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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Is air-to-air combat obsolete?

The last time a US pilot shot down an armed enemy aircraft was 1999.  A US pilot shot down an Iranian drone in 2009, but since it was not a fighter, I don't count that one. In the past 30 years, there have been fewer than 100 air-to-air kills worldwide. 

If stealth is the most important thing, why not use biplanes like the Antonov An-2? If minimizing losses is the most important thing, why not use cheaper, expendable drones?

The odds of the US going to war with a country with a decent air force are next to nil. And even if it did, the US has thousands of more aircraft than either Russia or China. The US has about 2,500 and China and Russia have about 1,000 each.

A lot of those Russian and Chinese fighters are probably junk. The reason Yugoslav fighters failed to shoot down any NATO planes in the 90s was because their equipment malfunctioned.

The whole reason fighters were invented was to protect ground troops and civilians from enemy air attack. If there's a better or cheaper way to do that, that's what should be done.

I strongly suspect the real reasons the F-35 exists are defense pork and the Air Force's desire for a new toy.

If the Air Force was in charge of delivering pizzas, they would demand Ferraris.


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