ST21 Super Tomcat

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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basher54321

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Unread post04 Sep 2019, 17:53

Some new artwork on another what if:

So, tighten your ejection seat straps, wipe the controls, throttle up, and snap a salute as we rocket you down the catapult into the realm of alternative aerospace history.


https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/2 ... ooked-like
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geforcerfx

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Unread post05 Sep 2019, 00:35

Would have been an interesting aircraft, but looking at how well the NAVAIR functioned in the twenty teens I don't think we would have any flying still today.
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Corsair1963

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Unread post05 Sep 2019, 02:42

Honestly, I think you could make a good case. That the Tomcat would have made a better "Striker" than the F-15E. :wink:


Not that it matters at this stage....
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Unread post05 Sep 2019, 03:44

Corsair1963 wrote:Honestly, I think you could make a good case. That the Tomcat would have made a better "Striker" than the F-15E. :wink:


Not that it matters at this stage....

would have had fewer 2k class stations.
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mixelflick

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Unread post05 Sep 2019, 14:47

Would have made for an interesting rendition of aircraft on USN decks today..

The ST-21 would have been a great striker, which is the primary mission the Navy's been performing since 2001. It would have been in its prime during the 2001-2020 timeframe, a lack of stealth being its only real shortcoming. With the F-35C coming online now, 2 squadrons of each would make for an incredibly capable air arm. After relinquishing the strike role to the F-35C, it would have made a superb fleet air defense platform, especially in the SCS. Far more capable in dealing with Chinese J-10's, J-11's and SU-35's vs. what we have today IMO.

The Navy would have a great showcase for the ST-21 too... in Top Gun II :mrgreen:
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Unread post01 Oct 2019, 05:55

I think most people recognize the F-18 Super Hornet is a good multi-role fighter that is reasonably priced and fairly capable. It isn't a bad aircraft at all. In fact, I think it is what the F-18 should have been to start with. But the thing about the Super Hornet that it will never be able to overcome is the simple fact it isn't an F-22, an F-14 or even an A-6. Certainly it is an aircraft capable of performing the roles those 3 aircraft perform. But it isn't as effective in either of those roles.

I don't think we'd be witnessing as much F-14 nostalgia as we are today had the U.S. Navy received an F-22 Raptor like replacement for the Tomcat. It ended up with a good aircraft overall. But it ended up with a design that isn't as good in the strike role as the A-6. Nor does it have the type of kinematic performance to put it on the same playing field as most of today's top fighters. While it is a good aircraft, an affordable aircraft and quite possibly the best option we had for getting new airframes aboard carriers at the time, I think it is a design that most of us look at and find wanting in many regards.

I hope F/A-XX makes good progress and delivers an aircraft that combines the latest in stealth/technology with good range and raw power/performance. The Super Hornet has seen us through our nearly 20 year fight in the GWOT. But I just don't think it has the necessary qualities to be the center piece of naval aviation moving into the realm of peer adversaries flying late model Flankers and emerging 5th generation fighters. It might be able to hold its own in many ways, but I don't want our naval aviators trying to get by on "just good enough". I want to give them the tools to dominate if push comes to shove.
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Unread post02 Oct 2019, 15:17

Well said my friend, well said...
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aaam

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Unread post14 Oct 2019, 07:10

A bit of chronology.

First there was Tomcat 21. This was a Grumman-Navy study into what could be done with the Tomcat with R&D capped at $1 billion.

Second, there was Super Tomcat 21. This was the same exercise with a higher cap, I forget exactly what it was, but it was not enormously more.

Both of the above were looked at as alternatives to NATF, for a couple of reasons. First, the basic ATF concept did not allow for that much strike capability, and although the NATF versions (which were so different from the ATF that they would have had to have separate production lines) would have had more, Navy still wasn't that enamored. Second, NATF was going to be expensive no matter what. During the competition AF announced it was going to buy its birds at a slower rate that originally announced. This would drive NATF cost up even more, and so Navy eventually pulled out. The plan then was that the A-12 would handle strike and evolved F-14s would handle the fighter role until around 2015 or so. I do not know if by "evolved" they meant Super Tomcat 21.

