Ominous Warning: Russian Air Power in Ukraine

Some Thoughts and Discussion

"You are an excellent researcher -- this is very impressive." - Andrew J. Bacevich (December-2009)
Andrew J. Bacevich is a Boston University Professor of International Relations and History (BS, United States Military Academy; MA, Ph.D., Princeton University) American Diplomatic History, U.S. Foreign Policy, Security Studies.

[Above] This image is found in material from pro-US defense and pro-US weapon analytical lobbying websites. It asserts that the Soviets flew Iranian F-14A after the 1979 revolution and that this was instrumental in new Soviet aircraft Su-27 development. Great care was used to produce this "Soviet F-14 photo.” Note the 'red star' on the starboard wing. 
[Above] Here is the original photograph of aircraft BuNo 160327 during its Project ‘Persian King’ delivery flight to Iran via Spain and Turkey. 'Asia Minor' camouflage was applied at the factory to all Iranian F-14s. Temporary US markings were used during these delivery flights. Project ‘Persian King’ saved Grumman from bankruptcy. There is absolutely no evidence that the Soviets flew Iranian F-14s.

"Great truths are contained in small absurdities." - Bill Moyers

"We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. " - Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961.

"To further indulge old illusions of the United States presiding over and directing the course of history will not only impede the ability of Americans to understand the world and themselves but may well pose a positive danger to both." - Andrew J. Bacevich, 2012 'The Short American Century: A Postmortem.'

This material is and has been a living work in progress (a working paper) since 2008 at least. The subject can be fatiguing (as it’s just me), and intense concentration is required to filter through immense volumes of industry material: half-truths and chest-thumping - to try and identify some facts. I have not cited all reference material (all open source) to protect my research - but it will be cited in the future. Some of the most relevant reference materials are provided here.

What the reader will experience on this blog is called Inductive and Deductive Reasoning. This includes adherence to the principles of Cogency and Non-Contradiction.

We must also remind the reader to be cognizant of the Formal Fallacy in reasoning called “Abusive ad Hominem” - also called 'personal abuse-personal attack' or 'Guilt by Association.' This Fallacy attempts to link the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise. Example: "You can't believe Jack when he says the proposed policy would help the economy because Jack does not have a job."  This tactic is logically fallacious (is an error in reasoning and therefore, a Formal Fallacy) because insults/negative facts about the opponent's personal character - have nothing to do - with the logical merits of the opponent's argument(s) or assertion(s).

Focusing on Russian-designed aircraft or US aircraft flown in combat by foreign operators was found to be a much better window into the subject. When firsthand (pilot) accounts presented themselves – everything became clear and supplanted 90% of the specifications, figures, and assertions by most western defense industry sources; proper perspective(s) could be identified – or just as often Western-industry assertions could literally be discarded all together. Invariably industry assertions of one, contradict industry assertions by another.

If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance. - Orville Wright

Caution must be used to avoid what might be best described as - a level of systemic bias - by the West - even when Russian aircraft are physically flight tested. Let me explain. When American test pilots finally flew a MiG-15 after the defection of its pilot on 21-Sept 1953, they described the aircraft as having “dangerous” handling characteristics in a high-speed dive. The Russians were bemused by this assertion as Russian aviators had been instructed to gain an advantage over opponents in the MiG by climbing. The F-86 Sabre was faster in a dive than the MiG, but the MiG-15 could out-climb and fly much higher than the Sabre.
Nevertheless, some still insist the American F-86 Sabre was superior because of its radar gunsight (the AN/APG-30), which the MiG lacked. However, this was to prove inconsequential in keeping the MiG-15 from relegating the American B-29 Superfortress bomber obsolete. Even when accompanied by F-86 fighter escorts; MiGs inflicted such heavy losses and damage on Superfortress formations that daylight B-29 strategic bombing over the Korean peninsula had to be halted; the MiG removing American air supremacy. Indeed Russian WWII veterans flying the MiG-15 over Korea accounted for a better than 1:1 kill ratio against American WWII veterans flying their F-86 Sabres.
Some observers will maintain that the MiG-15 could not have come into being without leveraging Rolls-Royce jet engine technology from the United Kingdom. Let us remember that years earlier, the vaunted American P-51 Mustang did not become the aircraft - it became - without its redesign - leveraging the British Rolls-Royce V12 Merlin engine.
[Above] Almost forgotten, the P-51A fitted with the American Allison V-12 engine. The P-51 would have gone the way of the Bell P-39 to history had the Mustang not been redesigned to use the British Merlin engine.

[Above] MiG-15 gun camera images from the Korean War are generally of poor quality, however here is what are clearly American B-29s heavy bombers in the gunsights of MiG-15s. Mounting B-29 daylight losses to MiGs forced the B-29 into nighttime use. [Below] North American F-86s in MiG-15 gunsights.

[Directly above] The final moments of F-86 BuNo 49-1147 flown by 1st Lt. Nicholas Kotek.

[Below] Lockheed F-80. Note in the series below that American aircraft have not (or can not) jettison their wingtip fuel tanks.
[Below] A Grumman F9F
[Below] F-84 Thunderjet.
[Below] Better image of an F-84 'Thunderjet' downed by Soviet flown MiGs in Korea on 17-May 1952. 
The 10-to-1 kill ratio over the MiG-15 claimed by American sources (and the F-86 community) the past 30 to 40 odd years after the war, has since shifted to 7-to-1, and more recently possibly as low as 2-to-1. This "change" would be consistent with B-29 daylight operations having to be forcibly halted over North Korea. We would also remind the reader the only plausible explanation remaining for lopsided kill ratios when dealing with an aircraft (a MiG-15) that could out-climb, out-accelerate, out decelerate, and had a higher ceiling than the F-86 Sabre is air-combat proficiency. The bulk of these claims are against North Korean and Chinese pilots. The North Koreans and Chinese had no (no) history of air-combat proficiency – whatsoever; a proficiency issue that may persist even today.
[Above] A combat photograph of what is clearly a Sabre behind a MiG-15. This photo can be useful in assessing aircraft found in MiG-15 gun-camera images as well.
[Above] The F-86 BuNo 49-1319 of Captain Gill Garrett (336th FIS, 4th FIW) downed by Soviet flown MiG-15bis and shipped to TsAGI for analysis. Garrett was rescued. MiG-15bis was to feature a new RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) to alert its pilot of the approach of the AN/APG-30 radar gunsight used by the F-86. Soviet engineers were complimentary of the AN/APG-30 after analysis nonetheless.

[Below] Aircraft evolution during the Cold War was rapid. Clockwise from the top are SAC: Convair B-36, Boeing B-52, and the Convair B-58 intercontinental strategic bombers.

During and after the Vietnam War, immense criticism was voiced that too many targets were deemed ‘off limits’ by U.S. civilian leadership and that the war could not be prosecuted properly. This augment ignores the fact of thousands of Soviet advisers in theater at the time. Had American planners hit “all available targets” potentially large numbers of these advisers could have been killed. The Cold War could have descended into a larger war - of unimaginable dimensions.
In the early 1970s, the Soviets began unloading a highly secret and special cargo in Egypt. The cargo was four MiG-25 Foxbats. Egyptian personnel were kept well at a distance. Soviet Foxbats in Egyptian markings began reconnaissance flights over the Sinai Peninsula and the Mediterranean in late 1971. Foxbat operational missions were flown with impunity, reaching speeds and altitudes as high as Mach-3.2 and up to 76,000 ft.
[Above] Israeli F-4E Phantoms in low over the Sinai in an attempt to avoid the Egyptian SAM umbrella during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Note the Phantom signature exhaust soot when not in reheat/afterburner.

