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The future of Air defence?

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posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 01:09 PM
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On this weekend of the first flight of the Lightning II I am reminded how it is supposed to be the last manned fighter for the US (and allies). This has led me to wonder what form air defence will take in the future. There are the air defence ships of course, such as HMS Daring, and missile systems like Patriot but these are elemental air defence components which fit into an overall picture with the F-22 and Typhoon etc.

If UCAV's are the future (and for bombing they certainly are) this leads me to wonder how air defence UCAV's might be deployed. The thought of relying on a scramble from the ground seems unrealistic for some reason and the idea of having UCAV's constantly in the air, refuelling as necessary, seems wasteful.

I therefore wonder if the 'Air defence fighter' of the future might simply consist of an AWACS aircaft carrying two or four dedicated A2A UCAV's similar to the LO flying wing types now under development, under its wings in the same way that current fighters carry missiles?

Is this possible or workable? I have no idea, but how does the idea sound to you guys?

I am thinking along the lines of the parasite fighter experiments started by the British with airships after WW1 and continued in America, first also with airships but then with a B-36 carrying an F-84 during the early part of the jet age.

The UCAV 'pilot' could be seated within the AWACS working in conjunction with the radar operators, the AWACS radar enjoys a huge range advantage over any fighter radar and the aircraft can have great endurance (and can also refuel in the air if needed) . If a raid is detected the 'fighters' are always available because the AWACS is carrying them with it, fully fuelled, armed and ready to go.

I confess this is a scheme that literally popped into my head whilst looking at a pic of a UCAV a few minutes ago and I haven't really thought it through but does anyone have any thoughts on the idea, its practicality and its drawbacks?




posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 01:18 PM
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Personally i think there will always be a need for manned fighters.

For example, if there automatic, and completly electronic maybe the signals controlling them could be jammed.

Fair enough if there able to function by themselves, but i really think thats a long way off, maybe 2050 being realistic.

I don't think this new generation will include u-cav air to air fighters, in my opinion. But like you said waynos, i think bomber types are realistic.

I don't think i'd feel to comfotable having an air force completly dependnat on ucav's.

it's a scary thought, i mean robots, fighting robots.

But who knows.. thats just my opinion.



posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 01:22 PM
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Hi Waynos

Why bother with parasite A/C at all?

What about a A380 (or 747 for our American members!) AWACS fitted with a ABL?

Now that would give the bad guys something to think about.....they would not have a chance of getting anywhere near the AWACs as they would be vaporised, probably just after taking off from there home bases.

This is not so far fetched as it seems as both radars and lasers are getting smaller and more powerful. As for the carrier/UCAV ideas I think if you look at soom of Dale Browns works you will see he has it all worked out already.

Sv...Out!



posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 02:37 PM
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I think the future of air defense was posted quite some time ago.


It was high altitude balloons with mirrors that would redirect ground based lasers onto a target. Several lasers could be directed to the one target through a network, leading to an augmented beam.



posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 07:58 PM
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I think that we need to diferentiate between air "Defence" and offensive anti-air operations.

UAVs which are more akin to stealthy cruise missiles will be launched into enemy territory where they will hunt down anything that takes off and zap them with lasers.

Maybe the defence against lasers will be mirrors to deflect/return the incoming beam?

Another thought is the increased use of unconventional warheads in air-air such as EMP and FAE.



posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 08:07 PM
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Maybe the defense against lasers will be mirrors to deflect/return the incoming beam?


Mirrors on what? Even so much as a finger print will give a way for the laser to defeat that kind of defense. Also, these types of attacks may come in extremely powerful yet extremely short duration. A laser would pulse thousands of times a second and in the process completely melt the surface of the defense by getting in through slight imperfections and dirt. Optical grade mirrors are extremely expensive and would weigh down any viable threat to a DEW platform. I really think we may be in for a paradigm shift in military technology.

[edit on 17-12-2006 by sardion2000]



posted on Dec, 18 2006 @ 04:14 PM
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currently ucav's are not cheaper to buy than manned aircraft i guess the maintanaince costs are lower but i dont know if thats true.

