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1. General

Air operations include a wide variety of different measures and actions taken by the commander-in-chief, general staff, high command of the air forces and other commands during preparation and conduct of an air operation. Air operations is one of the component types of strategic operations of the armed forces. Air operations include mass strikes, major aerial combat actions and successive actions correlated to each other and conducted simultaneously or successively by large operational air formations, Front air forces and Long Range Air force large units in coordination with other types of armed forces and in accordance with a unified plan and concept under unified command.

In conventional war the strategic role played by the air forces in gaining air superiority is critical. The air operation is a massive strike on targets and an extensive air to air battle. Simultaneously and in sequence the large air force units participate from the LRA, the Fronts, the navy and the PVO.

Depending on the aims, volume and tasks assigned, the missions of the air operation can be accomplished to achieve the following goals:

-----1. destruction of enemy air force groups

-----2. destruction of rocket forces, especially nuclear forces

-----3. destruction of strategic reserves.

-----4. interdiction and destruction of reinforcements coming to the theater from the United States.

-----5. destruction of military economic potential

These missions cannot be accomplished all at once, but are achieved over time, starting with the most important.


2. The Aim, Volume and Major Specifications of Air Operations

The creation of favorable air power conditions under which the ground forces can initiate and rapidly develop their attack and the air forces can continuously support them are the most important missions of the Fronts, air forces and operational formations of other branches of the armed forces. This is achieved by destroying enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground, inflicting heavy damage on air force command and control posts, fuel and ammunition depots, and destroying air fields. The destruction of enemy air force capabilities in the theater of war means inflicting losses over the enemy which deprive his tactical aircraft of their capability to produce organized resistance against friendly forces. This enables friendly air forces to provide air cover and protection of friendly ground forces to enable them to accomplish their assigned missions in the strategic operation.

Destruction does not mean total annihilation of enemy air forces. The extent of damage that constitutes effective destruction is determined by the time factor and enemy capabilities to restore his combat capabilities and reorganize his air power to counter the actions of friendly forces. In order to destroy enemy air force capabilities to conduct organized resistance up to 50 - 60 percent destruction of aircraft is required. Depending on the situation the enemy may restore and reorganize his damaged air force assets by moving air units from bases in other theaters of war, by employing his reserves and by exploiting technical means and equipment from his industrial resources. In order to prevent the restoration of enemy air force units it is necessary to observe and reconnoiter his forces and deliver timely strikes at his airfields where there are indications of newly-arrived aircraft. At the same time enemy aircraft in adjacent theaters of war are also destroyed and the movement of air units from bases in the country's interior is prevented.

Destruction of enemy air forces will ensure the seizure of the initiative by friendly forces and enable them to retain sufficient striking power and freedom of maneuver to accomplish strategic missions. The main enemy air forces are those tactical and naval air units with nuclear capabilities whose destruction will provide a favorable air situation for friendly armed forces.

The aim of air operations is destruction of enemy air in the following ways.

1. destruction of aircraft and crews at airfields

2. destruction of aircraft carriers

3. destruction of aircraft and crews in air to air combat

4. destruction of naval aircraft, at bases and in the air

5. destruction of control and warning systems

6. destruction of nuclear supplies, POL, ammunition and equipment

7. destruction and mining of runways at airfields

The most important tasks are the destruction of enemy aircraft on airfields and aircraft carriers and the destruction of enemy aircraft in the air. Therefor air forces are grouped and operations prepared to achieve this aim.
In terms of volume air operations are the coordinated actions of Front air armies, long range air force major units, naval air forces, units and large units of the Fronts, and operational large units of air defense forces all conducted under the provisions of one general plan. Since air operations are critical they are conducted in accordance with decisions of the commander-in-chief under control of the general staff. Immediate control is generally delegated to the commander of the air forces. Many tasks for the preparation and conduct of air operations are accomplished by the staffs of Fronts, naval fleets, and other branches of service.