[Below] This Egyptian MiG-21MF photographed steaming fuel during its final moments over the Sinai. International journalists-photographers were to capture many such chilling images - witness to the ferocious air battles occurring overhead during the October 1973 War.
[Below] This remarkable series of photographs taken on the Golan Heights on 24-Oct 1973 was widely published at the time; reading “an Egyptian MiG-21 downed by Israeli interceptors.” What this sequence is actually capturing - is what is in fact, an Israeli Air Force F-4E Phantom II. The Phantom is on fire, after an air battle with Syrian MiG-21s. This type of widespread erroneous (sloppy) reporting by the Western press (or misinformation/disinformation) - has remained all too pervasive - even today. This Israeli fighter (the F-4E was the latest version of the Phantom at the time) crashes in full view of a column of IDF Centurion tanks.

(courtesy Tom Cooper Collection)

During the 1973 Yom Kippur war (and beyond) the Israeli Air Force was to become highly sensitive to air-to-air combat losses and invariably reported these as due to AAA, SAM or simply as "an operational loss" again despite substantial evidence of Arab MiGs (MiG-21s) making a good account of themselves, against Israeli F-4 Phantom and Mirage. Indeed, of the over 100 aircraft lost by the IDF/AF during 1973, a larger (larger) percentage were due to air-to-air combat, than will likely ever be acknowledged by IDF/AF. This issue, with near certainty - persists to the present day.
[Above] The ferocity of the air battles during the 1973 October War is all too evident. This MiG-21 gun camera captures the end of an Israeli Mirage “Nasher 9031’ caught in a climb when hit by MiG cannon fire on 20-Oct. Its pilot ejected from the conflagration. The Israeli IDF/AF classified “Nasher 9031 lost to AAA ground fire." (this is typical) ...why?

During the Falklands/Malvinas conflict of 1882, the British Rapier Missile System was credited with fourteen (14) Argentine aircraft destroyed and an additional six (6) aircraft “probable.” This translates to no less than twenty (20) Rapier missile rounds fired at Argentine aircraft. Only after an investigation was the claim adjusted to one (1) Argentine downed by Rapier. With so many (British) shooting at a few Argentine warplanes, if it was hit – each shooter would claim.

The iconic American spy plane, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird spectacular flight performance - was matched only by an equally spectacular high rate of fuel consumption. A typical ten (10) hour mission for a single SR-71 could see no less than fourteen (14) in-flight refueling tankers aloft and on station, to support the Blackbirds Mach 3+ acceleration runs.
[Above] Called “Habu” by her pilots, the SR-71 flew missions out of the UK over the Barents/Baltic Seas from 1982 to 1989. The Soviet 787th IAP (787th Fighter Aviation Regiment) was assigned MiG-25PD / PDS Foxbats to fly Blackbird intercepts during this period. When Detachment-4 (SR-71) operations ended in 1989, the Foxbat interceptors were withdrawn and the 787th reassigned MiG-23 and MiG-29.

The mighty McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle family is generally credited by most Western observers with over 100 aerial victories without a single loss to enemy aircraft. However, most of these claims are Israeli in origin and so must be understood as such:
  • 1981 - According to Russian sources: an Israeli F-15A of the 133 Sqn was downed by a MiG-25P or PD of the T.4-Squadron over Lebanon.
  • 1982 - According to Russian sources: (a claim confirmed by Israeli sources) an Israeli F-15D was damaged in an engagement with Syrian MiG-21bis flown by SyAAF Capt Kharah. A second F-15A appears to have been downed in the same engagement.
  • 1983 - According to Russian sources: two (2) F-15As were downed by MiG-23MLs newly delivered to Syria. See link
  • 1991 Gulf War - An F-15C was lost under mysterious circumstances involving ‘contact with the enemy’ near the Saudi border, possibly involving Iraqi MiG-25.
During the 1991 Gulf War, an American F-15C was claimed shot down during Iraqi operation  "Samarrah" launched on 01-Feb 1991. This saw Iraqi No. 96 Sqn launch a total of four MiG-25s in an attempt to deliberately drag USAF F-15s into a trap - to be hit by Foxbat R-40RD missiles. One MiG-25 pilot involved claimed a kill with two missiles: ground radars recording a hit and subsequently tracked the formation of F-15s withdrawing south. One Eagle was continuously losing speed and altitude as it went, and was assessed as crashing some 30km inside Saudi Arabia. Apparently, an F-15C combat loss was confirmed to the Iraqis during post-war negotiations. 

1991 Gulf War - F-15E Strike Eagle crews appear to have had some harrowing encounters with the Iraqi MiG-29 (and MiG-23?) with numerous missiles fired, but with inconclusive results. How these events unfolded precisely - remains elusive.

Non-American-research estimates ~ 130 Iraqi aircraft were claimed (with an additional 23 probable) by Iranian F-14 Tomcats during the Iran-Iraq war; with over forty (40) of these claims using the AIM-54 Phoenix missile. This would mean the twenty (20) year air-combat record of the F-15 'Eagle' was exceeded in eight (8) years by the F-14 'Tomcat.' Iranian Tomcats literally faced thousands of  Iraqi airstrikes. Indeed, Iranian F-14 crews fought in more areal engagements than both the USAF and US-Navy combined in Vietnam. 

How many fratricide events occurred during the Iran-Iraq war is unknown. Iranian Tomcats did not attempt to establish air supremacy over Iraq. To what degree fratricide events would have occurred had Iran attempted to do so - is unknown. Iran never received the TCS (Television Camera Set) IFF-system for their Tomcat fleet after US support was withdrawn in 1979. Iranian F-4s did have Combat Tree IFF interrogators and TISEO for BVR support - even so - the vast bulk of the air-to-air claims of Iraq aircraft are credited to their F-14s. 

Iranian claims have been combined with a rather bizarre assertion about BVR kill percentage during the 1991 Gulf War in this 2015 CSBA (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment) study that reads: 

"These efforts bore fruit during Operation Desert Storm, where a large fraction of coalition aerial victories were achieved BVR without a single incidence of fratricide" (p77) See here

While there were no reports of air combat fratricide, these CSBA findings are completely at odds with a 2005 Air War College Study that zeros in on BVR versus WVR problems in 1991. 

Indeed we write:

"During 1991 Desert Storm which many deem an unqualified technological success; according to Air War College research published in 2005 - of the 41 claimed American air-to-air victories over Iraqi aircraft, only 5 of these are deemed high confidence BVR (Beyond Visual Range) kills. This means the remaining ~ 36 Iraqi aircraft are WVR (Within Visual Range) victories. This works out to ~ 87.8 percent (nearly 90  percent) of the kills are in WVR - and not in BVR. 

These American 2005 findings certainly do not support funding of exotic BVR-dependent manned stealth platforms for air combat use. 

And then things get worse. 

In 1991 the Americans employ 88 AIM-7 rounds and some 12 to 24 AIM-9 rounds at Iraqi aircraft. This totals to between 100 to 112 missile rounds for 34 kills (41 minus 2 cannon kills by A-10 thunderbolts, and 5 Iraqi aircraft claimed by the US "as crashed" not due to aerial kinetic weapon contact). This gives you a missile hit probability figure between 34.0 and 30.5 percent - for all reasons. 

That is a lot (a lot) of air-to-air missile employment - not hitting stuff. 

It's no wonder ~ 87.8 percent of the 41 American air-to-air kill claims in 1991 - are WVR. 

Any BVR focused dependency - is not a valid military doctrine."

Needless to say, the CSBA material is being used to make arguments inside the US defense establishment to propel BVR-dependant stealth fighter programs - while the 2005 Air War College study finds effectively - no evidence - to support stealth fighter BVR. The MIC (Military Industrial Complex) will simply put American taxpayers on the hook for trillions of dollars of superfluous stealth fighters - regardless.

