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Quantifying Everything: Country Air Power 2013
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Saunders, R. J., & Souva, M. (2020). Command of the skies: An air power dataset. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 37(6), 735–755.

We introduce a dataset on air power. Air power is the ability to inflict damage on an adversary through the air, and its successful application depends on achieving command of the skies. To achieve command of the skies, countries invest in a variety of types of military hardware and training, especially fighter aircraft. Our dataset contains information on the number, type and technological characteristics?including weaponry, avionics, speed, maneuverability and stealth characteristics?of each country?s fighter and attack aircraft for the period 1973-2013. We also introduce two new air power variables based on this data. The first is Country Air Power, a country-year measure of air power. The second is Expected Air Superiority, a dyad-year measure of which actor is likely to achieve air superiority in a military conflict. We illustrate the utility of this dataset by examining the relationship between air power and militarized dispute initiation, the duration and success of coercive bombing campaigns, and coercive behavior more generally. We find that command of the skies significantly affects conflict and coercive behavior.

(h/t whyvert)

Fivefold estimated gap between Russia/China and the US c.2013.

Commenter Annatar thinks it’s underestimated:

– Chinese have introduced so many 4th gen or higher aircraft since 2013 the graph is out of date.
– Also, graph even in 2013 seems wrong, looks like it assigns America 4.5x as many advanced jet fighters as Russia, ratio in 2013 as now according to my calculations is only around 3:1.
– Right now around 1000 4th gen or higher aircraft in Russian military vs 2,800 for America so 2.8:1 ratio.

Either way, it is generally in sync with my estimate of a general Comprehensive Military Power threefold superiority of the US over both China and Russia c.2015, which was likewise repeated in the Military Equipment Index for the same year.

The general trend in all of these indices over the past five years is for Russia to marginally improve its position and for China to gallup ahead, decidedly overtaking Russia and also rapidly gaining ground on the US.

This also constitutes support for the idea that the US will already have a very hard time checking China in their areas of likely confrontation and that this may become entirely unfeasible as early as the mid-2020s.

 
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  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

    Commenting rules. Please note that anonymous comments are not allowed.

  2. The title is most excellent.

    Only through quantification can there be measurement, only through measurement can there be comparison and control, and only through comparison and control can there be improvement.

    • Replies: @Boomthorkell
  3. Aedib says:

    The graph excludes the 2010s decade. Most new Russian new fighters were acquired within this decade. See Aircraft procurement here

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Air_Force

    • Replies: @showmethereal
  4. songbird says:

    Alternative plan to Taiwan invasion: make a deal with Taiwan’s elites to abandon gay policies, then annex it by pretending to get invaded and taken over by it. That would invalidate a lot of the border agreements the CCP made, when China was weaker, allowing for a greater China, as well as get around any objections the US could make.

    • Replies: @216
  5. 216 says: • Website
    @songbird

    I cannot foresee the US being willing to defend Taiwan at the cost of anything more than airstrikes. The USN hasn’t fought a major surface engagement since Leyte Gulf, and the last minor surface engagement was Preying Mantis. Under no circumstances do I imagine the US being willing to launch an amphibious landing to remove the PRC from a successfully invaded Taiwan.

    A lot would depend on the willingness of US regional allies to support a defense. They might stay neutral.

    • Agree: songbird
  6. A123 says:
    @216

    There are no viable conventional military options for stopping the PRC if the CCP gives orders to take Taiwan by force. The PLA would have very short supply lines and easily available reinforcements. These logistical advantages would be used to grind down any possible resistance.

    The checks against a CCP offense are indirect:

    -1- The CCP has failed to integrate Hong Kong, which was obtained peacefully and 100% intact. The post war catastrophe in a broken Taiwan would be much harder than the HK scenario. It would have much in common with the Bush-Iraq fiasco.

    -2- With proof in hand that conventional deterrence does not work, every nation concerned about Chinese aggression would start looking at nuclear weapons.

    President Xi has no desire for a GW style failed peace or a nuclear arms race with his neighbors. Unless Taiwan makes a mistaken provocation so huge it cannot be ignored, the CCP has no political need to voluntarily take up the huge problems that a “successful” invasion would inevitably create.

    PEACE 😇


  7. [MORE]

    World Air Forces 2021

  8. @A123

    It would have much in common with the Bush-Afghan fiasco.

    [MORE]

    Similar in some ways, different in others!

    VS

  9. 216 says: • Website
    @A123

    -1- The CCP has failed to integrate Hong Kong, which was obtained peacefully and 100% intact. The post war catastrophe in a broken Taiwan would be much harder than the HK scenario. It would have much in common with the Bush-Iraq fiasco.

    The language barrier with US/Iraq was significant. Very few Americans are fluent in Arabic, and the dual nationals that are, were often staunch opponents of the war. Nor did the US have any Arab countries as a co-occupier. The US was stuck relying on unreliable Iraqi exiles, the chaos of the war also convinced many non-Kurdish minorities to leave.

    The mainlanders would not have this problem in a conquered Taiwan. The PRC has largely defeated the HK uprising, and the West has stupidly decided to let Anti-Beijing HK to emigrate.

    Ideologically, the PRC must convince Taiwan to either re-integrate, or else be seized. As ideological subversion isn’t working, the military option becomes more palatable. The Party’s Mandate depends on both economic prosperity and nationalism. The increasing Woke trend in the West will only make Taiwan more intrasigent, and also an ideological threat to the Party’s rule on the mainland.

    • Agree: showmethereal
  10. @Blinky Bill

    Does Tsai Ing-wen still have the Heart of a Warrior, as her Ancestors once did?

    [MORE]

    English Subtitles.

