Strike more important than air-air combat in the future?

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arian

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 00:55

XanderCrews wrote:Another thing worth mentioning, who do you think "owns" the south China Sea?

China with its 12 carriers and worlds most powerful navy? Oh no wait. That's the US

Chinese aircraft would be over "enemy territory" the entire time


South China Sea is a different scenario. The distances are even greater for Chinese planes to fly, with far fewer airbases to support them on that side of China. Island runways being really just targets in a real shooting war given their location, size and remoteness.

I think the sheer size and complexity of a sustained air campaign against a serious enemy is underestimated by the "swarm" scenarios on the internet. During Desert Storm and Allied Force the US/Allies committed thousands of planes, and managed about an average of 1 sortie per day in both (of course some planes more and some less, including all the supporting assets not just combat sorties). That's the reality of it.

How China with a much smaller force with virtually none of the necessary supporting assets to maintain an air campaign at long distances would be able to achieve and sustain air superiority, given what we've seen it takes for the US to do so, seems strange.

They would be facing not only a numerically larger enemy, but one which can sustain a much higher operational tempo then them, supported by all sorts of assets which China can't field, and certainly can't field where the combat would be happening. Not to speak of technologies involved.

People just assume things like "oh this plane can fly 3,000 miles which means they can have air superiority within 1,500 miles!" Well, that never works that way.

This whole "swarm" business started with those RAND scenarios which were, and remain, totally stupid in my opinion.
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weasel1962

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 08:44

It took close to 6 months for the Allied nations to base the thousands of aircraft and more importantly to establish the logistics train to ensure that the thousands of aircraft could fight desert storm. This was mistake number 1 made by Iraq. The assumption that Allied nations will be allowed to build up forces in future without an attempt at interdiction would certainly be challenged. The amount of fuel and munitions required to sustain even a limited 60 day campaign is significant.

Secondly, the Allied sortie rate was constrained by the distance of airbases to target areas. Hence necessitating a large air tanker force. Same goes with a CVBG that either brings with it the support vessels that would sustain a fight or safe harbors to refuel/rearm. Once mistake number 1 was made, there wouldn't be any opportunity for potential mistake number 2.

In a hypothetical South China Sea conflagration, it is useful to note that the US has no air basing rights in any of the countries surrounding the sea (even for Philippines). The nearest land base that could fly a US flag is probably Guam. The up to 4 LCS rotationally based from Singapore won't make a diff. That could mean a purely CVBG fight. US CVBGs are traditionally dispersed or in maintenance cycle. It will take time to create large battle groups beyond 2 CVNs if that is the requirement.

Having said that, I would think with current orbats, a single CVBG could easily take out the 4 PLA airbases in the South China sea whilst simultaneously tackling a 2 CV Liaoning-led PLAN battlegroup. Even a single tac-tom Ohio may achieve the same result. Once the fuel dumps and hangers are gone, the PLAN would be hard-pressed to sustain any kind of air presence. The biggest risk to a CVBG are probably subs + ASBMs. I don't think any country meets the definition of "near peer" at this time. Europe + China + Russia together, maybe.
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arian

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 22:55

weasel1962 wrote:It took close to 6 months for the Allied nations to base the thousands of aircraft and more importantly to establish the logistics train to ensure that the thousands of aircraft could fight desert storm. This was mistake number 1 made by Iraq. The assumption that Allied nations will be allowed to build up forces in future without an attempt at interdiction would certainly be challenged.


And the same requirement applies to the adversary. China already has established capabilities to carry out a prolonged attack on Japan?

Your assumption is that in those months, US assets are somewhat unprotected and vulnerable. What makes you think that? It took months because besides air power, there was also lots of ground assets needed moving into Saudi Arabia. Also more importantly, there was plenty of air cover provided and air activity.

weasel1962 wrote:The amount of fuel and munitions required to sustain even a limited 60 day campaign is significant.


The same goes for the other side. That was my original point: in either case it requires a lot more than just launching a "swarm" of planes once. But one side does this routinely and has the assets to support it. Other sides, do not. Hence the difficulty in the scenario of China, or anyone else other than the US, achieving and maintaining air superiority several hundred kms out to nowhere.

weasel1962 wrote:Secondly, the Allied sortie rate was constrained by the distance of airbases to target areas. Hence necessitating a large air tanker force.


And the same goes for the other side. What sort of support assets will be needed for China to be able to attain and sustain air dominance 500km out into the East China Sea? Or 1,000km out into the South China Sea? Do they have the needed assets to maintain even a...small...presence there over prolonged periods of time?

weasel1962 wrote:In a hypothetical South China Sea conflagration, it is useful to note that the US has no air basing rights in any of the countries surrounding the sea (even for Philippines). The nearest land base that could fly a US flag is probably Guam


Again, South China Sea is a different issue. And one where China would be at a disadvantage given the distances to the mainland. I wouldn't want to put island bases against CVN groups, if I were China. Those island bases are a joke in a real shooting war with the US.

weasel1962 wrote:It will take time to create large battle groups beyond 2 CVNs if that is the requirement.


