Operation Noble Eagle and the Use of Combat Air Patrols for Homeland Defense   [open pdf - 1MB]

"This thesis considers why the United States Air Force is still flying combat air patrols (CAPs) over the United States in support of Operation Noble Eagle (ONE) more than seven years after 9/11. The USAF is struggling to support two regional conflicts while defending the homeland and trying sustain and recapitalize its fleet of aircraft. Given these broader long-term requirements, it is time to reevaluate the need for ONE's costly airborne CAPs, in light of improvements in aviation security, together with the absence of terrorist attacks on the homeland and of no actionable intelligence indicating an imminent air threat in America. The following sub-areas were researched to help evaluate and recommend changes to the current ONE CAP policy: the history of air defense in America; U.S. air defense mistakes on 9/11 and the evolution of ONE; improvements in the intelligence community and aviation security since 9/11; specific threats to aviation and the risk of another 9/11-style attack in the United States; and the cost and impact of the ONE alert and CAP missions on the combat capability of the participating USAF squadrons. The thesis concludes by considering other, more cost effective, air defense systems available to support Noble Eagle in lieu of fighter CAPs."

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Naval Postgraduate School, Dudley Knox Library: http://www.nps.edu/Library/index.aspx
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