United States vs Russia – Who Would Win? Military / Army Comparison

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In recent years Russia has shown an aggressive
nature not seen since the end of the Cold War, with its President- Vladimir Putin- clearly
signaling he means to remake Russia back into its former Cold War-era superpowerdom. The US and its allies meanwhile have pushed
back with economic sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and by bolstering their
military readiness within the Baltic States area. But who would ultimately win in a showdown
between the US and Russia, and what might that war look like? As always the rules of this war game include
no use of nuclear weapons, as a nuclear exchange would render any war moot and result in total
global devastation. For this specific war game though the US will
not be able to call upon its numerous allies nor use their territory, pitting it on its
own against the Russian bear. Russia has a little less than half the population
of the United States, with 144,554,993 people vs the US’s 324,527,000. This ratio translates into total available
manpower as well, with Russia having 34,765,736 civilians fit for military duty, and the US
having 73,270,043. In their active duty militaries, Russia has
approximately 800,000 personnel, while the US has just over 1.2 million. Through sheer numbers alone its clear the
US has a sizable advantage, but that advantage is compounded when you take into account that
roughly 2/3 of Russia’s military is made up of conscripts vs the US’s all-volunteer force. Russia’s military conscripts are notoriously
under-trained and poorly equipped, and suffer from morale issues, all of which would come
into play in ways that this wargame can’t properly model but would have very serious
real-world implications for Russia. In the air the US has a staggering advantage,
with a total of 12,100 combat aircraft vs Russia’s 4,042. The bulk of the US’s air fleet is made up
of multirole strike aircraft, giving American forces flexibility in planning missions as
the same plane may fight a strike mission one day, and act as a fighter escort the next. Russia has only recently begun to design aircraft
with the same multirole capability, and today the total count is 2,062 multirole aircraft
for the US vs 428 for Russia. In dedicated fighters Russia outnumbers the
US nearly 2:1, with 629 fighter aircraft vs the US’s 388. This holds true for dedicated strike or air
support aircraft as well, with Russia having 752 attack aircraft vs the US’s 470. Russia’s limitation in multirole aircraft
means that as war progresses and losses are incurred, it will be harder and harder for
Russian air forces to launch effective sorties, while the US could absorb those losses and
maintain the flexibility needed to launch different types of sorties effectively. The US also has an advantage in technology
levels with Russia about a decade or two behind US aircraft, with only the Su-34 and Su-35
having comparable systems technology to most US aircraft- though unfortunately for Russia
it only fields about 120 or so of its most modern air frames. US missiles are also on the whole technologically
superior to Russian missiles, with the modern R-77-1 just starting to see mass proliferation
in the Russian air forces, while the US is equipped with the modern AIM-120D and near-modern
AIM-120C and AIM-9X. Where Russia could make up that technological
and numbers shortfall however is in its ground-based SAM air defenses, which vastly outnumber and
outclass the US’s own SAM capabilities. While the US fields the Patriot air defense
missile battery, Russia is equipped with the modern and fearsome S-300 and S-400 systems
which sport a range over double of the Patriot: up to 400km vs 160km. On the sea the US also outnumbers Russia,
with a total naval force of 436 ships vs Russia’s 313 ships. Russia also suffers disadvantage from the
fact that the bulk of its fleet is made up of aging, Soviet-era ships. The bulk of US naval power is in its supercarriers,
of which it operates 11, vs Russia’s 1- though as recent action in Syria has shown Russia’s
Admiral Kuznetsov is barely combat-worthy and is currently undergoing repair and refitting
operations expected to last 3 years. On land Russia has the clear numbers advantage,
with a total of 20,050 tanks vs the US’s 8,848, though most of Russia’s armored forces are
made up of the 1970s T-72, with 8700 in service. Even with some modern upgrades, they would
not stand a chance against the US’s M1 and M1A2 Abrams, which are nearly completely modernized
and outclass Russia’s most numerous tanks, the T-72, T-55 and the T-80 in firepower,
armor and sensors. Russia’s most modern tanks include the T-90
and T-14 Armata, yet together they only number 570 total- not nearly enough to go head-to-head