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  11. @Daniel Chieh

    Quantification has a qualification all its own.

  12. @Blinky Bill

    Taiwan has a history of Rainbow Warriors…it’s unfortunate how low they’ve sunk. Maybe if they stayed violent, Austronesian tribes dwelling in Jungles, they would have been more immune to this.

    • LOL: Blinky Bill
  13. Not Raul says:

    During the last thirty years of the Cold War, more Russians died fighting the Chinese than fighting the USA.

    Increasing Chinese military power might end up being bad for Russia.

    • Replies: @Blinky Bill
  14. @A123

    every nation concerned about Chinese aggression would start looking at nuclear weapons.

    Taiwan’s bleeding-edge semiconductor design and fabrication capabilities are so economically and strategically valuable the losing side in a PRC invasion of Taiwan would seriously consider nuking Formosa to deny those capabilities to the victor.

    If a successful PRC invasion of Taiwan wasn’t tac nuked it’s a fair bet they’d move on South Korean as well.

    Remember, the UN forces didn’t do all that great in the ’50s when China was fresh off a civil war and didn’t have enough rifles to equip her troops or any worthwhile air support.

    the CCP has no political need to voluntarily take up the huge problems that a “successful” invasion would inevitably create.

    All the WW3-flashpoint daydreaming aside, the PRC’s political warfare efforts have been so effective that you are probably correct they have no need to physically invade Taiwan.

    • Replies: @showmethereal
  15. @Not Raul

    During the last thirty years of the Cold War, more Russians died fighting the Chinese than fighting the USA.

    The USA did most of their damage after The Cold War “Finished”.

    [MORE]

    • Agree: Not Raul, Bashibuzuk
  16. Max Payne says:

    Don’t be so sure. Those F-15s and F-16s have logged so many flight hours that their air frames are not up to the challenge of modern warfare maneuvers (gotta love when academics think they understand violence).

    So they tack on more racks under the wings, strap more ground bombs, relabel it a bomb-truck (or “strike fighter”) and delegate it to bombing runs (like the F-15E). Sure they’re great against some black pajamas but it ain’t gonna be pulling no high-G moves to dodge Ivans Su-27 or evade Ali’s high-copy S-300.

    The US have to keep these planes in the air because it based its entire war fighting doctrine on using air power for basically everything, including air defence on all levels (tactical, operational and strategic). That strategy means half your air wings are going to be dedicated to CAP/escort and the other half to various missions (strikes, EW, interdiction, whatever). Air war is Americas war (TM)

    Just look at all the US anti-air and artillery pieces. Ancient Hawks, piss-short Stingers and shaky Patriots is all I can think of…..

    Air power has to fill that gap completely. Part of some retarded set-piece ‘air-land battle’ doctrine with Abrams, Apaches, F-15/F-16s and some other gay shit. To counter those godless communists in their T-72s no doubt.

    The same is true for long-range artillery (rockets/ballistic missiles). Russia fields a literal menu of these systems for all ranges, all purposes, all designs. But for the US it has to rely on its air projection power to commit strikes that rightfully should be relegated to long-range rocketry or missiles. (M270, Tomahawk cruise missile and the HIMARS are the only rocket/missile artillery pieces I can recall….)

    When you rely on your air force to do literally everything, from deep strikes, to air defence, to surveillance, to transportation, to intelligence gathering, to EW…. you’re gonna need a massive air arsenal.

    • Thanks: AltanBakshi, showmethereal
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  17. Commenter Annatar thinks it’s underestimated:

    – Chinese have introduced so many 4th gen or higher aircraft since 2013 the graph is out of date.
    – Also, graph even in 2013 seems wrong, looks like it assigns America 4.5x as many advanced jet fighters as Russia, ratio in 2013 as now according to my calculations is only around 3:1.
    – Right now around 1000 4th gen or higher aircraft in Russian military vs 2,800 for America so 2.8:1 ratio.

    What are his sources? I couldn’t find a great source for the Russian Air Force (and then you would have to add whatever aircraft the Navy has, though it’s way smaller than in the case of the US), but I think Russia has perhaps somewhat over 400 modern fighters. I don’t think older MiG-29s are in service any longer. Su-27s are also probably either modernized or in reserve.

    Does the US still have not modernized early F-16s in service? If so, I wouldn’t count those together with the latest modernized versions.

    The Hungarian Air Force used to operate MiG-29s without missiles and not much maintenance (yes, we had big brained politicians), so I guess the Russians would be doing better than those, but how much mileage can you get out of an early MiG-29? Those are pretty old by now.

    • Replies: @Rahan
    , @Rahan
  18. @Max Payne

    I think the Russian army is pretty good, especially relative to the US Army, which is not very good. The Russian army seems to be much better in terms of quality than the Soviet army was in its prime. But the US Air Force has been the gold standard of excellence for almost a century now, already during WW2, so I still think that they are very good. The Soviet Air Force wasn’t so good already during the Cold War, and the Russian Air Force might actually be better, but I would consider it inferior to the US Air Force even in training, let alone the quality of the toys, which is the source of never ending debates.

  19. unit472 says:

    I remember a talk given by a former Israeli aircraft designer at the University of Michigan on the pace and cost of developing new aircraft and how military aircraft took longer and longer to develop and the costs grew even faster. He noticed how rotary winged aircraft developed faster and became more capable even though there being no great military impetus behind them such that what was in WW2 little more than single seat flying contraption had become a CH-47 in 20 years. On the civilian aviation side a DC-3 had become a 747 in the same time frame. Given his thesis it was no surprise to learn he had become the designer of America’s 1st generation drone aircraft.

