What if F-35s were available in a Desert Storm Scenario?

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Gums

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Unread post10 Jul 2018, 05:02

Salute!

The biggest reason for all the morphing to A2G platforms back in the 60's and 70's was 1) Vietnam, and 2) diminished Pact threat of an Eastern Europe invasion.

The ATF debacle soured much of the HQ staff toward a "universal" platform,although the Double Ugly made a good case for multi-role (despite not being the best in both roles). The distrust of multirole and multiservice platforms showed up again in the 90's with the JSF. The LWF platforms ( 16 and 18) had inherent A2G capability, but not on the scale as the Mudhen requirements. The change in the threat and then DS helped move the Viper and Hornet more to strike than A2A.

Unless there is a conflict between the major powers real soon, looks to me that F-35 and its brethren in other air forces will be the dominant platorms for next 10 or 15 years.

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Unread post07 Aug 2018, 19:19

I've been doing a lot of studying of Operation Desert Storm lately to gain a better understanding of what actually happened.

Just from what I've seen so far, there were competing strategic and tactical approaches from various elements between:

* CENTCOM
* The Chairman of the JCS
* USAF
* Cheney

One of the original plans was to loosely duplicate the failed Rolling Thunder strategy of the Johnson Administration in SEA. Another lower-level plan was called "Instant Thunder", where the air campaign would successively and swiftly target all the C3 nodes, SAM sites, critical infrastructure, and reduce any decision-making or SA of Iraq within the first few hours.

On the Army side, there was a crazy plan to go straight up the middle into Kuwait for the liberation, met with rolling eyes in the WH. Cheney responded with a left hook plan, to which the Generals didn't like because they felt a civilian leader stepping into their turf.

In the end, they applied a hybrid of most of the suggestions, with the air power component doing basically what was planned with Instant Thunder. Once they produced the phonebook-sized Air Tasking Order, the sub unit commands basically ran with the ball in a very chaotic fashion, and crushed the Iraqi military in such short order, it was shocking to many even within the US DoD. Because of a 1-day delay of the US Army launch over the border with the left hook, the Republican Guard was able to escape Kuwait, leaving the Southern Iraq units trapped in the highway of death.

It appears that the civilian press briefings were given by senior leadership who didn't fully understand what was happening or why it worked, and assigned much of the success to precision-guided weapons, which they were able to highlight in the briefings with the mission data tape reels showing IR targeting pod footage of GBUs impacting their targets.

It's a very complex piece of brief military history that has many aspects that don't exactly fit the narrative as-seen on TV, but the end result was still the same: A war measured in hours. There was probably some disinformation disseminated as well, to hide key capabilities and make other potential adversaries think our successes were based on things that point away from reality.

With a system like JSF linked with other ISR and Support systems, we're looking at something where very decentralized strategic decisions can be made within networked cells, especially considering the Anti Ballistic Missile mission and C4 node elimination profiles.

The tactical mission sets of air dominance and strike are ones I hear a lot of concern over regarding potential loss of parity, when in reality, nobody has had parity with us for decades, and we have continued to push the bleeding edge of training, technology, and tactics above and beyond what was realized in the Eagle, Viper, Hornet, Sparkvark, and Mudhen communities, absorbing and blending capabilities from the F-117A and B-2A as well.

With the JSF, I do believe we're looking at something revolutionary that is akin to the advent of the tank, machine-gun, and airplane, but in a much larger chasm from the previous generation to the current. He who shows up to battle without JSF will be slaughtered like cavalry attempting to charge armored columns. He who possesses JSF will have more options for the political leadership to initiate first strike and military infrastructure rapid degradation of his foes.

When looking at a combined coalition partner force who are all operating JSF, especially the US and the UK, something very unprecedented emerges in the history of geopolitics and force projection dynamics. The old empire and the new, possessing breathtaking military technology, can make very bold decisions about the direction any particular military campaign will take.
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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 02:40

Salute!

With due respect, "Lurp", try the Clancy/Horner version of the air war and such in Desert Storm. It is rare to actually know many of the principles of that military action, much less to have been their IP in one jet or another. And I enjoyed watching them on TV that winter.

