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State Of US Airpower  
User currently offlineHawaiianA330 From United States of America, joined Jun 2008, 23 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 years 3 months 4 days ago) and read 3798 times:

Hello all,
Please don't flame me as I'm not as knowledgeable as the majority of you folks are Smile I really wanted to gather opinions on the state of US air power today. It seems to me that we employ an air force of aging fighters (F-15A/B/C/D, F-16A/B/C/D) and are relying heavily on a new breed of stealthy fighters F-22/F-35 to rejuvenate the USAF. IF an aerial conflict were to occur, just how do our current F-15/F-16/F-18 compete with more modern fighters like SU-30/37 in combat? Does anyone know how well the Indian SU-30 performed during Red Flag against US fighters? Is Raptor really the dominant fighter in the skies today? If stealth is compromised, does it still hold that much of a performance/technological advantage over Russian fighters? Again, I'm new to a lot of things (sorry for all the questions) but this is something I've always wondered and I felt this was the place to ask. Is America's air power as superior as we are made to believe or is there some hype involved?

16 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMCIGuy From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 1936 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (6 years 3 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 3787 times:



Quoting HawaiianA330 (Thread starter):
IF an aerial conflict were to occur, just how do our current F-15/F-16/F-18 compete with more modern fighters like SU-30/37 in combat?

Probably fairly well. There aren't that many of the high-end variants in service yet (thrust-vectoring, etc.).

Quoting HawaiianA330 (Thread starter):
Does anyone know how well the Indian SU-30 performed during Red Flag against US fighters?

Unfortunatley, these exercises don't tell as much as one would think. The ROEs in place for a particular exercise can skew the outcome to a large degree. What this exercises does is give us a close-up look at the SU-30MKI. There's a fair chance there were Raptors in the area that weren't even participating in the exercise (Holloman?), quietly monitoring the airspace above the battlefield. This way if a Raptor driver goes up against an SU-30 in the future, he/she will know what they're looking at.  Wink

Quoting HawaiianA330 (Thread starter):
Is Raptor really the dominant fighter in the skies today?

Yes.

Quoting HawaiianA330 (Thread starter):
If stealth is compromised, does it still hold that much of a performance/technological advantage over Russian fighters?

That depends on what you mean by "compromised". Detecting an adversary and keeping a radar lock are two different things. Stealth doesn't really matter for close-in knife fights, it comes down to the hardware and to a greater degree, pilot training.

Quoting HawaiianA330 (Thread starter):
Is America's air power as superior as we are made to believe...?

Yes, but not neccessarily because of the hardware. We spend tons of money and time on training, that's where our edge lies.



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User currently offlineGsosbee From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 825 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (6 years 3 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 3785 times:



Quoting MCIGuy (Reply 1):
Yes, but not neccessarily because of the hardware. We spend tons of money and time on training, that's where our edge lies.

 checkmark   checkmark 

Absolutely.


User currently offlineHawaiianA330 From United States of America, joined Jun 2008, 23 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (6 years 3 months 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3739 times:

Thanks all for your thoughts! Regarding F-22 being the dominant combat aircraft...what makes it so superior? What I'm getting at is (with properly trained crew on both sides) has it ever engaged say Typhoon, Rafale, etc and clearly dominated them in the skies? Pointing out the Red Flag scenario where they were most likely non-participants and just observers. How is it that we are so sure it is the best in the world? Thanks for being patient guys Smile

User currently offlineMCIGuy From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 1936 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (6 years 3 months 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3725 times:



Quoting HawaiianA330 (Reply 3):
How is it that we are so sure it is the best in the world?

Do a Google search for "F-22 kill ratio".  Wink



Airliners.net Moderator Team
User currently offlineSpeedBirdA380 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2008, 539 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (6 years 3 months 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3686 times:



Quoting HawaiianA330 (Reply 3):
What I'm getting at is (with properly trained crew on both sides) has it ever engaged say Typhoon, Rafale, etc and clearly dominated them in the skies?

Simple answer no it has not. Not in real life.


User currently offlineDeltaGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (6 years 3 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3522 times:



Quoting HawaiianA330 (Thread starter):
Does anyone know how well the Indian SU-30 performed during Red Flag against US fighters?

