Sukhoi's T-50: The End of U.S. Dominance?

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Last week's news item on the not-that-new Sukhoi T-50 fifth generation fighter and a subsequent poll we published on the appearance of the airplane prompted a curious response. The T-50 is being pitched as an F-22 wannabe, with similar stealth capabilities, super cruise, sophisticated low-observable radars and combat maneuvering capability as good if not better than the Raptor. What's unknown to those of us not in the intel community is how much of this new airplane's capabilities are more the result of well-planted and nourished press reports versus actual demonstrated performance. My guess is that's it's more of the former than the latter, given the oft-delayed and telescoped test program for the T-50. (I said "not that new" for a reason. It first flew more than a year-and-a-half ago as essentially a shell, with few of the avionics that would remotely make it an F-22 rival.)

Of course, some of that reporting comes from U.S. sources who would like nothing better than to inflate the T-50 as a serious threat, thus giving reason for the Air Force to buy more than the 186 or so Raptors it finally settled on. The compelling argument against the F-22 was that it simply had nothing to fight, but with the T-50 emerging, maybe it does now.

But that's not what I found most interesting in our poll. When we asked readers what they thought the emergence of the T-50 meant, they were evenly divided between seeing the airplane is a paper tiger, that it might represent a threat or that it shows that U.S. military aircraft manufacturing is in decline. In other words, we don't know exactly what to think of it, given the turmoil in the world and the shifting power and influence among new players in the aerospace sector, namely the BRIC countries: Brazil, a resurgent Russia, India and China.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, few saw it coming, but the foreign policy and intel analysts soon got their feet back under them and predicted a period of uncertainty with only one super poweróthe U.S. Eventually, the world would see the emergence of a multi-polar power structure, but with one dominant military player, again, the U.S. and rising economic powers or alliances of small powers. And that's exactly what has happened. And although they can't match the U.S. in advanced technology or overall military capability individually, these multi-polar players can form alliances that will challenge U.S. aviation prowess. Whether it's as good as the F-22 or not, that may be the significance of the T-50.

India had a long-standing relationship with the Soviets and now with Russia, thus it's no surprise that India contributed 35 percent to the T-50's development and will eventually field as many as 200 of the airplanes for its own air force. We're not likely to find ourselves in a war with India, but it's significant that anyone who doesóChina, for instance--will have to contend with fifth-generation fighters that are likely to be nearly as good as anything in the U.S. arsenal. That's an entirely new development.

These alliances are also likely to challenge U.S. standing in the commercial airliner business. Brazil and China are going to want a piece of that industry and, in Airbus, the European Union has already carved out a share. Embraer has staked out the regional jet market. Even in little airplanes, the rising rest of the world is making noise. Not for nothing has China been buying companies like Cirrus, Continental and Superior. Korea is building its own light aircraft design.

To me, the real worry is not the competition, which I think U.S. companies can handle just fine with superior products. The dark side is an overreaction by a political process in this country that can't solve any problems, much less difficult ones with multi-decade payouts. You can easily see two directions our bizarre political circus might take us: A radical tilt toward isolationism or, worse, an arms race with the entire rest of the world, something we're in no position to afford.

Comments (91)


The key will be the avionics, radar, data-integration into a weapons system, and how stealthy it is. Personally, I'm betting on our team with respect to those issues.

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. Except that doesn't apply to 5th generation fighters. It may look like an F-22, it may even fly like an F-22, but I doubt it is one with respect to the avionics and weapons system integration.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | August 24, 2011 11:53 PM    Report this comment

The real worry is that 1000 would be built and soon. That's in addition to their already impressive new front-line fighters. The U.S. is still using 1970's designs (F-15,16,18) and a few hundred F22's.

We no longer have air superiority. And no, the kludge F35 is not a great fighter, it's designed by a Committee.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | August 25, 2011 7:55 AM    Report this comment

Fielding 5th gen fighters without effective tactics and proper training negates their effectiveness. The strength of US air power lies in those two areas, as well as the number of aircraft that can be thrown into a fight. I'm still betting on the home team.

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | August 25, 2011 8:37 AM    Report this comment

>>1000 built soon<<

Little chance. The stated timeline goes over a decade and it will fall behind schedule as these things always do. Furthermore, it could be rendered obsolete by UAV technology. Furthermore, although Russia is resurgent and India emerging, they don't have the volume manufacturing base for this kind of technology yet.

On the other hand, in 1939, U.S. and UK planners knew all about the A5M Zero and assumed it had inferior technology that would be easily bested by current western designs.

They were proven wrong. Could be again. And the march of the drones complicates it further. I don't pretend to know the answer.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 25, 2011 8:45 AM    Report this comment

Without the von Braun team there is no more viable space program, and with the technology prize taken in Germany after the war finally completely exhausted there is also no more technological "air superiority". Combine this with government decision making and you have what is going on today. Remote controlled airplanes good enough for shooting up a wedding party in Afghanistan, but nothing for a real military confrontation. And by the way, the F-104 still outperforms the F/A-18.... and also sounds a lot better. But for the lawn dart, you needed real pilots, and many did not pass that ultimate test. Today's drones on the other hand can be "guided" by AAAAs: affirmative action armchair aviators.

Posted by: Robert Ziegler | August 25, 2011 9:00 AM    Report this comment

"And by the way, the F-104 still outperforms the F/A-18.... and also sounds a lot better."

In what way does "The Zipper" outperform the F/A-18?

I'll agree it sounds better, and looks way cooler, but if I had to pick one of the two to fly into combat, it wouldn't be the F-104.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | August 25, 2011 9:32 AM    Report this comment

"But for the lawn dart, you needed real pilots, and many did not pass that ultimate test." What about the F-16 required "real pilots" that wasnt required of our other fighters? And which of them didn't pass the test?

Posted by: Ron Moore | August 25, 2011 9:49 AM    Report this comment

These are war planes and so the question must be: is the USA likely to be fighting anyone with them? Strange as it sometimes seems to anyone over 30, the Russians and the Americans are now friends, and more importantly linked with ever more complex financial, trade and tele communications links, which make it very unlikely that hostilities will resume. China too, in spite of a repressive political system (much more so than Russia's) is also tied to the US tighter than ever before -- where are your lovely iPads made? Questions of air dominance are in this context irrelevant, particularly when the aircraft concerned have proved totally impractical in the sort of fighting the US and its allies are now engaged in. The F22 will probably stay on the flight lines for another 20 years, but really it is the jet age equivalent of the Flying Scotsman, the peak of a technology soon to be passed.

Posted by: Brian McCulloch | August 25, 2011 10:21 AM    Report this comment

"Furthermore, it could be rendered obsolete by UAV technology."

I do not know of any UAV's designed as a air superiority fighter roles. The entire rest of the military depends on air superiority. Loose air superiority and our forces are defensive. It's that serious.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | August 25, 2011 10:35 AM    Report this comment

"I do not know of any UAV's designed as a air superiority fighter roles."


