F-35 Fifth Gen and new way of thinking

F-35 Armament, fuel tanks, internal and external hardpoints, loadouts, and other stores.
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white_lightning35

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Unread post23 Feb 2018, 17:32

A few issues come to mind when thinking about the B-21 concepts being described here. Numero uno is a glaring one: MONEY! Remember what the USAF big-wigs said: affordability is a very high priority for this program. They don't want a "muh 1.5 trillion dollar plane" debacle all over again. I would love if all these very cool ideas floating around were implemented, but they are all very expensive-sounding, so let's not get ahead of ourselves.

My second question is about the supposedly unmanned missions the B-21 might be doing. Say IOC is in 2028; will AI be capable enough by then? Or perhaps even more importantly, will politicans be okay with sending a strategic bomber out on strike missions without anyone on board?
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Unread post23 Feb 2018, 17:57

white_lightning35 wrote:A few issues come to mind when thinking about the B-21 concepts being described here. Numero uno is a glaring one: MONEY! Remember what the USAF big-wigs said: affordability is a very high priority for this program. They don't want a "muh 1.5 trillion dollar plane" debacle all over again. I would love if all these very cool ideas floating around were implemented, but they are all very expensive-sounding, so let's not get ahead of ourselves.


Money is obviously an issue. My thought was along the line of... if it can carry 40,000lbs of bombs (a number I plucked out of thin air), why couldn't it carry 40,000lb of extra gas , or 30,000lb of gas and 10,000lb of AIM-120D's. I think the bigger problem to my hairbrained idea is the refueling hardware. How would that work? If it means messing with the B-21 OML, that is probably a VERY big and VERY expensive deal.

Here's an even hairier brained idea: Make the re-fueling portion of the B-21 out of flyback tank(er)s. In each B-21 weapons bay is a large fuel tank that happens to have foldable wings (ala MALD / LRASM) and a small turbofan plus refueling kit. Well outside known or projected threats, open weapon bay doors, extend refueling kit & re-fuel F-22's, F-35's. Then retract refueling kit and eject tank(er) to have it fly back home. Optionally, eject tank(er)s, have them deploy wings etc, and re-fuel F-22's / F-35's apart from the B-21, so the B-21 is not flying with bay doors open for an extended period.

white_lightning35 wrote:My second question is about the supposedly unmanned missions the B-21 might be doing. Say IOC is in 2028; will AI be capable enough by then? Or perhaps even more importantly, will politicians be okay with sending a strategic bomber out on strike missions without anyone on board?


High risk, deep strike mission to which you are committed but that has a high risk the aircraft is not coming back and you are willing to risk that $550M airframe? Send the B-21 unmanned.

Deep strike mission where you want a thinking human on board to make real time, in-the-know decisions? Send the B-21 manned.

Accompany F-35's, and F-22's on a long range strike / offensive air mission as a large magazine shooter, sensor, data-relay, maybe even a tanker? No AI required. Send it unmanned. Accompanying F-35's / F-22's could remote fly / re-program it mid-flight.
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, add dollop of F-117 & gob of F-22, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well, then bake. Whaddya get? An F-35.
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Unread post23 Feb 2018, 18:01

steve2267 wrote:...a BIG DATA approach by the enema could reveal the neighborhood of the B-21 racetracks, so perhaps a racetrack is the wrong CONOP here, and instead the B-21's would sweep through an area. On the USAF side, a network disinformation approach to selecting a shooter at any given time may be required to deny as much "track information" to the enema as possible. That is, don't have ROCK1 keep shooting the missiles. You may need to have the B-21, ROCK1, launch the first missile, but missile shots 2 and 3 may need to come from an F-35 and an F-22, or ROCK4, before you have ROCK1 launch again. On the other hand, I may be getting too "cute" with my ideas..


Actually I don't think it's too cute, but reflects the "mesh network" web of shooters/sensors, that result from the fifth gen tech. We will less and less think of platforms/nodes, and more and more look at CONOPS as the system. It's possible that an AI algorithm is used to pick the "next shooter," from a distributed web. This is the type of new thinking that's emerging.

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element1loop

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Unread post24 Feb 2018, 07:36

blindpilot wrote:
Actually I don't think it's too cute, but reflects the "mesh network" web of shooters/sensors, that result from the fifth gen tech. We will less and less think of platforms/nodes, and more and more look at CONOPS as the system. It's possible that an AI algorithm is used to pick the "next shooter," from a distributed web. This is the type of new thinking that's emerging.

MHO,
BP


Network algo selection of shooter is what has already been enabled in RAAFs Project Jericho's developing 5th-gen integration based cooperative-engagement capabillity, mediated via E-7A Wedgetail. Which is a jointly manned [person-ed?™... Justin?] multirole platform that has Army and Navy directly involved in operating it, via a "virtual wedgetail" approach, so that every service can see what the system can do for every service, and they develop joint conops and the system of systems further from that joint focus.

