Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

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

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Unread post22 Mar 2020, 14:44

wrightwing wrote:
mixelflick wrote:



Pre-F-35 Red Flags went well for the blue forces if they scored 2:1, maybe 3:1 over red air (air to air arena), or took "acceptable" (read, more than a few) losses to red SAM's and integrated air defense networks. Flying the F-35, blue force achieved up to 20:1 air to air records, along with few if any losses taking out red SAM's, attacking key targets etc..

That's a BIG difference. They will (almost overnight) out-class much larger air arms, including (in some cases), Russia itself. Lemme put it this way: Russia would take it on the chin were it to send its Flankers, Fulcrums, or what have you into Israel. Every day that ticks by, more F-35I's arrive. And with them, out the door goes any perceived Russian advantage. They can fly their best SU-30SM's/35's into Israel, including their best pilots.

Most of them won't be coming home...

The >20:1 was the first Red Flag F-35s participated in, and with 3i software/envelope limits. 3F jets have had even better performance at Red Flag.


That is really astonishing when you think about it...

Red air is often described as having "the best pilots", many flying damn near clean F-16's with absurd thrust to weight ratios. Until just recently, F-15C's were also assigned to Red Air and their pilots are arguable the best in the air to air business. Throw in the speculated use of F-117's and soon, early block F-35's and what Blue Air faces is nothing short of terrifying.

Yet, we get stories of brand new F-35A/B pilots cleaning their clocks!

So if I'm the USAF, I want this exact dynamic for PCA - but on steroids. It will be much faster and fly much higher than the F-35, launch energy being paramount. It will carry many more AAM's than what the F-35 currently carries - I'm guessing 12 will be the bare minimum. And it will have legs to spare, something on the order of a 1,000 mile combat radius, maybe more.

As for maneuverability, I suspect it'll be on par with the F-22. Some design compromises will have to be made, this being one of them. In exchange for such, it'll have the best stealth seen on an aircraft to date. Perhaps even better than the B-21, depending. 400-500 sound like the right number, but we all know what usually happens... they'll be lucky to wind up with 200 so better to request 750 of them. We'll probably wind up with half of that, that's just how things work in D.C..

When arguing for more, I sincerely hope USAF cites the pickle we're in as a result of stopping F-22 production. That was a BIG mistake, and not learning from it will be an even bigger one...
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count_to_10

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Unread post22 Mar 2020, 20:34

But it may well be that the overwhelming dynamic they are looking for will be found in a stealthy drone controller than an all-in-one fighter.
Einstein got it backward: one cannot prevent a war without preparing for it.

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weasel1962

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Unread post23 Mar 2020, 10:57

count_to_10 wrote:But it may well be that the overwhelming dynamic they are looking for will be found in a stealthy drone controller than an all-in-one fighter.


I think Elon Musk is onto something but it could take many more years of research. Not that it can't be done but I think that the controls are currently very susceptible to jamming especially over long distances.
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weasel1962

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Unread post24 Mar 2020, 02:32

What would be imho the most spectacular feature of a PCA (or a future drone) would be if someone is able to design a way to get planes rearmed in the air.
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Corsair1963

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Unread post24 Mar 2020, 04:35

wrightwing wrote:
The >20:1 was the first Red Flag F-35s participated in, and with 3i software/envelope limits. 3F jets have had even better performance at Red Flag.


Honestly, the 20 to 1 number is likely on the low side even without the more capable 3F/+. As the Red Flag Aggressors and the ROE (tilted against the F-35) are not representative of the real threat. Which, in most cases is far less......
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wrightwing

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Unread post24 Mar 2020, 06:52

Corsair1963 wrote:
wrightwing wrote:
The >20:1 was the first Red Flag F-35s participated in, and with 3i software/envelope limits. 3F jets have had even better performance at Red Flag.


Honestly, the 20 to 1 number is likely on the low side even without the more capable 3F/+. As the Red Flag Aggressors and the ROE (tilted against the F-35) are not representative of the real threat. Which, in most cases is far less......

