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Is fighter agility overrated?

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posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 10:46 AM
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I don't understand why are the fighter manufacturers still bothering to make aircrafts highly manuvrable (Cobra, Thrust vectoring etc.). I don't say it because of new stealth designs, but because of new missiles. With current missiles and HMS it doesn't matter where enemy is relative to your aircraft you can hit him everywhere especially with lock after launch. I've also heard that russian newest short range missiles can hit aircraft flying BEHIND you - in first phase before IR lock they are guided by small rear radar.




posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 09:15 PM
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In some cases, yes. The Navy decided to forgo thrust vectoring for HMS when given the choice between the two for the Super Hornet. The Raptor's manueverability is not necessarily needed but it's a just in case thing. More than one person has commented that it's more an answer to the Russians than anything.

The probability of a missile going behind a plane and still hitting the target isn't very high but 90 degrees off boresight is no problem. The thing about the Russian missile doesn't sound feasible.

[edit on 6-9-2006 by JFrazier]



posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 09:21 PM
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That's the same thing they said in Vietnam. "Guns aren't necessary because of missiles." There were a large number of gun kills in A2A in Vietnam. To put it bluntly, missiles miss.



posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 09:53 PM
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The thing about the missiles is that the Russians may have never had the BVR missile capability of the US, but they've always had some neat tricks. Look-to-shoot, for example, was in MiG 29's before the US had it. It may not be the best thing to have around, but it's still pretty nifty. So is this. That, and it gives some use to that ugly little nub between the engine nacelles on the Sukhois
. That's the only ugly part about the Su series, though.

As for the agility being overrated? Maybe. However, it is in fact more of a Just-In-Case piece as it has been previously said. If for whatever reason your BVR doesn't go as planned (or you get surprised), you will be ripped to shreds in WVR ACM if you've got nothing in the way of maneuverabilty. Russian Super Flanker (Su-35 and Su-37 modified Super Flanker, if it's produced with modifications) would rip an F-15 to shreds in a dogfight. I hate to say it. And the F-22 would be given a fair run.

Just like the gun on the plane- it doesn't have to be there. But it's better to have it than be caught with your pants down. Well, that and the UK tried to get rid of the gun on the Typhoon. Screwed up the balance, and the cost to put something in with the right weight was just more expensive than putting the gun in, so they left it. Nothing like an ironic cost-saving measure.



posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 09:58 PM
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Zaph, yes missiles miss, but modern missiles are not that same as what people fired in Vietnam, not by a LONG shot. And modern fighters are not going to use their gun in A2A engagements, it's just one of those things to have for that one in a million event but other than that the A2A business is virtually all missiles.


[edit on 6-9-2006 by WestPoint23]



posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 10:07 PM
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Do you know what the hit percentage of an AMRAAM is? At medium to long range, it's VERY LOW. It doesn't matter if they're different missiles from Vietnam, there is NO missile out there that has a 100% hit ratio. Sure, you launch an AMRAAM in a certain envelope and it's gonna be damn hard to avoid, but the longer you shoot it from, the easier it is to dodge.


Most modern fighters (including the new F-22) still carry cannon and Sidewinders. This is not the result of excessive caution, but knowledge of how hairy air combat can get. The Wild Blue Yonder is a big place and no radar is perfect. Enemy aircraft can sneak in from behind mountains, hills, forests or radar jamming. The chance of finding your self within visual (and Sidewinder) range of enemy aircraft is still a very likely possibility.

Moreover, short-range missiles like the Sidewinder have acquired new abilities. Until the 1980s, you had to be in a narrow arc behind an enemy aircraft before the heat-sensing seeker on the Sidewinder spotted the hot exhaust of the target aircraft. But that arc has gotten wider and wider as better heat sensors were developed. Now you can be flying past an enemy aircraft and your missile will pick up not just the jet exhaust, but the warmed up surfaces on the aircraft. Launch your missile and it will do a 180 and take off after the target. New fire control equipment includes a helmet-mounted sight that will let the missile know what you are looking at. Hit the fire button and your Sidewinder-on-Steroids goes wherever you were looking and chases after the target.

Naturally, it's not as simple as that. As missiles became smarter and more capable, devices were developed to give the target a better chance of survival. For the short-range heat-seekers, flares have been a popular, and effective, antidote. If you are being chased by a Sidewinder, pop a few flares and the missile will go after the hotter heat source (the flare.) Some missiles now have microcomputers in them and a library of various heat sources. This will cause the missile to ignore most flares and continue after the aircraft. This, in turn, has produced more types of flares.

