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Subject: RAND Study Suggests U.S. Loses War With China
The Lizard King    10/17/2008 6:33:45 AM
ttp:// TAIPEI - A new RAND study suggests U.S. air power in the Pacific would be inadequate to thwart a Chinese attack on Taiwan in 2020. The study, entitled "Air Combat Past, Present and Future," by John Stillion and Scott Perdue, says China's anti-access arms and strategy could deny the U.S. the "ability to operate efficiently from nearby bases or seas." According to the study, U.S. aircraft carriers and air bases would be threatened by Chinese development of anti-ship ballistic missiles, the fielding of diesel and nuclear submarines equipped with torpedoes and SS-N-22 and SS-N-27 anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), fighters and bombers carrying ASCMs and HARMs, and new ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. Related TopicsAmericas Asia & Pacific Rim Air Warfare The report states that 34 missiles with submunition warheads could cover all parking ramps at Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa. An "attack like this could damage, destroy or strand 75 percent of aircraft based at Kadena," it says. In contrast, many Chinese air bases are harder than Kadena, with some "super-hard underground hangers." To make matters worse, Kadena is the only U.S. air base within 500 nautical miles of the Taiwan Strait, whereas China has 27. U.S. air bases in South Korea are more than 750 miles distant, and those in Japan are more than 885 miles away. Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, is 1,500 miles away. The result is that sortie rates will be low, with a "huge tanker demand." The authors suggest China's CETC Y-27 radar, which is similar to Russia's Nebo SVU VHF Digital AESA, could counter U.S. stealth fighter technology. China is likely to outfit its fighters with improved radars and by "2020 even very stealthy targets likely [would be] detectable by Flanker radars at 25+ nm." China is also likely to procure the new Su-35BM fighter by 2020, which will challenge the F-35 and possibly the F-22. The authors also question the reliability of U.S. beyond-visual-range weapons, such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM. U.S. fighters have recorded only 10 AIM-120 kills, none against targets equipped with the kinds of countermeasures carried by Chinese Su-27s and Su-30s. Of the 10, six were beyond-visual-range kills, and it required 13 missiles to get them. If a conflict breaks out between China and the U.S. over Taiwan, the authors say it is difficult to "predict who will have had the last move in the measure-countermeasure game." Overall, the authors say, "China could enjoy a 3:1 edge in fighters if we can fly from Kadena - about 10:1 if forced to operate from Andersen. Overcoming these odds requires qualitative superiority of 9:1 or 100:1" - a differential that is "extremely difficult to achieve" against a like power. If beyond-visual-range missiles work, stealth technology is not countered and air bases are not destroyed, U.S. forces have a chance, but "history suggests there is a limit of about 3:1 where quality can no longer compensate for superior enemy numbers." A 24-aircraft Su-27/30 regiment can carry around 300 air-to-air missiles (AAMs), whereas 24 F-22s can carry only 192 AAMs and 24 F-35s only 96 AAMs. Though current numbers assume the F-22 could shoot down 48 Chinese Flankers when "outnumbered 12:1 without loss," these numbers do not take into account a less-than-perfect U.S. beyond-visual-range performance, partial or complete destruction of U.S. air bases and aircraft carriers, possible deployment of a new Chinese stealth fighter around 2020 or 2025, and the possible use of Chinese "robo-fighters" to deplete U.S. "fighters' missile loadout prior to mass attack." The authors write that Chinese counter stealth, anti-access, countermissile technologies are proliferating and the U.S. military needs "a plan that accounts for this."
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doggtag       10/17/2008 8:02:59 AM
I find it amazing that these RAND characters have such a disdain for AMRAAM's capabilities (probably think AIM-9Xs are garbage, too?), yet little mention at all how credible they rate the chinese AAMs.
Are they giving the same failure rate for the AAMs the chinese/Russian aircraft would launch in the face of US countermeasures,
or do these RAND characters foresee those AAMs as functioning as some kind of wonder weapon that's immune to countermeasures, whereas the AMRAAM is, at least in their eyes, a dismal failure?
And chinese "robo-fighters" ?
That's a good one.
What's next? chinese spaced-based AWACS/AEW systems equipped with laser defenses that are light years superior to whatever capabilities the US will have in 2020?
(but then again, if the US suffers from a democrats-seize-control election in Nov of not only POTUS but both the Senate and House also, china won't need to militarily destroy the US military, as such an administration backed by Congress will do it for them.)
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The Lizard King    Couple of Thoughts   10/26/2008 9:00:05 AM
-What type of security access do you think the authors of this study possess?
-Interesting that there is no mention of UAVs.
-I love these analyses where "experts" compare current US capabilities today against projected capabilities of adversary?s decades later.  The key assumption made here is that while the US threat matrixes change the US Armed Forces will not.
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warpig       10/26/2008 11:18:40 AM

-What type of security access do you think the authors of this study possess?
-Interesting that there is no mention of UAVs.
-I love these analyses where "experts" compare current US capabilities today against projected capabilities of adversary?s decades later.  The key assumption made here is that while the US threat matrixes change the US Armed Forces will not.

