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New U.S. Stealth Jet Canít Hide From Russian Radar
The Daily Beast ^ | April 28, 2014 | Bill Sweetman

Posted on 04/27/2014 11:56:53 PM PDT by wetphoenix

America’s gazillion-dollar Joint Strike Fighter is supposed to go virtually unseen when flying over enemy turf. But that’s not how things are working out.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter—the jet that the Pentagon is counting on to be the stealthy future of its tactical aircraft—is having all sorts of shortcomings. But the most serious may be that the JSF is not, in fact, stealthy in the eyes of a growing number of Russian and Chinese radars. Nor is it particularly good at jamming enemy radar. Which means the Defense Department is committing hundreds of billions of dollars to a fighter that will need the help of specialized jamming aircraft that protect non-stealthy—“radar-shiny,” as some insiders call them—aircraft today.

These problems are not secret at all. The F-35 is susceptible to detection by radars operating in the VHF bands of the spectrum. The fighter’s jamming is mostly confined to the X-band, in the sector covered by its APG-81 radar. These are not criticisms of the program but the result of choices by the customer, the Pentagon.

To suggest that the F-35 is VHF-stealthy is like arguing that the sky is not blue—literally, because both involve the same phenomenon. The late-Victorian physicist Lord Rayleigh gave his name to the way that electromagnetic radiation is scattered by objects that are smaller than its wavelength. This applies to the particles in the air that scatter sunlight, and aircraft stabilizers and wingtips that are about the same meter-class size as VHF waves.

The counter-stealth attributes of VHF have been public knowledge for decades. They were known at the dawn of stealth, in 1983, when the MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory ordered a 150-ft.-wide radar to emulate Russia’s P-14 Oborona VHF early warning system. Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth division—makers of the F-35—should know about that radar—they built it.

(Excerpt) Read more at thedailybeast.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Foreign Affairs; Government; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: airspace; f35; jsf; military; navy; usaf
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1 posted on 04/27/2014 11:56:53 PM PDT by wetphoenix
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To: wetphoenix

I think I have had enough of the extreme liberal views of the Daily Beast today.


2 posted on 04/28/2014 12:36:52 AM PDT by KC_Conspirator
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To: wetphoenix

If we nuke ‘em first, we won’t have to worry about their radar...


3 posted on 04/28/2014 12:46:42 AM PDT by G Larry (In the beginning there was "Right" and "Wrong" and we've been compromising in the "Wrong" direction)
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To: wetphoenix
A- and B- Band (HF- und VHF- Radar)
These radar bands below 300 MHz have a long historically tradition because these frequencies represented the frontier of radio technology at the time during the World War II. Today these frequencies are used for early warning radars and so called Over The Horizon (OTH) Radars. Using these lower frequencies it is easier to obtain high-power transmitters. The attenuation of the electro-magnetic waves is lower than using higher frequencies. On the other hand the accuracy is limited, because a lower frequency requires antennas with very large physical size which determines angle accuracy and angle resolution. These frequency-bands are used by other communications and broadcasting services too, therefore the bandwidth of the radar is limited (at the expense of accuracy and resolution again).

The F-35's approach to radar-absorbent material (RAM) is more reliable than that of any earlier warplane. The F-22's surfaces are made of aluminum, which are covered in RAM that must constantly be reapplied. This is, of course, a nightmare for maintenance crews. But the F-35 is made of carbon-fiber composite; Lockheed engineers bake RAM into the airplane's edges in an effort to soak up inbound radar.

The F-35 diminishes its visibility to radar with internal weapons bays, carefully aligned edges, and embedded antennas. Yet the airplane is accused of being more vulnerable to detection than earlier stealth aircraft, such as the F-22 Raptor, due to its more conventional airplane shape. Air Force Association president, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Dunn, slighted the F-35 when he stated that "only the F-22 can survive in airspace defended by increasingly capable surface-to-air missiles."

