Russian Tactical Adaption : Russo-Ukrainian War

The War is Over

"Pilots all love flying - that's what they love more than anything else - they don't love killing. That's not the issue..."  Jeffery L. Ethell

With the Russian annexation of Crimea, NATO has seen this as new opportunity to reassert the alliances' original mission - to deter and fight a war against the Soviet Union. However, there is no scenario we see - where NATO comes out on top in a military confrontation with Russia at this point in history. Perhaps in the late 1970s to the mid-1980s...but not now. Geographically (and therefore geopolitically) the NATO of 1987 is not the NATO of today. Not only would it be a war that no one wants - it would be the beginning of the end for the NATO alliance - as the brink of hostilities, will fracture the alliance. This growing concern by the Europeans is something the Americans seem unable to grasp.

""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."  Bacevich, Andrew J. The Short American Century: a Postmortem. Harvard University Press, 2012.

In a very real sense, NATO faces almost an asymmetric threat when discussing a confrontation with Russia. But it is not asymmetric in the traditional understanding of the term. And it is not something that can be corrected easily – if at all – giving the inertia of US weapon programs and how things work at the DoD, so please keep reading.

21-Dec 2017: New documents have been released by National Security Archive of a transcript of Gorbachev and Secretary of State James Baker in Moscow on February 9, 1990, where the Americans make explicit assurances not to expand NATO.

July 2016: We learn retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, recent supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe, plotted in private to actively pursue maneuvering around President Obama’s resistance to escalate military tensions with Russia over Ukraine. German fears would be proven correct regarding Breedlove, in that that he and other US officials are reckless.

"I want to be clear to those who try to oppose the United States ... I want to be clear to those who wish to do us harm … the United States military - despite all of our challenges, despite our tempo, despite everything we have been doing - we will stop you and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that." - Gen. Mark Milley, Chief of Staff, United States Army, (October 2016) AUSA conference. Source.
"...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

An actual confrontation will fracture the alliance. No one in Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin or even London - is going to want to take a nuke to save Tallinn, Riga, or Vilnius.

Increased NATO spending by Germany: “I know no politician in Germany who thinks that this is something you can reach, or that it even would be desirable to do so.” - Sigmar Gabriel, German Foreign Minister, March 2017
[Above] The mighty Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird as seen from its air-refueling tanker. The SR-71 was known to her pilots as 'Habu' - the spy planes spectacular flight performance was matched only by an equally spectacular high rate of fuel consumption. A typical ten-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.
As the events in Ukraine demonstrate – declining American power and influence that includes NATO military capability - is now vividly on display. Far from the 'End of History' - rather it is the End of the American Century. In our view, America's slide called "The Washington Consensus" became official policy starting in the 1980s.

In the area of aerospace, near the end of the Soviet Union, Russia began to make significant gains with three programs that would at first counter, and then usher in - the swansong for American/NATO air power power-projection.

These programs included the MiG-31 'Foxhound' interceptor series, the GSKB Almaz-Antey S-300/400/500/1000 Surface to Air Missile system series, and the Sukhoi Design Bureau Su-27/30/33/35 advanced 'Flanker' fighter series. These three systems more than any others represent insurmountable issues for Pentagon/NATO air power - today – and for the next 40 to 50 years.

Russia maintains a long history of continuous improvement and optimization of existing systems. This also keeps costs down.
[Above / Below] The MiG-31 (Микоян МиГ-31) (NATO name: Foxhound) was a quantum leap for Russian air defenses. 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 B-1 bomber and cruise missiles, 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 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.'
Any suggestion that Foxhound was originally conceived as an offensive machine would be a Western misinterpretation. The MiG-31 was designed to replace obsolete 1950s era interceptors including (below) the massive Tupolev Tu-128/28 (Ту-128) NATO codename: 'Fiddler' long-range interceptor. In the photo below, note the size of the man walking on tarmac. Soviet airspace was simply enormous. Ultra-long-range high-endurance aircraft are required - as the size of Fiddler attests.

