In another thread earlier I posted a website that I dont believe to be extremely reliable but interesting none the less.
this page says that should UCAV's truly become profisent at A2A combat
First, off, given your current, relatively neutral, position on the international front, I doubt seriously if Canada has much need for a true
'fighter' in more than the odd lost-zombie, drug interdiction or airliner hijacking.
To adequately provide such cover across the broad expanse of your Frontiers is itself probably impossible with the 60 or so F/A-18s you have but
selective (trans-oceanic routes) coverage is more than a doable mission 'forever' with the Hornet. Or at least as long as the center barrels hold
I doubt seriously if the X-45 is good for fighter missioning as anything more than a weapons-cabinet approach to either multiplying a limited fighter
presence or preenergizing the individual weapons poles via forward positioning.
i.e. The 'missileer' type profile for which the F404 T/Wr of only around .2:1 allows for. Whereas a penetrating approach would need both a fast
onset to 'pin' the baselanes and the ability to maneuver rapidly against several targets (or threat shots, especially S2A) which is quite simply
beyond the X-45's propulsion path (limited inlet mass flow) -or- G capabilities. J-UCAS is rated to 5.5G (which is about 7-8dps vs. the Hornets
13-16 sustained and 30-40 instantaneous) and cannot sustain this for control effectors as as much as airframe stress reasons.
Obviously, the defensive mission is less stressful in terms of overlapping hostile IADS problems on sensor:shooter aspects and evasive energy reserves
but quite frankly, most commuter level/business jets and nearly all airliners should be able to flat out-run the X-45, denying the option to 'come up
along side and fire guns across the nose'. If there is no flexibility in the external platforms ability to 'determine intent', even a 15-25
million dollar UCAV starts to pale (as a pure BVR shooter) in comparison to say secure cabin cameras and an encrypted 'range safe' protocol. Both
on acceptability-to-public (Terminator psychology) and sheer gross-economics, the UCAV, /as J-UCAS/ profiled, is not a player in the DCA game
For these reasons the LINK poster's suggestion that the X-45 is more agile than the F/A-18 and certainly that it is capable of a 'fighter mission'
is grossly overstated.
...that Canada is considering buying them. I think its an interesting option considering the facts that you stated in this post. I would be
interested in hearing further your thoughts on what YOU think personally Can and Aus or the countries that I think have supported the US within
reason. I would love to have the F-22 flying out of CFB Cold Lake but i doubt that would happen due to cost and the US keepin their tech.
First off, I would prefer Canada over Saudi or Israel or Japan which are the only likely nations to have either the special priveleges or the fiscal
power to afford such a status symbol weapons system. However, you are correct that he most likely presence of Raptors is either in Maple Flag
conditions (wherein we could gain valuable experience against ARH/BVR 'with IRST, 2-way tether and Ramjet legs' bonus dangers experience against the
Luftwaffe and RAF Typhoons.).
Now, if you want a fighter you need three things:
Decisive Engagement Decisioning.
Dominant Shot Counts.
Freedom Of Operations.
DED basically comes down to speed and signature control to get to a position whereby you can score with missiles BEFORE an opfor weapon/platform
combination can achieve similar Single Shot Kill Probabilities on you. If you take an F-104 high-fast profile (Mach 2 @ 70K for 500nm) you WILL
basically be able to shoot-first anything you can see before it can do the same to you. At least with rocket propulsion AAMs. If you give your
missile a sophisticated datalink so that it can take midcourse updates from a second flight 40-60 miles behind you while you turn and extend away at
launch, even 'seeing' is optional. If you put ram propulsion on the missile and let it fly out to a point in space where an IRST or (ground) range
tracking camera. Or long wave 'stealth defeating' radar says there is a target (and the two way datalink confirms all this) in theory the balance
can switch the other way again. If the enemy says "Okay, I've got 40 tier-1 capable fighters in my arsenal and he's got 400, I can either die
valiantly fighting for ONE target. Be bombed where my air force sits. Go into (dispersal) hiding in the hopes he doesn't invade. Or pick ONE
target against which I will expend my assets in the hopes of distrupting his game plan and embarrassing him politically", theoretically he can still
score major victory with as little as a MiG-21 one way mission against an AWACS or Tanker that has wandered too far forward. Decisive Engagement then
meaning /decisive refusal/ (or 'COE' Contempt Of Engagement) to duel for no reason.
