Air Power 101 for New Members

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First released on 9 March 2013
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F-35 price update on 25 June 2019)

Air Power 101:

1. Filing A Flight Plan

(1) A country's approach to defence is shaped by both its the unique circumstances and the enduring geostrategic limitations it has to face. Air power can be used by any nation that invests in it as a tool to:

(a) provide a nation with the ability to project soft (in stability missions or in humanitarian and disaster relief missions) or hard power (in coercive missions, like enforcing no fly zones or performing any of the four roles of air power in war) over long distances through the compression of time and space, by the use of technology; and

(b) expand geostrategic depth by enabling the nation to use its air power to build up a network of bilateral and multilateral defence relationships within a country's vicinity and around the world. Countries like the United States of America (US) and New Zealand are geo-strategically advantaged, by virtue of the fact that they do not have any neighbouring countries that are a military threat in their immediate vicinity. Conversely, small countries like Brunei, Cambodia, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Oman, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) lack geo-strategic depth, and they also live in interesting neighbourhoods, where regional conflicts may occur. The sad fact is that small countries have been bullied, bargained over, invaded and even dismembered through history.​

(2) Air power, especially air power exercised by a tertiary air force, has the potential to maintain constant pressure on an enemy from a safe distance, increased kills per sortie, through selective targeting and reduced unintended damage. It also substantially reduced reaction time, and, can result in the complete shutdown of an enemy’s ability to control his forces. Air force or naval air are less constrained by time and space because the platforms it operates are high-speed, have much greater reach, and are inherently responsive than ground forces or navy ships.

(3) However, air power is also more constrained by time and space as its platforms lack permanence. It must rely on technology to fly and it is the service arm that most relies on technology to complete its assigned missions. The ability to project air power in a hostile air defense environment and to sustain control of the air to achieve policy goals requires resources to fund its force structure and the logistics to support that force structure. Ultimately, logistics determine capacity and capability.

(4) Air warfare is a sub-set of war and therefore governed by the ten principles of war, namely:-

(i) selection and maintenance of the aim – every military operation must have a defined, decisive, and attainable aim or objective. At the operational and tactical levels, maintenance of the aim means ensuring all actions contribute to the goals of the higher headquarters. The principle of the aim drives all military activity. When undertaking any mission, commanders should have a clear understanding of the expected outcome and its impact. At the strategic level, this means having a clear vision of the theater end state. Commanders need to appreciate political ends and understand how the military conditions they achieve contribute to them;

(ii) maintenance of morale – morale is a positive state of mind derived from effective military leadership. This includes building a shared sense of purpose and values, caring for well-being of the soldiers and building group cohesion at the unit and higher levels;

(iii) offensive action – in other words, to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. Offensive action is key to achieving decisive results. It is the essence of successful operations. Offensive actions are those taken to dictate the nature, scope, and tempo of an operation. They force the enemy to react. Commanders use offensive actions to impose their will on an enemy, adversary, or situation. Offensive operations are essential to maintain the freedom of action necessary for success, exploit vulnerabilities, and react to rapidly changing situations and unexpected developments;

(iv) security – never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage. Security protects and preserves combat power. It does not involve excessive caution. Calculated risk is inherent to conflict. Security results from measures taken by a command to protect itself from surprise, interference, sabotage, annoyance, and threat ISR. Military deception greatly enhances security. The threat of asymmetric action requires emphasis on security, even in low-threat environments;

(v) surprise – in other words, to strike the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared. Surprise is the opposite of security. Surprise results from taking actions for which an enemy or adversary is unprepared. It is a powerful but temporary combat multiplier. It is not essential to take the adversary or enemy completely unaware; it is only necessary that he become aware too late to react effectively. Factors contributing to surprise include speed, information superiority, and asymmetry;

(vi) concentration of force – in other words, to concentrate the effects of combat power at the decisive place and time. Commanders mass the effects of combat power to overwhelm enemies or gain control of the situation. They mass combat power in time and space to achieve both destructive and constructive results. Massing in time applies the elements of combat power against multiple targets simultaneously. Massing in space concentrates the effects of different elements of combat power against a single target;

(vii) economy of effort – in other words, to allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts. Economy of effort is the opposite of concentration of force. It requires accepting prudent risk in selected areas to achieve superiority — overwhelming effects — in the decisive operation. Economy of effort involves the discriminating employment and distribution of forces. Commanders never leave any element without a purpose. When it comes time to execute, all elements should have tasks to perform;

(viii) flexibility – in other words, to develop the ability of a fighting unit to change to meet new circumstances in a timely and responsive manner. This involves mental acuity and adaptability in the mindsets of military leaders and the fighting men assigned with an attainable aim or objective;

(ix) cooperation – in other words, to ensure that military units are able to fight at a combined arms level, where the supported and supporting units share in the dangers, burdens, and risks faced; and

(x) sustainability – in other words, to generate the means by which a military unit's fighting power and freedom of action are maintained.​

(5) Air power theorists like Giulio Douhet believed that the airplane, with "complete freedom of action and direction", had revolutionised warfare and that airplanes would win wars quickly and decisively without first defeating enemy surface forces. Douhet said:

“To have command of the air is to have victory.”

This statement was false when it was first made in 1921, and it is no less false today. Correctly understood, control of the air is only a pre-condition for joint-force victory on the ground or at sea. Politicians should disabuse themselves of the notion that the achievement of control of the air, by itself and in of itself, is sufficient for victory, without observing the 10 principles of war. Achieving and maintaining air superiority is only a part of the air power story, with the other three roles of air power being just as important.
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2. Warden Walkdown

(1) To help members discern information from misinformation, we recommend reading 'The Air Campaign: Planning for Air Combat' by Col. John A. Warden III and the information in this thread before participating in air power discussions in the forum. According to Col. Warden, three factors affect a campaign for control of the air:

(a) Materiel: encompasses aircraft, surface-to-air weapons, manufacturing facilities for both, and supplies necessary to sustain them. It also includes the infrastructure necessary for their direct support. For example, during the Battle of Britain, British aircraft production rates outstripped German war time production by a wide margin and also comfortably exceeded loss rates.

(b) Personnel primarily means the very highly skilled people who man combat systems, who have special talents to begin with, and who require extensive training before becoming useful in battle. Pilots and other aircrew members are the most obvious component of this category. Using the same example of the Battle of Britain, the training of new British pilots failed to keep up with losses at the height of the battle. The situation might have been untenable had the battle not taken place over Britain. In the Battle of Britain, British pilots who bailed out of stricken fighters frequently were able to fly again - in some cases even on the same day.

(c) Position: summarizes the relative location and vulnerability of air bases, missile fields, ground battle lines, and infrastructure. All these factors taken together determine the framework of the battle and the options available to fight it.​

(2) Any air force or naval air need to take into account new developments in the areas of operational concepts, new technology, and new organisational innovations for war fighting. Interested readers should realise that air power has three important characteristics (see also the 'four air power roles' under British doctrine later in this thread):

(i) it does not refer merely to combat aircraft or to the combined hardware assets of an air arm. It also includes less tangible ingredients, such as employment doctrine, concepts of operations, training, tactics, proficiency, leadership, adaptability, and practical experience;

(ii) it is functionally inseparable from battlespace information and intelligence. Air power involves more than merely attacking and destroying targets. It also involves knowing what to hit and where to find it. It is less widely appreciated that air power can kill only what it can identify and engage. Air power and intelligence are opposite sides of the same coin (see also the No. 2 and the No. 4 of air power roles later in this thread); and

(iii) it is inherently a joint force and it embraces not only the air force but also naval and army aviation, plus the strike assets of all joint forces. Planning for joint forces is a team effort, and that team brings not only service doctrine but also the technical expertise from a range of functional areas within the services. The ultimate purpose of staff officers is to make sound recommendations to a commander and then clearly communicate the commander’s decision to the chain of command.​

(3) Air power's three important characteristics presents conceptual ideas that form the basic building blocks to help readers understand the more advanced discussions in the forum. These conceptual building blocks enable the reader to locate examples of the use of air power, and to help the reader think about second and third order effects when contributing to forum discussions.
Cause & Effect Concept Check for Readers:-
Using an example taken from a Summer 2006 IO sphere article by Michael G. Miller on 'Thinking About Second & Third Order Effects', we seek to clarify for the interested reader the concept of cause and effect, as follows:

(aa) Cause1 yields Effect1

(bb) Effect1 becomes Cause2 and yields Effect2

(cc) Effect2 becomes Cause3 and yields Effect3​

Remember that Effect1 will become Cause2 and thus the basis for the rest of the cause and effect chain, and the resulting 2nd and 3rd order effects. The Biblical story of David and Goliath will serve to illustrate second and third order effects.

(aa) David slings a stone & it hits Goliath on forehead (C1)
- Goliath falls and is killed (E1)

(bb) Goliath falls and is killed (C2)
- Philistine army sees Goliath’s death panics & runs (E2)

(cc) Philistine army sees Goliath’s death panics & runs (C3)
- Israel’s army sees Philistines run; Jews pursue & rout Philistine army (E3)​
(4) Gaining an understanding of effects is fundamental to air power's ability to respond to expected changes in the operating environment (applicable in the discussion on the No. 4 of 4 air power roles — ISTAR and discussed in a post below). Michael Miller's statement in the above article is instructive and he said:

"While we may not be able to predict the cause-effect behavior of inter-related complex systems with precise certainty, we can try to understand the nature of the elements that will interact. In this way, we gain at least some sense of the range of potential in thinking about and understanding potential 2nd and 3rd order effects."

We will cite examples and provide select links to a number of air warfare theories or concepts in this thread. The goal is not to simplify and explain these theories to a lay reader. Rather, the goal is to provide the reader with thinking tools to understand how these theories or concepts (eg. the air warfare implication of the Thach Weave below) are to be applied in discussions.
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3. Demystifying DACT

(1) In general, it is hard to find new members who can understand:-

(a) the role and the concept of employment of combat aircraft to gain control of the air;

(b) how modern air forces train and the types of training used; and

(c) the implications of second or third order effects of certain actions/decisions.​

(2) The ideas presented in this thread are conceptual in nature and it is written to help new members understand the air power discussions in the various threads. It is meaningless to make simplistic comparisons or just rely on analogous reasoning without understanding the context. Please start by reading a great recent 2012 article ('What Is It Like To Fly at Red Flag Exercises?') and watching a backgrounder video on Red Flag ( [nomedia=""]What is Red Flag? Col.Tod Fingal explains. - YouTube[/nomedia]).

(3) Back in 2004, gf0012-aust with the help of a subject matter expert on dissimilar air combat training (DACT) provided additional information to help readers understand the nature of this training. Cope India is a DACT. Likewise, Red Flag (hosted at Nellis Air Force Base) is a DACT.
gf0012-aust said:
I've had permission from the original "author" of this post on DACT to reproduce it here. It's an interesting thread and seeks to demystify and correct some of the assumptions made about aggressor/dissimilar air combat training. It was initially posted to bring some "lightness and reason" about the Cope India 04 exercise between the USAF and IAF. I've chopped in a few other pertinent comments from elsewhere to round it off.

The guy who penned this has had long term exposure to air combat and dissimilar air combat training, so he is an expert in his field.

There are some serious misconceptions out there about how air combat training is conducted so I've decided to write a post about how it really happens. Everybody seems to want to cite a particular exercise as proof of their point, when in reality, they have no contextual reference for these results they are referencing. Realize that I am writing from a USAF/USN/USMC/NATO perspective. If anyone else can provide some information about how it's done elsewhere, please chime in.

Air-to-air combat is an extremely complex and dynamic undertaking. The combination of speed and the ability to maneuver in three dimensions creates an environment that is constantly changing and rarely allows any of the participants to see and understand the entire picture at once. In order to be successful in this environment, participants must be highly skilled, (reasonably) intelligent individuals who fight in these types of battles regularly.

Fighter pilots from countries all over the world are expected to use hardware purchased with national treasure to defend their homeland against attackers or attack others as directed by their leaders. In order to effectively accomplish those missions, pilots must regularly train for air combat. Air combat skills are perishable and even the best pilots are not as keen as they might be if they haven't flown in a while especially when flying in large force exercises where one decision may be the difference between success and failure.

Definitions: Air Combat Training (ACT) is a term used to describe a battle between similar aircraft. If 2 F-16s are fighting against 2 other F-16s, this would be an ACT war, whereas 2 F-15s fighting 2 F-16s would be termed Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT).

When planning a DACT exercise, planners typically will build an Offensive Counterair (OCA) strike package and Defensive Counterair (DCA) package with appropriate aircraft - this was displayed in the Cope India exercise when a strike package consisting of SU-30s, Mirages, and Jaguars attacked a target defended by F-15s. Besides designating types of aircraft and missions, planners will also draw up objectives for the exercise. These objectives can be very specific or quite broad depending on the situation.

A broad objective may be stated as 'building trust between countries' or 'familiarize pilots with other air forces.' More specific objectives may be 'effectively integrate air forces for lane defense.' In order to accomplish these objectives, rules of engagement (ROE) will also be set.

ROE consist of weapons load, identification criteria, maneuvering limitations, tactics restrictions, and just about anything else you can think of. ROE can be pretty liberal or very restrictive, depending on the objectives, experience level of the pilots, or number and type of aircraft involved. If the objective is to 'build trust' between nations, you can bet your ass that the rules are going to be damn restrictive to try to ensure there will be no accidents/dangerous or stupid stunts that would embarrass one side or the other or result in needless loss of life. This is why briefings are conducted, and pickup games are not allowed. (This is also the reason why this article about the Typhoons getting bounced by F-15Es is absolute bollocks.) Regardless of the particular ROE established, somebody needs to be the bad guy.

In most exercises there will be a threat aircraft and weapons designated as the training aid for the other side. In U.S. exercises such as Red Flag, this will be something like a MiG-29 with aa-10s and aa-11s, and will be referred to as 'opfor' or 'red air.' Red air will usually consist of F-15s or F-16s (or whatever they can get) and will do their best to simulate that threat by limiting their radar modes, lock ranges, tactics, etc. 'Blue air' will fly with their normal weapons loadout and will normally not have any restrictions other than operating their systems in a training/peacetime mode. There may be other restrictions imposed based on the objectives. Typically, the threat capabilities will start out low with short range missiles and very benign tactics, then increase as the exercise continues, as long as the blue air players are learning something and they are ready to progress to the next level. If the blue air fighters are getting their butts handed to them, the threat level will remain low, but if they are doing well, the threat capability will increase so the training is useful.

Notice that the red air players are training aids. They are supposed to follow the rules and die like men when blue air is executing well. If, however, the blue air screws something up and they have an opportunity to kick some tail, they are expected to do so. Violating the ROE by using a capability that is restricted, shooting beyond a specified range, or not adhering to an established ID criteria is considered a training rule violation and is dealt with severely. Several pilots have been sent home from exercises and have even been reassigned because they didn't like to follow the rules.

By now it should becoming clear why one side or the other in these exercises often has a larger kill:loss ratio than the other. Red air is supposed to die even if there are more capable aircraft on the red side. This is how many of the 'surprising' results occur in large exercises the threat level is tailored to the training needs of the blue air so they can learn from their mistakes in the debrief.

When conducting the debrief, kills must be assessed in order to find out what really happened. In order to do this, pilots must review the recording of the mission so they can evaluate their targeting and weapons employment. Red and blue air will get together, exchange data, and together decide who shot who and when. This is often an inexact science, however, with ACMI monitoring and extensive recording equipment in the aircraft, it is getting better. With results in hand, the blue fighters can then determine what they did wrong, and how to do better next time. This training is very effective for the blue air, but it usually sucks for red. What about exercises with real threat aircraft like MiG-29s, MiG-25s, etc? This is obviously the best training there can be, however, there is a problem.

When participating in an international exercise, both sides are probably going to hold some information back. This is not a 'you show me yours, I'll show you mine' game. In many cases, the shot data/weapons performance is classified, and not releasable to those on the other side. This is exactly the case in Cope India 04.

How do you debrief an engagement when neither side wants to say what really happened? Nobody is going to walk into the debrief and say 'I shot that guy at this time and this range with this missile,' because they are basically giving away their capabilities. There are a couple of ways to deal with this, one of which is to not relay any of the shot information, but to merely say 'that guy is dead at this time.' In that situation, no information (other than the f-pole) is released to the other side. However, astute people on the other side can extrapolate the data and figure out approximately when the shot was fired and can have a pretty good idea as to the performance of the missile. The other thing you can do is to establish a theoretical missile, with a nominal range to be used by both sides. This levels the playing field and rewards the side which executes better, rather than the side with the longer range missiles.

Detailed assessments that would normally take place to validate shots can't/won't happen in an exercise like this, therefore the overall results are not really accurate. However, as you say, they most certainly will debrief to get some results regardless of the potential inaccuracies. How valid the results are depends on how the exercise was planned.

As you can see, the results of these exercises (especially those released to the public) are quite likely not accurate. And, for one side or the other to claim victory in one of these exercises is either dishonest or just plain ignorance. Normally, the results are released as a series of politically correct statements such as those we've seen by the authorities after Cope India. Both sides are happy, they learned a lot, and can't wait to do it again.

It should be noted that these types of exercises are planned many months in advance. A key part of the training syllabus is to agree on the types of scenarios to be performed during initial planning.

Most of the learning experience occurs on the ground, not in the air. The evolution from Air Tasking Order to Mission Planning/C3I/Asset Coordination to Aircraft Generation is where air battles are won or lost. The mechanics of flying airplanes and shooting off ordnance is icing on the cake.

I'm certainly not trying to stifle the spirited debate that goes on here. It's fun reading the arguments for and against various aircraft, however, be careful when you're quoting the results of some exercise when making your point!

I'm only saying that without details, all of this, "my airplane kicked your airplane's butt" is entertaining, but silly. One valuable part of the exercise is simply watching how the other side operates, what kind of tactics they use (they may have been "modified" along with the weapons), how they talk on the radio, etc. Obviously, the technology represented by the Su-30s is of great interest to the USAF also.
(4) The Moderators at Defencetalk have observed that when discussing the procurement of weapons, DACT, or related world events, many are greatly influenced by air power examples they can remember. When trying to understand unfolding events many cannot understand the difference between cause and effect. This means that many will want to cling to examples, regardless of how irrelevant the example.

(5) Barring a few exceptions, mainstream media reporting on DACT, the procurement of weapons, defence matters or world events, leaves much to be desired. There is no shortage of articles predicting <insert unlikely scenario> or that the sky is falling in these articles or blogs. Mistaking misinformation as fact is common for the disinterested general audience of mainstream media. Many in the mainstream media do not understand air exercises, air capabilities or the current air power doctrinal framework. Therefore they tend to more easily fall for the misinformation being peddled by agenda-driven sources. More importantly, many disinterested readers of mainstream media are very resistant to learning, as they do not have an interest to acquire the required knowledge on the doctrine relating to control of the air.
Aussie Digger said:
It should also be said that a lot of people who post here, have a lot of national pride, but very limited real world military experience. Thus the mine vs yours debate is rather childish and doesn't really bear any resembalance or relevance to what may actually occur in a real life situation. If an F-22 was flying along and a Mig 21 (for instance only) was able to sneak up on this aircraft and destroy it from side on, I doubt many would claim the Mig 21 to be a superior platform to the F-22. A lesser platform (on paper at least) may well be capable of being used effectively in certain tactical scenarios. Thus any comparison of paper statistics even backed up by "sources" is of very dubious benefit any certainly not worth denigrating those from any other country or nationality. Cheers.
gf0012-aust said:
Aussie Dig Exactly, the clear difficulty is that most people have no idea how dissimilar (let alone internal) exercises are conducted. These exercises are staged to draw out weaknesses on the blue forces deliberately - and then the roles (in air combat) are swapped to as to cross train.