[Above] The Fiddler remains today - the largest fighter-interceptor aircraft ever built and fielded. Western defense analysts (especially in the United States) have a long history of misinterpretation and misread of Soviet/Russian military aircraft, their technology, and pilot proficiency. This misinterpretation issue persists even today.
The introduction of the MiG-31 had effectively put an end to the American SR-71 reconnaissance flights of the Soviet Union by the late 1980s. The MiG-31 employs an IRST (called ‘OMB’ optical multi-functional apparatus) passive IR sensor that cannot be jammed.
The SR-71 was repeatedly intercepted by Russian MiG-31 aircraft in the late 80s. Lockheed had no answer to Foxhound R-33 missiles using OMB targeting. The Blackbird fleet was soon retired.
The MiG-31 remains today somewhat mysterious in the West.
[Below] The S-400 SAM series represents an entirely new generation of very advanced mobile Russian Surface to Air Missile systems. Many believe the S-300/400/500/1000 series to be the most lethal SAM system in the world.

[Below] Promotional video from the manufacturer (in English). We can't vouch for its accuracy - however, one can get an idea of the sophistication and complexity put into these systems. Regarding NATO power-projection - these new class of Russian mobile SAM systems are big (big) trouble.

Lockheed's F-22A and F-35 can have no tangible effect on this shift.
[Above] F-22A during actual operational missions using non-stealthy external drop tanks. The Russian Flanker and MiG-31 have yet to be observed using additional external fuel tanks (Su-34 has). True, the F-22 can jettison these tanks for "stealth" - but there is no guarantee it can get to a friendly air-tanker on the trip home in a peer adversary environment. Short-range aircraft utterly reliant on in-flight refueling - remains the Achilles heel of the Americans and NATO fighter fleets.

This problem is far (far) more pervasive and acute - than has been revealed to the public.

That NATO currently might field more combat aircraft than Russia misses the point entirely. The three Russian systems discussed here put at risk NATO’s core assets - and the backbone of NATOs power projection doctrine – these are NATO AWACS command/control aircraft, and in particular, the NATO aerial refueling tanker fleet.
[Above] The backbone of American/ NATO power projection is represented here. Its command and control aircraft and especially its air-to-air refueling tankers. If they are unable to affect the battle because they are lost to - or simply harassed by  - Russian aircraft and/or air-defenses - the war for the Americans and NATO - is over.

Not only that - but both Foxhound and the Flanker have unrefueled combat radius and flight endurance that far exceed any fighter in Western inventories. This gives MiG-31 and Flanker series unprecedented tactical flexibility. Indeed, we have now seen this very fact, over Syria.
If NATO is a collective defensive organization why the need for an expanded endurance and power projection? Think about it. NATO has now "recognized" it doesn't have enough air tankers. Why the shift regarding power-projection? This is because NATO is effectively an American entity. Also, operation Unified Protector revealed one of the very issues this writing discusses. However, what is also true - is Russian apprehension regarding military-block expansion up to its borders. The more NATO pushes for air-tankers the greater it plays into the Kremlin argument. Expect the number of air tankers NATO may possess to be part of future arms control negotiations between Moscow and Washington.

The idea that Ukraine is to become part of NATO is reckless and dangerous. Ukraine has had insufficient history with democratic institutions and also has not learned from the Budapest Memorandum that the Americans (among other signatories) are not to be trusted. Ukraine joining NATO will only increase the probability of a direct confrontation with Russia.
The United States is now going to war (asserting a sphere of influence) in Iraq (against ISIS) as a result of a weak-derisive central al-Maliki government in Baghdad. Ukraine's situation is similar. After the fall of the USSR, Ukraine devolved into a non-functional state with a ruined economy (thanks to no less to a toxic shove from the Americans in the form of yet another Wall-Street Crash in 2008). Indeed, we predicted in the summer of 2014: “If Kiev proceeds with austerity measures - we doubt the modern state of Ukraine will survive the end of the year.” There are also powerful entrenched interests in Ukraine who want to protect their current Kleptocracy.
As of 16-July 2016, we have a false-flag coup (a staged coup) operation conducted by the Erdogan government in Turkey against secularist institutions including the Turkish military, the courts, and other parts of the government. The commander of Incirlik Air Base was also arrested.
NATO has reportedly over sixty B61 nuclear weapons in Turkey. That is over sixty B-61s too many.
Allowing Wall Street to help propel Ukraine into an economic crisis - is neither "American Leadership" nor is it underwriting global stability and security. Ukraine’s economy had completely imploded during the 2008 crash. Crimea was even worse. People looking for a better life elsewhere that includes taking up arms - as a result - is not unknown to history. Besides the Ukrainian central government has already cut off pension payments to pensioners in separatists areas in the east. So Kiev is not seeking unification anyway. Ukraine simply is not important enough in the larger strategic context to shred our relationship with Russia over. "Imagine the outrage in Washington if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico in it. " History tells us a shooting war with Russia will not go well for the NATO alliance and will serve no useful purpose.

