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The concept of "air power" in the military conflicts of the XXI century
Material posted: Zarochintsev SergeyPublication date: 01-08-2016
Detailed examination of modern conflicts in the area from Europe to the Middle East and North Africa, South East Asia, allows us to test the well-known thesis of Clausewitz the continuation of policy by military means. Despite significant humanistic progress after the World wars, military strength is still a decisive factor in the development of the international situation, and the improvement of the means and methods of warfare have a significant impact on the formation of international relations in General.

As history shows, the fleet played a decisive role in many conflicts of the past. It is the presence of a strong and efficient naval fleet contributed to the Union of Athens and Corfu in the Peloponnesian war, which significantly affected the development of the international situation in the Mediterranean[1]. Today, the air force power affect the architecture of world order. In many ways, the persistence of this trend for millennia, lie in the plane of Realpolitik and philosophical development of the theory of reflection: the need for tangible military power, power, a show of force – a kind of attributes of our "military worldview", in the words of A. Snesarev. Very interesting is the theory of "aggressive realism" of John. The Mearsheimer that, in developing the concept of deterrence claims as the best ways to strengthen national security, the achievement of hegemony at a given time[2]. On the basis of the aggressive behavior of States in an anarchic international system, shaped by the need to increase military power to prevent other actors. However, Mearsheimer key role to ground forces and limits the use of air and naval support of ground forces, because the success of the dominance is the ability to capture and control territory. Undoubtedly, military – technical progress of the Russian air force, confirmed during recent operations to combat international terrorism, allows to actively influence the conflict zone only through precision strikes and Navy. I think that this is due to the formation and evolution of the geopolitical and military strategy, "air power" in Russian and Western scientific thought. With the development of technical progress, globalization processes and the transformation of the spaces of confrontation. The role is not so much the land and naval forces, how many troops aerospace defense, the expansion of the information confrontation in the direction of hybrid threats.

The founder of the doctrine about the air war as the Italian General Giulio douhet, who in his work "air Supremacy"[3] outlined the prospects for the use of the air force, formulated the idea of a massive strike at the vital centers of the enemy. This approach will form the basis of the Russian air force combat during the Second world war as Nazi Germany and anti-Hitler coalition countries[4]. In the modern view of the concept of "air power" found normative reflection in the United States in the Charter of AFM 1-2 "the Basic doctrine of the air force and replaced his AFM 1-1 "Basic aerospace doctrine of the US air force"[5]. For half a century (from the mid 40s to the 90s of the XX century), American military thought, based on geopolitical and Maritime strategy A. Mahana, tolerated the idea of the domination of the sea in the airspace. Only now it was not just about "domination", and about the concept of "global reach – global power", the core of which is the thesis of the possibility of a strike at any point of the planet during the day. Moreover, the air force must play a crucial role in regional military conflicts. Experience in the application of the Israeli air force during six day and Lebanon wars, the US air force and its allies in Iraq and Yugoslavia shows how the reduced time ground phase of operation, if it was preceded by a massive bombardment. At the same time, such use of force has much in common with the "carpet bombing" of world war II and could carry significant political risks associated with possible unjustified victims among the local population. The latest cases demonstrate air power may relate to the establishment of no-fly zone (as in Libya) or with the application of precision strikes (Russia's actions in Syria). It has a tendency to twofold manifestation of the concept of air power in modern conflicts. On the one hand, the United States are based on historical experience of hosting the naval and air force bases around the world and continue to build their presence, we are talking about a predominantly quantitative approach is associated with significant difficulties in the deployment of military infrastructure. A similar plan is valid and China, expanding the area of responsibility of its air force to the American bases in the Western Pacific ocean through the introduction in 2013 of the zone of identification of air defense in the South China sea and construction of aircraft carrier "Liaoning". On the other hand, policy documents have put forward a course on the concept of "global impact" to strengthen the space component and coherence in the information space, which largely involves focusing on the quality characteristics[6]. Notable in this regard is the formation of a new kind of armed forces, Troops aerospace defense in Russia that testifies to increase of level of organization of military control, timeliness of response to the most significant threats.

Also, the more progressive it is possible to consider experience in the placement of the aviation group of the Russian air force in Syria, which initially focused on results, not on a formal presence in the region. Thus, we have in this conflict was used a mixed approach consisting in the placement of military bases abroad for a limited period, solely for practical purposes and with the least casualties among civilians. A permanent military presence in a foreign country primarily aimed at achieving tactical goals, strategic plan, political and economic disadvantages of using database over time to outweigh the pros and become a burden on the state. Requires constant maintenance of conflict situations in order to justify in the eyes of the public spending of taxpayers overseas military units that did not promote progress in the resolution of contradictions. Perhaps that is why the US and its allies for quite a long time so no good and failed to do in Syria. The most important element of air power is actually the weapons themselves, which from the point of view of the theory of "military – technological determinism" is able to influence the development of the international situation.

