Comment on European investments in air power

I wrote before about reasons to be skeptical of air power (platforms) in land warfare, and this time I'll explore one particular problem in greater detail.

A casual look at aerial imagery of Fliegerhorst Nörvenich (a Typhoon air base of the German air force) shows roughly two dozen hardened aircraft shelters and several other usual locations where one might suspect Typhoons. The main maintenance hangar of such an airbase usually has 1-4 aircraft at all times, for example. Or, well, that's how remember it.


So there's a total of about 30 very likely locations for Typhoon aircraft for a nominal strength of about 35 Typhoons. The Luftwaffe has a total of six tactical air wings (equipped with either Typhoons or Tornado), and I suppose there are a total of 200-230 very likely locations for the Typhoon and Tornado aircraft in peacetime, particularly at night time and on weekends. We can add roughly 20 more for hangars of the aviation industry where aircraft are for major maintenance and upgrades.
Air defence units' radar vehicle storage locations and other super high value target locations would easily add up to 50 more locations of great interest.

Now let's think about the cruise missile threat: Cruise missiles launched from ships (could be containerised in 40 ft ISO containers on cargo ships) have enough reliability and accuracy that one might expect about 80-90% of the locations hit with effect (including through hardened shelters - those things are not really hardened against direct hits of dedicated munitions) if each two missiles were ordered to be launched for every location.

That's less than 500 cruise missiles. The average price of a cruise missile in quantity production doesn't vary very much with size or range because the electronics and engine are the cost drivers. American cruise missiles cost anywhere between USD 0.5 and 1.6 million depending on type, order size and year. It's a safe bet that four cruise missile with 40 ft ISO launch container would cost less than USD 8 million. Let's set the likely lower prices of Russian cruise missiles aside for a moment; the capability to launch 500 cruise missiles would cost well less than USD 1 billion, including chartering a couple small container ships and manning them for a couple months.

That's less than the price of ten Eurofighter/Typhoon aircraft.

That salvo of 500 cruise missiles could - if surprise is achieved - take out well over 100 Typhoon and Tornado tactical aircraft, with Typhoons priced above USD 100 million.

So essentially a proper aggressor who would seek strategic surprise and be prepared to exploit such a surprise effect could knock out maybe half, maybe three fourths of the Luftwaffe at the price of way less than 5% of its Typhoon inventory. And piling up more aircraft is no viable strategy to counter this, nor is better hardening of shelters a reasonable strategy.

On the one hand the hardened shelter approach that became so dominant after the 1967 Six Days War has been devalued by conventional cruise missiles (and likely also conventional ballistic missiles, but those are rare). There's no real alternative in use during peacetime, even though saturation of airbases with dozens of additional sabotage- and somewhat blast/fragmentation-protected shelters would be possible.

The extreme contrast between the expense for first strike munitions and their target platforms calls into question the entire idea of defence by (European) air power platforms. It's an 'all eggs in one basket' kind of problem.

The other major European air forces are affected by this as well - 1,500 cruise missiles could knock out most of the Typhoon, Rafale, Tornado ECR and Mirage 2000-5 inventories, dozens of destroyers and frigates as well as hundreds of other high value targets.

- - - - -

I have noticed again and again that internet discussions on air power are focused on 1-vs-1 comparisons of fighters (and in case of Brit; and obsession with Brimstone) and overall nominal aircraft type quantity comparisons.

Many relevant factors don't get their due attention, such as:
  • fleet efficiency (sometimes one should rather discuss 3-vs-1 situations because the aircraft costs are so very different)
  • sortie rates
  • time on station for fighters
  • effect of datalinks
  • effect of missing AEW support
  • advantage of flying over friendly area air defences
  • ability to operate from improvised airfields
  • ability to repair airbases
  • ability to withstand surprise attacks
  • comparison of first week effect between aircraft-launched land attack missiles and container-launched land attack missiles
  • readiness rate
  • inventory of high quality PGMs (such as later AMRAAM versions)
  • dependence on tiny active radars in missiles for air superiority
  • loss of efficiency from strike packages compared to all-strike fighter missions
  • loss of time (sorties) from fighting for air superiority and attrition of air defences
  • often poor hit probabilities of air combat missiles

The aforementioned risk of major knockout blows by surprise cruise missile attacks is but one issue. Still, it's probably the most important issue that doesn't get due attention in regard to air power for Europe.*

- - - - -

I may sound utterly continental and German here, but in my opinion land power has the charm that it's not so terribly on the all-eggs-in-one-basket trip. An entire mid-sized navy could be ruined by two dozen cruise missiles. A mid-sized air force could be ruined by a hundred cruise missiles. It takes many hundred if not thousands of cruise missiles to ruin a mid-sized army. You would at the very least need to knock out a major portion of MBTs and SPGs to consider it a major blow. To blow up some radars and command post vehicles only would not hurt too much.