A poor country will most likely not be able to afford the infrastructure needed for unmanned planes. They would still like never manned planes so i expect there will still be more coming.



posted on Dec, 25 2006 @ 04:42 PM
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Originally posted by waynos
If UCAV's are the future (and for bombing they certainly are) this leads me to wonder how air defence UCAV's might be deployed. The thought of relying on a scramble from the ground seems unrealistic for some reason and the idea of having UCAV's constantly in the air, refuelling as necessary, seems wasteful.


I would have to disagree with you on this! UCAV strike, maybe. UCAV bombers, NO Way! The technology is possible, but it's much too dangerous to be practical.

What do you do when your Enemy uses eletronic equipment to hijack the UAV and send it with it's load of bombs back at you? If we add into the equasion nuclear capibility, you can Clearly see why it's not worth the risks!

Tim



posted on Dec, 26 2006 @ 08:05 AM
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Originally posted by waynos

On this weekend of the first flight of the Lightning II I am reminded how it is supposed to be the last manned fighter for the US (and allies). This has led me to wonder what form air defence will take in the future. There are the air defence ships of course and missile systems like Patriot

The PAC-1 missile is an ABM, it shoots down only ballistic missiles.

Regarding destroyers, the world's navies do not have enough of them to fight against hostile navies and air forces. If we were to shoot down hostile aircraft only with destroyers, we would be all dead.

Fighting enemy planes? That's done by the crews of destroyers AND air superiority fighters/MRFs.

The world will not use UCAVs. Why? Because you need to develop them (and buy them) first. That's going to cost a lot of money, and no one, not even the US, can afford to pay with their current military budgets (which are every year being cut).

America, Europe and China could - theoretically - spend more on defence, and spend some of their military budgets on UCAVs. However, that would require either reducing expenditures on welfare or the parliament to agree to raise military expenditures. But the French were rioting several months ago, China's debt is increasing steadily, and America is decreasing its military expenditures, so no one's going to pay.



posted on Dec, 26 2006 @ 10:22 AM
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Tim, this is a simple case of the Atlantic ocean confusing a simple language
By 'bombing' I simply mean the act of dropping bombs from aeroplanes, such as in the close support, or what you call 'strike'* role, not huge fleets of strategic nuclear armed bombers, even though I do believe the USAF is looking into this very thing.

* in the RAF 'strike' referred only to aircraft armed with nuclear weapons, even ones as big as the Vulcan, all conventional bombers were 'attack' aircraft. - maybe source of our confusion?



posted on Dec, 26 2006 @ 10:47 AM
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Thanks for clearing that up Waynos, over here in the USA, we use the term "Bombing" to refer to all forms of air to groud Startegic Attack. In America hitting a target with a smart bomb (like the F-117's did in Gulf War I) and Nuclear Strike (like the B-29 missions over Hiroshima in WW2) are both called "Bombing".

Small misunderstanding!

Tim



posted on Dec, 26 2006 @ 10:03 PM
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I completely agrees with this guy, Sardion2000, his last words are "I really think we may be in for a paradigm shift in military technology." I would say that include any various of manned fighter jets. It is forever opinion, because there are many future pilots are born and bred to become best of the bests. I thought it'd be better if there's combination of both manned and unmanned fighters and bombers? Or even both intelligent computer and pilot(s) work togehter in single plane? I have the good impression that the computer technologies today in United States military, specifically Air Force and Navy is unparalleled compared with only 5 years ago.

[edit on 26-12-2006 by OneMyrmidon]



posted on Dec, 27 2006 @ 08:34 AM
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Originally posted by waynos
...even though I do believe the USAF is looking into this very thing.


Not looking, but actively developing. The FACLON system will be unmanned, the interim bomber in 2018 might be unmanned, and the long term bomber planed for 2037 will most definitely be unmanned.



posted on Dec, 30 2006 @ 09:37 AM
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I read in a magazine that the F-35 could actually be fully computerized and therefore it wouldn't need any pilots flying it. This however would be pointless because it wasn't planned to it from the beginning. Maybe a possible testbed of the F-35 "unmanned" will be seen in the future.

