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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Divergent Thinking: How Best to Employ Fighter Aircraft

Image 1: F-35B, Image Credit: Lockheed Martin 

An enormous disparity exists between vocal critics and staunch supporters of the F-35, some of it is attributable to how the two parties assess the aircraft. As Bill Sweetman explains, there are several different schools of thought with regards to how best to employ fighter aircraft and which capabilities are most important to securing air superiority. A key issue that is not present in discussions that either praise or criticize the F-35 is pilot training and the air combat doctrines of the nation deploying the aircraft.

Many of the most vocal critics of the F-35 such as David Axe and Karlo Kopp do not adequately take into account pilot training and fighter deployment doctrines which effect the overall combat performance of the F-35; these critics focus solely upon performance based metrics and specifications. A typical critique of the F-35 from David Axe:

"...the F-35 is an inferior combatant, seriously outclassed by even older Russian and Chinese jets that can fly faster and farther and maneuver better. In a fast-moving aerial battle, the JSF 'is a dog … overweight and underpowered,' according to Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight in Washington, D.C. And future enemy planes, designed strictly with air combat in mind, could prove even deadlier to the compromised JSF."

Both praise and condemnation of the F-35 are inherently limited in scope when the discussion is limited to only certain performance based metrics vs. other performance based metrics e.g. sustained radius turn ability vs. thrust to weight ratio. A lot of research exists in the area of comparing F-35 performance specifications with those of other advanced aircraft, including my own. While these performance based metric comparisons certainly have value, without understanding how the F-35 is meant to be used as part of a broader integrated combined arms approach, one simply is not able to draw substantive conclusions as to the potential combat effectiveness of the F-35 and other models of fighter aircraft in general. The level of training and combat doctrines of the pilots operating the aircraft is largely inseparable from the performance based capabilities of the aircraft in terms of dictating actual operational effectiveness of a fighter force.

As Sweetman notes, there are multiple contradictory views as to best employ fighter aircraft among the prominent global military powers. A country's solution to how to best employ fighter aircraft varies significantly from country to country but is largely dependent upon the following three factors:
  1. Strengths and weakness of its defense industry - specialization, experience of aerospace firms, access to intellectual capital, etc. 
  2. Constraints to military budget and existing support infrastructure for assets and personnel
  3. National security objectives: regional vs. global power projection, countering anti-access threats, etc. 
This article will examine both the Russian and American solutions to maximize the effectiveness of their respective air forces given the variables listed above. From comparing these models, it becomes clear that each approach is uniquely tailored to the host country and calls to eliminate the JSF in favor of mass producing 4.5 generation aircraft, like the Russian model advocates, will be extremely detrimental to maintaining the technological and qualitative edge the USAF currently maintains over many of its competitors. A measure to replace the F-35 with existing 4.5 generation aircraft will not meet current American national security objectives, ignores the strengths and weakness of the American defense industry, and does not account for the robust pilot training programs and initiatives of the United States. Once pilot training, combat philosophies, and the broader combined arms approach is factored in, it becomes apparent that much of the criticism regarding the F-35 is unfounded.

The Russian Approach 

Image 2: The Su-30 is a typical example of modern Russian fighter technology and is currently fielded by 13 air forces worldwide.

It is difficult to understand the Russian approach to fighter deployment without first understanding Russia's broader strategic situation. Without going into too much detail, the Russian model of fighter employment is tailored to the unique strengths and the weaknesses of the Russian defense industry and its national security objectives.

“Russian military programs are driven largely by Moscow's perception that the United States and NATO are Russia's principal strategic challenges and greatest potential threat. Russia's nuclear forces support deterrence and enhance Moscow's geopolitical clout. Its still-significant conventional military capabilities, oriented toward Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Far East, are intended to defend Russia's influence in these regions and serve as a 'safety belt' from where Russian forces can stage a defense of Russian territory...Moscow's wariness of the potential for Western involvement on its periphery, concern   about conflicts and their escalation, and military disadvantages exacerbated by a drawn out crisis or conflict place a premium on quick and decisive action." - Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, 2011

Since 2008, the Russian military has undergone a massive series of reforms in an effort to produce a smaller, more mobile and better trained fighter force (Clapper, 2011). These reforms have been accelerated under Vladimir Putin who raised Russian defense spending by 60% since to 2010 to a total of $66.3 billion dollars in 2013 (Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2013). Despite the recent increase in defense spending, there remains many key obstacles to implementing reform.

