F-35 Ready For Missile Defense By 2025: MDA Chief

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element1loop

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Unread post11 Aug 2020, 03:16

marauder2048 wrote:
element1loop wrote:
marauder2048 wrote:The Adams paper (pg. 10 figure 4a) has a high-Beta, 1000, RV compared to a MaRV.

Figure 16 from Postol is a lower Beta RV but the velocity/altitude profiles are still useful
Fig16.jpg



What you've just posted confirms what I said, most of the slowing occurs below 50,000 feet, i.e. below 14 to 15 km altitude.


By 50,000 ft, the RV has lost nearly 50% of its velocity.
Between 50 kft - 75,000 kft the RV is between 3 km/s - 5 km/s.
That's exactly the engagement envelope for an interceptor in the 3 - 5 km/sec range.

Zachran was suggesting in a recent paper (the follow-on to https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=687583)
that interceptors in the 6 km/s would be feasible with the recent advances in very light KVs.



Think about it. 6 km/sec, nose-up at a high attitude. What altitude rise above 50,000 ft does it achieve in the first second?

It goes up at 15,000 to 20,000 ft per second, the engagement altitude would thus be well above 75,000 ft so the RV will be much faster than the conceptual argument's points. That was my original remark's gist. If you use an F-35A and fly lower, at say 35,000 feet launch and Mach 1.2 (with positioning and vector based on the EW tracking) then you have to be confident of where its really aimed and be in place at speed before and just as the RV arrives, because the range at speed of the interceptor is going to be slower and accelerate slower as well as launch altitude and speed are decreased.

That's possibly fine for a regular RV, it could work, but I think it needs an algo machine flying the platform, not a human brain and reflexes. But we also don't know the full dynamic agility-change characteristics below 100,000 ft, where the RV is going to become increasingly agile as it drops and slows. The radius will tighten for the interceptor to complicate the terminal angle and inertia. This is where performance will matter most, to get the interceptor into a kill position, IMO.

And is it hit-to-kill? I think it has to be at that speed as the frag is probably too slow to expand, but then an instant later its expanded too much, and is now too rarefied to get hits. This is another timing and angle problem where it can all go wrong and PoK falls off a cliff. So a hit-to-kill package is needed, IMO.

So if it's hitting-to-kill why not then just do that from the ground with say two interceptors, when the RV is so much slower, and closer to the SAM's final stage speed?

But if it's done from the air its going to be too fast to hit above 100,000 ft, and possibly too agile below 50,000 ft to 25,000 ft level. ... hmm ... so you have about 50,000 feet depth and ~2 seconds in which to hit it, 3 seconds at most.

And do we know what its actually aiming to hit in the last 5 seconds of flight yet? I would say no, and unlikely to get a reasonable PoK on an increasingly agile RV when it shows its hand in the last 3 seconds before impact.

I do believe you know what 'increasingly agile' with slowing speed refers to. That's the point of the hype-RVs, to avoid interception and to confuse as to what the real target is forcing engagement at lower PoK. The Russians made a big noise about their RVs being an 'impossible' engagements to make.

OK, not impossible, PoK can be systematically increased with the right tools and development, but you get one shot at the weapon and it's extremely challenging. You need the right platform and interceptor, plus perfect timing and no failures or snarl-ups, and no mechanism lag issues. I could be wrong but I'm not sure an F-35A, plus a 6 km/s hit-to-kill interceptor and a human pilot can do this reliably. The pilot will not react properly to a Mach 10 to 15 RV even with perfect SA, but no practical experience of doing it other than an engagement simulations as training, with maybe one real world test, at best (I suspect none in training). And then there's WX variability with makes every engagement unique, and not something the pilot can really train for.

So I'd test this engagement concept more practically within the mission simulator, i.e. the entire mostly missile defense mission flights, with realistic sustained loiter, and engagement performances as a guide to what's going to be possible, and what sort of PoK potential this has in battle, including WX variability and penetration-aids in later conceptual tests.

It may be that it is best left to a SAM, or the sort of algo-driven drone described, or a combination of the two. But it's an engagement which has to be solved.

[It may be worth examining engagement using multiple space, fighter and ground-based lasers, attempting to track cumulative watts on to an RV in the final 5 seconds or so of the flight. A swarm of RVs and decoys could overcome this of course in a concerted attack though. But it will still have some level of effectiveness in defending high value targets from destruction.

