Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 13 Jul 2017, 19:33
by talkitron
It seems like USAF's next generation Penetrating Counter Air may not be manned:

The next air superiority platform—the Penetrating Counter Air aircraft—is “not a fighter,” insists the Air Force officer whose team came up with the concept, but will rather be a key flying sensor platform with lots of weapons and long range that will enable USAF’s existing fighters.


http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pag ... tform.aspx

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 15 Jul 2017, 17:15
by mixelflick
To my mind, this is really odd...

One would think the "existing fighters" situation circa 2030 would be borderline desparate by then: Aging F-22's and F-15's that are geriatric. The F-35? Thought we were using those for air to ground. This would be a fundamental (HUGE fundamental) shift in how air superiority is defined.

If so, they must REALLY think the age of the dogfight is over. Not sure I'd be making that assumption until F-22's are dropping Sukhoi's and Migs wholesale, from many KM away and in multiple theaters...

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 15 Jul 2017, 18:47
by southernphantom
Talkitron, we're reading this differently. You take "not a fighter" to mean unmanned; I take it to mean something to the effect of a B-21 variant designed to support fighters with sensors and additional munitions, basically a VLO Megafortress-like platform. Remember the 'arsenal ship' concept?

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 16 Jul 2017, 02:16
by tacf-x
southernphantom wrote:Talkitron, we're reading this differently. You take "not a fighter" to mean unmanned; I take it to mean something to the effect of a B-21 variant designed to support fighters with sensors and additional munitions, basically a VLO Megafortress-like platform. Remember the 'arsenal ship' concept?


The article did say that the PCA aircraft has some overlap with the B-21. However, it also said that they will not be the same aircraft.

I do agree though. This aircraft seems to have a requirement for incredible range and endurance. As such it would likely be quite different in general dimensions to that of a classical 'fighter' even with miniaturized munitions and AETP-derived engines.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 16 Jul 2017, 13:17
by neptune
PCA: bomber vs. fighter, strategic vs. tactical, 3-500klbs. vs. <100klbs., global vs. local(<1000mi.)

B-52@500Klbs., B-1@400Klbs., B-2@370Klbs., B-21@???
F-22@83Klbs., F-15E@81Klbs., etc.

bomber vs. fighter 4-6x weight of fuel(range) and weapons

PCA/ tactical,
-Similar engines to B-21 (1or2 vs. 4)

-Similar avionics to B-21 (F-35)

-Similar weapons to B-21; (few vs. many)

-Similar weapons; (missiles; cruise vs. close range (Aim-9,120, AGM-88,etc.)
-Similar weapons; (bombs; gliding(standoff, 200-500Lbs.) vs. large(2+Klbs.)
-Similar weapons; JASSM cruise missile(1KLb); capacities (32/24/16(strategic) vs. 2-4(tactical))

PCA while similar to a strategic bomber, it will not be a strategic bomber. PCA while similar to the fighter will not be a F-22 (Red Baron/ air-air combat) fighter.

PCA should be unmanned/autonomous with drone pilot intervention.
IMHO
:)

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 16 Jul 2017, 17:14
by wolfpak
IMHO The PCA will be a 21st Century F-4. If you read the AFA mag article it will be multi-role and as the article mentions not an arsenal plane. I don't think AI software is anywhere near the point on taking on the replacement of a human making decisions on such missions. The use of autonomous air vehicles (other than cruise missiles) in denied air space has yet to be seen.

What the PCA may do is truncate the F-35 buy. If they hold off the replacement of the dedicated Wild Weasel units until the late 2020's they PCA may be the aircraft of choice. That is not to say that the F-35 units can't perform the mission today and in the 2020's but if the AF wants to procure the PCA in sufficient numbers think they will need to highlight it's multi-mission capabilities to prevent what happened to F-22 procurement.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 16 Jul 2017, 20:38
by talkitron
The link to the Air Force Magazine page I originally posted is messed up. Here is the correct link, hopefully.

http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pag ... tform.aspx

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 16 Jul 2017, 20:39
by talkitron
southernphantom wrote:Talkitron, we're reading this differently. You take "not a fighter" to mean unmanned; I take it to mean something to the effect of a B-21 variant designed to support fighters with sensors and additional munitions, basically a VLO Megafortress-like platform. Remember the 'arsenal ship' concept?


Yeah, I agree that a manned B-21 derivative is possible based on the article. Sorry for leaping to unmanned.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 17 Jul 2017, 15:24
by mixelflick
It sounds like a big (real big) change in fundamental assumptions...

We're hearing about it possibly being unmanned, possibly NOT being a fighter sized aircraft. The range and payload specs speak to that. Artificial intelligence, possible directed energy weapons... This sounds like a bigger jump forward than the F-22 was vs. the F-15 (and that should scare some people)!

Personally, I'd love to see an enlarged YF-23a. Something around 25% bigger with a 2nd crewman for those long duration, high workload/demand missions over the South China Sea. Maybe even 50% bigger! The airframe was so ahead of its time... Would still look futuristic if it were rolled out today. In theory it'd have new, more powerful engines that would allow it to super-cruise the entire mission (like the old YF-23a did). As far as payload, all they'd need to do is stretch it a bit and a 16-20 AMRAAM load out wouldn't be out of the question.

Since the YF-23a has already flown, it's not like they'd be starting from scratch. Precisely what the Air Force specified. You also already have a top notch sensor platform (F-35) to build off of. Only the engine would be brand new, and that's assuming they don't resurrect GE's variable cycle engine that again, which flew several decades ago.

I just hope she's built in numbers this time. Make it a slam dunk for 500 airframes, and prevent anyone from pulling a Gates on us...

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 17 Jul 2017, 16:08
by tacf-x
mixelflick wrote:It sounds like a big (real big) change in fundamental assumptions...

We're hearing about it possibly being unmanned, possibly NOT being a fighter sized aircraft. The range and payload specs speak to that. Artificial intelligence, possible directed energy weapons... This sounds like a bigger jump forward than the F-22 was vs. the F-15 (and that should scare some people)!

Personally, I'd love to see an enlarged YF-23a. Something around 25% bigger with a 2nd crewman for those long duration, high workload/demand missions over the South China Sea. Maybe even 50% bigger! The airframe was so ahead of its time... Would still look futuristic if it were rolled out today. In theory it'd have new, more powerful engines that would allow it to super-cruise the entire mission (like the old YF-23a did). As far as payload, all they'd need to do is stretch it a bit and a 16-20 AMRAAM load out wouldn't be out of the question.

Since the YF-23a has already flown, it's not like they'd be starting from scratch. Precisely what the Air Force specified. You also already have a top notch sensor platform (F-35) to build off of. Only the engine would be brand new, and that's assuming they don't resurrect GE's variable cycle engine that again, which flew several decades ago.

I just hope she's built in numbers this time. Make it a slam dunk for 500 airframes, and prevent anyone from pulling a Gates on us...



YF-23 flew so long ago that it pretty much would be like building a brand new aircraft. The average age of the people that worked on that prototype is going to be pretty high. As such the tribal knowledge affiliated with that airframe will likely be gone. The same goes for the YF-120.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 17 Jul 2017, 17:13
by SpudmanWP
I always like this FB-23 concept

Image

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Jul 2017, 06:34
by neptune
tacf-x wrote:....YF-23 flew so long ago that it pretty much would be like building a brand new aircraft. The average age of the people that worked on that prototype is going to be pretty high. As such the tribal knowledge affiliated with that airframe will likely be gone. The same goes for the YF-120.


PCA-???
....with new CNRF+ type materials, new F-135+ engines, and 2,000 mi. range (in/ out) MTOW 150Klb.?? (how big?)
....stealth (vlo) with "IR" design concern; Mach 1 or 2 / or subsonic?? (how fast?)
....SA Maximum, total passive ISR+?? (F-35+?)
....autonomous (F-35 mission computer+) with one crew (backup with a thermos/ box lunch?)
....FB-23 style?
....2-4hr. flight time (duration?)
....refueling (after launch (top-off) and before recovery (minimums) "Only")
....other???
:)

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Jul 2017, 19:02
by geforcerfx
Well I guess I got what I wanted, with the way our weaponry is going the "traditional" fighter values won't count for as much. Sound's like PCA will be something that the USAF can launch from Guam and maintain air dominance in the south china sea without the help of tankers, that will make the Chinese sweat a little bit. Should be a good replacement for the F-22 and F-15E, but by 2030 there won't be many existing fighters left, seems like the USAF is damn impressed with the F-35A.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Jul 2017, 23:33
by arian
It's going to be a dead-end project, in my opinion. No clear role, no clear advantage. Technology in weapons, sensors, etc. is moving too fast to start thinking of an airplane today. I think you need to let some of these technologies mature so that you can figure out how to use them and integrate them into an airplane. By 2030 lasers, miniature AAMs, multi-band AESAs may be places we can't predict today. Especially when its not clear that one large airplane would provide an advantage over a swarm of smaller UAVs controlled by fighters.

The idea here seems to provide a platform for sensors which can survive "deep" in enemy territory and support 5th gen fighters. Basically a combat AWACS. The armed component is probably secondary.

This is the same thing that swarms of UCAVs with sensors would also aim for. I don't think big, expensive and rare is going to be the winning combination here.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Jul 2017, 23:42
by arian
geforcerfx wrote:Sound's like PCA will be something that the USAF can launch from Guam and maintain air dominance in the south china sea without the help of tankers, that will make the Chinese sweat a little bit.


In my opinion, this is the sort of thinking that renders an aircraft project DOA. Single mission, single use, against a fictional enemy that is hyperbolized, and which in reality will never face. The military may love this sort of thinking because it can justify just about anything by coming up with lots of "what ifs", but this sort of thinking won't survive the first signs of scrutiny. South China Sea? Isolated island outposts hundreds or 1,000 miles away from China? I'm pretty sure that doesn't require much in new assets to deal with (not from us anyway. China would need a heck of a lot of new technologies however)

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Jul 2017, 01:07
by popcorn
Form follows function ie. the platform is secondary to the capabilities the AF will prioritize. IIRC Gen. Hostage said the 6Gen could be a button that you press and the enemy blows up. :mrgreen: That's a lot of leeway for designers to play with.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Jul 2017, 07:22
by archangel117
Is it remotely possible that a 6th gen system could be partly space based?

I ask simply because by 2020 space X will have a launch platform capable of putting the mass of a small naval corvette in orbit (roughly 1 million lbs). To not leverage that capability for our military would be a waste imo.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Jul 2017, 08:17
by Dragon029
Well NGAD is meant to be a family of systems and the F-35 + F-22 already utilise space assets, so I wouldn't be surprised if the PCA incorporates increased sensor fusion with space-based assets.

As for SpaceX's ITS / BFR, it definitely could be useful for the USAF / the Space Corps, but it'll be a while until it's proven to be reliable enough to carry the kinds of government payloads that would require its thrust.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Jul 2017, 17:10
by talkitron
arian wrote:South China Sea? Isolated island outposts hundreds or 1,000 miles away from China? I'm pretty sure that doesn't require much in new assets to deal with (not from us anyway. China would need a heck of a lot of new technologies however)


China's plans for the 2035-2070 timeframe are a little unclear. :)

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Jul 2017, 23:27
by arian
talkitron wrote:
arian wrote:South China Sea? Isolated island outposts hundreds or 1,000 miles away from China? I'm pretty sure that doesn't require much in new assets to deal with (not from us anyway. China would need a heck of a lot of new technologies however)


China's plans for the 2035-2070 timeframe are a little unclear. :)


Maybe we can get some climate scientists on this. They seem to be able to come up with accurate predictions 100 years into the future.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Jul 2017, 23:49
by juretrn
arian wrote:Maybe we can get some climate scientists on this. They seem to be able to come up with accurate predictions 100 years into the future.

Huh?
No one ever claimed they can make accurate predictions for centuries in the future, but they DO have models with some predictive power.

On topic: the Chinese plan to dominate the SCS and if the US will want to have a say in that, they would prefer to stay out of AShM range when things get too hot, so PCA will definitely need lots of range.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Jul 2017, 03:03
by arian
juretrn wrote:Huh?
No one ever claimed they can make accurate predictions for centuries in the future, but they DO have models with some predictive power.