The American Patriot Missile System was widely reported (and shown) intercepting Iraqi Scud missiles over Israel in the 1991 Gulf War. Indeed, then US President George H.W Bush exalted the Patriot for this "achievement." An investigation after the war concluded that Patriot hit one (1) or - none - of the Iraqi Scud warheads. This includes a Scud that hit the barracks of a US Army detachment in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on the night of 25-Feb, 1991. Seventeen (17) years after the war, Raytheon (builder of Patriot) literature continued to assert that Patriot missiles had destroyed Iraqi Scuds. No less than forty-two (42) Patriot missile rounds were fired at Iraqi Scuds during the war - for perhaps zero (0) or one (1) hit. We all understand that information/disinformation control during wartime can be vital, but fraudulent industry assertions 17 years after the fact - illuminate a vastly different problem.

In December of 2017, the Patriot Missile System again fails to intercept a SCUD missile fired from Yemen.

If we assume for a moment, that all manner of ‘smart munitions has an accuracy rate of ninety percent (90%). We will further assume these munitions are only used on legitimate-hostile targets in high population concentrations like the large urban area of Baghdad, Iraq. Then assuming an accuracy rate of ninety percent (90%) if one drops ten (10) weapons – then one (1) weapon will miss (will not hit its indented target), if one drops a hundred (100) weapons then ten (10) weapons miss if one drops one thousand (1000) weapons…then one hundred (100) weapons miss their target. How many munitions (smart or otherwise) were used during the 2003 Shock-and-Awe bombing campaign on Baghdad - and in overall totality?

The superb combat performance of the American AIM-9 'L' and AIM-9 'P' during the Falklands-Malvinas conflict in the Middle East in the 1980s, would not (would not) be repeated nine (9) years later by the AIM-9 'M' during the 1991 Gulf War. The Iraqi experience confronting Iranian AIM-9 during the Iran-Iraq war, and defensive hardware changes resulting from the Syrian experience in 1982 may have been factors, but reasons for degraded combat performance a decade later - remain unclear.

This Air War College Study from March 2005 revealed some startling and sobering realities regarding the effectiveness of BVR (Beyond Visual Range) versus WVR (Within Visual Range) air combat. We conclude and write: "  These American 2005 findings certainly do not support funding of exotic BVR-dependent manned stealth platforms for air combat use.

The Boeing Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) Airborne Laser (ABL) system is a Boeing 747-400F equipped with infrared sensors and a laser rangefinders to detect and target hostile ballistic missiles. ABL is to then employ its primary weapon, a high-energy directed beam (laser) in 747s nose-turret to heat and weaken/destroy the hostile missile. However if ABLs primary weapon – the actual beam - is able to be aimed and directed at ‘beam source’ by a turret of polished/mirrored surfaces - then by definition – it can be (re)directed “scattered” at the target end - by a similar polished/mirrored (rotating) cylindered surface fitted to the missile booster? So in effect - at range - an ABL-countermeasure or ABL-target-hardening.

Care must be used by the public in assessing the true capability of Russian versus American (Western) aircraft types using the bulk of Western “published” information. The combat radius of the F-16 versus the MiG-29, look nearly identical; however Western figures are misleading. Most Western F-16 figures are with (with) external drop tanks while for MiG-29 they are without (without) external drop tanks. These types of “information techniques” are just another alarming illustration of the ‘marketing’ of our military to the public, the world, and institutions – and make authentic comparisons from most Western sources; a maze of hyperbole and half-truths. Consider yourself warned…

A blog is not really the ideal format, as blogs are ‘time-stamp’ driven content - so please check back for updates. All material is interconnected and observations, arguments, or conclusions are a synthesis of mostly [but not limited to] the reference material cited under 'References' (at the bottom). The implications of my material in totality (for me as an American citizen) - became almost painful to contemplate.

Google's supplanted link: Combat Persistence: is a Four Letter Word

The Fighter Mafia who was largely responsible for the superlative A-10 and F-16, insist that fighters must be small. Indeed, they have proposed a new fighter for the USAF that is 30% smaller than the F-16. We agree - but with critical caveats:
  • Larger, more robust sensor-package and weapons (Radar / IRST / longer-range missiles), need a bigger airplane to carry it.
  • Ultimately, combat persistence needs a bigger airplane.
By the early 1970s, Conformal Fuel Tanks "FAST packs" were developed for the American F-15 Eagle in an attempt to address F-15 high fuel usage. These tanks would become standard for F-15E.

Western observers point out the Sukhoi Flanker's immense fuel load will dramatically affect maneuver performance; that only with a ~ 60% load is the Flanker an effective dogfighter. We’ve been perplexed by this "hair-splitting" as modern fast jets - no matter the nation of origin - inhale vast volumes of fuel in afterburner/reheat. We simply assumed Western observers understood - that it is a near certainty given vast Russian airspace - Flanker will (due to afterburner application combined with the drag of a full weapons load) arrive in the combat zone with effective “dogfight” fuel weight(s). What then to say of F-15E CTFs?


There is no rule that dictates Flanker must always be fueled to its maximum.

Indeed, the F-15C in 1991 had the opposite problem; after contact with the enemy, American aircrews nearly flamed out over Iraqi airspace because air-combat had overextended the aircraft's fuel endurance capability – forcing Eagle pilots to holler on their radios for any Coalition air-tanker to enter enemy airspace to meet the fuel stricken American fighters.

China’s J10 Fighter – Up Close and Slow Motion Train Wreck

How Sino-Russian relations will be affected by Beijing’s theft of billions of Rubles (RUB) of Russian intellectual State property (PRC: J-11b, J-15, and WS-10 programs) – is unknown. The PCR may now attempt to replicate the Russian Su-34.

Programs that are part of China's modernization effort (produced or copied in China) will suffer at the hands of the PRCs' own massive counterfeit electronic IC and component industry. This industry uses salvaged (consumer-grade) e-waste that is then deliberately re-marked/miss-marked and offered as “new” MIL-spec items. The reduction in PRC military readiness and combat capability will be proportional to the degree of penetration of Chinese counterfeit electronic components into the PRCs own combat systems. This will include systems for international sale or developed by the PRC for others.

We expect Chinese electronic system failure rates on the order of 200% to 500% higher (higher) than Western or Russian systems/per operational hr. This could be an understated figure.

Swirls of Controversy: Cope India and Red flag 2008

Although exercises cannot replicate all aspects of real combat like weapon behavior, the Cope Inda series of exercises are noteworthy because of their unexpected outcomes. In some respects, unilateral US airpower may have hit a crossroads against a smart adversary whose air force has shown historical air-combat proficiency. Though one must never underestimate, with respect to operators of Flanker series like Su-30MKK, MK2, MK3, J-11, J-11b, and J-15 a case-by-case assessment of these operators' historical combat performance - is relevant. Have they demonstrated historical combat proficiency of say an RAF or an Israeli Air Force or even an Imperial Iranian Airforce? Since WWII the United States always fights its wars overseas, over hostile airspace. Always.

The F-22 cost is ~$330-350 million a copy, due to the number of aircraft (187) delivered to the US tax-payer at a ~$62 Billion total cost.

Procuring additional F-22s for the USAF will not resolve anything of this. One can purchase between three (3) and seven (7) Advanced Flanker for the cost of a single (1) F-22. To put it another way: if four (4) F-22 Raptors must fly against twelve (12) to twenty-eight (28) IAF flown Advanced Flankers - none (none) of the F-22s survive. The USAF Raptor is simply literally far (far) too expensive for the real world.

The Future of Air Combat?

"Great truths are contained in small absurdities." - Bill Moyers

The sobering realities of the degree and magnitude of air-to-air missile round failures under actual combat conditions - is literally - a revelation.

To pilot these immensely powerful machines - to then hurtle themselves at one another – because your nation orders you to – no matter the training or equipment - is as spectacular - as it is terrifying.

Really - this is at the core of it all.

