CAS functionality

Cockpit, radar, helmet-mounted display, and other avionics
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steve2267

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Unread post17 Jan 2017, 14:40

I am creating this thread to discuss avionics functionality specifically to support CAS (Close Air Support) by the F-35. A search of this F-35 Avionics sub-forum did not turn up such a specific thread.

In particular, I have two questions to start:
  1. Has the F-35 had the ability to mark points (e.g. targets) on the ground via the HMDS from the beginning? If not, at what avionics software release did it acquire that ability or will it acquire that ability? I am thinking of the marking functionality that has been present on the F-16 since at least Block 5, whereby the pilot could slew a cursor on the HUD and mark a point on the ground. The Viper's marking doofer apparently does its magic with a combination of INS, RLG INS, GPS, and/or ground mapping radar.
  2. Can anyone confirm that the F-35 will be able to fly a semi-automated for fully-automated attack profile once a target has been marked and automatically fire the cannon on the marked point, with the pilot monitoring and/or, say, pressing a commit switch? (I assume the F-35 already possesses the ability to automatically release munitions to strike a designated or marked target.)

    Pentagon: F-35 Gun Will Fire in 2017
    Brendan McGarry January 8, 2015
    The weapon, one of many slated for the aircraft, is based on a design with a proven track record on both the Harrier and the AC-130 gunship, he said. Linked to the aircraft’s fire control and targeting software, it will fire highly accurate rounds at air-to-ground or air-to-air targets, he said. Also, the exposure point — the time it takes for the pilot to point the plane and its gun at a target — may only last a fraction of a second, translating to nine or 10 bursts of fire, he said.

    This article strongly hints at just such an ability. (Similar to the Firefly program implemented with an F-15 back in the '80s.) Also, nine to ten bursts of fire works out to about 20rds / burst for the -A variant. There has been statements made on this forum that number of rounds in a burst will be selectable, and video interview(s) of at least one test pilot reports test firing bursts of 30 rounds.
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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jbgator

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Unread post17 Jan 2017, 18:26

Steve,

I think you have overinflated the significance of the mark function. As I mentioned, it was cumbersome and to pass the info to another aircraft you had to read them the Lat Longs over the radio and they had to type them in. The big avionics advances for CAS were the TGP and Data Link. Adversaries learned very quickly that if they sit still for long they will die so everything moves. With TGP and DL you can track a moving tank, or a Toyota full of ISIS doing 70 MPH, and pass that via DL. Everyone on the net (F-16, A-10, etc.) can tag your track and they are tracking it too. If you mark that is the momentary location of the TGT at the time of the mark and is not valid soon if the target is moving. There is still a functionality for marks but it isn't as significant. Any aircraft can do this. A-10s now carry TGP, have EGI for location accuracy, and have DL. I don't know how the F-35 tracks things but I assume it is way beyond the single point of interest system used by 4th Gen. So how it does that and how much it can share with other platforms I am sure is way better and not something you will find being discussed here by someone who knows. I rest assured that it can track lots of fleeting targets and pass the info to others. The other big CAS break through was NVGs and I suspect the IR tracking capability of the F-35 will make that also pale in comparison. IR markers are big in connection with that and hopefully will be available in the F-35 soon. That of course assumes the F-35 needs a 4th Gen to help out on the mission which it may not, and in many cases the threat may not allow 4th Gen to even be there.

As to auto-strafe which you propose I'm not sure you will find many pilots keen on such an idea. Giving HAL (our universal name for computers from 20001 Space Odyssey) the jet to fly, especially during strafe, is not my idea of fun. To quote Joe Gentile (a friend, great Viper driver, and son of WWII Ace Don Gentile) after hearing about the low altitude night attack capability coming in the block 40 in a briefing ~1984-5 and being told by the test pilot briefer that some day we would couple up to let the auto pilot fly the attack: "NOT Momma Gentile's boy!" Also strafe is usually the last resort weapon. All Laser/EO/IR guided weapons are gone or it's too Danger Close before I go strafing. I don't care if you are flying an F-35, an F-16, or an A-10, that's true. A-10 will use LGB, Maverick, and other PGMs before strafing if possible.
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Unread post17 Jan 2017, 19:47

jbgator wrote:I think you have overinflated the significance of the mark function. As I mentioned, it was cumbersome and to pass the info to another aircraft you had to read them the Lat Longs over the radio and they had to type them in. The big avionics advances for CAS were the TGP and Data Link.

