Boeing official-Super Hornet-handles air-to-air with technology, not speed and acceleration #military #auspol

Selling the Super Hornet in India didn’t work out. After looking at a wide variety of aircraft, India down-selected the Super Hornet.

This video has some interesting comments from a Boeing official on what defines the Super Hornet capability. No surprise to some of us who know, but it gives pause to why Australia is almost certainly going to populate their whole air force with this type.

Consider the following and see if this is the kind of aircraft you want to pay for to protect our skies for the next 20 or more years.

“It handles air-to-air with technology, not with speed and acceleration.The same thing that makes it a great short-field airplane, makes it not a very fast airplane. It’s got a fat wing.”

He also goes on to state that it is the AESA and a long range BVR missile that helps you protect your fleet. It is really more for self-defense, then to run a clear the skies scenario.

And if the probability of kill (PK) of the AMRAAM is lowered to that of a Vietnam-era Sparrow through enemy jamming and/or low observability appliances; then what?

17 thoughts on “Boeing official-Super Hornet-handles air-to-air with technology, not speed and acceleration #military #auspol

  1. Buddy, the Super Hornet can dogfight like nobody else. Got great low speed performance – and I know because I’ve flown the Vertical Reality Simulations jet A LOT in FSX.

    Put differently: Speed and acceleration are for Sukhois & MiGs – not Boeing’s F/A-18s & F-15s that can dance.

    • Maneuvering is irrelevant…Maneuvering is irrelevant….Ahhhhh. I have my mind right now. All is well.

      • In defense of the Super Hornet – the Super Hornet can really truly maneuver, the aircraft is net-centric versus say a Sukhoi where many purchasers lack the AWACS & Joint Stars or Sentinel capability American- & Brit-backed coalitions bring to the good fight. Oh and the Super Hornet can w/ a low radar signature fight into the target w/ air-to-air & anti-radiation missiles, drop the air-to-ground ammo and get outta Dodge City w/ three towed decoys (only 1 is deployed, but you get the idea). Oh and unlike, er, some jet fighters the gun is standard and mounted on the centerline of a jet that can do very complex maneuvers at very low speeds while other jets can be tactical tankers. Try doing most to all of that in a Su-27…

        Oh and the Eurofighter? Aaaah, I haven’t seen a pic of a Eurofighter w/ JDAMs yet which means the Eurofighter has to hope for a clear line-of-sight to the target, either lase or have lased the ground target and be very vulnerable. Or pack anti-radiation missiles which is essential to today’s air campaigns.

        After all I just bought a bargain copy of “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War” and net-centric warfare is something he made happen. I’m pretty confident he’d trade in his F-15As & F-16As for F/A-18Es & Fs.

    • Actually speed, P/W ratio, AND maneuverability are equal parts of the equation which is why the Eurofighter Typhoon kicks the crap out of US legacy fighters on a regular basis now during DACT.

      The mechanics of this were clearly spelled out by the pioneering work of Col. John Boyd years ago, and his work is just as relevant today and it was then.

      Much to the confusion of F-35 supporters everywhere!

      • One day I will read some of Boyd’s works instead of PowerPoints and snippets by others. His OODA loop stuff I find very helpful in politics & my consulting.

  2. The guy shifts his posture around and gesticulates too much.

    In the beginning you see him nodding his whole upper body like one of those teeter-totter toys from the 70s where the sugar water heats up and the woodpecker goes up and down. He wrings his hands a lot. He’s nervous and covers it up by drinking. He continually shifts his body around to answer each ‘interrogator’ rather than adopting a posture where he can cover both with simple head movements and a neutral understanding. He looks like a schoolboy put on the spot with his teachers.

    This is _bad business behavior_ in ANY east Asian society which values self control and courtliness as a measure of small body motions. Hands in your lap or on the table, arms at your sides. At all times.

    He is also wrong about the Hornet as a ‘mix’ platform (one of the reasons I would not be selling a damn thing to India btw.. They would demand local manufacture and maintenance, just like the Jag, and the technology would migrate, just as it has with AAMs, with French and Russian weapons being essentially ‘interface neutral’ on IAF jets from Mirge to MiG) and APG-79 would not be secure.

    He is _stupid_ for selling the jet as a ‘hi-lo mix’ when IAF _pilot demands_ are always going to be preeminent in an airforce where the pilot ranks are the ones which advance into generalship and from there, procurement.