OTOH, DSC is basically a balance between the ability to loiter in a given area /before/ the threat becomes visible. And the ability to see and sort
and kill him within an 'optimum envelope' combination of own performance and weapon once he arrives. This is the first of many cost trades in which
you have to balance things like wingloading and thrust trust reserves against numbers of jets purchased and their ability to act as cooperative
hunting packs in reducing things like sensorizatin costs and the physical size and total count of shots carried. As regards weapons, it may well come
down to a choice- "Is it a Phenix level capability because I can't beat his airframe or combined IADS (S2A) and must never cross the line into his
briar patch? Or is it a Sidewinder++ because high end RFLO means I can't shoot him until I literally SEE the whites of his eyes and decisively
finishing him at close range means having the numbers of shooters to survive a fight from which nobody can run away?" In terms of numbers, basically
Air Dominance is a mission flown 70% of the time. Intimidation Manuevered 20% of the time and fought maybe 5-10% of the time.
As such, there are a LOT of 'tooling about, boring holes in the sky' non-encounter combat intervals and a further period of indecisive engagements
in which the enemy turns and runs and you either cannot follow (Missile Traps etc.) or cannot generate the overtake or cutoff to chop his vector and
reopen missile envelope once ROE rules for hostility have reached response threshold.
FOO is a correlation of the above with training time, total fleet size, deployment footprint and standup interval, basing mode and availability
signature vs. robotic gambitability and basic RANGE. If the enemy has many of the above described tease and trap gambit plays underway, you have to
be able to match each one to ensure they do not break through and start slaughtering HVA sensor/EA platforms and the strike platforms. That means not
just training for more pilots but also gas in-air and lifetime spares support on the ground. In regards to risk especially, we are approaching an age
whereby, simply passing within range of an optics head positions you (with no warning and regardless of RF LO) to be killed in a flash of light.
While the ability to sustain supersonic cruise at 50,000 feet must be set against the ability to stay in the fight wherein an enemy is launching SAMs
that orbit on a turbine like a minefield before sweeping forward to kill ANYTHING below Mach 1 by the simple process of formating up alongside. If
need be through multiple evasion and reengagement cycles.
This is where effective persistence in the combat area means the ability to kill, not just platforms but quite possibly /missiles/ without having to
make a 1,000nm RTB. And particularly in offensive fighter warfare the ability to BE THERE where and when the enemy comes, regardless of the danger to
you or the interval while the rest of the (cheap, slow, big payload) bomber force catches up. You must literally be able to stand in the door so that
you can catch an opponent at this most predictable startpoint association with his base. Even as you must be able to attack an enemy that thinks HE
is stalking the onrushing herd, from a roadbase or truck-catapult launch mechanism that has NOTHING to do with a 'SAM Site' because the weapon
carries the sensors and it is the pack which moves forward in sanitizing the volume of empty airspace to find a threat, in depth, before attacking as
a ravening horde. 'Anything else being rubbish'.
But you also want the ability to DICTATE TERMS on that engagement. This is less about individual platform strengths and weaknesses than it is the
predictability-of-repetition by which you simply don't have enough platforms to cover all _ground_ targets and so must come back the next day. Where
traditional fighter missioning soaks so much of your total force of multirole capable platforms and _particularly_ where even a 'conventional' enemy
is increasingly able to sling salvos of BVR weapons (many kills from 1 risked system) without commiting himself to a standup fight, you must balance
the ability to cover all approaches (close escort, TARCAP/Sweep plus BARCAP blocking force and delouse/HVA 'recovery' systems) with the ability to
Or succumb to 'multirole fever' (more capability=more cost) in which the ability to swing roles within a mission means that you are not effective at
In meeting all these sometimes conflicting demands, there are some unique UCAV advantages and proviso's you can work with to simply your development
1. If you are escorting UCAV cow bombers, you WANT the enemy to come out in his Su-30 and try hunting these threats to his base with IRST. Because
by the time he pays for his 50 million dollar fighter in 15-20 million dollar robots he will have shown you his tail long enough to blow it off with
an F-22 from almost any point along the penetration corridor. This being one of the advantages of LO + Subsonic entrance in a small presented frontal
area (no canopy, supersonic inlets or tails) that a threat must waste precious time and cannot count on optical (IRST heat) to get close to a threat
which itself doesn't gain as much 'coprotection' from clustering as it does TIME from the interval between search-reach-kill encounters on it's
widely dispersed fellows. Furthermore, there is only limited need to penetrate /beyond/ (over and thru) the target area which means less hassle
escorting manned DEAD/EA assets. Again because the Raptor or a similar Fighter UCAV _wants_ the fight to happen. So long as we have more fighters
aloft than they do, total.
