On March 14, two Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jets were attempting to harass an unmanned American MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea, when one of them — seemingly accidentally — crashed right into the drone’s rear propeller. In the days that followed, memes and internet jokes about just how poorly trained Russian fighter pilots are flooded social media, spurred initially by a rather professional burn delivered by Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder in a press conference held that same day.
“This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional,” the general said.
It’s commonly said that Russian fighter pilots are not as well trained as their Western counterparts, particularly those from the United States. But after conspiracy theories began to surface on social media about the Russian pilot colliding with the MQ-9 on purpose so Russian vessels in the Black Sea could recover it, the question of pilot competency within the Russian armed forces became more important.
Russian forces have almost certainly already gotten their hands on a number of downed MQ-9 Reapers over the drone’s two-plus decades of service. MQ-9s have been shot down or crashed due to other issues, over Syria, where Russian forces operate, and over Yemen, and Libya on multiple occasions. So, dredging a broken Reaper up from the bottom of the Black Sea may not be the intelligence windfall many have made it out to be.
But even if the intelligence value of downing the Reaper was likely minimal, preventing it from continuing to gather intelligence about the conflict in Ukraine could (arguably) be motive enough for the Russian pilots to be given the order to engage the drone in a way that allowed for plausible deniability — causing a crash seemingly by accident to avoid American retaliation. Of course, in doing so, Russian leaders would be willingly risking not only a $37 million Su-27 in the midst of an ongoing war, but a valuable pilot as well. That’s a big risk to take for a dated drone.
In order to assess the likelihood of such a conspiracy, we’ll need to delve into how Russia trains its pilots and just how much experience they tend to have. For context, we’ll often use the U.S. Air Force as a basis for comparison, thanks to its reputation for fielding highly skilled aviators and the availability of data.
But however ineffective you may think Russian pilot training is compared to the West, the truth seems to be… much worse. In fact, based on the available data, Russia seems to be experiencing a catastrophic shortage of well-trained and experienced aviators.
Much more than offering insight into the recent collision over the Black Sea, this shortage also explains a great deal about the Russian performance in the skies over Ukraine to date and suggests Russian aviation will continue to struggle for many years to come as a result of this conflict.
Related: How Russia uses the media to convey a false image of military prowess
How does Russia’s air force funding really compare to America’s?
Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022, Russia’s entire defense budget has averaged between $61 and $69 billion per year since 2014. During that same span of time, the U.S. Air Force’s annual funding alone averaged around $193.7 billion. Depending on your source, the U.S. Air Force operates around 5,200 aircraft, while the Russian military operates around 4,200.
Based on these available figures and in very simplified terms, the budget for America’s Air Force by itself averages around double that of Russia’s entire military on an annual basis.
But that’s a sizable oversimplification that doesn’t take things like purchasing power parity (PPP) into account. The idea behind calculating PPP is evening the economic playing field — weaker economies like Russia’s may have less money to pour into defense, but goods and services also cost less for a weaker economy.
As one simplified example, the United States government may pay a skilled carpenter $60 to build a table based on the standard pay for a carpenter in the U.S. The Russian government, however, would likely pay a carpenter far less for the same table, based on the significantly lower pay scale for carpenters within the nation — say, $30 instead.
To put a fine point on it, poorer nations can accomplish more per dollar than wealthier ones.
Related: Evidence suggests Russia’s “hypersonic” Kinzhal missile is powered by American tech
When you adjust Russia’s budget for Purchasing Power Parity, it gets better… but not much
In 2021, the purchasing power parity conversion factor for Russia was 27.3, basically meaning that Russia can accomplish the same by spending one American dollar as the United States can by spending $27.30. When people ask why the U.S. spends so much on defense, this is one of the bits of context that often goes undiscussed.
With PPP considered, Russia’s average of $65 billion on defense inflates to a much more respectable $193 billion in equivalent U.S. dollars — just about on par with what the U.S. invests into its Air Force alone. However, according to a 2019 Rand Corporation analysis of Russia’s military entitled, “Trends in Russia’s Armed Forces: An Overview of Budget and Capabilities,” Russia allocates only about 10.9% of its annual defense expenditures to its air forces.
