|With increasing capabilities for stealth, accuracy and mission flexibility (from bunker-busters to cluster-bomblets, even anti-ship) plus 0 kia/mia/pow risk the Cruise Missile will increasingly be our response to situations like Lybia, and potentially Syria and Iran.
Given 500+ km stand-off ranges and pre-programmed targeting info the platform for air launched cruise missiles clearly doesn't require the same type of tactical capabilities as the B-1 or B-2, or even the B-52.
what is the feasibility of a 'pod' of 12 missiles (8-9 feet wide, 6-7 feet tall, 20 feet long), weighing 18 tons that could be deployed out the back of a C-17 (or any other cargo craft).
The pod would deploy chutes to retard the decent and stabilize the pod while the cruise missiles were boosted out and then proceeded to target.
Why? Capacity for one - just 50 near-simultaneous C-17 sorties, each deploying 3-4 such pods could put 1800 cruise missiles on target, clearly overwhelming any current defense capabilities.
Cost for another. The cost of maintaining a Cruise Missile Ohio is astronomical for a 176 missile capacity.
Ease and concealment of deployment for a third: If the pods were disguised as standard shipping containers they could easily be pre-positioned. Ditto the C-17s. We can deploy and support C-17s from far more air bases than B-52s. A DOZEN C-17s in our Gulf-area bases would not arouse much suspicion from the Iranians, but a dozen B-52s would have them on high alert.
Cost: I am assuming that the cost per flight hour fir a C-17 is substantially less than for a B-52 or a B-1.
THE FINAL FANTASY: Let's say we decided to pull North Korea or IRan's teeth: We could rain 5000 cruise missiles in the first hour and 1000 per hour after that with the combined capacity of C-17, B-52 and B-1s.