MiG Alley: How the air war over Korea became a bloodbath for the West

Declassified Soviet archives show a new picture about the air war over Korea in the 1950s.
In what was arguably the greatest jet air battle of all time, on October 23, 1951 a group of 200 American and allied aircraft clashed with a Russian MiG force estimated at less than half that number. In the first of this two-part series on the air war over Korea, RBTH looks into the consequences of this epic clash.

The fog of war leads to all sorts of claims and counterclaims. Over time as military historians are able to get their hands on declassified war records from all sides involved, we get a more realistic picture of what really happened. The 1950-53 Korean War was unique because most of the aerial combat was between Russian and American pilots rather than among the Koreans. The conflict is also remarkable for the wild and preposterous claims the U.S. military made during and after the conflict.

In western publications of the 1960s the Americans claimed the ratio between the shot-down American and Russian MiGs was 1:14. That is, for every U.S., British and Australian jet lost in combat, the Russians were said to have lost 14 planes. During the next two decades as the war hysteria ebbed, the ratio was revised down to 1:10 but never below 1:8.

When the Russians declassified their archives after the end of the Cold War, and ex-Soviet pilots were freely able to present their side of the story, the West’s story could no longer hold up. Former fighter pilot Sergei Kramarenko writes in his gripping book, ‘Air Combat Over the Eastern Front and Korea’ that according to the most realistic (western) researchers, “the ratio of jet fighters shot down in engagements between the Soviet and American Air Forces was close to 1:1”.

But even this new parity accepted by western writers and military historians is nowhere near the truth. In reality, the air war over Korea was a bloodbath for the western air forces. It is a story that is well-hidden for obvious reasons – pride, prestige and the traditional western resistance to admit that the Russians won. By a wide margin.

Russians rush to Korea

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had no intention of entering the war in Korea. World War II was too recent a memory and Moscow did not want a conflict with the West that could lead to another global war. So initially it was just China that militarily supported the North Koreans. But as the western armies – nominally under UN command – threatened to overrun the entire peninsula and seeing the quality and shortage of Chinese pilots, Stalin took the decision to involve his air force in the war.

However, in order to keep Moscow’s involvement a secret, Stalin imposed certain limitations on the Soviet pilots. One, they would fly under the markings of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force or North Korean Peoples’ Army Air Force.

Secondly, while in the air, the pilots would communicate only in Mandarin or Korean; the use of Russian was banned. And finally, Russian pilots would under no circumstances approach the 38th Parallel (the border between the two Koreas) or the coastline. This was to prevent their capture by the Americans.

The last restriction was crippling – it meant Russian pilots were prevented from giving chase to enemy aircraft. Since aircraft are at their most vulnerable while fleeing (because they have either run out ammunition, are low on fuel, or experiencing technical trouble), it meant Russian pilots were denied easy kills. Hundreds of western fighters were able to escape into South Korea because the Russians turned back as they neared the coastline or the border.

Despite such limitations, Russia came out on top. According to Karamarenko, during the 32 months that Russian forces were in Korea, they downed 1250 enemy planes. “Of that number the (Russian) corps’ anti-aircraft artillery shot down 153 planes and the pilots killed 1097,” he writes. In comparison, the Soviets lost 319 MiGs and Lavochkin La-11s.

Karamarenko adds: “We were sure that the corps’ pilots had shot down a lot more enemy planes than the 1097 credited but many of those had fallen into the sea of crashed during landing in South Korea. Many of them had returned him so badly damaged they simply had to be written off, for it would have been impossible to fix them up.”

Prelude to Black Tuesday

The Korean War produced some of the most enthralling dogfights seen in the history of modern air combat. A lot of the action took place in “MiG Alley” – the name given by western pilots to the northwestern portion of North Korea, where the Yalu River empties into the Yellow Sea. It became the site of numerous dogfights. It was the site of the first large-scale jet-vs-jet air battles between Russian MiG-15s and U.S. F-86 Sabres.

The turning point of the war came in October 1951. American aerial reconnaissance had detected construction work on 18 airfields in North Korea. The largest of these was in Naamsi, which would have concrete runways and be capable of staging jet aircraft.

Yuri Sutiagin and Igor Seidov explain in the exhaustive book ‘MiG Menace Over Korea’ the implications of the runway expansion program. “The new airfields, located deep in North Korean territory, would permit the transfer of fresh MiG-15 unites to them, which would expand the area of operation of these dangerous fighters and jeopardize the operation of the UN forces. In the event, the so-called MiG Alley would extend all the way down to the 38th Parallel, and potentially expose the UN ground forces to continuous air attacks.”

On October 23, 1951 – now known as Black Tuesday – the western air forces cobbled together a vast armada of 200 jet fighters (F-86 Sabres, F-84s, F-80s and British-built Gloster Meteor IVs) and nearly two dozen B-29 Superfortress bombers (the same type that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan). The mission profile of this concentrated attack was to disrupt the flow of supplies to Korean and Chinese forces and to put the airbases at Naamsi and Taechon in North Korea out of action.