In other words, the fairest and most objective direct comparison of Russian spending on its air forces versus American spending on just the U.S. Air Force alone, when adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity and converted into U.S. dollars, breaks down as such:
Russia spends an adjusted average of about $21.03 billion per year on its air forces.
The U.S. spends an average of $193.7 billion on the U.S. Air Force alone.
If you spread those funds out across the size of each respective fleet, you get an average Russian expenditure of about $5 million (adjusted for PPP) per aircraft per year, and an American average of about $37.1 million per aircraft per year. And while the quality and type of aircraft play a significant role in the cost of operation, that higher expenditure per aircraft still gives the United States a significant edge in terms of the cost of maintenance and operation inherent to ensuring its pilots get the hours they need in their respective cockpits. Of course, in reality, not all of these funds go directly to aircraft operation, but this comparison does still give us a sense of scale.
(In terms of true dollars spent, the comparison is even more significant: Russia invests just around $6.7 billion per year into its airpower apparatus.)
Related: Russia’s focus on perception is costing them the skies over Ukraine
How much training do Russian pilots get before reaching their units?
This budget disparity also affects training. The United States invests a great deal into its pilots, particularly those tasked with flying fighters or bombers. From start to finish, the United States spends nearly $11 million to train a fighter pilot to fly the F-22 Raptor, for instance. But these costs are spread out over years of recruiting, training, and sustainment, and it’s difficult to discern similar overall costs for Russian pilots in the nation’s own top-of-the-line (for them) platforms.
Russian fixed-wing pilots often train at the Krasnodar Higher Military Aviation School for Pilots, where in 2021 it was reported that pilots graduate and move on to their respective units after an average of 140 hours of beginner flight training and then an additional 60 or so flight hours in an advanced flight training program. Now, this is a significant increase since the early to mid-2000s, which coincides with Russia’s significant uptick in military funding starting at around the same time, but this combined total of an average of 200 hours in the cockpit before heading to a combat-ready unit is still well short of their American counterparts.
Fighter pilots in the U.S. Air Force start out by attending initial flight screening (ISF) in Pueblo, Colorado, where they’ll accumulate 25 hours of flight time in aircraft like the prop-driven Diamond DA-20. Once through ISF, pilots begin Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT), where they’ll couple more classroom instruction with approximately 90 more flight hours behind the stick of another prop-driven aircraft, usually a Beechcraft T-6 Texan II.
Only after completing Phase 2 of SUPT, and after already having accumulated about 115 flight hours, are Air Force pilots assigned the type of aircraft they’ll be flying in service. During Phase 3, fighter and bomber pilots, which are made up of the top students in each class, go on to accumulate another 100+ hours in jet-powered aircraft like the T-38 Talon. Upon completion of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT), Air Force fighter pilots will have already accumulated an average of 215 to 250 hours of flying time… and they still haven’t even climbed into the cockpit of their fighters yet.
These graduated pilots then move on to the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals (IFF) course, where they’ll rack up another 20 or so hours, before advancing yet again to their respective MWS Replacement Training Unit (RTU) to train extensively in their assigned aircraft for another six months to a year before getting a squadron assignment.
As a result, Air Force fighter pilots reach their first unit with around twice the cockpit experience of their Russian counterparts on average.
Related: The 5 strangest pieces of Russian equipment found in Ukraine
And the training gap only widens from there
The next important basis for comparison is continuous seat time in the aircraft themselves. All pilots need initial flight training, but even the best initial training can’t compensate for a lack of seat time as one’s career progresses. Just like a Navy SEAL needs to continually train on the various firearms and equipment they might leverage in a fight to consistently perform at a high level, pilots need to fly their planes as often as possible to accumulate experience, grow comfortable, and be prepared to do their jobs when the sky is literally exploding all around them.
According to the International Review, Russian fighter pilots average somewhere between 70 and 120 hours of flight time per year, or around 5.8 to 10 hours of cockpit time per month. These figures, however, may be a bit artificially inflated, as some fighter units were reportedly congratulated in 2018 for reaching an average of 70 hours per year across their roster.
