How far can upgraded F-15s take us againsts large threats? #military

Revamped F-15s meeting our needs and hey, there isn’t much to worry about? Interesting theory, but here are a few thoughts.

“…detect stealthy targets such as the J-20 at long range.”

A few things. These radars reside around X-band. Most stealth designs are their best reducing the effectiveness of radars in…X-band/Ku Band.

Good point about radar size and power aperture, however there is still that frequency band issue. Of interest; in the small aperture category of AESA’s the Supers APG-79 has a bit of an edge on the F-35 APG-81.

More, our single point of failure is the AMRAAM which has a probability of kill (PK) vs poor targets of around 50 percent.

Add an aircraft that can jam that down (SU-3x etc) and you get down to a PK that is dangerously low. Put the AMRAAM against a threat with nose-on low observable and a terminal radar seeker on the missile won’t be good enough. What we need is an AMRAAM with an AIM-9X head.

The Japanese Eagles probably have the best IR detection on their F-15s jets right on top of the nose. A good low drag solution compared to other add-on thoughts for the Eagles. IR detection is needed to properly go against PAK-FA/J-2x.

RU-tech is also working on L-band sensors in the wing leading edge. This lower band has a better chance of detecting stealth aircraft. Certainly, “affordable-export-friendly” narrow band stealth like the F-35. These L-band sensors will start showing up on big SUs and PAK-FAs of the future. Combined with their IR sensors, something to think about.

No matter what you do with the F-15, it does not have the extreme super-cruise and high altitude of the F-22. This produces lower (less effective) no-escape-zone (NEZ) solutions for weapons vs. the F-22.

As for sensors on the F-22, one must understand how the AN/ALR-94 connected to 30-some apertures on the airframe produces a passive threat picture; and how that information is coordinated with the APG-77.

The reference red threat is now the F-22 for determining our needs against future bad guys.

When a customized F-15 with big AESA and a low drag IR detector a la the Japanese Eagles performs several combat exercises vs. the F22, that is the rate of success you will have against the PAK-FA/J-2x. Most likely this means: not enough beef.

F-15 Strike Eagles were designed from the outset to have 12,000k flight hours for the airframe life right off the show room floor. Remember its roots that were originally for a low level penetration (dense air) and carrying heavy loads vs the F-15A-D “not a pound for air-to-ground”. Visit the depot at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia to have a full picture of F-15 sustainment.

F-22 with F-15 will (and does in exercises) work well at clearing the board of legacy threats. I would not get all excited about the F-15 facing future threats. And also, those future threats include being near surface-to-air S-300, S-400 and similar.

F-15Es will always be useful as long as “a man has got to know his limitations” process is followed.

Decision making on Australia’s air power road map is a muddle #auspol #military

Good decision making on the air power roadmap for Australia is a mess.

How did it get that way? Many reasons, but part of it is poor advice. Here is an interesting paper from February 2007 by the ASPI.

Interesting in that it shows the muddle of poor information thrown about at the time. Critical though because policy makers read and listen to ASPI as if they have some kind of handle on air power issues which historically, just isn’t the case. They hint that there is no real replacement for F-111 capability and they do correctly state that the Super Hornet will not be able to stand up to regional threats. Which begs the question; why should the Australian taxpayer be handing over money for something that will only be good for air shows? Or, at best, the F-18F might make a good fast-FAC for the ground troops; an OA-18F by any other name.

Any practical thinking would be that no one knows what the F-35 will cost because it is so early in development. The fact is that the F-22 was lowering in price and the F-111 could last out to the 2020’s.

Decision makers were given good advice (PDF). They just couldn’t see anything but the rent-seeking and PowerPoint slides of the confidence men.

The F-22 and no-fly-zones #military

While I think U.S. involvement in the Libya side-show is a bad idea, what is shocking are those that don’t have a clue about F-22 capability yet have no problem commenting on it as if they do.