Perhaps space and fighter or else drone tactical lasers prove impractical alone, i.e. uneconomic or materially ineffective at that speed, except that there's also far less attenuation per dwell second, so with say 5 air and even space lasers simultaneously pre-heating the RV for 2 to 3 seconds per laser, then a network of another 5 to 10 ground-based lasers, simultaneously illuminating to add thermal damage accumulation, and with the dense atmosphere assisting them ... hmm. Thus an RV then needs more expensive coatings, structure, size and weight, making it far less maneuverable at higher speed ... etc.

What if laser output growth and dwell accuracy can then outpace RV counter developments? An expensive hype-missile would then be trashed by increasingly affordable scaleable solid-state ground-based networks of modular mobile lasers (after some pre-heating it on the way down with fighter based lasers). This, conceptually, seems worth working toward, as a layered laser defense. Cumulative heating and damage may be enough to make the RV miss high-value targets by several hundred meters, to a km, or even break up and volatilize ... "a miss is as good as a mile."]
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Unread post11 Aug 2020, 04:25

marauder2048 wrote:
element1loop wrote:Disagree.

That, plus sufficient control surface and thrust overhead from an efficient 3-path engine and 2D vectored nozzle would certainly suffice. Funding it is the issue, but such an aircraft would also make an ideal medium-range bomber escort (if not a striker in its own right), and serve many, many other useful air dominance functions. Not a niche one-trick pony.


This is in essence the holy grail of aerospace design: fighter-like high performance + high altitude + long loiter.

You would have to employ some form of boundary layer control to get laminar flow, for loiter, over
wings designed for high performance. There is an argument for using the third stream to do this.

But the amount of pitching moment a 2D TVC can contribute a high loiter altitudes is going to be
small just by virtue of the drop-off in engine thrust @ altitude.

So you'll need a lot of control surface weight, area to do the rest.


Not really, I conceptually see it cruising at lower altitudes, say FL500 or FL550, then missile early warning comes, and it positions near the suspected target in the required time frame (it may have 5 to 10 minutes to do this), then orients on heading at FL550, gets to an ideal launch speed range in the last minute, then control surfaces and TVC put it into 45 degree nose up towards incoming RV, and launched interceptor between FL600 and 70k ft altitude, then a roll inverted to reverse track back down to FL55O, then reverse track again over likely RV target area to reposition, reorient and accelerate when need for another interceptor launch.

Have a flight of them doing that for area response on multiple incoming.

Use a variable wing shape for flow optimization.

Else, use a wing optimized for this atmospheric pressure range at the design optimal loiter-speed for engine burn (design best flow for +/-10 knots of ideal endurance speed between 50k to 60k ft) for increased laminar efficiency, then use control surface extensions for operating at other altitudes and speeds as needed. The laminar performance only has to be present within the speed and altitude band it spends 95% of its time within.

Which alt and speed range also happens to be close to perfect for sensor and comms reach, plus close to perfect for setting up strike weapon launched, or as an efficient precondition prior to initiating A2A formation spread and positioning. It's already almost where it needs to be for best A2A range, and a see-first, flank-first, shoot-first VLO fight as well.

i.e. it could also supplement F-22A, plus remain up for much longer if a high-thrust 3-path engine light single. It no longer requires twin engines for altitude, AND speed, nor a U2 or MQ-4 wing span and slower speeds to stay high and loiter because more lift can now come from the blended VLO, which is much closer to a flying-wing, but with a shaping for a high-percentage of laminar flow at the design best endurance and transit/cruise speed range, at FL550, as an ideal starting-point for many potential roles.

I have a hard time thinking this was done better in 2000, than it can be done with the computer power, software, manufacturing process, tools and propulsion of 2020 to 2025 period.
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Unread post11 Aug 2020, 13:07

Sounds like something more like an FB-111A size and shape would be better than an F-35 if you wanted missile defense. As a kid, I always liked watching those big birds flying over Nebraska. Imagine what kind of beast STRATCOM could have put out there with a re-engine program akin to F-14D getting F110. Internally it could carry a pair of SRAM, which was pretty insane, not to mention you still have significant wing capacity. Surely SRAM sized missiles offer substantially more capability than what F-35 could carry.
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Unread post11 Aug 2020, 14:23

I'd say that F-35 is pretty much perfect as a part of overall missile defence system. There will be a lot of them flying around and they already have the best sensor and CNI systems than any other aircraft. They might not be the best possible solution, but they are definitely a good choice given the numbers and capabilties they bring on table. I'd say in most cases it's better to have 1,000 F-35s than number of superior dedicated platforms. I'd say that if really heavy weapons would be needed for missile defence, then B-1 would be a good platform paired with a number of F-35 acting as eyes and ears for them.
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Unread post11 Aug 2020, 15:18

madrat wrote:Imagine what kind of beast STRATCOM could have put out there with a re-engine program akin to F-14D getting F110.
And the F110 is smaller than the TF30. The F119 is a hair smaller than the TF30 but still bigger than the F100/110.
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Unread post11 Aug 2020, 21:20

element1loop wrote:





Think about it. 6 km/sec, nose-up at a high attitude. What altitude rise above 50,000 ft does it achieve in the first second?