Neither did it for the most powerful militaries in their day: Napoleon and the Panzer armies.

This NATO deployment on the Russian border is simply dangerous blustering swagger to impress Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Kiev while causing circa 1987 members apprehension. The idea that the US is to go to war with Russia to protect these countries - would never be accepted by the American public and key NATO members. The United States, and circa 1987 members - need a military confrontation with Russia - like a hole in the head. Thankfully the White House does not appear interested (yet?) in calls for 'lethal' military assistance If NATO were to have public referendums on current NATO membership and posture, particularly with respect to the Russian border, sharp contrasts would emerge, especially in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
[Above] An American F-15C arriving Zokniai Air Base on 03-Feb 2014 to begin its Baltic Air Policing mission. The ever-present fuel-capacity [also known as 'fuel fraction'] issue for the Eagle is on full display in this photo via 3 large fuel tanks. If Russia cripples NATO's air-tanker fleet even the F-15C will be relegated to pilots strapped in their cockpits - waiting on the ground to scramble (read: poor tactical flexibility) and decidedly vulnerable in places like Zokniai.
[Below] Two F-22A and one KC-135 fly to Lithuania from Romania to show political support for an expanded NATO. The KC-135 is part of the 100th Air Refuel Wing, out of RAF Mildenhall, in the UK. Russia has already encountered the Raptor over Syria.
NATO and Sweden will improve their situation somewhat when they begin fielding the European-designed 'Meteor' long-range missile beginning in 2015. Meteor is similar to the American AIM-120 (terminal active-homing class) but with a range of over 100km. Meteor rounds will still be vulnerable to friendly-mid-course-update data-sequence detection and countermeasure by an adversary. Under actual combat conditions, we expect Meteor firings to be closer to 1/2 to 1/3 of the published range.
[Above] Su-30SM of the RuAF. The Su-27/30/33/35 series of aircraft are a 'orders of magnitude' leap for Russia. The Flanker is a large and powerful fighter designed to counter the F-14, F-15, F-16 and F/A-18.

This aircraft is so obviously superior to Western designs that assertions to the contrary - frankly strain credibility. We believe Flanker to be the most significant combat aircraft - in the world - in the last 70 years.
The aircraft's range without external fuel tanks categorizes Flanker and a strategic platform. NATO can field nothing of the sort. This capability is unique and was a function of USSR vast airspace of some 11 time zones. Some suggest that Russian pilots lack the flight and training hours to match Western aircrews. If the unmarked Russian forces that appeared in Crimea are any indication (and we think it should be) then this too has changed. Indeed, to date - operational proficiency of Russian air forces in Syria has been a surprise to some. It should not be. Anyone that can build the type of things the Russians build - is going to have some knowledge of proper employment, and what is (and is not) possible.
[Above] Russian air-to-air super-long range anti-AWACS/C4ISTAR weapon called K-100 or KS-172.
[Above/Below] Called R-37M, these weapons are for use on aircraft with less sophisticated radar than MiG-31. The R-37M range is published as 150–398 km (80-214 nautical miles) and troubling development for Western AWACS and air-tanker crews.
Hitting and disrupting of NATOs air tanker fleet on the ground - is something the Russians could employ easily with a host of ballistic and cruise missile systems.
[Below] The Vympel R-73 AA-11 NATO name 'Archer' series would be a nasty shock to Western analysts. Its exceptional maneuverability is exceeded only by its lethality - as the missile can be directed by a connection to the pilot's helmet. So wherever the pilot looks - that’s where the missile goes. With the appearance of the R73 - the West has been playing catch-up for 20+ years.
When introduced in the mid-1980s, even a small number of R-73s would have had strategic implications. After encountering the R-73 (the later versions of the MiG-23ML series could also employ the weapon) in the first days of hostilities – NATO aircrews would have been forced into ‘BVR-and-run’ combat tactics, anytime Soviet aircraft were encountered – because Western aircrews would not know which Russian aircraft had R-73s - and which did not. Kill ratios for BVR will not exceed 50% of total weapons fired. So, if six missile rounds are exhausted - no more (no more) than three might (might) hit their targets. This response to the R-73 threat is, therefore, incompatible with NATO air supremacy.
By the mid-1980s the introduction of helmet-sighting with the R-73 by the Soviets (especially employed on MiG-29 and Su-27) had war broken out - would have inflicted losses on NATO aircraft as to totally alter NATO aircrew tactics - and force the West into a political settlement to end the fighting. NATO was to have no idea how good some Soviet equipment had become until German reunification.
[Above] MiG-23MLD with R-73 AA-11 NATO name 'Archer' on belly pylons.