UAVs designed for air-superiority are called surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). They are unmanned, guided, and powered -- one could certainly call a SAM an unmanned aerial vehicle.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | August 25, 2011 10:53 AM    Report this comment

I thought I just read that the F22 has yet to see combat and is presently grounded due to oxygen system problems. In any case until fighters see real combat the argument is moot. The weapon system includes plane, pilot and support. In the past the US combination has always prevailed. What the future holds has more to do with training, organization and desire than the hardware.

Posted by: Mark Higbee | August 25, 2011 10:56 AM    Report this comment

For at least four decades time after time the West has been "scared" into believing the Russians had developed a new superior fighter that threatened anything the allies were flying. Remember the Eastwood movie Firefox? Well, every time it turned out that the new threat was inferior except for rugged landing gear and cheaper construction. All this hand wringing was repeatedly fueled by the military and defense industry trying to get more money. Are we ever going to learn? The alternate possible threat is still the same and will be with the Chinese. Build hundreds of them and try to overwhelm the opposition with numbers not quality. That sure worked well for the Russian surrogates during their conflicts with the Israelis didn't it.

Posted by: Dale Rush | August 25, 2011 12:07 PM    Report this comment

There will always be a place for maned combat aircraft within the force, but my take is that the F22 & it's upcoming rivals will most likely be the final generation for piloted air superiority aircraft.

Yes, you can look at today's (yesterday's?) UAVs like the Predator and say "oh, they can't match an F22", and of course that's correct. But remember that the F22 pilot essentially is aboard only as a decision-making element whose external "senses" are already primarily electronic and whose flight commands are only task directives to a computer.

Designers are only waiting on AI software development to put us at the point where building a high-performance quasi-autonomous air superiority UAV will be the obvious way to go. Shorn of the need to coddle the physical limitations a pilot carries aboard, cost will drop and performance will soar.

Fortunately for America, this is an arena where we still are a first-rank competitor.

Posted by: John Wilson | August 25, 2011 12:25 PM    Report this comment

Sure, we can say the T-50 etc. is not a threat (and I hope correct), but can we really afford to make a mistake here?

If a real hand-to-hand war were to break out, and we lose because of this, which slave camp do you want to be shipped to? Don't laugh, it's happened before...freedom is a rare and under-appreciated thing.

Posted by: A Richie | August 25, 2011 2:29 PM    Report this comment

The idea of Cirrus becoming F-XX is interesting, for sure. Anyway, not a chance that Russia will equip their forces with any significant numbers of these planes. Look at the space program, 5 satellites lost in 9 months; Progress crashed the other day; out of 14 ICBMs recently launched, only 7 made it, which gives us a 50% reliability. This is only the beginning, I saw their manufacturers. The reason why they don't want to show foreigners their shop floors is not because of secrecy, but because they are ashamed to show the total destruction of the industry. They still use equipment purchased in England in 1920 (not an exaggeration, I was shocked to see). There's a system crisis, which is deepening every single day, and fundamentals are not promising as well. Industry analyst estimate that 40% of funds distributed to manufacturers by the government never reach them. But the True killer is what they call 'conversion', all those who used to build hi-tec components for the planes and rockets now build BBQ sets, and lost ability to design, engineer and produce decent and competitive equipment for their military. Only recently they purchased Mistrals from France, which the first ever (questionable, I know they used to do it before but quietly) procurement of military equipment build not in CIS. It shows the real ability to create something new. All those pieces which they show us as latest, de facto had been designed in USSR twenty-thirty years ago, and nothing more than populism.

Posted by: Pascal Hughes | August 26, 2011 4:27 AM    Report this comment

>>In what way does "The Zipper" outperform the F/A-18?<< Speed & Ceiling.

Posted by: Robert Ziegler | August 26, 2011 9:19 AM    Report this comment

F-104 was a purpose-built device: Get off the ground fast, climb fast, hit Russian bombers and drop back to earth. A dogfighter/air superiority weapon it wasn't.

Posted by: John Wilson | August 26, 2011 11:45 AM    Report this comment

F-104 has a speed and altitude advantage? You're kidding right? That makes the BF-111 one of the best fighters ever!

Posted by: Ron Moore | August 26, 2011 12:26 PM    Report this comment

" >>In what way does "The Zipper" outperform the F/A-18?<< Speed & Ceiling. "


When I was flying the F-4 Phantom, we sometimes flew dissimilar air combat training missions against German F-104s in Europe. The F-4 could clean the Zipper's clock -- except for when an F-104 was in a position to make one high-speed pass; but even then, they still had to get to your six o'clock to take a missile shot, and head-on or high-angle shots with the 20mm cannon are very iffy.

The F/A-18 would easily outdo the F-4. It would make mincemeat of the F-104.

No fighter pilot going into combat would pick the F-104 over the F/A-18 -- except for perhaps sentimental reasons. The F/A-18 is an all-aspect fighter, meaning its pilot can take a shot from any angle. The F-104's pilot has to maneuver into the other airplane's six o'clock, and the Zipper is not a maneuverable jet.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | August 26, 2011 12:40 PM    Report this comment

"The F-4 could clean the Zipper's clock"

And the F-4 wasn't exactly known for its small turn radius, I seem to recall. Also, the F-104 was flown against the YF-16 and YF-18 for the LFX contract that eventually led to the F-16. Lockheed didn't expect to win that and it didn't.

I read the report, but can't remember the details. The Air Force requirement for the F-104 was so narrow that it couldn't possibly match the F-16. Not for nothing did they call it a "missile with a man in it."

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 26, 2011 2:37 PM    Report this comment

I just like effective, "narrow operating requirement aicraft" like the A-10 or the F-104.... And I have to say, I also like the BF-111 in its more sensible form, the F-14...

Posted by: Robert Ziegler | August 27, 2011 4:24 AM    Report this comment

The F-104 wasn't effective at anything except going is a straight line. Top end in a fighter is meaningless, acceleration is much more critical. It didn't have 1:1 thrust to weight it's turn radius was measured in countries. It's a 50's airframe that was overcome by technology decades ago. With the exception of variable wing, the F-14 has nothing in common with the FB-111. One was a nuclear bomber, the other a fleet protection interceptor. The F-18 is far superior to the F-104 (F-4, F-111) in every aspect of tactical aviation.

Posted by: Ron Moore | August 27, 2011 8:34 AM    Report this comment

Some foolish comments here about Russian aerospace technology from people who obviously have no idea.

In recent years I have done a lot of work with Russian civil aviation, on several new-plane programs, one of which is now certified and in scheduled service.

To underestimate their technology is quite foolhardy. Think about this, America's premier (and now only) heavy-lift launch system, the Atlas V, is powered by Russian engines, the NPO Energomash RD180. Has been for quite some years, and so have previous Atlas boosters.

Pratt & Whitney's Rocketdyne division is supposed to start manufacturing these engines under license, but still hasn't got the trick down, from what I've heard. Uses the staged combustion cycle which has never been mastered by US engine makers. Not a single failure to date with dozens of launches.

I have to wonder where Pascal Hughes is getting his information? I have been to Zhukovsky and the Gromov Flight Test Center on numerous occasions. I have also had the privilege to see the inside of NASA.