You won't know if they have any predictive power until you observe the outcome and compare with the prediction. So, in 20 years. But yes, lets get back on topic. I posted that as a joke.

juretrn wrote:On topic: the Chinese plan to dominate the SCS and if the US will want to have a say in that, they would prefer to stay out of AShM range when things get too hot, so PCA will definitely need lots of range.


SCS isn't the place such an asset would be used, or useful, or planned for in my opinion. SCS is a lot of island chains, some close to China and some very far away from China, but most within range of several other countries as well. So on the flip side, the Chinese would also need stuff with a lot of range and endurance if they intend to keep them in a full-scale war scenario (a highly unlikely scenario)

But, more importantly, SCS is not a place where an enemy can have convincing "area denial" capability. A few isolated islands cannot prevent much from moving around that area, regardless how many SAM batteries one puts on them.

In my opinion, this PCA concept is for countering future 5th gen fighters. If in the future an enemy will have a comparable 5th gen fighter (and eventually someone will), then your existing sensors on your 5th gen fighters may be insufficient to counter them. So you'll need a platform that will be able to carry all sorts of additional sensors to augment your own, and operate with your 5th gen planes deep in an enemy's territory. You may need AESAs with different bands, more powerful EO or IR sensors, more powerful ESM sensors etc. All of that takes too much space for a fighter-sized plane, so this thing would need to be big and mostly full of sensors.

However, the swarm UAV concept aims to do the same by distributing sensors across multiple UAVs controlled by 5th gen planes, flying ahead of it and giving it an advantage over a 5th gen opponent lacking these additional sensors.

Personally, I think the best idea would be a combination of the two. UAVs may not have the range to operate too far, or the speed to keep up with the 5th gen planes. But a UAV mother-ship can deploy them when needed, and have the ability to operate "deep" with the 5th gen fighters.

PS: As to the geopolitical implications of SCS, I never understand why we get involved in their disputes. Who cares if China wants to squabble with Vietnam and the Philippines over that area? There are some things not worth fighting over.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Jul 2017, 06:14
by popcorn
arian wrote:PS: As to the geopolitical implications of SCS, I never understand why we get involved in their disputes. Who cares if China wants to squabble with Vietnam and the Philippines over that area? There are some things not worth fighting over.


As I understand it the US is taking no sides and encourages the parties to work issues out diplomatically. The military posturing has everything to do with reminding China that their pop-up islands don't carry any weight as far as restricting the US' Freedom of Navigation rights in the area.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 14 Dec 2018, 03:09
by weasel1962
This article will probably be posted later in other threads but I thought I place this in PCA because its the first instance official doc discussing numbers.

CBO: 414 PCA with service entry in 2030 to start replacing the F-15C/D and F-22 by 2050.

https://www.cbo.gov/system/files?file=2 ... unding.pdf

The 2 most relevant paragraphs.
Penetrating Counter Air Aircraft
The PCA aircraft is one component of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance effort to develop systems that will eventually fill the air-superiority role that the F-15C/D and F-22 occupy today. The Air Force has not determined the characteristics of the PCA aircraft, but the Air Force Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan indicated the need for a highly advanced air-superiority aircraft to be fielded in the early to mid-2030s. CBO’s projection includes purchases of 414 PCA aircraft with an average procurement cost of about $300 million each. Procurement appropriations would begin in 2028, and the first PCA aircraft would enter service in 2030. (In light of the long development times associated with F-22s and F-35s, however, that projection of the PCA aircraft’s delivery schedule may be optimistic.) CBO projects that, by 2050, the PCA aircraft would replace the roughly 400 F-15C/Ds and F-22s that the Air Force operates today.

CBO’s projected procurement unit cost for the PCA aircraft is based on two factors. First, the PCA aircraft would probably have a greater range and payload, as well as improved stealth and sensor capabilities, than today’s F-22; those characteristics would help it operate in the presence of the high-end air defenses that DoD believes China, Russia, and other potential adversaries may have in the future. (Stealth capabilities reduce the chance of detection by radar and infrared sensors.) Second, other stealthy aircraft, such as the B-2 bomber and the F-22 and F-35A fighters, have experienced cost increases that resulted in lower production rates and decreased total purchases. Containing costs for the PCA aircraft may be similarly difficult.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 14 Dec 2018, 04:28
by sferrin
If they want 414 they'd be better off asking for 2000.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 14 Dec 2018, 05:31
by citanon
CBO report shows the limitations of projecting the past into the future. Industry and DOD have learned to contain costs on stealth after f22 f35 and b21. PCA might just as well come in on budget and on time.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 14 Dec 2018, 16:43
by mixelflick
sferrin wrote:If they want 414 they'd be better off asking for 2000.


^^^THIS^^^

Time and again, asked for numbers get whittled down. Look at the F-22: Original requirement? 750. Then every few years/Congressional reviews, down to 330 or so. We wound up with a silver bullet fleet of 187, which is really more like 120 combat coded (perhaps 150, if they fund upgrades to some of the "lesser" aircraft). It happens every time..

So yeah, we're going to have to ask for at least 1,500 - 2,000 to wind up with 414. That number itself I feel is insufficient, especially when you consider where a lot of the other $ is going. The USAF desperately needs an aircraft with a combat radius of at least 1,500 miles (each way), to minimize Chinese threats to our tankers, AWACS etc..

The F-15/F-22 fleet (tiny as it is) is probably adequate for most conflicts, minus the SCS. Much depends upon just how good the F-35 is air to air, as its ability to "pinch hit" is vital. Like the 1,000 swing role F-16's we have today, the F-35 may be needed in the air superiority role in the future. Personally, I think it'll do just fine. But even the F-35's legs will be insufficient in the SCS, at least without tankers.

And yes, PCA will have to be sold as mult-mission. It'll have a stated primary function of air to air, but also air to ground, forward AWACS/ISR and flying magazine platform.

Like an aircraft carrier in the sky.,..

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 14 Dec 2018, 20:38
by marauder2048
weasel1962 wrote: because its the first instance official doc discussing numbers.


It's pure speculation and extrapolation on CBO's part. Nothing more.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 14 Dec 2018, 23:30
by sferrin
mixelflick wrote:
sferrin wrote:If they want 414 they'd be better off asking for 2000.


^^^THIS^^^

Time and again, asked for numbers get whittled down. Look at the F-22: Original requirement? 750. Then every few years/Congressional reviews, down to 330 or so. We wound up with a silver bullet fleet of 187, which is really more like 120 combat coded (perhaps 150, if they fund upgrades to some of the "lesser" aircraft). It happens every time..

So yeah, we're going to have to ask for at least 1,500 - 2,000 to wind up with 414. That number itself I feel is insufficient, especially when you consider where a lot of the other $ is going. The USAF desperately needs an aircraft with a combat radius of at least 1,500 miles (each way), to minimize Chinese threats to our tankers, AWACS etc..

The F-15/F-22 fleet (tiny as it is) is probably adequate for most conflicts, minus the SCS. Much depends upon just how good the F-35 is air to air, as its ability to "pinch hit" is vital. Like the 1,000 swing role F-16's we have today, the F-35 may be needed in the air superiority role in the future. Personally, I think it'll do just fine. But even the F-35's legs will be insufficient in the SCS, at least without tankers.

And yes, PCA will have to be sold as mult-mission. It'll have a stated primary function of air to air, but also air to ground, forward AWACS/ISR and flying magazine platform.

Like an aircraft carrier in the sky.,..


so far the F-15 and F-16 have been the only ones that went the other way. The original plan for F-15s was 729 and F-16s was 1388.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 15 Dec 2018, 01:39
by weasel1962
marauder2048 wrote:
weasel1962 wrote: because its the first instance official doc discussing numbers.


It's pure speculation and extrapolation on CBO's part. Nothing more.


It's a bit more than that. It's long term budget planning. Good idea to start parcelling out priorities. That will influence eventual project definition. I read it as more signalling limits on affordability. That appears to be the intent of the paper, not just on PCA but overall replacement strategy.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 15 Dec 2018, 02:10
by marauder2048
weasel1962 wrote:
marauder2048 wrote:
weasel1962 wrote: because its the first instance official doc discussing numbers.


It's pure speculation and extrapolation on CBO's part. Nothing more.


It's a bit more than that. It's long term budget planning. Good idea to start parcelling out priorities. That will influence eventual project definition. I read it as more signalling limits on affordability. That appears to be the intent of the paper, not just on PCA but overall replacement strategy.


They are pulling unit cost estimates and quantities out of thin-air.
An actual exploration of the affordability of different schemes for achieving air dominance would
have been useful in motivating projection definition. But they don't even attempt that.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 15 Dec 2018, 06:25
by element1loop
mixelflick wrote:Much depends upon just how good the F-35 is air to air, as its ability to "pinch hit" is vital. Like the 1,000 swing role F-16's we have today, the F-35 may be needed in the air superiority role in the future. Personally, I think it'll do just fine.


Australia and Japan are both to use the A as their primary A2A. Why would anyone doubt the A2A dominance capacity of it, at this point?

mixelflick wrote:And yes, PCA will have to be sold as mult-mission. It'll have a stated primary function of air to air, but also air to ground, forward AWACS/ISR and flying magazine platform.


The Counter-Air part implies its an airforce killer plus strategic SAM + sensors killer, so will require a heavy strike-fighter with exceptional stealth, power, agility, range, payload and weapons bay size. Basically everything the F-35 is, but around twice that capability seems to be the implied objective.

They can only get that 'cheap' and in service by ~2030 via re-using a lot of the F-35's sensors, avionics, computers and code. So it's the airframe stealth+aero optimization, bay size and engines they need to focus on. And frankly I can't believe they've not been working that up in detail for several years already, i.e. you already have the team that created the outstanding F-35 airframe trade-off, so you set them the new task and concept. That would have occurred some years ago. Plus newer propulsion options exist already.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 15 Dec 2018, 19:17
by mixelflick
element1loop wrote:
mixelflick wrote:Much depends upon just how good the F-35 is air to air, as its ability to "pinch hit" is vital. Like the 1,000 swing role F-16's we have today, the F-35 may be needed in the air superiority role in the future. Personally, I think it'll do just fine.


Australia and Japan are both to use the A as their primary A2A. Why would anyone doubt the A2A dominance capacity of it, at this point?

Well, couple of things..

On the one hand, we have certain F-35 detractors which (still) question its air to air prowess. Not as maneuverable as an SU-35, could get run down by an SU-57 etc.. So until there's actual combat data showing its superiority, that question will always remain.

OTOH we have the result of several Red/Green flags showing it's 15:1, some say 20:1 air to air combat record. The problem is these results are mired in a web of confounding factors. Did the F-22 assist? What were the ROE's? Until those are laid bare, there will always be questions.

What I think is most telling though are Israel's and Japan's actions. Shortly after getting their hands on the bird, they either talked about or formally requested larger numbers. I can only imagine 1.) practical/combat experience and/or 2.) being privy to classified briefings showing its capabilities explain this interest in buying more.

Don't get me wrong: I think it'll prove to be a superior air to air platform. It really irks certain people though that it was compromised somewhat by the swing role. I know, I know. That's what the customer ordered. Hopefully years from today we'll have reams of data showing F-35's AMRAAM shots/kills vs. all kinds of adversary aircraft like J-10's, J-11's, SU-30's, SU-35's etc.. Maybe even a few WVR 9x/gun kills.

I am looking forward to that day...

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 15 Dec 2018, 20:26
by wrightwing
mixelflick wrote:





OTOH we have the result of several Red/Green flags showing it's 15:1, some say 20:1 air to air combat record. The problem is these results are mired in a web of confounding factors. Did the F-22 assist? What were the ROE's? Until those are laid bare, there will always be questions.





