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23 August 2009

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You are correct in noting the extended history of this concept. It was extensively studied by the United Kingdom as part of its Future Offensive Air System (FOAS) project from the late 1990s onwards. BAE Systems went as far as doing detailed concept work on fitting an Airbus A310 with a racking system that would carry large numbers of Storm Shadow cruise missiles and eject these from a special bay in the empenage. That specific aircraft concept was also flagged to the Royal Australian Air Force during the late 1990s as a potential replacement for its General Dynamics F-111C fighter bombers. Interestingly a common reaction of government officials in both nations was to raise the question of what impact would the use of civil platform in an offensive role have for how non military versions of the same platform type would be treated by hostile air defence systems in times of conflict.

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  • James Hasik is a senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, and an associate professor of the practice of industrial studies at the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, a college of the National Defense University in Washington DC. Since September 2001, he has been studying global security challenges and the economic enterprises that provide the tools to address them. His opinions are not necessarily those of the NDU, the Defense Department, or the US federal government at all.

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