"Threats to the success of the State Armament Program include armaments orders that are mismatched to mission requirements; mismanagement, inefficiency, and technological backwardness in the defense industrial sector that causes failures in developing and delivering weapons; corruption; inflation in procurement prices; and the uncertainty of economic growth and sufficient budgets, as mentioned above. For instance, technological backwardness has stymied efforts to modernize command and control, according to many observers." - Jim Nichol, 2011

Image 3: Sukhoi PAK FA

The new gains in Russian military spending are parceled out between the competing services of its military. Even with the billions of dollars in PAK FA developmental assistance provided by India, the Russian Air Force cannot feasibly equip a pure 5th generation fighter force without sacrificing other key capabilities from the Russian Navy, Army, and strategic nuclear forces. The Russian Air Force's ambition to acquire 5th generation aircraft is met or exceeded by the ambitious procurement plans of the other armed services. The Russian Navy plans to restore much of its former maritime power with the addition of dozens of multibillion dollar nuclear attack submarines, destroyers, helicopter landing docks, etc. Investments pertaining to upgrading and maintain Russia's nuclear deterrent consumes a large portion of the defense budget e.g. RS-24 Yars ICBMs,  Borei-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines, RSM-56 Bulava missiles, etc. As a result of other service purchases, the Russian Air Force plans to acquire only 250 fifth generation PAK FA aircraft, the vast majority of its fighter force will be comprised of much cheaper 4.5 generation aircraft such as the Su-30SM, Su-35S, and Mig-35 for the next two decades (Markov and Hull, 2010).

The decision of the Russian Air Force to opt for a largely 4.5 generation fighter force is not the result of a lack of faith in stealth technology as some have argued. Rather, it is a combination of the traditional evolutionary/incremental approach to new technology procurement, which Russia favors over the revolutionary approach of Western militaries, and the aforementioned financial restrictions (Zahainov, 2000). Budgeting priorities are often an indicator of what technologies/capabilities militaries deem to be important.   Given the $10 billion dollars pledged to developing the PAK FA in conjunction with a number of other initiatives meant to develop "counter-stealth technologies" such as very high frequency (VHF) radars, improved IRST, and wing-mounted AESA radars (such as the Tikhomirov NIIP L-band radar) clearly indicates the Russian military takes stealth technology very seriously. However, as a result of the aforementioned financial restrictions, the Russian Air Force is limited to procuring mostly 4th generation fighter aircraft that maximize the combat effectiveness of their aircraft force given the cost, moderate to high level of technological sophistication, and moderate to poor quality of the Russian pilot training infrastructure.

The Russian aerospace industry specializes in producing low cost fighter aircraft in large numbers. The bulk of Russia's future fighter force is composed of 4.5 generation aircraft that cost between $35-$65 million dollars (Defense Industry Daily, 2013). The rough equivalent to Russian aircraft like the Su-35S within the US armed forces, the F/A-18E Super Hornet, costs the US Government $79.43 million dollars per unit (Department of Defense, 2012). The Russian Air Force takes full advantage of its aerospace industry's specialization in low cost aircraft and consequently fields a disproportionately large fighter force relative to its budget. The Russian military fields a total of 1,372 combat aircraft which is impressive since their budget is roughly one tenth of the US military which has 2,851 combat aircraft (Flightglobal, 2013). However, the aforementioned reform efforts have fallen short of their intended goals with regards to improving the quality of personnel within the air force.

Image 4: Su-34 production line

The current Russian model of fighter employment places an increased emphasis on procuring large numbers of fighter aircraft with the quality of each individual Russian pilot being comparatively less skilled than many Western air forces. One of the many indicators of pilot experience is the number of flight hours each pilot is allowed to fly each year. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the quality of Russian fighter pilot training suffered immensely and most pilots in training only received 40 to 50 hours of flight time before graduation (Lindberg, 2006).

"During 1992 - 1994 of the 234 students who graduated from the VVAUL [basic training] 130 had not flown at all after having reported to their assigned air force units (27). In addition, the average flying time per cadet during training had dropped to 40 - 50 flying hours, which facilitates only the elementary pilot skills (26)...The reduction of the personnel and other resources has affected heavily the students. In 1998, 693 officers left pilot schools before they learned to fly, due to the shortage of kerosene...The stress and nature of work, bad conditions in training bases, like living accomodations in Yeisk, employment in Marinovsky and problems with food virtually everywhere, and poor chances to career advancement mean that the morale among flying instructors giving basic pilot training and respect towards them has dropped very low." - Jarmo Lindberg, 2006

Russian fighter pilot training has improved since the late 1990s as a consequence of increased funding but current Russian fighter pilots still only fly 100 hours per year (Dronov, 2012). This is compared to American fighter pilots who must log over 100 hours in jet trainers prior to graduation and fly between 250-300 hours per year once in active service (Source 15, Source 17).