No doubt, the BDA and actual weapon guidance imagery played well in the press, and as no sierra propaganda. It should have also given potential enemies an idea of what they could be facing.

There should be no comparison with Vietnam strategy or tactics. The Storm was classic conventional warfare with only a touch of strategic efforts as we saw in WW2. And from my point of view, the U.S. seems unlikely to engage in a lengthy, protracted conventional war for as far as we can see into the future. So the mix of the F-35 with other assets in the air, plus an array of standoff weapons from ship and subs seems to be a realistic force structure for the initial stages of any conflict. I am not familiar with the ground forces side of doctrine or tactics as I was 40 years ago, sorry.

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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 11:40

lrrpf52 wrote: ... The hypothetical scenario of a single ship JSF up against the world does not mirror any campaign or initial push scenario I can think of, but I've only walked in one set of boots in my life. Maybe others have seen something like that. ...


Serious question, for whoever wishes to offer a viewpoint.

Did the F-117A operate in DS with wingmen, or without? Why? Did they move on to the IP as a lone-wolf, attack alone, then egress and RTB alone?

If ... the F-117A operated alone in DS and Balkans, how much more capable and suitable would the F-35A be, with VLO + EOTS + EODAS + MADL + Auto-detect, Auto-PID + Auto-Priority + Auto-Cue + SA + Self-Escorting + Agility--at operating as a lone-wolf, in the same place and time?

Does a swarm of F-35s, or even a two-ship per unit volume of air, exhibit a higher RCS and other signatures, than the same volume of air with just one F-35 present?

(I'd love to hear what an F-117A pilot, from DS era has to say about this, and what they would do with the F-35.)
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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 12:13

element1loop wrote:Does a swarm of F-35s, or even a two-ship per unit volume of air, exhibit a higher RCS and other signatures, than the same volume of air with just one F-35 present?


Hm. At least two options for likelyhood of detection: Close formation, it is likely to increase radar return from that area. So, physical increase. Further apart - it increases the chances of finding one of them. Statistical increase.

However - I'm unsure whether or not that matters significantly. Important question - any takers on whether an F-35 operating alone would be right given the right circumstances?
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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 15:16

krorvik wrote:
element1loop wrote:Does a swarm of F-35s, or even a two-ship per unit volume of air, exhibit a higher RCS and other signatures, than the same volume of air with just one F-35 present?


Hm. At least two options for likelyhood of detection: Close formation, it is likely to increase radar return from that area. So, physical increase. Further apart - it increases the chances of finding one of them. Statistical increase.

However - I'm unsure whether or not that matters significantly. Important question - any takers on whether an F-35 operating alone would be right given the right circumstances?


Isn't this line of reason "stuck" in 4th gen thinking? This isn't aerobatic flying where the wingman is glued to his leader's wing. We aren't even talking about a loose deuce where the wingman is thousands of feet away, or a mile or several miles. What I recall reading about nascent F-35 tactics and operational concepts have the F-35's spread out by tens of miles. The number that sticks in my head is 20 miles. A four ship would be spread across sixty miles, and would cover at least 100 miles or more.

In essence, the fourship is four separate lone wolfs from a radar detection point of view. (Unless the aircraft were in trail and the radar beam remained directly down the line of Lightnings.) Yet tactically they are one team or unit.
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, add dollop of F-117 & gob of F-22, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well, then bake. Whaddya get? An F-35.
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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 16:15

steve2267 wrote:This isn't aerobatic flying where the wingman is glued to his leader's wing.


Of course. And even if he was, would it be significant?
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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 17:15

Gums wrote:Salute!

With due respect, "Lurp", try the Clancy/Horner version of the air war and such in Desert Storm. It is rare to actually know many of the principles of that military action, much less to have been their IP in one jet or another. And I enjoyed watching them on TV that winter.

No doubt, the BDA and actual weapon guidance imagery played well in the press, and as no sierra propaganda. It should have also given potential enemies an idea of what they could be facing.

