America's F-22 Raptor stealth fighter is reportedly being flown in Syrian airspace. That could bring America's top stealth warplane into dangerous proximity to Russia's "stealth killer" air defence missiles, the S400 and S300V4 surface to air batteries.
Like the American mongoose to Russia's cobra, the F-22 pilots contend that if the US does start a campaign against Assad's forces, the Raptor pilots first job would be to take out those Russian missiles, supposedly the very best in the world. Best in the world stealth fighter versus best in the world surface to air missiles.
The stealthy supersonically cruising air superiority fighters are the only fighters in the U.S. inventory that can safely fly within the engagement envelope of Russian S-400 and S300V4 surface-to-air missiles defense while the Pentagon ascertains how the Kremlin will respond to the American cruise missile attack on Syria last week. Indeed, the stealthy fighters would likely play an outsized role in suppressing those Russian missile batteries if the White House chooses to expand its campaign against the Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad which can operate in airspace where older conventional jets can’t.
But while F-22 pilots are confident about the Raptor’s ability to defeat the S-300V4 and the S-400, the Air Force official acknowledged that the stealthy fifth-generation aircraft has never faced off against these next-generation Russian air defenses in actual combat before. The Air Force is not 100 percent sure if the Russians have the capability to attack the Raptor or F-35—as the Russians have often claimed.
It would be a pretty gutsy call to challenge the Russian missile batteries with American stealth fighters. What if the Russians are right? What if their missiles can down the best stealth technology America has on offer? The F-35 isn't nearly as stealthy as the F-22 and it follows that, if the Russians can shoot down the F-22, that huge stealth advantage that Lockheed relies on to market the F-35 could take a big hit with the Pentagon and with foreign buyers. Which may be why others are saying the way to deal with the Russian defences is with cruise missiles.
There are potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in Lockheed sales at stake in a showdown between the F-22 and the S400. America has been reaping the stealth dividend for years, claiming that it alone can assert air superiority in any corner of the world. So why would it risk a high stakes, winner take all, contest in the skies over Syria especially when ground hugging American cruise missiles can probably do the job at much less cost and infinitely less risk. Then again, if the Pentagon uses old technology cruise missiles for the job instead of its state of the art, supposedly invincible, stealth fighter it could encourage Lockheed customers to question why they shouldn't just buy cruise missiles and pocket the change.
It seems that modern warfare is catering to wealthy arms suppliers as opposed to military strategists.
Eventually some sharp techie will hack into a Cruise missile and take control. Oops!
This wiener wagging is at the same time interesting and distressing.
Distressing in that there is no need for the hostilities and interesting in that many time over , super weapons have proved to be faulty.
During Vietnam, air to air missiles used by the USA had a success rate of one in two hundred!
During the first Gulf war it was about one in twenty.
The F18 was so unsuccessful it is not allowed to confront adversaries in air to air combat; indeed the F18 was shot down by a MIG 21 and a MIG 25.
It will be ,again, tragic if we send our young men and women to fight wars that only benefit the likes of the armaments companies whilst the politicians that send them protect their own children from combat.
My somewhat educated guess is that a limited confrontation between the USA and Russia will soon end with the disapproval of the masses, a stark realization that no one has technical superiority,and the financial ruin of both parties.
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