Image 5: The Su-35S shown above is a typical example of the Russian approach to fighter design. The aircraft can carry a maximum of 12 high performance R-77 radar guided air to air missiles, is equipped with a high power ESA radar & IRST, and delivers excellent maneuverability performance at a relatively low cost of $65 million dollars. 

In order to most effectively leverage the strengths of the Russian aerospace industry and minimize the shortcomings of its pilot training programs, most 4.5 generation Russian fighter aircraft have significant missile stores, powerful long range radar capabilities, IRST, electronic countermeasures, and excellent maneuverability. These capabilities maximize the effectiveness of a fighter force when the pilot training and support infrastructure of the nation operating fighter aircraft is less mature or comparatively weaker than many Western countries.

For example, a Su-35S is equipped with a powerful Tikhomirov NIIP IRBIS-E radar which has a maximum range of 400 km, it can track up to 30 targets, and engage eight targets simultaneously (Defense News, 2013). When coupled with a full load of a dozen 50 nautical mile range plus R-77 missiles, the Su-35S allows each comparatively less skilled Russian pilot to be disproportionately effective at long range missile exchanges when compared to more extensively trained Western pilots equipped with 4th generation aircraft. Even a skilled pilot in an aircraft equipped with electronic countermeasures (ECM) will have immense difficulty dodging a salvo of three to four missiles.

Image 6: Su-30 launching R-77 radar guided missile

"The Russian paradigm of BVR combat has its origins in the Cold War period, when  Soviet operational analysis indicated that the low kill probability of missile seekers and airframes, especially if degraded by countermeasures, would be a major impediment to success. By the 1970s the standard Soviet technique in a BVR missile launch was to salvo two rounds...why are Sukhoi Flanker variants equipped to carry between eight and twelve BVR missiles? The answer is a simple one - so they can fire  more than one three or four round  BVR missile salvo during the opening phases of an engagement. In this fashion the aircraft being targeted has a difficult problem as it must jam, decoy and/or outmanoeuvre three or four tightly spaced inbound missiles. Even if we assume a mediocre per round kill probability of 30 percent, a four round salvo still exceeds a total kill probability of 75 percent." - Kopp, 2012

Image 7: PK aircraft probability vs missile salvo size; APA Image. To give a point of reference, the standard AIM-120 has a demonstrated probability kill (pk) of 46% meaning it would be similar to the 50% green curve on the graph above (RAND, 2008).

The combination of high maneuverability, IRST, and ECM gives the Russian pilot some degree of protection in evading radar guided missile shots from afar but life expectancy for the individual pilot is low in an engagement against an adversary launching large missile salvos (as illustrated on the graph above). Russian fighters that manage to reach visual range against an enemy force would rely upon their superior maneuverability to better position themselves for an IR missile shot or gun kill.

"Russian tacticians also foresee complex long-range engagements—but as Bogdan pointed out at Paris , they also see combats decaying into low-speed knife fights where super-maneuverability may decide who gets the first shot." - Bill Sweetman, 2013

However, this theory is hampered by the limitations of Russian pilot training and experience. Overall, the Russian approach is an intelligent solution to maximize the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force given the constraints of their aerospace industry, size of  their military budget, and their national security objectives. The Russian approach invests less into the training and fielding of each individual pilot and aircraft, but more pilots and more aircraft are capable of being fielded as a result on a lower budget.  In essence, the Russian fighter doctrine is still an attrition tactic designed to inflict the maximum number of enemy casualties given a large but comparatively less well trained fighting force.