    Given the time, expense and political risk pilots pose it really makes no sense to persist with what Air Force commanders ( all former pilots ) want and give them what they need. NASA just put a rover on Mars that selected its own safe landing spot in real time. Put that technology on a drone and you just assign it the mission and let it decide how to do it.

  20. Mitleser says:
    @Blinky Bill

    Chinese admits that they would fail to conquer Taiwan.

    One reason is that the domestic political risks are high if the use of force is not successful. Victory is not yet a forgone conclusion — having prepared for conflict with the mainland for decades, Taiwan has toughened its ability to defend itself. Taiwan’s will is strong. Polls show that 80 per cent of Taiwanese people are willing to defend the island by force.

    Cui Lei is a Research Fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.

    https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2021/02/26/mainland-china-is-in-no-position-to-take-taiwan-by-force/

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  21. @Mitleser

    Your link doesn’t work for me.

    I think it’s a different thing to say that there is some risk of failure (China is not yet so overwhelmingly stronger than Taiwan that it can be 100% certain in victory), and to say that it would be a failure. They are saying the former. As long as there’s a chance of failure, the Chinese leadership has no reason to risk it, as long as Taiwan (or the US) doesn’t give them a reason to do so.

  22. They could add dispersion or concentratability as some measure of how much sky an aerospace force can effectively dominate at any one time. The US has pretensions of global air superiority, which is one reason they fund so much more capability, but it is unlikely they can control much of the airspace over central and east Asia or nothern and western Russia.

  23. Svevlad says:

    Russia (and China) compensate by having very powerful anti-air systems, so it’s not that much of a problem.

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  24. LondonBob says:
    @216

    I can’t foresee China invading Taiwan, cost would be horrific.

  25. Taiwanese graduates are turning to the mainland for jobs. China and Taiwan are re-integrating socially and economically, a trend which will continue.

    As Sun Tzu would say, taking your objective without a struggle is supreme generalship.

    • Agree: EldnahYm
    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
  26. @Svevlad

    Not necessarily.

    At the same time, the air defense system is only a passive means of defense. Passive AA always loses to aviation, since the latter can create an overwhelming local advantage in forces. The threat from the use of drones is not removed by the use of a new generation air defense system.

    https://topwar.ru/172126-protivostojanie-zrk-pancir-s1-i-tureckih-bpla-repeticija-vojn-buduschego.html

    • Agree: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @Mitleser
    , @Tor597
  27. @Blinky Bill

    She has the Head of a Vegetable, so that’s something.

  28. 128 says:

    The MiG-29SMT is basically equivalent to the F-16MLU, which any objective observer acknowledges is a modern fighter.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  29. @beavertales

    Nailed it.

    There is already so much interplay between Taiwan and China it’s a foregone conclusion they will pull closer, with a high chance of peaceful reunification.

    The mainland has vast opportunities to offer talented Taiwanese in terms of compensation, all while speaking a very similar language and working in a very similar culture.

    The West has nothing comparable to offer.

  30. @128

    There are just a few dozens of those.

  31. stupid F-35 screwing up the numbers for America!

    anyway, does this ranking take into account drones? because air to air drones are about to become a thing for the US at least. air to ground drones for 15 years. US helicopters, maybe, about to get better with the pusher rotor helicopters about to show up.

    i do wonder if they’ll be able to actually do the B-21 build out or will it be super slow, or a fiasco. they really gotta get rid of those B-1s. and, you would think, it would not be that expensive or hard to build B-52 replacements. yet they maintain a fleet of 50 year old bombers that are only useful against second rate opponents. couldn’t you build cheap versions of those with modern engines and electronics?

    what is the feasibility of drone bombers? might be hard to get the lift and payload and range you need. might have to be controlled by satellites if they fly really far away into enemy airspace.

    • Replies: @Shortsword
  32. i would guess that cannons are borderline obsolete for CAS, so A-10 and derp F-35 are less relevant now for that. i’m no expert, but i would venture air to ground missiles are just a lot more effective now.

    wonder if US Air Force will just start a serious production of F-15EX since F-35 can barely be used, by their own admission. General Brown (lol) said F-35 is like a Ferrari, only fly it on sundays. haha, good lord, America is in trouble when you have General Browns running the show.

    what is the state of stealth versus radar? are F-35s pretty visible on latest generation radar? i don’t know much about RAM. but shouldn’t B-21 be less visible than B-2 and F-22?

    it’s stupid that Marines have jet aircraft but Army doesn’t. that’s just flat out dumb, not the way CAS is actually used, and the doctrine is plain wrong. enough of the handshake agreement with Air Force about fixed wing aircraft.

  33. @Blinky Bill

    When Taiwan is taken, all those traitors should be sent deep into mainland, it wouldnt even be a case of ethnic cleansing, for how Han can ethnically cleanse Han? Ha ha ha! Couple decades of hard lab…, erm I mean vocational training and community service will redeem such Hanjians.

  34. @prime noticer

    i do wonder if they’ll be able to actually do the B-21 build out or will it be super slow, or a fiasco. they really gotta get rid of those B-1s. and, you would think, it would not be that expensive or hard to build B-52 replacements. yet they maintain a fleet of 50 year old bombers that are only useful against second rate opponents. couldn’t you build cheap versions of those with modern engines and electronics?

    The old strategic bombers still works for carrying huge payload. They might not be good enough for contested airspace but that’s fine. The question is if it’s worth building a few dussins of new strategic bombers for the price of hundreds of new multirole fighters.

  35. Znzn says:

    Taiwan should get nukes

    • Troll: AltanBakshi
    • Replies: @A123
  36. Znzn says:

    Military training for Taiwan used to be no joke up until the early or mid-90s, you can find out about it in old films, and the term of conscription used to last for 2 years before 1990.

