S-400 and F-35

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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hornetfinn

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Unread post12 Nov 2020, 13:24

Just found this extremely interesting article about stealth from Air Force Magazine from almost 20 years ago:

https://www.airforcemag.com/article/0601stealth/

Could not find this ever been posted here (although Spazs will likely prove me wrong... :D) and it's very relevant to this discussion about stealth vs radars. Some interesting points:

“Stealth is a huge advantage,” said Gen. Michael E. Ryan, USAF Chief of Staff. However, he added, stealth aircraft are “not invisible,” and the mystique of stealth as a cloak of invulnerability, allowing solo penetrations of enemy airspace under any conditions “simply isn’t supported by science.”


One program official speculated that US adversaries have probably already formed some ideas about how the F-117 works after watching it for 13 years. Being able to “put a micrometer on [some of the pieces] isn’t going to tell them a whole lot extra that they didn’t already know.” He added that Air Force “Red Team” specialists-whose job it is to look for and identify vulnerabilities in stealth-still find the F-117 “a challenge, and they have all the data” on it.


According to these officials, the true culprits were NATO constraints on how F-117s could approach Kosovo in the early days of Operation Allied Force, the intense media coverage of aircraft taking off from Aviano, Italy, and the presence in Italy of spies who sent immediate reports of air activity to Serbian gunners. These factors allowed the Serbs to make gross estimates of the whereabouts of aircraft en route to targets in Yugoslavia, the F-117 among them.

“We were more predictable than we should have been, under the circumstances,” said one senior official.


Jumper said the shootdown was mostly the result of “a lucky shot. Those limited times of exposure that we know exist”-when the F-117 opens its bomb bay doors, or presents certain angles to a radar-“lasted just a little bit too long. We were targeted by a SAM site that we didn’t have precisely located.”

Jumper added that the setback must be measured in relation to the great successes achieved by the F-117.


The F-117 mission begins with meticulous planning, which takes into account known or suspected surface-to-air-defenses. The plotted mission is loaded into a computer cartridge, which is physically carried out to the airplane and plugged into it by the pilot. After takeoff, the airplane’s autopilot-affectionately known as “George”-takes over, flying the airplane to the release coordinates. The autopilot also flies the F-117 home again.


“We’re still pushing to do significantly better … as part of our science and technology [effort],” said Ryan. Perhaps, he joked, USAF will invent ” ‘the cloaking device,’ eventually. … Each time we do [stealth], we’re a little bit better at it.”


Jumper warned, however, that “we need to … make sure we don’t try to buy stealth on the cheap.” The Navy’s F/A-18E/F, for example, takes advantage of some Radar Absorbent Materials, inlet shaping, and canopy coatings to diminish its frontal Radar Cross Section. However, the reduction in RCS is not substantial and in any event is undone by the external carriage of weapons, which are a large radar reflector.


In Kosovo, not all the SAMs could be found; witness the lost F-117. In such situations, where “there are still systems that are alive down on the ground, … that means they have the opportunity to bring them up, [and] stealth in everyday airplanes is a good thing to have,” said Jumper. “They are effective against those transportable systems that are down there somewhere.”



I think I have to say that the F-117 was not just a lucky shot (and I don't think that was really meant in the quote above), although there was definitely good luck for the S-125 battery in that engagement. It was very, very close and F-117 could've easily escaped if the geometry was even slightly different. However the SAM battery was definitely very skilled, well trained, very alert and highly motivated. It was a difficult engagement (mostly because of very elusive target) and needed very good execution to be successful.

Very interesting take on jamming and stealth. It seems like F-35 EW and countermeasures capabilities have evolved from these experiences.

