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Is fighter agility overrated?

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posted on Sep, 11 2006 @ 05:05 PM
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Kilcoo316,

>>
I like the idea that the F-22 etc need not be manouverable as it will never get into visual range of the enemy.
>>

The F-22 is not a fighter. It is a COE strike platform that _avoids_ confrontation. Whether that be via sniping from beyond the detection threshold (80km AMRAAM, 160km shooter:illuminator MCG lightoff). Or simply 'going around' a threat that doesn't know it's there doesn't change the fact that the aircraft is not a fighter, dog or otherwise.

What is sad is that the 'just in case' scenario would be better covered by a _DIRCM_ or even an _HPM_ ability to fry the inbounds than any level of maneuvering combat preparation which, by nature of physics, just shrinks the vector line to the point where you are not flying out the other side at +400 knots over your likely foe. But rather slowing down to come back around to try and get shot again.

>>
So, what happens when the PAK-FA comes out, or the Russians perfect plasma stealth?
>>

F-22's can see other F-22's. Both with LINK and with direct skinpaint. High denisty coherent signal generation at the front end of active arrays allows for some extremely unique waveforms that interact with the target shape and RAM layers differently than most acknowledged texts allow for.

Maybe not to full range but with more than enough ability to make it a 'BVR short' fight, starting beyond 20nm. Even with a foreign sourced threat, it would just be a matter of time before we characterized the airframe sufficiently to enable this.

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Two aircraft, with very low radar cross sections, and with all their fancy passive instruments... However, since neither is putting out any emissions, their best form of detection will be an IRST... or if the two are not approaching head-to-head, it'll be the old MK 1 eyeball.
>>

Many problems here.

1. VLO has to be not only produced but maintained to a very high level of competency. Given today's Su-30 doesn't look much different from yesterdays klinker-built Su-27; I doubt if the Russians are up to crafting to the baseline tolerances required for true VLO.

And I _really_ doubt any Tom, Nguyen or Abdullah could keep a Gen-1 equivalent (butter and tape) system flying in the fighter mission. Nor afford to try in numbers likely to make a real difference. Malaysia having all of what, /four/ Super Flankers?

2. Point Of Origin. If you are stuck with an airfield support infrastructure to keep your LO jets flying at top form, you narrow the search window. Whether that be commandos on a hill, airdropped UGS or dedicated sensor lookin coverage to spot the MTIs as _ground targets_ before launch. Even slipups in EMCON as radars are dummyloaded and ATC clears to taxi. LO is only as invisible as the flexibility of time /after/ launch by which it shows up _offensively_ on your doorstep. And we would not give a defensive fighter the ability to operate sight unseen from it's point of greatest predictability.

3. Sortie Logistics. You go out, you fight, you come back, you turn. Whether you start as a GAI or a standing CAP, there is no getting around this. And once you start to compress a limited force inventory with high intensity operations cycling, _sooner or later_ they will be caught flatfooted. The only question being whether it is as a function of never taking off from a preemptive CM attack. Landing at a cratered inferno of a homeplate. Getting run down and pinned to the ground with someone's lance trying to solve for absent fuel or missiles. Or being blown to pieces by a Javelin or Dominator as they taxied back to the hot pit.

IMO, the Raptor is too few in numbers to be screwing around with it as a primary OCA platform 'defending the signature challenged' from other VLOs. The image that comes to mind is of two blindfolded inline skaters locked in a roller rink, each 'skating to the sound of the wheels' with their fingers on the start button of a swinging chainsaw. Except that the other guy knows generally where you HAVE TO be to defend the sheep.

Which is ludicrous when you are talking asset values greater than a B-1B /from our $ide/ of the equation.

At that point, you either smoke'em with SATWACS cued DEWS of an 'F-747'. Or send hounds out before the hunters (launched from conventional assets well outside the nominal operational area). The TurboAAMs skirmish-line forcing the optical detection threshold. The manned LO threat expending all it's missiles trying (in vain) to bat down the drones and the supercruise bomber never a part of the problem or the solution as it goes on about it's business.