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  37. A123 says:
    @Znzn

    Taiwan should get nukes

    The CCP would preempt any such effort by Taiwan. They would view it as a provocation similar to Cuba 1962.

    No current nuclear power would be willing to risk supplying Taiwan.

    PEACE 😇

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  38. @A123

    The US preemptively destroyed the Taiwanese capacity for nukes.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chang_Hsien-yi

    • Agree: Blinky Bill
  39. Mitleser says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    Not a refutal as neither of them let their ground-based ADs operate alone.

    The threat from the use of drones is not removed by the use of a new generation air defense system.

    Depends on what drones are used.
    Drone threat against main Russian base in Syria was successfully neutralized by the ground-based air defense.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  40. @reiner Tor

    Key question is how involved will be the other parties, especially— Japan

    We just passed anniversary of 2/28 1947 incident, in which Taiwanese rose up against KMT, who were seen as more venal and less competent than their previous Japanese colonial rulers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_28_incident . So historically Japs really have a stake in there.

    Currently bulk of Japanese exports pass through Taiwan Strait so they are keen to not see it fall in PRC hands. But at same time if PRC makes a move, Japan would be at pains to be compelled to respond unless US/Europe/Aussie also do. If Japan makes any move they risk waking up alot of sleeping dogs…
    In the Second Sino-Japanese war, China was pretty overmatched in terms of industrial capacity. If anything China wants avenge for is the First Sino-Japanese War, when Qing China had the latest state-of-art Made in Germany battleships, and still lost fair and square https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Yalu_River_(1894)

    • Replies: @EldnahYm
  41. @Daniel Chieh

    They are regarded total losers and cucks in both PRC and Taiwan. The GOP of Sinosphere. Chiang is turning in his grave. Only redemption is make common causes with CCP in a Third United Front in case of another Jap incursion.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @Daniel Chieh
  42. @Mitleser

    The air defense in Syria usually had to deal with primitive drones. Did Turkey try to use Bayraktars against it? I don’t think so.

    But the comment wasn’t about drones, it was about whether a weakness of the air forces could be compensated for by having stronger air defenses.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  43. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    I think it was Daniel Chieh who wrote that they democratized in order to secure a higher level of international support. It became especially pressing after the nuclear program was cancelled under American pressure.

  44. Mitleser says:
    @reiner Tor

    That is why I noted that the type of drone matters.

    But the comment wasn’t about drones, it was about whether a weakness of the air forces could be compensated for by having stronger air defenses.

    They can.
    The improved Egyptian performance in the Yom Kippur War after the disastrous Six-Days War was partially the result of having a much better ground-based air defense than in the previous war.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  45. 128 says:
    @reiner Tor

    If they maintained the same party platform as Chiang Kai Shek they would not even get 1 percent of the vote? BTW interesting how jet fighters have become progressively heavier, that a jet fighter like the F-15EX or Su-35 weighs as much as a Cold War MBT.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @Shortsword
  46. @Mitleser

    They still lost eventually.

    I should clarify that it can compensate to an extent, but not fully.

  47. @128

    Well, there would be no vote.

  48. @128

    BTW interesting how jet fighters have become progressively heavier, that a jet fighter like the F-15EX or Su-35 weighs as much as a Cold War MBT.

    F-15EX and Su-35 have like ~15% heavier max takeoff weight compared to the basic F-15 and Su-27. That’s mostly afforded by having better engines. Honestly, things hasn’t changed that much, fighters around 30 ton has been common for over half a century.

  49. That is why I noted that the type of drone matters.

    The drone versus air defense argument is interesting.

    The recent Azeri-Armenian conflict is instructive as to what can be achieved by a prepared, innovative drone user versus an opponent stuck in prior modes of warfare.

    Yes, the Azeris had a great deal of help from the Turks and Israelis.

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  50. @216

    The USA’s only “safe” option in case of invasion of Taiwan:

    – All USN SSN in WestPac region converge and try to take out as many PLAN asset as possible while keeping losses at a minimum.

    The PRC’s most important wargame-factor for invasion of Taiwan:

    – Are the PLAN’s sub-hunting asset capable of sweeping the invasion corridor as fast as possible?

    IMHO there won’t mudfights between surface combatant groups. It’s all USN SSN vs PLAN SSK/SSN and sub-hunters.

    • Replies: @216
  51. Rahan says:
    @reiner Tor

    Here’s Russian resources on their air tech:
    https://aviation21.ru/sostav-boevogo-aviaparka-vks-rossii-na-2020-god/

    Frequent mentions that the airforce modernization was quick-started after the analysis of the 2008 war with Georgia.
    https://voinskayachast.net/vozdushno-kosmicheskie-sily/voenno-vozdushnie-sily/vvs-rf

    Russia-US comparison
    https://yandex.com/turbo/samoletos.ru/s/samolety/sravnenie-vvs-ssha-vks-rossii

    With English language illustrations
    https://dfnc.ru/c106-technika/world-air-forces-2021-voennyj-aviapark-rossii-vtoroj-v-mire/

    https://www.mk.ru/politics/2021/01/11/forbes-podschital-boevye-samolety-i-vertolety-vks-rossii.html
    Russia military airplanes in 2000–2000
    In 2020–1200
    Russia military helicopters in 2000–700
    In 2020–400
    Allegedly much (75%) of the newer smaller airforce is “new or modernized” though. Including new Night Hunter and Alligator hellicopters.

    However, in all resources the US F-35 is taken at face value.
    There is also mention of Russia lacking war drones or cheap precision guided ammunition.