In the end - it is a human story.

The $62 Billion dollar question

The historical revisionists forgot - then attempt to redefine the lessons of the 1991 Gulf War as “Full Spectrum Dominance” with its expeditious and quick conclusion. Wrong.
The real lessons were:

1) A very broad international coalition was employed.
2) Because of ‘1’ - this insured concise and specific military goals of:

• Ejection of Sadam from Kuwait.
• Attrition of Iraqi forces down to safe levels.

3) Proper battlespace preparation; No coalition F1 fighter jets were allowed to operate due to IFF issues - had they done so.

4) Nearly ideal Air Tasking Order(s) and Rule(s) of Engagement.

Not "Air Dominance."

* All operations by Kuwaiti and Qatari Mirage F1s were closely guarded and escorted by the French (or tightly coordinated by USAF F-16s from 401 FW) - and they occurred only over Kuwait, where there were no Iraqi F1 Mirages, and thus far away from any kind of IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) trouble.

[Above] Lockheed’s previous jet fighter, the F-104 Starfighter - was not only highly unique but was to become highly controversial. Designed as an interceptor, its operational combat record was to fall well below expectations. Indeed looking back, most give the nod to the MiG-21, as being better than both its contemporaries at the time: the Dassault Mirage III and the F-104.

The much-anticipated vindication of the F-104 Starfighter over the MiG-21 would occur during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war. The Starfighter was touted as the most modern and dangerous aircraft in the PAF [Pakistani Air Force] inventory. Just before the War, Pakistan even beefed up its Starfighter fleet with assistance from friendly countries. Assurances from Lockheed that its fighter design would prove supreme – would instead result in - the Starfighter proving utterly incapable of standing up to the IAF [Indian Air Force] and it’s MiG-21s. F-104s would be downed by the Russian MiG-21s – with no MiG losses to Starfighters. “Within PAF it was assessed that the F-104 was inferior in all flight regimes by the increasingly numerous MiG-21s with the Indian Air Force.”

US Navy ace Lt. Randy Cunningham and backseater (RIO) Lt. Willie Driscoll defeated North Vietnamese ace 'Colonel Tomb' in the now legendary vertical rolling scissors energy engagement of 10 May 1972 over Vietnam by the Navy flyer unexpectedly chopping his throttles to idle and using his F-4J Phantoms speed-brakes to force 'Colonel Tombs' MIG-17 to overshoot (fly out in front) of the Phantom who then moments later downed the MiG with an AIM-9.

[Above] In this depiction of 10-May 1972, one can easily envision the tremendous impact of 1) helmet-sighting and 2) an aircraft's ability to yaw (‘rudder’) its nose (to use its gun) at very low airspeed at all manner of attitudes. Both the MiG and the Phantom repeatedly exhausted their energy to a mere 150 knots or down into stall speeds - particularly during the top pitch-over portions of the fight. Indeed, energy recovery could be more vital than traditional energy-management ‘kinematics.’ Cunningham was consistently out-zooming (flying out ahead of) the MiG in the vertical, each time the MiG would fire a burst of cannon at the Phantom. Cunningham (simply) had to employ speed-brakes (and go to idle) - to avoid "running out of luck" in front of the MiG.

F-22 proponents will sight that she has a superior turn rate (degrees/second) to anything else flying. However, the human body DOES have a sustaining g limit of ~ 12-g. Remember, g- loads are universal functions of Newton's laws of motion. F-22 proponents will say that Raptor pilots can use short-duration higher g ‘jerks’ to fly ‘an aerial box’. In all likelihood, Raptor MUST simply slow down to address Newton. Together with helmet-sighting, excellent energy recovery, and pilots of equal skill, there is simply no time to fly 'aerial boxes' - advantage Flanker.

Some may argue "well what about MiG-29 with its IRST unit?" I’ve deliberately not focused on the MiG-29 Fulcrum for several reasons:
  • Its IRST is a smaller less capable unit than Flanker.
  • MiG-29 is a short-range point defense fighter with a small nose and so small radar and is therefore heavily dependent on friendly ground control intercept (GCI) operator proficiency.
  • Sooty (dry thrust) exhaust, a tactical disadvantage that can be seen at a great distance.
  • A healthy debate on the exact nature of avionics/offensive / defensive systems fitted the level of operability and (again) the degree of historical operator proficiency. The MiG-29 was heavily exported.
  • To date, it has not fared well against better equipped and trained western types in BVR and night combat.
  • Between 1998 to 2000 Ethiopian Su-27s (foreign or volunteer flown) established air supremacy by downing 2 Eritrean MiG-29s in quick succession - for no Flanker losses. Eritrean MiG-29s were quickly withdrawn.
However might some of this change in the future for Fulcrum? See Link (with English narration):

MiG-35 with a new OLS system

After unification, German pilots flying East German MiG-29s against NATO jets in exercises believed the MiG was nearly unbeatable in a dogfight when armed with the Russian R-73 “Archer” short-range missiles in conjunction with the MIGs helmet-sighting system. These results led to helmet-mounted sighting becoming standard equipment on most modern combat aircraft around the world.

As was demonstrated by the Indian Air Force MiG-21IBis (I-Bis) against USAF F-15Cs over South Asia, proper training, effective tactics and effective upgrades can swing an advantage in favor of the “less advanced” aircraft.

Can Raptor approach hostile airspace undetected? This is debatable. During SR-71 Blackbird operations over the Barents/Baltic Seas in the mid-late 1980s, Americans flew along and at times, slightly into Soviet airspace. Russian MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat and MiG-31 Foxhound units along the Barents/Baltic reportedly always knew a Blackbird was inbound, well over an hour in advance - by intercepting the radio chatter coordinating Blackbird operations and her in-flight refueling tankers and other SR-71 support assets. These MiG interceptions had to be perfectly executed by their Russian air and ground crews to get the MiGs to altitude and in weapons range of an SR-71 - at speed. The MiGs resisted turning on their engagement radars as American RC-135 'Rivet Joint' aircraft supporting the SR-71 flights, were positioned to collect these types of sensitive (Russian) radar signals. The MiGs would use their IRST, which was more than adequate to locate/target a high, fast, and very hot SR-71. The Foxbat would either fly alongside the Blackbird for a short period (PD/PDS had improved R-15BD-300 engines) or roll out behind the American spy plane for a simulated stern attack at just under 2 miles. Orders to fire on Blackbird were never given.
[Above] The very large MiG-25 'Foxbat' interceptor was designed specifically to intercept and shoot down the high-flying, Mach-3 American XB-70 'Valkyrie'  bomber. The Foxbat was a surprise to American intelligence. The cancellation of the 'Valkyrie' program in the early 1960s should have killed the Soviet Mach-3 interceptor (MiG-25) project…but it didn’t. Soviet reasons at the time included: 

1) XB-70 program might be reinstated yet again. 
2) Foxbat could be used against Mach-2 American B-58 Hustler. 
3) Lockheed was proceeding with its Mach-3 'Oxcart' A-12 / YF-12 / SR-71 program. 

Pictured is the Foxbat ’E’ with a thermal tracker (IRST) under the nose. Foxbat IRST performance at sustained speeds above Mach-2 is unknown; however, on the 1st night of the 1991 Gulf War, an Iraqi Foxbat downed a US-Navy F/A-18 possibly using only its IRST and R-40TD (infrared) missiles. In 1977 the Foxbat set an official absolute altitude record of 123,523.62 ft (37,650 m) - which still stands.
Because the MiG-25 Foxbat was designed to intercept and destroy a thermonuclear-armed Mach-3 North American B-70 'Valkyrie' bomber, an R-40 armed Foxbat interceptor did process a higher-than-Mach-3 emergency dash capability - MiG engine longevity having no consequence in order to stop an inbound B-70. This fact appears to have been completely lost on the Western defense establishment and defense press.

