tornado F2/F3

Cold war, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm - up to and including for example the A-10, F-15, Mirage 200, MiG-29, and F-18.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline

nastle

Enthusiast

Enthusiast

  • Posts: 86
  • Joined: 06 Apr 2020, 15:01

Unread post06 Apr 2020, 15:04

Had some questions about this British cold warrior
did the F2 have the ability to launch 4 x skyflash at 4 separate targets [ albeit with SARH guidance?] AT THE SAME TIME i.e can foxhunter radar direct missiles at 4 different targets at the same time ?
in other words like mig31 or F14 ?

F3 entered service in 1989 so all ADV in service before that were F2 ?
Offline

basher54321

Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1989
  • Joined: 02 Feb 2014, 15:43

Unread post06 Apr 2020, 16:40

Tornado F.2 only applies to the first 18 jets delivered, none of them had radars initially but ballast instead. Have seen it referred to as the Timcat which surely would be the best name for it! There might have been 12 delivered by end 1985 to a training squadron (229 OCU).

The F.3 was the designation from the 19th jet and was the first with a Foxhunter radar - was operational from 1987 with 29 squadron.

F.2A was supposedly any F.2s later upgraded to F.3 standard (if any were).
Offline

hornetfinn

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3071
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2013, 08:31
  • Location: Finland

Unread post07 Apr 2020, 10:32

nastle wrote:Had some questions about this British cold warrior
did the F2 have the ability to launch 4 x skyflash at 4 separate targets [ albeit with SARH guidance?] AT THE SAME TIME i.e can foxhunter radar direct missiles at 4 different targets at the same time ?
in other words like mig31 or F14 ?

F3 entered service in 1989 so all ADV in service before that were F2 ?


I'd say it'd be pretty much impossible for any mechanically scanned radar to engage 4 separage targets at the same time with SARH missiles. Two might be possible if those two targets were very close to each other (basically within the radar beam width). This is because SARH guidance needs almost continuous illumination in the end game of the missile for several seconds. During this time the MSA radar can not do anything else as it has to illuminate the target. It'd lose any other targets during that time and would need to search for them again from the beginning.

MiG-31 could do it because it has PESA phased array radar which could switch very quickly from one beam to another. Basically it could illuminate the target for a short while and then quickly send other beams to update other targets and go back to illuminating the targets for those missiles which were in terminal phase.

F-14 could do it because it used ARH guidance for Phoenix missiles. I don't think it could use two Sparrows at separate targets at the same time due to having MSA radar.
Offline

mixelflick

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3909
  • Joined: 20 Mar 2010, 10:26
  • Location: Parts Unknown

Unread post07 Apr 2020, 11:44

The F-3 if memory serves, flew in Desert Storm. Didn't see any action that I'm aware of, nor did it make any news (positive or negative). I'd imagine it would have been of use defending certain high value targets in Saudi Arabia, but otherwise kept out of direct conflict with Iraqi Migs.

There are some reports of it in British service where it put up a pretty good showing (in exercises). But its day had already come and gone by 1991. It was on the way out and exited rather unceremoniously IMO...
Offline

hornetfinn

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3071
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2013, 08:31
  • Location: Finland

Unread post07 Apr 2020, 12:29

I think it Tornado ADV was an aircraft that should've entered service at least 10 years earlier than it actually did. Basically when F-14 and F-15 became operational. Tornado had pretty good radar and weapons system when they figured out all the problems, but that day came when 1980s ended. That's when there was F-15C, F-16C, F-14B, MiG-31, Su-27 and MiG-29 around. Of course the mission was to intercept bombers, but there was serious possibility of getting into fights with enemy interceptors/fighters. Tornado ADV would've probably done well against MiG-25, MiG-23 and MiG-21s or similar aircraft of 1960s and 1970s. Against newer fighters it would've had pretty rough time IMO. But it was pretty serious threat to any bomber or attack aircraft.
Offline

madrat

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2603
  • Joined: 03 Mar 2010, 03:12

Unread post07 Apr 2020, 12:44

Tornado ADV was to F-14A what Tejas is to Mirage 2000C.

hornetfinn wrote:...
F-14 could do it because it used ARH guidance for Phoenix missiles. I don't think it could use two Sparrows at separate targets at the same time due to having MSA radar.


AWG-9 was designed from the beginning to illuminate more targets than it could carry Sparrows. But they moved away from flood / CW with the progression to high-PRF PD. The limitation was the RIO, not the radar technology.
Offline

basher54321

Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1989
  • Joined: 02 Feb 2014, 15:43

Unread post07 Apr 2020, 14:32

mixelflick wrote:There are some reports of it in British service where it put up a pretty good showing (in exercises). But its day had already come and gone by 1991. It was on the way out and exited rather unceremoniously IMO...




Like some other aircraft it had a very bad start but with many years of upgrades ended up with Link 16 (JTIDS), AMRAAM and ASRAAM. The addition of Link16 did seem to transform its A-A capability.

