F-22A vs. 6th Gen Proposal

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element1loop

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Unread post08 Sep 2019, 02:40

“A B-21 [Raider stealth bomber] that also has air-to-air capabilities” and can “work with the family of systems to defend itself, utilizing stealth – maybe that’s where the sixth-generation airplane comes from.”

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/2 ... air-combat


Having air-to-air capabilities does not mean missiles. it more likely refers to high-energy lasers in a platform that's large enough to support 360 degree coverage via such a laser, plus a lot of fuel, and embodies the most advanced VLO tech available.

Bioengineering, lasers and more drones: Griffin outlines the Pentagon’s tech wish list

Directed energy:

Griffin said laser weapons are the future of warfare, and always will be. But he believes certain systems are showing more promise than others. “We haven’t had money for everything that we might like to do, so we’re focusing on nearer-term applications of directed energy, particularly lasers of higher power than we currently have,” Griffin said. That means aiming for systems in the “hundreds of kilowatts” as well as investing in high-powered microwave technology, he noted.

https://www.defensenews.com/smr/defense ... -wishlist/


As regards kinematic performance being sacrificed, this has been discussed at length for years, have you forgotten this 2011 SMSgt Mac, "Elements of Power" blog post:



And despite a proliferation of AAR tankers, the real fighting still tends to be transonic, in jets which can go much faster no matter what 'gen' was involved in the fight. Maintaining stealth, to be able to shoot first, and to own the SA, just makes this even more desirable. In other words, speed is for intercepting by interceptors, and that interceptor can be a loyal-wingman, which can be visually exposed briefly to a Tu160 crew to send a message, or else to kill it, while the slower manned system remains always hidden. But that Tu160 knows it's out there, for sure.

If you're facing a flight-of-4 of future prospective NGAD VLO platforms utilizing a 250 kilowatt laser weapon, and that flight can use networking to simultaneously dwell four of those lasers on to a single target, and YOU are in that targeted jet ... you'd rapidly become a fervent advocate for not being seen (at all wavelengths), and maintaining a high-radius with respect to their sensor's detection range.

In fact, should you even be in the air when their loyal wingmen in support are trying to sniff you out for their lasers?

Stealth would be far more important than kinematic performance when high-performance AAMs are no longer the most dangerous weapons. Including SAMS, which such a multi-beam laser defense network would make actually obsolete, if not a bit pointless, given the lasers could burn up launchers without recourse.

In which case who would care about building a platform that can counter the kinematics of an evolved J-20?

Maybe just fly a flight-of-4 over the J-20 production lines and deep-maintenance facilities and their engine production factory and burn them all down, during the course of a single mission, whilst a few B-21s eliminate their operating bases.

Who says you've got to fight them?

As per the signature line ... Always choose Stealth
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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zero-one

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Unread post08 Sep 2019, 09:44

element1loop wrote:
Stealth would be far more important than kinematic performance when high-performance AAMs are no longer the most dangerous weapons.


Okay first off I'd like to say I agree with you. Personally I'd put SA as the most important then Stealth then Kinematics.
But having said that, Lockheed said this:
https://sldinfo.com/whitepapers/buildin ... ground-up/
This slide depicts two VLO aircraft on the left, the B-2 and the F-117. These airplanes are not considered 5th generation because they lack agility.
The B-2 and F-117 flew at night in order NOT to be detected visually. If any other 4th generation fighter just happened to see them it would all over.
Without agility it is extremely difficult to defend.
The F-22 and F-35 on the other hand enjoy VLO stealth along with agility.
In other words, stealth is an enabler, but not the whole story.


So to me, why do we need to choose. Why not have the best of everything. It's not impossible. the J-20 is claimed to have super-cruise, super maneuverability and extreme range.

I don't think sacrificing kinematics completely for bomber levels of range is the way to go specially since you'll be going up against fast and supermaneuverable VLO fighters that can realistically get close to you.

When that happens, you have no choice but to shoot them down first. That will put future pilots on a hair trigger because they cannot afford to have any aircraft get close to them. How will they perform the typical escort mission or no fly zone.

I understand that DIRCM and defensive lasers will offer some protection against missiles at close range. But because you are so big and lumbering, the gun becomes a real threat.

It will be extremely difficult to defend. I just don't see WVR going away completely anytime soon. Specially since DE weapons are also affected by range and atmospheric conditions.