An American F-15C was claimed shot down during Iraqi operation: "Samarrah" launched on 01-Feb 1991. This saw Iraqi No. 96 Sqn launch a total of four (4) MiG-25s to attempt to deliberately drag American F-15s into a trap to hit them with Foxbat R-40RD missiles. One MiG-25 pilot involved claimed a kill with two missiles: ground radars recorded a hit, and then tracked a formation of F-15s withdrawing south. One Eagle was continuously losing speed and altitude as it went, and was assessed as crashing some 30km inside Saudi Arabia. Apparently, this F-15C combat loss was confirmed to the Iraqis during post-war negotiations.
The downing of Francis Gary Powers Lockheed U2 over the Soviet Union in 1960 (flying from Pakistan to Norway), forced a reassessment of the American Strategic Air Command (SAC) high altitude doctrine. It would be decided that a LOW altitude penetration doctrine was the answer. This change would eventually produce another Soviet response. Particularly with the development of the American FB-111, and B1 bomber, Russian authorities would issue a new requirement for an aircraft that could also counter low flying threats, with long-range, AND be free of GCI limitations. One result was the MiG-31 (Микоян МиГ-31) Foxhound. The Mig-31 [above / below] is the first aircraft in the world to take what is effectively a ground-based SAM (phased array radar) system and design it for airborne usage in an armed fighter. This large, heavy, and powerful radar system on Foxhound is called 'Zaslon.'

Iran: Satellites and Tomcats

Grumman, Hughes, and Northrop design genius in an American funded and Project Persian King facilitated; multi-sensored "Super fighter" that ultimately was to be used to full and chilling effect - in the hands of a foreign operator.

In late 1986, the Pentagon’s Joint Intelligence Group, the CIA, Grumman engineers, the US-Navy and the FTD (Foreign Technologies Division) conducted an evaluation of 132 F-14 parts, along with nine (9) cases containing numerous Tomcat parts – the goal being to determine if Iran was capable of manufacturing F-14 parts, or was paying someone to do so; and if so - who? The results of the meeting were unanimous and concluded that Iran was in fact, manufacturing replacement parts for its F-14A-fleet.

According to the US-Navy, the F-14D was to stay in service beyond 2008, but was abruptly retired from fleet service in 2006 by then US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, reportedly due to a “reduction of global aerial threats." When the US-Navy asked for a replacement AIM-54 capability - it was denied.

This same “reduction of global aerial threats” however did not stop the DoD billing the US taxpayer $62-$77 Billion dollars for 187 (Texas-based) Lockheed F-22 Raptor “air dominance” aircraft.

The newly formed Department of Homeland Security in 2005 conducted “Operation Fools Gold” to assess if Iran (or others) were attempting to acquire military components presumably listed on the US-commodity-control-list, namely parts for Iranian F-14 Tomcat, F-4 Phantom, and the F-5 (T-38) (among other items). Details remain murky, however, parts for all three (3) aircraft were reportedly intercepted – presumably bound for Iran. Only the F-14 was singled out for highly unusual special attention by then-Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who ordered that F-14s be shredded and Tomcat manufacturing dies destroyed. Why not bone-yarded F-4 and F-5? Both YF-23 (losing ATF prototypes) sat out in the desert for five years, receiving no such special attention.

Due to new Iranian F-14As photographs that clearly show functional F-14 ‘glove vanes’ (deleted on later versions US-Navy Tomcats citing excessive complexity and maintenance issues) is yet another indicator that Iran (with key assistance by the Iran–Contra scandal during the Reagan administration) has now mastered the many technologies that come together in the Grumman Tomcat - inside Iran proper.

Phased Array Radar and Flying Insects?

Had Israel used weapon-location radars in conjunction with Tactical High Energy Lasers (or Directed Beam Weapons), to hit amateur rockets from Gaza - the outcome of the UN report on IDF behavior towards mass civilians in Gaza - may have been very different?

See links:

19-June 2007 Israel Aerospace Industries EL/M-2084

August 30, 2000 Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) delivered to Israel by the end of February

Amateur rockets from Gaza had no “hardening-countermeasures” against an Israeli/U.S. Tactical High Energy Laser. Surely we (all) hold the IDF to higher standards? Alas, the IDF and her government are now facing U.N. war crimes. What can be said - should be said - must be said - about Directed-Beam-Weapons?

Since the time of this original writing, in April 2011, Israel has suddenly demonstrated ‘operational capability against live Gaza rocket-fire with its kinetic “Iron Dome” anti-rocket system matted to IAI/ELTA (weapon-locating class) phased-array radar. Because Iron Dome uses this type of radar only hostile rockets that will hit population areas are targeted - all other hostile rockets are ignored. This gives the systems near immunity from being overwhelmed by a mass rocket attack. Again, we have been strong advocates of this approach since 2008 as an alternative to the IDFs inexcusable 3-week air-land-sea bombardment of (high population density) Gaza in 2008. We trust that Israel will fund this program appropriately.

[Above/Below] Iron Dome in action 14-May, 2021 near Gaza.

The world's first fielded supersonic reheat (after-burning) engined stealth fighter, with internal weapons bays, and tells her pilots to fly around threat bubbles.

The Raptor's primary weapon the AIM-120 missile (medium-range class) necessitates the need for a high speed/altitude launch profile to give the weapon the most possible range and power.

According to an online interview [published 01-Jun 2012] Col. Robert Novotny (flight test commander at Nellis Air Force Base) flew F-15s during F-22 development: “When you fight against the F-22, its speed is a problem. For me, if I’m acting the bad guy, I can’t outrun them. They’re shooting me from a lot farther away, and I usually never see them.” Unfortunately, the Colonel's last two sentences could have just as easily described flying against the F-14 Tomcat and its AIM-54 missile system.

Editors note; Since the time of this original writing in 2009, as of  May of 2021, the USAF has not included the F-22 in its future plans. As we predicted, it appears the F-22A will indeed follow the history of Lockheeds previous jet fighter - its F-104 Starfighter. This being an operational history no greater than 25 years. And the Lockheed F-35 is next:

F-104 Starfighter: 1958-1983
F-22A Raptor: 2008-2033. There will be no operating F-22s by 2033.
F-35A/B/C Lightning II: 2017-2042.  There will be no American operating F-35s by 2042.

A Painful Road for Sukhoi Su-27 (Сухой Су-27) Series

A remarkable story of an aircraft dragged into existence to counter the new "Super Fighters" from America - to become one of the most stunning achievements in aviation - and arguably the most significant combat aircraft since the Supermarine Spitfire.

Indeed a proposal was floated in US-Navy circles by retired USN Admiral (Rear Admiral Paul Gilchrist) that the US-Navy acquire Su-33 airframes, and equip them with US avionics and engines.

In late 2009 the Russian Air Force ordered 48 Su-35S to be delivered ~ 2015, with a probable 48 additional Su-35S aircraft after that.

Some care was used to produce this "Soviet F-14 photo.” Note the 'red star' on the starboard wing.

Persistent Western assertions that Russian aviation designers are incapable of producing superior aircraft (over Western designs) - is all too evident. Here is an original [bottom] and the doctored photograph [top] that claim to prove “Soviet flight tests” of the Iranian F-14A-GR after the 1979 Iranian revolution; that the F-14 Tomcat must (must) have been compromised in order to allow a Flanker design.

This type of fraud is often accepted by far too many in Western defense circles - as fact. The black-white doctored F-14 image appears here:

There is no evidence to support that Iranian F-14/AWG-9/AIM-54s were handed to the Soviets after the 1979 Iranian revolution. Are these same Western (and Chinese) observers now correctly assessing (or overstating rather) Flanker operator - China?

What is the purpose of this type of habitual fraud? What else is being (or has been) masqueraded - as fact?

