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Air Power Australia
Air Power Australia


New APA Analysis Report "The Russian Philosophy of Beyond Visual Range Air Combat" Released Mar 25th, 2008

Link to new report is here: http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Rus-BVR-AAM.phpl

Air Power Australia is pleased to release its latest analysis report on Russian Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air combat capabilities. It summarises research effort conducted over several years evaluating Russian thinking on the subject and the way this has been reflected in the design of their fighters and missiles. This analysis includes new material sourced from Russia and not published previously in Australia.

Those who have wondered about the technical side of Australia's ongoing air combat capability debate will be shown how and why Russian BVR technology has become so effective and why it is being sold so widely on the global market.

Some important observations fall out of this analysis:
  1. Operational analysis shows that the number and diversity of BVR missiles carried by a fighter has a much stronger impact on who wins a long range missile fight than the capability of individual missiles carried. The side that can fire more salvoes of more missiles stands a much better chance of winning, all else being equal.

  2. The Russians have a clear advantage because of their more diverse inventory of BVR missile types and missile guidance schemes. Russian Flanker fighters carry up to twelve BVR missiles of differing types compared with US fighters such as the F-35 JSF and the Super Hornet which carry only two to six identical BVR missiles in combat configuration.

  3. The larger and higher performing Russian Flankers can launch missiles at greater speeds and altitudes than the F-35 JSF and the Super Hornet, increasing the effective range or lethality of their BVR missiles.

  4. The most basic operational analysis shows that the Russian strategy for BVR combat is well thought out and designed to exploit weaknesses in US and EU designed fighter aircraft. The Russians have invested much analytical effort in devising a winning operational philosophy.

  5. New and classified capabilities are to be introduced into the F-35 and the F/A-18F Super Hornet, which will enable their radars to jam Russian fighter radars. Unfortunately this will only make it easier for Russian anti-radar guided missiles to destroy these aircraft.

  6. Operational analysis performed on the Joint Strike Fighter and the Super Hornet also indicates that their lower speed, altitude and agility performance, and much smaller missile payloads put them at a great disadvantage against the Russian Flankers arriving in our region. Modelling shows that the most optimistic scenario for the RAAF is that for every Flanker killed a JSF or Super Hornet will be lost in BVR combat. This is no different than claims of "mutual destruction" in Within Visual Range (WVR) aerial combat made by ACM Angus Houston in 2004.

  7. Far too often the claim of 'classified information' has been used in the fighter debate to hide a lack of understanding or acceptance of Russian weapon capabilities entering our region. It is up to the RAAF to challenge this operational analysis with real numbers rather than vague and unsubstantiated public relations statements, if Australia's current air combat capability planning is to have any credibility. Public declarations of "confidence", "comfort" or "happiness" with currently planned RAAF capabilities are not a substitute for hard operational analysis.

Dr Carlo Kopp, MIEEE, SMAIAA, PEng
Defence Analyst and Consulting Engineer
Editor: Air Power Australia @ http://www.ausairpower.net