Super Hornet performance question

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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geogen

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Unread post09 Nov 2011, 18:48

LOL, you got me WW...

Yeah, give me 20x souped up F-16XL and 20x F-15E+ armed with... you missed one thing... dual-moded AIM-162... and I'll see your 20x F-35 + 20x Super Hornet block II+ come as they are at Red Flag 2018. :D
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wrightwing

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Unread post09 Nov 2011, 20:41

geogen wrote:LOL, you got me WW...

Yeah, give me 20x souped up F-16XL and 20x F-15E+ armed with... you missed one thing... dual-moded AIM-162... and I'll see your 20x F-35 + 20x Super Hornet block II+ come as they are at Red Flag 2018. :D


When will the dual moded AIM-162 reach IOC, in this hypothetical scenario? :wink:

By the way, the F-35 with the AIM-120D+, will still have first look, first shoot, against modded F-16XLs, and F-15E+s, no matter what kind of IRST they have, even with AIM-162s.
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Unread post09 Nov 2011, 23:29

Well assume R&D began last year under a fast-tracked Program of sorts. Given it 5 yrs.:thumb: The AGM-72 using off-the-shelf Rim-66 SAM and sticking a Shrike seeker in the nose could be a good baseline to work from.

From development to operational deployment in about 2 yrs. The hypothetical AIM-162 concept is a bit more complex, granted, and might need a modified Mod motor with a little less speed off the launch. A dual mode seeker could be a follow-on derivative... so maybe quicker and cheaper to start with two separate integrated seeker variants, eg an improved skin-searching NCADE IIR seeker variant and possibly the 2nd being a mmW seeker variant jointly developed from the PAC-3? A block C dual-mode variant could follow-on. The idea is... invest more in actual munitions ensuring higher pK as a counter vs next-gen air vehicles. The more expensive the air vehicle a potential adversary is flying, a proportionate investment in rounds per engagement should be increased too. There's no such thing as economy in the next-gen.. fewer airframes will be deployed, being much more capable and much higher cost per unit not to mention the expensive pilots. Engagements could be over very fast, if innovation and development is behind the curve. New systems capabilities of a competitor might not necessarily be known about in detail or underestimated.

With respect to the Super Hornet here... this type of munition would actually be designed with the Super Hornet in mind - not necessarily being the highest energy fighter in the field. Such a munition though would definitely amplify the SH's performance by offsetting weaker acceleration speeds sometimes required to maximize AIM-120's effectiveness. That is, why bleed so much vital gas from the Super, when the missile could be doing that work instead? Using the references made on the need for a SLAMRAAM-ER to equal the range of the ESSM, one could further hypothesize that an air-launched round from say Mach .7 and 30k would be similar to an AIM-120 launched from 50k @ Mach 1.5?
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Unread post10 Nov 2011, 15:59

geogen wrote:Well assume R&D began last year under a fast-tracked Program of sorts. Given it 5 yrs.:thumb: The AGM-72 using off-the-shelf Rim-66 SAM and sticking a Shrike seeker in the nose could be a good baseline to work from.

From development to operational deployment in about 2 yrs. The hypothetical AIM-162 concept is a bit more complex, granted, and might need a modified Mod motor with a little less speed off the launch. A dual mode seeker could be a follow-on derivative... so maybe quicker and cheaper to start with two separate integrated seeker variants, eg an improved skin-searching NCADE IIR seeker variant and possibly the 2nd being a mmW seeker variant jointly developed from the PAC-3? A block C dual-mode variant could follow-on. The idea is... invest more in actual munitions ensuring higher pK as a counter vs next-gen air vehicles. The more expensive the air vehicle a potential adversary is flying, a proportionate investment in rounds per engagement should be increased too. There's no such thing as economy in the next-gen.. fewer airframes will be deployed, being much more capable and much higher cost per unit not to mention the expensive pilots. Engagements could be over very fast, if innovation and development is behind the curve. New systems capabilities of a competitor might not necessarily be known about in detail or underestimated.

With respect to the Super Hornet here... this type of munition would actually be designed with the Super Hornet in mind - not necessarily being the highest energy fighter in the field. Such a munition though would definitely amplify the SH's performance by offsetting weaker acceleration speeds sometimes required to maximize AIM-120's effectiveness. That is, why bleed so much vital gas from the Super, when the missile could be doing that work instead? Using the references made on the need for a SLAMRAAM-ER to equal the range of the ESSM, one could further hypothesize that an air-launched round from say Mach .7 and 30k would be similar to an AIM-120 launched from 50k @ Mach 1.5?


The issue isn't so much the range of the missile, as how soon the plane can fire it. The F-35's situational awareness advantage will allow first shot against a non-stealthy target.
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geogen

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Unread post12 Nov 2011, 22:16

I couldn't disagree more. The effective engagement zone of a particular modern missile is very much a relevant component to overall air-superiority employed by a given force structure. Absolutely, an aircraft which can fire first will have an advantage for numerous tactical reasons. But with respect to situational awareness goes, it's a matter of being 'good enough' in relation to the munition capabilities one is deploying, which is the relevant factor.

