Author Archives: iainthegreat

About iainthegreat

I am half way between A and B personality. I shot guns, went camping, play consoles. For meeting people and entertainment,

Secretary of Education T.H. Bell causes people to vote for Bernie Sanders

(1) Because they have been, over the past two-plus generations, subjected to a Marxist education, emanating from the U.S. Department of Education. (2) Because Bernie is “up front” about his socialist philosophy; while the other candidates, from both parties, with possible exception of Donald Trump, hide (lie about their globalist/socialist views and philosophy behind red, white, and blue words). The young people appreciate Bernie’s honesty? (3) Because President Ronald Reagan, who wanted to meet with Charlotte Iserbyt in 1982, was kept from doing so by his White House Chief of Staff, “conservative” Republican, Edwin Meese III. Had this meeting taken place it is quite possible the Department of Education, which has been funding and spewing out Marxist curriculum and teacher training for 34 years, would have been abolished. ABCs of DumbDown: Patriots Or Manchurian Candidates? Had the Department been abolished and communist T.H. Bell, Secretary of Education, fired, the United States might have retained its basically academic education system which educated our children for upward mobility, not to be pawns in the hands of the international/corporate education system, as serfs, lifelong, to spin off profits for the global elite. No presidential election will change what I have just outlined in the paragraph above unless each presidential candidate is required to publicly, in a major televised speech, promise the American people that he/she will participate in an immediate “tear down” of the communist education system/agenda being implemented at the state and local level as I write. That means that each candidate must publicly call for repeal of the recently passed, with a huge Republican majority, reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act: The Every Student Succeeds Act, a communist piece of legislation if ever there was one.

US needs better airports and railroads

Landing at an American airport is a bit like time-traveling into the
past. Outdated design, outdated technology, and outdated regulations are
crippling many U.S. air hubs.

Aviation was born in the U.S., and very quickly, American airplanes
and American-trained pilots formed the backbone of global aviation.
North America remains the world’s largest aviation market today, yet
U.S. air transport is no longer the envy of other nations.

America ranks a mediocre number 30 in the world for quality of air
infrastructure, as measured by a survey of executives—and 127 in ticket
taxes and airport charges (meaning they’re too high). The country ranks
an even lower (131) in carbon dioxide emissions per capita.

There are greater worries ahead: the American Society of Civil
Engineers argues that a failure to invest in aviation could represent an
estimated cumulative loss of $313 billion by 2020—translating into
350,000 fewer jobs—and a whopping $1.52 trillion by 2040.

The U.S. system is characterized by crowded skies; price competition
among airlines and resulting low profitability; competition among
airports, leading to congestion in some places and wasted capacity in
others; outdated ground facilities; a dearth of intermodal links such as
air-to-train connections; high fuel utilization and air pollution; slow
technological uptake; and dependence on outdated intergovernmental
agreements for access to foreign markets.

The U.S. is falling short and falling behind. That’s true even on the
cargo side: Hong Kong has already replaced Memphis as the world’s
number one air cargo hub. Today, international travelers represent 11
percent of total U.S. airline passengers.

They contribute more than $116 billion in direct spending and another
billion in indirect spending annually. For all of that, they are being
underserved: the World Economic forum ranks the U.S. 121st out of 180 countries in terms of the burden of its visa requirements.

_Rosabeth Moss Kanter is the author of “Move: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead.”

There
are many major airports in the United States, but few are considered
good by today’s global standards. In a 2013 survey of the world’s best
airports, 12 million passengers ranked more than 400 airports across 39
categories—and no American airport was even in the top 25.

Only four U.S. airports made it into the top 50. Nations in the
Middle East and East Asia are building new, efficient, intermodal,
technology-enhanced airports, while the U.S. lags behind on basics like
core infrastructure. In some U.S. airports, there is no single
communication network everyone can use; an emergencies can overload
cellphone systems.

