posted on Feb, 26 2006 @ 02:32 AM
I would say the RN would go for a mix. Similar to the F/A-18 E/F/G and USN JSF.
While I won't comment on the nightmare of navalizing Flubber (oops), I think it fair to state that there are two flaws in this statement.
1. The F-35C will have something along the lines of 620 square foot wing area. i.e. Bigger Than An Eagle. Without changing the fineness ratio and
ruling (longer body) this alone will impare the type's supersonic capabilities.
The F-35B will not be so encumbered but it's massive weight problems (3,400lbs or more) will definitely effect it's fuel load and bring back vs.
2. 'All Things Being Equal' (APG-79 : 80) as a missileer it seems likely that there will not be that great a deficiency between Flubber as a
subsonic BVR platform and the F-35 (of any flavor) as an equivalent.
PROVIDED you allow for external carriage.
Given what we've learned in the Cope India's has more or less confirmed what I always knew about BVR and COE as a pole-to-pole game. And further
supposing the Bill Sweetman is accurate in his book _Superfighter_ when he states that the F-35 weapons bay is configured such that it cannot carry
AMRAAM in the deep well; the only questions remaining is:
1. How many can you afford for any one mission vs. the time spent reconfiguring stealth to full LO standards.
2. How long until the threat goes sufficiently LO (or alternate AAW platformed) as to make the BVR game invalid for detection or cost reasons.
Personally, the answer to both of those denies the option for a mixed fighter force. Even as it makes it clear that the JSF, if it works at all, is
better off as an external carriage utility platform 'until' the hunting missile/DEW age renders it obsolescent. Than as a 10-per-carrier strike
The JSF is just that a strike aircraft that should be competent in the A2A role.
No. The JSF is a poor bomber which costs so much that it must be outfitted with external ordnance to compensate for it's absent weapons system
effectors and numbers.
Once you do this, you _must_ instantly acknowledge that it is the bullets not the gun which makes the system what it is.
An 800,000 dollar HSARM (ramjet and MMW terminal seeker plus 1760 databus and digital IMU/GPS navigator 'Super HARM') is the way you kill an
S-300/400 threat. Because you can launch four of them from over 180nm away. At which point ALL fighters are more or less 'invisible' to
firecontrol band S2A detection. If only by virtue of rapid ability to porpoise over and under the local LOS horizon.
Comparitively, even the second best option (GBU-39 from 40nm out) is a Mach .85 weapon that requires you to trust to LO in coming TO the site (and
potentially over and past the one offset in front of it). For which there may not be time as much as LOS separation to avoid an ARH SAM threat fired
close aboard (sub 10nm @ Mach 5 = 12 seconds by 8 the weapon will be locking on).
And yet the difference is that of four shots and 3.2 million dollars externally and 'something else' (unmanned) finding the offending battery
(directly or by tricking it into illumination). Vs. potentially 8 inside the jet at roughly 512 grande.
But the Typhoon esp with a long range BVR a2a and an AESA radar system would in effect mimic the role the F-14 played with outer air defence /
superiority, but be more versatile as well.
The only 'versatility' that the Flubber brings is the Storm Shadow and Brimstone and the pylons to carry both. The former makes Day-1 a 'cruise
control' event which may in fact make fuel questions sufficiently unimportant as to actually multiple the per-airframe shot counts to something
useful (if you can afford them). The latter gives you superior Day-2 DEAD and CAS against both VSHORAD and vehicle borne threat clusters. That said,
the Typhoon's internal fraction puts it more in the Legacy Bug class for range (assuming similar weight growth navalization penalty) while systems
like ALARM and HARM are not capable in the modern day environment for the distance you have to bring them into the enemy's briar patch.
Again, all of this is irrelevant because the F/A-18 (even the C/D) with Meteor is a superior A2A platform to the Tomcat in both FADF and particularly
overland roles (MPRF) yet the predominance of the USAF NAPFAG community (through AWACS and Tanking if nothing else) is such that the squids rarely get
to see the coalface of OCA anymore. Something I'm sure the F-22 community will look to continue.
The question then again coming down to how many jets you have able to do specific missions vs. the kinds of ordnance you mount them with to make it
One thing that is both nice and naughty about systems like GBU-39 is that they may well FORCE the enemy to either flush out and come to the party. Or
into 'for the next war' dispersal-bunkered hides ala the buried Iraqi MiG-25s. OTOH, if they choose to do both, you may well find yourself in a
situation where roadbase jets come up from almost directly under the flightpath and this could complicate the engagement scenario even further between
Stealth Penetrator and overwatching Standoff Strike Assist. Even if own-force assets are too-LO to be threatened by your own assets, the long TOF may
well jeopardize the strike teams.
This doesn't really change the nature of the game of course. Because the answer is going to be TARCAP/Sweep assets forward. And neither the Flubber
(signature limited) nor the F-35 in any flavor (Internal Payload limited) is going to be competent to that role. Frankly, I'm not sure the F-22 is a
really good choice here because you endup pinballing around between know sites and baselane coverages and everytime you 'deflect' you generate a
bowtie opening into somebodies detectability zone (i.e. it's not a threat 'bubble' but a series of strobelines relative to the Raptor aspect lines.
But with good networking and missiles like the 9M96, some of those strobes may be just long enough to be truly threatening).
Either way, it doesn't pay the enemy to sit on a bullseye at homeplate. And the standoff margin of the winged weapons is such that you end up
chasing the strikers from four times the distance you would with conventional SALH/PTOD based weapons and their fast-out retrograde is basically
uncatchable if you are taking shots in the teeth with no way to box them in from behind.
i.e. All air combat becomes desultory at best when it's down to singleton/paired DCA scrambling from local roadbases (which cannot support much more
than that) just to get close enough to combat the LO strikers before standoff BRL and rapid-fade egress.
Under these conditions and assuming that the S2A threat is not just /overwhelming/ the best that can be hoped for is that sufficient numbers of F-35s
launch sufficient numbers of internal AMRAAM to beat off the threat before running, max-AB, the other way. At which point your 'standoff platform'
role becomes strictly spear carrier as you need to guide a long-NEZ weapon through a midcourse of potentially minutes long duration on opening targets
as much as 150-200nm downrange which are only going to be really visible to an AWACS class system operating several notches lower down the tenor scale
of echo-me-back bandwidth (where the digital tether on Meteor becomes _very_ important).
Which brings us to the real shortcoming of the Brit CVF 'ideal' in that not only can they not afford a mission-mix of tactical assets. But they
seem to have the idea that a V-22 or similar BMC2/ACP asset will just fairy-dust it's way into existence to support their skiramp STOVL airpower. It
won't. We won't pay for it. And we won't give away E-2 to make up the difference (assuming Hawkeye will work with your 'spare' cat).
And without that as a netcentric linchpin to their OPP plan, British naval strike aviation is little better off than they were in the Falklands. At
least against an organized IADS threat.