It goes up at 15,000 to 20,000 ft per second, the engagement altitude would thus be well above 75,000 ft so the RV will be much faster than the conceptual argument's points. That was my original remark's gist. If you use an F-35A and fly lower, at say 35,000 feet launch and Mach 1.2 (with positioning and vector based on the EW tracking) then you have to be confident of where its really aimed and be in place at speed before and just as the RV arrives, because the range at speed of the interceptor is going to be slower and accelerate slower as well as launch altitude and speed are decreased.

That's possibly fine for a regular RV, it could work, but I think it needs an algo machine flying the platform, not a human brain and reflexes. But we also don't know the full dynamic agility-change characteristics below 100,000 ft, where the RV is going to become increasingly agile as it drops and slows. The radius will tighten for the interceptor to complicate the terminal angle and inertia. This is where performance will matter most, to get the interceptor into a kill position, IMO.

And is it hit-to-kill? I think it has to be at that speed as the frag is probably too slow to expand, but then an instant later its expanded too much, and is now too rarefied to get hits. This is another timing and angle problem where it can all go wrong and PoK falls off a cliff. So a hit-to-kill package is needed, IMO.

So if it's hitting-to-kill why not then just do that from the ground with say two interceptors, when the RV is so much slower, and closer to the SAM's final stage speed?

But if it's done from the air its going to be too fast to hit above 100,000 ft, and possibly too agile below 50,000 ft to 25,000 ft level. ... hmm ... so you have about 50,000 feet depth and ~2 seconds in which to hit it, 3 seconds at most.

And do we know what its actually aiming to hit in the last 5 seconds of flight yet? I would say no, and unlikely to get a reasonable PoK on an increasingly agile RV when it shows its hand in the last 3 seconds before impact.

I do believe you know what 'increasingly agile' with slowing speed refers to. That's the point of the hype-RVs, to avoid interception and to confuse as to what the real target is forcing engagement at lower PoK. The Russians made a big noise about their RVs being an 'impossible' engagements to make.

OK, not impossible, PoK can be systematically increased with the right tools and development, but you get one shot at the weapon and it's extremely challenging. You need the right platform and interceptor, plus perfect timing and no failures or snarl-ups, and no mechanism lag issues. I could be wrong but I'm not sure an F-35A, plus a 6 km/s hit-to-kill interceptor and a human pilot can do this reliably. The pilot will not react properly to a Mach 10 to 15 RV even with perfect SA, but no practical experience of doing it other than an engagement simulations as training, with maybe one real world test, at best (I suspect none in training). And then there's WX variability with makes every engagement unique, and not something the pilot can really train for.

So I'd test this engagement concept more practically within the mission simulator, i.e. the entire mostly missile defense mission flights, with realistic sustained loiter, and engagement performances as a guide to what's going to be possible, and what sort of PoK potential this has in battle, including WX variability and penetration-aids in later conceptual tests.

It may be that it is best left to a SAM, or the sort of algo-driven drone described, or a combination of the two. But it's an engagement which has to be solved.

[It may be worth examining engagement using multiple space, fighter and ground-based lasers, attempting to track cumulative watts on to an RV in the final 5 seconds or so of the flight. A swarm of RVs and decoys could overcome this of course in a concerted attack though. But it will still have some level of effectiveness in defending high value targets from destruction.

Perhaps space and fighter or else drone tactical lasers prove impractical alone, i.e. uneconomic or materially ineffective at that speed, except that there's also far less attenuation per dwell second, so with say 5 air and even space lasers simultaneously pre-heating the RV for 2 to 3 seconds per laser, then a network of another 5 to 10 ground-based lasers, simultaneously illuminating to add thermal damage accumulation, and with the dense atmosphere assisting them ... hmm. Thus an RV then needs more expensive coatings, structure, size and weight, making it far less maneuverable at higher speed ... etc.

What if laser output growth and dwell accuracy can then outpace RV counter developments? An expensive hype-missile would then be trashed by increasingly affordable scaleable solid-state ground-based networks of modular mobile lasers (after some pre-heating it on the way down with fighter based lasers). This, conceptually, seems worth working toward, as a layered laser defense. Cumulative heating and damage may be enough to make the RV miss high-value targets by several hundred meters, to a km, or even break up and volatilize ... "a miss is as good as a mile."]