<snip...>


JB, thanks for the reply. When I read Tow Dogs' book, Viper Pilot, I was very impressed with the functionality the marking function provided, and with how he employed it. The Link16 DL also helped immensely -- without the DL, the functionality would not be as great.

My primary point here is, that if you can mark a point with the HMDS, then surely you can get "marked coordinates" by other means -- e.g. PCAS tablet from a JTAC controller on the ground. Or perhaps in the future, ground troops can designate a point in the IR spectrum with the laser pointer doodads on their rifles. But once the F-35 has a 3D point, it can prosecute it, either entirely manually with good ol' stick and rudder, or possibly in an automated manner with close pilot supervision / commit authority to make the most of every round.

jbgator wrote:As to auto-strafe which you propose I'm not sure you will find many pilots keen on such an idea. Giving HAL (our universal name for computers from 20001 Space Odyssey) the jet to fly, especially during strafe, is not my idea of fun. <...snip...> Also strafe is usually the last resort weapon. All Laser/EO/IR guided weapons are gone or it's too Danger Close before I go strafing. I don't care if you are flying an F-35, an F-16, or an A-10, that's true. A-10 will use LGB, Maverick, and other PGMs before strafing if possible.


As a pilot, I get it - the pilot wants control. (Although I have only pushed one poppin fan around.) As an engineer :shock: with expertise in aeronautics and computer systems administration ("the network is the computer"), I also appreciate the network centric aspect of warfare into which the F-35 is ushering us. With only 181 some rounds to fire, it is easy to understand all the naysayers and F-35 detractors complaining about too few rounds compared, esp. to the A-10. But two quotes from the article I referenced caught my eye:

Pentagon: F-35 Gun Will Fire in 2017
Brendan McGarry January 8, 2015
Linked to the aircraft’s fire control and targeting software, it will fire highly accurate rounds at air-to-ground or air-to-air targets, he said.

and
translating to nine or 10 bursts of fire,


Since 9-10 bursts equates to 18-20 rounds / burst, and a half-second burst of the GAU-22A equates to about 30 rounds (owing to spin up time), it occurred to me that the F-35 may be designed to peform or at least enable an auto-strafe mode, controlling both the number of rounds fired, and exactly when to fire the gun.

Combine an auto-strafe mode, supervised closely by the pilot, with the coming functionality already demonstrated by Rover, and especially Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) (already emonstrated with an A-10), I can see the day when an F-35 arrives on station, maps the battlespace with SAR and beams that radar map along with live video (possibly IR) to the JTAC. The JTAC, with his tablet, says "We are here <draws blue circle>, bad guys are here <draws red circle>. I want rounds (or ordnance) put here. <draws RED X or RED ELLIPSE. Suggest approach from this direction.<draws green vector>" The graphic and coordinates all get transmitted back to the F-35.

While I see the A-10 has already been used to demonstrate PCAS, it seems to me the F-35 with its fusion of video, IR, and radar sensors, offers a lot more capability that may be rapidly developed compared to having to develop and integrate separate systems on an A-10. Start operating in a A2/AD environment, and the A-10 (and F-16 etc) won't be able to play there.

But if a JTAC can say, through a rugged tablet with secure COMMS, "we are here, I want 20 (or 30 or 40 or 60) rounds of 25mm placed here" and send that to the F-35, then it seems to me that CAS capability would be a quantum leap with the F-35 that troops are not going to get (easily anyway) with an A-10.

I also get that a JDAM, LGB, or SDB will probably be the first choice of troops in contact. But since "we used 328,498 rounds of 20- and 30- millimeter ammunition" (p. 357 of Viper Pilot) in Gulf War II, it seems the cannon still gets used quite a bit in air-to-ground work. Being able to get 9-10 attacks out of 181 (or 220) round in the magazine seems to be a very efficient use of ammunition, and sounds like that might be "on the order of" how many strafe runs an A-10 might get.
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 post17 Jan 2017, 23:48

steve2267 wrote:Combine an auto-strafe mode, supervised closely by the pilot, with the coming functionality already demonstrated by Rover, and especially Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) (already emonstrated with an A-10), I can see the day when an F-35 arrives on station, maps the battlespace with SAR and beams that radar map along with live video (possibly IR) to the JTAC. The JTAC, with his tablet, says "We are here <draws blue circle>, bad guys are here <draws red circle>. I want rounds (or ordnance) put here. <draws RED X or RED ELLIPSE. Suggest approach from this direction.<draws green vector>" The graphic and coordinates all get transmitted back to the F-35.


