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US Aircraft Losses over Vietnam

Discussion in 'Air Force & Aviation' started by Izzy1, Jun 29, 2007.

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  1. Izzy1

    Izzy1 Banned Member

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    Just been reading about North Vietnam's SAM defences during the Second Indochina War with the US/South Vietnamese and Allies.

    The figures are interesting:

    1965: 194 SAM launches. 11 US aircraft lost, a launch/hit ratio of 5.7%. In other words for every 1 downed aircraft it took over 17 missiles to register a hit.

    1966: 1,966 SAM launches. 31 US aircraft lost, a launch/hit ratio of 1.2%. 63 missiles for every one hit.

    1967: 3,202 SAM launches. 96 US aircraft lost, a launch/hit ratio of 3.0%. 33 missiles for every one hit.

    1968: 322 SAM launches. 3 US aircraft lost, a launch/hit ratio of 0.9%. 107 missiles for every one hit.

    Linebacker Operations
    1972: 4,244 SAM launches. 49 US aircraft lost, a launch/hit ratio of 1.15%. 87 missiles for every one hit.

    Apart from the blip of 1967, its clear to me that US tactics and ECM had gained the upper hand over the SA-2 after 1965. I'm sure it has been upgraded, but the SA-2 remains for many nations the backbone of their air defences - Vietnam, North Korea and China with their HQ-2 version cases in point. Given today's technology, its pretty certain to me that the percentages would be even smaller. Anyone know of SA-2's performance during the Gulf Wars with Iraq?

    One interesting thing additionally, the PAVN deployed the SA-7 MANPADS in the 1972 Eastertide offensive and although I don't have numbers launched, they did down 16 aircraft at the Battle of Quang Tri alone. I find that an astonishing figure for such a crude piece of kit.

    Figures from Colonel Harry G. Summers' 'Vietnam War Almanac', 1985.
     
  2. Tasman

    Tasman Ship Watcher Verified Defense Pro

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    Those are very interesting figures Izzy. No wonder there was a resurgence of efforts to produce agile manned fighter aircraft following experiences in Vietnam!

    Cheers
     
  3. Chrom

    Chrom New Member

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    The figures somehow doesnt seems right. USA lost more than 2000 aircrafts of all types over NV, and most of them attributed to SAM's. I can hardly believe what it implies more than 100.000 SA-2 missilles fired...

    We can draw many opposite conclusion from that statistic:

    1. SA-2 become less effective against USA bombers...
    1a. Due to ECM
    1b. Due to more effective SEAD
    2. SA-2 remained just as effective against USA bombers but USA bombers learned to avoid SA-2...
    2a. avoid without major hit in bombing perfomance.
    2b. avoid at the cost of major hit in bombing perfomance.
    3. SA-2 remained just as effective against USA bombers but most SA-2 missiles was fired against other aircraft types...
    3a. Firing against other types was ineffective
    3b. It was effective
    4. etc.

    We should see much more complete statistic to draw any conclusion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  4. Izzy1

    Izzy1 Banned Member

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    2,251 to be precise, 514 due to operational malfunction alone. But I will check these figures over and get back to you on here. I'm a bit surprised by them too.



    Think you need to check your calculator, the total figure is 9,928 SAMs fired. Which sounds plausible considering the Soviets delivered just over 10,000.
     
  5. Waylander

    Waylander Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    I thought most aircrafts over Vietnam were still destroyed by AAA.
    Not long ago I read a statistic about this, maybe I find it again.
     
  6. Chrom

    Chrom New Member

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    So, as you see, unless SA-2 fired ONLY at B-52 you cant claim any % missiles-to-hit ratio. The article is classical example of (intentionally) wrong use of perfectly right statistic.
     
  7. Izzy1

    Izzy1 Banned Member

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    Why not?

    Tell that to the Pentagon or the USAF, they're probably Col. Summer's source. Read them as you may, but those percentiles and figures do make pretty good reading for the pilots and a clear indicator that their tactics and countermeasures worked. And I'm pretty certain PAVN didn't just fire their SAMs at B-52s.

    I also have read a little more and Waylander is correct, PAVN's AAA was highly effective - especially against attack aircraft like the A4 Skyhawk and Super Sabre.
     
  8. Chrom

    Chrom New Member

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    Again, these figures dont tell ANYTHING AT ALL. For example, from these figures we can conclude what USA bombers learned to avoid SAM's fires by NOT flying over protected targets, i.e. unloading they bombload in void. Or we may conclude what SAM's supply reached such level what it become possible to shot missiles at SEAD aircrafts such as F-4 or F-105. Or we may conclude 1000 other things what are just as likely as this article unfounded assumtions
    The numbers itself are probably correct, but they interpretation is absolutely false.

