Originally posted by Selena
If you dissagree with the meaning of the word "generation" that is fine, but most of the world would not agree with you. Russia, China,
France, the UK as well as every other modern military power classifies the Raptor as the only 5th generation aircraft in the world today - they agree
with the US on this.
Eh? I've heard people describe the Eurofighter and a whole lot of Russian fighters (the MiG MFI, the Su-37 and 47, etc.) described as Fifth
Generation aircraft before, from American sources. The Raptor was certainly one of the first Fifth Gen's, if not ~the~ first, but I wouldn't say
it's the only one. Now, if you meant operational fifth generation, then we can knock the Russians off the list for now, leaving the Raptor
and Eurofighter. While the Eurofighter isn't nearly as stealthy, it does sport supercruise, good avionics and excellent maneuverability.
Although I'm not certain if the Su-37 is still in the testing phase. Is that one still under development, or are the Russians getting close to being
ready to put it into production?
To start off, yes - I did mean operational/production fighter. The Typhoon isn't a 5th gen fighter. It is a gen 4++ so to speak. It really doesn't
have anything that revolutionary other then supercruise. Heck, It doesn't even have thrust vectoring yet. Put it this way, it is more comparable to
the superhornet in my mind then it is the Raptor. The superhornet and Typhoon both have reduced RCS and modern avionics. The Raptor is a STEALTH
aircraft - it has lowered heat signitures and a MUCH smaller RCS while having next generation avionics. In short, it's not like the Typhoon is bad -
far from it. It is just not very comparable to the Raptor because it lacks the stealth and computing power.
As for the Russian birds, there is the S-37 (aka Su-47) and the Mig MFI/1.44.
The Sukhoi is not, IMO, a 5th generation fighter. It is, like the Typhoon, more of the same. Effort to reduce RCS, TVC, supercruise (?), modern
avionics et al. However, this was a technology demonstrator - NOT a production aircraft. Last I have heard they were offering to sell it to other
countries, but Russia herself was not interested because of another fighter....
Which brings us to the Mig MFI. Now, if this aircraft is everything they claim it to be, then yes, it is a 5th generation fighter. It would be a
supercruising, 3D thrust vectoring, modern avionics bearing, twin engine, stealth aircraft. However, Mig boasts it to be more stealthy then the
raptor, and that is when the red lights go off.
First of all, how can they make this claim? They have never flown one, have never flown against one, have never even been close to one.
To be more technical, all one must do is simply look at the aircraft and you can say it is not close to as stealthy.
First, compare the tails of the aircraft:
Raptor (sorry for the bad pick of the tail, but it was the best I could find, which may not be an accident
Notice how on the MFI, you have both engine nozles close together while on the raptors they are farther apart? That, along with materials used and a
cooling system, results in a smaller heat signature for the Raptor. The MFI uses a standard configuration, so it is already losing the heat war.
Then, if you notice, the raptor has no (zero) 90 degree surfaces. Those 90 degree angles are a large part of radar returns. The MFI has tons of them,
for instance, both it's delta wings and forward canards have 90 degree edges.
Then there are small things such as how the plane is put together.
In this picture, you can clearly see bolts holding metal together. Not so on the Raptor.
Notice how "clean" everything is on the Raptor? There are no spaces between material, nor are there bolts holding it together. In fact, most of the
"lines" are where the missle bay doors are. Other then that, is is smooth. This is another thing that seperates the two - the MFI is not made out of
RAM like the Raptor.
Which leads me to another thing, and that is cost. The reason the Raptor is so expensive is because it has such a high degree of stealth. The
materials, design, and manufacturing are all more expensive - there is simply no way of getting around this. RAM is more expensive then metal and RAP
is more expensive then regular paint. So I fail to see how the MFI could not only equal, but surpass, the Raptors degree of all aspect stealth, all
while suposedly being less expensive.
Last point before I cut my long winded response short, which is the actual radar of the two aircraft. The Raptor uses a LO radar which changes
frequencies very quickly. This is so it's own radar does not betray it. From what I have read of the MFI, it does not use anything like this, and
sticks to a traditional phased aray radar.
Basically, unless the MFI is deploying some revolutionary "plasma" stealth that they like to talk about (but have yet to produce), the MFI is not
going to be as stealthy as the Raptor. Even if they did add plasma stealth, it would light up like a Xmas tree at night, as well as make it very hot -
not good things when trying to build a stealth aircraft.
So basically, IMHO, the Raptor IS a 5th gen fighter, and is the only one in service/production today. What gives it its 5th generation status is the
combination of supercruise, 2 supercomputers, avionics, TVC, and stealth (which includes shape based stealth in combination with material based
stealth, thermal stealth, and it's own LO radar).
[edit on 1-3-2005 by American Mad Man]