US Think Tank Describes the Future of US-Russian Air War

 US Think Tank Describes the Future of US-Russian Air War

Reference News Network reported on April 16 that recently, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment of the United States (CSBA) issued a special report entitled Air Force in the Age of Big Power Competition. It assessed the future development prospects of the Air Force in terms of its strategic objectives, operational environment, mission requirements and military equipment structure in the next 10 to 15 years, and proposed that the Air Force should reverse the aging of its equipment structure, force construction and operation. The concept of war has long pointed to the problems and viewpoints of low and medium intensity local conflicts and war against terrorism, and urgently needs to be prepared for the era of big power competition. In order to enhance persuasion, the report also simulates the tactics adopted by the US Air Force in the outbreak of conflicts with Russia and other countries in 2030-2035 by using military chess deduction. The author starts with this and makes a brief comment on the future tactics of the US Air Force.

According to the CSBA report, according to Russias current construction trend of long-range strike force and air defense system, the Russian army will pose a huge challenge to NATO air force in the possible outbreak of conflicts with the United States and NATO. The Russian Army is currently committed to the development of long-range cruise missiles, hypersonic weapons and new ballistic missiles, and the development of missile launching platforms covering all military categories, including land, sea and air. In the event of a conflict, the aforementioned weapon systems will pose a great threat to the frontier deployment of U.S. and NATO forces, as well as to the facilities of military bases in Europe and the United States. At the same time, the Russian Army will also equip a long-range air defense system with stronger anti-intervention/regional denial (A2/AD) capability. The system deployed intensively along the Russian border will form an air defense network of more than 200 kilometers to NATO territory, which can largely offset the air superiority of the US Army in the above-mentioned areas. The report also predicts that the Russian army will interfere with and soften the key nodes of the US Air Force, such as command and control, early warning and reconnaissance, by means of non-direct lethal means such as electronic warfare and cyber warfare, which will paralyse the US militarys situational awareness and battlefield control capabilities.

Fig. F-35 fighter

Faced with such a harsh competitive environment, the European chess plan team responsible for the CSBA report deducing the conflict between the United States and Russia put forward plans covering defensive and offensive actions. In order to improve the survival probability of the US Air Force in the fierce Russian attack, the plan team proposed to establish a defense ring centered on several permanent air bases of the US Air Force in Europe. In a dense missile attack and cyber-electric attack environment, the U.S. Air Force should deploy fighter aircraft and other combat forces at bases more than 250 kilometers from the Russian border and not put eggs in a basket, but at airports from Nordic to Southern Europe.

The US Air Force plans to build a multi-layer superimposed defensive ring based on these safer bases, on the basis of dispersing military positions and making it difficult for the Russian army to accomplish its first battle. In passive defense, the report recommends that the U.S. Air Force focus on strengthening wartime warehouses and security facilities that serve as core bases to enhance its anti-attack capability.

The picture is a sketch of the next generation stealth fighter developed by the United States.

For active defense, we should build a double-layer all-round defense circle around the inner ring and outer ring of the base. The Inner Ring is composed of land-based air defense and anti-missile systems such as Patriot, laser weapons and multi-functional unmanned aerial vehicles. It is used to intercept incoming enemy weapons at the end of 10 to 15 kilometers near the base. Outer Ring is composed of Sade anti-missile system, the fifth generation stealth fighters (such as F-22 and F-35) and UAVs, which intercept anti-Russian fighters and missiles within 200 to 500 kilometers around the base. A chain of bases consisting of a series of defensive rings connecting north and South can form a dense air defense system against the Russian army. In addition, the 6th generation stealth fighter aircraft (so-called penetrating air fighter), which will be newly equipped by the US Air Force, will also carry out mobile defense missions to intercept advanced Russian weapons.

Although the future air defense can also play the residual heat of the existing equipment of the U.S. Air Force, according to the report, in future air offensive operations, even if the U.S. Air Force has the latest sharp F-35 fighter aircraft, it will not be reliable at that time. According to the report, in the future conflict between the United States and Russia, Russian military aircraft, air defense systems and missile launchers deployed in the frontier areas pose a great challenge to the U.S. military. In order to gain the initiative, the US Air Force should launch an offensive air campaign against the Russian army at the beginning of the war in order to reduce the combat performance of the Russian army. However, since the Russian Army is bound to deploy a sound air defense system in the depth of the territory, the US Air Force must compete with the Russian Army for air supremacy with new offensive weapons and tactics.

Fig. F-22 fighter

The report predicts three tasks for the U.S. Air Force in future conflicts between the United States and Russia: air escort, air patrol/search and suppression of the Russian defense system. In the air escort mission, it may be difficult for the 6th generation US fighter planes to escort bombers and F-22, F-35 or F-15 fighters that directly break through the Russian defense system, so that they can launch precision guided ammunition outside the Russian defense zone and inside the US defense ring to attack Russian personnel and equipment at the front. In carrying out air patrol missions, the US Air Force, with the 6th generation fighter aircraft (supplemented by the 5th generation fighter aircraft patrolling the second/rear airspace) as the main force, competed with Russian fighter aircraft for air supremacy, and tried to go out to the rear of the Russian army to attack its fragile air/ground command control and early warning and reconnaissance system, to restrain and suppress Russian offensive forces. In suppressing the Russian defense system, the U.S. military also launched physical and networked attacks on the Russian air defense system and ground base with the 6th generation fighter aircraft and electronic warfare aircraft, laying the foundation for the U.S. counterattack operations.

Throughout the three mission forms proposed in the report, the so-called penetrating air control capabilities of the 6th generation fighters will play an important role in them, and the various types of active fighters of the US Air Force, including the F-35, which is just maturing, will probably fall behind in the next 10 to 15 years. This battle mentality obviously continues the conventional thinking of the US Air Force that it has always hoped to suppress its opponents and reduce its own casualties by replacing equipment with dispatches. However, the 6th generation fighter aircraft, which is highly expected by the US think tank, is still in the design concept. Even according to the optimistic estimates in the report, this new fighter aircraft will probably only be installed about 50 in FY2030, which may be difficult to play the role of pick the beam. For the US Air Force, further tapping the potential of existing equipment in the foreseeable future remains an important task.

In the defensive operations envisaged in the report, although most of the equipment used by the US Air Force is mature, there may also be some problems at the level of joint air defense operations. For example, the US Air Force has enjoyed hegemonic air power for a long time in its operations, and has not paid much attention to air defense operations and the construction of air-ground joint air defense system. In the defense ring method of warfare envisaged in the report, the coordination of air-to-ground combat weapons, the cooperation of piloted aircraft and UAVs, and the task division, command and control, and information sharing in different air defense mission areas are all subjects that the U.S. Army still needs to refine in the future. From this point of view, the U.S. Air Force still has a long way to go to meet the needs of air combat in the era of big power competition. (Wen/Vernon)

Source: Responsible Editor of Reference Message Network: Wang Xu_NBJS8023