American fighter pilots have struggled to log what the Air Force considers to be sufficient seat time in recent years as well, particularly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Heritage Foundation’s in-depth analysis of U.S. military power assessed that American fighter pilots accumulated an average of 131 flight hours in 2020 or approximately 10.9 hours per month.
However, other outlets, like Air and Space Forces Magazine, reported far worse figures, with 2020 reflecting an average of just 8.1 hours and an even more troubling 6.8 hours per month in 2021. However, it may be worth noting that neither of these figures includes simulator time, which the U.S. has placed a growing emphasis on in recent years.
Using these broad averages, taking the best possible Russian training regimens and comparing them to the worst possible U.S. Air Force figures offers us a reasonable comparison in terms of cockpit experience.
Assuming the best possible Russian training figures and the worst available American ones, a Russian fighter pilot who has been with their combat unit for four years would have accumulated an average total of 680 flight hours, whereas an American pilot with their unit for the same amount of time would have a minimum of 726 hours.
But when assuming more realistic figures, that comparison becomes more one-sided, with the Russian fighter pilot likely accumulating just 480 total flight hours four years after unit assignment, and American pilots at the same point in their career closer to the 924-hour mark.
In other words, one could argue that the average American fighter pilot likely has about twice the cockpit experience of their Russian counterparts.
Related: How Russia’s warfare doctrine is failing in Ukraine
How about the realism of air combat training?
Being able to effectively leverage the capabilities of your aircraft in a fight is obviously about more than chalking up seat time in the cockpit. As the United States came to learn (the hard way) in the air battles over Vietnam, realistic combat training has a huge effect on pilots’ performance the first time they find themselves in a fightt. The fact of the matter is, hours behind the stick matter, but the types of training conducted while behind the stick matter just as much.
American fighter pilots struggled in the skies over Southeast Asia for a litany of reasons ranging from the poor performance of air-to-air missiles to rules of engagement that eliminated any advantage pilots could press. But perhaps the most egregious American failing came not during the conflict itself, but in the training leading up to it. For years prior to the Vietnam War, fighter pilot training was so overwhelmingly risk-averse that it allowed for nothing even close to a realistic fight.
And to make matters worse, air-to-air training for F-4 Phantom pilots, for instance, almost always pitted them against other F-4s, despite the fact that the MiGs they’d be squaring off against over Vietnam were substantially slower and tighter turning opponents with very different weapons and tactics.
By 1969, the U.S. Navy saw the error in their ways, and they went about establishing the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, later renamed Navy Fighter Weapons School (but most of us know it today, as Top Gun). And in 1975, the U.S. Air Force took realistic air combat training to the next level with the establishment of Red Flag — a massive air combat exercise that forces a variety of aircraft to coordinate with one another in a realistic setting against dissimilar aggressor aircraft and pilots trained specifically in emulating the behavior and tactics of opponent nations.
Today, allied nations from around the world send their aviators, aircraft, and support crews to participate in Red Flag, ever broadening both the scale and realism of this intense training environment. According to the U.S. Air Force, it’s not uncommon for more than 29 or more different types of aircraft to participate in any given Red Flag exercise, alongside a laundry list of ground-based defense systems and more.
Both of these training environments have helped to reshape the way America leverages its airpower, turning the largest air force in the world into arguably the most capable and effective one to boot — but doing so isn’t cheap. According to some reports, each of the three Red Flag exercises held per year costs Uncle Sam between $20 and $60 million in ordnance, operating, and personnel costs.
And this is one of those places where the funding disparity between Russian and American air forces becomes perhaps most evident.
As Guy Plopsky, a defense analyst who specializes in Russian military affairs, explained to Hushkit back in 2021, Russian fighter pilots do train in a variety of simulated combat scenarios, but rarely in coordination with other military assets and almost never in truly combined arms, large scale exercises.
“Larger VKS [Russian Aerospace Forces] exercises can include two or more different types of aircraft, including supporting platforms such as airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and tankers, giving crews the opportunity to practice aerial refueling and train with/against other platforms.” Plopski wrote.
Now, it’s important to note that Russia does hold occasional joint force training exercises that may see wider participation, but certainly not with the scope or regularity of American exercises like Red Flag. This training shortcoming creates real issues for Russian forces in a large-scale conflict like Ukraine.
