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Air Force hopes to upgrade Aggressors

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posted on Jan, 30 2013 @ 06:52 PM
The Air Force is hoping to upgrade their fleet of F-16 Aggressor aircraft. This would include upgrading the Block 30/32 aircraft to the SCU-8 capability. That would include a helmet mounted cueing system, as well as a new center display that has similar functionality to an iPad.

This is important, because currently the aggressors don't have any way to accurately show the Weapons Employment Zone (WEZ) for Russian built weapons systems, when they're play aircraft such as the Su-30. They are currently in a position where they're under-replicating the current threats. To show the WEZ for weapons such as the AA-11, they have to memorize visual clues (read, write on the canopy with a grease pencil) and if the calls are even made in real time, they're inaccurate in many cases.

They also want to include improved training pods to replicate a better Electronic Attack threat.

The two big problems facing the fleet are going to be money, and over time, the ability to replicate a stealth threat. Currently the only aircraft that would be able to replicate the threat would be the F-35. And there are issues with it replicating other aircraft, such as the non-stealthy Su-30.

The US Air Force is hoping to upgrade its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon "aggressors" so that those aircraft can better replicate enemy fighters, the service's Air Combat Command (ACC) says.

"To date, generally, it is considered that the aggressors under-replicate the current threat," says Major Gary Barker, the ACC training operations division's F-16 functional area and realistic training manager. "It's very difficult for the aggressors to provide the threat picture that we think we would see in near-peer combat."

In an effort to rectify the problem, ACC hopes to upgrade the older Block 30 and 32 F-16s used by the 18th and 64th Aggressor Squadrons to the System Capabilities Upgrade-8 (SCU-8) configuration, Barker says. SCU-8 will allow the USAF to incorporate a helmet-mounted cueing system and a new center display unit, which Barker describes as having functionality similar to an Apple iPad.

"With that, you can simulate missile WEZs [weapons employment zones] and provide more accurate cueing real-time that can aid in kill removal and weapons assessment airborne," Barker says.

posted on Jan, 30 2013 @ 08:48 PM
Very interesting. So we are upgrading to better simulate the enemy threat..?

posted on Jan, 30 2013 @ 09:00 PM
reply to post by Theprimevoyager

That's what they want to do. The problem now is that they can't simulate all the weapons systems used by other countries. This would allow them to do so, and would improve training at exercises like Red Flag. When the Aggressors started, they were more than adequate for the threat out there. But now the threat has improved, and the Aggressors are flying basically the same aircraft they were when they started.

posted on Jan, 30 2013 @ 10:30 PM

edit on 31-1-2013 by Orwells Ghost because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 3 2013 @ 05:19 AM
reply to post by Zaphod58

I always wondered why in this day and age the USAF does not simply purchase 15 Su's or add some Mig 29s with low mileage. The aggressor squadrons are great, no doubt and are highly trained. In fact, one could argue the different "Red" forces in the AF, Army, And Navy are the best of the best as far as tactics and training. But I have seen documentaries dealing with the first time our Pilots got to face off against former East German Mug 29s and how they were not ready to deal with its superior thrust/weight. You can't simulate that. But is there a noticeable benefit in training against the real thing, that would offset the added cost of procurement and maintenance?

A dumb question for Zaphod: How many planes of any type does US Aviation(Navy and AF) fly that have the working helmet cue ing system? I remember you posted something in the past about how incredibly long it has taken to implement!

posted on Feb, 3 2013 @ 05:21 AM
Pretty much a waste of money.

Our tech is way beyond the threats we will face.

Its nice to have but not needed, this is part of the budget we could easily cut and see no negative effects.

posted on Feb, 3 2013 @ 09:01 AM
reply to post by steppenwolf86

Interestingly, TacAir, a civilian company just recently got their hands on a pair of Su-27s. They went to Georgia and were civilianized (fire control systems removed, etc) and are now flying as aggressors with that company.

As for the helmet cueing systems, currently the JHMCS is fielded in the F/A-18E/F and is being mounted in the F-15 and F-16. The HMDS is still having issues, and a cheaper less capable version is being looked at for an interim system for the F-35.

posted on Feb, 5 2013 @ 08:10 PM
The Navy definately needs an update to their adversary trainers. We are still primarily using the F-5 and a few early production F/A-18 Hornets. They just aren't good enough competition.

posted on Feb, 10 2013 @ 10:05 AM
Would be kind of nice to see with all the cut-backs that more open international training could take place instead of purchasing and upgrading aircraft. Have the other countries just come over with their best or meet in a pre determined area of operation and go up against the squadron that come to train at Nellis or that other base I cannot remember right now. Sell tickets and make a public event out of it like Oshkosh, or just have it broadcasted like a game even if you had to order it.

posted on Mar, 27 2013 @ 05:23 PM
Aviationintel has a great picture of an F-16 Aggressor flying with a Lockheed Martin AN/AAS-42 IRST pod attached under the intake.


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