Defending the strategic force
in The American bomb in Britain
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This chapter submits the defensibility of the British Isles to a detailed analysis, showing how throughout the period under review, early warning radar cover was inadequate to secure US bases against surprise attack. US commanders continuously urged greater investment in these defences, which had been accepted as a British responsibility. So too was fighter interceptor provision, but the RAF aircraft were outmoded and would be ineffective against the likely Soviet assault. American aircraft were provided to augment British defences but this provided little incentive to the British to invest. In the early post-war years, a greater emphasis was placed on trade with the Soviet Union than defence, leading to the provision of the latest jet engine technology to power Soviet fighter and light bomber aircraft, to the despair of US authorities. In the later period, the assumption of indefensibility led to a major policy shift from active defence to nuclear deterrence, a shift strongly disapproved by the US.

The American bomb in Britain

US Air Forces’ strategic presence, 1946–64

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