posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 05:03 AM
I think that the argument for the validity of the interceptor and point-interceptor roles varies greatly from country to country.
“Interceptor” can be defined as a fighter aircraft employed for the DEFENSIVE role of intercepting and if necessary engaging enemy aircraft. A
dedicated interceptor is an aircraft used almost exclusively in that role.
In the US and Western Europe in particular, the shift has gone away from pure interceptors to multi-role and latterly swing-role designs. This
reflects the lack of immediate air-threat to our home lands, and the fact that we often adopt interventionist policies (aka invasions, lol). This
results in our aircraft being employed offensively and against far weaker air forces; in such scenarios that interceptors simply aren’t needed.
Inevitably people start to think how much cheaper it could be done if we merged the air-superiority (which involves an element of interception) and
At first glance swing-role; the ability to switch between strike and air-air, appears to make dedicated interceptors obsolete but that simply isn’t
the case. A swing role configuration is inherently not optimum for either air-air or air-ground. It is a luxury which has cost savings when you are
facing a much weaker opponent (like the Southern Watch patrols over Iraq in the 1990s), but if the poo hits he fan, the last thing you want is to be
going air-air with load of bombs hanging off your aircraft.
AND, in many other countries the dedicated interceptor is still crucial: Taiwan, China (use of J-8IIs to intercept US reconnaissance aircraft), Japan,
Greece and Iran among them.
In other countries, where the close proximity of an antagonistic neighbor rules out outside-the-boarders interception point-interceptors remain vital.
Israel/Syria and South Korea/North Korea comes to mind.
The Stealth concept being discussed in this thread doesn’t seem suited to stand-off interception, as well argued by Waynos; both due to targeting
difficulties and airframe performance issues. But it could be employed as a roving interceptor, particularly over your own territory.
Re the F-22’s agile frequency radar as a good solution for stealthy fighters. Yes it is a natural evolutionary step over fixed band radars, but is
not impossible to track. It’s a question of computing power. And radar isn’t the only electronic emission that the aircraft would make
–IFF, radio etc. The former creates a real problem for stealths –i.e. before firing on a target, do you check with IFF –which could give you
away, or not????