Originally posted by st3ve_o
hi all, what do people know about this??
is it a joint project between various nations like the manned F-35 jsf (lighting)?, would love to hear some more info about it
Most of it is wrong. While an upfueled and longspan wing F-16 variant was used for awhile to illustrate what could be done with second line aircraft
as a function of not exposing 'valuable' types to high density air defense systems, there was never any serious work put into reconfiguring the
flight controls (imagine a 300 knot limited airfoil taking off with upwards of 20,000lbs of fuel and munitions using burner-over-brains approach) nor
in justifying how a conventional signature airframe would necessarily be a superior asset simply because a pilot wasn't lost when it was.
Lockheed later went on (1994 or so) to develop their own Saber Warrior concept and while this may or may not have eventuated too late for the DARPA
UDS program, it certainly was in no way related to the existing F-16 or the JSF technology base (interestingly it did include manned and unmanned
iterations as well).
The next thing you need to consider is the basic cost:weight fraction. For a long time this was 1 million dollars per 1 thousand pounds gross weight.
Since the advent of LO engineering, the materials and tolerances have tightened up considerably even as schedules have stretched out unto the
ridiculous so that you are probably talking a 3:1 or even 4:1 ratio now.
As such the excuse of a '3%' change in savings is not credible because, without the full sensor suite and probably some new ones you WILL NOT need
the fighter mission performance profiles.
Which means that you automatically need to start looking at things you can successfully pull OFF the airframe.
1. Big, Twin Tails.
These add wetted drag and are generally not as efficient, structurally, as a single tail configuration, existing only because the airframe needs to
contemplate aggressive maneuvering under conditions for which yaw at alpha either blanks or doesn't provide enough control power to effectively keep
the aircraft stable. Except for a true LO airframe and particularly one which is subsonic, not only is the presented area of a tail like a billboard
from many key aspects. But it is also anethema to the profile flown. Which is slow and smooth turns with as little rolled aspect deflection as
possible to keep the planform alignments from 'flashing' glint.
2. Supersonic Performance.
Inherent to an afterburner with a complex Con/Di nozzle. Another witless invention which adds TONS of weight, not only in the engine and bearing
structure itself. But also in the assumed fuel consumption figures. If you were to remove the burner can from an F135, you would halve it's
3. Gaping Inlets.
A well designed engine, especially in cruise mode, doesn't need much more than a slit inlet. UNLESS it is feeding a massflow requirement necessary
to both cool a very hot military core and provide auxilliary air to cool the case and feed the burner as bypass. Indeed, if the engine itself is
_short_ it helps immensely if the inlet path is actually not to convoluted or extended in terms of providing minimal disruption to the engine face.
Auxilliary inlets can open to assist with takeoff where added massflow at low airspeed and high throttle conditions but even here, there is no real
requirement to feed a 27,000-30,000lbst class engine given you purposefully design the airframe around an assumed lightweight munition class.
Unsurprisingly, landing gear are -exceptionally- heavy for their length, being one of the chief areas, outside propulsion, where nothing but steel
will do to provide enough strength to accept the stresses involved. If you have to load the airframe manually from underneath while providing a basic
ground clearance sufficient for naval ops and STOVL reingestion issues, you gain nothing from a low wing monoplane format. But if you are nominally
landbased, by putting everything in a tortoise shell cover atop the wing you get major advantages in ruling and profile drag while keeping the overall
depth of the fuselage (and thus the skin enclosing a given volume) very tight. At the same time, you can use the extended arms of a jammer to load
well back from the leading edge (keeping the CofG margins acceptable) while potentially even putting the weapons bays in the TOP of the airframe to
allow all large opening surfaces to be protected from lower hemisphere detection. It even helps in designing the structural box given that you rest
everything atop a basic framework rather than hanging from one.
Clearly, it makes ZERO sense to install a flat-face primary aperturel behind a dielectric radome if it interrupts the principle flowpath of the
engine. And if you lack the performance to be a fighter. At the same time, the need to see through weather while providing complex topographical
'pulls' (3D terrain elevation imaging) and wide area search capabilities does not allow you to remove the system completely in the _majority
mission_ (A2G) which even fighters perform, albeit poorly. This leads to the notion of canted systems and even conformal arrays as being more and
more appropriate all across the leading AND trailing edges of airframes so that, for equal or greater total array area, you can actually shift weight
around and decrease volumetric packaging constraints to a point where nothing of conventional array design remains the same beyond perhaps PAO
supplies. If there is no 1,000-1,500lb package on the front of the nose, there is no need to counterbalance that with heavy tail weights and indeed,
most of your aft fuselage can be light weight structure intended solely to provide an expansion/mixing plenum for IR suppression (though 2D yaw
vectoring is also a possibility without the tails in the way and with the engine right on the thrust line).
Similarly, a fusealge integrated EO targeting system remains a 'must' because signature requirements and the ability to provide that most critical
of two-eyes-on targeting confirmation with the very highest of grain resolution cannot be ignored. In this, the need is less one of differentiating
from the existing F-35 than it is realizing that, given /everything about it's other features is wrong/, you cannot afford to compete the very
expensive doping elements from the strategic materials resource base. And so the same EOTS suite might as well go to the platform that most deserves
Taken together, even ignoring the cockpit as a mistaken hole in the airframe engineering flaw, you have no choice but to acknowledge that as much as
half to two thirds the EMPTY system weight of the F-35 is money being thrown away for nothing as a UCAV.
TACTICALLY, there is also a great mistake being made inherent to the following-
But drone-only versions could cost 3% less than the baseline aircraft, according to these projections. For example, the company has envisioned that
two piloted fighters could be accompanied by four unmanned fighters without the full suite of high-tech sensors.
"Those are basically external bomb carriers," Mauro said.