DACT is not like skirmishing in paintball - an analogy which is lost on many "enthusiastic" responses.

Naval exercises are the same, the blues are deliberately put against a stronger force to push their tactical abilities to the extreme. It's a pity that I can't post some of the NATO exercises as it would show how managed the wargames are. The marshalls are looking for the "specials" in a proscribed scenario. If anyone did a "rambo" they would be out on their duff pretty quickly.

I used to have a bloke who worked for me and was an ex specwarrie. His job was to evaluate foreign forces in survival training. If the members of that foreign force did not play the game according to the rules, they were sent back on the next flight - in a couple of instances they were stripped of their rank by their commanding officers for failing to obey a command from a senior officer (which was a bit weird, as he was a warrant officer, and at a rank level actually rated lower than the people he disciplined. I guess it was based on the fact that the trainer was designated the most senior officer in the training area - irrespective of stripes and pips)
(6) When discussing the various air force procurement decisions of very small or token air forces in this forum, it may be more useful to think of these key words: 'fit for purpose' rather than thinking about the 'best' decision. However, if the platform or equipment to be acquired is 'NOT fit for purpose', then initial procurement and subsequent operating cost considerations is less relevant (ie. bought the wrong gear). On the other hand, even a particular weapon system is expensive, but it is absolutely essential for operations, then costs should not and is not a primary driver in the procurement decision. An example of essential expensive air delivered weapons is the latest generation of precision guided munitions (PGMs), like the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). However, not all PGMs need to be targeted by the latest targeting pod, like the Lockheed Martin's Sniper XR targeting pod (when coupled with the Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) can stream live video to the forward air controller on the ground), it could well be something cheaper and more basic, when you can have a forward air controller paint the target with a laser on the ground. Recently, the Philippine Air Force acquired the ability to drop laser guided Paveway IIs with US help.
• On 2 February 2012, an official in Washington confirmed that an strike on Jolo Island that reportedly killed Zulkifli bin Hir (also known as Marwan - which the FBI had a US$5 million reward for information leading to his capture), though his body had not been found. Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes confirmed that two OV10 aircraft dropped 500-pound (227-kilogram) bombs on the target that on a house that killed 15 including 3 Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leaders present. Zulkifli bin Hir was Malaysian and his death would mark a major success in disrupting a militant network blamed for some of the most spectacular bombing attacks in Southeast Asia in recent years.​
In the Third World context, the laser guided Paveway IIs can work just as well, if there is a trained forward air controller on the ground.
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4. Feet Wet and Avoiding Turbulence

(1) The Moderators with the input from select defence professionals, have prepared this thread, as a work in progress, to help interested readers locate relevant military history examples in raise, train and sustain terms. This is to enable an interested reader to draw the proper air power analogy or lesson from a wider range of prior examples or conflicts, instead of expecting a mirror image of a current event.

(2) This forum is moderated and new members must read the Forum Rules before posting. Over time, new members will come to appreciate the rationale for the Forum Rules. New members should also note that there are no 'this vs that' (rule number 3) platform discussions allowed because this format of discussion appeals to the less informed. In the real world, no fighter, fights on its own — the Thach Weave — demonstrates that a marginally superior platform of the same era/generation can be defeated by superior team tactics. Kindly note that during the Pacific Air War in 1941, the Japanese Mitsubishi Zero's enjoyed superior maneuverability and a better climb rate, viz-a-viz, the slower-turning American F4F Wildcat. To counter this technical disadvantage, a naval aviator developed an aerial combat tactic, called the Thach Weave, to even out the odds. The maneuver is so effective that it was used during the Vietnam War and taught to new fighter pilots today, though its modern utility is limited.

(3) It is easy to find examples of lazy or dishonest reporting by mainstream media and owners of blogs who are not able to tell the difference between information and misinformation. The lazy, stupid or dishonest are prone to believing:

(i) wildly inaccurate defence information, for example, Global Firepower, a website that produces a defective list that ranks a country's war making capabilities with a misguided focus on the number of active soldiers, disregarding the levels of spending on each solider and disregarding key measures of a nation's ability to project power beyond its own borders. For example, the illogical 2013 ranking of Ethiopia with a defence budget of US$286 million in 2011, above Spain with a defence budget of US$13.9 billion in 2011, at No. 29 and No. 30, respectively — still stuck in World War I trench warfare paradigms (i.e. including a country, with a tiny defence budget of US$2.2 billion in 2011, that disbanded its air combat capabilities in 2005, and incapable of conventional warfare at No. 31 in 2013 above some middle powers and rising powers) — but disregards important qualitative measures of joint capabilities, in particular, the capability of a navy or an air force to influence the outcome of conflicts in a combined arms manner; or

(ii) citing misinformation produced by the agenda-driven parties (eg. Air Power Australia, that described the F-35 as "pathetic" and unable to beat older 4th generation fighters, like the Russian Su-30 series — see this article by Abraham Gubler, a defence professional (and a member of our forum): "Air power and history’s lessons are far from fantasy", which does a good job of cutting Air Power Australia down to size). In February 2012, representatives of anti-JSF think tank Air Power Australia and RepSim Pty Ltd were given an hour to make their case before the the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (in Australia). By the time the group was 30 minutes into its presentation at least five of the committee members had left the room (see: link for the snubbing Air Power Australia got from their Australian MPs).​

(4) Unfortunately for Air Power Australia and its faulty platform centric analysis, it is a truism that a platform (i.e. an aircraft) does not equate to an effective capability. As stated in this thread, it is the total system that supports the platform matters more. Of late, online discussions about the F-35 are polarized. Many online critics of the program, like the Air Power Australia, tend to do a lot of talking about a subject they seem to know little about or are prone to misrepresent.

• For example, if the Battle of Britain were re-fought with the Luftwaffe flying Hurricanes and Spitfires and the RAF flying BF-109s, the result would still be the same. This is because the Britain had developed the excellent Chain Home system early warning radar network, their pilots were fighting from a positional advantage (whereas the German fighters were at their range limits), and the country had resourced the RAF to execute its concept of operations for the Battle of Britain.​

(5) Facts in published a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report would have discredited the misinformation peddled by agenda-driven parties, but the mainstream media fails to conduct simple source checks.
A Simple Source Check would have Discredited Misinformation

In Aug 2004, the GAO on page 10-11 reported that:

"...The contractor modeled the effectiveness of the current force... The warfight was based on a generic composite scenario that was developed with input from the Air Force and Army. It has been previously used by the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office to assess the effectiveness of a joint strike force in terms of phases of a warfight... the experts determined that the Joint Strike Fighter, which is still in development, will be the most capable aircraft and assigned it a baseline score of 1 compared with the other aircraft...

...the Joint Strike Fighter is expected to be approximately nine times more capable than the AV-8B Harrier aircraft, about five times more capable than the F-14D and F/A-18 A+/C/D aircraft, three times more capable than the first version of the F/A-18 E/F aircraft, and 50 percent more capable than the second version of the F/A-18E/F..."
(6) The Williams Foundation also produced an article with a point by point rebuttal to the unfounded criticism of the Australian F-35 procurement decision in the context of its new air combat capability. We are of the view that the point by point rebuttal contains important information and have extracted a small portion in this thread. said:
Fiction: The arrival in the Asia-Pacific region of aircraft like the Su-30 and MiG-29 will negate the ADF’s traditional dominance in the air and place Australia at risk.

FACT: It has been incorrect for at least 40 years to equate platforms (generally strike/fighter aircraft) with the ability to generate and sustain advanced air power. Since the time of the air war over North Vietnam, professional airmen have understood that air combat is won by a system of capabilities. Absent any one of the many essential components of that system and you are likely to lose – especially if you are outnumbered.

Fiction: The superficially impressive manoeuvrability and power-to-weight ratio of Soviet-designed aircraft such as the Su-30 and MiG-29 confers a potentially decisive advantage over Western fighters during within visual range (WVR) combat.

FACT: It has been incorrect for some 20 years to equate WVR potential with platform agility alone. Since the 1991 Gulf War, manoeuvring to achieve a kill has been done by air-to-air missiles, not by platforms. No manned fighter aircraft can compete with missiles that attack at over twice the speed of sound and manoeuvre at 60 ‘g’. (A manned fighter involved in WVR combat typically flies at less than half that speed and manoeuvres at a maximum of 9 ‘g’.)

No less important than the missile is situational awareness.


In short, for WVR combat, platform agility is a secondary consideration. It is the system, and in particular situational awareness and the missile, that count.

Fiction: Russian fighters are challenging the West’s historical dominance in the air.

FACT: Commentators who assert this are confusing the ownership of platforms with the ability to generate and sustain a first-class air power system. Advanced platforms are necessary but not sufficient...

*The above is an extract from the article from the Williams Foundation: "FACT versus FICTION: The Truth about Australia’s New Air Combat Capability" (in a fiction followed by fact format).
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5. Clipping the Wings of Misinformation

(1) To be clear, we welcome informed criticism of the JSF program but we do not condone the passing-off of known falsehoods to advance an anti-F-35 meme. Winslow Wheeler and POGO are good examples of people or organisations passing-off of known falsehoods by meme. The clever thing about people like Winslow Wheeler, is his cultivation of reporters, who use him as a source to write their articles and these reporters have an interest in selling the same known falsehood to the general public. See this Wired article, Test Pilots: Stealth Jet’s Blind Spot Will Get It ‘Gunned Every Time’, by Mr David Axe, which repeats the same meme (and as a bonus, we also debunk another article from Mr Axe, to show how he removes context from a story he writes to sell a point of view). Reading the example below (an extract of a blog post from the Elements of Power blog), it is clear that how this is done.
SMSgt Mac said:
A Case Study in How the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) Demagogues Against National Defense Programs
A Tour Inside POGO’s Meme Machine

Winslow Wheeler and POGO have provided any number of examples of what I’m about to cover, but their latest machinations concerning the recent “F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Readiness for Training Operational Utility Evaluation” report is as perfect an example as any to use for this discussion...

POGO, Winslow Wheeler and “Perception”

In this example, POGO and Winslow Wheeler were continuing the long-standing practice of ‘poisoning the well’ against any positive perception that might arise from any public reporting on the F-35. In this case, the ‘report’ in its totality is remarkably unsurprising.

What the OT&E evaluators found concerning the training program after a limited exposure to early configuration F-35s is pretty much what one would expect. But in highlighting a single comment in the report POGO made the report about the F-35 itself and not the status and readiness of the training program. The Director of OT&E was an enabler (codependent?) in this development due to the report’s excessive regurgitation of ‘old news’ that didn’t belong in this report, but POGO is the ‘perp’ that picked the forbidden fruit.

When each of us perceives something, it is estimated that only 20% of that perception is based upon what we actually sense as new, and 80% of the perception is due to what we’ve already experienced in life. As most people have little or no working knowledge of what it takes to field advanced technology and designs, that makes their ‘80% experience’ base highly vulnerable to any manipulation of the ‘20% new’ information.

POGO selected and amplified a quote concerning how a pilot felt about rear visibility in a plane that does not yet have the key technology installed that makes such rear visibility concerns moot. That pilot brought his experience and training to a new aircraft and applied his old knowledge to a new situation. Without his experiencing what is the baseline F-35 EODAS and HMD capabilities that were yet to be delivered, his comments should have been noted in the backup data. But in an objective document this never would have been a feature in the report.

In cherry-picking the “get gunned every time” quote, POGO and Winslow Wheeler exploit the general ignorance of the public as to how the jets and training program are still in development, how the F-35 program is structured and how capabilities are scheduled to be brought on line by deliberately injecting into the public’s consciousness the misperception that the F-35s now being used for initial type training are representative of the capability that define the baseline F-35.

This is only the latest in a long series of flagrant misrepresentations of F-35 truths, in effect LIES, committed by POGO, and the F-35 is only the latest in a long line of weapon systems to receive that special POGO/Winslow Wheeler ‘touch’.

We can expect nothing but more of the same from POGO and Winslow Wheeler because they dare not let any positive or neutral development concerning the F-35 go without preemptory and presumptive criticism, as the façade of failure that they work so hard to build up from nothing requires constant maintenance to prevent it from crumbling around their ears.

POGO, Winslow Wheeler and “Attention”

Long-time observers of POGO, Winslow Wheeler and other so-called ‘reformers’ will note that the ‘get gunned every time’ sound bite will be dropped fairly quickly and something else concerning the F-35 will be targeted as a ‘failure’, ‘mistake’ or ‘criminally negligent’ decision/design feature/performance characteristic, perhaps from the same report, or from one to come later. This is because POGO et al are acutely aware that an extended exchange or dialog with anyone who disagrees with them will expose the misdirection they (POGO et al) endeavor to sustain. POGO and

Wheeler go for the sound bite to plant negativity into the public’s consciousness knowing that the general public’s attention span is short. By the time anyone dives deep into a POGO/Wheeler claim and cries “Hey! Wait a minute!” the public has moved on to other circuses. Such ‘Hit and Run’ tactics, along with their careful cultivation of media enablers, allow POGO/Wheeler relief from ever having their methods, biases and motives undergo serious public scrutiny. This is classic guerrilla warfare of the information domain.

Once the initial ‘buzz’ is past, if the ‘get gunned every time’ line is ever again referenced by POGO/Wheeler, it will be as only one item in a litany of similar perversions of reality...

POGO, Winslow Wheeler and “Context”

If there is a hallmark to POGO/Wheeler PR announcements, it is that whatever is being decried or derided will be framed in as little context as possible.

What context that is provided, will be selectively added to support the official POGO/Wheeler meme du jour. In this instance, the “get gunned every time” comment is highlighted without any reference to the inconvenient (to POGO and Wheeler) fact that the F-35s EODAS and Helmet are still being developed, the software releases to exploit these systems were not sold off for the aircraft used for the training readiness evaluation, or that if later version aircraft that are now flying had been available, the ‘get gunned’ claim would probably never have been uttered...
(2) Journalism used to be an attempt to provide a balanced story. Unfortunately, current reporting on the JSF tries to sell you a point of view that supports a pre-determined meme and we get shoddy journalism that contains known falsehoods to advance the meme. When reading Wired articles like "Old School Jet Retooled to Slay Stealth Fighters", Defence professionals, Senior members and Moderators in DefenceTalk are uncomfortable with the over simplified take on the utility of a technical innovation, like AESA radar, in the battle for control of the air. This particular article by Mr David Axe details the USAF upgrade the F-15 Eagle fleet with AESA radar and how he thinks this upgrade would enable Eagles to work with the F-22 Raptors. Mr Axe implies that all that matters are the radars on the fighters, when that is not the case. Rather what matters is how a platform contributes to the network that matters more. What he fails to illustrate is power of the network in the fight for control of the air. The size and power of the AESA radar on a F-15C or the F-15E is irrelevant compared to the power of other radar systems, such as, USAF's AWACs, US Navy's AEGIS, the ground based radar systems for ballistic missile defence operated by the US Marines (AN/TPS-59) and the US Army (THAAD and Patriot missile defence systems). Unfortunately, Mr Axe is good at reporting news but his attempt at analysis is misleading because he does not place the technical innovation reported on within a proper war fighting context of NIA/D3 (or Network, Integrated Attack-in-depth by the application of cross domain applications to Disrupt, Destroy and Defeat adversary forces).

(3) A reader needs to take a step back to realise that the future is in co-operative battlespace managers which can run primary or hand-off where appropriate. This means fighter aircraft in US service will work with support from AWACs, Rivet, Compass and so on. F-35s and F-15C/Es will not work by themselves, in fact, they will work with F-22 too to provide advanced ISR, communications and computational capabilities (though there are some issues that need to be worked out). From a US Navy centric view point, in the near future AEGIS and its cooperative engagement capability can take incoming data from off-board sources, be it from other AEGIS destroyers, E-2Ds, Super Hornets and F-35s; and fire at targets the ship's own radar cannot see. The US Navy is currently testing what's called "launch on remote," where the AEGIS destroyer uses the off-board data to launch a Standard Missile towards the target (i.e. an enemy ballistic or cruise missile) but still relies on its own radar to lock on for the final approach to intercept the target. It is important to understand that the pilot of the sensing aircraft is not going to command a Standard Missile launch, rather it is the naval air warfare officer based on the AEGIS destroyer. This kill chain relies on E-2D acting as the gateway to AEGIS, processing data from various on-board and off-board sensors. The terminal guidance phase is handled by the Standard Missile's seeker. The next technological step for the US Navy will be "engage on remote." The key to this new way of war, is the network, including space based systems that will join these systems providing a 'greater than the sum of the parts' for the US armed services (see the links below on information dominance and the radar game to understand why the attempt at analysis by Mr Axe is misleading and not set in the proper context).

(4) There is a 1 page summary by Karen Parrish, American Forces Press Service, here on a 2011 interview with Vice Admiral David J. Dorsett, Deputy CNO for Information Dominance that discusses China's new military technology. Vice Admiral Dorsett states in that interview that he is most concerned about is China's focus and attention on trying to develop capabilities to dominate in the electromagnetic spectrum, to conduct counter-space capabilities, and clearly to conduct cyber activities. And his expressed concerns are not platform specific, rather, it is a focus on types of technology to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum and certain specific areas of capability. During his meeting with reporters, Dorsett said Chinese advances should be viewed in perspective. Their stealth fighter, he said, will not be fully operationally capable for years, and the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile system has been test-fired over land, but is not believed to have been tested over water against maneuvering targets.
Q&A with Dorsett said:
Q: To go back to China. If you could just talk generally, how much are you concerned, how much has your concern risen in the last say six months about the Chinese military buildup? Rather than getting into specifics, are you more alarmed than you were before? And secondly, is there any sense that we are maybe overestimating the Chinese military buildup the same way that we overestimated the Soviet Union back in the ‘70s and ‘80s?

A: First of all, I’m not alarmed. As an intelligence professional largely, that’s been my background, I am intrigued by the developments. I am quite interested in the quantities and different types of technology that have been developed that we either didn’t expect or we underestimated.

I see a clear relationship between their economic capabilities and their military buildup, but I also see a direct connection between their military leadership, some of the leaders in the PLA, and how they have provided guidance to be able to advance their military capabilities.

I don’t think we are overestimating. For example, while they’re developing technology capabilities, it’s just been the last year and a half, two years, that we’ve seen the Chinese Navy deploy out of area for any period of time. In I guess late 2008 when they deployed a three-ship task group to the Gulf of Aden to conduct counter-piracy operations...

They don’t have a great ISR, integrated ISR capability. They don’t have an anti-submarine warfare capability virtually at all. They don’t demonstrate a level of sophistication and joint warfighting. As I mentioned, while they’re delivering technology and capabilities, they are at the early stages of operational proficiency across the board.

So what would be dangerous for us is to overestimate them today, but underestimate what that timeline of trying to synchronize these various elements together.

Ten years ago if you looked at their C4ISR capabilities they didn’t have an over-the-horizon radar. They had virtually no satellites that were, no ISR satellites. They’ve now got a competent capability in ISR and over-the-horizon radars, but the years from now we expect a much greater increase in the numbers of satellites they have in orbit and their capability to fuse information... But no, I don’t view them as ten feet tall.