The American approach will be examined next week in Part II


  1. Russia Plans 60% Increase in Defense Budget by 2013, Center for Strategic and International Studies - Oliver Bloom, 2013.
  2. Bomber Su-34 recognized non-combat, Alexei Mikhailov, Dmitry Balburov, 2012.
  3. U.S. Defense Cuts Lead to First Drop in Global Arms Spending in 15 Years, Time - Vivienne Walt, 2013.
  4. How does the F-16 perform against its adversaries in dogfight, David Centoti, 2012.
  5. The Russian Philosophy  of  Beyond Visual Range Air Combat, Karlo Kopp, 2013.
  7. Beyond Blue Four  The Past and Future Transformation of Red Flag, Maj Alexander Berger, 2005.
  8. The F-22 Raptor: Program & Events, Defense Industry Daily, 2013.
  9. Plymouth native emulates enemy in Air Force war games, Bryan Bender, 2013.
  10. Aggressor pilots: Paid to play the villain, Michael Hoffman, 2009.
  11. 422ND JOINT TACTICS SQUADRON, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, 2013.
  12. F-35 Enters Operational Testing at Edwards and Nellis Air Force Bases, Defense Update, 2013.
  13. First F-35A sporting 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron lettering and "OT" tail code, spotted at NAS Forth Worth JRB, David Centoti, 2012.
  14. Russian Military Politics and Russia's 2010 Defense Doctrine, Stephen J. Blank, 2010.
  15. Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, 2012.
  17. F-16 Fighting Falcon Service Life, Global Security, 2012.
  18. F’d: How the U.S. and Its Allies Got Stuck with the World’s Worst New Warplane, David Axe, 2013.
  19. PROGRAM ACQUISITION   COSTS BY   WEAPON SYSTEM, Department of Defense, 2012.
  20. Russia’s SU-35 Super-Flanker: Mystery Fighter No More, Defense Industry Daily, 2013.
  21. MiG-29 Misery Continues, James Dunnigan, 2010.   
  22. Russian Military Reform and Defense Policy, Jim Nichol, 2011.
  23. Russia Delays Opening Yeisk Carrier Training Facility, 2013.
  24. WORLD AIR FORCES 2013 - Flightglobal
  25. China's New Jet, Radar Complicate US Posture, Wendell Minnick, 2013.
  26. Flanker Radars in Beyond Visual Range Air Combat, Karlo Kopp, 2013.
  27. Statement for the Record on the   Worldwide Threat Assessment of the   U.S. Intelligence Community for the   House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, James Clapper, 2010.
  28. Russian Air Force - Summary, Jim Nichol, 2011.                                     
  29. Russian Air Force, Chapter 3 - CURRENT STATE OF THE RUSSIAN AIR FORCE, Jim Nichol, 2011.
  30. Su-30, Federation of American Scientists, 2000.                                 
  32. India to develop 25% of fifth generation fighter, Ajai Shukla, 2010.                 
  33. Assessing the Tikhomirov NIIP L-Band Active Electronically Steered Array, Karlo Kopp, 2013.
  34. Red Flag, Walter J. Boyne, 2000.
  35. RAND, Air Power Past Present and Future, 2009. 


  1. Excellent first installment on this series! Thanks!

    1. Thanks arcturus. Btw, "spy stork" was p great :D I'd also agree with what you had to say regarding the stealth treatments on the Chengdu Pterodactyl drone. The drone apparently costs only one million dollars and that'd be impossible with the addition of stealth treatments. There is a lot of BS coming from the Chinese aviation community in terms of overstating their capabilities.

    2. The spy stork saga is an interesting one for sure.

      As for overstating of capability, I see this as a fairly natural thing. Combine growing capability with rampant nationalism, and you have a recipe for amusing claims that border on the ridiculous. The unfortunate part about these claims comes from the military blogging community taking them at face value, and crying that the sky is falling.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks stone :) Do you agree with the argument?

    2. Yea, your make the point great.

      Russia, has had issue with it's military, navy and air force.

      What you have written was well done, but it also is common across the all 3 branches defense in Russia.

      There was a great article i read back in April/May. From a Russian Deference minister office, who talk about the failings of the Russian military.

      In it he wrote, that the Russian military had "Major Issue with Culture and Decay"

      Russia Culture in the Military was "broken" there was no future for a solider, most ended up working for organized crime boss or conducted criminal behavior due to the lack of pay. Their was also high death in recruits while training, with daily basing and suicide was common, there was no education, nor hope of getting promotion inside the military. Their was no reporting of abuses.

      Decay, The Russian minster, did an inspection of one of the military bases in Russia, in his inspection he found "mold on walls that was visible thought out the buildings, no hot water in showers, soldiers wearing boots that where designed in the WW2, equipment worn down and old. Wiring in the building was still from the 1940's, while walking through their was a power black.