Bottom line is that there is no perfect weapon, there are always countermeasures. Even without flares, pilots can sometimes outmaneuver a heat seeker. Electronic countermeasures also are effective against BVM missiles, as is violent maneuvering. As with the heat-seekers, there's a constant tug-of-war between the seeker technology and countermeasures.

www.strategypage.com...

[edit on 9/6/2006 by Zaphod58]



posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 10:16 PM
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If your TACPROCs are to kill everything BVR because you have the supporting NCW infrastructure to support BVR ROE upgrades, then yes, agility is over-rated. If your TACPROCS are to get to the merge, either because you can't match the BVR capability of the adversary, or don't have the NCW support, then agility remains important. But it is less so with HOBS missiles and HMS. During most training I've seen (full engagements, not specific weapon training), 90% of kills happen BVR (rough order of magnitude). Of the remaining 10%, nearly all result in a heater kill of some description before the end of the first circle, or someone blowing through and running away because they know their chances of winning are slim. Guns kills are exceptionally rare, and is normally the result of a B cat/Weapons Officer monstering a new C cat.



posted on Sep, 7 2006 @ 12:50 AM
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Uhh... Zaph, do you really think the military is using a missile which can be easily outmaneuvered? Sorry but by the time you detected an AMRAAM the only thing you have time for it to pull the yellow ejection handle. And the Aim-9X is not going to be easily fooled by flares and if you can outmaneuver it then you deserve to live.



posted on Sep, 7 2006 @ 03:52 AM
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so zaphod.what your really saying is that the missile can be easily doged.at long range.havent heard of that then. anyone can doge a missile.serously i would not belive that there is a easy way out.but ill take your word for it.



posted on Sep, 7 2006 @ 08:21 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Uhh... Zaph, do you really think the military is using a missile which can be easily outmaneuvered? Sorry but by the time you detected an AMRAAM the only thing you have time for it to pull the yellow ejection handle. And the Aim-9X is not going to be easily fooled by flares and if you can outmaneuver it then you deserve to live.


Oh please man!

If you detect an AMRAAM launch 40 miles off, you turn at 90 degrees and go to full burner, by the time the AMRAAM gets its mid course update you can be 10 miles away from where it expected you to be. If you turn inside a missile, the general thinking is it requires around 4 times the manouverability of the evading fighter [requiring alot energy since a missile skid steers].


By your own yardstick - do you think the military have not tried to come up with ways to defeat the other guy's AAMs?



posted on Sep, 7 2006 @ 09:45 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Uhh... Zaph, do you really think the military is using a missile which can be easily outmaneuvered? Sorry but by the time you detected an AMRAAM the only thing you have time for it to pull the yellow ejection handle. And the Aim-9X is not going to be easily fooled by flares and if you can outmaneuver it then you deserve to live.


Uhh....Westpoint, do you REALLY think that there's no possible way to detect a missile launch from the ground or another plane? Gee, I guess that little "missile launch" light in the cockpit of a fighter is just the for s***s and giggles.
If you bothered to READ the quote I put up they're not talking about simply dropping flares to dodge new heaters. They are developing NEW defenses against them. Or are our current defenses against A2A missiles the best we're gonna get?


physco, the perfect example is the Pheonix. Everyone used to harp on how long a range the AIM-54 had and how you could shoot down targets so far away from the F-14 that launched it, but the accuracy at that range SUCKED. As Kilco said, you can detect the launch, and turn 90, and be miles away from where the missile is going to look for you. Unless that missile goes active the moment it launches, which very few if any actually do, it relies on the planes radar to home, and you can fool the planes radar a lot easier.

The way they used to defeat SAMs (and still do actually) is to wait until it gets really close, watching it the entire time, and make a hard 90 in any direction. There's no missile around that can make that turn to keep up with them.

[edit on 9/7/2006 by Zaphod58]



posted on Sep, 7 2006 @ 03:33 PM
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Actually i think agillity is best used against BVR missles as they arent as manuverable.



posted on Sep, 7 2006 @ 05:03 PM
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If you detect an AMRAAM launch 40 miles off, you turn at 90 degrees and go to full burner, by the time the AMRAAM gets its mid course update you can be 10 miles away from where it expected you to be.