Russia has had a policy of standardizing as much possible, cockpit layouts across a variety of her combat aircraft. This is done to ease pilot familiarization between types. When a new Russian design appears, fitted with “older style” cockpits, the confusion about this policy has often led to misinterpretation(s) and inaccurate assumption(s) by the West about the state of Russian aerospace.

Who would have thought that it would be the engineers and designers at the Sukhoi Design Bureau and TsAGI (the Russian Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute) that would usher in the swansong for American airpower and ultimately address the concerns of President Eisenhower? Perhaps after the 2003 invasion of Iraq - it is not a moment too soon?

USN F/A-18 Super Hornet to get IRST

Maybe that F-14D wasn’t so silly after all? How high do we need to be, to use our new centerline drop tank?

Airborne Infrared and Supersonic Stealth

Basically written as a response to this seemingly excellent website out of Australia regarding F-22 and the Flanker; the influential Airpower Australia site:

Multi-sensor attack is a combat-proven method – using both the radio and infrared parts of the EM spectrum. American F-15C pilots employed exactly this technique in 1991 by alternate firings of AIM-7s and AIM-9s at the same target.

According to Tom Clancy (Fighter Wing: A Guided Tour of an Air Force Combat Wing - Clancy Tom; Penguin Group, 1995), the F-22 Raptor is an 'F-15 Eagle’ weapons platform, in a stealthy supercruising airframe. The only problem with Clancy's description is that the F-15 Eagle was simply no match for the F-14 and its Phoenix missile. No match.

Under the Shah in the 1970s, the Iranians were originally offered the F-15 Eagle as well, but Iran recognized early that the F-15 was completely outclassed by the technologies that came together in the Tomcat. It is revealing.

Grumman's F-14D was the only American multi-sensored fighter that could have challenged (threatened) Texas-based Lockheed's F-22 Raptor program, particularly during DACT, (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) exercises. The detect/track range of the GE Aerospace Electronic Systems Infra-Red Search and Track sensor (IRST) and TCS system fitted to F-14D, may have been in excess of (180km) 110 miles. Even today's modernized fleet of F-15, F-16, and F/A-18 Super Hornet were simply no match for modernized F-14D. F-22 during DACT, would have likely fared - no better.

Regarding the rather bizarre circumstances of the retirement of the Grumman F-14D Tomcat under then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and a possible connection to enable "a window for acquisition" of the F-22 Raptor, may seem a bit far-fetched?

...but not after reading the names signed onto this letter in link B

[These two links below, have been a moving target for several years. Sometimes they go dead only to then return months later. If they go dead again please contact me in the comments section – thanks!]

(B): Letter to President Clinton of 26-Jan,1998:

or try here:

(C): PNACs 'Rebuilding America's Defenses' / Sept 2000:

or here:

"We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. " - Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961.

Threats to Air Supremacy

An excellent presentation produced by the United States Air Force Association. It includes animation of Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) radio-spectrum deception technologies. The presentation is definitely worth a look. English narration. Google's supplanted link: Supersonic Radio Spectrum Airfoils

Some very expensive funny-shaped airplanes that may have difficulty seeing other funny-shapes-airplanes?

For the Stealth fighter – radar mechanics become a paradox? The stealth fighters air-intercept radar must operate behind a radio-defeating barrier (a stealth nose cone). So either the nose of the aircraft has little or no stealth (so radar mechanics are unimpeded), or its radar will need immense power to - burn through - its own stealth. Stealth proponents might argue that radar return energy is “received” elsewhere (by other sensors in/under the skin of the aircraft). Whatever the case, we’re inclined to conclude that the air-intercept/target-detect performance of a highly stealthy fighter - is likely poor – especially for detecting low flying targets.

New information from Aviation Week and Space Technology reported the AN/APG-81 radar being developed for the F-35 JSF was able to detect and then "jam" or "spoof" an F-22 Raptor and her AN/APG-77 radar. Both aircraft are built by Lockheed. Both the JSF and F-22A radar sets are built by Northrop-Grumman.

Fire and Forgotten

Some might argue that the ‘mid-course update’ is not needed for modern BVR fire-and-forget AIM-120-class missiles. This would be an inauthentic argument. This is because the target could change its “predicted” flight after attacker weapon release (“predicted” defined as target information given to the missile just before release and the weapon is now - flying - to that coordinate.) If this occurs, a revised (new) ‘track-file’ must be (re)calculated and sent via a ‘mid-course update’ data-pulse-transmission - to the weapon in flight.

Two converging radio-spectrum technologies using Doppler mechanics, appear to be on a collision course: 1) the radio-spectrum beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile fight and radar gun sighting, verses 2) Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) deception technologies. No known scheme for active radio (radar) targeting using the mechanics of Doppler-shift will be immune. This may include sampling (by a hostile) of friendly radio and radar transmissions and then feeding these same friendly signals into the hostiles’ primary-weapon targeting-system – to then target the friendly - with "own" friendly radio signal-type(s).

DRFM is going to be big trouble.

The sobering realities of the degree/magnitude of air-to-air missile round failures under actual combat conditions - is literally - a revelation.

Total fight-time (propellant burn time) for a functional AIM-9L 'Sidewinder' is reportedly ~ 4-to-5 seconds.

[10-Aug 1999] Chilling HUD image from Indian MiG-21 about to shoot down a Dassault Atlantique of the Pakistani Navy. The MiG’s IR-missile round can clearly be seen heading for the port turboprop engine of the Atlantique.

Russia, Georgia and the Hermes 450

Illustrates the inherent vulnerabilities of drones to manned 'fast-jet' aircraft.

Analysis and criticism continue regarding the entire Russia-Georgia conflict. It is worth noting that it is a universal truth that if hostilities are unavoidable: “the only good war - is a short war.” To achieve a ‘short war’ one must commit overwhelming force. To that end, Russia did indeed use enough (overwhelming) force that the conflict was brought to a speedy conclusion - whatever the resulting view(s), assessment(s), or recrimination(s).

This material also provides a video of public comments on the then Russia/Georgia situation by former American Secretaries of State. Some of the remarks are pointed. In our view, the expansion of NATO need not be an issue, as Russia did work with Slovakia to upgrade Slovakian MiG-29 to NATO standards. The issues we see, raised by the former Secretaries comments are:
  • Do former Soviet states have legitimate mature governments that understand the greater strategic context of their actions?
  • American Neoconservatives did stipulate that a missile-defense [SAM] system in Eastern Europe is to be used as: “…a base for American power projection...” So what then to make of the comment that Russia is to be sat down and explained what Russia can and “cannot think?”
  • Patriot [SAM] deployment is indeed "showing our true hand" of the Washington Foreign Policy Establishment, and that the true goal is to encircle Russia. Patriots have nothing to do with an Iranian threat. If current/future Patriot is effective against current/future Iranian missiles, why then the need for both a land-based Missile-Defense SAM network and Patriot SAMs? The only answer in our view - for two systems is - encirclement of Russia.
Because NATO is effectively an American entity, were Russia to join NATO, would there not have been enormous pressure placed by "NATO" (the United States) for Russia to commit combat forces to Afghanistan? The entire notion seems almost ludicrous.

Operational analysis of the war remains elusive. Suffice it to say the Georgia and Russia did operate many of the same types of aircraft and hardware, ('Frogfoot' attack jets, 'Hind' helicopters, Tanks, etc). The problems associated with IFF (identification friend-foe) would have been substantial - a point that must not be lost or dismissed by Western or Russian defense analysts. Let’s hope cooler heads in Georgia and Russia prevail in the future.

Sukhoi Makes Her Move?

Russia’s roll out her new “5th Generation” fighter, admittedly with some very non-stealthy features; and possibly also to the dismay of some in Western defense industry circles?

