Personally, the idea of any other color other than black always eluded me...(which is pretty good for being hard to pick out at night, and you don't
have the contrail problem, etc.)
Black is one of those 'sensitive colors' that only work in _very_ low lumen conditions and are thus very sensitive to backlighting as well as
ambient changes (open a door on a firelit room and the 'black' ninja standing outside it is the first 3D shape you will see).
In WWII, german night fighters found that hunting Lancasters, Halifax and the like over 'frosted glass' conditions of fire or search light
illuminated clouds or under some conditions of moonlight, they were actually better off being painted in dull pastel combinations of RLM-76 pale white
and RLM-75 grey violet was better for scattering the largely blue-index lighting diffusely enough to fool tired eyes, strained from hours of peering
into the gloom.
I mean, does ANYBODY looking for a plane as a target, rely on visual methods? (as opposed to radar, etc.) Not to mention, does the paint scheme help
as opposed to hearing a loud jet engine and seeing a contrail? I don't think so...
Well, the 'Ding Hao' system (human observer corps) has some definite advantages in that, as long as you hardwired or linear microwave comms remain
secure, it is almost impossible to 'jam' the sensor network and you can also sometimes sort and filter decoy and other-mission elements from the
true raid groups.
Of course, if you take your packages up above any cloud or haze line, it may well be impossible to see them at all. And at night, even with NVDs, the
small airframe is going to be fairly safe, even as low as 10-15,000ft (what killed the F-117 over Belgrade was the BLACK shape, highlighted against a
cloud base under which the jet supposedly flew to get IRADS capture on the target).
Audibles tracking is one of those things I'm never quite sure about. The X-4 (Nazi AAM) used a 'Kranich' acoustic fuze which was nothing more than
a trembler membrane with a contact arm to complete circuit function. The BAT antitank munition, though now 'upgraded' with various MMW and Laser
seekers, also originally was designed to target vehicles down to their tracked/wheeled class separation using four large acoustic sensors mounted on
Given that the X-4 system was never really tested and the BATs are relatively low altitude systems, I have a feeling, at some level, the combination
of thin air and slipstream noise will largely cancel out the effectivness of acoustic systems, even if you could reduce the aperture mounts to a
degree compatible with A2A (potentially trans if not supersonic) seeker use.
That said, the is both a 'P' and an 'S' wave correlation which DOES travel, quite well, through the earth at upwards of 5,000mph. Plug
transducers into the ground (like a seismic system) and theoretically you should be able to use very cheap 'spike clusters' in considerable
densities to collate and triangulate air traffic over a very wide area, very cheaply.
Edwards has such an installation (though officially it is for noise pollution signature characterizing) one. One of the black ranges at Nellis has
one so sensitive that the USAF shut down a windpower experiment on adjacent semi-federalized land with the excuse that the harmonics were screwing up
IF you can define a 'box' around an airframe, no matter how effective a (passive) camouflage, you should be able to send a weapon TO that volume of
air and initiate a spiral or grid pattern search as the seeker optics crosses a given range point for dot-acquisition.
Mechanical optics being quite good these days at measuring a background ambient 'glare' and setting a polarization filter to expertly reject all
non-solid reflectors from the detection threshold.
The question then becomes: do you want to have it look for /particular/ chemical compositions (multi if not hyperspectral) relevant to a jet exhaust,
creating the equivalent of an A2A wake-homing torpedo. Or do you want to stick with simple optics and just pass a (turbine) powered weapon through an
airspace as a kind of mobile-minefield coordinated hunting pack with other such weapons. Making your investment in secure datalinks?
Either way, it's pretty obvious that while we can run jets above as much as under the contrail band (roughly 19-21 through 37-43,000ft). It is the
individual capabilities of the weapons employed AFTER acquisition. And the skill/bravery (21 effective Serb interceptors vs. 400 NATO jets in
Operation Allied Force) which determines the utility of the weapons system.
To me, it is better to have 100 (recoverable) S2A missiles which cost half a million dollars each. Than 1 interceptor while costs fifty five million
dollars. Since I can vertically launch those missiles well away from ANY airfield (one more target to defend). And fly them out to 100-200nm for
about 30 minutes in numbers sufficient to challenge the 3-4 AIM-120 (300 grande apiece) which are available to shoot them down.
THAT (loitering-slow transonic speed in a missile which doesn't /care/ if it's blown to pieces) is the point whereby some of your more exotic sensor
ideals may come to be practical.
Not least because if you miss once, you may well have the fuel and energy to come around for a second pass. And the faster (360` sensor globe using
MAWS technology or a datalink from other munitions making their own 'formating kill' attempt) you reacquire a strike platform which is heavy with
gas and bombs. The less time it will have to use that fuel to reenergize it's own EM evasive options.
About the only purpose I see for camo schemes on jets is when they're parked...but then, since you pretty much need an airstrip for them (apart from
Harriers and other VTOL), that's pretty much a done deal too....
When lasers and masers and hunting Turbo-SAM's come online in a /serious/ fashion, around 2015, we will see one of three things happen:
A. Airpower will flat out lose it's ability to 'leverage the battlefield' with deep attack and combat recce of true intent as much as displayed
B. Deflector shields will be invented.
C. Active Camouflage will come of age.
Since I don't believe we have half the particle physics, let alone field mechanics necessary to pull the NCC-1701 Enterprise out of our nether
regions, and since I don't believe we will willingly lose our ability to kill the other guy cheaply as much as dominantly with air. That only leaves
active/adaptive protective coloration.
NOT LEAST because the interim of KT boundary interaction with DEWS will see a return to low level operations in a serious way. Opening up the number
of slingshot and musket threats to airpower almost to equal levels of the high altitude, wide-horizon directed energy systems.
In this (to keep things thread related) it should be noted that, during the first few days of Desert Storm when the Iraqi IADS still functioned well
enough for the IOCs to vector their alert intercept teams, a pretty common tactic was to drop ADM-141 TALD or Tactical Air Launched Decoys. And have
them turn on their tapes and radar reflector in a 'can Muhammed come out to play?!" deliberate tease.
Iraqi MiG-21 and 23, admittedly less than gifted in terms of cockpit fields of vision, came out and made MULTIPLE passes on these 10ft long decoys,
painted nothing more than ghost grey, within a few hundred feet.
Leaving AWACS and EC-135 crews literally rolling in the aisles listening to their radio comms. As the F-15's turned in behind for the kill.
Unlike RF stealth where mission (shape) and structural volume (depth) have a definite interactive effect on RAM/RAS layering and aerodynamic (tails
are death) effectiveness. A situation which leads to a B-2 having as small or smaller a dbsm return in all aspects as an F-22 does solely from the
In optical conditions, everytime you reduce the baseline visual target area (square feet) by half, you instantly score an order of magnitude
improvement in any signature attenuation method that you apply. Both for static and plane-of-motion sensing against a given background.
I call it the mouse-at-a-gallop (beats bear in the bushes) theory and it has a correlate benefit in that there is no 'engineers sandbox' temptation
to stuff in systems which blow the size:cost margin out of balance.