To counter this threat the Russians organised two fighter air divisions. The 303rd comprising fifty-eight MiG-15s formed the first echelon and was assigned to attack the primary group of enemy bombers and fighter-bombers. The 324th division had twenty-six MiG-15s and comprised the second echelon. It was responsible for reinforcing the battle and covering the 303rd’s exit from battle.

Go for the Big Ones

Focus and discipline were critical to successfully tackling the bomber threat. The Russian strategy was to ignore the fighter escorts and go straight for the slower Superfortresses. As the MiGs were heading to clash with the Superfortresses they caught sight of a group of slow British Meteors. Some of the Russian pilots were tempted by these enticing targets, but commander Nikolai Volkov said: “We’re going after the big ones.”

Like orca whales circling around and then swallowing their prey, the MiGs tore into the B-29 formations. Some of the Russian pilots attacked the American bombers vertically from below, seeing the B-29s explode in front of their eyes. It was almost a turkey shoot, as the crew – 12 to 13 airmen – of the stricken bombers bailed out one by one.

The Russians claimed the destruction of ten B-29s – the highest percentage of US bombers ever lost on a major mission – while losing one MiG. However, Kramarenko says some pilots claimed that twenty B-29s were downed in the week of October 22-27. Plus the USAF lost four F-84 escort fighters.

The Americans admit to three bombers downed in the air, while another five B-29s and one F-84 were seriously damaged and later written off. “Even so, these were quite painful losses for the American command,” write Sutiagin and Seidov.

Commander Lev Shchukin recalls Black Tuesday: “They were trying to intimidate us. They were perhaps thinking that we would be frightened by their numbers and would flee, but instead we met them head-on.”

Clearly, Russian pilots had internalised what Sergei Dolgushin, a Russian Air Force ace with 24 victories in WW II, said is a prerequisite to be a successful fighter pilot: “a love of hunting, a great desire to be the top dog”.

The Russians nicknamed the B-29s “Flying Shacks” as these lumbering birds burned so easily and well.

Former USAF pilot Lt-Col Earl McGill sums up the battle in ‘Black Tuesday Over Namsi: B-29s vs MiGs’: “In percentages, Black Tuesday marked the greatest loss on any major bombing mission in any war the United States has ever engaged in, and the ensuing battle, in a chunk of sky called MiG Alley, still ranks as perhaps the greatest jet air battle of all time.”

Impact on American morale

The air battle of Black Tuesday would forever change the USAF’s conduct of strategic aerial bombardment. The B-29s would no longer fly daytime sorties into MiG Alley. North Korean towns and villages would no longer be carpet bombed and napalmed by the Americans. Thousands of civilians were out of the firing line.

But most importantly, the bravery and skills of the Russian detachment to Korea may have prevented another world war. Kramarenko explains: “The B-29 was a strategic bomber, in other words, a carrier of atomic bombs. In a Third World War – on the brink of which we were – these bombers were meant to strike at the cities of the Soviet Union with nuclear bombs. Now it turned out these huge planes were defenceless against jet fighters, being far inferior to them in speed and armament.”

Clearly, none of the B-29s had a chance of flying more than 100 km into the vastness of the Soviet Union and remaining unscathed. “It can be said with confidence that the Soviet airmen who fought in Korea, causing so much damage to the enemy’s bomber aviation, had put off the threat of a Third World War, a nuclear war, for a long time,” says Kramarenko.

A few days after Black Tuesday, McGill was seated in the co-pilot’s seat of a B-29 on the tarmac at Okinawa air base, waiting for the takeoff order that would send his bomber deep into MiG Alley. Instead of the usual pre-flight banter, the air crew sat silent and glum, as they felt they were going back “to our certain destruction, when news arrived that the mission was cancelled.

McGill explains the feeling inside the aircraft: “Those minutes before the reprieve taught me the meaning of fear, which I have never experienced since, not even now as life grows short.”

Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst, with a special interest in defence and military history. He is on the advisory board of Modern Diplomacy, a Europe-based foreign affairs portal. He tweets at @byrakeshsimha. The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of RBTH.

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Korean War: How the MiG-15 put an end to American mastery over the skies

The superiority of the excellent MiG-15 was one of the key factors that led to Russian pilots emerging on top in the air war over Korea.

In September 1950 the U.S. Air Force (USAF) conducted a massive daytime raid on the North Korean town of Sinuiju. The raid conducted by eighty B-29 bombers resulted in the greatest loss of life since the American atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The entire town, which was built from bamboo and wood, burned to the ground. More than 30,000 innocent civilians were burned alive.

Unable to stop these raids by the air forces of the U.S., Britain and Australia, the North Koreans appealed to Moscow. The Russians sent in their latest MiG-15 flown by battle-hardened veterans of World War II.