Just a couple points.

- an ICBM in boost phase is anything but agile. It's flying a very predictable flight path, has a huge IR signature, and the booster rocket is very vulnerable to damage.

- an ICBM in boost phase isn't traveling at 15,000 - 20,000 feet per second. The engagement window is minutes, not seconds.

- F-35s aren't limited to a 35k/M1.2 launch profile. They could use a 50k/M1.6 profile.
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Unread post11 Aug 2020, 22:45

Interceptor Vbo for boost is driven by reaction time e.g. the launch occurred beneath a cloud layer,
desired range @ platform speed/altitude and to a lesser extent concerns about fast burn boosters.

The guidance laws are tricky but the F-35's nice sensors should permit a real-time inference on the boost profile
and good midcourse updates.
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Unread post11 Aug 2020, 22:58

hornetfinn wrote:I'd say that F-35 is pretty much perfect as a part of overall missile defence system. There will be a lot of them flying around and they already have the best sensor and CNI systems than any other aircraft. They might not be the best possible solution, but they are definitely a good choice given the numbers and capabilties they bring on table. I'd say in most cases it's better to have 1,000 F-35s than number of superior dedicated platforms. I'd say that if really heavy weapons would be needed for missile defence, then B-1 would be a good platform paired with a number of F-35 acting as eyes and ears for them.


Agree all, except B-1 is not the aircraft, it's too exposed in forward areas, too few in number to expand its roles, too short in service years remaining, and much too slow and lumbering for the described terminal engagement time limitations.

Either way, as my first comment already said, what the F-35 brings is incredibly useful to missile defense, boost and terminal phase. But this is about whether it can be effective at shooting down an RV, in terminal phase. Maybe, but I don't think a human can maneuver and fire against a hypersonic RV with what will be a radically changing vector and altitude.
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Unread post11 Aug 2020, 23:15

wrightwing wrote:Just a couple points.

- an ICBM in boost phase is anything but agile. It's flying a very predictable flight path, has a huge IR signature, and the booster rocket is very vulnerable to damage.

- an ICBM in boost phase isn't traveling at 15,000 - 20,000 feet per second. The engagement window is minutes, not seconds.

- F-35s aren't limited to a 35k/M1.2 launch profile. They could use a 50k/M1.6 profile.



Very much agree that boost phase is where the payoff is, in a battle. It eliminates the decoys and drops terminal target numbers, plus penetration aid hurdles too, plus makes it so much easier for the terminal defenses that you do have. However, boosters could gain defensive aids plus investment in a sacrificial 'local' VHF coverage tactical 'bubble' (i.e. a smaller and more mobile LOS antenna) plus a distributed SAM. It may not prevent loss of many boosters, but it may complicate and distract enough to make a difference.

wrightwing wrote:- F-35s aren't limited to a 35k/M1.2 launch profile. They could use a 50k/M1.6 profile.


Yes, but hand-on-heart, can you say that with perfect SA and conditions, you could line up on and kill on a Mach 15 RV, coming at you as fast as a meteorite? I think that will need an algo-machine to fly and fire effectively.
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Unread post11 Aug 2020, 23:30

element1loop wrote:
Either way, as my first comment already said, what the F-35 brings is incredibly useful to missile defense, boost and terminal phase. But this is about whether it can be effective at shooting down an RV, in terminal phase. Maybe, but I don't think a human can maneuver and fire against a hypersonic RV with what will be a radically changing vector and altitude.


"Radically changing vector and altitude"

For a conventional RV it's all rather predictable; the modern strategic radars can infer properties of
the RV in real-time and combine them with what other assets have observed in peacetime.

It's pretty hard to hide RV testing. BGV and MaRV testing can't be hidden either but I don't
think anyone is claiming they would be a majority of the vehicles the interceptors would be facing.

The reason no power deployed a MaRV or other BGV on strategic weapons in the Cold War is that
the terminal interceptors required to intercept them could and were developed albeit they were nuke-tipped.

So the natural reaction was to max out MIRV count and combine them with more/better penetration aids.

The limit as to what you could achieve with HTK against BGVs is what all the current ground-based
regional glide-weapon defense efforts are all about.
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Unread post11 Aug 2020, 23:48

element1loop wrote:
wrightwing wrote:- F-35s aren't limited to a 35k/M1.2 launch profile. They could use a 50k/M1.6 profile.


