Russia Loses the Quantity War

Discussion in 'Modern' started by Hunter368, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    February 1, 2007: Air supremacy. Without it, one cannot hope to win on the battlefield. So, between the United States and Russia, who has a better chance to grab control of the air and hold on to it? The winner is the one who would win a conventional war.

    One might ask, why is control of the air so important? The answer is best described in terms of logistics. Armies travel on their stomachs, to paraphrase Napoleon. They need fuel, ammo, and food, among other things to carry out their job. These supplies are mostly delivered by land and sea, often in large, slow-moving ships and trucks. And the one weapon that has proven to be highly effective taking out these ships and trucks loaded with supplies has been the airplane. Surprising? Not really, when one looks at history. In 1943, Japan sent a convoy of eight transports and eight destroyers to resupply a forward outpost. This convoy was sent into the teeth of Allied air power. They didn't just lose all of the transports and most of the troops on board, they lost four destroyers. It was a decisive victory for the Allies.

    So, if you are going to control the air, one not only needs the pilots, but the planes. If you stand still in the area of technological development, life can get very ugly. Again, look at Japan. In 1940, they had what was arguably the best carrier fighter in the world, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Against planes like the Brewster Buffalo, it dominated. But by the time 1944 rolled around, the F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair were in the skies, and Japan was on the short end of the technological stick. That imbalance led to a one-sided engagement that year called the Marianas Turkey Shoot. Months after the Turkey Shoot, the Japanese Navy was finished off as an effective fighting force at Leyte Gulf.

    With those lessons from history in mind, let's turn to the question as to who would have won the air war between the United States and Russia. The Russians went with aircraft that could be produced quickly and in large numbers. This was based on the belief that "quantity has a quality all its own. Before the Cold War ended in 1991, Russia and its allies produced over 10,000 MiG-21s and 5,900 MiG-23/27 fighters. The United States tended to build better planes, and had a technological lead on the Russians. Perhaps one of the best examples was looking at when planes. The F-4 Phantom entered service in 1961. The MiG-21, a much simpler plane, entered service in 1960. The MiG-23, which was roughly comparable to the F-4, did not start flying until 1967. The F-15 entered service in 1974. The Su-27, the Russian answer to the F-15, did not enter service until 1984.

    The best example of the American technological lead is stealth technology. The F-117 (really a light bomber) entered service in 1983. The Russians still have not deployed a comparable aircraft, while the United States has deployed a strategic stealth bomber, the B-2, since 1996, and a stealthy high-performance fighter, the F-22, since 2006. A stealthy multi-role fighter, the F-35, is slated to enter service in 2012.

    The importance of the American lead in stealth technology cannot be understated. In order to destroy an aircraft, one must be able to hit an aircraft. In order to hit the aircraft, one must be able to see it, be it on radar, via infrared emissions, or visually. If you cannot see the airplane, you have no chance of reliably hitting it. An axiom from fighter pilots puts it best: Lose the sight, lose the fight.

    Furthermore, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has not only been unable to pursue new weapon designs, it has also been forced to cut back on production. Some 800 planes from the Su-27 family have been produced, including those manufactured under license by India and China. Compare that to over 1500 F-15s of all types. Russia has produced over 1,600 MiG-29s, roughly equivalent to the F-16 (over 4000 produced) and F-18 (1478 produced). Planes like the Su-37 and Su-47, upgraded Flankers, are still just prototypes.

    Russia would have had a hard time trying to control the air when it was able to produce thousands of jets that were behind the Americans on a technological basis, relying on quantity to overcome American quality. Now, Russia would likely be outnumbered and facing airplanes that would be at least on par with theirs. Russia went from having a decent chance of winning air superiority in a war against the United States to none. ?

    By, Harold C. Hutchison
     
  2. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Nice article..

    It's also worth noting that modern aircraft are exponentially more difficult to produce than MiG-21's. Even if the soviets never lost momentum, would they still be able to produce sophisticated jets in huge quantities? Even if they had twice as many fighters as we did it wouldn't be enough and producing twice as many SU-30's would be very expensive.

    In the old days I'm pretty sure they had us beat 7 - 1..
     
  3. Aggie08

    Aggie08 Active Member

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    I liked the article. I'll bet they had easily a 7-1 advantage with those -21s.
     
  4. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    I can't remember the exact numbers but Russia has in fact a rather small AF, especially when compared to the thousands they once had.