To those in the West that insists that “5th Generation” aircraft like T-50 are a 20-30 year “leap” in capability over 4++ generation aircraft, one obvious impact of T-50 in the next 2-3 years might be as a piloted-operated threat model - to hone – Russian detection/counter-air capability on existing/modernizing Russian 4++ generation fighter fleets (plus some SAM systems) against “5th Generation class” threats. Therefore, T-50 acts as a quasi-Cooperative Threat Reduction program?

Some in the west would say “not so” because of T-50s ‘less-than-stealthy’ features. Then, would not these same Western observers be forced to concede that T-50 is effectively - defensive in nature?

The other possibility is that T-50s stealth is “good enough” to give an opposing stealth fighter air-intercept radar (like an F-22) - problems - for the reasons described here?

At the end of the day, stealth aircraft are becoming increasingly vulnerable to low-frequency radars operating in the VHF and UHF bands.


“Then I notice four more MIGs coming in on us at our four-o’clock. I started a break into them, then I had to stop it momentarily and a flight of Thuds flashed through that particular piece of sky. After they cleared, I continued the break, making a screaming 270-degree rolling turn down after the bulk of the MIGs, which were below us, though there were many more spotted up high. In the middle of this break I glanced back over my shoulder to check my wingman. What I saw was his aircraft, a mass of flames from the canopy back, starting to nose up. As I watched, the pitch up increased and, as his airplane ran out of airspeed, the canopies came off and the seats came out. I saw the chutes blossom and knew at least, they had gotten out. All of this occurred in fractions of a second. About that time another MIG, possibly the one that had shot down my wingman began shooting at me. The cannon balls were whizzing by my canopy" (p 13). 20-May 1967, USAF Colonel Robin Olds, F-4C.

Drendel, Lou. ... and Kill MIGs: Air to Air Combat from Vietnam to the Gulf War. N.p.: Squadron Signal Publ., 1997. Print. witness Argentine aircraft flying through a hail of bullets and gunfire, to streak in over and between, Royal Navy ships in San Carlos water; returning with deep creases running the lengths of their drop tanks from flying so low, they'd actually hit the masts of British warships...

[Above] A surreal photo of an Argentine Dagger attacking Royal Navy warships during the Falklands war of 1982. Indeed on 8-June 1982, HMS Plymouth was hit by no less than five (5) 500lb bombs (none of which exploded), however, 30mm cannon-fire from Argentine attack jets exploded one of Plymouths depth-charges, causing severe damage to the ship.

[Above] Note video disruption due to British radar. At playback point 3:22 - something is hitting the water directly aft of the first Argentine attack jet. It is unclear if this is defensive expendables from the Skyhawk or British naval gunfire falling short. The speed and ferocity of the air attack - is almost beyond belief. witness a friendly F-105 being hit by a North Vietnamese SAM and as the aircraft burns and begins to fall...on the common radio channel, the rest of the flight must listen to an unearthly shriek as stricken F-105 radio gear melts  - the pilots fate unknown...

...Airmen so frightened after returning from a mission, their hands shake trying to hold a paper cup of bourbon handed to them...

The consequences of war can carry a heavy (heavy) price - a price that will always be unforeseen.

Surely there are better ways to solve problems…

[Above] An Israeli F-4 Phantom on fire - falls to earth during the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

[Be advised that Google has deleted this original writing dated 2009 - use comments section date/time stamps in comments to verify publish date]

Works Sighted:

“MiG-23ML Walkaround Tour and Engine Run.” YouTube, 8 Mar. 2021,

Postol, Theodore A. “Lessons of the Gulf War Experience with Patriot.” International Security, vol. 16, no. 3, The MIT Press, 1991, pp. 119–71,

-- All media found here is for scholarship and research purposes and protected under U.S. Internet ‘Fair Use’ Law -


  1. Greetings.
    I would like to congrat you for the excelent blog. I've leraned a lot around here, and some of your conclusions were lingering around my own head for some time.
    Air war, as any other kind of violence, is brutal and unforgiving. We should, really, find other ways of solving our diferences. But war exists for a reason. A lot of them, in fact, and the way the masses perceive those reasons may induce them in error, as those who try not to fall in the trap of media bias and extreme patriotism.
    About air war, the fact is that a lot of people, in several media, not only on the internet, tend to become inflated by their own armies and techonology, and it is not unusual to read about the extreme superiority of this weapon, the spectacularity of that weapon system and so on. The reality is much more unpredictable that that. Some times, someone must came with the hard facts to call us for reality, making us learn how to read between the lines and the lies.
    The fact is... War is gruesome, part of Humanity since its beginings, but unwanted, and for good reaons, for its future. And the first casualty is always the truth.
    Thank you for the good reading. Learned a lot.
    Congrats from Portugal.

  2. What a fascinating amount of information and insight you've shared through your writing, I'm very glad that I discovered your blog by chance. I've always had a love of military aviation, and am a freelance photographer with that as my focus.

    Hope to see more from you,


  3. Thanks Joseph. The fact that we make very compelling paradigm-changing arguments [based on high school science, history, and first-hand pilot accounts] using inductive/deductive reasoning - is a bit frightening frankly. I guess we’re expected by the defense establishment to just “shut-up and pay.” President Eisenhower tried to warn the public that ‘something’ had gone very (very) wrong with our military after WWII.

    BTW You take great pictures!

    - The Boresight

  4. Vietnam: American air power flew at a huge disadvantage in most situations, because of Air-to-air targeting doctrine. Under most circumstances, pilots needed a visual ID of fighter-sized aircraft over North Vietnam, eliminating the (admittedly buggy) advantage of longer-ranged missiles.

    Training was also an issue. It took a long time (too long!) for both the Navy and Air Force to begin training their pilots in any kind of aggressor program. F-4 pilots were learning to dogfight F-4s for a fairly long chunk of the war. Amazing but true.

    Fire and Forgotten: I'm assuming this is a tricky way of describing EW attacks that resemble range-gate pull-offs. I don't disagree that this is a major threat, but don't ignore the shift towards Low Probability of Intercept (LPI) radars, such as AESAs. One cannot jam what one cannot detect and analyze.

    On Foreign Policy: Again, I don't disagree with any individual citation, but consider the overall nature of U.S.-Russian relations. Both countries have been jockeying for geostrategic advantage since the Cold War. The nature is less overt now, but the principle is still the same - I put my finger in your eye, you put yours in mine. Criticizing U.S. policymakers for the missile shield program is as futile as tongue-lashing Russia for the "near abroad" obsession. Such is the way of the world. How can my enemy hurt me? How can I hurt him?

    I also find your point of view on Georgia strangely myopic. Was such a strike of overwhelming force necessary in light of a relatively small regional conflict? Is that fundamentally any different then establishing a missile shield abroad? When you boil it down, it's the same thing - an intervention in relatively small nations' business to make a point and accomplish a tertiary foreign policy objective.

    On Holding Israel to a Higher Standard: I am generally critical of Israel's actions in the name of self-defense, but the laser issue is strange, to say the least. Politics aside, I don't think any nation on Earth would hesitate to neutralize a paramilitary threat lobbing artillery into its national borders. Who is going to pay for this expensive, cutting-edge laser system? The U.N.? I don't think so. You'd need quite a system - Hezbollah has a tremendous artillery rocket and missile arsenal, ranging up to tactical ballistic missiles.

    On the specific issue of missile attack, why should Israel be held to a different standard than any other nation? This issue (and this issue alone) has always chafed at me.

    That's all for now,
    Earlydawn out.

  5. Hi Earlydawn,

    Thanks for you input - took me a bit to get back to you.

    (Vietnam) Yes, increased political calculus while conducting a proxy-war (like Vietnam) will likely always be a military reality. Rules of engagement and/or Air Tasking Orders limiting one side “technical superiority” is something the officer corps must accept as a high probability if the shooting starts.

