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Top pilot calls for halt on stealth programs


marcos
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http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/11/all-stealth-force/

 

...Writing in the Air Force Research Institute’s Air & Space Power Journal, Lt. Col. Christopher Niemi, a former F-22 test pilot who later commanded a frontline squadron of the radar-evading jets, says the Air Force is making a big mistake by buying only the most expensive stealth fighters — namely, the F-22 and the newer F-35.

 

“An all-stealth Air Force fighter fleet deserves reconsideration,” Niemi asserts (.pdf). ”Stealth technology demands significant trade-offs in range, security, weapons carriage, sortie generation, and adaptability. Stealth provides no advantage in conflicts such as those in Afghanistan or Iraq (since 2003), and (despite its obvious utility) it cannot guarantee success in future struggles with a near-peer adversary.”

 

...It’s not too late to reverse the policy, the former F-22 squadron command argues. “The Air Force should reconsider its long-standing position that fifth-generation fighters are the only option.”

 

When a man who spent his career flying stealth fighters begins lobbying against them, maybe it’s time the Air Force pays attention.

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If a stealth aircraft doesn't have a clear advantage in a near peer opponent war, how will an army of 4.5+ generation fighters fair? Sounds like someone is too stuck on the fighter mafia.

 

Also, weapon carriage... it's not like the F-35 can't be a bomb truck as much as an F-16 when it's needed in low risk operations. Since the only compromise is stealth when carrying external loads.

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If a stealth aircraft doesn't have a clear advantage in a near peer opponent war, how will an army of 4.5+ generation fighters fair? Sounds like someone is too stuck on the fighter mafia.

 

Also, weapon carriage... it's not like the F-35 can't be a bomb truck as much as an F-16 when it's needed in low risk operations. Since the only compromise is stealth when carrying external loads.

But if 400 F-35s cost the same as 1600 F-16s, the F-35 can't be in 4 places simultaneously. Same issue with the Raptor. In a straight head-to-head it can turn the odds on their head, but in a large strategic battle, it has no powers of self-replication. The less aircraft you have, the more limited your offensive/defensive front. You can't defend as much and you can't attack as much simultaneously. Your game plan is more limited. You either spread the Raptors wafer thin, or you narrow your field of play.


Edited by marcos
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Marcos add to that the losses factor, then the problem gets bigger; it is not the same to replace an f-16 than to replace an f-35. Now ask your allies to do the same.

 

The f-35 should have been an f-16 replacement; instead it became something that no one can buy at the numbers needed. Most of the issue is that the raptor is pretty much useless in a war like Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

The troops don't have a dedicated close support fighter. Most of the stuff the airforce use now is an overkill. I don't think an f-35 multi million state of the art super expensive to operate is needed to drop a small bomb on top of terrorist using ak-47s. Why the russians value the su-25 so much? It is cheap and it does the job fine. That is what is needed not more than that. Is the su-25 the most precise? no, is it the less vulnerable to any weapon? no, but it is designed to do a good job against the weapons it is more likely to encounter. The only airplane that does the same job in the US is the A-10 and it has been hated since day one by air force planers. The A-10 proved them wrong several times. Now they tell us that the f-35 can do the same job better! really? at what cost?

The US had the airplanes like the Douglas A-1 Skyraider, ov-10 bronco, a-4, f-5, those were relatively cheap and good for the mission, but they are gone. Small countries are returning to prop airplanes to do ground attack and close support. Enter the Supertucano. Why the Unites States Air Force don't have something like it to support the troops? The supertucano has done a great job agains drug dealers and guerrilla groups in South America.

 

I think that part of the problem is that planners are more worried about capabilities than factual needs.

 

Now there is another issue, Chinese have several programs in development to match US efforts.

 

Possible f-22 equivalent- check

F-35 equivalent- check

global hack equivalent-check

f-16 equivalent- check

f-15 equivalent - check ; they copied it from the russians

f-18 equivalent - They just got themselves a two seater su-33 reverse engineered

apache- the have one in the works

Carriers- they have one and several planned

Space program- they have a named vehicle- US? renting stuff from the russians and waiting for the private industry to come up with the solution.