      For soldiers, there was no health befits, sub stander-ed hospitals, no education for soldiers other than basic training, barely no winter clothing.

      Russia was spending all their money on Sub's and ICBM.

      Apparently, they are making changes, but i don't see how, when the last defense minster try to buy Italian light armor vehicles, they fired him, don't forget about the French LHD that the Russian are buying, they nearly shoot him for that.

      So the entire military, navy and air force has long ways to go.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Nice post Matt.
    The Russian doutrine was allways to adapt an existing aircraft to another role.As Sir Bill Gunston stated Russians will allways adapt an existing airframe for a different role if possible(i.e the Su-34).When that is not possible they build a new design using the most off the shelf components as possible.
    There are several things in your post in wich i have a different view...
    -When Russian and American pilots confroted each other there was allways parity(Korea,Vietnam).
    -Most of the times US hardware faced inferior Soviet export hardware(monkey model)...creating the myth of western superiority.(Indian Mig-21 Bisons and Su-30s surprised the USAF in 2004).
    -Russian submarines are faster and can dive much deeper than western models
    -They have years of advantage in Ballistic missile tech over the west
    -They started fielding supersonic ASM in the 1960s...the west is years behind and as failed to do so...
    -Their MRAAMs have multiple seekers...only the french did so in the west.
    Sure they are behind in comand and control systems(VERY BEHIND) and just recently stoped viewing soldiers as «expendable»(they are starting to use body armour).But make no mistake:the F-35 will not make it against newer Russian designs.The simple answer to this is that it was not designed to do so.It was designed in the 1990s when the cold war was over and the russian defense industry was on the ropes...and the chinese were flying MiG knock-offs...the world is not like that any more.When the ATF requeriments where out the result was the YF-22 and the YF-23.These designs were capable of dealing with the new Soviet systems on the drawing board.In the 1990s they stayed in the drawing board,and with a drunk president and a falling economy Russia was a wolf with no fangs...
    Puttin put an end to that,and the systems that were in the Genesis of the ATF are back and being sold to anybody with cash...
    Only the ATF(F-22) is capable of facing those systems and only if coppled with thousands of cheapper 4,5 gen fighters...not an handfull of JSF that cost as much as the F-22...
    Just my toughts and sorry for the bad english,butt i am portuguese...
    Good reading...keep up the good work

    1. Hi Nuno, most of your arguments will be thoroughly addressed in Part II, the American Doctrine which will likely be out by the week after next cause I have midterms but most of its already written. In regards to the "honchos", the American name for Soviet pilots who fought in Korea, the parity outcome you refer to is very different from today's situation. By and large, the Soviet's only sent ace pilots from World War II to fight vs. the American force which had some WWII vets but mostly mixed experience airmen. Thus, the 1.3:1.0 kill ratio favoring the US(RAND,2009)actually shows the US advantage not disadvantage when both aircraft, the MIG-15 and F-86 were roughly on par with one another in many respects. As the American Doctrine article will discuss, the USAF did a complete 180 degree change in terms of fighter doctrine after Vietnam due to the poor exchange ratios you mention. The lessons learned from Vietnam form the core of current USAF thinking which I will discuss. In regards to the submarine performance specs, much of the real figures are classified so I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from published ones.

    2. Sorry for being that guy,but i really like talking about this issues...
      -As for submarine the 1980 NATO admited that it ad no anwser for the Alfa class...they just dive too deep and were too fast to be destroyed by current(by them) surface ship could keep up with them.Source«An illustrated guide to modern sub hunters» by David M.O Miller...this class lead to the development of the ADCAP and Spearfish torpedos...
      -The main mission of soviet pilots was to intercept the B-29s...not to dogfight.They weren't allowed to cross an imaginary line drawn from Wosan to Pyongyang, and never to fly over sea...Big ROE...

    3. Having a "devil's advocate" is always useful, it keeps people from becoming complacent. That being said, I think you missed some issues with regards to Soviet submarines. Chief among them being safety and acoustic signature. Despite the acoustic signature reductions on the Alfa, the majority of sources indicate the Los Angeles class is significantly quieter than both the Alfa and Akula classes. Given the intensity of the Soviet espionage programs regarding US submarine technology, I'd say the Soviet's would have agreed, at least off the record.

    4. True...Alfa class was noisy and at top speed i bet they couldnt hear anything on their sonar...but they where impossible to hunt and destroy...

  5. Very interesting post. Looking forward to the next part.

    Cheers from France.

