Soviet Perceptions of Asymmetry in NATO and Warsaw Pact
Tactical Strite Aircraft
The Soviets have claimed repeatedly in recent months that NATOuantitative and qualitative advantage in "tactical strike aviation." 6ome authoritative Soviet spokesmen apply this term to fighter-bombers and ground attack aircraft in general, but other equally authoritative officials apply it solely to dual-capablewhich can deliver either nuclear or conventional munitions/]
^^Tnese statements, made as the mandate talks proceed th Vienna, reflect Soviet concern over the agendaew forum of arms controlconventional Stability Talksthe Atlantic-to-Orals zone. The Soviets claim that overall parity in conventional forces exists in Europe and strongly imply that reductions in Warsaw Pact tanks will only be acceptable if NATO agrees to reduce its force of tactical strike aircraft. ^ Our analysis shows that while NATOualitatively superior to Pact aircraft, the number of NATO fighter-bomber and ground attack aircraft exceeds the number of Pact aircraft only if US and Canadian reinforcement aircraft based outside the zone in peacetime are counted.
This memorandum was prepared byof the
Forces Division, Office or soviet. Analysis. Cbmments andjqueStions are welcome and should be directed to Chief, Theater Forces Division,2
1 The Soviets distinguish between fighter bombers and ground attack aircraft based on the types of ground attack missions they perform. Ground attack aircraft are those such as the Sovietrogfoot or the0 that are designed to perform battlefield area interdiction or close air support missions withinilometers of the Forward Line of Own Troops (PLOT). Fighter bombers are designed to conduct not only battlefield area interdiction and close air support but also deep interdiction missions against targets up to several hundred kilometers behind the FEX)T.
ILtllla" counted, the Pact total
2 aVen if the "in'orcement aircraft are attachounrin9 only fighter-bomber and ground attack"complete picture of theck capabilitiesth0 two aides. Some categories of
h8UC5ediUm bombera anad-bLadof which are *ddin* tneBfor both sides
^jba^tialJy increases tho Pact's numerical advantage.
n the Conventional
? JNATO tactical strike5 ' in?lu?in3 not 0fllV "oSe based in tha zone, but
' iataseeding to
limitbility to compensate for nuclear delivery
Jfariii pirf- SS? campaign which the
Jtn^ the, NATO has made substantial quantitative and qualitative improvements in its air
fndCarnnnSfighJernground attack 1
tnax nato will cnoose to deploy additional longer-range, dual-capable aircraft and longer-range tactical air-to-
nTH?iieS?eet1nuclear targeting requirements now that the INI^reaty banning Pershing II and GLCM is
areto address both problems in preparation for arms control negotiations dealing with reduction of conventional forces in the Atlantic-to-Urals
ytnat NATOuantitative and qualitative advantage in "tactical strike aviation." The
JJJ?. ?CtfCal strike aviation" as used by Sovietspeeches, interviews and articles is usually
Vague' but we beiieve they mean those fighter-bombers and ground attack aircraft in combat unitsrimary mission ot ground attack. pjTililH
Some Soviets, including Marshal Sorgey Akhromeyav, Chief of the General Staff, and his most publicly prominent arms control adviser, Colonel General Nikolay Chervov, contend that one of the real asymmetrical advantages favoring NATO resides in dual-capable aircraft. Further, they imply that the term "tacticals synonymous with dual-capable aircraft.
In the Budapest Appeal ofho Soviets and their Warsaw Pact allies calledutual,ercent reduction of NATO and Pact ground forces and tactical strike aircraft by the. In Prague inoviet leader Gorbachev acknowledged the existence of disparities between Pact and NATO forces, but claimed NATO has certain advantages. Since then various Soviet officials have consistently claimed NATO has an advantage over the Pact in tactical strike aircraft and have suggested that an agreement be reached in CST in which NATO would reduce tactical strike aircraft in return for reductions in Pact tanks. m
The Soviets unsuccessfully sought reductions in dual-capable aircraft in SALT-I, SALT-II, and the recently-concluded INF Treaty. The aircraft with which they were concerned in those earlier negotiations, however, were longer-range, dual-capable aircraft with combat radii in excesssllircraft based in Europe, and US Navyss. The Soviets categorized these aircraft as Forward Based Systemsterm for US nuclear systems based abroad or at sea on the European periphery and capable of striking targets in the USSR.
In the talks between NATO and the Warsaw Pact now underway in Vienna seeking to establish the mandate for future conventional arms reduction talks, Soviet negotiators "and other Soviet officials consistently stress that aircraft .must bo included as part of the "conventional forces, and their equipment" that will be discussed in the new talks. NATO has insisted that it will neither offer nor accept any proposal regarding reduction of fixed-wing combat aircraft in the "initial stage" of new arms control negotiations. The US delegation to the Mandate talks believes that eventually the USSR and its allies will accept very general language in the mandate concerning the forces to belong as NATO continues to promise that_ail_ equipment of conventional forces can be discussed in the new talks, even if there is no reference to specific items of equipmont in the mandate. Whatever the mandate text says, once the formal negotiations begin, the Soviets will press NATO to reduce fighter-bomber and ground attacktrying to snare as many dual-capable aircraft as possible. It is also apparent that they will seek to include US-based reinforcement aircraft as well as us Navy and possibly
CorDsaviation in calculating the air balance in Europe. pTajjajjajjj
Assessing the Air Balance in Europe
mwtA Quantitative measures of tha air balance between NATO and the Warsaw Pact depend upon the counting criteria employed:
"ffi *Ypcspgpa* Aircraft are Tno choice may be made according to an aircraft's design capabilities or according to the primary mission of its unit. omplicating factor is that many aircraft on ooth sides are multi-purpose and aircrews typically train to perform wore than one type ofun toercent of training by Soviet fighter aircrews involves attacks against ground targets. The percentage of training devoted to various typos of missions can easily be altered.
-In figuree have aggregated all NATO and Pact combat aircraft which are capable of performing ground attack missions and are based in the Atlantic-to-Urals zone in peacetime. Excluded are land- and carrier-based naval aircraft in both alliances and reinforcing aircraft which would onter the zone in wartime but which are normally based outside the zone. Included are fighter bombers, ground attack aircraft, medium bombers, those reconnaissance and fighter aircraft capable of ground attack, and similar aircraft in the training establishment. wo to one Pact advantage using these criteria.
Unt lntended"flight aircraft gmfell ftf Jg-Uyvring nuclear VWPnS2 Not all of these aircraft would bouclear mission in wartime.onsiderable number of aircraft in fighter, and reconnaissance units are also nuclear capable Furthermore, some modelsarticular aircraft design are nuclear capable, while other "look alike" versions areus Airs are not nuclear capable, while the us Navy versions are.
In figuree have aggregated all NATO and Pact combat aircraft which are dual-capable, using the same counting criteria as cited for figure iT In this instance, the Pact enjoys an advantage of about three to one inexcluding reinforcements from outside the zone and Navy and Marine Corps aircraft.