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Pulse-bomb prophet fears Russian tech dominance

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Is it the Cold War in here, or is it just me?

There's another thing that even someone without a top-secret clearance and a doctorate in air warfare can understand, too. The Kremlin doesn't have five tank armies and supporting frontal aviation in East Germany any more. Vladimir Putin cannot, as Gorbachev and his predecessors could, give an order and expect to seize everything up to the French border in a sudden armoured blitzkrieg. (Reasonably enough suspecting that there would be no nuclear response until Soviet forces entered France.)

This means that the only credible scenario in which Western forces would have a serious conventional fight with Russian ones is gone. A non-nuclear clash with Russia - a chance for western forces to tangle with Flankers and Russian missiles without everyone's home cities being incinerated - is now very hard to imagine indeed.

One might very well suspect back in Cold War times that Paris and London wouldn't let the nuclear genie out of the bottle just to preserve Germany and Belgium from communism. Thus one might very reasonably worry that the old Soviet Union might slip its enormous East German tank army off the leash, and seek an answer short of armageddon.

Nobody today, however, really thinks that NATO is going to put a "forward defence" tank army and air support into Estonia or Georgia or the Ukraine. Russia is still with us, but the Cold War is genuinely over - and with it much of the justification for super-advanced Western conventional warfare tech, able to whip six times its weight in Russian equivalents easily without needing to go nuclear.

As for the Asian powers that Dr Kopp fears so much, China is nuclear armed too - and nowadays, economically joined at the hip to the West. Is China really going to invade Taiwan out of hand, knowing that this would paralyse its lucrative worldwide brassiere sales? If forced to defend Taiwan, is the US really going to mount pinprick bombing attacks on gigantic mainland China, where Steve Jobs' iPod factory - and a small but working force of nuclear ICBMs - are to be found? The US wouldn't do that for Korea back in the old days, after all - and that was before major US-China trade and Chinese ICBMs.

Is Australia going to attack China when America won't? Not unless Australia goes corporately insane.

So we can forget about sky-blackening fleets of Flankers and SA-20s, operated by forces at least in the same competence league as those of the West. We are talking - at the outside - about Syria or Iran or North Korea. Just how appropriate Western air raids are against any of these countries is open to question, but there isn't any doubt that air forces on the level of Israel have a decent chance of mounting successful ones (successful in the sense of weapons on target, at least) against such powers.

Third-rate nations using second-rate Russian kit, without any massive weight of numbers on their side, simply don't call for a massive (and massively expensive) tech edge. The Israelis - with all the access that Dr Kopp lacks to classified information, indeed by many accounts with more access than the US would voluntarily choose to give them - consider that their existing planes, supplemented by F-35s, will be adequate to meet this sort of foe. Frankly their judgement seems more valuable in this matter.

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