    1. Matt might be worth a read.

      bit if about this, but thought you might want to read it.

      Last time i Checked Nato had a 10 to 1 lead on sub.

      USA, Britain, France are all new sub's, Russia only have about 1-2 subs that are new and still in sea trials, while china are still developing their sub's.

      So i think the USA has nothing to worry about.

    2. forgot to add the German sub's in those number.

      I think the Germans can build sub's......ha

      German sub's should get a gold star for being so quiet :-)

    3. Stone30,let me remind you that the ASW capability of the USN and the Royal Navy were never so low...
      -No fixed wing aircraft in the CVs(remenber the Viking?)
      -ASW helos in CVs tasked with many jobs and crews with less ASW training than in the fact the ASW was never been so neglected since 1939...
      -Then there is that case of a chinese surfacing near the KW in a lot to worry about

    4. @stone30
      I've heard about the sub deficit and I'm somewhat concerned. Not about Russia but China. I'd hope they will manage to keep the Los Angeles class around for a bit longer, they are still really good and better than current PLAAN nuclear submarines. The US has by far the best ASW capabilities in the world bar none. Yeah, I'd say the Germans probably make the best diesel electric submarines in the world these days the type 212 and Dolphin are really impressive.

    5. China has learn from Russia mistakes, It well funds their projects.
      I think china are at a stage this past 5 years to start being more confident in there sub manufacturing, how good is their sonar, and engine population system is unknown. Really no one knows, everyone is guessing that china will make the same mistakes as Russia. Which i think is very dangerous.

      ASW capabilities of the USA is very impressive.

      As i have said in the past, a conflict between china and the USA, is extremely unlikely, and if their is one, it will go nuclear quite fast and quick.

      It's also concerning me how low tech some of china new equipment is. They have got advance scopes and laser guided weapons, on vehicles and other heavy and light vehicles.

      Every equipment accepted by the PLA army must have a primary system that is NON-GPS!

      A few years ago, we all thought that is was because china was to cheap to spend the money or did not have the technology, but this last 2 years we have seen very advance communication gear in the 8X8 command vehicles, with some very basic equipment.(old tech but given a 2010 upgrade)With some very advance communication gear, from ppl who know their stuff about communication.

      That type of thinking was wrong, and the thinking now is china expecting to lose all satellites during a conflict.

      Which then makes the more serous question?

      Will china knock out all the GPS satellites within the first few days for everyone.

      What will that do to USA Air force, Navy..... Because that knocks out
      -Some Awc's
      -Some ASW
      -Some communication between Airfoce and Navy over long distances.
      and so on.

      Quote by Stone30

      It's Better to talk about war and wonder "what if" then to have a war and say we are all FK!


    6. Something you might like.


    7. Sorry Stone, this got longer than I had intended.... :D

      I think the US satellite network is a great deal more robust than many think. If you have the time, here is a very extensive three part article series that looks at how hard it would be for China to effectively knock out the US GPS, early warning, communication, and keyhole intelligence satellite network. A lot of it has to do with simple physics really.
      How China Loses the Coming Space War (Pt. 1):

      The US dominates space. Of the 1071 satellites in orbit, 459 of those belong to the United States (China has 105, Russia has 110). Of the 459 US satellites, 248 belong to the Government & Military. The extensive commercial US satellite network would also be commandeered in an all out war which would greatly increase redundancy and bandwidth transmission capacity.

      Despite this lead, I would agree that the US is too reliant on space, which is why DARPA is saving the day (yet again) with the timing and inertial measurement unit which will augment GPS. The system will ensure US forces will not be denied accurate navigation and precision weapon capability in a contested anti-access environment.

      Seriously, if I was in a position of influence, I would triple or at least double DARPA's budget. After helping invent the internet and GPS, you'd think they'd get more funding than $3 billion a year!

      A war with China and the US is not impossible. The argument that economic ties will be enough to prevent war holds little water. Germany and the UK were each other's largest trading partners by a considerable margin prior to World War I. With regards to nukes, its a pretty common argument that nukes would be used quickly but I"m simply not convinced. As you know, the Chinese leadership wants to STAY in power. They would not make a move that would oust themselves from power e.g. via nuclear holocaust. Even the most hardened war hawks in the US do not value Taiwan enough to allow for a nuclear exchange with China. The "nuclear taboo" has been firmly established around the world's nuclear powers. Since the acquisition of nuclear weapons by both Indian and Pakistan, neither side has come close to using them despite some intense border skirmishes and neither side has fought protracted wars as they did prior to nukes. The only situation I could foresee nuclear weapons being utilized would be an invasion of mainland China with land forces(which would be probably among the stupidest military moves in human history) or if the US fleet was in ruins and China somehow managed to start invading the US mainland. Both of which are not going to happen.