Air operations aimed at the destruction of enemy air forces have the following characteristics:
----- - Decisive aim
----- - Wide geographic area of action
----- - Mass employment of all types of aircraft and other combat arms
----- - Short duration
----- - Complex organization and command and control structure

It is assessed that NATO has 1400 combat aircraft and during war would receive another 1100 reinforcements from the US. If the NATO air forces can be attrited by 50 - 60 % that would be enough to accomplish the air force mission in gaining air supremacy. In the Western theater the width of the air operation is 800 - 1000 km and the depth is 1000 - 1200 km. It lasts one, to one and a half days. All aircraft available would participate. In the Far East theater air operations can be conducted on one strategic axis 2000 to 3000 km in width and 1800 to 2000 km in depth.

The urgency and great vigor in conducting the air campaign is a result of the need to destroy the enemy air forces in a short period of time on their airfields and to deny the enemy the ability to restore his combat power. it is essential to deny the enemy the chance to reestablish air bases at his rear airfields, especially at the airfields out of range of the Frontal air force.This necessitates the mass employment of the entire theater air forces in order to inflict as heavy a blow to the enemy main air forces as possible in the shortest possible time.

The duration of the air operations is determined by the volume of missions assigned and the number of units available to accomplish them. The high maneuverability of enemy aircraft and their capability to avoid the strikes of friendly air forces by moving quickly to alternate bases requires the delivery of a strong air strike on them in the shortest possible time. Thus, the basic aims of air operations must be achieved in a brief campaign. In addition, the Front air forces which participate in the air operation will have to support the ground forces once they begin to attack. Therefore, the duration of the strategic air operation in the Western theater of war in terms of time will be 24 to 36 hours, while it will be 36 to 48 hours in the Far East Theater of war. During this time the main aim of the operation will be achieved and its main tasks will be accomplished.

The reason command and control of air operations is so complicated and coordination so important is that such a wide range of different forces subordinate to different headquarters and arms of service are participating. These forces must operate over an extremely wide area in a short time period in a manner that their actions will be coordinated in terms of missions, objectives, time, form of action and axes of approach. Therefore detailed planning and coordination measures are essential. Constant communication among the elements and the various headquarters is maintained and highly centralized command and control is employed.


3. Preparation of the Strategic Air Operation

Preparation of the strategic air operation is accomplished well in advance. this includes a large number of actions taken by the commander in chief, general staff and high command of the air forces. the main measures during preparation are the following:
----- - Making the decision for the operation
----- - Determining the composition of the forces and means to be employed
----- - Planning the operation
----- - Grouping and deploying the forces
----- - Organizing command and control and coordination
----- - Preparing the airfields and supplying required munitions
----- - Organizing all types of combat and combat support elements

The large volume of measures required and their decisive impact on the outcome of the operation necessitates concentration of command and staff efforts on their rapid accomplishment. During the course of accomplishing these measures special attention must be paid to keep everything secret.

Making the decision for the air operation precedes planning. The following points are considered in the decision:
----- - the objective
----- - the concept of the operation
----- - the forces and means being employed
----- - the role of the operation in achieving air superiority and its impact on the actions of the Fronts during the accomplishment of their missions.

The following are considered in determining the concept of the air operation:
----- - Enemy air forces which must be destroyed in first priority and the degree of destruction required.
----- - Where, when and how the main attack will be launched.
----- - The composition of forces and means to be employed
----- - The forms for conducting the operation
----- - The composition and operational formation being used.
----- - The general concept for destroying enemy air forces in aerial combat.
----- - The method for exploiting the results of actions by ground forces, airborne landings, air defense and naval forces
----- - The composition and mission of forces and means and the forms for delivering strikes on other enemy air units.
----- - The starting and ending times and duration of the operation
----- - The forms and types of troop control and coordination during the course of the operation and the method for supplying units.

The concept of operation must be worked out in such a way as to ensure surprise and a very powerful initial strike on the strongest enemy air units. The air forces must accomplish their mission of destroying the enemy air forces by two or three massive strikes at the maximum, delivered on the airfields and other vital objectives.

Success for the strategic air operation is ensured by a surprise, mass initial strike on the enemy airfields which contain his main aircraft units. First priority is given to enemy nuclear armed aircraft. Surprise is achieved by detailed assessment of the conditions for executing the operation and proper selection of the time for its initiation. The air situation, as well as the conditions for the entire strategic operation including the forms and times for ground force deployment and occupation of attack staging areas are all estimated thoroughly prior to the start of combat actions. The forms for initiating and conducting the air operation might be different, depending on many situational factors. An air operation conducted simultaneously with the attack of Frontal ground forces is more advantageous, because in this case greater surprise is insured at the beginning of combat actions, which by itself has great importance in achieving strategic initiative in the theater.

