US air power scares the Russian bear

USAF chief of staff General David Goldfein, reflecting on the success of the F-35 at a recent USAF "Red Flag" exercise, gave both the People's Liberation Air Force and the Russians what we fighter pilots call a "face shot."

Red Flag is a brilliant exercise in which many combat aircraft flying from Nellis AFB engage to simulate real combat scenarios within a well designed and instrumented extremely stressful air combat environment.  A "face shot" is slamming a missile right into the face, head on, of your enemy.

The U.S. Air Force put the F-35 up against "the most advanced weapons systems out there" during the recent Red Flag air combat exercise, and the fight-generation stealth fighters apparently dominated — so much so that even the rookie pilots were crushing it.

The F-35A is "exceeding our expectations when it comes to not only being able to survive, but to prosecute targets," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein said Tuesday, according to Air Force Times.

A lasting phrase used by President Obama is actually appropriate in this situation: the Russian are getting all "wee-weed up."

The Russian Embassy in the US took aim at America's F-35 stealth fighters on Friday in a threatening message apparently tweeted in response to an earlier speech by the chief of staff of the US Air Force.

"If a Russia... ever was to see an F-35 inside its airspace', we would love to send Chief of Staff of the [US Air Force] Gen. David L. Goldfein 'message with two words' — 'remember Vietnam," the tweet read, adding, "An F-35 will never be alone."

Okay, "Ivan" — let's remember Vietnam...and now the fights is on!

A historical takeaway from the cold and hot war air battles between the U.S. Air Force and the USSR is that in the air-to-air mission, a country that equips its fighters with airborne radar and sensors allows more autonomous action and actually favors tactical simplicity and operational autonomy — even though the equipment becomes more complex.  In air-to-ground, airborne simplicity indicators are usually smaller formations and allowance to maneuver independently into weapon launch envelopes primarily in a weapons-free environment.  Embedding technology into the weapon itself — bombs and rocket-fired weapons — has also made a revolutionary difference.

A key conclusion is always to assume that a reactive enemy can develop the necessary technology to mitigate any advantages.  With the worldwide proliferation of weapons, even a second- or third-world nation might have state-of-the art systems.  The air war over the skies of Vietnam was between two peer competitors because of USSR support and constraints by the U.S. national command authority on how the U.S. would fight an air campaign.

The peer fight in the air abruptly ended when President Nixon unleashed the full power of U.S. air in the famous Christmas bombing of 1972.  The war ended quickly after that.  When the North invaded the South in 1975, U.S. air power was not used like the first invasion in1972, which was a dismal failure.

The lesson on the U.S.-USSR rivalry is that air combat leaders must be able to adjust during the course of an air battle or war by changing strategy and tactics, to achieve exploitation of the enemy's mistakes or weakness.  Aircrews must be adaptable enough to follow changing commands from leadership and also, on their own initiative, to change tactics to achieve local surprise and exploitation.  Like the quote from Animal House, "knowledge is good."  In the cockpit, it can be a life-saver and an aid in "mission accomplished."

An air-to-air engagement totally slaved to a ground-controlled radar attack, the USSR model was a colossal failure and deadly to a lot of pilots locked into such a system.  A bottom-up approach with evolving aircraft system capabilities in a competitive airframe makes for adaptive, creative air crews who will have a large repertoire of tactical moves and a better chance of getting inside an opponent's OODA loop.  This is true for both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions.

As the history of war in the air shows, it was a constantly evolving process of human factors integrated into technology.  The Cold War ended well for humanity, and a lot of courageous pilots, bold leaders, and smart technologists deserve a lot of credit for this great victory.

General Goldfein well remembered the lessons learned when he mentioned the awesome capabilities of the F-35.  All U.S. air power combat pilots along the way will always recognize and honor the loss of good men and women in the air who paid in their blood for America today to have the best technology available flown by the best Air Force, Navy, and Marine aviators this country can produce.  The future for American air power is to shape its concepts of operations in order to take advantage of the fifth-generation aircraft and the associated new tools of combat.

The recent Red Flag reporting results complimenting the F-35 are telling us that the future is now — apparently truly scaring the Russians.