All of the kill ratios in the major exercises have been >20:1. It's not a "some say" situation. Additionally, the kill ratios are strictly F-35 kills. They weren't combining the total number of kills, and just attributing them to F-35s. In Red Flag 17-1, F-35s had 145 kills and 7 losses (due to WVR respawns.) As for ROE, they've flown neutral merges, as well as defense and offense. The OPFOR had 3:1 numerical advantages, as well as the ability to respawn 3 or 4 times (as long as they had fuel, they could stay in play.) It's been stated over and over, that the difficulty levels have been increased well above any in past exercises, to provide challenging training, for F-35 pilots. These were not scripted exercises, for marketing purposes. There have been other training exercises where kill ratios exceeded 25:1 (and some were >27:0.) F-35s aren't just a little bit better than 4th generation jets. They've been dominating, in the same way F-22s do.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 16 Dec 2018, 03:25
by sprstdlyscottsmn
These have also been 3i jets only carrying two AMRAAM.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 16 Dec 2018, 03:58
by white_lightning35
mixelflick wrote:
element1loop wrote:
mixelflick wrote:Much depends upon just how good the F-35 is air to air, as its ability to "pinch hit" is vital. Like the 1,000 swing role F-16's we have today, the F-35 may be needed in the air superiority role in the future. Personally, I think it'll do just fine.


Hopefully years from today we'll have reams of data showing F-35's AMRAAM shots/kills vs. all kinds of adversary aircraft like J-10's, J-11's, SU-30's, SU-35's etc.. Maybe even a few WVR 9x/gun kills.

I am looking forward to that day...


Ah yes, I'm sure you would love to have lots of data about how good the F-35 is by engaging in what will definitely be major wars that will cause untold death and destruction. Because if the F-35 is shooting down that many planes, that's what will happen.

How about building enough F-35's that the US and allies have such a quantitative and qualitative advantage that our adversaries won't even think about trying to shoot any down, and wars can be won without firing a shot? Or is that not cool enough for the little wargames you like to play out in your head?

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 16 Dec 2018, 06:52
by element1loop
wrightwing wrote:They've been dominating, in the same way F-22s do.


So an operational sqn of 24, with 18 nominally available:

(18 x F-35A) x 20 = 360 (A2A kills per sqn)

Ignoring other factors, such numbers are deterring, they can wipe-out most medium size air forces and demolish most of some of the larger ones in A2A. Much more impressive and useful than kill ratios that were being predicted even 5 years ago. I never doubted it would be a lot higher than the presumed 4:1. So that's sorted as far as I'm concerned, as such a scale of air to air is very unlikely.

So I'm hoping the remaining intended jet numbers to be procured by RAAF consists of a two-tier 28 x PCA acquisition a bit later, rather than 28 more F-35s sooner. That would hold PLAAF bombers at risk at much higher radius and limit the reach and effectiveness of their weapons. Thus creating a more deterring force with deep-reach into the northern-arc's approaches with less tanker exposure. If Japan does similar to this then PLAAF/PLAN would be feeling it especially with USAF B-21 numbers building at the same time USAF PCA does, and thousands of F-35s have proliferated with the F-22A finally fully updated.

More reach with F-35 like capabilities is definitely what's called for, in this region. If we have to get it through PCA plus tankers and long-range VLO standoff weapons, rather than a carrier, so be it. Plus PCA would be able to support the surface fleet to higher radius.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 16 Dec 2018, 15:12
by mixelflick
Ah yes, I'm sure you would love to have lots of data about how good the F-35 is by engaging in what will definitely be major wars that will cause untold death and destruction. Because if the F-35 is shooting down that many planes, that's what will happen.

How about building enough F-35's that the US and allies have such a quantitative and qualitative advantage that our adversaries won't even think about trying to shoot any down, and wars can be won without firing a shot? Or is that not cool enough for the little wargames you like to play out in your head?


Easy there champ.

I spoke about aircraft, not people. Everybody punches out and gets to go home.Feel better now?

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 16 Dec 2018, 23:02
by wolfpak
Just speculation on my part but think the PCA will have large enough weapon bays to accommodate more than (2) 2000lb class weapons. Think the trade studies will show that providing enough volume and weight carrying capacity for a greater number of air to air missiles needed will alternatively allow you to carry more air to ground stores. Think they'll size the bay(s) larger also to carry Hypersonic weapons for greater stand-off. The CBO report appears to support replacing the F-15E with the F-35. Based on the above think the PCA would be a more reasonable replacement for the Strike Eagle. In any event the CBO report will hopefully get the AF to define what when and maybe where we'll see the PCA.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 17 Dec 2018, 02:00
by marauder2048
DEWS, EA, EW are as big a motivator as conventional stores for aircraft sizing/configuration.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 17 Dec 2018, 04:47
by element1loop
wolfpak wrote: Think they'll size the bay(s) larger also to carry Hypersonic weapons for greater stand-off.


If you have greater standoff from a bigger VLO weapon you don't even need to carry it internally.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 17 Dec 2018, 05:44
by eloise
marauder2048 wrote:DEWS, EA, EW are as big a motivator as conventional stores for aircraft sizing/configuration.

1 Mw? wow, my lord

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 17 Dec 2018, 11:34
by Corsair1963
As I have said many times before. We don't even know a tenth of what the F-35 will be ultimately capable of. So, hard to say what a future PCA and/or NGAD would even look like....

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 17 Dec 2018, 12:32
by element1loop
Corsair1963 wrote:As I have said many times before. We don't even know a tenth of what the F-35 will be ultimately capable of. So, hard to say what a future PCA and/or NGAD would even look like....


You do like to push F-35 as the solution to all ills, but there are real limits to its capability, and adding "ultimately" to your sentence doesn't change that. We have a reasonably good idea where the limits fall when it comes to what matters in a 'Penetrating Counter-Air' strike role post-2035, such as stealth, reach, speed, weapons and payload.

'Penetrating Counter-Air' implies offensive counter-air, and that means hard-killing of ground targets, which will be at least as important as new A2A capability weapons. The carriers are not the place to launch such attacks from, using F-35C or B, so that means its down to the forward bases and they're subject to substantial return-fire attempts. So the first deep Counter-Air strike wave had better be overwhelming and persistent, and not require tankers to get close. The F-35s would thus necessarily be limited to operating in support, nearer to the margins of such initial Offensive Counter-Air attack.

Experts Outline Steps to Address Threats to Aircraft Carriers - 12/12/2018
http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/ ... t-carriers

Until major threat systems go down the carriers also need to stay back and likewise support attacks around the margins.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 17 Dec 2018, 15:39
by quicksilver
"So the first deep Counter-Air strike wave had better be overwhelming and persistent, and not require tankers to get close."

Unless some kind of warp drive is invented in the next ten years, every (reusable) asset will require tanking -- all of 'em -- because you can't otherwise afford 'overwhelming' or 'persistent' or the range implied in getting 'close' (or 'close enough' to go along with the other two).

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 00:39
by weasel1962
The extra range does mean tanking occurs further back which either gives tankers a safer zone or allows counter-air more time to intercept.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 01:39
by wrightwing
It may also give the option of only needing to tank on the return trip, while keeping tankers at a safer distance. That also preserves a greater element of surprise.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 02:38
by element1loop
quicksilver wrote:"So the first deep Counter-Air strike wave had better be overwhelming and persistent, and not require tankers to get close."

Unless some kind of warp drive is invented in the next ten years, every (reusable) asset will require tanking -- all of 'em -- because you can't otherwise afford 'overwhelming' or 'persistent' or the range implied in getting 'close' (or 'close enough' to go along with the other two).


One of the original touted aims of PCA was the ability to loiter within enemy airspace. High-altitude loiter-speed (i.e. barely within envelope low-speed, minimum drag possible) engine efficiency and stealth design emphasis gets that. Popcorn pointed out that the propulsion planned is not an engine we know about.

The challenge then is penetrating via not being tracked early (i.e. HF/VHF). Speed is not a priority, stealth will be. I expect wedge-shaped with shorter wings, large wing area and high body-lift (operating well above mid-latitude jetstream loiter inefficiency, but can still take advantage of it for cruising) for very low drag levels with M~0.7 loiter with airliner-like low fuel burns for the size and weight of aircraft. Very much like evolving an F-117A approach of sneaking in slow, unnoticed, then pole-axing an opponent in a couple of minutes. While the larger more obvious external air operation gets rolling, then PCA hangs around to take on targets of opportunity and to kill with A2A then get out past the incoming F-35 lines to find a tanker and RTB.

At the same time the next waves of PCA are going in deep to take out what your ISR detected and prioritized.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 03:19
by weasel1962
If the intent is also to incorporate longer-ranged AAMs, then launch speed will still be a factor.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 03:29
by element1loop
weasel1962 wrote:If the intent is also to incorporate longer-ranged AAMs, then launch speed will still be a factor.


Yes, but the beauty of this is ...

I expect wedge-shaped with shorter wings, large wing area and high body-lift (operating well above mid-latitude jetstream loiter inefficiency, but can still take advantage of it for cruising) for very low drag levels


... that it's also the ideal shape for going fast at high altitude so the engine gets that capacity also. An observer just looking at the shape (on the ground) would presume it's optimized for very high speed, when it's actually optimized for low-speed loitering as well (much like the F-22A is in that respect).

I should also mention the trading of altitude for speed, rather than relying on a throttle alone to get the launch parameters, thus minimizing fuel burn and heating while allowing for a gradual climb back to the prior level. If you have strong stealth and the long-range sensors for it, you will also have the time to do that (plus coordinate with other PCAs and their data to get A2A kills).

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 03:46
by jetblast16
PCA -> laser-armed, Mach 2+ super cruiser, vertical tailless, AAM lobber, all-aspect stealth, multi-spectral sensor packed, sensor fusion beyond F-35

Of course it won't be affordable :bang:

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 03:52
by element1loop
jetblast16 wrote:PCA -> laser-armed, Mach 2+ super cruiser, vertical tailless, AAM lobber, all-aspect stealth, multi-spectral sensor packed, sensor fusion beyond F-35

Of course it won't be affordable :bang:


Again, the original PCA idea was to rapid-prototype and produce a basic airframe in service [i.e. with less capability than an F-35A] but with a lot of adaptability and flexibility allotted to the design fielded, then develop, evolve and add to it incrementally, over decades, as the penetration requirements and the role evolved. i.e. cheaper and shorter into service.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 06:14
by quicksilver
Fantasy...and an expensive one that the USAF cannot afford; $300M per pony, and they’re still choking on $85M F-35s in the numbers they need to recap the majority of the force.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 11:07
by element1loop
Regardless, in a period when strategic assessments indicate Great Power conflicts could realistically occur, the budget constraints, thinking and assumptions of the prior period of low-levels of threat are no longer applicable.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 14:18
by quicksilver
Sweeping generalizations do not erase geography and the laws of physics.

Do the math. Where do they have to come from? Where do they have to go? How long do they have to stay there (airborne)? Where do they have to return to? What weapons will they carry and how many (internally, no less). By your claims they have to be overwhelming (ie numbers) and persistent (stay for a while) in the middle of contested airspace. And the systems cimmands overseeing the project are oh-for-three on delivering the newest shiney object on time and on budget, while Congressional oversight says the unit cost will ONLY be 300% of what the most recent government acquisition ordeal comes to.

How’s that B21 thing going? How’s that new tanker going? How about a new land-based strategic deterrent?

To geography and lop, let’s add money, politics and government bureaucracy.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 16:20
by mixelflick
quicksilver wrote:Fantasy...and an expensive one that the USAF cannot afford; $300M per pony, and they’re still choking on $85M F-35s in the numbers they need to recap the majority of the force.


As excited as I am for PCA, I have to agree - thing is going to be hella expensive.

The USAF is in real jeopardy of not being able to afford 1,700 F-35's, and a truncated order just drives the per unit cost up (for everyone, not just the USAF). I agree the capability is nice to have, but what's more important?

1.) Fielding small numbers of USAF "superfighters" to gain air superiority over a foreign country's mainland, or...
2.) Fielding an air force full of cutting edge strike fighters, vs. continuing to fly geriatric F-15's and 16's?

As much as I'd like both, I think #2 is more important. It may mean we're not able to impose air dominance over the Chinese mainland, but is that really necessary? To my mind, it's more important to checkmate them outside of their borders. Build an Air Force that can hold and keep Japan, S.Korea, Guam, Taiwan etc.. Besides, what kind of foreign policy demands we take China altogether?

