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The Air War

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The second of my “Lessons Learning” series tackles the air war:

By Fedor Leukhin – _VO_8219, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26608132

We have known at least since the Vietnam War that modern air defense can make an air campaign prohibitively costly. Extensive Suppression of Enemy Air Defense, stealth, and standoff precision-missile attacks can help degrade an air defense network and turn a contested environment into a permissive one.

It turns out, however, that doing any of those three things is quite difficult for any country other than the United States. Ground forces on both sides operate an array of defenses, from point-missile and point-gun systems to long-range surface-to-air missile launchers. These defenses have made it difficult to impossible for large Russian aircraft to operate at anything but the lowest altitudes and have generally deterred Russians from engaging in an extensive air campaign deep into Ukraine.

I heartily recommend RUSI’s discussion of the air war, which my column drew heavily upon. And while we’re here make sure to also read RUSI’s account of the ground war, which became available shortly after I filed.

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