    • Thanks: reiner Tor
  52. Rahan says:
    @reiner Tor

    The Hungarian Air Force used to operate MiG-29s without missiles and not much maintenance (yes, we had big brained politicians), so I guess the Russians would be doing better than those, but how much mileage can you get out of an early MiG-29? Those are pretty old by now.

    Here’s Russian resources on their air tech:
    https://aviation21.ru/sostav-boevogo-aviaparka-vks-rossii-na-2020-god/

    Frequent mentions that the airforce modernization was quick-started after the analysis of the 2008 war with Georgia.
    https://voinskayachast.net/vozdushno-kosmicheskie-sily/voenno-vozdushnie-sily/vvs-rf

    Russia-US comparison
    https://yandex.com/turbo/samoletos.ru/s/samolety/sravnenie-vvs-ssha-vks-rossii

    With English language illustrations
    https://dfnc.ru/c106-technika/world-air-forces-2021-voennyj-aviapark-rossii-vtoroj-v-mire/

    https://www.mk.ru/politics/2021/01/11/forbes-podschital-boevye-samolety-i-vertolety-vks-rossii.html
    Russia military airplanes in 2000–2000
    In 2020–1200
    Russia military helicopters in 2000–700
    In 2020–400
    Allegedly much (75%) of the newer smaller airforce is “new or modernized” though. Including new Night Hunter and Alligator hellicopters.

    However, in all resources the US F-35 is taken at face value.
    There is also mention of Russia lacking war drones or cheap precision guided ammunition.

  53. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    Point is, the functioning military was a KMT relic. Taidu certainly won’t do it, which makes their caterwauling ever more ridiculous.

  54. @The Wild Geese Howard

    As per the article I linked, Turkish drones are just impressively high quality. They’re out of range of the majority of normal air to air devices, and the Turkish apparently utilize repeater drones and multiple technologies to deal with electronic warfare.

    Ukraine is purchasing their drones.

    https://www.aa.com.tr/en/economy/ukraine-expects-to-buy-turkish-drones-this-year/2097636

  55. 216 says: • Website
    @Another German Reader

    A Taiwan conflict could also lead to some actions by North Korea, to prevent the US from redeploying its sizeable contingent in ROK.

    Sinking the PLAN assets in the straits is incredibly difficult because most Chinese subs are diesel-electrics designed for the green water. The US has nothing like this, but ROK and Japan do.

    Taiwan’s existing submarines are obsolete, and the new submarines won’t be in service for a few more years.

    The US should consider developing a drone aircraft that performs ASW.

  56. @Daniel Chieh

    As per the article I linked, Turkish drones are just impressively high quality. They’re out of range of the majority of normal air to air devices, and the Turkish apparently utilize repeater drones and multiple technologies to deal with electronic warfare.

    Turkey has a surprisingly robust indigenous electronic and industrial manufacturing base. They are able to manufacture their own networking and fiber optic gear.

    On the defense side, Aselsan is able to produce the full range of comms, avionics, and electronic warfare equipment.

    I’ve seen Hidromek earth moving equipment up close and in operation. It does not seem inferior to brands like Komatsu or Caterpillar.

  57. @Daniel Chieh

    Everything impressive about them is from imported Western components. Making a long endurance drone isn’t hard. The hard thing is the surveillance and targeting system and that’s all imported.

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  58. @Shortsword

    That’s cope. Why isn’t Somalia making military export drones then?

    • Replies: @Shortsword
  59. @Daniel Chieh

    Not part of NATO. I think L3Harris probably has some restrictions on who it’s allowed to sell military equipment to.

  60. @Daniel Chieh

    Maybe you know about this. Chiang’s post WWII policies to Japan, 以德报怨 „To repay grievance with magnanimity“

    https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%BB%A5%E5%BE%B7%E5%A0%B1%E6%80%A8_(%E8%94%A3%E4%B8%AD%E6%AD%A3)

    1. Allow 2 million Japanese soldiers and civilians peacefully repatriate
    2. Prevent Japan from becoming partitioned like Germany
    3. Preservation of Imperial Institution
    4. Renounce claims for reparations

    This did not go unappreciated, as Yasuji Okamura and some other senior officers would form an advisory group that followed Chiang to Taiwan 白团 „White Regiment“

    https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%99%BD%E5%9C%98

    Part of this was realpolitik as he needed Japanese assistance against CCP. And he goes way back with IJA since his days of military school in Tokyo. But I’d definitely attribute at partly to Chiang’s character and long-range vision. This was the same guy who refuse to give up in 1938 after losing Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuhan. My sense is that he would be furious at the way Taidu is carrying themselves now.

    • Agree: Daniel Chieh
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  61. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    Of course he’d be.

    My family is closely associated with KMT military elite. To say that he’d be furious is an understatement, of course.

  62. Tor597 says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    Agree that having only a strong Anti-Air component is bound to fail.

    But having strong AA plus offensive strike is a hard combination to beat.

    You need good AA to keep your airfields clear to counter attack.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  63. Chinese Vaporware 😉

    [MORE]

  64. Mitleser says:
    @Tor597

    That is why USians worry about the PLA’s IADS.

    Key judgments
    • The military center of gravity of this conflict is the PLA integrated air defense system in
    southeast China. If we can disable that, we can win militarily. If not, we probably cannot.

    The center of gravity for this entire conflict, in my judgment, is the PLA air defense network. Over many years of participating in Taiwan Strait war games and tabletop exercises, I observe that Taiwan’s air defenses are almost always disabled within the first few days of the conflict, but China’s integrated air defense system (IADS) along the Taiwan Strait remains effective for as far into the conflict as the exercise examines. This in turn limits the United States to long-range stand-off weapons or precision-strike incursions by stealth
    platforms. I assume I am not the only person to have observed this and that US forces are working on the issue.