In a 1v1 frontal approach, no doubt the block III F-35 in Red Flag 2018 should have the advantage over a block II+ Super Hornet (even with an IRST), assuming both aircraft are armed equally.

But given the proper tactics in a multi-ship vs multi-ship contest, asymmetrically equipped and armed legacy aircraft can very easily take the 'frontal aspect' factor out of the equation and very possibly achieve a asymmetrical advantage in kind.

If you are questioning what sort of 'off-frontal' factor I am eluding to, it should be apparent in terms of next-gen sensor capabilities in relation to both the RF (emission and receiver) and IR signature spectrum.
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Unread post13 Nov 2011, 02:40

I have to disagree that any 4th gen, no matter how advanced, can get first look, much less first shot, on a flight of F-35s that are spaced dozens of miles apart allowing for a HUGE RF search volume and greatly increasing the odds that EODAS/EOTS will find everything in a hundred miles.
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Unread post14 Nov 2011, 03:38

The matter of putting the 120-D on the F-35 is really only a matter of some software changes at the most.

I do think that other 4th gen aircraft could get the first look and first shot but it would mean some big mistakes on the F-35 drivers part or mabe some malfunctioning electronics. I think thats another factor to take into account. How reliable will all this new technology be.
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Unread post14 Nov 2011, 04:19

Geogen,
Any tactics or special techniques could also be used by the F-35s, nullifying any advantage the F-18s have. Heck, you could even put that air-to-air SM-6 or whatever on an F-35 as easily as a SH.
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Unread post14 Nov 2011, 08:46

Easier on the F-35 due to UAI, aka no need to do a new Blk upgrade :)
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Unread post15 Nov 2011, 18:14

geogen wrote:I couldn't disagree more. The effective engagement zone of a particular modern missile is very much a relevant component to overall air-superiority employed by a given force structure.


The practical limits of engagement ranges, are the ranges at which your sensors can detect/identify/track a target, and provide targeting info to a weapons system. It doesn't matter if you carry a missile with a theoretical range of 500nm, if your sensors can't engage a target at more than 30nm. All of that extra range is wasted against a stealthy target. If the stealthy target can detect you at >100nm, and engage at >60nm, then the non-stealthy target will always be at the disadvantage.

In a 1v1 frontal approach, no doubt the block III F-35 in Red Flag 2018 should have the advantage over a block II+ Super Hornet (even with an IRST), assuming both aircraft are armed equally.


At extreme BVR ranges(beyond the ability of a laser range finder to laze), how exactly do you envision the targeting information to be provided to the missile? You need azimuth, elevation, speed, etc... info to get your missile within it's WEZ. A flight of F-35s will detect the Super Hornets long before they're detected either with IR or RF(remember- the F-35s have a radar advantage(both range and LPI), a lower IR signature, and sophisticate ESM systems to detect non-stealthy data-links, RF emissions, comms, etc.... ) Any tactics the Super Hornets can use, so can the F-35s. The F-35s will even enjoy a kinematic advantage, as they can launch missiles at a higher speed than the Super Hornets.
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geogen

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Unread post16 Nov 2011, 16:04

Ww - the concept involving an 'asymmetrical' stand-off AAM system on a platform such as the Super Hornet can in part be justified given that the Super will NOT necessarily have the similar kinematics you note when up against potential adversarial air-to-air contests in say Red Flag, or otherwise. It would therefore be the main justification right there, as a means to OFFSET potential disadvantages inherent to the Super Hornet. As conjectured... such a munition if employed at 25k ' and mach .7 would offer equivalent performance capabilities of an AMRAAM employed at higher altitudes and at higher launch speeds, etc.

Something to also note: the Super Hornet will not necessarily always be up against an F-35 in such air-to-air contests and may have to deter and contend with more identifiable bogies at farther ranges. You're trying to box this into a "Since Super Hornet won't exploit this system vs an F-35 in the first place, then it is an invalid system for the Super" argument.

But again, the basis for this 'performance-multiplying' and capability offset is to allow for asymmetrical conditions to exist and is based under a scenario where the opposing force in Red Flag would NOT be equipped w/ such a system. As noted, if say the F-35 did in fact come equipped with such an equal load-out then absolutely, the advantage of such an extended range next-gen which the Super (or for argument sake, even another F-35) might have had, would be completely nullified.

Now, based on the actual theoretical Red Flag 2018 contest here... given standard equipped block III F-35A under a given fixed budget and equipped with standard C7 AMRAAM (possibly a 120D)... the argument would then be that a near-equal investment per unit would by definition allow the Super Hornet to enable said asymmetrical equipment. Thus, you can't just assume to simply upside the F-35s procurement budget too, to further match said asymmetrical Super Hornet, lol, nice try. If so, then even more proportionate offset budget could be directed to the Super, accordingly.

But I'll still have counter your assumptions that a simple formula is in play here with regards to your notional 30nm engagement zone (which will definitely increase once the first salvo is launched against the lead Super (or apparent SuperHornet), or afterburner is engaged and/or any turns are made by the F-35) in this 'Red Flag' contest.

