posted on Feb, 9 2007 @ 01:20 PM
Of course, if you have 'partial invisibility' to surface threats, up also works. Up to 65-80,000ft lets you throw things so far ballistically that
they can actually bus short and still come in quite a aways subhorizoned on their own power. Up means your S2A mechanical intercept threat is all
going to be S-300 or better to hit targets a mere 20nm from the launcher. Up means that whatever you do to create a turbo-SAM for use in the
0-40,000ft range has to be completely redesigned for higher altitude work. Up means that an active optical detection network has to be able to look
into a high glare index through to the 'deep blue' of a UV saturated midnight sky, even at high noon. Up means that acoustic detection no longer
works at all. Up means you can /somewhat/ blackbody yourself against the directors on systems like the ABL even though you will increase your
visibility to SBIRS and even DSP type sat-WACS. Of course up means a reduction in total payload, sensorization and separation values. Up means
hardening your electronics against SEE is still a dice toss affair. Up means mixed performance /down/ is no longer really practical, at least with
conventional materials and airframe geometry sciences. Up means isolating every pressure and fluid seal with twice the redundancy and total range.
Every electrical arcing and static discharge route. Every thermal cycle and venting problem on the airframe. With near satellite threshold
precision. And that gets pricey quick.
Probably the greatest driver on cost will be two fold: How you intend to get to the theater. And how you intend to operate once there. The
combination of R&M = M&R driver will come together at the basing mode.
IMO, as always and shy of a massive transformational technology like Agrav or some other field-effect mechanic, the next generation will be driven by
a packaging revolution that is composed of multiple component evolutions in subsystem technologies coming together in a synergized whole. Given that
this 'system prime' integration superiority has long been known to be the basis of Western and specifically U.S. 'prove everything before you
package it' engineering baselines, and further given that particularly Chinas astounding increases in engineering capacity are matched by our own
equivalent losses. I think it likely that getting the right combination of superiorities that are leveraged beyond an ever more compressed
generational window (made possible by finite analysis and CATIA type rapid prototyping) will have to be a dynamic and diversified rather than platform
I think that the JSF is showing the fallacy of putting everything in one package and pretending the amalgam will be either synergistically superior or
cheap as a result.
But that while the followon uninhabitteds will undoubtedly be cheaper for pulling the man, they may NOT be 'better' for sticking with a single,
in-generation, approach to the way we tactically approach warfare.
Rather much more effort will have to be put into designing baseline component technologies that are equally cost-common or at least cousin
tailorable/scaleable by section to a wide range of operating environments. The J57 was found on the F100, F-8 and U-2 for instance in a variety of
formats. Yet making sure it produced enough thrust in a specific carcass size, weight and installational as much as performance envelope was 'pure
luck' rather than deliberately averaged to a specific combination of preexistent -possible- airframe configurations.
Some talking point variables to consider:
If it's CTOL, it will have to come from a long ways. Probably at speed. With a long loiter period at end radius without refueling.
If it's STOVL, it need only heft a suitable payload margin to reach a median radius with the same loiter.
The first suggests things like exotic 'inflateable' wing skins to double or triple the fuel loading and a large delta or alternately scissor wing to
maximize aspect ratio trades for Mach point at altitudes where thermal and shock effects on wing sectional thickness are not too great. Supersonic
thrust recoveries from a fixed ramp inlet system may also be important.
The second would imply a generic wing design but one which could possibly require twin fan-in-wing plenum modifiers for total thrust and CG offset as
well as fuel volumes and efficiencies at cruise.
Missionization By Envelope:
If the system is a high flier, sensorizing it may require aperture performance commitments at the level of present day recon systems. If it either
deploys or is /fed/ RISTA data, then it is obeys the third firepower law which is to always separate your fires from your targeting. Simplifying the
avionics installation and aperture cutout/weight issues to only that needed by self protection measures and data relay systems from other
If the system is a low flier, the airframe has to be much more rigid and robustly capable of absorbing and controlling dynamic air loads. For cost of
both acquisition and maintenance, this may argue against extensive composite engineering even as it ups the ante for powerloading.
Reenvisioned Role-As-Configuration Modifiers:
That a 'fighter' in the missile age is no longer defined by it's performance but rather that of the weapon it carries is an obvious assumption,
given that the range and speed of modern missiles keeps increasing to the extent that no amount of fighter speed will outleg a missile across
increasingly broad NEZs. That a /cargo/ plane is therefore potentially a 'superior fighter' _because it can carry more missiles_ is something of a
harder leap to make. Yet the fact remains that if you can fire bigger weapons from farther out and/or at lower probabilities of threat counterfire
success 'with a backstop' in the form of a volume hungry DEWS to knock down those threat launches which do get close. Are you not a successful
I am not suggesting that a C-130 assume the mantel of the F-22. But what I am interested in is a broader range of scaled mission systems which can be
applied to MORE THAN the conventional fighter mission which so clearly is (common missiles, common bombs, cousined carriage methods) prevalent in the
Indeed, given that the current trend to use unconventional 'sponsored not participated' warfare techniques to gain diplomatic or economic objectives
continues. And further given that the aircraft seeing the largest use and the greatest loss rates are rotaray winged VTOLs (54 helos down in Iraq vs.
18 fixed wing jets). While finally it is clear that the 'followon technology' inherent to the dual post tiltrotor has serious operational
vulnerabilities for a variety of tactical and aerodynamics reasons. Does it not make sense to optimize designs for specific cross-purpose roles that
both need the added technology boost. And which are operationally oriented towards a possibly more survivable, post-DEW, warfare operating condition?