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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.

  • Russian Mi-28N helicopters fly in formation at the Dubrovichi range near Ryazan, Russia, August 2, 2015, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Content

    Where Russia Markets and Sells Advanced Conventional Weapons

    Russia uses arms exports to further relations with other countries, influence their political and military leaders, and further its broader foreign and defense policy goals. A series of maps show the extent of its marketing, negotiating, and sales of key weapons systems.

    Jun 11, 2021

  • Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors fly over Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ Felker Army Airfield at Fort Eustis, Virginia, June 12, 2018. Felker Army Airfield represents the success of consolidating Army and Air Force operations through a joint base as the airfield continues to support aerial missions while being operated by the Air Force’s 1st Operations Support Squadron, photo by Tech. Sgt. Natasha Stannard/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Winning the Battle of the Airfields

    Airfields have long been recognized as essential military facilities. And combatants have gone to great lengths to destroy enemy aircraft on the ground and to deny the use of airfields through attacks. What enduring lessons do RAND's seven decades of work on air base defense and attack provide?

    Feb 24, 2021

Explore Air Defense

  • F-2 Fighters from the 8th Air Wing of Japan Air Self-Defense Force hold a joint military drill with the United States off Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu, Japan, November 5, 2022, photo by Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japan's Upcoming Defense Efforts

    The Japanese government looks set to release three important documents shortly: a new National Security Strategy and two defense documents that lay out spending priorities over the next ten years and five years. In preparation for the release of these documents, here are six areas that could be candidates not only to receive a greater prioritization of resources, but also greater scrutiny.

    Dec 13, 2022

  • A Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet makes its approach for takeoff at Thule Air Base, Greenland, March 13, 2022, photo by Staff Sgt. Carlos Ferran/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    Should Greenland and Denmark Become Part of NORAD?

    As tensions with Russia rise to levels not seen since the Cold War, NORAD may need to detect and counter increasing numbers of aerial intrusions. One way to strengthen NORAD's capabilities: Invite Greenland and Denmark to join the command.

    Sep 16, 2022

  • Smoke rises after shelling near Kyiv, Ukraine, March 24, 2022, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia Destroyed Grozny and Aleppo—Is Kyiv Next?

    Russia used a brutal approach in Grozny and Aleppo, and may use a similar approach against Ukraine's cities. But it could be less effective or riskier in Ukraine. Ukraine's determination to resist is strong, and the West is supplying an impressive array of advanced weaponry and intelligence support.

    Mar 28, 2022

  • President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine delivers a virtual address to Congress in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2022, photo by Sarahbeth Maney/Pool/Sipa USA via Reuters

    Commentary

    Why It Could Be a Strategic Mistake to Rule Out a No-Fly Zone Policy

    The United States has been willing to entertain many forms of support to Ukraine, but senior administration and congressional leaders have categorically ruled out declaring a no-fly zone over the country. While American policymakers are rightfully hesitant to implement a no-fly zone policy, it could be a strategic mistake to say so in public.

    Mar 16, 2022

  • A Chinese H-6 bomber flies over East China Sea, photo by Japan Air Self-Defence Force released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan, July 23, 2019/handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    Why China Is Intensifying Its Military Flights Against Taiwan

    On January 23, China repeated its familiar pattern of sending warplanes into Taiwan's airspace. This activity, which has continued in February, rarely has a clear single driver. Instead, there are several factors that should always be considered.

    Feb 21, 2022

  • Ukrainian service members unload anti-tank weapons supplied by Britain at the Boryspil airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine, January 18, 2022, photo by Ukrainian Defence Ministry/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    Ukraine Needs Help Surviving Airstrikes, Not Just Killing Tanks

    A Russian large-scale multidomain operation would be devastating for the Ukrainian military and people, and Ukraine should work to prevent that. But steps can also be taken to reduce the effects of the air and missile strikes that would likely lead off such an operation.