Apparently not so well. Very poor SA, poor airmanship, all things I heard from guys who were flying out there.

Goes to show, you can have the shiniest pistola in the bar, but if you don't know how to shoot it, you'll lose the brawl.

DeltaGuy


User currently offlineBilgeRat From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 222 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (6 years 3 months 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 3412 times:



Quoting HawaiianA330 (Thread starter):
Is America's air power as superior as we are made to believe or is there some hype involved?

Yes it is every bit as good as we are led to believe, and for very good reason... the US military has the financial resources available to it that other militaries can only dream of.

Whilst there are other nations that can compare very well on a man for man and machine for machine basis, nobody has the resources to be able to field such a large number of high tech aircraft and weapon systems, and to train so many pilots so well and keep them proficient.

However, the arrival of the F-22 has shown that even the mighty USAF doesn't grow it's money on trees  Smile


User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8769 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (6 years 3 months 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 3396 times:

Yeah I have never seen a reputable source say -- or suggest -- that another nation (or frankly combo of nations) has a coherent way to win in combat over our USAF.

The model USAF uses is superiority. What I believe this means is, over 90% kill ratio against typical enemies (think China and potentially even Russia). With third-rate opponents, the kill ratio is more like 99.5%. That's 200 enemy birds down for every 1 bird of ours.

In this way, aerial battles are no longer a contest. They are simply a matter of our victory. This, I believe is why WWII and even Vietnam style air conflicts cannot happen in our present world. It would be over in 1 day.


User currently offlineHawaiianA330 From United States of America, joined Jun 2008, 23 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (6 years 3 months 3 days ago) and read 3383 times:



Quoting Flighty (Reply 8):
Yeah I have never seen a reputable source say -- or suggest -- that another nation (or frankly combo of nations) has a coherent way to win in combat over our USAF.

The model USAF uses is superiority. What I believe this means is, over 90% kill ratio against typical enemies (think China and potentially even Russia). With third-rate opponents, the kill ratio is more like 99.5%. That's 200 enemy birds down for every 1 bird of ours.

In this way, aerial battles are no longer a contest. They are simply a matter of our victory. This, I believe is why WWII and even Vietnam style air conflicts cannot happen in our present world. It would be over in 1 day.

You make very good points, Although, I hope we never have to see any future air battles to prove them.


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13253 posts, RR: 77
Reply 10, posted (6 years 3 months 3 days ago) and read 3373 times:

As has been stated, on the F-22 vs what it's likely to face in the foreseeable future, a lot of tax $ has provided a huge capability, but resulting in a much smaller buy than the USAF ever wanted.

Remember, F-22 was at least designed in part, on the assumption that it would one day also face Soviet types built to supersede the Mig-29/SU-27 generation.
With the USSR gone, such aircraft have not been developed, nor is there any real sign they will be any time soon.
While the Mig-29 and SU-27 would have still seen upgrades had the USSR/Cold War still existed, they would have built types to try and counter F-22 as well.

So really, the opportunity for a competitor of a roughly similar generation, in the hands of potential enemies, has never emerged.
By potential enemies, I mean to be sensible here, since other modern Western types are not going to be supplied to North Korea, or anyone else the US is likely to fight in a realistic future.

However, in a democratic Western nation, the training and hardware are not the only issues.
When the Serbs brought down, with a very aging, if modified, Soviet era SAM, a F-117 in 1999, it was a shock.
Which their propaganda made much of.

It did not mean the aircraft was compromised, obsolete or anything like that, it DID mean the other guy can be smart, can learn and adapt, can spring the odd surprise.
This is not a reason in itself to undermine the public consent for a conflict, but if you couple it with other failures/difficulties on the ground, it's more important as a perception than it actually is militarily.


User currently offlineGsosbee From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 825 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (6 years 3 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3336 times:



Quoting GDB (Reply 10):
When the Serbs brought down, with a very aging, if modified, Soviet era SAM, a F-117 in 1999, it was a shock.
Which their propaganda made much of.

Not a shock really. They had input from Iraq and NK. Basically Iraq told them to shoot everything they have when a hole appeared in their radar.

