From: Washington D.C.
One thing I've noticed in the database is that aircraft with laser guided bomb loadouts seem to always have the capability to lase the target themselves. Historically, however, this is not always the case. During Linebacker-era Vietnam, for example, a strike package of F-4s loaded with laser guided bombs might only have one or two PAVE KNIFE pods among a package of 4-8 strikers.
The absence of a self-lasing capability has a variety of tactical implications:
1) The strike package and supporting aircraft must protect the lasing platforms in order to achieve mission success.
2) The aircraft without the added weight and drag of the lasing pods are more maneuverable, and might possibly be able to carry a greater weapons load.
3) The lasing platforms must remain in the strike area until the last of the strikers has dropped its load, therefore they're among the most vulnerable aircraft.
Right now, the way the database is structured, if you lack a self-lasing capability you don't fly with that load. This neglects the possibility that there might be other ways (e.g. a drone, ground forces, other manned aircraft) of getting the necessary effects on target.
Can anyone point to a laser guided bomb loadout which doesn't include some self-lasing capability? I'm wondering if more loadouts of LGBs with no laser pod might emphasize more complex tactics integrating UAVs, ground forces and forward observation aircraft, while necessitating a greater supporting force to protect the lasers. Right now, everyone who flies can lase, and buddy lasing only happens if they can't lase themselves due to weather. While that's certainly one tactic, it isn't the only possible one.