The "payloads over platforms" push by the previous CNO was just a rebranding of a military concept as old as the slingshot; it doesn't really matter the speed and mobility of a weapons carrier, what really matters is how far he can reach, and how deadly the weapon he carries is.
From the Pope trying to keep the crossbow out of the hands of roughly trained peasants standing against nobility, to the more recent "Two thousand pounds of education: Drops to a ten-rupee jezail." - it is a constant.
With modern weapons being made more deadly as technology, materials, computers and miniaturization advance, David Majumdar over at WarIsBoring outlines the Russian challenge of her big birds. If this is something that had you thinking in the last year as these heavy and medium bombers of Cold War fame put on an extended live fire exercise, then you'll want to read-it-all.
Russia has 16 remaining original model Tu-160 airframes left, of those perhaps 11 are used for operational missions with about half of those available for operational missions. The remainder of the Russian strategic bomber force is based around 63 surviving Tu-95MS Bear bombers of which perhaps 55 are operational.Even Ole Sal's favorite Russian aircraft, the SU-34 Fulback, makes a cameo;
Though the quad-turboprop Tu-95 is an elderly design, the aircraft has been upgraded many times and carries modern long-range conventional and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The Russian bomber force showed off its capabilities over Syria — launching long-range Kh-101 cruise missiles while supporting out of area operations.
“It’s really the missiles,” Kofman said. “The Tu-95 is old, but it works, just like the B-52.”
Unlike the U.S. Air Force’s Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit or forthcoming B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber, the Russian bombers are not designed to penetrate enemy airspace to any great extent. The bombers are designed to move into position to launch cruise missiles from stand-off distances.
while a new Tu-160 will likely replace the current Blackjack and Bear fleets, it’s somewhat of a mystery as to what will take the place of the Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire medium bomber force.
Though the Su-34 Fullback strike version of the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker airframe is often thought of as replacement for the Su-24 Fencer strike aircraft, Kofman said the Fullback is a much more capable aircraft with performance rivaling a medium bomber.
Indeed, the Su-34 — which has performed extremely well over Syria — might ultimately serve as a replacement for both the Su-24 and the Tu-22M3, Kofman said. There is simply no logical reason to develop a dedicated replacement for the Backfire when the Fullback could fill the role and be much more versatile at the same time.Remember wargaming defense agains Backfire Regiments at sea? Well ...
...there is no reason a weapon such as the P-800 Oniks supersonic sea-skimmer couldn’t be carried by the Fullback.The next decade will show how successful the Russians are with post-Soviet designs, but the last decade of the Soviet Union did produce some solid aircraft that are lending themselves well to modernization.
He noted that the Indian Su-30MKI will carry the Brahmos variant of the P-800 — which is essentially a slightly less capable version of the same weapon.
The addition of a P-800 would give the Su-34 a long-range anti-ship punch that is arguably more formidable than Kh-22 — granted the Fullback could only carry one Oniks missile at a time.
We'll see what the Russians can do with a soft economy head wind, but watch closely - the Russians are never as weak or as strong as they seem.