F-16 CJ versus SA-20 IADS

Agreed, it will never be a fair fight but how would the F-16 match up against the ... ?
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AeroEngineer

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Unread post25 Sep 2004, 20:39

I'm a grad Aero student working on a design competition. I am pretty much designing a Ucav for SEAD, so it's a -CJ replacement pretty much. The rules of the competition specify a payload of 4 HARMs.

First, is that really necessary? I mean I don't think I have seen a -CJ carry four of those beasts at a time.

Second: how would a CJ fare against an SA-20 installation? wouldn't it get shot down WAY before getting into firing range?

Note: the competition rules do not specify a particular threat, but I assume that in the near future China will sell copies of the system like hot cakes.

Where I am getting at is that I am thinking that a platform with a lower RCS might be needed, and because them Agm-88s cannot be carried internally, this Ucav would have to use small-diameter bombs with wing extensions instead.

Please let me know if any of this made sense.
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hansundfranz

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Unread post26 Sep 2004, 11:15

There is no good public info on the capablities of the more modern double digit SAMs or about the structure of a russian build IADS.

In short you can make the assumtions as you please for your work. Just describe what these assumtions were.

One of my assumtions would that there will be lots of passive sensors and long wave radars to detect the positions ov even the most stealthy fighters.
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Unread post26 Sep 2004, 15:28

AeroEngineer wrote: The rules of the competition specify a payload of 4 HARMs....is that really necessary? I mean I don't think I have seen a -CJ carry four of those beasts at a time.


Theoretically it can carry 4 but the combat radius is reduced when the wing tanks are removed to load the extra pair.

I'm no rocket scientist but I would think the loadout would depend somewhat on the threat density in the attack area and the planned aircraft-per-sortie. Since the HARM is rather large and the ROE specifies 4 HARMs per (is that a max?), and since as you say HARM carriage is external only, it's a good bet the UAV carrier will be as big if not bigger than the Viper's wing area. That said, one can "assume" a higher confidence in the attack platform to take on 2X the number of threats the Viper would through, say, a combination of updated sensors, GPS targeting, stealth, manueverability, and stand-off range. Perhaps maybe a hunter-killer group? One to get the site to turn on while passing targeting data to the shooter? Maybe even used the hunter's targeting data to instead, cue an airburst SDB instead of a HARM? They're lighter, have a good Pk, and you can carry more of 'em. (DANG!...there I go speculatin' again!)
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Unread post26 Sep 2004, 16:26

To keep the whole thing on the unclass level...your best bet would be to send in a squad of bugeaters a month before the conflict. On D+0, they cut the throats of the SAM operators. Only then will you have a window for futher air ops. Although the UCAV with HARMs is a novel idea, it has the same chance of success as a B-52 dropping Mk-82s.
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Neko'Mende

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Unread post26 Sep 2004, 19:51

Now I know this doesnt have much to do with F-16 but I am interested in if this model of a Ucav would work. OK I know I don?t have any qualifications to answer this but I would like to say my opinion.

One thing that always comes in to play is cost efficiency. So we may be looking on something that?s both low-cost and easy to build or something medium or high cost that?s survivable (the last options I guess the USAF would go for). Now we have a ground basis to build upon, and the next question is how specialised it would be.
Here we can start thinking if it?s an element which is supposed to operate alone or a combined operations unit.

I would like to represent two views here, one two-party system (note this is strike element only AA operation unit is not included because in some cases its not needed.) and a stand alone unit. The two-party will contain one tracker and one strike element.

Tracker
The tracker unit I would think is a medium cost and expendable part but with as high survivability as can be laid in to it. Other options are recon-satellites or maybe even using GPS combined with satellite camera to track a target.
The Tracker as I chose to call it I consider a low flying terrain following vehicle which will get close enough to track and target a specific target(or target group) for a strike package.

Strike Ucav
The strike craft would be a large airframe which will cruise at 50,000f altitude flying outside the threat area. It will be loaded with HARMs and JSOWs. Two weapons per target to increase the kill probability.

When engaging it will fly as far in against the target as it can without putting itself in danger and release weapons for a free fall inn against the target area (note high altitude will be needed and maybe even extra large wings on the weapons themselves.). The weapons itself will be activated by the tracker and will be passive until within range of its target.

(I am not sure how accurate my calculations and information is but a SAM-site should get a warning when a HARM is tracking and therefore holding the HARM passive as long as possible would be to our advantage.) The strike craft will then return for new loads while the rest of the pack will stay in the area waiting for new targets to engage.

So yes, in this example the strike Ucav would carry 4 or even more HARMs and operate in large packs against multiply targets at the same time, if not completely shutting down the enemy air defence in one sector it would at least give a window for other strike craft to strike ground targets and help with CAS.

