Air Superiority at Red Flag: Mass, Technology, and Winning the Next War
Drew paper no. 9
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL AIR FORCE RESEARCH INST
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This study proposes a model for understanding the relationship between technology, mass, and attrition in aerial warfare that is useful for shaping operational and strategic-force decision processes. Red Flag serves as the data set used to highlight and explain one potentially useful relationship. This daunting task, if taken as a whole, could lead to an unusable mess confused by the limits of training and result in sweeping generalities irrelevant to strategic and operational users. Additionally, like most exploratory studies attempting to use observed data from events designed for another purpose, this complex scenario contains numerous unaccounted for variables that hamper pristine scientific correlation. Instead, by focusing the analysis on a narrow piece of the larger whole, relationships become less ambiguous, trends become clearer, and correlation more direct. The ideal subject for analysis includes as few training limitations as possible, maintains the greatest possible interaction with the adversary forces, shows a consistent level of participation and performance over time, and represents one of the emphasized mission areas exercised during Red Flag. Therefore, the air-to-air mission area, and specifically the F-15C and the offensive counterair-sweep mission, provides an ideal center of attention. Air superiority is the pivotal prerequisite for success that enables every other airpower function from strategic attack to airlift.9 As such, it is a critical capability with grave strategic implications for failure. Once air superiority is established, the US Air Force can directly focus on attacking the enemy s ability and will to fight. Without it, however, every mission becomes a fight for the air itself and results in little pressure applied to the enemy. While air superiority in and of itself does not guarantee victory, it helps to ensure a joint force commander s freedom of maneuver and initiative within his operational area.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics