Air Power Focus
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 NATO – as the brink of hostilities, will fracture the alliance.
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. 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.
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 (10) hour mission for a single SR-71 could see no less than fourteen (14) in-flight refueling tankers aloft and on station, to support the Blackbirds Mach 3+ acceleration runs.
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 accelerated 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 30 to 40 years.
Russia would represent a peer adversary. ISIS/L, the Taliban, Gaddafi, Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, and Bashar al-Assad – do not constitute peer adversaries. Russia maintains a long history of continuous improvement and optimization of existing systems. This also keeps costs – down.