 

Can the US become 2nd in terms of technological developments? Should the US not care of what other countries develop?

Should the US keep the stealth programs cooking? I think yes, but placing emphasis on real needs, usability and efficiency.

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I think that part of the problem is that planners are more worried about capabilities than factual needs.

 

I think the problem is that if your a developer, why would you aim for an expected profit margin on A-10 replacements at $20m each or F-16 replacements at $25m each, when you can aim for the same margin on F-35's at $238m each, and know that while there might have been cheaper ways to get the job done, you made a lot more money this way...

 

I think there's probably also an element of - if you tell congress "it's 10 times more technologically advanced than anything else in the world, & once again demonstrates America's military superiority", it's easier to get funding than if you tell them " there's nothing innovative here at all, just incremental improvement on existing technology that will get the job done..."

Cheers.

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Also important to consider in this problem is akin to what the U.K. experienced at the beginning of WWII. Their government was recoiling from the shock of WWI so they decided to cut the tank corps to save money. When Germany turned out to have advanced and modern armor, Great Britain was in shock because they had little more than a Matilda 1 with a .30 cal as the main gun. Their tactics and equipment were woefully inferior for the time. Likewise, by delaying the development of new and superior platforms, and also the tactics required to deal with these new technologies, we will face the catch of re-developing an airborne F-23 Churchill. A good plane that is too late for its time and too ineffective to deal with the J-30 Tigers.

If you aim for the sky, you will never hit the ground.

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WWII was a mess, many decades ago.

Take an infrared camera on a police helicopter for example, you can’t mount a surprise attack at night any more or mislead the reconnaissance data.

Artillery can launch self guided missiles from miles away and even guided artillery shells for close support. Electronic and technological countermeasures are evolving, the thing which retains aircraft, submarines and infantry in their places.

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I see one problem with current fighter development in the US. There is no real F-16 replacement, at least not in the same scale of costs. Fundamental these days.

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EDIT: Sorry, should look at the full thing first, boy do I feel silly...

Anyways, he seems to primarily target the F-22's overspecialization with his facts, not the F-35. I honestly think that the F-35 is a good successor stealth aircraft to the F-22. I do agree with him on the overspecialization of the F-22.


Edited by jazjar

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I see one problem with current fighter development in the US. There is no real F-16 replacement, at least not in the same scale of costs. Fundamental these days.

 

Not really, take any armed forces, and you will see that the world has, for a long time, been moving towards a "smaller but better" military force. Of course there are always two sides to this argument, and both are equally correct, however you cannot discount the importance of have both a sizeable enough force, and an advanced enough force. The idea is where to draw the line between these. Tricky situation that can't be answered to with any great ease.

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EDIT: Sorry, should look at the full thing first, boy do I feel silly...

Anyways, he seems to primarily target the F-22's overspecialization with his facts, not the F-35. I honestly think that the F-35 is a good successor stealth aircraft to the F-22. I do agree with him on the overspecialization of the F-22.

 

I think the F-35 is too underspecialized though, so it's not really great at anything in particular. It doesn't have the loiter time or payload to excel at CAS, too expensive to be a multirole workhorse like the F-16, and not powerful and manoeuvrable enough to be a true air superiority dog-fighter.

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I think the F-35 is too underspecialized though, so it's not really great at anything in particular. It doesn't have the loiter time or payload to excel at CAS, too expensive to be a multirole workhorse like the F-16, and not powerful and manoeuvrable enough to be a true air superiority dog-fighter.

 

Yeah, no, the F-35 is more than capable enough as a fighter, the same as the F-16, except probably, a lotta bit better. The sensor fusion should also allow it to be quite an effective ground attack/CAS platform, even if it can only hold around the same payload as the F-16C. Due to a more efficient engine, its loiter time should also be a lot higher. Overall, it looks to be a pretty effective multi-role platform well suited to replace the F-16C fleet. Granted, it will be extremely expensive, at least until it passes the LRIP stage. All of the hiccups that it is having aren't helping any either.

