List your top tier aircraft per generation

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

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Unread post26 Mar 2019, 14:42

Title is self explanatory.
I'd like to know which aircraft in your opinion best embodies the definition of their generation. Not necessarily which is the best.

Heres an example.
5th generation is defined as
All-aspect stealth with internal weapons, extreme agility, full-sensor fusion, integrated avionics, some or full supercruise.

So even if the F-35 is better than every other 5th gen in most missions, it scores below the F-22 in extreme agility and supercruise. If there was a score for networking capability and multi spectral sensors then it would certainly trump the F-22 in those

The Definitions came from 2009 Airforce Magazine article


Generation 1: Jet propulsion

Generation 2: Swept wings; range-only radar; infrared missiles

Generation 3: Supersonic speed; pulse radar; able to shoot at targets beyond visual range.

Generation 4: Pulse-doppler radar; high maneuverability; look-down, shoot-down missiles.

Generation 4+: High agility; sensor fusion; reduced signatures.

Generation 4++: Active electronically scanned arrays; continued reduced signatures or some “active” (waveform canceling) stealth; some supercruise.

Generation 5: All-aspect stealth with internal weapons, extreme agility, full-sensor fusion, integrated avionics, some or full supercruise.
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zero-one

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Unread post26 Mar 2019, 20:18

Generation 1: Jet propulsion
1. F-94 : fastest non swept wing fighter IIRC
2. F-89: a little slower than the F-94 with less ceiling but more range
3. DH 112: just as fast as the F-94, less range and ceiling

Generation 2: Swept wings; range-only radar; infrared missiles
1. F-8E: I originally thought it was a 3rd gen, but the lack of BVR capability relegates this to a 2nd gen. Albeit a very formidable one. Highest kill ratio in Vietnam before the advent of topgun has to account for something

2. F-5E: aerodynamically ahead of its time, still in service, with some being pseudo 3rd gens having BVR capability.

3. EE Lightning: first fighter that could officially super-cruise with other pilots comparing it to having the acceleration and climb rates of an F-15.

Generation 3: Supersonic speed; pulse radar; able to shoot at targets beyond visual range.
1. F-4F Ice: I initially thought it was F-4E 2020 terminator that would take the cake but turns out that one only carried Sparows, its this variant that carried AMRAAMs

2. Mig-21 BIS: R-77s with advanced avionics and EW systems. Col. Fornlof spoke pretty highly of the Bison.


Generation 4: Pulse-doppler radar; high maneuverability; look-down, shoot-down missiles.
1. Su-27 SM3 probably the best 4th gen that could not quite cut it to 4+ gen
2. F-15C (non AESA upgrades) just a little less maneuverable than the unstable Flankers
3. Su-30 heavier than the Su-27 with pretty much the same capabilities.

Generation 4+: High agility; sensor fusion; reduced signatures.
1. Typhoon : Probably the best MSA radar in any fighter,
2. Su-35: non aesa, supermaneuverable, reduced signatures, although I would say its sensors are not on par with the typhoon's and its thrust to weight at most fuel and weapons loads will not be on par as well.
3. Rafale: (non AESA) little less thrust to weight than a typhoon


Generation 4++: Active electronically scanned arrays; continued reduced signatures or some “active” (waveform canceling) stealth; some super-cruise
1. Rafale (AESA upgrade) : Spectra and supercruise really set it apart
2. F/A-18E block 3: Boeing even claimed this was 5th gen at one point, it certainly has the avionics worthy of being called 5th gen.
3. F-15QA: No claims of supercruise or radar reductions that Ive heared of yet. Please correct me if I'm wrong but it's certainly one of the best out there.


Generation 5: All-aspect stealth with internal weapons, extreme agility, full-sensor fusion, integrated avionics, some or full super-cruise
1. F-22: the description of 5th gen pretty much just described the F-22
2. F-35, better S.A. Than the F-22 but less on the extreme agility and supercruise part. If there was networking and multi spectral sensors involved then the F-35 would win.
3. J-20: I just know its better than the Su-57 at this point,
Last edited by zero-one on 27 Mar 2019, 17:47, edited 2 times in total.
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mixelflick

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Unread post27 Mar 2019, 16:50

The F-15QA is a real mystery, at least to me.

These things are EXTREMELY expensive, and outside of the FBW plus mongo AAM loadout, I can't see where its justified. Now yes, I'm sure the E/W suite is really something to behold, but... what else does it bring to the table?

It's a Strike Eagle on steroids, but no RCS reduction that I can see. Even if there was one, it'd still be huge with all those weapons hanging off of it. Heavier, so more powerful engines but as you said... no supercruise. So it has to come down to avionics and carrying a large load a long ways.

I guess if you can't get the F-35, you're opting for Super Eagles..
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Unread post27 Mar 2019, 17:38

FMS sales are classically hard to breakdown due to not knowing the MX & Support terms. It could be 1 year, 5, 10, or even 20+.
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zero-one

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Unread post27 Mar 2019, 17:40

mixelflick wrote:The F-15QA is a real mystery, at least to me.


You read my mind.
I guess you could say it has 5th gen avionics. But its not stealth and its performance is very 4th gen meaning its very good at one thing and not so much at others.

When you perform 1v1 DACT with these 4th gens like an F-16 or F-15, you can almost predict what it will do, Vipers will stay fast and kill you will high Gs, F-15s will probably go vertical, Hornets will go horizontal and drag you down to the 300 Kt range.

5th gen is a whole different story, a Raptor can do anything, he could go vertical, horizontal, slow, point and shoot. its more unpredictable.