vs the US’s Abrams. The one overwhelming advantage Russia has
over the US is in the amount of artillery it is equipped with: 14,533 vs the US’s 3,269,
so though Russia may lose control of the skies eventually it has a good chance of still giving
its ground troops the fire support they would desperately need in a fight against the US. So how would a potential war play out? With no hope of controlling the seas, and
not enough heavy-lift transport ships to launch an invasion across either the Atlantic or
the Pacific, Russia would opt to wage a defensive war. Without NATO support the US could not invade
via major land routes through Germany or the Baltics, forcing it into an amphibious assault
of Russia. Though the US navy outmatches the Russian
navy, Russian naval forces would opt to operate close to shore where they can remain within
range of coastal fire support and aircraft. This would also make it easier for Russian
ships to resupply and refit, meaning that they could get back into the fight faster
than American ships whom would have to make the long trip back home to either the east
coast or naval bases in the Pacific. At the outset of war the US would seek to
first degrade both the Russian navy and air force before attempting any coastal assault. Russia’s biggest weakness would be its sheer
size, forcing it to spread its air defenses across the entirety of its coast to prevent
incursions by American aircraft. While access via carrier-based planes would
be limited during most of the year due to sea ice, bomber aircraft operating from Alaskan
air bases could launch strikes across the North Pole or west into the Kamchatka region. Russian bombers could attempt to do the same,
but ultimately both sides would see most of their bomber fleet destroyed within days-
Russian bombers would be lost to overwhelming number of American interceptors, and US bombers
would be downed by an equally overwhelming number of Russian SAM batteries. In the end, strategic bombers would play a
small role in the opening weeks of the war and not be worth sacrificing- with the exception
of US’s B-2 stealth bombers, which would likely enjoy a degree of success, although with only
20 in its inventory the US would eventually deplete its numbers as well. The bulk of the US’s initial war effort would
be an air campaign waged by its carrier-based strike aircraft, goading Russian air defenses
to engage so that American fighters could begin thinning out the Russian fighter fleet. With superior technology the US would enjoy
a favorable kill ratio, but Russian aircraft would be operating defensively and supported
by ground-based radar and SAM, negating American technological advantage and equalizing that
kill ratio. This is where American numbers would tip the
odds for victory in the skies, as though it could not commit all of its aircraft at once
due to a lack of nearby bases, it could fairly quickly replace its carrier-based aircraft
losses to continue the fight until exhausting the Russian air forces. American carriers however would be hunted
by Russian submarines, which would pose a formidable threat. Russian subs would be limited in their effectiveness
by the large number of anti-submarine warfare platforms the US employs, but would most likely
be effective in sinking at least a third of the US carrier fleet. The losses of entire supercarriers could also
mean a loss of 80-120 aircraft as well, further helping Russia equalize the numbers advantage
enjoyed by the US. After weeks, or possibly months, of an air
and naval campaign, the US may attempt a land invasion, though with American transports
limited to a ferry total of approximately 20,000 troops per day, any amphibious assault
would likely be crushed by the overwhelming number of Russian defenders. Instead, it’s highly likely that the US would
simply choose to blockade Russia, and lean on European nations to embargo it as well. Any actual invasion of Russian territory would
prove disastrous for the US, and though over time superior numbers, technology and an economy
approximately 3 times bigger than Russia’s could make an invasion feasible, it would
only come at a staggering number of casualties for the US. Rather than accept such high casualties, the
US could simply sit back and slowly strangle the Russian economy while continuing to wear
out its air defenses to the point that it could strike deeper and deeper into Russian
territory. Eventually this war of attrition would be
enough to force Russia to the negotiating table. Ultimately victory would go to the United
States of America, although unable to threaten Moscow with troops-on-the-ground such victory
would end up largely meaningless with few if any concessions granted by Russia, making
the entire war largely a pointless endeavor on both sides.

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