posted on Oct, 1 2006 @ 02:12 AM
Stealth technology is valuable, don't get me wrong! If use wisely, it can be a critical asset that can turn the tide of a war in your favor at
critical moments. However, like anything else, It can be overused and misused. The US seems to be like a spoiled child in a candy store when it comes
to stealth technology. If it's stealth, they WANT it. Right Now there are TOO MANY stealth programs. They use it for everything as if it's
unlimited. Folks, Stealth is like any out technology, IT HAS LIMITS!
Indeed but it also forms the basis by which airpower /may/ be survivable in the first years of the DEWS revolution as longrange optical/acoustic
tracking is still gaining technology base as much as deployment leverage. Even as the advances in composite engineering give us unique shaping
options 'for free' while freeing us (somewhat) from reliance on foreign aluminum and titanium sources which are becoming increasingly expensive and
politically sensitive to use.
Advance Technology Bomber/B-2 Spirit: This was one of the BEST uses for stealth they have come up with. Used correctly, the B-2 is a long range
aircraft that can attack Air Defenses, Command Centers, Nuclear facilities and other critial targets where you EXPECT heavy air defenses. It can act
as the "Tip of the Spear", delivering crippling blows earily and giving friendly forces a decisive advantage strategically. The B-2 is also of
emense deturrent value!
It is never used alone, tactically, because it's perceived national asset value is only slightly less than that of a carrier.
Further more, in the SIOP scenario for which it was originally intended, it had neither the speed, munitions or loiter to take out road mobile or rail
Given it's small fleet size, restricted basing modes and limited ability to self-defend against /any/ threat, it is worthless as teats on a boar
Advanced Tactical Fighter/F-22: Of debateable value.
Only to someone with a secret agenda or absolutely no awareness of the program capabilities. How many bombs does the F-22 have to drop in a day
compared to any subcruise equivalent platform before you start to 'debate' it's full mission spectrum capabilities?
The F-22 is a GREAT fighter, however, an Air-to-Air fighter doesn't really need all the fancy stealth. I'm not picking on Lockheed, the Northrop
YF-23 would be in the same boat.
Oh really? So when F-105s, an aircraft with the flight performanc of a tank, had to split some of their precious sorties (effectively generating a
freebie mission kill) off into 'fighter' roling because the F-4s then available didn't have the gas or the ECM pods to penetrate?
Fighters go in first, along with Weasels and sometimes Recce to act as a door kicker/door holder force. This means that they are the spear tip of the
raid force BEFORE the standoff jammer and prebriefed ARMs can have a chance to do their magic. These latter being back with the gorilla or
micropackage actings as 'escorts'.
Of course there is an alternative. You can shoot through the bombers with a standoff element of fighters and LRAAM ala Tomcat. The problem then
becomes that if 20 fighters are all that is needed to gain air dominance for 100 attack aircraft, then ALL the attackers had better be VLO as well.
Since you are exposing them to a threat pole (both S2A and A2A) which is going to kill them before any longrange AAM from our side goes steaming
through their formations in a kind of three way pincushion thrill-a-minute ride.
Obviously, the real 'best solution' is to give ONE force element of say 50 planes ALL the protection available from heavy SOJAM and loitering
ARM/Decoy shooters. And let them ride roughshod over the air defenses for a week or three to kill the enemy as they find them.
Particularly for 'just fighters' the result ends up being smoking holes in the ground where airfields used to be, after which nobody has to worry
about the air threat and you can distribute all forces away from each other to prevent coengagement by multi-shot SAM systems.
A-12 Avenger: I know it was cancelled, but it's still fair game here. Basically a mini B-2 for a ship. One stealth bomber is fine, thank
Sigh. A=attack or less than 10,000lbs to 1,000nm of radius with the option of self defense in the A2A role. B=bomber or more than 10,000lbs to more
than 2,000nm worth of range. The only similarity lies in asset value whereby the blue suited monkeys got even with the squiddies for screwing up the
F-111 by doing-unto-back with a premeditated pullout that drove the A-12 PAUCs up into the 176-190 million dollar range.
Once you are that expensive (effectively the equivalent of the B-1B a decade earlier) you can't afford to lose either machine so the prospect of
using a limited force of A-6 equivalent (VAW) pinpoint raids becomes untennable since nothing except the F-14 (no SEAD) and perhaps Prowler (no Speed)
could accompany the A-12 to even 2/3rds of it's maximum radius.
Joint Strike Fighter/F-35: Totally unneeded! A new fighter/strike to fill an F-16\F/A-18\ A-10\AV-8B type role is good, but stealth isn't
needed for this mission. Why fly a stealth in daylight at low altitude?
By dint of sheer numbers, the F-16 is predominantly used in CAS. It is not used in daylight lowlevel CAS. IF IT WERE it would likely still be
superior to the A-10 because it comes in twice as fast and hits what it aims for. In AfG, the Marines hated the A-10 because it's 'overhead'
method was slow to execute their compass point stack method and it had it's hands full staying out of the canyon walls it couldn't fly over, away
from the trashfire that tracked it round and round. So that it was not at all as accurate in _avoiding their own positions_ as is often claimed.
Indeed, all CAS is moving towards the 15-25K altitude belt, depending on threat trashfire status and from these altitudes neither the Hog nor Harrier
II are players.
They don't have the wingloading, thrust trust or sensors to be adequately capable of through weather attacks with large bombloads.
OTOH, radar stealth, while nice to have in case there are residual, unattrited, S2A systems is NOT particularly vulnerable to optical/unguided
threats, 'even in daylight' simply because, at 3 miles out and 3 miles up, most grey-jets are invisible until they round out (bombs off, climbing
back away from the threat floor) anyway.
Don't mistake mission considerations with airframe types. And then throw in misperceptions of about technology and tactics. As a CAS jet, with all
that gas, and the GBU-39 on a multirack, the F-35 will likely be better than the A-10 and _certainly_ superior to the AV-8B.
Whether this means it's needed for the CAS mission as a function of expense and residual fighter optimizations is another matter.
F-117 Nighthawk: Not my favorite aircraft, but has an improtant role when used right. This aircraft, or something simular should be limited to
covert op's like supporting Delta Force on secret missions. It's not that great for a normal war time missions, as it is very limited in range and
payload. It doesn't need to be doing what it did in the 1991 Gulf War (Hello, that's what the B-2 is for!)
Actually, the F-117 is far more reactive both in the target area (TCT decapitation strike was twice handed to Nighthawks) and in basing mode
('Hello' 550-1,000 and 4hrs vs. 10-12,000 and 18-20 hours out?). Add to this the fact that it is MUCH more sacrificeable than a 2 billion dollar
asset and you have a force which desperately needs replacement which, until NUMBERS of F-22 or F-35 (or UCAV) are available is still the most flexible
penetrating weapons system the USAF has.
If there is a true comparison here, it should be F-117 vs. BGM-109 Block IV. And the Navy still loses because the USAF controls the targeting