'RPG' shoots down Santa?
By Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 10, 2012
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- What would the world be like if Santa was shot down by an RPG?
It's not unimaginable that an insurgent could pick off the jolly old man using a rocket-propelled grenade. After all, Rudolph's nose is anything but tactical.
But, why would anyone want to kill such a jolly chap - an old fella' who only wants to bring smiles to children's faces?
Some maintain it's not that strange of an idea. After all, terrorists would destroy a school or other humanitarian project in a heartbeat.
"They'd take out a bridge or steal food and water from a starving family," said Maj. Kristin Wehle, 366th Fighter Wing plans and programs officer, and F-15E Strike Eagle pilot.
Most terrorists are people who'd do pretty much anything to extend their radical beliefs, said Master Sgt. Brian Chris, 366th Operations Support Squadron intelligence superintendent.
"There's no doubt that insurgents would try to kill Santa Claus," said Chris. "However, with the low reliability of an RPG, I imagine they'd be using an SA-7 Man-Portable Air Defense System, or MANPADS."
Unclassified intelligence reports show terrorist cells have increased their ground-to-air capability training at an undisclosed location, said Chris, as he reached for his computer speakers to turn down Jingle Bells.
Looking up in a more-serious manner, the seasoned intelligence superintendent continued:
"Intel points to a likely attack from hilly terrain, possibly in the Boise area, employing a rear aspect attack as Santa flies by," said Chris, whose fit-to-fight physique allowed no shaking like a bowl full of jelly. "The enemy would likely focus on the heat source from Rudolph's nose or landing lights if Saint Nick has them turned on in flight. That being said, increased MANPADS training does indicate a significant threat to Mr. Claus."
Hold the eggnog ...
This scenario rings a familiar tone to Wehle, who's flown multiple sorties in the skies over Afghanistan, providing close-air support to servicemembers battling insurgents.
With a holiday twinkle in her eye, Wehle recalled some heartwarming humanitarian missions she was fortunate enough to be involved in.
Later she recollected combat missions she flew during her tour in Afghanistan.
"If things got intense on the ground and friendly forces called for CAS, I'd do my best to throttle up and get on station as quickly as possible," said Wehle. "Then, depending on the circumstances, could disburse flares as a non-lethal show of force, expend 20 mm multi-barrel gun rounds, missiles or bombs quickly to eliminate insurgents and protect friendly forces."
The air superiority she and other NATO pilots brought to ground troops was often the difference between life and death, she said.
Speed and agility proves valuable for Air Combat Command assets, said Wehle. Such wouldn't be the case for Claus.
According to an unnamed source at a remote toy factory near the North Pole, a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer is said to have a cruising air speed of roughly 50-60 mph, depending on how many Christmas cookies St. Nick consumed on prior stops.
Wehle maintains such a slow-moving aircraft would make an easy target for an RPG gunner.
The 'sleigh' she flies is powered by two Pratt and Whitney engines, has afterburners and is capable of traveling at speeds greater than 1,800 mph. That alone would make Wehle and her F-15E Strike Eagle a perfect wingman if Santa were in trouble.
Though air-to-air combat hasn't been tested outside training scenarios in a number of years, Wehle is confident she could quickly zoom to Santa's location and eliminate any threats insurgents posed from the ground or air, she said jokingly.
"Especially if that meant getting toys and goodwill to the children of impoverished nations," said Wehle, in a much-more serious tone.
Though intel shows a possible attack against Claus or another humanitarian effort, Chris maintains this type of attack is still rare.
"This level of evil and these people are the exception," said Chris. "Most people are caring and want improved living conditions, security, stability, education - they want to build a better future for themselves and their children."
Would insurgents attempt to target Clause?
Intel reports state it's possible.
Would they be successful?
With a nod to the Air Force and ACC's combat air power, Wehle exclaimed, "Not on our watch!"