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F-117 Retired

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posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 11:14 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
I'm curious intelgurl, if the F-117 becomes an unmanned platform does this mean that the USAF and Lockheed have no high payload true stealth UCAV's? Or that converting the F-117's is cheaper, more reliable and puts retired airframes to good use?



Its dead cheap mate.


The flight control system already uses FBW, so a computer is doing the flying anyway.


Your just moving the joystick from behind 5 feet away from the computer and being inside the aircraft to being 50 miles away and on the ground.


Heck, you could kinda UAV it now, just set your waypoints on the autopilot and maybe mod the software a bit to make sure it doesn't run off a taxiway.



edit: Of course, it'll probably not be as simple as a week or two messing with the FCS codes and throwing in a stronger datalink... but in the grand scheme of things, its not much more.

[edit on 3-11-2006 by kilcoo316]



JSR

posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 12:11 PM
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Originally posted by intelgurl
The F-117 will experience a gradual retirement over the next 2 years. It's not as if all 52 Nighthawks have suddenly been taken out of service. It also is important to realize that Hollman AFB will be getting Raptors to take the F-117's place.

So what is the fate of the retired F-117's?
Museum pieces?
Scrap metal?
Buried in the desert somewhere?

No.

There are plans to use some of them as UAV's, that means unmanned VLO bombers folks...



[edit on 11-3-2006 by intelgurl]


do you know if they are planing on selling the F-117 to nato contries?



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 02:31 PM
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Originally posted by JSR
do you know if they are planing on selling the F-117 to nato contries?



Doubt it - the country in question would have to aquire the infrastructure needed to keep the planes in good condition, and its a maintenance intensive machine from what I understand from here and elsewhere.


At the end of buying all the equipment, and training up the maintenance crews, they'd be getting a machine of questionable capability in the modern era. VLO is its only defence - its a sitting duck otherwise, and the F-117's VLO technology is getting long in the tooth.



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 03:19 PM
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Originally posted by intelgurl
Stu,
Celldar is a warning device - it cannot guide munitions to target.



Indeed, but if you know where something is that is a great bonus. You can use passive SAM systems such as a Rapier, for example (just plucking one out of the air, so to speak) which can target an F-117 or any other "stealth" aircraft. The problem currently is not knowing where to point them



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 05:08 PM
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Originally posted by intelgurl
There are plans to use some of them as UAV's, that means unmanned VLO bombers folks...



The bird that wouldn't die
. I'm kind of disappointed in the capabilities of the F-117, and so retirement isn't entirely a surprise to me. The aircraft was handy at the time because of stealth. However in 2006 and beyond it's rather useless because... Well, that's all it's got. No gun, no AA capability. Rather useless for an F designation (which I won't rant on).

I have to say, this thing is almost as ugly as the Boeing X-32. Almost. As long as it flies, however, I would probably enjoy it anyway.



posted on Nov, 4 2006 @ 08:24 AM
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Originally posted by stumason
You can use passive SAM systems such as a Rapier, for example (just plucking one out of the air, so to speak) which can target an F-117 or any other "stealth" aircraft.


Virtually all SAM's can target and track VLO systems given that the range between the two is close enough, the Rapier faces the same problem.



posted on Nov, 4 2006 @ 09:12 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Virtually all SAM's can target and track VLO systems given that the range between the two is close enough, the Rapier faces the same problem.


The Rapier is an IR system though isn't it?


But its effective engagement radius will still be low



posted on Nov, 4 2006 @ 09:37 AM
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It uses both radar and infrared systems, but it's weakness is that it's a short range SAM system, a VLO flying at high alt and mach would severely shrink it's kill envelope.



posted on Nov, 4 2006 @ 01:10 PM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
It uses both radar and infrared systems, but it's weakness is that it's a short range SAM system, a VLO flying at high alt and mach would severely shrink it's kill envelope.


Agreed.


Especially if there is cloud cover or such like.



Actually - there is a point - do VLO aircraft use clouds to reduce IR signature, or do they avoid them to prevent icing affecting RCS? I suppose they wouldn't go through them, but keep them between the aircraft and ground when possible.



posted on Nov, 5 2006 @ 03:15 AM
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From what I've heard, the F-117 is a b**** to maintain and quite costly to maintain as well. They're retiring it to get some money, they'll likely get sent to AMARC unless Lockheed wants to do a hell of a lot of work turning 52 planes into UAVs or
stealthy target drones. Actually the more I think about it, the more I think that's an awesome idea. Making them into a resuable UAV would be stupid and extremely expensive, target drones would be less expensive (since they're flying right now and don't have to be restored as much). That would be interesting to test your current weapons systems against stealthy targets.

