Exercise Northern Lightning Overview [F-35As + others]

Variants for different customers or mission profiles
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wrightwing

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Unread post05 Dec 2020, 04:07

charlielima223 wrote:Full disclaimer, I am an F-22 fan so my views are more biased.

We always ask about the ROEs, initial set ups, and possible handicaps. I have not yet seen anyone ask that here concerning the most recent article. It is good that they are really starting to stretch the F-35's capabilities yet I am sure most of us can agree that the F-22 is edges our the F-35 in air to air.

What were the F-22's role when on the red team? Did the F-22 have any handicaps placed on it? I find it odd that throughout its current career the F-22 eats up 4th and 4.5gen aircraft like a dog eats up steak. Now because against F-35s in the mix the F-22 couldnt shoot down a single aircraft?



.


Nowhere in that article did it say that F-22s didn't get any kills. It only said that there were no F-35 losses.
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element1loop

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Unread post05 Dec 2020, 05:03

charlielima223 wrote:... It is good that they are really starting to stretch the F-35's capabilities ...


But are they really?

It doesn't seem so, in this particular case, as the F-35A were ANG (by no doubt experienced former USAF for the most part) and only 1/3rd of the way through their conversion to F-35A's new Wild-Weasel role, facing experienced USAF F-22A pilots, who were not in the middle of role conversion, but A2A specialists. Perhaps the F-22A pilots were a bit over confident here, a bit complacent about the jet they were facing too, perhaps. Either way, this is a terrific lesson for all about not getting tactically complacent, or not making the most out of the platform and systems available.

I'm amazed by the fact that the ANG F-35 pilots were far from happy with their own level of tactical development, they were stuffing-up quite a lot apparently. Presumably this was mostly to do with the Wild-Weasel role but their A2A employment could have been no better, probably worse given that's not their specialty, but it is for F-22A. An FOC F-22A SQN would not go to an exercise without being tactically fully ready for it.

And the ANG pilots were far from on top of their game, yet still lost no one after 2 weeks. Which makes me wonder what a squadron that's really got tactics, systems and weapons refined, using experienced F-35A pilots, will be able to do to an opposing force of anything else.

So I don't think we're seeing the F-35A really being stretched here. Challenged yes, properly stressed tested, no. This was a bit of an uneven match-up, where the F-35A dominated anyway.

Personally I suspect that having superior simulator training to accelerate familiarization, plus MDF, plus unmatched SA and network integration will be a large part of why these ANG pilots, 1/3rd of the way through conversion, were able to go toe-to-toe with F-22A, twice a day for 2 weeks, and survive.

24 new F-35A pilots, and they were all good enough to do this. The sim-based training must be incredibly good to have got them to that level so quickly in 5th-gen verses 5th-gen air combat.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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element1loop

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Unread post05 Dec 2020, 05:32

boogieman wrote: ... in that being high and fast still guzzles fuel & makes you easier to spot with IR sensors.


Being higher is almost universally a lower fuel-burn rate state, and a NET speed and range advantage. You only need to go fast enough to maintain a stable altitude and trim to make good use of that. You don't need to go any faster. So it's not to be viewed as just a domain for super cruise advantage as one of the F-22A's greatest advantages is to have a wing that is just as good at slow loitering at altitude, as it is at a high speed dash at high altitude.

The IR sensors of other aircraft also have to look for F-22A through more humid air at lower level. Plus being in thinner cold air will be an advantage for F-22A, as all you have to do is slow down and the cooler air will wash off the unwanted excess thermal signature quickly.

So what if an F-22A loses 500 ft/min at 65,000 ft from slowing down in combat to reduce IR signature? It still takes 20 mins to drop 10,000 feet doing that and the thermal signature is a small fraction of what it was when the F-22A was maintaining altitude at 65,000 ft. An F-22A losing 500 ft/min still has an order of mag lower IR signature than a transonic cruising F-15E with external stores, at 40,000 ft.

