The National Interest (USA): the brilliant presence of the Military air forces of the United States over the Black sea

It became clear that the air force of the United States today consider themselves to be instrument of Maritime force. This metamorphosis of fun watching all enthusiasts of the Navy, leaning towards the West. In recent years, the “battle bird” ground-based improved skills for the destruction at sea of ships, learned to attack strong points on the Islands, and as for the bomber fleet, it ability the accurate statement of mines has doubled. Here are some data confirming this trend: may 29, two bombers B-1B “Lancer” (Lancer, B-One) conducted a bold demonstration of military air power of the United States and its allies in the Black sea. Fighters of Ukraine, Poland and Romania was accompanied by American bombers in different parts of their long-distance route — he started in the Dakota, then it was crossing the Atlantic ocean, the penetration in depth of Eurasia and return back.

The official representative of the European command Military-air forces of the United States (USAFE) after completion of the operation, said that the bombers B-1B simulated attack on the Russian black sea fleet with anti-ship long-range missiles AGM-158C who have recently joined the American arsenals, designed for combat actions in sea areas. These long-range missiles and high-power restored Maritime Arsenal after three decades of dismissive attitude toward it during the period after the end of the cold war. This lethal “bird” can hit targets at a distance of 8 thousand kilometers or 5 thousand miles (perhaps even at a greater distance; armed forces tend to underestimate the data intended for public release). But not only launched from land bases bombers B-1B is able to apply anti-ship long-range missiles, but based on aircraft carriers fighter jets Military-US Navy F/A-18E/F “Super hornet” (Super Hornet). It is highly likely that in the coming years, surface ships and ground artillery will also be equipped with them.

The official representative of the European command Military-air forces of the United States praised the operation in the Black sea with the addition of the “deterrent not only for the United States but for our allies and partners.” This means that future opponents should be concerned about the rocket salvos, which can fall as rain, not only American ships and warplanes, but based on the ground bombers. “This kind of opportunity,” says the end of the press release, should “exert a strong influence” on decision-making of politicians in capitals from Moscow to Beijing and Tehran.

This is a serious statement, even more serious than it may be aware of European command Military-air forces of the USA. Ultimately, deterrence involves the use of a variety of means, including America’s commitment to exploit opportunities when she says she will use it, as well as the confidence of the enemy in America and its determination to use them. It’s multiplication, not addition. If one of these components is zero, the zero gets value and self-containment. This is the formula of Henry Kissinger. According to representatives of the European command Military-air forces of the USA, bombers with long-range missiles on Board, accompanied by fighter jets, increase the combat capabilities of the United States in Maritime regions, including around the perimeter of Russia. A very important question is, does the capacity of the war in the air the determination of the command of American troops to use this potential in combat. And most importantly, does he believe Moscow in a concert of America and her will power.

If training flights of bombers will force the defenders of Vladimir Putin nervous, the Kremlin think twice before taking actions that Washington wants to prevent the outbreak of war or other hostile actions against allies of the United States in the black sea basin. Putin should know that any strike will cause a devastating retaliatory strike.

Let’s list in order specified components of deterrence. Suppose that anti-ship missiles, long-range correspond to their characteristics concerning range, high precision, stealth; assume that they can bypass enemy defenses and deliver powerful blows with a large distance. According to reports, the bomber B-1B can carry 24 missiles. Two such bomber can inflict a serious blow at the hostile fleet — especially if the pilots suddenly applied to the missile attack on the ships at anchor. Ultimately, standing at the dock, the ship can be seen as a building, and almost the same ship standing at anchor. Fixed object — easy prey for precision weapons. While the skills of the pilots of the European command Military-air forces of the USA did not give reason to doubt.

But let’s think. It is one thing to strike a powerful blow. But can, if necessary, bombers Military-air forces of the USA to conduct the operation in the Black sea, if you will take off in South Dakota or in any other place in North America — including distance, flight time and the possibility of meeting on the route of enemy interceptors? Strategic guru Joseph Wylie (J. C. Wylie) skeptical. Wiley believes the air force shaped element of the fighting. During preparations for the air raids on the map outlines all the possible goals. Tactical operations generally do not require repetition — neither in time nor in space. Look at any map of the United bombing against Nazi Germany, and you will see the effect of “splashing paint” characteristic of cumulative operations.