Development of airports has been left to cities and regions. Local
authorities are often focused on the land rather than landing – the
value of retail sales or real-estate near airport facilities, rather
than potential throughput, intermodal efficiency, or actual passenger
mobility.

As a result, one of the biggest problems with U.S. airports now is
reaching them: if you’ve taken a train directly to an airport, it was
probably in another country. Our largest cities (New York, Los Angeles,
and Chicago) have no means of direct mass-transit from their airports to
the population cores, although Atlanta Hartsfield airport is an
exception in its light rail connections.

Hong Kong, meanwhile, has brand new high-speed rail that runs every
four minutes, complete with fully integrated baggage check-in at their
Central railway station downtown.

Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok airportGetty ImagesA plane is on the ground at Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong.

While
the aviation industry has figured out how to lift millions of pounds of
aluminum, fuel, cargo, and passengers 35,000 feet into the air—a
technological feat in and of itself—its technology is in desperate need
of modernization. Ticket agents are often part-time coders, untangling
software written in the early 1960s. Cockpit controls look like museum
installations when compared to the iPads passengers are using.

Information empowers. Empowered pilots in empowered aircraft can
empower passengers—or at least enlighten them. Real-time decision-making
can reduce costs and minimize delays. The FAA estimates, for instance,
that two-thirds of weather delays are avoidable.

Superior weather information would make it possible to predict
airspace and route availability, as well as delays, diversions, and
tarmac risk. With greater forecast accuracy for pilots, control towers,
and operations centers, airlines could carry less contingency fuel, and
flight planners could better anticipate ground holds, deicing, and
capacity changes.

The costs of fuel-burn while taxiing amount to $25 per minute;
diversions cost about $15,000 to $100,000 per aircraft; and an FAA
tarmac delay penalty runs to about $27,500 per passenger. These numbers
can add up to millions of dollars on a full flight

Technological innovations provide new hope for U.S. aviation. The
Weather Company is growing a service that helps airlines use weather
data to change travel paths to avoid turbulence, delivering a smoother,
safer, faster, and more efficient travel experience.

The FAA is allowing trial use of iPads to in the cockpit. Airlines
are exploring glide-path landing to reduce fuel use and noise during
descents. Yet, the barrier to progress is often the burdensome and
bureaucratic process of regulatory approval. Modernized oversight is
needed to speed up adoption of newer and better technologies.

denver international airportMichael Smith/Getty ImagesDenver International Airport.

Industry
associations have called for a national strategy to make America’s air
transport system better for everyone who uses it. Imagine flying with
pilots empowered by technology to make better decisions for passengers.
Imagine next-generation air traffic control generating quintuple wins:
greater safety, lower costs, fewer delays, lower carbon emissions, and
seamless connections.

America’s air traffic control entity should be made independent—free
from the short-term Congressional budget cycle—and the FAA and
Department of Transportation should collaborate on moving promising
technology forward faster.

Being able to fly with fewer delays won’t be enough if there are also
major delays in getting to and from airports with shabby facilities.
American institutions operate in silos too often, while airlines fly
above them all. If the American public demands an upgraded national air
strategy, it can be done.

Donald Trump purposely not presidental

What’s weirder? That Trump would hand over his campaign to Manafort without vetting him and his vision for winning the race first? (Draw your own conclusion about Trump’s managerial ability from that.) Or that he’d punish Manafort this way amid a landslide win in New York last week and another round of landslides to come tonight? You don’t typically fire your manager when the team’s in the middle of a winning streak, right?

In fairness to Trump, it’s hard to understand why Manafort thought he could turn him into a more disciplined candidate. He’s an extreme narcissist; telling him to be something other than himself is the most vicious thing you can say to him. I don’t think his fans even want him to be more “presidential.” If you like Al Czervik, the last thing you’d want is for him to become Judge Smails. It reeks of “traditional” politics. The whole point of Trumpism is that it’s not politics as usual.