Actually, mid-course updates are much quicker than this. Turning 90 degrees slows down the intercept, but as long as the FCR can track the target, then the missile will get more than adequate mid-course updates. The only question now will be will the missile have the kinematics to prosecute the intercept, bearing in mind the shooter has also closed a good 10 miles, and will be closer to an RNE shot, and a second FOX 3.

Zaphod, I think Westy was getting at the fact that unlike SARH, AMRAAM can be fired from a number of modes, some of which don't actually provide an indication of launch. Even more true for LPI radars. If the target has less than the most up to date RWS, then they may not get any warning at all. The missile warning light in the cockpit comes on when the RWS detects a specific fire control signal from an emitter, whether it is a SLOTBACK CW signal for AA-10, or a FAN SONG signal for SA-2 missile guidance. IR missiles give no specific warning of launch, unless you have certain systems that can detect the plume on launch and boost phase. And I'm yet to see any training that has manoeuvre as a tactic against A2A heaters.

As for the last ditch manoeuvres you are talking about for SAMs, this is true for earlier missiles such as SA-2 and SA-3 (designed to target bombers, not fighters), so you can go 90 out based on spike direction, get tally of the missile, then pull around the missile flight path and avoid it. Timing is everything though! Not so true for SA-20 and SA-15 missiles.

Hope this helps.

Will



posted on Sep, 7 2006 @ 11:42 PM
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Yeah, I know that missiles can be hard to avoid, but from the sound of some people talking, it might as well be like the old G.I. Joe cartoons, where it was "Oh my god, they shot a missile at me! I better eject!" Missiles are NOT the end all, be all of weapons. This is a case of history repeating itself. Yes they're more advanced than in Vietnam, but guess what kids, you're STILL gonna be seeing WVR, and yes, even gun kills.



posted on Sep, 7 2006 @ 11:54 PM
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You might see occasional occurances of WVR, and we'll continue training for it, but just like low level pop-attacks, there will be less and less occurances as time goes on. Once direct energy weapons become tactically useful, the goal posts will shift yet again.



posted on Sep, 7 2006 @ 11:58 PM
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No, you will STILL see a lot of WVR. You're not gonna see the guy hiding in the weeds to hit him from 40 miles away with a wonder missile. Or any number of other situations. WVR is not dead, and missiles aren't the end all people say.



posted on Sep, 8 2006 @ 12:12 AM
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I'm talking US context here, and the US, with the sensors they have (both on board and off-board) that are available will see the guy in the weeds. Hell, the APG-73 in the Hornet can see a guy in the weeds, and I know this as a fact. Newer AMRAAM variants couldn't give a tinkers cuss if a guy is look-down. And at the end of the day only an idiot would allow himself to get into a situation where he gives the other guy a fighting chance of winning, which is what the WVR realm offers.

People will screw up. That is why I said that WVR will still happen, just not that frequently (I never said it was dead). And with some missile systems, we very much had the opinion that if you were shot at by certain systems, ejecting was the only option (Patriot for example).

Now, for other nations without the support structure and capabilities of the US, yes, WVR is still important. And I indicated this in my first post. But the whole Vietnam "we used guns cause missiles don't work and our ROE won't let us" is a context specific example, and has no real hold in fighter combat today.



posted on Sep, 8 2006 @ 08:42 AM
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Dear All,

Missile= Miss

Hittile= Hit

Why are they called missiles, just a light hearted thought.

I know for instance that during the "original" trials long time ago for the rapier SAM the crews called it a hittile for a while .. as it kept hitting the target. (that was rare then !!)

If someone knows the Latin derivation or Greek or whatever that's great I was just wondering why we still use the term when hittile seems so much more HHHHm accurate ...LOL

Have a good weekend one and all



posted on Sep, 8 2006 @ 09:13 AM
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Originally posted by Willard856But the whole Vietnam "we used guns cause missiles don't work and our ROE won't let us" is a context specific example, and has no real hold in fighter combat today.


It wasn't just in Vietnam that the attitude was there. That was the attitude of Macnamara and the upper level military for the ENTIRE military, not just the units in Vietnam. They decided that the new missiles meant that you would NEVER use a gun again. That's why the F-4 didn't have a gun until the E came along.



posted on Sep, 8 2006 @ 09:39 AM
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As zap said. The Vietnam is a good example. They only counted on missiles. Wich lead to that their victory rate dropped from 12:1 to 3:1 if I remember correctly. (Don't shoot me if I'am wrong) that was one of the reasons why they established Top-Gun. After that it was back to 12:1. So no, it's not overrated.



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