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Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 08:09 (GMT+7)
Enhancing the operation of the air force in countering air blockade in the war to protect the Fatherland

In the future national salvation war (if war is to occur), the enemy would carry out air blockade since the early phase and during the war. Therefore, enhancing the effectiveness of air force in dealing with the enemy’s air blockade is an important and urgent issue.

Air blockade is a combat measure that emerged from World War II and has been continuously developed in modern warfare, aiming to isolate the airspace, cut off all flight activities, and gain control over the air, directlyweaken the economic and military potential of the enemy for the realisation of the war's goals. In recent wars and conflicts, countries with strong military power imposed air exclusion zones to block the airspace of other nations, such as: the US military and the Allies set up no-fly zones in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1993 - 1995); Iraq (1991 - 2003), Libya (2011), etc.

Vietnam is a coastal country, so in the event of war, the enemy will be very likely to conduct air blockade since the beginning of war or simultaneously with the sea blockade. They can take advantage of their superior military power, massively deploying their warships, reconnaissance ships,…to our waters and islands to create excuses and impose air and sea blockade, and set up a “no-fly zone”, etc. Implementing its air blockade, the enemy will use strategic surveillance aircraft and modern air combat vehicles operating out of the range of conventional anti-aircraft weapons, to control the airspace round the clock. At the same time, they will enhance combat operations in all 5 dimensions namely: air - land - sea - space and electronic field, to create an almost absolute advantage to “lock up” the airspace, overpowering our radar stations, headquarters, airports, etc.

Given the enemy superiority in force and equipment, in order to successfully deal with the enemy’s active air blockade with sophisticated and cunning tricks, it is required to promote the synergy of forces, with flexible combat forms and measures. As a core force in the implementation of this important task, the Air Force needs to research and implement the following solutions:

Firstly, to regularly grasp the enemy situation in the air, on the ground and on the sea, not to be left passive and unexpected. This is the foremost important solution, the basis for the air force to make plan and counter the enemy’s blockade effectively. Today, with the robust development of military science and technology, the enemy will widely use high-tech weapons and strong electronic warfare, strengthening the element of surprise Therefore, in order to improve the efficiency of air force against enemy’s air blockade, first of all, it is necessary to study and thoroughly grasp the enemy in all strategic, operational and tactical levels. Accordingly, right from peacetime, it is necessary to do well the research and forecast work, especially at the strategic level; firmly grasp the table of organization and equipment, combat doctrines of the enemy air defence and air force; the development trend of aerial combat vehicles: new-generation command, early warning, stealth, and unmanned aircraft; laser weapons, hypersonic weapons; air defence systems, etc. Proactively researching and reviewing the enemy's air-blockade schemes and tricks, experience in countering air blockade in recent wars, in order to perfect and develop theories on this issue, etc. In the face of war danger, it is necessary to have early and correct forecast of the enemy so as to build suitable counter measures against the enemy’s air blockade.

Second, speeding up the roadmap for building the Vietnam People's Air Force "revolutionary, regular, highly-skilled and modernised". This is a basic, long-term solution which is decisive to the effective counter against the enemy’s air blockade. Thoroughly grasp and implement the Party's strategic policy on building the Air Defence - Air Force straight to modernity, the Service should speed up the implementation of the Project on building the Air Force “revolutionary, regular, highly-skilled  and modernised” with appropriate structure and increasingly high quality. In the context of a limited budget, there should be foci and priorities in investment. In addition, it is necessary to step up research and improvement of the existing weapons and equipment together with selective procurement of new and modern weapons and equipment suitable to the characteristics of specific air defence zones. At the same time, it is necessary to pay attention to the acquisition of modern camouflage means to meet the requirements of deception  and concealment of  the airports, landing grounds, vehicles, weapons, equipment against the enemy’s reconnaissance.

Together with force development, we should improve the quality of education and training in schools; actively renovate content and combat training methods in units. Schools and units need to attach importance to comprehensive development of pilots in politics, technology, tactic, courage, and the spirit of “dare to fight, know to fight, determine to win”, etc. Periodically hold anti-enemy’s air blockade exercises and drills nationwide or on some battlefields. When possible, units can organize military drills with an appropriate scale of real troops to train and improve their combat ability and level, bravery and working method of all participants, especially the staff, commanders, pilots, logistics assurance forces, aeronautical engineering, etc.

Thirdly, to make sufficient, careful and relevant plans for countering the enemy’s air blockade. This is an important solution for the air force to actively and promptly engage the enemy in advantage. Basing on the planning of the airport system, it is necessary to have investment in the system of command stations, navigation radios, tunnels, mounds, runways, aprons, evacuation and scatter zones, logistic and technical support systems, etc. In particular, it is necessary to pay adequate attention to building air force posture on sea and island battlefields. The construction of combat structures must be attached to camouflage to keep the works secret and avoid the enemy’s recce from the air and ground. At the same time, study and adjust the disposition of air force units on strategic directions and battlefields to suit the development of the mission and new weapons and equipment.

The Air Force is highly maneuverable, has a strong firepower, so it can perform different tasks, such as: destroying reconnaissance aircraft, patrol aircraft, airborne early warningaircraft, electronic warplanes; command ships, radar stations, air bases,... contributing to weakening combat capabilities, breaking tactical links between the air and the ground of the enemy. Therefore, in order to improve the effectiveness of the enemy air blockade, on the basis of research and assessment of the enemy, our capabilities, terrain and weather conditions,... air force units should study and develop combat plans to prevent the enemy from blocking our airspace suitably with each region, battlefield and nationwide. Annually, advisory agencies at all levels should update the situation, promptly have supplements and adjustment accordingly; hold practice and training regularly in a thorough manner to make them always ready for combat in case of incidents.

Fourthly, to actively prevent and counter the enemy's high-tech weapons and electronic warfare. This is an indispensable solution to minimise damage, maintain combat capabilities; ensure the stable working of the air force's command, coordination and information system during the anti-blockade process. High-tech weapon prevention and combat is in fact preventing and countering against the enemy scouting and attack. To solve this problem, air force units need to apply flexibly technical measures and tactics to combat enemy radar and infrared reconnaissance. Command stations, radio stations, navigation stations and pilots should strictly observe the regulations on the exploitation and use of electronic means; closely combine camouflage with diversion, deception, etc.

Along with the above solutions, the air force needs to closely coordinate with other forces in the anti-blockade process, especially the coordination with the air defense, the navy, the artillery, the missile, the commando, the electronic warfare, the cyber warfare and forces of provincial and city defence zones to protect the system of airports to fight the enemy in the air as well as on the ground and water surface.

The use of air force against enemy’s air blockade in the future national salvation war is an inevitable and objective requirement. This is also a new and difficult task which requires further research and development in both theory of combat and technical assurance.

Senior Colonel DINH XUAN THANH, PhD.

Dean of the Faculty of Military Services - National Defence Academy

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