Modern real world experience also tells us the greatest threat to armour is not other tanks, it is air power.
I am sorry for say that so harshly ,but that is one of those cheaply selled misconceptions absolutely devoid of any factual foundation at which i always refere ; at the exact opposite, if possible, any pasted operational theater of war has systematically proved
, in an irrefutable way, that air forces are totally uncapable to inflict significative losses to ground forces
(in particular armoured ones) even in heavenly favourable scenario,taking into account very prolongued time windows, against enemies devoid of any serious/modern AD network and lacking any capability to attack the airfields from which opposing air attacks come from !!
Take, at example, Gulf War
: at the beginning (in plain war) Coalition Air Force Command had declared to have destroyed
in the month and half of dedicated operations before G-day (start of ground operations) about 50% of Iraqi ground forces ( 47% of Iraqi armoured forces
That figure, already disowned as completely wronged by the same Coalition Forces assessing in first person what was the reality on the ground..., shrinked more and more ,at an unbelievable pace, as the results and version of battle damage assessment studies and data was updated .
At the end of this process we have the verdict of the last CENTCOM data, certifying that less than 10% of the iraqi armoured losses -9,6 %- was inflicted by Air Forces in over a month and half after litterally several hundreds dedicated operations
,while all the remaining losses was inflicted
, in less than 3 days, by the Coalation ground forces
; in particular the majority of losses to iraqi armoured divisions was inflicted by Coalition artillery and infantry/IFV TOW missiles ,often against not manned MBTs (both elements well attestd by the same survey of M. Held "Warhead hit distribution on main battle tanks in the Gulf War").
You can read on this subject "Gulf War: The Complete History" by Thomas Houlahan
- director of the Military Assessment Program of the William R. Nelson Institute for Public Affairs at James Madison University -,i suggest this book because ,if from a side, it is truly complete and provide a very detailed,integral description of the weapons and tactics employed by Coalition forces in the ground engagements from the eyes of an operative,it represent,contemporaneously, also a perfect example of the high degree of misconceptions and totally false informations which Soviets managed to inject copiously in the minds even of western military insiders, just thanks to the "supporting" factor represented by theirs purposely designed export models),but naturally,by now ,any serious publication report those definitive data.
-Interesting are also the declarations of captured Iraqi ground forces commanders : almost all of them asserted to being full of hopes before the ground offensive assessing that NATO Air Forces was capable to inflict in a month and half very minor losses only to see Coalition artillery,mechanized infantry and MBTs obliterate majority of theirs pieces in a pair of hours (at example the chief of 48th iraqi artillery division
,captured by the UK 4th armoured brigade, declared that its division had lost just eleven pieces in all the month and half of Air Force's attacks
and....eighty-seven pieces in less than 40 minutes from the artillery attack of US VII Corps !!!
Let me spare to you the example ,even more disastrous, of Kosovo War
.....also here initial claims by part of Air Forces Command of several hundreds of Serbian MBTs destroyed 500 artillery pieces ,thousands of infantry troops killed, shrinked progressively more and more (mostly for the "annoying" element represented by European war commission and theirs survey's data) up to...14 tanks destroyed , 18 APC and 23 artillery pieces ! ! !
; and naturally also the last conflict in Lybia is a clear proof od what said up to this point.
Is important to stress that ,over the absence of any type of serious AD (an element already capable to overturn completely the equilibrium in similar conflicts), none of those opponents owned any military mean capable to attack air bases
used by enemy Air Forces in the theater of operation , in presence of this class of weapons (the proliferation of which is normally strictly controlled by international arms control treaties and usually present only in the arsenals of major world powers) even only attempt prepare an air campaign become absolutely impossible if not a true suicide act.
Air Forces in the last 20 years became more and more popular ,against the typical immensely inferior enemy ,simply because it is a military mean ,in spite to be immensely expensive and time-inefficient, allowing to mantain friendly losses very low ,often even to zero ( with the obvious implications in terms of inpact on internal public opinion and media) ,allowing a fast response to international emergences and to limit the civil losses through the employment of PGM and don't force to invade another country (an important factor in mantaining international community support to the military operation ) ; Ground Forces in a tiny fraction of the time
required to aircraft to take off from its airbase , deliver theirs ordances and return at the airfield, can deliver litterally
,in the same area, dozen of thousands times the destruction power delivered by Air Forces
Simply them are less suited for minor local conflicts characterizing the actual international political scenario.