Q: Are you saying that they’ve basically got all the stuff but they can’t use it very well?

A: They are maturing in the use of the capabilities... No. Have we seen large joint sophisticated exercises? No. Do they have any contact proficiency? No. That’s what I’m saying. They are at the front end of developing their military capability.
Q: Admiral, good morning. The discussion about Chinese missiles and aircraft carriers and all is interesting, but what caught my attention was you saying a few minutes ago that you were more worried about the non-kinetic [inaudible] capabilities as they come on-stream. Would you explain why that’s so? And is it that we’re less prepared for that kind of warfare than we are the kinetic side?

A: I think because non-kinetic aspects — the Chinese right in terms of, they call it Joint Informationalized Operations. They write about attempting to dominate the electromagnetic environment. In fact what you use throughout there, their training, their exercises, they attempt to employ a wide range of electronic warfare and electromagnetic control mechanisms. They try to really use space...

...I’m very attentive on non-kinetic and information warfare, on trying to dominate that electromagnetic spectrum. And I see that as a key component of warfighting for the future. So we really shouldn’t focus excessively on China, we should focus on information capabilities and how nations might employ those in the future. That’s what’s got my attention.

*The above is an extract of a transcript of the Question and Answer session with Vice Admiral David J. Dorsett, Deputy CNO for Information Dominance.
(5) Control of the air, control of the electromagnetic spectrum and effective use of LO platforms sets the stage for additional aerial operations, and it also sets the conditions for naval or ground forces to operate to their full combat potential without substantial interruption of their scheme of maneuver from enemy air attacks and attacks using the electromagnetic spectrum.
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6. Check Six on LO

(1) The US Air Force Association's think tank, the Mitchell Institute, has published a backgrounder called "The Radar Game: Understanding Stealth and Aircraft Survivability" by Dr Rebecca Grant. We have provided a link for readers who are interested in the revised and updated September 2010 version.

(2) It takes some determination to read this 60 page article on the evolving radar game, which has been ongoing since the invention of radar. If you read the backgrounder, Dr Grant cites air power examples from Word War II and traces radar developments to even before that. She also explains that by the 1960s, speed and high altitude performance were not enough to evade the newest generation of guided missiles. Low observable (LO) technology grew out of the need to minimize the amount of radar reflected back from the aircraft. In theory, it was widely understood that special coatings, materials, and shapes could make objects less easy to detect. Both the U-2 and especially, the SR-71, explored these concepts even while putting the primary emphasis on altitude and speed for survivability. When stealth aircraft achieved lower signatures, what that meant, in practice, was that lower radar cross-section (RCS) decreased the effective detection and tracking area of the radar.
Dr Grant said:
As Dr Grant notes on page 6-7 of the above open source backgrounder:

"...A low observable aircraft gains advantages in how close it can come to air defense systems. Low observable aircraft do not get a free pass in the battlespace. Low observability has to be fine-tuned to defeat adversary systems as they establish and hand-off tracks and zero in on fire control solutions...

...Over the past decades, it’s never been easy to convey what low observable technologies actually do. Understanding them requires some grasp of physics, of radar phenomenology, of aircraft design, of how missions are planned and executed. One hears so often that stealth is not invisibility. The inverse corollary is that a single radar detection of an aircraft at a point in time and space does not equal an impenetrable battlespace...

...Much of The Radar Game is devoted to a basic discussion of how stealth works and why it is effective in reducing the number of shots taken by defensive systems. Treat this little primer as a stepping off point for discovering more of the complexities of low observability..."
(3) Current '4th Generation' combat aircraft fall at many different points on the stealth spectrum. Modifications tend to reduce RCS most from the head on aspect where aircraft are most vulnerable. A true LO aircraft is one where RCS reduction was a major design objective from the start, as is the case for the B-2, F-22 and the F-35. One advantage of LO aircraft is that they can take advantage of the broader electronic warfare, SIGINT and the communications engine of companion systems to dictate to the enemy what LO aircraft want the enemy to see as well as what they cannot see (i.e. act as a node of a network and dominate the fight for the electromagnetic spectrum). This means that LO aircraft can dictate the fight and engagement on their terms.

(4) Remember the second and third order effects concept explained earlier? There is a difference between detecting a LO object, and tracking a LO object, and obtaining a useful firing solution for that LO object. Unless a radar system can sustain three dimensional tracking across complex conditions, then what the radar system has is a two dimensional plot and plotting is insufficient. Keep in mind that there are second and third order effects on the enemy's air defence system when LO platforms, like the F-35 and jamming are used together in a strike package by a tertiary air force.

(5) We do not like to use the word 'stealth', in the context of an intelligent discussion on the impact of LO on air warfare. A reader must understand that D + 1 and D + nn days of war are going to be conducted differently and to understand JSF program, a reader must understand this basic conceptual point. The JSF program also enabled the development a few key technologies that would benefit F-35s and other older platforms to enable the US to more effectively perform certain existing mission sets in slightly different ways and to take on new mission sets that was not previously possible on a fighter sized platform. This approach enhances the survivability of sympathetic platforms and will obviously bring some changes to the way of war. There is a video on Creating the 5th Generation Force: with former Secretary of the Air Force Wynne and Lt. Col. Berke (Lt. Col. Berke is a US Marine that has flown the teen series, the F-22 and now commands a F-35B squadron. He offers an unique perspective that is worth watching). The video below is published by :-

[ame=]Creating the 5th Generation Force: Secretary Wynne and Lt. Col. Berke Meet and Discuss on Vimeo[/ame]
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7. Updates on the F-35 Program

(1) In the 2013 review of the JSF program, GAO analysts found DOD officials had made "substantial progress" on several of the fighter's top program management priorities (see link to the 44 page, 2013 GAO report).

(i) Advances in aircraft manufacturing, assembly and supply chain logistics have resulted in "labor hours decreasing and deliveries accelerating" despite the fact that initial estimates on production costs and delivery dates were clearly off target, according to the 2013 GAO report.

(ii) Through the end of calendar year 2012, the contractor has delivered a total of 52 aircraft –14 test and 38 production aircraft. In March 2012, DOD established a new acquisition program baseline for the F-35 program, and the average procurement at US$137 million (up from US$69 million from October 2001). From 2013 until 2037, DOD is expected to invest just over US$12 billion annually just to keep the program on pace to buy over 400 F-35s over the coming years.

(iii) Nearly 300 F-35s will be purchased before flight testing and development on the fighter are complete. "These actions place the F- 35 program on firmer footing, although aircraft will cost more and deliveries to warfighters will take longer," the 2013 GAO report states.​

As at 17 October 2013 and according to the program of record, the number of fighters to be acquired are: 1,763 F-35As — USAF • 340 F-35Bs/80 F-35Cs — USMC • 260 F-35Cs — USN

Level 1 partner (financial stake in JSF program):
138 F-35Bs — UK (US$2.5 billion)

Level 2 partners (financial stake in JSF program):
60 F-35As/30 F-35Bs — Italy (US$1 billion)
85 F-35As — Netherlands (US$800 million)

Level 3 partners (financial stake in JSF program):
100 F-35As — Australia (US$144 million)
100 F-35As — Turkey (US$195 million)
65 F-35As — Canada (US$160 million)
52 F-35As — Norway (US$122 million)
30 F-35As — Denmark (US$110 million)

Security Cooperative Participants:
19 F-35As — Israel
Undergoing evaluation — Singapore.

FMS Customer (with some assembled in Japan):
42 F-35As — Japan
(2) Former defense secretary Robert Gates overhauled the management of JSF in 2009, and gave the program office five extra years and US$13 billion in additional funding to finish development. The way JSF was conceived, development, testing and low-rate initial production (LRIP) all take place concurrently. LRIP Lot-5 low-rate initial production — ran about US$4.2 billion for 30 aircraft. Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan, program executive officer of the Joint Strike Fighter said LRIP Lot-5 was 4 percent less expensive than LRIP Lot-4, and he would like to see that trend continue into future orders. According to October 2013 data from Lockheed Martin, below is a table of JSF aircraft production from LRIP Lots 1 to 8:-
(i) LRIP Lot 1 (block 0.5) is for 2 aircraft in 2009:
• 2 F-35A for the USAF​
(ii) LRIP Lot 2 (block 1A) is for 12 aircraft in 2011:
• 6 F-35A for the USAF • 6 F-35B for the USMC​
(iii) LRIP Lot 3 (block 1B) is for 17 aircraft in FY2012 (from October 2011 to September 2012):
• 7 F-35A for the USAF • 7 F-35B for the USMC • 3 international fighters (1 F-35A for Netherlands and 2 F-35B for UK)​
(iv) LRIP Lot 4 (block 2A) is for 32 aircraft in FY2013 (from October 2012 to September 2013):
• 10 F-35A for the USAF • 16 F-35B for the USMC • 4 F-35C for the USN • 2 international fighters (1 F-35A for Netherlands and 1 F-35B for UK)​
(v) LRIP Lot 5 (block 2A) is for 32 aircraft in FY2014 (from October 2013 to September 2014):
• 22 F-35A for the USAF • 3 F-35B for the USMC • 7 F-35C for the USN​
(vi) LRIP Lot 6 (block 2B) is for 36 aircraft in FY2015 (from October 2014 to September 2015):
•18 F-35A for USAF • 6 F-35B for the USMC • 7 F-35Cs for the USN • five international fighters (two F-35As for Australia and three F-35As for Italy)​
(vii) LRIP Lot-7 (block 3i) is for 35 aircraft in FY2016 (from October 2015 to September 2016):
• 19 F-35As for the USAF • 6 F-35Bs for the USMC • 4 F-35Cs for the USN; • six international fighters (three F-35As for Italy, two F-35As for Norway; and a F-35B for UK)​
(viii) LRIP Lot-8 (block 3F) is for 55 aircraft in FY2017 (from October 2016 to September 2017):
• 26 F-35As for the USAF (6 F-35As for Norway, 7 F-35As for Israel, 2 for Japan) • 6 F-35Bs for the USMC (6 F-35Bs for the UK) • 2 F-35Cs for the USN •​

(3) The price of the JSF, without engines, under LRIP Lot 7 (with LRIP Lot 6 prices in green and in brackets) is US$98 million (US$103 million) for the F-35A, US$104 million (US$109 million) for the F-35B, and US$116 million (US$120 million) for the F-35C. The price of the Pratt & Whitney engines are approximately US$$16 million for the conventional versions and US$38 million for the STOVL version (as at LRIP Lot 3 prices and reported by Aviation Week). It was reported in October 2013, that in LRIP Lot 6 (to deliver 38 engines) when compared to LRIP Lot 5, there was a 2.5% unit price reduction for the engines of the F-35As and F-35Cs, while there was a 9.6% unit price reduction for the engines for the F-35C. Full rate production is expected to be hit in FY2021 at a rate of 170 to 175 aircraft per year (see page 9 of this presentation for details). Specifically:-
(i) the LRIP Lot-9 plan is for between 90 to 94 aircraft in FY2018: 45 F-35As for the USAF; 13 F-35Bs for the USMC; 6 F-35Cs for the USN; and between 26 to 30 international fighters (six F-35Bs for the UK, six F-35As for Norway, two F-35As for Japan, eight F-35As for Israel, three F-35As and one F-35B for Italy and possibly up to four F-35As for Turkey);

(ii) the LRIP Lot-10 plan is projected to be around 115 to 120 aircraft in FY2019; and

(iii) the LRIP Lot-11 plan is projected to be 80 F-35A aircraft (28 for the USAF; 6 for the Royal Norwegian Air Force; 4 for the Turkish Air Force; 8 for the Royal Netherlands Air Force; 8 for the Royal Australian Air Force; 10 for the Israeli Air Force; 6 for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force; and 10 for the Republic of Korea Air Force); 7 F-35B aircraft (6 for the US Marine Corps; and 1 for the UK RAF/RN); and 4 F-35C aircraft for the USN in FY2020 (which is expected to be the last LRIP Lot).​

(4) The price tag of the F-35 continues to come down with each jet purchased, and the flyaway price of the F-35A will drop below US$80 million one year earlier than planned. On 10 June 2019, Pentagon acquisition czar Ellen Lord announced a US$34B agreement for F-35 Low Rate Initial Production Lots 12-14 that will see the delivery of 478 F-35 aircraft, including 157 for Lot 12 (see: $34B = Biggest Procurement In History As Lockheed, DoD Handshake Deal for 478 F-35s). Lord said in the statement that the Pentagon will reap an estimated 8.8 percent in savings from Lot 11 to Lot 12 for F-35A’s, and an average of 15 percent reduction “across all variants from Lot 11 to Lot 14.”

(5) Thinking through a problem is a prerequisite to employing analytical tools that can help refine that problem. This means thinking through the second order and third order effects of a problem (or a decision to address a defined problem). Earlier in the JSF program, there was some noise on the possible cancellation of the F-35B and critics of the JSF program cheered, while the stupid joined-in and cried for restarting the F-22 production line (see the 2010 reminder on the F-22). However, restarting the F-22 production line would not be cheap and would eat up any potential savings gained by cancelling the F-35 program (without understanding the defence implications of proposing to cancel the F-35B). Dr. Robert Farley's Oct 2011 article, 'Over the Horizon: The Transformative Capabilities of the F-35B', explains some of the broader issues relating to the F-35B, that demonstrate second order effects.


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8. Both Sides of the IADS/SEAD Coin

(1) Before discussing the four roles of air power, a brief introduction to an integrated air defense system (IADS) is in order. Simply put, an IADS puts all anti-aircraft sensors, all anti-aircraft weapons under under a common system of Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I), which is often connected by a fibre optic network (to enable the C4I system to perform its assigned mission reliably, even under threat of enemy interference using soft or hard kill options).
• The first operational IADS, but with no computer assistance other than in the brains of the defenders, was used in the Battle of Britain. It was called the Chain Home System; and the Germans in World War II also had their own system called the Kammhuber Line (named after its architect and commander, Generalleutnant Josef Kammhuber of the Luftwaffe).​
The above example demonstrates that air defence is problem faced by attacking air forces as far back as World War II; and it is a surface threat that needs to be addressed by tertiary air forces, if they are to perform their attack role.

(2) The three basic requirements of an IADS are as follows:

(a) find enemy targets (like aircraft and cruise missiles) using long-range surveillance radars; to use Target Acquisition Radars (TARs) to enable the enemy aircraft or cruise missiles to be located with enough accuracy to allow it to be fired on;

(b) taking the data from long-range surveillance radars and/or TARs, and using the C4I to direct your defensive platforms to attack enemy targets and at this stage, it is not uncommon to use a type of radar system called a Fire Control System (FCS), or sometimes called an illuminator, to direct radar guided surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) towards enemy aircraft, cruise or ballistic missiles. These defensive platforms include fighters conducting DCA missions, SAMs of various ranges and AAA; and

(c) do not let the defensive platforms attack your own forces. Therefore, de-confliction is a key aspect of an IADS (or avoidance of fratricide). Think of IADS as a series of concentric defensive circles; the outermost might be assigned to fighters on DCA; next SAMs of various ranges; and finally AAA. The C4I system must not only provide the defenders with a common operating picture, it must also provide both blue force tracking and airspace management (so the the air bases being defended can continue to launch fighters).​

(3) Long range SAMs, like the Russian S-400, are used to attack high-altitude targets, those just entering the defended zone, those coming in along unanticipated routes or just launched to rattle enemy aircraft. They have a lot of roles other than shooting down aircraft; they break up strike package formations, and force the enemy aircraft in these strike packages to burn fuel with evasive manoeuvers. Medium range SAMs, like the old American MIM-23 Hawk, provide area coverage against enemy strike packages. These are the workhorses of the IADS; they are the ones that brings specific enemy aircraft under fire and attempt to stop them from penetrating the lower defensive layers. Short range SAMs and AAA provide low level coverage, defend terrain specific ingress routes, mobile formations and key installations. They defend the radars, the missile launchers and the C4I of the IADS itself and also provide last-ditch defences around airfields. The purpose of having an IADS is not only to shoot down enemy aircraft. It also forces the enemy to assemble complex strike packages to ensure mission success. Each enemy aircraft forced to divert its planned mission to attacking the IADS is as much a victory as one that was shot down by a SAM (also called virtual attrition by Larry Pico). Using the same virtual attrition principle, other weapon systems (not directly related to an IADS), such as, the Iraqi SCUD missile attacks during Operation Desert Storm can cause virtual attrition. Iraqi SCUD missile attacks caused hundreds of aircraft sorties to be spent looking for SCUD missile launchers rather than pounding on the Republican Guard. Those strikes that did not happen were attributable to the SCUD missile attacks or virtual attrition.

(4) Beyond conventional air warfare, in the current threat environment, 24x7 homeland air defence and air sovereignty, is an important mission set.
• Singapore's air space is criss-crossed by a heavy volume of civilian air traffic; is protected by a customised fibre optic linked IADS, with a number of onion layers; these onion layers can discriminate between normal civilian air traffic with a filed flight plan, and any aircraft that deviates from its filed flight plan — this capability to conduct 24x7 homeland air defence and air sovereignty, was demonstrated on 23 January 2008, when a Cessna 208, flew into Singapore air space without an approved flight plan and failed to communicate with Singapore air traffic control — this resulted in the closure of commercial airspace for about 50 minutes (that disrupted 23 flights in and out of Changi Airport), while F-16s scrambled to intercept the Cessna 208. This was a sound tactical decision to ensure the safety of the civilian population.​
Singapore's Onion Layers

As the 2008 air intercept demonstrates, there various onion layers in Singapore's defenses.

(i) The outer most onion layer of Singapore's networked air defence zone, is provided by five fighter squadrons (including F-15SGs, F-16C/Ds and F-5s), whose intercepts may be guided by airborne controllers on the G550-AEW (or ground based controllers using the FPS 117, a 3-dimensional surveillance radar, which has a detection range of over 400 km), before coming into the range rings of the Aster 30 (or upgraded I-Hawk air defence batteries) that may be cued by Singapore's Shikra radar (which is based on the Thales Ground Master 200) or the Giraffe AMB radars or linked to the AN/TPQ-53 (V) counterfire target acquisition radar systems.

(ii) Below the outer air defence onion layer, lies the Spyder batteries; and thereafter, the short range air defence systems, like the Igla (including the Mechanised Igla squadrons), Mistral, RBS-70 and such other counter-fire batteries that may be adopted.

(iii) Even if these onion layers fail, dispersals are part of the RSAF's war plans. That is, if a RSAF aircraft cannot land at location A, then divert to location B, if location B is attacked, then divert to location C. The RSAF currently has 3 fixed wing air bases and at least 11 runways (not counting alternate runways or aprons). Therefore, runway cratering alone is not seen as the most effective way to keep a tertiary air force, like the RSAF from sortie generating, as runway repair crews are trained to conduct repairs in "nn" minutes.