The result was dramatic. In the very first aerial battle between Russian and American planes over Korea on November 1, 1950, the Russians shot down two Mustangs, while losing none of their MiGs.

“American mastery of the Korean skies had come to an end,” writes former fighter pilot Sergei Kramarenko in his book, ‘Air Combat Over the Eastern Front and Korea.’

Over the skies of Korea, Russia’s air aces came up against their western opponents in the first fighter-against-fighter clashes of the jet age. In deadly air battles over the peninsula the Russian pilots repeatedly defeated much larger enemy fighter formations and sent dozens of bombers to their doom.

In the first of this two-part series we examined some of the key air battles that changed the shape of air combat and forced the West into defensive mode. In this concluding section we will look at the reasons for Russian dominance against overwhelmingly larger western air forces.

MiG-15: Jet that shocked the West

The MiG-15 was a key factor in establishing Russian dominance. The aircraft had a higher ceiling than western aircraft such as the F-86 Sabre so Russian pilots could easily escape by climbing to well over 50,000 feet, knowing that the enemy could not follow.

Secondly, the MiG had much better acceleration and speed – 1,005 km/h versus 972 km/h. The MiG’s 9,200 feet per minute climbing rate was also greater than the 7,200 feet per minute of most F-86 versions.

A critical factor in the air war was the difference in armament. The MiGs were armed with cannons capable of hitting a target from a distance of 1,000 meters, while the American B-29 bombers’ machine guns were set for a range of 400 meters.

A critical factor in the air war was the difference in armament / USAF

Kramarenko explains: “It turned out that in the range between 1,000 and 400 meters our planes would fire and destroy the bombers while still outside the range of their machinegun fire. It was the largest miscalculation of the American command – an error of their designers and aircraft producers. Essentially, the huge and expensive bombers were defenseless against the cannons of our MiGs.”

The MiG-15’s high explosive bullets would rip a hole approximately one square meter in size on enemy aircraft. Few of these aircraft flew again even if their pilots miraculously managed to take their stricken plane back. On the other hand, the MiG-15s with their thicker skin could take a lot of punishment and return home safe.

Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Charles “Chick” Cleveland told Air & Space Magazine: “You have to remember that the little MiG-15 in Korea was successful doing what all the Focke-Wulfs and Messerschmitts of World War II were never able to do – drive the United States bomber force right out the sky.”

WWII hardened pilots

Most of the Russian fighter pilots who took part in the Korean War were air aces of the WWII which had ended barely six years ago. So were the American and British pilots. Pilots of all three countries had fought against the highly trained German Luftwaffe, but there was a difference.

The air battles that accompanied the Russian advance westward toward Berlin were pitiless. There the Red Air Force confronted increasingly desperate, outnumbered but still deadly Luftwaffe pilots who were defending their homeland.

The Russian pilots, therefore, had much better combat experience and possessed better dogfighting skills than their western opponents.

For instance, the first large Russian aviation unit sent to Korea, the 324th IAD, was an air defense interceptor division commanded by Colonel Ivan Kozhedub, who, with 62 victories, was the top Allied ace of World War II.

Better tactics

The Russian also ran better tactics that outclassed the western air forces. For instance, large formations of MiGs would lie in wait on the Chinese side of the border.

When western aircraft entered MiG Alley – the name given by western pilots to the northwestern portion of North Korea, and the site of numerous dogfights – these MiGs would swoop down from high altitude to attack. If the MiGs ran into trouble, they would try to escape back over the border into China.

Russian MiG-15 squadrons operated in big groups, but the basic formation was a six-plane group, divided into three pairs, each composed of a leader and a wingman.

The first pair of MiG-15s attacked the enemy Sabres. The second pair protected the first pair. The third pair remained above, supporting the two other pairs when needed. This pair had more freedom and could also attack targets of opportunity, such as lone Sabres that had lost their wingmen.

Russian involvement in the war had a spinoff effect on North Korean and Chinese morale. When the Russians first started training Chinese fighter pilots to fly the MiG-15 they discovered that the trainees were in poor physical shape and could barely get off the plane after a sortie.

This was mainly owing to their diet – three cups of rice and a cup of cabbage soup a day. After several weeks on a diet based on Russian standards the Chinese airmen were able to endure the rigors of air combat.

Similarly, the North Koreans started performing miracles in the air, shooting down several American aircraft, which earlier used to fly rings around them.

Claims and counter-claims

Despite classified Soviet and Chinese records becoming available, the U.S. Air Force continues to stick with its 1:7/8/9 theory, albeit a comedown from the original 1:14 claim that passed for history up to the 1990s.

Take the air battles of April 12, 1951 in which the Americans lost 25 strategic bombers and around 100 airmen. That was called a “Black Day” and a week of mourning was declared in the USAF. And yet the Americans claimed they shot down 11 MiGs that day.