There should be no comparison with Vietnam strategy or tactics. The Storm was classic conventional warfare with only a touch of strategic efforts as we saw in WW2. And from my point of view, the U.S. seems unlikely to engage in a lengthy, protracted conventional war for as far as we can see into the future. So the mix of the F-35 with other assets in the air, plus an array of standoff weapons from ship and subs seems to be a realistic force structure for the initial stages of any conflict. I am not familiar with the ground forces side of doctrine or tactics as I was 40 years ago, sorry.

Gums opines...

I liked the press briefing where General Horner started off with, "This is my counterpart's headquarters." Then an LGB plowed into the building and blew it to pieces.

I'm watching a presentation Gen. Horner gave right now. Good stuff for sure. He talks about the hiring/firing process of coalition partner leaders in the early stages of planning. Said there was a French commander who loved the Iraqis, hated the Americans, so he was fired. Canadians didn't want to drop bombs with their CF-18s. Brits wanted to follow very strict ROE.

Horner says the Vietnam experience was fundamental to Desert Storm. Enough of the leaders had that bad taste still in their mouths from when they were handicapped by the ROE of the Vietnam era (I'm assuming they're thinking Johnson years where MacNamara was their co-pilot). The amount of resistance to any politically-imposed ROE was substantial.

What I love about Horner is how he just doesn't give a rip about shooting straight and telling it like he sees it.



One of the main things that sticks out to me is how he threw out the old paradigms for measuring mission success. He uses the example of Counter Air where it was previously quantified as x number of holes placed in an enemy runway.

His response was, "No, we want zero of our strike aircraft to ever get jumped by an enemy interceptor, that's my measure of Counter Air."
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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 17:27

element1loop wrote:
lrrpf52 wrote: ... The hypothetical scenario of a single ship JSF up against the world does not mirror any campaign or initial push scenario I can think of, but I've only walked in one set of boots in my life. Maybe others have seen something like that. ...


Serious question, for whoever wishes to offer a viewpoint.

Did the F-117A operate in DS with wingmen, or without? Why? Did they move on to the IP as a lone-wolf, attack alone, then egress and RTB alone?

If ... the F-117A operated alone in DS and Balkans, how much more capable and suitable would the F-35A be, with VLO + EOTS + EODAS + MADL + Auto-detect, Auto-PID + Auto-Priority + Auto-Cue + SA + Self-Escorting + Agility--at operating as a lone-wolf, in the same place and time?

Does a swarm of F-35s, or even a two-ship per unit volume of air, exhibit a higher RCS and other signatures, than the same volume of air with just one F-35 present?

(I'd love to hear what an F-117A pilot, from DS era has to say about this, and what they would do with the F-35.)

There is some good file footage of interviews with F-117A pilots immediately after they returned from opening night sorties. From what they said, it made it sound like they were flying independently, but as part of a Squadron with separation between each bird.

The pilot being interviewed indicated if you were the first to strike, you enjoyed lack of any AAA being fired, but the follow-on guys get a light show.
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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 17:52

lrrpf52 wrote:
element1loop wrote:
lrrpf52 wrote: ... The hypothetical scenario of a single ship JSF up against the world does not mirror any campaign or initial push scenario I can think of, but I've only walked in one set of boots in my life. Maybe others have seen something like that. ...


Serious question, for whoever wishes to offer a viewpoint.

Did the F-117A operate in DS with wingmen, or without? Why? Did they move on to the IP as a lone-wolf, attack alone, then egress and RTB alone?

If ... the F-117A operated alone in DS and Balkans, how much more capable and suitable would the F-35A be, with VLO + EOTS + EODAS + MADL + Auto-detect, Auto-PID + Auto-Priority + Auto-Cue + SA + Self-Escorting + Agility--at operating as a lone-wolf, in the same place and time?

Does a swarm of F-35s, or even a two-ship per unit volume of air, exhibit a higher RCS and other signatures, than the same volume of air with just one F-35 present?

(I'd love to hear what an F-117A pilot, from DS era has to say about this, and what they would do with the F-35.)

There is some good file footage of interviews with F-117A pilots immediately after they returned from opening night sorties. From what they said, it made it sound like they were flying independently, but as part of a Squadron with separation between each bird.