The 3F jets were doing better than 28:1. The >20:1 (145:7) as well as current losses, were either entirely or in large part due to respawned aggressors, that were already in WVR. That would translate to zero losses, were they real world kills (which don't respawn.)
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Corsair1963

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Unread post24 Mar 2020, 07:19

wrightwing wrote:
Corsair1963 wrote:
wrightwing wrote:
The >20:1 was the first Red Flag F-35s participated in, and with 3i software/envelope limits. 3F jets have had even better performance at Red Flag.


Honestly, the 20 to 1 number is likely on the low side even without the more capable 3F/+. As the Red Flag Aggressors and the ROE (tilted against the F-35) are not representative of the real threat. Which, in most cases is far less......

The 3F jets were doing better than 28:1. The >20:1 (145:7) as well as current losses, were either entirely or in large part due to respawned aggressors, that were already in WVR. That would translate to zero losses, were they real world kills (which don't respawn.)


Which, supports why 4th Generation Fighter are becoming "obsolete" so quickly...
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mixelflick

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Unread post24 Mar 2020, 12:09

wrightwing wrote:
Corsair1963 wrote:
wrightwing wrote:
The >20:1 was the first Red Flag F-35s participated in, and with 3i software/envelope limits. 3F jets have had even better performance at Red Flag.


Honestly, the 20 to 1 number is likely on the low side even without the more capable 3F/+. As the Red Flag Aggressors and the ROE (tilted against the F-35) are not representative of the real threat. Which, in most cases is far less......

The 3F jets were doing better than 28:1. The >20:1 (145:7) as well as current losses, were either entirely or in large part due to respawned aggressors, that were already in WVR. That would translate to zero losses, were they real world kills (which don't respawn.)


Truly astounding. If the F-35 can achieve even half this metric in the real world the long, painful developmental period of F-35 gestation will have been worth it. It took a LOT of $ and a LOT of time, but they finally got it right...
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Unread post26 Mar 2020, 23:14

mixelflick wrote:Truly astounding. If the F-35 can achieve even half this metric in the real world the long, painful developmental period of F-35 gestation will have been worth it. It took a LOT of $ and a LOT of time, but they finally got it right...

You would think the world's biggest defense contractor would be able to attract top talent, and use it in a world class design team with amazing record such as Skunk Works.
And to think there are people out there that think not only the F-35 is not a world class aircraft, but is in fact subpar... :bang:
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steve2267

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Unread post20 Sep 2020, 03:35

I thought this article oughta go in the F-35 forum, but I found this thread already running.

It would seem the USAF is already flying an actual 6th gen air dominance fighter prototype. Unclear how this might affect the F-35 program. IMO, hopefully it will not affect the F-35. As I recall, the USG "promised" Lockheed Martin the F-35 will be produced in full, (in exchange for -- ?) LM promising not to make waves or noise when the F-22 was cancelled.


Air Force Flying New Fighter Prototype

Kate O'Connor September 16, 2020

The U.S. Air Force is testing a new fighter jet prototype designed and built under its Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program. The mystery aircraft has already been flown, although it has not been made public how many prototypes have been built or how much flight time the design has accrued. Details about the fighter’s potential performance and capabilities are also being kept classified.

“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it,” Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper told Defense News. “We are ready to go and build the next-generation aircraft in a way that has never happened before.”

It has been reported that the demonstrator was engineered and tested digitally before the physical prototype was constructed, allowing the design to take flight much more quickly than seen with previous fighter programs. NGAD funding for fiscal year 2021 comes in at around $1 billion. How a sixth-generation fighter program might affect fifth-generation jets like the F-35 is not yet clear.

https://www.avweb.com/aviation-news/military-aviation/air-force-flying-new-fighter-prototype/
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, dollop of F-117, gob of F-22, dash of F/A-18, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well + bake. Whaddya get? F-35.
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mixelflick

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Unread post20 Sep 2020, 17:59

If NGAD continues to move quickly through its development, it could cut short the F-35's production run. At least in USAF service. The Navy/Marines would still need the F-35C/B respectively to make due.