    P.S. This is like claiming 1:10 ratio for USA aviation vs NV aviation on the base of Mig-21 vs F-4 ratio. While the numbers might be correct, the direct interpretation would be false as Mig-21 probably can also claim 1:10 ratio by shooting a lot of bomber/transports/etc and for Mig-21 fighters such as F-4 was low-priority targets. Note, this is just example and not real comparasion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  9. Izzy1

    Izzy1 Banned Member

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    That's complete fantasy - everybody knows US bombing worked, ask the residents of Hanoi and Haipong! 'Linebacker' brought the North Vietnamese back to the peace-table. The 1972 Eastertide Offensive was stopped in its tracks by a massive US bombing effort. North Vietnam's demand for an effective and elaborate air defence system underlines the effect US bombing had in the Vietnam War.

    And if the mass-USAF tactic was dropping short to avoid SAMs, then why did the PAVN fire them?

    There is no magic in these figures, 9,928 SAMs launched - they hit a 190 planes, plain and simple.
     
  10. Chrom

    Chrom New Member

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    This is rather unlikely as USA couldnt sustain "Linebacker" losses for any prolonged time. The peace was signed due to varios reasons, and Linebacker was surery not the most important.
    There was a lot of stationary infrastructure targets in NV what USA was repeadly tryed to destroy for years with bombers but failed - losinig also many planes trying. If that dont hint you about how USA bombers avoided SAM's fire - then i dont know what is.

    Thats said, USA bombing camapaignt surery had a LOT of effect on NV, and was devastating. After all, USA didnt lost 2000 planes for nothing, no?
    But here we are speaking about the SAM's effectivity. I gave you facts which proves what SAM's was very effective. In fact, given they numbers and resources spend SAM's was certainly more effective than aviation what you could get with similar resources.

    Becouse contrary to your believe, the first and upmost important SAM's job is to PROTECT, and NOT to kill. Kill is only a nice addidition but SAM's crew job is NOT judged by kills - it is judged by whenever they managed to protect the object.
    Cant see how you deduct that from the presented numbers - only 190 aircrafts was hit by SAM's? What had brought down another 2000 then?

    And again, even IF these numbers would be true - it still dont tell as ANYTHING about SAM's effectivity. For examle, SAM's could force USA bombers/SEAD aircrafts to fly low-level avoiding SAM's fire - but in the same time suffering heavy loses to AAA fire due to that. In that case looking at kill ratio you may conclude what SAM's became less effective against aviation - while in fact they become MORE effective by denying the high-alt flights to enemy and completely fullfilling they objective.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2007
  11. Izzy1

    Izzy1 Banned Member

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    Are you saying the plan for Linebacker III never came into play?
    Quote:
    The 1972 Eastertide Offensive was stopped in its tracks by a massive US bombing effort. North Vietnam's demand for an effective and elaborate air defence system underlines the effect US bombing had in the Vietnam War.

    There was a lot of stationary infrastructure targets in NV what USA was repeadly tryed to destroy for years with bombers but failed - losinig also many planes trying. If that dont hint you about how USA bombers avoided SAM's fire - then i dont know what is.

    Thats said, USA bombing camapaignt surery had a LOT of effect on NV, and was devastating. After all, USA didnt lost 2000 planes for nothing, no?
    But here we are speaking about the SAM's effectivity. I gave you facts which proves what SAM's was very effective. In fact, given they numbers and resources spend SAM's was certainly more effective than aviation what you could get with similar resources.


    Quote:
    And if the mass-USAF tactic was dropping short to avoid SAMs, then why did the PAVN fire them?

    Becouse contrary to your believe, the first and upmost important SAM's job is to PROTECT, and NOT to kill. Kill is only a nice addidition but SAM's crew job is NOT judged by kills - it is judged by whenever they managed to protect the object.
    Quote:
    There is no magic in these figures, 9,928 SAMs launched - they hit a 190 planes, plain and simple.

    Cant see how you deduct that from the presented numbers - only 190 aircrafts was hit by SAM's? What had brought down another 2000 then?

    And again, even IF these numbers would be true - it still dont tell as ANYTHING about SAM's effectivity. For examle, SAM's could force USA bombers/SEAD aircrafts to fly low-level avoiding SAM's fire - but in the same time suffering heavy loses to AAA fire due to that. In that case looking at kill ratio you may conclude what SAM's became less effective against aviation - while in fact they become MORE effective by denying the high-alt flights to enemy and completely fullfilling they objective.



    Chrom - does any of that change the fire to hit ratios? Honestly?
     
  12. Izzy1

    Izzy1 Banned Member

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    Chrom, come on. Even Kissinger attributes 'Linebacker' with that.

    When? What type? And what one single year?


    Getting back to the point of this thread before your your pointless hijacking.

    The Vietnamese have a bit to go.
     
