Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by StargateSG7
_Del_ is right. You can't just stretch an F-117 without a total redesign. There was a very precise mathematical formula to those facets. You can't
just pull it apart, stretch it 10 feet, and expect it to be just as stealthy. It would cost a lot more than a "mere 600 million" to make a recon
version of an F-117.
I am basing my SUPPOSITION (i.e. not substantiated facts) on the basis
that it was LIKELY that the original F-117 designers were tasked with creating
and VERIFYING designs for an aircraft to fulfill MULTIPLE or COMBINED
ROLES ...i.e. Attack/Bomber or RECON only and fit those designs to role
specific parameters. I EXPECT that Lockheed HAD three or more mathematically
VERIFIED and wind-tunnel / radar signature-tested models already constructed
and the final test procurement process was used to whittle it down to one or two
final Full-Flight designs.
This means my 600 million dollar estimate (today's dollars) would probably have
been PRETTY CLOSE to what was expected in terms of producing either one or
two FULL FLIGHT TESTABLE versions or even a three or four craft final procurement.
The math was already DONE...they just had to BUILD
those '"stretched" "SR-117a" designs.
In terms of re-use of the current F-117 fleet, there really is not much else to do
other than REPLACE the bomb-bay interiors with WESCAM-style cameras
and TRAIN your pilots and ground support for low-level RECON operations.
Th "gubermint" can't just BUY extra video feed time, cause the laws of physics
says that TIME IS NOT AVAILABLE. Other users are using those COMMERCIAL
satellite bandwidth slots and either the military data/video feeds have to be
mixed into the commercial feed using Steganographic principles
(i.e. modifying RGB or YUB colour components to encode data symbols
into the underlying commercial video feed frames) ...OR...the MilSat/MilStar
systems have to be re-allocated in terms of bandwidth usage and time-availability.
It's only been in the last 3 years or so that enough COMMERCIAL sats have been
launched that bandwidth is now pretty much a non-issue. BUT in he 1980's or
even up to 2004/2005, communications bandwidth was a REAL BIG PROBLEM!
ERGO...fly an "SR-117a" with NO LIVE video or data feed...fly low and fly slow,
take your photos and then high-tail it back to base...retrieve images and send
data back to NSA/CIA/NRO/DIA offices. THAT WAS THE MISSION!
If they're STILL using the 60+ year old U2 Spy Plane, you can BET two-bits
that they're STILL using re-purposed/purpose-built older craft for RECON
in this 21st century Year 2013!
Regarding the other post about high-overflights over Chinese or Russian territory,
that would have NEVER have happened...all overflights by an "SR-117a" type craft
would have been ground-hugging, tree-top flying incursions to avoid radar and keep
UNDER the MIG fighter patrols. Acoustic stealth would have been your only real
problem but since MOST flight paths towards the final destination would have been
over more-rural/agrarian areas, the locals would have MOSTLY ignored what
flew overhead. The final destination would be timed for a direct overflight right
at DUSK (at the end of the day) when troops would been tired, eating or
otherwise not as alert. MIG fighters may have been sent for intercept
but by the time they arrived, the "SR-117a" would have been long gone
hugging the terrain BACK to base.
Today's threat environment is more counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency
in places such as Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and WHATEVER'stan,
so to avoid overcrowding the video/data feed spectrum, means other than
using Predator or RQ-180 drones would be used and since the planes
are already working and the pilots already FAMILIAR with the craft,
use what you've got and save the money YET STILL get GOOD
photo/video intelligence from low-flying STEALTHY craft.
I would ALSO expect those "SR-117a" craft to be performing 3D mapping
to get ULTRA-high resolution, 3D rotatable, moving maps similar
to Google Earth 3D but at MUCH better resolution to be used for
general logistics and special forces operations planning.
The Side-Scan techniques needed for that type of 3D mapping
can't really be done from a satellite at a reasonable 6cm or
better resolution and the Predators/Reapers are too busy
finding and killing insurgents to be bothered with that sort
of boring-old geographic-mapping/terrain surveying task.
edit on 2013/2/28 by StargateSG7 because: more info