Let the Chinese have China. We'll take everything else..

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 19:16
by crosshairs
mixelflick wrote:
quicksilver wrote:Fantasy...and an expensive one that the USAF cannot afford; $300M per pony, and they’re still choking on $85M F-35s in the numbers they need to recap the majority of the force.


As excited as I am for PCA, I have to agree - thing is going to be hella expensive.

The USAF is in real jeopardy of not being able to afford 1,700 F-35's, and a truncated order just drives the per unit cost up (for everyone, not just the USAF). I agree the capability is nice to have, but what's more important?

1.) Fielding small numbers of USAF "superfighters" to gain air superiority over a foreign country's mainland, or...
2.) Fielding an air force full of cutting edge strike fighters, vs. continuing to fly geriatric F-15's and 16's?

As much as I'd like both, I think #2 is more important. It may mean we're not able to impose air dominance over the Chinese mainland, but is that really necessary? To my mind, it's more important to checkmate them outside of their borders. Build an Air Force that can hold and keep Japan, S.Korea, Guam, Taiwan etc.. Besides, what kind of foreign policy demands we take China altogether?

Let the Chinese have China. We'll take everything else..


You have to define what expensive means. To me and my salary, a brand new Cessna SKylane is hella expensive.

The F-15s and F-16s are wearing out. The US has something like 175 F-15C/D and roughly 200 of the Strike Eagle. The C/D are irrelevant in a modern battlefield and far, far too out numbered.

Don't forget what the best defense is: a strong offense. Fielding a force of aircraft to keep the Chinese and (ahem the North Koreans) from trying to expand is a losing strategy because the Chinese will challenge the US every change it gets. Look at what's going on with freedom of navigation in the world's free oceans because the Chinese decided to build some islands with runways and missiles on them.

To counter the Chinese, you need a variety of systems that can penetrate their airspace. The B-21 will be one "hella" important asset when it comes to that.

If the US can field an ultra long legged PCA that can penetrate their homeland, that will shift their focus from expanding overseas to defense of the homeland. We WANT to stop them from developing overseas bases.

The US needs to contain the Chinese threat from expanding. The way to do that is to threaten their homeland.

B-21
PCA
LO ALCMs
Hypersonic ALCMs

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 20:12
by marauder2048
quicksilver wrote:Congressional oversight says the unit cost will ONLY be 300% of what the most recent government acquisition ordeal comes to.


Completely invented numbers and they don't even bother to use Air Force (or even Navy) inflation indices
for fixed-wing aircraft for outyear estimations. So it's useless even as a budgetary guide.

quicksilver wrote:How’s that B21 thing going?

Fixed-price acquisition

quicksilver wrote:How’s that new tanker going?

Fixed-price acquisition

quicksilver wrote: How about a new land-based strategic deterrent?

Essentially fixed because ICBM cost is 80% determined by propulsion stack which is more or less
shared between the Navy, NASA and commercial/DOD space.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2018, 20:13
by sferrin
mixelflick wrote:
quicksilver wrote:Fantasy...and an expensive one that the USAF cannot afford; $300M per pony, and they’re still choking on $85M F-35s in the numbers they need to recap the majority of the force.


As excited as I am for PCA, I have to agree - thing is going to be hella expensive.

The USAF is in real jeopardy of not being able to afford 1,700 F-35's, and a truncated order just drives the per unit cost up (for everyone, not just the USAF). I agree the capability is nice to have, but what's more important?

1.) Fielding small numbers of USAF "superfighters" to gain air superiority over a foreign country's mainland, or...
2.) Fielding an air force full of cutting edge strike fighters, vs. continuing to fly geriatric F-15's and 16's?

As much as I'd like both, I think #2 is more important. It may mean we're not able to impose air dominance over the Chinese mainland, but is that really necessary? To my mind, it's more important to checkmate them outside of their borders. Build an Air Force that can hold and keep Japan, S.Korea, Guam, Taiwan etc.. Besides, what kind of foreign policy demands we take China altogether?

Let the Chinese have China. We'll take everything else..


It's not just over China's mainland. The China Sea theater is huge and the F-22 doesn't have the legs.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 01:13
by weasel1962
Budgets are not completely invented. What the CBO, which is the budgeting office, does is to lay down markers on affordability. I think the fact that they have incorporated this into projections suggest its affordable at $300m a pop, if there isn't massive cost overruns and a second point. That second point being that if its going to be at $300m a pop with current F-35 acquisition, there needs to be an increase in budget (or consequently some movement in F-35 acquisition). Some read the 2nd part as unaffordable, others would read that it merely needs some planning.

I don't think F-22s are currently too short ranged. This depends on basing. On south china sea, what the CVs can deploy is way more than the PLAAF/PLAN basing capability in that locality. F-22s from Guam can already reach that locality w tanker support. For Taiwan and China near shores, the main available bases are in Korea and Japan. If deployed from those bases, the range of the F-22 is enough, even without significant tanker support. What would require significantly more tanker support would be basing from Guam.

How would PCA change the above w added fuel? On basing from Guam, it will still need tanker support, just less. However, current tanker support from Guam is relatively safe because its a long way from China so in my mind, its not really that useful. On basing from Korea/Japan, it increases loiter. Whether that's worth the added fuel carried is a question mark. Convince the Philippines to open a base and problem solved.

Overall, I'm not currently convinced a massive increase in fuel load for PCA is useful. An increase corresponding to the higher thrust next gen engines that would preserve the current combat radius would be logical but beyond that, I'm not sure. I'm not a F-22 pilot either so there would be operational issues that I won't be aware of but based on public info, I don't see the value for a china context.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 01:36
by marsavian
quicksilver wrote:Fantasy...and an expensive one that the USAF cannot afford; $300M per pony, and they’re still choking on $85M F-35s in the numbers they need to recap the majority of the force.


That price surely must include the amortized development costs ? However I suspect the money will be found eventually as the extra range capability provided by an aircraft with two ~ 50 klbf engines will be too hard to ignore. Israel/Japan will certainly buy some too. A stealth fighter-bomber than can reach all of Iran without refueling is what Israel want for this century.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 02:13
by jetblast16
Fantasy...and an expensive one that the USAF cannot afford


I wonder if they thought that when they were thinking about the ATF...the cutting edge rarely comes cheap. You can bet military planners, engineers, and scientists at Wright Patty and other places are thinking about such things as: high sustained super cruise, long range at high speed, possible combined cycle, frequency agile RAM coatings that are also heat tolerant, automation with advanced heuristics, conformal apertures, solid-state directed energy on-demand, etc, for the next fighter platform(s) to supersede the F-22 and F-15.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 02:23
by wolfpak
The $300M is just a guess on the CBO's part. They said it would be 3 times the cost of a F-35. If you want to humor a semi-retired auto-industry engineering consultant here is a way to get a better number. Construct a graph with empty weight on the x-axis and range on the y. Use the empty weights and ranges of the: F-22, F-15E, F-111 and SR-71 to develop 4 points on the chart and fit the curve. It won't be a straight line, Excel is your friend. Then take the 2018 cost for a F-35A and divide it by it's empty weight. Do the same for the F-22A but first determine the 2010 cost and bring it to 2018 by using the compound interest formula set at 3% per year. Next find the costs of the engines and their weights. Once again use he formula to bring the F119 cost to 2018. Using the cost per pound of the engines determine how much more(if it's the case) that a supercruise engine costs than a subsonic one.

Now you can go to the range/empty weight graph and for a given range requirement determine the aircraft weight and it's total cost for performance similar to the F-35 or F-22. Using the difference of costs between the engines and the ratio of engine weight to aircraft weight you can determine the cost per pound of an aircraft with the avionics of the F-35 and supercruise capability of the F-22. Plug that into the range/weight curve as well.

It's called parametrc modeling and is used a lot in the auto industry. Think L-M uses it as well. Should get you within 20% of the real number and I'll bet it's less than 300M. I wouldn't submit a bid to the AF based on this and I'm sure Blindpilot and Johnwill are raising eyebrows but for a forum on the internet it's good enough.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 02:26
by marauder2048
marsavian wrote:
quicksilver wrote:Fantasy...and an expensive one that the USAF cannot afford; $300M per pony, and they’re still choking on $85M F-35s in the numbers they need to recap the majority of the force.


That price surely must include the amortized development costs ?


It's an APUC they plucked out of thin air.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 03:27
by crosshairs
marauder2048 wrote:
marsavian wrote:
quicksilver wrote:Fantasy...and an expensive one that the USAF cannot afford; $300M per pony, and they’re still choking on $85M F-35s in the numbers they need to recap the majority of the force.


That price surely must include the amortized development costs ?


It's an APUC they plucked out of thin air.


And keep in mind the economy of scale. The US needs to replace 175 F-15c/d, 220 strike eagles and 180 raptors. Even if we get 70% of the requirement, that is still 400 copies.

I am going to open a hornets nest, but I think PCA should also be shared by the USN. Being able to conduct what I will term PCA Missions from the flat tops would be a hell of a tool. Imagine if Eldorado Canyon could have been done with a couple carrier battle groups OTH instead of our pilots flying metaphorically speaking half way around the world and being fatigued when they reached their targets. And I also include in that a2a missions. Carriers eliminate requirements for fixed bases.

From what I read PCA will have A2G capability - how much idk.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 04:29
by Corsair1963
crosshairs wrote:
And keep in mind the economy of scale. The US needs to replace 175 F-15c/d, 220 strike eagles and 180 raptors. Even if we get 70% of the requirement, that is still 400 copies.





The F-15C's won't last until the PCA is ready. As a matter of fact the USAF already has a plan to retire them and replace them with F-35's. It's also questionable that the F-15E's could make it that long either....

Honestly, unless both future 6th Generation Programs (PCA and NGAD) find partners. I question if two programs are even viable for the US....(i.e. developing both at same time)

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 07:01
by element1loop
IMO, one of the points of emphasizing penetrating is the Chinese will necessarily disperse forces into the interior and operate from there, if they think its more survivable and defendable location. Obviously smaller VLO tactical tankers and a longer-range JASSM type weapon would be another dimension to obtaining the reach and to reduce penetration depth for those purposes. But regardless you will still want F-35 like sensor coverage into the mainland interior to provide data to joint platforms and weapon systems in near real time. Such is the paradigm. And perhaps a penetrating 5th-gen drone is the better option for that, as then you get the range, the endurance and the loitering and targeting.

In which case. the B-21 becomes the attacker with long-range VLO weapons.

In which case, the F-22A is probably not enough to support it as is, and it needs another type to provide F-22A capability, but with better legs.

In which case, a VLO drone tactical probe tanker would suffice to provide it for F-22A.

In which case, all you need is a deep ISR drone type, and a VLO tactical tanker type, to get results similar to "PCA"'s intended role, but on the B-21 delivery time table.

Not to mention that a VLO tactical probe tanker is a massive shot in the arm for the F-35A/B as well.

--

From back in April:

Future of Air Tanking: The Perspective of the 86th Wing Commander

04/11/2018

Robbin Laird

“The future of a large tanker will be to support more distributed and dispersed operations and we will be looking at small tactical refuelers providing fuel to tactical air combat assets – these tactical assets will likely be cheaper, unmanned and more expendable.

“That is where A3R comes in.

“I see an advantage in the automatic boom because it reduces the workload on the operator who in the future may be managing or controlling formations of UAV during AAR.

“As we learn to use this technology, it will be part of shaping the skill sets to transition to the next phase, of a large tanker replenishing smaller, automated tactical refuelers.

Another aspect of change associated with KC-30A is part of the evolution within the battlespace as seen by Group Captain Pesce.

Namely, the proliferation of communications and sensor technology throughout the air combat force will include larger platforms such as C-17 and KC-30A, by including new SATCOM and other linkage technologies.