Fleets have been surprised and ruined in harbours for ages - Cadiz, Copenhagen, Taranto, Pearl Harbour. Air forces have been dealt terrible blows as well - Barbarossa, Pearl Harbour and Six Days war come to mind. Land forces on the other hand were terribly surprised only if they were within few hours cruising speed of opposing land forces. That's not the situation of the German land forces as of now.

From this point of view the Heer looks incredibly much more robust and incredibly much more budget-efficient for deterrence and defence than the Luftwaffe ever could. (The Deutsche Marine is useless anyway.)

So once again I tried to explain why I don't really care much about major flying air power platforms. I'm not stupid enough to believe that a single fighter fanboi would be swayed by this, of course.


*: And no, the around 120 combat-coded F-22s (of a total 186) which may realistically generate 100...200 sorties per day would not save the day. They would become effective in Europe after several days only, and it's questionable if the USAF would want to operate them from airbases with already cracked shelters. Moreover, they could be reached by cruise missiles as well - especially once they're deployed to Europe. I see little reason to expect the Russians to pursue even only in theory a symmetrical strategy against the F-22s. That's what the F-22 has been optimised for at great expenses, after all.
Moreover, F-15C/D and F-16C/D don't look competitive with Su-3x threats unless the Russians badly slacked in the missile quality department. 

P.S:: In case you think that Western intelligence would reliably warn; a desensitization strategy could feature ships with such missile containers as replenishment ships of regular Russian navy exercises. It would also be most difficult to tell such preparations from ships being sent to export arms in containers. Moreover, an ordinary container ship may have about 150 40 ft ISO containers on the highest level of the stacked container load, which would suffice for roughly 600 cruise missiles.
Arsenal ship and SSGN concepts have always been idiotic warship-centric ideas. 

edit June 2018. There was a substantial (but for the larger picture inconsequential) math error in here. I'm very disappointed that nobody pointed that out before I found it myself. 


  1. Sound reasoning and good examples but what is your alternative?

    1. Primarily; investment in land power for conventional warfare in Eastern Europe (=not mountains) with attention to battlefield NLOS area air defences.

      The army needs to park its high value vehicles more irregularly and needs to invest in more pontoon bridging capabiltiy since the Poles slack in thata rea.

      The German air force should make the location of the Typhoons more unpredictable, multiplying the quantity of locations that would need to be hit (which makes secrecy and thus surprise harder for a first strike plan).
      They should also leave the airbases in time of crisis already (even when exercises such as ZAPAD 2017 happen), using improvised airfields instead. Improvised airfields could be much shorter if we used transportable modular ski jump ramps on land.

      Intelligence services need to keep an eye on Russian ports, cruise missile manufacturers et cetera. Moreover, they should let the Russians know that they have an eye on it (priority for deterrence over defence) without losing it.

  2. Munitions to destroy are usually cheaper than the object that is destroyed. You have to be careful with logic here. Your argument is however quite good that there seem to be little capabilities to reduce the effectiveness of such a strike.

    1. Well, I imply some things when I try to keep such articles short and concise.

      Here's the point that you're getting at:
      When two 1 million missiles can kill a 150 million investment in a surprise strike and one 1 million missile can kill a 5 million investment in a surprise strike then the former case is MUCH more scary not only because of the price difference in itself, but because of what it means to the practicability of orienting an adversary military towards being good at a surprise strike.

      The 2/150 ratio means that but a tiny share of an adversary's budget is needed to create a devastating first conventional strike capability.
      The 1/5 ratio is an altogether different story. To go for a full first strike capability would require up to 20% of a peer adversary's budget. And those 20% would be poorly spent if the element of surprise was not achieved - and they would be near-worthless for deterrence.

      Applied to the blog text this kinda confirms that land power is much less susceptible to first strikes.

      This is still simplistic math, but the 2nd order effect on the practicability (of going for first conventional strike capability) is important.
      It wasn't the topic of the blog posts, though.

