I am the skunk at the garden party. Yes, Tom Cruise’s new “updated” Top Gun: Maverick movie is a real crowd pleaser, especially in the United States, and is racking up the box office numbers that thrill the Hollywood executives keen on retaining their jobs. But the movie is stupid because it is glorifying an outdated technology and is operating as a hallucinogen on the American public’s belief of how future wars will be fought. The movie is very well made but it is a military anachronism.
Here is the military mission:
Maverick is ordered to train an elite group of F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aviators assembled by Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson and Rear Admiral Solomon “Warlock” Bates for an urgent mission: to bomb a foreign country’s unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant. The plant sits in a deep depression at the end of a canyon and is defended by surface-to-air missiles and 5th-generation fighters operating from a nearby air base.
Why are U.S. Commanders and politicians putting the lives of “elite” pilots at risk when the mission can be carried out by an air launched, such as the AGM-88 HARM or AGM-158C LRASM (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile). A pilot does not need to fly into the Valley of Death to deliver a missile on target.
The movie also ignores the fact that modern combat aircraft can perform better without a pilot sitting inside the cockpit. The modern planes being flown remotely can maneuver at speeds and g-forces that surpass anything a pilot can do or survive if inside the cockpit. In fact, one of the major costs in producing the advanced fighters are the systems installed to keep pilots alive and prevent them from being killed by the force of gravity.
Top Gun: Maverick is well equipped horse decked out in all sorts of gizmos being sent to attack a machine gun post. It is because of the machine gun and more precise artillery that the U.S. Army finally stopped fielding horse cavalry units just prior to WW II.
Thanks to some of you, Andrei Martyanov’s book, Losing Military Supremacy, has topped the Amazon charts for books on military strategy. Andrei addresses the technological foolishness of America’s defense spending as well as the strategy guiding those purchases.
Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine has exposed some shortcomings. Counter battery fire, for example, is limited. How do I know? Because Ukrainian artillery units continue to shell Donetsk and the Donetsk Republic. If Russia’s counter battery was fully effective those artillery pieces would cease operating. Russia has not yet eliminated that threat.
Modern weaponry on the battlefield makes it easier for one army to kill the enemy with more precision and less collateral damage. That is the theory. But when Ukrainian military units put their emplacements in the middle of civilian housing, hospitals and churches, collateral damage will occur and can create bad public press.
Russia’s control of the air space in Ukraine gives it a lopsided advantage in fighting the entrenched Ukrainians. Persistent strikes with air to ground missiles, smart and conventional bombs and artillery is destroying Ukraine’s ability to hold territory and defeat the Russians.
One final thought–the continued supply of western weapons to Ukraine is a game changer in the sense that it will compel Russia to carry out devastating attacks on Ukrainian government command centers and on locations in Ukraine filled with representatives of NATO and the United States. When that happens (or if it happens) the ante has been upped and the west will face the choice of responding militarily and risk expanding the war into western Europe or the U.S. and NATO will cash in their chips and walk away to lick their wounds. The only certainty is that Russia is not going to back down and surrender Ukraine to the west.