Trump became upset late last week when he learned from media reports that Manafort privately told Republican leaders that the billionaire reality TV star was “projecting an image” for voters and would begin toning down his rhetoric, according to the sources. They said that Trump also expressed concern about Manafort bringing several former lobbying colleagues into the campaign, as first reported by POLITICO…

In particular, multiple sources said Trump was bothered by news stories about Manafort’s representation of Saudi Arabia and for a group accused of being a front for Pakistani intelligence.

“I don’t think he was aware of the extent of the work that Paul has done in foreign countries that have not always been friendly to the United States,” said a Washington operative with close relationships to the campaign…

Multiple sources said that Trump in recent days has re-empowered Lewandowski to handle the campaign’s finances and make some hiring decisions, partially reversing changes Manafort laid out this month when seizing some decision-making authority from Lewandowski.

Trump reportedly didn’t like Manafort’s habit of keeping him off the Sunday shows (where he’d be more likely to be quizzed on policy) while choosing to appear on those shows himself. He also rejected a more “presidential” draft speech that Manafort wanted him to deliver last Tuesday night after his win in New York, although he did tone down his own rhetoric that evening before shifting back this week to talking about how disgusting Kasich is when he eats. A more substantive failing of Manafort’s was Team Trump getting lapped again in the delegate battle last weekend, but I think his excuse for that is sound: You can’t expect him to work miracles immediately when he’s been with the team just a few weeks and Trump is badly understaffed on the ground at state conventions. Manafort will become more useful in persuading delegates in May, June, and especially before the convention in July. But oh well — combative Corey Lewandowski, whose philosophy has always been to “let Trump be Trump,” is back in favor while Manafort, who’s been with the campaign less than a month, is now suddenly on the outs. It reminds me of George Steinbrenner hiring, firing, and re-hiring Billy Martin repeatedly in the 70s and 80s, overreacting to every setback despite the team’s overall success. Trump’s building himself his very own “Bronx Zoo.”

Megyn Kelly interview could be Trump’s greatest media triumph

Megyn Kelly versus Donald Trump. It’s been the biggest media story of the 2016 GOP presidential race. And yesterday’s news
that Trump has agreed to sit for a one-on-one interview with Kelly in
May not only ushers in a new chapter in a months-long saga, it could
also represent a triumph for Kelly and Fox News, but also for Trump’s
designs on the White House.
It began in the opening minutes of the very first debate when Kelly challenged Trump on his past statements to women:

“Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is
you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However,
that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to
women. You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs’
and ‘disgusting animals.’ …

Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s
looks. You once told a contestant on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ it would be a
pretty picture to see her on her knees.

Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect
as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton,
who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the
war on women?”

Trump’s reaction after the debate was to accuse Kelly of journalistic
bias and to attack her integrity and credibility. Legions of Trump
supporters hurling misogynistic and vitriolic venom
at Kelly via social media, some of the attacks enjoying the imprimatur
of Trump himself via a re-tweet from his powerful Twitter account.

Trump personally went after Kelly in a vicious, personal way:

“Certainly, I don’t have a lot of respect for Megyn
Kelly. She’s a lightweight and y’know, she came out there reading her
little script and trying to be tough and be sharp. And when you meet her
you realize she’s not very tough and she’s not very sharp.” Then, came
the kicker: “She gets out there and she starts asking me all sorts of
ridiculous questions, and you could see there was blood coming out of
her eyes, blood coming out of her … wherever.”

And it just got worse from there. Trump boycotted the Fox News debate
in Iowa after a hot exchange of tweets and press releases. They met in a
debate setting once more in March but most of the fireworks that night
came from Marco Rubio and Trump’s hand size.

Now, as the primary season winds down and Trump begins to focus on
his potential nomination in Cleveland and the general election showdown
with Hillary Clinton, he’s decided it’s time to put the feud behind
him. The announcement of the exclusive, in-depth interview scheduled for
May 17th could very well be the turning point of Trump’s negative
numbers with women voters (which Politico reports are hovering around 70%.)

