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Fifth generation fighters crucial to air superiority
Defense Talk ^ | 3/4/2012 | Defense Tech

Posted on 03/05/2012 12:21:07 AM PST by U-238

The Air Force is the world's most advanced air and space force and, with the integration of fifth generation aircraft, is gaining new tactical advantages that transcend beyond just stealth into areas such as enhanced maneuverability, multi-role capabilities and fused sensor and avionics systems that can communicate with other weapons systems.

That's why it is imperative that U.S. forces continue to develop and begin to use fifth-generation fighters as they transition to the new Pacific-based strategy, according to Lt. Gen. Herbert J. "Hawk" Carlisle, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

During the Air Force Association monthly breakfast here Feb. 28, he said fifth-generation fighters, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22 Raptor, are critical to maintaining air superiority and global precision attack core competencies.

"The threat environment is continuing to grow, so as we look at how we're going to maintain those competencies in the future, that's where fifth generation fighters come in," he said. "It's not just about stealth."

"The F-22 is better than any other aircraft in the world at air-to-ground except for the F-35, and the F-35 is better than any other aircraft in the world at air-to-air except for the F-22," said Carlisle.

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


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: aerospace; avionics; f22; f35; fifthgeneration; jsf; stealth; usaf

1 posted on 03/05/2012 12:21:10 AM PST by U-238
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To: U-238

How the hell is F-35 the best?
It is inferior to best 4th gen legacy fighters in terms of flight characteristics.
Lower radar crossection and STOL capabilities are not the most critical specs.
Stealth countermeasures are on the rise with more and more sophisticated optical sensors.
Mig-21 of F-5 with proper avionics suite and good missiles could be a match soon.


2 posted on 03/05/2012 3:50:39 AM PST by cunning_fish
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To: cunning_fish

I can’t figure out what is so great about the F-35. As far as I can tell, it won’t be nearly as capable as the F-22 and may end up costing more to boot.

The silly thing may have its hands full with newer Russian fighters like the Su-35 and the up coming T-50.

I think the American tax payer is about to get ripped off....big time.


3 posted on 03/05/2012 4:20:07 AM PST by Carbonsteel
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To: U-238
Over the last several decades the electronics industry has progressed much faster than anything else. Jet engines, avionics and aerodynamics have progressed at modest rates but our advances in radar, IR and communications has been mind blowing. Sensors set the F-22 and F-35 apart from the rest.
4 posted on 03/05/2012 4:49:55 AM PST by ryan71 (Dear spell check - No, I will not capitalize the "m" in moslem!)
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To: U-238

Backward thinking, time over target belongs to the drone. Cost of plane, goes to the drone. Stop peeing away tax payers money.


5 posted on 03/05/2012 5:13:21 AM PST by org.whodat
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To: org.whodat

“Backward thinking, time over target belongs to the drone. Cost of plane, goes to the drone. Stop peeing away tax payers money.”

That’s great, except for the minor detail that there’s no such thing as an air-to-air drone at this point. Or are we going to see the org.whodat drone debut soon? ;-)

It’s going to be hard to replace having human eyes evaluating the situation, and human judgement pulling the trigger. In a engagement with a “real” enemy (China or Russia) the electronic warfare and space environment will likely prevent any kind of remote communication with our vehicles.


6 posted on 03/05/2012 6:59:04 AM PST by PreciousLiberty (Real Hope - Santorum '12!!!)
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To: cunning_fish

“How the hell is F-35 the best?”

That’s a very good question, since the cost of the F-22 is now within spitting distance of the F-35. The F-22 is a far superior fighter, and there are better options for air-to-ground ordinance delivery than the F-35.

I’d like to see a new run of (perhaps stealthified) B-1s, using the Raptor engines. Include an AMRAAM launcher for air-to-air capability. Supercruise, massive firepower against both the air and ground - what’s not to like? It would be a fitting bomber match for F-22 escorts, and development should be relatively easy and cheap.


7 posted on 03/05/2012 7:03:54 AM PST by PreciousLiberty (Real Hope - Santorum '12!!!)
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To: U-238

I thought we left “air superiority” behind in the rear view mirror in favor of a policy of seeking and maintaining “air supremacy”.

;)

USAF - live in fame or go down in flame.


8 posted on 03/05/2012 7:08:43 AM PST by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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To: PreciousLiberty

There is no such thing as air to air jack any more. That is a thing of the past.


9 posted on 03/05/2012 8:16:53 AM PST by org.whodat
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To: org.whodat
"There is no such thing as air to air jack any more. That is a thing of the past."

You are simply delusional if you think that's the case.

I'd be fascinated to hear both why you think so, and why you think the USAF is ignorant of such a revelation.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" - George Santayana

10 posted on 03/05/2012 9:10:05 AM PST by PreciousLiberty (Real Hope - Santorum '12!!!)
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To: U-238
Whoever wrote this is an idiot for not mentioning the fact that our potential enemies China and Russia are developing fifth generation fighters. Both the Chengdu J-20 and the Pak FA have both flown and are projected to be operational in a few years.
11 posted on 03/05/2012 11:23:37 AM PST by rmlew ("Mosques are our barracks, minarets our bayonets, domes our helmets, the believers our soldiers.")
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To: U-238
(Art.) "The F-22 is better than any other aircraft in the world at air-to-ground except for the F-35, and the F-35 is better than any other aircraft in the world at air-to-air except for the F-22," said Carlisle.

