CSBA Analyst Calls For F-35C Redesign

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ricnunes

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Unread post26 Mar 2019, 16:04

blain wrote:If you want a fighter than can operate up to 1,000 nm from the carrier you need to design one with a planform that is optimized for range - keeping in mind the you are going to trade off maneuverability. Is there a more cost effective solution than a new manned fighter program?


I fully agree with the above (and with the rest of your post) and that's why I "proposed" something (note the quotes: who am I to propose something? :wink: ) like a modified/improved A-12.
That's IMO the only kind of design that could be operated from a Carrier which could attain a 1,000 nm operational radius.

Of course the trade-offs are that such aircraft wouldn't have the same/similar maneuverability compared to other fighter aircraft (like you mentioned) and it would also be subsonic.
A 4th/4.5th gen fighter aircraft stands about as much chance against a F-35 as a guns-only Sabre has against a Viper.
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Unread post06 May 2019, 21:14

More CSBA fall out....
https://www.defensenews.com/digital-sho ... -air-wing/

Decent article. Short on the details and a regurgitation of Bryan Clark's F-35C redesign idea. I don't know if the author is correctly characterizing Clark, or if Clark is just talking out of his rear end.

"For that, Clark points to a retooled F-35 fighter jet, one that switches out internal payload space for fuel."

I've watched Clark's briefing of his report and read the report. Both lacked any specificity. But don't see how you can get another 400 nm in combat radius by trading weapons bay space for fuel.

You'll need another 7 or 8,000 lbs of more fuel. My estimate. Does anyone have any better info? The weapons bays are already tight. You'd have to convert the whole weapons bay for JP5 and still would likely not get there. If he is talking about lengthening the F-35 and optimizing it for range like the J-20 then I'd rather hear from an LM engineer than a nuclear boat guy.
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marauder2048

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Unread post06 May 2019, 22:11

With AETP and a conformal fuel bladder (assume you don't care about jettison/clearance)
per weapons bay that you drain from first I don't see why getting an extra 400 nm in radius is
outlandish.

And it sounds like what Clark is describing implies a hi-hi-hi flight profile.
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citanon

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Unread post06 May 2019, 22:40

I posted the defense news story to another thread earlier. I think an interesting part of the story is Clark saying that "F-35 guys" told him getting a longer range F-35 mainly involves software changes.

Are we talking about then an "eco mode" for the Lightening II? If so I wonder how much range boost you get from that alone?
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blain

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Unread post06 May 2019, 22:54

marauder2048 wrote:With AETP and a conformal fuel bladder (assume you don't care about jettison/clearance)
per weapons bay that you drain from first I don't see why getting an extra 400 nm in radius is
outlandish.

And it sounds like what Clark is describing implies a hi-hi-hi flight profile.


Maybe, assuming you get an improved engine in the mid 2020s or 2030. Like the engine competition in the 80s you would likely see the new engine in only new production F-35s and a follow on fighter.

I still would like to see the data behind what Clark says. If you want to still carry weapons in the F-35 bays - say keep 1 AIM-120 and 4 SDBs that doesn't leave with a lot of volume for fuel. Because if you need to carry weapons externally you might as well carry external fuel tanks and/or CFTs.

Does anyone know how much more fuel internally you would have to carry to get out to 1,000 nm?
Last edited by blain on 06 May 2019, 23:35, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post06 May 2019, 22:54

disable certain systems maybe? If you don't need to power or cool them then you can run more efficiently.
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Unread post06 May 2019, 22:56

blain wrote:
Does anyone know how much more fuel internally you would have to carry to get out to 1,000 nm?

Based on the statement about doing a 590nm out and back dropping two GBU-31s and landing with 7,000-8,000lb in the tanks? Not much. I estimated an 840nm max range for HI-HI-HI profile with almost no loiter.
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Unread post06 May 2019, 23:28

I wonder if the extra 400nm takes into account the drag of external weapons?
"The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese."
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Unread post06 May 2019, 23:43

blain wrote:
Maybe, assuming you get an improved engine in the mid 2020s or 2030. Like the engine competition in the 80s you would like see the new engine in only new production F-35s and a follow on fighter.