I rather have the F-35E proposal but personally, I'd like an F-22C more. CFTs, ADVENT engines. More fuel. give it a combat radius of 1,000+ NM, then develop an Airforce version of the MQ-25 as part of the "family of systems".
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Unread post08 Sep 2019, 16:30

@elementloop1:
All these arguments revolve around enjoying crushing technological superiority vs. your rivals, it does not matter if we talk about lasers, VLO, engines, missile technology, EW, radars, networking, SW, or whatever. With China being at the top in scientific production and Russian level in basic sciences and military technology, this is in question and I guess that is the crux of the matter. USAF has (apparently) seen a superior air platform would be extremely expensive and dubious in terms of effectiveness. I can support USAF going the UCAV way, what I cannot understand is that you suppose only US is going to have lasers and other new tech while others sit idle. Just my :2c: , with full respect for your opinion
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Unread post08 Sep 2019, 16:59

All of this ignores the fundamental discontinuities in the conceptual underpinnings for the aircraft when it was announced —

https://breakingdefense.com/2016/09/b-2 ... ign=buffer

They needed a long-range penetrating bomber (which they got in the B-21), but it apparently can’t do the penetrating part in contested airspace without an escort (the PCA). So how does PCA ‘escort’ (or accompany or whatever semantic reference you want to use) a B-21 — at ranges achievable by that aircraft — without being susceptible to the same threats that put the B-21 at risk?

A very, very difficult challenge...
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element1loop

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Unread post08 Sep 2019, 23:41

zero-one wrote:So to me, why do we need to choose. Why not have the best of everything. It's not impossible. the J-20 is claimed to have super-cruise, super maneuverability and extreme range.


And a distinct lack of compelling strike options (at present), so they don't have everything and I question the 'super-maneuverability', as that's not been demonstrated, nor sustained. But that's for another discussion. Just doubt it can out-turn a laser pointer.

zero-one wrote:I don't think sacrificing kinematics completely for bomber levels of range is the way to go specially since you'll be going up against fast and supermaneuverable VLO fighters that can realistically get close to you.


Hard to do if the '6th-gen' (or whatever) has a latest DAS equivalent and a 300 kilowatt bacon crisper.

But the sig-line does not suggest I think it's all about stealth, acceleration, altitude, the ability to establish and maintain a chosen radial distance and thus aspect control, and to have te capacity to exploit the weaknesses in an enemy platform and systems through MDF, and where to be oriented to avoid it gaining SA. All of that requires good transonic to low-supersonic maneuver kinematics and recovery (which a very high bypass 6th-gen engine is going to produce with a lower temp thermal plume).

But the B-2 and F-117A never had the innate SA and horrifying potential of a high-energy laser driven by a data fusion-engine and flown in wide-open self-supporting waves of attack and the ability to defeat AAMs or something trying for surprise or a gun kill.

zero-one wrote:When that happens, you have no choice but to shoot them down first. That will put future pilots on a hair trigger because they cannot afford to have any aircraft get close to them. How will they perform the typical escort mission or no fly zone.


I don't agree, a soviet era fighter with an Archer was just about as deadly and difficult to survive at short-range, and it did not lead to immediate missile duels when they encountered NATO jets. Lasers would be the same, and this is about actual combat, so were talking about known Bandits which the fusion engine smokes at the speed of light the moment the pilot gives the system the go ahead to kill them as they are detected, tracked, PID and still at considerable range.

Plus a larger aircraft can use a larger DAS and EOTS aperture, to provide more SA and better first (passive) look to first kill, with a very short reaction time, and no fly-out delay. In an actual fight of that sort the gun isn't a tactical option.

I'd rather be in the '6th-gen' derivative in that case, rather than an evolved J-20.

zero-one wrote:It will be extremely difficult to defend. I just don't see WVR going away completely anytime soon. Specially since DE weapons are also affected by range and atmospheric conditions.


If you're talking about actual strategic attack operations against an enemy's homeland, then with such an aircraft WVR is going away.

zero-one wrote:I rather have the F-35E proposal but personally, I'd like an F-22C more. CFTs, ADVENT engines. More fuel. give it a combat radius of 1,000+ NM, then develop an Airforce version of the MQ-25 as part of the "family of systems".


You're describing a PCA, and an evolved F-35'E', and/or a distributed flock of loyal-wingman to enhance SA, with a drone auto-tanker supporting, may be sufficient for a mutually supporting networked laser-defense to survive.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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element1loop

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Unread post09 Sep 2019, 00:03

quicksilver wrote:All of this ignores the fundamental discontinuities in the conceptual underpinnings for the aircraft when it was announced —

https://breakingdefense.com/2016/09/b-2 ... ign=buffer

They needed a long-range penetrating bomber (which they got in the B-21), but it apparently can’t do the penetrating part in contested airspace without an escort (the PCA). So how does PCA ‘escort’ (or accompany or whatever semantic reference you want to use) a B-21 — at ranges achievable by that aircraft — without being susceptible to the same threats that put the B-21 at risk?

A very, very difficult challenge...