To see this interview with Kelly as a media triumph, we have to make a
couple of reasonable assumptions. First, let’s assume Kelly conducts
the interview in the same way she does every night on The Kelly File,
with tough, relevant and respectful questions meant to illuminate an
issue and not alienate her guest. Let’s also assume that Trump, knowing
all eyes are on him, will conduct himself in a respectful and restrained
way including a legitimate walk-back from some of the more over-the-top
comments he’s made about the Fox News superstar.

I’ll even predict that Trump offers a statement of regret (if not an
actual apology) over how the feud spun out of control and how Kelly was
negatively impacted by the vitriol from Internet trolls. I suspect Trump
takes the opportunity to state that although he’s had differences with
her, he admires the classy way Kelly has conducted herself and they let
bygones be bygones from this point forward.

I think it’s also a fair assumption that Kelly accepts the apology.
Why wouldn’t she? Not only has she expressed that she dislikes being
“part of the story” but it positions her as a major media player in the
run up to the general election. It also puts pressure on Hillary Clinton
to sit with her for a similar interview. After all, Clinton recently praised
Kelly as a “superb journalist” who didn’t deserve the rough treatment
doled out by Trump. Well Mrs. Clinton, if Trump scould face Kelly, the
“superb journalist,” why can’t you? Or, is she just a “superb
journalist” when she serves your purposes as a “victim” of Trump’s
misogyny? If you really respect Kelly as a journalist, grant her the
ultimate respect and sit with her, one-on-one, like Donald did.

Kelly has already laid the groundwork for a “Kumbaya” moment with this quote from the Fox News statement announcing the interview:

“Mr. Trump and I sat down together for a meeting earlier
this month at my request. He was gracious with his time and I asked him
to consider an interview. I am happy to announce he has agreed, and I
look forward to a fascinating exchange — our first sit-down interview
together in nearly a year.”

If this interview goes the way I’ve laid it out, and both parties
walk away with mutual respect and a “contrition sound-byte” that plays
all over social media and the media for multiple news cycles, it’s a win
for Kelly, a win for Fox News, and it reverses one of the most
unfortunate and ugly narratives of the Trump presidential campaign.

If he can do that, it may be one of the greatest media triumphs of modern presidential politics.

Big “ifs,” I know, but not implausible at all.

Brave new world: A majority of millennials reject capitalism

I hate to sound too much like the old man standing on his lawn yelling at clouds, but perhaps we have something of a parallel here in the United States in terms of rejecting sanity. Most of our millennials apparently have rejected capitalism, seeing it as the cause of all their woes, and they may be turning their eyes wistfully toward a more socialist style of living as the answer to their problems. (Washington Post)

In an apparent rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy, a new poll shows that most young people do not support capitalism.

The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.

It isn’t clear that the young people in the poll would prefer some alternative system, though. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

Is this something real or is it just some sort of offshoot of the Bernie effect? 33% of the entire nation doesn’t sound like much but it probably works out to a fair portion of the supporters that Sanders is pulling in from the Democratic base. If that’s the case then it may tone back down once the primary ends and Bernie sails off toward retirement. They clearly won’t be getting a lot of support from the smaller percentage of young people supporting Hillary since her associations with the gold mine of Wall Street are well known.

But a more disturbing possibility is that we’ve entered a period where the population begins to fall victim to the old maxim of forgetting history and being doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. The truth is that socialism has gotten something of a makeover in the modern era, with people frequently looking to places like Switzerland as a model. (Never mind the fact that Switzerland is actually one of the more capitalist places on Earth.) Further to the north, Sanders and his followers also like to point to the Scandinavian nations as the socialist paradise of their dreams. But as an excellent article in the Federalist pointed out recently, it’s really no paradise at all.

In the modern era, if our unhappy millennials really want to learn something about the true face of socialism they should look to places like Venezuela. Under the control of Hugo Chavez, the people of that nation didn’t actually experience any sort of boom times and are now facing the implosion of their society, as Kevin Williamson recently pointed out.

