Speaking of Airlifter Defensive Systems

The Air Force added purchase and installation of defensive systems for C-130s and C-37s to its 2007 unfunded list, prompting lawmakers to ask about the level of vulnerability for these tactical airlifters. USAF Gen. Norton Schwartz, head of US Transportation Command, explained that many of these aircraft fly personnel, including DVs like Congressmen who would make “attractive” targets. However, both Schwartz and Gen. Duncan McNabb, AMC chief, said because the potential exists for terrorists to target these aircraft with man-portable missiles—they have hit some—personnel are shifted to aircraft like the C-17 that do have defensive systems when they travel to certain locations. And that, they said, pulls the C-17 from its primary strategic role. In McNabb’s words, that means the Air Force must operates with “inefficiencies.” Putting countermeasures on the tactical airlifters would save “that C-17 to go do something else.”