Distributed ops: Will rapid Raptor really work?

Anything goes, as long as it is about the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
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jessmo112

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Unread post21 Jan 2021, 00:19

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/reboo ... ina-176674

The flying branch is bettering that it can chop up its 20-plane fighter squadrons into detachments of four or six planes, pair them up with transports and maintainers and send them far and away to do battle without top-down management. It's innovation born of necessity.

Please if you dont agree with the news source, lets agree to disagree, and not argue over it.
I thought that this would make an interesting topic because of the odvious problems associated with this strategy.

1. I can see this working well for the Raptor, But... lets take the expansion at Tinan as an example.
As you apply this strat to other types you have the same issue as before. You are distributed, but instead of having 1 Guam you have 10.

2. Once you have 4-6 Raptors, 4-6 F-35s, 4-6 F-15s ,A-10s ect you have a substantial base.
The USAF needs so many assets to fight China that it will be a pain hiding, distributing them.

3. How do you replace Raptors or keep them island hopping once they are discovered?

IMHO the USAF is on the right track but here is what Id suggest.

A. Begin to heavily deploy space based missile defenses.
The time is now. The pacific is to vast for our current fleet of fighters.

B. Stealth tanker or stealthy drone tanker of some kind.
I would build a B-21 variant that can tank. A C-21 to be exact or QC-21

C. Build 10×s the distributed bases currently and stop advertising them. Why build Tianan as a austere base and then leak to the Chinese the Location?

D. Invest heavily in drones that can escort tankers and provide presence. If you can get a drone that can fire Amraams, and keep up with a tanker, you have solved alot of problems. Your also more likely to sacrifice a drone so that a tanker can escape than a manned F-22.

Am I crazy? Please tell me!
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usafr

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Unread post21 Jan 2021, 03:32

Ok, you are.
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Unread post21 Jan 2021, 16:04

Some of your points make sense.

But I always looked at Rapid Raptor as a band aid, deploying just enough combat capability to hold the line until the rest of the squadron and support aircraft can get there. How many AMRAAM's/AIM-260 can you carry in that C-17? Fuel? Relief pilots? Maintainers? Spare parts? It adds up fast, and won't last forever.

At this point you realize why "lots" of F-35's are so important. US Pacific command will need numbers to fight off the Chinese, and Rapid Raptor doesn't get you that. Maybe Rapid Lightening then Rapid Reinforcements of a whole lot more. I do think your space based weapons are a good idea, especially for the Pacific theater. Question being, what kind and how long will it take to build/test/deploy them?

If we are truly going to take on the Chinese and secure the Pacific, we need new assets. Bigger, faster, longer ranged that carry more weapons and sensors. That will be expensive, but realistically its the only way of containing them. Unless we develop some disruptive technology that's a quantum leap forward, I can't see it going any other way..
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element1loop

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Unread post22 Jan 2021, 01:06

Your link contained this sludge:

“… Mission command is a popular concept among Army thinkers. As an unfortunate side effect, some of the idea's champions have also adopted the white-supremacist ideology of their German intellectual forebears. Their moral failing doesn't necessarily abrogate the soundness of the underlying military concept. And now the Air Force is backing into the same way of thinking. …”

The author is baiting readers, and feeding his own confirmation-biases. Why any editor thinks that should have been included is beyond the rational mind. Anyway, to your points:

jessmo112 wrote:IMHO the USAF is on the right track but …

A. Begin to heavily deploy space based missile defenses.
The time is now. The pacific is to vast for our current fleet of fighters.


A space based defense is not even practical or affordable against nuclear missiles, and no prototype or even proof of concept exists. Plus space-based systems are themselves highly vulnerable.

Forget about that.

And this underlying premise that the Pacific is too vast for current US fighters is simply untrue. It wasn't true even in WWII. And China’s predominantly 4th gen fighters plus tanker supports are far more at risk if they venture past the Chinese littoral, they could discover a Great Wall of AMRAAMs awaits between the mainland and 1st island chain.

See range rings and transit distances shown in this thread:

High cost of survival in an air war with China
viewtopic.php?f=37&t=56089

jessmo112 wrote:B. Stealth tanker or stealthy drone tanker of some kind.
I would build a B-21 variant that can tank. A C-21 to be exact or QC-21


No need, a tanker in flight over the western pacific is not as vulnerable as you suppose. Chinese fighters will only be able to go after them close to the Chinese mainland, and only with tanker support themselves. They also have to hide their tankers, and their tankers will actually be seriously at risk when in the air as well, to a far greater extent.

Over the rest of the Pacific there will be no fighter threat to tankers. B-1B will thin out the PLAN surface fleet fast as well, so naval SAMS also gone. Plus the tankers will have the same comprehensive air/sea picture in the region as an F-35 and will fly accordingly with that data with high survival effects. And they themselves are key data transmission enablers/repeaters, so will have the most current data for self-protection and evasion. All that can be exercised and proved in full mission simulations, then realistic exercise to see how many, if any are lost in the air. And also how to prevent that.

The survival problem will mostly not be when they fly, the tanker problems will be when and where they park between flights.

jessmo112 wrote:C. Build 10×s the distributed bases currently and stop advertising them. Why build Tianan as a austere base and then leak to the Chinese the Location?


It’s not the problem you think it is, Tinian North for instance is massive, with a lot of more or less clear and flat land all around it. The potential tanker parking area around it is massive too. At least 100 square kilometers is available for distributed random parking locations, after each flight.

Plus the Chinese long-range missile magazine is not a magic-pudding which can be eaten forever without reduction, they will run low on effective BM and CM missiles, as they expend them and can’t replace them fast. Especially when JASSM-XR CMs from a C-17A’s ramp pounds the production facilities and supports to rubble.

