American air superiority?
November 29, 2005 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Gaming Indian Wars. The Left Coaster has a good roundup of the conclusions drawn from the recent war games between the American and Indian air forces. The Indian fighter jocks were more than competitive, even responding to instructions from AWACS planes faster than their American counter parts. Are the Mirage 2000 and the SU-30 better planes than the F-15 or was the real reason that the Americans “lost” the war games because they were handicapped, and is this now being used as an excuse to get more money for the F-22 program?
posted by afu (13 comments total)
Handicapped, but probably not because of the F-22. If you look the "they were handicapped" link, you'll see that much of the handicapping wasn't done at the request of the US, but at India's request. Probably their concern was that the battle would be one sided, making the Indian military look weak, which might also reflect badly on the current Indian government. Since the US has few allies left, it serves everybody to give the Indian air force a big advantage. Particularly since if relations are good, it makes it more likely that India will want to buy American arms to go with the SU-30s and mirages. As to whose planes are better, it's pretty clear that this wasn't a fair test, given that the Americans were outnumbered 3 to 1 and ordered to turn off a lot of the F-15's more advanced features. It's kind of like saying you're stronger than Hulk Hogan, because you could beat him if he was blindfolded and hit a few times with a stick to make him woozy.
posted by unreason at 1:13 PM on November 29, 2005

I don't think that the US forces were directly handicapped in order to drum up support for the F-22. But I definitly do think that the F-22 supporters are using this after the fact to get more funding. I don't really know who one or lost. The disscussion in the comments at the handicap link is good.
posted by afu at 1:19 PM on November 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

Good post, btw.
posted by unreason at 1:30 PM on November 29, 2005

Amongst aviation-cogniscenti, it is widely known that recent-model MiGs and Sukhois are far more aerodynamically advanced than their American counterparts. Russian air-to-air missile technology is also way ahead. But few if any conflicts today involve air-to-air dogfights as seen in WWII, Korea and Vietnam -- so this isn't a big deal. Yet.
posted by randomstriker at 1:35 PM on November 29, 2005

F-22 is so early 90's. F-35 is where it's at.

Anyway, the Russians have always made really nice planes in terms of flight dynamics. Electronic Warfare, not so much. So, what it comes down to is that a SU-30, SU-35, or a MiG 33 would win in a dog fight because of their maneuverability, but it's more than likely that missiles would be launched by the American F-22 before the MiG/SU even knows it's on radar. If there's one thing Americans do well, it's electronic warfare.

Russian air-to-air missile technology is also way ahead.

Eh, I guess. The Russian AA-12 does have a longer range than our AARAAM, but it requires the MiG's radar to guide it in, if I'm not mistaken. The AIM-AARAAM is a fire and forget weapon with it's own internal guidance system.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:50 PM on November 29, 2005

Note that the US forces were using the F-16 according to the links, not the F-15. I'll leave it to others to debate which is the better aircraft in the simulated battles, but I'm just going to say that they are pretty different aircraft.
posted by cardboard at 2:21 PM on November 29, 2005

The "handicapped" link talks about wargames from a year ago, while the first link talks about two sets of games, one a year ago, one more recent. And it appears from the sketchy details made available that the more recent results wern't nearly as unequal.
posted by wilful at 2:34 PM on November 29, 2005

Fairly common of war games to be "rigged" to some degree. I remember one desert simulation (that will go un-named) where our aircover (we were the bad guys) was down graded to F-4 Phantom's against the supposedly superior F-16. They had stripped all the electronics out of the Phantoms because the theory was the un-named bad guy would be using older Soviet era MiG without avionics. (Which was untrue. Sophisticated avionics may have been rare in the MiG but they weren't stone age.)

The war game enemy pilots - feeling they were flying dangerously blind - jury rigged Radar detectors into their Phantoms and ended up winning most of the Game engagements. A win later invalidated because of the game rules violation.
posted by tkchrist at 2:37 PM on November 29, 2005

not really interesting results, as games are often handicapped to produce certain results.

Fighter jets and missiles are only as good as the pilots who fly and shoot (which is a function of practice time), as well as country's ability to service the planes. For Example, China has several SU-27s, which are competive with our current generation of fighters. However, their pilots get very very little flight training time in the air. That and the fighters have to be disassembled and shipped back to russia for any major repairs.

Also, the Su-30s are fighter bombers...why aren't they going up against the f-16 instead?

I for one am glad to see increased US-Indian cooperation. We really shouldn't be seen as beholden to pakistan. We should support India more.
posted by hurting.the.feelings.of.thechinesepeople at 3:13 PM on November 29, 2005

Good lord, the "scientific evidence" given by one of the posters in the "they were handicapped" link re: genetic superiority of some races' intelligence over others? Simple news item brings out all the psuedo-scientific racists...
posted by Tikirific at 3:43 PM on November 29, 2005

Yeah, I noted something similar in the first comment:

I don't think the Indian Air Force will be on the same level as the US Air Force on 1:1 basis in the near future, or *ever* for that matter.

I found myself wondering why the commenter held this view. Does he think that there is something inherently superior to Americans that other nations and peoples can't compete at the same level? That we don't have to ever worry, because those dudes just won't ever be 1:1 with the USAF because we're so f*ing awesome.

As an American, that level of arrogance and hubris scares me. It's a sure way to become complacent and relegated to the dustbin of history.
posted by moonbiter at 11:04 PM on November 29, 2005

Does he think that there is something inherently superior to Americans that other nations and peoples can't compete at the same level?

As an American, that level of arrogance and hubris scares me. It's a sure way to become complacent and relegated to the dustbin of history

No offence, but where the fuck have you been for the last few decades? These military discussions always contain at least a few American commentators saying how superior they are, some of them even back it up with statistics about how long they train or how much money is spent on each soldier, but it always comes down to a "we're number one" mentality.

Besdies, it's obvious us Brits are the best

I remember reading an account of a battle in Gulf War 1 where the Iraqis turned off their tank engines and electronics and simply hid in the desert night. The American forces seeing no life assumed the tanks had been destroyed and sailed past, only to be attacked from behind.

The account was from an American soldier who was in the battle and he was talking with genuine admiration for the balls required for that Iraqi strategy. Good soldiers can be found in every army regardless of their colours, the fact that half of these great talents are invariably killed is one of the more frustrating horrors of war.
posted by fullerine at 11:35 PM on November 29, 2005

Sounds like a Dead Milkmen song, "Outsource The Air Force."
posted by OneOliveShort at 12:55 AM on November 30, 2005

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