Note this weapon work in two ways first; One by take out a large number of Search radars, and second scare the rest to keep quiet as much as possible.

Little on design;
The tracker should be small, highly manoeuvrable craft, and have a GPS, terrain following radar, (Link 16 or a system like it to plot enemy units to HQ) laser sight if needed. FCR to guide HARMs and JSOWs to their respective targets. Even though it?s expendable it is not a suicidedrone.

The target Ucav is not armed but will rely on its manoeuvrability and stealth to make it home to base.

The strike Ucav will be a large delivery drone with defence system and will be armed with a large load of AG weapons and should be able to keep airborne for at least 6 hours(I would prefer 10 hours.) It will not carry AA weapons or radars. But will rely on other Ucavs with A-A specifics to defend them against such threats.

Now for the stand alone Ucav. I chose to call it Hunter, as it represents its task and mission very well. This craft would be about the size of an F-18 Containing most modern systems and would be as stealthy as possible. Carrying A-A weapons inside its main body and A-G weapons externally under the wings (I got an idea of stealth pods to hide these weapons in but I don?t know the specifics on either stealth material would allow this or the weapons themselves.) Twin engines with trust vectoring for max manoeuvrability and canard design. I also though about maybe using the SR-71 shape as it give good place for internal weapons.

But I currently don?t look on that as an option. It will contain everything the Tracker contains, but will operate slightly different. Made to operate in all from small groups working together to a single Hunter working alone it will use many different strategies and tactics.

As a lone aircraft it will sweep around close to the ground at high speeds searching for a target. When finding it, it will engage at once jumping up to fire before dropping back to the ground searching for the next target.

In two ships, they will operate as one tracker one executor. The first aircraft will fly in low designate a target and continue to find a new. The information about the target will be sent to the next aircraft which will fire the missile against the target from a position so long out that the curve of the earth will hide the strike aircraft from the radar (the English version of ARMs I know will rocket in to the air and then fall down on the target which would be idle but the HARM should manage to find its target even over curve.).

In this way never exposing the executor for the target itself. As a group of many two-ships they would sweep over the area from different directions. Flying low in to the area before executing the attack they would make a chaos for the defence specially if they themselves have aircrafts airborne.

Now I know this is just hypothetical but I hope it?s to some help. Also keep in mind that I am not English in case I wrote something wrong I might be meaning something else
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Unread post27 Sep 2004, 01:01

Neko reference your first paragraph about cost efficiency. Whether we believe it or not, the capacity of one's military depends almost solely on $$. Your hypothesis included aircraft and missiles not even researched yet. The process of turning an idea into a reality in the Air Force's timeline is hardly cost efficient. Plus, it's much more complicated and it takes a long time.

Back to Aero's original two questions. The second one first. Go to any search engine and type in SA-20 and AGM-88. The best site probably is the Federation of American Scientist (FAS). You'll find some good unclass info on both. Bottomline, I don't think the CJ would fare to well against an SA-20. There's other ways of defeating it however. Just use your imagination.

As for the UCAV idea, I think every CJ would carry four HARMS into combat if the need arose. However, like it was mentioned before, that would mean you would lose precious JP-8. Most pilots would rather have that extra 5000 pounds of gas versus two extra HARMS. It all depends on the situation.

I can imagine where this research is going though. If I were king for a day and had my hands on UCAV's with four HARMS a piece, I could only imagine what I would use the CJ's for.
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Unread post27 Sep 2004, 19:55

Thanks for all the replies. It's good to hear from people who know about CONOPS, too often engineers look at the problem from a technical point of view only...

The Tracker/ Hunter idea is good, it goes as far back as the ASW birds of the Navy (one sensor equipped, the other carrying torpedoes or depth mines). I was looking at it but I wonder if the cost of developping two new platforms wouldn't be prohibitive. I guess you could use a Global hawk as a tracker if you really wanted to...
I will have to look at this more in detail, but for now imagine you are counting on one platform only.

Is it reasonable to expect a non-LO platform to deal with an SA-20 site?
I mean, that thing has got a firing range that is 5-6 times the AGM-88's...
And, disregarding external stealth pods, I can't see how you can carry 4 HARMs on wing pylons without huge radar returns. Unfortunately I also don't see an AGM-88 in its current form being carried internally - It's huge!

This is why I was thinking of SDBs with wing extensions as a better candidate. They're lighter, cheaper and take one quarter of the internal volume!

Anyway, these are a lot of questions that have no purely 'engineering', out of the book solution, which is why I am asking them on this forum. I appreciate your input on the subject, these posts have already started me looking at different approaches.

Thanks!
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Unread post27 Sep 2004, 21:37

Well I am still interested in knowing how an F-16CJ would be against a SA-20. Like if you got Norwegian terrain it's easy, since you got so many valleys and fjords to cover your approach. But over a flat terrain I only see one option and that the CJ currently is not equipped to.

