A Little Answer and Some Big Questions for the Target Systems Analysis

by Albert Wohlstetter

The list of existing and currently planned SAC overseas bases requested by the Targets Analysis Group (which we shall tag "TAG") is attached in Appendix A. This list is not the same as a list of bases SAC now plans on using; and neither of these is likely to be an optimal list.

By eliminating some of the vulnerable bases, the list might be reduced; it may also be increased to advantage. Since, in part, the worth of the base system depends on the geographic distribution of targets, it may be more profitable to make up other lists for TAG at a later stage of its inquiry. Since the problems of target selection which TAG is attacking are closely related to the base problems which agitate Harry Rowen and myself, it seems TAG will have other questions and it appears it should be profitable to negotiate an exchange, or, better, a system of trade. The following "off-the-cuff" notes suggest some areas of mutual interest. I suspect they ask a good deal about targets in return for the small question TAG has posed so far about bases.

Sets of targets may be defined by (a) any of a number of geographical characteristics having to do with the cost of their destruction by various aircraft-base-weapons systems, or (b) by characteristics having to do with what this destruction yields in the conduct of war. The first kind of definition might isolate, for example, a system of strategic targets reachable with a A3D unrefueled from a given set of bases, within a combat radius of 1,350 nautical miles or less. One example of the second sort of delimitation might isolate such industry targets as are capable of affecting the support of Soviet ground forces during the first six months of the war.

Our own work yields some answers to questions of the first sort; and a lot of questions about what SAC might accomplish thereby for the conduct of war. TAG's work, having to do with objectives rather than instrumentalities, I imagine, will reverse this emphasis. In any case, answers or rough judgments of both kinds are needed for base and for target selection.

a. Target regions of varying cost. Some geographical regions entail much higher costs than others for all likely attacking weapons and some are extremely sensitive to differences in the specific bases and aircraft combined in the weapon system. The main point to be observed is not that some targets are reachable and others not (though too frequently analysis stops here), but that there are sharp discontinuities in the costs of reaching targets—at each point at which it becomes necessary to add an extra tanker or enter the enemy defenses by another route involving greater penetration and so on.

1. Close target systems. One such target system which might be examined would be contained within regions accessible to the A3D. This plane has a combat radius, carrying an 8,000 pound bomb, of some 1,350 nautical miles. From selected overseas bases this will get 35 to 40 per cent of MACS' 100-point industrial targets. It appears that it might offer a considerably lower systems cost. (Aside from the lower capital and operating costs of the plane and its lesser vulnerability, there might be a considerably greater value for alternative uses: long-range interdiction targets, etc. The residual value of the unattrited planes of our campaign analyses doesn't completely express the worth of this flexibility. For example, we would want to consider the case of our having not precisely the number of aircraft required by the campaign assumptions for optimal destruction, but an excess. This is more likely than that we will have precisely enough.)[1]

A target system close to overseas bases may be reached with smaller planes, either unrefueled or with little refueling. The radius extension yielded by successive refuelings declines in amount moreover.

One thing that gives importance to the close targets is the great sensitivity to increases in combat radius of future bombing systems: the low-altitude and supersonic bombers. It should be observed also that the addition of air-to-surface missiles of the Rascal type has the effect of considerably reducing combat radius. For example, a B-47B equipped with a Rascal may not have a radius of more than a couple of hundred miles in excess of the 1,350 nautical miles we have labeled "Close."

2. Shallow penetration target systems. One such might be all targets within 300 to 350 miles of the early warning network perimeter. Since, as I recall, this practically reaches the Donets Basin, it should include some targets of interest. It is certain that they will be less costly than the deeper ones. Current RAND Campaign assumptions put attrition rates at a very high level. Losses to enemy fighters are assumed under conditions specified to increase in a linear way with miles of penetration over enemy defenses. A list of targets near the perimeter of defenses would involve much lower bomber losses. (On current campaign analysis assumptions the first 150 to 250 miles are free. The fighters have to be committed, must scramble, climb, and cruise to meet bombers. If we add the Rascal to our arsenal another hundred free miles may be added to the range so far as bomber losses are concerned, and, of course, no attrition of the bomber to local defense.[2]

Another way of defining a shallow penetration system of interest might be taken as the limits of the fighter escort penetration since it appears that there will be a jump in attrition after this. The possibility of using fighters F101 as bombers rather than merely as escorts stresses the importance of analyzing these peripheral target systems.

