The US Air Force plans to use its cargo planes to drop bombs and increase its offensive capabilities in the battlespace.



In the constantly evolving world of military air power, the US Air Force (USAF) is now arming its cargo planes. The strategy involves fitting its fleet of transport aircraft with bomb delivery systems to enable those planes to attack at low altitude in hard-to-reach areas. Fixed-wing fighters and bombers operate with extreme precision, but their high-altitude operations mean some targets may be hidden from view and are less visible to their long-range sensors. Arming cargo planes would allow weapons (missiles and bombs) to be dropped on targets that are hard to reach and reduce ‘dwell time’ for fighters where re-fuelling options were limited. Adapting cargo planes to carry and drop bombs is also consistent with the USAF’s longer-term plans to fit laser weapons to its aircraft. However, laser weapons have not been miniaturised sufficiently to allow lasers to be fitted to fighter aircraft. Therefore in the short term, the USAF intends to fit laser weapons into cargo planes.