    Of course numbers don't say it all, it's also quality which matters, and boy those Sukhois are great!

    But given the large dimensions of their airspace, I feel they don't have enough aircraft to both defend their territory and have an offensive power abroad. To me it was a shame that they gave up their MiG-21s as other countries have been able to upgrade their MiG-21s and make them succesful multifunctional fighters. Another alternative would have been the single-engined MiG-33, that could not only have become their standard fighter, it would probably also have been very succesful on the export market.

    A couple of years ago I wrote an equipment acquisition plan for the Russian armed forces, also including nuclear, naval and ground forces. Difficult but they still have many capabilities to become nr 2 in the world again.

    Kris
     
  5. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    This Guy?
    [​IMG]
    You know, it's funny, he's doing a hand thing like Bush does, up and down.
     
  6. Aggie08

    Aggie08 Active Member

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    Civettone, what do you do for a living? That is quite an eye catcher on the ol' resume.
     
  7. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    This is ignoring SAMs or the huge vastness of Russia. Or the weather.

    Since an armed conflict between Russia and US is remote then this study is a bit flat. Plus Nato would be attacking Russia...not just the US.

    The Fishbed could still be a useful fighter with a decent radar and a few Archers and Adders.
     
  8. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    I don't see this thread as a evaluation of the plausibility of WW3. It is simply a statement that Russia cannot match the quality of the West with an Eastern numerical advantage as they have in the past. Are u saying that the Russians have forsaken aircraft production for SAM capability?

    Yes the MiG 21 is still a valid missile platform but i'll put my money on the West's ECM, multi tasking radar and AWACS.

    The factors you mention are valid but usually favor the defender and I don't see NATO rolling over mother Russia any time soon.

    It is nice NOT to be out numbered!...

    .

    .
     
  9. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    Britain attempted to replace interceptors with SAMs in the 1960s. It's lucky the MoD saw the error of the idea before putting it into practice - it's foolish...at best.
     
  10. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    My information is dated since I have been out for 10 years but I would still like to throw out some info.

    Russia has always been behind the West in technology and this fact was factured into their war plans. As far back as Peter the Great, Russia has been trying to catch up to the west.

    The Russians think differently than the West and this includes their weapons designs. Since the beginning of WWII they have recorded everything. The number of small arms rounds fired in each battle to the flight time of aircraft before it is shot down. Nothing has exscaped being formulated. For example, their charts will show the number of rounds the DAGs and RAGs (Division and Regt Arty Grps) need to expend for an artillery prep against any type of enemy in various stages of defense.

    One of the LTCs I was assigned to worked for General Dynamics. He was on the team that back enginered Soviet aircraft. He explained to me that the Soviets believed the life span of a front line combat fighter was around 200 hours. The aircraft was designed to last a little longer than that. There was no reason to over design an aircraft if it was not going to last anyway.

    The Soviet tried to have a 7:1 ratio at key locations. If the cold war did become hot, NATO would have had it's hands full. With the lack of spare parts like canopies, The F16 and F15 would have been hard press to control the skies for a prolong period. I will let you guess what our computer projections were.


    DBII
     
  11. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    My best friend works for a company called Mac Don Ind here in Wpg. They make farming equip, combines etc. They ship to USA, Australia and lately Russia.

    The farming equip that is shipped to Russia lasts only a couple years before they have to buy more b/c they beat the hell out of it and don't do proper maintenance on it. They go through this very expensive equip like a hot knife threw butter.

    Good for Mac Don.......bad for the Russian pocket book.
     
  12. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    I bet it was not "if" but when it was time to use tactical nukes,,,

    :shock:
     
  13. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    It may be a cultural thing. One theory is that since there was no private ownership for such a long time no one takes care of the equipment. One takes care of the things that they own. People that rent houses often times let the place run down. I do not want to offend any members. I would like to hear other's thoughts on the subject. This discusion might be better on another thread.

    DBII

    DBII
     
  14. HealzDevo

    HealzDevo Active Member

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    Yes, exactly, a very good point that one. It is perhaps hardwired into people that we are likely to factor into whether we take care of things our feelings towards our leaders, and subconsciously there is the question of whether the Russian people really liked their leaders and bosses enough to look after their equipment. I don't know just my thoughts on that.
     
  15. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    Uhm... someone please tell Mr. Hutchison that the cold war has ENDED, its official now. Russia arms itself against realistic threats (which is who, in view thousends of Soviet nuke warheads..?) within the constraints of its economy.