“In reality,” says Kramrenko, “all our fighters made it home safely and only three or four MiGs had holes from the bombers’ machine gun fire. This was based on the fact that the Americans counted shot-down enemy planes based on camera gunshots. I guess the American pilots had counted me as shot down – and no less than two or three times.” The Americans, therefore, ‘downed’ more MiGs than the number that fought in Korea.

The Russian side had a more foolproof system of recording kills. Pilots had to provide a clear and distinct camera shot and conformation from a search group, which was supposed to bring the debris of a downed enemy plane.

This presented problems. Many shot-up American planes that had retreated towards the sea and fallen into the water didn’t count as Russian victories. Sometimes enemy aircraft that fell in inaccessible places such as forests and gorges were not retrieved because the search could not find them. These downed aircraft were never recorded as kills.

In reality the Russians were thumping the western air forces. Let’s take the engagements in the month of September 1951.

According to staff documents provided by the 64th Fighter Aviation Corps of the Soviet Air Forces, the pilots of the two Soviet divisions had downed 92 enemy planes, while losing only five of their own planes and two pilots. However, according to the American records, in the same period their losses amounted to six planes.

But according to post-Cold War research by Russian and foreign scholars, the number of western losses during September 1951 currently stands at 21 aircraft in combat against MiGs. Plus a minimum of an additional eight fighters were so severely damaged they may have never flown again.

Thus, even taking these extremely conservative figures, the ratio of losses between the two sides in the September battles is 4:1 in favor of the Russian pilots. However, western authors, historians and analysts stubbornly refuse to revise the exaggerated kill numbers of the USAF.

A similar controversy involved the Australians, who dispatched their 77th Squadron of Gloster Meteors to South Korea. On a cold December day while flying combat patrol, the Russians led by Kramarenko encountered as many as 20 of these British built aircraft.

It turned out to be black day for the Australians as the MiGs tore into the Gloster formations. Within seconds there were a dozen fires on the ground below – the wreckage of these hapless planes. There was a sole survivor who broke out of this hell to head home.

The Russians saw the fleeing Australian pilot, who seemed resigned to his fate and refused to offer combat. “It awoke pity in me,” Kramarenko writes.

“The Gloster ceased to be the enemy and I decided to let him go in peace. Let him go home to his aerodrome and tell of the fate of the rest of his comrades who had wanted to wipe out a Korean town, and whose planes were burning on the slopes near this town and its railway station!”

Kramarenko adds: “I’m still perplexed why the Americans had allowed these greenhorns to fight in obsolete planes without covering them with Sabres.”

Despite receiving such a mauling, the Australians believed they had shot down a MiG in this dogfight while losing only three of their aircraft. The Russians never encountered any more Glosters over the skies of Korea. In reality, the Australians were kept out of harm’s way by the Americans.

Moscow’s mistakes

The kill ratio of the Korean War would have been even greater in favor of the MiGs but for Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s hare-brained decision to rotate entire fighter crews. Stalin, who did not understand air power, initially did not allow MiG-15s to take part in air combat over Korea.

As a result of Stalin’s order, the World War II Russian aces, who were notching up big kills in 1951, were replaced by young rookie pilots with little or no combat experience. This allowed the demoralized USAF back into the game and the Americans shot down dozens of Russian aircraft.

Another factor was the G-suit, which allowed American pilots to fly without exposing their body to the extreme forces that combat pilots are exposed to.

The Red Air Force lacked this vital accessory and consequently many Russians pilots had to stop flying for weeks or months in order to recover from combat stress.

Parity was restored once again when the original Russian batch of WW II heroes returned to Korea, but with Stalin’s death in 1953 the war was coming to a close.

Since this was not a battle for the homeland, none of the Russian pilots wanted to be the last one to die, and therefore there were no more epic air battles over the skies of Korea.

Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst, with a special interest in defence and military history. He is on the advisory board of Modern Diplomacy, a Europe-based foreign affairs portal. He tweets at @byrakeshsimha. The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of RBTH.




Hypersonic – a new reality of armed struggle

Leaders of the United States and the leading countries of Europe are just moving away from the state of shock caused by a message to the Federal Assembly, which was delivered on March 1 by Russian President Vladimir Putin
Hypersonic - a new reality of armed struggle

© lockheedmartin.com
Lockheed Martin SR-72

No, the West was not surprised by the plans for the future development of our country. The shock was caused precisely by the military part of the message, the presentation of six new weapons systems.

Foreign media and the Internet were immediately filled with enthusiastic and cautious reactions to these weapons novelties, as well as criticism from experts of different suits. Most of all, news was attacked by the fact that Russia had weapons, flying and maneuvering at speeds of 10 or even 20 Mach numbers.Most Western “experts” took a skeptical stance.

“Putin’s statements about new weapons systems have generated a debate among military experts on the topic, is he not bluffing?” – so wrote the newspaper The New York Times.