Well that is the envisioned timeline and the F-35 has been the design target vehicle for AETP since day one.

blain wrote:
I still would like to see the data behind what Clark says. If you want to still carry weapons in the F-35 bays - say keep 1 AIM-120 and 4 SDBs that doesn't leave with a lot of volume for fuel. Because if you need to carry weapons externally you might as well carry external fuel tanks and/or CFTs.


That would only be for the CAS role which Clark indicates is a distant secondary role.
In the CnC role, there's likely less thermal burden on the PAO loop (and consequently
less impact on fuel consumption) since you wouldn't necessarily have to power the EW suite or
the radar beyond using the radar for comms to the swarm.
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blain

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Unread post07 May 2019, 00:44

marauder2048 wrote:
blain wrote:
Maybe, assuming you get an improved engine in the mid 2020s or 2030. Like the engine competition in the 80s you would like see the new engine in only new production F-35s and a follow on fighter.


Well that is the envisioned timeline and the F-35 has been the design target vehicle for AETP since day one.

blain wrote:
I still would like to see the data behind what Clark says. If you want to still carry weapons in the F-35 bays - say keep 1 AIM-120 and 4 SDBs that doesn't leave with a lot of volume for fuel. Because if you need to carry weapons externally you might as well carry external fuel tanks and/or CFTs.


That would only be for the CAS role which Clark indicates is a distant secondary role.
In the CnC role, there's likely less thermal burden on the PAO loop (and consequently
less impact on fuel consumption) since you wouldn't necessarily have to power the EW suite or
the radar beyond using the radar for comms to the swarm.


I only cited the SDB as a notional load for a smaller bay. Unless you are going to stretch the F-35 you are not going to get much. In A/A the most weapons it will be able to carry is 6 AIM-120s. So what are you going to give back to get a meaningful trade in fuel? Two? Three? That would amount to a thimble full when compared to the F-35Cs internal fuel volume.

In A/G would you get anything by trading 2 GBU-31s and 2 AIM-120s for 2 AARGM-ER derivatives and 2 AIM-120s? I don't think so.

Then does the F-35 just carry a few self defense weapons and then becomes a manager for UCAVs?

The whole F-35C redesign is a poor use of limited resources. Continue the development of improved engine, buy the F-35 at efficient quantities and attempt to finish the buy sooner, and field the MQ-25A to extend the reach of the CVW. You have excess deck space on carriers to adjust the size and make up of the CVW as needed like the Navy did in the 80s - according to the mission and the threat. The MQ-25A is not the best solution but it is an 80% solution which gets you the capability to fight the air wing at 1,000 nm at a reasonable cost.

By ending Super Hornets production and completing the F-35C buy sooner you can then start developing a purpose built aircraft which trades some performance for range. An unmanned solution might be less expensive but more limited in capability and come with higher risk. In that case it maybe wise to continue with the F-35 as bridge until it matures.
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Unread post07 May 2019, 00:51

“Not much.“

Agree, and there are several (relatively easy) ways to do that short of a while new procurement program they cannot afford right now.
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Unread post07 May 2019, 01:49

Given the current range, and the expected increase of 30 to 35% in range, when the AETP/ACE motors become available, that'll get the F-35C close to 1000nm. With MQ-25s, it'll easily exceed 1000nm for a strike radius. Now add in the range of stand off weapons on top of that.
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Unread post07 May 2019, 02:12

An F-35C controlling the loitering munitions delivered by a UCAV seems like a pretty good division
of labor to me. The F-35 is certainly a more practical (LPI/LPD datalinks over reasonable distances)
and survivable command node than anything else that has been described.

blain wrote:In A/G would you get anything by trading 2 GBU-31s and 2 AIM-120s for 2 AARGM-ER derivatives and 2 AIM-120s? I don't think so.


