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Ten Propositions for Modern Air Power

gambit

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so in short it depends on the aircraft. i agree on the point that it can cover great distances quickly, but i dont think i mentioned it being heavily armoured as that would be a trait for helicopter-gunships which get to face the enemy face to face in some cases which can get ugly hence the amour is needed. b2's and a10s have a genetic similarity but thats where the similarities. one is a close combat tank smasher and excellent for coin. whilst the other is more for long range strikes either in or out of enemy airspace dependant on the country and payload but as aerial defence is getting far more advanced it would probably launch alcm's to said target.
The difference between a 'trait' and a 'characteristic' is that a 'trait' is genetically inherited while a 'characteristic' is a variable.

The moment you design an aircraft, there are genetic traits that cannot be removed, else it would stop being an aircraft. It does not matter if the aircraft is infused with characteristics that are suitable for one situation but not others, as long as there are shared immutable traits, all aircrafts belongs to the same species, and as such, it is us who limits the aircraft's potential based upon our desires.

Proposition 3 -- the aircraft as inherently an offensive platform -- is founded upon perception and reality.

The perception and reality is that if I cannot see the threat, I cannot engage the threat, even though I know it is there, whether that threat is over the river/hill/mountain or over an ocean. That perception have existed for as long as man have been engaging in warfare. Airpower irreversibly upset that perception.

The first combat engagement of an aircraft against an over the horizon threat was communication, as in intelligence of what is that threat. The army ground commander was informed of what the enemy army was doing, as in movement direction and rate, which led to projection of where that enemy might be in the future. We are not talking about an occasional bomb dropped on a few enemy ground troops, but what was the persistent capability of the aircraft at that time, which was mainly reconnaissance and communicate what was found in details and speed unheard of before.

Intelligence produces indirect and delayed responses to threats. Weapons delivery is direct and immediate. Given the choice, a ground army commander will always chose to engage the enemy from as far away as possible, with as few resources as possible, and with as lethal weapons as possible. From this perspective, close air support (CAS) can be interpreted as an exception to the rule.
 

gambit

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Proposition One states:

1. Whoever Controls the Air Generally Controls the Surface

After Desert Storm, USAF Chief of Staff General Merrill McPeak said...

http://www.upi.com/Archives/1991/03/15/Air-Force-chief-says-air-power-won-gulf-war/3786669013200/
'This is the first time in history that a field army has been defeated by air power,...'
Air power have been criticized as being the least of all the military powers to be able to hold territories. But to be able to hold territories automatically implies that there is something tangible that we are able to grasp and to make subject to our will.

That is not what air power is supposed to do or even what air power proponents since the dawn of aviation have been TRYING to do.

The ultimate goal of war is to defeat the enemy, whether that enemy exist on land, sea, or air. The goal of air power, according to its proponents, is to defeat enemy forces wherever he resides. The sky is the least hospitable to humans. Next is the sea. Then best is the land.

What make air power unique and particularly troublesome to war planners is that unlike the other two powers, air power is environmentally unrestrained. Land armies and navies cannot attack targets beyond their horizons. Air power can. This is not to say that land armies and navies cannot launch missiles that can reach beyond their immediate views. Certainly they can. But what it means is that land armies and navies have their first priorities as the opposition forces that are immediately in front of them, whereas air power can attack the enemy at all of his forces no matter they are.

According to McPeak, Desert Storm marked a unique point in warfare where a fighting force that lives in its environment managed to defeat a force that lives in a different environment, and defeated it decisively. McPeak's observation was not about holding any territory but about the reality that: Air power can render the land and the sea inhospitable.

We do not live in the air but on the surface of the planet. And for the first time in history, warriors from a different dimension drove us from where we have been comfortable for millenniums. That was McPeak's point.

No land army have defeated a navy. Likewise, no navy have defeated a land army. To McPeak, air power can and have managed to defeat both in their own respective environments.

McPeak is not without precedent in his belief.

WW II was the first, and probably the last, time that naval fleets will directly face each other in combat.

Air power greatly enlarged the physical distance between fleets when they fought each other. That increase of physical distance were construed by each navy as concession to the other side. A loss of sea territory. Sort of a watery "no man's land" where each side acknowledged the other's lethality and does not want to suffer the consequences.

A companion issue is that of the maritime power.

A maritime power is a country that have economically productive access to the seas. Activities such as trade and military power that are dependent upon this access.

The seas offers freedoms that land borders usually denies. It is now clear that for any maritime power, an air force is a non-negotiable component of national security. Just like that distance between naval fleets, air power, at least in theory, create that watery "no man's land" where other countries acknowledges a sovereign's authority and physical power over an expanse of the seas.

Air power over the surface, sea or land, is not so much about control as it is about denial of access and presence. The ideal situation is that of one side having the freedom to access while denying as much as possible the same freedom to everyone else.
 

gambit

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Proposition Two states:

2. Airpower Is an Inherently Strategic Force

The Air Land Battle (ALB) doctrine was led by US Army General Donn Starry and lasted into the late 1990s. The doctrine focused on force coordination between land and air forces that during the war times of WW II, Korea, and Viet Nam, revealed that such coordination was vital to battlefield successes, but then quite withered away during peace time. The ALB doctrine was created to institutionally entrench such cooperation.

Nevertheless, ALB was essentially an Army centric doctrine with emphasis of force maneuvers at the corps level whose commander's focus in the physical domain was two dimensional with a tactical forward depth of only 100 miles maximum, and the time domain was in the next 96 hrs which is the time an enemy force needs to support his Front Line of Troops (FLOT). To put it bluntly, air power under ALB is essentially tactical in scope operating under the same geographical and time limits.

Although General Starry was Army, he was foresighted enough to declare: "Deep attack is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity to winning."

http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a191405.pdf
Thus, with the publication of the 1982 FM 100-5, deep attack became an integral part of our doctrine. As General
Starry stated, "deep attack is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity to winning"
If there is a question of 'How deep ?', air power quite swept it away.

In theory, air power can attack an enemy to any degree of depth, from immediately behind FLOT to all the way to the enemy's war waging resources such as factories and storages. Beside the theory, there is the question of practicality and this is where most countries fall short in their air forces' ability to strike deep, or strategically.

In the Iran-Iraq War, the lack of either air force's capability to attack the enemy at the strategic depth was a major contributor to why the war lasted so long, and ended in a stalemate with each side proclaiming victory in their respective propaganda campaigns.

For an air force that is capable of attacking the enemy at any level of depth, the question then is about the allocation of resources for a particular battleplan.

Entered Follow-On Forces Attack (FOFA)...

http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a224090.pdf
The FOFA sub-concept was "designed to attack with conventional weapons those enemy forces which stretch from just behind the troops in contact to as far into the enemy's rear as our target acquisition and conventional weapons systems will permit" in order to "reduce to a manageable ratio ...the number of enemy forces arriving at our General Defensive Position."
Air power accommodate the FOFA concept to all degrees provided the country have the wealth to create an air force that is flexible enough to answer the calls of the ground commanders.

All Front Lines Of Troops (FLOT) have requests for supporting forces or Follow On Forces. Follow-On Forces Attack (FOFA) is the inevitable conclusion to the ground commander's question as to how could he reduce enemy forces on his immediate front lines. Artillery requires forward observers. An aircraft essentially carries its own forward observer: the aircrew.

There is no debate on why air power is, at its conceptual and philosophical core, an inherently strategic force, as proven by WW II, Korea, Viet Nam, and the Cold War.
 
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