“Ideas of our brilliant predecessors”

The key to understanding the reality of the newly created weapons was suggested by Vladimir Putin himself. “I would like to emphasize that the created and created models of new strategic weapons, in fact, new types of strategic weapons, are not a reserve for the times of the Soviet Union,” he said. “In the course of the work, we certainly relied on some ideas of our brilliant predecessors, but everything I said today is the latest developments of recent years, it is the result of the efforts of dozens, dozens of scientific organizations, design offices, institutes. ”

The race for “hypersound” was started back in the days of the Cold War, when scientists and designers from the USSR and the US sought to create weapons with speed parameters exceeding the speed of sound many times over. It turned out best in rocket technologies. Space vehicles and parts of ballistic missiles in near-Earth orbits now develop a speed of about 7 km / sec. or 25,200 km / h.

Attempts to reach this speed in the dense layers of the atmosphere have faced a number of technological and technical difficulties. We needed an engine capable of accelerating the aircraft (LA) to such speeds, and we needed a stable in flight and high temperature resistant design of the aircraft itself: in the atmosphere at such speeds, its skin was heated to temperatures above 1,500 degrees Celsius.

Over the technology of hypersound in the USSR, many design bureaus worked: space, rocket, aircraft and engine-building. Due to various combinations in the cooperation projects appeared: “PKA” (1957, OKB-256 PV Tsybina), “VKA-23” and “M-19” (1958-1960, EMZ and KB V.M Myasishchev), Ajax (1980-1988, SKV Neva by VL Freistadt), Tu-2000 (1986-1991, Tupolev ASTC), R-1/2 rocket “(1960-1964, OKB-52 VN Chelomey),” Spiral “(OKB-155 AI Mikoyan),” MAKS “(NGO Molniya GE Lozino-Lozinsky). All these projects created a consistent and continuous chain of scientific and technical back-ups, those “ideas of brilliant predecessors”, on the basis of which a foundation was created for the creation by Russian scientists and designers of hypersonic aircraft “Dagger” and “Avangard”.

© topwar.ru
Project “Tu-2000”

During a press conference at the MAKS-2017 exhibition, the head of the KTRV defense holding, Boris Obnosov, was asked about hypersonic aircraft (GLA), which were developed by his subordinate enterprises and design bureaus.Without revealing the details of the developments, Boris Viktorovich described two areas of this work – ballistic and aerospace GLA, mentioning also the mathematical simulation of the programs for single and group flights of these vehicles. Then, in the summer of 2017, this information was linked by many media to the RS-28 rocket Sarmat. The true meaning of Boris Obnosov’s words became clear only on March 1, 2018 – after the speech of the president.

Ballistic   “Dagger”

High-Precision Hypersonic Aircraft Missile System (GARK) “Dagger” is an anti-ship air-launched missile that starts with the MiG-31BM and at a hypersonic speed damaging the ship at an angle of attack of 90 degrees. GARK “Dagger” was created thanks to the ideas of the previous development – the Ishim project (MiG-31I with the missile launching complex), as well as the results obtained during the testing and operation of the Iskander missile system.

© youtube.com
GARK “The Dagger”

The main part of its flight to the target (at altitudes over 20 km) “Dagger” makes at a speed of 10 Mach numbers – it is 10.620 km / h. The angle of attack of the target was not chosen by chance: most of the ship’s air defense systems hardly reflect the targets falling into the areas of radar invisibility. The high attack speed of the missile will not allow the shipborne radar and calculators to carry out operations for identification, calculation of ballistics, transfer of target designation commands to air defense systems, and also tracking the target. In addition, modern radars have speed limits on the purposes for which they can issue data for target designation, up to Mach number 3.5.

According to the new US nuclear doctrine (NNS) and the strategy of the Global Instant Impact, the ships of the Arly Burke type are a universal component of the first disarming strike. They can simultaneously carry onboard the missile defense system “Aegis” and cruise missiles “Tomahawk” with nuclear warheads of low power. The deployment of the positioning area of ​​the naval missile defense component on the basis of such ships, in the opinion of American specialists, gives a high guarantee for the elimination of all ICBMs of the probable enemy. The area of ​​concentration of ABM ships, as a rule, is selected outside the zone of operation of coastal defense complexes.

Therefore it is logical, in the case of the appearance of such ships at the borders of Russia, first of all to destroy missiles of missile defense and Tomahawki, and to do this quickly – before the first Tomahawk leaves the mine of the Mk41 launcher.That is why the carrier of GARK “Dagger” was the fastest of our aircraft – the MiG-31BM.

Aviation and Space Avangard

The planning wing unit (PCB) Avangard is an aerospace system. Its launch is carried out with the help of ICBMs at the height of near space, and it makes a flight to the target as a hypersonic aircraft at a speed of about 21,300 km / h.