The American public has become weary of the vast over-spending on the military that perpetuates outdated paradigms. Russia would represent a peer adversary. ISIS/L, the Taliban, Gaddafi, Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, and Bashar al-Assad – do not constitute peer adversaries.
[Above/Below] Russian Air Force Su-27SM2 and Su-27SM3.
[Below] Su-35S of the Russian Air Force.
A peer adversary means – after 10 days NATO has no air tankers or AWACS assets that can affect the battle. No satellite-guided drones or munitions either, as these signals will be jammed or thwarted in orbit.

[Above] The Su-35S. The astonishing handling of the baseline Su-27 has been vastly improved on Su-35S with the addition of Saturn AL-31F independent 3-D thrust-vectoring engines. What you are looking at, should not be possible in a 20+ ton airplane. The seasoned observer knows this maneuverability is literally beyond belief - and has no Western (or even Russian) equal. The Sukhoi has superior transonic handling than either the American F-15 or F-16. More video of Su-35 and Su-30 series here.

Without air tankers and AWACS, America/NATO can no longer power project and will not risk forward base deployments deemed too vulnerable to attack. NATO is resigned to its long-range bomber force with own targeting capability and/or long-range air-breathing guided munitions [like cruise missiles] that have internal inertial navigation - and inconsistent with what the Americans call "liberation." So for NATO - the war is over.
[Above] Russians new PAK-FA / T-50 "stealth" fighter is under development however its future is far from certain. As with anything as complex as fighter aircraft design and as the Russians have learned all too well - it is easy to 'make it worse.' In our view, the Russians are experimenting with some stealth concepts and using the T-50 program as a technology development vehicle. They freely admit the design exhibits an array of compromises not advantageous for a fighter (outward pilot visibility is worse than Flanker). The T-50 could also act and a stealth-threat-reduction program, as they can use T-50 to fly against existing Russian systems...and whatever they learn - they can apply. We predict if (if) fielded the T-50 to only supplement Russia's current fighter fleet. Also, keep in mind Russia has a long history of keeping weapon system costs - down.

Without Mikhail Simonov, we think Sukhoi has been seduced by the 'Dark Side' of the current global stealth fighter design trend. In the 1950s the global trend was to remove guns from new aircraft designs - because of assurances that air-to-air missiles had made the dogfight and guns obsolete. The Vietnam War would prove to be a rude awakening. Even today, as missiles improve - so too do the counter-measures to defeat them.
The Flanker series is a refined proven design that can effectively be endlessly upgraded. Su-27/30/33/35 airframes have so much room (to cool electronics) that extremely powerful offensive-defensive systems can be fitted. The age of the Flanker design is not relevant here, as it is already so much better than the Western designs now being fielded. Look what old 1950s era Indian MiG-21" Bisons" did to the USAF F-15Cs in exercises? Solid-designed older aircraft, upgraded with proper avionics, weapons, engines, and sensors - and piloted well - should never be underestimated. 
The Russians got a winner with Flanker for a very long time. In addition, at between $50 million to $90 million per copy, the aircraft is a steal and can be fielded in large numbers. The American F-35 program has too much inertia to be shelved so will lock-in Flanker series supremacy for perhaps an additional 50 -60 years - predicated on F-35 operational life. The sooner F-35 enters service, the sooner the West establishes air inferiority. F-22A does not tip the scales either. Remember exotic stealth coatings reduces the mission-capable rates of stealth fighter fleets over non-stealth fleets. 

Russia is aware of the drawbacks of excessive defense contractor mergers popular in the West - that reduce design choice. 