    2. I get the logic, but land power without own aircrafts overhead is presumed to be targets. There are two solutions, make aircrafts less expensive and more surviveable against such strikes. Increasing the number of hardend shelters is possible. I know a number of such shelters with civilian use, because the military aircrafts in them have been retired. So there is some extra capacity if relationships deteriorate (don't ask me if they fit inside). In case such a strike is detected as incoming, I woukd rely on soft protection measures of misdirecting such strikes with unpublished methods. This seems the most effective approach, because detection and pre-programmed flight paths to all hardend shelters are unavoidable.

    3. Well, those aircraft overhead are targets, too.

      The difference between the preferred air combat missiles of fighters and the best battlefield defence missiles is gone.
      There's little reason to trust a flight of Typhoons with 24 AMRAAM missiles in the air more than a battery that's got AMRAAM-ER missiles.

      Ground attack aircraft still need to radiate a lot or be fairly close to find land power targets in the field. This means they will be detected more reliably by air defences than by fighters, particularly if the ground forces have multiple mobile X-band jammers that make SAR/GMTI modes of strike fighter radars useless.

    4. OK, but aircrafts are faster, so they can concentrate and pick targets.
      I think you are right that the role of manned aviation is of decreasing importance.
      Approaches take more unmanned systems into account that can spend much of their time being ferried around by ground or water based systems. Aircrafts eat up a lot of money that doesn't buy these things. Their use would be to quickly move some kind of capability into a useful spot. This could be a fast and surviveable sensor platform with a wider horizon than a ground based system and maybe with a few weapons, although most weapons linked to the information obtained by the platform would be ground based. How much such a system requires a human and how expensive per piece is an interesting question.

  3. Off topic and I apologize butvwhen I read this you immediately came to mind.


  4. A persistent chemical munition striking known or suspected armories and vehicle parks, or the mass cm strike, would take armored component out of fighting for hours to days. That was the Soviet approach that was only lessened when Carter and NATO said that chem munitions would be retaliated as if nuc.

    Let's be honest, we're talking RUS here.

    1. Suiting up and using NBC masks was normal for air force exercises on airbases as well - trust me, productivity of everyone working there suffers considerably. I couldn't even understand anyone through telephone or field telephone with him and me in masks.

      Motor vehicles and especially AFVs that were closed when the strike happened can be cleaned. Maybe we should have more mobile decontamination equipment, but I suppose the firefighter vehicles from the next town could help out. It's more a planning issue than a potential disaster.

  5. You are exaggerating such treat. Russia at most was able to lunch something like 32 cruise missiles at once, and only against undefended installations. In 2 years of their engagement in Syria they were unable to repeat such attack at that scale, only sporadic handful of lunches now and then.

    Furthermore US mass 60 missiles attack on Syrian air base was not that much of a spectacular success either, so frankly if US can't do it effectively neither can Russians.

    Germany should invest more in capital assets like high tech fighters and powerful surface ships, they provide ideal tool for future warfare. Tanks, artillery and motorised brigades are thing of the past, good only for parades, much like goose-stepping and infantry block formation are leftover of black gunpowder era now also used only for parades.

  6. "Germany should invest more in capital assets like high tech fighters and powerful surface ships, they provide ideal tool for future warfare. Tanks, artillery and motorised brigades are thing of the past, good only for parades, much like goose-stepping and infantry block formation are leftover of black gunpowder era now also used only for parades."

    With such nonsense - you are unable to understand the issue of European defense as the relevant context - you only indicate that you are stupid. Well done Sir.


    1. "With such nonsense - you are unable to understand the issue of European defense as the relevant context - you only indicate that you are stupid. Well done Sir."

      Seeing you argument has no content other then insult I guess you have no argument to offer at all.

      I'w see this type before, that still thinks they are fighting WW2 and that artillery and big land formations mean something. They mean nothing. Global success of US proves that the best.

      If you look at military history during sense WW2 you can see thy have had a draw or lost most of their land engagements. Korean war was draw, Vietnam war was loss, Iraq was win but only because they severely limited their land engagements, Somalia was loss, 2nd Iraq war is loss, and by all appearances Afghanistan war will be loss. But did any of those land defeats or draws in any way affect US global supremacy? No, Because they still had bad ass navy to control global trade, and bad ass air force to bomb anyone they don't like.

      Similarly Israeli land forces got defeated by Hesbollah in 2006. Did that affect their supremacy over Arab word, or lose a singe inch of territory? No, because they still had fantastic air force that would bomb in to oblivion anyone that looks them in the wrong way.