      Lol, I had no idea the Bulava Missile's were so unreliable (reminds me of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system :D)

    8. Hay, Matt, Np problem with the length. ;-)

      Great articles that you put up. I like reading it. Thanks

      Still I would be concern that China was able to set off a nuke in space what effect that would have with all the satellites?
      I doubt china will invest the time and money building up their missile defense system to the extent that article went into.

      The nuke option (is if china was in a corner) and seen no way out but to lunch one into the Space as preemptive strike.

      While reading that I was think of 2 things,

      -The Russian S500 designed to hit ICBM missiles and Take out Satellites. It's mobile and only requires it own mobile satellites to hit targets in space. No fixed Ground Radar. (that's how the Russians are TRYING to design it)

      -Emp weapons, china are working on them, how successful they are we don't know. But I would gather their would be some serious Money $$$ put into the project.
      As one in space that Gives off a burst every 3-4 hrs would be quiet effective.

      The only way to sink an Aircraft carrier (or Aircraft carrier group) is with a torpedo nuke.

      It's well known that 2-3 torpedo's would not be able to sink the Nimitz for example, unless it was close and right in the middle, and even then, it comes down to weather that can control the flow of water on to the ship.

      China "Carrier Killer" reported in the USA, is just Hype, what china are trying to do is cripple the ship not sink it. Even then china will have not have any capability, because all their satellites will be destroyed by the X-37B and other capability USA has.

      I agree with you it is crazy to think any force, in the USA or China would want to put Boots on the Ground.

      Let's be honest here, their is only one force that has the capability to put troops on the ground anywhere in the world and that is USA.

      Chain has got no military, navy or air-force able to project that type of force required, the chines know this and so dose the USA.
      + if you thought Gun Control (lol) was an issue could you imagine if the chines are coming would do to the USA ppl mentality.

      Trade in you AR15 for a .50 call Chain Gun! Or Dad, can I have the Javelin missile for

      China putting troops in the USA, will never happen, china is to smart for that! (their will not be a china)

      But you have to look at china point of view, having 3-5 aircraft carrier groups off their shore, and having ground forces build up on India boarder and in Japan,SK and Guam base. Would corner the China government to pull out the Nukes, then allow the USA to put "boots in Beijing"

      All you need is another G.W.Bush and similar Hawks in key power positions and then the Pentagon PR team and you will have a let's take on china atmosphere.

      I think the USA and China will increase their military cooperation on both sides.

      But both side have to keep the other in check and balances.

      This is a Game of Chess between China and the USA, and we are observers.

      Agree, Darp should have at least have $10-15 billion per year.

      This was suppose to be short, lol.

    9. I have read a bit on the S-500 but I"m not too worried. The Russian's have a tenancy to overhype their own equipment frankly. EMP protection is an issue I'd agree. Lol, I'd love to own a Javelin missile :D I hear troops nicknamed it the "Porsche" cause it costs as much as one.

      If we had Senator Ted Cruz as president maybe he'd be crazy enough to nuke China judging from his current behavior in Congress. Unfortunately, the number of nuts within American politics is on the rise. I don't know how much you hear about American politics, but this "Tea Party" within the Republican party is crippling the United States Government and IMO they have a noticeable detrimental impact on American national security and our general well-being in general.

  6. Yes I have heard of the Tea Party the hole world knows of the tea party
    Yes I know off Ted Cruz that's who i was think about when writing the above.

    They are having Issue with the S500, it "suppose to be a completely new generation missile system."

    Dam didn't think the Jav cost so much per missile.

    (lol, love to have one),

    you must be a strong supporter on the 2nd amendment "a citizen will have the right to bear Javelin Missile System"

    1. Lol, pretty great. I don't want to bore you with politics but the real shame in all of this is that there actually are moderate AND intelligent Republicans out there but nobody within the party pays much attention to them such as Senator Bob Corker or former governor Jon Huntsman (I voted for the later but most of my fellow republicans hadn't even heard of him during the primary).