And what can you say about the withdrawal of Wylie? Aviation is able over time to cause serious damage to the enemy, as was done in the course of raids on facilities of German industry and ground forces. This was done by weakening the enemy forces with gradual attacks, each of which is not decisive, but, taken together and carried out ruthlessly against the correct objects selected, they give terrific strategic effect. Such a bold operation, such as is made in last month’s flight of bombers B-1B can not decide the outcome of the conflict in half a day if only one formation of combat aircraft will not cause very serious damage — enough to bring the enemy down or to convince its leadership that it will not be able to win at a reasonable price. In this case, the enemy’s leadership as a result of this frenzied attack surrenders, because forced to do or decides to do so.

Reset bombers B-29 atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, is approaching this kind of ideal of critical importance. But can one volley of anti-ship long-range missiles to compare with the firepower of a doomsday weapon?

Hard to tell and there is reason for doubt. In any case, one thing is clear. Departures from remote aerodromes dissipates shock force combat aircraft in time, as the first planes take to the air, then put a bomb or missile attack, and then return home. In other words, the dispersion in time weakens the fighting power in the area of operations at any given time. Apparently, in this case, the command of military-air forces of the USA provides for the operations that are concentrated in space to strike by separate order. But can they repeat focused strikes against individual objects? This is a question the answer to which should give the experts on tactics.

Slow, drop by drop, hostilities have less physical and psychological impact than a powerful barrage.

The second issue is the determination. Commitment tied to perception of possibilities. Senior commanders and their political advisors with a great desire to use the weapons that, in their opinion, has the best chance of achieving the desired result than that which can be inefficient. An honest assessment of a combination of bombers B-1B and anti-ship long-range missiles and military games and other means of testing equipment and tactics and strategy — all this is crucial for the formation of the confidence in the decision-making politicians that determine what operations needs to conduct Military air forces of the United States and related joint formation.

In all likelihood, a joint operation involving allies, in which will participate not only based on the territory of the United States bombers, but also air force and naval forces in the vicinity of the theater of military operations will cause more confidence and strengthen will power of those who give the orders. If you use the term Wiley, in the course of such operations must be applied repeated and concentrated attacks from the air, reducing the gaps between them. The combined forces should be close to the ideal, which envisages the concentration of effort in space and time to achieve the maximum strategic advantage.

The current capabilities and readiness to use them are part of the force. If you strengthen each of them, then there is a projection of the image of undaunted strength.

Finally, the degree of confidence. Hostile leaders, not you, decide the question of whether it inspires the confidence you projected the image of deterrence. To contain, even for the most power, determined the military must convince opponents that have enough power and enough determination. In other words, they must convince the enemy that we are able to implement measures of deterrence and do it. If Moscow thinks that the black sea fleet may move an American air attack — especially an attack with short intervals or a single attack in the spirit spent in the last month of the exercise, then deterrence may have no effect on the leadership of this country.

This is a real opportunity. Russian leaders believe that the Black sea is their “near abroad”, they consider it “their field”. And Russia’s armed forces have significant advantages in this region. Land-based planes and missiles pose a threat to the approaching allied aircraft and surface forces, and such the enemy a lot. Exceeds Russia’s neighbors militarily. Turkey is also a neighbor and potential rival, is a member of NATO, but it is estranged from its allies and maintains friendly relations with Moscow.

In short, the Russian government must consider the strategic environment at its southern borders generally favorable. Will take more than a single flight of bombers, launched from a long distance,- no matter how impressive it might be, to shake the confidence of Moscow.

Deterrence to a greater extent requires concerted action, rather than individual gestures.

James Holmes, head of the Department of the marine strategy named Joseph Wylie naval war College (Naval War College).