If you consider the most meaningful measure of a country’s economic output — GDP per capita over time — you’ll see that the fat years under Chávez did not actually happen. In fact, if you chart that real (inflation-adjusted) GDP per capita by year, you’ll see that Venezuela is significantly poorer today than it was in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s. In fact, Venezuela’s per capita GDP reached its all-time low in 2003, under Chávez. This is no surprise: Making well-off countries poor and poor countries starving is what socialists do.

Things are bad in Venezuela to be sure and the citizens there are under constant threat from their own government as well as economic collapse. But if these unhappy millennials truly want a lesson on social experimentation they should look at the Russian socialist revolution of 1917 and the ensuing virtual enslavement of the citizens who surrendered all their property and rights to the government. These are the wages of socialism and it always ends badly. In case you missed that… It Always Ends Badly.

There is no good outcome from socialism in the long run and those who have lived too long in a prosperous nation like America need to crack open their history books before signing on for a new revolution. Democratic capitalism has its own warts and flaws to be sure and not every outcome is a happy one for every citizen, but it’s also a self-correcting system. Gross imbalances tend to be ironed out through the political force and will of those for whom it fails to deliver. So be careful what you wish for, millennials. You might just get it good and hard.

 

we need a Canadian border wall

Canada’s sloppy, rushed and reckless Syrian refugee resettlement program is America’s looming national security nightmare.

Donald Trump shouldn’t just be promising to build a Mexican border wall. He (and any other sovereignty-minded presidential candidate) should be vowing to rebuild the decimated “wall” of first-line watchdogs, field enforcement and patrol officers on our northern border.

The urgency could not be greater.

The Canadian liberal government has fast-tracked tens of thousands of Syrian Muslims into its country over the past five months and now plans to double its interim 25,000 goal by 2019. The bleeding-heart Canucks are forging ahead despite reports this week of the country’s failed $16 million screening program to stop Islamic terrorists from slipping through the cracks.

Multiple databases are not interoperable. Information is outdated or useless. Canadian agents are delivering incomplete background checks too late to matter, anyway. Result: Garbage in, garbage out, and untold numbers of unvetted refugees from jihad hotbeds on the loose at our doorstep. (As if the 1,500 Syrian refugees a month that the U.S. State Department is directly importing here through November aren’t enough of a security headache!)

Instead of moving to fortify our northern border, Washington is diverting our boots on the ground and downsizing our fleet of surveillance pilots in the skies. Turnover is high, morale is low, and the jihadists’ path to illegal entry has never been smoother`

In Plattsburgh, New York, 45 miles from Syrian refugee dumping ground Montreal, the Customs and Border Patrol’s air branch has been slashed from 25 pilots down to a shocking six in the last three years. Shifts have been reduced to bankers’ hours, while terror plotters and smugglers never rest. Members of Congress have been alerted to the perilous impact of downsizing, but have done nothing (except, that is, to fully fund the White House refugee resettlement racket).

In Montana, Reuters reported earlier this year, our federal enforcement force is still so understaffed that the Border Patrol depends on 100 private citizen ranchers along the northern border to police the U.S.-Canada boundaries.

Of 21,000 total Border Patrol agents, only 2,100 are assigned to the northern border. There are only about 300 agents guarding the entire northern border at any one time. That’s less than the number of Capitol police on duty to protect the Capitol complex in D.C. alone, Buffalo, New York, sector Border Patrol agent Dean Mandel of the National Border Patrol Council pointed out to Congress.

Little has changed since Border Patrol agents in Washington state first told me 15 years ago of vast, abandoned sectors protected by nothing but orange rubber cones — even in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
“Yes, I’ve personally seen them. Every day. We call them ‘gotaways,'” my source sighed. These newest border-jumpers are detected (by high-tech cameras and motion sensors), but neglected because the core national security mission is not a priority and no one’s around to act on the alerts.

