AirForces Monthly – February 2023
English | 102 pages | pdf | 19.22 MB

2023 – more war ahead?

It is a sign of the times that the main headline news on December 26 – on the BBC, at least – centred around the military. While many of us were relaxing with family and friends, the top three news reports were dominated by war or the threat of war.
Ukrainian drones had just attacked Engels Air Base and 71 Chinese air force/navy fighters and bombers had crossed Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), while North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jongun had sent drones into South Korea, with at least one pushing its way through to Seoul. Then just after midnight on New Year’s Day, the Ukrainians attacked and killed “hundreds” of Russian conscripts at Makiivka in the Donetsk region, within range of the Ukraine’s US-made long-range HIMARS.
For this last incident, it would seem that operational security had been breached owing to the use of mobile phones. With members of the Ukrainian military getting increasingly skilled with their HIMARS, the Russians will have to be more tactically astute than that! Back in November, the Russian MoD said that explosions at two air bases in Crimea were caused by troops smoking close to fuel dumps. Shocking, really, for such a modern military to lack such basic common sense.
It’s obvious that the Russian leadership has never bothered too much with OPSEC or tactics because, as we saw in Georgia in 2008 and more recently in Syria, they have tended to just bludgeon the enemy into submission with firepower and numbers. Should China attack Taiwan – which, sadly, is looking increasingly likely – it will try to ensure air superiority quickly, which the Russians have been unable to do in Ukraine.
However, unlike Ukraine, we are likely to see a counter-offensive involving a “coalition of the willing” led by the US and involving several air forces that attended Exercise Pitch Black in Australia last year. That could turn very ugly.
When it comes to North Korea, anything is possible, but South Korea would again be supported by the US should the unthinkable happen, which is always possible when you have someone like Kim Jong-un involved.
Sending a drone down to Seoul was more symbolic than gaining anything militarily, but I did enjoy the RoKAF’s apology for not shooting it down.
Given all this and the growing violence in so many African countries – Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Mali – as well as the continued threat of
Iran, the possibility of another war in Yemen and the uncertainty that still exists between Azerbaijan and Armenia, one suspects that 2023 is likely to be even more unpredictable than 2022.
Alan Warnes, Group Editor at Large

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