• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

Contested air assault in the modern era?

shin_getter

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
257
Reaction score
211
In this era of access denial and long range fires, it appears that air and amphib assault is harder than ever. Given sufficient resource advantages such attacks is still possible, but what is the best way to do it?

Old Ways:
Turboprop/Jet transport with parachutes
Helicopters

Near Future:
Tilt-Rotor/Compounds

It is actually quite disappointing to see air assault concepts revolve around heavy quad-tiltrotors that puts a "heavy bomber" cost class airframe into the range of MANPADS that enables a well position infantryman to inflict losses on the same order as sinking a destroyer.
---------------
There are however a lot of options that appears incompletely explored, especially for ever changing threat environment, especially for high attrition cases: Some examples:

1. Disposable/Attritable Aircraft
2. Gliders/Landing only aircraft
3. Multi-stage air mobility

For a example of #3, for example on can jump out of transports at standoff range with a powered wingsuit, than transition into LO parachute landing.

New technology on the landing end:
1. Improved control systems that enables things like landing tailsitting rockets. Extreme-AOA post-stall landing is another new option.
2. Electric propulsion that has different cost performance curves
3. Other stuff: Micro-turbojets, maturing stealth tech, etc...

New payloads:
Increasing unmanned systems changes the structure of the landing force.

New threats:
Ever improving missile performance, proliferation of SHORAD to counter MAV, improving artillery response time and lethality.
----------------

Preliminary thoughts on the matter:

Precision landing into complex terrain or extreme dispersion is probably needed for survival on landing. Masses landing on open terrain would be heavily punished by hard to neutralize long range fires.

Standoff for the most expensive air platforms is valuable. Unmanned systems means that the payload does not need to be the most expensive part of the system, though how to structure both elements for optimal capability is a very under explored question. How many man, how many robots of what type, how much munitions, how much money in air vehicles, acceptable attrition rates in insertion, are all really unanswered.

-------
So anyone have any ideas on this matter?
 

Fluff

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Sep 9, 2019
Messages
487
Reaction score
267
I think you have to ask, what are you trying to achieve by landing ground troops?

If its opposed, then your not re-enforcing a revolution.

if its to destroy something, that can be done by drones etc.

If you still really need to do this, then ground based drones, supported by airborne drones first, until the opposing force is negated.

Then land small numbers of troops at night, by halo etc.
 

shin_getter

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
257
Reaction score
211
Well, sometimes the objective of the conflict is to take ground across obstacles.

---
What kind of ground robots mix would be best for taking ground given the many limitations with current tech?
 

Fluff

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Sep 9, 2019
Messages
487
Reaction score
267
Well, sometimes the objective of the conflict is to take ground across obstacles.

---
What kind of ground robots mix would be best for taking ground given the many limitations with current tech?
Most of which have had a neighbour willing to allow border access, thus ground troops.

For sure a tier 1 country could make an airborne assault on a tier 2 or 3 country, but tier 1 to tier 1 I cant see any politician signing it off.

The world has changed, D-day will remain the largest invasion, and probably the largest airborne jump, in human history.
 

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
3,099
Reaction score
1,801
D Day and the planned Invasion of Japan came at the end of long conflicts which had done as much as possible to degrade the opponents' forces.
The wishful thinking by some in the US to stage such operations against China and to a lesser extent Russia, derive from the Inchon landing in the 1950s Korean War which was used to outflank N Korean forces.
However, N Korea at the time was not a nuclear power and could not threaten dire consequences. As it was China booted the Allies out anyway.
The fear that China could stage a D Day against Taiwan ignores the fact that China repeatedly states that the place is part of China. It is a very prosperous place which China wants to have fall one day like a ripe plum rather than shrivel in an Iraq style blitz.
There is more than one way to skin a cat and the Chinese rulers are shrewd enough to know and use them.
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
1,918
Reaction score
805
I do not believe the nuclear ability is relevant to this scenario for the simple reason that it brings nothing to the table. The much improved ability to engage and destroy such air transport as would be used for this method of tactical insertion makes any nuclear involvement moot. The use of nuclear weapons against paratroop deployment would be the same as for tactical use against any military force in the FEBA and guarantee tactical escalation.

Unless there is the potential for supersonic and stealthy aircraft and I mean stealthy while air dropping loads, the ordinary anti air elements would make the deployment if not impossible, at least marginal in effectiveness and the knowledge that loved ones had been willingly thrown away as a diversion would cause the government of the day to be unemployed and unemployable for decades.