Air power in contemporary conflicts is evident not only by attacking the enemy, but also through the possibility of using military force if necessary, which is a kind of latent part of it. Notable here is an example embed in Syria advanced air defense systems, which has warned the emergence of new parties to the conflict, and, combined with the comprehensive use of precision weapons air force and Navy, revealing refueling strategic bombers of the Russian air force by night over the Mediterranean sea allowed the NATO countries to objectively look at the possibility of confrontation with Russia[7]. In fairness it should be noted that the emergence of the concept of "global strike" among the main external military dangers in paragraph 12 of the Military doctrine of the Russian Federation, along with the deployment of strategic missile defence systems and intent to deploy weapons in space is due to numerous projects the U.S. and its allies. Pursuant to the "instant global strike" (PGS – Prompt Global Strike) are produced by active development of air and space attack (SWCN) and defense (SVKO), as well as hypersonic aircraft and missiles. The defense projects Agency DARPA in the US (AASC, HAWK, TBD, XS-1, NAI Wave Rider, CAV, FALCON), SHEFEX in Germany, Skylon in the UK, IXV, in France[8] has long been directed to the exploration of space by military means and for military purposes[9]. Significant scientific and technological progress in the aerospace sphere, the improvement of high-precision means of destruction, integration processes in the political and economic field, that is, changes in the socio – economic basis and political superstructure give rise to substantial changes in military strategy and the armed forces. The concept of air power today is in the plane of the contemporary military Outlook, at the forefront of a new generation of wars, combining traditional conventional means of warfare, and the hybrid methods of warfare. Itself combat use of air and space forces is undergoing significant changes in the context of development of information and communication systems. Therefore, the appearance of new Troops aerospace defense largely depends on the state of the armed forces in General, the ability to flexibly, accurately and quickly respond to the numerous threats from traditional actors and various quasi-States, terrorist groups.

In the latest works of famous Patriotic generals and scientists V. I. Slipchenko, E. G. Nikitenko, I. M. Kapitanets adequately consider the question of periodization of generations of wars. In particular, special attention is paid to the concept of air power in "the War of the sixth generation" V. I. Slipchenko[10]. Emphasizes the changing role and functions of the armed forces of States in the non-contact wars, the main part of the mechanism which are long, massive strikes using precision weapons. The purpose of these strikes is concentrated in the destruction of the economy of the enemy, and that will be a victory in future wars. Fair this thesis can be considered in relation to the military operation in Syria, which was aimed primarily at the destruction of material and economic component of the terrorist organization ISIL. Strategical strike and defense forces will form the basis of the armed forces of States. At the same time, should rethink the role of nuclear weapons in deterrence strategy, which, for all its crushing force is ineffective in solving specific military and political objectives. All this requires constant improvement of forces aerospace defense, systems of military planning. In addition, the active application in military conflict, air and space forces carries several political consequences.

The result of the demonstration of air power in contemporary conflicts would be to change the military and political characteristics of the world order. First of all, a natural development is not only air but also space. In addition to the prospects of the deployment of weapons is likely and the possibility of violation of the mode of operation of satellite communication systems, tracking and navigation. A lot of difficulties and the imperfection of international legal regulation in this sphere. Set rules for the use of nuclear weapons but issues of space exploration through military means not related to such, do not have clear and unambiguous answers. The obvious trend of development of the concept of air power is its transformation into an aerospace power related to significant technical breakthrough in the creation of innovative delivery vehicles, and hypersonic missiles, to improve the performance of air defense. Probably, in this regard, the upcoming political conclusions would relate to the organization of a unified system of aerospace defense between the allies, both by NATO and by Russia. Whether this is done in the Eurasian space[11] or in the framework of other integration unions (CSTO, SCO or even BRICS), will show time[12]. Another important consequence of the concept of air power in the context of forming a new generation of wars can be considered its inclusion in the overall hybrid strategy of using the armed forces. Namely, we can observe a significant reorientation in the combat use of the air force. If applied before airstrikes to support ground forces or carried out in their development, it is now the biggest it is possible to consider the use of special operations forces. The predominantly air power today requires coordination with other non-conventional methods in the framework of the information and financial – economic confrontation. During the military operation in Syria, the Russian air force went hand in hand not only with groups of special forces, but with military resources, space exploration, Federal financial monitoring service, Russia's FSB, which our state has identified and provides the financial centers of the enemy, opened the supply chain of smuggled oil. Thus, aerospace power also needs in the information power in the broadest terms, and all the characteristic features of hybrid threats and characterize the modern aspects of combat application of the air force. We should also identify the prospects of using "soft power" in conjunction with air power. It would seem that these paradigms are on different sides of the force, but greater, their consideration allows us to find solid ground. Indeed, the very "soft power" (soft power) with a slightly different translation and the approach can be understood as a "flexible power", which is decisive for the hybrid method of warfare and use of air power. Trend in the development of both concepts is a certain humanistic starts: "soft power" relies on cultural, economic and socio – political mechanisms that exclude the possibility of casualties, as they reflect a different aspect of warfare. Air power, like the hybrid strategy in General, aims to pinpoint the use of force, minimizing human losses. In other words, hybrid methods of resistance associated with the use of military force, carrying a sort of injection of "soft power". In General, the concept of air power, "soft power", a hybrid strategy perform in organic unity with a network-centric approach to the conduct of war, not only form a new generation in the development of this phenomenon, but also have a significant impact on development diplomacy, world politics and international relations.

