From: Washington D.C.
Consider this, every time a Soviet plane group launches and approaches the coast of Alaska and slides down the west coast of North America it draws "escorts" all the way down its path. While this group may not be the first to ever "pull a trigger", the responding US/Canada units must act like it might be, otherwise why intercept them in the first place?
Well... sort of. The thing is that there's a bigger picture than just the Soviet planes and the American fighters. There is more information than just that. An attack would look different than the kinds of intelligence gathering excursions that these kinds of events represent. Those little outings are intended specifically to NOT be provocative. They'll design them so that they do things like remain well clear of the 12NM limit. They DON'T want to provoke a hostile response. The American or Canadian fighters are there really to just monitor them, and gather intelligence of our own. We look at them, they look at us. Just keeping an eye on stuff. It's cool.
Furthermore, every time that this happens, the Soviets learn a little bit more about how our defenses act, and react.
Sort of... not really... They learn stuff, but not generally the kinds of things I think you think they're learning. You wouldn't treat every single limited recon-bomber incursion like it might be the start of World War III. The start of World War III would look different.
Finally, if this was a prelude to war, it could also be a means of dragging assets away from an area that the Soviets (in this example) hope to hit using other assets, now that the target area has lessened its defense.
Yeah no. That's not how DCA works.
I do believe that the tactic is probably performed 1000 times more each year than any actual fighting. Yet, given that "nothing ever happens" each time the intruding planes are intercepted, it merely appears to be a waste of time. So, I as k you, what's more real? Something that happens worldwide about 1000 times a year, or an actual battle?
Not that often, but often enough. 1000 times / year is almost 3 times / day. It's more like once every few months. God... I hope it doesn't happen that often. We'd need new engines in every aircraft before long!
A possible attack on Pearl Harbor was considered and evaluated by the US brass long before it actually occurred. In fact, it was rejected by the higher ups as being not feasible. Defense forces believed, no, knew, that Pearl was impervious to attack, so they were essentially in a total "peacetime mindset" when the unthinkable actually happened. All of this "lack of preparedness played into the success of the attack.
Yeah... that's a myth. I'd argue that Pearl Harbor had been fought many times on the floor of the Naval War College. The issues there were administrative. Think about what the Pearl Harbor strike force looked like: It wasn't a few bombers unescorted. They were coming in WAY heavier. There were 6 Japanese aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 9 destroyers, 8 oilers, 28 submarines, and 414 aircraft of which 353 actually took part in the raid. That kind of strike is heavy. It doesn't look the same as a little recce flight trying to get a sniff of your radars.
So, do you not react when Soviet or Chinese bombers launch and ride the coast because "they would never be so stupid" or do you launch your interceptors and follow them through the area waiting for them to inevitably make their U-turn and head home? You and I both know the answer.
You react proportionally to the threat presentation you see. You might launch a couple fighters to monitor them. Unless your sensor picture suggests that this is the day (i.e. they come in heavy) you're not going to react the same was as if it was the start of World War III. Sorry, but the world isn't on a hair trigger all on the time. It just doesn't work that way.