To your actual thread, I agree with you that having UCAV in the air constantly would be waste of recourses because (my metafora) "why have your gun loaded and pointed towards somebody if you don't expect him to be hostile" A process like this will I only end up with you lowering your hand after wearing it out. Especially in the future, when resourses will become even thinner it will be more effective to find a system that takes little resourses but is effective too.

However I could very well imagine some sort of "motership", it would be effective I'am sure, and cheaper to maintain.



posted on Dec, 31 2006 @ 01:03 AM
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Personally I think any country with resource can send in a swarm of UCAV's and there can be no practical defense against it with any existing techs or any of the above mentioned, only viable method of date would be to create a nuclear esplosion of sorts near the UCAV's path or some other explosions like that, which would send an strong enough electro magnetic wave that can destroy most of the UCAV's only then Laser or any other methods can be employed effectivily.



posted on Dec, 31 2006 @ 03:49 AM
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Waynos,

>>
On this weekend of the first flight of the Lightning II I am reminded how it is supposed to be the last manned fighter for the US (and allies). This has led me to wonder what form air defence will take in the future.
>>

Air Defense in my language is akin to the Continental AD mission set performed by NORAD and ADC/ADTAC. If that is truly your envisioned mission then the question becomes one of replacing extant fighters /more cheaply/ than can be achieved with similar manned followons.

In this, the F-16 will kill any crazed nutjob airliner likely to be seen 'just fine' and while you may want a little longer legs to catch the odd Bear/Blackjack 'practicing' to obliterate U.S.; you don't necessarily need to multiply your hourly cost of operations from 10-12 grand for an F-15 up to 60-70 grande for an E-3 with UCAV.

Indeed, 'words would be spoken' if said 'official enemy' were to begin routinely doing lolo ingress actions which could even theoretically bypass ground based detection methods as the only real gapfill/LOS horizon justification for integrating AEW&C into the overal AD mission set.

>>
There are the air defence ships of course, such as HMS Daring, and missile systems like Patriot but these are elemental air defence components which fit into an overall picture with the F-22 and Typhoon etc.
>>

The question, IMO, is whether or not you want to invest in a dedicated A2A UCAV at all. Aside from completely humiliating the Skyknight community as has been routinely done with Firebees since the days of the GAR Falcon (and would never be allowed on an 'official' basis because that would ruin the image of the U.S. as invincible and create an arms race in which 'anyone with an RC industry' could compete, even as it zeroed the profit margin of the 'real' MIB which wags the dog); the best argument against the UCAV is the notion that you can carry it, not externally but internally.

Indeed, once you marry the concept of the MALI to the high end performance of the Meteor, within a 250,000 dollar round cost; you get the equivalent of a 'fighter' (multiple repass attacks after a 'patrol to acquisition to kill' cycle), even if it is hauled within one of those ground attack model UCAVs you were talking about being so easy to execute.

>>
If UCAV's are the future (and for bombing they certainly are) this leads me to wonder how air defence UCAV's might be deployed. The thought of relying on a scramble from the ground seems unrealistic for some reason and the idea of having UCAV's constantly in the air, refuelling as necessary, seems wasteful.
>>

Indeed, the essence of separation between a TurboSAM/AAM and a true 'Fighter' UCAV is apt to be the recoverability requirement. If the drone is expected to fly for 8-10 hours zipping back and forth as it chases wayward intruders into the WDC no fly zone, then you might want to invest in a set of landing gear rather than a parachute pack to recover the fuel tank necessary to feed a J85 class engine with enough gas to sustain 300 knots forever and 600 knots for 15 minutes.

In this, one thing is certain: The F-16 which scrambled to intercept the Cessna left the dirt at 11:57am. And achieved divert at 12:04pm. Yet the Cessna had crossed the final 16nm ADIZ boundary at 11:50. At a 'leisurely' 100mph (1.6nm/min), the difference of 7 minutes and '12 miles later' put them over K street if not the Capital and White House before the flying monkey in his aerial ferrari could play catchup and achieve terminal intercept.

Which is to say that the manned QRA mission is completely ineffective and indeed the notion of flushing all those people onto the streets against a slightly faster twin with a dirty bomb or sprayer tanks (something the customs scrambled UH-60 could not have caught) would have STILL meant a mass casualty in the pathetically predictable effort to 'save one and all from falling skyscrapers'.