The planning wing block
© youtube.com
The planning wing unit “Avangard”

The very idea of ​​a planning descent vehicle belongs to SP. To the Queen. The fact is that the descent of astronauts from orbit in spherical capsules was unsafe. Loss of orientation, depressurization, parachute flight by the will of the wind – were the components of the risk encountered by the pioneers of the space age.Whether it’s a landing on airplane. This idea has been worked out in a variety of projects – starting with the “PKA” (the planning spacecraft of PV Tsybin) and the ISC “Buran”.

PKB “Avangard” absorbed all the best ideas of Soviet developments in aerospace and hypersonic systems. The combination of refractory metals, ceramics and cooling systems made the Avangard case not only resistant to prolonged exposure to high temperatures, but also made it possible to make a long-term planning flight on hypersound. Thanks to the availability of rocket engines, performing the functions of maintaining speed and maneuvering, the PCB becomes a complex target for ABM systems such as GBMD and THAAD. To be more precise, the interceptors of these complexes simply will not catch up with the Avangard, since they are not capable of developing a speed of over 32,000 km / h.

PKB Avangard refers to strategic systems, it will be used by RSAT together with RS-28 Sarmat. The question of the carrier of the “Vanguard” is also clear: in the expert community it is likely that not only mobile ground complexes with the Yars and Topol-M ICBMs will be able to launch into the deep rear of the probable enemy, but also the sea “Bulava” -M “.

Separately, we can say about the military part of the PCB. At hypersonic speeds, it is difficult to separate the warheads, so Avangard will carry only one, but megaton class. Hence his appointment. As Vladimir Putin said, to hit strategically important “targets at intercontinental depth with hypersonic speed and high precision, with the possibility of deep maneuver both in height and direction.”

… and what about America?

In the US, as well as in the USSR, since the 1960s, work was underway to “take” hypersound. The Dyna-Soar project (Dynamic Soaring) repeated the idea of ​​SP.The queen is about the planning descent from the orbit in an airplane way.Boeing and Lockheed Martin created a lot of aircraft, which tried to develop a speed over 5.000 km / h. The most successful was the reconnaissance aircraft SR-71, which showed a record speed of 3.540 km / h, which he developed at an altitude of 25.929 meters.

The United States has everything it takes to allow the barrier to 6 Mach numbers to be taken. DARPA, within the framework of the current concept of the Global Instant Impact, oversees the work on the three programs. This is an airborne X-51A Waverider hypersonic missile, space complexes with Falcon HTV-2 and AHW hypersonic shock blocks and the creation of an unmanned hypersonic SR-72 reconnaissance aircraft.

X-51A Waverider
© defense.gov
X-51A Waverider

For all these developments, no experimental flight samples have been created yet.The only exception is the space direction: for the Falcon HTV-2 and AHW, the X-37B technology demonstrator completes the flight program and maneuvering in orbit. “The impact from the orbit” within the space program was not worked out.US specialists have not yet learned how to control a warhead at hypersonic speed …

Falcon HTV-2 and AHW are designed for applying kinetic impact. DARPA planned the arrival of these complexes for armaments after 2025.

The X-51A is created by Boeing, but according to the characteristics of the missile it is inferior to GARK Dagger: its flight speed is equal to 7 Mach numbers, and the flight range is 1.800 km. X-51A can carry strategic bombers B-1B, B-2 and B-52.The first flight prototype was to appear in 2020, but after the speech of the President of Russia, the term was shifted for 2019. In January 2018, during the conference SciTech-2018, Boeing Company showed a model of shock hypersonic drone. Information about its technical characteristics and the timing of the appearance of the prototype the company did not disclose.

The hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft SR-72 company Lockheed Martin creates on the basis of SR-71. According to the design of the designers, the SR-72 should make an intercontinental flight at altitudes that are not attainable by the air defense forces of the Russian Federation, at a speed of about 6,400 km / h. The first prototype SR-72 was due to appear in 2025, but then this period moved five years ahead.






Russie: l’Église orthodoxe, l’État et la société – Entretien avec Nikolaï Mitrokhine

Strategika 51

L’orthodoxie est-elle en passe de devenir la nouvelle idéologie officielle en Russie? Dans quel sens vont les réformes entreprises par le patriarche Kirill? Régis Genté a interrogé un historien de l’orthodoxie russe, Nikolaï Mitrokhine, du Centre pour les études de l’Europe de l’Est à l’Université de Brême, en Allemagne, qui donne son point de vue sur ces sujets et d’autres aspects.

Religioscope – Commençons par ce qui fait régulièrement l’actualité en ce moment, lorsqu’il est question d’orthodoxie en Russie. Dans le cadre de son troisième mandat présidentiel, entamé en mai 2012, Vladimir Poutine semble vouloir ériger l’orthodoxie comme la colonne vertébrale d’une sorte de nouvelle idéologie officielle. Est-ce bien de cela qu’il s’agit?