      When Russians got involved in Syria did they bring armoured and motorised divisions? No! Deployment of 3 squadrons and handful of ships was enough to turn the tide of that war.

      Lesson is simple, engaging in land warfare is waste of time, money and lives, at this point as obsolete as lines of musket infantrymen or cavalry charge. If you want to beat someone in to submission just bomb them with fighters or ships.

      If Germany decides to downsize its fleet and air force for sake of Heer they have decided to loss their next war even before it begins.Land army no longer can decide outcome of wars or political influence of the nation, and even if one wins land war outcome is irrelevant if there is no air force and navy behind it.

      In fact modern land army does not really need to exist at all. All you need handful of specialised police units like SWAT to deal with random terrorist, security forces for ports and air bases, and special forces spotters to spot for navy and airforce. Everything else is waste of money useful only for ceremonial purposes.


    2. You didn't win anything in here.

      Hezbollah would have walked into Tel Aviv had the IDF ground forces not kept it in check. The Russians could cruise to Paris if NATO had but SWAT teams as land forces.

      This blog isn't about the marginal value exploits of cruise missile diplomacy. It's about defence.
      The combined NATO air power would not suffice to stop a dispersed offroad movement Russian army even if there were no Russian fighters or air defences.
      We could not liberate an occupied Baltic region by bombing alone.
      Air power's destructiveness in 20 days of bombing under near-perfect conditions ahead of the liberation of Kuwait was pale compared to what the much shorter ground offensive did to the Iraqis.

      Extremist views like yours were common in military history and never proved right.
      The aircraft did not make fleets unnecessary, knights did not make dismounted followers unnecessary, fortifications did not disappear after the rise of firearms, mechanised forces did not disappear after heliborne forces appeared, the submarine did not make surface warships unviable, the machinegun did not become the sole armament of armies, guided missiles did not replace manned aviation, armies did not turn into all-AFV forces, and air power did not (and will not) eliminate the need for land power. Most likely, drones won't eliminate the need for human combat troops either.

      More importantly, you should look into yourself and try to find out what went wrong that you utterly ignored the problems laid out in the blog post. You seem to acknowledge the weight of arguments, so why do you ignore those that started the discussion in here?

    3. And how do you except anyone to to supply those Russian division as air force blows supply and all communications. How will they advance when any significant formation gets showered with cluster bombs from air? What can those land formations do against carrier groups attacking them from sea? Why would they even attack in the first palace if they know you will bomb the crap of them before their slow land formation even get a proper push on. Moscow and St Petersburg have nowhere to hide.

    4. I forgot to mention: What "cluster bombs"?
      Did you ever hear about the cluster munitions ban, or about how the U.S. military destroys its cluster munitions despite the U.S. not ratifying the treaty?
      Look, this is not a page for wanking to military power fantasies. I'm trying to point out that smarter defence policy can deliver more deterrence with less expenditure. This isn't Tom Clancy-grade reality-inspiured fiction for entertainment.

    5. Try math for a change, not feelings.

      A brigade of 4,000 personnel has roughly 1,000 motor vehicles. Six brigades with divisional level support come up as about 25,000-27,000 motor vehicles.
      Russian formations are somewhat smaller, so let's say 20,000 on the move on day one - that's the relevant Western Military District peacetime TO&E strength.

      Against this there are roughly 400 operationally ready tactical aircraft capable of ground attack in range as peacetime strength. The German air force for example has few bombers left - it's mostly fighters now.
      They may get three proper sorties per day, with usually not more than four guided bombs.

      In theory that could blow away one brigade per day. So essentially those Russian forces which demonstrated a 1,000 km/day cruise in 1999 would have to need more than four days to cover 1,200 km (St.Petersburg - Warsaw) in face of nothing but SWAT teams.
      That's the theory. The real lethality is a small fraction of the theory, jsut as a machinegun doesn't kill 600 people per minute.

      (Military concoy vehicles cruise with ~100 m spacing, so anything short of a 2,000 lbs GBU won't take out more than one. This ignores that many PGMs carried on a sortie would not hit a target at all, many would be carried back to base, hit civilian vehicles, miss or be expended on something else.)

      Moreover, if Russian army forces faced nothing but police they could simply disperse to two men per civilian car - and the lead elements would mix with fleeing civilians, become indistinguishable from the air.

