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Aiming for the high ground

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posted on Aug, 8 2005 @ 10:41 PM
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Aiming for the high ground

By Rob Hewson Editor Jane's Air-Launched Weapons


In the global market (excluding Russia and China) the US dominates the industrial and operational landscape in two ways. With the largest deployed air force it obviously has the largest weapons requirement. US manufacturers will always be supported by this single, fiercely protected market that guarantees sales. For example, the US Air Force (USAF) plans to replace its AIM-9M Sidewinder stocks (about 4,400 missiles) on an almost one-for-one basis with the AIM-9X (4,000 missiles) by 2012. No other customer has this kind of buying power.

Europe's missile industry watches the air-to-air weapons market with increasing frustration. The easy availability of integrated and affordable US missiles continues to eat up market share. Europe's air-to-air missile (AAM) developers hold impeccable high-tech credentials and have produced advanced and effective weapons. However, they have failed to develop sufficient critical mass while always struggling with delays and high costs. France has had a reliable market for its missiles but these weapons have been tied to French-built platforms. That route is now a dead end for future volume sales. The UK is arguably in a worse position, with no national aircraft industry to fall back on and exports to the US or Europe unlikely. Other projects, like the German-led IRIS-T, survive at the margins but the European missile industry is failing to effectively compete by not having a unified product line, or even a unified process.

A 'must have' package

One of the few instances where this is not true - and the only example in the AAM field - is MBDA Missile Systems' Meteor Beyond-Visual-Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) programme. The Meteor should be a benchmark future weapon, one that pulls together all of Europe's skills into a 'must have' package. The threat to this rosy future is twofold. Meteor may yet arrive into a 'no need' world, where there is no effective air threat to warrant such a high-performance (and highly priced) missile.

The second, greater, danger is a 'no room' scenario where Meteor is quietly but effectively shut out from any US platform - specifically the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) - and thereby excluded from what could be the lion's share of the post-2020 combat aircraft market.

364 of 3,147 words


That would be interesting, the JSF made so it wouldn't carry Meteor. Even though Meteor is now being redesigned to fit the JSF.




posted on Aug, 10 2005 @ 11:57 PM
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NWguy,

>>
In the global market (excluding Russia and China) the US dominates the industrial and operational landscape in two ways.
>>

We dominate with a system of systems approach. Never, EVER, doubt that.

'How big' is nothing to 'how many' (shared customer base) and in this the EUros have nothing but themselves to blame. If they had ever /once/ ceased to be such stupid feudalistic FOOLS in terms of combining defense base via a shared defense -posture-; 'NATO' would have ceased to exist about 1965 when we buried ourselves in Vietnam.

What this means is simple: One Fighter. One AEW&C. One Tank. One IFV/APC. One Battle Rifle. One DDG/FFG class.

Distributed out over all 16 or so 'member nations' (i.e. city states, none larger than Texas and Alaska as individuals) and thus providing the baseline for not only superior but closed-shop exclusive weapons development.

>>
With the largest deployed air force it obviously has the largest weapons requirement. US manufacturers will always be supported by this single, fiercely protected market that guarantees sales. For example, the US Air Force (USAF) plans to replace its AIM-9M Sidewinder stocks (about 4,400 missiles) on an almost one-for-one basis with the AIM-9X (4,000 missiles) by 2012. No other customer has this kind of buying power.
>>

What a crock of ***t.

We NEEDED a new SRM about 30 years ago. When the AIM-7F was proving to be a genuinely uncapable weapon and the desire to make the AIM-120 AMRAAM into an F-16 minimissile meant that everything that would have been ARH+IMU+Tail Control 'easy' in an 8", 510lb class of AAM, suddenly became a 12 year struggle which WOULD have cost us Air Superiority over Europe if the dumbass Russians hadn't gone over the mountain.

'In the interim' (NATO MOU on ASRAAM) every other nation on the planet has gotten not only ALASCA but HOBS+HMDS capabilities _superior to_ the AIM-9X. Which is itself only in /limited/ fielding deployment.

Not forgettting that even the AIM-9L was in fact based on German 'Viper' seeker research, the fact remains that massive equipment OOBs means /glacial/ reequipment rates and sacred cow programs which either demand or derail as _specific_ ordnance configuration which makes it incompatible or unaffordable on all other platforms.