    Jan 19, 2022

  • Senior Airman Colby Cook, 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects an F-35A Lightning II before takeoff at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Nov. 16, 2017. The F-35A is the Air Force's latest low observable fifth-generation fighter incorporating stealth technology, photo by Naoto Anazawa/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Evaluating Alternative Maintenance Manpower Force Structure Concepts for the F-35A

    The authors of this report evaluate the costs and benefits of maintenance manpower force structures in the U.S. Air Force that merge maintenance career fields in different ways, including alternatives that are being explored by the Air Force today.

    Sep 3, 2020

  • North Korean and South Korean Flags

    Multimedia

    Rising Tensions Between the Two Koreas

    RAND policy analyst Soo Kim describes how the United States, South Korea, and Japan might respond to North Korea's recent provocations.

    Jul 27, 2020

  • A Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile system fires a missile during the International Army Games 2017 outside Astrakhan, Russia, August 5, 2017, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Drone-Era Warfare Shows the Operational Limits of Air Defense Systems

    External powers have intervened in the civil wars in Libya and Syria, supplying advanced conventional weapons that have intensified the conflicts. But not all of the weapons have performed as claimed.

    Jul 2, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Air Dominance Through Machine Learning: A Preliminary Exploration of Artificial Intelligence–Assisted Mission Planning

    U.S. air superiority is being challenged by global competitors. In this report, the authors prototype a new artificial intelligence system to help develop and evaluate concepts of operations for the air domain.

    May 29, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Air Base Defense: Rethinking Army and Air Force Roles and Functions

    The gap between the growing cruise and ballistic missile threat to U.S. Air Force bases in Europe and the U.S. capacity and capability to counter the threat is worrisome. This report assesses alternative Air Force courses of action.

    May 29, 2020

  • The Future of the North Korean Regime

    Multimedia

    The Future of the North Korean Regime

    Soo Kim, policy analyst with the RAND Corporation, discusses the future of the North Korean regime.

    Apr 28, 2020

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Preventing the Winter Blues, North Korea, Opioids: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how to ward off the winter blues, Kim Jong Un's latest threat, how to spend opioid settlement funds, and more.

    Jan 3, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Distributed Operations in a Contested Environment: Implications for USAF Force Presentation

    This report's authors identify capabilities the Air Force needs to carry out distributed operations in a contested environment. They then assess whether the current force presentation model can provide such capabilities.

    Jul 17, 2019

  • Japan's Self-Defense Forces F-15 fighter jets (top and bottom) conduct an exercise with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers above the East China Sea, Japan, September 9, 2017

    Report

    Standoff Over Senkaku Islands Carries Growing Risk of Miscalculation

    China has stepped up its vessel and air activities near the disputed Senkaku Islands. Japan has made posture changes and increased the quantity of aircraft and radar in the region, but it does not have the resources to match Chinese air activity. And since it's an issue of domestic air sovereignty, the U.S. is limited in what it can do to assist Japan.

    Dec 3, 2018

  • A U.S. Air Force B-52 prepares to carry the X-51 Hypersonic Vehicle out to the range for a launch test from Edwards AFB, California, May 1, 2013

    Commentary

    Hypersonic Missiles: A New Proliferation Challenge

    Within 10 years, hypersonic missiles are likely to be deployed and offered on the international market. But there is time for action by states that do not want hypersonic missiles to flourish in their neighborhoods. It is time to move toward heading off this threat while it is still possible to do so.

    Mar 29, 2018

  • F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Pakistan Air Force fly to a joint exercise with the air forces of the United States and its allies, Nevada, July 21, 2010

    Report

    Prospects for U.S. and Pakistan Air Power Engagement

    As U.S. military action in Afghanistan stabilizes below its peak levels, the U.S.-Pakistan security relationship will enter a new phase. What is the nature of the relationship between the U.S. Air Force and the Pakistan Air Force, and how can it be strengthened?

    Mar 28, 2018

  • Report

    Report

    Command and Control of Joint Air Operations in the Pacific: Methods for Comparing and Contrasting Alternative Concepts

    This report recommends methods for comparing and contrasting alternative organizational concepts for command and control of joint air operations in the Pacific in different scenarios.

    Jan 18, 2018