Russian talent, facilities and procedures are absolutely top notch. Deep respect from every engineer I know at Nasa...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 27, 2011 9:54 AM    Report this comment

I think you might be in the minority thinking that, Gordon. Lot of business and tech reporting indicates Russia has an innovation gap, with industries that aren't efficient or competitive on a global scale.

Having talented engineers isn't the same as bringing world-class products and technologies to market, which the Russians simply aren't doing. Russia's biggest problems may be its low fertility rate, declining population and increasing problems with delivering health care. It's getting older and sicker. This isn't the stuff of a vibrant country capable of producing *sustained* technological progress.

In fact, yours is the first account I've seen singing the praises of Russian technology, even if it does have bright spots.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 27, 2011 11:39 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I haven't paid any mind to business and tech reporting in quite some time. Used to do a bit of that myself at one time and was actually published in the NY Times.

Once you've seen how the sausage is made...

I'm talking here about first-hand experience with their industry as a working engineer. Yes things have stagnated since Soviet times, that's for sure. My first trip to Russia was in 1986, so I can compare before and after capitalism. Before was better by far.

Russia's civil aviation industry is a shell of its former self. It has really declined.

A lot of the chaos has to do with the switch to a new political system, but also the fact that the global market for civil aviation is not free by any means.

The US and Europe guard their dominant position very jealously because this is the crown jewel of industry. You think the Chinese would not snap up Boeing and Airbus if only they would let them? They certainly have the dollars. But all they are allowed to get are minnows like Cirrus and Continental.

So Russia finds itself having to partner with US and European firms to get its new planes certified in those countries. Even then it is an uphill climb to secure orders in the West.

But that is changing and I predict it will snowball. Italian carriers are now ordering new Russian regional airliners (Sukhoi SS100). Others will follow.

A narrowbody 200-pax plane is well along and a widebody is the plans too.

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 27, 2011 12:15 PM    Report this comment

"Russia's biggest problems may be its low fertility rate, declining population and increasing problems with delivering health care."


You forgot to add vodka to that list of Russia's big problems.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | August 28, 2011 4:14 PM    Report this comment

Ron wrote "The F-104 wasn't effective at anything except going is a straight line. Top end in a fighter is meaningless..."

Except when running away from the enemy (see Italian Air Force :-)

Posted by: A Richie | August 29, 2011 9:11 AM    Report this comment

The truth is that every fighter aircraft is a weapons system and it takes the complete system to make the weapon successful, this includes, engines, radar, sensors, avionics, esm, missles, guns etc. It should be remembered that Russian aircraft have always been great performers (Su-27 series etc.), but they always have had inferior engines with reduced TBOs and they often produce smoke at full thrust (Mig29), they also have had poor avionics (no HOTAS, poor HUDs), but very powerful radars and excellent missles. They were the first to come up with a near all aspect IR missle with a basic helmet mounted sight for off boresight shooting, while the West was still using AIM-9L Sidewinders. The F/A-18 Super Hornet is a very good system with proven technology, as is the F-22, but the more complicated the system the more bugs to fix, hence the problems with the oxygen gen system on the F-22.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | August 29, 2011 11:36 AM    Report this comment

Further, let's look at the battlefield as a system, the US has AWACS, tankers, JSTARS, Sat-com,Sat-Int, ELINT, ESM, Data links between aircraft and other sensor systems that support all the elements on the battlefield, including fighter aircraft. It's no longer just about the fastest or highest climbing aircraft the fighter pilot flies, it's about energy management and who can get the weapons system deployed with the best advantage and aspect to prevail in the fight. As for UCAVs, they have a few in development (Boeing X-45 etc) and they can do things that would take out any F22 in a manuevering fight. One of the biggest problems with a piloted aircraft is the limitations of G force on the pilot, hence why most are limited to 9G. Like all fighter aircraft, the F/A-18 is dynamically unstable, so it can actually maneuver well beyond 9G, but the FBW flight control system limits the aircraft to 9G so the pilot can stay in the fight. UCAVs don't have that limitation and with thrust vectoring they can pull over 16G, which is a distinct advantage.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | August 29, 2011 12:06 PM    Report this comment

As for the comment that the FB-111 and the F-14 only share a swing wing in common, that is incorrect, they were jointly developed as one system, including engines etc until the Navy split off and went with a modified design that evolved into the F-14. As for the F-104 being a superior fighter to an F/A 18, that is nonsense. The best an F-104 could do is fire an AIM-7 and keep the target painted with the radar until the missle hit the target, that means a BVR battle keeping the aircraft on the nose of the F104. Once the fight becomes Visual Range the F-104 would lose energy in a turning fight and the F/A-18 would wipe the floor with it and no matter how fast it is it can't outrun an AMRAAM travelling at over Mach 4. The truth is almost all recent fights have been in Visual range since most ROE require positive visual identification of the target.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | August 29, 2011 12:08 PM    Report this comment


Looking at the battlefield as a system of systems is the way that future conflicts will be fought and smart adversarys will seek to compete where they have relative advantage rather than head-to-head.

I have to take issue with your assertion that dynamically unstable implies maneuverability beyond 9Gs. Neutral or unstable aircraft manuever faster as they have less stability to overcome, but the number of Gs they can pull has little to do with their inherent stability. Yes, it is true that 9Gs is close to the human limit with existing support systems. Given that limit, manned aircraft are not designed to sustain more than that loading regardless of stability(F86,Century series, Sopwith Camel are all inherently stable aircraft and fighters), the weight penalty for additional structure for capability you cann't use just isn't taken. At some point, you stall the aircraft by exceeding the critical angle of attack or bend/break it by exceeding its structural limits. Those are the real boundries of maneuverability. Combinations of thrust vectoring and aerodynamic controls allow greater control moments without exceeding critical AoA. Stability augmentation systems (FBW) give you the ability to increase maneuverability and control an otherwise uncontrollable system. G-limits cann't increase without appropriate structure. With a UAS, you may be able to trade some safety margin for increased G-limits. But that is a certification issue, not an aerodynamics one.

Posted by: John Barry | August 29, 2011 3:03 PM    Report this comment

Trevor, some of your comments are on the mark but others less so.

The Russians pioneered datalink among fighters with the Mig-31 interceptor back in the 1970s, which is designed to fly in flights of four with each ship's radar communicating with the others.

Very effective air defense system for a country with a huge frontier. They have over 400 of the M2.8 interceptors in service.

Same philosophy is used in the Sukhoi Flanker, which is designed to fight as a team with sophisticated datalink.

Missiles large and small operate in a similar group system, with one popping up in altitude and guiding the others to the target.

When it comes to defence the Russians take a very logical route, where they aim to neutralize the opposing threat. An example is their system to take out carrier groups.

Key is satellite radar (Rorsat) which the US or the West does not have. Also supersonic cruise missiles, also something the West does not have.

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 29, 2011 7:10 PM    Report this comment

The smoking engines on the early Mig-29s were fixed in the second generation. Anyway smoke is not a problem and has nothing to do with engine reliability.

Any engine will smoke when accelerating to full military power as fuel is added but the burner temperature does not come up instantly. That goes for diesels too.

My experience with Russian engines is very good.