In other words, ADF wanted a complete joint culture change, and systems integration change before F-35 arrives (late this year).

The initial development of joint coop-engagement was scheduled for testing in Q1 2016, specifically for F-35A plus growler application, but software implementation tested with SH and classic first (for A2A mode). There are scores of phased integrations like that scheduled within Jericho, to get a real headstart on integrating F-35 data and operating concept within the ADFand network software, well before F-35 arrives.

A system of systems develops alongside the conops ideas, until they validate, or else invalidate each other in testing, to identify the most effective applications of the linked data in all services.

I suppose it remains a software framework until there's 12 or so F-35A available in Aust to keep filling it out and validating it.

" ... VLO tanking operations in the middle of an active air-to-air battle is not a good idea. I was thinking more along the lines of using the B-21 to "top off" the F-35's, F-22's a few hundred nautical miles out from the planned or anticipated area of potentially active air-to-air engagements, and then again during egress. ..."

Yes, that was what I was thinking too, not so much for ingress, but as an emergency pitstop on egress, that gives them just enough fuel buffer to get back to a KC-30A, further back.

That would certainly make a big difference if the fight needed more fuel than was anticipated at the outset of the fight. You wouldn't need many of them to make a big difference.

If unmanned the KC-30A can tank the KC/E-21 tankers, and they can stay near the fight for days, making sure the 5th-gens can hold the air, uninterupted.

The 5th-gens lower drag, longer range, and larger tanks make large numbers of support tankers less necessary, same to JSTARS, and old-school AWACS approach (E-7A is much better and cheaper to operate).

With money saved you can capitalise a dedicated automated B-21 derived tactical VLO boom tanker.

That idea really appeals.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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Unread post19 Apr 2018, 03:04

"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh
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Unread post20 Apr 2018, 14:19

B-21 as envisioned here is a swiss army knife of sorts. I'm not sure that's realistic. Just getting the cost down to make an affordable strike platform where we can afford 100+ is going to be difficult IMO. Real difficult. You start layering in all these other capabilities/roles and cost goes up - that's just the reality of the situation. Last thing the AF wants is to get into another B-2/20 plane production run fiasco..

Dunno. It's just starting to sound like the B-21 is being asked to be an F-35: A strike platform. An ISR platform. A tanker. And arsenal plane for air to air. A laser platform.

A lot of mission creep...
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Unread post20 Apr 2018, 14:36

The former CSAF mandated he personally approve any changes to the LRSB requirements/specs precisely to prevent mission creep. Lots of wild and creative ideas on B-21 variants floating around but the USAF is focused on the bomber role.
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
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Unread post08 May 2018, 02:03

Just had a thought on this topic: maybe one way of “5th gen thinking” will be to have pilots within a given squadron specialize in different aspects or forms of combat, even while flying identical aircraft. A four ship could fly out with one guy trained heavily in CAS, another trained in close air to air, a third with extensive EW knowledge, and maybe the wing leader trains more heavily in tactics and coordination. Or maybe the split will be completely different.
Training might actually be the limiting factor.
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Unread post08 Jun 2018, 21:16

If I had the systems suite that the F-35 does, I'd already be pursuing a MADL-enabled joint weapons launch for coordinated ToT effects tactics for both air dominance and ATG.

A2A
Say 2 different flights or pairs of F-35s jointly coordinate SA on threat aircraft like they do, and set up simultaneous approaches to NEZ.

Given what was already available on legacy systems with the Time-to-Target symbology and Fire Control Computer solutions for Air-to-Air mode in both the HUD and the MFD, and realizing that F-35 avionics is a massive step up generationally from legacy Fire Control Computers, you can have a field day with developing different approaches to laying on inescapable solutions for threats, especially with a voice-controlled virtual assistant.

Team salvo fires driven by the fire control software of 2 x AIM-120D with data link provided Time-to-Target solutions would be a nightmare to face as threat air. I think we're looking at serious BVR pk increases, as there is no indicator that you're being illuminated in RF spectrum until it's too late.

With coordinated arrival on-target in stages, even if the first missile was optically detected by new Russian or Chinese CM systems, you could have the second missile arriving into your evade envelope with linked initiation of the fuse.

If they use ECM, an agile multi-mode seeker array would be nice to have, which is probably why guys have said that the weapons really need to evolve for the 5th Gen. It would be great if they used multi-mode seekers on CUDA and kept anything related to CUDA info pretty much black.
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Unread post10 Jun 2018, 00:28

element1loop wrote:
blindpilot wrote:
Actually I don't think it's too cute, but reflects the "mesh network" web of shooters/sensors, that result from the fifth gen tech. We will less and less think of platforms/nodes, and more and more look at CONOPS as the system. It's possible that an AI algorithm is used to pick the "next shooter," from a distributed web. This is the type of new thinking that's emerging.