Surprise massed strikes on enemy air force units create favorable conditions for continued effective action by friendly air units, ensure better results for action against enemy airfields, contain and limit enemy air force maneuvers, neutralize enemy activity and deprive the enemy of initiative and the capability to support his ground forces. All these factors lead to severely weakened enemy resistance against friendly forces.

The composition of the air units assigned for the strategic air operation is determined by the objective, concept of operation and situational conditions. Such units must be capable of accomplishing the assigned missions at the specified time. The following factors are considered:
----- - The composition of enemy air force units and enemy capabilities to reinforce them by shifting aircraft from other theaters of war or from reserves.
----- - The number and disposition of enemy nuclear delivery means.
----- - The nature and specifications of enemy air defense and the capabilities of its means to repel air strikes.
----- - Operational and combat capabilities of the participating units.
----- - The likely forms for conducting the air operation.

The composition of forces assigned to the air operation depends also on the general and the air situation. Great importance is placed on the operational capability of friendly and enemy air units, especially to the enemy capability to avoid air strikes and to mount strong airborne air defense resistance. The following factors are considered in this assessment.
----- - Quantitative and qualitative specifications of the aircraft involved including their flight speed, altitude capability, range of action, capacity for carrying bombs, rockets and cannons, and all-weather avionic capability. ----- - Operational capabilities and training of flight personnel including their ability to operate at day and night, deliver mass strikes, and perform in air combat.
----- - The conditions of airfields and their facilities
----- - The morale and psychological status of flight personnel.

Based on these factors, the air force organization for conducting the strategic air operation can be as follows:
----- - In the Western Theater of war: Three to four Front air armies, one to two long-range air forces corps and independent divisions, naval fleet air forces, as well as the air forces of the Warsaw Pact countries, the forces and means organic to the Fronts, operational large units and large air defense units.
----- - In the Far Eastern Theater of war: Two to three Frontal air armies, long-range air force corps and independent divisions, naval fleet air forces, forces and means organic to the Fronts and air defense forces.

The creation of the appropriate air force units in the proper time is one of the critical tasks in the operational deployment of the armed forces. Its achievement provides the required conditions for a successful execution of the strategic air operation to gain air superiority. A special task that must be accomplished at this stage is the relocation of air units to their operational bases. This relocation must be conducted at specified times, secretly, normally at night, by small groups flying at low altitude, and while measures are taken to avoid enemy air observation.

The correlation of forces in the air forces is of vital importance, both in the execution of the air operation and in subsequent actions of the ground forces of the Fronts. The reason for this is that satisfactory retention of the initiative once gained and creation of favorable conditions for the completion of the Front's assigned missions are possible only by having air superiority over the enemy.

The action of large air force units to change the correlation of forces in the air fundamentally in its own favor can succeed only when the forces and means taking part in the air operation (the Fronts air armies, long range air forces units, naval fleet large air units, Frontal air defense units and national air defense units) coordinate their missions on the basis of time, place, operational axes and operational echelons.

The operational formation for the air units assigned to conduct the strategic air operation is determined by the objective, missions, forms of actions, potential enemy air defense resistance, enemy air bases, meteorological conditions, and other related factors. In general the operational formation is organized in a few echelons. Analysis and experience of field exercises indicate that the best operational formation is three echelons, a main force strike echelon, a support echelon and a developing echelon. The distribution of forces and means to the echelons is as follows:

The main echelon, (the strike echelon), is the most important echelon in the operational formation and is assigned the following missions: destruction of enemy aircraft and its personnel on the airfields and in aerial combat, destruction of airfield runways, neutralization of command posts, etc. The composition of the strike echelon includes bomber, fighter bomber and a portion of the fighter aircraft as well as long range air force large units. The number of aircraft includes 60 percent of Frontal air forces and 75 percent of long range air forces taking part in the operation. The percentages of Frontal forces allocated to the strike echelon are as follows: 85 to 90 percent of bombers, 65 to 70 percent of fighter bombers, 15 to 20 percent of fighters and 10 to 15 percent of reconnaissance aircraft.