OTOH, if the attack force is manned and remains sub-cruise and/or conventionally signatured in it's vulnerabilities, then the more Raptors you cut
from the buy, the more vulnerable to sling-and-away BVR spear chucking your team becomes to a properly handled DCA intercept force (one which say
lofts from X and recovers to Y without ever slowing below Mach 1 in a sustained Super Sprint). This can be particularly critical when the enemy has
the brains to sort out specific enablers like the standoff targeting/suppression platforms whose absence from the battle can open up the whole field
to S2A or even less capable defensive intercept as detection ranges open up and hardkill worry (ARM) goes away.
2. Most A2A kills are frighteningly easy. You see, you point and you click. There being actually _very_ litle aggressive maneuvering. And
relatively low requirements for the defensive side in sorting the scope. The reason is that large scale maneuvering eats your gas, flashes your
planform to all kinds of sensors and wastes carefully builtup energy reserves that may take minutes to regain, throwing you out of position with the
rest of your team-Chainsaw, Post Hole or Grinder based tactical game. If you fly a comparitively careful vectored approach, rolling out at the last
second into HOE firing position, you should rarely need to use more than 3-4G on the airframe. Nominally, this argues /against/ the UCAV at least
from our side of the equation. But it doesn't pay heed to the need to have presence over the battlefield to force the engagemet within a strictly
cost limitered force structure (many lo, very few hi) on riskable assets. What it does condemn from the human-in-loop 'cunning beats good' angle is
the notion that flying skill is a factor in warfare where WVR Is a mistake and HOBS weapons remove even most of the 'point' part of clicking.
3. Coordination at the external fight level is also overrated as a function of human communication and perception. Because while a a good datalink
can present info on a 'global' level of S/A. And a good pilot can see a maneuvering (planview presented) target at over 20 miles. Nose on he is
lucky if he can tally at 5-7. And if the target is small or spatially displaced from an associate signature (or he is busy with an existing threat
and doesn't have time to scan for the ouside shooter or or or) this distance can go down to 'raindrop on canopy' 2nm or less. Such being typical
for the F-16 and MiG-21 for instance.
Now throw in threat-LO in 10 years and threat ability to track supersonic targets at a minimum 30km with PIRATE and OSF and things get tricky.
In these conitions, particularly for the Raptor whose NCTR and groundtrack rapidity within the combat area leads to a tendency to impale, it becomes
CRITICAL to redevelop a 'shooter eyeball' system whereby, even vs. a stealthed threat, you can literally run a skirmish line of hunting-dog drones
out 20-50nm ahead of your principal leashholder and let THEM 'trip over' the threat. With a system like TCS which as roughly ten times the optical
acuity of the human eye.
Once you push off the threat compression (imagine, LO vs. LO in a Supercruise+Supercruise closure environment!), you can have robo doberman X 'ping'
the threat with a limited (Flight Lead only) count of airborne intercept radars in a highpower spot mode sure to gain range-rate tracking. A radar
which INTENTIONALLY causes the threat RWR to go off the scales in terms of "Danger Will Robinson!" pilot indication.
Even as the ALR-94 on the F/A-22 can listen to and analyze the targets response. And you have 1-eye-2-ears on target to confirm that the optical
silouhette matches the a thumbprinted threat aperture. And everybody is free to shoot.
4. Which is where cost comes in. Because if I can buy 3 UCAV for the price of one Su-30, I can kill a section pair of Super Flankers with 6 UCAVs
and _24_ missile shots. Even before decisive agility advantages come into play. And never doubt, that said UCAV is a pirannha on a wounded capiberra
at short range. Having not only a decisive energy advantage (imagine at 2.5:1 T/Wr at combat weight) but the ability to engage in so-called
'Superman' (Post Stall) maneuvers from speeds in the 400-500 knot instead of 170-250 knot range which is all that a human can stand. NOW, by dango,
that 60dps nose hose becomes useful. Because I can have the robot begin it's 'excursion' from the normal envelope while it is effectively
performing an accelerative stall. Solve for the weathercock problem on the HOBS ISRM it is carrying. And _recover_ to normal flight. Before it is
effectively down to zero knots and thus '15 seconds away from being a player again'. Which is effectively what every manned platform is reduced to
by it's pilot's onset limits (15-17G at 30-50G/sec).
Now you are looking at a system of sstems whereby Decisive Engagement Decisioning comes down to taking a straight up (40nm pole) shot from that Raptor
as the robots sweep on by the threat without it ever knowing it's been tagged.