You would get a highly responsive and flexible weapon in AARGM-ER; if you are just attacking fixed or relocatable
targets that can be serviced by GBU-31s I tend to think that a UCAV controlled by an F-35 is a better solution.

Attacking fleeting mobile targets is where I think the F-35 really excels.

Part of the CSBA study is a position piece for actually placing production contracts for the MQ-25;
it's a glorified science project at the moment since the only birds currently in the budgets are
EMD and system demonstration test articles.

That and the MQ-25 isn't the right design; it should be 17,000 lbs of fuel offload @ 600 nautical miles.
As mentioned in the defense news piece, the MQ-25 in its current configuration translates to a a very large
number (12 -15) to extend the entire air wing.
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blain

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Unread post07 May 2019, 05:44

marauder2048 wrote:An F-35C controlling the loitering munitions delivered by a UCAV seems like a pretty good division
of labor to me. The F-35 is certainly a more practical (LPI/LPD datalinks over reasonable distances)
and survivable command node than anything else that has been described.

You would get a highly responsive and flexible weapon in AARGM-ER; if you are just attacking fixed or relocatable
targets that can be serviced by GBU-31s I tend to think that a UCAV controlled by an F-35 is a better solution.

Attacking fleeting mobile targets is where I think the F-35 really excels.

Part of the CSBA study is a position piece for actually placing production contracts for the MQ-25;
it's a glorified science project at the moment since the only birds currently in the budgets are
EMD and system demonstration test articles.

That and the MQ-25 isn't the right design; it should be 17,000 lbs of fuel offload @ 600 nautical miles.
As mentioned in the defense news piece, the MQ-25 in its current configuration translates to a a very large
number (12 -15) to extend the entire air wing.


The problem with any UCAV - autonomous or semi-autonomous - is that you need to assume a great advancement in AI. Navigation, defensive management, targeting, even the extent to which "control" from a single seat manned fighter looks like. What functions will be automated and what function will require a man in the loop? We need to transition from Predator to something totally different. And I think there are very few people, especially in think tanks, who understand how to get there.

One area where UCAV's may work is the outer air battle. E-2s and/or F-35s could employ loitering UCAVs with large missile loads via a low observable network node. This would reduce the number of manned fighters needed to protect the CSG. Bombers and cruise missile are much easier to for UCAVs to counter than fighters. Attacking surface ships or relocatable targets, and even fixed targets in a non permissive environment maybe much more difficult.

In a non permissive environment, even low observable fighters, may need to alter the planned route or the attack and respond to unforeseen threats such as enemy fighters and air defenses. I don’t see how it can do it autonomously. Doing as a “loyal wingman” to an F-35 might still be difficult.

The MQ-25A is a much easier proposition. I am not sure why they settled on the 14,000 lbs at 500 nm requirement. Maybe that all they needed, or was cost and size a consideration. The key issue will be exactly how many MQ-25As the Navy's anticipates per CVW and how many F-35Cs will it be able to send out to 1,000 nm. No one has ever said.
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Unread post07 May 2019, 07:08

Does the Navy have some type of marketing campaign going on? More talk of the relevance of carriers and CVWs. More quotes from Bryan Clark and CSBA. Perhaps the USAF could learn something from the Navy. They got the refueling of the Truman funded by playing a game of chicken and putting on the chopping block.

https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-nav ... e-flattop/

Here is an interesting nugget from the authors:

"Each Stingray promises to enable a pair of Super Hornets or two F-35C Joint Strike Fighters to go 1,000 nautical miles and back, the edge of China’s anti-ship missile ranges."

Where did they get that from? The Navy? Clark? So a squadron of 12 MQ-25s will be able to send out 24 F-35Cs? That would be tactically significant but "promises" sounds like weasel words.
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