The USAF has indicated the desire to operate the F-15C/D series until 2045. The maiden flight of the F-15A was 27 July 1972. That's 73 years. This gives an indication of just how long combat aircraft design and operational life cycles can take. Once you make a mistake, acquisition-procurement inertia locks in that mistake - for very, very long time. 
We have become increasingly 'less impressed' with stealth as it relates to how it may put our aircrews in jeopardy. Yes, stealth is predicated on the element of surprise to gain the “first look, first shoot, first kill”, however, the entire U.S. stealth discussion operates on the assumption that an opponent agrees to search and target our aircraft only in a narrow sliver of the radio portion of the Electromagnetic Spectrum (namely X-band radar) and to not use other parts of the EM spectrum during wartime to find and destroy our air force. The American F-117 experiences in the Balkans only underscores this point. We feel this operational premises from the stealth-advocate community - borders on complete and utter irresponsibility towards our men and women strapped in their cockpits.

[Below] This NOVA documentary raises some interesting questions. One being - who is the better disciple of air-combat history? Russia or the West? (American narration):

[Below] Another documentary of American aircrews training against Luftwaffe flown Russian fighters (acquired by Germany after reunification) during 'Red October.' What one comes away with is whatever NATO military superiority exists (if it exists at all) is far more tenuous than is understood by (or communicated to) Western policymakers. This false understanding of the substance and risks by Western leaders (and apparently US generals) has produced exceedingly dangerous geopolitical calculus, that we believe the unrestrained expansion of NATO to Russian borders - demonstrates.

[Below] Su-30M2 of the RuAF.
During a previous ceasefire in Ukraine, thousands of eastern Ukrainian families streamed into Russia vowing never to return to Ukraine. This point has been forgotten from Western reporting and in US/NATO statements. This omission is either intended to shape public opinion or indicates a poor grasp of the facts. While we do not condone Russian methods in its acquisition of Crimea and its involvement with separatists in eastern Ukraine - understand that the West and its institutions also do not operate in a vacuum - so an honest discussion on how we got here - would be best.

Ukraine is not important enough in the larger strategic context, for the United States to shred its relationship with Russia over.

Whatever one's views are on who is at fault for this war in Ukraine - one issue seems to stand out more than all others. The United States and NATO appear to have no credible military deterrent any longer against Russia. We find this remarkable - but not surprising. The Russian military is more than a match for NATO and the United States - but only spends a fraction in real dollars of what America spends.
There appears to be no evidence to support a direct correlation between sophistication-quality of an army one can field - after say $150 billion dollars? The United States is allowing the Pentagon to spend ~$700 billion on overhead and junk - while only getting ~$11 billion on authentic capability. The Russians can take on our most advanced weaponry for ~10% of the amounts we are spending.

If NATO expansion eastward causes instability and war - rather than stability and peace - then the alliance no longer serves any useful purpose.

Having NATO and Russian military forces on/near the Russian border in close proximity - not only increases the inherent likelihood, but also the consequences of an accident, misinterpretation, miscalculation, and misjudgment.

You are going to run out of luck one day.

Not to possess the wisdom to acknowledge this truth - is both reckless and stupid.

Current NATO members should perhaps think seriously about a future of an alliance whose main underwriter is sliding into increasingly serious economic distress, as Total Credit Market Debt Owed (TCMDO) for the United States now exceeds $68 trillion dollars - and climbing. This debt level is unprecedented anywhere in the world and is a direct function of the US losing its industrial-manufacturing-engineering base. For over thirty years, the US has also been engaged in deliberate improper indexing of its economic data including; inflation, unemployment, and GDP.
These deceptive US economic statistics, act as both life-support and camouflage to create the 'operating environment' for Neoliberal / Washington Consensus economic doctrine. The destruction of the American way of life was not perpetrated by external actors - but by the Americans themselves.
History instructs that excessive deregulation-speculation in banking caused the 1929 Crash and resulting Great Depression that hit places like 1930s Germany even worse than America. Economic distress in the 1930s produced surging xenophobia, and nationalism, and gave traction to exceeding dangerous political thought. Allowing a military-economic block expansion up to the Russian border - that is propelled by Neoliberal economic orthodoxy - which permits Wall Street to once again go stampeding through European economies - is, has been, and remains - a recipe for destabilization and war: 

"After serving only nine months of his sentence, Hitler left prison in December 1924. He continued to build his party and waited for a crisis that would rock the republic and make his movement a force in national politics. The Great Depression, which began in the United States at the end of 1929, provided that crisis. Desperate and demoralized people lined up in front of government unemployment offices. Street peddlers, beggars, youth gangs proliferated; suicides increased, particularly among middle-class people shamed by their descent into poverty, illness, and uselessness. As Germany's economic plight worsened, the German people became more amenable to Hitler’s radicalism. His propaganda techniques worked. The Nazi Party went from 810,000 votes in 1928 to 6,400,000 in 1930, and its representation in the Reichstag soared from 12 to 107” (pg 475). - Perry, Marvin. Western Civilization: A Brief History, Volume II, 7th Edition. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning, 2011, 2008. Print.