The aircraft’s AN/ALR-94 and the 30 or so apertures on the airframe make it stunning in radar emissions detection (as well being able to detect some avionics kit that run on opposing aircraft), geo-location and target-type classification. So much so that the on-board AESA doesn’t get involved unless it has to. This geo-location and classification of emissions detection capability also involves ground to air threats in a most sophisticated way.

Also, even in a no-fly-zone type of mission, the aircraft’s super-cruise ability makes it a time machine. Have a pilot explain to you the relationship of height vs. effective ground-speed when moving very fast at 60,000 plus feet.

And if ever we have to stand up a no-fly-zone someday vs a rouge player that has S-300 threats, this is the only aircraft that can dominate this kind of a situation. It has some of the capabilities of a RIVET JOINT and AWACS in that it can reach in to high threat areas and supplement their teams.

Again, Gates, his fan-club and even some in the USAF along with a whole raft of media outlets lack of understanding of these most basic things is appalling; as seen here.

Last week, retired Maj. Gen. Irv Halter, who once ran the U.S. no-fly zone over northern Iraq, told Danger Room he doubted the “high-end” Raptors would be necessary for a Libya campaign, largely due to the unsophistication of Libyan air defenses. “I wouldn’t deploy F-22s unless there was a political reason,” Halter said. “They’d be absolutely great at it, but their stealth capability isn’t really part of the issue. This airspace you’re gonna be able to get into easily.”

The use of the F-22s might speak to a U.S. desire not to chance a shootdown. Early polling shows that 65 percent of Americans don’t want to get involved militarily in Libya. And the U.N. resolution authorizing force against Gadhafi is silent on the endstate of an international mission. Bringing in the Raptors is like killing ants with a sledgehammer, in the immortal words of Jay-Z — the better to take momentum away from Gadhafi ASAP.

It would also have the effect of proving the value of a sophisticated jet in a complex campaign, something the Air Force certainly wouldn’t mind. Difficulties in envisioning likely uses for the F-22 led Defense Secretary Robert Gates to cap its procurement in 2009. And Gates nudged the Air Force earlier this month to think beyond high-end aerial combat when visualizing the future of airpower.

With that though, we do not need to be burning up F-22 airframe hours on the Libya mission. Europe has resources, let them grow up and handle it themselves if they think it is so worthwhile.

Will the USAF have to create another single engine fighter design? Where are the USAF senior leaders that can lead?

The F-35A might make it into USAF service. It is doubtful that they will see the 1763 that they wanted. A few hundred will be built. That is; if the federal budget doesn’t take an even worse dive.

Besides not being affordable, the F-35A has enough compromise in the design to make it not the universal single engine jet the USAF needed. For example; the jet engine used for the F-35A weighs about 2100 pounds more than the engine in the F-22. That includes the nozzles. Reason? STOVL design needs. 2100 pounds is not a trivial amount of weight. It is weight wasted that could be used for other things in an aircraft design.

The F-35A is a flawed design. The base F-35 model is the F-35B short take-off and landing (STOVL) which might be used by the United States Marine Corps. The USAF A model and the Navy C model are design compromises that have to be compatible with whatever is needed in the base design to make the STOVL jet fly.

In crafting a “replacement” for the F-22 in the coming years, the USAF may find that it is near dead-broke and lacking funds to pursue a large 2 engine fighter. From this there comes some critical questions.

Can the USAF create a family of single engine aircraft that can replace the F-16 yet, provide air domination?

My first thought would be some kind of stealth, tailless super-cruising delta powered by one F-22 engine that has existing technology grafted into the thought process. This would be the air domination aircraft.

The strike variant aircraft would be similar.

These two aircraft would roll off the same assembly line. If the aircraft design proved useful, a stretched variant would be made to provide two-air crew.

These aircraft would work in concert with UAV’s and UCAVs.

Besides money, what is the other challenge for the USAF? Leadership.

The USAF will need a drastic paradigm shift in its quality of senior leadership. All of the above can be a good idea but until USAF decides that air power is important, no amount of future planning will work. The USAF is sunk into a procurement (and critical thinking) dark ages. One hopes they snap out of these problems before people in number start asking; why do we have an air force?

