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Old 01-11-2019, 09:51 AM   #1
Mr_sukebe
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Default Musings about mission design by doctrine

I was thinking about aircraft design and it’s relationship and influences to military doctrine. I’ll apologise now for being a bit UK centric, as that’s where I live.
Thought that it might be interesting to discuss on here.

My starting point was WW2, as aircraft design during the inter war years was seemingly based on hope/guesswork of what might be needed, as against practical experience.
In the area of fighters (i.e. NOT fighter/bombers), we could probably define two key design types, i.e.
- Interceptors
- Air superiority

Interceptors are primarily designed for speed, climb and their ability to engage and shoot down bombers, often at the expense of range. The obvious candidates being the Spitfire/Hurricane for the Brits and the 109 and 190 for Germans.
All good aircraft in their own ways, but with their range restrictions, pretty much incapable of taking the fight to the enemy at any real range.

Then we have what I’d consider air superiority, and for me the obvious candidates are the P51, P47 and Mitsubishi Zero. The US fighters trading weight/manoeuvrability and the zero armour/strength for range.


With the advent of jet fighters, during the 60s and 70s, it would appear that we have:
US: A range of increasingly fast aircraft that were primarily interceptors (e.g. F5, F104). Wasn’t really until the learnings from Vietnam and the introduction of the F15 in 1975 that the ability pioneered with the P51 of Air Superiority was re-introduced
Soviets: Similar to the US, many increasingly fast interceptors (e.g. Mig21 and I guess in the most extreme case the Mig31), but all with their own compromises of either range or manoeuvrability. Even the Mig29 is just another variant of interceptor due to it’s poor range. Was only with the introduction of the Su27 in 1985 that air superiority was added.
UK: BAC Lightning (great interceptor, lousy range), Tornado ADV (good interceptor, good range, poor manoeuvrability). In short, until the advent of the Typhoon, pretty much no ability at air superiority and even that is rather short ranged when compared to the F15 and Su27.

So where does that leave a combined forces assault on a known enemy?

Think back to WW2, and until the P51 arrived, bombers going to Germany had no form of air cover and we know how well that didn’t go.
In the cold war, the same would have been pretty much true.
In the case of the UK, we would have been flying Vulcans and similar, with zero ability to provide genuine air support over long distances, until the introduction of the Tornado, which as we’ve already mentioned, is more an interceptor itself.

It would appear that the same would have been true for the Soviets, with limited ability to support and cover longer distance air strikes by their bombers from home soil.


Based on the above, how does that influence Soviet policy/planning on potential invasion scenarios? After all, the Soviets have plenty of experience and are smart chaps. They also have learning opportunities from observing the real world experiences in say Vietnam, the 1973 Israeli war.

Prior to more widespread availability of the Su27, which it’s ability to blow a hole in the enemies air capability over a significant radius, if I were them, my thoughts would be to go with less of a Blitzkrieg style strike, and more with an expansion and consolidation in a gradual manner, this giving the opportunity to:
- Ensure that your forward armour moves with it’s own SAM cover (as per the Egyptians when they first moved in 1973 into the Sinai)
- Give time to bring forward logistics and support capability to captured air-bases for re-use by the “interceptors” then currently available

If you introduce air-superiority capability to one side, that would appear to open more options on attack strategies, e.g. hitting at then supplying a group even behind enemy lines, so as to cut off leading enemy groups, disrupt communications and supply etc.


Apologies if this sounds a bit rambling, but I was thinking about mission and campaign building in DCS and how that would feel more “real”.
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Old 01-15-2019, 06:11 PM   #2
TLTeo
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I'm not sure how to tie this back into DCS where realistically, maps are so small that range isn't that big of a deal, but I feel like you are over-simplifying things to an extent. This is an interesting conversation though so I'll chip in.

I don't think the air superiority vs interceptor difference really works without considering other factors. In the case of ww2 aircraft, they were designed at a time when the general consesus was "the bomber will always get through", and so of course fighter design would focus on preventing that from happening over escorting said bombers. The Zero and P51 are kind of freak accidents: the Zero was one of the very few ww2 fighters designed from the ground up as a long range escort fighter, and the P-51 was initially not designed for long range nor high altitude missions.

In the Cold War era you are also disregarding the need to contain aircraft cost, which was the driving force behind the design of the F5 and F104 (which btw, contrary to popular belief was designed as a cheap daytime tactical fighter, not as an interceptor as that role went to the Vodoo/Delta Dagger/Delta Dart). Similarly, the Mig29 was designed as a relatively cheap and affordable tactical fighter to be combined with the more expensive Su27, not strictly as a point-defense interceptor.

If anything, many of these (relatively) modern tactical fighters to me are an extension of how the Soviet fighters operated in WW2, ie field many cheap easily produced aircraft, stay close to the battle lines, focus on tactical objective rather than strategic ones. In that sense, the way we fly in DCS is probably not too different from the aircraft's intended use.

Even with the range of an F15 or Flanker, strategic bombers like the Bear/Blinder/Backfire/Stratofortress/Lancer/Spirit greatly outrange tactical aircraft like the jets we fly in DCS, so I don't think even in this day and age one can expect bombers to be escorted on their targets (at least in a Russia vs Nato scenario, it obviously gets different if the target is in Iraq or Yogoslavia). In that sense things haven't really changed, it's just that people are either a) hoping to overpowered whichever defenses may be present ro b) trying to be smarter at getting the bomber through.
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