  13. Marsh

    Marsh New Member

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    Chrom is correct in that you would also fire SAM's in an effort to achieve soft / mission kills (is there a technical term for that?) despite low PoK as long as you had sufficient munitions. On the other hand, I find those figures fairly credible in general terms as it was my understanding that flak was responsible for most aircraft losses to enemy action over Vietnam - somwhere in the region of 80-90%?

    Interesting mental comparison between the SA-2 effectiveness in rounds per kill and figures available for flak guns. General lesson is you 'need' a lot of misses per hit :)

    Izzy, do the 500-odd losses to 'malfuntions' count general accidents or just aircraft lost over enemy territory on mission?
     
  14. Chrom

    Chrom New Member

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    No. But fire-to-hit ratio have very little to do with SAM effectivity as i showed. Besides, i'm still not convinced what said ratio dropped that much- the presented numbers are very incomplete.

    The relative Linebacker success is mostly attributed to 2 factors:

    1. New weapon used - precision strike bombs for the first time.
    2. Greatly reduced USSR support.

    We can say what in Linebacker USA bomber aviation became generation ahead of NV SAM's (old SA-2 vs . EO/laser-guided bombs).
     
  15. Chrom

    Chrom New Member

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    2000 planes for whole NV war. 10.000 missiles for whole NV war. Even if only 20% USA planes was shot down with SA-2, the average hit ration is still close to 5% . Draw your conclusion.

    P.S. Moreover, WHAT forced USA aviation in the heat of flak guns fire? Think about it...
     
  16. Marsh

    Marsh New Member

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    I'm not sure you can claim as a general rule that the presence of SA-2s forced aircraft in to the lethal zone of flak, though it is perfectly possible that some were downed by flak while dodging SAMs.
     
  17. Grand Danois

    Grand Danois Entertainer

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    Being a bit lazy here, so I had a look at what Wiki had to say. There are so much detail that would have to be disseminated to reach a proper conclusion, but some input:

    United States Air Force

    All told, the U.S. Air Force flew 5.25 million sorties over South Vietnam, North Vietnam, northern and southern Laos, and Cambodia, losing 2,251 aircraft, 1,737 because of hostile action and 514 for operational reasons. A ratio of roughly 0.4 losses per 1,000 sorties compared favorably with a 2.0 rate in Korea and the 9.7 figure during World War II.[1]


    and

    United States Navy

    Twenty-one aircraft carriers conducted 86 war cruises and operated 9,178 total days on the line in the Gulf of Tonkin. 530 aircraft were lost in combat and 329 more in operational accidents, causing the deaths of 377 naval aviators, with 64 others reported missing and 179 taken prisoner-of-war.


    an excerpt of detail

    * B-52 Stratofortress-- --31 total, 17 in combat

    -First losses non-combat mid-air collision 2 B-52F 57-0047 and 57-0179 (441st Bomb Squadron, 320th Bomb Wing), June 18, 1965, South China Sea during air refueling orbit, 8 of 12 crew killed
    -Final loss B-52D 55-0056 (307th Bomb Wing Provisional) to SAM January 4, 1973, crew rescued from Gulf of Tonkin


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aircraft_losses_of_the_Vietnam_War

    I'd say that if this discourse should continue, I'd like to siphon off the Causes of US Aircraft Losses over Vietnam posts and make a new thread of them. I presume you'd want that too or huh?
     
  18. swerve

    swerve Super Moderator

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    Fair enough.

    I tried looking up the air combat losses a few years ago, & as I recall I found:
    1) According to N. Vietnamese admitted losses, the US claims of N. Vietnamese losses were remarkably accurate. Far better than for any previous war, e.g. Korea. There were some claims which did not match a loss, but also some losses the Vietnamese attributed to US aircraft which weren't in the US list.

    2) Several researchers have gone through the N. Vietnamese claims & compare them to US losses. Almost all US losses attributed by the US to fighters have been matched to a N. Vietnamese air-air claim, as have some put down by the USA as due to other causes (flak or SAMs) or unknown. N. Vietnamese claiming seems to have been far more accurate than Soviet/Chinese over Korea, but significantly less so than the US over Vietnam.
     
  19. merocaine

    merocaine New Member

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    I can't remember where I read this but during US and brit bombing campains over Germany a loss ratio above 4% per sortie was unsustainable. I think it floated around 3% for most of the war.
    In that context 0.2 is very low.
     
  20. nero

    nero New Member

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    we r talking about the modern vietnamese military here & not the old conflict.

    can anybody please tell me what kind of modern air-defence the present vietnamese regime has ???

    SA-21-Growler ?? or is it the the old s-300s ??

    kindly update if possible .

    regards

    also it would be nice if u can inform me about the tactical weapons that the elite vietnamese commamdoes use.

    cheers .


    .

    Mod edit: Posts moved to new thread.