I also think that SAM systems have evolved because of DS, Kosovo and other modern conflicts. Basically now the emphasis is on mobility, dispersed operation, multiple and advanced sensors, high automation and advanced networking. I really doubt that all AD systems can be easily found and neutralized if operated correctly. So stealth and situational awareness will be very important along with EW capabilities for future fighter aircraft.
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ricnunes

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Unread post12 Nov 2020, 13:31

hornetfinn wrote:However the SAM battery was definitely very skilled, well trained, very alert and highly motivated. It was a difficult engagement (mostly because of very elusive target) and needed very good execution to be successful.


Absolutely.

Actually this same SAM battery was responsible for the shot down of the other NATO manned combat aircraft that was shot down during this same conflict, in this case it was a F-16CJ.
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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Gums

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Unread post12 Nov 2020, 21:16

Salute!

Nice observations, Finn and Ric.

On another blog, a contributor has mentioned the ability of the archer verses the arrow. And was adressing the Sandbox folks.

I have to comment that the Vee were the best of the best, having 5 or 6 years of good, realistic practice from 1965 to 1973. They were using old systems, and just a year after we flew up north around Christmas 1972, the IAF faced the modern stuff that Egypt and Syria had. Think about Hanoi if the Vee had the SA-3 and SA-4 and SA-6.

The Balkan shootdowns show more about the archer than the arrow, IMHO.

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michaelemouse

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Unread post12 Nov 2020, 21:37

hornetfinn wrote: But I think there is something to the fact that Western countries have concentrated on higher frequencies like UHF and L-band in their early warning and surveillance radars. IMO, this is because VHF band doesn't offer enough advantages in performance and has certain disadvantages (size and/or resolution mainly).



So, those low-freq antennas might be useful against VLO targets but they'd also be more vulnerable to ELINT detection/locating, jamming and HARM-ing? People talk about them like a panacea against stealth but they'd probably be relatively easy to destroy/disrupt when facing combined units.

What kind of units can jam in low-freq?
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Unread post12 Nov 2020, 23:40

michaelemouse wrote:
hornetfinn wrote: But I think there is something to the fact that Western countries have concentrated on higher frequencies like UHF and L-band in their early warning and surveillance radars. IMO, this is because VHF band doesn't offer enough advantages in performance and has certain disadvantages (size and/or resolution mainly).



So, those low-freq antennas might be useful against VLO targets but they'd also be more vulnerable to ELINT detection/locating, jamming and HARM-ing? People talk about them like a panacea against stealth but they'd probably be relatively easy to destroy/disrupt when facing combined units.

What kind of units can jam in low-freq?


Depending on the degree of tropospheric ducting, even ground based jammers would be effective.
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hornetfinn

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Unread post13 Nov 2020, 08:39

michaelemouse wrote:
hornetfinn wrote: But I think there is something to the fact that Western countries have concentrated on higher frequencies like UHF and L-band in their early warning and surveillance radars. IMO, this is because VHF band doesn't offer enough advantages in performance and has certain disadvantages (size and/or resolution mainly).



So, those low-freq antennas might be useful against VLO targets but they'd also be more vulnerable to ELINT detection/locating, jamming and HARM-ing? People talk about them like a panacea against stealth but they'd probably be relatively easy to destroy/disrupt when facing combined units.

What kind of units can jam in low-freq?


Low frequency radars are more vulnerable to jamming as the frequency range is smaller. A jammer can thus put more power per MHz than against high frequency radars. Another reason is that the antenna directivity and sidelobes are usually significantly worse in low frequency radars without really big and well designed/manufactured antenna.

Locating low frequency radars accurately is actually more difficult in low frequency as the ELINT receiving antenna also needs to be very large for accurate direction information. It's basically the same thing why the radar antenna itself needs to be very large in low frequencies for decent performance. I think you need something big like RC-135 to get accurate location or another method would likely be a number of smaller networked sensors with very wide separation.