      Your pro air force extremism is ludicrous. You took too much for granted that's part of warfare only if the adversary is facing land forces.
      And of course you still ignored the basic story of the blog post, which is that Russia could blow over half of European air power away at less than 5% of the expenses (if it achieves surprise).
      Western air power might survive a surprise attempt, it might suceed at attacking despite battlefield air defences and it might score hits on many targets including high value army targets such as HQs and tanks and it might play a decisive role even in the first couple days.
      It's just not very likely given all the vulnerabilities and real world challenges, and even such a success would fall well short of replacing land power.

      You can defend Hawaii or Japan without land power if you are very alert and trigger-happy, but not Eastern European NATO countries.

    6. This 5% cost to blow up 100% of European air power is ridiculous claim. Ha no connection with reality. Recent record from Syria indicated both that Russia ability to execute such mass attack is nonexistent,and that such attack are generally not effective as seen on US attack on Syrian airbase where US expended 60 missiles to destroy only something like 6 old planes, and airbase was back in operation in something like 3 days.

      You fear non existing bugbears. In fact you posting link to that ridiculous Russian propaganda video shows you are more influenced by Russian disinformation then with actual facts.

      Why do you even imagine you need to destroy even fraction of vehicles to slow mechanised formation attack? Typical tank has autonomy of only 500 km on road, half that on of road travel. No fuel and it cant go anywhere. Blow up fuel supply trucks ant they become only static target practice for your pilots. They need to cross bridges, blow them up an they cant advance any more.

      Also it is factually wrong US beaned cluster bombs. See for yourself:

    7. Nobody here claimed the 5%/100% thing, so I couunt this as a lie of yours. I'm not a friend of the use of strawmen.

      The Russians did not expend thier arsenal on petty rebels in Syria. Any attempt to deduce the full Russian might from their small intervention there is unserious.

      I showed a marketing video, not a propaganda video. I show American marketing videos as well, and you badly overestimate your skill of deducing thinking from the use of videos.

      Nobody needs a tank to overcome police forces. Nobody needs a single military vehicle to overcome police forces. Troops could paddle across rivers, take some civilian car on the far side and keep cruising towards their objective if no armies were defending. You are still making the mistake of taking things for granted that only happen if a defending army is present.

      That may explain why you grossly underestimate the importance of land forces.

      I can take people serious who trust so much in air power and arty that they think of land war as nothing but scouts directing fires. I don't take you seriously, for your claim is immature nonsense.
      I didn't notice the recent change regarding cluster munitions, but after looking at a couple sources I conclude that this change of policy is primarily about exporting old stocks and about stocks in South Korea (which appear to be in part for use by the South Korean air force).

      The Europeans have almost no ICM or CBUs left, and the U.S. stockpile is drastically reduced as well

    8. There is an article about what is probably planned/rehearsed by Russia. They count on political fragility of Western democracies and they want to shock the population to oblivion by devastating surprise attack. So Sven is absolutely right: We have to do our homework to prevent such attack; otherwise there will be hardly any fighters in Europe left to "devastate" attacking Russian army in the first place. http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/bild-international/zapad-2017-english-54233658.bild.html

    9. "Gen. Mark A. Milley stated, “To avoid being detected and targeted by precision weapons, soldiers must split into small units and keep either on the move or under cover. Static bases will be sitting ducks.”" http://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/English-Edition-Archives/November-December-2017/Logistical-Operations-in-Highly-Lethal-Environments/platform/hootsuite/

    10. "Seeing you argument has no content other then insult I guess you have no argument to offer at all. " He doesn't need to offer something. What you do is like saying "The Sun is pink" and wanting counter argument. But for sake of relieving myself I want to disprove your following claims.

      "If you look at military history during sense WW2 you can see thy have had a draw or lost most of their land engagements. Korean war was draw, Vietnam war was loss, Iraq was win but only because they severely limited their land engagements, Somalia was loss, 2nd Iraq war is loss, and by all appearances Afghanistan war will be loss. But did any of those land defeats or draws in any way affect US global supremacy? No, Because they still had bad ass navy to control global trade, and bad ass air force to bomb anyone they don't like. "

      Actually by mentioning those failures you only conradict yourself because all of those were failures because of lack of "boots on the ground". And yes they had effects on US' status.

      "Similarly Israeli land forces got defeated by Hesbollah in 2006. Did that affect their supremacy over Arab word, or lose a singe inch of territory? No, because they still had fantastic air force that would bomb in to oblivion anyone that looks them in the wrong way." Why did they were defeated if they had that "all capable" air force in the first place ?