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Yeah its a better fighter than the F-16 probably (especially when it comes to BVR), but still nowhere on the level of an F-22 or even an F-15. So it's kind of priced itself out of the multi-role level. I think I also heard somewhere that it was also supposed to eventually replace the A-10, so was more relating to the loiter time in a CAS role vs that...

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Yeah its a better fighter than the F-16 probably (especially when it comes to BVR), but still nowhere on the level of an F-22 or even an F-15.

 

Actually it should handily replace the F-15 in most cases. The only things it probably lacks there is the tremendous suspersonic acceleration and speed, but it can make this up in most (but not all) cases with its stealth.

 

So it's kind of priced itself out of the multi-role level. I think I also heard somewhere that it was also supposed to eventually replace the A-10, so was more relating to the loiter time in a CAS role vs that...
It's a single role aircraft: It's a strike fighter, and that's why it can't replace F-22's or A-10's. The F-22 is an air dominance fighter, and the A-10 is a CAS fighter. Neither of those are strike/Interdiction fighters, and can't fill that role except in very narrow circumstances.

 

The F-35's job is to deliver precision ordnance of high value target. It's ability to replace the A-10 is ... like you said, not realistic in -all- CAS situation, only in some - the same ones where other fighters work, with the possible exception that it may have much, much greater SA.

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What still puzzles me though is how the Marines plan to use an aircraft as sophisticated as F-35 to replace the Harrier in close-to-combat basing situations. Think about what happened at Camp Bastion, where a brazen attack disabled 6 Harriers (not mentioning but certainly not forgetting the human loss). Can you imagine when it would have been 6 F-35's? Would it ever make sense to base those at places like Camp Bastion? Or will it be able to stay at a further base due to its better range?

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WWII was a mess, many decades ago.

Take an infrared camera on a police helicopter for example, you can’t mount a surprise attack at night any more or mislead the reconnaissance data.

 

ADAPTIV

 

There also a cover that shields RF detection too. Seen it somewhere but can't find it. Ah:

 

MULTISORB

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http://www.mbda-systems.com/e-catalogue/#/solutions/battlefield/1006/performance


Edited by marcos
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The F-35 does have better range and payload, thus offering that choice. But the incident is irrelevant - this stuff happens, plain and simple. You get into a fight, you'll probably get hurt.

 

What still puzzles me though is how the Marines plan to use an aircraft as sophisticated as F-35 to replace the Harrier in close-to-combat basing situations. Think about what happened at Camp Bastion, where a brazen attack disabled 6 Harriers (not mentioning but certainly not forgetting the human loss). Can you imagine when it would have been 6 F-35's? Would it ever make sense to base those at places like Camp Bastion? Or will it be able to stay at a further base due to its better range?

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ADAPTIV

 

There also a cover that shields RF detection too. Seen it somewhere but can't find it. Ah:

 

MULTISORB

http://www.mbda-systems.com/e-catalogue/#/solutions/battlefield/1006/introduction

http://www.mbda-systems.com/e-catalogue/#/solutions/battlefield/1006/performance

 

If that's too expensive, there's always these.

 

"From the height of a 10-story building, if a real tank and a false one stand side by side, they make almost no difference. Our machines emit the same heat and reflect radio waves in the same way as real ones," said Lyudmila Stepanova, Rusbal's chief technology expert.

 

inflatabledecoys50025.jpg

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Do they move though? Sure, sure it reflects radar, sure it emits heat, great and fine. The solution is not all that difficult actually. JSTARS and Global Hawk operators look for the masses of ground units that are Moving as opposed to the ones that are stationary. That and make efficient use of HUMINTand ground reconaissance. Also, UAV operators would probably confirm the target in different electromagnetic bands, making sure that engine smoke is coming out of the right places, the heat is in the right places, and that none of it is too unrealistic (eg. the target stays hot while stationary for way past what its fuel is supposed to last )

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