But then again, that's what you get when your plane is designed by electrical engineers.



posted on Nov, 5 2006 @ 04:15 PM
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Well, it's not really that surprising! They've been talking about retiring the F-117 for over a year now. The F-117 was part of the first or second generation of stealth aircraft (Depending on if you consider the A-12/SR-71 to be a "True" stealth aircraft). The first F-117 flew in 1981, which makes the plane 25 years old. When you talk about cutting edge technology 25 years is a very long time for an aircraft to serve in the front lines, especially as a combat airframe.

Nothing lasts forever!

Tim



posted on Nov, 5 2006 @ 04:24 PM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Virtually all SAM's can target and track VLO systems given that the range between the two is close enough, the Rapier faces the same problem.


WestPoint23,

LO or steath planes are not invisible to radar, and they never were! Low Obserability is about Reducing the detection range to the point where the aircraft can reach it's weapons release point or otherwise complete it's mission before it is detected by the enemy. The big problem is newer radars are finding ways to increase their detection range against some of the older stealth designs to a point where they can engage the aircraft before it gets to the target.

Tim



posted on Nov, 5 2006 @ 04:35 PM
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The F117 first flew in 1981? Whoa... The first we saw of it was in 91 right?

25 years is a pretty darn long time, but when I look at those things they still look pretty futuristic. Not as futuristic as some other ones, but pretty good.

Intelgurl, did you say there's only 52 of 'em in service now?



posted on Nov, 5 2006 @ 09:54 PM
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Yeah I know Tim, then there's the whole filter out the background "noise" issue but that's a bit complicated. Anyway, the F-117 will have better success with the SDB, eight bombs with 60NM standoff range. I'd be impressed if most ground radars can track an F-117 at that distance.



posted on Nov, 6 2006 @ 12:12 AM
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Originally posted by Djarums
Intelgurl, did you say there's only 52 of 'em in service now?

Yes, 52 of them - but only something like 40 are combat ready at any given time - sort of like the 21 B-2 stealth bombers, of which only 16 are ever combat ready.



posted on Nov, 6 2006 @ 12:29 AM
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I'll never forget the time I first saw my first "stealth"......it was at the London International Military Airshow (London, Ontario Canada)....it was 1991.

As far as it's capabilities as an airplane, well, it never impressed me. But what did impress me was it's unique design. When I first saw it pass overhead, I was actually reminded of the Batplane from the Batman comics. It was a surreal moment.

And while I won't mourn it's passing as I did for the F-14 Tomcat, I will appreciate the "stealth" for it's place in military aviation history. The F-117 certainly was a stepping stone for aircraft design and technology.



posted on Nov, 6 2006 @ 08:01 AM
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Originally posted by Djarums
The F117 first flew in 1981? Whoa... The first we saw of it was in 91 right?


Close but not quite! The first F-117 flew on June 18, 1981, from Groom Lake (Area 51). The US Defense Department first showed the F-117 to the American public in November 1988.

Tim



posted on Nov, 6 2006 @ 11:42 PM
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well... numerous combat sorties, only 1 loss. Amazing records indeed.

this bird can retire with tons of medals!



posted on Nov, 6 2006 @ 11:52 PM
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Wow, sorry to see it go. It had a good run.



posted on Nov, 7 2006 @ 04:17 AM
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WP23,

>>
Yeah I know Tim, then there's the whole filter out the background "noise" issue but that's a bit complicated.
>>

It's a functional ability or Lunchmeat's Silent Sentinel and similar PCLS systems wouldn't be acknowledged as a possible frontrunner in areas which otherwise have limited signals density of any kind (in terms of developing an airspace control scheme).

>>
Anyway, the F-117 will have better success with the SDB, eight bombs with 60NM standoff range. I'd be impressed if most ground radars can track an F-117 at that distance.
>>

Indeed. However; I would be equally 'shocked and amazed' if the F-117 could see diddly dip in the way of _self imaged_ ground targets.

