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Archive for July, 2013

US air dominance coming to an end but not for reasons conservatives cite

Posted by picard578 on July 27, 2013

Yes, US air dominance is coming to an end. But it is not because of J-20, PAK FA or lack of funding. It is because of profound mismanagement of resources and lack of clear understanding of what works and what does not, what is important and what is not.


Stealth is seen as a proof of US technological superiority which allegedly secures its unparalleled advantage in the air. But original stealth fighter was not low-RCS, hugely-expensive construct; it was meant to be very small, very agile aircraft that would hunt down enemy air defenses by using air-to-ground anti-radiation missile. Concept of stealth as it is today was developed in Russia, and, having been brought to US by Russian emigrants during the Cold War, it was adopted by United States and became latest obsession of technologists in the USAF. But it came at the cost: all stealth aircraft produced in United States have suffered major cost overruns and force reductions, with possible exception of F-117.

Many US conservatives want “strong defense”, by which they mean lots of highly expensive weapons. Following arguments are usually made: Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Gulf Wars cannot be used as a basis for estimating effectiveness of beyond visual range combat

Posted by picard578 on July 20, 2013


Gulf wars are used as a proof that BVR combat has finally become effective. But they have been unique in many aspects, and unrepresentative of combat conditions that will be in effect against competent opponent. Thus they are not assurance than radar-guided BVR missiles will really perform as well as Western – particularly US – doctrine requires them to if there is ever a war where they will be needed to perform well.

Gulf War I

State of Iraqi military

Operation Desert Storm, which may have as many as 16 possible BVR victories, is seen as BVR turning point. But there are some issues.

Firstly, Iraqi’s armed forces, like armed forces of most – if not all – Arab states were not meant to fight a war. Arab monarchs and dictators treat armed forces as a status symbol. As a result, Arab militaries are often in possession of large quantities of modern hardware – Saudi Arabia for example recently bought 72 Eurofighter Typhoons – but do not have leadership, personnel, and logistical capabilities to keep these weapons combat-effective. As Michael Knight has noted about Saudi armed forces, they suffer from a “massive overemphasis on procurement of high technology and serious underemphasis on manpower issues, personnel selection, training, and maintenance.” Gulf militaries are regularly short on noncommissioned officers, who are actually more important for making modern militaries run than general-rank officers they have in abundance (this top-heavy nature is also characteristic of US armed forces, but unlike Arab countries US military does have enough NCOs and low-level CO-s to make military run, and these are competent and independent enough to compensate for mistakes of mostly-incompetent high-level officers during the war). They are heavily dependant on foreign support to make militaries run, with 30% of UAEs military personnell being expatriates. Like all Arab forces, Iraqi armed forces – and especially air force – suffered from poor tactical leadership, poor information management, poor weapons handling, and poor maintenance. Arab forces also have a heavily centralized system, making them inept in responding to rapidly changing battlefield conditions, and leaders are promoted not on basis of competence but on basis of family, tribal and political affiliations. Even Iran has problems in maintaining an effective military – especially an effective air force – due to lack of spares and trained technicians.

This has shown in all wars Arab conventional militaries have fought. Read the rest of this entry »

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CDI: Defense Budget Tutorial #3A: Pork: Where is it?

Posted by picard578 on July 13, 2013

January 30, 2006

Winslow Wheeler

Winslow Wheeler is Director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information and the author of The Wastrels of Defense. This is the first of a series of three “Defense Budget Tutorials” on pork (earmarking) in defense legislation.

Not Hard to Find

With 2,966 examples costing about $11.1 billion, [2] the pork in the 2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, now law, is not hard to find. There are examples in almost every “title” of the bill, including parts most would probably hope to be pork-free.

For example, the Military Personnel Title, which funds military pay and benefits, is burdened with $1.6 million for “Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Activities” to pay for members of Congress to invite “up to 10 students from each state and territory” to participate in a “Youth Rendezvous” in some lucky congressional district. [3]

Nor do past embarrassments seem to have slowed the process. Read the rest of this entry »

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