    Ignore the rigged ‘buy more F-22!’ Cope India nonsense. With unrestricted AMRAAM (strapdown, GPS, two-way datalink instead of analog tether) the F/A-18 will _beat_ the Su-30, handily. So will the Meteor on Rafale or Eurofighter but not as many targets or in as heavy a jamming environment.

    AMRAAM-D -may- in fact beat the Pak-FA (which would be the real selling point) with a combination of MSI and offboard (MP-RTIP on RQ-4 would be -huge- for the Indians in both the sea control and overland mission set, simply because the Kargil LOC war in 1999 was fought essentially in the foothills of the Himalayas with most of the elevated terrain in the 15-20K foot regime (a GHawk at 65,000ft is still going to have great look down here, an ERJ-145 at 40K will not…).

    You combine (classified) briefings on what modern AESA will do to beat back Russian Gen-1 LO and you **take away** the ‘hi-lo mix’ nonsense as the Indians start to reassess how much they are vesting in Russian technology base for Pak-FA which the U.S. is already Gen-3 LO beyond (and there are resonant harmonic ‘wideband’ characteristics, even within the overall X-Band spectrum which will defeat RFLO, it is one of the keys behind ‘SAR/ISAR’ in A2A modes…).

    Overall, a _very_ poor presentation and I think a deliberate one as indeed, the reason he is acting this way is that the U.S. actually wants those 400 odd MiG-23/Jaguar/Bison/LCA replacement sales to go to the JSF which is the lion’s tail in the high grass.

    If I was going to talk about ‘clear air’ in the sense of presweep and TARCAP into a contested airspace, I would NOT be making grandiose statements about the Su-30 (which has a lot of ‘mistake jet’ limited capabilities in it’s operational inventory and is frontended by another of those ‘old computer, new monitor’ PESAs) or the F-22, which the Indians will never .

    Rather I would be making straight up comparisons with the F-105 and F-4C in Vietnam. And the F-16CJ.50 and F-15C in Deny Flight. Limited avialability of the QRC-160 pods in Vietnam meant that the F-105s went into SA-2 and 57mm Fire Can defended areas _alone_. And they got mauled by everything from MiG-17/19 (which can run down a bombed up Thud) to MiG-21F (which can run down a clean one, with an altitude advantage to bunt from). While the A2A specialst Phantoms watched from afar, BVR limited in their ROE thanks to a couple of stupid accidents.

    OTOH, during ODF, F-16CJ.50s _were the preferred jets_ over Bosnia because the Serbs ran posthole and missile trap type nonsense and the F-15Cs with their limited FQ coverage on the ALQ-135 couldn’t just ‘blast through’, at height and speed, when it came time to chase the bad guys back over the wire on their border crashing missions.

    SA-3 and SA-6 are too effective in the mid-band (15-20K) regime where the F-15 (like all fighters) does it’s best maneuvering. Where the F-15s aeroacoustics have long since sterlized the outboard ARM/ECM pylon option, the F-16CJ.50 could carry 3 AIM-120C and an AIM-9M plus tanks and a midwing set of HARMs to put right between the S2A defenses eyes using a combination of ALR-56M as wideband tracking signal alert, ASQ-213 and the IDM link to Rivet Joint for quick geolocate and the intelligent pylon computer for on the fly programmed shots.

    It also had a superior (ALQ-184 with V9 ALE-50 or straight up ALQ-131 and a tail out the back of the outboard LAU-129) ECM option. And it had better expendables mixes. If you are gonna chase breyr rabbit into the bryar patch, you’d better have the heavy jacket not to get stuck by the thorns…

    The F/A-18F has this capability too. It has the ALR-67V3 equivalent (intelliigent RWR as ELS) that some of the later classic Hornets do. It has the smart-interface (though this is no longer the STARM one). It has the MSI to get quick-squint looksee on threats that are blinking. It has the AGM-88 Block D with the GPS/INS strapdown instead of the old analog mechanical autopilot (think JDAM with a Mach 5 rocket). And it has the ALQ-214 with an ALE-55 FOTD. Which is not as good at dynamic maneuver ACM fights against colevel monopulse or AESA/PESA radars but is better than crosseye against surveillance and acquisition and some engagement radars in the counter-S2A environment.

    HERE is where you start to talk about the realities of ACM as you say something like: “And we haven’t seen serious multi-on-multi fights since 1982 in the Bekaa Valley, 99.9999% of losses are Surface To Air driven. If you can’t penetrably survive the S2A threat, you are _useless_ against the A2A one.”