3. Summer and winter targets. RAND campaign analyses show a sizeable difference in the cost of the campaigns, depending on whether the campaign is fought in the summer or the winter. MACS shows a four to one difference. This is so because a considerable number of the Russian targets are in daylight a large proportion of the time in summer, and Russia has a great many more day fighters than night fighters, and also because it is assumed that the targets in all areas will be attacked each time. Since the difference between winter and summer over the U.S. targets is not as great, it has plausibly been assumed that Russia, if it starts a war, will start it in summer and that the strategic air campaign will be fought then. One might consider a campaign which deferred the targets which would be best attacked to the following winter and conduct attacks against only those targets which were not affected. In any case, it would be interesting to know what the effect of such deferral would be and to know specifically the nature and value of the targets in the various categories defined by areas with minimum hours of darkness for penetration of Soviet defenses or without this minimum, in summer and in winter.

4. Best regions for air-refueled ZI-based B-47 systems. Targets in the south of Russia are in general more expensive for an air-refueled ZI-based system than targets in other parts of Russia. The large distances from base to target are increased by the sparseness of identifiable land masses over which to refuel. Since these identifiable regions don't occur at the optimal refueling points, range extension is less than might be expected. (In any case, as we have mentioned, the second pair of refuelings normally would not yield as much range extension as the first, and the third pair even less.) With five refuelings, 93 of MAC's industrial RGZ's can be hit, and seven RGZ's are not reachable at all. (These seven are concentrated in the Baku region.) (See Appendix.)

5. Best regions for ground-refueled ZI-based B-47 systems. In the case of ground refueled systems, while the range extension offered by refueling does not decrease with additional refuelings, there are some problems analogous to the ones indicated in the air-refueled systems which make specific geographical regions more costly than others. In particular, because of the sparseness and operations cost of bases north of the Soviet Union, some targets when attacked with the B-47 unrefueled need to be attacked via routes entailing more than the minimum penetration of enemy defenses.

We could (and shall later) multiply the above examples of geographically defined sets of targets showing significant cost variations. However, the ones mentioned will serve as illustrations. They raise the basic questions: Can one select targets in these regions which are as good for SAC's various purposes as a target set of equal number including points in other regions? If not, is there any way of expressing how much we lose by excluding these targets? All of this involves an analysis of what SAC's purposes are in destroying targets.

6. Target systems defined by purpose or effect. This is TAG's major concern, and the questions we hope TAG will consider are already suggested in the preceding. We are interested in knowing what broadly different target systems might be adapted to broadly different ends such as (1) destruction of the enemy strategic air force, (2) the retardation of the enemy advance in Western Europe, (3) the destruction of enemy war potential in a long war, (4) the destruction of enemy morale, etc. In particular, we hope TAG will consider problems of physical vulnerability and recuperation time, the effect on the worth of S. U. targets of satellite production and the occupation of Western Europe, and the time schedule of destruction indicated for various types of targets in various strategic situations.[3] Questions on specific matters as the specific ends to be accomplished by demolishing targets of various types are prior to — and softer than — the tough problem of getting numerical measure of the relative worth of various targets, but they are worthy questions. Target systems so defined would be a considerable advance over the heterogeneous assortment used so far in the various bomber studies. How these specific purpose target systems intersect with target sets defined by cost considerations is of major interest.

The Appendix includes besides the list of SAC overseas bases, a few examples of target systems of varying cost, given specific base-aircraft combinations. The two systems cited taken the combination of (1) ZI-based KB-36 tankers and B-47B bombers, and (2) ZI-based KB-36 tankers and B-52 bombers. We are also preparing some target systems for ground refueled, ZI based bombers.

Appendix A

Best Target Systems for Air Refueled ZI-based B-47's and for Air Refueled ZI-based B-52's

Measurements have been made to the following targets:[4]

Target RGZs
1. Minsk 1
2. Leningrad 3
3. Moscow 6
4. Stalinogorsk 1
5. Kolomna 2
6. Noginsk 1
7. Rybinsk 1
8. Konstantinovskiy 1
9. Yaroslavl 1
10. Kolpino 1
11. Dzerzhinsk 2
12. Gorkiy 3
13. Saratov 1
14. Syzran 1
15. Ulyanorsk 1
16. Kazan 1
17. Kuibyshev 2
18. Kirov 1
19. Votkinsk 1
20. Molotov 2
21. Berezniki 1
22. Gubakha 1
23. Nizhniy Tagil 2
24. Alapayevsk 1
25. Sverdlovsk 2
26. Severskiy 1
27. Polevskoy 1
28. Sarana 1
29. Zlatovst 2
30. Miass 1
31. Chelyabinsk 2
32. Beloretsk 1
33. UFA 3
34. Magnitogorsk 2
35. Orsk 3
36. Omsk 2
37. Kemerovo 2
38. Stalinsk 1
39. Krasnoyarsk 1
40. Komsomolsk 2
41. Petrovak 1
42. Krivoy Rog 1
43. Dneprodzerzhinsk 2
44. Dnepropetrovsk 3
45. Zaporozhye 1
46. Zhdanov 2
47. Stalino 2
48. Makeyevka 1
49. Konstantinovka 1
50. Kramatorsk 1
51. Gorlovka 2
52. Ordzhonikidze 1
53. Taganrog 1
54. Krasnodar 1
55. Kamenskaya 1
56. Krasnyy Sulin 1
57. Lisichansk 1
58. Batjmi 1
59. Rustovi 1
60. Groznyy 1
61. Machachala 1
62. Baku 3
63. Guryev 1
64. Stalingrad 2
65. Krasnovodsk 1
66. Begovat 0

B-47B refueled by B-36 from ZI.

