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Military tech

  1. Jan 30, 2005 #1
    Whose military technology do you think better, Russia or United States?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 31, 2005 #2


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    I didn't know that Russia had any milatary tech left?
  4. Jan 31, 2005 #3
    Russia's nuclear missiles can still reach the US and are functional. Not to mention their submarines. Most of their military hardware are pretty old compared to the US
  5. Jan 31, 2005 #4


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    Experts doubt that many of Russia's missiles would actually work and their submarines have pretty much always been a generation behind ours. Throw in stealth and GPS and Russia is way behind.

    But it isn't like they are trying anymore anyway...
  6. Jan 31, 2005 #5


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    Russia really has no money for maintenance of some of the older and more remote facilities...which is one reason why a mutual disarmament would be in Russia's interests.

    No offense meant to any of the Russians here, but I believe, in most areas, the US military technology is far superior. The one thing that I know the Russians are better at, is building mammoth planes, like the Antonovs. I believe it is also generally accepted (except perhaps right here, in the US) that the Russian fighters (Su-30,37) have better maneuverability than the US counterparts (F-15,22) but fall short on EW capabilities (which really is all that matters anymore, besides stealth and missile performance).

    Oh this could take forever....
  7. Jan 31, 2005 #6


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    The one aspect I am impressed with when it comes to the soviet design philosophy is that everything had to be capable to operate from anywhere in any climate. The USAF would never in a million years consider having secondary intakes on an F22 so it could operate off non paved runways.

    In terms of armor, the soviets had us dead to rights until the M1A1 came to being. I think their ADA and SAM technologies were better than ours.

    This is way to broad of a topic to keep coming up with comparrisons.
  8. Jan 31, 2005 #7
    The soviet design also made the Kalashnikovs much more durable. Unlike the M-16's which require constant cleaning and maintenance.
  9. Jan 31, 2005 #8


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    The M16, at least when I used it, was an incredibly well built weapon. We could get those things dirty and it would keep working. I have read plenty of reports about how they M16's start in Vietnam was very rough. It did take a fair amount of reworks and redesign to get them right. I have never seen or fired a Russian weapon though so I can't really compare.
  10. Jan 31, 2005 #9
    The current m16s(a2 and now a4) aren't so bad. The problems from Vietnam came from a changing of the specs by the "Whiz Kids" who somehow thought they knew better. It does require attention, like any piece of precision equipment, but most of the stuff about it being dainty are overblown.
    That said, the ak-47 is a tank and deserves its reputation for ruggedness.

    I personally prefer the ar series to the Ak-47, but I think the ak-47 is still the best bargain, especially if you are supplying a low-tech force(hypothetically of course, unless some of you hear have your own armies).

    As far as Russian versus American military technology in general, they have us beat in many areas. It is not so much from capability but from the bureaucracy of the military industrial complex which doesn't really have warfighting as a primary goal, unforunately. I served through a few procurement fiascos and I watch with gritted teeth at some current ones going on.

    To summarize, I think the Russians get a better bargin on their military than the USA does. Their equipment may not have all of the bells and whistles but they also don't pay through the nose either(especially for things that don't work).

    I would love to see the shrinking of all militaries however, especially ours(the USA).
  11. Jan 31, 2005 #10

    Oh hell yeah there ADA was better than ours, They had like 10^32 versions of SAM's and i mean they built the entire ADA network for Vietnam, and it was a ***** punching through that. Russians MADE some good stuff, now i think allot of like "groups" purchase the russian born equiptnment. I know RPG's go for dirt cheap..... but i wouldn't have any personal interactions with this :biggrin:
  12. Feb 1, 2005 #11


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    Ah yes. Macnamara and friends. I was too young to serve in Vietnam, but even I get p.o.'d when I read about him and what he did.
  13. Feb 1, 2005 #12


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    I am not sure how this has progressed, thou I am sure our technology has not changed much. Back in the '80s it was said that the Russians has a 20yr lead in vacuum tube technology.
  14. Feb 1, 2005 #13


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    I think you have to start with context. Most of the military technology used in the world is outdated Russian and American stuff, although the Europeans and Chinese have made efforts as well.

    Part of evaluating which is better involves asking "better for what?". When my father was in engineering school, all the engineering students had to take a philosophy class. One of the question their professor asked was, "how would you design the ideal knife?" The answer, once you think it through comes down to "what do you want to do with it?" Sharp is good, but not if you use it for your children to spread butter with. Hard is good, unless you want to use it to cut things in non-stick pans. Long is good, unless it has to fit in your pocket. Short is good, unless you need to whack vegetation in a jungle with it.

    Russia and the U.S. are both equally capable of obliterating each other with nuclear weapons. The U.S. national missile defense program is currently non-functional and in any case not on a scale sufficent to stop an all out Russian attack. Beyond this context, "better for what?" is still hardly an academic question.

    For example, both Russia and the United States have been involved in major "low intensity conflicts". Russian has taken on Afghanistan and Chechnyia. The United States has had engagements in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Somolia, Lebanon, Panama, etc. Neither nation has been particular successful in this kind of mission.

    Russian military experts are still smarting over massive losses against inferior forces in the Battle of Gozny, and even more over losses in Afghanistan. Afganistan taught the Russians how vulnerable their helicopter gunships were in practice. Chechnyia has shown them the limits of armor in an urban context.