People like General Breedlove are not well read enough to be assigned Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Forces in Europe. We would strongly recommend the Joint Chiefs, NATO defense ministers, and people of Breedlove's ilk, read the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Guns of August:

"While researching a 2008 book on the [Cuban] missile crisis, I plotted the positions of Soviet and American ships during this period, on the basis of United States intelligence records. I was stunned to discover that the lead Soviet ship, the Kimovsk, was actually 750 miles away from the blockade line, heading back toward the Soviet Union, at the time of the supposed “eyeball to eyeball” incident. Acting to avert a naval showdown, the Soviet premier, Nikita S. Khrushchev, had turned his missile-carrying freighters around some 30 hours earlier." 

“The White House tapes demonstrate that Kennedy was a good deal more nuanced and skeptical, about the value of “red lines” than his political acolytes were. He saw the blockade — or “quarantine,” as he preferred to call it — as an opportunity to buy time for a negotiated settlement. But his aides came to believe their own propaganda. They thought that strategies like “controlled escalation” would work equally well against the North Vietnamese. In the judgment of Clark M. Clifford, who succeeded Robert S. McNamara as secretary of defense in 1968, they “possessed a misplaced belief that American power could not be successfully challenged, no matter what the circumstances, anywhere in the world.””

"In deciding how to respond to Khrushchev, Kennedy was influenced by his reading of “The Guns of August,” Barbara W. Tuchman’s 1962 account of the origins of World War I. The most important lesson he drew from it was that mistakes and misunderstandings can unleash an unpredictable chain of events, causing governments to go to war with little understanding of the consequences." Source.
Dobbs, Michael. “Opinion The 'Eyeball to Eyeball' Myth and the Cuban Missile Crisis's Legacy.” The New York Times, 15 Oct. 2012

Gen. Mark Milley remarks are more like something from of the Cold War satire 'Dr. Strangelove.'

The Boresight would strongly (strongly) urge the CIA and others in the US intelligence community to conduct a threat assessment of the past 35 years of American economic policy which includes the ‘Washington Consensus.’ Why was a second massive 2008 Wall Street crash allowed to occur? Why were real-estate lending standards relaxed? What was the role of the United States Congress in 1999 to facilitate the 2008 crisis? Why was there a Ukrainian bank crisis in October of that same year? What happened to employment in eastern parts of Ukraine and Crimea afterward? What happened (is happening) in the rest of Europe? What has been Fed policy regarding FDIC-protected commercial-bank securities-underwriting? Until an authentic threat assessment is conducted and these questions are answered, it is necessarily impossible to provide contexts for Kremlin behavior either in Ukraine or elsewhere. What if Russian intelligence has indeed conducted this assessment - but American intelligence institutions have not?

To those not seeking zero-sum (unlike Generals Breedlove and Milley) we must reduce tensions and pursue détente.

Your thoughts?


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  1. Your blog continues to shed light into western defense capabilities. We continue to be fed all these bias American Invincibility Propaganda by our dear western mainstream media. I've always known that we simply can't afford another war, yet CNN & other western news media continue to advocate for a response from our debt-ridden government (& most of which sounds like another military involvement).
    There will never be a war against a major significant adversary (aka Russia, India, or China mostly because of thermonuclear war & the simply fact that their military tech might outmatch us) but the declining of US hegemony will be accelerated with our military overstretch, military adventurism (against third tier adversary) & increasing debt.

    Everything aside, I love your blog & this is my third time posting. (The others were about the phased array radar stealth tracking comment & the guardian comment about the Ukraine crisis).

    Sincerely, Xx

    1. Hi Xx,
      Thank you! I seemed to have missed your comment before. I never had any agenda. I started thinking about the MiG-21 years ago as it was the West’s arch air-power advisory during the cold war. Then in 2005-06 I saw a picture of a Su-27 [“Su-35”] with canards on it and I thought ‘uh oh.’ Thank u for your comment. Please write anytime.