Even with 'all ten' PAK-FAs up and at'em as BFE threat-X tries to play Wonder Woman, the simple rule: CONTEMPT OF ENGAGEMENT still applies.

Making them predictable in coming out to the full stretch of your Mach 1.xx SDB slingbomb loft and using the window of transit inbetween base and engagement radii to enable the counter engagement by another (cheaper) EOID DACM system.

Contrary to the old saw, thieves don't catch thieves. Tanks are not the best tank killers. Subs shouldn't hunt other subs. Why then should I want to use a 'fighter' to kill another fighter when I _don't have to_ risk something on the order of a 3:1 (@ 100 million dollars worth of Russian LO) value trade inherent to a Raptor being a **better bomber**?

As configured for that role, that sortie, (2 BVR, 2 WVR, 8 SDB), it's just insane.


KPl.

[edit on 11-9-2006 by ch1466]




posted on Sep, 12 2006 @ 03:58 AM
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All of the above didn't mean very much ch1466.

You basically said don't give them (the other guys) the initiative (as if they are gonna try and cooperate with that!). You also introduced DEWs, which change the battlefield completely.


An F-22 will be as useless against DEWs as a PAK-FA - both are utterly obsolete.



posted on Sep, 12 2006 @ 12:02 PM
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Umm… just a question, what effective ranges against a fighter target are we talking about here? And IMO if by airborne DEW's you mean 747 than the F-22 is far from obsolete.



posted on Sep, 12 2006 @ 01:10 PM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Umm… just a question, what effective ranges against a fighter target are we talking about here? And IMO if by airborne DEW's you mean 747 than the F-22 is far from obsolete.


There is much more out there than just American lasers.

See here for instance

While it may not exactly be what you'd call a regular source, it should not be discounted.



"The Clinton administration allowed the export of advanced radiation-hardened microchip technology, vital electronic components for military satellites and nuclear weapons, to Russia and China," Smith wrote. The technology allowed China to build air-defense laser systems powerful enough to deliver an "estimated...10,000 watts of output power on a target up to 500 miles away." Smith said the Chinese are preparing to deploy "an even more powerful ground-based laser by the year 2000."



If I recall correctly, I've been over the fact that the laser need not be airborne to render all current aircraft obsolete before on this forum. A ground based system will deny airspace just as well as any airborne system [with friendly fighter cover to flush low-flying aircraft out of the weeds].

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mod edit - replaced 'quote' tags with 'ex' tags

[edit on 12-9-2006 by masqua]



posted on Sep, 12 2006 @ 10:48 PM
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Here's something to ponder...

It seems like the majority of regulars here at the ATS Aircraft Projects forum liked the F-23 more than the F-22.

How important is agility to you F-23 fans?

Because the F-23 did not have vectored thrust - oh sure you may say that the unstable airframe gives it extreme manueverability but compared to vectored thrust performance that unstable airframe doesn't really cut it.

Any thoughts on that?



posted on Sep, 13 2006 @ 03:40 PM
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Kilcoo316,

If that was 'all' I said, why did you feel the need to resynopsize it?

Given that you have forced me to correct your correction, lets cover what I did say:

1. Measuring the F-22 as a fighter for which Agility is important is in fact itself a mistake. A C-17 doesn't need 'agility'. Nor does a COE strike asset.

2. The F-22 can see other stealths. Both with on and offboard asset capabilities that are themselves /very/ expensive to replicate. This is WHY it doesn't need to be 'agile' and why, in particular, LO is itself not a single level advantage to the U.S. but part of a total-systems layered construct.