Nikolaï Mitrokhine – Il me semble que Poutine essaie d’utiliser les valeurs traditionnelles d’une façon très large, allant du patriotisme militaire à des formes de xénophobie. Une partie…

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Soviet Volunteers in China against japanese empire

Today I will talk about the Soviet Air Volunteers who bravely scrificed their lives for the liberation of China from the Japs in the World War.They were real volunteers and obeyed to Chinese laws and customs.They fought for free unlike the Flying Tigers.Their combat records were even better than the Flying Tigers considering their shorting time.They deserved to be remembered by the Chinese People for their bravery and kindness forever!Salute!
On 7 July 1937, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident marked the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War. On 21 August, China and the Soviet Union signed a non–aggression pact. Although the pact made no mention of Soviet military support, it de facto established a tacit understanding that the Soviets would provide both military and material aid.
In September 1937, a secret decree issued by the Soviet Orgburo ordered that 225 aircraft, including 62 Polikarpov I-15, 93 Polikarpov I-16 and 8 Yakovlev UT-4 trainers, be sent to China. In March and July of 1938 as well as in July 1939, China received loans of 50, 50 and 150 million $ respectively, with an annual interest of 3%. The loans were to be repaid through exports of tea, wool, leather and metals. Upon a Chinese request the Soviets also agreed to provide military advisors and volunteer pilots. The first group of military advisors arrived in China in early June 1938. By February 1939, 3665 Soviet military specialists headed by Mikhail Dratvin had been deployed.
In October 1937, some 450 Soviet pilots and technicians assembled in Moscow, subsequently traveling to Alma Ata to bring 155 fighter aircraft, 62 bombers, and 8 trainers into China. The Soviets arrived as private citizens and initially wore civilian clothing, the mission remaining a secret even from their closest relatives. They were instructed to avoid using the term comrade, and in the event of their capture they were to claim that they were former members of the White movement permanently residing in China. Prior to each mission, the pilots changed into Chinese uniforms, whilst their planes were marked with Chinese Air Force insignia. By 1941, the Soviet-built aircraft sent to China would amount to 885, including two-engine and four-engine bombers, though the latter were never used in combat. Apart from the aforementioned I-15, I-16 and UT-4, the Soviets also supplied Tupolev TB-3, Tupolev SB, and Ilyushin DB-3 bombers. Over 1,200 aircraft had been sent to China by the end of 1941.At the time of the arrival of the first Soviet volunteers, the Chinese Air Force had been reduced to less than 100 serviceable aircraft. These were machines so outdated that the Soviets described them as a “museum of antiquity”, and were manned by less than 600 men. Morale was low and the improvement of the situation was hampered by corrupt officials who bought outdated foreign equipment in return for bribes. The Japanese outnumbered the Chinese in the air by a 13:1 ratio and were better trained. Moreover, the Japanese aircraft were faster and equipped with such novelties as night vision devices and radios, easily outmaneuvering and overpowering any opposition.
Although the personnel were briefed on the situation in China and the importance of their participation in the fight against Japan, they were not volunteers; Soviet Air Force commander Aleksandr Loktionov and his deputy Yakov Smushkevich selected the personnel for the Soviet Volunteer Group. At its peak the Soviet Volunteer Group numbered 3,665 personnel, including doctors, drivers, mechanics, meteorologists, cryptographers, radio operators, airfield managers and pilots. 2,000 of these were pilots and 1,000 took part in combat missions. Some of them had been sent directly from the front lines of the Spanish Civil War where the Soviets also had a sizeable military mission. Of the aircraft supplied, half were turned over to the Chinese Air Force and half were flown and maintained by Soviet personnel. The Soviet air units were stationed at bases near the cities of Nanjing, Hankou, and Chongqing, and at Lanzhou in China’s northwest at the terminus of the Soviet supply route.On 13 December 1937, the former temporary capital of Nanjing fell to the Japanese, turning the aerodrome of Xiangyang into the main Soviet base. 200 Soviet pilots took part in the defense of the new capital, Hankou, flying in mixed squadrons along with Chinese pilots.
On 23 February 1938, the Soviet Volunteer Group conducted its first operation outside Chinese borders, with 12 and 28 bombers departing from Nanjing and Hankou, respectively. The target was the island of Taiwan, the main base of the Japanese Air Force, which also housed a wide array of cargo ships containing fuel and spare parts intended for the base. Flying at high attitude and approaching the island from the north, the bombers remained undetected until they dropped their payload, safely returning back. As a result of the raid the Japanese lost a large shipment of fuel, 40 aircraft were destroyed on the ground, port facilities and hangars were destroyed while several ships sustained minor damages. On 28 April, the Japanese launched a massive air raid on the Wuhan military airport with the intent of celebrating the birthday of emperor Hirohito. At 10:00 a.m. they were met by 60 Soviet I-15 and I-16 fighters. In the largest air battle at that point of the war the Japanese lost 21 aircraft, while Soviet losses were limited to 2. Among those killed was Soviet pilot Lev Shuster, who performed an aerial ramming after running out of fuel and ammunition. On 31 May, 18 Japanese bombers approached Wuhan for a second time, covered by 36 fighters. At the conclusion of the fight, the Japanese bombers missed their targets and 14 of them were shot down by Soviet fighters. By May, Soviet pilots had destroyed 625 enemy aircraft and damaged 150 military and civilian ships The Soviet squadrons were withdrawn after the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Japan in 1941. As a result, the Chinese turned to the United States, which authorized the creation of the American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers.
Distinguished pilots who fought in the unit include Pavel Rychagov, Timofey Khryukin, Grigory Kravchenko, Konstantin Kokkinaki, Georgi Zakharov, Grigory Tkhor and Pavel Zhigarev. Between 1937 and 1940, a total of 236 Soviet pilots were killed in action or in accidents. There are a total of 70 monuments to the Soviet aviators in China. The most notable of which being Jiefang Gongyuan (Liberation Park) in Wuhan, which was built in 1956 and houses the remains of 15 Soviet pilots. The Liberation Park Memorial was renovated in 2008.