The pilot being interviewed indicated if you were the first to strike, you enjoyed lack of any AAA being fired, but the follow-on guys get a light show.


Cheers lurp, I'll write a mini 'war 'n peace' long comment tomorrow on the concept, and what I have in mind with respect to the topic of thread.
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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 18:50

The thing that stood out to me the most, and what I think is very relevant to this thread, was one of the comments from the F-117A pilot during that interview. This was a guy who looked like he had been hand-selected from either the F-15C or F-16A, maybe A-10A community. More senior guy for sure, but very physically fit, very confident.

What he said was, "I wouldn't want to be in any other airplane than this one right here. We proved early on that the stealth technology worked. When we first got here, we took a couple of missions up close to the border with Iraq, and there was no change in their activity as far as noticing that we were up close to their border, so we knew early-on we could get through them, and we did the first night. So yeah, I would want to be in any other airplane in any other war than the F-117A right now."

"I think the Air Force wished they had about 5 more wings of F-117s. We were the only ones to go downtown into Baghdad. We've had to do a lot of clean-up work for other aircraft that couldn't get to their targets, F-111s, F-15Es, that couldn't get through the defenses. They've tasked us to go clean up for them."

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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 19:21

You might find this differed depending on the mission - According to then Maj Joe Bouleys account - he makes out that on the first night to Baghdad there were three waves of F-117As and the second wave had ten jets in it although no idea how far apart they were.

They were probably not taking chances because it would seem they expected losses at first. F-16s were tasked with SEAD for F-117s although expect from some distance.
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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 19:27

Also don't see MD about much these days but may as well post this anyway


Funny story of night 1 of Desert Storm, as related by one of the pilots who was later a civilian academic instructor during my time there. So whether stealth technology worked or not was really unknown for sure during night 1 strikes on Baghdad. This guy was headed inbound, on autopilot like he's supposed to [in the F-117, you're really just a WSO with landing currency], and he sees AAA coming up at him, in a barrage in front of him. He decides to modify course just a bit, but not too much from what was planned, and the AAA shifts with him. A few more times of this and the same thing, but he manages to complete his bomb run without getting hit. Coasting out of the area and crossing the line to friendly territory, he goes to fence-out, only to find out that his external lights are still on. In the 117, having been designed by engineers, the cockpit was not at all ergonomically friendly.....switches for related items were placed all over the cockpit. There was something like 6 switches and rheostats that had to be manipulated or checked in order to ensure that all the various exterior lights were off, and they were all located in different areas in the cockpit. Following his event, a single switch was installed known as the "all external lights" on/off switch was installed on the left cockpit wall, and named in honor of this pilot.
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Unread post08 Aug 2018, 22:28

Brilliant Story. Glad your guy survived. Those PVI peeps seem to have improved a lot since then. :doh:
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Unread post09 Aug 2018, 00:30

basher54321 wrote:Also don't see MD about much these days but may as well post this anyway


Funny story of night 1 of Desert Storm, as related by one of the pilots who was later a civilian academic instructor during my time there. So whether stealth technology worked or not was really unknown for sure during night 1 strikes on Baghdad. This guy was headed inbound, on autopilot like he's supposed to [in the F-117, you're really just a WSO with landing currency], and he sees AAA coming up at him, in a barrage in front of him. He decides to modify course just a bit, but not too much from what was planned, and the AAA shifts with him. A few more times of this and the same thing, but he manages to complete his bomb run without getting hit. Coasting out of the area and crossing the line to friendly territory, he goes to fence-out, only to find out that his external lights are still on. In the 117, having been designed by engineers, the cockpit was not at all ergonomically friendly.....switches for related items were placed all over the cockpit. There was something like 6 switches and rheostats that had to be manipulated or checked in order to ensure that all the various exterior lights were off, and they were all located in different areas in the cockpit. Following his event, a single switch was installed known as the "all external lights" on/off switch was installed on the left cockpit wall, and named in honor of this pilot.

Doh! I wonder if they addressed this with the F-35 cockpit layout....looks like someone put the battle management display in a glider cockpit almost, only glider cockpits have more instruments. I've never seen such a switch-free cockpit before.

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