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 29, 2011 7:36 PM    Report this comment

John, you will find that the roll rate an F/A-18 is capable of is more than any pilot could stand and therefor the FBW system slows it down for the pilot, this would not occur with the UCAV. However I totally agree that the airframe must be stressed to handle the G, but designs can be made without the need to consider the pilot. Also, when I mentioned dynamically unstable flighters I was talking about modern jet aircraft with FBW systems.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | August 29, 2011 11:40 PM    Report this comment

Gordon, in recent exercises in Europe involving NATO aircraft MIG29 vs F-16, the MIG 29 did very well in close in dog fighting, however it's lack of range was a big problem and the smoking 2nd gen engines gave it away visually, it's poor HUD and lack of HOTAS also made it harder for the pilots to get a shot off against the F-16. The 2nd Gen engines have a TBO of only 800 hours and usually don't make it that long. It is very manoeuvrable, but it was designed as a rapid response fighter that could scramble from rough fields,engage the enemy quickly and land in close proximity to where it took off, not good for much else. The metalurgy in even the best Russian second Gen engines is not as good as the FADEC engines in Western Aircraft, they smoke more and are not very long lasting or reliable, that is my experience with Russian engines. I think that if you look at the data link systems that the west has and the ability of AWACS and other sensors systems as a package, the USA and NATO are far ahead of the Russians in integrating the system, also Russian C&C is based around ground based systems and their pilots have less autonomy than their Western counterparts, not saying that the pilot skills are lacking though.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | August 30, 2011 12:05 AM    Report this comment

Gordon, In every recent conflict with the West, Russian systems have proven inferior. Their systems are based around utility and numbers, where the West uses high tech systems and sophistication. Can you name me a single instance in a recent conflict where Russian equipment has prevailed? Even their armoured systems are inferior, again, they fight based on overwhelming numbers. Also, you may find that weapons and missile defence systems the West has developed can counter most of the Russian systems. The US also has ways to counter anti-carrier missle systems, they are called ICBMs.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | August 30, 2011 12:13 AM    Report this comment

trevor, in exercises vs indian af us got smoked. both in close and bvr.

big wake up call.

as far as land goes, russians invented reactive armor. still big technology lead.

russians invented stealth, petr ufimtsev wrote the book 1960 on which us stealth is based, translated into english in970s by lockheed engineers. still the lo bible.

now teaches in us. many more examples...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 30, 2011 6:50 AM    Report this comment

btw, those euro dogfights had no flakers, just lightweight migs...

even so luftwaffe mig pilots didn't sound too scared of f16s...

us copied russian helmet missile sights for off boresight...still catching up...same in ir sensors which let pilot switch off radar...

don't forget luftwaffe migs are export versions, not close to russian equip...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 30, 2011 7:53 AM    Report this comment

let's talk metallurgy...

air-breathing engines are not top of food chain anymore...rocket engines are, since that is what icbms fly on...

turbopumps in rocket engines are huge turbine engines that pressurize the fuel, more powerul than biggest turbofans...and that's just the fuel pump for the main engine...

russian metallurgy only one able to stand up to oxydizer-rich never mastered this key technology...

compare russian rd180 to pratt rs68, us latest large engine...rd180 has 1/3 more thrust, thrust to weight is 78, compared to 54 for rs68...

no wonder us chose russian engine for atlas v heavy lifter...has made 27 launches...rs68-powered delta 4 has made only 5 launches heavy, with one failure...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 30, 2011 8:18 AM    Report this comment

underestimating russian tech is common, but big mistake...

soviet era system pumped out 10 times as many engineers as us...while us pumped out 10 times as many lawyers...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 30, 2011 9:55 AM    Report this comment

Gordon, your love of Russian equipment is obvious but unreasonable, rockets are old hat and irrelevant, Russian Metallurgy is far behind Western metallurgy, composites, ceramics etc. You seem to quote a lot of info about 1960's, but it's old news these days and has been well surpassed by more recent developments. The Flankers are good fighters, but they would get blown out of the sky on a modern battlefield where AWACS and data link would put them at a distinct disadvantage, since the Russians are well behind in that field. The US and the West is well ahead of the Russians in Helmet mounted sights, the Russians used manual cueing and mechanical targeting, the West has HUD symbology displayed onto the visor, no comparison. Russian IRSAT is not very effective in combat and has never been proven, too slow. The Indian exercises showed the US to be superior as an integrated package, the Pakistani story about beating F22 turned out to be a hoax. Reactive armour is 1970s tech, composite armour such as cobum armour is still far better, which was proven in the 1991 Gulf War. Sorry mate, but you realy have no proof to back up your claims.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | August 30, 2011 3:05 PM    Report this comment

Gordon, just to set the record strait, I am a former Intelligence officer with a Western Democratic Nation so I deal in real facts and not a bunch of posturing based on media reports and patriotism. Russian military technology suffered more than a decade of neglect after the fall of the USSR and they are just now playing catch up with the West. In every single engagement pitting Russian equipment, tactics and systems against US, NATO and Western Equipment, tactics and systems the Russian systems have lost. If you want to point to certain isolated issues like a one on one engagment between a Flanker and a first gen F-16 then yes, the Flanker would probably win, but that is just not how wars are fought. Money is what fuels weapons system development and the Russians are years behind the West. The Battlefield is integrated and the Russians may have thought up a few things back in the 70s, but they are well behind now. If you want to look at armoured battles let's look at the Battle of 73 Eastings in the 1st Gulf War. Check it out then come back and talk to me.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | August 30, 2011 3:24 PM    Report this comment

You talk a good game Trevor, but light on facts. I have plenty of first hand experience flight testing Russian civil aircraft.

Have you been to Gromov? As a Western intelligence guy I seriously doubt they would let you through the gate.

You are simply talking about things which you do not know first hand.

Rockets are old hat technology? Irrelevant? What a knee-slapper that is...I would put a lot more stock in your comments if you backed it up by some technical numbers, like I have done.

You have mentioned awacs a bunch of times, as if Russian (an everybody else) don't have that. Also awacs can be taken out by AA missiles, at least the long range ones like the US does NOT have.

Satellite radar can't be taken out.

Just curious about something, what is the best radar wavelength to detect stealth aircraft?

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 30, 2011 10:21 PM    Report this comment

Just to debunk your statement about helmet sights. Here is an Aussie think tank run by guys with top shelf creds, including military flight test... Air Power (just put the triple ww in front of that).

Here is a quote:

The most widely used HMS today is the first second generation optically sensed Russian design, developed to support the Vympel R-73/AA-11 Archer missile carried by the MiG-29 Fulcrum and the Su-27 Flanker, and built to attach to the ZSh-5 series Russian helmet. The combination of the HMS and R-73 missile provided the Soviets with a close combat capability significantly better than that provided to the West by the AIM-9 Lima/Mike missiles, cued by an air intercept radar.

The West responded to this development unusually late, the delay caused to some degree by the post Cold War collapse of the US-European ASRAAM program, which disrupted and split the development of Western 4th Generation AAMs into a number of separate programs. The only Western nation which responded to the Archer/HMS in a timely manner was Israel, with the IDF deploying the capable Rafael Python 4 AAM and the complementary Elbit DASH GEN III HMD during the early nineties.