Despite the notional existence of a 'layered defense' (S2A as MANPADS or VSHORADS if not lasers presumably), particularly against high speed threats, you are better off going with something that is either already in-air _cheap_. Or can be rendered so without the nearest-runway lag (ZELL off a 2ton truck ala Mirach).

All of which argues most definitively against a mutant-under-glass solution. And probably against the gear weight in the second option.

>>
I therefore wonder if the 'Air defence fighter' of the future might simply consist of an AWACS aircaft carrying two or four dedicated A2A UCAV's similar to the LO flying wing types now under development, under its wings in the same way that current fighters carry missiles?
>>

An Airliner can outrun most fighters in an extended race Waynos. Hell, they can outclimb, outrun and outleg them given a relatively short headstart. Ask any Flying Monkey that has had a fully fueled KC-135 rocket away like a Saturn V from their hamhanded approach to contact.

Burner equalizes things but only to the extent that you are CLOSE ENOUGH TO START WITH to perform an extended VID assessment and subsequent escort.

Of course you will always face the constipation of authorization as 'chain of command' broken links. By which insanity 9/11 ATC folks /were screaming/ at the worthless gits in the Air Force to get a Zulu bird up and at'em and the jolly blue suited mafia /still/ insisted on heading out at a leisurely .9 Mach overwater to 'look for cruise missiles'.

If you want to really be safe against the most likely threat requiring an 'air defense' systematic approach; you need to install cabin cameras and crypted auto destruct devices in every major airliner. Along with doubling the exclusion zone area around key assets (chemical dumps, atomic power as well as national government facilities etc. etc.) and _required_ flight plan filing with strictest route-adherence inherent to an interactive TCAS as preliminary highway-in-sky auto flightpath aid commuter/biz/private air. Most of whom blunder about in strictly point to point navigation with little or no SA either.

Past that, and 'Air Defense' is a joke. We fight our battles over other peoples skies just to make sure that OUR 'Air Defense' problem is solved. And if we cannot afford to man all our Pave PAWS etc. strategic radar systems 24:7:365, we have no business pretending that the final effector in the kill chain matters relative to the absent coverage of surveillance-as-first.

Something which ADC pilots were stating was a 'complete farce' of an ADGE as far back as the early 1980s when they had only 'just begun' to retire the mission.

>>
Is this possible or workable? I have no idea, but how does the idea sound to you guys?
>>

Assuming you really meant /offensive/ counter air, I would replace the AWACS with an RQ-4 platform boasting an RTIP precision 3D Air Search X-band antenna and at least 3-4 command uplink channels.

I would then fill the belly of an X-45/47 class system with MALI followons. Ingress that platform at high or low levels (it's signature being almost certainly less than that of an F-whatever, simply because it isn't tailed or hognosed or equipped with gaping inlets) to beat the local threat vectoring/sector system coverage. And then, using shooter-illuminator (ADAAM) tactics, fire spreads of missiles into the threat baselane 'as they come'.

This allowing you to maintain the forward-as-cheap missileer while keeping the power and horizon line of the rearwards illuminator secure to cue the missile via 2-way datalinking.

[edit on 31-12-2006 by ch1466]



posted on Dec, 31 2006 @ 03:50 AM
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i.e. Exactly as the F-22 is doing in MFFC/CFO exercises with legacy jets. Only more useful because the capability costs less to implement and the robots can be risked sooner to prevent CAPs from going up as EWR tells the tale of the arriving raid from afar. Even as they can have a REAL mission (Mosaic ISR and Strike) once 'Air Supremacy is Assured'.

>>
I am thinking along the lines of the parasite fighter experiments started by the British with airships after WW1 and continued in America, first also with airships but then with a B-36 carrying an F-84 during the early part of the jet age.
>>

Strip the worthless-git cockpit hump from the spine of the XF-85 and what do you have if not a Firebee? That said, costs vs. reactivity will continue to drive matters and unless you intend to have the drone aircraft serve as replacement HAVCAP escorts, you just can't get past the HDLD limited inventory of AEW&C vs. their ENORMOUS operating costs when compared to having the gun in enemy skies and the keeping the scope for it airborne for 30-40hrs at a tenth the operating costs. 200nm away from endangerment.