The support echelon is first in the attack, and its mission is reconnaissance, blockade of airports, mining of airfields, counter air and jamming. It supports the flight of the LRA by destruction of enemy air defense. It also produces deceptive and imitation actions to confuse the enemy defenses. It includes 25 to 30 percent of Frontal aircraft and 5 percent of long range aircraft. The following percentages of Front aircraft are included: 25 to 30 percent of fighters, 30 percent of fighter bombers, 10 percent of bombers and 55 to 60 percent of reconnaissance aircraft.

The third echelon is for exploitation and reserve. For destruction of new targets and targets not well hit the first time, the third echelon provides resources. It contains 10 percent of Front air forces and 15 to 20 percent of long range air forces. The reserve must be established by each air army and by the high command of the air forces. The reserve is also needed to meet unexpected enemy actions and to accomplish new missions which may arise during the conduct of the strategic air operation.

Determination of the position for attack units in the overall operational formation is very important. The actions of attack units is to be coordinated with the composition and actions of the first echelon (support echelon) and the method of destroying enemy aircraft on the ground and in the air. The key point is that the first echelon must be able to neutralize enemy surveillance, reconnaissance and navigation systems, shoot down enemy fighters which are able to become airborne, and destroy the enemy air defense capability to create obstacles to the main strike aircraft.

Planning the strategic air operation takes into account the number of missions, composition and combat capability of the participating units, enemy resistance, weather conditions and other factors. The basic content of planning includes the following:
----- - Proper selection of targets
----- - Degree and sequence of neutralizing each target
----- - Allocation of forces and means to each mission
----- - Times for each strike and activity
----- - Sequence and form for each activity
----- - Coordination
----- - Organization of command and control
----- - All around support measures

The critical task for planning is to find the proper measures to ensure successful passage of the main forces through the enemy air defenses. Planning the air operation must be conducted in such a way as to ensure that all units are prepared on time and provided with resources to become airborne from any state of combat readiness in the shortest possible time. Planning is conducted to ensure that the operational objective will be achieved at the specified time. Depending on the situation the objective of the air operation can be achieved through simultaneous or through successive accomplishment of the specific missions. To achieve this one or more massed strikes, or echeloned actions and aerial combats may be conducted. If the concept of the operation anticipates the destruction of enemy main units in two massed strikes on airfields and one major aerial combat engagement then the content of one of the missions will be the destruction of most enemy aircraft on airfields. The second mission will be the completion of their destruction on airfields and in the aerial engagement. If the enemy has strong units of fighter interceptors then the first mission for the air operation will be the destruction of these forces on their airfields and in the air and the second mission will be the destruction of enemy fighter-bomber and bomber forces. Weakening the enemy air forces and providing favorable conditions for delivering the decisive strikes might be the content of the first mission. Then the second mission will be the destruction of enemy main forces and the third mission will be the completion of destruction of enemy air force assets in specified regions or throughout the theater.

Planning the air operation is based on the commander in chief's decision. The general staff determines the objective of the operation, the general concept, the times for its execution and the composition for the forces and means. The general staff organizes the coordination between services and elements and issues directives to the commanding generals of the various services. Based on general staff directives the commanding general of the air forces specifies the method for conducting the strategic air operation, allocates the efforts of the individual air forces to each mission, specifies the method for action of each formation and organizes the coordination among the forces.

With the beginning of the Front offensive ground attack the Frontal air armies must also cover and support the ground units. Therefore one of the other important matters included in the plan for the strategic air operation is the detailed description of the time and method for assigning large air units to support and cover of the Fronts. To ensure this the Front air armies are assigned such missions in advance and the number of sorties allocated to these missions are specified.


4. Conduct of the Strategic Air Operation

The conduct of air operations is the commitment of forces and means to execute the missions given in the operations plan. it is closely connected with actions of the rest of the forces operating in the theater of war and is an integrated part of the general plan and concept. The main content of the conduct of air operations is the following: commitment of friendly main air units into action, initiating massed actions to seize the initiative in the air, destruction of enemy main air units and providing favorable conditions for accomplishment of the Fronts' and naval forces' missions.