The continuous use of propaganda by the PRC is there as a warning to both the USA and Taiwan that the PRC believes the result will be integration eventually so why not give in gracefully. Propaganda is after all, a major weapon in the political arena and will probably always be. They are also aware of the growing cost to support Taiwan is growing and will eventually get to the point where it is politically untenable. Sad but true.
 

yasotay

ACCESS: Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
2,539
Reaction score
808
While I agree with some of @shin_getter 's concepts for smaller efforts, I also have to agree with the prevailing thoughts regarding trying this against a tier 1 opponent. Very hard to see a political consensus on the need to do so unless national survival is at risk. Having read a fair amount on the current tier 1 nations, none of course wants to risk it all on all out conflict. Far to much risk of loosing everything. They will however continue to attempt to weaken their competitors through proxy wars. Here is where I think the capabilities being discussed here are still relevant. Certainly the environment will be dangerous, however, all of the tier one countries are investing heavily in aircraft survivability equipment for their aircraft. Syria for example has one of the largest Integrated Air Defense (IAD) networks in the world. ALMOST tier 1 level. Yet their opponents have for the most part had no issue operating close enough to accomplish missions within that environment. This is in part due to the advanced equipment onboard those aircraft. Also we cannot discount the use of cyber warfare in any major military action. It will be front and center to any military effort. Imagine your entire IADS network shutting down just as the little dots show up at the edge of the radar screen, or worse you don't even see the little dots because a nefarious little program told the software to ignore any returns coming from a specific direction. Honestly the hardest air defense to defeat is the old fashioned Mark 1 eyeball directed projectile throwers, because once the bullet is out of the barrel it is all physics. There is only one way to "jam" that sort of system and that is to make it stop functioning completely.
 

shin_getter

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
257
Reaction score
211
Clearly air assault is not something you inflict on a true peer without either massive surprise or having won a decisive advantage in the air and other domains after campaigning.

While air defense have improved, SEAD, ground attack and interdiction all have improved in return. With persistent long range sensors, ground maneuver without observation is becoming less and possible. If sufficient air strength can be massed, ground based direct counter attacks can be defeated.

It appears to me that the biggest threats are those that can not be easily defeated by massed local air superiority:
1. All stealthy ground forces that avoids aerial ISR, the worst threats being:
2. Compact long range anti-air weapons, infrastructure independent airpower
3. Long range precision weapons combined with, high ROF and low cost launchers

-------------------------------------
DEW/Point-defense escorts on top of EW escorts may be a great boon to air assault. While many may think DEW favor surface forces, the ability to defeat small and stealthy platforms favors mass and the attack which includes air assaults. The landing area can be swept with massive amounts of laser energy to just about blind any EOIR sensor, and mix some HPM to defeat radar and maneuvering aircraft are relatively safe. An air force designed for assault landing could be very different from one for air defense, penetrating strikes, or close air support, as counter targeting overwhelms counter detection as means of defense.

Unavoidable danger comes with stopping to land on the ground, where sensor kills no longer enable much safety. The second problem is for the landed force to persist beyond the initial surge of air power and actually secure a means of sustainment.

In the former, a fast landing that enables immediate land maneuver is needed: basically roll vehicles right off a landing.

In the latter, a landing technique need to optimized for the condition of resupplying encircled land forces.

---------------------------------------
Some ideas for assaulting:

Landings Rockets combined with electric propulsion seems interesting: rockets provide the power while electrics provide the control. The decent power to weight ratio but low energy density of both systems means they make sense as "drop pods" that do not power the cruise part of the flight. Some kind of aerial recovery needs to be figured out for a full logistics system though.

Distributed propulsion Post-stall landing STOL aircraft. Propulsors (even low power ones) placed at the right position/thrust vector controlled with great precision should allow extremely low speed landings at lower cost than alternative options. The return flight is empty and thus a relatively easy problem, if one accepts horribly single purpose aircraft.

--------------
The alternative to assault is infiltration, where we get into senior citizen or personal air mobility.
https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/secret-stealth-vtol-transport-senior-citizen.413/

The interesting part to me is when do personal aircraft get safe enough for powered (as opposed to parachute) landings in training of normal forces.
 

yasotay

ACCESS: Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
2,539
Reaction score
808
Part of the challenge you will have with the concept in the future is lack of mobility for the troops you have landed. As the "air assault" is only the means to deliver ground combat forces to positional advantage (in US parlance), unless you are conducting a "coup de main" and seizing a critical objective directly, the ground force must maneuver to its objective. If they are not mounted they are moving at foot mobile speed. With modern information speeds that force can be quickly brought under accurate indirect fires which risks the entire operation. the implications for success are significant. The Russians, Germans, and a few others have developed the means to overcome the mobility challenge.

Interestingly, there has been one success operation in modern times where a force was delivered into the area of operations of a peer. The Russians flew a motorized airborne force, Company strength I believe, into Serbia where it promptly drove to the Pristina airfield in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The airfield was a critical node for the region and NATO's plans. Thus Russia literally maneuvered their way into the NATO effort. A strategic "coup de main."
Some may argue that this is not sequester to the discussion, but since the objective of military operations is to impose a policy or will, I think it a brilliant, bloodless action. Sun Tzu would be proud.