3. LO is not a be all, do all, even if you can take theoretical work and transition it into a production airframe. Something which, despite all their protestations of 'being our equals in the field' _none_ of the ROW has cared to PAY FOR doing. Once you have LO, you are still faced with the need to employ it and if you cannot afford to buy an entire synergy of tactics and support mechanisms which enables stealth, you are STILL gonna be SOL against the massed capabilities of the worlds only superpower. Against which (at present) LO is the only possible means to staying in the fight for more than a few minutes but still not a determinative one so long as it is not used offensively. A fact YOU brought into this by making it an F-22 vs. PAK-FA contest. Thus YOU are the one who has to make LO work as a be-all edge. Whereas I only have to prove that there are other ways to avoid the mission costs.

>>
You basically said don't give them (the other guys) the initiative (as if they are gonna try and cooperate with that!).
>>

Most hick forces lack the ability to recognize what 'initiative' is, let alone wrest it from a professional force. Should the Argies have been patrolling the peripheries of their airfields so that British SOF could not provide raid warning? Sure. But they didn't. Furthermore, given that _we will be coming for them regardless_ (Offensive advantagement in action) and WE have multiple tiers of humint, droneint, satint, _they will die where they sit regardless_. If they shift to roadbase operations they may live a little while longer but only until that becomes a signature as well. For all of the 2-3 missions they can fly before a lack of fuel, munitions or spares stuffs up their FMC rates /anyway/.

Such is the basic limitation of LOGISTICS inherent to pretend-airpower. All the rest is just marketing hyped nonsense designed to take money from the fools who will part with it for fashion.

>>
You also introduced DEWs, which change the battlefield completely.
>>

And this doesn't reenable agility in your mind? 500 million dollar budget. Threat: 90X 338 million dollar LO assets. Defensive Options: 5X 100 million dollar PAK-FA in 15 years. 50X 10 million dollar UCAV in 5 years. 7X 75 million dollar DEW sites in 10 years. Or a mix.

Better that you have a functional defense TODAY and money to upgrade. Cheap throwaways which use agility to solve for mechanical threats being the smarter choice by far.

>>
An F-22 will be as useless against DEWs as a PAK-FA - both are utterly obsolete.
>>

Nope. Because an F-22 does several things which the PAK-FA cannot:

1. It functionally leverages small IAM and glide kit technology which means that /once the DEWS are gone/ (cruise). Or even during conditions of overcast or other limited optical acquisition conditions, you can put 8 rounds 80nm downrange. And force the threat to deal with the incoming spread of ARROWS NOT ARCHER, each of which can kill it depleting it's chemical/cooling loop in the process..

2. In areas where DEWS are not present or have been knocked out, the F-22 still gives you a 3.5hr round trip ticket to an 800nm radius compared to JSF or F-Teens which are 7-10hr minimum subcruisers. Faster to do a given level of work means more work done with a _smaller fleet_ whose total cost is LESS THAN the larger inventory of 'cheap' fighters.

3. The PAK-FA is _one direction_ in which Air Defense spending can go. DEWS systems are another. Both are likely to be defensive systems, at least at first. Neither are going to be cheap. If you do not use the PAK-FA offensively, either because you cannot afford to costs inherent to making it a bomber (support assets to ensure penetration and generate ISR targeting as well as onboard stowage of tailored A2G munitions, among other problems) or because you cannot take that system leveraging as far as you could with say an IRBM or a wave of CMs then it's ability to WIN THE WAR NOT THE AIRWAR is limited to what it can achieve as an A2A platform. Again assuming the logic of X many missiles onboard vs. Y many cruise missiles coming the other way, it makes more sense to kill the PAK-FA's basing mode or compress it's on-ground turn period than it does to employ that asset as the 'only survivable system' which can loiter in a given area to shoot those missiles down.
Comparitively, if you buy into a large composite of throwaway 'agile' assets whose bravery is not dependent on a man, then you may well have enough money to buy BOTH the offensive (missiles) AND the defensive (laser/maser/A2A UCAV) options.