      Lol, I believe every American has the right to bare aircraft carriers as argued by Stephen Colbert:

      jk :D

    2. wow, f16 Q

      worth a look

    3. Boeing must be pretty happy with themselves given its a Lockheed produced aircraft :) Too bad we can't use them as expendable missile trucks in combat. If you have the time I'd recommend you read The Next Lightweight Fighter by Col Michael W. Pietrucha. His proposal for a new combat UAV to supplement the F-35 and F-22 is very interesting.

  7. lol, no matter where you are in the world there are always bad politicians.

    I take your aircraft carrier and raise you 10 UGM-133 Trident II with launch codes and submarine.

    oh, if the NSA are reading this we are just joking around, no need to look at my history :_0

  8. Excellent article. It is true that Russian fighter pilots do not get enough ACM training hours – however with Russia new found oil wealth this might begin to change?

    Let remember that the current generation of Russian fighters are simply a response to western power projection doctrine changes, western equipment, and Russia’s own unique geography requirements.

    “The downing of Francis Gary Powers Lockheed U2 over the Soviet Union in 1960 (flying from Pakistan to Norway), forced a reassessment of the American Strategic Air Command (SAC) high altitude doctrine. It would be decided that a LOW altitude penetration doctrine was the answer. This change would eventually produce another Soviet response. Particularly with the development of the American B1 bomber, Russian authorities would issue a new requirement for an aircraft that could also counter low flying threats, with long range, AND be free of GCI limitations. One result was the MiG-31 (Микоян МиГ-31) Foxhound.”

    “At the time the Russians needed to counter both high flying reconnaissance aircraft like SR-71 and the low level penetration types like the F-111, FB-111, Panavia Tornado, cruise missiles, as well as the Rockwell B1. It also needed enormous range to cover the vast expanses of Soviet airspace of some 11 time zones, and to replace (together with the MiG-31 Foxhound) the Sukhoi Su-15, Yakovlev Yak-28, and Tupolev Tu-28 series of interceptors.”

    “The other requirement was it needed to be significantly superior to the superb new 'super-fighters' being fielded by NATO, including the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, General Dynamics F-16 and later, the Northrop-McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet. [It must be said that developing an aircraft to counter the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, and its AWG-9 and AIM-54 Phoenix missile system - remained 'not a simple matter.'”]

    The result was MiG-31, Su-27, and MiG-29.

    MiG-29: point defense & high maneuverability & lookdown-shoot down.
    Su-27: ultra long range patrol & high maneuverability & lookdown-shoot down.
    MiG-31 ultra long range patrol & lookdown-shoot down.

    Advanced Flanker variants high hard-point count is simply recognition that missile hit probabilities under actual combat conditions will not exceed 50 % for ‘all reasons.’ To date stealth fighters with internal weapon bays (F-22A and F-35) do not bring enough missile rounds to the fight. F-22A has no helmet sighting – so even a flight of MiG-21Ibis (Bison) could give F-22 crews a bad day.

    1. Footnote:* hit probabilities meaning no more (no more) than 50% of all missile rounds fired in combat (fired at all targets during the engagement by both sides). Not 50% of rounds carried into combat.

    2. The proliferation of DRFM jammers is problematic but it certainly does not negate the advantage of stealth. Even with 50% accuracy (or 46% pk), its important to keep in mind the Raptor or F-35 does not necessarily have to enter the merge at visual range. Even the most capable Russian IRST systems are not going to detect any target beyond 27 nautical miles (cited max range APA). Between ranges of roughly 100 miles to 27 nautical miles, US aircraft are able to shoot their radar guided missiles and leave. Now this certainly won't be always the case as some proponents of stealth advocate but the narrative that all bvr missiles will fail and stealth is negligible as others have argued is also false. It can be expected that the F-22 will eventually get an HMD, probably post 2016 when sequestration becomes less of an issue.

      The incorporation of CUDA could very well address the low pk and internal storage issues you mentioned. I'd imagine they'd have less range than an AIM-120D but its more than likely its beyond 27 nautical miles. The F-35 can potentially carry a maximum of 12 CUDA missiles.

      Furthermore, the actually combat effectiveness of the Russian aircraft you mentioned, the Mig-29, Mig-31, and Su-27 is limited at best. For example, the SR-71 routinely managed to evade the Mig-31. Even if the air frames themselves were able to compete with their western counterparts, its abundantly clear their pilots were not. The added revenue has certainly helped but Russian pilot training is well behind China, Europe, and the United States.