Now throw in additional complications as formerly independent weapons test and DARPA like R&D efforts gain 'oversight' from service organizations as they try to develop weapons which effect a given platform or congressional district and it becomes incredibly clear that U.S. weapons system R&D through procurement, /far/ from producing 'the best in the world' is a topheavy architecture run by R&M needs having little or NOTHING to do with real world threats.

Indeed, in terms of the latter, where you are facing perhaps 20-60 threat jets with a real ability to do harm to the 400-700 jets you probably have in-theater; a SMALL buy of 100-200 Python 4 provides better force protection and assurance of capability than AIM-9X will EVER be capable of giving (20km seeker on a 10km tube that it is).

Again, this is just Euro wah-wah tears over what they mistakenly perceive to be unfair 'mass' of competition. Since the author himself admits that French controls over MICA (at one time, the U.S. was going to qualify it on the F-16A.20's for Taiwan but the conditions of use were eggregious) are at least as bad, it hardly stands to reason that it's an American problem.

Mind your own damn defense why don'tcha?

>>
Europe's missile industry watches the air-to-air weapons market with increasing frustration. The easy availability of integrated and affordable US missiles continues to eat up market share. Europe's air-to-air missile (AAM) developers hold impeccable high-tech credentials and have produced advanced and effective weapons. However, they have failed to develop sufficient critical mass while always struggling with delays and high costs. France has had a reliable market for its missiles but these weapons have been tied to French-built platforms. That route is now a dead end for future volume sales. The UK is arguably in a worse position, with no national aircraft industry to fall back on and exports to the US or Europe unlikely. Other projects, like the German-led IRIS-T, survive at the margins but the European missile industry is failing to effectively compete by not having a unified product line, or even a unified process.
>>

I say this all the time. Meteor is a great weapon. Just like the AAAM that we developed the technology coal bed for in the mid 80's.

Yet it is NOT the 'be all' ultimate of AAM because, as with ALL such missiles, it is based on a whole series of mistaken assumptions:

1. That a customer not entirely despicable will have a jet and radar which can exploit it.
2. That said customer will have enough base infrastructure and currency training to keep a sufficient pool of PILOTS qualified on the airframe so that they are not all blown to bits on simple sortie saturation and presoak (cruise) basis of OCA.
3. That the missile itself is going to be sufficiently robust in it's political as much as technical spec'ing that it is not sold out from under them by 'smart' EW measures that screw the datalink or seeker or fuzing.
4. That, having 'miss-iled' once said missile can afford to be /thrown away/.
5. What happens when you are facing, not just VLO but active defense systems like an ATL laser in an equally 'missionized' F-35 force? Shooting a weapon twice as far when _the parent_ can't see the target more than 1/2 the standard distance (say 15-20 instead of 40-50nm tracking) is DUMB. Assuming that we will continue to 'play fair' when WE LEAD with the DEWs is even worse.

Particularly When you realize that BVRAAM/Meteor may well be a 500-800,000 dollar round (1.5-2 times AMRAAM), the realization rapidly sets in that the EUros are, just like the Russians, playing conceptual Ape-The-Americans in their best efforts.

IF I WERE TO DESIGN A MISSILE.

It would have entirely independent missile:missile hunting datalinks that operated on a burst-code basis of 'over here!' star tracking as well as independent INS and auxilliary GPS and _surface beacon_ orientation in the battlespace. Positioing bandwidth and pack communications being entirely separate as a function of handing off active-gated TV seeker target acquistions.

The missiles would also be surface launched from catapult or quick erect 'ESTES Pole', just like a target drone. The carrier vehicle being no larger than a pickup bed or UHaul trailer.

Also like a target drone, they would be _turbine_ powered with rocket backup only for the terminal intercept, if that. Even the mighty U.S. has /begged/ such a solution be realized in their electing to go with the moronic subsonic cruise of an underpowered JSF.

Turbine power would give me 200nm + 30 minutes worth of 'launch over here, engage waaaaaaay the heck over /there/' ability to sweep the approach lanes to a target.

Thus generating VOLUME rather than POINT defense, as with a conventional S2A system.

Lastly, though the round would be designed to generate 'formation kills' between multiple herraschluss pack hunting members (maneuvering to a tail chase collision intercept and then creeping-up rather than crossing hard-over the target vector). The weapons would also be equipped with parafoils and beacon _return_ coordinates for recovery.

Better by far to drop your 'Su-27' onto an airbag. Than to attempt to land it at a 12,000ft aimpoint locus.

Not least because, by combining nominal 'fighter' (midcourse bus and AI aperture) with /weapon/ (terminal seeker) in a minefield like deployment strategy, you can AFFORD to have perhaps 200-300 genuine (aggressively self initiated rather than fleeting-F-117 biased) intercepts. AWAY FROM TARGET.

If each round costs a million dollars, 300 million bucks adds up to about 6 Flankers. Guess which threat the almighty USAF is going to worry more about on a statistical basis of 'Can't find'em, can't see'em, can't afford to trade them 1:1 with AMRAAMs' attrition?

Ahhhhh, but there you go. The moronic monkeys will always use the excuse "Our solutions look like their solutions because the mission is the same..." Rather than holding their enemy in TOTAL DOCTRINAL CONTEMPT as they make a system which 'renders their system of systems obsolescent'.

You can imagine how little sympathy I have with such fools whining about being beaten at a game they _choose_ to play-by-the-conceptual-rules in.

>>
One of the few instances where this is not true - and the only example in the AAM field - is MBDA Missile Systems' Meteor Beyond-Visual-Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) programme. The Meteor should be a benchmark future weapon, one that pulls together all of Europe's skills into a 'must have' package. The threat to this rosy future is twofold. Meteor may yet arrive into a 'no need' world, where there is no effective air threat to warrant such a high-performance (and highly priced) missile.
>>

Meteor works in a pissant confrontation like Pak vs. Indi. But only if you sell them the tech base and make your own threat level spiral-up another notch. This being the reality of a world in which the majority of manufacture and certainly /microchip/ manufacture is all SEA/SWAPR based anyway.

It should also be noted that the easiest ways to counter this are again, U.S. dominant:

1. Laser hard kill.
The KT boundary event of manned airpower.
2. Standoff Aeroballistics.
Mach 8 kill vehicle vs. Mach 5 mechanical intercept, try to make the cross track
geometry work /sucker/…
3. Cheaper UCAVs.
ESPECIALLY if you have a 60-80,000ft LTA or HAEUAV (or even a return to
Teal Ruby type SATWACS) looking over a total basin perhaps 3,000 miles
across, the reality is that if you can SEE THE PLUME of a firing event, you
can certainly counter kill the launch platform from the moment it lifts off even a
roadbase. If you /lose/ a UCAV (which is itself not only 50-70% cheaper but also
/vastly/ more stealthy, by tailless, cockpitless, gaping inletless, no-hogs nose radar
configuration) in the meantime, WHO CARES? It’s a 10-20 million dollar
investment in trade for the 50 million dollar Su-27, 60 million dollar Eurofighter.
80 million dollar Rafale.



CONCLUSION:
What this all REALLY comes down to is Thales/EADS whining like beaten women under the assumption that their national governments will try to use NATO membership to either bring them more ‘influence’ (stolen tech base) with U.S. companies facing their own shrinking market problems. Or in fact to become trans-nationalized much the way these megacorps have. In a process that _foolishly_ equates profitability with nationalism. The bleating sheep public will repeatedly line up to be shorn if they think a given airframe or weapons system on it is ‘for their common good’ as a function of flag waiving. But they have little or no interest in a ‘treaty organization’ which is seen as little more than a flood insurance policy in the middle of the Sahara desert. It being THAT problem (a refusal to build a common air force, RDF and naval powerbase to refute the need for a U.S. –presence- in Europe, thru NATO) that they have to work the psychology of.

And given how stuck up and ‘peaceful so long as it costs us nothing’ most Europeans are about out of area actions; I doubt if even a passive feudalist nature will be changed in time to make a truly confederated nation state out of the Continent.

Not before energy (petro) warfare and ‘terrorism’ for water and food take on entirely new scales of no-choice determinancy in the period 2020-2030.



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