    (Fire and Forgotten) True. The Air Force Association appears rather concerned about DRFM in the near future. This might be a moving target. Please see link to titled “Threats to Air Supremacy.” New Russian S-300/S-400/S-500 SAM systems may be using their own LPI against our stuff. Yikes?

    (On Foreign Policy) The neoconservatives under Bush II specifically cite eastern European “missile defense shield” as ‘to be used a base for US power projection’, in the PNACs "Rebuilding America's Defenses/Sept 2000", of whom most of Bush IIs key posts were all signed “members.” Iran is not mentioned. Geographically, considering basing option like Turkey – Eastern Europe makes no sense regardless. Poland agreed to host the system only AFTER shooting had started in Georgia. Again – no Iranian historical event trigger - so in effect showing Washington’s real intent and intent of the system.

    The irony is that overwhelming force IS (was) the Powel doctrine – as to force conclusive results quickly. Something he forgets (or dismisses) when the players do not “fit” the Washington Foreign Policy consensus (“Washington Rules”) – and so morphs to become “recklessness.”

    (Laser Weapons) The enormous foreign aid Israel receives from the US allows a legitimate criticism (its US tax payer money) of IDF behavior. High Energy Tactical Lasers have been tested for decades – so they work or they do not? The US has been “giving” THEL technology (so US Army claims) to Israel - going back decades. At minimum weapon-location radars with low yield counter battery fire was the proper response to armature-rockets from Gaza. Heavy bombardment of high density civilians areas make you no better than the terrorists. The UN has made its appraisal of Israeli action – war crimes. Please see our “Phased Array Radar and Flying Insects?” link.

    If the Israeli government stops receiving US aid – they'd sue for peace with her neighbors in short order. What should be said about about the IDF Arrow System? The US tax-payers are being forced to prolong an inauthentic zero-sum game that’s actually just an endless spiral of lose-lose for all the parties.


    - The Boresight

  6. It would be good to have your assesment on current Anti-missile point defence systems such as Phalanx, Aegis system, etc.

    I always wonder how effective these systems would be to defend land and sea assets against even older missiles such as the Silkworm, let alone the newer Sunburn (Moskit) or even the Brahmos.

    My reckoning is that such systems will always face problems against a salvo of missiles, especially if they are launched along multiple vectors; let alone possible ECM warfare that these missile might employ.

    What are your assements?

  7. Hi Anonymous,

    It’s still almost impossible to wrap ones head round watching the Falklands footage of Argentine attack-jets picking their way past Royal Navy Harrier CAP, to streak in and bomb/strafe British shipping. Indeed if all Argentine bombs that hit British shipping had exploded – the history books would have chronicled a catastrophic defeat of a British major surface fleet under a Thatcher government.

    Having said that, most British Navy air-defense systems were largely effective out on the open water where they could operate as designed (though on several occasions Sea-Slug missiles fired at inbound low level Argentine targets – simply went ballistic, (failed to guide, flew off elsewhere and disappeared.) Being forced to operate near land and San Carlos water was to cause all manner of problems for the Royal Navy.

    The US Navy Phalanx system is slated for retirement – as its operational recorded has been poor: mostly involving operational/training accidents, hair-raising friendly fire incidence, or simply not working at all (read USS Stark).

    Manning any Navy surface vessel - under combat conditions - will (always) remain (as in the past) a risky business.

    - The Boresight

  8. It should be noted that Argentine pilots needed to stay as low as possible to avoid British defenses. This caused their bomb insufficient time to arm after release. Over and over bombs would punch right thru royal navy ships and explode harmlessly out the other side. When a bomb DID explode – then without exception - the ship burned and sunk. The Argentines lived with the problem for simple ‘iron bombs’ as shortening the fusing would cause the bomb blast to also destroy the attacking jet. Drag-retarded ‘snake-eye’ class munitions luckily were in short supply – but when used – were devastating.

    - The Boresight

  9. Thanks for the insight. This ofcourse leaves me with asking the question of the elephant in the room.

    If point defenses are generally ineffective against a well trained, properly equipped force - be they Aircraft or Missiles - what then would this mean to a Carrier attack group?

    If the Millennium Challenge 2002 Wargames proved anything it seems a well coordinated attack on a carrier fleet by a smaller opposing force in light aircraft and speedboats could launch a potentially devastating attack on the Carrier group, with disastrous results.

  10. Don’t retire your F-14Ds. Together with the E-2 AEW, aircraft are the battle groups main defense against air and surface threats.

  11. Hey Obrescia,
    May I know the capablities of the long range Sparrow-looking type of the classic Russian AA-2 Missile.
    Plus, can you post something about Air combat and UFO's in the future?
    Thank you

  12. Hi Ramtin,
    The AA-2 ‘Atoll’ was the USSR equivalent to the early American AIM-9 sidewinder and exhibited roughly the same performance. On your second question, UFOs are a little beyond our knowledge base. Try Googling “Foo Fighter(s)” (not the rock band).

  13. Hello Boresight,

    I had read in one of your articles that the A-10 Thunderbolt and F-16 Falcon were either defunct, or in some other derogatory status such that they are not worth writing an article about. I have heard that the Su-27 family would be outclassed by the F-16 family in a dogfight; the F-16's claim to fame being that it is a small plane and not as "unweildly" as a member of the Su-27 family.

    I have also seen video of an F-16 performing aerobatic(high alpha?) maneuvers in a demonstration


    I had also heard that despite the F-16's primary purpose of being a lightweight air-to-air fighter, I had read that an "engagement" between F-16s and A-10s had resulted in the A-10s emerging as the last rat standing.

    While I am suspicious of these events and the regard in which the A-10 and F-16 are held respectively, I find myself at a loss to reason as to why the Su-27 would win against an F-16 and why an F-16 would loose to an A-10.

    Would you be able to provide more believable performance numbers for the Su-27 than those on the readily accessible and heavily cited Wikipedia? And further more would you be able to address the result of an exchange between an F-16 and a Su-27 family member (Chinese copies excluded), as well as the outlier event of F-16s loosing to A-10s?

  14. Hi Cameron,

    On the contrary…the F-16 and the A-10 are one of our favorite jets! The F-16 and A-10 have been nothing but astounding successes. We would argue both are brilliant aircraft...and both leverage hard lessons (re)learned over Vietnam. We think they should keep building them rather than F-35s. The A-10 was also to offset the numerical MBT [tank] superiority of the (then) Warsaw pact over NATO in Western Europe. The F-16 was designed with traditional successful fighter attributes - including a compact size (harder to spot). Best of all the A-10 and F-16 kept cost$ down.

    Because of this the F-16 also became an unbridled export success operated by some 20+ counties…and was a welcome reprieve to European NATO counties who had been operating the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter...the F-16 has none of the problems the Starfighter did in Europe.

    The A-10 is designed to maneuver at subsonic speeds at treetop level. That the A-10 can out-maneuver anything else at these low altitudes and speeds should not surprise anyone.

    I can’t speak to Wikipedia. Check another source:

    Will Indian (IAF) flow Flankers beat USAF F-16s? Yes. Will Chinese flown Flankers beat USAF F-16s? Hard to say, perhaps not.

    It might be well to ponder Lockheed’s previous jet fighter the F-104, as a foretelling of what the history books will say about the F-22 and F-35 – both Lockheed jet fighters. The F-104 was also cutting edge, had excellent test data / performance numbers, (indeed had a cult following)...only to prove effectively useless (useless) as a combat aircraft when nations tried to fly it (and fight with it) in war.

    Thank for writing!

    - The Boresight

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  16. tobiashommerich@aol.com19 November, 2013 06:47

    Man, you have missed out on the best book about the above topics:Robert Coram´s"Boyd-The Fighter Pilot who changed the Art of War".


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