Radioflash! Episode-7: Superiority Complex

It is a truism of military theory that the road to victory is harder for the side which does not win and sustain air supremacy.

It is now over eighteen months since the Russian government commenced its second invasion of Ukraine. The conflict has seen the shattering of some military aphorisms and the affirmation of others. One that has stood this test of time is that the achievement of air superiority and supremacy is a prerequisite for victory.

To date, neither the Russian nor Ukrainian military has established air superiority, the overture to securing air supremacy. There are subtle, yet important differences between these conditions: Air superiority means one side largely prevents the other from using airpower. Air supremacy means that opposing airpower is all but nullified.

Suppression of enemy air defences forms a key part of what the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation calls the Offensive Counter-Air mission (OCA). In turn, OCA is the tactical embodiment of the quest for air superiority and supremacy. Russian and Ukrainian airpower has performed energetic OCA efforts, but air superiority remains elusive for both sides.

In this podcast we are joined by Colonel Jeffrey H. ‘Fisch’ Fischer, a European and global security expert, Ukraine watcher and author of the Curt Nover series of thrillers. We discuss initial perceptions of Russian airpower and ground-based air defence strengths. Premature predictions of the ineffectiveness of Ukrainian airpower are questioned, while Ukrainian success in destroying Russian air defence systems are highlighted. Why is Russia’s use of the electromagnetic spectrum seeming to contribute to Russian Air Force fratricide? What role have uninhabited aerial vehicles played in the battle for air supremacy? Will the Link-16 tactical datalink be used by the Ukrainian Air Force and what effect might this have on the battle? Moreover, how is Ukraine’s military contributing to the ongoing OCA battle? Should Ukraine win the OCA battle, how might this achievement affect the wider war? All these questions fall under the Radioflash! spotlight. Tune in to find out more.

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Radioflash! Episode-7: Superiority Complex (139 downloads)

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by Dr. Thomas Withington