Warplanes: China's Plan To Destroy American Air Superiority

Archives

September 24, 2007: American air power has dominated the skies for over sixty years. That's unique in the history of airpower, although similar to the two century run the Royal Navy had in dominating the world's oceans from the 18th century into World War II . At that point the U.S. Navy grew enormously, while the Royal Navy shrank. The Royal Navy lost its position because another the Americans came along with more money, and similar capabilities in operating warships at sea.

America's air superiority also came first, from sheer numbers. The warplanes of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines accounted for the largest air fleet in the world. In addition, the pilots were also the best trained and equipped. Moreover, like the Royal Navy, American aviators were resourceful and energetic, and able to quickly recover from mistakes. For example, at the start of World War II, American warplanes were not as well designed as those used by Japan and Germany. But within two years, that all turned around. Meanwhile, American pilots and commanders quickly adapted, and made the most of inferior aircraft. Same thing happened during the Korean war, when, early on, the Russian MiG-15 was found to be better than expected. During the Vietnam war, American tactics were initially inferior, but that soon changed.

When you have periods of long dominance, your opponents have an incentive to try harder, and be bold with new technology and tactics. The Royal Navy ran into this during World War I, when they found German battleships had superior design features. The German use of submarines was also a shock, and something of a setback. But in both cases, the British quickly recovered. It's not enough to be the biggest, you also have to be the fastest in adapting to new situations.

The most dangerous area these days, for getting caught short, is high tech. U.S. warplanes depend a lot on stealthiness, and the use of missiles, software and electronic counter-measures. If the enemy figures out something you are clueless about, or obtains your secrets, while protecting his own, the opening battles could be very ugly. In reality, these surprises are damaging, but very rarely result in a wipeout. But there is more dependence on technological secrets, than at any time in the past. This is probably why China has announced that its military strategy seeks to exploit this angle.

Future wars, nevertheless, will still come down to who has the most stuff, and who is best trained to use whatever they got. China is beginning to go down that road, obtaining first rate warplanes, and spending the money to let pilots fly often enough to become lethal.

 


Article Archive

Warplanes: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close