(v) Further, to make things even harder for the attacker, the Singapore has an underground National Emergency System (NEST) and underground ammunition facilities (see here for more details). NEST controls more than 250 sirens that form Singapore's Public Warning System to alert Singaporeans to tune in for emergency broadcasts, warn of impending air/missile attack. Food security, energy security and the continued running of essential services such as fresh water, electricity and transport are among items addressed under NEST. The NEST checklist reads like a doomsday survivalist's manifest, but upsized enormously to protect Singaporeans should the worst happen.​
There is now a blurring of traditional notions of external and internal defence. The boundaries between war and peace have also been clouded by terrorism on a regional or global scale; and terrorism that is local in nature or lone wolf terrorism. An attempt to ensure integration of effort enable the seamless transition of Singapore's disparate national agencies from troubled peace to hot war in a coordinated manner. Beyond enhancing critical infrastructure to withstand attacks, the SAF and Home Team agencies have fine-tuned some operational mechanisms to protect vital public and private installations around Singapore. This is most visible in troop deployments to safeguard Changi International Airport and petro-chemical hub on Jurong island.
(5) An emerging trend is the use of medium to short range SAMs or AAA systems to shoot down precision guided munitions used for attacking the components of an IADS. It is also not uncommon for an IADS to use radio frequency emitting decoys to seduce anti-radiation missiles or even inflatable visual decoys (see also the post on 'Deception and Counterintelligence' in the next page). In other words, the modern IADS is designed to hide and defend itself from enemy attack. Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) or the other side of the IADS coin is often described as as an information duel between attacking aircraft and ground based defenders. SEAD operations can be accomplished through destructive or disruptive means.
(aa) Destructive means seek the destruction of the target system or operating personnel. These include direct or indirect fire on enemy air defenses using weapons such as UAVs (eg. The Harpy UAV is used by Turkey, Israel, Korea, China and India for SEAD), artillery, surface-to-surface missiles, naval gun fire, or the launch of small-diameter-bombs (SDBs) and other such other PGMs by LO platforms like the B-2, the F-22 and the F-35. In some cases, destructive means include direct action by special forces.

(bb) Disruptive means seek the deny, degrade, deceive, delay, or neutralize IADS to increase aircraft survivability. This include the use of miniature air-launched decoys (with decoy and radar jammer variants) and other imitative tools.​
The conduct of SEAD is not an end in and of itself but a subset of counter air operations which aim to create favorable conditions for air operations.

(6) By having a plan to attack an IADS, the attacker can dramatically reduce the "threat circles" posed by the remaining SAM and AAA systems. In Operation Desert Storm, this was accomplished using AH-64 Apaches, to fly nap of the earth and destroy Sadam's radar and control system before the first wave of air strikes were launched. Once eliminated, the rest of the IADS can be brought down more or less systematically with significantly risk and with fewer dedicated SEAD platforms or assets. On 17 January 1991 (at the start of the 43-day air campaign), 668 coalition aircraft attacked Iraq and the breakdown are as follows:

(i) 530 from the USAF (79 percent),

(ii) 90 from five USN carriers and the US Marine Corps (13 percent),

(iii) 24 from Great Britain (4 percent),

(iv) 12 from France (2 percent), and

(v) 12 from Saudi Arabia (2 percent).​

Overall, the coalition air campaign accumulated a total of 109,876 sorties, an average of 2,555 sorties per day. In the 1991 Gulf War, the USAF deployed 249 F-16s and the Vipers alone generated 13,087 sorties (more than any other aircraft type). This entire attack process is dependent on intelligence obtained, and the development of a detailed plan playing against the weaknesses of a specific IADS. For more details on SEAD see the June 2002 article, "Kosovo and the Continuing SEAD Challenge" by Dr. Benjamin S. Lambeth.

(7) For an air force to perform any of its four roles described below, it needs to prevail against enemy IADS via competency in conducting the SEAD mission — an issue relevant in any discussion on the roles of the F-22 and F-35. In the November 2012 issue of the Air Force Magazine, Lockheed Martin Vice President Stephen O’Bryan, the company’s point man for F-35 affairs and a former Navy F/A-18 Hornet pilot made a number of interesting comments, quoted below:
Air Force Magazine said:
O’Bryan said the power of the F-35’s EW/EA systems can be inferred from the fact that the Marine Corps “is going to replace its EA-6B [a dedicated jamming aircraft] with the baseline F-35B” with no additional pods or internal systems. Asked about the Air Force’s plans, O’Bryan answered with several rhetorical questions: “Are they investing in a big jammer fleet? Are they buying [EA-18G] Growlers?” Then he said, “There’s a capability here.” O’Bryan went on to say that the electronic warfare capability on the F-35A “is as good as, or better than, [that of the] fourth generation airplanes specifically built for that purpose.” The F-35’s “sensitivity” and processing power — a great deal of it automated — coupled with the sensor fusion of internal and offboard systems, give the pilot unprecedented situational awareness as well as the ability to detect, locate, and target specific systems that need to be disrupted.

When it comes to electronic combat, the F-35A will make possible a new operational concept, O’Bryan said. The goal is not to simply suppress enemy air defenses. The goal will be to destroy them. “I don’t want to destroy a double-digit SAM for a few hours,” he said. “What we’d like to do is put a 2,000-pound bomb on the whole complex and never have to deal with that... SAM for the rest of the conflict.”

**The above is an extract of a November 2012 article from the Air Force Magazine: "The F-35’s Race Against Time"
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9. Control of the Air and The 3 Other Roles

The goal of this thread assist forum members to think about air warfare in systems terms by providing examples of past operations or potential conflicts within the British conceptual framework for air power. Control of the air has doctrinal primacy and is the next topic of discussion in this thread because it enables freedom of manoeuvre in all of the tri-service environments: air, land and maritime. See the 'British Air and Space Power Doctrine: AP3000 Edition 4' (68 page PDF document) for the stated four air power roles.

No. 1 of 4 air power roles — Control of the air provides commanders with the ability to delaminate, deceive, disrupt, deter and destroy the enemy, and although military operations may be attempted without it, success may be fatally compromised beneath contested airspace. For the Royal Air Force (RAF), control of the air can be defined as:

"The freedom, bound by time, to use a volume of airspace for one’s own purposes while, if necessary, denying its use to an opponent."​

In the British air power framework, we can divide control of the air into seven degrees and the first four are as follows (worst situation first), and in the next post discuss the top three (favourable air situation, air superiority and air supremacy) degrees of control of the air:

(1) Air Paralysis: Friendly forces are totally incapable of offering resistance to enemy air power. For example, in 1967, the Israelis in Operation Moked destroyed over 300 fighters and bombers of the Egyptian Air Force (EAF) on 5 June (destroyed in one day and on the ground). From 6 June 1967 onwards and throughout the rest of the Six Day War, the EAF was in a state of air paralysis.

(2) Air Inferiority: Friendly operations are severely limited by the application of enemy air power. For example, during the Normandy landings in June 1944 the Germans were in a position of air inferiority along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Conversely, possessing a materiel and personnel advantage (two of the three factors identified by Col. Warden), allied air power was able to secure air superiority during Operation Neptune, on D-Day: 6 June 1944.

(3) Unfavourable Air Situation: The extent of air power applied by friendly air forces is insufficient to prejudice the success of enemy air, land and sea operations. For example, the Iraqi Air Force in Iraqi, protected by an IADS started the the 1991 Gulf War I with an unfavourable air situation during Operation Desert Shield. On the commencement of Operation Desert Storm, reduced to air inferiority, but was further degraded to air paralysis (suffering from a materiel, a personnel and a positional disadvantage). The larger and qualitatively superior coalition air forces destroyed Iraq's IADS and Saddam's air force in the air and on the ground, over a 42-day air campaign to liberate Kuwait. See this June 1997 GAO report: 'Operation Desert Storm: Evaluation of the Air Campaign', for details of the bombing campaign.

(4) Air Parity: Efforts exerted by friendly and enemy air forces meet equal resistance from one another. For example, the RAF started the Battle of Britain in the conduct of its defensive-counter-air (DCA) mission with an unfavourable air situation. With the Chain Home system, which provided RAF Fighter Command with its early warning system, the RAF eventually battled its way to air parity, and, after Hitler's strategic blunder of ordering the Blitz on London. Because of the inability of the Luftwaffe to gather accurate intelligence and it failed to gain control the air. This resulted in the cancellation of Operation Sealion (Hitler's planned invasion of Britain). In any air power discussion involving air parity, it would mean a seesaw air battle for control of the air with significant or substantial losses of combat aircraft, materiel and personnel on both sides.
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No. 1 of 4 air power roles — Control of the air (Part II)

(5) Favourable Air Situation: The extent of air power applied by enemy forces is insufficient to prejudice the success of friendly air, land and sea operations. In the 1982 Falklands Air War, neither the Argentinean nor the numerically inferior British were able to achieve air superiority (for details of this naval air battle, read this article by Carl Posey). Despite the Argentineans having more than ten times the combat aircraft (including sixteen Dassault Mirage IIIs) when compared to the Royal Navy (RN) task group, they failed to achieve air superiority. This failure to achieve air superiority resulted in substantial losses on both parties, including 132 aircraft, and 11 ships. For the British, DCA was conducted by the subsonic Sea Harriers flying from the aircraft carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes (armed with the AIM-9L Sidewinder). Wisely, the British tactic of refusing to give battle to Argentinean supersonic fast-jet threats, when they flew high at about 35,000 feet worked to the advantage of the Sea Harriers. Only when they come low and were a threat to the RN task group, did the Sea Harriers commit to battle in their DCA mission. On the one hand, the British were able to use their superior training, the Blue Fox multi-mode radar in the Sea Harriers and the AIM-9L to good effect in air-to-air engagements. On the other, the Argentineans lacked good intelligence on the RN task group, their Super Etendard pilots had insufficient training on the Exocet sea-skimming anti-ship missiles in their limited inventory to conduct attacks (the problem was multiplied by the British use of Lynx helicopters with electronic decoys to lure the Exocet toward imaginary targets). Further, wrong fusing on their free fall bombs in their other fast-jets and the fact that they were forced to fight the British Sea Harriers at range (when they had limited air-to-air refueling capabilities), cost them dearly. Surface-to-air missiles—the Sea Dart and Sea Wolf—had been the main worry of the Argentinean generals, but the Sea Harrier and Sidewinder had cost them a number of aircraft in the conflict. The French Magic and Israeli Shafrir missiles (i.e. they did not have equally effective air-to-air missiles), launched at great range, had proved useless. The 28 Sea Harriers flew 1,435 sorties shooting down 20 enemy aircraft plus three probables. Using two of the three factors identified by Col. Warden (having better trained personnel and choosing to fight from a better position) and effective sortie generation, the RN was able to achieve a favourable air situation for significant portions of the conflict.

(6) Air Superiority: That degree of dominance in the air battle of friendly forces over enemy forces which permits the conduct of operations by the former and its related land, sea and air forces at a given time and place without prohibitive interference by the opposing force. For the US Navy, there are three different ways of thinking about air superiority:

(a) one, control of space;

(b) two, control of time; and

(c) finally, control of geography or a combination of those three.​

For example, at the start of World War II, Germany's Luftwaffe destroyed Poland's air force in the first days of the campaign. From then on, the Luftwaffe was able to interdict, to attack ground troops, and to soften positions for subsequent movement on the ground. Nine months later, Germany did the same thing in France, when the Luftwaffe won air superiority over France in two days.

(7) Air Supremacy: That degree of air superiority wherein the enemy air force is incapable of effective resistance. During the 1982 Lebanon War, Israeli air operations faced Syrian forward deployment of SAM sites in the Bekaa Valley and along the Syrian border. According to one account of the battle, to facilitate air support to Israeli ground forces, Israel launched an ambitious operation, involving roughly one hundred aircraft, extensive use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, and remotely-piloted aircraft to engage seventeen out of the nineteen SAM targets and shoot-down 87 Syrian aircraft (called Operation Mole Cricket 19). The raid demonstrated effective SEAD and air-to-air combat. Israeli air supremacy has not been challenged by the Syrians since the 1982 Bekaa Valley Air War, where they had an exchange ratio of 87-to-zip in air-to-air combat (see this June 2002 article by Dr Rebecca Grant and this 1984 Rand article: "Moscow's Lessons from the 1982 Lebanon Air War"), due to the second and third order effects from the combination of Israeli informational dominance and their robust electronic warfare capabilities. Since 1982, it's been demonstrated that air warfare is not about the platform alone and every tertiary air force demonstrates that awareness.
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No. 2 of 4 air power roles — Attack from the air may be broken down into: deep attack; counter-land operations; counter-sea operations; and information operations. The inherent characteristics of air power, particularly speed, reach, and agility, mean that it is primarily an offensive weapon that can be used to deliver a wide range of effects, both kinetic and non-kinetic, across all levels of warfare. In conventional military operations, all-weather, precision air attack can now decisively shape the operational battlespace; the differences in speed of manoeuvre between land and air forces continue to remain orders of magnitude apart.

(1) Deep Attack — Deep Attack describes attacks conducted against targets often (but not always) deep in enemy territory and of significant, often strategic, importance. Deep attack is used to disrupt or destroy centres of gravity or other vital target sets such as leadership, command elements, war production resources, fielded forces or key supporting infrastructure. It seeks to disrupt an enemy’s strategy, ability or will to wage war, or to carry out aggressive activity. It is the outcome required that defines deep attack, not the specific weapon system, delivery platform or type of target attacked.

• For example, on 30 April 1982, a RAF Vulcan B2, supported by extensive air to air refuelling, dropped twenty-one 1,000lb bombs onto the airfield at Stanley in the Falklands Islands, cratering the runway and denying its use to Argentinean fast-jet aircraft. However, this also demonstrated Britain’s capability for deep attack, potentially threatening the Argentine mainland and resulting in a number of air defence squadrons being redeployed to the north of the country, denying their potential use in the rest of the 1982 Falklands Air War.​

(2) Counter-Land Operations — Counter-land operations aim to gain and maintain a desired degree of control of the land battlespace by targeting fielded enemy ground forces and the infrastructure directly supporting them, or by using the psychological effects of air power to attack the enemy’s will.

• For example, on 17 January 1991 in Operation Desert Storm, a coalition strike force of 2,250 combat aircraft systemically destroyed Saddam Hussein's IADS and the Iraqi air force in an air campaign lasting 42 days (see select chapters of the Report to Congress on the Conduct of the Persian Gulf War: including Chapter 6 for more details on the air campaign and Chapter 8 for the 100 hour ground campaign, where coalition land forces employed movement to apply their strengths against enemy weaknesses).​
Concept Check for Manoeuvre Theory

In the fall of France, the Germans dislocated the French forces by luring the main bulk of the defence to the north and attacked the French from an unguarded flank through Ardennes Forest that resulted in their defeat. To lure the French forces to the north, the Germans had to project a force through Belgium.

For that to occur, the Germans had to overcome the Belgium fortress guarding the main bridges for the projection across Albert Canal (a major obstacle to the German’s projection). This heavily defended fortress had to be captured, and the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael took place between 10 -11 May 1940, with airborne German troops landing via the use of gliders and were able to disable the defences of the fortress. Simultaneously, the rest of the German assault force had landed near the three bridges over the Albert Canal and brought them under German control. German forces were then able to utilize the bridges to aid in the invasion of Belgium. This battle demonstrated that:

(i) the era of static fixed defences had ended; and

(ii) victory had been secured by using an elite but smaller force to take on a larger force in a heavily defended position.​

Likewise, in World War II, the Japanese attacked Malaya and Pearl Harbor almost at the same time. In a similar act of tactical brilliance and excellent command of operational art by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), Malaya and Singapore both fell faster than the IJA had hoped. The Pearl Harbour and the Malayan Campaigns were great tactical victories, that was part of a flawed Japanese strategy for engaging in war with the US.

The net effect of these tactical successes was to give rise to the idea of manoeuvre theory in land warfare that existed even prior to that period (as exemplified by the writings of by Basil Liddell-Hart and others). The concept of manoeuvre in warfare is, in its simplest form, to employ movement to apply one’s own strength against enemy weakness while avoiding the reverse. The theories of Hart emphasized the importance of maneuver, surprise, and technology in combat. These concepts were developed by Hart into a concept of war fighting termed the indirect approach. His theories were inspired by the devastation of the World War I (which was mostly fought in a static manner that was enormously costly in manpower and equipment), which led to a rethinking of military strategy in an attempt to circumvent the carnage of the frontal attack. Like all good ideas, it gets refined in current doctrine as follows:

'Combined arms maneuver is the application of the elements of combat power in a complementary and reinforcing manner to achieve physical, temporal, or psychological advantages over the enemy, preserve freedom of action and exploit success.'

While of different origins (to manoeuvre theory), the Soviet theory of 'deep operations,' like Soviet military science as a whole developed in parallel with Soviet armed forces organizational reform in the 1930s. This includes large scale use of combined arms to provide the option of simultaneously attacking the entire depth of the enemy battle formation with the objective isolating, encircling, and destroying the enemy. In 1939, war between Japan and the Soviet Union in Mongolia demonstrated the viability of deep operations and focused on the need for consecutive series of operations in order to prevent losing the initiative. The Soviets also realised that echeloned attacks were key exploiting any breakthroughs; which resulted in the formation of operational-manoeuvre groups, in the Red Army, whose task was to attack the operational depth of the enemy. In order to break the battle stalemate, Soviet shock-groups bypassed the enemy’s centers of resistance until they completed encirclement.

Eventual Soviet application of these theories to operations on the Eastern Front from March 1943 onwards earned Marshal Zhukov a reputation for operational excellence, which the Americans later sought to emulate in their AirLand Battle doctrine. Depth is central to Deep Battle theory; the use of combined arms and the planning of consecutive staggered operations, was characteristic of the Red Army from the Battle of Kursk onwards.

The main purpose of 'deep operations' is to keep the enemy off balance and to get inside the enemy's decision cycle. The creation of leverage, striking with surprise and strength in simultaneous manner throughout the depth of the battlespace to force the enemy to become reactive, and thus gaining the initiative.
The overall campaign strategy and the specific circumstances of the conflict will determine how counter-land operations are conducted.

• An example of an attack on infrastructure occurred on 23 June 1952. It was the largest air raid of the Korean War and it was targeted at the power generation facilities (generators and transformers) of a North Korean dam at Suiho (to reduce North Korean power generation capacity). This successful large scale air raid was conducted by over 230 aircraft from four US Carriers, two Marine Air Groups and four USAF wings without the loss of a single aircraft on the US side.​

The synergy of air forces and surface forces, operating as an integrated joint force, can often be overwhelming in cases where the activities of a single component alone would not be decisive – this is the preferred method of employment. Depending on intent and tasking, an air force can seek to attain air superiority over a specific area. The attainment of air superiority is not an end in itself. Rather, it should be the start of its relevance to the combined arms fight, such as providing Air Interdiction (AI) or Close Air Support (CAS). Counter-land operations that fall into the above two mission types are as follows:

(a) AI is action to destroy, disrupt, divert or delay the enemy’s surface potential before it can be used effectively against friendly forces, or otherwise achieve its objectives. It is carried out at such distance from friendly forces that detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of friendly forces is not required. Battlefield AI often targets enemy ammunition, fuel, and other supply depots, enemy higher echelon command and control targets, key bridges to delay advance, retreat or resupply of enemy forces, various enemy radar installations, including mobile radars, artillery hunting radars and such other counter-battery tools, enemy medium to long range surface-to-surface missiles, which can be used to attack own high value targets.

