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The Impact of Russian High Technology Weapons: Transforming the Strategic Balance in Asia

12th December 2008

APA is pleased to announce the release of its latest analysis paper:

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-2008-09.phpl Abstract

Advanced Russian technology exports present a major strategic risk for the US, whether operated by China, or smaller players like Iran or Venezuela.

These systems will deny access to most US ISR and combat aircraft, with only the B-2A, the “2018 bomber” and the F-22A designed to penetrate such defences. Until the “2018 bomber” is operational, the US will have only 200 aircraft with any capability to deal with this emerging environment. With its compromised X-band optimised stealth, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will simply not be survivable in this environment. The fallback position of standoff bombardment with cruise missiles is not viable.

Only a fraction will reach their targets through such defences, and the economics of trading $500k cruise missiles for $100k interceptors, or hundreds of dollars of laser propellant, favour the defender. The US will require a penetrating capability for ISR collection and for lethal suppression of highly mobile SAM, laser and radio-frequency Directed Energy Weapon batteries.

This is over and above the need to deliver saturation attacks with the Small Diameter Bomb against actual targets of strategic or tactical interest. Current planning for 180 F-22As and the legacy fleet of 20 B-2As is simply not credible given the diversity of roles and missions, and sheer sortie count required to deal with anything above a trivial opponent. If the US is to maintain its pre-eminent global strategic position, its force structure planning for the Air Force requires a fundamental rethink. A starting point should be the cancellation of the 'Fulda Gap optimised' F-35 JSF, investment of the freed funding into more F-22s, and further enhancement of the already formidable penetrating ISR and strike capabilites of the F-22. Further technological innovation will also be required across the full spectrum of US air capabilities. If the US chooses to optimise its Air Force for the Global War On Terror, it will only accelerate the relative decline of US global power.

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