Air Defense

As aviation technology has advanced, the ability to defend a country’s air space has become increasingly important. RAND research has evaluated aircraft options and costs, defensive systems and strategies, deployment, and the importance of international partnerships in an effort to help the U.S. and allied air forces assess and enhance their ability to combat enemy air strikes — for national defense as well as in military operations around the globe.

  • Report

    The Foundations of Operational Resilience — Assessing the Ability to Operate in an Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) Environment: The Analytical Framework, Lexicon, and Characteristics of the Operational Resilience Analysis Model (ORAM)

    Describes a modeling framework and lexicon for conducting a detailed analysis of future Air Force operational resilience in an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environment.

    Jul 7, 2016

  • Report

    Innovation in the United States Air Force: Evidence from Six Cases

    Air Force senior leaders have asked whether the service is sufficiently innovative today and what can be done to make it more innovative for the future. This report assesses historical cases of Air Force innovation or apparent failure to innovate.

    May 13, 2016

  • Report

    Improvements to Air Force Strategic Basing Decisions

    Examines the Air Force's basing decisionmaking process and assesses the quality of the underlying data.

    Apr 15, 2016

  • Taiwan-made MK-30 rockets are launched from Thunderbolt-2000 multiple rocket launchers during the annual Han Kuang military exercise in Penghu, west of Taiwan

    Commentary

    Taiwan Forced to Rethink Its Air Defense Strategy

    Taiwan's defense problem is challenging, but it will spend a considerable sum on air defense capabilities in the coming years, and those investments could be made much more effective.

    Apr 14, 2016

  • Cover of RAND report RR1051: Three "Flanker" Aircraft

    Report

    Air Defense Options for Taiwan

    Taiwan's proximity to China and advanced PLA capabilities force Taiwan to rethink its air defense strategy. Taiwan could downsize and shift its fighter aircraft force to focus on coercive scenarios, increase its investment in surface-to-air missiles, and dedicate its surface-based air defense to supporting other defensive operations.

    Apr 5, 2016

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    United States and China: Trends in Military Competition

    In this October 2015 congressional briefing, Eric Heginbotham discusses relative U.S. and Chinese military capabilities, including the evolution of Chinese military capabilities, steps the United States can take to limit the impact of a growing Chinese military on deterrence, and other U.S. strategic interests.

    Oct 5, 2015

  • News Release

    China's Military Modernization Increasingly Challenges U.S. Defense Capabilities in Asia

    Although China continues to lag behind the United States in terms of aggregate military hardware and operational skills, it has improved its capabilities relative to those of the U.S. in many critical areas. Moreover, China does not need to catch up fully in order to challenge U.S. ability to conduct effective military operations near the Chinese mainland.

    Sep 14, 2015

  • Maintainers prepare F-16s for training flights at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, August 15, 2013

    Research Brief

    Chinese Attacks on U.S. Air Bases in Asia: An Assessment of Relative Capabilities

    China has the most active ballistic-missile program in the world. It has made rapid and substantial relative improvements in its ability to disrupt or degrade U.S. air operations by attacking air bases.

    Sep 14, 2015

  • U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chinese army Gen. Fang Fenghui, China's chief of the general staff, salute during a ceremony in Beijing, April 22, 2013

    Research Brief

    Tallying the U.S.-China Military Scorecard

    A set of “scorecards” assesses the relative capabilities of U.S. and Chinese military forces in diverse types of conflict, at varying distances from the Chinese mainland, and at different points in time.

    Sep 14, 2015

  • Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy recruits march during a parade in Qingdao, Shandong province, December 5, 2013

    Report

    China's Military Modernization Increasingly Challenges U.S. Defense Capabilities in Asia

    Although China continues to lag behind the United States in terms of aggregate military hardware and operational skills, it has improved its capabilities relative to those of the U.S. in many critical areas. Moreover, China does not need to catch up fully in order to challenge U.S. ability to conduct effective military operations near the Chinese mainland.

    Sep 14, 2015

  • F-22 Raptors with the Hawaii Air National Guard, March 14, 2014

    Report

    The Changing Nature of Air-Base Attacks

    Since the end of the Cold War, American airpower has been able to operate largely free from attack. But emerging long-range strike capabilities are bringing this era of sanctuary to an end. This has significant implications for the American way of war.

    Jun 12, 2015

  • An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flightline at Creech Air Force Base, NV

    Commentary

    Armed Drone Myth 1: They Will Transform How War Is Waged Globally

    Long-range military drones are fundamentally misunderstood. Their champions wrongly contend they are revolutionizing warfare, while critics fear their spread would greatly increase the threat that China, terrorists, and others pose.

    Feb 17, 2015

  • U.S. sailors conduct maintenance on an F/A-18C Hornet on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson Jan. 4, 2015

    Commentary

    Advice for Defense Innovators

    Today's leaders should follow the example of their predecessors and closely evaluate a few well-defined scenarios, such as a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or a Russian invasion of a NATO member state to determine the most serious gaps in U.S. and allied capabilities.

    Jan 12, 2015

  • The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin fires two SM-2 missiles during Exercise Valiant Shield 2014

    Testimony

    The Role of Maritime and Air Power in the DoD's Third Offset Strategy

    Russia and China have been investing in military modernization programs to blunt the U.S. military's technological edge, fielding advanced aircraft, submarines, and both longer range and more accurate missiles. The DoD's Third Offset Strategy is a much-needed initiative to identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America's military dominance for the 21st century.

    Dec 2, 2014

  • Northrop Grumman test pilots with arm-mounted controllers after successfully launching a drone combat aircraft on the USS George H. W. Bush, May 14, 2013

    Commentary

    Will U.S. Air Power Work in Iraq?

    There are many key questions regarding deployment of U.S. air power to Iraq to halt the progress of the Islamic State. How effective would it be? Would it cause a lot of civilian casualties? Is air power alone enough to achieve U.S. objectives?

    Jun 18, 2014

  • Report

    Shaking the Heavens and Splitting the Earth: Chinese translation (traditional characters)

    This monograph (translated into traditional Chinese characters) analyzes published Chinese and Western sources about current and future capabilities and employment concepts of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and provides recommendations about actions that should be taken in response.

    May 6, 2014

  • U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is welcomed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before their talks in Tokyo December 3, 2013

    Blog

    No Easy Way Out for China After 'Air Defense Zone' Ratchets Up Tensions

    The ongoing row between China and Japan over a chain of islands in the East China Sea escalated sharply last week when Beijing declared an “air defense zone” over the disputed territory. If China's intention was to force Japan to the negotiating table, Beijing's plan appears to have backfired.

    Dec 4, 2013

  • Chinese naval soldiers stand guard on China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning

    Commentary

    Thoughts on China's New Air Defense Zone Policy

    In response to an inquiry from The Nelson Report, RAND's Scott Harold offered some thoughts on China's new air defense zone policy and how Japan and South Korea could be brought closer together by their respective responses.

    Dec 4, 2013

  • preflight checks inside an F-35A Lightning II

    Commentary

    Innovation and America's 21st Century Air Force

    Lost in the US defense budget debates are deeper issues about the relationship between the military and American society. In many ways, these issues are especially stark for the Air Force. Can the US Air Force improve this connection?

    Nov 26, 2013

  • News Release

    RAND Study Evaluates Airpower Options for Syria Intervention

    There are five options for U.S. and allied military intervention in the Syrian civil war using airpower. Destroying or grounding the Syrian air force is operationally feasible but would have only marginal benefits for protecting civilians.

    Aug 30, 2013