posted on Jul, 26 2006 @ 05:14 PM
The Medium Fighter Thread
Medium Fighters are probably the most common Fighters, They are a cross between Standard and Heavy Class Fighters and are mostly Multi Role capable
Here I would argue that the definition of Medium Fighter is too vague both by mission role and time period to have much meaning. The Naval F-4,
operating off a carrier is a 'medium' fighter by comparison with the F-111 or F-15E. Only the F/A-18, by dint of it's starting out as an LWF and
'becoming' a navalized jet can truly be labeled as medium by intent. And this due largely to the limitations of the carrier launch system and
engine thrust as much as any real desire to maintain the types middle 45-48K operating gross.
HAL HF-24 Marut, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, SEPECAT Jaguar, F/A-18 Hornet, Mitsubishi F-1, F-35 Lightning, Mig 29, Panavia Tornado, SAAB
HAL HF-24 Marut is a Hunter/Super Mystere Clone and with only roughly a 24,000lb gross and no really sophisticated missile based weapons system is
entirely lacking in what I would call medium fighter characteristics. Say instead it was a limited production attempt to maximize the Hunters
fighter-bomber capabilities while maintaining a bargaining position in getting best possible value for the Su-7BM which is what the Indians really
The Typhoon is in the same weight category as the F-15 and dimensionally similar to the F-4 Phantom and is thus still quite large. Intended as a
frontal fighter replacement for RAF-G Phantoms and Lightnings, it combines agility compareable to the F-18 with T/Wr more akin to the Su-27 and an ARH
driven weapons suite. It is not an interceptor as the optimized Tornado F.3 is and yet the high likelihood of it's employment in at least partially
OCA driven taskings over a high threat area begs the question of adequate fuel fraction and signature margin.
Is what you get when you forceably shave 2 metric tons off the EFA requirement and then try to multi-basingmode the result as a dual service weapons
system. It is compromised by it's limited pylon carriage options and relatively low internal fraction for a twin. Certain technology limitations in
the MICA and RBE also amplify the types shortcomings as BVR dominates over agility and the Europeans are all a little too close in emphasis to the
Soviet Model for mixed agility and sprint rather than cruise performance.
What will define both these systems performances will be what happens to wingloading and mission loads when they try to increase payload:radius
margins as part of a 'multirole expanded mission set' on a 500-540 square foot wing. It may well be that lift @ drag and high altitude cruise
performance goes right into the sewer. Because at the higher 50-55K gross' both these jets will be operating at 'heavy weight' performance levels
roughly akin to a Strike Eagles with PW220 engines.
Is purely a BAI/Strike platform bought on the cheap with inadequate (for Europe especially) avionics as a consequence to the original trainer
requirement under which it was created. Low installed thrust and huge wingloading issues as well as (again) limited pylon counts for 'The Certain
Credit Card' RTB guarantees of EW, Self Defense and Targeting systems to offset basic fuel and primary mission payload all conspire to relegate this
platform to a has been status ever since the development of LDSD and FLCS largely invalidated the manual terrain contour chase abilities of the types
principal penetration mode. By avionics alone, the Jaguar is not really even a fighter, given its 16K empy, 35K gross takeoff weights, I would not
say it is a medium fighter.
Again probably the only 'true' middle weight fighter by definition, it is also one of the least capable. Having too few shots and too much drag to
function effectively as a BVR platform and too few pylons and too poor a targeting suite to be a capable A2G system throughout it's A/B and most of
it's C/D lifetime. The Bug is a jet ruled by it's 'agility' as a slow speed nose hose machine and the cockpit ergonomics which allow one man to
do a job nominally better done by two. i.e. Fighter Pilots Delight rather than a truly capable multimission platform. Indeed, I would say that
perhaps the building definition of a 'medium fighter' in my minds eye view of it is as a jet which requires a wingman's payload and separate
mission function/management to do ONE thing well. HARM to a PGM shooter or AMRAAM slingler. In all other areas, the Bugs limited carriage mode and
critically short fuel fraction just adds up to a non-compis-mentis platform that has to be drug to the target area and hand-held within it by more
specialist capable mission platforms.
Is an example of selling the Japanese on junk due to residual 'evil empireism' and a desire to keep one side of the Cold War hemispheric axis
relatively uncompeted. Effectively a blown up Jaguar with some elements of a Mirage F-1 equivalent mission suite, it is not as effective as either
parent jet while having even less goose and some serious stability problems. Given it was procured at a time when the LWF contestant features were
well known there is no real justification for this aircrafts configuration (razor back, limited AShM Only payload, very high wing loading, very poor
tail position) even as it's weight remains shy of what I would call 'medium' being some 3-5,000lbs less than even the Jaguars respective empty and
gross weight loadings.
While nominally 'multirole capable' the cost:risk value fraction of this machine (107 million and climbing) when operated as anything but a single
configuration VLO interdictor will have a large part determining whether History sees it as an F-16 or an F-117 replacement. I myself have nothing
but contempt for the platform as a mission system and multi basing-mode 'three planes, one name' engineering nightmare. Yet if only by fuel weight,
it does meet the most basic of what I consider to be 'medium weight' (45-55K) fighter design requirements. It remains to be seen whether burning up
20,000lbs of gas on a 7-10hr hop to a 700nm radius where you _find no air threat_ to oppose you is itself a worthwhile endeavor compared to coming in
with a much LOer signature threshold and 2-4 times the endurance on 14,000lbs of gas with a UCAV.
By design, this is more of a MiG-21 replacement than a MiG-23 one and as such it cannot really be rated a 'medium fighter' despite a relatively high
gross weight and all the nominal trappings of a radar weapons system and multishot missile complex. Of course the Fulcrum-C and the subsequent SMT
have gone a long ways to improve multirole A2G pylon capabilities. And the deletion of the auxilliary overwing inlets no doubt helps the fuel
fraction in some variants. Yet the overall continuing lack of flexibility in station allocation of fuel vs. primary and self-escort munitions makes
this aircraft in many ways even more restrictive than the Hornet relative to it's achieved vs. by-weight multirole fighter capabilities and in this
case (wing tanks displace MRM without outboard pylon secondary uptake) not even a wingman can help you. Gross weights in the 38-41Klb region are also
a little shy, though given the lack of navalization feature penalties, not all that unaccountable in comparison with the F/A-18.