• An example of AI occurred on 7 October during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The Syrians committed their armor reserves on the Golan Heights. Three hundred tanks, drove to within five miles of the Benot Yacov bridge. Nothing stood between them and the plains below Golan except a handful of reservists just arriving at the front. As it turned out, the Syrians had run out of gas and ammunition because on the previous night, the Israelis had conducted battlefield AI just behind the front against the convoys of Syrian trucks carrying ammunition and fuel to the three hundred tanks.​

(b) CAS is action by fixed and rotary wing aircraft against hostile targets requiring detailed integration with the fire and movement of friendly forces for targeting guidance and to avoid fratricide. For long endurance CAS missions, the Marines are using incremental technical innovations to the Harvest Hawk platform to provide improved support (with the use of the Derringer door to launch Griffin missiles). With more choices in munitions, types of weapons and platforms, there is greater complexity in providing CAS.​
USAF said:
Capt. Allison Black: The Angel of Death

Capt. Allison Black had landed in Uzbekistan just hours earlier and was headed towards her first combat mission in Afghanistan. A C-130H gunship navigator assigned to the 1st Special Operations Group, her assignment was to plot routes, communicate with ground forces and identify targets in the darkness below. Bearded special forces soldiers were traveling on horseback armed with intelligence gained from Afghan Northern Alliance soldiers and Black and her crew were there to use high caliber rounds to create a problem for the Taliban... With help from the Northern Alliance, and their general, Abdul Rashid Dostum, they identified a nearby safehouse hiding more than 200 Taliban and al Qaida soldiers. As they approached their target, Black's voice shattered the silence over the special forces soldiers' field radios. The Northern Alliance general was in disbelief when he heard a woman's voice over the radio: "A woman, sent to kill the Taliban." Black said that he thought it was the funniest thing.

But with more than 400 40mm cannon and 100 105mm howitzer rounds on target, and more than 200 of the enemy killed, Black quickly was dubbed the "angel of death" by her Afghan counterparts. Black said the Afghan general dialed into the Taliban frequency and told the enemy, "America is so determined, they bring their women to kill the Taliban. It is the 'angel of death' raining fire upon you."

For her actions, Black was one of six Airmen to receive the first Air Force Combat Action Medal in a ceremony held on 24 March 2013...

*For background on the CAS mission conducted by Capt. Allison Black, see: "The Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan" by Doug Stanton.
While not directly related to CAS, one common issue for all modern armed forces is the management of complexity in a constantly shifting, subtle and nuanced battlefield. Simple systems tracking the locations of 'blue forces' in of itself is not sufficient. Higher HQ also needs to keep track many moving parts. Given that the location of friendly troops that are constantly moving this becomes a complex task. When reading and discussing CAS, do not get too excited about the weapons and the platforms. It is far more important to understand the current processes and tools that enabled weapons release.

• In the 2004 battle of Fallujah (Operation Al-Fajr and Operation Phantom Fury), US aircraft dropped or fired approximately 318 precision bombs, 391 rockets and missiles, and 93,000 machinegun or cannon rounds. The CAS deployed was further augmented by over 6,000 artillery rounds and close to 9,000 mortar rounds in direct support. For an idea of the complexity involved, read 'The USMC Approach to CAS in Fallujah (Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3)'. For a more detailed discussion on issues relating to CAS, read this 2010 article on the long delayed LAAR program and other US Army doctrinal gaps, 'Updating close-air support: New doctrine and aircraft are needed for COIN warfare' by LTC Paul Darling and LT. Justin Lawlor, as a backgrounder.​

The relationship between boots on the ground and force multipliers, like air power, is akin to the blades of a pair of scissors: both are necessary if the scissors are to cut. Air power can only attack and destroy but has little ability to physically occupy ground, compared to infantry or tanks, therefore boots on the ground is needed to hold physical terrain. And the boots on the ground need responsive fire-support, which include CAS and on-call artillery. CAS has been used in major wars between states; and even in small border conflicts between a state and a non-state actor.

• For example, on 5 March 2013 in Operation Daulat, the Malaysian Government commenced military operations against over 100 armed Filipino gunmen, from the Tausug community, to end the Kampung Tanduo and Kampung Tanjung Batu stand-off in Lahad Datu. In violation of Malaysian sovereignty, on 12 February 2013, the Filipino Tausug gunmen (including a pretender claiming to represent the Sultan of Sulu) invaded two kampungs, in Sabah; and displaced the local residents from their homes. Thereafter, the ambush and killing of Malaysian security forces deployed in the security cordon (by these Filipino Tausug gunmen) after the close of negotiations compelled the Malaysian Armed Forces to commence ongoing clearing operations in a number of areas with wheeled armour supported by artillery and CAS. The CAS was provided by three F/A-18D Hornets and five Hawk 208s from the Royal Malaysian Air Force's (RMAF). As at 12 March 2013, 97 suspects, including women, were arrested in connection with the Lahad Datu incident under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, along with the deaths of 56 Filipino Tausug gunmen, one unidentified teenager, eight Malaysian policemen, and one Malaysian soldier.​
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No. 2 of 4 air power roles — Attack (Part II)

(3) counter-sea operations (CSO) — CSO extend the application of air power into the high seas or the littoral and its adjacent waters, and extend the attack range and capability of surface and sub-surface elements. The 1982 Falklands Air War by Fuerza Aérea Argentina and Comando de Aviación Naval Argentinao in support of Argentinian efforts is a classic example an air battle that determined the control of the sea. In less than two months of hostilities, 891 men died, 132 aircraft were lost, and 11 ships were sunk. Fought hundreds of miles from the nearest mainland, control of the sea was decided in the air.
Concept Check for Naval Operations

In naval warfare the key is to detect the enemy while not being detected. Hence, it is important to deny the enemy opportunity to detect your naval forces or to exercise emissions control (EMCON). EMCOM is part of modern naval tactics. Like an IADS (discussed earlier in this thread), a naval formation consists of a number of onion layers of defence in three dimensions, including air-warfare, surface-warfare and sub-surface-warfare (or anti-submarine warfare). The outer most onion layer is provided by picket ships, and may include combat air patrol (CAP) fighters, maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs), UAVs, and even early warning aircraft (AEW). These air and naval units operate at a distance from the high value naval units (HVUs), to provide a defensive screen.

Picket ships (a role usually performed by frigates) need to be multi-roled, with an emphasis on anti-submarine warfare (especially passive detection of enemy submarines). Often these multi-role frigates carry anti-submarine helicopters for 'stand off' engagement. Each multi-role frigate/destroyer is usually assigned to a specific sector and they use passive-towed variable depth sonar arrays as an anti-submarine tool. Air warfare in the outer onion ring serves to protect multi-role frigates/destroyers (and helicopters conducting anti-submarine operations). This also includes attacking enemy aircraft before they reach their weapons-launching points.

The inner onion layer has a stronger emphasis is on anti-air warfare and its role is to engage any airborne threats that penetrate the outer layer. This means the threat is primarily enemy missiles. Within the main body of the naval fleet, air-warfare destroyers (or principal surface combatants) should be positioned to provide layered and overlapping coverage of the enemy missile threat. The optimum firing position is directly between the target and the inbound enemy missiles. If the enemy missile passes a unit on a tangent (a crossing shot) the probability of a kill (Pk) is greatly reduced. Further some anti-air-missiles of air-warfare destroyers can be fired from one air-warfare frigate/destroyer with targeting and guidance from another frigate/destroyer and need never illuminate the targets themselves.

Checking the area around a naval fleet and under HVUs for enemy submarines is called 'delousing'. Enemy submarines are a threat to naval fleet operations. Any naval fleet move towards shallow-water operations (eg. to conduct amphibious operations) will increase this threat. In shallow water, wave and tide noise, the influx of fresh water from rivers and the lack of a thermal gradient, make it a dreadful environment to detect a sub-surface threat. Passive detection is difficult and surface units may be forced to use active sonar to search.

Even the suspicion of a submarine threat forces a naval fleet to commit resources to removing it as the consequences of an undetected enemy submarine are too great. For successful anti-submarine warfare, all surface, air and sub-surface assets must be used in the most tactically efficient manner. Anti-submarine warfare egagements occur in three phases:
(a) Detected — From any source an enemy submarine is possibly or probably in the area (eg. The surface search radar of the MPA detects an enemy submarine, when it raises its snorkel).

(b) Localised — An enemy submarine contact has been localised to a sufficiently small area to allow an attack with some chance of success (eg. the fleet deploys a helicopter to drop strings of Sonobuoys to help localise the enemy submarine).

(c) Targeted — The enemy submarine's bearing, range, course and speed are known with sufficient accuracy to attack with a high probability of success.​
In 'delousing', if an enemy submarine penetrates to the inner screen all and any efforts to distract the submarine from attacking the HVUs must be made. The issue is getting weapons in the water, even if they are not accurately targeted. Torpedo evasion maneuvers and the launch of torpedo decoys may be necessary. Vice Admiral James R. Fitzgerald, US Navy (Retired), writing in the February 2013 issue of the Proceedings Magazine described anti-submarine warfare (ASW) as follows:

"It is a complex form of warfare executed in an uncooperative and unforgiving environment (the ocean) that demands constant vigilance, exhaustive training, and precision teamwork. Even then it is often described by those who have significant experience as more of an art. It is “24/7,” monotonous and boring punctuated by periods of intensive operational uncertainty.

While the submarine community has a well-defined strategy and supporting investment plan, a broader undersea-warfare strategy (and supporting investment plan) does not exist. Such a strategy and a general concept of operations, is required for a coherent investment plan, for all else follows.

A brief review of the Cold War strategy and concept of operations is illustrative...

The Cold War concept of operations was multilayered, consisting of independent, far-forward operations by nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines (SSNs). In peacetime, these would provide intelligence and warning, and in wartime they would constitute the first barrier that Soviet submarines would encounter when they left their bases. Area ASW operations had alternating layers of Navy patrol and reconnaissance aircraft and submarines. Barriers were placed between Soviet homeports and open-ocean patrol areas wherever maritime geography made them possible. Leakage (a reality of all ASW operations) of Soviet submarines through the barriers still required destroyers and task-group air assets to protect those forces so valuable that even limited losses needed to be avoided, such as carrier battle groups. And a sub-strategy was in place of using submarines offensively in forward operations to “hold at risk” Soviet ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) in such a way as to divert the Soviet navy, and particularly their best SSNs, away from other more offensive missions—operations in Soviet SSBN bastions. (The concept was to exact considerable attrition as Soviet submarines surged into the North Atlantic shipping lanes, and as they attempted to return to their bases or replenishment predicated on the concept of sending the message to the Soviets that they could not win with the losses they would endure)... So it was a mix of offensive, defense-in-depth, force defense, and diversionary operations, but basically an attrition-based strategy."
CSO is important even when the parties in the dispute are not at war and shall use the concerns of the Indonesian Air Force (IndoAF), as an example.

• Recently in March 2005, the IndoAF faced an unfavourable air situation, viz-a-viz, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) over the Ambalat dispute, where KD Renchong rammed the Indonesian vessel, KRI Tedung Naga. One of the reasons why the naval confrontation did not escalate, then, as the IndoAF did not enjoy a favourable air situation but it did not stop the IndoAF from deploying F-16s to patrol the area in support of their naval operations in the Sulawesi Sea. As the IndoAF improves its sortie generation capability via the acquisition of more fighters, over time, the gap in capability, will close. Having developed the ability to track vessels at sea by air surveillance, by 2009, the Indonesians were more willing to escalate in their range of response options, with an Indonesian corvette using its fire control radar to illuminate a Malaysian vessel in the disputed Ambalat waters in the Sulawesi Sea. This air power status quo will change, from 2014 onwards, as the IndoAF embarks on an ambitious modernisation program, which would greatly improve its surveillance and sortie generation capability viz-a-viz RMAF.​

As detailed later, navies have also used a wide range of airborne surveillance assets (ranging from maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and UAVs) to maintain maritime domain awareness, so that these naval task forces can more effectively allocate scare naval resources in their counter piracy mission. CSO has an emphasis on maintaining maritime domain awareness. This domain awareness can be used for the following:

(i) anti-surface warfare is conducted to destroy or neutralise enemy naval surface forces. For example, on 18 April 1988 in Operation Praying Mantis, US naval forces destroyed Iranian military facilities on oil platforms, damaged the Iranian frigate IS Sabalan (F73) and a Iranian F4. US aircraft and ships also and sank and damaged some Iranian speedboats in retaliation for the Iranian mining of the Persian Gulf during the Iran–Iraq war (for details of this naval battle, read this article by David Crist);

(ii) anti-submarine warfare is conducted to deny the enemy the effective use of submarines. For example, 25 on April 1982 during the Falklands War, a British Wessex helicopter near South Georgia put two 250-pound depth charges next to the submarine Santa Fe near Grytviken. More British helicopters joined the fight, and soon the flaming submarine beached itself; and

(iii) aerial mining support the control of vital sea areas, by inflicting damage on an enemy’s vessels or submarines to hinder operations and impede the flow of traffic through a given area (see this April 1974 Rand Report by Federick M. Sallagar on its impact on Imperial Japan during World War II).​

(4) Information Operations (IO) — IO are primarily non-kinetic actions taken to influence, affect or defend information, systems and decision-making. They must be integrated into air (and space) operations in the same manner as more traditional capabilities to create effects across the entire battlespace. IO include the following:

(aa) electronic warfare refers to any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or impede enemy assaults via the spectrum. Electronic warfare includes three major subdivisions: electronic attack, electronic protection, and electronic warfare support;

(bb) influence operations accent communications to affect attitudes and behaviors of a target audience but also can include the employment of military capabilities, economic development, and other capabilities to reinforce communications to the specified target audience; and

(cc) computer network operations consists of three different operations; computer network exploitation (and espionage), computer network defense, and computer network attack.​
Marine Air Ground Task Force Electronic Warfare (MAGTF EW)

It is interesting to note that, for the USMC, the F-35B also replaces the EA-6B Prowler. Currently, they have 20 EA-6Bs in 4 squadrons, with at least five aircraft in each squadron. The EA-6B Prowler is the USMC's tactical jamming aircraft and has gone through four major upgrades; with ICAP III being the latest upgrade (consisting of the Multifunction Information Distribution System and link 16; the ALQ-218 receiver and new software for precise selective-reactive radar jamming, deception and threat location).

USMC Prowlers are unique in their integration with the Tactical Electronic Processing and Evaluation System (TERPES). TERPES provides post-mission analysis of EA-6B ES data for reporting and updating orders of battle. It also provides post-mission analysis of jamming and HARM employment for reporting, assessing and storing mission data.

USMC Prowlers supported joint operations against Libya in 1986 from a carrier. During Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield VMAQ-2 had one detachment (six aircraft) deployed in Japan and the remainder of the squadron (12 aircraft) deployed to the Persian Gulf. During Desert Shield the squadron flew 936 sorties for over 2100 hours. US Marine Prowlers flew 495 combat missions totaling 1622 hours, supporting the full spectrum of joint and combined missions.

The USMC’s EA-6B Prowler will be decommissioned by the end of FY 2019. This “sundown” plan, combined with rapidly changing dynamics in the electromagnetic operating environment (EMOE), compels an evolutionary approach to the complex problem set of electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) control.The Marine Corps will address its electronic warfare requirements through a concept known as MAGTF EW, an integrated family-of-systems approach of distributed, platform agnostic attack and receive capabilities. Far from a compromise plan for the retirement of the EA-6B, the MAGTF EW strategy will unite air, land, and sea-based EMS-dependent technologies to ensure collaborative, efficient, and effective control of the EMS.

Future growth of MAGTF EW will allow for the progressive inclusion of technologies and capabilities from other Services and commercial vendors. At present, the following capabilities comprise the MAGTF EW portfolio in development.

Intrepid Tiger II (IT-2)
– A modular, commercial-off-the shelf based Electronic Warfare pod designed to address irregular warfare targets.
(i) The V(1) variant will fly aboard tactical aircraft (TACAIR) assets.
(ii) The V(2) will fly aboard unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
(iii) The V(3) will fly aboard rotary-wing airframes.​

Software Reprogrammable Payload (SRP)
– A small-format, software-definable, multi-channel, radio-reprogrammable digital technology for radio relay, network management/monitoring, internet routing, and dynamic bandwidth allocation. SRP contributes to MAGTF EW by providing robust EMS maneuver and adaptability in stressed EMOEs.​

EW Service Architecture (EWSA)
– An extensible data exchange and hardware protocol intended to connect EW/SIGINT airborne nodes to ground Operators, Cyber/EW Control Cells (C/EWCCs), and other air EW nodes. EWSA will provide “on-demand EW fires” in operational conditions under C/EWCC control, and will unite Air EW, Ground EW and SIGINT via an adaptive network with multiple wave forms. Additionally, EWSA will also provide basic digital interoperability between air platforms.​
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No. 3 of 4 air power roles — Air mobility enables forces to be moved and sustained worldwide, across the entire spectrum of operations. It provides rapid and flexible options to military planners and national and international government agencies, allowing rapid responses to crisis situations globally. Air mobility consists of the following six sub-sets:

(1) Air Lift — Air lift provides the capability to enable rapid global deployment and redeployment of military personnel and associated equipment. Whilst it cannot match the capacity of sea lift, air lift allows rapid and focused responses anywhere in the world and can have a strategic effect for a besieged ally under attack, needing resupply to size the initiative and break the will of the enemy.

• For example, between October 14 and November 14, 1973, the USAF conducted Operation Nickel Grass. This strategic airlift to deliver weapons and supplies to Israel during the Yom Kippur War shipped 22,325 tons of tanks, artillery, ammunition, and supplies in C-141 Starlifter and C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft.​

Air lift provides a highly agile and responsive means to sustain deployed forces worldwide and is extensively used in the various examples provided in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in Mali, with examples cited in this thread.
Pointer said:
"A military maxim has it that amateurs talk about strategy while professionals talk about logistics".​
TIME, August 20, 1990​

...The Gulf War was undoubtedly one of the largest military campaigns seen in recent years. The unprecedented scale and complexity of the war presented logisticians with a daunting logistics nightmare.

There were three phases in the Gulf War: deployment (Operation Desert Shield), combat (Operation Desert Storm), and redeployment (Operation Desert Farewell). Logistics played a significant role throughout the campaign...

• Operation Desert Shield
In the early build-up phase, the coalition's challenge was to quickly rush enough troops and equipment into the theatre to deter and resist the anticipated Iraqi attack against Saudi Arabia... The logisticians then had to cope with the daunting tasks of landing and processing 38,000 troops and 163, 581 tons of equipment within the first 30 days...

Despite the short timeframe given for preparation, the resourceful logistics team was up to the given tasks. The effective logistics support demonstrated in Operation Desert Shield allowed the quick deployment of the troops in the initial phase of the operation. It also provided the troops a positive start before the commencement of the offensive operation.​

• Operation Desert Storm
It began at 0230 hours on Jan 17, 1991 when the US planes bombed targets in Kuwait and Iraq. A total of 2,500 tons of bombs were dropped within the first 24 hours. The month of intensive bombing had badly crippled the Iraqi command and control systems. Coalition forces took full advantage of this and were ready to gear up for the now famous "end run" around the western flank of the Iraqi border defences.

To the logisticians, this manoeuvre posed another huge challenge. To support such a manoeuvre, two Army Corps worth of personnel and equipment had to be transported westward and northward to their respective jumping off points for the assault. Nearly 4,000 heavy vehicles were used... Just before the ground assault began, peak traffic at a key checkpoint of the supply routes approached 18 vehicles per minute, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. This volume was sustained for almost six weeks. This manoeuvre would not have been possible without the logistics capabilities of the US Army.​

• Operation Desert Farewell
It was recognised that the logistical requirements to support the initial build-up phase and the subsequent air and land offensive operations were difficult tasks to achieve... Despite the massive amount of supplies and hardware to be shipped back, the logisticians who remained behind completed the re-deployment almost six months ahead of time.

