With US President Biden claiming that Russia will invade Ukraine on February 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced yesterday that some troops will be withdrawn from their original positions, but Ukraine is still under cyber attack today, and most of the Russian military is still on the border. An analysis of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict by an American think tank will provide important answers to key questions in modern warfare.
Russia and Ukraine, as highly modernized countries, both have a large number of regular armies and various high-tech weapons, so if a war occurs, it will be the first large-scale battle between two modern armies since the 2003 US-Iraq war.
Mark Cancian, a researcher at the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think tank, wrote in an article that although both countries have regular armies equipped with modern weapons, and Russia has an advantage in both quality and quantity, Ukraine is expected to adopt roundabout tactics.
How the warring parties will use modern weapons will be the focus of observation, with five issues of particular importance.
Is the main tank obsolete?
The theory of chariot obsolescence has been raised by military experts many times since the popularization of anti-tank missiles in the 1970s.
Only after the fourth Israeli-Arab war in 1973, the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, and the US military’s two fights with Iraq, the main chariot is still an indispensable role on the battlefield.
Until the past 20 years, the range of anti-tank missiles has become longer and longer, and the advancement of semiconductor technology has also made the warhead targeting system far more precise than ever.
For example, the U.S. Javelin missile (FGM-148 Javalin) has a range of 4 kilometers and has a fire-and-forget function. The launch crew can hide in a hidden place to snipe armored vehicles. The special flight mode targets the roof with the weakest armor, making the chariot survivable. significantly reduce.
But the Javelin has not had the opportunity to perform in other large-scale battles since its launch in the Iraqi battlefield in 2003.
The US military also has different opinions on combat vehicles. The army firmly believes in the role of the main combat vehicle, and still purchases about 100 sets of M1A2 SEPv3 modification kits every year to improve the modernization of the armored combat brigade.
But the Marine Corps has abandoned its main combat vehicle in recent years, believing that missiles will be more important than combat vehicles in the Western Pacific.
Therefore, if Russia and Ukraine go to war, the use of chariots and anti-chariot missiles by the two armies will be an important field to observe the performance of the main chariots in modern large-scale wars.
Does cyber warfare have the ability to change the game?
In recent years, all countries have tried their best to develop cyber combat capabilities. Supporters believe that by means of attack positioning, communication, and weapon guidance systems, the enemy’s combat power can be greatly reduced before the war, resulting in the effect of “online version of Pearl Harbor”. .
Retired U.S. Navy admirals James Stavridis and Elliot Ackerman recently published the military novel “2034 Total War”, which includes the content of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s complete paralysis of cyber operations and the annihilation of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.
Doubters believe that the capability of cyber warfare is being hyped too seriously, and the current use can only force some networks to temporarily shut down or hinder some military operations. The destructive power is still too far away.
The effect of helicopter assault?
The U.S. military has relied heavily on helicopters for combat since the Vietnam War, but helicopters are quite vulnerable to anti-aircraft missiles, and even if they are escorted by attack helicopters, it is difficult to reduce battle losses.
For example, during the Vietnam War, the US military still lost more than 5,600 helicopters under absolute air superiority, and when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the Afghan Stinger missiles also caused heavy losses to Soviet helicopters.
At present, Ukraine also has a large number of stinger missiles with the support of the United States, and the long-range air defense system is far from comparable to that of Afghanistan. Therefore, if the two sides go to war, the survival rate of Russian helicopters will be the key observation target.
Is amphibious landing operations feasible today?
During World War II and the Korean War, the U.S. military used amphibious landing battles to reverse the situation, but with the development of missile technology, the British suffered considerable losses during the 1982 Falklands War, showing that the difficulty of landing battles is more difficult than in the past. .
Therefore, although the Russian army has deployed a large number of fleets and marines in the Black Sea and is capable of performing amphibious combat missions, CSIS believes that in the face of Ukraine’s missile and long-range artillery defense, amphibious landing operations are difficult to become the main offensive route of the Russian army.
Has artillery become a decisive factor in the modern battlefield?
In past wars, artillery was one of the keys to determining the outcome of the battlefield.
However, since the beginning of World War II, the air force and the main combat vehicles have become prominent, and the artillery has long relegated to a supporting role. Until the popularity of drones in recent years, coupled with ground-to-ground missiles and long-range precision artillery shells, the status of artillery seems to be changing.
During the Crimea crisis in 2014, the Russian army used drones and artillery to annihilate the two battalions in Ukraine. Therefore, if the Russian-Ukrainian war breaks out, how the combination of drones and artillery will affect the war situation will also be observed. focus.
When the United States turned its strategy back to great power competition, the Russian-Ukrainian crisis is the first possible large-scale war. Compared with its low-key involvement in 2014, this large-scale military pressure will make Russia have to show a large-scale war plan. For the US military and think tanks Quite an important source of intelligence.