F35 variants, which is the most capable version?

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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asianviper

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Unread post14 May 2012, 20:52

Hello everyone, I wanted to ask all you learned people your opinion on what is the definative variant of the F35 in terms of its capabilities. Im aware that the B variant suffers from decreased range and internal weapons carriage. How do the C and A models stack up against each other? Is there any one variant that is really better and more capable than the others?
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SpudmanWP

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Unread post14 May 2012, 21:08

The A can do >600nm Combat Radius, 9g turns, up to 2k internal JDAMs, 18k lbs of stores, and has an internal gun

The B can do STOVL ops, >450nm Combat Radius, up to 1k internal JDAMs,15k of stores, and 7g turns

The C can do carrier ops, >600nm Combat Radius, up to 2k internal JDAMs,18k of stores, and 7.5g turns

They all have the same avionics, radars, datalinks, max speed, etc.

Here is a breakdown of each weapon station's capability.

Image

And the basic stats:

Image
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aceshigh

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Unread post14 May 2012, 21:25

SpudmanWP wrote:The A can do >600nm Combat Radius, 9g turns, up to 2k internal JDAMs, 18k lbs of stores, and has an internal gun

The B can do STOVL ops, >450nm Combat Radius, up to 1k internal JDAMs,15k of stores, and 7g turns

The C can do carrier ops, >600nm Combat Radius, up to 2k internal JDAMs,18k of stores, and 7.5g turns


CTOL ! - The tabel says it all, (rhymes doesn't it?) :wink:
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asianviper

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Unread post14 May 2012, 22:37

So it would seem that the A model would be better for air to air missions as it seems to be quite a bit lighter than the B and C has the internal cannon and is also able to handle up to 9g? Would the fact that the Band C variants have to have an external gun pod not compromise their stealthiness?
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SpudmanWP

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Unread post14 May 2012, 22:50

The external gun pod for the F-35 is built in a LO pod.

Image

Image
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count_to_10

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Unread post14 May 2012, 23:59

aceshigh wrote:
SpudmanWP wrote:The A can do >600nm Combat Radius, 9g turns, up to 2k internal JDAMs, 18k lbs of stores, and has an internal gun

The B can do STOVL ops, >450nm Combat Radius, up to 1k internal JDAMs,15k of stores, and 7g turns

The C can do carrier ops, >600nm Combat Radius, up to 2k internal JDAMs,18k of stores, and 7.5g turns


CTOL ! - The tabel says it all, (rhymes doesn't it?) :wink:

I thought I saw that the B and C had also been flown up past 9gs...
Though I fully expect the A to have some advantage over the B and C.
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delvo

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Unread post15 May 2012, 00:23

asianviper wrote:Im aware that the B variant suffers from decreased range and internal weapons carriage. How do the C and A models stack up against each other? Is there any one variant that is really better and more capable than the others?
Each one is more capable than the others at something and less capable at something else. "B" has the lightest payload (plus some length restriction for internal carriage of some weapons that are under the weight limit) and shortest range, but can launch & land in places where the others can't. "C" has more drag, which means less speed and fuel efficiency, but has a lower minimum speed and more turning control at low speeds, carries more fuel, and can launch & land on properly equipped aircraft carriers without relying on the compromises of "B" to do so. "A" is the most restricted in terms of where to launch & land, requiring a long smooth runway, but makes no compromises in drag, payload, range, or speed for the sake of being able to launch or land anywhere else.

SpudmanWP wrote:The A can do... 9g turns...

The B can do... 7g turns...

The C can do... 7.5g turns...
And the latter two numbers are lower than the former one for opposite reasons: B because it's lightened up, and C because it's heavier! :D

asianviper wrote:So it would seem that the A model would be better for air to air missions as it seems to be quite a bit lighter than the B and C has the internal cannon and is also able to handle up to 9g?
"A" lighter than "B"? This comment confuzzles me. Otherwise, though, yes, the higher g-rating is nifty, the range is longer than "B", and the drag is lower than "C". I doubt how important the gun is for air-to-air combat, though. It's mostly there for air-to-ground. Remember, "A" is replacing not just F-16 but also A-10.

asianviper wrote:Would the fact that the Band C variants have to have an external gun pod not compromise their stealthiness?
The pod itself is supposed to be stealthy, too, so, while there's probably some increase in radar signature, it's going to be so tiny it wouldn't matter. The main issues with an external pod are weight and drag. (The same also goes for externally-carried stealth-bombs like JSOW and JASSM.) For a lot of missions, they just won't carry the pod because it won't be deemed worth the bother for the given mission.
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mixelflick

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Unread post15 May 2012, 00:35

Um, if that last statement is true about not carrying the gun pod - are we ignoring the lessons of Vietnam?

I FULLY realize air combat has changed over the years, but the F-35 isn't going to be able to out-run certain foes like PAK-FA/SU-35 etc. I'll grant you it may be able to hide, but that's a big assumption I'd rather not make, if I was the pilot. That and it doesn't carry the AMRAAM/air-to-air load out the F-22/F-15 etc. do.