That would be really cool. The F-35 pilot could potentially view all that symbology overlaid on the ground through his HMD too.

I wonder if the F-35's ESM capability could be used to accurately locate our soldiers on the ground. In situations without PCAS or even a JTAC, having the jet tell you "the dude who just spoke to you on VHF is right here" by drawing his location on the HSD and HMD would be killer. Add some voice recognition to that, and maybe the jet also automatically draws symbology marking a target that the dude just said was 500m at 040° from his pos.
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Unread post18 Jan 2017, 01:23

OK, I will try to be as unsarcastic as I possibly can but will probably fail. Some of what you describe is good stuff.

#1 what makes you think that current fighter pilots have not thought of the good parts of what you describe and are not implementing it?

Being as succinct as I can:

Most of what you describe we are already capable of doing in 4th Gen. Some elements are more critical than others. The bottom line in CAS is What TGT do you want me to destroy, where is it, and where are the friendlies? For generations of fighter pilots that has been done via the "talk-on". Lots of verbal back and forth over the radio, often under significant comm jamming (mostly from friends, listen to Gum's tapes) all of which takes time, mostly spent orbiting in the TGT area, in the threat envelope, burning gas, while friendlies are dying. Modern avionics give us the capability to do all that very fast and more accurately than ever in the past. The final critical piece is what I call "close-the-loop". This is where the pilot says "I am attacking" and the FAC (ground or airborne) determines if the pilot is attacking the right target, missing friendlies, and clears "Hot". Traditionally this has been done via visual observation by the FAC of the attacking aircraft in relation to where it's nose is pointing. This is still the way US ground troops seem to think it needs to be done. Only forward firing ordnance (guns/rockets/missiles) go where the nose is pointed and from a side perspective, often from miles away, it is hard to tell exactly where the nose is pointed even then. Free fall munitions, that includes most PGMs, fall short of where the nose is pointing. So the MOST INACCURATE way to close the loop is via a visual sighting of the attacking aircraft. Yet every ground pounder you talk to wants to see an A-10 pointing at the ground before they will say "cleared hot". There are way better ways to close this loop. And if you can see the attacking aircraft, so can the enemy, giving them a better chance of shooting them down. Yea, I want the A-10, down low and slow, honking with that big gun, cause they are better than any other aircraft at CAS. Except when they are in pieces on the ground with a dead pilot......yeah that was better. Why do A-10s now mostly fly at medium altitude using TGPs and PGMs? Why have they been fighting for years for new engines to allow them to fly better at medium altitude? Why did they fight for improved avionics and TGPs if all you need to do is look out the window, get a talk on, and drill the enemy to jello with the big gun?

So let me describe what we were working on before I retired, where we were at then, and where I assume we are now, speculating about the F-35. In ~1999 we flew with SADL data link and In 2000 (16 years ago) I flew with a Litening II pod for the first time. It had an IR Laser marker which the LANTIRN pod did not (SNIPER was years away). We could find a TGT, DL it to each other, and mark it for each other using NVGs to accurately drop dumb bombs or strafe, or drop LGBs, all at night. We flew with ground FACs at night and they were amazed when we would turn on the marker to illuminate the TGT we were tracking to verify that was what they wanted us to hit. A year later I flew with A-10s in Kuwait doing night CAS training. They had never seen the marker. I waited at the CP while the A-10 FAC worked a bunch of his A-10 buddies for about 20-30 mins before they finally agreed on what the TGT was and rolled in. After they left I headed in from the CP about 20 miles away. I had been looking at the TGT area in the TGP the entire time and when he described the TGT he wanted me to hit I immediately tracked it with my TGP and fired the IR marker and said "is that what you want me to hit?" He almost jumped out of his skin and yelled "yes, yes, cleared hot..." as he saw through his NVGs the flashing elliptical green spot on the TGT. I was still many miles away, well before release point for an LGB, and shortly called "bomb's on the way". A-10s today have the same capabilities and most of the ground FAC systems I believe are in place so this type of "close the loop" can be done night and day.

