Be the first to like this
The scenario depicts the flight path that the proposed Next Generation Bomber (NGB), being sought by the US Air Force, might take to strike targets deep within China. It is important to note that CSBA is the leading think-tank analyzing the need for the Pentagon’s new AirSeaBattle (ASB) concept, which looks to develop joint naval and air force doctrines and systems that would allow the US to defeat the so-called Anti-Access/ Area Denial (A2/AD) weapons, and thereby continue to hold targets deep within any hostile nation’s territory at risk. It was CSBA, Bradley Associates claims, which came out with the report Air Sea Battle, a few months prior to SALS and believes that the NGB is a key enabler of any successful ASB strategy.
Now the reasons for taking such a route are sound enough. China’s integrated air defense system (IADS) isn’t predominantly impenetrable in the region and although new air bases have been built in south-western China, the threat metric to an engrossing NGB is weaker than what it would face on China’s eastern seaboard in the South China Sea.
As we can see above, one of the possible routes the NGB or even the existing B-2 of today can take to Delingha in China (a leading light in the development of new A2/AD systems), according to the CSBA release, traverses the Bay Of Bengal, over Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and indeed North-eastern India as well. The choice of target itself is interesting, but let us leaves that aside for now. That’s a possible journey for a proposed new American stealth bomber actually begins from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and includes flying over the territory of three Sovereign nations, is a noteworthy feature in light of Obama’s pivot to Asia and the concomitant unveiling of ASB.
Of course, the NGB, given that it will have less persistence than the B-2, will require at least one refueling on a mission of this sort that begins from Diego Garcia. And it is here that the next graphic (see image 1.2 below) from the same report i.e. SALS depicts an even more interesting picture.
What we see above is a possible refueling action for the NGB that takes place, just off the Bangladeshi coast, en-route to Delingha, not too far from where Chittagong is. Now even though China has a relatively weaker air defense net oriented in this direction, such a refueling is better off taking place in sanitized airspace, and that means some sort of air cover is envisioned for the NGB and the tanker, as they meet off the coast of Bangladesh.
So, the Seventh Fleet operating in the Northern Indian Ocean is actually an excellent prospect for a Pentagon looking to roll out an effective ASB posture. It will certainly enable the kind of US Navy-Air force cooperation that ASB wants to jointly defeat A2/AD networks in an inside out fashion. In fact future American stealth UCAVS can also traverse a similar route not to m