AIR DEFENSE: a new model of war

The aggression of Russia against Ukraine is creating a new model of war

The aggression of Russia against Ukraine is creating a new model of war where historically established paradigms, such as land war conducted with armored vehicles, artillery, and infantry supported by traditional aviation, have been integrated with massive missile attacks from the sky, land, and sea,  operated with diverse carriers such as conventional and hypersonic missiles, kamikaze drones, and loitering munitions, guided artillery shells, cyber-attacks, etc.

To effectively interact with the most current operational scenarios, where integrated cooperation between the various defense and counterattack forces becomes indispensable, it is necessary to adopt new combat strategies and tactics. These forces must synchronize effectively to react effectively and in time while maximizing available resources.

The Anti-Aircraft Artillery, which was once thought of as the Cinderella of the Armed Forces and is now playing a new and prominent role, has suddenly emerged as the main player in the play after years of practically being forgotten about.

There is evidence, in particular, that the attacked nation's medium- and short-range interdiction capability, which is constantly put to the test to thwart the massive number of attacks intended to destroy the utility infrastructure required for the daily lives of the war-affected populations, has become the defense capability and resilience of the attacked nation.

To date, the only example that can be assimilated to this specific subset of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, with all appropriate differentiation and interpretations, is that of the asymmetrical Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where the state of Israel defends itself against attacks by the other side through the well-known IronDome system; However, the specific context of what happens in that region is sufficiently different from what happens in Eastern Europe, some elements of similarity may come in handy in our analysis, in particular the massive number of munitions used simultaneously and the short interdiction range in which to operate the related contrast.

With this in mind, it seems clear that, apart from a broader assessment of the factors involved in the analysis of a pervasive conflict such as the Russian-Ukrainian one, focusing on the specific issue of countering medium- and short-range air strikes confronts us with the need to assess what measures are most effective to be implemented to be effective and successful.

Western allies are providing Ukraine with air defense systems to protect against missiles, conventional air strikes, and drone attacks. These systems are able to detect, engage, and destroy various types of aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

All this may not be enough because the fact remains, however, that in the face of this new type of threat, countermeasures carried out through conventional anti-aircraft batteries are of little use; they are certainly effective and precise but at the same time, limited by the paucity of means and the related costs of deployment.

The theater of operations shows us that it is becoming necessary to return to the use of conventional "manned" and "unmanned" possibly self-propelled air defense systems (such as the low-altitude defense turrets of naval assets, capable of operating a local and sufficiently effective short-range countermeasure through the classic cloud of medium-small caliber projectiles, about 20 mm), an effective solution in the short range (SHORAD and V-SHORAD) while waiting for directed energy weapons to move from the "research market" to the real "consumer market."

In this multifaceted and dynamic contention, modeling and simulation (M&S) tools, robust computer programs used to simulate a range of scenarios related to air defense enable military experts to evaluate the performance of their current defensive strategies in real-world situations without putting them to test on real targets and limiting the risks to personnel during exercises.

The capabilities of M&S systems can also be used to measure and compare the performance of different defensive systems and to analyze the impact of environmental conditions on the performance of air defense systems. 

In general, validation through modeling and simulation plays an essential role in defense against air threats, helping to ensure that military forces are employing the most effective countermeasures to protect against airborne adversaries.


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