As to your auto strafe, you are falling into the same UAV trap that every other current outsider jumps into: the machine can do it better than the man. It is only a matter of time till the machine is doing it, eliminating all the errors man makes. I say at what cost and why since the human can already do it? In your scenario you talk about marking the TGT in the HUD. If I can see it well enough to mark it in the HUD why can't I also strafe it visually? If you think an F-35 auto-strafing on Lat Longs is more accurate than a pilot doing it then you have more faith in the ability to accurately determine coordinates and you forget the point I made earlier: nothing stays in the same place for long. If it is moving you can count on a miss unless you have a very detailed tracking algorithm which many pilots are already capable of doing at significantly lower cost. Lead computing strafe sights may be in work but I am sure they would be cheaper as an aid to the pilot than as an auto-tracking system.

So the data you describe being passed from the FAC to the fighter is already mostly implemented in 4th Gen and I am sure will be there for F-35. "Close-the-loop" needs to be done via Data Link and via markers (I have said we need daytime Laser goggles for FACs to see the regular Laser Spot just like we can see the IR marker with NVGs. I have seen video tracking of a Laser Spot so I know the technology is there). All of this is technology to help the pilot and the FAC define the TGT, locate and avoid Friendlies, and "close-the-loop". We don't need any expensive auto-piloting systems to make that effective. And notice I didn't say anything about platforms. Every multi-role airplane needs to be able to do this, not just one old, slow, airplane. I feel confident the players who have been part of the digital CAS work that has been done over the last several DECADES in all 4th Gen aircraft are bringing that expertise to the F-35 and making eye watering capabilities emerge from the blank canvas the jet represents. They have been doing this for a long time and they are smart. Who is in a better position to figure out how to do that?
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Unread post18 Jan 2017, 01:34

Very illuminating jbgator...thanks.
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Unread post18 Jan 2017, 02:14

Hey JB, no worries. I put my kevlar on before reading your post. :mrgreen: And I do appreciate your comments here. Thank you!

I am happy to read that my crackpot ideas may not be so crackpot and serious warriors are developing ideas along these lines. I hadn't really seen this topic discussed before, so I started asking questions. (It's what I do. :D )

As an engineer, almost everything is a trade -- to meet requirements. Some requirements may have yet to be defined. :devil: But in this CAS case, that does not seem to be the situation. But back to tradeoffs. As an engineer, and having seen the advances made in the past twenty, neah, even five years, it occurred to me that possibly the computer might be able to put rounds on target more accurately, with more precision, than a pilot. Heresy, I know. But my "ideas" was not to necessarily take the gun out of the pilot's hand, but to give him another option. I also know that "simple ideas," like mine seems to be, have a habit of blowing up and costing bazillions of dollars. In that case, not such a good trade.

Reading Two Dogs' book was eye opening for me -- the way that mark functionality can be used. As a private, one-fan pilot, I was terribly impressed with how he created an impromptu ILS approach to get ten birds safely down at an airport without functional lighting (let alone an instrument approach) in the face of that oncoming sandstorm (sandstorm may be an understatement).

But then I got to thinking about how an F-35 pilot could simply look at the battlefield and mark a spot, then have the elctronic doofers magically transmit video fused with IR overlay and radar mapping down to a JTAC with a Google pincushion on a building with a question: is this what you want me to hit? Maybe the JTAC says, "Close, but this window here," and drags the pincushion to the second window over on the 2nd floor. Whether a 25mm burst is laid on that building centered on that window by the pilot, or by HAL, who cares, as long as it does. I would leave the pilot that ability or option, and if he/she can do it, great. Maybe the only "automation" that is really needed is for the pilot to select 15rd burst on his Weps panel, so that when he squeezed the trigger, only 15 rds are fired with each trigger squeeze. That would seem to achieve the "economy" of fire that was mentioned in the article to which I had previously linked.

I also understand what you are saying about moving vs stationary targets. In such a case, perhaps the F-35 might be able to broadcast (or narrowcast) a live video feed of an IR / radar fused video feed, the JTAC can identify the target and mark it with his Merlin wand, and the mystery tour automatically cused the F-35 sensors to lock on / track the JTAC designated moving target. The doofers under the floorboards in the F-35 then display steering and target designation symbology on the pilots visor. Whether he he auto-strafes, manually strafes, or engages with SDB / JDAM / SPEAR / LGB etc is up to him, what he has left, and the JTAC requests.

The key aspect here seems to be less about "auto-strafing" and more about refining and making as absolutely efficient and deadly accurate as possible the communication between troops on the ground in contact and the pilots of the fast movers in bound.

