(March 28, 2014)
The Navy is considering a novel way to protect its fighter pilots: firing live shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles at them to train them in evasive action and test aircraft missile warning systems. The shoulder-fired missiles in the hands of terrorists, criminal and enemy fighters pose a worldwide problem. Insurgents in Iraq during the war posted YouTube videos showing their deadly ability with the weapons against U.S. military helicopters.Sir Winston Churchill once famously said: "There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result."
(He should know .. he had the experience during the Boer War).
Now the U.S. Navy expects to train their pilots how to use the same "Duck and cover" techniques which the U.S. Army trained infantry troops during the Viet Nam war.
By shooting at them.
However, these are 'controlled fire' exercises. In the Army of the 1960's, grunt trainees crawled across a field in a ditch covered with barbed wire, ensuring that they could not stand up in an area over which zealous Training Cadre fired M60 machine guns ... the traverse bars of which were locked to only allow the 7.62mm bullets to pass several feet above the self-beshatting trainees.
In the 21st Century equivalent, the Navy ensures that (a) the 'rockets' are not capable of reaching the heights at which the jets are flying, and (b) the warheads are not filled with explosives.
The results are the same: the object of the exercise is to 'accustom' the subjects to "live fire", but at the same time the subjects know that they don't have to really EVADE the threat, but just keep on keeping on.
What's the difference between the 1960's infantrymen and the 21st Century pilots?
Both are bored by the exercise, but the pilots don't have to crawl through mud.
Yes, it's possible for the pilots and the grunts to freak out and deliberately expose themselves to fire. But what are the odds?
Does anyone think that grunts who knew they were going to Viet Nam, or pilots who 'suspect' they may be fired upon, will receive any benefit from these exercises?
Perhaps not, but it helps fill the training schedule.