It's a huge advantage from that alone, plus altitude can be turned into speed, without increasing engine thermal output, or using more fuel, or using AB too early.

boogieman wrote: Not saying it's useless, but I suspect it may need to be used more judiciously than has been the case for Raptors beating up on 4th gens up to this point.


Agree.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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aw2007

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Unread post05 Dec 2020, 14:48

wrightwing wrote:
charlielima223 wrote:Full disclaimer, I am an F-22 fan so my views are more biased.

We always ask about the ROEs, initial set ups, and possible handicaps. I have not yet seen anyone ask that here concerning the most recent article. It is good that they are really starting to stretch the F-35's capabilities yet I am sure most of us can agree that the F-22 is edges our the F-35 in air to air.

What were the F-22's role when on the red team? Did the F-22 have any handicaps placed on it? I find it odd that throughout its current career the F-22 eats up 4th and 4.5gen aircraft like a dog eats up steak. Now because against F-35s in the mix the F-22 couldnt shoot down a single aircraft?



.


Nowhere in that article did it say that F-22s didn't get any kills. It only said that there were no F-35 losses.


All good points. We simply don't know what the Raptors were replicating. They may not have been playing "Raptors" after all. The could've been simulating a more realistic threat- ie: J-20 with degraded capabilities in terms of sensors, sensor fusion, kinematics, tactics and such.
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boogieman

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Unread post06 Dec 2020, 11:22

element1loop wrote:
boogieman wrote: ... in that being high and fast still guzzles fuel & makes you easier to spot with IR sensors.


Being higher is almost universally a lower fuel-burn rate state, and a NET speed and range advantage. You only need to go fast enough to maintain a stable altitude and trim to make good use of that. You don't need to go any faster. So it's not to be viewed as just a domain for super cruise advantage as one of the F-22A's greatest advantages is to have a wing that is just as good at slow loitering at altitude, as it is at a high speed dash at high altitude.

The IR sensors of other aircraft also have to look for F-22A through more humid air at lower level. Plus being in thinner cold air will be an advantage for F-22A, as all you have to do is slow down and the cooler air will wash off the unwanted excess thermal signature quickly.

Yes, but supercruising still sucks gas - even up high - where even a reduced IR signature can be silhouetted against the cold blue sky, providing better contrast for upward looking hostile IRST etc. Problem is that J-20 can play in the multispectral sensor dept with its EOTS and DAS clones, while the Raptor can't. Integrating with F35s will probably help this, but the Panther's lack of a comparable supercruise capability would then also limit the amount of supercruising the Raptor(s) could do without simply leaving the Panthers behind. Like I said - still a capability worth having in the toolkit - but one that will increasingly need to be used with care.
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marauder2048

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Unread post07 Dec 2020, 02:00

element1loop wrote:The IR sensors of other aircraft also have to look for F-22A through more humid air at lower level. Plus being in thinner cold air will be an advantage for F-22A, as all you have to do is slow down and the cooler air will wash off the unwanted excess thermal signature quickly.


Water vapor is a fairly negligible contributor to attenuation at altitudes above 30,000 ft.

But the viewing angle at a lower altitude is looking at a small amount of the the projected area
thats experiencing the most airframe heating. So the other contributors to signature
like reflections and engine heating are potentially more prominent.

But there's also going to be a lot of clear sky background for good contrast.

Without a better description of the setups, it's not at all clear.
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element1loop

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Unread post07 Dec 2020, 02:29

boogieman wrote:... Integrating with F35s will probably help this, but the Panther's lack of a comparable supercruise capability would then also limit the amount of supercruising the Raptor(s) could do without simply leaving the Panthers behind. ...


Not a bad idea mixing them in the role 2 x F-35A + 2 x F-22A. Both to search, F-35A to maintain a passive lock, F-22A to use their speed to flank, then coordinated multi-axis attacking. This could work if the F-35D has 10,000 lb more thrust, better fuel economy, and engine altitude optimization (three path is that), with the wing of the F-35C.

(gee, you could even use that on a carrier as an F/A-18 SH BKIII replacement with a ~1,000 nm operating radius .........)