The PCAS Android tablet seems like the killer app for combat tablets.

But trusting too much in technology an be a bad thing... for times when it breaks, or the enema figures out how to jam it. While you can still talk the Mk 1 eyeball onto the target (if comms are not jammed), having the ability of the Lightning rider being able to identify a bunch of laser dots from M4 laser designators on a target, and/or the troops being able to see the death dot from above illuminating the target may be all that is needed and you leave the fancy fused sensor video map behind...
Last edited by steve2267 on 18 Jan 2017, 02:32, edited 3 times in total.
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Unread post18 Jan 2017, 02:23

When I considered that the 25x137mm ammunition, whether it be the Norwegian Nammo PGU-47/U APEX or the OrbitalATK PGU-32/U SAPHEI-T, to be fired by the F-35 is more or less the equivalent to the Apache M230 chaingun 30x113mm M789 HEDP ammo, it struck me that what is being developed with the F-35 is the ability for that aircraft to be able to put up to 9 - 10 Apache bursts on a target where the guys in contact on the ground want it.

I know the ground troops love the A-10 and its big stinkin' gun (and I like it too!), but if you explained to the troops on the ground that the F-35 will kind of be like an Apache gunship materializing out of thin air wherever they want it (and a lot faster than an Apache can get there)... and having their magical Apache gun whatever they want, I think their eyes may finally start to open, and they begin to warm to the F-35.

That's my suspicion anyway. Time will tell.
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 post18 Jan 2017, 03:15

"I had been looking at the TGT area in the TGP the entire time and when he described the TGT he wanted me to hit I immediately tracked it with my TGP and fired the IR marker and said "is that what you want me to hit?" -- jbg

Ah yes..."The Finger of God." Had very similar experience using L-Pod for first time -- before any DL.

Beyond jbg's excellent discussion, in simple terms the new stuff expedites the prosecution of (the correct...) target while dramatically reducing potential for blue on blue, particularly at night and in complex battlespace. Awesome piece of kit.
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Unread post18 Jan 2017, 03:49

It is very nice to see symbols overlaid on the target on a laptop from the Fighter to the FAC but everyone has a healthy distrust of technology and that flashing IR Marker on the TGT really helps. That's why we need something to allow the FAC to observe the regular laser and we can do the same in daytime or nightime. If a GFAC sits there and sees the fighter's TGP symbol over the TGT on his laptop and sees his laser spot on the TGT he has great confidence the right TGT will be hit. Conversely if he sees the fighter's TGP symbol on his own location and sees flashing green IR light all around himself he sheepishly says "don't drop" as he realizes he sent his own coords to the fighter instead of the TGT coords. Sadly this has happened and resulted in fratricide. In the end the ground troops should not care what platform and weapon was used. If the TGT blew up and no friendlies were hurt, why should they care if it were 30 MM from an A-10 at 5-10,000' slant range or an LGB dropped from 5 miles away at 30K? The A-10 was at significantly greater risk to accomplish the same task.

Often it comes down to the "manly" argument. I use the sniper rifle vs 44 magnum example. Do you want a sniper rifle with a scope to kill a guy from hundreds of yards while prone behind sand bags or have a 44 Magnum and have to walk to within 50 yards? As Clint walks by you lying prone in your position popping off bad guys quite effectively and looks down at you with that scowl and makes some comment about your manhood while he walks off to start using that "manly" weapon and you drop your weapon to follow him, who's side do you think is going to benefit? In the final analysis that is what matters. As Gen Patton said, "Let the other poor dumb bastard die for his country..." So I'm not going to get into one of those arguments with a grunt or a Hog driver. The situation and the facts are skewed by them to create the desired outcome. Never mind the A-10 is using the same TGP, bombs, DL, NVGs, etc. from medium altitude and getting there way slower than the other jets they just aren't manly and there will always the "the situation" where the Hog got it done and nobody else could. It's easy to roll out the "situation" as we haven't faced the other "situation" yet. One where the IADs are significant and the HOGs are slaughtered wholesale before they get anywhere near the target, their bodies lying there next to Clint, 44 magnum firmly in his grasp, with a 556 round in his forehead.
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Unread post18 Jan 2017, 10:21

F-35 avionics systems will allow some very interesting capabilities as already demonstrated or described.