On the southern border, “gotaways” spiked 100 percent between 2011 and 2013. This year, as illegal trespassers from dangerous special interest countries have increased through Mexico, a Border Patrol whistleblower told Congress two months ago that his supervisors ordered agents to fudge data on “gotaways” by omitting them from data reports.

Think the same whitewashing is going on up north? You betcha.

As the disgusted northern border CBP official told me: “The attitude is no paperwork, no problems.” No problems, of course, until that one ISIS operative toting a dirty bomb in his bag rolls right across the wide open U.S.-Canadian border — detected, but neglected — and our government’s malign neglect blows up in our faces.

What if the World’s Most Expensive Fighter Planes Can’t Defeat Our Enemies?

On April 15, 1953, North Korean Po-2 biplanes strafed a U.S. Army tent on Chodo Island, off the Korean mainland. The attack killed two U.S. servicemen. Remarkably, that night, more than 60 years ago, was the last time a U.S. soldier lost his life to fire from enemy aircraft. Since the Korean War, U.S. air power has played a critical role in virtually every conflict, and the U.S. has enjoyed near-total air supremacy in every battle it’s fought. But that streak isn’t going to continue automatically. Despite lavish spending on our air forces; flawed procurement priorities and strategic doctrine, driven by contractors, has put the future of U.S. air power at risk. Take the new F-22 fighter. It’s the most expensive fighter in the air today, but as a recent story in The National Interest by long-time United States Naval Institute writer Dave Majumdar points out, even its missiles will have a hard time getting past the ability of Russia’s truly fearsome Su-35S Flanker E to jam radars and other sensors. The F-22 is very stealthy while the Su-35S is not, but a senior U.S. Air Force official tells Majumdar that the F-22 will have a hard time killing the Su-35Ss. These new Flankers are already in service with the Russian Air Force, and independent air analysts see this same plane achieving lopsided kill ratios against the U.S.’s other next-generation fighter, the F-35. Russian Su-35 FlankerRussian Su-35 Flanker A FLAWED AIR-POWER STRATEGY How did we end up with such pricey, brand-new fighters being unable to decisively defeat their opponents? United States air-power doctrine after the Korean War has emphasized “beyond visual range” (BVR) engagements. The idea: With sufficiently sophisticated missile technology, we can destroy enemy fighters from more than five miles away, long before the enemy can engage our aircraft. The cornerstone of BVR technology, large complex radars, required much bigger fighters to handle the aerodynamic challenges that bulky BVR radars present, as well as huge increases in power and cooling requirements. These larger fighters led to skyrocketing acquisition and maintenance costs. With the advent of stealth, the vision was expanded to include destroying enemy planes from behind a cloak, and costs skyrocketed again. Visions are not always realized, and recent advances in countermeasures, like the capabilities in the Su-35S, are just another chapter in a long history of BVR missiles not living up to the hype. Expecting BVR capabilities to deliver lopsided results against peer competitors now looks more like wishful thinking than a sound strategy. So why have billions of dollars of investments into BVR capabilities delivered such disappointing results? There are two main causes: FEAR OF FRIENDLY FIRE First, identify-friend-or-foe (IFF) technology — systems that enable forces to identify friendly platforms among potential targets — has not been reliable enough to allow our pilots to fire at blips on their radar screen without fear of committing fratricide. In other words, no matter how good our BVR technology, pilots still needed to get within visual distance before taking a shot. Progress has been made in IFF technology, in part because of better capabilities on our support aircraft, but it remains a problem. CONTRACTORS OVERPROMISE, UNDERDELIVER The second issue is that BVR missile technology has consistently failed to live up to the promises made by vendors and senior military leadership. On entering Vietnam, military leaders assured Congress that the radar-guided AIM-7 Sparrow carried by the complex and costly F-4 Phantom would give our pilots a 70 percent probability of a kill per missile fired. Instead, the much hyped Raytheon missile ended up with a BVR kill rate of less than 1 percent. Somewhat chastened, senior military leaders were forced to retrofit guns to the F-4 Phantom. Our cutting-edge missile technology has consistently failed to live up to the promises made