US vs Russian doctrine/philosophy

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Unread post21 Apr 2014, 19:41

In that case you should have the opinion that the Soviets actually won in Afghanistan as well.Tet was from a military standpoint a disaster for the Vietcong, but that is the whole point. An insurgency and counterinsurgency are not purely military matters. "The United States was never militarily defeated in Vietnam, but nonetheless lost the war because it failed to achieve its declared political objective: the preservation of an independent, non-Communist South Vietnam."

A political objective is not a military doctrine.

Political objectives are set by civilian authorities, Military doctrine is decided by uniformed authorities. For example the US Army has different Doctrine than the US Marines, but they are both given the same political objectives. Generals don't set political objectives, and civilian authorities don't dictate the tactics and procedures (doctrine) used to achieve those objectives (and typically when they do, bad things happen its considered "micro management").

Examples of Military Doctrine:

Sweep and Clear, AirLand Battle, Maneuver warfare, Powell doctrine, 3 block war, Mutually Assured Destruction

Examples of Political objectives:

Liberate Kuwait, Defeat Germany, Stop the spread of communism in Asia, remove saddam hussein, kill bin laden.

A political objective not being met, does not inherently mean the doctrine failed.

so you can't just look at the end result of a conflict or war and simply declare that if you won, the military doctrine was sound and if you lost then it must not have been.

No one is trying to say the US "won" Vietnam, or that Russia "won" in afghanistan. If you want to talk history or politics, that isn't doctrine. Doctrine is Military Strategy, military tactics, and military rules set by the military to win on a battlefield. on a battle field, not an office filled with politicians. There is no amount of Military doctrine that can fix political half steps or mistakes, or murky objectives.

Another fine example from Vietnam was the US having sound doctrine, but politically not being allowed to employ it. This is not a fault of the doctrine. It was an effective military system but was not allowed to be used where it would generate the most success. (example: bombing restrictions on North Vietnam)

Doctrines are typically a result of militaries playing to their strengths to best serve their forces on a battlefield, Those tactics are then disseminated through training to prepare the force for war with a formula they feel gives the best chance of victory. At no point do politics enter into it. Good doctrine will translate for many conflicts.

I hope this clarifies things.

So when we are talking about Russian Doctrine, in the context of this thread, we are asking why Russia puts a higher emphasis on kinematics, and not RCS. Not going over Russia's history in the win loss column. Why does Russia put a higher emphasis on interceptors, while the US did not and retired its interceptors at the earliest convenience? the B-52, B-1, and B-2 are all built in the same country but show an evolution in US doctrine. etc
Last edited by XanderCrews on 21 Apr 2014, 20:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post21 Apr 2014, 19:57


Thank you, Xander.

Doctrine, tactics and such is where this discussion belongs. Political objectives and opinions and such belong there.

I can comment on end about Soviet airpower doctrine and tactics, but this ain't the place. I would personally like to get rid of this thread. It should be about various past aircraft development and such without regard to whatever country or national entity.

I never trained with the Soviets, but I did with the Vee and many countries from the mid-east and elsewhere. I have my personal views, and some I flew with might agree with them. Flew with the IAF, the NATO folks, Pakistani cadre, the Vee, et al.

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"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"


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Unread post22 Apr 2014, 06:45

I'd just want to add on the whole notion that the US is less focused on Kinematics while the Russians emphasize it more.

Lets look at 2 classic birds that embody both countries philosophies at around the same time.
The Viper and the Fulcrum

Both have very comparable capabilities, so much so that Vipers are used to accurately depict Fulcrums in combat.
Viper pilots who flew fulcrums even went as far as saying this when comparing their turning abilities

The MiG-29 and F-16 are both considered 9 G aircraft. Until the centreline tank is empty, the Fulcrum is limited to four Gs and the Viper to seven Gs. The
MiG-29 is also limited to seven Gs above Mach 0.85 while the F-16, once the centerline tank is empty (or jettisoned) can go to nine Gs regardless of airspeed or Mach number. The MiG-29’s seven G limit is due to loads on the vertical stabilizers. MAPO has advertised that the Fulcrum could be stressed to 12 Gs and still not hurt the airframe. This statement is probably wishful and boastful. The German Luftwaffe, which flew its MiG-29s probably more aggressively than any other operator, experienced cracks in the structure at the base of the vertical tails. The F-16 can actually exceed nine Gs without overstressing the airframe. Depending on configuration, momentary overshoots to as much as 10.3 Gs will not cause any concern with aircraft maintainers.

So if anything, the Viper is the better turner in some parts of the envelope and under more conditions.

