The F/A-22 is is much the same straights as the F-117 in tha ALL of the block/spiral upgrades to the jet to enable it to fulfill the electronic
attack/infowar and high precision autonomous targeting went out the door as part of this 'compromise' to get the 183 jets.
Basically, Congress and Lunchmeat know full well how utterly worthless the F-35 is and so can only justify it's existence by doing to the F-22 what
they did to the F-15C.
Namely taking a perfectly good airframe and leaving it with baseline avionics architecture tht dates to the mid-80's rather than simply stuffing the
F-35 suite onboard. This is particularly important for the radar since the F-22's 'tile' vs. the F-35 'button' system makes it harder to get
phase-on-TRM in sufficient density to do the InSAR mapping by which you can measure terrain slope and target (building etc.) elevation differences as
a function of interferomtrically comparing the polarization differences in pulses on arrival.
While the 1,200 transmit receive modules in the APG-77 (F-22) are /vastly/ more powerful than the 800-900 on the F-35; they are not as sensitive to
fine-grain 'texture' differences in the hi-rez mapping modes. Rather like a blindman feeling the surface features of a human face to 'get to know
you better', this could also adversely effect some NCTR modes which now supposedly rely on 2 dimensional pulse-extinction mapping (multi centroid
phase cancellation which leaves a common 'thumbprint') as well as more traditional JEM methods.
The same can be said for the proposed Raptor AIRST fairing which looked a /lot/ like that of the EOTS on the F-35.
i.e. The AF cannot kill the Raptor's A2G ability without also messing up it's A2A 'principle role'. And vice versa. Something which the
elimination of the current spiral upgrades assures to the point of leaving the jet with little more capability than a late model MSIP Eagle (say the
F-15Cs up in Alaska with the APG-63V(3) and the MIDS/IDM Datalink).
That said, the F-22 can and does drop GBU-32 bombs and has recently even shown the ability to do so from a lowend supersonic cruise point. That's
roughly 80% of a BLU-109/116 (2,000lb) class munitions (GBU-24/27/31) real penetration,.around 2.5-3m. Even as the 1.6m penetration effectives for
the GBU-39 (the 285lb Small Diameter Bomb or SDB) is about 1.6m. Which means that we can still hostage basically all current, /static/ targets.
The only problem being that the radar or FLIR target mapping lets you compensate for the 'stereo error' as the GPS satellite signal is bent by
anaprop in the high atmosphere. Which in turn is critical for getting the 2.65m average JDAM accuracy that we have been seeing from what is nominally
a 10m 'semi precise' weapon. The B-2 has the GATS system and the APQ-181 to make say "Well, if the radar (slant angles) say I am here, and the GPS
says I am here, let's update the INS before releasing compensated targeting data to the spindle and munition IMUs."
The F-22 will not have that option, and so you are left with either meteorologic compensation for local atmospherics (something which can be quite
good from presurveyed sites, but only locally TO those sites) as a function of loading antenna polarization and receiever filter computations before
launch. OR going to some kind of WAGE/DAMASK type system which is effectively a 'fourth satellite' that compensates the other three (and is heard
by the munition, post launch). As a function of prepointing a cheap strapon seeker into a guidance basket where the weapon automatically scans the
scene and picks it's own differential aimpoints.
All of which takes time to preplan in terms of fragged ATO vs. on the fly 'live' target foldering in flight. And makes the F-22 significantly less
flexible than it deserves to be.
In terms of SEAD/DEAD, I think you folks are all significantly behind the loop in that, even where hardkill is considered the best option, most
weapons will NOT use the Anti-Radiation Homing to get there. Both because it destroys good trajectory control (range and speed) if you sniff straight
down the lobe. And because it's better to image the target than to rely on the threat not to have dummy emitters and ARM-pits (literally raised
backwalls designed to protect radars from explosions in all but a very narrow sector of approach and airburst). As such, /any/ missile with
reasonable speed can theoretically act as a standin for HARM and will certainly better the JDAM (Mach 1.25 vs. Mach 3.5 average flyout vs. a generic
SA-x. The site may die, but the weapon will win the chicken game with the Raptor, first).
