CSBA Analyst Calls For F-35C Redesign

Variants for different customers or mission profiles
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SpudmanWP

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Unread post14 Feb 2019, 01:38

To reduce the impact of F/A-18 E/Fs on long-range CVW capacity, the following mission analysis assumes that F/A-18
E/Fs and the future FA-XX fighter are both able to conduct refueling operations using buddy tanks and that F-35Cs are
used for OCA and escort operations in support of strikes when FA-XXs are needed as tankers. This approach was chosen
because of the potential for the FA-XX to be an F/A-18 E/F derivative, whereas the F-35C does not have this capability
today and is not envisioned as having it in the future.


Isn't the MQ-25 taking over tanking duties and not (ever) FA-XX?
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steve2267

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Unread post14 Feb 2019, 02:17

I am unfamiliar with Navair tanking philosophy or policies. Jake Grafton always hit a tanker first think after his cat shot... and since the author was an A-6 driver, I figure that's going to be close to the way it really is -- when flying over the deep blue... take gas whenever you can get it. But it also seems pertinent that the nasal radiators would not want to be in a position when coming off target or going feet wet again... that they HAVE to tank lest they go swimming. That is... after launch, at some point, tank and get enough gas to fly the strike, return to the boat and land. Once at the boat, if bolters require it... tankers will be available to refuel for additional trap attempts. Am I more or less correct? (Tank -- then fly the mission with enough gas to get back to the boat without having to tank again?)

[ NOTE: Afghanistan and Iraq may have been different in that they were (more or less) permissive environments; the USAF had flying Shell & Conoco stations all over the place. I'm writing in this post about an "alpha strike" across 1000nm of water, or whatever has everyone's panties in a wad these days. ]

If I am on point... then having a UCAV (i.e. MQ-25) re-fuel outbound F-35Cs @ 400-450nm, so tanking is completed by 500nm from the boat, means that an F-35C with a nominal 670nm combat radius, should be able to push out to ~920nm before having to return to the boat. JSOW-ER and/or JSM should give the F-35C the ability to prosecute targets out to about 1200nm. This is without any gee-whiz AETP or F-135 GO 2.0 upgrades. (If GO 1.0 can yield 7% better fuel consumption, then that 920nm gets pushed out to around 965nm give or take.)

If AETP comes along with 30% better fuel burn, then topping off via MQ-25 by 500nm appears to push the F-35C to a combat radius of ~1200nm. Even without a 500nm topoff by MQ-25, AETP would seem to push the combat radius of the F-35C out to ~950nm. Save the MQ-25's for the thirsty Rhinos.

Depending on how much gas an F-35C takes to launch, climb, and cruise out to 400-450nm... and how much gas Boing can stuff in the MQ-25... a single MQ-25 might be able to refuel a flight of four @ 400-450nm. (If that is, an F-35C might be able to burn only 4000lb (ish) to get there. But, that might be optimistic. Alternatively... Every F-35C launches & climbs up to cruise altitude right away. Then immediately tank from MQ-25. At around 400-450nm, tank again. Am swagging that tanking right after climbing to cruise, that a single MQ-25 could top off four F-35C's @ 4-450nm. The issue then may become how long tanking takes. The idea being that at 500nm everyone has full tanks. Maybe need one MQ-25 for every two F-35C's to account for tanking times.)

[My swags were based off an assumed 670nm combat radius of the F-35C that I saw in the past few days.]

Bottom line, with MQ-25, and especially if AETP or GO 2.0 can deliver, where is the need for a new derivative F/A-XX?

I am not seeing a need to stretch the F-35C for gas.

I do see a potential requirement for longer weapons bays that would be able to swallow hypersonic AGM's that have a decent range (300nm? 500?). Hanging something 20-25' long off the wings is going to kill your gas mileage and won't help your VLO signature much.
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 post14 Feb 2019, 03:09

popcorn wrote:
usnvo wrote:
If they have done it, they haven't advertised it.


Sure, I could understand that but OTOH deterrence is enhanced if you can demonstrate to potential bad guys that such z capability exists.