Agree, though I think this is where a ~5,000 km JASSM-XR standoff comes into it. No need for that level of exposure to hit highest-priority rear items. A forward Island-based INF range VLO GLCM (JASSM-XR with a fast booster) also has the ability to reach western China fast and in advance of heavy aircraft. And to clean-up fast whatever the aircraft miss and would otherwise need to revisit.

Not to get off topic but the Chinese mainland strategic geography is a much bigger challenge to defend than to approach and attack. If I were the CHICOMS I would not be digging in my heals about extending the (nuclear-system oriented) INF treaty and also agreeing to verifiably eliminating its ballistic and GLCM systems within that range, if only to keep US equivalents away from the mainland's approaches. But of course they won't at this point, any more than the Russians will.
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Unread post09 Sep 2019, 08:48

element1loop wrote:
And a distinct lack of compelling strike options (at present), so they don't have everything.

Well at least they claim to have the range levels the PCA could have without sacrificing Traditional values too much.


element1loop wrote:But the B-2 and F-117A never had the innate SA

I saw an Hornet pilot once say something along the lines of.
SA without speed and maneuverability isn't very useful as well because if you can't turn or run then you end up having complete situational awareness of that thing that kills you....

He has a point, taking away speed and maneuverability for extreme range allows you to get into the fight but limits you once you are actually in the fight.

element1loop wrote:I don't agree, a soviet era fighter with an Archer was just about as deadly and difficult to survive at short-range, and it did not lead to immediate missile duels when they encountered NATO jets. Lasers would be the same, and this is about actual combat,


In theory yes, but has this ever been demonstrated in practice. Historically most jet vs jet kills have been conducted against fighters with a large technological disparity between them. Top tier fighter vs fighter with proper support assets have never happened.

So the theoretical performance of HOBS may or may not perform as expected. Remember the one time Aim-9X was used in anger it missed or malfunctioned. The first time A-A missiles were used in combat the Pk was abysmal. Even today the AMRAAM has an official Pk of 60% against less than top tier targets.

What if lasers go through a similar learning curve. Right now practical lasers that can fit on turrets on aircraft are small with very short ranges.
-HELIOS is just 60KW and is considered just a dazzler and is to be installed on large destroyers,
-HEL-MD will eventually develop a 100 KW laser but with no given deadlines yet.

So I really think we are a long way from developing extreme high powered long range lasers mounted on fast turrets.
the first generation of destructive aircraft lasers would most likely be front facing (as depicted on Northrop's promotional video)

element1loop wrote:If you're talking about actual strategic attack operations against an enemy's homeland, then with such an aircraft WVR is going away.

That has yet to materialize, correct me if I'm wrong but every single war with significant air to air combat has had at least a few WVR incidents. This is despite the fact that the technological disparity is massive. What happens when adversaries are flying VLO as well.
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Unread post09 Sep 2019, 10:08

zero-one wrote:So I really think we are a long way from developing extreme high powered long range lasers mounted on fast turrets. the first generation of destructive aircraft lasers would most likely be front facing (as depicted on Northrop's promotional video)


It can however be a case of creating a platform designed for such a laser to have upgradeability in-built, as per an EOTS module which can be swapped out for an up-rated plug 'n play version 5 to 10 years after service entry.

This was one of the key concepts for fast-prototyping a PCA, i.e. have a 5th-gen with vanilla features at time of service entry but not much that's new, in order to shorten the time to service-entry. Thus to obtain the basic operational advanced VLO multirole platform in service with less initial capabilities than an F-35A but is then able to evolve fast and continuously in service, as weapons, tactics, and threats require, such as during 30 to 50 years of change. A high level of adaptability was to be built in, so such a new laser weapon can, "... crawl -> walk -> run ...", and the tactics an systems implemented evolve as the laser weapon's capability evolves.

And there are boneyards full of old fighters to turn into drones, and practice real-world realistic combat-like scenarios to find out what works on them, and what does not, and precisely why.

Got to say, I'm not swayed by endless references to rare WVR 'exceptions' within unequal low-level conflicts. As always such examples are irrelevant noise as this is about a high-end fight over a Chinese main where who is hostile isn't ambiguous. And in a conflict against militia like ISIS, within a Syria-like context, the B-21 is absolutely escort-able and defend-able (if it were employed). But even in a WVR context, a 1/4 megawatt laser is the weapon I'd want pointing at threat aircraft as it can kill a missile, destroy targeting sensors, or disable and kill a pilot very quickly, as can a B-21's escort.

What happens when adversaries are flying VLO as well.


You invest heavily in multi-domain sensors, and in advanced A2G weapons (i.e. like what is occurring).
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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Unread post09 Sep 2019, 10:31

One possibility might be to put a defensive laser (like shield) on a non-stealthy UAV. Let the UAV absorb the missile attacks whilst shooting it down in bunches and let the manned fighters do what they do best. If the UAV goes down, no issue. UAV can even be fighter launched.