Related: The S-400 myth: Why Russia’s air defense prowess is exaggerated
How this training disparity manifests in combat
Russian forces invaded Ukraine just over a year ago now, and despite the nation’s massive technological and numerical advantage in the skies, Ukraine’s airspace remains broadly contested. In fact, according to American defense officials, Ukraine — armed with a much smaller and less modernized Air Force and even more dated air defense systems — has been more successful in downing enemy aircraft than Russia to date (though Russia’s superior numbers may offer something of a target-rich environment for Ukrainian Surface to Air Missile systems).
We’ve delved into how Russia’s failure to secure air supremacy may have as much to do with flawed doctrine as training and operational shortcomings, but where a lack of training becomes most evident is when considering Russia’s struggle to deconflict Ukrainian airspace.
In other words, Russia’s got a bad habit of shooting its own planes down when there’s a lot going on.
“Running joint engagement zones in which combat aircraft and SAM systems can engage enemy forces simultaneously in a complex environment without friendly-fire incidents is hard; it requires close inter-service cooperation, excellent communications and regular training to master. So far, Russian forces have shown extremely poor coordination across the board, from basic logistics tasks, to coordination of airborne assaults with ground forces activity and arranging air defence cover for columns on the move.”“The Mysterious Case of the Missing Russian Air Force,” by Justin Bronk for RUSI
To be clear, it’s difficult to be certain about friendly fire incidents among Russian forces in Ukraine for a number of reasons, including both the fog of war and the Kremlin understandably refusing to publicly acknowledge them. But independent expert analysis paints a grim picture. On the ground, at least one Russian-backed commander, Alexander Khodakovsky, has claimed that as much as 60% of Russian combat losses between May and November of 2022 came from friendly fire alone.
And in the sky, things aren’t much better. In just the initial days of fighting, numerous reports of Russian aircraft being downed by their own air defense systems permeated the web, and while hard numbers may never emerge, U.S. Defense officials have substantiated a number of these stories as they surfaced. It was also discussed in a 69-page RUSI analysis of the conflict released last July:
“Fratricide has been a widespread problem for the Russian forces during their invasion of Ukraine. This has been across all systems. Russian air defences have regularly engaged friendly aircraft.”“Preliminary Lessons in Conventional Warfighting from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: February–July 2022,” by Mykhaylo Zabrodskyi, Jack Watling, Oleksandr V Danylyuk and Nick Reynolds for RUSI.
Arguably the highest profile of these incidents came in July of 2022, when video surfaced of Russian air defense systems shooting down what was believed to be a Ukrainian aircraft… only to find out later that it was actually one of just ten or fewer advanced new Su-34Ms in existence. This modernized 4th generation fighter-bomber could be compared in some ways to America’s F-15E Strike Eagle and is among the most capable jets in the Russian arsenal. The $50 million aircraft was shot down over Ukraine within just days of the Russian forces taking delivery of it.
And as RUSI explained, these fratricidal failings can be directly attributed to a lack of realistic training.
“This speaks to a lack of C2 and control measures during operations. It likely reflects Russian troops largely conducting scripted exercises rather than free-play force-on-force activity where they are used to dealing with the ambiguities that arise on the battlefield.”“Preliminary Lessons in Conventional Warfighting from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: February–July 2022,” by Mykhaylo Zabrodskyi, Jack Watling, Oleksandr V Danylyuk and Nick Reynolds for RUSI.
Related: Is the era of tanks over or does Russia just suck at using them?
Comparing 1991’s Gulf War air campaign to Russia’s air campaign over Ukraine
Now, it’s important to note that no nation with a sizeable air force is immune to fratricide, or friendly fire incidents, and the United States is no exception. In 2003, for instance, American MIM-104 Patriot Air Defense Systems were responsible for the downing of two friendly aircraft — one American and one British. In September of 1987, a U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat shot down a U.S. Air Force RF- 4C reconnaissance jet over the Mediterranean Sea. These are not exactly isolated incidents, but they are exceedingly rare. The rarity of fratricide incidents between American and allied forces can be directly attributed to continuous investment into new technologies aimed at quickly deconflicting complex battlespaces, but certainly also to large-scale combined-arms training like Red Flag.