Plus bombers and SM3 destroy the long-range targeting sensors that are needed to make such attacks against parked tankers, to hit actual tankers in those distributed random parking locations. And to not hit one of 100 tanker decoys spread about the place to dilute PLA missile effects.

jessmo112 wrote:D. Invest heavily in drones that can escort tankers and provide presence. If you can get a drone that can fire Amraams, and keep up with a tanker, you have solved alot of problems. Your also more likely to sacrifice a drone so that a tanker can escape than a manned F-22.


No need for F-22A or drone escort either. The bombers need F-22A escort/cover, as there is practically no fighter threat past the first Island chain and what capability is there is can be degraded via F-35Bs, plus USMC and Army CM, BM, and hyper from 2023.

And where there is a fighter threat to tankers a cheaper to operate F-35 that burns less fuel and has longer legs, can escort the tankers more effectively instead. F-35 can still be fitted with an EFT to enable longer un-refueled legs to reduce the need for tanker supports on non-strike missions, or for assured transit west or east via Island hopping sans tanker support.

When you look at the numbers, and the geography, such island-hoping without tanker support is doable now. Again, all these issues can be worked through in full mission simulators and tested in the real world, and CONOPS and procurement decisions made.

Tinian North’s redevelopment is actually a very good strategy for increasing parking options over a much larger area to reduce the danger to tankers on the ground, when parking further to the west in the second Island chain, between flights. Prior to this development (and others) the tankers would be forced into a long flight back to Hawaii, to park with acceptable survival potential, after each mission. Then fly westwards 8 to 10 hours just to begin their next support task. And with much longer rest down-time between flights, which would have slowed the distributed FARP ops greatly.

With large aircraft parking areas in the second island chain FARP support flights can occur daily, instead of every two days. that doubles the strike potential. So Tinian and other redeveloped WWII airfields is exactly what's required, for better tanking support, and better tanker survival on the ground.

The C-17A with bags concept is not a great idea either, you actually need tanker supports so you can land as few heavy aircraft as possible for FARP strikes. Far safer and less obvious with no C-17A landing, if possible, and more efficient if you can survivably park more tankers in the second Island chain, and give them enough parking area to survive continuous attacks until missiles deplete, and slows or stops as long range targeting capability is degraded.

The more Guam’s you have the better. The bigger and more diverse the parking areas at each of them the better too. Same for copious decoys. Plus a JASSM-ER to kill long range sensors and strategic C4ISR, and keep them dead.

And don’t forget that deployed USMC, Japan and Taiwan are part of the first Island chain and hitting the Chinese mainland, and preventing PLAN and PLAAF from moving out in force, or surviving if they try. The Chinese tanker fleet enablers and bombers are facing a much higher threat in the air and also on the ground, those will be hammered hard. They are not going to have control of the air even over their own littoral, that will be vigorously contested.

FARPing is one part of a much broader bombardment, but it will help prep to bring more naval air power and reinforcement west after the first 2 to 3 weeks of a major conflict. It takes 2 weeks to get a fleet from the US west coast to the 2nd island chain conflict zone. And that time is needed to prep for them, via killing PLAN subs which may take much longer. Those subs will be aiming to cut off reinforcement, logistics and holding off NAVAIR contribution to the attack for as long as possible.

And take note that PLA artillery threat and opportunity against USN is real but limited in time, space, and missile number. If most of USN is held off and bombers destroy/degrade the BM and CM targeting capabilities, in the 2 to 3 weeks before the USN approaches, the presumed major A2D2 effect to USN will then be gone.

So if the PLAN subs are hit hard too in the interim, right up to the Chinese littoral (because US and Allies have VLO enabled air control there or have denied it to China) then NAVAIR will be able to pile on strikes using a LO tanker with far more effect on mainland China, than many now would suppose viable or possible.

But you can make it possible.

It might take a month to arrange major naval strikes from ships against the mainland, but it will start and will build into sustained attacks. At which point even FARPing is not required as the fighters can then land, park, and takeoff to attack and survive around the clock doing so.

The 2013 exploratory discussion of FARPing using F-22A, was at a time when the F-35 was not operational. There’s no way F-22A would be used that way now. It will be F-35A/B/C FARP strike operations, with F-22As covering bombers, with heavy tankers and logistics supporting, plus as the protected network-enablers.

To get to those J20 has to survive past F-22A and F-35, which is not going to be possible.

A PLAAF drone with an AAM to kill tankers is also going to be facing HF, VHF and sat systems, that it can not hide from, plus any comms disrupted by EW requiring full A2A autonomy and a one way ticket.

Bit of a stretch.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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jessmo112

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Unread post23 Jan 2021, 17:23

Flight Global also has some good points.
But Is like to add somthing to the discussion.
Adding the F-35B to the USAF would be transformational as far as dustributed ops.
Who cares if it costs a little more or has a higher CPFH.
Being able to distribute stealth fighters nearly anyplace changes the calculus.
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Unread post24 Jan 2021, 05:13

jessmo112 wrote:Flight Global also has some good points.
But Is like to add somthing to the discussion.
Adding the F-35B to the USAF would be transformational as far as dustributed ops.
Who cares if it costs a little more or has a higher CPFH.
Being able to distribute stealth fighters nearly anyplace changes the calculus.


There's no need, F-35A plus JPALS is already an improvised-field expeditionary capability, for FARP operation, and has a lot more fuel and better strike payload, plus needs far less tanker support than F-35B.

USAF have the right jet for that now.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth

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