a reply to: gariac
Trust me, I'm all for less carriers. Expensive and 100% offensive. I don't see the need to project power. Meanwhile China uses soft power (Belt
External tanks means no stealth.
I said tankers, not external tanks. Refuelling can be conducted outside of high threat environments, although I concede this is not preferable to
native range. The F-117 did this in the first Gulf War and the F-22 and F-35 continue this today.
Fly high for cooling?
All aircraft can only fly long distances at medium or high altitudes, the air is thicker and hotter at low altitudes. Other aircraft also have issues
- as I have already mentioned - at low fuel state, low altitudes, especially at high speed. And, on a long range strike you are likely to be over
enemy territory at relatively high fuel state anyway, otherwise you have bigger issues than some avionics overheating. So there is the option of
flying at high altitude for fuel efficiency and cooling to the ingress point then dropping to a more tactical altitude as required. On the way home
the reverse can be done.
For stealth, the F-35 can therefore, fly at low altitude (with certain limitations) to rely on terrain masking and
low observables or medium
altitude and rely on low observables. Low obervales do not have no impact at low altitude. Anyway, other aircraft only have the option of terrain
Also as you drop the altitude to extreme levels, the problem you will eventually have is that you limit the ability for your sensors to see what is
around of you and you may be putting yourself outside the reach of friendly line-of-sight datalinks. The CONOPS for the F-35 is to operate as a
four-ship within line-of-sight, but separated by tens of miles, sharing information.
You criticized the F-35 for range. Anyone want to guess how much range an F-35 has cruising at Mach 0.9 and 20,000 feet compares with a Super Hornet
at Mach 0.9 and 100 feet? Maybe we should penalize the Super Hornet even more, since it has to be routed specially to be masked by terrain. Then
penalize it again because its (inferior) sensors won't be able to see much at 100 feet. Then penalize it again because weapons don't go as far when
released at low altitude.
And, if you happen to mistakenly fly over a Pantsir that you didn't detect, then you're dead. Hence why aircraft like the F-111 and Tornado were not
survivable even in the first Gulf War, when the RAF lost six of the sixty it deployed.
If you need to rely on a large degree of terrain masking, it may be preferable to launch cruise missiles instead.
The F-35 is a Swiss Army knife.
You just criticized the F-35 because it apparently cannot fly a profile that is not terribly relevant and wasn't designed to do. Swiss Army Knife?
It will never really be optimal for each branch
The RCAF, Swiss Air Force, and RAAF decided to buy the Hornet already despite it having scars from making it carrier capable. In other words, this is
already something that many of the worlds air forces have to deal with already. And there were perfectly valid reasons to buying the F/A-18 over the
F-15, Mirage 2000, or F-16 at the time.
Today there is not an option of buying a 5th generation fighter without scars from making it multi-variant. There are no aircraft available that
exist. Do you then go back a generation or deal with the scars?
For the record I want Canada to buy Rafale for political and industrial reasons.
edit on 23/6/18 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)