    And the US is appearantly busy wrecking its economy the same way the Russkies did, investing into ultra-expensive military technology, that will go the the junkyard in 20 years time...

    Get real. Russia is still a nuke superpower. Anyone trying his luck against it, will get exterminated by nukes, not once but 16 times in a row.. they don`t need to spend too much on it.

    And, I may add, Russia`s security concern is not the US. Its not NATO, even. Its China, ever since the 60s its an increasing threat. Now THAT is the war I do not want to see.. Right now China is still way behind Russia in terms of military technology, but its progressing rapidly.

    I don`t want to make prophecies, but I strongly believe 21st century will be pretty much about the Rise of Asia. And if there will be World War III, its participants are going to be Asians.
     
  16. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    There is much truth to your position Kurfurst. The Chinese are too economically linked with the US for a throwdown... yet. But with a huge influx of military power by the Chinese, the Koreans, Japanese, Indians and Russians are all likely to follow suite. A runaway arms race, your typical sabre rattling, and rising economies needing precious resources to maintain the growth will likely lead to someone in that bunch making a foolish decision.

    Scary times.
     
  17. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    Read somewhere that you can't train pilots properly in Soviet aircraft as they can't fly the hours needed. So they don't.

    I also remember the idea of the Amraam being more expensive than the Fishbed it was shooting down.

    The Soviets were ok though and the Fishbed was excellent on its day.

    I doubt a western democracy could accept expendable manpower.
     
  18. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    With the exception of the 2nd sentence being rubbish, I would agree Basket. Or perhaps in its inception, the AIM-7 was rubbish. :)
     
  19. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    Difficult to say how much a Fishbed cost to make in a communist system. But would probably not be worth much by the 1980s.

    The Soviets had to do something. The MiG-21 was useless against low level hi tech supersonic bombers like the F-111 and out performed by modern fighters.

    What was needed was fighters with top missles...look down shoot down radar and plenty of performance but that would cost. Poor radar and a couple of Atolls was not good enough.

    Also they would have to train pilots properly as each Flanker would have a higher unit cost and would be idiotic to send idiots in them just to get shot down. The Flankers would also need proper maintenance and much better build quality as they would carry expensive kit.

    The Soviets had a few wake up calls. The KAL shootdown and the Afghan war showed that the doctrine of quantity is best isn't working and the first gulf war showed the west had a clear technology advantage. Simply having a tank was no longer good enough and it had to be a match for the latest western stuff. Or it was going to be destroyed.
     
  20. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    The Russians never had a chance due to communism. Imagine the US without its export figures on any product Made in USA or global ventures to make some $$$. How would the US ever have managed to finance its military developments and purchases? The Russians could just make some extra bucks by selling some of their military stuff, oil and gas to outside countries.
    Now that they are “free” what do they have besides selling some of their military stuff, oil and gas? Want to buy a Russian TV, car or coffee machine?

    Russia had never been a potential thread to the West after Stalin, but politicians and their commercial backers still had a vivid $$$$ interest in up keeping this “fear”.

    A very good example out of many I think is the Foxbat / F-15 project. The F-4, and F-111 were better than anything the Russians had and the US congress wasn’t very willing to allocate the necessary budget for the F-15,16 and 18….. until the Foxbat “arrived” in Japan. Even though much later published reports regarding the inspection of the Mig25 which showed the inferiority of this a/c to the existing NATO a/c, I still remember how this Mig25 was forwarded, published as theeee super, high-tech and potentially dangerous Russian a/c that no Western a/c could match (heaviest argument was the speed of the Mig25).

    The PR was soooo good that the congress soon allocated the budget for F-15 etc. etc. the B-1 was resurrected and Ronnie’s plan had worked so well, that due to his upgraded new arms race Russia had to file for bankruptcy 10 years later. (For this reason I still believe that Ronnie after Washington and Roosevelt was the most effective US president ever).

    Making today’s arms company’s probably regret that they totally overdid it in the 80th.:)

    As for China, the history seems to repeat itself. In order to stop or slowing China from building up the logically most powerful economy on this planet, “fear” is spread (Kurfuerst is already affected :shock: ) so that a possibly new arms race will force China to reorganize its budget towards defense spending.

    However the Chinese government seems to be much smarter than their former Russian counterparts and continues to distribute its budget in favor for social and economic progress, unlike Bush and his associates.

    Regards
    Kruska
     
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