Paragraph 26 of the national security Strategy of the Russian Federation to 2020 States that "strategic deterrence presupposes the development and systematic implementation of complex of interrelated political, diplomatic, military, economic, informational and other measures aimed at forestalling or reducing the threat of destructive actions on the part of the aggressor state". In addition, section 9 of the foreign policy Concept of the Russian Federation pays special attention to network diplomacy, which replaced the block approaches, which relies on "flexible forms of participation in multilateral structures." The concept of air power is an integral element of the manifestations of a complex military – political and civilizational approach to the search for forms of cooperation and interaction. Troops aerospace defense in the current situation ready to perform any task of maintaining the national security of Russia, but in strategic terms they serve the cause of world peace, using military power for a fair and safe world order.


  • The military doctrine of the Russian Federation // the Russian newspaper. 2014. 30 Dec.
  • The decree of the President of the Russian Federation 12 may 2009 No. 537 "About strategy of national security of the Russian Federation till 2020" // the Russian newspaper. 2009. May 19.
  • Foreign policy concept of the Russian Federation: [site]. URL: (reference date: 30.03.2016).
  • Douai George. Supremacy in the air. A collection of writings on issues of the air war. – M.: Voenizdat NKO, 1936.
  • Hare V. Evolution of concepts of construction and combat use of the U.S. air force / Foreign military review. 2002, no. 1, pp. 22-30.
  • Miller J. the Main directions of development of air and space attack the US and NATO / Foreign military review. 2015, №8, p. 65-71.
  • Podberezkin A. I. Eurasian aerospace defense. M.: MGIMO – University, 2013.
  • Slipchenko V. I. Wars of the sixth generation: Weapons and military art of the future. Moscow: Veche, 2002.
  • Thucydides. History: Per. with the Greek. – M.: Academic Project, 2012.
  • Jia Xu, David Merrell, John P. Godges, James S. Chow, Aerospace Exploration System Concept: Architecture and Methods for an Air Vehicle Design Tool, RAND Working Papers: [website]. URL:
  • John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: Norton.
  • US Strategy for Civil and Military Space. URL:

Zarochintsev S. V.


[1] See the speech of the ambassadors of Corfu, before the people's Assembly in Athens (433/432 g): Thucydides. History: Per. with the Greek. – M.: Academic Project, 2012. P. 23-24.

[2] John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: Norton. P. 35.

[3] J. Douai. Supremacy in the air. A collection of writings on issues of the air war. – M.: Voenizdat NKO, 1936.

[4] moreover, that The military thought the US had already had some achievements of General William Mitchell on the issues of massive air strikes and psychological consequences for the enemy.

[5] the Development of views on the combat use of the U.S. air force considers in detail by V. V. Hare in the article "Evolution of concepts of construction and combat use of the U.S. air force" (See: Hare V. Evolution of concepts of construction and combat use of the U.S. air force / Foreign military review. 2002, №1, p. 22-30).

[6] a New architecture of space exploration is devoted to the report of the specialized project to study the air forces of the influential American Corporation RAND: Jia Xu, David Merrell, John P. Godges, James S. Chow, Aerospace Exploration System Concept: Architecture and Methods for an Air Vehicle Design Tool, RAND Working Papers: [website]. URL:

[7] American authoritative magazine "The National Interest" with enviable regularity gives an estimate of the modern Russian development of weapons, while at the end of each article to remind readers about the necessity of containment of Russia.

[8] Cm. read more about air and space attack: Miller Y. the Main directions of development of air and space attack the US and NATO / Foreign military review. 2015, №8, p. 65-71.

[9] this was openly declared by representatives of the senior military leadership of the US in their speeches. For example, Gen. Cartwright repeatedly at events at the Center for strategic and international studies (CSIS) spoke about the prospects of cooperation between the military and the private sector in the exploration of outer space, information space (See. the discussion at CSIS "US Strategy for Civil and Military Space":

[10] See: Slipchenko V. I. Wars of the sixth generation: Weapons and military art of the future. Moscow: Veche, 2002.

[11] Cm. on this question the work of CMPS MGIMO: Podberezkin A. I. Eurasian aerospace defense. M.: MGIMO – University, 2013.

[12] moreover, the experience of creating a unified aerospace defense system in the framework of the Union state already exists.


sgreen (01-08-2016 15:08:22)

Интересный материал, хотя есть над чем подумать. Особенно, если вспомнить, что в современных иррегулярных конфликтах воздушной силой, как правило, обладает только одна из воюющих сторон...

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