    Which is where you transition to tactics. One of the things they -don’t- talk about (anymore) is something called ‘HART’ or Hornet Autonomous Radar Targeting. It is essentially AMSTE (Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement) in a lunchbox instead of an E-8.

    If you have an intelligent AESA which can actively DPCA (Displaced Phase Centroid Array) shift it’s ‘send-here, pulse-modify to receive the echo on the antenna segment here, zero out all non-phase correlated clutter echo’, you can mix SAR (ground map) ISAR (terrain elevation 3D = zero shadow zones) and GMTI/MTT (shoot the bunny whether it’s in the bryar patch or not) into a _single aperture_ controlled display.

    Which is what the ACS (Advanced Crew Station = Separate Processing for each cockpit) is about. And something that the Su-30MKI only does in it’s dreams.
    Why is HART important? It’s important because with it, and enough speed and altitude provided by F414-GE-402 engines, you can sling toss conventional JDAM the same 15-20nm as you can from an F-22. And you can do it _with sure aim on moving point targets and no JSTARS_.

    If you don’t have to cross the target to defend against A2A threats, half of your TARCAP sweep issue is solved for you because your BRL doesn’t involve a long, lazy, laser orbit to keep the damn pod in-FOR for the gimbal. It worries me a bit here that the French have AASM as a standoff method and we chose to go with glide kits as REXers.

    You don’t need to worry about VLO threats from the PAKAF (secondary F-16 purchase plus J-10 and JF-17) and in facing China, even the J-20 is going to have a very hard time reaching across the entire Himilayas or over the Bay Of Bengal to hit southern Indian (Calcutta etc.) secure leadership targets sufficient to decapitate and preclude a followon Agni II Prime reprisal strike.

    Of course China has CSS-5s on the border region with 4,500km reach (MRBM vs. IRBM) and will likely begin to forward patrol their subs at some point so if it comes down to it, India is in a world of hurt regardless but _the point is_ that the air threat from either of India’s prime enemies is going to be handleable by the Super Hornet for awhile.

    The ballistic threat (which I consider to be more serious due to China’s depth and ability to absorbe retaliatory strikes vs. the huge ratio of Indian lower castes vs. upper crust scientific elites) requires more S-300V, S-400 and/or THAAD and/or Arrow II. i.e. Systems for alternate missions which can be ‘paid for’ by participating in specific secondary programs as joint purchases. The Pak-FA doesn’t buy you deep strike with intelligent and even brilliant munitions as full spectrum penetration aids. The Israelis may have a UAV or UCAS off the books but they cannot do anything near what the RQ-4 and F/A-18F can.

    ONLY the U.S. system of systems approach buys you THAAD and HARM-D/E and AIM-120D and JDAM with a modem+seeker. Which is further rendered critically important if we offer the Indians a partnership in JSF as well. Because the JSF is going _nowhere_ that it doesn’t have a powerful EA-18G backup with a bevvy of ram-ARM (200nm+) DEAD killers in it’s entourage. And here too, the USAF systems dense approach to supporting missions gives you that. The Russian, French, British and Israeli alternatives… Not so much.

    Unfortunately, it’s people like this fellow who cannot integrate tactical analysis with public-domain awareness of what can and cannot be said, that shot down the Hornet as an all-doing platform.

    And it will be the Indians who end up paying for it in the long run because the kinds of missions that the F/A-18 can do, be it supporting JSF or combat controlling UCAS, are not really roles that a single seat, reduced observables (that’s ‘sorta stealthy’, in X/S band only, for the audience) F-35 can do on it’s own.

    • Anon

      I enjoy your insight and technical explanations, thanks.

      But, in defence of Mr McCrary, I suggest those with any doubts about his knowledge levels in this field check out his CV. I doubt there are many more qualified to talk about this.

      Knowing him personally, I can also tell you he is much more comfortable talking to customers and prospective customers than with the media, but as you will no doubt point out, it comes with the job.

      Cheers and thanks again for your comments.


  3. P.S. If you don’t have a DIRCM, WVR (and transmerge BVR) is a Russian Roulette contest at best.

    If you do have a DIRCM, the first thing you are going to point your laser at is the 10ft canopy of the enemy jet, not the 6″ seeker dome of a missile wobbling through the sky at Mach 3+ -after- the enemy has proven he knows exactly where you are.