Using left-right/up-down pinch and heart attack method to turn the threat vector (away from the strike package) into an MRM shot from the UCAV teams
as A-bandit tries to stave off a flanking rollup by B-element UCAVs which promptly turn turn away and fade from the HOE/signature threshold tracking
conditions. Even as C-element robots turn in behind and kill A from as much as 20 miles detached support separation from B to speed the process of a
Or you can force the threat to accept a _robotically visual_ combat (no radar, sub-20nm confirmed visual silouhette ID) in which you literally swarm
it's aspects and kill it with as many shots as it takes.
5. THE KEY to understanding all of the above as 'human level sophisticated interpolative reasoning is eyes on target and...football.
Because this is how an F-whatever (or E-whatever) combat controller will in fact drive his hunting dogs into play. GIving them preset formation
commands via simple diagrammatic outlines of how the two formations (enemy and friend) will meet.
And once they /get there/, they are still running a simple 'pattern' recognitive system of shot optimization based on the following rule set:
i. If (Target) A reaches a fixed (70%) SSPK before Target B. Maneuver to dominant positioining for the shot.
ii. If (IFDL) A is /already/ target list shared by 2 or more UCAVs and there are more targets in the list, shift to B and recheck.
iii. If (Threat) X exceeds _his_ SSPK before you reach yours on A (or BCD etc.) then let X be the target you maneuver against.
iv. If the sum of your maneuver against X does not redue SSPK below 50% in the next 3-10 seconds before his likely Fox call, ask for help.
v. Obey all prioritization commands from above regarding high value targets (WMD equipped etc.) and the protection of friendlies. As well as
hammered authorization for engagement in general.
UCAVs are nothing but autonomous mission computers that self-integrate data from multiple sensor sources into plans of action. BUT there is no reason
for them to be anything but autopilots until you tell them otherwise (off the leash you go). And to again borrow from the Red Baron, "Let them fly
about as they please..." does not mean that they cannot be /directed/ to a target area of interest, either by a human remote CC or on their own DTM
set of waypoints. In which they can kill as they like, outside of which they are completely 'moated' (physical interlock prevented) from using
their weapons systems.
It's once they _get to_ combat that all the advantages of agility, price, and signature/sacrificiality come into play for a UCAV. And we all know
computers run vector math /vastly/ better than humans do, as proven by their total dominance over of the flight control system, the radar signal and
dataprocessors and the EW suite.
i.e. they can SEE the above football play diagrams at any point in their progression and run time-lapse predictive routines on the top 10 most likely
outcomes (point and clike through the shortest possible vector path at the easiest target) INSTANTLY. Something that even Ace/Sniper grade pilots
cannot match under the stress of multiple G forces and multiple opponents.
Yet all the tactical logic ability to 'think a better fight' don't mean nothin' unless you can see and integrate new data, autonomously. Which is
Small IR imager cameras
Dotted about the airframe (see flank and top windows, ignore the big one on the bottom)
Leading to an 'SAIRST' or _Situational Awarenes_ Infrared Search and Track via 'DAS' or Distributed Aperture Sensors
Is what really spells the doom of manned fighters.
Because now we have 360` 'bugeye' tracking of targets, inbound missiles and friends. At 10-12nm distances which still exceed the best human vision
90% of the time. And which will never be 'locked in place' as the pilot strains to hold a 9G maneuver and sightline on his target. Such that he
literally cannot twist his neck to look anywhere else. Perhaps even more importantly, the absence of a pilot and a cockpit means that you can FINALLY
begin to use DIRCM. Which is nothing more or less than laser countermeasures to attack the most common (heat) 'dogfight' weapons in flight. You do
that with today's platforms and the first target somebody is going to point at is going to be the 10 foot bubble of plexiglass around the pathetic
meatbag since his blinding will effectively kill the mission, no matter what happens next to the airframe. You do that against a drone and it has
5-10 other (6X6 inch) cameras to look thru AND can get 'new eyeballs back at base' when it returns home. Indeed, with JPALS it can land completely
6. Leading From Behind.
Aside from 'mad dog' scenarios in which mistaken ID is made (something I think is /vastly/ unlikely since the drone can afford to formate alongside
the enemy if need be for a 'closer look' and if the threat even sees him there, his response will most likely be too late to save him from the 10
other jets which are just /waiting/ for a sign of hostility); the big question for most people is 'how do you flight it over datalink without
becoming vulnerable to jamming/spoofing/hijack of signal?