This is designed to support not only a dispersed force but also provide network redundancy in a disrupted and contested EM spectrum.


https://sldinfo.com/2018/04/the-kc-30a- ... commander/


This is hinting at the exploration of a forwards tactical probe drone auto-tanking capability, with a secondary data relay function, in or very close to contested air (i.e. flying in and out of it, as required to tank forward jets and drones then refuel from a KC-30A once more). Given it's RAAF that's doing this exploration of the concept they're looking into using an auto-tanking probe drone system for forward F-35A servicing to keep KC-30As out of reach (of J20s) but give the F-35A the legs it needs.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 09:44
by weasel1962
Difficult to size a USAF MQ-25. If its supposed to escort the PCA deep, then it probably will be KC-sized to provide the kinds of fuel loads. Otherwise, the UAV tanker will need to be forward based. USAF will need a bit of time to figure this out. Tanker strategy right now is very dated, focused on big tankers. Beyond KC-X, I think there is an increasing recognition that a 1-1 replacement of KC-135s may not be the best way forward.

That's another chunk of the future USAF budget to factor.

I don't think the USAF needs to fight in the Chinese interior. If they can force the PLAAF to cede the Chinese coast, that's an effective win already since that basically concedes all the contended areas i.e. Taiwan, SCS.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 10:42
by element1loop
weasel1962 wrote:Difficult to size a USAF MQ-25. If its supposed to escort the PCA deep, then it probably will be KC-sized to provide the kinds of fuel loads. Otherwise, the UAV tanker will need to be forward based. USAF will need a bit of time to figure this out. Tanker strategy right now is very dated, focused on big tankers. Beyond KC-X, I think there is an increasing recognition that a 1-1 replacement of KC-135s may not be the best way forward.

That's another chunk of the future USAF budget to factor.

I don't think the USAF needs to fight in the Chinese interior. If they can force the PLAAF to cede the Chinese coast, that's an effective win already since that basically concedes all the contended areas i.e. Taiwan, SCS.


Not quite sure if you understood my point Weasel, I'm effectively saying OK then, forget about a PCA airframe, as such, and go with a system-of-systems and a mix of platforms to skin the same cat, via other methods, and at much lower cost.

You may be right about not needing to go very deep past the hinterland much, especially with sufficient standoff reach and a decent 5th-gen-like ISR drone platform to target deep. But there are many targets deep in there that you must hit hard to degrade early (OCA being a biggie, bombers, strategic sensors, bunkers, plus military production lines etc., which you do want to disrupt big time), and without a PCA that falls to the B-21 to get it done, and the B-21 would not be in a happy place without F-22As to escort it in and out, during those instances. Hence the need for tactical boom auto-tanking drone to support of the F-22A on the way in and out.

So two VLO drone types is all you'd minimally need to still get in and kill those targets.

And I suspect that VLO boom-tanking drone would sell like hot-cakes for decades to come, and become highly relevant to boosting the capabilities of the ~4,000 F-35A/B as well.

i.e. thus reducing the need for other platforms and their numbers. (such as F/A-XX, etc.)

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 13:01
by sferrin
weasel1962 wrote:I don't think F-22s are currently too short ranged. This depends on basing. On south china sea, what the CVs can deploy is way more than the PLAAF/PLAN basing capability in that locality. F-22s from Guam can already reach that locality w tanker support.


The need to drag tankers everywhere it goes significantly limits it, especially since J-20s, and long range SAMs on the man-made islands will be looking to shoot them down.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 19:30
by marauder2048
OTOH, big tankers can accommodate deeper magazines of kinetic (DEWS, kicm) and non-kinetic
countermeasures (expendable/towed decoys) without much degradation to fuel offload.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 20:58
by sferrin
marauder2048 wrote:OTOH, big tankers can accommodate deeper magazines of kinetic (DEWS, kicm) and non-kinetic
countermeasures (expendable/towed decoys) without much degradation to fuel offload.


When's the last time the US flew a tanker where there was a real anti-air threat?

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 22:25
by marauder2048
sferrin wrote:
marauder2048 wrote:OTOH, big tankers can accommodate deeper magazines of kinetic (DEWS, kicm) and non-kinetic
countermeasures (expendable/towed decoys) without much degradation to fuel offload.


When's the last time the US flew a tanker where there was a real anti-air threat?


GW1; there were instances where tankers strayed into Iraqi SAM rings to refuel stragglers.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 22:30
by crosshairs
sferrin wrote:
marauder2048 wrote:OTOH, big tankers can accommodate deeper magazines of kinetic (DEWS, kicm) and non-kinetic
countermeasures (expendable/towed decoys) without much degradation to fuel offload.


When's the last time the US flew a tanker where there was a real anti-air threat?


Lugging tankers into or even off the coast of China cannot possibly be a real consideration. Yeah, let's refuel our fighters 25,000ft over Guangzhou. Sure. No problems there!

PCA simply has to have the long legs of a supermodel. I would trade weapons capacity for fuel, up to a point, if PCA could penetrate China.

The question is, are we ever going to get a new airframe? The 15c/d's are not going to last much longer. The strike eagles have quite a bit of life left in them, or so I have read their airframes are holding up better than expected.

An all F-35 fighter force supplemented with a handful or Raptors would not be a good idea.

Why can't the Navy and USAF team up on a common system and better ensure we get something and something in real numbers rather than nothing but more F-35s? There would a lot of benefit to a PCA being carrier capable and not relying on fixed bases with cooperating nations.

Say what you will, but the Phantom was a hell of fighter. The Tomcat could have met the needs of the USAF. Many of you will disagree, but compromise isn't a bad word in today's budgetary climate.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 19 Dec 2018, 23:05
by marauder2048
crosshairs wrote:Lugging tankers into or even off the coast of China cannot possibly be a real consideration. Yeah, let's refuel our fighters 25,000ft over Guangzhou. Sure. No problems there!


Please try to keep up :)

https://govtribe.com/opportunity/federal-contract-opportunity/wide-body-aircraft-hard-kill-self-protection-countermeasure-system-n0042118norfp418000a0001

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Dec 2018, 00:57
by f-16adf
If the PCA is going to have 'all this range' and stealth than one must expect a rather large if not very large aircraft. Something on the order of 70ft if not more. If the jet turns out to be that large (that is if it ever becomes a reality, and IF and a very big IF there is no change in 2020 on the political side) and without rudders or TVC I would not expect an overtly agile aircraft. Oh no, here we go again about dog-fighting :doh: :roll: :shock: :( :o 8)

Also, if PCA turns out to be that big, it probably will never be a USN carrier reality.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Dec 2018, 01:06
by element1loop
crosshairs wrote:
sferrin wrote:
marauder2048 wrote:OTOH, big tankers can accommodate deeper magazines of kinetic (DEWS, kicm) and non-kinetic
countermeasures (expendable/towed decoys) without much degradation to fuel offload.


When's the last time the US flew a tanker where there was a real anti-air threat?


Lugging tankers into or even off the coast of China cannot possibly be a real consideration. Yeah, let's refuel our fighters 25,000ft over Guangzhou. Sure. No problems there!


No one is saying "no problems". If you want tanking in close to the fight you can't send in a KC-30A. And that doesn't mean having the boom-tanking drone over the mainland interior, it just means being a lot closer to the fight than a KC-30A can get to and survive. So the VLO drone can fill up the Raptor at the margin (i.e. within airspace F-35 dominates) as they go in, and then on the way out again. So on egress the refuel drone and F-22A are covered by F-35s and the F-22A only needs enough gas from the drone to cruise back to the large manned tankers, and the drone can go back and refill at the KC-30A along with the Raptors. Raptors RTB and the refilled drone goes back to near the edge of the fight (in airspace covered by F-35).

All the F-22A has to do here is take the B-21 in to release the weapons, and then immediately take it out again. It's the ISR-targeting drone that does the loitering. So the total exposure is a lot less than you'd think for the tactical tankers. They have VLO, now add decoys, EA/EW support, and DIRCM, etc.

Plus this can be a protected pipeline that provides the comms relay redundancy to get data out to weapons within other services and allies.

Future of Air Tanking: The Perspective of the 86th Wing Commander - 04/11/2018

“The future of a large tanker will be to support more distributed and dispersed operations and we will be looking at small tactical refuelers providing fuel to tactical air combat assets – these tactical assets will likely be cheaper, unmanned and more expendable.


https://sldinfo.com/2018/04/the-kc-30a- ... commander/

I am wondering what you see the problem is with having F-22A and a whole lot of F-35s (and such tactical drone tankers to extend them) as opposed to having a manned PCA aircraft and others in the mix. If the tanker can much more cheaply provide the range-boosting, and most of these tactical tankers survive the fight, who cares if there's a specific PCA platform at all?

All that matters are results from affordable dollars.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Dec 2018, 01:36
by element1loop
Perhaps the only real advantage here that an expensive new platform like a dedicated PCA airframe could bring to the penetration and fight is the possibility of HF/VHF signature reduction, thus reduced tracking and early warning, consequently less chance of interception or losses, or distractions from the OCA task once in there.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Dec 2018, 04:12
by sferrin
f-16adf wrote:If the PCA is going to have 'all this range' and stealth than one must expect a rather large if not very large aircraft. Something on the order of 70ft if not more. If the jet turns out to be that large (that is if it ever becomes a reality, and IF and a very big IF there is no change in 2020 on the political side) and without rudders or TVC I would not expect an overtly agile aircraft. Oh no, here we go again about dog-fighting :doh: :roll: :shock: :( :o 8)

Also, if PCA turns out to be that big, it probably will never be a USN carrier reality.


A former, aged USN aircraft:

Wingspan 53 feet, length 76 feet 6 inches, , height 19 feet 4 3/4 inches, wing area 753.7 square feet. Weights: 37,498 pounds empty, 65,590 pounds gross, 79,588 pounds maximum takeoff.

RA-5C.jpg


Besides, PCA has never been meant as a USN aircraft anyway.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Dec 2018, 09:45
by f-16adf
Thanks for the correction, i also forgot to include the A-3. Granted i cannot remember just how many Vigilantes were in a RVAH squadron. I don't think there were many. But man that was one beautiful jet

One thing, the Vigi was 38k empty and the A-3 was about as heavy as the B/D Tomcat. I'd be willing to bet a NPCA would easily be in the 50,000lbs class empty if not more. After all, the F-22 is 40k empty. That combination of size plus weight probably would cancel it from Navair. (max cat limit). Say 55k empty +30k fuel + weapons= 85~95,000lbs. And it doesn't have anything to escort.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Dec 2018, 13:07
by crosshairs
Let's not forget about this "beauty" either. Also on the same flight deck of the Vigilante.

A-3 Skywarrior.jpg

I'm not asking about whether PCA is being designed for carrier ops. I'm saying there is a lot of merit in the USAF and USN sharing the costs and buillding them in real numbers and another 180 unit run. With carriers, we do not need cooperating nations who just so happen to be within range.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Dec 2018, 16:56
by wolfpak
The B-58 super cruised and had a wingspan of 56'-9". Combat radius of 1,510 nautical miles and 41,600 lbs. dry thrust (4 engines) with 61,200 lbs. in afterburner. Empty weight around 56,000 lbs. The wing span of an A-10 is 57'-6" and it fits into a TABV shelter so a large PCA similar in size to a B-58 would also. With 2 engines each at 50,000 lbs. of thrust in afterburner with a mid mission weight of 100,000 lbs. you would still have a thrust to weight ratio of 1:1. Maximum take-off weight of 150,000. Do you think you could design a PCA to these numbers today with the technology at hand and would it be maneuverable enough?

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Dec 2018, 17:41
by f-16adf
Ask the designers that. Do they want to eliminate rudders? Will it have TVC or a stab? I doubt a jet that large without rudders, TVC, and a horizontal tail will have maneuverability similar to an F/A-18 Hornet.


Frankly PCA is a pipe-dream. It is probably doubtful with the current administration. And I can tell you that if the Dems get back into office in 2020 it will be one of the first things they cancel. Anybody remember what good old Barack had to say about the F-22 years ago?