- EODAS ground fire detection, identification and locating (and tracking)
- EODAS to detect and track ballistic and other missiles and rockets while they are in flight and locate the origin of said missiles/rockets
- EOTS ground scanning for moving target detection, basically IRST for ground targets
- Sensor fusion with AN/APG-81, Barracuda, EODAS, EOTS, those same sensors from other F-35s and other external systems via data links to automatically detect, geolocate, identify and track every threat and friendly system and unit in the area
- Great human-machine interface for the pilot to see what the sensors see. No need to look at screens and fiddle with individual sensor systems.

I believe all these are implemented to some degree and all are improved in the future. IMO, all these will give some really unprecedented capabilties for CAS.

Of course F-35 has some other very important features like great combination of speed, agility, range/endurance and payload. It's also available in great numbers which is also very important. It's not some silver bullet available in low numbers. I
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Unread post18 Jan 2017, 12:38

I think F-35 will give very interesting potential future capabilities with all the systems available. How about doing CAS without firing any weapons itself? F-35 flying over combat area could probably be able to direct artillery fire for example. With accurate ID and geolocating ability and fast data links, it would probably be able to give target co-ordinates (and other required information) to artillery units quick enough and then even adjust the fire if necessary. Basically it would act like airborne artillery observer. The pilot would not need to do that as that can probably be programmed into the system.

I know this isn't that groundbreaking as airborne FACs have been used for as long as aircraft have existed, but I think F-35 will have the capabilities to bring it to totally new level in accuracy, safety, responsiveness and survivability. Of course this will not remove the need for ground FACs, but rather complement it. F-35 will also remain very relevant system for CAS even without carrying any weapons.
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Unread post05 Feb 2020, 08:45

I had forgotten about this old thread, until Spaz linked LittleStevie back to it from the GAU-22/A thread recently.

I had to re-read the whole thing. I really appreciate the insightful comments by jb, which highlighted all the innovation that has been accomplished, and continues to be developed in the CAS world.

jbgator wrote:#1 what makes you think that current fighter pilots have not thought of the good parts of what you describe and are not implementing it?


Death Claw Shows Path to Faster Development
by Steve Trimble 9 Feb 2020, AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY/JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 9, 2020, p.29

A 40-year-old idea to improve strafing accuracy by transfer-ring flight control of a manned fighter to the autopilot to aim the gun is being revived as the U.S. Air Force looks internally for innovations that can be demonstrated and delivered quickly.

...

The answer seems obvious. Add an “auto-gunnery mode” to the flight control law, and allow the autopilot control to point the aircraft when the gun is engaged. Bill Gray, chief test pilot of the test pilot school, launched a demonstration program in late 2017 to prove it could work.

Some of our engineers were chatting about how it would be cool if an autopilot could aim the gun,” Gray says.

The test pilot school owns the F-16 Variable stability Inflight Simulator Test Aircraft (VISTA), an aircraft specially modified to allow inflight changes to the flying qualities. “I realized it would be a relatively simple modification to adjust the control of that airplane to actually test this to do the concept exploration,” he says.

The Death Claw demonstration conducted 12 test flights in November 2017-January 2018...

...

p.29 of https://aviationweek.com/sites/default/ ... 0127_0.pdf


Those damn engineers thinking up crazy sh*t. Probably control types... their CLAW wizardry has gone to their heads and those Viper nerds were trying to one-up the Lightning guys. :drool:

jbgator wrote:As to your auto strafe, you are falling into the same UAV trap that every other current outsider jumps into: the machine can do it better than the man. It is only a matter of time till the machine is doing it, eliminating all the errors man makes. I say at what cost and why since the human can already do it? In your scenario you talk about marking the TGT in the HUD. If I can see it well enough to mark it in the HUD why can't I also strafe it visually? If you think an F-35 auto-strafing on Lat Longs is more accurate than a pilot doing it then you have more faith in the ability to accurately determine coordinates and you forget the point I made earlier: nothing stays in the same place for long. If it is moving you can count on a miss unless you have a very detailed tracking algorithm which many pilots are already capable of doing at significantly lower cost. Lead computing strafe sights may be in work but I am sure they would be cheaper as an aid to the pilot than as an auto-tracking system.


Also from the same AvLeak article above,

The Air Force compared the accuracy of autopilot-controlled gun firings to pilot-controlled shots. The F-16 VISTA lacks a gun, but accuracy was calculated based on how closely the aircraft was pointed compared to the gunsight-piper. In almost every attempt, the autopilot proved more accurate than the pilot at aiming the aircraft.