Is it a good start to essentially convert a bomber with a radar optimised for Ground attack into a medium to high altitude interceptor? - no probably not on this evidence.

The AI-24 had lots of teething problems - but worse than others? not certain e.g. the French also had delays in their Mirage 2000 radar that never hit service till about ~1988 - but at least they had an interim I suppose. The radar before the AI-24 was the AI-23 which was the 1950s designed Lightning Radar so I don't think there was a good technology base here.

It was also difficult to integrate AMRAAM with the AI-24 - according to an ex flyer the upgrade initially didn't include mid course guidance. So even in 2003 they apparently deployed with Skyflash still to Iraq however AMRAAM was fully integrated sometime after that.
Offline

basher54321

Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1989
  • Joined: 02 Feb 2014, 15:43

Unread post07 Apr 2020, 16:58

madrat wrote:
hornetfinn wrote:...
F-14 could do it because it used ARH guidance for Phoenix missiles. I don't think it could use two Sparrows at separate targets at the same time due to having MSA radar.


AWG-9 was designed from the beginning to illuminate more targets than it could carry Sparrows. But they moved away from flood / CW with the progression to high-PRF PD. The limitation was the RIO, not the radar technology.






AWG-9 supported AIM-7 with both CW and PD - can see it in the manuals - the AIM-7E could only be guided with CW AFAIK - just like Skyflash.

It also supported up to 6 x AIM-54A in TWS mode to the terminal phase using "Sample Data Semi-Active" guidance whatever that was.

For the Tornado F.3 not even seen a claim it could support multiple concurrent shots at multiple concurrent targets - you would think that was why Active Skyflash was thrown about before they went with AMRAAM.
Offline

nastle

Enthusiast

Enthusiast

  • Posts: 86
  • Joined: 06 Apr 2020, 15:01

Unread post07 Apr 2020, 18:30

basher54321 wrote:
madrat wrote:
hornetfinn wrote:...
F-14 could do it because it used ARH guidance for Phoenix missiles. I don't think it could use two Sparrows at separate targets at the same time due to having MSA radar.


AWG-9 was designed from the beginning to illuminate more targets than it could carry Sparrows. But they moved away from flood / CW with the progression to high-PRF PD. The limitation was the RIO, not the radar technology.






AWG-9 supported AIM-7 with both CW and PD - can see it in the manuals - the AIM-7E could only be guided with CW AFAIK - just like Skyflash.

It also supported up to 6 x AIM-54A in TWS mode to the terminal phase using "Sample Data Semi-Active" guidance whatever that was.

For the Tornado F.3 not even seen a claim it could support multiple concurrent shots at multiple concurrent targets - you would think that was why Active Skyflash was thrown about before they went with AMRAAM.


so why did the RAF bother with the F3 in mid-late 80s ?

per IISS the RAF had 150 F-4 fighters with skyflash in 1987, why not just upgrade them ?
Offline

nastle

Enthusiast

Enthusiast

  • Posts: 86
  • Joined: 06 Apr 2020, 15:01

Unread post07 Apr 2020, 18:32

hornetfinn wrote:
nastle wrote:Had some questions about this British cold warrior
did the F2 have the ability to launch 4 x skyflash at 4 separate targets [ albeit with SARH guidance?] AT THE SAME TIME i.e can foxhunter radar direct missiles at 4 different targets at the same time ?
in other words like mig31 or F14 ?

F3 entered service in 1989 so all ADV in service before that were F2 ?


I'd say it'd be pretty much impossible for any mechanically scanned radar to engage 4 separage targets at the same time with SARH missiles. Two might be possible if those two targets were very close to each other (basically within the radar beam width). This is because SARH guidance needs almost continuous illumination in the end game of the missile for several seconds. During this time the MSA radar can not do anything else as it has to illuminate the target. It'd lose any other targets during that time and would need to search for them again from the beginning.

MiG-31 could do it because it has PESA phased array radar which could switch very quickly from one beam to another. Basically it could illuminate the target for a short while and then quickly send other beams to update other targets and go back to illuminating the targets for those missiles which were in terminal phase.

F-14 could do it because it used ARH guidance for Phoenix missiles. I don't think it could use two Sparrows at separate targets at the same time due to having MSA radar.

good point, also we might have to consider jamming by hostile enemy aircraft

I dont think the mig-23/25 in 80s carried onboard jammers of any kind but soviet bombers were accompanied by jammer/ECM aircraft
Offline

basher54321

Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1989
  • Joined: 02 Feb 2014, 15:43

Unread post07 Apr 2020, 20:39

nastle wrote:so why did the RAF bother with the F3 in mid-late 80s ?

per IISS the RAF had 150 F-4 fighters with skyflash in 1987, why not just upgrade them ?