That was the beginning of the end for the F=117A.


User currently offlineMCIGuy From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 1936 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (6 years 3 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 3271 times:



Quoting GDB (Reply 10):
When the Serbs brought down, with a very aging, if modified, Soviet era SAM, a F-117 in 1999, it was a shock.
Which their propaganda made much of.

Really, it was a lucky shot. They used a low frequency radar which will sometimes show stealth aircraft, and every bug and bird in the sky as well as some ground clutter probably. That's why their lucky shot can't be replicated en masse.  Smile



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User currently offlineBilgeRat From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 222 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (6 years 3 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3224 times:



Quoting GDB (Reply 10):
When the Serbs brought down, with a very aging, if modified, Soviet era SAM, a F-117 in 1999

I visited the Yugoslav Air Museum in Belgrade earlier this year and have some pics of the wreckage, along with parts from an F-16C and some other NATO hardware. Very interesting stuff.

I would argue that the last real contest the US faced in the air was Korea. In the world today there is only one country that can afford to maintain a large fleet of modern, highly capable combat aircraft. Likewise there is only one country that can afford to develop and sustain the means to project its power globally.

Considering the amount of money the US Government pumps into its military I would be shocked if they didn't enjoy relative superiority over everyone else!


User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8769 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (6 years 3 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3084 times:



Quoting BilgeRat (Reply 13):
Considering the amount of money the US Government pumps into its military I would be shocked if they didn't enjoy relative superiority over everyone else!

Absolutely. Consider also that the list of the top nation economies includes the USA, Japan and Germany. Japan and Germany, we know, are not eager to assemble large air forces. But they economically could support very big air power.

That leaves the US vs some countries that could not "afford" to compete. The first ingredient here is money for R&D, operations, and having that be under 5% of your GDP. Under those criteria the USA comes up with the Pentagon and the USAF. Under similar conditions, other countries come up with.... er.... less.

So is it feasible for, say, Venezuela to compete against the USAF, no it is not. Instead they maintain an air force for regional conflicts. There will still be air battles in this world, regional conflicts. But when the USA (or NATO) shows up the fight is over.


User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3763 posts, RR: 29
Reply 15, posted (6 years 3 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 2876 times:



Quoting Flighty (Reply 14):
But they economically could support very big air power.

Yes, yet we still fly the mighty Phabulous Phantom, which certainly slaughters the F-22 raptor in dogfight  Wink

Of course, we must admit that with the Eurofighter we have finally gotten a capable airplane. But, as the Mig-29 demonstrated, a good airplane alone makes no successful airforce. Look on the record since the early 90s. No F-16 has been lost in aerial combat vs. a Mig-29, and lots of Migs have been shot down in Kosovo and Iraq.

Why is that? Because the Mig-29s usually got destroyed before they even could be a threat. I am sure if the Migs woul have flown on the side of Nato, they might have scored some kills, as well. There are so many factors which make a succesful army: Good training, good coordination, good equipment.

The Mig-29s were outnumbered and lacked AWACS coordination, so they never had a chance. This is what makes the US military that strong, they have the resources to train the pilots, to come with many planes, to coordinate properly and so on.

Already in Ancient rome, the German tribes probably were larger and stronger than the Romans. But the Romans had much better tactics and equipment, which let them dominate the world for centuries.


User currently offlineWvsuperhornet From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 517 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (6 years 3 months 14 hours ago) and read 2754 times:



Quoting HawaiianA330 (Reply 3):
Thanks all for your thoughts! Regarding F-22 being the dominant combat aircraft...what makes it so superior? What I'm getting at is (with properly trained crew on both sides) has it ever engaged say Typhoon, Rafale, etc and clearly dominated them in the skies? Pointing out the Red Flag scenario where they were most likely non-participants and just observers. How is it that we are so sure it is the best in the world? Thanks for being patient guys

They haven't faced each other in combat but I did read an article in some avation magazine on the web that talked to a british pilot who is training on the F-22 and flew it to one of their airshows, he did state that the typhoon was a fabulous aircraft but given the choice he would rather be flying the F-22 in combat. The Rafale while I think is a good aircraft isnt in the same league as the F-22 or the typhoon.


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