USAF chief of staff General David Goldfein, reflecting on the success of the F-35 at a recent USAF "Red Flag" exercise, gave both the People's Liberation Air Force and the Russians what we fighter pilots call a "face shot."

Red Flag is a brilliant exercise in which many combat aircraft flying from Nellis AFB engage to simulate real combat scenarios within a well designed and instrumented extremely stressful air combat environment.  A "face shot" is slamming a missile right into the face, head on, of your enemy.

The U.S. Air Force put the F-35 up against "the most advanced weapons systems out there" during the recent Red Flag air combat exercise, and the fight-generation stealth fighters apparently dominated — so much so that even the rookie pilots were crushing it.

The F-35A is "exceeding our expectations when it comes to not only being able to survive, but to prosecute targets," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein said Tuesday, according to Air Force Times.

A lasting phrase used by President Obama is actually appropriate in this situation: the Russian are getting all "wee-weed up."

The Russian Embassy in the US took aim at America's F-35 stealth fighters on Friday in a threatening message apparently tweeted in response to an earlier speech by the chief of staff of the US Air Force.

"If a Russia... ever was to see an F-35 inside its airspace', we would love to send Chief of Staff of the [US Air Force] Gen. David L. Goldfein 'message with two words' — 'remember Vietnam," the tweet read, adding, "An F-35 will never be alone."

Okay, "Ivan" — let's remember Vietnam...and now the fights is on!

A historical takeaway from the cold and hot war air battles between the U.S. Air Force and the USSR is that in the air-to-air mission, a country that equips its fighters with airborne radar and sensors allows more autonomous action and actually favors tactical simplicity and operational autonomy — even though the equipment becomes more complex.  In air-to-ground, airborne simplicity indicators are usually smaller formations and allowance to maneuver independently into weapon launch envelopes primarily in a weapons-free environment.  Embedding technology into the weapon itself — bombs and rocket-fired weapons — has also made a revolutionary difference.

A key conclusion is always to assume that a reactive enemy can develop the necessary technology to mitigate any advantages.  With the worldwide proliferation of weapons, even a second- or third-world nation might have state-of-the art systems.  The air war over the skies of Vietnam was between two peer competitors because of USSR support and constraints by the U.S. national command authority on how the U.S. would fight an air campaign.

The peer fight in the air abruptly ended when President Nixon unleashed the full power of U.S. air in the famous Christmas bombing of 1972.  The war ended quickly after that.  When the North invaded the South in 1975, U.S. air power was not used like the first invasion in1972, which was a dismal failure.

The lesson on the U.S.-USSR rivalry is that air combat leaders must be able to adjust during the course of an air battle or war by changing strategy and tactics, to achieve exploitation of the enemy's mistakes or weakness.  Aircrews must be adaptable enough to follow changing commands from leadership and also, on their own initiative, to change tactics to achieve local surprise and exploitation.  Like the quote from Animal House, "knowledge is good."  In the cockpit, it can be a life-saver and an aid in "mission accomplished."

An air-to-air engagement totally slaved to a ground-controlled radar attack, the USSR model was a colossal failure and deadly to a lot of pilots locked into such a system.  A bottom-up approach with evolving aircraft system capabilities in a competitive airframe makes for adaptive, creative air crews who will have a large repertoire of tactical moves and a better chance of getting inside an opponent's OODA loop.  This is true for both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions.

As the history of war in the air shows, it was a constantly evolving process of human factors integrated into technology.  The Cold War ended well for humanity, and a lot of courageous pilots, bold leaders, and smart technologists deserve a lot of credit for this great victory.

General Goldfein well remembered the lessons learned when he mentioned the awesome capabilities of the F-35.  All U.S. air power combat pilots along the way will always recognize and honor the loss of good men and women in the air who paid in their blood for America today to have the best technology available flown by the best Air Force, Navy, and Marine aviators this country can produce.  The future for American air power is to shape its concepts of operations in order to take advantage of the fifth-generation aircraft and the associated new tools of combat.

The recent Red Flag reporting results complimenting the F-35 are telling us that the future is now — apparently truly scaring the Russians.