Correction–Engine weights.

Australian air power roadmap-Stupidity as a strategy #military #auspol

Many Australians may not realise it; but a Super Hornet does not replace an F-111. That is; for the practical needs of a nation that has no use for aircraft with short legs.

We are told that the JASSM–an American made cruise missile Defence wants for Australia–the old F-18 and air-refueling tankers will make up for the loss of the F-111. This is not realistic.

The JASSM has long been a point of concern in the U.S., as a troubled program. It is now marked as such by Australian Defence. The old classic F-18 Hornet is a short range aircraft; even shorter when you add draggy external stores (like a JASSM). And; Australia will never have very many air refueling tankers; which by the way is another Defence project of concern.

Defence claims that the F-111 will need to be escorted by other aircraft. This isn’t quite true depending on the mission (like carrying long range cruise missiles). They claim that the Hornet family and the flying question mark known as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, will be able to stand up to modern air-to-air threats. Given the emerging threats in the region, this is also unrealistic.

Defence claims that the F-111 was getting too risky and too expensive to maintain. This is only true if one is dishonest and lazy; otherwise it also is not true.

Since the announcement of Australia choosing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in 2002, the RAAF’s capability to defend our regional interests with air power has been on the decline. For very little money, the F-111 could have easily been upgraded to carry JDAM, JDAM-ER, Laser-JDAM, HART-JDAM, JSOW, JASSM, SLAM-ER, and the small diameter bomb (SDB). Some of these weapons could have been carried in the aircraft’s internal bomb bay.

Because of its range and loiter ability, such a minimally upgraded aircraft would have been choice for providing close air support (especially emergency requests) in Afghanistan as a resource to support all allied troops. When the B-52, B-1, F-15E show up, the ground forward air controller (JTAC) is happy because these aircraft bring lots of weapons and can stick around until the job is done. The F-111 would be in this same class of performance.

More importantly; just like the past, such a minimally upgraded F-111 would have provided significant regional deterrence in Australia’s area of interest. As Australia says good-bye to the F-111 it says good-bye to a long-range strike aircraft that could provide great value out to the 2020’s. With this aircraft gone, any regional power that decides to go bad, now knows they have one less worry. Australia’s long range strike ability is now officially dead.

On the topic of air power, senior defence officials do not know what they are doing. It is time for this to change.

USAF’s missing (or long gone) air power leaders #military

The F-22 Raptor is not an inexpensive fighter jet. But it brings to the fight a capability that eclipses that of legacy aircraft such as the F-15, F-16, F-117, the Navy’s F-18 Hornet and even the yet-to-fly F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“Even without stealth, this is the world’s best fighter,” General Lewis said. “The F-22, its ability with speed and maneuverability, is unprecedented. The problem with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in establishing air dominance is that you have to buy two or three to replace the F-22, because it only has half the weapons load, and it doesn’t have the speed. You can’t replace (the F-22) one-for-one with an F-35 or any other legacy fighter such as the F-15E.”

Major General Richard B.H. “Rick” Lewis
June 2006

Full story.

General Lewis retired in March 2007.

2007–The words of the past USAF boss #military

The past USAF boss had some faults and was compromised by the multi-media contract debacle with the Thunderbirds.

Having said that; he was right on the topic of air dominiation. This–as well as the repeat nuke failures–is one reason that Gates had enough.

From 2007.

“The first step in recapitalizing our aging fighter fleet is fielding the F-22 to replace the F-15C (Eagle) as our front-line air dominance fighter,” General Moseley said. “Controlling the sky is the first and most fundamental step in any joint operation.”

Let there be no doubt about it — the F-22 will be the primary aircraft responsible for countering aerial threats from the bad guys, and “ensuring our nation’s air, land and sea forces access for many decades to come,” he said. “On my watch as the lead Airman of this great Air Force, I will not allow air dominance to be taken for granted.”

And, as soon as his “watch” ended, the ill fate of American air domination was certain.