And the same applies to the adversary. Time affects everyone.

I think we are in agreement that the scenarios which envision some "magic bullet" solution, like "swarms", are unrealistic.
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mixelflick

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Unread post06 Aug 2017, 20:12

XanderCrews wrote:
mixelflick wrote:Actually, you can make a good case it might be the reverse.

Throw a large number of modern Chinese fighters into the South China Sea scenario (J-20's, J-31's, J-10B's, SU-35's etc.) and you're giving the US a good run for its money. You'll have a nice 4++ generation hi/low mix (Flankers and J-10B's), along with two 5th gens (J-31/J-20's).

Suddenly, gaining and keeping air superiority isn't a given. This is the direct result of "leadership" here truncating the F-22 buy to 187. But hey, that's what we're stuck with. They could conceivably have everything we have, and then some if the J-20/J-31 are built in significant numbers.

Put a very capable, looong range AAM on the J-20 and now your tankers, AWACS and other C3I aircraft are suddenly vulnerable and at risk. There goes your air battle plan, as tankers and AWACS are without question a big part of it. Everything we do, EVERY THING is predicated on air supremacy. We've had it for so long, we think its our right and a given. It may turn out taking that for granted was our downfall..



Been hearing stuff like this for 30 years. Having an air force doesn't mean you can compete. Iraq learned this the hard way. Long range missiles don't nullify the big wings. First you Have to kill them, they not only will resist being killed but will direct fighters against their attackers. F-22s aren't th3 only aircraft that can fight other aircraft they are just the best at it.

China has to defend large sections of territory. Another way to think of it as how will China fair against the largest fleet of 5th gen fighters? What about hundreds of super bugs and Growlers? Not to mention the US training experinec3 and coordination. How will the little minimally trained hand picked party kids do in their knock off flankers? What makes us think red air doesn't make attacks on big wings during exercises anyway? Like maybe we practice that? Our whole strategy in the 1980s was absorbing large attacks, ironically against the same types of aircraft China is currently using

Here's another great question. think we would go to war with China and not restart Raptor production? I know it wouldn't happen overnight but we would finish with more than we started with I can promise you that.


You had me up until the point about a Raptor re-start. No, I don't think the US would re-start production. By the time they got things up and running the war would be over IMO. We're going to have to go to war with what we have, not what we want or what we could produce if we had the time..

Just my 2 cents..
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PhillyGuy

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Unread post06 Aug 2017, 23:01

Don't think of this question in terms platforms, fighter aircraft, etc... but objectives and battlespace as well as the nature of modern warfare.

Really between near peers traditional invasions are all but over, it's not feasable anymore, or desirable.
Future conflicts will still entail war over territory, because fundamentally that is what all wars are about. But they will not feature massive invasion armies and a linear order of battle with the normal front and reat arrangement of forces and logistics.

Everything will be in play at once and all the time. From the most remote command bunker of a leader deep in his heartland, to the leading edge of the spear deployed at the borderline. Air superiority and the white scarfs and airborne knights will become less relevant and more a neuisance or niche factor.

What will win the day in the coming decades between superpowers is superior awarness/intelligence, information management and decision/communication/command.

It boils down to this, who will have a greater ability to utilize a full spectrum global attack to destroy his enemy wherever they are, while remaining elusive and dynamic and protected enough to deny him the ability to do the same.

We are in an era of global warfront/battlespace, with sufficient ability to deliver payload at intercontinental distances. The challange is to remain as much intact on your turf as possible while withering away your enemy on his. But to do it from everywhere, every possible geographical location, high low, front and rear or either flank. Constantly on the move, constantly on the attack and always difficult to track and target. Nothing new of course, except this is tactical maneuver on a scale of thousands of miles, multiple domains and many fronts.

Think of countries like two houses across the street, where air combat is like a person of the house walking down in the middle of the street to meet the other guy and duke it out. Whoever lost would then be defenseless and their front door unguarded.

Well now both sides can hit each other from their front and back yard, and will be more protected behind their fence and walls than out on the street. So who can throw more stuff in an overwhelming and timely and accurate manner at the other guys property and degrade his house more is the victor.

Invest in as many recon and intelligence assets as possible, and field as many and diverse means of delivering precise and heavy payload at stand off distances as possible. And from means and platforms as survivable and mobile and elusive as possible. Fixed bases and structures are monolithic deficiencies that will not survive the attrition and destruction amd reach of modern war.

Really space and the sea are where we should be setting up stockpiles of strike munitions for a rainy day. Everything else is more of a burden than asset.
"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."
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