Dunno, it just seems a bit disturbing to me we'd risk repeating the same mistake...
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popcorn

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Unread post15 May 2012, 00:41

Each has it's strengths and weaknesses,relative to the other. Eaxh Armed Service is getting the best performer for it's needs.
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count_to_10

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Unread post15 May 2012, 01:57

As far as I can tell, the F-35A is only partially replacing the A-10, essentially freeing it up from the penetration and strike roles completely so that it can be focused on real CAS. The F-35 is never really going to do the low, slow, small-arms bait work that the A-10 was built for.
Einstein got it backward: one cannot prevent a war without preparing for it.
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Unread post15 May 2012, 02:05

mixelflick wrote:Um, if that last statement is true about not carrying the gun pod - are we ignoring the lessons of Vietnam?

I FULLY realize air combat has changed over the years, but the F-35 isn't going to be able to out-run certain foes like PAK-FA/SU-35 etc. I'll grant you it may be able to hide, but that's a big assumption I'd rather not make, if I was the pilot. That and it doesn't carry the AMRAAM/air-to-air load out the F-22/F-15 etc. do.

Dunno, it just seems a bit disturbing to me we'd risk repeating the same mistake...

The Vietnam "mistake" wasn't so much that every plane needs a gun as it was that there needed to be better communication between those who designed the planes and those who used them and better pilot training. Missiles were not as reliable as the aircraft designers assumed because they didn't know what the pilots were really experiencing. Putting the guns back on was just a stop gap way of getting around the problem.
Future fighters may be better off with very short range Stinger sized missiles instead of guns.
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exorcet

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Unread post15 May 2012, 02:14

count_to_10 wrote:As far as I can tell, the F-35A is only partially replacing the A-10, essentially freeing it up from the penetration and strike roles completely so that it can be focused on real CAS. The F-35 is never really going to do the low, slow, small-arms bait work that the A-10 was built for.


The Su-35 would probably have to try very hard to catch the F-35. The PAK-FA might be quicker, but no one knows what that plane will end up being capable of.

Either way, the gun doesn't become any more helpful just because the F-35 might bump into something that could outrun it. If a fighter can't out run something, it can't stop that something from running out of gun range. If the F-35 does get into a dogfight, AIM-9 and ASRAMM would probably do more work than the gun. Even the AIM-120 might do more work than the gun.
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archeman

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Unread post15 May 2012, 03:06

SpudmanWP wrote:The A can do >600nm Combat Radius, 9g turns, up to 2k internal JDAMs, 18k lbs of stores, and has an internal gun

The B can do STOVL ops, >450nm Combat Radius, up to 1k internal JDAMs,15k of stores, and 7g turns

The C can do carrier ops, >600nm Combat Radius, up to 2k internal JDAMs,18k of stores, and 7.5g turns

They all have the same avionics, radars, datalinks, max speed, etc.

Image


Spud.
So just doing some quick calculations from your table numbers shows what a high price the Navy paid to get that greater control at lower speeds.
* C version gets only 1.66% greater range than the A. That low of a % puts it in the 'statistically insignificant' category. That has always been one of the quotes that attends the C version "has greater range", well not really enough to talk about.
* C version stores 7.6% more fuel than the A. Those big wings sure chew up that 7.6% fuel bonus in a hurry don't they???
* C version weighs 15.8% more than the A. Is this where the max G is going?

Given the above stats I would have thunk that the Navy would have looked into a more complex/larger flaps and leading edge solutions to get their control and landing speed solution. If they succeeded then the other partners may have been able to adopt those solutions instead of having the the one-off C version.
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spazsinbad

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Unread post15 May 2012, 03:38

'archeman' many issues/requirements for the two Naval Aviation variations of the F-35 were looked into. Here is one overview example of what is needed for Naval Aviation:

The Influence of Ship Configuration on the Design of the Joint Strike Fighter 1Mb PDF

http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA399988
OR
http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD ... tTRDoc.pdf (all same same)

So far from what is known only the F-35C 'no hook catch wire' is a problem with all pilot reports - especially for FCLP - a land substitute for a carrier approach - is that it has excellent flying / handling qualities with power to spare (for waveoffs).

When the F-35C gets into preparation for CVN trials then I guess more will be known about such things and of course the hook needs to be fixed beforehand.
________

This thread has some discussion about issues and there are other threads on ths forum for F-35C carrier approaches - the most important aspect. If it cannot get aboard then it ain't worth.... :roll:

F-35 Approach AOA

http://www.f-16.net/f-16_forum_viewtopi ... r-asc.html

Perhaps not every post is interesting so skim away....
Last edited by spazsinbad on 15 May 2012, 03:57, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post15 May 2012, 03:56

A F-35 with a gun can only kill a bandit directly in front of it
A F-35 with AIM-9x Blk II can kill a bandit within a 360 degree spherical area .
“What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”
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