Throughout the war, the Commanding General, Norman Schwarzkopf, had accorded great importance to logistics. MG William G Pagonis was appointed as the Deputy Commanding General for logistics and subsequently given a promotion to a three-star general during the war... These complex logistics operations successfully executed during the War will remind many of the mighty prowess of effective logistics as well as the penalties for the lack of it.​
*The above is an extract of a July-September 2000 article by then MAJ Ng Chan Cheok and then MAJ Ng Tion Huat from Pointer: "Logistics - A Combat Multiplier."
Or in times of crisis and when speed of response is essential, air lift provides an ability to extract non-combatants, or to render aid after a natural or civil disaster.

• More recently and on a much small scale, on 22 February 2011, there were 116 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel in Christchurch participating in a bilateral military exercise, Exercise Lion Walk, with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck. At the request of the New Zealand Government, NZDF and SAF troops were deployed in support of relief operations. To augment the relief efforts, additional SAF personnel (including a command team), 4 rescue dogs and the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) heavy urban search and rescue team and their gear were airlifted over 8,400 km to Christchurch in a KC-135R and two C-130s. Thereafter, the two RSAF C130s were deployed alongside NZDF aircraft to create an air bridge to transport relief supplies and people for the duration of the relief efforts.​

(2) Air to Air Refuelling — Air to Air Refuelling is a significant force multiplier. It increases the range, endurance, payload and flexibility of all receiver-capable aircraft to directly support your own forces or in a coalition environment. And it is especially important when forward basing is limited or unavailable, or where access, basing and over-flight limitations would otherwise impose constraints on air operations. The boom system used by the USAF can off-load fuel at a rate of about 6,000lb (2,722kg) per minute, but not all fighters can accept fuel at the same rate. Actual rates are far slower. The US Navy's hose-and-drogue system can transfer fuel at rates of between 1,500lb and 2,000lb (680.5kg and 907.3kg) per minute. Therefore a strike package of 16 aircraft will need up to four KC-135 tankers; and in some cases where the refueling does not go smoothly, after the last aircraft is topped-up, the first aircraft to get fuel in the strike package may need a top-up. An strike aircraft with a 10% of fuel load left will normally be treated as having reached 'bingo' fuel; and will be topped-up by a visit to a tanker.

• For example, on 15 April 1986 in Operation El Dorado Canyon, the US conducted a deep attack mission with eighteen F-111Fs, four EF-111A Ravens and fifteen A-6, A-7, F/A-18 attack aircraft and EA-6B Prowlers on five targets in Libya, in response to the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing. For the Libyan raid, the United States was denied overflight rights by a number of European countries, which added 1,300 miles (2,100 km) each way and requiring multiple aerial refuelings.​

(3) Airborne/Heliborne Operations — At one end of the scale, airborne/heliborne operations project combat power through the air delivery of land forces via air onto an objective. They may be operational or strategic in nature; however, they are invariably high-risk, high-gain undertakings. At the other end of the scale, the insertion of small patrols has much utility in low-density battlespace, such as recent operations in Afghanistan. Large scale airborne/heliborne operations can have threatre wide operational effect.

• For example, on 24 February 1991 in Operation Desert Storm, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) began its attack with its AH-64s, AH-1s, 60 UH-60s and 40 CH-47s augmented by the XVIII Airborne Corps' 18th Aviation Brigade and began lifting the 1st Brigade into what became Forward Operating Base (FOB) Cobra, 93 miles (150 km) into Iraq. Over three hundred helicopter sorties ferried the troops and equipment into the objective area in the largest heliborne operation in military history.​

Airborne/heliborne operations can have a tactical effect by dislocating the enemy, through speed and tempo. In October 2001, elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment parachuted into the Helmand Desert of Afghanistan, their objective to secure Forward Operating Base Rhino. In March 2003, the 173rd Airborne Brigade parachuted into Northern Iraq to seize an airfield and support US Special Operations Forces. In January 2012, members of the US Naval Special Warfare Development Group, using Military Free Fall, parachuted into Somalia to recover two hostages. This contemporary employment of parachute capability across the spectrum of conflict illustrates its continued relevance to modern operations. While the large scale airborne assaults of the Arnhem in World War II are unlikely in the future, a parachute capability still provides the ability to insert force or materiel in austere or remote areas.

• On 28 January 2013 in Operation Serval, about two hundred legionnaires of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment jumped from C-160s, north of Timbuktu to clear obstacles and open the airfield in Timbuktu for operational use against the Islamist insurgents in Mali.​

(4) Special Air Operations — Special Forces (SF) are usually small units of carefully selected personnel employing modified equipment and unconventional tactics against strategic and operational objectives — which includes SF support for both conventional and non-conventional operations.
Linda Robertson said:
The Council on Foreign Relations published a report on the "Future of Special Operations" by Linda Robertson. An extract of page 5-6 of the report is quoted below.

"One of the most cost-effective elements of the defense arsenal, special operators are mature and highly skilled. They are selected and trained to deploy in very small numbers, whether conducting unilateral missions or working with foreign partners. The special operations budget for the 2012 fiscal year was $10.5 billion, 1.4 percent of the total defense budget. Including the amount that the military services contribute to special operations for such things as personnel and standard-issue equipment, the total comes to 4 percent of defense spending—a fairly small percentage in relation to the contribution of special operations forces to national security objectives. Though the special operations budget has more than quadrupled from $2.3 billion in 2001, the growth leveled off with a budget request of $10.4 billion for the 2013 fiscal year...

...Though the future portends ongoing high demand for special operations
forces... they are a scarce resource. They constitute less than 5 percent of total U.S. military forces... Special operations forces are designed for missions that conventional forces cannot undertake, such as those that require operating in a low profile manner, behind enemy lines, or in politically sensitive places... Small-footprint special operations missions will likely run a wide gamut in the future. Due to... the weakening of the core al-Qaeda organization, unilateral counterterrorism missions may evolve from high-tempo missions in a few countries to far fewer but more geographically diffuse operations conducted against those who represent dire and imminent threats to U.S. interests..."
Conceptually, there are two broad types of SF operations; green and black.

(aa) Green side operations refers to reconnaissance missions, like, the insertion of long range reconnaissance patrols during the Vietnam War or the reconnaissance conducted by British Special Boat Service (SBS) resulted in the successful rescue of five members the Royal Irish Regiment (held by a militia group in Sierra Leone) on 10 September 2000 in Operation Barras. The insertion of the SBS is an example of visual observation by troops on the ground that made a critical difference to the direction action phase of Operation Barras (where the assault and security teams were inserted by helicopters).

(bb) Black operations refer to direct action missions, like hostage rescue, or kill/capture raids, which represents the (step 6) or execution in the 6 steps of crisis action planning.
• The successful rescue of Captain Philips, from the lifeboat of the MV Maersk Alabama on 12 April 2009, would not have been possible without the delivery of a squadron SF, to the right place at the right time, to enable their snipers to shoot all 3 pirates on the lifeboat at the same time. The SEAL squadron tasked with the mission, flew for over 20 hours by C-17, to execute military free-fall (including 3 tandem passengers) into the ocean, over the horizon of USS Bainbridge and out of sight of the pirates — with their high speed assault craft (with their gear), the boat crew, the assault teams, snipers, and communications specialists — to be picked up by USS Boxer for the hostage rescue mission.​
The six steps of crisis action planning are as follows:
(step 1) situation development - monitor and appreciate situation (which may include the deployment of ISR assets);

(step 2) crisis assessment - prepare assessment report for civilian leadership;

(step 3) military course of action development - issues warning order to relevant subordinate command(s);

(step 4) course of action selection - this includes refining course of action selected and issues order to subordinate command tasked with execution;

(step 5) execution planning - command approves the plan(s) made by the subordinate command through the orders process; and

(step 6) execution - execution of the plan by the subordinate command.​
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No. 3 of 4 air power roles — Air mobility (Part II)

(4) Special Air Operations (continued from above) — Getting the appropriate air support often means the difference between success and failure in a SF raid mission. A reader should note that successful infiltration of SF via air mobility is only half of the mission; and that the ex-filtrate portion of the mission is just as important (the failure of Operation Gothic Serpent, made famous by the movie Black Hawk Down, comes to mind), if the aircrews involved and the SF teams inserted are to come home alive. It is unrealistic to expect SF raids to solve the problems of warfare, as it is essentially an attritional approach, when applied on its own by policy makers — in other words, SF raids are not a magic bullet — the enemy gets a vote to determine outcomes. However, when SF are used judiciously, as is the case in the two examples below, they are an important coercive tool of state power, that can be used by policy makers.

(a) SF air mobility can be conducted by fixed wing transports like C-130s.

• For example, on 4 July 1976 in Operation Thunderbolt, Israeli SF flew in 4 C-130s over 4,000 km to Entebbe, Uganda to rescue over 100 hostages of Air France Flight 139 from the Palestinian hostage takers and the Ugandan soldiers. And as an added plus, Israeli SF destroyed aircraft from the Ugandan Air Force on the ground to prevent pursuit in the extraction phase of the operations.​

(b) SF air mobility can be conducted by rotary wing aircraft like helicopters.

• For example, on 2 May 2011 in Operation Neptune Spear, a SF team of twenty-two SEALs, an EOD technician, and a CIA interpreter, were inserted from a base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan to a compound at Kakul Road (in Bilal Town, a middle-class Pakistani neighbourhood), Abbottabad, Pakistan in two stealth Black Hawks and two Chinooks (operated by the US 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment). The two Chinooks carried extra fuel, and a quick reaction force of SEALs, to enable the Black Hawks to conduct refueling operations as part of the ex-filtrate plan. As the first Black Hawk attempted to hover over the compound, it crashed landed west of the main house in the one acre compound. The second Black Hawk inserted the external security team, consisting of four SEALs, a CIA interpreter, and Cairo (a combat assault dog). Thereafter, the second Black Hawk, inserted the remainder of the SEALs outside of the gate (instead of fast roping onto the roof of the main building). Later, the SEALs inserted by Black Hawks, killed Osama bin Laden and extracted intelligence on the inner workings of al-Qaeda through sensitive site exploitation (SSE). In the case of Operation Neptune Spear, US forces were able to penetrate the air space of Pakistan, conduct the mission to insert the SEALs, thereafter refuel the remaining Black Hawk (15 minutes away from the bin Laden compound), and ex-filtrate both the assault team and the body of Osama bin Laden by helicopters before the Pakistan Air Force could react to the exercise of American air power. Upon reaching Jalalabad, the assault team was flown by C-130 to Bagram Air Base.​
SF Air Mobility Concept Check for Readers:-

McRaven's Case Studies of Successful SF Operations: Every SF operation can be visualised as an inverted pyramid resting on an narrow apex, top-heavy and easy to topple. At the bottom of the inverted pyramid is planning, which requires simplicity. Contained in the middle of the inverted pyramid are the factors of security and repetition. At the top of the inverted pyramid are the factors of surprise, speed and purpose.

The factors in the inverted pyramid enable William McRaven's concept of relative superiority, which can create a state of tactical paralysis in even a well prepared opponent that knows an attack is coming. He states that relative superiority is achieved at a pivotal moment in engagement. The initiative held by the SF attack could shock the adversary into a state of temporal paralysis where they momentarily lose their ability to respond; a vital opening for the SF to take advantage of to ensure mission success. Once achieved, it must be sustained in order to guarantee victory. Therefore, it is crucial that the SF take actions to maintain or widen the advantage. If relative superiority is lost, it is difficult to regain. The adversary will be able to respond and neutralise the advantage that the SF have gained. McRaven emphasised that the key to a special operations mission is to gain relative superiority early in the engagement. Time over target must be as short as possible. The longer the engagement, the lower the probability of success as the exposure to the will of the adversary and uncertainty increases.

Leveraging on cutting-edge technology, the various permutations of SF operations denies the adversary the ability to predict the probable actions that will be conducted against them. Against SF, the enemy will need to divert a significant portion of their resources and these efforts are likely to be in vain, as they are forced into a constant reactive mode.

Q: Why did Operation Neptune Spear succeed, when Operation Eagle Claw failed, even though in both cases, there were helicopters that were lost during the respective operations?

Ans: Operation Eagle Claw was the failed mission of 24 April 1980 to rescue 52 Americans from the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran. This operation was marked by a series of mechanical and communication failures that lead to the deaths of eight American servicemen (in a crash between a MC-130E and a Sea Stallion) and the mission was aborted at the first staging area, Desert One. Operation Eagle Claw was conceived as a complicated mission with many components and links. Organisational tasks may be classified along two dimensions: simple or complex; and loosely or tightly coupled. Hostage rescue operation could fall into any category of those two dimensions and presented as a four factorial matrix:
(i) the involvement of multiple units - Sea Stallions, MC-130E, Marine Corps pilots, Army Rangers and Delta Force and the various stages in the mission made it highly complex; and

(ii) the need for the men and aircraft to move under cover of darkness, while maintaining tactical concealment, made it a tightly-coupled task.​
Therefore, Operation Eagle Claw was a complex and tightly-coupled task in the four factorial matrix (or an accident waiting to happen). The mission failed because it was an an accident waiting to happen (i.e. failed the test of simplicity); that was hastily put together for the first time (i.e. failed the test of repetition). At that time, the US did not have the necessary joint force organisational structure to provide a military option to the crisis, hence the planners had to attempt to put together for a joint operation of substantial complexity. In page 188 of Delta Force (by Colonel (Ret.) Charlie Beckwith and Donald Knox), Beckwith said:
"Logistically speaking it would be a bear. There were the vast distances, nearly 1,000 miles, of Iranian wasteland that had to be crossed, then the assault itself, against a heavily guarded building complex stuck in the middle of a city of 4,000,000 hostile folks. This was not going to be any Entebbe... Nothing could be more difficult."
Retired Chief of Naval Operations Admiral James L. Holloway III led the official investigation in 1980 into the causes of the operation's failure on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Holloway Report primarily cited deficiencies in mission planning, command and control, and inter-service operability, and provided a catalyst to reorganize the Department of Defense. The failure of the various services to operate together eventually forced the establishment of multi-service organisations like the US Special Operations Command and the creation of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (the Night Stalkers) to support special operations missions. These key organisation changes were instrumental to the success of Operation Neptune Spear. Beyond the changes mentioned above, factors for the success of the US Special Operations Command are as follows:

(aa) it had a simple and secret plan (met the tests of simplicity and security); they trained intensively for the mission, and it was executed by an well oiled machine that had executed numerous compound raids prior to killing Osama bin Laden (met the test of repetition); that was executed with surprise, speed and purpose to sustain their relative superiority throughout the mission;

(bb) the helicopter crash in Operation Neptune Spear was a contingency they planned for (and even as the Night Stalker pilot was losing control of the helicopter, he had deliberately crashed landed on a specific portion of the compound, in the even of such a contingency); and

(cc) in common with other modern SF operations in having redundancy; and learning from past mistakes, the helicopter crash in Operation Neptune Spear did not create a 'single point of failure' for the mission, unlike the case of Operation Eagle Claw.​

Aviation Trivia: Later, after the successful completion of Operation Neptune Spear, the SEALs involved were flown to the While House to meet the US President, in an old MC-130E Combat Talon I. It was one of the three MC-130Es used in Operation Eagle Claw.
(c) To manage informational uncertainty and through the efforts of American intelligence. In other words: working out the place of numerous al-Qaeda operatives in the terrorist network; locating each of them at a particular time and location; capturing these individuals in night raids; harvesting whatever information each captive might have through interrogation or through SSE (i.e. analysis of materials found in their laptops, phones or other possessions); plus using space and airborne ISR platforms (like the RQ-170 Sentinel) to gather additional intelligence. Through these efforts, the CIA were able to gather accurate and detailed pre-action intelligence against disciplined terrorists that exercised communications discipline (and even had their own counter-surveillance plan). SF operations are heavily dependent on air support (for both air mobility and ISR support), and special air operations elements are an integral part of SF. SF are selected and organized in a manner that deals directly with three prominent sources of friction on the battlefield:

(c-i) constraints imposed by physical and cognitive limits;

(c-ii) informational uncertainty; and

(c-iii) the highly unpredictable nature of combat between two thinking adversaries.​

(d) Acquiring a sophisticated platform alone is not enough, to support SF operations. The air force as an organisation must also develop the correct joint doctrine to make effective use of that sophisticated platform acquired. The Indians, do have a joint service doctrine but they are not noted for the ability of their different services to act in a 'joint manner' that is standard in most tertiary air forces.​

See the extract below of the article, ‘India can’t do a Geronimo’ by retired Deputy Chief of the Indian Army Staff, Lieut-Gen Harwant Singh, to get an idea of the intelligence, doctrinal and joint-operations issues involved for India, as the largest arms importer in the world.

Accurate and actionable intelligence is fundamental to the success of covert operations, whereas it remains our weakest point. In fact, in the case of Indian intelligence agencies, it is not the case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing but the little finger not knowing whom the index finger, of the same hand, is fingering?

At the national level we have the NSG, especially trained and equipped for such operations. At Mumbai these commandos first took too long to arrive and later too long to complete the operation...

There was no centralised control over the operation and the entire scene around Taj Hotel appeared one of a ‘circus,’...

Both the Indian Navy and the Indian Army have special forces which can carry out missions of the type conducted by the US naval Seals at Abbottabad. They are organised and trained for such missions and have the best of leadership... This lack of ‘joint-ship’ has been the bane of Indian defence forces, which essentially is the handiwork of the politic-bureaucratic combine. The policy of ‘divide and rule’, and ‘turf-tending’ over national interest has been the dominant feature of the Indian defence apparatus.

In the case of the Abbattobad raid, in spite of the complete integration of the defence forces in the United States, the Naval Seals had their own helicopters to ensure total involvement and commitment of those taking part in the operation. In the case of India, helicopters meant for carrying such troops are with the Indian Air Force rather than the Army! So, the total commitment required on the part of all those taking part in the operation will not measure up to the level required in an operation of the type conducted at Abbottabad. In fact, discord has often appeared when two Services had to operate together. It surfaced in rather an ugly form during the Kargil operations.

Further, it is not only retired Indian Army officers who have harsh things to say about the Indian Air Force and it's joint-interoperability, even Indian Admiral J G Nadkarni who was constrained to comment was quoted in the Indian Defence Review, 'Need to Bridge Inter-Services Trust Deficit,' dated 1 November 2010, as saying:

Jointmanship in India exists to the extent of the three chiefs routinely being photographed backslapping each other, but not much more beyond that. We mistake backslapping in public, playing golf together and stating that they all belong to one course in the NDA as jointmanship.

Air Marshal BK Pandey of the Indian Air Force (IAF) also said:
Over the last six decades since Independence, in the InAF there has been piecemeal acquisition of hardware as cleared by the civilian bureaucracy to be sanctioned by the political leadership on the basis of stand alone case-by-case justification and not in conformity with any long term national plan... For decades the IAF had largely been tethered to one non-western source. Much of the inventory acquired through this route has now been overtaken by obsolescence. As a result, in recent years, there has been an alarming erosion in combat power and other capabilities... The near total dependence on foreign sources for cutting edge technology and frontline equipment is potentially perhaps the most debilitating factor that often threatens to seriously undermine the capability of the IAF...