      - Olaf

  2. What would be your solution to deal with the S-400 system?
    1-Convert some B-52 in to EB-52 stand of jammer?
    2-A new build F-15G Wild Wiesel with the Growler EW suite and much bigger range?
    3-A regional bomber like the proposed FB-22 or the B-1 R?
    4-Stealth drones like the X-47?

  3. Hi Nuno, Some of those ideas might work. The problem is when one talks about the Russians - they will do things like setup radar decoys near the S-400/500 site (or elsewhere) so your anti-radiation weapons will kill the decoys rather than the real radars. Their missile could switch to home on jamming. It’s a huge problem. Plus these S-300/400/500/1000 series are mobile. Maybe overwhelm the area of interest with hoards of cheap drones – but it’s a gamble regardless. Good’ole low level high-speed penetration using terrain masking should still work (providing the topography cooperates).

  4. Will you ever write about the F-35 series?
    The F-35B will soon be declared operational ready.


    1. If they can keep the cost down it might work. My sense is the F-35 will be bought in smaller numbers and end up ‘supplementing’ and not ‘replacing.’ The Marines might replace the AV-8B with it, but the Navy is a toss up. The Navy needs an updated F-14D, not an F-35. Everybody in Europe is going to keep their F-16s.

      Initial observations:

      Lockheed: “F-35 has Sensor Fusion.”
      All radar and sensor can be adapted to existing fighter fleets.

      Lockheed: “F-35 uses a lifting body so small wings ok.”
      F-15, Flanker, and MiG-29 (also) all use a lifting body to unload the wing surfaces. F-35 has a higher wing loading than these others. Nothing can/will out maneuver advanced Flanker variants anyway, so discussion is academic.

      F-35 variants combat radius is ½ to 2/3 less than Flanker variants. This tactical flexibility deficit is probably lethal for the F-35 (read: the F-35 and/or its air-tankers) where advanced Flankers are operating. Loosing a tanker means in a practical terms, you (also) loose the aircraft the tanker was on station to refuel.

      F-35 Airframe replacement: Cost need to stay under $85 million per copy. Closer to $50 million ea.

      The DoD keeps making the same mistake over, and over, and over. Build one plane to do everything to keep costs down. By asking it to do everything cost go ‘up’ - not ‘down’ - and becomes a mediocre performer - to boot.

      - Boresight

    2. Negatively, the F-35's air-to-air combat radius is 7% smaller than the Su-30SM. (1,400km vs 1,500km). Difference insignificant.

    3. Not according to this House Armed Services Committee report. Try about 670 nautical miles for 3 versions of F-35. So its about the same as the F-16. The Su-35 published combat radius without external drop-tanks is more that 17% greater than 670 nmi

      The Su-30MKI has a range of 3,000 km on internal fuel for a 3.75 hour combat mission. The air refueling system increases the flight duration to 10 hours with a range of 8,000 km.
      - Boresight

    4. Su-30SM has a radius of action of 1,500km with 4 missiles (Russian Tactical Aviation: Since 2001,Dmitriy Komissarov and Yefim Gordon
      Author). F-35 has a radius of action of 1,400km with 4 missiles ( ). Simple and objective data. 670nm is the radius of action of the F-35C with air-to-ground load. ( ).

    5. The F-35 is simply too small to carry enough fuel.

      "The Navy's F-35 Flight Range Is Dangerously Low, Congressional Report Says"

  5. Thank you for some of the best articles That i have ever read online i always look foward to you blog for any new content i find It to be unbiased and very informative just like air power Australia another great blog,your deep knowledge of both American and Russian weapon platforms and systems is really great

  6. Hi obrescIa,mig31 is still not understood, as many other russian assets. Sr71 Story ypu talked is Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Y

  7. Russia is a nest of hornets in the middle of the hoods...leave it alone and its not a problem...go there and poke it and it doesn't matter the size of your stick ... You are going to get the sting .

  8. I would love to read your insight in a possible conflict in Venezuela

    1. Hi David, to do research on Venezuela would be possible. They have a mix of Su-30 and older F-16s and light attack craft, but the disposition of these aircraft is unclear. Many might not be airworthy. The research i did on just the main battle tank ID guide types in the the ukraine conflict was exhausting, especially finding drawings, so i don't know. If there are hostilities Venezuela might look like the coupe in Turkey. But with so much oil there the US is definitely trying to play a covert role - especially because its latin america. Please take a long look at our "Times Up - Ukraine Implodes" thank for writing - The Boresight


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