Remember the Fulcrum was created to directly surpass the Viper's manoeuvrability (much like how the PAK-FA is being touted right now against the Raptor) but ended up being somewhat inferior in most regards.

One can argue that these were 1970s doctrines and that the US has focused on the BVR fight since then thus giving them less kinematically capable planes.

Well lets look at a more recent comparison, Russia's number 2 in A-A vs America's number 2.

Empty:39,021 lbs---------------------------------29,300 lbs
Fuel(40%):8,290 lbs-------------------------------7,392 lbs
4xR-77: 1540 lbs--------------------------4 x Aim 120C: 1,340 lbs
2xR-11: 460 lbs----------------------------2 x Aim 9X: 376 lbs
150 rounds:450 lbs-------------------------180 rounds: 216 lbs
2450 lbs--------------------------------------------1,932 lbs
Combat Load
49,761 lbs-----------------------------------------38,642 lbs

33,820/55,120 lbs---------------------------28,000/43,000 lbs
Wing Area:
667 feet-------------------------------------------460 feet
TW Ratio
Wing Loading: 74.60----------------------------------84
Wing Loading plus body lift
44.13 lbs/sq ft---------------------------------46.13 lbs/sq ft

So as clear as day, the 2 planes have very similar properties at same load outs.
Oh but the Su-30 has TV nozzles which some will say is the holy grail of manoeuvrability.

Well TV is useful for post stall manoeuvres’, which may be useful in some scenarios, the F-35A on the other hand has internal weapons bays which reduce drag and are useful for energy maneuvers.

So in an energy fight, I'd go with the Lightning, if its a post stall contest then yeah, Su-30 might hold some advantages.

Point is, you want to stack up as many advantages as possible.
BVR is the tactic of choice for the US and believe it or not, the Russians as well, but since they cannot compete on the same level yet, they try to emphasize on the level that they are competitive on.

Though not the top priority right now, the US maintains its edge in creating the world's most kinematically superior fighters


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Unread post23 Apr 2014, 14:25

Another comparison could be F-15 vs. Su-27. They have very similar level of kinematics and it could be argued that it's actually the F-15 that has better kinematics as it has higher T/W ratio and lower wing loading (I think they are very comparable in real life terms, each having some advantages here and there). There doesn't seem to be that much difference in design philosophy as both have been designed to be as powerful air superiority machines (kinematics, avionics, weapons systems) as possible. There are differences in application as Soviet Union and USA had quite different technological and manufacturing capabilities leading to different solutions. For example the N001 radar in Su-27 is technologically inferior to APG-63 series and has more limitations with ECCM and ground clutter (look down/shoot down performance). Soviet designers chose to use IRST system (OLS-27) to get around these problems. It was logical as they had serious problems creating a radar with good enough performance and they also had quite good IR technology until the advent of staring (FPA) arrays (which Russian companies/bureaus have not been able to produce). Of course it also had some other benefits like having a fully passive sensor with fairly decent range.

It seems to me that F-35 puts emphasis on every aspect of aerial combat, but putting most weight on Situational Awareness advantage by denying enemy SA (stealth, EW/EA capabilities, and having excellent situational awareness itself with great sensor fit, sensor fusion and improved co-operation due to excellent network capabilities (Link 16, MADL, satellite communications). These capabilities are second to none, including even F-22. On the other hand it seems that F-35 has good kinematics, but not on the level of F-22, which is better than pretty much anything else out there in most kinematic parameters except maybe top speed. F-35 is much smaller aircraft (difference is like between F-16 and F-15) with similar internal fuel load and larger internal weapons bays and it carries more systems. I think it has very good performance taking all that into consideration.

Russia simply doesn't have the technology and capabilities to design and manufacture a full stealth fighter aircraft like F-22 or F-35. USA has developed several stealth aircraft (F-35 will be the fourth full stealth aircraft) and has done huge amount of research and development in that field. Russia and USSR before it have not done the same and developing such an aircraft from ground up is a huge and very expensive undertaking. They seem to create an aircraft (PAK-FA) that has as good performance, stealth and avionics they can realistically produce. This means it has good kinematic performance, fairly good avionics and some basic stealth features. I'm sure RuAF would've liked F-35/F-22 like stealth and avionics capabilities, but that's just not realistic. It seems to me they are creating an aircraft that will be good against anything short of F-35 and F-22. Not having F-22/F-35 like stealth features is not really a choice, but a necessity. I think Russians know full well that going against F-22 and F-35 would be bad idea for PAK-FA, but it'd still be much better than going against them in Su-27 or even Su-35S.
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Unread post23 Apr 2014, 19:04


Folks here keep looking at the Soviet, now Russian, doctrine and such.