by vendors and senior military leadership. The problems continued after Vietnam. In “Promise and Reality: Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air-To-Air Combat” a 2005 paper done for the Air War College, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Higby (now General Higby) shows in great detail that from Vietnam up to Desert Storm the billions invested BVR missile technology contributed almost nothing to the United States’ domination of the skies. Combining data from Israeli and American missions, he finds that out of 632 shots taken with BVR-capable missiles, only four resulted in kills from beyond visual range — a scant 0.6 percent. During this same period, 528 air-to-air kills were made at closer range — 144 with guns and 384 with missiles fired at opponents within visual range. BVR HAS ALMOST NEVER WORKED Starting with Desert Storm, there was an uptick in the number of kills achieved using the newer AMRAAM missiles, which are designed for relatively long range kills, but because neither the number of missiles used nor the range at which the BVR-capable missiles notched kills was recorded, it’s hard to reach any firm conclusions. We do have anecdotal evidence: In 1999, when two MiG-25s violated the no-fly zone over southern Iraq, U.S. fighters fired six of our most sophisticated BVR missiles at them. All six missiles missed and the MiG-25s escaped to fight another day. While pervasive coverage by AWACS surveillance and control planes has given our pilots much better friend-or-foe recognition, allowing more BVR shots to be taken, true BVR kills against competent opponents are rare. Future battles will continue to involve close-range dogfights — where superior numbers of smaller affordable fighters are better than inferior numbers of heavier, less agile, less reliable BVR-focused fighters. A 2011 RAND report noted that enemies successfully engaged beyond visible range after 1991 “were fleeing, non-maneuvering, and did not employ countermeasures.” “In Operation Allied Force,” the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, RAND notes, “the Serbian MiG-29s that were shot down did not even have functioning radars.” In other words, we might now be achieving BVR kills against third-rate vastly outnumbered opponents while enjoying pervasive AWACS coverage. But that is a far cry from getting kills against equally skilled peer competitors in contested air space where we may be outnumbered in terms of both planes and missiles. Historically, our pilots’ superior skills have allowed our big BVR fighters to dominate dogfights despite their large size, but those same pilots flying smaller, less-expensive fighters would still have dominated. In other words, the billions invested in large expensive BVR-focused planes and missiles, while highly correlated with U.S air dominance, was not the cause of that dominance. Going forward, assuming huge kill ratios predicated on BVR missile technology looks even less wise: We have no record of successfully using such technology against peer competitors with the training and technology to dramatically reduce BVR missile effectiveness (like, say, the Russians’ Su-35S). Both the United States and its competitors will continue to make large investments to improve BVR missiles and BVR-missile countermeasures. Since neither effort is likely to gain a decisive advantage, future battles will continue to involve close-range dogfights — where superior numbers of smaller affordable fighters are better than inferior numbers of heavier, less agile, less reliable BVR-focused fighters. F-15 EaglesF-15 Eagles QUANTITY OVER QUALITY It’s unrealistic to expect heavily outnumbered U.S. planes to consistently take down large numbers of enemy fighters at long ranges. The large technology lead the United States once held over other major air powers has nearly evaporated, and regaining our post-WWII lead is well-nigh impossible. Moreover, other air powers have studied and adopted U.S pilot-training methods, and that gap, once large, has narrowed as well. In 2004, for instance, U.S. F-15 pilots were unpleasantly surprised to find themselves on the wrong side of a 9-to-1 loss ratio in exercises with Indian Air Force pilots flying Russian-designed planes, including small but formidable MiG-21s. We should plan on Chinese and Russian pilots being equally competent. There are other major problems with large BVR fighters. One such problem is that the cost per hour to fly them is now so great that some of our pilots are only getting about ten hours per month of actual flight time — not nearly enough to maintain superior skills. Further, these fighters’ huge maintenance requirements mean they spend less time in the air than other aircraft. The F-22 and