Evolving Technological Strategy in Advanced Air Defense Systems

By Kopp, Carlo | Joint Force Quarterly, April 2010 | Go to article overview

Evolving Technological Strategy in Advanced Air Defense Systems


Kopp, Carlo, Joint Force Quarterly


Since the end of the Cold War, America's conventional military might has been predicated on the ability to control the air. This style of warfare produced stunning results in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and has been successful in subsequent military campaigns in 1999, 2001, and 2003. The ability of U.S. aircraft to penetrate hostile airspace and deny the use of friendly airspace to opposing air forces is now mostly assumed to be as immutable as a law of nature.

Central to U.S. dominance in modern airpower has been the exclusive possession of stealth technology, which has provided the U.S. Air Force with the ability to penetrate Cold War-era air defense systems with negligible and historically unprecedented low combat loss rates. The development of stealth during the 1970s and 1980s must be ranked as one of the most important technological outcomes of the Cold War arms race.

If one historical certainty can be extracted from the study of technological arms races over the last four millennia, it is that advances in military technology will elicit both symmetric and asymmetric responses. This cyclic evolutionary pattern of "measures versus countermeasures" is observed in military systems as it is observed in biological systems, and the notion that it will somehow cease to occur so as to accommodate the expectations of any nation is neither reasonable nor realistic.

Post-Cold War Evolution

The U.S. investment in stealth during the last decade of the Cold War did not elicit serious concern in the Soviet Union. The deployment of the advanced and highly mobile S-300V/SA-12 Giant-Gladiator and S-300PM/ SA-10B Grumble surface-to-air missile systems, (1) and the advanced MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker fighter, (2) all supported by a range of then-modern radar designs, convinced Soviet planners that the pendulum in the technological arms race was swinging in their favor. The collapse of Saddam Hussein's air defense system in January of 1991--under a deluge of U.S. high-speed antiradiation missiles (HARMs) and British air-launched antiradiation missiles, and airborne jamming by EF-111A Raven and EA-6B Prowler aircraft--was a major embarrassment for proponents of the Soviet model of dense, overlapping, and complex integrated air defense systems (IADS). Even more traumatic was the observation that stealthy F-117A Nighthawks were able to penetrate the strongest portions of the Iraqi air defense system with impunity night after night, with no losses suffered in combat. (3)

Stealth or very low observable technology, the large-scale use of precision-guided munitions (PGMs), and advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) technologies provide the United States with a pivotal advantage in the contest for control of the skies. The possession of these three key technologies has defined U.S. airpower and U.S. warfighting "style" in nation-state conflicts since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The end of the Cold War was a pivotal discontinuity for the expansive Soviet bloc defense industry, characterized then by central control, virtually unlimited access to taxpayer funding, and a secure long-term market comprising the Soviet armed services, their Warsaw Pact siblings, and a plethora of clients in the "nonaligned" and developing world. Within a matter of months, this secure environment collapsed, leaving this enormous military-industrial complex to fend for itself. Through the 1990s, the industry restructured around a model based on intensive technological and commercial competition, with a primary export market focus.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Large portions of the industry became joint stock companies, and many mergers occurred. Within the industry, a new generation of corporate managers emerged, mostly former engineers and technical professionals, rather than the loyal Communist Party cadres of the Soviet era. In many respects, Russia's defense industry now resembles that of the United States in the 1950s and 1960s--smart, competitive, lean, aggressive, and prepared to take calculated risks, both technologically and commercially, but funded through export sales.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Evolving Technological Strategy in Advanced Air Defense Systems
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.