CONCLUSION:
Don't try to teach granny how to suck eggs unless you are really sure you have the knowledge base by to prick the shell. The complexities of trade between LO vs. LO as a 'standoff' nullification and agile-bypasses-LO-to-kill-other-assets are too great to summarize them in just a few sound-byte sentences like you did.

If nothing else, three key elements which will have to continue to be acknowledged are as follows:

A. Airpower will never be abandoned so long as there is /any/ chance of 'going deep' to make radical changes to the nature of a frontally driven war. Where this is a function of how much you invest vs. how much you are willing to lose, you either have to develop a means to suppress those 'incontravertible' threats which put your high value assets at most risk. Or you have to design to cost so that you can afford the attrition.

B. Small, 'agile', _uninhabited_, platforms also just happen to be very small signature ones which can be readily tailored (through single piece monolithic castings that even the Soviets could achieve relatively easily) to work both the optical and radar acquisition process. And the evasion + expendables element of terminal enagement as a function of AAM evasion and continued closure. Far better than a manned system and its wanna-live pilot.

C. By virtue of 'role simplification' inherent to limited mission volumes, small craft also happen to be much easier on the wallet to purchase in numbers that can be lost without losing initiative. And this simplicity also translates into basing mode flexibility and hardiness of systems reliability which eases the logistics burden of making them survivable away from predictable target locii.

Knowing this, if the Russians pull the dumbass monkey-see-monkey-do attempt to 'match' the F-22 as a function of envy rather than /ignore it/ as an element in attacking what is _really important_ of our own assets (support missions, basing logistics, subsonic strike aircraft) then they truly are nothing more than 'slavish' in their stupidity of trying to prove that they are our equal rather than our master.

Warfare never being about a _level playing field_. Or a poor man's peace whose military 'protection' is bought by robbing society of resource allocations necessary to make them 'safe' in other ways. Like petroleum independence. Population control. And social equality.

All of which have their own costs. All of which must be shared with those which the military 'deems it's due' solely because they are 'so brave' for exposing themselves to risks they _literally_ do not have to pay for the equipment to ameliorate the threat of. Ditch the man, cheapen the risk.


KPl.



posted on Sep, 13 2006 @ 04:27 PM
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Why are you constantly assuming:

- that the F-22 will only be facing ad-hoc threats from the "peasant rabble"?
- the other guys don't have off-board sensors and datalinks?


You also mention the F-22 and glide bombs - thats munitions, and not unique to the airframe, you think that someone else cannot come up with a few glide bombs?




I broadly agree with you on where airwar doctrine should go - mission specialised UCAVs. However, I feel more should be considered about space war.

JDAMs are GPS guided [and most of the USAF is reliant on the thing] remove the sats and....



posted on Sep, 13 2006 @ 04:48 PM
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IG,

>>
It seems like the majority of regulars here at the ATS Aircraft Projects forum liked the F-23 more than the F-22.
>>

Why not, it obeys more of what we know LO+SSC 'rules' to require in a COE platform which decides all or most all of it's engagements at 40-50K and Mach 1.5 or more. The prototypes were in fact better high-fast performing across the envelope, despite having such vestigial remnants as engine nacelles sized for reverser installations.

>>
How important is agility to you F-23 fans?
>>

Is the mission _solely_ that of hunting down BMC2 assets and preattriting strike packages deep over the FLOT in German and Polish airspace?

Are we playing with 1986/1996/2006 rules on AMRAAM capabilities and particularly 2 way NCW datalinking?

Are we given an F-4G+EF-111+EC-130 level of total systems support?

Are we flying out of England because continental USAFE ceased to exist five minutes before the war started and/or the French are neutral?

