So much is written and discussed about the merits and flaws of individual soviets aircrafts and their performance but I feel not much is said about the total cumulative effectiveness of soviet air forces in general.Obviously there was no global conflict in that time frame so we will never know for certain what soviets could have achieved in that period of 1975-1991 unlike the war yrs of 1941-1945. But I was hoping to pick the brains of the experts here as what THEY THINK the soviet airforces were capable of, I will present my own [ albiet uninformed and amateur ] opinion /questions and feel free to correct /answer them and please elaborate why you think that way
1-In those 15 yrs soviets were ATLEAST 15yrs behind US/NATO e.g in 1985 their airforces were technologically at the same level as NATO was in 1970-71
2-They did have numerical superiority LOCALLY in some theaters but overall their number of combat aircraft were not much more than NATO [infact I think far lower if you count USAF/USN]
3-The much feared mig-29 9.12 and 9.13 and su-27P were not much better than Saab Viggen/mirage F1 [ incase of former ] and F-4E/tornado ADV interceptors [ in case of latter ] in terms of overall military effectiveness and right uptil 1988 the mig-23 was supposed to shoulder the bulk of the frontal aviation responsibilities simply due to shortage of modern fighters.So despite what is commonly believed it does not mean these aircraft represented much of a difference from their previous approach.Flanker/Fulcrum were still tied to GCI and were just more agile versions of the mig-23/25.The pilots did not have the skill nor leadership doctrine to utilize them to their full potential.
4-Soviets knew that in any big air war with NATO/western armed country they have to use nuclear first otherwise they will lose their airforces through attrition and lack of numbers + poorer quality of their aircraft/pilots would doom them.So the frontal aviation fighter units were mostly to keep enemy intercpetors busy so the soviet strikers can attack NATO airbases /command structures.Furthermore many of the FA fighters too were adapted to carry nukes for that reason to have an attrition reserve.
This part is well known but I feel like the only conventional airwar soviets could win would be a fight against china , middle eastern countries [like iran/turkey/paakistan] , maybe Japan and Israel but only by using overwhelming numbers. We saw what israelis can do to firstline soviet fighter units in 1970 , I think their only chance would be if they have a 3 to 1 superiority in air, on home gound /GCI support not trying to fly CAP over enemy terrirtory.In other words both soviet airforces had almost no role in any conventional war with a state with modern weapons [like KSA, israel, japan] , any air war that was more than policing action [like afghanistan] would be nuclear from the start [atleast tactical nukes] otherwise soviets will lose massively and lose face.The soviet doctrine reveals that and hence having a lower threshold to use nukes which can be used to bully the non-nuclear states and /or scare the jeebes off NATO planners.
5-The plans to use IRBM/SSMs on a massive scale against airfields is also part of that as their unescorted bombers were too vulnerable to survive, this might work well against short distances in western europe.But how would the soviets deal with bases in turkey/japan ? which are outside of the range of most of their IRBMs [except SS-20 maybe].The soviet fighters cannot reach these bases so did they plan to hit them with unescorted bombers ?
6-Similar to point 4 , soviet airforces power projection capability was very poor and esp their fighters were only suitable for defensive operations.Was this deliberate ? As it left even their more capable and relatively sophisticated long range strikers like su-24/tu-22M at a severe disadvantage.What is the use of having bombers with a 1000 mile range when you can only escort them for the first 300 miles ?
any /all comments are welcome