F-35 air-to-air - Pro and Con

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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mixelflick

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Unread post14 Dec 2013, 17:50

There's been much speculation that the F-35 will be lacking in air to air, so I'd like to confirm the following:

PRO'S
* Will have stealth superior to PAK-FA/any Flanker variant
* Will have sensor suite/situational awareness second to none
* Presumably, this means first look/shot/kill
* Has nose pointing authority of a SH
* Will have AMRAAM/CUDA/9x long range, medium and WVR layered air-to air missile suite
* 3,000+ planned vs 400 or so PAK-FA's

CON'S
* Unable to run down/run away from PAK-FA, Flanker and presumably, J-20 (if they can find it)
* Lacks WVR maneuverability of PAK-FA/later Flanker variants
* Inferior range to PAK-FA/Flanker/J-20


It seems the pros heavily outweigh the cons, What am I missing?
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awsome

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Unread post15 Dec 2013, 00:43

What aircraft would the F-35 compare to in regards to maneuverability? Is it comparable to the Strike Eagle?
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popcorn

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Unread post15 Dec 2013, 01:13

Second only to F-22 in A2A,,as revealed in testimony before Oz Parliamentary committee, it is expected to enjoy a 6:1 kill ratio vs. opposing Gen 4+ platforms when fighting to it's strengths. The numbers it will be built in means the money will continue to be invested to make the jet even more lethal throughout it's lifetime.

Source: http://www.airforcemag.com/MagazineArch ... 13f35.aspx

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III rarely misses a chance to advocate for the F-35 as crucial to the service’s future combat ability. Last spring, he also said the F-35 will have to bear a much greater part of the air superiority mission than it was ever intended to, because of the small number of F-22s.

“I believe the Chief is probably right,” Bogdan said in the interview. As a replacement for the F-16, the F-35 will inherit the Viper’s air-to-air role.

To give it more dogfighting capability, Bogdan said the F-35 program has a science and technology funding line that looks at future capabilities and growth potential for the fighter. “We are specifically targeting sensors and weapons that enhance our ability in the air-to-air realm,” he reported. “We … will make this airplane even better than it is today in an air-to-air role.”

There are block upgrade plans “already in place for the aircraft,” Martin said. There are “significant roadmaps” for electronic warfare, communications, weapons, and sensors, “not only to support the US but our partners as well.” The summit-level steering committee is “now in the process of looking at Block 4A and 4B for added capabilities,” she said.

The power plant is a likely improvement area. Bogdan said there could be modular enhancements to the F135 engine, or “a whole new engine 20 years from now.” The entire S&T community, he said, “continues to advance engine technology, and … the F-35 is going to use some of that someday. We have to.”

Moreover, the F-35’s stealth can be improved, he said.

“It’s not just coatings, … shape, [or] … countermeasures kind of stuff. There’s a whole host of things you can do” without affecting the aircraft’s shape or “mold line.” The program “would like to tap into that,” he said.

Bogdan acknowledged that Lockheed Martin offered stealthy external weapons or fuel pods on the stillborn FB-22 proposal, and something similar could extend the F-35’s range, even as the services are putting a premium on longer-range systems to defeat anti-access, area-denial threats.

However, combat commanders “have to decide in some form of trade if they’re willing to pay the penalty of maybe a little less stealth, a little less payload for increased range,” Bogdan said. “I’ve not heard that demand signal yet.”..
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh
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mixelflick

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Unread post15 Dec 2013, 04:37

Large quantities of Sweetman cool aid?

LOL, nope I read his books though as a kid. Thought I knew what he was talking about. I'm grateful the F-35's air to air mission is being addressed, just hope it really is 2nd only to the Raptor...
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Conan

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Unread post15 Dec 2013, 05:11

mixelflick wrote:There's been much speculation that the F-35 will be lacking in air to air, so I'd like to confirm the following:

PRO'S

* Will have stealth superior to PAK-FA/any Flanker variant
* Will have sensor suite/situational awareness second to none
* Presumably, this means first look/shot/kill
* Has nose pointing authority of a SH
* Will have AMRAAM/CUDA/9x long range, medium and WVR layered air-to air missile suite
* 3,000+ planned vs 400 or so PAK-FA's

CON'S

* Unable to run down/run away from PAK-FA, Flanker and presumably, J-20 (if they can find it)
* Lacks WVR maneuverability of PAK-FA/later Flanker variants
* Inferior range to PAK-FA/Flanker/J-20


It seems the pros heavily outweigh the cons, What am I missing?