...Pakistan is unlikely to take the initiative for large scale conventional military operations against India. While it will continue to retain the capability to put up stout defence against any assault, as indications are, it is more likely to engage in clandestine warfare against India in a variety of ways, some of which were amply demonstrated by way of attack on the Parliament in 2001 or the raid on Mumbai in November 2008...

Please note that the above quotes are from Indian sources, to show the limitations of Indian joint service doctrine. Interestingly, IAF leaders think that their problem is over reliance on foreign equipment suppliers and numbers, when, officers from the other services are keenly aware of the lack of jointmanship. According to figures released by the defence ministry (MoD) in parliament on 21 March 2013, the IAF loses the equivalent of one fighter squadron (16-18 fighters) in crashes every two years (see link here).
(e) Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, or TRAP, is a SF or SF capable mission.

• On 22 March 2011, while in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn, an F-15E went down over Libya due to mechanical issues and the aircrew were able to eject. Less than two hours after the F-15E crew ejected, 2 MV-22Bs, along with other elements of the TRAP package including AV-8B Harriers, CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, and a 46 Marine Quick Reaction Force, were ready to launch from the USS Kearsarge, approximately 133 nm away from the downed aircrew. The MV-22B Ospreys, supported by the Harriers and other assets overhead, were able to land, rapidly recover one of the downed crew, and depart. Within a half hour of their departure, the Ospreys and the rescued pilot were safely back aboard Kearsarge. The second aircrew was safely recovered shortly thereafter via other means.
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No. 3 of 4 air power roles — Air mobility (Part III)

(5) Aerial Delivery — Aerial delivery enables the rapid precision delivery of logistics stores to remote or isolated locations that are not served by either a secure landing strip or a secure surface line of communication. Between 2001 and 2014, ISAF and US forces make extensive use of helicopters and parachutes to resupply the more remote FOBs and combat outposts in Afghanistan, because of pervasive use of IEDs by the Taliban and the lack of road networks; including the use of new air drop systems like the Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) and the eXtracted Container Delivery System (XCDS). Beyond the current use of air power for aerial delivery, there are two classic examples on this topic to be discussed below.

• For example, the successful defense of Khe Sanh, Vietnam would not have been possible, if the US had not been able to keep the Marine base resupplied via tactical airlift by the 834th Air Division, Seventh Air Force, in the face of bad weather conditions and enemy fire at the runway during the siege (avoiding another Dien Bien Phu). Thanks to the acoustic and seismic sensors that were seeded around Khe Sanh, aerial reconnaissance and communications intelligence, American air power was able to more effectively attack their targets in Operation Niagara I and Operation Niagara II. The effective attack with tactical aircraft and B-52s (attacked the enemy with 59,542 tons of munitions from 2,548 sorties - with each B-52 carrying 108 500-pound bombs) from the air ensured that the airstrip at Khe Sanh remained in American and South Vietnamese hands. Attack aircraft were stacked in holding patterns that extended upward to 35,000 feet, with dozens of aircraft corkscrewing their way downward as each flight delivered its ordnance and departed the Khe Sanh airspace. Marine pilots flew 7,078 sorties and delivered 17,015 tons of ordnance in defense of Khe Sanh, while U.S. Air Force tactical aircraft made 9,691 sorties and delivered 14,223 tons of munitions. Further, the ability to conduct resupply by air also enabled the over 6,000 Marines to improve their positions and more effectively secure their defensive perimeter. The siege was mounted at great cost to the two divisions of Viet Minh (where they lost about 15,000 men) and it was lifted on 8 April 1968, nearly three months after it began, when the overland relief expedition eventually broke through to the Marines at Khe Sanh. At Khe Sanh, it was the Viet Minh who underestimated American resolve and capabilities.​

Understanding why the French failed at Dien Bien Phu

On 7 May 1954, after a fifty-five day siege, the French garrison of 13,000 troops, with 60 guns (of greater than 57mm calibre), at Dien Bien Phu fell to four infantry divisions (50,000 troops with 31,000 support troops) of Viet Minh forces, with 200 artillery guns (over half were 105mm calibre or greater), led by General Vo Nguyen Giap. Despite French control of the air, but they were unable to convert their control of the air into a war winning battlefield advantage. The French:

(i) underestimated the enemy's ability to bring in guns and ammunition along hidden jungle tracks (and the waterways) with convoys of pack horses, hundreds of thousands of porters, on bicycles and sampans;

(ii) failed to effectively attack Giap's troops and supply lines in the jungle. The heroic Viet Minh supply efforts through French air attacks, jungle terrain and rain won them this battle. Giap later estimated that to deliver 1 kilo of supplies, each porter needed 21 kilos of supply;

(iii) failed to destroy Giap's anti-aircraft artillery guns and his 105mm howitzers (which were well hidden in the jungle from air observation and dug into the surrounding hills). This enabled Giap to press on his attacks with artillery superiority and created, at a later stage, a third order effect of closing the airstrip at Dien Bien Phu and preventing the evacuation of the French wounded;

(iv) faced heavy flak that caused the French transport aircraft had to parachute supplies at greater heights. Higher altitude air drops due to flak to resupply Dien Bien Phu were less effective, as they often fell outside the French defensive perimeter;

(v) suffered from a vicious circle where they gradually lost the ability to resupply the garrison, as the French perimeter shrank from Viet Minh attacks; and shrinking perimeter ensured that more of their precious air dropped supplies fell into enemy hands; and

(vi) suffered from significant losses of man and material, that they could not recover from, despite French reinforcements being parachuted in. On 10 April 1954, an additional 850 troops were parachuted in but 40% dropped straight into Viet Minh hands.

On day fifty day of the siege, the French were down to 2,900 effectives on half rations, while the Viet Minh, despite horrendous losses, still had 30,000 fighting fit men, who were kept resupplied by an army of porters. On 1 May 1954, Giap launched his final phase of the battle with a two-division infantry assault. Serious French underestimation of their enemy's capabilities ensured that they lost the battle at Dien Bien Phu.
In specific cases, the ability to continue aerial delivery under fire can mean the difference between tactical victory or defeat. In the case of Dien Bien Phu, the French would have lost regardless of the effectiveness of their air attacks to interdict Viet Minh supplies; or even if their own efforts aerial delivery could be continued. The French were out-numbered, out-gunned, and they had under estimated the enemy's capabilities. Further, the Viet Minh through effective use of the jungle terrain and field craft (to hide their numerically forces, stronger supply lines, and superior artillery) had rendered French air attack capabilities and control of the air meaningless. The Viet Minh inflicted a military defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu but at a great cost. And this important military defeat had an impact on other countries in South East Asia for many years thereafter.

(6) Aeromedical Evacuation (AE) — AE is a specialised form of air lift for transporting ill or injured personnel under medical supervision to appropriate medical treatment facilities. Since 2001, AE is routinely done for ISAF troops injured in Afghanistan.

• For intra-theatre casualty evacuation, the British have a medical emergency response team (MERT) which is deployed in a Chinook with a full medical team. Likewise the USAF and the US Army respectively have Pedro and Dustoff crews for casualty evacuation. Doctrinal differences between British and American forces means that MERT land in secured LZs, whereas Pararescuemen or Perdros are willing to land in a hot LZs to enable the Pararescuemen to get to the wounded.​

Inter-theatre AE of the sick or wounded to tertiary medical care from combat surgical units is now a standard procedure for advanced air forces and have also been used in non-combat related medical evacuation.

• For example, on 13 May 2007, a RSAF KC-135R with the SAF medical team (including a burns specialist and a medical aviation expert), conducted an AE for two badly burned SAF personnel (3SG Ramakrishnan Karthigayan - 45 percent burns and LCP Calvin Chow Han Min - 50 percent burns) from the Taipei Tri-service Hospital to Singapore. Subsequently, LCP Calvin Chow Han Min died from his burns and wounds inflicted from a Taiwanese F-5F fighter jet that had slammed into an army camp.​
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No. 4 of 4 air power roles — ISTAR is the process of integrating the intelligence process with surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance tasks in order to improve a commander’s battle-space awareness and consequently their decision making. Air forces or naval air usually prefer to use the term ISR, rather than the term ISTAR (which is more army centric in its origins). ISR is not just about air forces operating unmanned aerial systems. Many air forces will retain an ISR capability on manned combat aircraft and it is a key component of joint ISR capability. In particular, manned fast jets provide a capability to penetrate contested battle-space. A pervasive ISR capability also requires sensors that can perform throughout the electromagnetic spectrum across the physical domains and defeat adversary counter detection techniques. Therefore, ISR or ISTAR can be defined as:-

"An activity that synchronises and integrates the planning and operation of sensors, assets, and processing, exploitation, analysis and dissemination systems in direct support of current and future operations."​

Ongoing technical innovations will shape the continued evolution of PGMs to overcome limitations on precision weapon use imposed by inclement weather conditions. Further, the employment of military force has traditionally been conceived in terms of the functions find, fix, strike and exploit. This approach was formalized later as the F3EAD concept: find, fix, finish, exploit, analyze, and disseminate.
ISR Lessons Learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan (2004 to 2007):-

Low-contrast Enemy

These lessons emerged from trial and error tempered by 6 years of constant contact with an enemy whose nature demanded new approaches. Today’s enemy is a low-contrast foe easily camouflaged among civilian clutter, unlike high-contrast targets such as airfields and warships. The insurgent’s primary strength has always been to hide in complex terrain such as mountainous or urban environments. The global communications revolution has given this insurgent a new complex terrain — an “electronic sanctuary” — in which actions can be hidden among the innumerable civilian signals that constitute daily cell phone and Internet traffic.

It is from this new sanctuary that the enemy coordinates activities from dispersed networks in order to self-synchronize, pass information, and transfer funds. In this way, the insurgent has become “networked coalitions of the willing” that come together temporarily and are thus difficult to destroy. Drawing support from their networks, they remain low contrast until time to strike and then quickly blend back into the population...

Synchronize ISR

...Airborne ISR’s effectiveness grows exponentially when it is cued to and driven by other sources of intelligence rather than operating alone. Without a robust, collaborative intelligence network to guide it, sensors are often used in reactive modes that negate their true power and tend to minimize their full potential. These intelligence disciplines provide a start point into the enemy network that can be exploited through persistent and patient observation. With this type of start point, one can mass ISR with confidence that assets are not being wasted...

Mass ISR

Inherent in massing is rejecting the commonly held practice of “fair-sharing” ISR among multiple units. Massing implies focus and priority. Selected parts of the enemy’s network receive focus, which should be unwavering for a specified time. This is counterintuitive to those who feel the need to fair-share assets as a way to cover more space and service more priorities. The problem with a low-contrast and fleeting foe, however, is that enemy actions are not easily predictable. Without prediction, the next best things are redundancy and saturation. Piecemeal employment of ISR assets over a large geographic area theoretically allows for efficient targeting but often at the expense of effectiveness...

...The Unblinking Eye provides an opportunity to learn about the network in action and how it operates. It is long dwell, persistent surveillance directed against known and suspected terrorist sites or individuals. The purpose of this long dwell airborne stakeout is to apply multi-sensor observation 24/7 to achieve a greater understanding of how the enemy’s network operates by building a pattern of life analysis...

...Nodal analysis is spatially connecting relationships between places and people by tracking their patterns of life. While the enemy moves from point to point, airborne ISR tracks and notes every location and person visited. Connections between those sites and persons to the target are built, and nodes in the enemy’s low-contrast network emerge. Nodal analysis has the effect of taking a shadowy foe and revealing his physical infrastructure for things such as funding, meetings, headquarters, media outlets, and weapons supply points. As a result, the network becomes more visible and vulnerable, thus negating the enemy’s asymmetric advantage of denying a target...

...Vehicle follow is tracking vehicle movements from the air. These are important in illustrating the network and generating fix-finish operations. A recent Office of the Secretary of Defense study over a multi-month period found that vehicle follows were important to building pattern of life and nodal analysis. Vehicle follows were surprisingly central to understanding how a network functions. They are also among the most difficult airborne ISR operations to conduct and often require massing of assets to ensure adequate tracking...

...Use of three CAPs is generally the best practice for massing on a target set during the fix and finish phase of the operation. This allows mass not only in space but also in time, which equates to persistence. It is not enough to have several eyes on a target — several eyes are needed on a target for a long period. Three CAPs permit persistent surveillance of a target while simultaneously developing the network’s pattern of life through nodal analysis and vehicle follows. It gives the finishing force commander more options than merely killing or letting an observed enemy go; with sufficient ISR, a ground force commander can demonstrate much greater operational patience, thus allowing a larger insurgent network to emerge...

Conduct Forward PED

A critical enabler in employing ISR was having forward processing, exploitation, and dissemination (PED) integrated into the Tactical Operations Center (TOC). The Air Force has excelled at building state-of-the-art reach-back PED nodes. But the speed and intuition required to cross-cue, target, plan, and react amidst multiple streams of intelligence and operations in a highly fluid battle-space require a forward PED presence able to interact in that environment. The reach-back nodes simply do not have the situational awareness one gains by physically being forward with supported operations and other intelligence personnel...

Exploit and Analyze

F3EA differs from other targeting models because of its emphasis on exploit-analyze as the main effort. This recognizes the importance of intelligence in fighting the low-contrast foe and aggressively supplying multi-source start points for new ISR collection. More than the other phases, this feeds the intelligence operations cycle in which intelligence leads to operations that yield more intelligence leading to more operations...

*The above is an extract of pages 56 to 61 in issue 50, 3rd quarter 2008, JFQ by Brigadier General Michael T. Flynn, US Army, J2 at CENTCOM, Colonel Rich Juergens, US Army, is Commander JTF – Bravo in Honduras, and Major Thomas L. Cantrell, USAF, is a student at the Joint Advanced Warfighting School: "Employing ISR: SOF Best Practices."
In the past decade, numerous tertiary air forces have increased their investment in ISR aircraft many-fold. In the case of the USAF, its general force structure declined 11 percent (i.e. fighters, bombers, tankers, and transport aircraft), but ISR assets increased by nearly 300 percent, demonstrating the growing importance of ISR to air forces. To simplify the discussion, we provide some examples to illustrate the four components of ISTAR, as set out below:

(1) Intelligence — Intelligence is the product resulting from the collection, processing, integration, analysis, evaluation and interpretation of available information.

(a) Thanks to spy movies, the collection of imagery intelligence (IMINT) via satellites, UAVs, maritime patrol aircraft and other reconnaissance aircraft, as a basis for kinetic attack, is well understood by many laymen; but IMINT is only a small subset of the intelligence collection function for air forces. These technical intelligence collection efforts include:

(a-i) measurement and signature intelligence;

(a-ii) electronic intelligence (ELINT) or analysis of the incoming signals to provide immediate warning of threat radars, including surveillance, fire control, targeting and missile guidance systems;

(a-iii) communications intelligence (COMINT) or interception and analysis of hostile transmissions, to assess the movements and intentions of the opposing forces; and

(a-iv) signals intelligence (SIGINT) or the combination of ELINT and COMINT.​

(b) The successful gathering of SIGINT enables air planers to make recommendations for kinetic and electronic attack.

• An example of SIGINT in action occured on 18 April 1943, when 16 US P-38 Lightning fighters intercepted and shot down two Japanese bombers over Bougainville. Onboard one of them was the intended target of the operation, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto — the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Combined Fleet. The mission had targeted Yamamoto with such precision because accurate and reliable intelligence had been collected by the US through breaking the codes that protected Japanese radio communications.​

(c) Good intelligence provides accurate, relevant, timely and predictive analysis to support operations. The business of intelligence collection at peace time carries risk and can be a contentious affair.

• More recently, on 1 April 2001, in what became known as the Hainan Island incident, a Chinese interceptor collided with a US Navy EP-3 Orion on a SIGINT mission. The crew of the larger US aircraft made an emergency landing. The aircraft and crew were later released by the Chinese authorities.​

(d) This includes using air assets to develop an understanding of the enemy's composition, disposition, and strength, so as to enable intelligence analysts to understand the enemy's capabilities and limitations and thereafter, determine the enemy's options, including its most likely course of action. Intelligence gathered can be shared between countries to enable each partner to use in foreign internal defence or even law enforcement.

• For example, the Malacca Strait Patrols which is comprised of coordinated naval and air patrols by the four littoral states - Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand - have dramatically reduced piracy incidents in the Straits of Malacca.​

(e) Aerial surveillance assets can be deployed at the request of another country to gather actionable intelligence to use in foreign internal defence or even law enforcement.

• On a bilateral basis, the TNI and SAF also worked together in hostage rescue operations in West Papua in 1996. The RSAF deployed a remotely piloted vehicle detachment to suport Indonesian special forces in Timika in West Papua. This deployment provided surveillance which proved crucial in facilitating the successful rescue of Indonesian and foreign hostages (from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany) taken by the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (see this indirect reference of that hostage rescue in a 2010 speech).​
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No. 4 of 4 air power roles — ISTAR (Part II)

(2) Surveillance — Surveillance is the continuing and systematic observation of air, space, surface or subsurface areas, places, persons or things, by visual, aural, electronic, photographic or other means. Thanks to advances in software technology, even video surveillance has been made much easier. The BriefCam® video synopsis technology was used to identify the Boston Marathon terrorists. In minutes, the user is able to review hours of video in minutes (see this video: [nomedia=""]BriefCam Video Synopsis escalators clip - YouTube[/nomedia]). Effective surveillance is much more than just gathering data - being able to make sense of the data gathered is just as important. This is why the US Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) seeks to enable intelligence analysts to make sense of the huge volumes of intelligence-rich information available to them from existing sensors and data sources. Automated behavioral learning and prediction algorithms would help analysts discover and identify potential threats, as well as make and confirm hypotheses about those threats’ potential behavior. The goal is a comprehensive operating picture in which expedient delivery of fused actionable intelligence would improve support of time-sensitive operations on the battlefield. DARPA wants to enable analysts to collaborate on the fly via an intuitive user interface that speeds comprehension of complex information through state-of-the-art data visualization techniques.

(a) During the Cold War, space and airborne surveillance assets were used to exploit elevation to detect opponents’ activities at range and behind obstacles.

• The use of IMINT via Corona satellites (with photographic resolutions of 0.6 - 1.2 m) and U-2 surveillance overflights enabled the US provide photographic evidence in the UN of Soviet deployment of R-12 intermediate-range nuclear ballistic missiles in Cuba that resulted in the 13-day Cuban missile crisis in 1962.​

(b) Navies have also used a wide range of airborne surveillance assets (ranging from maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and UAVs) to maintain maritime domain awareness, so that these naval task forces can more effectively allocate scare naval resources in their counter piracy mission. The big three naval task forces in counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, namely, EU NAVFOR, NATO Operation Ocean Shield (TF-508) and CTF-151, are proficient and prolific users of air assets (maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters) for surveillance and maritime domain awareness.

(c) In the quest for surveillance assets organic to the ship, the American, Dutch and Singaporean navies have deployed ScanEagle UAVs in the Gulf of Aden.

• Notably, in April 2009, the US Navy used a ScanEagle UAV to conduct surveillance on a lifeboat controlled by pirates holding Capt. Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama after a failed hijack attempt.​

(d) Numerous navies have used embarked helicopters for surveillance, to sink pirate skiffs and to free hijacked merchant vessels and their crew.