The F-35 is a multirole aircraft; it must fight other airplanes, bomb targets, and conduct recon; and each mission requires specific payloads. For that reason, its design has tradeoffs that make it less stealthy and less maneuverable than the Raptor, which was designed first and foremost to win air superiority over other fighters.

The F-35 does not have the radar-shunting curves of the Raptor that help mask it from radar at all angles. Engineers designed the F-22 and the B-2 to be unseen at many wavelengths and directions. The Lightning II does not offer many radar returns when the waves strike it from the front, but when they come from the side, the returns are stronger.

Radar waves do not just reflect off objects, they also flow across surfaces, scattering only when they hit a rivet, gun barrel, or other feature that breaks the smoothness of the skin. Aviation Week reporter Bill Sweetman notes that the F-35A's gun is located internally, but it is housed in a "hideous wart" on the airplane's surface—one of several features he says could betray the aircraft's position.

But the Lightning II's key to survival is its own radar, the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) installed in its nose. Conventional radar systems turn their gaze mechanically—imagine a dish spinning or a flat surface tilting to aim radar beams. Electronically steered radar does not move, but its beams can broadcast in different directions, thousands of times a second and across many frequencies. This agility allows AESA to map terrain and track hundreds of targets.

AESA is built to do more than scan—it can reach out to enemy radars and scramble their signals. A combination of radar and electromagnetic warning sensors alert an F-35 pilot to the threat of enemy radar; he can then dodge the threat or use the AESA to jam the signal, no matter what frequency the radar is transmitting.

...Air dominance is now being fought in a greater swath of the electromagnetic spectrum. The critical part of any 21st-century air combat will be the first invisible duel of flickering AESA beams dancing across each other hundreds of miles ahead of any airplane. It's the same old dogfight rules: The first airplane to spot the other shoots, and quite likely whoever is in the other airplane dies.

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

4 posted on 04/28/2014 12:54:24 AM PDT by Berlin_Freeper
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To: KC_Conspirator

The question isn’t how much we like the daily beast, but how much of a failure is this fighter and this program. Is it, or isn’t it.

If it is a failure it adds weight to the argument that we don’t need manned fighters at all.


5 posted on 04/28/2014 1:22:31 AM PDT by samtheman
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To: KC_Conspirator
I think I have had enough of the extreme liberal views of the Daily Beast today.

Well, they're making a statement which should be testable - that the F-35 is not stealthy to Chinese and Russian radar. So is it or is it not? Asking whether incredibly expensive weapons systems actually do the job they're designed for is always a good question, no matter who poses it.
6 posted on 04/28/2014 1:29:32 AM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: AnotherUnixGeek

Most long range air defense search radars operate in the L,S and C bands (1-2,2-4, and 4-8 GHz). Air/Air and Target Track/Fire Control radars are generally in the X band (8-12GHz). These radars are what the term ‘stealth fighter’ was designed for. RF absorption coatings, fuselage shaping, etc. are more effective there because of smaller wavelengths and better effectiveness of the coatings.

When you get to radars with wavelengths that are larger than the aircraft itself, about the only thing you can control the reflections with is absorption - the coatings if there are any, and at that frequency, the effectiveness of the coatings is not very good.


7 posted on 04/28/2014 2:13:42 AM PDT by Gaffer (Comprehensive Immigration Reform is just another name for Comprehensive Capitulation)
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To: samtheman
If it is a failure it adds weight to the argument that we don’t need manned fighters at all.

That is what I think we should start moving to right now. they would be smaller, or the same size with more and better weapons.

8 posted on 04/28/2014 2:31:24 AM PDT by Captainpaintball (Immigration without assimilation is the death of a nation)
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To: G Larry

The “first look” should be the enemy’s look at the fallout of so much shock and awe before their first shot can ever be fired.


9 posted on 04/28/2014 2:31:24 AM PDT by equaviator (There's nothing like the universe to bring you down to earth.)
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To: samtheman

“If it is a failure it adds weight to the argument that we don’t need manned fighters at all.”

