The USA today is the only real superpower. Russia has a bad economy which makes them unable to fund their military and weapons designers. This are only two of the reasons why most people underestimate Russia. People tend to dismiss Russian weapons as good but less impressive than US' own.
Let's compare them by category
The US marines are one of the best trained regular troops in the world. Russia is not known for its standard troops but well respected for it's special force especially the Spetsnaz Alpha team which some consider more elite than the US navy seals or Green Berets. Time magazine called them "perfect killers"
The US has the Abrams tank and Russia has the Black Eagle which isn't yet on their arsenal because of lack of funds. The Black eagle has a radically new design (very low profile, small turret, improved crew safety) which could revolutionize tanks if it enters service. The US Abrams' image has been overly enhanced because of what? fighting obsolete Russian t-72s? It is no doubt one of the best tanks today and that's proven but they are not really that great.
The Russian BMPs are the best infantry vehicles.
One of the deadliest weapons unparalleled by any nation is the US smart bomb. Russia has pretty good precision-guided munitions but nothing close to the smart bomb.
The Russian S-300V is the unrivaled ADM system. The US patriot missle can't even destroy a scud effectively.
The US had a formidable navy during WWII to counter the German u-boats and battleships. The navy developed into today's best. But look at Russia. They never had a strong navy before the cold war. Their Baltic fleet was annihilated during the Russo-japanese war and during WWII they didn't have a navy comparable to Germany, the US or Britain and yet after a few years they had the largest navy. Then they made the Akula. The US may have the Ohio, trident, seawolf and sturgeon but none of them can locate an Akula navigating at tactical speeds. The Russians also have the quietest sub - the kilo class. The US aircraft carriers seem to be venerated across the globe but the Akula is sometimes called the "aircraft carrier killer".
The US Commanche, Cobra and Apache are well known. The Kamov KA-52 Hokum and the MIL Mi-28 Havoc are not but they are parallel to their US counterparts. The Ka-52 is even sometimes considered to be the deadliest.
Russia produced the most powerful hydrogen bomb in history. They also made the space bomb. The US has counters to this threat but so does Russia.
You probably heard of the stealth capabilities of the US but never on Russia's radio-absorbent material or plasma stealth. You probably know something about the F-15, F-16 and F-18 but only a little about the MiG-29, Su-27 or the Su-37. So you'd probably conclude that the US is way ahead in air superiority. Who could blame you? You've watch Hollywood movies about american fighters shooting down MiGs and every military shows or documentaries you see are about US-made fighters.
In reality Russia rivals the US. On some aspects it even surpasses the US. India is known to prefer Russian fighters to US ones. F-15s weren't as impressive as the Su-27. The MiG-29 is famous for its manueverabilty and so its a popular choice for many Asian countries hoping the strengthen their airforce.
In history Russia has produced some great aircrafts. The IL-2 sturmovik in WWII is one. they also made the MiG-25 the best at its time. The US also produced the F-4 phantom and the Tomcat which you probably heard of.
And also Russia made the best ejection seat.
Cyberspace is a battlefield where the US can easily defeat anyone. I don't think Russia's good at these. But then again info warfare isn't imporant at this time.
Who won the space race? Ok maybe the US. But here I'm talkng about military satellites and space stations.
The US launched the Skylabs. They were made for scientific research not military purposes. Russia launched 7 salyut space stations and mir which you probably know. But here's something you probably didn't know - the Almaz military space stations. They were meant for reconnaissance of the earth focusing on Russia and it's immediate surroundings.
Russia also launched sevral killer satellites able to fire shrapnels at other space vehicles. Also remember the space bomb.
REASONS WHY MOST PEOPLE OVERESTIMATE THE USA
1. They are the only real superpower today
2. America's powerful influence.
Hollywood movies like Behind Enemy Lines, Black Hawk Down, Green Berets and others that showcase US capalities. And all sorts of media that seem inject peoples' minds with chemicals that tell them that America's the best.
3. Their victory in WWII, korean war, the Gulf wars
REASONS WHY MOST PEOPLE UNDERESTIMATE RUSSIA
1. Their poor economy
2. Their incompetence in Chechnya
Russia withdrew from Chechnya during the first war and suddenly Russia's strong-armed-force image faded. But a few realize that Russia wasn't in a good condition to fight the war and besides Chechnya's terrain is a perfect place for hit-and-run guerilla fighters.
3. The Afghan War
Afghanistan is another battlefield in favor of locals. The Soviet union withrew in the end just like the Americans in Vietnam. The difference is the Afghan civil war lasted for 8 years and in my opinion that's pretty good considering the guerilla enemies and the vast land. And also it was in maintaining their control where they failed but conquering afghanistan's capital took them only 45 minutes thanks to the Spetsnaz.
3. The Gulf War
Russia supplied weapons to Iraq. Iraq followed Russia's armed force structure. When the US came they destroyed Iraq's tank divisions which consisted of mostly Russian-made t-72s. MiG-29s under Iraqi pilots didn't do good also.
Think about these: What if Russia gets used to the democratic form of government and then manages a good economy? They'll have enough money for their army, navy, airfoce, space programs and military researches. The Black Eagle as their main battle tanks, The Hokum and Havoc produced in large quantities, the Akulas become operational, maybe a continuation of the killer satellite projects.
So do you still think the US is great considering that it has the largest budget for military while Russia's Armed forces are almost dead and still The USA finds it hard to be way ahead?
Edited by MADtank, 27 April 2006 - 2357 PM.