• Military Thought
  • 2002-01-01MTH-No. 001
  • Size: 5.8 Kbytes .
  • Pages:116-118.
  • Words: 878

Air Defense and Air Superiority

Author: A. V. SHLYKOV

Lt. Col. A. V. SHLYKOV Candidate of Military Sciences

It is a top priority for a possible adversary at outbreak of an armed conflict to achieve air superiority, which is a prerequisite to effective engagement of opposing forces.

The majority of local wars in recent decades were started by an aggressor featuring a distinctly superior air force. Importantly, for a long time after the end of World War II, aviation's ability to effectively engage ground targets was considerably higher than the ability of air-defense forces to fight off air attacks. The quantitative/qualitative air- defense capability of countries subjected to aggression as a rule was insufficient to defend even the most sensitive of installations, although that was in fact the main task of air-defense forces in the 1960s-1970s. The priority target of strikes by an air enemy force was predominantly fighter aviation while strikes on air defense forces were spotty.

That was a time when air defense troops were armed with antiaircraft artillery systems and later on with basic antiaircraft missiles. At the time enemy aviation approached its targets as a rule by skirting or overcoming antiaircraft fire zones, which were neither continuous nor covering all-altitude range. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of antiaircraft weapon systems was for the most part insufficient.

Development and adoption into service of various types of antiaircraft missile systems, capable of creating continuous fire zones and effectively engaging enemy air attack forces, turned the situation around. Antiaircraft fire zones could no longer be bypassed or overcome without heavy losses. That resulted in a drastic revision of the combat use of air attack systems. First it was deemed necessary to break through an air-defense system, then suppress and neutralize it completely, and only then deliver air strikes on particular targets. Air-defense forces and the entire air-defense system became priority targets for suppression by the enemy.

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