The basic prerequisite for success is the successful passage through the enemy air defenses. The achievement of this task where the enemy has created strong multi-belt air defense systems based on SAMS and fighters will be very difficult. In such areas the greatest threat will come from the high density of fire of "Hawk" and "Nike Hercules" SAM systems deployed in a depth of 150 to 200 km. Special attention is paid during execution of the air operation to accomplish this task. The key point in this is to seek and locate the weak points in the enemy air defense system and to exploit them. For passage through the enemy air defense system it is necessary for large numbers of forces and means to be allocated, using well designed and objective oriented tactical methods and forms of action and that breakthrough be organized in specified areas where sufficient damage can be inflicted on the enemy SAM systems. Careful calculation and proper selection of time and place for surprise arrival of aircraft over the targets provide additional effectiveness for the action of friendly aircraft and reduce their losses. It is important in ensuring successful passage through the enemy air defense system to employ the latest new equipment and methods for causing damage including missiles organic to the ground forces. To cause maximum damage to enemy radar stations and air defense missile guidance systems and to destroy enemy SAM systems at their launching sites both air- to-surface and ground force tactical-operational rockets with conventional warheads may be employed. One of the important ways to insure success is to employ radio electronic jamming means to decrease the effectiveness of enemy air defense systems.

Special attention must also be paid to measures for ensuring the continued effectiveness of friendly air units. All preparations must be organized to limit and contain enemy surprise or preemptive strikes or counterstrikes on friendly airfields. Constant reconnaissance of enemy air unit activities are organized and the friendly air units are moved secretly from permanent airfields to dispersed positions on reserve airfields prior to the beginning of the operation.

Air operations to destroy enemy air forces may be conducted in various different ways. They can be initiated simultaneously with the start of the Front ground attack or can precede it. In some cases the air operation can even be initiated during the Frontal ground attack (after the start of the Front offensive). The air offensive may start during daylight, at night, at dawn or at dusk. Both sides will place high priority from the beginning of the conflict on rapidly weakening the opponent's air forces in order to seize the initiative in the air. Therefore air actions must be very vigorous and every effort must be taken to gain time by striking the enemy quickly.

The principles for conducting strategic air operations must agree with the concept of the operation and should help insure its accomplishment by the effective employment of friendly aircraft. The basic principles are the following:
----- - Surprise action against airfields and command and control centers
----- - Massed attacks against enemy main forces on the ground and in the air
----- - Continuous action over enemy airfields day and night
----- - Cooperation of air and other forces participating in the air operation

The methods employed in the air operation depend on many factors. The method to be used in each case is specified in the concept of the operation. The basis for the method is the massed strike. Some of the possible methods include the following:
----- - Massed strikes against enemy air force main units on the ground. This is the most effective and decisive method. It requires the destruction of enemy aircraft in the shortest time and the destruction of runways, depots and command centers. But it requires the use of large numbers of Frontal and long range air units and detailed organization as well as greater initial superiority in aircraft.
----- - Major aerial combat actions during which enemy aircraft and personnel are destroyed in the air.
----- - Successive air strikes against individual airfields to destroy them or detain the air units for later massed strikes or during the intervals between massed strikes by preventing the enemy from restoring his airfields or maneuvering his forces.
----- - In general air operations involve several different methods closely connected with each other. The best results are achieved by delivering surprise massed strikes against airfields on which the main units are concentrated. Major aerial combat engagements and successive strikes compliment the massed strikes and create more favorable conditions for the latter. During the conduct of air operations the most important task is the seizure and retention of the initiative by vigorous air actions.

Experience shows that air operations must be initiated by surprise massed strikes. These are the sum of a series of strikes delivered by Frontal and long range air units. At the same time the main air units must be protected from the enemy's fighter aircraft.