Which might not be a bad thing (and might not hurt total F-35's produced), provided there are many more export orders. It's entirely possible USAF truncates their F-35 buy by say, 250 or so airframes to help pay for this thing. And given its doubtful NGAD will be exported, the best countries will be able to do will be... up-rated, call it generation 5++ F-35's.

It sure sounds like they made a breakthrough somewhere. They got a demonstrator (full scale, if I'm not mistaken) into the air in record time. If they can do something similar for production aircraft.... something's got to give. This thing isn't going to be cheap, so... Flight testing though could take awhile, especially given the speculated kinematic envelope.
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Unread post20 Sep 2020, 18:04

weasel1962 wrote:What would be imho the most spectacular feature of a PCA (or a future drone) would be if someone is able to design a way to get planes rearmed in the air.


Automatons probably are the only way to do it safely. I can imagine the loads would need to be in packets that can provide neutral buoyancy in the air until safely attached to the recieving aircraft. The packet would need some sort of retractable or detachable wing. Maybe the transport could deploy them on a string and the receiving aircraft could snag them in the nose with some sort of telescoping crane that can be retreated into the recieving aircraft as th e package is secured, which means the reciever needs a relatively large internal bay. Think flying wing drones resembling Cylons from Battlestar Galactica.
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Unread post20 Sep 2020, 18:10

mixelflick wrote:If NGAD continues to move quickly through its development, it could cut short the F-35's production run. At least in USAF service. The Navy/Marines would still need the F-35C/B respectively to make due.


Unless F-35 is slated to be mostly produced beyond 2035 then it really won't touch it. NGAD is about quality for overwhelming air dominance whereas F-35 is more of a force in numbers approach to project force. Those are not usually the same units.

Besides, this is just the demonstration phase. They will aim for far loftier goals now that the technology demonstrator using current technology has been implemented.
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Unread post20 Sep 2020, 21:57

mixelflick wrote:If NGAD continues to move quickly through its development, it could cut short the F-35's production run. At least in USAF service. The Navy/Marines would still need the F-35C/B respectively to make due.

Which might not be a bad thing (and might not hurt total F-35's produced), provided there are many more export orders. It's entirely possible USAF truncates their F-35 buy by say, 250 or so airframes to help pay for this thing. And given its doubtful NGAD will be exported, the best countries will be able to do will be... up-rated, call it generation 5++ F-35's.

It sure sounds like they made a breakthrough somewhere. They got a demonstrator (full scale, if I'm not mistaken) into the air in record time. If they can do something similar for production aircraft.... something's got to give. This thing isn't going to be cheap, so... Flight testing though could take awhile, especially given the speculated kinematic envelope.


It took 15 years from X-35 first flight to F-35 introduction, and almost 20 years from X-35 first flight to F-35 until F-35 became really an operational plane that could perform real missions.

That there is "some prototype flying" does not mean the plane will be in service soon. Not in this decade. Not in the beginning of the next decade.

Also, PCA is supposed to be MUCH bigger and more expensive plane than F-35A. F-35A and PCA will complement each others.

It does not make much sense to decrease F-35A orders to buy more PCA's;
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Unread post20 Sep 2020, 23:24

Let’s all remember that F-35 was going to be a model for how to do a major defense acquisition differently — faster, more efficient, etc, etc. The program champions were at the top of the acquisition pyramid in OSD, and everyone aligned to the ‘vision‘ of those leaders. When those leaders in OSD left the system (for a variety of reasons), the praetorians of the acquisition, systems engineering/development, and test/verification/validation strictures that existed before F-35 re-emerged to normalize (hen peck) the program back to the status quo — and nearly killed it in the process.

‘Change’ is hard — it is even more so in the acquisition bureaucracies of the government. It remains to be seen what will happen when Roper and other like-minded leaders depart OSD.
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