At this time the only combination of HMD and 4th Generation AAM in frontline operational service is the Israeli DASH III / Python 4 package.

Significant development effort is under way in the US, UK, and France to field 4th Generation AAMs and supporting HMDs.

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 30, 2011 10:37 PM    Report this comment

Here is your quote:

"The US and the West is well ahead of the Russians in Helmet mounted sights, the Russians used manual cueing and mechanical targeting, the West has HUD symbology displayed onto the visor, no comparison."

I think you don't quite understand the difference between a head up display (HUD) and an HMS (helmet mounted sights, which are integrated tightly with the missile).

I could talk more about Russian missiles with multiple seeker types, IR, inertial, radar, etc...but there is no point, it's quite obvious that you don't know the field on more than an amateur level...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 30, 2011 10:44 PM    Report this comment

FYI, a helmet mounted sight is not about displaying something on the is about tracking the pilot's eyball movements and cueing the radar and fire-control as his eyes move on target...

Thanks for the good laugh...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 30, 2011 10:50 PM    Report this comment

Gordon, you obviously have no clue about what you are talking about, Russian Civil Aircraft?! I am well aware of the missle systems currently deployed and in development by all countries mentioned as well as the Helmet sighting systems and I have no need to getting into "who can list the most systems" contest with you. I have no interest in waisting any more time with someone who sings the praises of old technology developed by a chronically underfunded defence industry from a country that has spent over a decade letting it's defence industry languish and decay. You only quote systems that are ready available for amatuers to look up in publically available media sources. The proof is in the puding Gordon, you still cannot list a single instance where Russian technology deployed on a battlefield has not been completely outclassed by a Western System. It isn't the 1970s anymore, Russian systems are completely outclassed by Western systems and that is a fact.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | August 31, 2011 12:27 AM    Report this comment

Actually Gordon, going back to the original discussion, Russia has good engineers, they design good aircraft and missles, but the country has major infrastructure problems, the aerospace and defence industry is chronically underfunded and we all know that money is what fuels innovation. I could get out my Janes etc and quote system after system and compare this to that but what is the point. The fact is, even the French are making better avionics than the Russians. It is obvious you have great love for Russian Engineers and have been working on their Civil Aircraft for the past many years, but this is not the same as being in International Airpower Conferences and Intelligence briefings where future and current systems are developed and discussed and the various merrits of systems and technology are discussed regarding how a system can be defeated or exploited. Do you honestly believe that you have some inside track on the future developments in Western and Russian Defence tech? Did you know about the US Stealth Hawk that was used in the Osama Bin Laden raid? Being an Engineer working on Civil Aircraft does not open classified doors to you that are closed to those that work in Intelligence. Do you also believe that Westen Intelligence does not understand the state of current Russian Military tech. Do you think that the US hasn't visted Zhukovsky and the Gromov Flight Test Center? Anyway, you are free to believe what you want. Cheers.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | August 31, 2011 12:46 AM    Report this comment

Trevor you are the one who has no facts or numbers...

And btw, if rocket engines are old-hat, why don't you do us all a huge favor and come up with an idea for a single-stage to orbit SSTO, so we can finally take the next step in space flight...the entire aerospace community would be ever so grateful...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 31, 2011 6:42 AM    Report this comment

The Russian T-50 will have a tough time in combat when you have 25 stealth UAV's that can turn at 25 G's all looking at the tail of the Russian Fighter. India will be buying outdated aircraft. Technology gap is getting tighter around the world, customer service and dependability will rule with airlines.

Posted by: David Jaeb | August 31, 2011 7:06 AM    Report this comment

"...stealth UAV's that can turn at 25 G's all looking at the tail of the Russian Fighter."


Those UAVs may be able to do that, but they won't have to. The fight will be over with head-on and all-aspect shots (taken while the UAV is flying at a benign 1g )before they need to start turning into a T-50's six o'clock.

The better use of any 25g capability would be as a defensive maneuver.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | August 31, 2011 9:31 AM    Report this comment

Unfortunately, these "who is best" wars can't get resolved until there is a real honest-to-God all out battle. It's all insurance; with a little luck we'll never have find out if we're OK.

One USA v.s. Russia factor to always keep in mind is that an 8-to-1 kill ratio might not do the job if the other guy has 10 times as many units to expend.

Posted by: John Wilson | August 31, 2011 5:20 PM    Report this comment

"The best flying job in the world is a MiG-21 pilot at Phuc Yen. Hell, if I was one of them I'd have got 50 of us!"

Colonel Robin Olds, USAF, 17 career victories (13 WW2, 4 Vietnam).

Russian equipment has always been good, their airmen even better. Ask anyone who knows...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | August 31, 2011 9:12 PM    Report this comment

After reading through all comments, I still do not get a cozy feeling that anybody has really answered Bertorelli's question: isolationism vs. arms race? My contribution here would be that we cannot afford either. But maybe we could use our intelligence and remaining technological edge to strategically think up ways with which to protect our sovereignty in these days of losing superpower status which are smarter than further exceeding the demonstrated capabilities of existing fighters. Those fighters may need to go the way of the tanks: dinosaurs in a world where more and more action happens with unmanned aerial vehicles and in cyberspace, where the combatants aren't even directly involved.

Posted by: Michael Schupp | September 1, 2011 6:50 AM    Report this comment

"The best flying job in the world is a MiG-21 pilot at Phuc Yen. Hell, if I was one of them I'd have got 50 of us!"


General Olds comment was about the tactics and rules of engagement (ROE) we were forced to use in Vietnam, not about the superiority of the MiG-21 or North Vietnamese pilots.

He was saying that were he flying a MiG-21 against pilots who used the tactics, ROE, large packages, constrained routes we flew, and almost fixed schedules we used, he could have had a field day.

And he was right. It was never a mystery when we were coming. A MiG-21 pilot could have time his takeoff, climbed to high-altitude, and made a single, high-speed pass through the incoming "package" and should have been able to break up the attack and get a kill with almost every pass.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | September 1, 2011 9:09 AM    Report this comment

Spot on Gary, further, the late great Robin Olds was also alluding to the fact that he only had missles on his F4 and no gun or cannon, like the MIG 21. The Mig was smaller and tighter turning and he meant that he would have had many more kills with that aircraft. The fact that no Vietnamese pilot had 50 kills shows that they were not better airman than the US pilots. The US had focussed on training pilots for shooting down bombers with missles and many of the newer USAF & USN pilots had little training in close in dog fighting, hence the drop in kills rates from the Korean War. This lead to the establishment of the USAF Agressor Squadrons and the USN Fighter Weapons School and the re-arming of US fighters with Guns.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 11:30 AM    Report this comment

Gordon, since you love to quote numbers, here's some for you: In the Korean War, Chinese, Soviet and North Korean Pilots who flew against UNC Pilots lost 810 Aircraft against 139 in air combat. Their Mig 15 aircraft were good, the Soviet pilots of the day had WW2 experience, so what happened? To show how the decline in dogfighting skills hit the USAF in the Vietnam War, In the period August 1967 to Feb 1968 the USAF accounted for 31 enemy aircraft in combat but lost 24 of its own. Even as late as 1972 the USAF lost 18 aircraft between Feb & July, but accounted for 24 MIGs. The ratio went down, but was still in favour of the US and that was with heavier slower turning aircraft that in 1967 didn't have guns.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 11:43 AM    Report this comment

"Speak softly but carry a big stick."