The coalition’s Gulf War Air Campaign, despite being more than three decades ago, offered a clinic in deconflicting far more combat aircraft in a much smaller space than Ukraine.
Some 2,780 coalition fixed-wing aircraft flew over 116,000 combat sorties in Iraq over the span of just 37 days. This breaks down to approximately 3,135 combat sorties per day during the air campaign. Of course, there was also a reported 1,114 fixed-wing Iraqi aircraft flying in the same region, and countless air defense systems from all nations also in play.
Between coalition and Iraqi forces combined, there were more than 4,000 fixed-wing assets, along with many more rotorcraft, operating within less than 170,000 square miles of Iraqi territory during that 37-day span. Despite this density of platforms within a confined space, the coalition lost just 52 fixed-wing aircraft, with one air-to-air loss to an enemy fighter and the remainder from Iraqi ground-based anti-aircraft fire. While the Gulf War did see friendly fire incidents that involved aircraft firing on ground troops, not a single aircraft was lost to fratricide (but in the interest of disclosure, one Navy A-6E pilot reported being fired upon by a friendly surface-to-air missile that missed).
Now, compare that to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in which far fewer aircraft are operating over an even larger area — a bit more than 233,000 square miles.
It’s difficult to ascertain exactly how many combat aircraft Russia has committed to the fight, particularly because many don’t actually cross the border into Ukraine, opting for the safety of launching long-range cruise missiles into the embattled nation from Russian airspace instead. But according to Russian state-controlled media, the nation flew some 34,000 combat sorties between the onset of the war on February 24 and mid-October of 2022, breaking down to approximately 150 sorties per day.
And while Iraqi forces operated more than a thousand fixed-wing aircraft in 1991, Ukraine’s Air Force started the war with just 125 fixed-wing assets.
Put simply, the Gulf War air campaign creates a damning juxtaposition when compared directly to Russia’s air campaign over Ukraine. Russian aircraft are flying about 5% as many sorties in an area that’s 37% larger against an air force just 11% the size of Iraq’s in 1991, but while the coalition lost a total of just 52 fixed-wing aircraft in combat and none to fratricide, Russia has already lost a confirmed 352 fixed-wing aircraft, with even Russian propagandists highlighting that an appreciable but unconfirmed percentage of these losses were the direct result of friendly fire.
“Insufficient levels of interaction with other branches and types of troops, along with an inoperative identification system, has more than once led to ‘friendly fire’ to the point that almost all Su-34, Su-35S and Su-30M aircraft lost since spring, as well as part of the Ka-52 helicopters, are ‘on account’ of Russian air defence,” wrote Pro-Kremlin analysis outlet Rybar.
And while many Russian platforms are still flying with dated systems not too dissimilar from those employed by coalition forces in 1991, even those carrying more advanced systems onboard have demonstrated an inability to effectively leverage them, either due to inexperience or issues with their design.
“The Khibiny EW pod, mounted to a number of Russian aircraft, automatically detects radars and disrupts them. Unfortunately for the Russians, it tends to also do this to other Russian aircraft. Pairs of Russian strike aircraft mounting this system have therefore had to choose between having a functional radar or EW protection. They have often been ordered to prioritise their radar.”“Preliminary Lessons in Conventional Warfighting from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: February–July 2022,” by Mykhaylo Zabrodskyi, Jack Watling, Oleksandr V Danylyuk and Nick Reynolds for RUSI.
Related: Russia’s PAK DA stealth bomber is a big, powerful paper plane
The shortage of well-trained Russian pilots is only going to get worse as this conflict continues
Throughout this (now quite long) analysis of Russian and American pilot training, we’ve omitted one more vital point of comparison: volume. While we’ve compared training flight hours between American and Russian flight schools, for instance, the volume of students who pass through these schools is also a vital metric to assess.
The number of pilots Russia is able to push through training has been negatively affected for years by a lack of modern and serviceable training aircraft, which creates one of several training bottlenecks for VKS aviators.
According to the aforementioned RUSI analysis, Russia’s Aerospace Forces may have entered into the Ukrainian conflict with as few as just 100 fully trained combat pilots, forcing the rest of its aviators into the fight without completing the full breadth of instruction required. But that’s not the full extent of Russia’s pilot shortage problem… it’s only the beginning.