    Success in this area would have the greatest impact on the overall conflict, more even than finding a way to defend US air bases from Chinese missile strikes. Poorly defended bases will still generate some combat sorties, particularly as the conflict drags on and the Chinese expend their inventory of theater-range missiles. But a functioning air defense network greatly reduces the impact those sorties can have. Conversely, defeating the Chinese IADS would open the door to the kind of air campaign that has proven decisive against less capable opponents.

    https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/2021-02/Lonnie_Henley_Testimony.pdf

    • Thanks: Daniel Chieh
  65. Mitleser says:

    This suggests that US air power declined in the last decade.

    AN AIR FORCE FOR AN ERA OF GREAT POWER COMPETITION (2019)

    Key Insights on the Air Force’s Current Aircraft Inventory

    A Smaller and Older Force

    The Air Force currently has 269 operational aircraft squadrons, including squadrons of unmanned remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) for reconnaissance and light strike. The Air Force uses squadron equivalents as its basic unit to describe its force structure.3

    Except for its mobility air forces, each of these squadrons has a certain number of PMAI aircraft that are resourced to perform the unit’s assigned missions. The Air Force’s 55 fighter squadron equivalents are roughly half the number of fighter squadrons it had 30 years ago (see Figure 1).

    Although the Air Force has the largest bomber force in the world, it is smaller than the force it maintained during most of the Cold War, and the emergence of advanced integrated air defense systems (IADS) have diminished its ability to strike globally.

    Similarly, the Air Force’s air refueling tanker force is the smallest and oldest it has ever operated. According to the United States Transportation Command, the combination of high average age and high levels of sustained demand for air refueling support is reaching a breakpoint.4

    The desire to cut the defense budget to realize a post-Cold War peace dividend formed much of the rationale behind Department of Defense (DoD) decisions to reduce the size of its forces and cancel or cut short programs to recapitalize and modernize aging weapon systems in the 1990s.

    Higher defense budgets and the allocation of additional funding to the Air Force following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States did not translate to major increases in its aircraft procurement. The Air Force did, however, expand its inventory of RPAs and modified many of its existing aircraft to support overseas contingency operations (OCO).5

    Although useful for combating terrorism, few of the RPAs procured by the Air Force during this period are suitable for operations in contested or highly contested environments.
    Moreover, cuts to the size of the Air Force’s aircraft inventory continued well into the 2000s. As a result, the overall size of the Air Force’s aircraft inventory has reached a historic low, and elements of its aircraft inventory have reached average ages that are at historic highs.

    A Force that Has Failed to Keep Pace

    After the Cold War, DoD shifted its force planning priorities from deterring a Soviet military invasion of Western Europe toward conducting two major regional conflicts (MRC) that closely resembled the 1991 Operation Desert Storm campaign against Iraq.

    The concept of operations that underpinned U.S. responses to these MRCs assumed U.S. forces could deploy to secure theater bases located close to a regional aggressor, quickly achieve air superiority, and possess superiority in precision strike and other capabilities. These and other optimistic assumptions helped DoD rationalize reductions to the size of its air forces and forego nextgeneration aircraft acquisition programs.

    The last true recapitalization and modernization of the Air Force’s combat, air refueling, manned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance
    (ISR), and BMC2 aircraft inventories occurred in the late 1970s and 1980s.

    https://csbaonline.org/uploads/documents/CSBA_AFAIS_Report_v9.pdf

  66. @Aedib

    I wonder what Russia’s record on maintenance is. From what I understand – the Sukhoi jets require less maintenance and have a higher rate of battle readiness. Of course – many of China’s jets are iterations of Sukhoi jets that Russia licensed them to produce on their own.

    • Replies: @Vishnugupta
  67. @Blinky Bill

    You win… Best comment on the thread. Big laugh for the day – LOL…. Accurate actually too. Taiwan are the descendants of those who lost the Chinese civil war… Can’t be too hard on them.

  68. @The Wild Geese Howard

    “If a successful PRC invasion of Taiwan wasn’t tac nuked it’s a fair bet they’d move on South Korean as well”

    Where do you guys dream this stuff up from??? The Taiwan issue is an unfinished civil war. South Korea? Huh?!?! Why on earth would the PRC do that? Fact is that the reason Kim in NK has nukes is precisely because he stopped trusting China because China and South Korea he felt were becoming too chummy at his expense – so he didn’t trust China to protect him if the US invaded. He only slowed down his nuke expansion – not because of meeting with Trump – but because China and Russia publicly stated they would protect NK if it got invaded (but would NOT help if he attacked a 3rd party).

    Taiwan is a China issue – South Korea isn’t. You might as well have claimed Japan since South Korea has no desire to join the US if it attacked China… Japan would though. But no – China is not going to invade Japan unprovoked. That’s a bad dream.

  69. EldnahYm says:
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    Japan is the only country that could realistically ally with the Taiwanese to fight off a mainland invasion. These fantasies some people have of a U.S./China war over Taiwan are just that.

  70. @Blinky Bill

    Too bad most Americans have no clue who that man is. Then they would know he worshipped the Japanese Bushido spirit and then VOLUNTEERED for Imperial Japan to fight for them. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he actually killed Americans in the Pacific Theater. But just because he was anti communist – he was able to get a US education afterwards and then off course was a mole in the KMT who is the first person to talk about Taiwan independence – in direct confrontation with the KMT itself. American officials even paid him respect at his death since he “helped bring democracy to Taiwan”. If the average American had any clue – I think they might be just a little upset.