Isolationism is a social movement that builds in popularity between wars. (Cram Grebsivlas)

Posted by: Marc Salvisberg | September 1, 2011 11:51 AM    Report this comment

Trevor, those numbers you mention from Korea are quite in dispute.

Both sides now recognize that the three top aces of Korea were Soviet pilots, according to the Smithsonian Air and Space mag...

Russians have their own numbers for the early part of the war when their pilots were involved, with a pretty lopsided kill ratio in their favor...

After Russian pilots left, the Koreans didn't do as well...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | September 1, 2011 1:13 PM    Report this comment

I think that some of these "what's better" arguments are like "What's better? An accurized 45 or a mass produced, plastic 9mm?".

Stopping power vs. sheer numbers.

Make little difference you if you are the one on the unlucky side.

Posted by: Marc Salvisberg | September 1, 2011 1:25 PM    Report this comment

Gordon, those numbers are not in dispute and have been confirmed by none other than General Deinekin who took over command of the Rissian Air Forces in the early 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union. Further, let's look at an Indian Intelligence report regarding the quality of training they received in the mid 1970s when they undertook MIG 21 coversion training in Russia. According to the report, the VVS followed a syllabus approach throughout the service life of the MIG 21 that the student had an almost complete lack of understanding of fighter aircraft as well as an entrenched incapacity to learn other than through repetative instruction over a prolonged period.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 2:06 PM    Report this comment

...this was most unsettling to the Indians , who were experienced pilots brought up in the manner of the RAF. Although they did not "buck the system", they were facing an imminent war with Pakistan and needed to know the MIG21 to it's limits. Yet they lieterally had to beg to try anything of tactical relevance or value. All in all, they said, the Soviet approach was to instruct 'arther in the way small children learn multiplication tables', with students frequently 'chanting the correct answers in unison. Any dep thought about how to get the best out of one's aircraft, or even hack and unusual situation, was simply not part of the syllabus.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 2:11 PM    Report this comment

Obviously this has changed with glasnost and the fall of the USSR, but the one problem that remains unique to the VVS however, is the top down rigidity in both operations and thought, which the communist system, for years, imposed on line pilots and commanders who knew better but were obliged to pretend otherwise. This is the legacy of the now-discredited Soviet approach to operations and training that Russian airmen will have to work the hardest to overcome.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 2:20 PM    Report this comment

In 2006 General Mikhailov, then Commander of the VVS stated that VVS fighter pilots were averaging only about 40 hours a year, this is in contrast to US and other Western pilots flying multiple tours and hundreds of hours on combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. he also stated that the VVS had only two pilots availble for each fighter aircraft. he remarked that "to give each pilot an equal chance to fly in such circumstances would be, in effect, to provide an opportunity to no one, since letting everyone fly, but no more than once or twice a month, would mean taking everyone to the brink of losing his professional skills". In February 2009, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that 200 of the 291 MiG-29s currently in service across all Russian air arms were unsafe and would have to be permanently grounded. This action would remove from service about a third of Russia's total fighter force, some 650 aircraft. On 5 June 2009, the Chief of the General Staff, Nikolai Makarov said of the Russian Air Force that "They can run bombing missions only in daytime with the sun shining, but they miss their targets anyway". By August 2010, according to the commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force Aleksandr Zelin (interview to the Ekho Moskvy radio station, 14 August 2010), the average flight hours of a pilot in Russian tactical aviation had reached 80 hours a year, while in army aviation and military transport aviation it exceeded 100 hours a year.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 2:38 PM    Report this comment

According to another intelligence report based on Russian Military appraisals of the MIG 29 vs current generation F-16 Block 50/60: .."For many years the MIG-29 had the off-boresight advantage over the 'Viper', however with the incorporation of the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) and AIM-9X combination, the 'Viper' has reclaimed an advantage in the visual fight." The report also recognises that the 'Fulcrum' had an advantage with the AA-11 (R-73) "Archer" and the helmet mounted sight, but as of 2010 the US has Link 16 datalink, E-3 AWACS support and the F-16s better radar as well as the AMRAAM which has superior performance to the AA-10 (R-27R) "Alamo".

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 2:50 PM    Report this comment

Also Gordon, the Su-35S, a 4th generation fighter and the latest in the line of Flanker aircraft for the Russian AF only completed its maiden flight of the first production unit on May 5th 2011, it has yet to reach series production or attain front line service. The F-22, a true 5th gen fighter is already in service (despite the current oxygen problem) By comparison, JSF (F-35) has also completed it's first production aircraft and has flown many more flight hours than the Su-35S. The "Phantom Ray" which could be considered a 5+ generation UCAV had it's second flight on May 5th. I would have to think the US is far ahead of Russia at this stage and for the next decade at the very least.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 3:00 PM    Report this comment

Further to the point of the original topic, many experts believe that their will not be a 6th generation piloted aircraft developed by anyone. The US has Phantom Ray, X47 and Avenger UCAVs under test, the Phantom Ray and Avenger are both company funded projects. The Phantome Ray's predecessor, the smaller X-45A, was developed in parallel with the F35 and demonstrated capabilities far exceeding those of the F-35. In the course of more than 50 test flights, the X45 demonstrated a degree of stealth and lethality that Boeing insiders claimed shocked the USAF. Under the control of Boeing's Distributed Information-Centralized Decision control software, the X-45As could operate as a close-knit team, jointly detecting and attacking targets. That kind of 'swarming' behaviour has long been an ambition of UCAV developers, and is a key advantage over manned fighters. With potentially dozens of members, a swarm is more survivable than a 2 or 4 ship formation of manned fighters.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 3:15 PM    Report this comment

If it is better than our aircraft, we may not findout until it is too late. What price are you willing to put on freedom?

Posted by: Douglas Manuel | September 1, 2011 4:43 PM    Report this comment

Well at least you are starting to string together a few coherent thoughts, Trevor. But there are still gaping holes in your arguments.

First about Korea. The top three aces being Russian there is no dispute. But the Russians certainly do dispute the US tally, that's the official position, regardless of what one person may or may not have said...

In any case, let's look at the US numbers just to see how they add up. They admit to losing about 1500 airplanes to all causes. Of that total they say only about half were lost to enemy action, and of that 750 less than one in five to enemy fighters.

If you tell me that you lose half of your fighters conking out on their own without the enemy so much as breathing on them then that is more of a reason to be ashamed than being shot down. What were these guys doing, corkscrewing them into the ground to see how many planes they could wreck? Or maybe the planes were just falling apart without even seeing action?

Now the part about losing four fifths of your air superiority fighters to flak...even though main mission is high altitude escort of bombers.

Remarkable, considering you have to be flying low and slow and in a straight line to be a nice target for flak...even pistons like the P51 hardly ever got nailed by flak, and that was Germna flak which was pretty darn good shooting. Never mind a jet that goes nearly twice as fast and Korean gunners...