Necessity being the mother of invention and Israel having some of the best drone technology, I’d guess the next middle east war will be the one to end manned aircraft as battle weapons. It would not surprise me if Israel currently has a major strike force that’s entirely robotic.

We, on the other hand, are preparing to fight an updated World War Two areal war.

Another thing that may go away is unquestioned air superiority. With enough tiny and stealthy drones it’s almost certain that some will be where you least want them. This was one thought behind the large tanks becoming obsolete. Tanks require a huge fuel logistics footprint and without air dominance you can’t protect those tankers. A little suicide drone is all that’s needed to stop the tanks.


10 posted on 04/28/2014 3:45:03 AM PDT by Gen.Blather
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To: G Larry

When Obama is done we won’t have any nukes fighters Army Navy or anything else


11 posted on 04/28/2014 3:52:31 AM PDT by ballplayer
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To: G Larry

“If we nuke ‘em first, we won’t have to worry about their radar...”

We don’t know if they work either - haven’t been tested in decades.


12 posted on 04/28/2014 4:13:13 AM PDT by BobL
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To: ballplayer

But we will have gays and women in combat. Hurrah! [/s]


13 posted on 04/28/2014 4:16:42 AM PDT by rbg81
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To: KC_Conspirator
"I think I have had enough of the extreme liberal views of the Daily Beast today."

I hate to burst your balloon, but this is not an "extreme liberal view". Bill Sweetman is Senior International Defense Editor for Aviation Week and Space Technology. You may have heard about them, but I doubt it. Some folks, many of them deemed knowledgeable, have a high opinion of AWST.

Pointing out the shortcomings of the bottomless money pit known as the JSF is not an "extreme liberal view". Money for defense is getting scarce, and wasting it on this POS means our warriors will have fewer quality tools to do their jobs.

14 posted on 04/28/2014 4:20:34 AM PDT by diogenes ghost
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To: A.A. Cunningham

Where’s A.A. Cunningham when you need him?


15 posted on 04/28/2014 4:26:40 AM PDT by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: G Larry

sounds nice... but 0bammy has reduced our stockpile from 23k+ warheads to less then 350


16 posted on 04/28/2014 4:46:02 AM PDT by sten (fighting tyranny never goes out of style)
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To: sten

Get some facts before you post.


17 posted on 04/28/2014 5:02:33 AM PDT by G Larry (In the beginning there was "Right" and "Wrong" and we've been compromising in the "Wrong" direction)
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To: BobL

“We don’t know if they work either - haven’t been tested in decades.”

What makes you think we even have nukes? They could have been cardboard cutouts meant to scare the Soviets silly. For that matter, it is possible the Russians and Chinese are bluffing and hoping that we kill the F35 program because of their statements.


18 posted on 04/28/2014 6:00:11 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz ("Heck of a reset there, Hillary")
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To: Gaffer
Most long range air defense search radars operate in the L,S and C bands (1-2,2-4, and 4-8 GHz). Air/Air and Target Track/Fire Control radars are generally in the X band (8-12GHz). These radars are what the term ‘stealth fighter’ was designed for. RF absorption coatings, fuselage shaping, etc. are more effective there because of smaller wavelengths and better effectiveness of the coatings.

Yes, that is the heart of the issue. Being able to detect something and being able to engage it are very different things, and require very different radar wave-lengths.

If I go duck hunting with my eyes closed, I will still be able to detect the ducks with my ears, but my chances of shooting one are about zero.

Large wavelength radar systems require large antennas and these are HARM magnets any time that they turn on.

19 posted on 04/28/2014 6:12:22 AM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: ballplayer

Right you are. All we will have left is his mix-mash, alpha agency, “civilian defense force” which is armed to the teeth with billions of bullets intended for us. God we need a leader to step forward and stop this Country killing BS.


20 posted on 04/28/2014 6:54:37 AM PDT by mcshot (..."And this too shall end.")
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