I agree. I doubt they have done a flight test yet. First, because as far as I know, they do not have a MARV target yet and second because AFAIK they have only done three tests of the SM-6 Dual I yet, all against MRBM targets. Additionally, although at least at maximum range where the re-entry slant angle is pretty low, I would guess the SM-6 intercept point will be beyond the sensor range on the MARV so it is unlikely to be maneuvering at that point. At closer ranges the MARV will be coming down much more steeply.
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element1loop

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Unread post14 Feb 2019, 04:16

XanderCrews wrote:Is it really hard to imagine that maybe the Navy can't have a raptor class bird?

develop better weapons, squids. You made the bed, lie in it


Yes, it's ludicrous to push USN F-22 derivative when USN has F-35C now which could easily take on a F-22A class jet in A2A and have a good chance of winning. On top of that, the best bet is to kill the threat on the ground which that same F-35C will do brilliantly, especially with MQ-25s supporting.

I could not agree more that precision strike reach using better LO weapons is the solution to cracking the nut at much longer-range at the outset. It's about time the USN, which is finally embracing LRASM, steps up to JASSM-ER/XR, and add the JSOW-C-ER to the mix as well. Even if that weapon mix is expensive to acquire, it's still cheaper than creating a new long-range USN strike aircraft and maintaining that in service for 30 years.

And the idea of the F/A-18E/F airframe seeding an F/A-XX ... is repugnant ... when you have a single-engine, high-payload, very compact VLO F-35C, which can serve as an already very advanced basis for an F/A-18E/F replacement. Because that's all F/A-XX will be - a replacement of old SH. The F-35C will easily meet that after BK4 is completed. USN would have rocks in its head to go for another evolved superhornet airframe, when it can have a smaller actual VLO strikefighter airframe doing it instead.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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Unread post14 Feb 2019, 04:42

I think
A revamped fa-18 aint gunna happen
a stretched f-35c aint gunna happen, tweeks using the existing airframe is a possibility.
what's next on the list? A clean sheet f/a-xx using next get tech, a possibility if ever there is funding.
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Unread post14 Feb 2019, 05:07

optimist wrote:I think
A revamped fa-18 aint gunna happen
a stretched f-35c aint gunna happen, tweeks using the existing airframe is a possibility.
what's next on the list? A clean sheet f/a-xx using next get tech, a possibility if ever there is funding.


Extremely doubtful that the US would redesign the F-35C. Yet, we will see it and it's USAF and USMC cousins upgraded
over time. (Engines, Avionics, Weapons, etc.)
Last edited by Corsair1963 on 14 Feb 2019, 08:51, edited 1 time in total.
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popcorn

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Unread post14 Feb 2019, 06:40

usnvo wrote:
popcorn wrote:
usnvo wrote:
If they have done it, they haven't advertised it.


Sure, I could understand that but OTOH deterrence is enhanced if you can demonstrate to potential bad guys that such z capability exists.


I agree. I doubt they have done a flight test yet. First, because as far as I know, they do not have a MARV target yet and second because AFAIK they have only done three tests of the SM-6 Dual I yet, all against MRBM targets. Additionally, although at least at maximum range where the re-entry slant angle is pretty low, I would guess the SM-6 intercept point will be beyond the sensor range on the MARV so it is unlikely to be maneuvering at that point. At closer ranges the MARV will be coming down much more steeply.


We should get a hint when request appears in the budget, means they're getting serious.
Similar to sourcing of Coyote as supersonic ashM analogue.
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh
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Unread post14 Feb 2019, 11:00

sferrin wrote:
marauder2048 wrote:The bomber streams were detected with OTH-B and then destroyed
with terminal seeker equipped MaRVs launched by surface ships and
submarines
.


There are no such weapons in the US inventory. Nor have there ever been. Backfires & Bears were to be detected by Hawkeyes and attacked by Tomcats (hopefully before weapon release). The AS-16 Kickback (Kh-15) was designed specifically to fly over lofted Phoenix shots. That was the outer air-battle at sea. (With AS-4s in the mix as well.)

marauder2048 wrote:In some cases, stealthy UAVs lurked around bomber ingress routes


Which stealthy UAVs are these?


I did say they were concepts :)

Ballistic Intercept Missile was the missile -> LORAINE was the kill vehicle
Condor was the original UAV envisioned but wasn't survivable enough.

But AFAIK the ROTHR OTH-B radars are the main (and possibly only) remnant.
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