Quickstrike, also known as "Block IV upgrade" came later, after A-12 was canceled, as an interim solution pending development of the A-X strike aircraft which was, unlike A-12, based on input from the Fleet itself. Once A-X arrived, F-14 role would drop back to more fighter oriented. It's worthy of note that this was the same rationale for the Super Hornet, an interim aircraft to be fielded until the plane the Navy really needed could enter service. (A-X eventually became A/F-X when after the F-14 was killed, Navy added more fighter capability). Quickstrike involved continuing the a/g weapons integration that was already going on with the Tomcat, porting over the F-15E's strike software and enhancing it (e.g Inverse SAR) and coupling that to the APG-71s higher power and bigger radar, along with making the cockpit NVG compatible and a few other changes. Off the shelf sensor/designators would be integrated, although they had not yet been selected. All F-14Ds as well as earlier F-14s with sufficient airframe life could be rebuilt into Quickstrikes, although it may not be worth it with the As or Bs . The Quickstrike would have cost far less to develop and be ready sooner than the Super Hornet, primarily because it was a modification rather than a new aircraft. it was estimated that Quickstirkes at a comparable production rate would cost about $2 million more that the projected price at that time of the Super Hornet. Even though the F-14D required far less maintenance than the A/B, its maintenance costs would never have gotten down to the level projected for the Super Hornet.

This died when Cheney killed the F-14D and ordered Navy to buy the Super Hornet. Not that well known is the year after that, the Navy asked for no money for the Super Hornet but put money into the budget request to buy more F-14Ds, including the cost of restarting procurement of lead term items that weren't ordered in that year gap. NAVAIR was taken behind the woodshed where the facts of life were "explained", and from then on were onboard with the "school solution". In all fairness, Grumman contributed to the situation Keith their arrogance and blindness to how the game is played.

All of this could have been incorporated into Super Tomcat 21. There were actually two slightly different models. Super Tomcat 21 and Attack Super Tomcat 21. The is that the former was first and foremost a fighter with good strike capability while on the latter the priorities were reversed. The "Attack" model also had slightly more fuel than the fighter version and also the pylons under the engine nacelles were "weaponized". Super Tomcat 21s could also be rebuilt from earlier Tomcats, but realistically it would only be Ds that would be considered for "the treatment". One note was that the addition of the Fowler flaps and some aerodynamic refinements wold allow the Super Tomcats to launch/recover with a useful warload with a negative Wind Over the Deck. It was said that the R&D for the Super Tomcat 21s would again be less than that of the Super Hornet, but naturally they would cost even more than Quickstrike.

Frankly, even Grumman didn't push the "Advanced Strike Fighter-14" that much. This would be a new airframe that just looked like an F-14, but was in reality a whole new aircraft and at that point it would be hard to make a case for it relative to a "clean sheet" design that could take full advantage of all the technology would have been developed by that time.

All of the above, though, required the F-14D to get from here to there. When it was killed, all of the above died. Indirectly, so did the AIM-152 a few years later.
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Unread post14 Oct 2019, 14:35

"This would be a new airframe that just looked like an F-14, but was in reality a whole new aircraft....."

The same didn't stop Boeing from pitching the SH, which looked just like an F-18 but was in reality a whole new aircraft. Congress bought it hook, line and sinker... and they're still buying them. I might be wrong about this, but Grumman seemed to be way behind other aerospace firms insofar as the lobbying/"playing the game" type PR stuff.

The F-14 when called upon served admirably. Whether that was shooting down enemy Mig's or striking targets deep in the heart of Afghanistan. And as a fleet air defender, it was 2nd to none. The perception of the AWG-9/Phoenix/Tomcat as a weapons system meant nobody got stupid and ever tried anything. People argue that it was perception only, but ask the Iranians - or better yet, the Iraqi Air Force.