• For example, on 5 April 2010, HNLMS Tromp rescued the container ship MV Taipan by rappelling 6 Marines from its Lynx helicopter (under covering fire from the helicopter and the Tromp) to the deck of the MV Taipan, resulting in the capture of 10 pirates, with the 13 crew (2 German, 3 Russian, 8 Sri Lankan) unharmed (see here for details).​

(3) Targeting — Targeting consists of six steps: detection, location, identification, decision, execution and assessment. CIA is a prolific user of armed Predator and Reaper UAVs to conduct technical intelligence efforts to target/kill Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and in the tribal regions of Pakistan.

(a) Beyond AfPak threatre of operations, this PRISM article, by Lambert, Lewis and Sewall titled: "Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines: Civilian Harm and the Indirect Approach," provides some background on network-based targeting in the context of U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) in operations. This campaign using ISTAR assets successfully targeted high-value individuals and also diminished conditions that gave rise to terrorism and insurgency. Having intelligence and operations working together on a sustained basis produced several benefits:

(a-i) persistent surveillance;

(a-ii) improved discrimination; and

(a-iii) better decision making.​

(b) JSOTF-P used the fusion of improved all-source intelligence (intelligence support from P-3s, UAVs, helicopters, small boats, and human intelligence from off-shore vessels provided by the US Navy, USNS vessels or such other contracted vessels) with an operational capability on land and in the maritime irregular warfare domain.

• Since 2002, JSOTF-P has partnered with Philippine forces to conduct counterterrorism operations. JSOTF-P using the collaborative warfare model (applied and adapted based on the lessons learnt from Iraq), employed some new tactics and some new technologies (including using Paverway guided munitions from OV-10s at high value targets, charts, outboard motors and other tools to enable the Philippine Marines to operate in the maritime domain and increase the ability of the PAF and the Philippine Army to conduct heli-borne night operations thanks to night vision equipment and training supplied by JSOTF-P), but neither the tactics nor the technologies could have been used to good effect without the two new organizational innovations (of network-based targeting and interagency fusion).​

(c) With the advances in sensor technology and the concept of operations related to targeting, navies and air forces are able to use combat aviation to detect much more targets than these aircraft on patrol can handle with its own firepower despite the advances in guided munitions. The joint combination of air power for target detection and indirect fires appears to be the way forward for the air-land battle in both conventional wars and in counterinsurgency warfare.​

(4) Reconnaissance — Air forces commonly to use reconnaissance pods mounted on fighter aircraft to conduct pre-strike reconnaissance, air interdiction and post-strike battle damage assessment as part of their ISTAR efforts.

(a) Aerial reconnaissance first made an impact on military operations during the World War I. Airborne observers provided tactical intelligence, and IMINT provided information about the enemy’s strength, logistics and capabilities. But, back then, the intelligence value of aerial reconnaissance was considered secondary to the role airborne artillery spotting.

(b) In the modern battlefield, aerial reconnaissance may also provide data concerning the meteorological, hydrographical or geographic characteristics of a particular area. Aerial surveillance complements ground reconnaissance by using visual observation, or other detection methods, to obtain specific information about the activities and resources of an enemy or potential enemy.

• In January 2013, the French have released some of their reconnaissance video footage from their Harfang UAV (IAI Heron derivative) when the legionnaires of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment jumped north of Timbuktu. It is now common place for air forces to use UAVs to conduct reconnaissance in support troop insertion via helicopters or via parachutes.​

ISTAR Concept Check for Readers:-

Q: What is the difference between surveillance and reconnaissance?

Ans: Surveillance is the systematic observation of aerospace, surface or subsurface areas, places, persons or things by visual, aural, electronic, photographic or other means. Whereas reconnaissance, is a mission undertaken to obtain, by visual observation or other detection methods, information about the activities and resources of an enemy or adversary, or to secure data concerning the meteorological, hydrographic or geographic characteristics of a particular area.
(c) ISTAR operations play a prominent role in four of these steps:-

(c-i) detection: ISTAR assets detect potential new targets or significant changes to existing targets;

(c-ii) location: allows a target to be positioned accurately within a designated reference system;

(c-iii) identification: the recognition and classification of targets in sufficient detail to allow decision-making; and

(c-iv) assessment: allowing commanders to analyse progress against the campaign plan.​
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10. Deception and Counterintelligence

(1) Failure to develop accurate intelligence in the course of an air campaign has been shown as a cause of failure of the air campaign. The often used example of the Battle of Britain deserves closer examination as a case study on air power. It is a study of not just what the British achieved; but also a study of what Germans failed to accomplish, despite numerical superiority, that is equally important. The impact and theory of reserves in an air campaign like the Battle of Britain is not easy to grasp, as it is a form of operational deception. The reserves deployed in the Battle of Britain were invaluable because their appearance shocked and misled German air commanders.

(a) The Chain Home early warning radar system had the effect of robbing the Luftwaffe of one of its previous keys to success - surprise. The system's ability to assemble, sort, and distinguish perishable radar plots and then disseminate this intelligence to fighters was the key to RAF Fighter Command’s success. In other words, the second order effect of the early warning radar, was that it had penetrated the fog of war. The third order effect was that the accurate information supplied by the early system proved to be an incalculable force multiplier (and giving the appearance to the Luftwaffe that RAF had more aircraft).

(b) Despite the numerical superiority of the Germans during the Battle of Britain, the British commander, Air Marshal Dowding, kept about a third of his fighter forces away from the battle zone, where they were not subject to attack. Neither could they participate in the war. The British maintained a reserve even during what Churchill called Britain's darkest hour. When the Germans finally decided that the time was right for the final blow, the British through Ultra intercepts, knew that the Germans plans and through the British use of reserves (and mass), the Germans suffered such heavy losses that they concluded the RAF was so far from being beaten.

(c) In contrast, the Luftwaffe Study in Blue (intelligence report) issued on 16 July 1940, failed to inform the Luftwaffe leaders on RAF Fighter Command’s strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it is accurate to say that the Luftwaffe's intelligence failure preceded its subsequent failure to seize control of the air.​
Deception Maxims
Deception maxims below are provided to aid understanding of the deception tools available:

• Magruder's principles - the exploitation of perceptions: It is easier to maintain an existing belief than to change it or create a new one.

• Limitations of human information processing: The law of small numbers (once you see something twice it is taken as a maxim), and susceptibility to conditioning (the cumulative effect of small changes).

• Cry-Wolf: This is a variant on susceptibility to conditioning in that, after a seeming threat appears again and again to be innocuous, it tends to be ignored and can be used to cover real threats.

• Jones' Dilemma: Deception is harder when there are more information channels available to the target. On the other hand, the greater the number of 'controlled channels', the better it is for the deception.

• A sequencing rule: Sequence deceptions so that the deception story is portrayed as real for as long as possible. The most clear indicators of deception should be held till the last possible moment. Similarly, riskier elements of a deception (in terms of the potential for harm if the deception is discovered) should be done later rather than earlier so that they may be called off if the deception is found to be a failure.

• The importance of feedback: A scheme to ensure accurate feedback increases the chance of success in deception.

• The Monkey's Paw: Deceptions may create subtle and undesirable side effects. Planners should be sensitive to such possibilities and, where prudent, take steps to minimize these effects.

• Care in the designed and planned placement of deceptive material: Great care should be used in deceptions that leak notional information to targets. Apparent windfalls are subjected to close scrutiny and often disbelieved. Genuine leaks often occur under circumstances thought improbable.​
(2) Every time intelligence is collected and analysed, the intelligence analyst must be aware of the possibility that the data being collected is part of the enemy's deception plans. The British, however, had a long tradition of conducting such operations and considerable experience in their successful “Double Cross” operations against Nazi Germany. A practitioner of deception utilizes the victim's intelligence sources, surveillance sensors and targeting assets as a principal means for conveying or transmitting a deceptive signature of desired impression. It is widely accepted that all deception takes place in the mind of the perceiver. Therefore it is not the act itself but the acceptance that counts! The aim of any deception is to assist the mission on either offense or defense.
Planning for Deception

A typical deception is carried out by the creation of a deception plan. Such a plan is normally based on some set of reasonably attainable goals and time frames, some understanding of target characteristics, and some set of resources which are made available for use. It is the deception planner's objective to attain the goals with the provided resources within the proper time frames.
• Policy: Deception is never an end in itself. It must support a mission.

• Objective: A specific, realistic, defined objective is necessary and all deception actions must contribute to the accomplishment of that objective.

• Planning: Deception should be addressed in the commander's initial guidance to staff and the staff should be engaged in integrated deception and operations planning.

• Coordination: The deception plan must be in close coordination with the operations plan.

• Timing: Sufficient time must be allowed to:
(i) complete the deception plan in an orderly manner;

(ii) effect necessary coordination;

(iii) promulgate tasks to involved units;

(iv) present the deception to the enemy decision-maker through their intelligence system; and

(v) permit the enemy decision maker to react in the desired manner, including the time required to pursue the desired course of action.​

• Security: Stringent security for deception operations is mandatory.

• Realism: The planned deception must look realistic.

• Flexibility: The ability to react rapidly to changes in the situation and to modify any deceptive action is mandatory.

• Intelligence: Deception must be based on the best estimates of enemy intelligence collection and decision-making processes and likely intentions and reactions.

• Enemy Capabilities: The enemy commander must be able to execute the desired action.

• Friendly Force Capabilities: Capabilities of friendly forces in the deception must match enemy estimates of capabilities and the deception must be carried out without unacceptable degradation in friendly capabilities.

• Forces and Personnel: Real forces and personnel required to implement the deception plan must be provided. Notional forces must be realistically portrayed.

• Means: Deception must be portrayed through all feasible and available means.

• Supervision: Planning and execution must be continuously supervised by the deception leader. Actions must be coordinated with the objective and implemented at the proper time.

• Liaison: Constant liaison must be maintained with other affected elements to assure that maximum effect is attained.

• Feedback: A reliable method of feedback must exist to gage enemy reaction.​
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(3) Deception is a set of acts that seek to increase the chances that a set of targets will behave in a desired fashion when they would be less likely to behave in that fashion if they knew of those acts. Deception is often not an end unto itself and used in coordination with other methods to create windows of opportunity that make the enemy vulnerable. Deception is frequently employed to effect surprise (a precious commodity in any armed conflict). Large deception efforts are commonly built up from smaller ones. What is particularly interesting about common deception sequences is that it works reliably. Deception is an ancient art of war and continues to be used because all military commanders must operate under conditions of uncertainty or without complete knowledge.
• In 212 BC, Hannibal gained entrance to and seized the city of Tarentum from the Romans in a deception-produced surprise attack. Hannibal exploited the presence of a dissident Greek resident, Cononeus, to create a nightly ritual: Cononeus departed the city in a large hunting party, ostensibly to gather supplies, and returned in the wee hours, his men laden with game. The Tarentine guards became used to the sight (and grateful for the provender), and greatly relaxed their vigilance. When Hannibal introduced some of his best soldiers into the party, disguised as hunters, the guards barely took notice. Hannibal’s men overcame the guards and opened the gates for the body of Hannibal’s host, which promptly captured the city with few casualties.​

(4) The intelligence analyst must also be aware of the possibility of counterintelligence efforts and take steps to mitigate against counterintelligence efforts. Counterintelligence occur at two levels, as set out below:

(aa) offensive counterintelligence may include using kinetic and electronic attack to disable enemy IMINT, SIGINT and other intelligence tools. For example, a number of Hermes 450 UAVs operated by the Georgians were shot down by Russian fighters over Abkhazia in the prelude to the 2008 Russia–Georgia August War over the separatist governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia; and

(bb) defensive counterintelligence starts by looking for places in one's own organization that could easily be exploited, which may include the use of encryption tools and secure communications, preserving operational security by not releasing certain details, or to hide or stop activities while enemy aircraft, UAVs or satellites are overhead.​

(5) It has been said that the duty of a commander is to "mystify, mislead, and surprise"; and this applies as much to the air commander as to the ground commander. It is also not uncommon for IADS to employ deception as a tool to protect its assets. Deception has both offensive and defensive applications in this case. This includes the use decoys to absorb air strikes, simulations of damage where none exists, camouflage and concealment of radar and weapons sites. Further, the effectiveness of deception is not a function of technology. Low-tech deception techniques from a strategically placed bloody and tattered dolls to loudspeaker broadcasts of tank engines can be extremely effective.

• In Operation Allied Force, Serb deception efforts enhanced the survival of their forces against NATO air attacks, which included constructing false bridges along the Drina River, placing fake artillery pieces made of long telephone poles painted black with old truck wheels, antiaircraft missile launchers constructed of old milk cartons, and wooden mockups of MIG-29 aircraft. The Serbs manipulated the media extensively in an effort to discredit NATO success. Lack of NATO ground forces in Kosovo made deception operations viable, in addition, NATO over-reliance on IMINT for battle damage assessment coupled with the over-tasking of imagery analysts made the analytical effort vulnerable to deception. Finally, the terrain gave the Serbs an additional advantage in employing its denial and deception operations against NATO aircraft.​

(6) Since the demise of Pablo Escobar and Medellín cocaine cartel through human and technical intelligence collection (particularly though the use of cell phone intercepts by the CIA and DEA), there is widespread awareness by the Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives on the need to exercise communications discipline, to avoid being caught through technical intelligence efforts (a second order effect of the reporting on prior American success in using technical intelligence). Beyond Centra Spike, in May 2013, US Southern Command told Congress that ISR support provided led to more than “32 high-value narco-terrorists killed in action.” It is believed that the high-value narco-terrorists killed are from FARC in Colombia; and since 2007, the Colombian government has a strategy for taking out these high value targets. The ancient story of the Trojan horse should serve as a reminder that there is no simple way to mitigate this vulnerability.

In 1989, two small U.S. planes took off in Colombia’s expansive Aburra Valley, the first flights of a surveillance operation that would ultimately reshape the American way of war.

Taking up orbit over Medellin, the Beechcraft planes, part of a secret operation called Centra Spike, began sucking in phone calls and radio signals. Technicians aboard processed the data with state-of-the-art analysis techniques, seeking clues to the whereabouts of Medellin cartel boss Pablo Escobar. The Centra Spike operation, it is believed, played a key role in the events that led to Escobar being killed in 1992.

More than a dozen years later, the ISR techniques born in Latin America came of age in Afghanistan, where U.S. special forces tracked down countless Taliban leaders by their electromagnetic emissions...

...There were a lot of targets for aerial surveillance during the Colombian drug missions of the 1990s: drug cartels, cocaine labs, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), the paramilitaries. But it was Escobar’s killing that seemed to crystallize the technology’s potential, according to interviews with contract ISR operators.

“No one before that had seen it like that. No one thought you could go after one guy,” recalled a veteran of Colombian operations...

*The above is an extract of this article: "Going Dark: SOUTHCOM, Where Modern ISR Was Born, Is Hoping for Assets."
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11. Limits of Air Power

(1) During World War II, there was the clear positive military objective of the destruction of the Axis powers. Therefore, there was little or no Allied Power restraint to inflict damage on the enemy. As a result, air power unleashed its maximum destructive capabilities, which included the examples of the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo. This use of air power culminated with the detonations of two atomic bombs over Japan in 1945. Since then, the application of air power have been used in the context of limited wars that include examples from the Korean War, Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War.

(2) In the initial phase of the Korean War, the focus of US air power was almost purely tactical. Available air forces were dedicated solely to slowing the North Korean advance and supporting the meager forces remaining at Pusan. However, in 1953, the Eisenhower administration threatened to use nuclear weapons to end the war, and this, combined with attacks against North Korean dams that raised the possibility of agricultural devastation, finally brought the Communists to the negotiating table. Helping to remove restraints on air power that year was the death of Josef Stalin and the power struggle in the Kremlin that followed; these had the effect of removing the Soviets from the picture in Korea at this critical juncture.

(3) In the book, 'The Limits of Air Power: The American Bombing of North Vietnam', Mark Clodfelter examines the American bombing during the Vietnam War as a means of achieving specific American policy goals. Mark Clodfelter argued that for much of the Vietnam War, restraints, or negative objectives, outweighed the single overriding positive objective: a stable, independent, non-Communist South Vietnamese nation. The negative political objective of preventing Soviet or Chinese intervention in Vietnam severely limited options available to military planners during the Johnson administration. A key concern for the President became removing tactics that might be perceived as threatening the survival of North Vietnam as a political entity, which he feared might spark a third world war. These restraints, when combined with the small-scale, guerilla style tactics being employed by the Viet Cong, ensured that Johnson’s Rolling Thunder air campaign of 1965-1968 would achieve no significant military success. Planning, including the selection of individual targets, was determined not at an operational level, but rather by the President and his advisors in Washington, resulting in a limited numbers of sorties being flown against targets of increasingly marginal value. The goals of Rolling Thunder, interdiction of men and supplies moving into South Vietnam, destruction of the North’s capacity to wage war, and the elimination of the North’s industrial infrastructure went unachieved. Four years later, President Nixon was able to more successfully employ air power in Vietnam, to facilitate the withdrawal of American ground forces from Vietnam. By 1972, the Soviets and the Chinese had become hostile to each other, and both sought better relationships with the US as a buffer against the other. Nixon skillfully used diplomacy to achieve détente with both, and this effectively removed the major negative objective of Vietnam, provoking a broader war with the Communist world. For the air generals, the gloves had finally come off. In addition, the North Vietnamese had shifted their tactics on the ground. The Tet Offensive of 1968, wrecked the offensive capability of the indigenous Viet Cong guerillas; from this point on, the conventional North Vietnamese army would carry the burden in Vietnam. This change from guerilla to conventional tactics also greatly increased the dependence of communist ground forces on logistics, supply chains and heavy military hardware, all of which is susceptible to air attack. To a limited extent, it is possible to argue that the Linebacker I & Linebacker II air offensives aided in the achievement of a limited Nixon policy goal.

(4) In a more recent example, the 1991 Operation Desert Storm, marked a turning point in US air power doctrine. The prior political shackles on air power were largely removed. Except for limitations designed to minimize civilian casualties and mass civilian suffering, few political restrictions were placed on the release of weapons or tactics. Conventional Iraqi forces in the desert were exposed and vulnerable to identification and air attack. The early focus of air attack was strategic targets, in bombing campaign called Instant Thunder. The target of these attacks was strategic and political, and the aim was to destroy the enemy's will to fight. However, it should be noted that air power alone did not force Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait and the deployment of ground troops was necessary.

(5) During the Vietnam War, the US lost more than 2,200 aircraft to enemy fire, and while US airpower killed thousands of enemy combatants. During the Reagan buildup, however, the US Air Force dedicated focused on technology and recapitalized its fighter fleet in order to overcome enemy IADS, find targets and place bombs with precision. This technology heavy strategy was successful and the results in Operations Desert Shield and Storm were impressive. Losing less than 20 aircraft in operations, the US Air Force and US Navy (along with joint and coalitions forces) destroyed Iraq’s IADS and then attacked its dug-in ground forces, with pin point accuracy.

(6) In view of the three above examples, there are three points to note about the limits of air power.

One, if the enemy cannot be identified from the air, it is difficult to effectively to attack him from the air (eg. insurgent groups, whose goal is to hide within the population).

Two, if the enemy is prepared for an attack from the air, he can take effective measures to mitigate against air surveillance or the effects of air delivered weapons (i.e. a ground presence is needed).

Three, even if an enemy is physically vulnerable, he may not be politically vulnerable to air attack. Translating physical vulnerability into political vulnerability from the air, as a tool of coercive state-craft is not an easy task.​
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