Without any rumours of a truly major advance in seeker capabilities (micromechanical AESA arrays for A2A and A2G multirole) for AMRAAM; right now,
there are probably three ways this could go-
Which effectively integrates elements of the Meteor propulsion group with the forebody of HARM-VI/Quickbolt. Giving you a digital strapdown navigator
with GPS plus a conformal MMW seeker which leads to very 'tight' target lane geolocation in which to point the seeker. On a Mach-4-5 sustained
missile. The problem here is that the HARM body roughl 14 feet long. While the F-22 main bays struggle to accomodate the just shy of 13ft long
AIM-120 'between the facets'.
In which it has ALWAYS been a part of the system-of-systems CONOP approach to give the Miniature Air Launched Decoy a Preemptive and Reactive _LETHAL_
mode option. Rather like the Delilah or the old AGM-136 Tacit Rainbow. The reason for this was likely that the original UDS/UOS concept for a 'SEAD
UCAV' (predating JUCAS as a purely DARPA led project) did not envision the precision to direct-engage targets with precision Range-Known accuracy.
So that if you launched a killer decoy from a jet which could carry perhaps as many as eight of them, you could either saturate the threat with a
'wolf among the sheep' of an prompted engagement. Or simply set a missile to hovering over the site radar, daring it to come back up from distances
for which dummy-load and seeker-slop wouldn't matter. This is all the more IMPORTANT now, because Raptor.com included a couple of white papers which
specifically mentioned that the ALR-94 was not fully integrated for a potential SEAD mission in the rush to get the jet through development (and
specifically Blk.3/3.5 software upgrades). Obviously, if the Raptor has only a basic ability to steer around threat WEZ cones, you cannot cue
weapons, passively as you would with a fully functional ELS. OTOH, the ADM-160 has _230nm_ worth of genuine downrang capability vs. the roughly
50-70nm that the HARM is officially credited with in prebrief high-lofts. Added to the fact that you can again probably carry the same X4 on a BRU-61
Smart MER (X8 internally) as you do the GBU-39, and you have the option to fling a few downrange and then 'give chase' as the MALD itself steps up
the pace to about Mach 1.4 for 5 minutes as part of it's purpose designed ability to mimic the Raptor signature and performance thresholds. Whether
you shoot a genuine missile from under the Raptor's own wing. Lobshot an HSARM (Higher Speed ARM btw.) from an F-Teen a long ways further back. Or
look at an AGM-158B (with 600-800km of reach and thus the ability to be in the target area /hours/ beforehand) as the cued coordinate attacker, the
fact remains that you don't absolutely have to have a 'smart airframe'. Just one which can FQ survive impaling itself on the enemy missile poles
from high altitude long enough for a 'brilliant bullet' to save it the trouble of a direct kill.
Advanced Tactical Laser/HPD/Net-Jam-
Though right now this system is based on a COIL (Chemical) concept stuffed into a C-130 sized platform on a palletized 'super gunship' basis with
only about 15-20nm worth of standoff through the worst of obscurrant hazing bands in the 10-20K range; the likelihood is fairly high, especilly if an
'F-35D' eventuates as a Naval JSF with a USMC shaft driven turbogenerator, for a 'digital' diode pumped replacement in a much smaller if still
hefty installation by 2015. The smaller the package, the easier it is to take it to altitude (the reason for the 620 square foot wings) where range
can go up to 60-100km in a fashion that more or less makes the question of counter-vulnerability to S-300/400 class weapon kinematics moot. At least
if you're a LO asset. Lasers also make excellent antenna zappers, both because the sail area (which is hot to begin with to a FLIR) acts like a
mirror for excellent tracking confirmation and because the gridded mesh or flat plate dielectrics make for relatively easy burnthrough targets that
can be systematically slashed to ribbons (something ARM's often have a hard time doing).
Obviously, standforward assets like network UCAV with conventional or HPM based 'jammers' can also be considered a real threat if you are trying to
concentrate total Jx energy on multiple sidelobes without worry about the safety of a manned platform.
That only leaves recce which is one of those areas best covered on a 'corporate' basis of constant presence off a low value platform, constanly
sweeping an assigned area i.e. the original premise of the unmanned drone from the Vietnam days. Because loiter on the cheap is how you make
The F-117 is a pig. The F404-GE-F1D2 remain asthmatically low on thrust and the aeroperformance, despite a relatively low loading ('lifting body'
784 square feet) is pure delta wth a vicious deep stall and poor directional control plus a lot of bleed at even moderate alphas. Problems magnified
to extremes by the lack of LE wing surfaces and the butterfly tails so far back on the humped centerline. To this must be added the shallow and
narrow bays with their rather intemperate flow conditions precluding both multi-carriage (without lowering the trapeze anyway) of small munitions.