By all accounts, the Tomcat decimated them..
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aaam

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Unread post14 Oct 2019, 19:33

In the interest of completeness, Boeing wasn't involved in pitching the SH, the acquisition of MDD was still years in the future.
MDD had been pushing significantly enhanced versions of the Hornet domestically and internationally for years with little success, although the plane did have a very powerful constituency in Congress and DoD.

The cancellation of the A-12 offered an opportunity. What became known as the Super Hornet was a design that was based on version 3 of the "Hornet 2000" which had been pitched to Europe earlier along with some ideas from a more strike oriented version of the Hornet offered to the Navy previously which was rejected in favor of the (later canceled) A-6F. There was no competition that led to the SH. DoD simply directed the Navy to buy it. It was said that since this was merely a later model of the F/A-18 (like for F/A-18A/B to F/A-18C/D), this was OK. Th decision was quite controversial at the time, and the machinations were quite interesting. When it was opined that performance gains and testing seemed somewhat modest for a new aircraft, and there wasn't any competition it was explained that this was alright since this was just the latest model of the existing design. But when the point was raised by various groups that there seemed to be an awful lot of money being spent on R&D the story was that no, this wasn't out of line- it's a new airplane.

Like I said, Grumman ticked off a lot of people, including their own supporters, with their arrogance and obtuseness while this was all going on.
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Unread post15 Oct 2019, 01:31

The Cold War end killed any notion of large fighters for the Navy.

If the Cold War had been protracted we would have seen it and some of the ST21 capability probably could have been further justified by offering it to be back-filled into the USAF F-111 program. Think about it, ST21 was impressive with its range but it is no where near range of an Aardvark. Add to the range of the F-111 with F110 engines and the speed possible with an internalized load. Perhaps you could have pushed F119's in them instead for supercruise. AIM-120 could have replaced AIM-9 in the forward bay of F-111. (That really depends on if it had the correct radar and comms.) SDB loads in an F-111 would have been ridiculous. You might have never seen F-15E beyond the export market. But all this is just as unlikely as extending life out of the other available airframes built before technology caught up to their time like the A-5, F-105, and F-106. Long ranged birds enhanced with a decent modern radar, AMRAAM, and modernized engines...
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Unread post15 Oct 2019, 01:32

As far as i am concerned, i never really understood why the Super Hornet was even needed in the first place. It seems to me that the Navy's needs post-Cold War could have been filled by simply continuing procurement of F-14Ds and F/A-18Cs into the 90s and 2000s. The F-14D Quickstrike would have given the Navy a true F-15E equivalent that could have replaced advantageously both the older F-14As in the fleet defender/fighter role and the A-6E in the strike role. The F/A-18C as well had room for improvements and further growth and some of its deficiencies like poor range & endurance and limited 'bring-back' payload could have been mitigated with modest modifications like adopting the 480 gallons EFTs and changes to the undercarriage (as suggested in the very critical GAO 1996 report on the SH), pretty much negating the need for the Super Hornet. I think a Carrier Air Wing of evolved F-14Ds and improved F/A-18Cs with continuous upgrades could have been a potent and credible force well into the 2010s.

This is basically what the Air Force did with the F-16 and F-15. It continued procurement of those two types until the 2000s, continuously upgraded them and even today they still form the backbone of the Air Force to large extent. I think following the Air Force's approach would have been far more sensible frankly.

But what do i know... :roll:
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Unread post15 Oct 2019, 06:26

madrat wrote:The Cold War end killed any notion of large fighters for the Navy.

If the Cold War had been protracted we would have seen it and some of the ST21 capability probably could have been further justified by offering it to be back-filled into the USAF F-111 program. Think about it, ST21 was impressive with its range but it is no where near range of an Aardvark. Add to the range of the F-111 with F110 engines and the speed possible with an internalized load. Perhaps you could have pushed F119's in them instead for supercruise. AIM-120 could have replaced AIM-9 in the forward bay of F-111. (That really depends on if it had the correct radar and comms.) SDB loads in an F-111 would have been ridiculous. You might have never seen F-15E beyond the export market. But all this is just as unlikely as extending life out of the other available airframes built before technology caught up to their time like the A-5, F-105, and F-106. Long ranged birds enhanced with a decent modern radar, AMRAAM, and modernized engines...