The answer is, again, multifold:
A. You don't. No human on earth, I don't care how speedy his reflexes or skilled his X-Box larnin' is, can match the drone's reflexes OR the
comms lag delay in sending video+control movements back and forth. Nor is it necessary because _just like all manned platforms_ the jet is fully
capable of flying A-to-B and does so better than the human in terms of level flight and time-optimized turns etc. The only thing you need to do is be
able to set where 'B' is. And that can be done with a digital terrain map and inertial/GPS coordinate update. Via digital datalink.
B. Modern Day voice radio (secure, scrambled, hopping or spread spectrum) is an order of magnitude more vulnerable to jamming than any digital
signal, simply because the length of (in seconds of direct transmit time or synching + burst compression lag) vocalization vs. the detail data
presentation sent as 'bits and bytes' is HUGE. We are talking the difference between several thousand bytes of jammable signal vs. maybe a couple
hundred spread over 10 channels before the total-burst is over.
C. Voice Comms, as a function of 'human superior' directive and informative radio discipline in the 3-1 system of flight corporate awareness is
equally /terribly/ vulnerable to data obsolescence, even as it is spoken: "Bluejay 2, Threat at your 4 lagging, continue left turn, Bluejay 1 your
high right, saddling.". Nominally sounds pretty tight for
WHO DO WHAT WHEN WHY FROM WHOM critical information.
But the fact remains, that the entire speech took about 5 seconds to get off, with maybe another 1-2 seconds to clear through the secure mode radio
net (the only way to beat jamming on vocomms) and another 1/2 second at least for Bluejay 2 to 'get' and respond to.
Compare this to a digital presentation which showed Bluejay 2 a second-to-second /streaming/ graphical presentation of the fight on a SAD (Situational
Awareness Display). And then further imagine pulling the cost, heads-down lag/vertigo risks and datastream (hundreds vs. thousands of bytes) which is
relative to having a human glance at an MFD instead of staying heads up and outside the cockpit.
Of course the REAL problem here remains the certain fact that, with a 60-90` HOBS missile, Bluejay 2 is gonna eat steel buckshot _TWENTY_ SECONDS AGO.
Because the weapon can come off the rail and, even if it doesn't see the target immediately (LOBL), turn on it's last-known-vector input (from the
parent weapons system prelaunch input) until it does (LOAL). Indeed, the threat may well launch attacks at -both- BlueJay1 /and/ 2. Without having
it's nose pointed at either.
Under such conditions, the time problem becomes so tight that even with a datalink, only a robot's reflexes and G ability may be able to save it from
And the Air Forces of the world KNOW THIS.
D. Okay, so 'shortrange' (within 20-50nm using Intra Flight Data Links or IFDL) comms are digital to avoid jamming and increase discreteness, even
on manned platforms today. What about long range stuff? Here the problem is directionality, power and bandwidth as well as encryption. Basically,
your best signal lamp is going to be a fighter's radar. Where you are already looking at upwards of a Megawatt in effective power and systems like
the APG-77 have TWICE the total transmitting spectrum as previous radars. Keeping in mind that the distance to which the radar can be heard is 1/4th
power that which it will generate a return (and the F/A-22 pilots have been quoted as seeing targets at 320nm). And that the UCAVs can transmit
straight UP to a satellite, contributing their own (GPS or Star Tracker or Terrain Database registered) position to a netcentric 'theater wide'
command and control architecture without giving away their position to threats or while 'invisible' (VLO) to the Raptor, it is entirely possible to
sweep your very tight AESA lobe across where they /should be/ and have them hear your data traffic with the same RWR that they sort threats on.
E. Keeping It Just Between Us.
Now /theoretically/ high end 'hunting' ELS/ESM systems like Tamara and some forms of PCLS can still hear the chitter and squelch as a disruption in
the local either. It is a /very/ tiny (sidelobe and radiated power controlled) source that is all the more difficult to hear because it is
linear-directional and many thousands of feet above their sightline on the horizon (anything flying being itself subject to attack). But it can be
done. Which is where some people start to worry about having these 'mindless killers' getting turned and coming back to eat the hand that unleashed
And they shouldn't.
Because there is another fourstep process to beat.
i. My Arc Lamp, Your Penlight.
ERPwise, the Raptor and certainly an E-10 is going to win most jammer battles, simply because the signal is again, both directional; and 1 way. So
too is the jammer but it is trying to defeat a guarded antenna complex (buried stripline dipoles in the skin) on the UCAV which only listen for
signals from certain elevation angles and directions. This means the signal coming is likely to be fairly clean, especially if the UCAV is not being
directly strobed itself. Because it is RFLO'd 'invisible'.
ii. Needle In Haystack.