Low frequency radars are also almost immune to ARMs due to same reason. ARM missile would need to carry a very large antenna to target something like VHF radar accurately. For example big Russian ARM Kh-58UShKE has frequency coverage of 1.2-11 GHz (L-band to X-band) and it's quite a bit bigger than AARGM-ER for example. But low-frequency radars would be more prone to attacks with other air-to-ground missiles as they are very large and once located, they would be quite easy and distinct targets.
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marauder2048

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Unread post13 Nov 2020, 09:49

You do see people claiming extraordinarily compact ultrawideband VHF direction finding arrays for small
aerial platforms. Not clear if they would have the requisite sensitivity and durability for an ARM.

http://www.quasarfs.com/blog/
https://www.asigint.com/technology-and-platforms/
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hornetfinn

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Unread post13 Nov 2020, 10:50

Very interesting marauder, thank you! I'm not sure, but I doubt they would be good enough for ARM as they would not work in other frequencies. Basically you'd need a special missile variant for low-frequency radars which would be useless against higher frequency radars. Maybe put that in a cruise missile type of weapon for that purpose? They'd be easier to modify and would not put nearly similar stresses to the seeker components.
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hocum

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Unread post14 Nov 2020, 06:59

eloise wrote:Firstly, the interaction between object and radar wave MUST follow at least one of the three regions: Optical region, Resonance region or Rayleigh region. Complex object can follow the rule of more than one region at once. But you can't make it not follow the rule of any region.


What if we consider not an object, but just border between air and another dielectric material? Without own forms and sizes, and for radio waves, not for visible light? Please, answer me - will it be optic, resonance or rayleigh? :) :? In this case even the question is not posed like that.
For thin coverage, especially in other bandwidth instead that is designed for, may be almost NO INTERACTION - coverage almost not influence on fallen wave, and it interacts just with metal plane surface.

eloise wrote:Secondly, RAM doesn't have to be half the radar wavelength to have radar absorbing effect. Ferrite RAM can have considerable absorbing capability with 0.001 wavelength thickness


Well, what you can say about WAVE REFLECTIОN of ferrit (FERROMAGNETIC!!!) coverage? If depth penetration in material is very low, it will REFLECT radiowaves like a conductor/ferromagnet, like duralumin alloy of naked plane. In stealth coverage you must do BOTH - equal electric and magnetic permeability to atmospheric air, and absorb wave BEFORE it reaches plane's alloy and deflects back. And do this all for as wide bandwidth as possible.
So in practice it turns out or bandwidth narrower, or absorbing slower, or reflection higher.

I have tried to read and to explain obvious things.
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Unread post15 Nov 2020, 12:18

eloise wrote:And this is the normal P-18 detection range

1. Looks on Balkan's map. Zoltan's complex placed near Belgrad, some westward. Father south and westward there are mountains up to 3000m height in range of 100-120km. At their normal range such placed P-18 could see only stratosperic objects from these directions. :)
2. P-18 is very old radar, designed for "black sky" conditions. Even simplest noise jamming and chaff make it nearly blind. Do you claim that time in Serbian airspase NATO had no one ECM plane? :)
3. Former Yugoslavia wasn't in Varshav Pakt Organization, so it couldn't recieve a native modification of P-18. Just export variants. And you took a range for NATIVE P-18. And Zoltan was wrong in his presentation - he couldn't have native "Neva" modification of S-125, just export "Pechora".
4. Serbian techinc was total worn out and outdated in 1999. Zoltan's P-18 stayed faulty before two hours of future victory, second launched to F-117 missile went to self-destruct because malfunction. It all just crumbled to dust.
It is very hard to believe that analog high voltage radar, with kinescope screen (and targets were bright dots on this screen), after so many years could show its initial capabuilities.
Last 8 years before NATO's operation a civil war was. All surveylance radars of course used very hard and intensive - because both Croatia and Bosnia had military aviation and very active used it. In 1995 was another NATO operation against Yugoslavia. But repair, and especially modernization wasn't - because finally former Yugoslavia, than Serbia hadn't money for it.