The plan was for 527 F-14Ds. As I said, what killed that was not the Navy, but direction from DoD. USAF of the time, of course, was happy to see long ranged Navy fighters go away.

ST-21 was never intended as a F-111 replacement, it was a NATF alternative with added strike capability. The original, original replacement for the Aardvark was the B-1A (another topic). When that died, F-15E eventually arrived as a replacement, and even it didn't have the payload/range of the F-111. FB-111H would have used the F101, not the F110, which was more of a fighter engine. Even though the H would have been a big jump up, it wouldn't have had the versatility and flexibility needed. Doubtful if F119 would have been of much benefit (besides, that engine was years in the future), in its role supercruise (even if it would have been possible with teh F-111's airframe) wasn't necessary and the intakes and aircraft would have requited a major fuselage intake and center barrel redesign to accommodate them. Now you're getting into enough costs you might as well go for a new aircraft.

Not sure what you mean by the forward bay of an F-111. GD trialed two AIM-9s on a trapeze in F-111's single internal bay, but that wasn't adopted.
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aaam

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Unread post15 Oct 2019, 06:42

Tiger05 wrote:As far as i am concerned, i never really understood why the Super Hornet was even needed in the first place. It seems to me that the Navy's needs post-Cold War could have been filled by simply continuing procurement of F-14Ds and F/A-18Cs into the 90s and 2000s. The F-14D Quickstrike would have given the Navy a true F-15E equivalent that could have replaced advantageously both the older F-14As in the fleet defender/fighter role and the A-6E in the strike role. The F/A-18C as well had room for improvements and further growth and some of its deficiencies like poor range & endurance and limited 'bring-back' payload could have been mitigated with modest modifications like adopting the 480 gallons EFTs and changes to the undercarriage (as suggested in the very critical GAO 1996 report on the SH), pretty much negating the need for the Super Hornet. I think a Carrier Air Wing of evolved F-14Ds and improved F/A-18Cs with continuous upgrades could have been a potent and credible force well into the 2010s.

This is basically what the Air Force did with the F-16 and F-15. It continued procurement of those two types until the 2000s, continuously upgraded them and even today they still form the backbone of the Air Force to large extent. I think following the Air Force's approach would have been far more sensible frankly.

But what do i know... :roll:


The original reason for the F/A-18E/F was the same as for F-14 Quickstrike: an interim aircraft to provide strike capability pending arrival of the plane the Navy really needed for that role, A-X. F/A-18C/D was scheduled to conclude its production run, the ones on order would have filled out the Navy's needs (there being only so much space on a flight deck). When SH was ordered into production, additional "Classic" Hornets had to be ordered to fill the decks for the F-14Ds that wouldn't be coming and also because without a "warm" Hornet production line, the cost of the Super Hornet would go up drastically... how do you keep the workforce and infrastructure in place if you're not building anything?

The larger fuel tanks were possible and MDD had even studied adopting them on the Classics, the Canadians were already using them, but it would take some work to get them operational for carrier work. However, the momentum for a totally new aircraft (which MDD naturally favored) meant that was not pursued. Besides, if you had Quickstrike, wold you need to keep the Classic Hornets? I dunno.

Again, the thing to keep in mind is that the shutdown of the F-14D and the decision to build the Super Hornet was initially a DoD, not Navy, decision.
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Unread post15 Oct 2019, 07:26

F101 was bigger than F110. The F-111, like the F-14, used TF30 originally. Going to F110 would have been a similar re-configuration on the F-111 that occurred on F-14D. But putting F101 in creates a whole new class of plane and completely restructures its rear half.
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