F-35A to Red Flag

Production milestones, roll-outs, test flights, service introduction and other milestones.
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hythelday

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Unread post05 May 2017, 21:23

wrightwing wrote:
hythelday wrote:
steve2267 wrote:FWIW, while I am unsure if the RF 17-1 Red Air was AESA equipped, the F-35 has flown in other excercises against Red Air that was AESA equipped. By all news accounts, it didn't help the Red Air at all. Witness the losses the F-15E's out of Mountain Home suffered against the F-35's in exercises in 2016. I'm fairly confident I read those Strike Eagles were AESA equipped.


It's because F-15E is bomber, silly! Anyone can beat a bomber in dogfight.

The F-15E in A2A configuration, is a formidable dogfighter. They weren't carrying JDAMs, etc...during the dogfights. Just AIM-9/AIM-120.


This is correct.

Poe's law in effect.
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wrightwing

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Unread post05 May 2017, 21:27

Guys, the aggressor aircraft don't need to exactly replicate Fulcrums/Flankers, to still simulate advanced threats. They simulate capabilities/tactics. Nobody is performing Cobras in combat. Sensor data can be provided, to provide equivalent situational awareness.
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Unread post05 May 2017, 22:09

Obviously, I’m not going to go into detail about how exactly the Air Force uses the T-38 to replicate a much more capable aircraft—that’s not something that needs to be public. The fact is that the T-38A has nowhere near the performance, the avionics or sensor capability of the MiG-29, but the Air Force takes advantage of Soviet/Russian air combat doctrine to overcome some of the platform limitations of the Talon to provide a very realistic threat presentation with the diminutive advanced jet trainer at beyond visual range distances. The T-38As do not fight within visual range with the Raptors—they will “knock it off” at the merge if it gets to that point.

from http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-bu ... lost-20511
My guess is the T-38s are guided by a GCI-like system (or maybe AWACS?) to their targets. So apparently there are ways to make a light trainer act like a big bad Flanker, at least at BVR.
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popcorn

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Unread post05 May 2017, 23:16

T-38s were equipped with jammers for one thing per a news report some years back.
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh
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Dragon029

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Unread post06 May 2017, 01:11

Here's what I collated about the Red Flag participants a couple of months ago.

The Red Air was comprised of:

Civilian contractor pilots from Draken International flying A-4 Skyhawks augmented the F-16s of the Nellis-based 64th Aggressor Squadron. Additionally, F-16Cs from the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard and F-15Cs from the 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard, and Block 50 F-16Cs assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina rotated on to the Red Air team to increase the number of aggressor aircraft needed to assure a robust threat laydown. On average 20 to 24 Red Air aircraft flew each day, including regeneration (a process allowing aggressor aircraft that have been shot down to rejoin the fight), so the Blue Air force would face three or four times that number.


In the photos posted on this thread, we can see that the F-16Cs from the 176th FS (115th FW) and 77th FS (20th FW) were carrying SNIPER and LITENING targeting pods. There's also a photo there of 4x F-15Cs from the 159th FS (125th FW) flying in formation - it's subtle, but on the F-15 2nd from the top, there's a SNIPER pod on its centreline hardpoint.

Here's a thread with images of the 64th Aggressor Squadron F-16s - on the day(s?) that these photos were taken, they were not flying with targeting pods. It is worth noting however that they each flew with an inert AIM-9 (generally M? models, but a couple pictured have an AIM-9X - example). The M models might have been able to be used for getting 'kills' against F-35s, etc when the F-16's radar was insufficient, but they have a limited supply of argon coolant, so they wouldn't be able to be used as IRSTs. The AIM-9Xs however don't require liquid coolant, so it's possible those F-16s were able to use them as short range IRSTs of sorts.

Also, while this isn't specific to Red Flag, it's worth reading up on how an F-5 can simulate a Su-30:


‘We can replicate anything from a MiG‑21 to a Su-24 or a Su-30’, says Maj Hank. ‘If the Su-30 is what you are replicating then you have a certain loadout of weapons, radar, optical systems and helmet-mounted sight that you can use. Of course we do not actually have this in our simple F-5. But, being a specialist in this case we simply know at what point we would have had a valid kill shot with the real Su-30.’