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Dec 2018, 18:51
by crosshairs
wolfpak wrote:The B-58 super cruised and had a wingspan of 56'-9". Combat radius of 1,510 nautical miles and 41,600 lbs. dry thrust (4 engines) with 61,200 lbs. in afterburner. Empty weight around 56,000 lbs. The wing span of an A-10 is 57'-6" and it fits into a TABV shelter so a large PCA similar in size to a B-58 would also. With 2 engines each at 50,000 lbs. of thrust in afterburner with a mid mission weight of 100,000 lbs. you would still have a thrust to weight ratio of 1:1. Maximum take-off weight of 150,000. Do you think you could design a PCA to these numbers today with the technology at hand and would it be maneuverable enough?

Totally irrelevant. Do you know the inefficiency of those engines? How about the drag of the pod and what it added to fuel consumption? I did not know we are in 1955.

A large complicated swing wing Ardvark came in around in the high end of 40s. Get rid of the heavy and complex swing wing mechanism, add in composite materials, fixed inlets and you get the idea for PCA.

Say for sake of argurment it's 50k empty. 25k for fuel (nearly a raptor with 2 drop tanks). 4k for AAMs (I'm being generous there) and you have a sub 80k machine with (being conservative) 90,000lbs thrust in AB. I don't see any great issues with maneuvering. Look at the loaded weight of a Raptor. It's not a slush dog to my knowledge. And it will be a highly efficient airframe.

Also, maneuvering should no longer be the driving requirement. John Boyd came along at the right time and we got the F-15. But aerial combat isn't about yanking and banking anymore.

Remember when the decks were full of these and Vigilantes?? People forget.

EA-3B_VQ-2_CV-63_1987.JPEG

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 20 Dec 2018, 19:59
by wolfpak
The B-58 analogy sets a lower limit on what can be achieved. We know we're 4 generations beyond that. What I'm saying is that you should be able to design an aircraft with a greater than 1000 nautical mile radius of action that will fit in a TABV shelter and have the attributes to dominate the Asian landmass.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 21 Dec 2018, 03:13
by weasel1962
How much fuel did the B-58 carry to reach 1500nm? 60k lbs?

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 21 Dec 2018, 13:32
by madrat
Wouldn't an FB-111A performance 'analogy' be better suited to PCA than a B-58? Fewer engines, streamlined, internal carry, and built for a balance of speed & range.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 21 Dec 2018, 16:24
by sferrin
madrat wrote:Wouldn't an FB-111A performance 'analogy' be better suited to PCA than a B-58? Fewer engines, streamlined, internal carry, and built for a balance of speed & range.



This could have been a PCA.

FB-23-1.jpg


northrop_FB-23_e-bay.jpg


1bfade70772ecf0e211d08e9ba5cfd63.jpg


Not sure why anybody is worried about it fitting on a carrier. Unlike the ATF/NATF, the PCA has never been meant to fly from a carrier.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 21 Dec 2018, 16:54
by crosshairs
sferrin wrote:
madrat wrote:Wouldn't an FB-111A performance 'analogy' be better suited to PCA than a B-58? Fewer engines, streamlined, internal carry, and built for a balance of speed & range.



This could have been a PCA.

FB-23-1.jpg


northrop_FB-23_e-bay.jpg


1bfade70772ecf0e211d08e9ba5cfd63.jpg


Not sure why anybody is worried about it fitting on a carrier. Unlike the ATF/NATF, the PCA has never been meant to fly from a carrier.


Much too large. That's looks like a little smaller than a Bone. It does need some yanking and banking ability. Not to out turn a F-15, but to be a credible threat for bandits not wanting to get up close and personal. And again, its too large. We actually want to produce around 400 for the USAF. A plane that sized, we will end up getting 47.

The point of carrier operations is that A) it is the united state military that has to project air dominance around the globe, and b) the US does not always have friendly nations willing to allow strikes launched from their homeland. And I can add a C) which is spreading the costs over 2 branches of the service and the combined forces of the USA actually buying more than 187 copies. I think that is far more important than worrying about USAF/USN rivalries and you can't tell me the USN has no need for a long legged air dominance + ground attach aircraft. If nothing else than fly CAP and prevent the bad guys from daring to get gear off the tarmac to challenge the F-35s.

The Navy used to have their sh*t together. Today it's all light attack aircraft. Not good.

Heard of Eldorado Canyon? Our guys had to take the LONG LONG way around Europe because of their liberal defeatist politics. Would not have happened like that if the USN had aircraft to replicate the Ardvarks. No Bombcats back in the 80s.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 21 Dec 2018, 18:17
by jetblast16
Here are my (personal numbers) for the PCA, or whatever the heck they call it in the future :D

Full operational empty weight "A" model: 46,000 LBS
Internal fuel capacity: 30,000 LBS
Internal weapons capacity: 5,000-6,000 LBS
Engines (each) max wet power sea level: 50,000 LBS
*Engines advanced variable cycle in form

The jet would be completely vertical and horizontal tailless, with emphasis on reduced wave drag. All sensors, communications equipment, offensive / defensive electronics would be buried in a low-observable airframe. The baseline jet would carry, not just provide space, power, and cooling for, a solid-state infrared fiber laser with 100 Kilowatts of output power, with exceptional beam quality.

Combined cycle? Is it possible with today's technology or within the next 10 years? Have common inlets and ejectors, where, the two variable cycle afterburning jet engines would push the PCA to ~Mach 2.5, then inlet doors would close-off the turbomachinery, allowing ramjets to kick-in, for speeds up to 2,500 mph... That would enable the jet to cover large distances at high speed, possibly undetected.

I'll stop dreaming :mrgreen:

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 21 Dec 2018, 19:20
by sferrin
crosshairs wrote:
sferrin wrote:
madrat wrote:Wouldn't an FB-111A performance 'analogy' be better suited to PCA than a B-58? Fewer engines, streamlined, internal carry, and built for a balance of speed & range.



This could have been a PCA.

The attachment FB-23-1.jpg is no longer available


The attachment FB-23-1.jpg is no longer available


The attachment FB-23-1.jpg is no longer available


Not sure why anybody is worried about it fitting on a carrier. Unlike the ATF/NATF, the PCA has never been meant to fly from a carrier.


Much too large. That's looks like a little smaller than a Bone.


It's WAY smaller than a Bone. Just because it's got an enclosed rear cockpit doesn't mean it's huge. There are many aircraft like that. A-5, B-58, Blackbird, XF-108, etc.

Capture.PNG

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 23 Dec 2018, 18:43
by mixelflick
jetblast16 wrote:Here are my (personal numbers) for the PCA, or whatever the heck they call it in the future :D

Full operational empty weight "A" model: 46,000 LBS
Internal fuel capacity: 30,000 LBS
Internal weapons capacity: 5,000-6,000 LBS
Engines (each) max wet power sea level: 50,000 LBS
*Engines advanced variable cycle in form

The jet would be completely vertical and horizontal tailless, with emphasis on reduced wave drag. All sensors, communications equipment, offensive / defensive electronics would be buried in a low-observable airframe. The baseline jet would carry, not just provide space, power, and cooling for, a solid-state infrared fiber laser with 100 Kilowatts of output power, with exceptional beam quality.

Combined cycle? Is it possible with today's technology or within the next 10 years? Have common inlets and ejectors, where, the two variable cycle afterburning jet engines would push the PCA to ~Mach 2.5, then inlet doors would close-off the turbomachinery, allowing ramjets to kick-in, for speeds up to 2,500 mph... That would enable the jet to cover large distances at high speed, possibly undetected.

I'll stop dreaming :mrgreen:


On the contrary, keep dreaming!

We need "dream like" qualities to make sure this thing takes names and kicks a$$. To my mind, an "F-23 like" airframe is the best application for PCA. You've got your two engines, along with enough space for bigger motors. Internal fuel capacity of 30,000lbs? Maybe, with fuselage plugs or simply scaling up the design. New, lightweight materials to keep the empty weight below 50,000lbs (I'm working on them as we speak :)). New, 50,000lb thrust class ADVENT/Variable Cycle engines. The one problematic area may be carrying "enough" AAM's internally (those will be new too, hopefully ramjet powered). I'm working on that too, LOL. Sensors and SA that would make an F-35 blush.

It won't need thrust vectoring, because its speed/stealth, SA and new BVR AAM's will carry the day. One thing that's pretty clear about PCA is that.... "super-maneuverability" will be way down the list. Give it to the Russians, they can ride that horse until they find out the hard way stealth, SA and sensors are what matters now. The only thing more difficult than building a machine to meet these specs will be.... funding it.

A new administration less friendly to the defense establishment (ahem, usually Democrats) are the biggest threat to its existence..

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 23 Dec 2018, 20:16
by wrightwing
The requirements will drive everything else. We're getting wrapped up talking about dimensions, weight, fuel, etc.... without regard to the requirements.

A few things that we can be reasonably certain of are long range/loiter time, greater signature reduction, greater use of AI, exceptional sensor/data bandwidth capabilities, and a larger internal payload. We just don't know what sort of range/payload requirements might be looked at (i.e. 1,000nm/5,000+ lb payload vs 1,500nm/10,000lb payload, or somewhere in between.)

We also don't know what sort of speed/agility requirements will be looked at (i.e. must be as fast/faster than F-22, must have similar agility between F-35 and F-22, etc....)

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 24 Dec 2018, 06:53
by element1loop
mixelflick wrote:
(I'm working on them as we speak :))

A new administration less friendly to the defense establishment (ahem, usually Democrats) are the biggest threat to its existence..


Eggnog's got a kick, eh? :wink:

Keep in mind the rising threat and challenge - not just the political winds. A Donkey win brings their tirade against Russia even as Russia is STILL ratcheting up its 'hybrid-[endless-outrageous-lies]-war' approach, and China has become increasingly draconian (i.e. got worse at hiding it). And a deep-penetrating stealth OCA attack aircraft may be just the ticket to show the stick to them.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 24 Dec 2018, 15:47
by jetblast16
@mixelflick Teh, he, he, he :D

Some more dream-like qualities I've been musing: sustained Mach 2 in level flight in full dry thrust with 8 internal AAM missiles; high-degree of automation throughout the jet; 100-125 Kilowatt solid-state infrared fiber laser with conformal aperture for "hard kills" against air-to-air threats out to 3-4 miles; possible ramjet capability via combined cycle approach using common inlets, ejectors, and fuel; engine sustained sea level thrust in military power...34,000 LBS.

To me, the PCA is a "no compromise" design; it must be the total package. By definition, it can't be cheap, as it will represent the very tip of the spear, so to speak, of the United States Air Force's global projection of power. A plane with the above capabilities could actually act as a type of (strategic) deterrent.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 24 Dec 2018, 16:08
by geforcerfx
jetblast16 wrote:.

To me, the PCA is a "no compromise" design; it must be the total package. By definition, it can't be cheap, as it will represent the very tip of the spear, so to speak, of the United States Air Force's global projection of power. A plane with the above capabilities could actually act as a type of (strategic) deterrent.


Those 30 jets we could afford would be a great deterant.

We can make the most capable combat aircraft ever, but can we afford enough of them? Especially while buying bulk 5th gens at 80-125 million a piece and a new stealth strategic bomber, two types of tankers and a new airlifter? All of those programs are taking priority over PCA at the moment. As awesome as your jet sounds it sounds unattainable, unless the Navy gets no new surface vessels for a few years ( which would be bad). Something based off the F-35s engines using the F-35's avionics suite and having 2-3 times the range and stealth payload would still be one hell of a deterrent.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 24 Dec 2018, 21:53
by marsavian
If F-15X is going to replace F-15C and F-22 is going to be extended to 2060 it sounds like PCA will be replacing F-15E one for one eventually. There has to be enough to escort B-21 as well as be able to do their own stand alone long range attacks. Sounds like an initial production run of 200-300 with exports on top of that. Internal fuel range of 50-100% greater than a F-35A, it's straight in the mudhen/aardvark mold and like the mudhen and bombcat it will be able to take care of itself despite being a heavy fighter.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 24 Dec 2018, 23:53
by citanon
What would you actually need PCA to do? You would need it to penetrate and attack over IADS but you'd also need it to defend against the J20s of the world over the Pacific.

It sounds like you need something with significantly higher sustained speed and better engines and better long wavelength stealth than the F35, and perhaps better sensors.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 25 Dec 2018, 04:15
by element1loop
geforcerfx wrote:Something based off the F-35s engines using the F-35's avionics suite and having 2-3 times the range and stealth payload would still be one hell of a deterrent.


