approaches at low altitudes
offer an obvious way of avoiding most air defenses. Since large, fixed
targets would at least be subject to attack and possibly might not be
able to exist in a combat area, passive, rather than active, defense
measures will become more important. Even the use of VTO aircraft or
SATS with arresting gear and catapult would not provide effective passive
defense for high performance aircraft, however. The base facilities
necessary for supply, fuel, maintenance, instrument approaches, etc.
would make a remunerative target, even if the runway could be eliminated
altogether. As a result, both friendly and enemy aircraft may be forced
to operate from sanctuaries outside the area of operation. With any
large, fixed installation subject to attack, ground forces will require
more air support to replace heavy weapons that are limited by logistics.
The limited amount of naval gunfire support available and helicopter
transportability will also be factors.
a. Ground and air operations may have to be conducted in the face of enemy aerial opposition.
b. High performance aircraft may be forced to operate from sanctuaries outside the area of operations.
c. Large, fixed targets may be too vulnerable to exist in a combat area, forcing ground forces to use dispersion and limiting logistics.
d. More direct air support will
be required by ground forces than has been required in the past.