But for you, and for all another stealth funs all is obvious - of course, it's all because stealth!!! It's so funny. :D :D

All you definitly can't analize without emotions and consider all possibilities. True is that we don't know exact what factor influenced how.
And even in that circumstances F-117 was shooted almost at maximum range of Zoltan's complex - 13km of 17.5km. S-125 lost only ~25% of its initial combat range...

Why you consider for F-35 against S-400 would be better?
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mikemag

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Unread post15 Nov 2020, 13:05

hocum wrote:Why you consider for F-35 against S-400 would be better?

The Israelis don't seem worried.
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wrightwing

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Unread post15 Nov 2020, 19:27

hocum wrote:

And even in that circumstances F-117 was shooted almost at maximum range of Zoltan's complex - 13km of 17.5km. S-125 lost only ~25% of its initial combat range...

Why you consider for F-35 against S-400 would be better?

- the F-117 was less than 10km away when it was engaged. It wasn't even detected till it was 16km away, and was tracked at an even shorter range.

- the F-35 is stealthier than the F-117 by orders of magnitude, has 360° spherical situational awareness of all hostile emitters.

- the signature management system on the F-35 keeps the pilot informed on how close they can get, while remaining undetected.

- the F-35 has the most powerful electronic warfare/attack systems ever installed on a fighter.

- the F-35 has towed decoys, and sophisticated expendable countermeasures.

- the F-35 has significantly more speed, agility, etc.... than the F-117.


Those are just a few of the reasons why the F-35 would perform better vs the S-400/500/HQ-9/etc....
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eloise

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Unread post15 Nov 2020, 20:51

hocum wrote:What if we consider not an object, but just border between air and another dielectric material? Without own forms and sizes, and for radio waves, not for visible light? Please, answer me - will it be optic, resonance or rayleigh? :) :? In this case even the question is not posed like that.

Is that because of language barrier that you can't understand what I said, or you are intentionally speaking nonsense?
We are discussing stealth aircraft against radar, and not ghost against Sauron eye so what the heck is "not an object"??
And how can something have no size? What do you mean "no size"?
How the radar wave interact with the object always have to do with the object size.
a.png

hocum wrote:For thin coverage, especially in other bandwidth instead that is designed for, may be almost NO INTERACTION - coverage almost not influence on fallen wave, and it interacts just with metal plane surface.

Are you trying to tell me that radar absorbing material only work in frequency that they are designed for ? no sh*t Sherlock.
The point isn't that RAM is effective outside the bandwidth they are designed for, but rather that thin RAM can be effective at very low frequency.
hocum wrote: Well, what you can say about WAVE REFLECTIОN of ferrit (FERROMAGNETIC!!!) coverage? If depth penetration in material is very low, it will REFLECT radiowaves like a conductor/ferromagnet, like duralumin alloy of naked plane. In stealth coverage you must do BOTH - equal electric and magnetic permeability to atmospheric air, and absorb wave BEFORE it reaches plane's alloy and deflects back. And do this all for as wide bandwidth as possible.
So in practice it turns out or bandwidth narrower, or absorbing slower, or reflection higher.
I have tried to read and to explain obvious things.

You are talking about resonance radar absorbing material which use the matched wave impendence concept. That why you have the quarter wavelength rule.
resonance ram.PNG


Magnetic radar absorbing material are very different
Magnetic absorber.PNG

Magnetic RAm 2.PNG

magnetic ram 3.PNG


To illustrate, a layer of 1.5 mm radar absorbing material with nano cobalt ferrite can achieve peak absorption of -18 dB at 2.4 GHz (wavelength = 12 cm). Dielectric RAM will need a layer 3cm thick to do the same.
cobat ram.PNG
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eloise