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Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union Kalinin with the Soviet pilots who fought in China bravely

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Soviet Air Volunteers in Wuhan


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Soviet CB-2 Bombers ready to take off to raid jap airbases in Taiwan,1938

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Soviet Volunteers in Lanzhou

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Martyr Kulishenko

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Soviet Military General Advisors M.I Dratvin,A. Cherepanov,K. Kachanov,V.I.Chuikov -the man who stopped Hitler at Stalingrad, and later tracked him in Berlin, like to flush a rat inside its hole-

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Anton Gubenko,Hero of the Soviet Union

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Lieutenant Colonel A.S. Blagoveshchenskiy,He personally downed 7 japanese aircrafts.

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Polikarpov I-16 with Chinese insignia. I-16 was the main fighter plane used by the Chinese Air Force and Soviet volunteers.Collection of the Chinese Aviation Museum

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Polikarpov I-16 with Chinese insignia. I-16 was the main fighter plane used by the Chinese Air Force and Soviet volunteers

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Soviet Pilots in China

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Tomb of the Soviet Martyrs,Wuhan

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Tomb of the Soviet Martyrs,Wuhan

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A soviet volunteer captured by the japaneses. I tried hard but still didn’t found his  name.The b*** would torture him very hard. Salute!!!


Documents brought by my friend Hongbo Guo available here  :


Thx very much Hongbo!





In memory of soviet pilot officer Kulishenko who sacrified in China against Japanese Empire



Of the Soviet pilots sacrificed in China, the chieftain of flight chief Kulishenko was most famous. In July 1939, Kulishenko led a long-range bombing fleet to China to help China to train a large number of excellent pilots. During the three air raids on the Japanese military base in Hankou, the brigade headed by Kulishenko destroyed 136 enemy planes. Chen Jiazhang, a former colonel staff officer of the Sichuan-Shaanxi E-Prefecture Office, has had contacts with Kuilchenko. On the afternoon of October 14, 1939, he recalls that “Captain Kulishenko led his team to fought the japs armed with the German Messerschmits over Wuhan,according to Kulishenko ‘s archer,in this battle 6 enemy aircraft was down at just the beginning of the fighting, three Mi-style enemy aircraft straight to Kulishenko’s Section pilot, the pilot aimed at the general enemy aircraft swooping, smoke immediately risen up, the enemy plane tumbled down.However,Kulishenko’s Left engine was hit. Kulishenko flew off with a single engine siege, falong the Yangtze River over Wanxian,Sichuan.The plane body lost its balance and could no longer move forward.In order to maintain the integrity of the aircraft intact, Kulishenko landed his aircraft in a balanced manner on the Yangtze River. The bombers and shooters took off their flying jets and dived to the shore.However,Captain Kulishenko’s Body was only found 3 months later of extensive search.The great internationalist died of exhuastion in the river just to keep a plane intact for the Chinese to fight the japs.Salute!




Le nouvel arsenal nucléaire russe rétablit la bipolarité du monde

Strategika 51

Alors que les experts s’interrogeaient sur la possible évolution de l’ordre mondial vers un système multipolaire, voire simplement tripolaire, les brusques avancées de la technologie militaire russe imposent le retour à une organisation bipolaire. Revenons sur les enseignements des trois dernières années, jusqu’aux révélations du président Poutine, le 1er mars 2018.

Au second trimestre 2012, la Russie et ses alliés s’étaient engagés à déployer une force de paix en Syrie dès l’accord de Genève conclu.

Mais tout tourna autrement lorsque la France relança la guerre, en juillet 2012. Bien que la Russie ait fait reconnaître l’Organisation du Traité de sécurité collective par l’Onu afin de déployer des soldats musulmans, principalement du Kazakhstan, rien ne bougea. Malgré les appels à l’aide de Damas, Moscou resta longtemps silencieux. Ce n’est que trois ans plus tard, que l’armée de l’Air russe arriva et bombarda les installations souterraines des jihadistes.

Durant les trois ans…

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