The war in Ukraine has exposed the vulnerability of modern tanks to advanced missile systems and guided artillery. The chances of striking an armoured vehicle have been greatly enhanced by the latest missiles and guided artillery.
It was once possible for a tank crew to survive artillery unless they were seriously unlucky. An anti-tank infantry soldier had to get close and then guide a missile all the way to the target at great risk. Now they can fire and forget or shoot and run. Individual artillery rounds can be guided to specific targets. One round, one destroyed tank. It is hardly surprising that no one wants to ride in a steel coffin anymore.
Drones have become the eyes of the artillery. Small and hard to hit they can hover at almost any height then identify and guide smart munitions onto their targets.
The same might be applied to modern fighter bombers that are currently in use in Ukraine. Many readers have asked ‘Why haven’t the Russians achieved air superiority?
Setting aside the advanced, stealth capability available only to the USA and very close allies the jets in use by Ukraine and Russia have shown how they are also extremely vulnerable to air defence systems. The risks of losing a multi-million dollar jet and a valuable pilot has increased in a similar manner to that of the tank. The surface to air missiles are just too good to allow air forces to fly with impunity. This is very new ground for Russia who became used to flying over Syria bombing the technologically inferior population below at very little risk.
Both sides are turning to drones. These are relatively cheap unmanned systems that are hard to locate and hard to shoot down. Some have enough firepower to sink ships. It is now becoming a question of who has the best unmanned capability and who has the best resupply system to support and replace it.
Is there a future for manned jets in modern warfare? Yes, but the advantages that existed until only recently are waning. Why risk a $60 million jet when the operational return is similar with a $5 million drone. In the air war the advantage has also swung to the missile.
I repeat that advanced stealth technology can currently overcome these disadvantages but there is zero chance of that becoming available to either side in this conflict.
It is the DAY OF THE DRONE!
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