And denying the use of glide kits on heavyweight bombs.
Tactically, the result of longer LOS lines on low band radars and the lack of critical flight performance if you DO get engaged with negative EM
performance in all but 'cruise' making all evasions downwardly mobile for both knots and G, would leave the 117 flatplating the airframe hotside to
all defenses for extended periods just to reach an altitude where there would be a /little/ lift under the wings. Bluntly, you don't want to go into
well defended target area at high altitude on the 117 as the nominal increase in ballistic munition flyout range and sensor graze angles are
unexploitable within the GBU-27/31 munition classes.
I myself have often wondered what the heck the F-117 /was/ designed for as it's lousy legs make it unsuitable for use in the ME or PacRim. Yet the
IRADS system would be completely worthless in 99.99% of (low scud and often mist in the morning and late evening) _summer_ NATO conditions. It is
effectively a handbuilt fleet of followon Have Blue 2 FSD (VLO) demonstrators. Seemingly optimized for the Desert Southwest where CAVU is the
Comparitively, the F-22 is born for strike simply because it has the lift and thrust to ignore 'at drag' conditions of A2G internal loadout. And
like all LO assets, it's fighter performance only matters as a funtion of ignoring what would be a forced-engagement threat to other airframes.
However; the lack of decent avionics will leave the U.S. Forces still fighting the 1960's model of subsonic-to-X (2hrs for every 300nm) radius
mission CONOP which is NOT where you want to be as a force with perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 as many assets as the F-16 you are replacing.
'Tactical bombing' only matters when your platform can hang around after making a 4-5hr transit flight from a basing mode 700-1,100nm away. As long
as there is a pilot sitting on an iron-hard bangseat, that automatically disqualifies the design as you will kill aircrew flying 10-12hr missions at
about the same rate as you over your deployment kit of spares and fuel for what remains ONLY 1-2 missions per day worth of utilization.
Comparitively, BUFF and similar assets give you cabin stretchout and even relief crew options but can only cover ONE point of supported ground force
or drone targeting which is more or less like trying to kill cockroaches in a darkened football stadium with a sledgehammer and a single
The sad part is that the ACC still has strong elements of 'SAC' in it and so the _theater bomber_ we need will likely end up being overengineered
for radius and payload if not performance. Even as the fighter mafia are busy destroying the JUCAS by blowing it out of scale economics on a SMALL,
LOITERING, munitions carrier.
It remains to be seen whether keeping the F/A-22 line hot will lead to a post-Iraq followon order to specifically replace the 117 role and whether
that mission system will be kept economical using the existing airframe and a new MES. Or if we will be stuck with another grotesquery of a DRF/ETF
(Strike Eagle) concept that eventuates as an FB-22.
My personal preference is for a tripling of the UCAV buy, a tenthing of the F-35 order. And a complete retirement of the B-1B as well as B-52 in
favor of a dual-engine followon using basic stealth, a large sonic-cruiser lifting body, and a MODERATE combination of external cruise (X4 JASSM) and
internal ballistic (X4 GBU-31, X20 GBU-38, X80 GBU-39) munitions on a Mach 1.4 to 2,000nm radius design.
Because the UCAV has the ability _as a total force_ to put as many bombs over 10 ground combat teams as the equivalent (gas pass) bomber could manage
over one. And yet the ability to sling FRSW or JASSM minicruise in support of a Naval Engagement Taiwan from Guam) in creating a 'second axis of
threat' could be critical to leveraging shortrange naval tacair and single-deck response forces. While the AF GSTF deployed from CONUS (B-2 showboat
force) and tacair 'flowed in' after.
I can only hope the USAF really IS 'roadmapped' along similar lines and that this is NOT, in fact, a paper chase designed to look good until
somebody puts the plug back in the monetary bathtub which Iraq is currently swirling-around-drain on.
Honestly, we have had two solid decades of BUR and similar nonsense which did NOTHING but pass-buck on trimming our forces to a leaner, meaner, less
'adventurous' level of post-Cold economics. And if we don't put the armed forces on a choke chain soon, we will be in as bad a shape as the FSU
was, back in 1990.