Are air battles practical in modern warfare?

Security policy

Harald Muller

To person

Dr. phil., born 1949; Professor for international relations at the University of Frankfurt / M., Executive board member of the Hessian Foundation for Peace and Conflict Research (PRIF), Baseler Straße 27-31, 60329 Frankfurt / M. [email protected]

Niklas Schörnig

To person

Dr. phil., born 1972; Research assistant at the Hessian Foundation for Peace and Conflict Research (PRIF), lecturer at the University of Frankfurt / M. (so.). [email protected]

Western states are increasingly equipping their armies with the most modern high-tech weapon systems. The focus is on the desire to avoid one's own losses. The approach also harbors dangers that are often downplayed.


At the latest with the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense of the USA in December 2006, it seemed that it had been driven primarily by the USA Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), i.e. the pursuit of high-tech weapon systems and the comprehensive networking of these weapons with the latest information technology, have come to an end. As much as American high technology had proven itself from a military point of view in the interstate wars against Iraq, Serbia and Afghanistan, the new weapon systems seemed unsuitable for asymmetrical guerrilla wars. Boots on the ground, So ground troops seemed to be the solution with which western states wanted to get the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan under control again, the pursuit of comprehensive high-tech armies seemed unsuitable for the new asymmetrical scenarios of the supposed post-war period. However, it is currently evident that central elements of the RMA and the idea of ​​a warfare networked via information technology (IT) have meanwhile emancipated themselves from the intergovernmental scenario. They are also used for counterinsurgency (counter insurgency) or the terrorist hunt are seen as key recipes for success. With the rapidly increasing use of armed drones (unmanned combat aerial vehicles, UCAV) on the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan and, increasingly, Pakistan, systems are used that reflect the basic ideas of Revolution in Military Affairs unite in a very special way and count as ideal weapons of the military transformation idea. RMA and the transformation of western armed forces into high-tech armies are by no means out of date in the minds of military planners. Correspondingly, in striving for and using U (C) AVs, at least in western countries, the same motives are expressed that were also important driving forces behind the RMA: the politically motivated striving to carry out military operations in which one's own troops were so small Exposed to risk as much as possible.

The RMA has thus arrived in the entire spectrum of military tasks in the 21st century and the western pursuit of military technological superiority is being continued. In the slipstream of this development, however, the risks and dangers that have already been associated with the RMA and that have become even more acute due to the latest developments have to be discussed to a greater extent.