Cruise Missiles do Recon?

cruise_takeoff.jpgYou can't blame 'em for trying, I guess. Defense contractors want to sell a bigger pile of their gear to the Pentagon. So, from time to time, they come up with all kinds of, shall we say, sub-optimal explanations why their hardware should be used more often. Like jamming IEDs with supersonic fighters. Or delivering commandos with 14,000-ton destroyers.Here's the latest brainstorm, courtesy of Raytheon: Use Tomahawk cruise missiles to handle reconnaissance. That's right. $750,000-a-shot Tomahawks. Never mind the fact that a Predator drone can handle hundreds of spy missions, for a $4.5 million price tag. (For argument's sake, let's say it costs $45,000 per flight, when you throw in maintenance money and pilot pay.) The Pentagon should spend 750 large for a one-time, one-way unmanned flight.Now, Tomahawks are certainly faster than Predators -- 528 miles per hour, as opposed to 135. But we've got plenty of fighter jets doing supersonic recon already. And the idea that, somehow, a Tomahawk could be a "cheaper... alternative to unmanned aerial vehicles," as National Defense magazine tries to argue this month? C'mon, guys. I know you've got sales targets to make. But this is taxpayer money here. You need a better explanation than that.

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