I am intrigued with the idea of a return of glider troops. Not necessarily bigger squad carrying types. But individual "glider pods" that allow the troops to be released say 100 Km away and with the assistance of miniaturized guidance, the troops glide to a point where a parachute deploys for landing. With composites and perhaps even wood they are less susceptible to being detected by radar, especially if assisted by cyber efforts and electronic SEAD. Since the only powered part is the small electric guidance package, there should be very little in the way of IR radiation. This way it might be possible to introduce a fair sized force with little detection.
Of course it seems imminently more practical when bourbon is involved.
 

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
3,099
Reaction score
1,801
The Russians simply used a conventional BTR equipped peacekeeping unit deployed nearby. It was NATO that wanted to counter with airmobile forces but couldnt
 

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
3,099
Reaction score
1,801
During the Cold War the US had plans to reinforce NATO with the airmobile 101 and the Airborne 82 Divisions. They took part in exercises in Germany in the 70s providing a much needed reserve force.
However, by the 80s this role had been taken on by III US Corps with a lead Brigade based near Bremerhaven.
The 82 and 101 were now allocated to Central Command for defence of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. However, the 82 was also featured in NATO exercises plugging gaps in thinly defended Denmark.
 

yasotay

ACCESS: Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
2,539
Reaction score
808
I certainly could be mistaken I but I was led to believe that an airborne force (with BTR) was flown into Serbia, then drove to the airport. I will ask someone who was there.
 

carvalho2008

Naval alternative projects
Joined
Nov 20, 2015
Messages
69
Reaction score
27
Part of the challenge you will have with the concept in the future is lack of mobility for the troops you have landed. As the "air assault" is only the means to deliver ground combat forces to positional advantage (in US parlance), unless you are conducting a "coup de main" and seizing a critical objective directly, the ground force must maneuver to its objective. If they are not mounted they are moving at foot mobile speed. With modern information speeds that force can be quickly brought under accurate indirect fires which risks the entire operation. the implications for success are significant. The Russians, Germans, and a few others have developed the means to overcome the mobility challenge.

Interestingly, there has been one success operation in modern times where a force was delivered into the area of operations of a peer. The Russians flew a motorized airborne force, Company strength I believe, into Serbia where it promptly drove to the Pristina airfield in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The airfield was a critical node for the region and NATO's plans. Thus Russia literally maneuvered their way into the NATO effort. A strategic "coup de main."
Some may argue that this is not sequester to the discussion, but since the objective of military operations is to impose a policy or will, I think it a brilliant, bloodless action. Sun Tzu would be proud.

I am intrigued with the idea of a return of glider troops. Not necessarily bigger squad carrying types. But individual "glider pods" that allow the troops to be released say 100 Km away and with the assistance of miniaturized guidance, the troops glide to a point where a parachute deploys for landing. With composites and perhaps even wood they are less susceptible to being detected by radar, especially if assisted by cyber efforts and electronic SEAD. Since the only powered part is the small electric guidance package, there should be very little in the way of IR radiation. This way it might be possible to introduce a fair sized force with little detection.
Of course it seems imminently more practical when bourbon is involved.

assault-airborne-gyroglider-kc-390.png



assault-airborne-gyroglider-kc-390-a.png



Gyroglider
 
Last edited:

tequilashooter

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
Messages
243
Reaction score
207
While I agree with some of @shin_getter 's concepts for smaller efforts, I also have to agree with the prevailing thoughts regarding trying this against a tier 1 opponent. Very hard to see a political consensus on the need to do so unless national survival is at risk. Having read a fair amount on the current tier 1 nations, none of course wants to risk it all on all out conflict. Far to much risk of loosing everything. They will however continue to attempt to weaken their competitors through proxy wars. Here is where I think the capabilities being discussed here are still relevant. Certainly the environment will be dangerous, however, all of the tier one countries are investing heavily in aircraft survivability equipment for their aircraft. Syria for example has one of the largest Integrated Air Defense (IAD) networks in the world. ALMOST tier 1 level.
Your going to have to break down what those tier levels are, is it like IADS being used from the 1960s, 1970s,1980s,1990s,2000,2010 or 2020? Or are you talking about the density of the amount of air defenses being used? new missiles and radars? adding old or newer EW systems?
 

shin_getter

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
257
Reaction score
211
One can wonder about where Chinese Autogyro fits in all this: they are the only ones where an air and amphibious attack is center to the armed force mission. Only a fraction of the 700km reported range is needed for the Taiwan scenario after all.