Separating the capability might help to accelerate PCA development.
Last edited by weasel1962 on 09 Sep 2019, 10:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post09 Sep 2019, 10:39

weasel1962 wrote:UAV can even be fighter launched.


Or carried internally (given it's non-VLO) inside a B-21.
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Unread post09 Sep 2019, 11:30

element1loop wrote:
Got to say, I'm not swayed by endless references to rare WVR 'exceptions' within unequal low-level conflicts. As always such examples are irrelevant noise as this is about a high-end fight over a Chinese main where who is hostile isn't ambiguous.


But thats the reality of the world we live in. The last real high end peer vs peer conflict was World War 2. If you remember, the F-105 was created solely to fight high end peer to peer nuclear wars as a high speed low level penetrator.
In theory it could also perform conventional attack runs in a lower intensity conflict. That did not end well.

And the fact that WVR still occurs despite the massive disparity in S.A. tells me it won't be completely eradicated any time soon. Specially when we're talking VLO vs VLO.

Anyway we're beating the dead horse here and we both have differing views on the matter. I believe BVR will form the majority not the entirety of air combat. But even if it does. BVR tactics still require maneuverability. the F-pole, Bat turn, BVR oriented maneuvers done by high performance fighters during BVR.
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Unread post09 Sep 2019, 11:35

zero-one wrote:BVR tactics still require maneuverability. the F-pole, Bat turn, BVR oriented maneuvers done by high performance fighters during BVR.


Or you could just sic the bacon-crisper on them and have another cheesy poof.
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Unread post09 Sep 2019, 13:31

zero-one wrote:And the fact that WVR still occurs despite the massive disparity in S.A. tells me it won't be completely eradicated any time soon. Specially when we're talking VLO vs VLO.

True for many reasons, like increasing speed of the engagements, pk of missiles (with consideration of the effects of ECM, need to re-engage targets etc.), all compressed if reduced detection ranges due to low RCS are to be considered. And it gets even better. The first application of lasers turrets in aircrafts, DIRCM, is supposed to render IR missiles less and less effective and may have the paradoxical effect of making the cannon relevant again, at least for some time.

BVR tactics still require maneuverability. the F-pole, Bat turn, BVR oriented maneuvers done by high performance fighters during BVR.

Indeed, we are seeing in the operational performance thread, with realistic figures, how challenged AAMs can be in terms of kinematics and turning at high altitude. Missiles can be out-turned and out-run, and maneuverability and kinematics are key for that.

IMHO first type of real DEW will be RF ones. It is already known that manned platforms of fighter size are not suitable for their employment due to adverse effects of such strong EM fields on the human body. Maybe platforms of bomber size can manage to carry the type of shielding needed, and all three US, China and Russia seem to be developing such platforms of similar characteristics and pprobably similar intentions.

Only latter on we may talk about lasers with real capability to disable a missile, but then many countermeasures are of application, like highly conductive and highly reflective bodies, ablative coatings, aerosol or plasma shielding, measures for reduction of direct visibility of the missile and probably many more.
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Unread post09 Sep 2019, 13:35

element1loop wrote:Or you could just sic the bacon-crisper on them and have another cheesy poof.


I don't know, a BVR laser would probably need to be in the Megawatt range.
The first generation hundred kilowatt lasers will most probably be forward facing on a fixed orientation requiring some maneuverability. It will still most likely be augmented by missiles.

Realistically, the defensive, DIRCM and anti missile laser turrets will be installed first which may necessitate the use of short range guns and large, front facing lasers as the only effective A-A weapons. This will be much more useful in an F-22 or F-35 type air frame than a B-21.

My bottom line is, I don't see turbo laser turrets small enough to be installed on bombers installed any time soon.
DIRCM, yes
Dazzlers sure
Anti missile CIWS, maybe
but bacon crisper, destroying J-20s from 15 Nautical miles out? I think its too early.
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Unread post09 Sep 2019, 14:56

zero-one wrote:I don't know, a BVR laser would probably need to be in the Megawatt range.
The first generation hundred kilowatt lasers will most probably be forward facing on a fixed orientation requiring some maneuverability. It will still most likely be augmented by missiles.

Realistically, the defensive, DIRCM and anti missile laser turrets will be installed first which may necessitate the use of short range guns and large, front facing lasers as the only effective A-A weapons. This will be much more useful in an F-22 or F-35 type air frame than a B-21.


Fixed orientation laser? What? This isn't Star Wars, lasers are easily gimballed using lenses, or with a turret. See YAL-1. Even in Navy's LaWS the laser is generated below deck and transported to beam director with fiber optics.

zero-one wrote:My bottom line is, I don't see turbo laser turrets small enough to be installed on bombers installed any time soon.


WTF is a turbo laser? That term literally doesn't exist outside of Star Wars and Warhammer 40k.
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