Target numbers 41, 63, 64, and 65 cannot be reached at all. The subset of remaining targets can be reached with an average of 2-1/2 refuelings and a maximum of 5 refuelings.

If we delete targets 38, 39, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61 and 62, the average costs to reach the target is very much lower. The deleted targets need four or more refuelings with a B-36; the undeleted 2-1/2 or less. What do we lose by this deletion and by deletions of the targets that can't be reached at all? What targets might be added within the indicated range?

B-52 refueled by the B-36 from ZI.

The total target system may be reached with an average of 1.4 refuelings. Seven targets (10 RGZ's) require more than two refuelings. The subset of targets excluding these is of some interest, therefore, from the cost and feasibility standpoint. Any replacements within the twice refueled B-52 radius?

Existing and Budgeted SAC Overseas Bases

Base Location
Adak NAS/DAVIS Alaska
*Airfield A Alaska
Anderson AFB Guam
*Bascombe Downs RAF Sta. England
*Bassingbourne RAF Sta. England
*Bellows AFB Hawaii
*Ben Guerir Apt. French Morocco
*Boulhaut Casablanca
*Bruntingthorpe RAF Sta. England
*Burtonwood RAF Sta. England
*Carnaby RAF Sta. England
*Castel Benito Apt. Libya
Chelveston RAF Sta. England
* Desborough RAF Sta. England
Dillingham AFB Hawaii
*Djema Sahim Area French Morocco
Eielson AFB Alaska
Elmendorf AFB Alaska
Ernest Harmon AFB Canada
*Fairford RAF Sta. England
*Foggia Area Italy
*Futema AB Okinawa
*Heathrow RAF Sta. England
*Hickam AFB Hawaii
*Kadena AB Okinawa
*Keflavik Apt/Meeks Iceland
*Kindley AFB Bermuda
*Lakenheath RAF Sta. England
*Lindholme RAF Sta. England
Luga Apt. Malta
Manston RAF Sta. England
*Marham RAF Sta. England
*Maurpiur Afld. Pakistan
*Mechra Bel Ksiri Apt. French Morocco
*Mildenhall RAF Sta. England
*Narsarssuak AB Greenland
*Negombo Afld. Ceylon
*Nouasseur Apt. Casablanca
*Oakington RAF Sta. England
*Rabat/Sale Afld. French Morocco
*Sampablo Apt. Spain
*San Javier Afld. Spain
*Santa Maria Afld. Azores
*Scampton RAF Sta. England
*Sculthorpe RAF Sta. England
*Sidi Slimane Afld. French Morocco
*South Ruislip USAF Sta. England
*Standstead Afld. England
*Stavanger/Sola Apt. Norway
*Sturgate RAF Sta. England
*Thule A/S Greenland
*Tibenham RAF Sta. England
*Torbay Afld. Canada
*Upper Heyford RAF Sta. England
*Valley Airdrome England
*Waddington RAF St. England
*Wendling RAF St. England
*West Drayton RAF Sta. England
*Wheeler AFB Hawaii
Wheelus Fld. Tripoli
*Woodbridge RAF Sta. England
*Wycombe Abbey RAF Sta. England
*Wyton RAF Sta. England
Yokota AB Japan
Ramey Puerto Rico

* Asterisk indicates SAC is the primary user. Other bases have as prime user MTO, Air Rescue, etc.


  • [1] Examples can, of course, be multiplied: usability in "little" wars of the type now current, against non-Russian targets in a "big" war, etc.
  • [2] This suggests the happy idea of a unit initial bomber stockpile for a campaign against perimeter targets, provided, of course, there were no time constraints on the campaign, and provided that the enemy didn't obligingly change his tactics, too. A considerable reduction in the force requirements currently bandied about! A standing patrol tactic in any case would mean lower attrition rates all over.
  • [3] The sort of questions we have here have been suggested in "Campaign Time Pattern, Sortie Rate, and Base Location," D-1147.
  • [4] Taking minimum penetration routes and using identifiable land masses as air refueling points. The target system is that used by MAC's.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Document series. The RAND Document (D), a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1970, was an internal working paper written as a step in a continuing study within RAND, which could be expanded, modified, or withdrawn at any time.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.