Doggtag, I agree that I think they underestimate AMRAAM somewhat, and there's no doubt that our ECM is better and its perfectly reasonable to project that it will remain better, and so even though the PL-12 is a good missile we will have the edge in missiles, too.  Regarding what you called "robofighters," I think the authors are referring to one possible use for converted J-6 (and by 2020 probably J-7) fighters as UAV decoys.  I'd counter that by 2020 we will very often/basically always be able to ID and differentiate J-6 from J-11 and target the J-11, since we definitely already have significant ability to do so.
TLK, I'd assume there are many RAND analysts with TS//SCI clearances just like DoD intel types, and they can access pertinent intel (which means this briefing is all the greater insult to us because of that).  You're certainly right in that I too have seen where some people will extrapolate threat capabilities but fail to allow for a reasonable increase in our own in the meantime.
TLK, here are two other SP threads that discuss this RAND briefing to some extent, but are not in the typical place you might assume for this subject matter, so maybe you didn't see them.
(skip past the first page of comments to get to the ones about the study)
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gf0012-aust       10/26/2008 4:34:50 PM
Another take on RAND - and related to the Aust RAND "released" fairy story....   Note the participants - they're well known in the Aviation Ind - so aren't lightweight commentators
?Clubbed like baby seals? controversy ? the back story

As I originally observed, all we had to do was wait a few days and the full story would begin to come out. My call was spot on. Since the RAND presentation has now come into the public spotlight ? it?s been posted on Stephen Trimble?s blog, ?The DEW Line? (Trimble is a respected, award-winning aerospace journalist for Flight International) ? people can now read it and make up their own minds regarding what the The West Australian claimed was a demonstration based on ?highly-classified simulated dogfights? that proved the JSF had been ?comprehensively beaten ? [by] Russian-built Sukhoi fighters?.[21] It also means I can fill in more of the back story as an illustration of why I don?t believe in jumping at the first chance to believe something controversial appearing in the general press.

The August 2008 Pacific Vision conference at Hickam AFB, Hawaii was indeed a top secret simulation, but it was really focused on logistics issues, not a full-fledged wargame with combat missions being flown. In fact, as Maj. Gen. Davis (USAF) noted, it ?did not even address air-to-air combat effectiveness.?[22] The only time air combat effectiveness was addressed at the conference was in an unclassified (but ?For Official Use Only / Sensitive?) RAND briefing entitled ?Air Combat Past, Present and Future? presented by two RAND analysts, John Stillion and Scott Perdue. Despite the title ? and as RAND?s Director Andrew Hoehn has affirmed ? it was not an ?attempt[ed] detailed adjudication of air-to-air combat?, much less an assessment of the performance of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, per se.[23] If it had been, it would have been performed and presented by a different organization within RAND.

The presenters are from an ?East Coast RAND? office that focuses mainly on strategic and policy issues; detailed aircraft performance assessments are conducted by a ?West Coast RAND? office whose members actually have clearances that would permit them access to actual performance data of the F-35, as well as competitor and threat aircraft like the various Sukhoi fighters. These specialists not only had no participation in the preparation of the material that was presented, but they didn?t know about it until everyone else started hearing about it afterwards. So much for the ?proof? that the F-35 had been ?comprehensively beaten? by Sukhoi fighters. The actual aim of the presentation was to provide a Gedankenspiel ? through a reductio ad absurdum approach (with Pk?s of 1.00 and zero for Blue and Red, respectively) ? to question the future validity of certain assumptions regarding (their) concept of the primary requirements for achieving and maintaining air superiority in the Pacific region. Their assessments (to the degree they are valid) have an obvious bearing on airbasing and logistics in the area ? the subject of the Pacific Vision wargame.

The main presentation ended with slide 54. The only place the F-35 is mentioned is in the side excursion on slide 52. So where did the ?clubbing baby seals? results come from? It is my understanding that during the Q&A, two of the backup slides were shown: numbers 78 and 79. Here, in a nutshell, is the ?proof? that the JSF had been ?comprehensively beaten ? [by] Russian-built Sukhoi fighters?. However, it?s not a RAND analysis, but rather comes from Dr. Carlo Kopp?s and Mr. Peter Goon?s Air Power Australia (APA) think tank. (Other material and data in the pitch also come courtesy of the APA.) I am told the RAND authors have cordial relations with and are much enamored with Kopp?s and Goon?s work; these two gentlemen are avid proponents of the view that Australia must have the F-22 ? and only the F-22 ? and that its F-111s should be retained until they are available. They have published an extensive corpus of analysis to ?prove? that all other alternatives would have a ?disastrous impact? on the viability of Australian airpower.[24] The ?assessment? that Sukhois would ?club F-35s like baby seals? was a verbal aside (obviously made in jest) by one of the presenters. A catchy phrase like that made relative to an issue of great contention in Australia was of course irresistible to the press (which apparently was not about to risk losing such a good headline by responsible fact-checking).

As far as a proper analysis goes, this is not a very good one inasmuch as it appears to have been written expressly to come to the given conclusion. Although it does make some valid points, there are so many flaws in the assumptions, analytical approach and even data, that it is surprising tha
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Nanheyangrouchuan       10/27/2008 6:05:10 PM

(but then again, if the US suffers from a democrats-seize-control election in Nov of not only POTUS but both the Senate and House also, china won't need to militarily destroy the US military, as such an administration backed by Congress will do it for them.)

And what has the Bush administration been doing for the past 8 years to help Taiwan? 
As for the RAND report, it may be a scare tactic to drum up more spending for dodgy weapons projects (CEOs never quit, do they?).
But there should be pause for concern:
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