Image

My original thoughts that had prompted me to start this thread stemmed from the fact that the Aye model only carries 181 rounds, enough blammo for maybe three good squirts out of the GAU-22/A. Later I read comments in some trade publications that the F-35 enables the pilot to program in the burst size, so one pull on the trigger will only fire 15 rounds, or 20, or 30. While I don't have (obviously) the Dash One, I recall reading someone stating that the burst round amount is programmable (or settable) by the pilot. The GAU-22/A also is reverse clearing, so unfired rounds are put back into the feeding mechanism so that no unfired rounds are wasted.

The ability to squirt off only 10 or 15 or 30 rounds (30 rounds apparently being a 1/2 second burst due to gun spin up) got me a wonderin' about a pilots ability to put meaningful rounds on target with such a short burst. Which got me thinking that if George (or Hal) could aim the gun via autopilot (or CLAW), then perhaps accuracy could be optimized. With more black magic designed into that Tie Fighter helmet than you can shake a stick at... I was thinking... if the pilot can see where he wants to put the rounds by simply looking at that point and superimposing some target designation symbology on top of the target -- a 21st century deathdot version of the CCIP pipper that was revolutionary in the Viper in the late '70s -- (that has been confirmed via means such that jb described so well), and if he maneuvers the aircraft close to the firing solution (i.e. gets the nose close), then depressing the trigger in this "auto strafe" (or "let George do it") mode, would enable/permit the autopilot/CLAW to "close the loop" and arrange for the weapons pipper to be introduced to the target designation point quicker than the pilot could do it.

These tests from late 2017, early 2018 seem to prove that an autopilot can put the rounds on the target better or more efficiently than a pilot. But, if it were me, I'd still leave a totally manual option so the gun can still be engaged with George out of the loop.

As an engineer, I marvel at what the control guys have been able to accomplish. Not just with the F-35 CLAW, but with this example of DEATH CLAW demonstrated via the VISTA F-16. But as an engineer, I always worry about "what can go wrong? What am I missing?" I am reminded of that A-320 crash at an airshow in France filled with people for a demonstration flight. As I recall, the pilot commanded go-around thrust, and George basically said, "No, I don't want to, you can't have it" and the plane settled into the forest past the runway. What scares me here is designating the correct target. I have little doubt the CLAW / autopilot can be designed to accurately put rounds on a target at coordinates [X0, Y0, Z0] where the aircraft is moving around at [X(t), Y(t), Z(t)]. My worry is correctly calculating [X0, Y0, Z0] through the "2D" optics of the pilot's helmet. But if that could be done, I thought letting George do the fine-tune aiming of the gun could be a terrific way to maximize the potential of the gun system. And if it can be done for the "simple" case of attacking a ground target, then I don't see why a DEATH CLAW couldn't also greatly increase the potential lethality of the gun system for air-to-air work as well.

Some of our engineers were chatting about how it would be cool if an autopilot could aim the gun,” Gray says.

...

The Death Claw demonstration conducted 12 test flights in November 2017-January 2018...


Say... who are the lurkers from Edwards reading this here forum and taking my idea posted Jan 2017 and turning it into a test program in ten months time!? The nerve! :doh: :bang:

:devil:
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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johnwill

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Unread post06 Feb 2020, 06:43

Steve, back in 1985 I was structural loads engineer on AFTI F-16 flight test at Edwards. I was not directly involved with something called Automatic Maneuvering and Attack System (AMAS), but I had a front row seat to watch and listen to what was going on. My job was to insure all the auto maneuvering did not result in any violation of structural limits. The AMAS worked very much like your suggested system, air to air and air to ground but 35 years ago. It was a good start, but not ready for prime time.
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steve2267

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Unread post07 Feb 2020, 15:14

johnwill wrote:Steve, back in 1985 I was structural loads engineer on AFTI F-16 flight test at Edwards. I was not directly involved with something called Automatic Maneuvering and Attack System (AMAS), but I had a front row seat to watch and listen to what was going on. My job was to insure all the auto maneuvering did not result in any violation of structural limits. The AMAS worked very much like your suggested system, air to air and air to ground but 35 years ago. It was a good start, but not ready for prime time.


I envy your career johnwill!

It is amazing all the different ideas and systems that appear to be converging on, seeing fruition in this thing called the F-35 Lightning.
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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