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Unread post15 Nov 2020, 21:34

hocum wrote:1. Looks on Balkan's map. Zoltan's complex placed near Belgrad, some westward. Father south and westward there are mountains up to 3000m height in range of 100-120km. At their normal range such placed P-18 could see only stratosperic objects from these directions. :)
2. P-18 is very old radar, designed for "black sky" conditions. Even simplest noise jamming and chaff make it nearly blind. Do you claim that time in Serbian airspase NATO had no one ECM plane? :)
3. Former Yugoslavia wasn't in Varshav Pakt Organization, so it couldn't recieve a native modification of P-18. Just export variants. And you took a range for NATIVE P-18. And Zoltan was wrong in his presentation - he couldn't have native "Neva" modification of S-125, just export "Pechora".
4. Serbian techinc was total worn out and outdated in 1999. Zoltan's P-18 stayed faulty before two hours of future victory, second launched to F-117 missile went to self-destruct because malfunction. It all just crumbled to dust.
It is very hard to believe that analog high voltage radar, with kinescope screen (and targets were bright dots on this screen), after so many years could show its initial capabuilities.
Last 8 years before NATO's operation a civil war was. All surveylance radars of course used very hard and intensive - because both Croatia and Bosnia had military aviation and very active used it. In 1995 was another NATO operation against Yugoslavia. But repair, and especially modernization wasn't - because finally former Yugoslavia, than Serbia hadn't money for it.
But for you, and for all another stealth funs all is obvious - of course, it's all because stealth!!! It's so funny. :D :D
All you definitly can't analize without emotions and consider all possibilities. True is that we don't know exact what factor influenced how.
And even in that circumstances F-117 was shooted almost at maximum range of Zoltan's complex - 13km of 17.5km. S-125 lost only ~25% of its initial combat range...

Why you consider for F-35 against S-400 would be better?

1. The F-117 was cruising at 6 km height when it was detected, and it was detected from about 24 km, so some mountain only 3 km high located some 100-120 km from the battery is irrelevant
2. Firstly, there was not one jamming aircraft jammed Zoltan battery at that moment. Secondly, P-18 operates at VHF, jamming pod on F-16CJ, F-15 don't operate at that frequency. You need dedicate support jamming assets such as EA-18G to jam that frequency, because lower frequency need bigger antenna. F-117 doesn't have chaff and RWR.
3. Here we go again, the tiring excuse that being used all the time about Russian equipment. "It isn't the domestic version, the domestic version is a bazillion times better". I'm sure Zoltán Dani being the undisputed commander of the battery will know more about the system he used than you.
4. Firstly, how many F-117 was shot down? 1, and it fly thousand sorties
Secondly, S-125 max engagement range is about 25 km, so F-117 was shotdown at 50% max range. But F-117 didn't have RWR, ECM, Radar, Chaff, Flares, MWS, Agility, speed. It got nothing but stealth
F-35 against S-400 is better because it got many tools apart from stealth.
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hornetfinn

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Unread post16 Nov 2020, 14:26

S-125 max effective range (slant range) was 25 km and it could be increased to about 35 km using the same missiles. The missile was capable of longer ranges but the original CLOS guidance system was limited to 25 km. There are several upgrade options which extend that without new missiles. It had more uniform performance to max range than more modern missiles which don't have similar hard limit on guidance. S-125 was used by Finland from 1970s to late 1990s and their range was definitely 25 km. The F-117 was in almost perfect path for the S-125 to shoot down as closer range would've meant a higher angular velocity which is more difficult for older CLOS guided missiles. It would've also made the window of opportunity shorter (shorter time for higher RCS presented towards S-125 radars) possibly leading to F-117 escape. Longer range would've made it impossible for the guidance radar to lock on to F-117 as there was already a lot of trouble locking on.

There were a lot of Soviet equipment which didn't have special export variants etc. Usually they just didn't sell their latest variants to other countries until some time. The downgrades often involved IFF systems and ECM/ECCM capabilities. None of that mattered in this engagement or otherwise in 1999. F-117 is very easy target even for an old system like S-125 if it's detected and tracked. It doesn't have performance to evade a missile and doesn't have almost anything besides stealth to help it survive.
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