And a fairly cheap tactical VLO probe tanker program would provide that, plus would sell in big numbers to F-35 operators everywhere, dramatically extending allied airpower ... and deterrence.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 26 Dec 2018, 02:26
by citanon
element1loop wrote:
geforcerfx wrote:Something based off the F-35s engines using the F-35's avionics suite and having 2-3 times the range and stealth payload would still be one hell of a deterrent.


And a fairly cheap tactical VLO probe tanker program would provide that, plus would sell in big numbers to F-35 operators everywhere, dramatically extending allied airpower ... and deterrence.


That's what I've been thinking too. However, I wonder how vulnerable the fighters and takers will be during refueling.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 26 Dec 2018, 03:44
by element1loop
citanon wrote:
element1loop wrote:
geforcerfx wrote:Something based off the F-35s engines using the F-35's avionics suite and having 2-3 times the range and stealth payload would still be one hell of a deterrent.


And a fairly cheap tactical VLO probe tanker program would provide that, plus would sell in big numbers to F-35 operators everywhere, dramatically extending allied airpower ... and deterrence.


That's what I've been thinking too. However, I wonder how vulnerable the fighters and takers will be during refueling.


In the midst of other F-35, within the context a major F-35 attack, with all that incredible SA and auto-prioritization and coop-engagement, they would not be that exposed IMHO, especially with EA/EW support from F-35 and Growler.

Sim it out in various realistic scenarios with J20, Su57, S400, VHF, develop some guideline 'CONOPS', roles and tactics. I'm betting they'll survive their tasks ... plus preserve the big tankers.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 26 Dec 2018, 14:14
by mixelflick
jetblast16 wrote:@mixelflick Teh, he, he, he :D

Some more dream-like qualities I've been musing: sustained Mach 2 in level flight in full dry thrust with 8 internal AAM missiles; high-degree of automation throughout the jet; 100-125 Kilowatt solid-state infrared fiber laser with conformal aperture for "hard kills" against air-to-air threats out to 3-4 miles; possible ramjet capability via combined cycle approach using common inlets, ejectors, and fuel; engine sustained sea level thrust in military power...34,000 LBS.

To me, the PCA is a "no compromise" design; it must be the total package. By definition, it can't be cheap, as it will represent the very tip of the spear, so to speak, of the United States Air Force's global projection of power. A plane with the above capabilities could actually act as a type of (strategic) deterrent.


Now we're talking! I honestly believe the F-22 is already capable of sustained mach 2 supercruise. Even if it's not, mach 1.8 is close enough. Granted it uses more fuel etc. but insofar as lofting AMRAAM's further and faster.. Speaking of which, I think8 AMRAAM's would be the absolute minimum. I'm thinking more like 10-16. We don't want to have it fly with missile trucks, we want it to be a missile truck.

The laser weapon is enticing, but given its weight and cost considerations, I rather doubt it'll make it into production. I could be wrong.. I forsee total augmented thrust being in the neighborhood of 100,000lbs, as the aircraft itself will likely weigh as much (full internal fuel and weapons load). The engines may well even give it 120,000lbs. As someone else here said, no compromises.

Since it'll be so expensive, the point about not being able to afford many is a valid one. The real question: How few could make a difference? 30? 50? 100??. If for the express purpose to putting out fires in short conflicts, 50 may suffice. But the focus now is on China so yeah, I think 300 - 400 would be the bare minimum.This is a question of $ and guts. Does the USAF have the guts to pursue a primarily air to air powerhouse and fund it with $ that'll be taken away from other programs?

And will Congress do the same?

Those are the real questions that need to be answered IMO...

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 26 Dec 2018, 17:55
by jetblast16
@mixelflick Some more thoughts :devil:

The sustained Mach 2 (M2) cruise would be in its fully armed (maximum stealth) configuration, where the jet could sustain that Mach number in full dry thrust, just before military power...giving it deep, penetrating range at ~1,300 mph.

The 8 AAM internal load-out is a conservative estimate; it could potentially hold more, but I wanted to emphasize a serious internal fuel load, a plethora of internally-mounted sensors, tons of internally-concealed offensive/defensive/communications equipment, and an internal laser of high average output power.

The laser, in my opinion, is a must have for the baseline jet...imagine placing a golf ball size spot at 50-60 Kilowatts onto an incoming air-to-air missile, with automatic cueing and aiming by the jet's computers/ sensors:)

Another thought I had was for an internally mounted, high-velocity, arming-piercing 20mm cannon, using sabot rounds with a 700 round magazine.

Some designations for my "paper airplane" :devil:

F-24A (Condor?)
F-36A (Vanguard)?
F-36A (Defender)?

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 26 Dec 2018, 18:51
by mixelflick
Man, you are cooking with gas now. These capabilities sound mouth watering.

The name "Condor" is taken.. If I'm not mistaken, that's the NATO code name for the Russian cargo jet the AN-124. "Vanguard" is a great name however, just like the financial services firm. The laser deal.... I still have difficulty imagining it, as I'm not aware of any current, operational laser weapon on an aircraft - especially a fighter .It would be a real head turner though, that's for sure. I sort of figured the first airborne laser on a fighter type aircraft being defensive in nature. But hey, we're dreaming so why not.

This is fun. Sort of like working for Sputnick News and writing fiction about Russian super weapons :mrgreen:

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 27 Dec 2018, 16:26
by element1loop
jetblast16 wrote:The 8 AAM internal load-out is a conservative estimate; it could potentially hold more, but I wanted to emphasize a serious internal fuel load


Tardis weapon bay? (bigger inside than out)

F-36A Terminator :P

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 27 Dec 2018, 17:26
by mixelflick
element1loop wrote:
jetblast16 wrote:The 8 AAM internal load-out is a conservative estimate; it could potentially hold more, but I wanted to emphasize a serious internal fuel load


Tardis weapon bay? (bigger inside than out)

F-36A Terminator :P


That's the trick though with PCA: It has to carry both an astronomical fuel and weapons load. I don't see what the point is if you can penetrate/loiter all day with just... 8 missiles? We already know from some war sims the F-22's 8 missiles are too few. Sure, they can hang around longer to provide targeting/SA to other assets but... what other assets are going to go as far as PCA and stay on station for any length of time?

They're either going to pony up huge $ to get those capabilities or... accept some compromises.I tend to think it'll be the latter, given the USAF is going to have all it can handle in buying adequate numbers of F-35's, B-21's, new tankers, trainers and God knows what else. This is another reason why I don't think the F-15X has a snowball's chance in hell of coming to fruition...

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 28 Dec 2018, 04:39
by wrightwing
mixelflick wrote:
element1loop wrote:
jetblast16 wrote:The 8 AAM internal load-out is a conservative estimate; it could potentially hold more, but I wanted to emphasize a serious internal fuel load


Tardis weapon bay? (bigger inside than out)

F-36A Terminator :P


That's the trick though with PCA: It has to carry both an astronomical fuel and weapons load. I don't see what the point is if you can penetrate/loiter all day with just... 8 missiles? We already know from some war sims the F-22's 8 missiles are too few. Sure, they can hang around longer to provide targeting/SA to other assets but... what other assets are going to go as far as PCA and stay on station for any length of time?

They're either going to pony up huge $ to get those capabilities or... accept some compromises.I tend to think it'll be the latter, given the USAF is going to have all it can handle in buying adequate numbers of F-35's, B-21's, new tankers, trainers and God knows what else. This is another reason why I don't think the F-15X has a snowball's chance in hell of coming to fruition...


The F-35, KC-46, and B-21 buys should be close to ending, by the time PCS starts ramping up, though. PCA is a 2035-2040s timeframe entry date.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 28 Dec 2018, 05:43
by strykerxo
Not a fighter? Maybe not a F-? but a new or old designation, P-50 Penetrator, "P" for Pursuit.

If the PCA is to work alongside of the B-21 Raider and "not a fighter" and in support of legacy AC. Characteristics that have not been seen for generations of AC, a vehicle that can protect a bomber all the way to its target. The B-17/P-51 combination during WW2 dramatically impacted the war, no other fighter could do it at the time. Generations of jet fighters have had one glaring shortfall, legs, the PCA may change this?

Intruder, Prowler, Raider - good but taken, P-50 Invader, nickname "Vader"

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 29 Dec 2018, 02:45
by firebase99
strykerxo wrote:Not a fighter? Maybe not a F-? but a new or old designation, P-50 Penetrator, "P" for Pursuit.

If the PCA is to work alongside of the B-21 Raider and "not a fighter" and in support of legacy AC. Characteristics that have not been seen for generations of AC, a vehicle that can protect a bomber all the way to its target. The B-17/P-51 combination during WW2 dramatically impacted the war, no other fighter could do it at the time. Generations of jet fighters have had one glaring shortfall, legs, the PCA may change this?

Intruder, Prowler, Raider - good but taken, P-50 Invader, nickname "Vader"


Wow, I was about to write pretty much the exact same thing.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 29 Dec 2018, 02:59
by jetblast16
F-24A (F-36A) Shadow Hawk
F-24A (F-36A) Shadow Bolt
F-24A (F-36A) Penetrator

:)

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 29 Dec 2018, 03:06
by jetblast16
Mixel, the laser "cannon" is a bit of a stretch...now, but maybe not in 10 years. Remember, this platform will be designed to counter threats in the 2030s timeframe, and beyond.

As long as there is kerosene or fuel onboard to run the engines, to spin the generators, to make the electricity...the solid-state laser can fire. You had raised concerns about "8" AAMs internally; I have raised the stores count to 10, PLUS the laser :mrgreen:

With 50+ Kilowatts, the right beam management, and pointing, the F-24A could potentially down other fighters within visual range, along with air-to-air missiles. I suppose with the right atmospherics, beam pointing, and output power, the laser could engage certain ground vehicles, like trucks, cars, etc.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 01 Jan 2019, 17:34
by mixelflick
Given the timeline and what's been spent, where do you feel it is in the development cycle?

I'm thinking prototypes have to be flying soon. The F-22/YF-23A first flew in what, 1990? And the F-22 wasn't operational until 15 years later. Granted, I know they deliberately slow walked it due to the "peace dividend", but assuming 5 years to test and another 5 to refine, that brings us to about the 2030 timeframe.

I know the USAF SAYS they want it to be less revolutionary vs. evolutionary to accelerate the process, but let's be honest: When was the last time the USAF ever did that? It's almost always "we want the latest, greatest tech" in the bird - and nothing less. I just don't see them using much "off the shelf" tech to get this done. Without a doubt, the airframe is going to be new. The weapons will have to be new (AIM-120D will be old by then), and ditto for the engines. Only the sensor suite from the F-35 could be ported over in my mind, and that too will likely be "new and improved".

It's clear an F-22 on steroids isn't going to cut it. First flight needs to be soon, and boy oh boy am I looking forward to seeing the first pics of this beast... :mrgreen:

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 01 Jan 2019, 21:41
by jetblast16
Given the timeline and what's been spent, where do you feel it is in the development cycle?


I believe it is somewhat behind schedule now. The DOD / USAF, possibly the Navy, need to decide if the PCA will be comprised of a single platform or a networked set of stealthy platforms. Seeing as to where the world is going technologically, if based on a single platform, my prior fantasies may not be so far off base, as its current name implies, the PCA will need range and possibly speed to defeat (penetrate) a Tier 1 IADS in the 2030s-2040s.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 01 Jan 2019, 21:42
by jetblast16
Only the sensor suite from the F-35 could be ported over in my mind


Or a multi-spectral DAS / EOTS :wink:

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 01 Jan 2019, 23:12
by fidgetspinner
I have heard the frontal RCS is the smallest, back is the next smallest, sides of an aircraft can appear 1000 times more huge in size than compared to the front. But it appears to me that the ventral RCS or underside of an aircraft has the highest RCS because of alot of surface area.

1. Can someone give me a reference of the size estimation the underside would be than compared to the front of a aircraft?