F-15 can fly far fewer sorties per day than smaller, more reliable fighters such as the F-16. In other words: Large, higher priced, maintenance-intensive BVR-focused planes will often end up delivering less sustained combat power. F-35A at Eglin Air Force BaseF-35A at Eglin Air Force Base STEALTH: ANOTHER PRICEY, UNPROVEN INVESTMENT BVR’s kissing cousin, stealth, is also not the silver bullet it was portrayed to be 20-plus years ago, when development began on the Joint Strike Fighter (the F-35). In fact, counter-stealth technology is advancing and proliferating much more quickly than stealth technology. Recognizing this, the U.S. Navy is wisely hedging its bets by not being too reliant on stealth. Earlier this year, chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert noted the inevitable limits of stealth: “Let’s face it, if something moves fast through the air, disrupts molecules, and puts out heat — I don’t care how cool the engine can be, it’s going to be detectable.” More Defense The Politically Correct Integration of the Marine Infantry Is a Mistake Should We Give ISIS What it Wants — A Decisive Battle in the Middle East? Doing Stupid Stuff in the South China Sea With the rapid proliferation of integrated air defenses capable of seeing and targeting stealthy airplanes, the decades-old vision of flying into the teeth of the integrated air defenses of our top competitors and attacking them with impunity is a fast-fading fantasy. A modest premium for cost-effective stealth probably makes sense, but a huge premium for maintenance-intensive stealth doesn’t. Mathematical battle models, such as the Lanchester-square model, show numerical superiority rapidly swamps quality, meaning larger forces of less-capable planes can sweep opposing forces from the sky while suffering surprisingly small losses. And there’s certainly a good chance we’ll be facing more-numerous forces: Scenarios for defending Taiwan, for instance, have our pilots going up against Chinese pilots that could outnumber us by three to ten times. The RAND Corporation has done an instructive analysis: Even assuming we have unhittable planes with perfectly accurate missiles and opponents lining up to be shot down like sitting ducks, our forces cede airspace control over Taiwan to China while taking crippling losses in terms of support aircraft. More realistic assumptions have us losing many of our F-22s as well. Being on the wrong side of projections for these kind of scenarios is a bad place to be for our pilots. Getting to the right side of the equation will not be achieved by the fielding small numbers of $200-million-plus fighters whose core capabilities are inferior to most advanced fighters. The Air Force wants to retire the A-10 ThunderboltThe Air Force wants to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt FANCIER TECH DOESN’T ALWAYS WIN Advanced technology will always play a critical role in ensuring the success of our fighter aircraft, but we should also remember that quantity, tactics, and training can overcome technology. Ultimately, trying to maintain air-power dominance built on bleeding-edge technology that busts the budget, takes forever to develop, and delivers severely diminishing returns is a losing strategy in a world where technology rapidly diffuses. Better reliability, while not sexy, facilitates more sorties, puts more planes in the air, and enables better pilot training. In a world where firing up powerful active sensors makes you a target, it might make sense to field smaller fighters that rely more on networked, passive sensors. Traditional fighter performance metrics such as instantaneous turn rate, sustained turn rate, and thrust-to-weight ratio still matter. Our air-superiority fighters need to deliver unparalleled performance in the air, and they’re not. The USAF even acknowledges that the backbone of our future fighter corps, the F-35, isn’t designed to be an air-superiority fighter. Yet, along with air-superiority missions, the Air Force is counting on this strike fighter to perform close air-support missions that the inexpensive A-10 already does so much better. These compromises aren’t necessary. For the cost of one F-35, we can buy several air-superiority and close–air-support planes that will deliver far more bang for the buck. Sadly, contractors and top military brass gravitate to the fanciest, most expensive fighters possible with little regard for affordability and maintainability. It’s time to bring back the procurement discipline necessary to buy fighters with the right mix of capabilities and cost. That kind of strategy will allow us to field them in the numbers needed to maintain the air dominance our armed forces have been able to count on for the past 60 years.\