Tornado fit a requirement for a long endurance Interceptor that was felt required at the time (1970s) - it was also part of a European collaboration jobs and skills program whereas the F-4 was not. :D

There were supposedly plans to upgrade the F-4K/M/Js but they were cancelled at the end of the Cold War along with the F-4s themselves.
Offline

hornetfinn

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3071
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2013, 08:31
  • Location: Finland

Unread post08 Apr 2020, 09:18

basher54321 wrote:
nastle wrote:so why did the RAF bother with the F3 in mid-late 80s ?

per IISS the RAF had 150 F-4 fighters with skyflash in 1987, why not just upgrade them ?


Tornado fit a requirement for a long endurance Interceptor that was felt required at the time (1970s) - it was also part of a European collaboration jobs and skills program whereas the F-4 was not. :D

There were supposedly plans to upgrade the F-4K/M/Js but they were cancelled at the end of the Cold War along with the F-4s themselves.


Also those RAF F-4 fighters were getting old and needed replacement fairly soon anyway. Besides I don't think F-4 could be upgraded with even remotely similar radar performance and range/endurance that Tornado ADV had. Upgrades for F-4 then had AN/APG-65/66 level radars and those are clearly less capable than AI.24 for long range BVR combat against bombers.
Offline

hornetfinn

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3071
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2013, 08:31
  • Location: Finland

Unread post08 Apr 2020, 11:35

basher54321 wrote:
madrat wrote:AWG-9 was designed from the beginning to illuminate more targets than it could carry Sparrows. But they moved away from flood / CW with the progression to high-PRF PD. The limitation was the RIO, not the radar technology.


AWG-9 supported AIM-7 with both CW and PD - can see it in the manuals - the AIM-7E could only be guided with CW AFAIK - just like Skyflash.

It also supported up to 6 x AIM-54A in TWS mode to the terminal phase using "Sample Data Semi-Active" guidance whatever that was.

For the Tornado F.3 not even seen a claim it could support multiple concurrent shots at multiple concurrent targets - you would think that was why Active Skyflash was thrown about before they went with AMRAAM.


Here is very good description how F-14 and Phoenix combo worked (open in new tab or page for larger image):
Image

Basically Phoenix listened to radar signals from AN/AWG-9 or AN/APG-71 and used that for guidance as data link solutions at the time were not good enough. So when F-14 radar was scanning in TWS mode, AIM-54s would use those target returns for guidance. Then when closer to target, they would switch to active-radar homing for terminal guidance. So F-14 radar could search and track multiple targets the whole time in TWS mode. Phoenix would get SARH updates every two seconds as F-14 radar does a single scan in those two seconds. So the missile received only a short illumination from the target during SARH phase, hence called something like "Sampled Data Semi-Active". Not nearly enough for terminal homing definitely, but good enough for initial guidance.

I really don't think any variant of Tornado ADV or F-14 was capable of multiple simultaneous SARH missile shots or that capability was extremely limited. I don't see how MSA radar could do it due to mechanical scanning.
Offline

mixelflick

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3909
  • Joined: 20 Mar 2010, 10:26
  • Location: Parts Unknown

Unread post08 Apr 2020, 12:25

The F-14/Phoenix combo was deadly... in Iranian service.

https://hushkit.net/

For the early part of the war, the Phoenix was the ONLY air to air missile F-14's carried. And they apparently made excellent use of them. Claims here are for 155-160 Phoenix kills vs. 10 combined for the air to air Hawk, AIM-7E, AIM-9J and the gun. I understand many of those may be disputed, but its clear the Phoenix was a feared and deadly weapon - in one case a single Phoenix took out 3 Mig-23's flying in close formation!

The air to air record of the F-14 is put at 1:35/1:37 by no less an authority than Iran (and the world's) top ace, interviewed in that hushkit piece. He made the point that this was accomplished by F-14's/crews that were far from flying at 100%. Essentially said they were flying with one hand tied behind their backs, yet still achieved these kind of results.

They must think very highly of it, given they're modernizing their fleet to last another 10 years. It's said new radars, cockpit displays and a new, lighter Phoenix clone are among the improvements. They are the only aircraft in Iranian service with true BVR capability..
Offline

madrat

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2603
  • Joined: 03 Mar 2010, 03:12

Unread post08 Apr 2020, 13:05

The F-14's CW antenna is a standalone tool, it can operate without the AWG-9 tracks, but that would mean blind shooting. The RIO could operate the CW antenna against multiple targets. The missiles would go for the strongest - often the nearest - return. But by using CW or flood he could paint a tight pack of targets and conceivably as targets disappear the subsequent missiles would pick up on the strongest return available. The AIM-7M could be guided without CW using PD signals, which left you the CW antenna available. CW and flood (a PD mode) are not the same although they are used similarly to paint an area. This may explain photos where AIM-7E were carried alongside newer Sparrows.

Bombers of the early Cold War flew in packs. By the 1960's this was no longer a good strategy and spacing increased. We didn't have the navigation gear available today, so they still flew in groups to keep from straying too far off course in those long trips. A single aircraft operating in isolation is a very dangerous way to operate even with today's whizbang gadgetry.
Last edited by madrat on 08 Apr 2020, 14:35, edited 1 time in total.
Next

Return to Military Aircraft of the Cold War

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests