This was the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49. Post-war Germany was partitioned into sectors administered separately by the major Allied powers. The city of Berlin, buried deep in the Soviet sector of Germany, was similarly partitioned. So there were American- and British- and French-administered parts of Berlin. Access from the rest of Europe was by road, rail, or air with trains and trucks passing through a Soviet-ruled countryside. That was until the Russians decided to shut down those roads and railways in 1948, keeping Berlin from receiving both fuel and food.
The only remaining access to Berlin was by air and so the United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force flew everything into Berlin for a year and a half. Four hundred airplanes flew continuously, carrying up to 12,000 tons per day, 60 percent of which was coal. When the 6000-foot runway at Tempelhof Airport had to be repaved, the asphalt arrived by air.
Today dictators and diplomats are arguing about a no-fly zone in Ukraine when what’s really needed is an airlift.
As Russian troops entered Ukraine a week ago, President Putin didn’t declare a Russian no-fly zone over Ukraine, but he warned NATO aircraft to stay away or be shot down. He also said that any NATO declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine would be viewed as an act of war. So far NATO hasn’t tried to fly over Ukraine. An airlift would end that but would be short of being, itself, a no-fly zone, get it?
It’s not like Ukraine doesn’t need an airlift. They need pretty much everything — food, fuel, and firepower — plus the opportunity to evacuate civilians and wounded.
There is no law giving Russia the right to dictate travel through Ukrainian airspace. It’s just a threat.
Here is how I think such an airlift should be run. Commercial transports would fly from commercial airports in Europe (NOT from air bases) to pretty much all open runways in Ukraine. Though this would be a commercial (non-military, non-government) air lift, every transport would be escorted by a pair of fighter-bombers which would never land in Ukraine.
If nobody on the ground or in the air attacks the transport planes, the fighter-bombers do nothing because their rules of engagement don’t allow them to shoot first. But if Russian forces in the air or on the ground attempt to attack the transports, then the fighter-bomber escorts destroy those targets.
This isn’t a no-fly zone, it’s like a Brinks armored truck, which isn’t an offensive weapon.
And like the Berlin Airlift, this Ukrainian Airlift would run continuously, 24/7. Which is why it has to use commercial transports, too. That’s not a gimmick: no air force today has 200 transports ready to fly, not even the USAF.
The effect of all those planes would be to paralyze Ukrainian airspace 24/7 in order to perform a humanitarian mission.
Not a no-fly zone.
The post When is a no-fly zone not a no-fly zone? When it’s an airlift. first appeared on I, Cringely.
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