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.

  • 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

  • Hawaii Air National Guard,Korat,Udon Thani,Thailand,Cope Tiger 2011,F-15,KC-135,Kadena AB,Hawaii,Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam,multilateral joint training,Thai,refueling,f-16,royal thai air force,203rd ARS,96th ARS,154th AMXS

    Report

    Denying Flight: Strategic Options for Employing No-Fly Zones

    To what extent are no-fly zones (NFZs) a policy option for external military intervention in local conflicts? A new report examines the forms they might take, their potential utility, and their probable limitations.

    Dec 27, 2013

  • Syrian-Americans rallying in favor of proposed U.S. military action, outside the U.S. Capitol

    Commentary

    Objectives in Syria? Look at U.S. Targets

    If you want to understand the Obama administration's objectives in Syria, don't just listen to what officials say — watch what they bomb, writes Seth G. Jones. There are at least four sets of potential political objectives. Each is linked to a different set of targets.

    Sep 10, 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

  • 070505-F-4965B-001

    Report

    Airpower Options for Syria Intervention

    An examination of five options for U.S. and allied military intervention in the Syrian civil war using airpower warns that destroying or grounding the Syrian air force is operationally feasible but would have only marginal benefits for protecting civilians.

    Aug 30, 2013

  • F-16A, F-15C and F-15E flying during Desert Storm.

    Report

    The Unseen War: Allied Air Power and the Takedown of Saddam Hussein

    The Unseen War offers a comprehensive assessment of the role of allied air power in the three weeks of major combat that ended the rule of Iraq's Saddam Hussein in 2003. Author Benjamin Lambeth fills a longstanding gap in the literature on modern warfare by telling, in full, the story of the role of air power for the first time.

    Aug 13, 2013

  • Buildings in Syria damaged by bombings

    Commentary

    Learning the Wrong Lessons from Israel's Intervention in Syria

    The lesson here is not that countries should act for the sake of maintaining credibility but that they should act when they believe it serves their interests and might make a difference, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.

    May 14, 2013

  • Commentary

    Syria, the Case for Intervention

    The longer this war drags on, the more radicalised become the insurgents, the more brutalised the population, the more inflamed the sectarian passions, and the more destabilised neighbouring societies, writes James Dobbins.

    Dec 7, 2012

  • News Release

    Israeli Mistakes Against Hybrid Adversaries Serve as Cautionary Tale for U.S. Military

    A review of recent Israeli military conflicts indicates the United States may be ill-prepared for "hybrid" warfare against state-sponsored adversaries who have a modicum of training and small force numbers, but possess advanced weapons and enough expertise to challenge the U.S. military.

    Jan 20, 2012

  • Report

    Israeli Mistakes Against Hybrid Adversaries Serve as Cautionary Tale for U.S. Military

    A review of recent Israeli military conflicts indicates the United States may be ill-prepared for "hybrid" warfare against state-sponsored adversaries who have a modicum of training and small force numbers, but possess advanced weapons and enough expertise to challenge the U.S. military.

    Jan 19, 2012

  • Content

    PAF Publications Make RAND Top 10 Lists

    RAND Project Air Force (PAF) titles were among the top 10 most popular publications at RAND Corporation overall for fiscal year 2011.

    Nov 9, 2011

  • Report

    Access Challenges and Implications for Airpower in the Western Pacific

    Examines the risk of U.S.-China conflict based on a variety of theoretical works on conflict, applied to the U.S.-China relationship.

    Aug 15, 2011