Russia is closing the gap with US air superiority

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alex_f

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Unread post31 Aug 2016, 15:01

mk82 wrote:Nobody talked about one of the biggest elephants in the room..so I will..the lack of competition in the Russian fighter aircraft industry/domestic marketplace. Everything nowadays is Sukhoi or bust for new Russian fighter aircraft....


the area, where russia was very successful, were their submarines. In the book "cold war submarines", the ending goes like: I asked a russian top-shot what was the reason they were successful in submarine design, despite the limited resources. The answer was "we had competition, you had stalinism (in Hyman Rickover)!".

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str

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Unread post31 Aug 2016, 17:47

arian wrote:Right. Competition isn't the answer because you also have a monopsony (the reverse of a monopoly). Competition in a monopsony is literally going to kill the losers, since they won't have any other customer to go to. This is what happened in the West.

I'm actually amazed some of these companies continue to exist.

As for civilian side of things, almost none, if any, of these Russian companies have civilian/commercial sides to them. The few dozen small airliners Sukhoi is going to build for third world customers are hardly worth talking about. They are not Boeing. LM, NG and others are diversified into other defense industries. All these Russian companies are single business entities.

Hiring competent people is complicated by the fact that Russians aren't required to stay in Russia, like they were in USSR days. The best talent will leave for astronomically higher wages and benefits in the West, or even be employed by Western companies in Russia itself. Boeing has a branch in Russia for example. Or did they close that down after the sanctions? But there's also other Western engineering firms in Russia that will attract them outside of aerospace. Who is going to go work for MiG these days?


I largely agree. UAC is left in a monopsonistic position because it cannot compete with western firms. It can't compete because its best ideas (e.g. Yakovlev's work on STOVL in the 80's and 90's) are sold to the West, often with headhunted Russian engineers. Those ideas are then evolved, refined and perfected using billions of dollars in R&D money which simply isn't available in the east.

Economics is a, essentially, the study of virtuous and vicious cycles. This is a vicious one, which results in a monopsony-monopoly relationship where the Russian state is the only buyer, and UAC is the only seller. Neither has the resources or scale to match the West. Sooner, rather than later, they will fall behind China as well. Likely India too if the latter can ever match its economic development with institutional development. Incompetence, graft and nepotism are all that hold them back. Though, rereading that sentence makes me think I've understated how hard such reform is. Fighting for progress is often the hardest thing to do, because the powerful and wealthy succeeded in the current environment. The last thing they want to do is change the status quo, because they may not thrive in the new world.

The West, collectively, has the population of China or India, but 3 times the wealth and institutions that are far superior. That's a hat trick of advantages, especially the latter. One should never underestimate the virtues of rule-of-law, rather than rule-by-bureaucratic functionary. Only problem is that many in the West seem to have forgotten this, and would rather tear down two centuries of progress rather than embrace and expand it.

But I'm getting off topic here. For the OT, no, Russia is not really closing the gap. Moreover, it cannot close the gap. In terms of development, the PAK-FA represents something between the F-15 and YF-22, that's 35 years behind the US state-of-the-art. The PAK-FA represents progress, but one shouldn't presume that progress is at a quicker pace than the West's. So by 2025 (roughly the operational date of PAK-FA), assuming the 30-35 year lag holds, they will have something that would have been cutting edge in 1995. Cutting edge in 1990-1995 was the early block B-2A Spirit and F-22A EMD prototypes. Meanwhile, the DoD is talking about deploying frickin laser weapons in the 2025 timeframe.

That seems like a reasonable (even generous) equivalent to me. People are so obsessed with new things that they forget how old the equivalent US programs are, or even were. The US retires aircraft more advanced than anything else on earth.
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