The F-15QA has the best offensive BVR capability among all 4th gens including 4++ gens. but because it has the RCS of a cow and no IR reduction to speak of and I'm not sure how good the EW suite is, I can't say its survivability is all that good. Shornet will be a lot better.
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garrya

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Unread post27 Mar 2019, 19:13

zero-one wrote:
The F-15QA has the best offensive BVR capability among all 4th gens including 4++ gens. but because it has the RCS of a cow and no IR reduction to speak of and I'm not sure how good the EW suite is, I can't say its survivability is all that good. Shornet will be a lot better.

Offensive BVR
I don't see how F-15 QA can be better than Mig-31 (speed+altitude+big missile), Eurofighter (speed+ramjet missile)
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Unread post27 Mar 2019, 20:38

Avionics, situational awareness, etc.
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zero-one

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Unread post28 Mar 2019, 04:14

garrya wrote:Offensive BVR
I don't see how F-15 QA can be better than Mig-31 (speed+altitude+big missile), Eurofighter (speed+ramjet missile)

Mig 31 has no LPI.
When it starts targeting you, do a bat turn.
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garrya

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Unread post28 Mar 2019, 05:50

zero-one wrote:When it starts targeting you, do a bat turn.

Mig-31 is not SR-71, but i think you get the point. Extreme speed and velocity can boost missile range significantly
sr-71.gif
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marsavian

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Unread post28 Mar 2019, 06:29

Wow, what would the theoretically much faster far higher flying SR-72 do ?! LMT best get it working ;).
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zero-one

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Unread post30 Mar 2019, 13:51

garrya wrote:Mig-31 is not SR-71, but i think you get the point. Extreme speed and velocity can boost missile range significantly


I think they may have realized something wrong with this theory. Because somehow the Mach 3, super long range interceptors never materialized in strength. Only Russia has them in small quantities. And from what I know they are more specialized in shooting bombers.

Its really difficult to shoot, small, fast nimble fighters at long range, even with today's missile tech
Thats why the US and NATO air combat doctrine seems to be based on the medium range air combat with a secondary emphasis on short range WVR in case things don't go according to plan.
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garrya

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Unread post30 Mar 2019, 19:20

zero-one wrote:I think they may have realized something wrong with this theory. Because somehow the Mach 3, super long range interceptors never materialized in strength. Only Russia has them in small quantities. And from what I know they are more specialized in shooting bombers.

Its really difficult to shoot, small, fast nimble fighters at long range, even with today's missile tech
Thats why the US and NATO air combat doctrine seems to be based on the medium range air combat with a secondary emphasis on short range WVR in case things don't go according to plan.

Some competitor ideas to what became the YF-22/YF-23 during the ATF program included high speed designs which were in fact very similar to the YF-12, and some offered even higher speed. But the USAF had more confidence about the all around value of stealth than it did about building a really big heavy interceptor that only relied upon speed and height. Which was pretty good in a pure offensive air to air role, but not so good against a total integrated air defense system, or for roles like defensive counter air where loiter time matters or escorting slower strike planes.

The real problem with the big fast interceptors is overall cost. A MiG-31 is huge, it's the same mass as an F-111, a YF-12 is much more huge but the bigger planes cost much more to buy, to fly (can't even put normal fuel in a YF-12) that is a real world air war problem.
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vilters

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Unread post30 Mar 2019, 23:38

Russia has a vast territory to cover. For them it is more important to get somewhere fast.

We could build mach3+ interceptors but for what purpose?

At the time (long time ago) the F-104 was probably the best purpose build interceptor from its time.

But like all purpose build interceptors (at that time) range suffered.

Cost :
A war is not won in the air alone. You need boots on the ground, and air support to help the guys down there.
See how the F-16 became A2G from a pure A2A concept.
See how the F-15E came out of the F-15C.

"Modern" airframes are multi-purpose, not only to make them polyvalent but to get a better cost/effect balance.
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milosh

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Unread post31 Mar 2019, 19:28

zero-one wrote:
garrya wrote:Offensive BVR
I don't see how F-15 QA can be better than Mig-31 (speed+altitude+big missile), Eurofighter (speed+ramjet missile)

Mig 31 has no LPI.
When it starts targeting you, do a bat turn.


It was long ago but on some forum (maybe russian) I read Soviet AF plan was to employ MiG-31s to create confusion. Having much faster radar then anything else in 1980s they will do fake attacks,forcing targets to break and turn wasting energy and be easy prey for more agile soviet fighters, while real targets for MiG-31s would be bombers and E-3s.
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mixelflick

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Unread post01 Apr 2019, 14:45

Mig-31 was and is a credible threat, with certain capabilities that far exceed some western designs.

I don't care if you're in an F-22 or Typhoon, you're not going to run down a Mig-31 who's sprinting away from you. Neither aircraft can maintain the same speed as the Mig-31, they just weren't designed with that capability in mind. Had it been Iraqi Foxhounds vs. F-15's instead of Foxbats, the air war in DS may have gone differently. Unlike the Mig-25, the 31 isn't as dependent upon ground control intercept radars. It has a data link, extremely long ranged AAM's (R-33) and would have presented an entirely different, more robust challenge for USAF pilots.

I've often though that even today, its deployment to the Middle East would upend a lot of the regions stability (if you can call it that, LOL). Imagine how it would complicate Israeli efforts let's say, if Iran had a fleet of Mig-31's. Or Syria.

I'm not saying it would handily defeat F-22's or 35's, it wouldn't. But pick any fourth or 4++ generation aircraft you like and they're going to have their hands full with the Foxhound. Now especially, given a small number of them are capable of carrying hypersonic weapons...
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