This whole story sounds about as legit as a two dollar bill...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | September 1, 2011 8:26 PM    Report this comment

Now about the post-Soviet stagnation. Yes, some parts of the system have gone into decay, no question.

But if you think it is this way across the board then you are mistaken. The most important stuff is razor sharp as ever, including the strategic rocket forces and air defense...

Some pilots aren't getting enough stick time, but Mig 31 crews and the strategic bomber Tu160 have high combat readiness...

A lot of people don't understand the Russian mentality or culture. They are much more laid back than Westerners...this is not a bad thing I have learned. They will seem to lounge about doing nothing for days on end, but when the chips are down they will work round the clock.

Hitler famously underestimated the Russians and said that once hi kicked the front door down, the whole rotten house will collapse...

Well he got his derriere served to him on a platter...else we might all be speaking German now...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | September 1, 2011 9:04 PM    Report this comment

Now about Russian capabilities in aerospace...

it is important here to draw a distinction between science and technology. Science is what makes innovation happen.

Here in the West technology has become synonymous with electronics, in particular integrated circuits...Big Mistake...

ICs are susceptible to high energy electro-magnetic radiation like solar flares and nuclear explosions...Your gps can go at any time and you might not even realize it...

The West has put all its eggs in the miniaturized IC basket. This is extremely shortsighted. What happens in a nuclear exchange? Will GPS, radar, datalink, avionics even work?

The Russians never gave up on tube technology which is a very good thing. They have early warning radar systems that are all-tube. Yes you can have an all-tube computer and it will be much less buggy than IC's in which defects abound...there is no such thing as a perfect silicon wafer...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | September 1, 2011 9:12 PM    Report this comment

One of my favorite light planes is the Yak 18T, a 4-place primary trainer for Russian airline crews that has more cabin room than a Baron and is fully aerobatic...

The radio stack must weight over 100 lb is massive, but I have never seen such a rock-steady ILS needle in any airplane I have ever flown...even the ADF radio is so sensitive I was just astounded.

I would gladly the junk "glass panels" (that we are brainwashed to believe are the cat's meow but that end up blinking out on a regular basis) for such a superlative piece of electronic equipment, all tube of course...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | September 1, 2011 9:17 PM    Report this comment

I could go on and on...the only way to observe low observability aircraft is with long wavelength radar, UHF and even VHF...yes like you rold TV antenna. US never bothered with this...

Too bad. Russian S300 and S400 air mobile air defence all come with huge portable antennas that look like a giant array of TV antennas. Might look funny but it can spot a bird at 100 miles...

Bottom line is that Russian science is absolutely top notch...And no, technology (especially electronics) is not science...

And no money is not what makes is people.

the human behind that stick, and the human behind that drawing board. Education and a culture that has the right values...The Russians have a long and proud history in aviation and space flight and science in general, right from the beginning. It is a mistake to underestimate them.

I am not involved on the military side of things, but I have seen some of it up close and I know there people pretty darn good. I would sure want these guys in my corner and that's the bottom line for me...H

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | September 1, 2011 9:25 PM    Report this comment

"I am not involved on the military side of things, but I have seen some of it up close and I know there people pretty darn good. I would sure want these guys in my corner and that's the bottom line for me..." Good for you Gordon Arnautski! I'm sure you will prevail with your poorly trained pilots and old tube technology. I'm also sure, unlike the Russian Generals that are working in the "Military Side of things", you are far better informed than them on these matters, I'm sure they have no clue about flying hours or the effectiveness of their bombers. General Deinekin obviously should have referred to you first before agreeing to the numbers he mentioned.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 11:27 PM    Report this comment

Gordon, your right..Of course Russian Tech is far better than Western Tech, which is why we are all buying Russian TV's, stereo's, computers, avionics, cars, ovens, microwaves, ceramics, cell phones, airconditioners, textiles, funiture, refrigerators, generators, etc. I'm sure when the chips are down they will drop the Vodka bottles and get to work. I have been there and the evidence of superior Russian technology and design is everywhere, my God, they even make the Japanese look backward. Electronics is of course not science, those electrical engineers are silly silly fools. Clearly, the Ruskies are far smarter sticking with 1960's tech because tubes are just the cutting edge of technology these days, who needs a God's eye view of the battle field when you can just twiddle a knob and look at a wobbly line on a CRT screen instead of those usless glass panels. I guess the West is smart to have kept all those old 1960s era fighters with ADF and ILS in storage at Davis Monthan. I'm not sure Gordo, but can't ADF, & ILS systems be taken out with A to G ordinance, they are in static locations after all? I'm sure the S300/400, being so small, will be sooo hard to hit with a HARM missle. of course the West never thought of hardening their systems against EMP, they threw away all their ICBMs, let their Ballistic Missle Subs rot and of course we know from experience that the first things that will happen in any new conflict will be a nuclear exchange....Give me a Break!

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 11:36 PM    Report this comment

Gordo, here's an example of how fantastic the Russian equipment performs in a conflict. In the 1992 Gulf War the Allieds faced an Iraqi Military with 7000 radar missles, 9000 IR missles, 800+ Russian Aircraft, 4th largest Army in the World and an enemy Ballistic Missles. The Allieds had 1750 aircraft, PGMs, Stealth, EW, Tankers, AWACS and SEAD, the reliability of their aircraft gave them high sorty rates and round the clock availability. The 1100hr air war enabled the coalition to defeat the world's 6th largest airforce and fourth largest Army in only six weeks with the loss of only 240 Allied lives. The use of specialist EW & SEAD aircraft helped keep the attrition rate of Allied aircraft down to 0.035% over approx. 110,000 offensive sorties, only 39 aircraft were lost, none to Iraqi aircraft.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 1, 2011 11:58 PM    Report this comment


I'm sure if I decided to beat up a girl scout I could probably do it with my hands tied behind my back...

Last time the US fought a war against something other than a third-world country one-tenth its size...oh wait, they never did that did they...not by themselves anyway...

Well at least they had the Russkies to take out three quarters of the German military for them...

Next time up against the Chinese the US did not fare so well. When the Chinese entered the war they promptly swept the UN forces out of North Korea and practically swept the US forces right off the peninsula...

The US 8'th Army's retreat was the longest in US army history and was made possible only by the Turkish Brigade's successful but costly rearguard action...

Macarthur was so hysterical he wanted to nuke the Chinese...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | September 2, 2011 12:29 AM    Report this comment

The use of PGM was a big factor, only 10% were smart munitions, but they did over 75% of the damage. Stealth fighter contributed only 2.5% of the Allied fighter force, but hit 31% of the targets. Both the A-10 and the F-15 aircraft had mission availabity rates of over 95%. The USAF 1st Gen Maverick and the Army's 1st Gen Hellfire both proved devastating against Russian supplied Armoured equipment, even when on the move. One Apache unit using AH-64A, took out 102 T-82 Tanks for 107 Missles fired, a hit kill rate better than 95%. In the Battle of 73 Easting, the 2nd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, which advanced between the Iraqi 12th Armored Division and the Tawakalna Division equiped with the latest Soviet Armour, was the only American ground unit to find itself significantly outnumbered and out-gunned. Nonetheless, the 2nd ACR's three squadrons destroyed two Iraqi brigades (18th Mechanized Brigade and 37th Armored Brigade) of the Tawakalna Division. In moving to and through the Battle of 73 Easting, 2nd ACR destroyed 160 tanks, 180 personnel carriers, 12 artillery pieces and more than 80 wheeled vehicles, along with several anti-aircraft artillery systems during the battle, due in most respects to superior tactics and equipment.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 2, 2011 12:34 AM    Report this comment

The Chinese kept pushing and took Seoul...using highly effective tactics of night assaults accompanied by loud gongs and trumpets which disoriented the UN side, with a lot of soldiers simply dropping their guns and "bugging" out...

