posted on Dec, 13 2005 @ 09:26 PM
Dr. Kopp is a good man and a generally very knowledgable person.
However; his obsession with the Pig is similar to mine with UCAVs but on the backside of anachronism rather than the bleeding edge of piloted-system
That said, let's be clear here dears. The F-111F is THE FASTEST JET ON THE PLANET AT LOW LEVEL. Even the earliest A and E models with the P-3
engine is quite capable of exceeding airframe thermal limits on the aluminum and fiberglass dome and I know that F-model Varks have done more than
Mach 1.3 in the Nellis complex. At TFR heights. This obviously makes ZERO reference to the type's external carriage mode as racks and rails and
ordnance usually limiter a jet long before anything else and even the big BRU-26 MERs were not fully cleared throughout the 111's envelope.
OTOH, what kills the F-111's ability to 'supercruise' is lift at drag, and total lift, at altitude. Even with the longspan jets, you are looking
at ceilings on the order of 14,000ft (the infamous 'lower than Pike's Peak' quote) when fully loaded which means that you WILL be leaving half your
32,000lb internal fuel behind if you wish to transit at anything near optimal density heights for cruise.
So you motorvate out at half gas and meet a tanker just before crossing the fence and then burn or drop it all off before coming back out for a second
Something which can be done, more or less just as well, with an F-16E and some 15,000lbs of CFT+600 gallon tanks. The only difference, if any, is
that the F-111 may be able to bring along it's own SEAD weapons or a second set of heavy-hard target killers (Popeye or GBU-15) while an F-16E costs
around 10mmh:fh and 3,800 dollars/fh vs. the Switchblades 100 and 10,000 or more.
Of course the 111 will pay another (small) drag penalty in total radius whle the APG-80 and AMRAAM-C7 will give the F-16 a /massive/ improvement in
both A2G standoff targeting and self-defense optimization (you need a Meteor to 'selfprotect' the 111, it is that bad at AAW).
At the same time, AIR-6K will have long since passed it's buy-by date for both the F/A-22 and the F-35 (which are the /only/ runners if Oz is serious
about hitting Jakarta on a 'regular' basis with cheap J-weapons) when, in 2010-2015, the Aussies finally pull the plug on the dated 111 maintenance
and logistics life support (even with the AMP and RAAF MLU, the 111 is basically a ramp umbrella, during peacetime training).
At which point, we will be almost certainly looking at the first generation of directed energy 'eyeblink' weapons (one second your tooling along,
the next you are flying formation with your flash burned body parts).
And to counter these via saturation tactics, it will be a LOT cheaper to use systems like the Falcon and ARRMD/FastHawk as aeroballistic cruise out of
pennies-per-mile destroyer VLS. Mach 8 to 800nm being /yards and miles/ more responsive and restrike capable on time critical 'special' targets as
well as general interdiction than even the supercruise manned-jet equivalent.
Which only leaves the support-of-troops CAS/BAI/OBAS mission arena. Where loiter with payload and sensors is second only to overall cheapness. And a
combination of UCAV+SDB takes you out to 1,100nm for 2hrs without refueling on a jet that HAS NO training costs.
And so lets you keep your warchest fully vested with more airframes per orbit point (or hours in a day) in places like East Timor where Aussie troops
are basically swinging in the breeze on little more than a hairy eyeballs worth of pretense at force protection.
If the Aussies have a disturbing question to ask and answer, it is one inherent to the notion of how they defend their offshore interests and huge
coastline while providing realistic GAI options to aid zombies and counter smuggling.
It seems a terrible waste to invest in MB.339 and Hawk LIFT for nothing. And yet here too the 'obvious solution', to go in on the MAKO or A-50 as
license production partners (effectively reinventing the Mirage III) as both a fighter and trainer that runs 25-27 million rather than the 80-100
which a JSF will. Seems to be beyond their ability to accept.
Which is a shame because Stealth is functionally more of an offensive tool than a defensive one and with proper weapons (turbo or ram powered AAM are
the only way forward) and GCI support, the RAAF could as readily kill Su-30's over /their/ turf, as an F/A-22 could over Indonesia. And probably
better than an F-35 (of like purchasing power numbers) could do anywhere.