      Like some people out there I could declare air forces obsolete by cherry picking data on them and declare air defences and land launched long range PGM's made them useless. Also from your word choice and unwillingness to discuss properly (you basically ignore everything we say) I think you are young. You may call this ad hominem but sometimes who is you are discussing with is important. Expecially if he is cherry picking, ignoring and making ridiculous claims.

  7. It seems to me the problem is more organizational and psychological than technical. NATO shouldn't take air superiority granted. Instead Luftwaffe should consider itself being in NATO frontline and act accordingly. Camouflage and dispersion are effective countermeasures against a surprise strike.

    Concrete is cheap and doubling or tripling the amount of hardened shelters would double or triple the targets for the enemy.

    Higher readiness comes with a cost, but as you point out it's even more expensive to let enemy destroy one's aircraft on the ground. Luftwaffe should regularly train using civilian airfields as temporary bases, preferably also in other NATO countries.


  8. Interesting discussion. However, even if I´m not interested in polemics in this topic: Airpower, like landpower, can disperse itself, make take-offs from highways (old Swedish model), etc.

  9. The hot pitting technique allows aircraft to land and refuel without stopping their engines. http://www.airforce-technology.com/news/usaf-practises-hot-pit-refuelling-technique/

    1. The Israelis had their time between two sorties down to 11 minutes decades ago. The article merely describes the USAF cheating on their safety regulations. Gas turbine users don't like shutting their engines down, but not it's not that much of a problem. Those things are built to re-start in mid-air after a flameout.

  10. If the Russians launched their cruise missile attack with zero warning there would be no dispersal and I would wager that very few tactical aircraft are routinely housed in hardened shelters. Zero AWACS ever were. The few remaining SAM systems are in known locations or storage sheds whose locations are also known to Russia.

  11. Also, all that matters is cratering the runways and parallel taxiways that can double up as runways in an emergency for long enough for your fixed wing aircraft to arrive with lots of cheap satellite guided bombs to take out the dispersals, shelters, minor taxiways and hangars etc. Ideally the first wave would a dedicated antirunway CM variant as this would prove much cheaper than using unitary versions - if you were particularly unscrupulous, they could also dispense anti disturbance mines with random delays.

    1. Most European air power and most European so-called generation 4.5 air power is outisde of the practical mission radius of both Su-24 and Su-34. Air strikes may be a problem for Germany, and that's assuming that they touch down and refuel at Kaliningrad during the return flight. Moreover, two ships loaded with cruise misisles could come into range surprisingly, but movements of 200+ combat aircraft to more Western airbases would likely be detected by Western intelligence. The Russians certainly would have to assume this during planning.

      Airbases usually have proper vehicles for sweeping surface mines quickly. The mines that dig into runways and stay there for later detonation can be cleared quite easily and essentially be turned into repairable/patchable craters.

      Finally; it's the crossroads of runways and taxiways that are preferred for cratering unless the anti-runway munitions are releasing in a long carpet pattern. At least this appears to be the preferred (over cratering along runways and taxiways) method with penetrating unitary warhead PGMs.

  12. Cruise missiles can easily be detected by airborne early warning platforms and intercepted during their flight. They can also be easily intercepted during their terminal approach SHORADS and CIWS.

    You need to fire something like 10 missiles per target against a peer opponent in order to have a chance of destroying the target.

    On the contrary air platforms can suppress/destroy enemy air defence with kinetic weapons or EW methods, thus you can have a much much pK for your weapons.

    Cruise missiles also have an expiration date for many critical components. It is not like you buy the missile, you keep it in a box and you can use at any time point for the next 30 years.

    1. Cruise missiles CANNOT be easily detected by AEW, not even in wartime. The total sum of fighters ready to climb and intercept in peacetime would suffice for few dozenj kills anyway, and SAM batteries are rarely deployed. There is no ShoRAD/CIWS capability at peacetime airbases, river bridges, munitions depots et cetera.

      Utterly unrealistic claims are not appreciated.

  13. unless the cruise missile employ stealth characteristics-which means much higher cost per missile and compromises in the aerodynamic performance- then the cruise missiles can be detected as easily as any other low flying aerial vehicle.

    I think the burden of proof falls on you to explain why the cruise missiles cannot be easily detected by AEW.