Traditionally, Red Air adversaries are guided by a complex network of ground radars. The ground control intercept (GCI)controller oversees the fight and literally guides the Red force into position, often calling the missile shots. ‘Depending on the threat that we are replicating, we depend on our GCI’, says Hank. ‘Our GCI is known as ‘Gremlin’ and this guy is one of the best in the US Marine Corps. We spend a lot of time with him while preparing our missions. We can do a fine replication job with the F-5, and that is largely thanks to our superb controller.

‘There are a lot of times when our pilots get [into the fight] unobserved, which is pretty impressive because they are going up against four F-35s or four Harriers. We might lose two or three of our buddies, but we are fighting with a different mindset. We can accept the losses if it stops the Blue Air getting their bombs on target.’
...
‘We have three or four different levels of difficulty. An F-35 instructor pilot will simply tell me, ‘Do your best as a level five threat. Here’s the vul [vulnerability] time and this is where the fight starts and ends’’. The debriefng is always a lot more complex, with lots of lessons to be learned.
...
Some of these missions are outsourced to contractor air services such as the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) or Draken International Flying the Hawker Hunter, Kfir, and A-4 Skyhawk, for example. These are similarly flown by experienced former military aviators, but are on tap as and when extra ‘iron’ is needed for specific tasks or exercises.


That's from a PDF here: download/file.php?id=23695
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durahawk

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Unread post06 May 2017, 05:03

Dragon029 wrote:
Civilian contractor pilots from Draken International flying A-4 Skyhawks augmented the F-16s of the Nellis-based 64th Aggressor Squadron. Additionally, F-16Cs from the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard and F-15Cs from the 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard, and Block 50 F-16Cs assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina rotated on to the Red Air team to increase the number of aggressor aircraft needed to assure a robust threat laydown. On average 20 to 24 Red Air aircraft flew each day, including regeneration (a process allowing aggressor aircraft that have been shot down to rejoin the fight), so the Blue Air force would face three or four times that number.


It's worth noting that Florida ANG jet's were probably running both AESA and HMCS. So those complaining about the inadequacy of the Red Air that the F-35 guys faced don't have much of a leg to stand on.

That said, I have said this before and I'll say it again... Red Flag is NOT OT&E, but rather a realistic large scale exercise meant to make aircrews more proficient. Those that think that they should have put the F-35 pilots through some sort of kobayashi maru scenario against Pak-FA analogs for the whole thing to be valid are missing the point by a wide margin.
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playloud

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Unread post06 May 2017, 20:50

durahawk wrote:
It's worth noting that Florida ANG jet's were probably running both AESA and HMCS...

Do we have any evidence for that?
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Unread post06 May 2017, 21:15

playloud wrote:
durahawk wrote:
It's worth noting that Florida ANG jet's were probably running both AESA and HMCS...

Do we have any evidence for that?



http://www.ang.af.mil/Media/Article-Dis ... -for-f-15/
Congressman Ander Crenshaw (center) helps unveil the new APG-63(v)3 Active Electronically Scanned Array during a rollout ceremony at the 125th Fighter Wing in Jacksonville, Fla., April 12, 2010.


Here is a video of the 125th in Romania last year. You can see at the 38sec mark that the pilot has a HMCS.

https://youtu.be/-rUACO_1Ht0?t=38s

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playloud

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Unread post06 May 2017, 22:53

Great find!

Thanks Spud!
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Unread post31 May 2017, 16:52

RED FLAG MEMORIES: COMBAT PILOT EXPLAINS HOW RF HAS EVOLVED AND WHY THE F-35 IS A REAL GAME CHANGER IN FUTURE WARS
May 31 2017