  71. @EldnahYm

    Like I alluded to before Japs are not keen on riling up bad blood, so if they intervene, it may have to be on some pretense of protection/evacuation of expats.

    But the main thing is that Taiwan is being used as a pawn by US and Europe to provocate.
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/4/german-warship-to-sail-through-south-china-sea
    Japan knows this very well and is not gonna want to go in without a coalition and be left holding their dicks in the wind

  72. songbird says:
    @EldnahYm

    IMO, it is not realistic – Japanese don’t have nukes. They are not going to mobilize their military to fight a nuclear power.

    In a similar vein, the US is not going to want to trade nukes. At least, if it has rational leadership. The diplomatic turnover with Taiwan should be treated as a proxy for military commitment to defending it.

  73. @showmethereal

    Russian jets are far far more maintenance intensive than comparable western jets.

    We only have comparable track records of 4th gen fighters.Su 57’s maintenance needs in service are unknown.

    The Mig 29 burns through parts like crazy and the engines which by design have a shelf life of less than half of western counterparts start creating problems half way through their design life.

    The Mirage 2000 by contrast is designed like the Kalashnikov.It never let’s you down.

    During the Kargil war we flew them at a rate of 5 sorties per day for more than a month since they were then the only planes which could drop precision munitions at himalayas heights.Not one Mirage 2000 had maintenance issues.

    Mig 29s otoh which was providing fighter escort to the Mirage could barely manage 2 sorties a day with constant maintenance headaches.

    • Replies: @Shortsword
    , @showmethereal
  74. @Vishnugupta

    Service life supposedly increased substantially in later improved engine versions. India got their MiG-29s in the 80s which had the early more “expendable” engines. Kargil war was in 1999 and India got their MiG-29s upgraded sometime after 2006. Is there any numbers on service life improvement after that?

    United States was probably smarter using the same engine for F-15 and F-16. Feels like USSR/Russia would’ve been better off having a slightly lighter fighter than MiG-29 that instead uses a single AL-31.

    • Replies: @Vishnugupta
  75. @Shortsword

    Well one of US analogs to the Mig 29 is the F-18 whose land based variant has been extensively exported and is even more reliable than the F-16.

    The relatively brand new Mig 29 K is also giving our Navy a lot of grief in the serviceability department.Its so bad that the navy will not even consider the Mig 29K for our new carrier presently under trials and is in addition asking our MoD to transfer these to the airforce and replace it with something more reliable.

    Sukhoi Flanker serviceability is much better than the Mig 29 but nowhere near Mirage 2000,Rafale or even our very own LCA.The only peer aircraft of the Flanker in the 4th generation i.e. the F 15 also has superior serviceability.

    Sukhoi had a project which was a single engine complement to the Flanker known as the S 55 which was offered to both the PRC and India in the 1990s but neither was interested in paying for the entire development of a foreign 4th gen aircraft back then.

  76. @Vishnugupta

    You are talking about Indians using Russian jets. Not the same thing at all. I don’t gamble – but if I did – I would bet a whole lot on Russian jets operated by the Russian military being far more efficient in service. I know the Chinese have far more Sukhoi’s than India and love them so much they based 2 versions of their own (J11 and J15/16) which are the most numerous of the class in the world. So it must be the Indian military that has the issue. As I said – I want to know about Russia’s records.

    • Replies: @Vishnugupta
  77. @showmethereal

    Russian jets(gen 2 thru 4) are known to require more maintenance than comparable Western jets.

    This is the uniform experience of countries operating both western and Russian jets.Germany which operated Mig 29 for over a decade post unification,Finland which operated Saab Drakens as well as Mig 21s etc.

    This is a different measure from ruggedness.The Mig 29 is more rugged than the F16 and can take off from dirt strips,tolerate poor quality fuel etc but still requires much more maintenance per flight hour and consumes spares at a much faster rate.

    I will try to find data of Russian maintenance stats but I have never heard the argument that a Russian Airforce Su 30 SM overall requires less maintenance per flight hour than a USAF F 15 E or the like.

    The PRC didn’t exactly have the option of procuring or basing their 4th gen heavy fighter design on an alternative like say the Mirage 4000 or the F 15 and has AFAIK not operated any non Russian origin foreign fighter aircraft so the Flanker is the best fighter they have fielded in numbers and they logically based their initial 4th gen heavy fighter projects on the Flanker as that was the only plane they could procure besides the fact that a cash strapped Russia was prepared to transfer technology and help set up local production.

    Still, many years ago I recall a detailed discussion on Sinodefence on how Russian planes require an unacceptably large maintenance train and the J 10 and other modern Chinese designs consciously try to greatly improve on this aspect.

    • Agree: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @showmethereal
  78. @Vishnugupta

    India’s ability to buy western jets in addition to Russian ones – is a net negative for India’s industry in comparison to China…
    But if Russian planes have such horrible maintenance requirements as you suggest – then why are they so popular? Why does India still try to buy new ones then since India can buy from the west?

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @Vishnugupta
  79. @showmethereal

    Russian jets have certain advantages, including a lower price, but lower maintenance requirements are certainly not among the advantages.

    One reason why countries keep buying Russian planes is because the Russians are unlikely to sanction anyone not at war with them, so countries wary of American interference are going to buy at least some Russian tech. That’s certainly the case with Indonesia, Egypt, and perhaps India as well.

    In India’s case there’s the issue with Pakistan. If India stopped buying from Russia, Pakistan would be happy to step in and buy from Russia, because it no longer has access to up-to-date American technology anyway, and Russian tech might be better than available Chinese tech. Then India would be in a difficult position, because it doesn’t want to be dependent on America, but it wouldn’t want to buy from a country which is an important supplier of Pakistan. (All Western technology has American components, so any Western technology can be cut off by the Americans. Not to mention that countries like France are American vassals themselves.)