Part of the challenge you will have with the concept in the future is lack of mobility for the troops you have landed. As the "air assault" is only the means to deliver ground combat forces to positional advantage (in US parlance), unless you are conducting a "coup de main" and seizing a critical objective directly, the ground force must maneuver to its objective. If they are not mounted they are moving at foot mobile speed. With modern information speeds that force can be quickly brought under accurate indirect fires which risks the entire operation. the implications for success are significant. The Russians, Germans, and a few others have developed the means to overcome the mobility challenge.
I don't think capturing infrastructure intact is a likely unless strategic surprise is achieved, and probably a bad idea outside of a hail mary attempt otherwise. In addition to demolition and direct defenses, long range fires can destroy the infrastructure in case of capture: rapid deployment of massed C-RAM is unlikely to say the least. If denial of area is needed, air power can drop bombs and mines.

As for evading indirect fire, the required level mobility to evade quickly reach aircraft levels against modern sensor networks and munitions with decent terminal guidance footprint, and that is ignoring terrain and obstacle problems that a defender can prepare or exploit. Part of the implied assumption here is that attack from land is safer and more effective than direct air attack, which is questionable as land mobility is not improving much (with half century vehicles being semi-competitive) against improving countermeasures, while VTOL is looking at significant improvements due to electrical propulsion.

In an age of powerful air interdiction isolating the battle space and firepower dominance, perhaps attack in waves (dispersion in time) is better than mass as probing forces forces out ambushes and defender positions. With unmanned systems, immense loss rates of spearhead forces is of no issue. Given enough waves and enough difficulty in defender reinforcement, the defense can be broken with no mass to be hit by volume fires.

Instead of seizing key positions, the construction of a long range strike complex can be a useful role for landing forces. Such complex can be placed just about anywhere and close defense just about impossible by defending forces. With a land based strike complex, the volume, response time, cost all can improved greatly over a pure air campaign, while expensive and limited air assets can be freed to conduct other missions. In a mutual siege with long range fires and defensible terrain, the side with air logistics is the winner. The ability of the strike complex to conduct SEAD/DEAD is what would enable follow on force and logistics.

One big problem for landing force is counter opponent ISR, which can be very hidden, numerous and some of which mobile. Containerized weapons (with smart long range munitions and dumb launchers) mixed with empty boxes seems like a neat survivability trick, as the function and value of each box is never revealed to the opponent. The same trick can also apply to a lesser extent to vehicles.

Without ability to counter all enemy sensors to establish a safe rear area in reasonable amount of time, one has to reduce exposure to PGM on every level. Efficient micro-scale logistics is something difficult that needs to be worked out. This maybe the one difficult problem that warfighting shiny focused forces overlook, and procced to becomes pivotal in a campaign. Attack loitering munition swarm is old, distributed logistics swarm the winner!.....
 
Last edited:

carvalho2008

Naval alternative projects
Joined
Nov 20, 2015
Messages
69
Reaction score
27

carvalho2008

Naval alternative projects
Joined
Nov 20, 2015
Messages
69
Reaction score
27
Imagine the Aircraft Carrier launching the amphibious forces. Be Could possible towed some IFV, AAV-7 or M-113 like that? Whats kind airplane could be used?

Maybe the fighter with its thrust weight...
air-trailer-concept-for-m113-gavin-force-v20-22-638.jpg
 

tequilashooter

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
Messages
243
Reaction score
207
Proposed new short range air defenses are stating solutions to deal with small drones and PGMs which of course have yet to be proven, so currently as of now PGMs and small drones are a threat and it will take some time until production numbers hit with the availability of export and price. The only reason I have problems with Syria being used is they are a very poor example, both negative and positive results on both sides regarding pantsirs(which I do not want to bring up without ruining this thread) and majority of their short range air defenses are made up of legacy systems like kub and they only have access to long range air defense access to S-200 or below systems and do not have access to long range air defense tier above that is operated by Russians who have bilateral agreements with said countries conducting strikes with the use of missiles and PGMs. Small sized drones and PGMs in terms of news report incidents striking targets have been done at a close range but because of agreements those long range air defenses wont be used against them unless there is a specific reason like targeting their own troops. If small sized drones are being operated from the ground to air defense units those sites with satellites can be targeted with rocket artillery systems.

Using long range drones carrying additional drones with a stealth profile is the way to go in which long range stealth drones wont be targeted by long range air defenses to launch drones since a lot of countries now are proposing their 5th gens to carry out their orders to drones. I love drone projects and I am happy its being reconsidered in the U.S. Also development of photonic circuits where I see reports from Russia and alot of reports recently from Raytheon offer enhanced detection and EW resistance capabilities but based on mission requirements of the U.S. it will take quite some time until such systems get exported to other countries. Stated statistics of the Klevok-D2 proves that there is also room to continue improving air to ground options to even possibly equip them on drones.
 

Similar threads

Top