Air Power Australia
The Air Force Association:
Threats to Air Supremacy Presentation
May 16 2008
The assessment is measured and based on hard data and hard facts. It is not based on hope, or specious arguments that it does not matter how good Russian equipment is, because "we will always out-fly / out-operate them on the day".
The capabilities of modern SAMs to protect airspace and territory are explored well, although some modern developments such as networking of VHF AESA radars and emitter locating systems are not included. These developments only extend the extant capability of modern SAMs. Some of the air-to-air missile capabilities are understated – for instance, the R-77M, the RVV-AE-PD, the R-37 all have a much longer range than the R-77/AA-12 shown, and the matter of seeker diversity is not addressed. Also recent Russian developments such as the Irbis E hybrid ESA, the Zhuk AE and ASE AESA radars are understated. Again, the Air Force Association assessment underestimates these risks in this area of air combat.
Notwithstanding, this Air Force Association argument is exactly aligned to the arguments which APA and other independent Australian observers have been putting to various forums over the last decade.
Of particular interest is the USAF doctrine of ‘First Look – First Shot – First Kill’. The Air Force Association now assess that this advantage will go to an adversary operating weapons such as the Su-35BM armed with longer range missiles such as the R-172 or R-77M and using DRFM-based electronic warfare equipment. Australia needs to reconsider the suitability of the F/A-18F and the F-35 JSF, to achieve an air combat advantage and attain regional air dominance.
The Air Force Association analysis extends into the realm of the next generation of the Russian and Chinese fighters – the stealthy PAK-FA and the JF-12 / J-XX. Given the glacial pace of the F-35 SDD, it is almost certain that the PAK-FA will be on the international market before the F-35 – and at much lower cost.
On behalf of Air Power Australia I am pleased to offer my congratulations to the Air Force Association on an excellent piece of analysis presented at a critical time.
Dr Carlo Kopp, MIEEE, SMAIAA, PEng
Defence Analyst and Consulting Engineer
Editor: Air Power Australia @ http://www.ausairpower.net