Russia’s military culture dictates that the most dangerous missions be assigned to the most skilled and competent aviators. This philosophy seems logical at first glance, but leads to higher attrition (or losses) among the force’s most qualified pilots. In order to address these losses within Russia’s elite pilot corps, the VKS has reportedly begun mobilizing pilot instructors out of flight schools like Krasnodar, putting these highly-skilled pilots directly into front-line formations. This has resulted in a shortage of trainers, creating further bottlenecks in the pilot pipeline and further reducing the number of new aviators entering service to replace those lost in combat.
This shortage of experienced pilots has resulted in an influx of inexperienced new pilots bolstered by older retirees brought back into service after years away from the cockpit, and that’s forced a shift in how Russia executes air operations.
“The Ukrainian military has noted a rise in both very young and very old pilots in the VKS, with ageing pilots returned to frontline service. This has corresponded with a significant reduction in the scale and complexity of VKS air operations over Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict.”“Preliminary Lessons in Conventional Warfighting from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: February–July 2022,” by Mykhaylo Zabrodskyi, Jack Watling, Oleksandr V Danylyuk and Nick Reynolds for RUSI.
This experiential deficit manifests in a number of other areas of Russia’s air campaign as well. As early as March 9, 2022, Russian air forces attempted to transition to low-altitude night operations, as they were losing more aircraft to Ukrainian defense during the day. But because only Russia’s Su-34s are properly equipped for these flights and there are so few pilots capable of conducting them, these night operations quickly degraded into simple bombardments of besieged cities like Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Mariupul using the same tactics leveraged by Russian aviators in Syria.
This approach proved ineffective enough, despite the relative safety offered by night-flying, for Russia to pivot back away from these operations within just a month or so.
Related: How false flag operations work and Russia’s history of using them
Russian pilots are poorly trained, poorly equipped, poorly supported, and poorly utilized
To make things worse for inexperienced Russian pilots, their aircraft are also being maintained and serviced by inexperienced ground crews, exacerbating technical limitations and further reducing survivability. In a separate analysis from RUSI, these training issues are further explored.
“Modern encrypted radio sets have been found without the encryption keys needed to use them, and in others the radar and other sensors have been found either in the stowed position or with pins or covers still fitted that prevent them from working.”“The Russian Air War and Ukrainian Requirements for Air Defence,” by Justin Bronk with Nick Reynolds and Jack Watling for RUSI
When you consider the full scope of serious and far-reaching issues facing Russian combat pilots, the lack of Russian airpower throughout much of this conflict makes a great deal of sense. In fact, based on these challenges, it’s somewhat impressive that Russia’s aircraft losses haven’t been worse.
And while there are lots of conclusions we can draw about the effective use of airpower in a 21st-century conflict or the importance of a training infrastructure that mirrors the complexity of modern warfare, the most glaring conclusion may be the one that’s been well-tread since the first Russian troops crossed over into Ukraine last February: Russia did not expect this to become a protracted fight, and as such, they were utterly unprepared for one.
But damning as this analysis of Russian airpower may truly be, it’s essential that we not lose sight of Russia’s continued combat capacity. While the above-discussed shortcomings may have allowed Ukraine to fend off its larger and more powerful opponent for better than a year now, this war is not over, and lives are being lost every day.
The Russian military’s strategic, doctrinal, and cultural failings have created the opportunity for a heroic Ukrainian defense, but they aren’t enough to ensure Russia’s defeat. Ukraine still has one hell of a fight ahead of it.
But, to come full circle, let’s close by addressing the recent influx of conspiracy theories about Russia’s Su-27 potentially crashing into America’s MQ-9 Reaper on purpose… While anything is possible, it seems there’s more than enough evidence to comfortably view this interaction through the lens of Hanlon’s Razor:
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect, ignorance or incompetence.
Feature Image: A Russian pilot during flight. (Russian Ministry of Defense)
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Just another article to glamorize the American military.
I’m not following your math. $65 billion times PPP of 27.3 = $1.77 trillion. That’s twice the entire US military budget.
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