By Alessandro "Gonzo" Olivares

RED FLAG IS NOT A “JOKE” AS SOME CRITICS HAVE SAID. IT’S AN EXERCISE THAT CONTINUES TO EVOLVE TO REPLICATE THE MOST MODERN SCENARIOS, WHERE 5TH GEN. AIRCRAFT ARE PIVOTAL TO THE FINAL SUCCESS.
Red Flag is one of the biggest high-intensity exercises in world. It is designed to simulate the first 10 days of a conflict with hundreds of assets involved. A friendly force (Blue Air) against an enemy force (Red Air) in a scenario designed to provide pilots with real combat experiences so that they can improve their skill set before heading into actual combat. Something evident in the Red Flag motto as well: “Train as you fight, fight as you train”.
I took part in RF twice during my career: in 2002, I was at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, for a “standard” RF, whereas in 2010 I deployed to Alaska for the so-called Red Flag-Alaska (read here about the epic transatlantic flight we undertook to take six Tornado bombers back to Italy after RF-A..).
RF has the ability to bring the pilot into a unique realistic scenario, and is also a place where new tactics are born, developed or put to test.
I remember more than 70 aircraft scheduled to depart from Nellis AFB one morning; one big COMAO per day with a scenario featuring different type of threats (Surface-to-Air and Air-to-Air), targets and ROE (Rules of engagement).
Believe me, RF is much more than a normal large-scale exercise!

EVER-CHANGING SCENARIOS
After attending two RFs I can assert I’ve seen scenarios changing a lot throughout the time.

In 2002 we had a well-defined set up, we knew where the enemy was, how it would react to our presence, where the threats were located etc.; in 2010, we faced a “border line” scenario with enemy elements embedded in friendly forces or civilian population, where CDE (Collateral Damage Estimation) was extremely important, where target VID (Visual IDentification) or EOID (Electro Optical IDentification) were the main success factors in the simulated air campaign. In other words, 8 years apart, the RF scenario had evolved to adapt to the ever-changing “combat environment.”

The most recent RFs prove that the exercise continues to change.

For instance, while maintaining the standard coalitions scheme (Blue and Red forces), RF 17-1 had the two teams involved in a “crisis” instead of a war situation. On top of that, not only does the scenario has introduced the latest and most sophisticated and capable threats that require a change in tactics, but it has also moved on a higher level, focusing on the importance of “battlefield information management,” a kind of task the much debated F-35 is going to master.

Today, taking part in a RF means joining pilots, ground forces, intelligence analysts, cyber and space operators, for testing and training operations at Nellis as well as the Nevada Test and Training Range north of Las Vegas.

All the participants have only one goal in mind: working together to FITS “Find, Identify, Track and Strike” the adversary, to attack forces in a multi-domain battlefield which is based on what we have encountered so far in theater and what we may expect to find in the future wars. This is the real core business and the big change of the most recent RFs.

A RF mission is usually made of 20-25 adversaries: not only aircraft, but also ground-to-air threats, moving and unknown threats etc. In other words, the old fixed scenario has become much more “dynamic” requiring a real-time “combat battlefield” coordinator.

Therefore, the most recent RF scenarios aim to develop the ability to fuse all the combat capabilities. In this context, the F-35 brings to the package the ability to penetrate deep into the most complex and “unknown” environments providing the “overall control” of the battlefield. The F-35, as well as any other modern aircraft with similar sensor fusing ability, can also work in a complementary fashion with the 4th generation fighters, sharing the information with all the other “players” while providing its own amount of fire power to the team.

Stealth technology (capability to survive and operate effectively where others cannot) combined with 5th generation features (i.e. superior information management), were pivotal to achieve the overall RF’s mini-campaign results.
Although the reliance on a single capability or asset will not be enough to succeed in the future scenarios, the F-35, as a “combat battlefield” coordinator, is a “game changer”: it brings new flexibility, new capabilities and, above all, helps enhancing the “survivability” of the coalition packages.

In a “crisis” situation, the coalition needs to timely react to a fast evolving scenario. With the ability to collect, manage and distribute intelligence data, during RF 17-1 the F-35s were able to geo-locate the threats and target them with the required (simulated) weaponry. Even when the F-35s had expended all their ordnance they were requested to stay in the fight and assist the rest of the package by collecting live battlefield data and passing it to older 4th generation fighters via Link-16.

This is the value-add of 5th generation fighters: their ability to suppress enemy targets while contributing to dominate the air and battlespace supporting “legacy” aircraft.

Believe me, it’s not easy to be fighter, striker and tactical battlefield coordinator at same time! So whatever the ROE (Rules Of Engagement) or the role of the F-22 that teamed with the F-35 were, the 20:1 kill ratio against the aggressors is a pretty impressive achievement.