2. Does anyone have sources on the angle approach of aircraft, altitude height, angle view of a SAM radar to determine the distance the aircraft would be tracked along with what percentage the ventral or frontal RCS is being viewed?

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 02 Jan 2019, 08:42
by wrightwing
fidgetspinner wrote:I have heard the frontal RCS is the smallest, back is the next smallest, sides of an aircraft can appear 1000 times more huge in size than compared to the front. But it appears to me that the ventral RCS or underside of an aircraft has the highest RCS because of alot of surface area.

1. Can someone give me a reference of the size estimation the underside would be than compared to the front of a aircraft?

2. Does anyone have sources on the angle approach of aircraft, altitude height, angle view of a SAM radar to determine the distance the aircraft would be tracked along with what percentage the ventral or frontal RCS is being viewed?

The F-22, F-35, and eventually PCS, are all aspect VLO. There's no angle where they have an RCS 1000x larger than head on. There's also no angle, where a fire control radar will detect/track them at long ranges.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 02 Jan 2019, 09:41
by gideonic
wrightwing wrote:The F-22, F-35, and eventually PCS, are all aspect VLO. There's no angle where they have an RCS 1000x larger than head on. There's also no angle, where a fire control radar will detect/track them at long ranges.


While I agree with the second part wholeheartedly, I find it hard to believe the first part. It would make more sense if you added "operationally relevant or useful angles". I'm pretty sure that the RCS of a stealth fighter at a 90 degree angle straight down is at least 2-3 orders of magnitude greater than head on - simple physics should still apply. The problem is that the window during which you could track/target the aircraft at those angles is ridiculously tiny, so not really useful.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 02 Jan 2019, 12:28
by hornetfinn
I think that 1000x RCS comes from some public RCS models that have been done about F-22 and F-35. There are naturally problems with these models as they are made assuming that aircraft in question is made from fully reflective material (like polished aluminum) for simplicity. That's naturally not the case as modern aircraft are made from carbon fiber composites which have far lower reflectivity. Another thing is that most reflective angles are well known and can be remedied using thicker RAM in the right places. Also we have to remember that while F-35 and F-22 likely have some "bad" angles, they themselves know these angles exactly and all the time and can avoid showing them to enemy radars.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 02 Jan 2019, 18:00
by mixelflick
I'm not so sure about the "bad" angles thing. Perhaps bigger than others, but I doubt they're "bad" per se. Bad (to me) implies a radar spike, thus jeopardizing its stealth. LM would have been crazy to spend all that money on low observable/stealth and then roll out.... an aircraft that could be detected from a certain angle? Not buying it...

It doesn't square up with pilot comments about the F-22/35 either. Several F-15/16 pilots I've spoke to have said, "we can't see them. even when they're close". One F-16 pilot told me they couldn't even see it with their radar when ground control told them to look! "You have 2 F-35's, 12 miles away at your 1:00, 25,000ft". Pilot said he pointed the radar there, nothin' doin'.

12 miles!

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 03 Jan 2019, 01:21
by weasel1962
I wonder whether sniper pods with IR sensors can make a difference for legacies vs 5G?

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 03 Jan 2019, 01:32
by popcorn
weasel1962 wrote:I wonder whether sniper pods with IR sensors can make a difference for legacies vs 5G?

Radar is still the primary sensor in the A2A realm, the 4Gen pilot is a dead man flying long beforre he gets a sniff from his Sniper Pod.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 03 Jan 2019, 02:49
by weasel1962
May be the case against an F-22 or F-35 but equally ineffective against a PLA or russki "5G"? That's not I heard from pilots using sniper.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 03 Jan 2019, 04:50
by element1loop
mixelflick wrote: .. when ground control told them to look! "You have 2 F-35's, 12 miles away at your 1:00, 25,000ft".


I finally figured out how to defeat an F-35 ... ADS-B transponder code. :mrgreen:

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 03 Jan 2019, 04:53
by weasel1962
May have to switch it on first.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 03 Jan 2019, 11:59
by gideonic
mixelflick wrote:I'm not so sure about the "bad" angles thing. Perhaps bigger than others, but I doubt they're "bad" per se. Bad (to me) implies a radar spike, thus jeopardizing its stealth. LM would have been crazy to spend all that money on low observable/stealth and then roll out.... an aircraft that could be detected from a certain angle? Not buying it...

Why not? If it would only be right below or above the aircraft at a near-90°angle for instance? With some, a lot smaller spikes from aligned edges in some unimportant directions.

That would only mean that the fighter is theoretically detectable at some obscure angles in a very tiny time window (let's not forget, that the aircraft moves). It still wouldn't be trackable or even really detectable. Especially when considering it also deals with signature management and is well aware of the radars trying to acquire (and at what angle).

Nothing will be directly above or below the aircraft (or facing the aligned-edges) for a meaningful amount of time. Especially as the pilot is well aware of the threats and "placing" the aircraft optimally.

Of course a mythical 100% undetectable "invisibility cloak" would be better. Real life engineering however is about tradeoffs and such miracle panacea's usually aren't possible. They also aren't necessary. Aforementioned fighters would still be "all-aspect stealth" in all operationally relevant meanings of the word.

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 03 Jan 2019, 16:03
by mixelflick
gideonic wrote:
mixelflick wrote:I'm not so sure about the "bad" angles thing. Perhaps bigger than others, but I doubt they're "bad" per se. Bad (to me) implies a radar spike, thus jeopardizing its stealth. LM would have been crazy to spend all that money on low observable/stealth and then roll out.... an aircraft that could be detected from a certain angle? Not buying it...

Why not? If it would only be right below or above the aircraft at a near-90°angle for instance? With some, a lot smaller spikes from aligned edges in some unimportant directions.

That would only mean that the fighter is theoretically detectable at some obscure angles in a very tiny time window (let's not forget, that the aircraft moves). It still wouldn't be trackable or even really detectable. Especially when considering it also deals with signature management and is well aware of the radars trying to acquire (and at what angle).

Nothing will be directly above or below the aircraft (or facing the aligned-edges) for a meaningful amount of time. Especially as the pilot is well aware of the threats and "placing" the aircraft optimally.

Of course a mythical 100% undetectable "invisibility cloak" would be better. Real life engineering however is about tradeoffs and such miracle panacea's usually aren't possible. They also aren't necessary. Aforementioned fighters would still be "all-aspect stealth" in all operationally relevant meanings of the word.


Yes, when you describe it like that it makes a lot more sense. Appreciate your input..

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 10 Jan 2019, 07:46
by citanon

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 10 Jan 2019, 16:58
by mixelflick
citanon wrote:New write up by Kris Osborn on PCA:

https://defensemaven.io/warriormaven/ai ... xtPdROevw/


"Air Force Penetrating Counter Air program is looking at hypersonic weapons, unmanned flight, lasers..."

So much for "We don't want it to take 20 years to field something/do want to use off the shelf technologies etc", LOL. Precisely what I thought would happen. The USAF simply can't resist having the latest and greatest technologies built into their aircraft. Can't say that I'd do it any differently, but they could at least be honest with themselves/the vendors responding to their RFP's... Their history too, speaks to eschewing the simpler/cheaper alternative.

Consider the F-20 for example. Given its cost, reliability and low cost per flight hour... you'd think the USAF would have bought them by the squadron. But no dice. Yes, yes they would have been less capable vs. the fleet of multi-role F-16's we have today, but fact is - they had the option.

Be that as it may, I'm REALLY looking forward to see what LM, Boeing etc cook up. If they hurry, I might even be able to see it in service, before I make my way through the checkout line..

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 14 Jan 2019, 05:45
by element1loop
mixelflick wrote:"Air Force Penetrating Counter Air program is looking at hypersonic weapons, unmanned flight, lasers..."

So much for "We don't want it to take 20 years to field something/do want to use off the shelf technologies etc", LOL. Precisely what I thought would happen. The USAF simply can't resist having the latest and greatest technologies built into their aircraft.


You're presuming that's what it means though, mixel.

The early PCA conception was to build an airframe with maximized adaptability allowance within the structures from the outset for the aircraft to be able to have such capabilities added to it later once in service, i.e. PCA can not be a 'finished' solidified capability for a well-defined role.

The emphasis was originally to get the aircraft into service first, with initial capability levels mirroring F-35 (or even lower), but then to be able to evolve in a highly flexible way once in service, as the role of penetration and OCA developes during the following decades. So of course people would be currently thinking about the prerequisites, design allowances and trade-offs for fitting and adapting PCA to, "hypersonic weapons, unmanned flight, lasers". But it's an assumption to think those items will be baseline capabilities, at FOC.

F-35 puts the entire networked kill chain in one aircraft, then add mucho VLO, range and payload, and a capacity for continuous radical systems plus weapons and sensor adaptations = PCA

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 14 Jan 2019, 16:39
by mixelflick
Maybe, but I just can't see the USAF rolling out its new fighter with a baseline capability.... equal (or God forbid, lesser) than the F-35. I don't mean the F-35 is any slouch - it isn't. But it'd be the F-35 "Can't turn, can't climb, can't run..." chorus all over again. Besides, when was the last time the USAF rolled out a new aircraft that wasn't a quantum leap over the replacement airframe?

*The F-15 and F-16 were a LOT more effective/deadly than the F-4 they replaced

*The F-14 was a LOT more effective/deadly than the F-4/F-8 it replaced

*The F-22 was a quantum leap over the F-15, which it was SUPPOSED to replace

*The F-35 is a quantum leap over the F-16, F-18, A-10 and AV/8B it's replacing

The one aircraft you can (arguably) cite that wasn't much more capable than the aircraft it replaced is the F-18, when it assumed the fleet defense role of the F-14. Much upgraded into the Super Hornet, that aircraft/radar/AIM-120D combination is just now approaching the capabilities of late model F-14D's, and only in some metrics (not all).

So I suppose it's been done, but getting there wasn't easy and to this day, some capabilities remain sub-par vs. the aircraft it replaced. The F-14D could play in the vertical, had superior range and was equally adept at fleet air defense, air to ground and tactical recon. It had much greater legs than the Super Hornet, got there faster and could stay on station longer.

Hopefully, the Navy's F/A-XX will run the table and correct that situation. It is hard to imagine PCA won't, either...

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 14 Jan 2019, 16:57
by element1loop
mixelflick wrote:Besides, when was the last time the USAF rolled out a new aircraft that wasn't a quantum leap over the replacement airframe?


Well that's that whole point. No one wants to wait 20 years to get another mega-jet, the whole intent of PCA was a rapid prototype and testing period to get the basic jet into service much faster, but also much less developed initially but with far greater designed-in adaptability, for later development, than the prior drawn-out 5th-gen jet development of a final envisaged capability. So there (ideally) won't be another 20 year long mega-jet development, because no one wants to do that this time.

Griffin etal., have been pushing the rapid prototype process pretty vigorously for a couple of years now to speed up development and fielding. They clearly want to short-circuit the process this time, so I presume they mean it.

And with respect to the F-35 criticisms, were ANY of those even valid? Did any of those whines make a difference? Except to annoy and piss everyone off? So why would it matter for PCA?

Re: Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Unread postPosted: 15 Jan 2019, 16:23
by mixelflick
I understand your points, all very good ones.

On the whining thing, I think it does matter because at one point - the pig pile effect had the program in some very real jeopardy. It took appointing a new USAF program manager, who really took it to Lockheed to get the jet to where it is today. Remember, there's always the possibility it could have gone the other way like it did on the F-22. In fact, the F-22 is a perfect example of a next gen air dominance platform truncated buy. Granted, its performance was never in doubt but detractors (citing cost and lack of a mission) effectively made their arguments.

So according to what they say they want to do, PCA should be here in 10 or so years - not 20+? I have a hard time seeing that happen. So far as we know, the prototypes haven't even flown yet. That leaves the 10 years to test, refine etc and.... it goes IOC in 2030?

I hope so (I'm already standing in the checkout line), but I'm not very optimistic. Someone here said it's already behind schedule, and that's concerning. Until then, I'll be content to watch F-35's roll off the production line and keep a close eye on its performance. Recent videos of its 2019 demo do indeed indicate it's something special. Looks very Raptor like in its presentation..