And therein lies your problem because if some other, lesser, (3 million dollar MQ-1) is passing off PTOD coordinates to an F-16 (particularly with an EA-6B or Big Crow type platform 'shadowing it' in the spotlight of RFCM) it's going to be hard to generate an FC solution even against a 1-2m2 target at those distances.

All the more so given as it can climb to altitude, release and dive back down below the local LOS horizon for conventional emitters before any reaction-fired SAM can even arrive in the 'general vicitinty'.

That only 'the very best', which is to say pricey, $-300/$-400 and later systems that can even get that far is then still mitigated by the fact that Mach 5 to 60nm = 1.28 minutes worth of flight time IF the million dollar round follows a laser flat trajectory at a constant velocity which we both know it won't.

And once everybody with two sparking synaptic gaps above the browline realizes this, they will ask the NEXT question which is undoubtedly going to be "Why not just take a lighter and BURN the suitcase worth of cash since the rocket trades speed downrange for a single-shot chance of intercept on a target that itself is going to be MANY miles away, buried in clutter when it gets there?"

The immediate answer is of course the ADSAM or similar network-cue environment and a hear kitty kitty approach which at least nominally allows late lightoff LOS attack from within much shorter slant distances of say 20-25nm, tops (which is why PAC-3's maximum list range is so short, even though ERINT is itself no slowpoke).

But the SMART ONE is always going to be guy saying that that idea leaves too many gaps and is too single-node vulnerable to take down when instead you can do the 'Chinese UCAV' trick-

www.abovetopsecret.com...

(basically a maneuver optimized variation of the Model 320 series Scarab drones with a little S-54 thrown in).

www.vectorsite.net...

Wherein the missile is in fact an airbreather and thus able to LOITER on the internal oxidizer and volume-for-Mach airframe trades. At which point, you have a _turbo SAM_ able to 'walk down the hill and nail all of them'.

//Hunting// for as much as engaging handed-off targets with netted optical sensors as it goes.

Now you are back to playing a viable presence vs. P-for-pursuit game in which there are no real 'airfields' to suppress. There are no flippin' radars to cue an intelligent ARM attack or go-'round strategy upon. And both the F-117 and the F-16 (and the F-35 and Flubber and Rafale and and and) are DEAD BLEEPING MEAT.

The only thing which comes close to beating back this kind of defense in a conventional sense is the F-22 which, with it's Mach 1.5++ supercruise and 50K ceiling can probably loft glide weapons from 100nm AND target them with SAR modes (Blk.20, crossed fingers) from 50.

Because it has the gas tank to force the scaleup of otherwise small interceptors back to telephone pole size in making the rundown as much as the endgame happen.

Myself, particularly given the likely distribution of even conventional-war targets as multiple needles in a million square mile haystack (i.e. we have to loiter too) is going to be staying as simple as possible with a cow-bomber that releases it's own swam of micro-interceptor escorts (as and when terminal-attack required) but which _concentrates_ on getting the monolithic structure and simple lines of a flying wing down to the point where effective optical LO (isolumination panels or the like) can happen. And RFLO is a given as a function of taking down the kinds of longwave emitters that can actually detect the fuzzy-blip dipole scalar at range. Leaving only the mid to upper centimetric systems which are power limited to the affordable array size.

In this kind of a system, ain't nobody gonna be lookin' out of no windows so the pilot doesn't serve much purpose (his cueing role having been replaced by DAS/DIRS with most of the bomber UCAV sensorization itself being remoted through systems like the Dominator as a 'fly down X and see what you see' type offset road recce.

If you can afford to throw away the UCAV. The UCAV's 'value' is inherent not to self emission but rather a range of hyper intelligent sub-ordnance. And the entire lot forms a more or less permanent constellation of pseudolite overhead ISR, then you don't need to obey the surge-and-cycle limited roles that man envisions as warfare based on his own biological 'thrust' of adrenaline and testosterone. Both highly outdated instinctive concepts related to a million years of hunter-gatherer existence rather than any real understanding of how wars are fought and what they mean. Such as even Sun Tzu knew way back in the 6th century BC. The dominant warrior doesn't fight. He forced his enemy to slink from the battlefield by the awesome array of his /intelligence/ not forces in suppressing independent innitiative at every point across the battlespace.

Hmmmmm, maybe we'd better watch out fer dem Chinese after all...


KPl.




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