“Kill the F-16, right-hand turn, 18 thousand feet, over the Farms.” And so another victory is claimed in the perpetual war occurring in the Nevada skies north of Las Vegas.
It is not part of some separating-a-tourist-from-his-money air-combat experience but the deadly game of “good guy” Blue Air jets fighting the “bad guy” Red Air forces of a professional adversary-for-hire serving the needs of America’s military.
Combat Training Is Expensive but Necessary
Some automotive writers have said, tongue in cheek, that the fastest car in the world is an airport rental car due to the indifference toward said car by most of its drivers. The same cannot be said, however, when it comes to renting a professional “bad guy” to train an air force in modern air combat. While “speed is life” is another cliché that directly relates to dogfighting, it isn’t everything. Tactics, practice, and good equipment are
other vital components in keeping the sharp end of the spear pointy.
However, the costs of buying and maintaining good equipment and zealously practicing said tactics continue to skyrocket (pun intended). For the U.S. Department of Defense as well those for other Western nations, those escalating costs result in drastic cuts in the numbers and types of combat aircraft, including those dedicated to providing realistic, thinking adversary training to fighter pilots who might face the real thing one day.
Following the Vietnam conflict, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Navy studied the problems their pilots faced flying against what should have been considered a “second-string” adversary: the Vietnam People’s Air Force (VPAF).
The VPAF, however, gave a good accounting of itself by reaching parity of kills to losses during some periods of the war—the final kill ratio of USAF/VPAF being 2:1 versus a claimed 12:1 U.S. kills/losses during World War II and about 8:1
Read the article from the April 2018 issue of Flight Journal, Click here.
By Brick Eisel