Air Warfare

Air warfare is the ability to disable an opponent's military using strategic strikes from manned and unmanned aircraft. RAND has extensive experience evaluating and providing recommendations to military decisionmakers to ensure rapid, effective, and sustainable airborne deployments to counter regional threats.

  • 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

  • French Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (L), French President Francois Hollande (C), French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (R), and students observe a moment of silence at the Sorbonne University, Paris, France, November 16, 2015

    Commentary

    Insights on the Paris Terror Attacks from RAND Experts

    RAND experts weigh in on what the wave of coordinated terror attacks across Paris means for France, the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, the global refugee crisis, and more.

    Nov 17, 2015

  • A French soldier from Operation Barkhane rides in an armoured vehicle in Timbuktu, November 5, 2014

    Commentary

    The French Way of War

    There is a French way of warfare that reflects the French military's lack of resources and its modest sense of what it can achieve. They specialize in carefully apportioned and usually small but lethal operations, often behind the scenes.

    Nov 17, 2015

  • Men search for survivors at a site hit by shelling in Damascus, Syria, June 16, 2015

    Commentary

    A No-Fly Zone Over Syria: Q&A with Karl Mueller

    Some are advocating a no-fly zone in Syria to protect civilians from both ISIS and forces loyal to Assad. What constraints complicate establishing a no-fly zone and realizing its expected benefits? And how might Assad supporters, such as Russia, respond?

    Oct 15, 2015

  • congressional-podcast-teaser-highres

    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

  • 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

  • U.S and Korean fighter aircraft fly above Jik-Do Island near South Korea, August 14, 2013

    Research Brief

    U.S. and Chinese Air Superiority Capabilities

    The United States maintains unparalleled air-to-air capabilities. But the modernization of Chinese air forces, combined with the difficulties of operating over long distances in Asia, would make it more and more challenging for the United States to gain air superiority during the beginning of a possible conflict with China.

    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

  • 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

  • A Belgian Air Force F-16 over Ghardabiya Air Base, Libya, April 29, 2011

    Report

    Airpower in the Libyan Civil War

    In 2011, a coalition of nations waged a war against Muammar Qaddafi's regime that reversed the tide of Libya's civil war. The intervention's central element was a relatively small air campaign. What lessons did each nation glean from the experience?

    Jul 8, 2015

  • An explosion following an air strike in central Kobani, Syria, November 9, 2014

    Commentary

    NATO's Campaign in Libya Offers Salient Lessons for the Air War Against ISIL

    The NATO air campaign that helped defeat Qaddafi's regime in Libya has received relatively little mention in public discussion of the ongoing air strikes against ISIS. But the campaign in Libya offers at least five lessons that deserve greater attention today.

    Nov 25, 2014

  • Tank silhouette at sunset

    Commentary

    Destroy ISIL's Heavy Weapons and Vehicles: Level the Playing Field

    More than any other option, employing air power decisively to deny ISIL the ability to use its armor and artillery has the potential to immediately and dramatically shift the battlefield balance against it.

    Oct 20, 2014

  • Smoke rises after a U.S.-led airstrike in Kobani, Syria, October 10, 2014

    Commentary

    Air Campaign Against ISIS Is Just Getting Off the Ground

    More than 60 countries have joined the coalition against ISIS, with at least 12 participating in the air campaign. Eventually, this will be an impressive armada, but the campaign is still in its first stage, and most of the coalition participants joined the effort only recently.

    Oct 17, 2014

  • The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea launches a Tomahawk cruise missile in the Persian Gulf, Sept. 23, 2014

    Blog

    RAND Experts Discuss U.S. Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

    The United States and five of its partner nations are conducting strikes against ISIS terrorists in Syria using fighters, bombers, remotely piloted aircraft, and Tomahawk Land Attack missiles. RAND experts discuss the bombings and possible ramifications.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • Palestinians walk past a mosque and water tower damaged by Israeli air strikes and shelling in Khuzaa, in the southern Gaza Strip

    Commentary

    The Grim Lessons of “Protective Edge”

    For all the attempts to find technological quick fixes or enforce a permanent settlement, Operation Protective Edge has highlighted that a war of attrition, known as a “long war,” remains the only viable strategy in the current environment.

    Sep 3, 2014

  • Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from the Islamic State, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, August 11, 2014

    Commentary

    What's Going on in Iraq?

    While the United States could embark on a much wider war in Iraq, there's little reason to think it will rush to do so or that using airpower to help defend the Kurds will make such an escalation inevitable.

    Aug 14, 2014

  • Mehdi Army fighters loyal to a Shi'ite cleric march during a military-style training in Najaf, June 18, 2014

    Commentary

    A Long-Term Strategy for a Democratic Iraq

    Unfortunately, no strategic option for a unified, democratic Iraq has a good chance of success. But any well-considered option that doesn't involve ineffective killing or risking U.S. lives is preferable to simply allowing Iraq to disintegrate and feed broader regional instability.

    Jun 30, 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