reply to post by nidstav
A lot plays into the effectiveness of a missile.
People often forget that a missile travels faster than any bullet and has a relatively short fuel burn to send it on a ballistic collision with a
maneuvering target. Or, more accurately; a missile is like a grenade or claymore mine - it explodes with a cone of shrapnel that doesn't hit the
aircraft so much as the aircraft flies into it. "splash" kills are not all that common with many missiles - the shrapnel simply does unrecoverable
damage to the jet turbines and forces the aircraft down.
Unless you are talking about more modern missiles designed for the ABM shielding. Those are a kinetic kill weapon with a solid steel "warhead" that
slams into the target (theoretically a re-entry vehicle the size of a coffee table traveling chaotically through the atmosphere at mach 20+) and
separating the warhead components before a successful detonation can be initiated.
Or the nuclear tipped Aim-54C missiles designed to drop scores of Russian strike aircraft destined for a fleet (though there were some of the Nike
series of strategic defense missiles that functioned in a similar manner; spare for being ground-launched).
Basically, you've got a bigger, better grenade launcher. Guidance systems and more power can make it perform more ideally - but it doesn't change
the raw ballistics involved in air-to-air engagements. Altitude and airspeed can send a little Aim-9X into a Mi-24 from ranges well beyond what is
considered that system's effective range (provided you can get a solid lock or datalink for a lock-after-launch).
By that same token, if a missile can't accurately project the flight path of the target and make corrections to keep the craft in its kill zone...
then it's harmless whether fired in a merger (dogfight) or from 800 kilometers away.
Also, if the target aircraft detects the launch in a BVR scenario - it is almost always possible for the aircraft to simply fly the other direction.
An aircraft will, generally, pack far more endurance than any missile and be able to widen the gap enough that the missile will fall harmlessly to the
ground, having been defeated by the ultimate countermeasure known as gravity.
It's kind of hard to say who has the better/worse missiles. The Russians had a lot of good ideas - INS/datalink guidance with IR terminal missiles
theoretically make for some very nasty BVR engagements. But sometimes their implementation was either too utilitarian or lacking in expertise.
The U.S. has a bad habit of taking a good idea and turning it into a mediocre solution through a dozen program restructurings (political climate
pending) and a lack of total-force perspective (IE - they will cancel an aircraft that would have made effective use of a missile system then
nigerneer it onto an airframe it was never designed to work with... and wonder why it doesn't meet their expectations).
A little bit of common sense applied to either country's defense spending would have made the "fire missile" button much more akin to the "I win"