MHO,
BP


Network algo selection of shooter is what has already been enabled in RAAFs Project Jericho's developing 5th-gen integration based cooperative-engagement capabillity, mediated via E-7A Wedgetail. Which is a jointly manned [person-ed?™... Justin?] multirole platform that has Army and Navy directly involved in operating it, via a "virtual wedgetail" approach, so that every service can see what the system can do for every service, and they develop joint conops and the system of systems further from that joint focus.

In other words, ADF wanted a complete joint culture change, and systems integration change before F-35 arrives (late this year).

The initial development of joint coop-engagement was scheduled for testing in Q1 2016, specifically for F-35A plus growler application, but software implementation tested with SH and classic first (for A2A mode). There are scores of phased integrations like that scheduled within Jericho, to get a real headstart on integrating F-35 data and operating concept within the ADFand network software, well before F-35 arrives.

A system of systems develops alongside the conops ideas, until they validate, or else invalidate each other in testing, to identify the most effective applications of the linked data in all services.

I suppose it remains a software framework until there's 12 or so F-35A available in Aust to keep filling it out and validating it.

" ... VLO tanking operations in the middle of an active air-to-air battle is not a good idea. I was thinking more along the lines of using the B-21 to "top off" the F-35's, F-22's a few hundred nautical miles out from the planned or anticipated area of potentially active air-to-air engagements, and then again during egress. ..."

Yes, that was what I was thinking too, not so much for ingress, but as an emergency pitstop on egress, that gives them just enough fuel buffer to get back to a KC-30A, further back.

That would certainly make a big difference if the fight needed more fuel than was anticipated at the outset of the fight. You wouldn't need many of them to make a big difference.

If unmanned the KC-30A can tank the KC/E-21 tankers, and they can stay near the fight for days, making sure the 5th-gens can hold the air, uninterupted.

The 5th-gens lower drag, longer range, and larger tanks make large numbers of support tankers less necessary, same to JSTARS, and old-school AWACS approach (E-7A is much better and cheaper to operate).

With money saved you can capitalise a dedicated automated B-21 derived tactical VLO boom tanker.

That idea really appeals.





Refueling aircrafts for sustained operations is a big challenge. Current platforms are too vulnerable (USAF tankers) or barely sufficient (USN tankers). Given that the biggest challenge remains China and most of its important targets are close to the coast, the solution can be maritime: Pre-position low cost unmanned underwater vehicles that can elevate a hose out of the water. Send a couple of V22 to be refueled with more than 20.000lbs of fuel (payload capacity of V22) from the UUV and then refuel a formation of aircrafts. The UUV then moves to a different location unknown to the enemy. The formation of aircrafts can be refueled again either by the same UUV (that has now relocated) or from another UUV. This solution allows you with a much smaller number of tankers (V-22s) to refuel a much higher amount of fuel than any current (F/A-18) or future (MQ-25) solution. These tankers have limited refueling capacity (14.000lbs at 500nm). The proposed solution offers multiple rounds of refueling 20.000lbs of fuel at practically unlimited distances (ferry range of V-22 is like 2000nm)

What do you think of that?
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Unread post10 Jun 2018, 01:44

At least a few of the proposed MQ-25 designs can offload >15,000lbs at 500nm. How much more hasn't been said, and some design changes are being incorporated, to carry even more. The ability to provide 4 F-35s with 4k to 5k pounds of fuel at 500nm (or 8 aircraft with 2k to 2.5k), greatly extends their reach. The USN will have enough for 10+ tankers per deployed carrier.
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Unread post10 Jun 2018, 01:52

RAN FAA A4G Skyhawk 1970s: https://www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ AND https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/
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Unread post10 Jun 2018, 04:40

LOL.

Since no sane sub skipper of current boats would want to be conducting such a refueling where they become highly visible to surface radars... such a UUV needs to be designed from scratch, no?

Might as well then make it a totally robotic affair... design said UUV to house some number of unmanned V-22s (UV-22?) or maybe the new V-280? Store the UV-22 / UV-280 onboard the UUV where it is fueled / refueled. Float the boat, uncover / unhangar the UV-22, it takes off to conduct refueling ops. Meanwhile, the UUV re-submerges and moves to some other location where it will recover the UV-22/280. UUV lands, is covered/hangared, UUV submerges and moves to a new launch point, whilst the UUVs are re-fueled underwater, out of sight.

Not going to be cheap. Not going to be easy. But I'd say cheaper and easier than trying to pop a hose out from the UUV and re-fuel a V-22 in flight.
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, add dollop of F-117 & gob of F-22, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well, then bake. Whaddya get? An F-35.
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