The idea that the F-35 is somehow "slow". Okay it's top speed is 0.4M slower than some other fighters, but the amount of time one fighter actually spends above M1.6 is measured in seconds per flight and perhaps minutes in a career, if at all. The idea that the F-35 is therefore at a disadvantage by this is ludicrous. ALL fighter aircraft spend the overwhelming majority of their flight at high subsonic speeds.

In any aircraft it takes a long time to get past Mach 1.6, it takes a lot of fuel and these aircraft are all relatively small aircraft with limited fuel loads. None have the fuel to spend going supersonic all the time and can therefore "beat" the F-35 with some sort of massive kinematic advantage.
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zero-one

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Unread post15 Dec 2013, 07:22

Most of the data available today puts the F-35s maneuverability between the Viper and the Hornet although some say its closer to the Hornet. Whether or not thats a legacy or SuperHornet, I don't know.

from what I've read so far, the Legacy hornet has better Acceleration and sustained turn ability
but the super has better AOA capability, departure resistance, roll rate and slow speed handling etc.

so if the F-35 can match that then I think its good enough for early Flanker variants and fulcrums in a Gun fight.
Although it may strugle with Su-35s and PAK-FAs without 9X's help.

According to LM, its like a Hornet with better acceleration at some parts of the envelope.

This seems to go in line with the "between Viper and Hornet" performance or should I say Hornet performance with a touch of Viper performance.

Future Block upgrades may put its acceleration and Sustained Turn performance on par with a Clean Viper block 50.
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hb_pencil

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Unread post15 Dec 2013, 09:23

Conan wrote:The idea that the F-35 is somehow "slow". Okay it's top speed is 0.4M slower than some other fighters, but the amount of time one fighter actually spends above M1.6 is measured in seconds per flight and perhaps minutes in a career, if at all. The idea that the F-35 is therefore at a disadvantage by this is ludicrous. ALL fighter aircraft spend the overwhelming majority of their flight at high subsonic speeds.

In any aircraft it takes a long time to get past Mach 1.6, it takes a lot of fuel and these aircraft are all relatively small aircraft with limited fuel loads. None have the fuel to spend going supersonic all the time and can therefore "beat" the F-35 with some sort of massive kinematic advantage.


One of the things I found interesting is that one of the influential post Vietnam studies pegged Mach 1.6 as the limit of usable speed in ACM. And once you start going above that speed, the cost increases exponentially. That is especially true if you try to incorporate other, often contradictory, performance.
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Unread post15 Dec 2013, 21:18

hb_pencil wrote:
Conan wrote:The idea that the F-35 is somehow "slow". Okay it's top speed is 0.4M slower than some other fighters, but the amount of time one fighter actually spends above M1.6 is measured in seconds per flight and perhaps minutes in a career, if at all. The idea that the F-35 is therefore at a disadvantage by this is ludicrous. ALL fighter aircraft spend the overwhelming majority of their flight at high subsonic speeds.

In any aircraft it takes a long time to get past Mach 1.6, it takes a lot of fuel and these aircraft are all relatively small aircraft with limited fuel loads. None have the fuel to spend going supersonic all the time and can therefore "beat" the F-35 with some sort of massive kinematic advantage.


One of the things I found interesting is that one of the influential post Vietnam studies pegged Mach 1.6 as the limit of usable speed in ACM. And once you start going above that speed, the cost increases exponentially. That is especially true if you try to incorporate other, often contradictory, performance.


The problem is that you may be encountering supercruising PAK-FA eventually. So yeah, the F-35 is certainly slow when compared to the PAK-FA and F-22. That said, it's not clear if the additional speed and kinematics will necessarily swing things in the PAK-FA's favor (IMO the F-35 should still have the advantage for the most part). It's a long time before the PAK-FA will match the stealth and SA of the F-35.
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Unread post16 Dec 2013, 11:46

mixelflick wrote:* Inferior range to PAK-FA/Flanker/J-20


I seriously doubt any of these fighters have significantly better range than F-35A or C. We do not know how much fuel there is in PAK-FA or J-20, but we do know that most Su-27 variants have about 9400 kg to 10000 kg of internal fuel and only Su-35 has 11500 kg of internal fuel. F-35A has about 8300 kg of internal fuel and that is huge in an aircraft so small.

Let's say that SFC and drag with weapons were equal in Su-27 variants and F-35. That'd mean that in full dry power F-35 should have better range than any other Su-27 variant except Su-35. F-35 has max dry power of about 28000 lbf and Su-27 variants have max dry power of about 34200 lbf except Su-35 which has max dry power of almost 38800 lbf. That means F-35 and Su-35 have almost exactly the same flight time if flown using only max dry power. Yeah, I know that's unrealistic in real world, but gives the idea as both engines are calculated the same way.

As all Su-27 variants are much heavier and have two almost as large engines compared to one in F-35, I'd say their fuel consumption is much higher. Of course the engine in F-35 is much newer technology than any engine in any Su-27 variant and use (likely significantly) less fuel to generate the same amount of thrust.

AL-31F engine variants used in Su-27 have SFC of 0.78 lb(kg)/lbf(kgf)*hr at mil power and 1.96 at max AB. We do not know the SFC figures of F135 engine but quite modern Snecma M88 and EJ200 engines used in Dassault Rafale and EF Typhoon have SFC of 0.74-0.81 at mil power and 1.66-1.73 at full AB. So, M88 and EJ200 engines has much lower (about 15 percent) fuel consumption at full AB and about equal at max dry thrust. F135 engine is newer design having many features which should allow for much lower SFC, especially at dry thrust. It has much higher bypass ratio, higher inlet temperature and higher pressure ratio along with much lower weight in comparison to thrust. I would not be surprised if F135 engine has SFC of quite a less than 0.70 lb(kg)/lbf(kgf)*h and less than 1.60 at max AB.

I'd bet that F-35 has much better range than any Su-27 variant, save Su-35. I doubt even it will have significantly better range depending on how much better 117S engine is compared to other AL-31F variants. As it's a variant of AL-31F, I doubt it's anywhere near F135 engine in fuel efficiency as there is only so much what can be done to improve old engine design. If I had to bet, I'd say F-35 betters even Su-35 in range or flight time depending on weapons load and flight profile.

I have serious doubts either J-20 or PAK-FA will have significantly better range. Chinese are having serious trouble in engine development and current operational engines are mostly AL-31F derivatives and even they have problems. PAK-FA has probably about the same internal fuel volume as Su-35 and will probably have more efficient engines, although likely not quite F135 level. That might give it small advantage in range if all goes as planned.
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cola

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Unread post16 Dec 2013, 12:12

mixelflick wrote:* Presumably, this means first look/shot/kill

First look likely, first shoot perhaps with a capital P and first kill is just laughable shill/PR banter, nothing more really. Particularly is funny the one about enemies 'blowing up before they even knew what hit them'. :D
Serbian 80s vintage Mig29s got a clear AMRAAM pitbull signature on their SPOs, well on those that worked anyway.
Then there's a large as a house missile mid course guidance signal, without which Pk goes down to AIM-7 levels.
There's a lot more where this came from, but you get the picture.

It seems the pros heavily outweigh the cons, What am I missing?

What you're missing is a fact that the F35 is still a subsonic fighter (like the previous generation), while the air combat moved to supersonic with the appearance of fighters like F22, EF and perhaps PAKFA/J20 (early to tell).

Conan wrote:The idea that the F-35 is somehow "slow". Okay it's top speed is 0.4M slower than some other fighters, but the amount of time one fighter actually spends above M1.6 is measured in seconds per flight and perhaps minutes in a career, if at all.

And this is the typical misconception...it is slow, way too slow and not just top speed.
Read C.Worning's deposition about EF's performance and consider that the F22 can do all this somewhat longer and faster. http://openparliament.ca/committees/nat ... 38/?page=9 (page 9/10)
Cheers, Cola
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Unread post16 Dec 2013, 13:09

disconnectedradical wrote:The problem is that you may be encountering supercruising PAK-FA eventually. So yeah, the F-35 is certainly slow when compared to the PAK-FA and F-22. That said, it's not clear if the additional speed and kinematics will necessarily swing things in the PAK-FA's favor (IMO the F-35 should still have the advantage for the most part). It's a long time before the PAK-FA will match the stealth and SA of the F-35.


Supercruising isn't faster than flying supersonic in reheat. It simply means you burn a little less fuel than you do in reheat.

Fuel burn for flying supersonic is ALWAYS greater than it is flying subsonic which is why every fighter including the F-22A, the PAK-FA, J-20 and Eurofighter fly the overwhelming majority of their missions at subsonic cruise speeds.

At times there will be an advantage from supercruising flight, but the 100nm or so of available "supercruise" on a 400-500nm combat radius flight (plus nn amount of loiter time) is meant to radically change the dynamics of air to air combat, compared to entire force structures being LO and having the other capabilities types like the F-35 will have?

I don't really see that. More to the point, neither do the force planners for the major air arms of this world.

There's only been one fighter that was both extreme LO and supercruise capable and the richest nation on the Earth couldn't afford to equip a force structure with it or even get it in the numbers they wanted.