    ‘Maneuver Combat’ ala Boyd’s EM diagrams in an SFPA and IRST/LDP + datalink driven world is simply begging for a flatplate = ‘Everyone see me? Good, now start shooting!’ pyrrhic engagement.

    Modern Fighter Tactics-

    ‘Never tallied the enemy, never got inverted, seldom saw the wingman, never put more than 3G on the airframe, people were dying everywhere…’

    (Shooter Illuminator puts the expendable jet waaaaay out front of the high tech jet…why not a robot?)

    Time we got away from the rabid dogs in the white scarf brigade. No, really.

    • that’s not permissible acc to the geneve rules i think to use blinding weapons on enemy soldiers.

  4. I concur with Anon, with the advantageous requirement for a DIRCM in WVR combat. In past debates with various ‘fan boys’, I’ve actually contemplated the Super Hornet in all irony being the first western aircraft to operationally deploy an ATDIRCM. Well before a block V (or some notional souped up block 4.5) F-35 can get one integrated.

    That being said, the Super Hornet is arguably the most superior trans-sonic fighter one can buy today. Thus, if trans-sonic can fit your doctrine, then it can absolutely be ‘souped up’ far beyond what a standard block II with AIM-120C7 could portend. I confess I didnt watch the posted video, but if it was indeed imply that the Super Hornet’s AMRAAM was a ‘long-range’ AAM system then that would need to be qualified. But ponder a cheap F-18E single-seater with next-gen ALQ-218 V3 wing-tip pods, CFT, centerline Irst-tank, latest Mission Computer, next-gen displays and enhanced radar/data-link upgrade. Now arm that super pig bastard with 2x air-launched Multi-Mission/AIM-174 main-stage with tri-mode seeker (on the outboard heavy pylon station) and 2x air-launched MM/AIM-162 with NCADE’s improved -9x seeker (on the far out-board medium-weight stations). Add a couple AMRAAM on the waist for self-protection, before leaving dodge and deploying the towed decoys. It would arguably be an interesting asymmetrical Air-combat doctrine to study imho, at least until the Mach 7 hypersonics dominate the upper atmosphere. Other than that, no. You probably don’t want to be going head to head in a 2018 2v2 scenario against the ‘next-gen’ competition flying block II Super-hornet at mach .8, armed w/ AIM-120D.

    • Well said. The Super Hornet doesn’t get the respect due by and far. But for people like me who have seen the Super Hornet demo either live or in my case via CD-ROM and/or like I flown the Vertical Reality Simulations model for FSX ( ), we just think Flankers & Fulcrums suck in comparison. It also doesn’t help when most of these jets are staffed by pilots who don’t train as hard as Americans or Aussies… I can keep piling on.

      Quite frankly, I would just assume cut the F-35C buy to 2 training squadrons and 1 for each carrier wing plus a few Marine squadrons. Save the jump jet B by all means and try to push it on Australia once in-service.

      Oh and SUR-PRISE… NOT!!!! force the Air National Guard units to buy Super Hornets. Lots of them for air soverignity. They can tank either other which can help w/ long range intercepts & recon, they can bomb very well when backing up regular forces and some could become Growlers if need be. Try doing ALL OF THAT w/ a F-16!!!

      • Well, I’m a proponent of Boeing continuing an aggressive evolution path for both their aircraft. Both platforms have significant growth capacity in systems and even performance capacity. But I personally have no problem with continuing (and accelerating) the evolution of the F-16 platform and propose that path as well, as a mid-term alternative. A properly modernized variant would be fine for the ANG as a stopgap, imho.

        On the tactical tanking side… an F-16XL w/CFT would have been a superior buddy-tanker platform for common F-16XL, but I imagine they could develop the current F-16 blk50/52/60+ to enable buddy-tanking too, if there was a requirement.

      • geogen, I just don’t see how you get a F-16 to refuel another F-16 because they use the flying boom. Other than that, the F-16 sounds okay. I just prefer Suuupppeeerrr Hornets!

      • The Super Hornet sounds great until it comes time for you to try and intercept something like this supercruising at 55,000 ft and loaded to the gills with advanced BVR missiles and an AESA equal to yours.

        Then, just like with the Raptors in DACT, it becomes your turn to die.

        The Super Hornet in its present form can not remain relevant beyond another 10 years with the T-50 and J-20 going into production.

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