After friendly air forces gain the initiative by the initial massed air operation they continue to develop it by repeated attacks on airfields by small aircraft units. Between massed air strikes enemy command posts and air defense system control centers are also attacked. Subsequent massed strikes are conducted on the basis of reconnaissance information about the results of the initial strikes. This reconnaissance and the observation of enemy airfields is of vital importance because the methods to be employed by friendly forces during subsequent strikes will depend on this information. These repeat strikes are delivered after the shortest possible time intervals in order to prevent the enemy from restoring his airfields and reorganizing his air forces. By this time the surprise factor will be lost. Therefore different methods must be used to achieve operational concealment and coordination of missions.

Air forces have great maneuverability. Therefore it is necessary to adapt to the latest enemy situation and re-target air units or individual aircraft during the course of their missions. during preparation and planning of the air operation each aircraft unit is assigned not only a main target but also alternate targets. The method to be used for reassigning missions during the operation is specified. The timely reassignment depends on reconnaissance being conducted at enemy airfields during the operation.

Large scale aerial combat will take place during the strategic air operation from the beginning of the massed strike on enemy airfields as well as during enemy strikes against friendly airfields. In the first case the aerial combat is against enemy fighter aircraft which are attempting to prevent the friendly air strike and in the second case air combat is against the enemy attacking forces to prevent them from getting to friendly airfields and other targets. In both cases massing of fighter aircraft in order to create decisive superiority over the enemy is required. The fighter units must be prepared before the beginning of the massed air strike.

The following factors influence the success of the large scale aerial combat:
----- - Correct selection of time and place for conducting aerial combat and creating the most favorable conditions for destroying major enemy fighter air units piecemeal while not allowing them to interfere with the actions of friendly main air units attacking their airfields.
----- - Correct gradual commitment of fighter units engaging the enemy fighters in aerial combat piecemeal while retaining constant superiority over the enemy in the air. For this it necessary to have established proper reserves and second echelon units on airfields and in the air and to commit them into combat in a timely manner to restore the combat capability of the fighting units.
----- - Careful preparation and delivery of air strikes at decisive stages on the air operation to destroy enemy fighter air units and personnel.
----- - Continuous action over enemy airfields and command centers to neutralize them and reduce enemy morale, limit his initiative and disrupt his command and control systems.

Large scale aerial combat to defeat enemy air sorties has the following characteristics:
----- - The targets are enemy tactical aircraft, fighters and fighter- bombers.
----- - Achieving superiority and gaining the initiative in air combat is very difficult.
----- - Aerial combat is often conducted after the direction and composition of enemy air strikes are determined.
----- - Therefore this aerial combat is often conducted by fighters already operating as combat air patrols followed by additional fighters on alert on the airfields.

If the enemy operates with a large number of aircraft on a wide front it is necessary to commit large numbers of friendly fighters on different axes and to conduct numerous, simultaneous attacks. The following factors are required: the presence of alert fighter aircraft on the airfields, constant reconnaissance, specific warning about enemy air movements, rapidity in making decisions and correct command and control to guide fighters to their targets.

During the strategic air operation successive air operations against enemy airfields are important. Successive actions are used to prevent the enemy from restoring his airfields by mining them and to disrupt enemy personnel actions.

Air operations are concluded when the enemy air forces are destroyed, but it is still important to retain the initiative and to maintain air superiority. The enemy may move other air assets from the depth of his area or from other theaters. Therefore it is necessary to continue to conduct air operations using Frontal air forces as well as long range aviation.

Experience in field exercises and in the Middle East wars shows that the destruction of enemy air fores in a theater of war is possible to accomplish in a short period of time.

Command and control is conducted in a decentralized manner because the air operations are conducted by forces from many different headquarters. The general staff has overall control but conducts the operation through the general commands of the branches of the armed forces and the Front commands. The air force large elements are controlled by the command of the air forces which also organizes the coordination among these units. The commanding general of the air forces establishes command posts and forward command posts from which to conduct the operation. The air armies of the Fronts have a more difficult command and control problem because they are organically subordinated to the Fronts and have missions to support the ground forces. However, during the strategic air operation they are required to participate in the destruction of the enemy air forces which may divert them from their normal missions. For this reason the commanding general of the air forces, who directs the Frontal air armies in their role in the strategic air operation, must also be prepared to switch them rapidly back to support of Frontal forces and the reverse. The air commander must maintain close liaison with the Front commanders and have prepared detailed coordination plans.