Correct me if I am wrong but a solution here might be the British ALARM missile.
It will climb after launch and home in on the last known position of the target.
Now this means it can be fired from low altitude. Most radars as I know of have a minimum high of some hundred feet. (Note data from Falcon 4 a F-16 sim) with exception of IR-capable missiles.

Now I have not seen much info of the SA-20 but from what FAS says it got OTH (over the horizon) capability. But I keep wonder in which aspects we are talking about here because it has to see a target before engaging, and I still could not find a minimum altitude for the radar.

So what I propose is this: Two F-16CJ with fuel and 2 HARMS each take off low and continue in low out of sight from the radar. When they are within firing range (hopefully the aircraft will be below the horizon until this time.) and jump up to fire, before dodging back to the ground and getting away as soon possible or another option even though more risky, if to close get so close to the target that the missile can not turn around to hit you. But after what FAS says I think that?s unlikely. It looks like a missile system to take out ICBMs so a fighter should not be the hardest problem then.

The only thing I guess that can save you is that you destroy the search radar and that the missile will not manage to find you against the ground from above. But still can someone give me a REAL idea of what could have happened and some more data on the SA-20.
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Unread post28 Sep 2004, 00:09

What do you mean by a non-LO platform?
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Unread post28 Sep 2004, 02:55

LO = Low Observable

usually applies to an aircraft having a low radar cross section, and/or low IR signature... in fact anything that can give away your position.
Even camouflage and a quiet engine are taken in account by LO.

I guess you could replace LO with with the word 'stealthy'.
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Unread post28 Sep 2004, 14:27

Where I am getting at is that I am thinking that a platform with a lower RCS might be needed, and because them Agm-88s cannot be carried internally, this Ucav would have to use small-diameter bombs with wing extensions instead.



That last part you just discribed part of the mission of the X-45 UCAV. Of course it will have a bunch of other players on its team, like F-22 w/ SDB, and an insane amount of netcentric manned and unmanned sensor platforms backing it up. I saw a press release recently that they are going to put HTS mini sensors ( a la CJ ) on UCAV, with HARM shooters netcentricly fed shoot cues from extreme range. Anything not netcentric is basically useless in parts of current and all future battlespace. The goal is 24/7 sensor coverage. Anything that emitts could have a very short life span.

X-45 UCAV will strike, but there will also be some that have a standoff jamming / sensor mission

HARM? Yes it is useful, but not absolutely important to dominating an environment with the new "double digit" SAMS of Russian / Chinese license built origin. Also one more thing. These newer SAM systems are really really expensive. Which means, most threats can't afford a wall of these things. There isn't much low price things with it . This isn't your father's Buick so to speak.

And because of steath, it will be a overlapping wall of them which would be needed to stop strikes. As I am sure you know, stealth makes the sensor range of these systems smaller. And as most can't afford many of this wiz bang setups, they will get beaten down and flooded by decoys, SDBs etc etc etc.

They won't stop strategic targets in a USAF/USN air plan from getting hit. They will only boost the danger up some. And once they and any enemy fighter jets are gone, it is contempt of engagement time of the remaining lesser AD threats that can't touch a conventional designed jet, dropping sub 4 Meter CEP near all weather PGMs from bashing out the important targets. Game over.
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Unread post02 Nov 2004, 15:56

HARMS and Pk, harms don't kill the site, just shut it out down. To kill a site, DEAD, PGMs like the JDAMs and WCMDs are the preferred weapons. HARMS are just one part of the entire package because they can only blind the site and a blind site can still shoot just not as well aimed.
F16 462 AD USAF. Crew dog for 3 and Even a pointy head for a few months.
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Unread post19 Dec 2004, 06:18

If a harm hits the antenna of most SAM systems it only shuts it down, as the antenna will be replaced the next day. This is not true for phased array antenna systems as, unlike older systems, 90% of the cost of an SA-10, 20, patriot etc... is in the advanced antenna itself. So if you destroy the antenna the left over hardware isnt worth much.
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Unread post19 Dec 2004, 12:26

Well, a pretty static image of enemy AD-systems is presented here. Indeed S-400 is pretty new, I only know some reports from S-300. Interception range is 100km, HARMs range 60km from high altitude if my info is correct.

The only way th beat the S-300 is flying very low. But here there are some deadly systems like "Tor" and some vehicle based heatseekers. Unless equipped with a long range AR-missle like Kh-31P, the Weasels will have a hard time to defeat a modern AD system.

I guess it is the reason why operations mostly executed at night, because systems from the 60s together still pose a remarable threat due their ability of bein TV guided.
Dzring "Allied Force" serbs deployed some 3000 radar decoys (mofified TV-antennas mostly). According to them 2800 of them were destroyed by AR-missles. The use of spam on the modern battlefield....

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