So will it be with the other types that attempt the same thing. Their LO will either suck, or their performance will be compromised somewhat to keep costs down and neither the twain shall meet with existing budgets.
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Conan

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Unread post16 Dec 2013, 13:17

cola wrote:And this is the typical misconception...it is slow, way too slow and not just top speed.
Read C.Worning's deposition about EF's performance and consider that the F22 can do all this somewhat longer and faster. http://openparliament.ca/committees/nat ... 38/?page=9 (page 9/10)


So let me get this right, you can trust the word of a test pilot?

Anyway, this trustworthy test pilot never said didly about it's performance on dry thrust, he was talking about using burner.

This is what he said he has done:


I have done above Mach 1.6 for a total of 15 minutes with three tanks on, but that was with heavy manoeuvring in between.


And that's with a fuel fraction equivalent to the F-35.

Nice choice of supporting material as to why the F-35 is "too slow"... With 3 EFT's and no other stores, that aircraft can approximately match the F-35's specs, with a full load on-board...

:bang:
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cola

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Unread post16 Dec 2013, 17:01

Conan,
first off there's nothing to 'trust'. Figures are measurable, unlike the hot air coming out of LM/TPs/JPO.
Second, what you need to understand is that the air combat moved to supersonic for those that can keep up (the others rapidly becoming clay pigeons) and the F35 has nothing to offer over the previous gen in that regard, so there goes that.

With 3 EFT's and no other stores, that aircraft can approximately match the F-35's specs, with a full load on-board...

Yea I know you're a fanboy but reading with understanding should be mandatory for the forum.
Worning spent 15min over M1.6 IN ADDITION to maneuvering, climbing, descending...in short caponier to caponier.
So although both planes probably can do similar time in burner, their actual performance during that time is, I'd say, half an order of magnitude different and not in JSF's favor, in case you've been wondering.
Anyway, I posted this in response to your remark
...but the amount of time one fighter actually spends above M1.6 is measured in seconds per flight and perhaps minutes in a career, if at all.

which is obviously complete rubbish, because those who can - do and those who can't (teach? :D) - don't.
Cheers, Cola
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Unread post16 Dec 2013, 23:52

Conan wrote:[

At times there will be an advantage from supercruising flight, but the 100nm or so of available "supercruise" on a 400-500nm combat radius flight (plus nn amount of loiter time) is meant to radically change the dynamics of air to air combat, compared to entire force structures being LO and having the other capabilities types like the F-35 will have?

I don't really see that. More to the point, neither do the force planners for the major air arms of this world.
.



Flying faster vs. a foe with superior LO and SA and enjoying the further advantage of a COP just means that you die faster. :D
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh
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Unread post17 Dec 2013, 00:46

cola wrote:Serbian 80s vintage Mig29s got a clear AMRAAM pitbull signature on their SPOs, well on those that worked anyway.


Because 90s vintage AMRAAM and radar is accurately indicative of how the F-35 will perform?

Then there's a large as a house missile mid course guidance signal, without which Pk goes down to AIM-7 levels


What unsurmountable challenge prevents the F-35 from eventually being able to complete an AMRAAM engagement without radiating at the target? Let's think about what is implicitly possible with the explicit capabilities of the F-35.

Even without using the LPI capability of the APG-81 for discrete target acquisition, the F-35 can still acquire and target entirely passively with its EOTS and EODAS at BVR. No emissions directed at enemy RWR.

The APG-81 has already demonstrated both LPI and data link capability, combine those two features through software and you have a highly directional missile midcourse guidance with the wide FOV and reaction time of an AESA, with any compatibility resolved through missile antenna and software changes. Combine that with the EODAS and EOTS and you can actually cue that uplink at the AMRAAM and only the AMRAAM. This needs to be emphasized, a narrow beam missile uplink is only useful if you know where your missile is, and the F-35 can actually track its own missiles passively (favourably, too, conveniently looking at the hot tailpipe). This resolves the indiscriminate midcourse signal of legacy aircraft, legacy aircraft simply didn't have the hardware to try and be discrete and therefore their experience is not representative of what's technological possible today.

The AMRAAM C-8 has a two-way data link and GPS/IMU. It can fly a loft trajectory with no reason to bring the midcourse signal beam from the APG-81 anywhere near the target. The F-35 doesn't even need feedback from the AMRAAM until it travels beyond EOTS or EODAS range, since missile trajectory can be tracked passively, which further keeps the emission down. The first signal the target detects will be the AMRAAM's radar because that's literally the first RF energy actually reaching the target in this whole engagement.
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