No victory in Korea when all was said and done and the North is still there...

After that came Vietnam, Iraq, Serbia, Iraq again, the ragheads in Afghanistan are proving a tough nut to crack...

Keep up the great intelligence work...I'm glad we have guys like you to do our "analyzing" for us...and don't forget to use those ICBMs to defend the carrier groups...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | September 2, 2011 12:37 AM    Report this comment

Great Gordo, you can live in the 1950's or place yourself in a Russian tank, a bunker or a Soviet aircraft in Iraq, or try to engage the US or NATO in one of your fantastic 4th gen Russian Aircraft using tube tech and smoky engines, but it is all the same outcome. The Allies won the Cold War, there is no Warsaw Pact anymore. It's not the 1950s and I note you have absolutely no counter of substance to any of the figures or facts I've mentioned. Your not military, not Russian, just a Civil aircraft engineer spouting off nonsense you've read in some magazine or website like Wikpedia, the "Russian Generals are wrong..I have the real figures" MacArthur?! German's in WW2?!..blah ...blah...blah. Rationalization is the last vestige of an unsound argument. Why don't you take your bat and ball and go home.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 2, 2011 12:47 AM    Report this comment

I'm having too much fun, Trev...

If uncorked hysteria could win a war then you could beat the Russkies single-handed...

You wouldn't even need any of those 25g UCAVS (which btw are not much of a match for a 60g mach 4 missile...), especially when there is transistor radio flying instead of a pilot...

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | September 2, 2011 12:54 AM    Report this comment

Gongs and trumpets!? Well now your talking, why didn't the West think of that! Chechnia and Afghanistan were great Russian victories! To bad the US doesn't have ICBMs or Ballistic Missle Subs to defend their carrier groups...oh wait, they do! But I'm sure if the Chinese were to fire a Nuclear ICBM at a US carrier Group they would just let it sink without a response from NATO, the UN or all the other Nations that have Defence treaties with the US. So it would be what... China and Russia and a few other former Soviet clients and 3rd world despots against the rest of us...I'm quivering in my boots...Oh...Ah...the Russian and Chinese are coming...I guess they don't need Western Money to fuel their economies....your grasp of International Economics is almost as complete as your understanding of advanced Military Equipment, Doctrine and Tactics...hahahahaha...I am in Awe of you my friend, thanks for enlightening me, perhaps I can defect to the side that will obviously win all future conflicts, Is Russian or Chinese easier to learn, please let me know. Thanks.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 2, 2011 1:02 AM    Report this comment

60 G Missles??? Wow, that's a lot isn't it...are you sure they can turn at 60 Gs, what sort of fins do they have, are they thrust vectored, please tell me...this is a real revelation to me...

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 2, 2011 1:06 AM    Report this comment

Gordon, have the Russian's found a way to put tube technology in their missles instead of transistors? did they make them handle 60G? They really are advanced...I had no idea...I'm in shock...I'm becoming entire understanding of life has been altered...

Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 2, 2011 1:10 AM    Report this comment

There you go...this is what we call a "teachable moment..."

Posted by: Gordon Arnaut | September 2, 2011 1:15 AM    Report this comment


Posted by: Trevor Evans | September 2, 2011 2:26 AM    Report this comment

Gordon, I appreciate your comment, but will have to disappoint you: I know Energomash better than probably anyone else here, and worked with PW-Rocketdyne on the RD-180 issue. You have no idea what state Energomash is in, I wald the shop floor, and I saw the eyes of people who we ready to cry. To stop this argument, and if you read Russian, get on their website, and look at their annual reports. The company is bankrupt, constantly primed and is failing to deliver. Brilliant engineering not always means good product delivered to customers. I've been working with Russians over the last few years, and studied professionally their Supply Chain Managaement in aerospace industry. If you have an engineering background, there's just no point in trying to explain you what is wrong in few sentences. My course in physics is limited to ATPL syllabus, while my bread is management and plotics (let's put it this way), and my sector is Russia. Me and my partners are always overwhelmed by the technologies Russians are showing us. However, I can give you only few examples, where the idea was materialised on the conveyor belt.

Posted by: Pascal Hughes | September 4, 2011 4:52 PM    Report this comment

Few typos: WALKED the shop floor; and POLITICS (although PLOTics also interesting). Anyway, given the modern warfare doctrine, it is unlikely that a US pilot will be engaged in a dogfight with a Russian one. When that does happen, I think we will have bigger problems to worry about. BTW, does anybody remember Buran? That was indeed a machine superior to Shuttle. One flight only; destiny - a casino in the centre of Moscow, the other one was destroyed by the collapsed leaking roof of the hangar. All people here indeed are making good points, but we all have different background and no wonder look from different angles.

Posted by: Pascal Hughes | September 4, 2011 5:13 PM    Report this comment

Totally a aide note, but I have 2 heat insulating tiles from Buran that I bought on eBay. Seems sad - one Buran a casino, another destroyed and the spare parts auctioned off on eBay...... But, I guess when I'm gone, too, my stuff will be listed on eBay.

Posted by: Marc Salvisberg | September 5, 2011 12:02 AM    Report this comment

Air Superiority is definitly critical to success of any military venture. Future UAV design will be critical to air superiority, because the human factor cannot exceed a low G limit. Additionally, delta wing SUV's are truly stealthly as compared to the T-50. Weight to thrust ratio can be fantastic as compared to conventional aircraft. It just takes time to develope the technology. Digital Technology has changed the game for aircraft control, electronics has advanced to the point of achieving almost magical capabilities.

Posted by: David Jaeb | September 8, 2011 9:35 AM    Report this comment

All of this "paper tiger" stuff regarding the Russian and Chinese 5th generation F-22 competitors just reminds me of the American reactions to incoming reports of the first Mitsubishi A6M from China in 1940. We discounted that one, too, and had much cause to regret that in 1942 with the deaths of several thousand of our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.

Whether we like it or not, we ARE involved in an arms race with the rest of the world; Russia and China are quite capable of developing and deploying excellent air assets to threaten our ability to preserve air dominance in the battle area. They may not be as capable as the F-22, but they'll be good enough,and after our 186 Lightnings fire their 8 missiles and 800 rounds of 20mm and RTB, that won't matter a whole helluva lot when they find a Sukhoi or a T-80 tank parked in their revetments!

Posted by: Larry De Meo | September 20, 2011 5:22 AM    Report this comment

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