But if one doesn't know if ALCMS are nuclear or conventionally armed until they hit would the US launch a retaliatory nuclear strike in advance of impact? Hence the importance of doing one's best to get the missiles and even more so the bombers if one can.
According to this article (http://www.rense.com/general35/crussde.htm
) on March 21st, 2003 the US launched 1,000 cruise missiles on the first day of the air war against Iraq (plus 1,000 air strike sorties). A devastating attack to be sure, but against a nation that had its military ravaged in the First Gulf War in 1991 and crippled by years of sanctions.
I'd imagine that any conventional cruise missile attack by Russia (or China) against the USA would have to be of at least as large a scale to have any significant military effect. It makes for some pretty big questions mark I'd think. Would the US be willing to absorb a first strike of such a scale against the continental US to confirm if it is conventional or nuclear before responding? Are they ABSOLUTELY 100% certain that a 1,000 missile nuclear first strike by Russia couldn't disrupt a US counter strike (how would you even be able to test that with certainty?). If not, then wouldn't that make waiting for the missiles to hit a non-option?
What if the Russian strike is much smaller in scale? Ironically that might be taken by the US as evidence that the strike MUST be nuclear rather than conventional. If the number of missiles incoming is so small that a conventional attack wouldn't be crippling then wouldn't that suggest that the weapons MUST then be nuclear?
Don't get me wrong Mark, none of this is to suggest that I don't think we should take Russian cruise missiles very, very seriously. I however don't agree with the scenario of our primary role being to prevent Russian cruise missiles from coming over the pole against North American targets. As I stated earlier, I think that such an event would mean that there is now a general strategic nuclear exchange taking place between NATO and Russia and that at that point what type of fighter we have is frankly irrelevant.
Politically, that MAY be the role that is required for Canada to state as THE primary purpose of the CF but I don't think in reality it is actually the case. To my mind, a much more likely use of Russian cruise missiles would be against the ships attempting to bring US military reinforcements, equipment and ammunition to Europe to defend against a more limited Russian aggression against it's immediate neighbours. Or against European ports, airfields, transportation hubs, etc. which would be used to move those reinforcements/supplies to the front.
Does that change the type of fighter that Canada requires? Or the mix of assets we require?