    Iraq has taught the Americans the perils of designing major military equipment like thousands of Humvees and supply trucks, on the assumption that they will always be behind the front lines and will never take even small arms fire. As a result, Americans are "going to war with the military they have", which while it has flashy items, hasn't proven very functional. For all its technological sophistication and fancy weapon systems, the United States is guarding its supply convoys with canablized cargo trucks modified on the spot to have a steel plate box made of scrapyard steel at the back mounted with a grenade launcher and a machine gun which would have made the "A-Team" proud, and didn't involve a single engineer in its construction. They're called "gun trucks" and are superior to sophisticated American tanks and infantry fighting vehicles because they are actually capable of driving more than 50 miles an hour on paved roads and are superior to elaborately designed factory armored humvees because their thick steel plates can take more punishment while putting the gunners at less risk. Which system is better military technology?

    Americans are probably worse at evaluating and purchasing technology than the Russians back when they were the Soviets.

    The Russians issue their supply truck drivers paper maps. The Americans try to download satellite photos to their units that take twelve hours of stationary waiting to arrive via slow modems. If an American truck driver wants a paper map of Iraq so he can do his job, he has to buy a national geographic magazine and use that (in one case reported in National Geographic, anyway). Which technology is better?

    Recall, for instance, that it took something like four weeks for the military to deploy Apache attack helicopters from Germany to Kosovo. This isn't exactly the rapid reaction assault force they are supposed to be. In Afghanistan and Iraq the aircraft of choice have been not the "top of the line high tech" F-15 and F-16 and F-18 supersonic jet fighters, but the just about to be scrapped, Vietnam era AC-130 and A-10 attack aircraft built to blow up armored vehicles and attack enemy infantry positions from lower elevations. The AC-130 doesn't even have jet engines and is basically a cargo plane with a hole cut in its left side for the howitzer and cannons to stick out! Neither plane can break the speed of sound. The U.S. has dropped almost as much ordinance with its World War II era B-52s in the past several years, as it has with its entire fighter fleet combined.

    Take a look at the two Navies. Russia has 1 aircraft carrier, 7 cruisers, 14 destroyers, 53 submarines and 10 frigates. The United States has 12 aircraft carriers (twice that if Amphibious Assault ships carring Harrier Jump Jets which would be counted as such in any other Navy are included), 27 cruisers, 49 destroyers, 72 submarines and 30 frigates. The American ships are in far better repair, the radar on the American ships is more advanced, the weapons on the American ships are on the whole more automated, and more of the American ships have nuclear power plants instead of diesel, American ships have also proved modestly more reliable. The subs that work in the Russian fleet are at best comparable with some of the weapontry on the Russian subs at least given American subs a run for their money. This looks like the Americans are way ahead in the Naval department, and maybe they are, but there hasn't been a major Naval engagement with shots fired in anger for half a century. No one really knows whether the U.S. fleet could withstand a barrage of cruise missiles, submarine attacks and attacks from advanced enemy fighter jets. It is designed to do that, but if it turns out that 10% of the cruise missiles and 5% of the submarines can get through the defensive screen, when it is put to the test, then all that expensive American technology will have been a bust and the Russians will in retrospect seem wise to have largely abandoned its surface fleet in favor of more survivable methods of warfare. Military technology is an all or nothing affair. Technology that doesn't fight the wars you intend to fight, or doesn't win, even though it can do lots of cool stuff isn't better, it is stupid.

    The same could be said about the M1 Abrams Tank. It is probably the world's toughest armored vehicle. Its main weapon has great range and is deadly. It can handle very rough terrain. Its night vision abilities work great. But, is it better as a piece of military technology (i.e. will it help you win the wars that your nation needs to fight)? Getting it to battle is extremely difficult. It is too heavy to transport by rail across most European and Third World rail bridges. It is very difficult to transport by air. Sea lift can take months. Its weapon range is useless in mountainous terrain. Its massive size limits its usefulness in urban areas with narrow streets. Its lack of adequate defensive armor for soldiers using its secondary weapons makes it limited in its usefulness once the tanks have been obliterated and heavily armed infantry is left (without escorts from other vehicles better suited to that task). Its tank killing abilities are overkill for all but the most modern tanks -- something on the order of 80% of tanks destroyed in Iraq (both conflicts) were destroyed with lighter Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicles, airplanes or helicopters that got to the scene sooner and used missiles. Its massive fuel requirements (it is among the least fuel efficient vehicles on Earth at 0.5 miles per gallon, a semi gets 5 mpg and a Bradley gets 1.5 -- three times as much) of less standard fuel for its gas turbine engine (rather than the typical military diesel), burdens logistics requirements in any environment where there is not total dominance for its side creating safe logistic supply lines. And, as a huge target that moves 45 mph, it had better be a first shot, first kill vehicle that can withstand huge punishment, because manuvering away from enemy aircraft and missiles isn't an option.

    The Americans have no medium tank. The Russians do. Whose force makes better use of technology to achieve its objectives?

    The American M-8 assault rifle, about to go into use, is reportedly an incredibly durable, low maintenance, light weight assault rifle. But, critics argue that its small caliber 5.56 mm ammunition still leaves it at a serious disadvantage in terms of stopping power compared to the heavier ammunition used in an AK-47. Which is better?

    Generally speaking, the more narrowly you focus, the more you will find that American military technology is better. If you want to figure out who has the best avionics or the lightest effective assault rifle, the Americans are going to win nine times out of ten. But, if you look at how the whole suite of weapons fares in achieving the desired military objectives, it is a much closer call.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2005
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