Yes, but hand-on-heart, can you say that with perfect SA and conditions, you could line up on and kill on a Mach 15 RV, coming at you as fast as a meteorite? I think that will need an algo-machine to fly and fire effectively.


How would that be different to any of the avionics generated steering/fire cues they have already?

Lockheed (and GD) have historically preferred cues to auto-fire/auto-steering modes but if something
like auto-strafe becomes more widely accepted operationally then there's no reason to limit the
scope of auto-*.
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Unread post12 Aug 2020, 00:46

marauder2048 wrote:
element1loop wrote:
wrightwing wrote:- F-35s aren't limited to a 35k/M1.2 launch profile. They could use a 50k/M1.6 profile.


Yes, but hand-on-heart, can you say that with perfect SA and conditions, you could line up on and kill on a Mach 15 RV, coming at you as fast as a meteorite? I think that will need an algo-machine to fly and fire effectively.


How would that be different to any of the avionics generated steering/fire cues they have already?

Lockheed (and GD) have historically preferred cues to auto-fire/auto-steering modes but if something
like auto-strafe becomes more widely accepted operationally then there's no reason to limit the
scope of auto-*.


I'm referring to the flying aspects as much as the weapon release, which can be fully automated (and of course must be). Both have to be ideal to make the release viable, within a very brief window.

To get to the location, at just the right time, based on observed track and predicted target, and ETA (not over or undershooting it by several seconds)

Then smoothly get oriented to needed heading at just the right time from just the right location, again to avoid overshoot or undershoot at Mach 1.2 to 1.6 range. Being 5 to 10 seconds off is not good when the engagement margin is already dicey.

Then achieve and hold a stable required alt and speed cue for ideal launch setup.

Then an automated pitch up and launch at exactly the correct moment, in any conditions. Yes, an engagement algo can fly that automatically, sans pilot disorientation or confusion.

As already said, test it in a full mission simulator, check what's possible or not, and what can be done about it, and determine if it produces projected realistic hit-to-kill geometries, or lots of not possible to complete engagements.

I suspect this won't produce consistent results with human pilots, especially fatigued and stressed ones, that algorithms flying in the sim engagement will do better and be more consistent. Though I may be wrong about that.

I think Mach 10 to 15 speed range right up to the engagement is not something a human brain can maneuver against, in combat, even with cues. If they're following cues pilots will lag the change in ways that undermine the engagement - i.e. in ways algos won't. The algo can follow the cue as smoothly as possible without stress, maintaining ideal numbers. So why not just use a drone for the terminal BM RV engagements (presuming these are feasible, and can be made to work with the dollars) and the F-35 as a key sensor platform and cruise missile killer?

Else, use an F-35, but hand the aircraft over to an autopilot to fly the RV killing setup, engagement and re-setup phases.
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Unread post12 Aug 2020, 01:19

To review: there are a finite and small number of ballistic RV types that can threaten CONUS.

Unless a peer competitor would take the risk of launching a totally untested RV for the first time
in the world's first end-to-end combat use of an ICBM, the US and Allies will have seen the RV fly.

A non-peer competitor may very well take the risk. But then the number of RVs with which the defense
would have to contend is small, midcourse will attrit and terminal interceptor exhaustion is unlikely.

Against known RVs, its quite possible to rehearse interceptions; even totally unknown RVs might still
be amenable to real-time reconstruction of their Beta parameter amongst other properties.

No one will openly discuss this because it goes towards the larger problem of
discrimination including space-borne sensors or sensors onboard midcourse interceptors.

So it's quite possible to rehearse this ad-nauseam in simulators.
Simulated engagements could even be done on T-X if its perf specs are closer to the objective.

The point of the aggressive design of the interceptors is to help account for invariable non-idealities.

A drone is not likely to have the performance to be able to get into position in the manner
of the F-35 which will in turn drive even more expensive interceptors.

I'm not contending drones would not be useful for terminal intercept only that one which has some or
all of the required sensors, high-altitude loiter and payload carriage for the larger interceptor
is not going to be cheap.
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Unread post12 Aug 2020, 02:09

Nobody is talking about using aircraft for terminal phase defense. Boost phase is the only thing that's been discussed.
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Unread post12 Aug 2020, 02:31

wrightwing wrote:Nobody is talking about using aircraft for terminal phase defense. Boost phase is the only thing that's been discussed.


The team behind NCADE proposed aircraft for terminal phase defense since only aircraft can position
an interceptor for high-aspect shots. And because an airborne layer needs very good sensors and very
good fire control and very high speed interceptors for boost...it translates pretty naturally into terminal.

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