    By the way, I didn’t even mention the existing methods of detecting the launch of the missiles and rapidly destroying the launching platform (unless it fires all the missiles within a couple of minutes).

    1. Learn about the quantity of AEW aircraft in Europe, how many are on station and where at any one time, look at a map of Europe, learn about the AEW radar range against fighters (detection range isn't the same as 100% detected at that range), learn about ordinary cruise missile RCS, learn about ordinary fighter RCS, learn the basic math for extrapolation of radar ranges, learn about the quantities of fighters kept armed live live air combat munitions and on 5-15 minute air policing readiness, measure the length of flight routes from a Med and a North Sea launching point, learn about cruise missile cruise speed and then be ashamed that you didn't have a clue.

      Anyone who has a clue understand that a surprise attack with cruise missiles by the sea would at most face marginal defences at up to 500-1,000 km depth of penetration.

      Furthermore, pay attention to logic next time. An assertion that the burden of proof is on someone else needs to have a basis.

    2. “Learn about the quantity of AEW aircraft in Europe” 16 E3 with NATO. I won’t count in British or French

      “how many are on station and where at any one time” irrelevant, should a new threat from Russian ship borne cruise missiles arise, they can modify their patrol areas

      “look at a map of Europe, learn about the AEW radar range against fighters” open sources quote 400km against low flying targets

      “(detection range isn't the same as 100% detected at that range)” for targets over the sea, where there are no mountain areas to block the radar horizon, then the detection range reflects an almost 100% detection possibility

      “ learn about ordinary cruise missile RCS” I don’t have access to this type of information for Russian cruise missiles, but none of the existing ones appears to be optimized for LO. I will ask a friend of mine who professionally does RCS estimations to weigh in with an estimation.Again, I don’t expect any ultra low value that would surprise us. If you have any additional info, I would be interested to hear it

      “ learn about ordinary fighter RCS, learn the basic math for extrapolation of radar ranges” thank you for the advice, we can always learn more. I still don’t understand how this can be an argument point. Sounds more like an ad hominem attack, doesn’t it?

      “learn about the quantities of fighters kept armed live live air combat munitions and on 5-15 minute air policing readiness” I guess this is classified info that it wouldn’t be possible for me to get access. In any case, should the threat arise these values can be modified, can’t they?

      “ measure the length of flight routes from a Med and a North Sea launching point, learn about cruise missile cruise speed”
      Med route: as short as around 300 km. North route: as short as 0km
      Cruise speed: around 0.75Mach

      “and then be ashamed that you didn't have a clue.” Ok, that is not a productive comment, is it?

      Anyway, my point is that a massive cruise missile attack can be detected early. The methods to counter it can be easily developed should such a threat arise or at least be suspected.

      Low cost methods to counter such a threat, if it is detected early
      1 set up smoke generators and Glonass jammers near strategic targets.
      2 Launch UAVs armed with low cost AAMs (such as Stingers) that will ambush the cruise missiles in their flight path
      3 establish automated Stinger launchers near strategic targets

      Of note, cruise missiles should be easy targets for Stingers.

    3. The first E-3 that was retired had logged 22,206 flying hours in 31.75 years. That's an average of about 700 flying hours/year, of about 2 hrs/day.
      Which in turn means that about 1/12 of the AWACS fleet is on the air (and slightly less on station) on average, and this is based on stats in part from Cold War practice.
      NATO has 16, UK 6 and France 4 in operation. The UK's are wathing the Northern Northern Sea, not the German Bight. On average about 2 (maybe 2.5) Sentries (NATO+UK+FRA) are in the air over Europe, with an ability to spot a cruise missile at at most 300 km distance (could be as short as 30 km or even not at all if a cruise misisle comes close and low enough to pass below the radar beam). The E-3 base is in Geilenkirchen, Germany - so the E-3s are often on transit to the Eastern border of NATO (Baltics especially, for NATO air policing). It's fair to say that there are hardly more than 2 NATO/FRA E-3 emitting on station over Europe on average (= 2 or 3 circles with 30-300 km radius).
      Compare that with a map and the idea of AEW as an obstacle to a naval cruise missile surprise attack evaporates for good.

      NOSTRADAMUS may actually stand a chance (= necessitate jamming to hide the cruise missiles) to sabotage such a surprise attack plan, but AWACS doesn't.

      Moreover, your remarks about defences for airbases shows that you know hardly anything about airbases. I've worked there, and I misssed much more basic and cheaper preparations than that.