From my experience, the change was from a tightly-controlled GCI engagement to emphasis upon the "end game", where great manueverabilty became primo if you could not get a clean shot with your missile.

The Vee flew the early Soviet jets, but they also trained to fight in the "end game", as several of my friends will attest. Their primary tactic was a basic intercept, hose off an Atoll and then scoot. Being the first engagement of U.S. verus Soviet jets in actual combat was revealing. The Vee quickly adapted, and then the U.S.. Ask Cunningham about the Mig-17 battle with 'Toon". We would not have seen that back in the seventies from the "Pact" planes. So they changed their tactics and built new jets to enable their tactics and doctrine. Duh?????

The U.S. realized that using Sparrows and such against st-and-level buffs and fighters coming head on didn't hack it ( ROE was a biggie in 'nam), So we got the gun in the F-4E. Then we went with the Eagle and then the Viper. Both could use the missiles, but could hassle with anybody at the time they were fielded. Tomcat was still a basic interceptor, despite the "Top Gun " movie depiction. They were meat on the table after the merge if their cosmic Phenix didn't get you at 20 or 30 miles.

Lastly, from WW2 the Soviet philosophy was defense, and not clearing the sky way out from the FEBA.I still do not see a fundamental change in that. More emphasis upon the "end game" now, but little else.

That's the way I saw the environment, and such, change from the late 60's to now.

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"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"


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Unread post26 Apr 2014, 02:03

The difference that I see, other than having different industrial & scientific resources to draw on, is that the Americans go for effectiveness in combat while the Russians go for image. In any objective, tactical/strategic, way of looking at it, the job of military aircraft is all about what happens on the ground. Even direct air-to-air fighting is really about the ground, just for determining which side gets to use their air-to-ground stuff.

Since stealth began, look at what it's been put to use for in the field by the USA: first a small-scale AtG attack/strike plane, then a bomber, only after them finally a dedicated AtA fighter whose quantity got truncated for precisely the reason that its role was deemed less important than the original planned number had supposed, and then, a primarily AtG attack/strike fighter, with the next concept in the works after it being another bomber (all while every single one of our non-stealthy fighters were getting reworked for AtG along the way too just because fighters were what we had and AtG was what we needed). But what did the Russians do for the first plane they plan to put into actual service in the stealth era? AtA, because that's what grabs attention. It's not a tactical choice but a symbolic one.
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Unread post26 Apr 2014, 02:28

It seems that the Russian Doctrine is still somewhat stuck in WWII.

Massive numbers, and lots of showy tech that aren't necessarily the best, but makes them look far more dangerous than they really are.


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Unread post27 Apr 2014, 16:42

Gums wrote:Salute!

Folks here keep looking at the Soviet, now Russian, doctrine and such.

There is an auto biog written by Alex Yuzev who defected in 1989 with a MiG-29. In the book ("Fulcrum") he details quite a bit about Soviet thinking.

(1986) In the Air Force (VVS) he maintains they only used GCI as part of building the SA picture - other than that they were very independent. They believed the US was dependent on AWACs and in their version of Red Flag he describes that taking that out was a primary concern. He also states that they played on the US thinking VVS tactics and training were similar to what had been observed in the Middle East or Vietnam.
In the particular Red Flag type exercise described he is carrying special stores and carries out attacks on a mock NATO airbase.
He does suggest the PVO (Interceptor) tactics would likely have been much different to the VVS ones - probably more GCI bound, defensive and dictated by the fact the PVO jets (SU-15/MiG-31) were generally only good in a straight line.

Recent research on the VPAF by István Toperczer shows they continuously had to adapt to changing US tactics and technology throughout the conflict (for example realising their transponder system had been hacked ) - and this all had to fall in the bounds of a small and limited interceptor force.




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Unread post28 Apr 2014, 04:20


I appreciate your posts and opinions the most of anyone here. In particular, your contributions along with others who were there have made the Vietnam tactics thread a gem as worthy of a read on the subject as other great sources like Jack Broughton. While this forum maybe not be labeled for politics, just like in Thud Ridge or his later book I think sometimes the politics that drives certain air power decision should be fair game for discussion to gain a more complete picture on how and why certain historical decisions have been made, even if some opinionated points of view bleed in.

As for some of the previous posts of Soviet doctrine being to look good as a priority over effectiveness, I just don't see how that can be really true. I'm confident that many that have served in their military considered it a matter a pride to help create or use weapons that one day may be needed to help keep fellow soldiers alive just as much as our military felt the same way. To view any other way, I think, would be rather dangerous.

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