Saunders, R. J., & Souva, M. (2020). Command of the skies: An air power dataset. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 37(6), 735–755.
We introduce a dataset on air power. Air power is the ability to inflict damage on an adversary through the air, and its successful application depends on achieving command of the skies. To achieve command of the skies, countries invest in a variety of types of military hardware and training, especially fighter aircraft. Our dataset contains information on the number, type and technological characteristics?including weaponry, avionics, speed, maneuverability and stealth characteristics?of each country?s fighter and attack aircraft for the period 1973-2013. We also introduce two new air power variables based on this data. The first is Country Air Power, a country-year measure of air power. The second is Expected Air Superiority, a dyad-year measure of which actor is likely to achieve air superiority in a military conflict. We illustrate the utility of this dataset by examining the relationship between air power and militarized dispute initiation, the duration and success of coercive bombing campaigns, and coercive behavior more generally. We find that command of the skies significantly affects conflict and coercive behavior.
Fivefold estimated gap between Russia/China and the US c.2013.
Commenter Annatar thinks it’s underestimated:
– Chinese have introduced so many 4th gen or higher aircraft since 2013 the graph is out of date.
– Also, graph even in 2013 seems wrong, looks like it assigns America 4.5x as many advanced jet fighters as Russia, ratio in 2013 as now according to my calculations is only around 3:1.
– Right now around 1000 4th gen or higher aircraft in Russian military vs 2,800 for America so 2.8:1 ratio.
Either way, it is generally in sync with my estimate of a general Comprehensive Military Power threefold superiority of the US over both China and Russia c.2015, which was likewise repeated in the Military Equipment Index for the same year.
The general trend in all of these indices over the past five years is for Russia to marginally improve its position and for China to gallup ahead, decidedly overtaking Russia and also rapidly gaining ground on the US.
This also constitutes support for the idea that the US will already have a very hard time checking China in their areas of likely confrontation and that this may become entirely unfeasible as early as the mid-2020s.