But then again, a high-performance Loyal Wingman with a DAS IRST array and EOTS could do the same to increase F-22A capabilities and survival in EO mutispectral fight. The drones don't even need to be at 65,000 ft, but they do need to be capable of a super-sonic dash. If these also have auto-AAR and can stay in the air 24/7, and they AAR from an MQ-25A derivative 24/7, then Loyal Wingman simply stays permanently in the air for the entire campaign, and gets handed-off to the next flight of F-22A, or F-35A to come into the airspace. Eventually that grows in capability to an aircraft that can carry A2A weapons as well.

Supercruise was never the thing to do unless the distance was long (to reduce time) and tankers were plentiful. That sounds a lot like the Western Pacific, except for an abundance of tankers. Supercruise was not meant to be the only or dominant means to engage in tactical A2A fighting or even search. It was discussed at 'Elements of Airpower' blog many moons ago that doing so would produce much higher detection, tracking and targeting signature hazards (even for RCS, not just IR). i.e. it's a poor tactic which does not make the best of the jet's strengths of low-sig while transonic at altitude. So I don;t believe a pilot with brain switched on in going to be providing J20 easy detections in RCS or IR.

You are perhaps perceiving the IR detection threat as more than it really is. F-22A just went through an MLU, it will have much better SA and sensor capabilities now. Plus the detailed regional air-picture which includes HF and VHF plus satellite sensor detection and tracking radar and IR arrays contributing also to the air picture. So it's not so likely an updated F-22A will blunder into a J20's EO FOV, without intel, satellite early warning (if these are still up), VHF AEW&C, plus HF OTHR and on board prioritization systems contributing to SA against a threat J20 known to have launched and be in the air, in the vicinity, and probably are illuminated by HF or VHF before they come together inside mutual detection radius.

So pilots will fly the jet to reduce signature at that point. And if F-22A has gained an analogue of the F-35A's Mission Data File system, then that potential J20 contact is not going to be getting an EO track, before it dies.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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element1loop

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Unread post07 Dec 2020, 02:35

marauder2048 wrote:
element1loop wrote:The IR sensors of other aircraft also have to look for F-22A through more humid air at lower level. Plus being in thinner cold air will be an advantage for F-22A, as all you have to do is slow down and the cooler air will wash off the unwanted excess thermal signature quickly.


Water vapor is a fairly negligible contributor to attenuation at altitudes above 30,000 ft. But the viewing angle at a lower altitude is looking at a small amount of the the projected area thats experiencing the most airframe heating. So the other contributors to signature like reflections and engine heating are potentially more prominent. But there's also going to be a lot of clear sky background for good contrast.

Without a better description of the setups, it's not at all clear.


Agree.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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boogieman

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Unread post07 Dec 2020, 03:09

element1loop wrote:You are perhaps perceiving the IR detection threat as more than it really is. F-22A just went through an MLU, it will have much better SA and sensor capabilities now. Plus the detailed regional air-picture which includes HF and VHF plus satellite sensor detection and tracking radar and IR arrays contributing also to the air picture. So it's not so likely an updated F-22A will blunder into a J20's EO FOV, without intel, satellite early warning (if these are still up), VHF AEW&C, plus HF OTHR and on board prioritization systems contributing to SA against a threat J20 known to have launched and be in the air, in the vicinity, and probably are illuminated by HF or VHF before they come together inside mutual detection radius.

So pilots will fly the jet to reduce signature at that point. And if F-22A has gained an analogue of the F-35A's Mission Data File system, then that potential J20 contact is not going to be getting an EO track, before it dies.

No argument there. A good illustration of the fact that the utility of supercruise is heavily contingent upon SA. Supercruise boosting an AAM shot is great when you know where all the bandits are, but risky if you don't. Hence why I take the supercruise capability of 4.5 gens like Su-35 with a grain of salt. Not much use if all it buys you is a faster collision with an incoming AMRAAM.
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doge

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Unread post14 Jan 2021, 15:30

I found a Northern Lightning 2020 video and will post it. 8) (F-35 Powerful Takeoff :shock: )
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1N3eOEDvdc
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