Various tactics might come into play too, in which one could envision involving hand-off capabilities, where a more capable BVR munition could have greater terminal kinematics when chasing after a/c which are evading, feinting and or running, etc. The superior munition would flat out offer superior tactical flexibility to the crew and force the opponent into less advantageous positions accordingly. Now for good measure, couple this superior sized Blue Force package of Supers (per an equal investment value scale) with superior counter-measure equipment vs RF seekers and the equation will be further altered.
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Unread post16 Nov 2011, 19:03

geogen wrote:Ww - the concept involving an 'asymmetrical' stand-off AAM system on a platform such as the Super Hornet can in part be justified given that the Super will NOT necessarily have the similar kinematics you note when up against potential adversarial air-to-air contests in say Red Flag, or otherwise. It would therefore be the main justification right there, as a means to OFFSET potential disadvantages inherent to the Super Hornet. As conjectured... such a munition if employed at 25k ' and mach .7 would offer equivalent performance capabilities of an AMRAAM employed at higher altitudes and at higher launch speeds, etc.


You're changing the parameters of this discussion. It can always be argued that having long range is a good thing. The point I'm making, is that until the Super Hornet got the APG-79, it couldn't even fully exploit the range of the AMRAAM. My point is that there is a limit to the utility of having weapons that can shoot further than one's sensors can detect. With the C7/D, the Super Hornets aren't currently at a kinematic disadvantage against legacy threats. The JDRADM is under development, and will provide the additional range

But I'll still have counter your assumptions that a simple formula is in play here with regards to your notional 30nm engagement zone (which will definitely increase once the first salvo is launched against the lead Super (or apparent SuperHornet), or afterburner is engaged and/or any turns are made by the F-35) in this 'Red Flag' contest.


Remember- the shooter need not be the aircraft providing targeting info. An F-35 can speed up to M1.6, fire a salvo, get out of burner, and change heading, while another provides 3rd party targeting. The Super Hornet may briefly detect the shooter, but due to the extended ranges, will not be able to maintain a track.
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Unread post19 Nov 2011, 02:35

Remember- the shooter need not be the aircraft providing targeting info. An F-35 can speed up to M1.6, fire a salvo, get out of burner, and change heading..


Exactly, and that only adds to the case supporting asymmetrical advantages :wink:

ie the Super does NOT automatically have equal kinematic advantages vs another C7/D-equivalently equipped opponent. Besides, why would you want the Super in this hypothetical scenario to have parity in the first place? That's the whole point! :thumb:

Other aircraft types, eg the F-35 for this argument would in fact potentially have superior kinematic launch performance capabilities. Remember - the missile no escape zone kinematics is NOT just about the missile. It's also about the altitude launch point and launch speed that factors in.

One could easily ponder a disadvantage at some point in the engagement, even when missiles themselves are similar.

And another point being... the justification to plan now for an enhanced, 'Plan B' AAM capability in order to remain competitive - especially as a hedge in case the highly complex, tri-mode JDRADM you mentioned is for whatever reason delayed, or deemed unreliable, or too expensive by Congress, etc.

But in the interim... a Super Hornet for one, when facing an opponent (stealthy or otherwise) who's launching his AAMs at substantially higher velocities, will likely have better pK and performance capability only if an asymmetrically performing AAM is offsetting various inherent performance disadvantages that said slower platform might have. And p.s., vs a 'stealthy' opponent, it might be debated as well, as being advantageous to have a mix of seeker types in selection, if the tiny RF seeker in the AAM in question is not the most effective capability by itself. imho
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Unread post21 Nov 2011, 05:27

geogen wrote:

But in the interim... a Super Hornet for one, when facing an opponent (stealthy or otherwise) who's launching his AAMs at substantially higher velocities, will likely have better pK and performance capability only if an asymmetrically performing AAM is offsetting various inherent performance disadvantages that said slower platform might have. And p.s., vs a 'stealthy' opponent, it might be debated as well, as being advantageous to have a mix of seeker types in selection, if the tiny RF seeker in the AAM in question is not the most effective capability by itself. imho


The interim missile will be the D+ AMRAAM. Aside from a Mig-31, I'm still not sure which foe would have kinematic parity/superiority at this point. The C7/D enjoys a range advantage against AA10/AA12s, and no foe is going to be using the Meteor(for the forseeable future). Your assumption is that in a CAP role, a SH would stay at low altitudes, and subsonic, to engage.
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Unread post21 Nov 2011, 14:07

No, not assuming Supers will be low and @ subsonic, although any aircraft could be caught off guard at such a flight. What is relevant is that in many cases, other platforms, eg the F-35, could have an advantage in terms of practical/effective launch kinematics vs the Super's. Hence, weapons kinematics could be justified to offset the disadvantage in platform kinematics.

And btw, I'm curious which variant of 'AA-12' you are referring to? Are there additional BVR A2A munitions known or unknown too, which you could make assessment of and which could be operational within 5 or yrs?

For someone who is apparently confident of a silver bullet 'interim D+' AAM (not to be confused with a +D?) anytime soon, when even the D variant is delayed and still undergoing development, one might be curious about your analysis regarding other BVR developments as well?
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