>>
The UCAV 'pilot' could be seated within the AWACS working in conjunction with the radar operators, the AWACS radar enjoys a huge range advantage over any fighter radar and the aircraft can have great endurance (and can also refuel in the air if needed).
>>

Oh please. Ignoring lags over datalink and HUGE bandwidth vulnerability issues inherent to high fidelity transmission of a human-interpretable visionic picture, why thee heck would I want to trust air combat to the slow reflexed, mole-eyed vision, dimwitted understanding of a hairless ape? A network computer can run a PACK of missiles around a threat like hyenas seeking to rip the hamstring from an surrounded wildebeeste using a tenth the 'I'm off, you're turn!' squirt duration at 100 times the operations-per-second coordination rates.

UCAVs then flying more like missiles than flyboys high on their own egos.

>>
If a raid is detected the 'fighters' are always available because the AWACS is carrying them with it, fully fuelled, armed and ready to go.
>>

Except that the AWACS should never be closer than it can retrograde it's orbit to clear the threat which, with ever longer ranging AAM, is getting to be quite far. While strikers forward don't have /time/ for the underwing airpower to come to their aid from behind.

Better by far to go with a multirail system in the weapons bay of a conventional UCAV bomber and simply dedicate 1-2 spaces to LRAAM vice SDB or JCM with the multipass capability of the missile making up for whatever engagment geometry problems are inherent to the longer ranging (COE) based firing envelope.

The robotic weapons carriers are closer to the fight. They can afford to be lost. And they can multiply 2 by however many (distributed though they may be against DEWS or other hunting-weapon threats) formation members are also out there. 10 UCAVs within a 100nm effective operational MALI++ range equates to 20 Turbo-AAM shots compared to what, 2? 4? E-3 parasite carriaged platforms with all of 2-4 missiles of their own (say 8 shots /if/ they get there)?

>>
I confess this is a scheme that literally popped into my head whilst looking at a pic of a UCAV a few minutes ago and I haven't really thought it through but does anyone have any thoughts on the idea, its practicality and its drawbacks?
>>

Let the dogs hunt. You will find that A2A gets simpler the more units you have out front simply DOING THE MISSION. Like the Red Baron once said: "Tool about as you like but when you find the enemy grease him, nothing else matters..."

In this case, the difference is that the idiot flyboys and the robber barons who steal from the taxpayer to give them their toys can't change statistical truths which point quite simply to the diminishing returns on A2A dedication as a mission set which is 80% flown, 15% maneuvered and 5% prosecuted against a threat that often simply refuses to leave the ground.

Cheap + Dense beats Expensive But Non Present airpower when it comes to providing continual 'Air Defense' over power projected threat areas. Not least because nobody is going to crash an F-35 into a civillian water tower or a military vehicle park when the thrill-kill mission is done and it's time to get back to making X's life so miserable that they cannot sustain the losses to their defense or civillian infrastructure anymore.

FIREPOWER LAWS:

1. Shoot, Shoot, Shoot.
The more you bleed them with the first round, the more likely they will die with the next. If you have the ability to salvo-cheap.
2. Mass Fires Not Forces.
If you need to kill something at range use superior standoff to generate unexpected WEZ overlaps and let Bettter Bullet Theory maintain your competitiveness by upgrading the cheapest element of the overall kill system as an alternative to firing more of them.
3. Maneuver to Target NEVER to Engage.
Preposition your fires to gain optimal kills and then DO NOT make them obvious through subsequent pursuit and positioning phases.
4. ALWAYS keep your Fires and your Targeting separate.
Because this enhances the pursuit of a robust comsec 'by default' even as it further isolates platform value and crypto from the rear forwards in providing an overwatch level of tiered theater wide engagement capabilities.

CONCLUSION:
It doesn't take a lot of excess intelligence. Just the realization that man has absolutely no place on the battlefield _or over it_, any more.


KPl.

[edit on 31-12-2006 by ch1466]




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