>>
Because the F-23 did not have vectored thrust - oh sure you may say that the unstable airframe gives it extreme manueverability but compared to vectored thrust performance that unstable airframe doesn't really cut it.
>>

Which jet, at cost, can generate the most sustained specific excess at Mach 1.5 and 50,000ft with what combination of control factors? If aero controls are enough to give you your 9G breakaway or even, lest you throw signature spikes in all freakin' directions, simply crank or offset to scan limits as an FPole/sensor threshold defeat measure (the difference between a chainsaw like retrograde with a separate illuminator and own-MCG with a dumb tether) then 'life is good'. Because conventional dogfighting _does not happen_ at those kinds of altitudes and airspeeds. And so why pay the total weight penalty (reinforced booms proof against the flex, plus heavy metal articulation and cooling) if you don't have to?

People see the F-22 and see another F-15 (gee, do yuh think that's why Lunchmeat made it look the way it does?) I look at _the mission_ and see a specialist role little different from that of the F-117 in terms of it's tailored performance-at-cost values.

>>
Any thoughts on that?
>>

The F-4, designed as a 'pure' naval interceptor, was without a doubt, the best 'fighter' (multirole as an element of definition) of the 1960s and early 70s. This because 'from the radome south' it was sized to do everything, if not well, then well enough within it's inalterable basing mode (navalization = +4,000lbs minimum EEW) and technology (2 man) starting penalties so that most everything flowed readily enough from that initial design configuration (more pylons, more displacement around the CG for guns and gas and sensors) decision.

The F-106 was also a pure interceptor which operated within an overarching SAGE network that took 90% of the intercept-phase load off the pilot. Yet it was rejected as a fighter in favor of the Phantom because it did ONE THING well. And nothing else. Even though that one thing included regularly beating the crap out of the F-4 'as a fighter' and /despite the delta penalty/ which it was itself stereotyped as much as stuck with.

The irony being that what drove the final decision was supposedly the ability of the F-4B APQ-72 to acquire the F-106 from greater distances for purposes of definitive SARH pole out on the much bigger AIM-7.

With the above in mind, I have never liked the nose of the Black Widow. It is too pronouncedly beaked to support the array area I would expect of even an AESA equipped, A2A optimized, fighter.

Furthermore, it's internal weapons bay design seems to be less practical for the useable volume enclosure that would, of necessity, be wasted on a rotary launcher.

Lastly, the entire 'trimaran' concept is less than stellar, IMO, for the amount of skinned area and structural complexity it encompa$$es as production materials and process weight without making a substantive improvement to the overall mission volumes or system functionality /contained within/. A fuselage which ends as a Flanker like forebody rather than house fuel or more weapons all the way back. Engines which are widely separated, imposing a severe yaw penalty. Butterfly tails with a narrow attachment 'shelf' structure outboard of the acoustics heavy exhaust channels. And supplying an amplified yaw penalty with each given control force deflection.

The YF-23 was an interesting shape, but I can see how it was a flawed one. The F-22 will never be 'pretty' in the sense of its both bulbous and angular blend of chunky outlines. But it is a system which does _enough_, in enough areas, to be adaptible to roles similar to those of a modern day Phantom. Something which neither the F-15A/C nor the F-23 could likely ever lay claim to.

Which is more valuable to design towards? The single mission, single design point platform or the more flexible system which is not quite as much of anything?

Well, optimized hunters do well in very specific environmental conditions for which they are tailored and in which generalists are totally outclassed. And there can certainly be no greater challenge to meet or exceed specific combat environment requirements than those of a Round 3 fight in Europe.

Yet whether we defeated the Soviets in an airwar over the CentFront or not, a NATO confrontation would have likely ended in Apocalypse, just on logistics of theater entry by overwhelming ground and missile forces.

At the same time, the F-22 will never be any better than it is given the funding and technology inserts to directly challenge, not an opfor IADS. But the price point force structure logic by which the JSF is seen as the Lo-LO portion of a mixed fighter force concept which is itself conceptually flawed. By the number of targets needing LO to be serviced before 'normal' (uncontested) air ops can begin. And the distances over which nontraditional threats (access denial politics and TBM strike) can keep an air campaign effort from usefully establishing persistent presence in the combat area.


KPl.



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