    Russian technology can be a good buy even absent these political considerations (I have already mentioned price, and the technology can also be competitive), so overall it can be a good choice even without these, but this was to show that demand for Russian weapons is not necessarily a full endorsement of their quality. Though obviously they need to be at least somewhat good.

    • Thanks: Yevardian
  80. @showmethereal

    India’s last major purchase of Russian aircraft was the Su 30 Mki when relations with Washington were frosty as they had been since the 1950s.Its only after the mid 2000s that relations have improved significantly.

    It is a good heavy weight fighter especially with all the French and Israeli avionics and it will be upgraded further using Indian components like the Uttam AESA radar etc.

    The Russian Su 30 SM is basically a russified Su 30 mki with Russian avionics replacing foreign ones.

    We have opted out of the PAK FA program and are concentrating on our own AMCA fighter program instead.

    We are similarly not interested in joining the BAE Tempest program.

    Countries buy Russian planes because they are cheap to procure,rugged and often the only option available as in the case of China.Also Russians are relatively loyal allies and don’t have an entertaining political system which imposes sanctions on countries in an erratic unpredictable fashion.

    They do not do so because of ease of maintenance and superior serviceability rates which becomes exponentially important as the size of the fighter type increases.

    I think an Indian Navy order for F 18s or Rafales this decade will be the last manned fighter purchase of India.Which is how it should be.

    India’s ability to buy aircraft,sub systems and technology from both the West and its East Asian allies and Russia is a net positive for the country.Would the Chinese not have liked the option of playing Sukhoi against Dassault or Saturn NPO against Snecma or Rolls Royce while seeking technology for their fighter and engine programs in the early 2000s when the state of Chinese tech was roughly comparable to India today? Would not China’s military jet engine programs have advanced further today if it could simultaneously interact with Russian,British, French,German and US suppliers instead of just Russian ones ?

    • Replies: @Shortsword
    , @showmethereal
  81. @Vishnugupta

    What do you make out of MiG-35? It feels like Russia prefers Su-35 so MiG-35 mostly exists to sell to countries which operates MiG-29. Russia has something like 6 of them and hasn’t made any large orders.

    It’s basically an upgraded MiG-29 with new avionics right? It still uses RD-33MK and I don’t think Russia is developing any new updated RD-33 engine so that won’t change. That’s an old engine compared to AL-41 and will be ancient compared to the new Su-57 engine (izdeliye 30). It just seems like it would be a much more natural for Russia to develop a single engine fighter with Al-41/izdeliye 30 instead.

    The benefit with MiG-35 is less development costs. But apparently it uses a new modified airframe so how much of the old MiG-29 machinery can be used?

    • Replies: @Vishnugupta
  82. @Shortsword

    Mig 35 is basically an upgunned Mig 29.It didn’t fare well in the MRCA contest and the IAF hates the Mig 29 for being the ultimate hangar queen aircraft.

    Also Klimov seems to be focusing on helicopter engines as part of the UEC.

    Mikoyan despite rumors of a new super interceptor project to replace the mig 31 seems to only have UCAVs in its non vapourware pipeline.

    Russian future manned fighter strategy is unclear.

    China won’t have need for Russian engines by the end of this decade and will outprice and replace them in their export markets except India and Vietnam.

    We won’t be buying any more foreign jets by the end of the decade and our component level imports will be from Israel and the West and Vietnam is increasingly looking at the Korean KFX fighter.

    So without any significant export market it is looking only at its domestic demand which is insufficient to justify investment in a new manned fighter program.

    No European country going forward can justify a national manned fighter program let alone two.UK Sweden Italy are banding together on the Tempest and France Germany Spain on the FCAS.I think we will see a merger of these two programs by the end of this decade as the finances of the BAe Tempest appear shakier than the TSR 2 ever did.

  83. @Vishnugupta

    “Would not China’s military jet engine programs have advanced further today if it could simultaneously interact with Russian,British, French,German and US suppliers instead of just Russian ones ?”

    Actually no… It would have retarded development further. Part of the reason China has advanced so fast militarily and space was is because it has been cut off from the west.

  84. @reiner Tor

    “Russian jets have certain advantages, including a lower price, but lower maintenance requirements are certainly not among the advantages.

    One reason why countries keep buying Russian planes is because the Russians are unlikely to sanction anyone not at war with them, so countries wary of American interference are going to buy at least some Russian tech. That’s certainly the case with Indonesia, Egypt, and perhaps India as well.”

    Again – where is the evidence? We know the B1B – B2 – F22 – and even the naval F14 programs in the US have stopped production because maintenance/running costs were too high. The F35 faces the same problem now as well (now the British are scheduled to cut orders 50-65%). So where is the evidence Russian systems face the same issue? Show me one Russian system that has stopped production because of running costs.

    As to India… Actually Russia has started to sell to Pakistan as India turned west. The more it does – expect Russia to sell more to Pakistan. Pakistan is already buying more from China.

  85. @reiner Tor

    As I suspected – Indian manufacturing and maintenance is the problem. As I though – Russia and China don’t have the same issues with the same planes.

    https://militarywatchmagazine.com/article/india-s-su-30mki-costs-almost-twice-as-much-as-russia-s-new-su-30sm-here-s-why

  86. @reiner Tor

    As I suspected – Indian manufacturing and maintenance is the problem. As I though – Russia and China don’t have the same issues with the same planes.

    https://militarywatchmagazine.com/article/india-s-su-30mki-costs-almost-twice-as-much-as-russia-s-new-su-30sm-here-s-why

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