I'm the guy who told the Air Force in 1998 that unless the missions are too long for the aircrews, they shouldn't bother to forward deploy: They could do more operating from home station. The B-2 was getting beat up (wrongfully--sound familiar?) for not being 'deployable'. The program SPO came to my 'shop' and contracted us to accurately describe where any shortfalls were and recommend corrective action. The first question in answering that question is: "Under what circumstances will it make sense for the B-2 deploy instead of operate from Whiteman AFB?" the second question was "When it does deploy, where should it deploy to?" The analysis showed a clear answer to both questions: deploy rarely and only a handful of locations would provide coverage for the entire globe.
Deployment is Hard Work for Not a Whole Lot More ReturnBecause when units deploy, it looked like it took at least a week to get packed up, move, get set up and start forward operations. The B-2s in most circumstances spend that week getting a head start (in servicing aim points) on any other system that has to deploy, and the B-2 and B-1 experiences in Allied Force actually played out to prove that assumption. Once a system is forward deployed, the logistics of feeding fuel, munitions and everything else is tougher than the logistics of doing same at home base. I had modeled that even if the forward deployed system was able to adequately generate sorties for all their airplanes 'faster' (because they were closer) that for a six bomber package, all the unit at home station had to do was add one aircraft at home station (easily done) to surpass the deployed sortie rates.
The News Was Well AcceptedWhen I briefed my findings to the 509th at Whiteman in the summer of 1998, I had one maintenance officer tell me after the brief that when a package forward deploys, the first airplane that breaks hard usually becomes the forward deployed parts bin and 'hangar queen'. They probably wouldn't even need to add a plane at home station to equal the 'forward-deployed" effort.
One of the positive developments that came out of the effort before Allied Force was that the Air Force decided to get off the dime and start setting up, at key FOBs, the portable shelters they had been developing. By the time Allied Force kicked off, there was significant movement in that area which would pay off not very much later in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (another war story).
The B-2's Contribution....and MoreTo commemorate the anniversary the B-2's successful combat debut, here are a few slides extracted from a General Hawley brief. I got my hands on it in early 2000, but it was probably one of the last big presentations the General made before retiring in mid-1999.
Leading up to Operation Allied Force...
|We were testing CALCMs on the ranges before they were used in Desert Storm, and in 1993 I was testing the smart weapon interface for what would become the GATS/GAM and later JDAM weapon concepts|
Operation Allied Force...
|The 'Air Boss' Lt General Michael Short called the B-2 one of the 'Stars' of the campaign. He said he could count on "sixteen quality DPMIs" for every sortie. DPMI = Designated (NOT 'Desired') Mean Point of Impact|
|This was 'then' in 1999|
Developments after Operation Allied Force....
|This was a big step. Carrying even MORE SDBs, or a couple of BIG BLUs, and mixed loads is a quantum jump|
|This is 'Now'|