Failure of the US policy of regime change in Syria is leding once again to the contemplation of “options.” One of those that is much discussed is that of a no-fly zone covering all of Syria. Let’s be clear as to what would be involved in that option:
- All Syrian ground based air defense would have to be suppressed and kept suppressed.
- All Syrian airfields would have to be wrecked with runways cratered, maintenance facilities destroyed, etc.
- All Syrian Air Force aircraft would have to be destroyed in air to air combat or on the ground.
- Search Air Rescue operations would have to be carried out wherever in Syria we lost aircraft.
- Aviators might be captured. Their possession would be a strong element of leverage in the hands of the Syrian government.
- Some use could be made of unmanned cruise missiles, but they are very expensive and the warheads are usually too small for big targets.
- Some aircraft sorties could be flown by strategic air assets (B-2, B-1 and B-52) flying from CONUS but most would require many, many tactical air sorties either from the fleet or from ground bases in Turkey. Would the Turkish government allow the use of Incirlik and Batman air bases? IMO that is an open question.
- If the no-fly zone did not sufficiently benefit the rebels then the temptation to begin direct sorties against Syrian ground forces would be strong.
Make no mistake, this would be a big war.
Republished with permission.