Analysing the RF 17-1, it is quite impressive (at least from an old-school fighter pilot’s standpoint) to hear that the F-35 flew right on top of the threat, did its job performing successful strikes and providing command and control tasks to other COMAO assets, before returning home unscathed.

The Red Flags I attended in the past did only feature “conventional” fight with no 5th generation asset involved. My job as wingman was to keep visual contact with my leader, follow him while he managed the air-to-air picture and, if everything went well, reach the TGT (target) area, using terrain masking, without being targeted by the red air or ground-to-air systems . Less than a decade ago, the friendly forces did not have the capability to target advanced surface-to-air missile threats with an aircraft like the F-35A and exercise planners were obliged to simulate the engagement of the most heavily defended targets with long-range “standoff” weapons – like Tomahawk cruise missiles – a kind of air strike that would require an outstanding intelligence coordination and would not fit too well in case of moving targets.
That changed significantly with the advent of new generation aircraft. The wingmen flying 5th gen. aircraft today, act as air battle managers who are able to “see” the battlefield in a way an F-15 or an F-16 pilot will never see, whereas their leaders can drop PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions) on ground targets or engage enemy fighters.

In 2002, everybody came in into fight, moving from BVR (Beyond Visual Range) and eventually to WVR (Within Visual Range) for a big merge; today, the adversaries roughly know where the stealth fighter *could* be, but they don’t know exactly where they are, how they will approach the target or maneuver to engage the enemy.

Summing up, the real added value of 5th Gen. aircraft (both during RFs and in case of real wars) is their ability to perform information distribution, real-time battlefield management, and dynamic FITS (Find, Identified, Track and Strike) reducing the risk of attrition or collateral damage.

https://theaviationist.com/2017/05/31/r ... ture-wars/
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popcorn

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Unread post26 Jun 2018, 02:31

I'm guessing they jjst kept regenerating bad guys till the F-35 ran out of missiles and had only the gun to go WVR vs multiple bandits with AAMs. Similar training scenario to what the F-22 went through to stress the jet and pilot to the max.
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh
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kimjongnumbaun

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Unread post26 Jun 2018, 07:54

Having the Sa of where the enemy is after you've been killed by them is a huge advantage. There's little guess work involved. It's not realistic and a flaw in how we train (though it's done to the best we can simulate). But yes, the KDR would be astronomically higher in real world scenarios where Red Air didn't have the advantage of prior knowledge.
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Unread post26 Jun 2018, 12:47

kimjongnumbaun wrote:Having the Sa of where the enemy is after you've been killed by them is a huge advantage. There's little guess work involved. It's not realistic and a flaw in how we train (though it's done to the best we can simulate). But yes, the KDR would be astronomically higher in real world scenarios where Red Air didn't have the advantage of prior knowledge.


I think one way to justify this immediate re spawn technique is that they are trying to simulate how it is like to be so heavily out numbered that after the aggressor respawns, he is now acting as the wing man of the person who got shot.

There are around 20-25 aggressors, the enemy has so much more than that, after you killed one you need to know what to do against the wing man who now knows where you are.
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steve2267

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Unread post26 Jun 2018, 15:02

How would an F-35 pilot in a Red Flag (or Green) know that the bogey on his God's Eye panel is alive or dead?

Before the shooting starts, all bogeys are obviously alive. Once you start clubbing baby seals, how is an F-35 pilot to know if a given bogey has yet been shot at or hit? Or if it is a respawn that needs clubbing again?
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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Unread post26 Jun 2018, 18:40

Usually, the respawned plane needs to fly to a respawn area before reentering the fur ball. The issue is when both are close to each other, which invariably happens since there is only so much training area to begin with. Then you have the issue of task saturation where pilots aren’t going to be able to mentally track every plane that is alive and dead amongst all the chaos, then a few Red Air are going to slip through. The same thing happened in the past where an F-22 was killed by an F-16 he just shot down, because the F-22 thought he was already dead. Training has limits to what it can simulate. To me it’s no big deal. If the scenario is tougher than real life, then our guys are better prepared and have a better chance of coming home.
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