Pure bromide and political b.s.

12 posted on 03/05/2012 12:47:14 PM PST by lentulusgracchus
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To: PreciousLiberty
That’s great, except for the minor detail that there’s no such thing as an air-to-air drone at this point.

There will be. There are things in testing and have been for a long time - keep an eye out on all of the major aerospace publications and websites, a lot of things are being worked on. A few years ago, the USAF released an unclassified "Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan" that looks ahead to 2047 or 2050, and they do plan on UAVs taking over air-to-air combat, and other nations do as well.

Back in 2002, there were Predators equipped with Stingers flying over the no-fly zones of Iraq, and the AF even tried engaging an Iraqi fighter or two. Unfortunately the avionics were not up to the task and the one publicized engagement resulted in the Predator's Stinger locking onto a missile that an Iraqi jet fired rather than the Iraqi jet itself. There actually was more going on, but I'm just referring to the publicized events.

It's nothing new - back in the 1970s, the AF rigged some existing fighters to be unmanned and then had them go up against manned fighters. It wasn't pretty. When you take the human out of the cockpit, it's amazing some of the maneuvers an aircraft is capable of, even an aircraft designed for humans.

It’s going to be hard to replace having human eyes evaluating the situation, and human judgement pulling the trigger. In a engagement with a “real” enemy (China or Russia) the electronic warfare and space environment will likely prevent any kind of remote communication with our vehicles.

The environment that you are talking about makes it just as difficult regardless of whether there is a human in the cockpit or not. Besides, the environment you are talking about is the kind of environment that would probably be best suited to cruise missiles that don't rely on outside guidance, or incredibly stealthy UAVs. There is a reason why we sent so many cruise missiles into Iraq, and the advances we've made since 1991 and 2003 are substantial.
13 posted on 03/05/2012 2:36:02 PM PST by af_vet_rr
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To: af_vet_rr
they do plan on UAVs taking over air-to-air combat, and other nations do as well.

I don't see how, in a GPS/satcom-prohibited environment. And that is exactly the capability the Chinese have been working on assiduously with their direct-ascent ASAT system.

The environment that you are talking about makes it just as difficult regardless of whether there is a human in the cockpit or not.

Not really. USAF pilots did just fine over Vietnam without satnav or GPS. They had LORAN and various other beacon systems and inertial guidance, and that's about all they needed to get the job done. HOBOS helped, and they needed to be able to use TV remote control for that -- but the Germans didn't need it in 1943 when they sank the Italian BB Roma with a radio-controlled, optically-guided (by the operator) guided bomb.

Besides, the environment you are talking about is the kind of environment that would probably be best suited to cruise missiles that don't rely on outside guidance, or incredibly stealthy UAVs.

UAV's will be cruise missiles if you remove GPS guidance and communication, or interrupt the session the way the Iranians are supposed to have done . Think someone can fly a UAV by dead reckoning via remote control? How about without commlinks with the vehicle?

All this stuff is setting us up for a big lesson in how, the more bells and whistles you need to do the job, the more Achilles' heels you bring with you to the contest, and the more sh&t you have available to break down at the most inconvenient time possible.

Rule One of electronics on expeditions and missions: Half your sh&t doesn't work any more, the minute you leave the end of your driveway/clear the jetties/clear the runway.

14 posted on 03/05/2012 5:37:44 PM PST by lentulusgracchus
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To: lentulusgracchus
I don't see how, in a GPS/satcom-prohibited environment. And that is exactly the capability the Chinese have been working on assiduously with their direct-ascent ASAT system.

I'll put aside the fact that if China wants to harm us, they will do so economically long before they do so militarily, since they are in a position to already hurt us economically. I'm not trying to expand the topic into what definese air superiority since the definition has broadend over the years, but if we can dump in cruise missiles at will, that don't require GPS or satellite communications, that they can't easily counteract, and if we can destroy the facilities they need to support their own aerial operations with those very same missiles, well we gain air superiority regardless of whether we have humans in the cockpit or not. We take out their ASAT capabilities, we quickly relaunch any GPS or other systems that are needed, and we are in business.

Not really. USAF pilots did just fine over Vietnam without satnav or GPS.

USAF and USN lost over 2,200 aircraft to enemy fire and almost a thousand more due to operational problems, and the North Vietnamese didn't have nearly the capabilities our potential adversaries do now. Those aircraft were a lot easier to maintain and a lot more resilient than some of the aircraft we have now.

UAV's will be cruise missiles if you remove GPS guidance and communication, or interrupt the session the way the Iranians are supposed to have done .

What is wrong with cruise missiles? How is Iran going to interrupt the communications if we are dumping in terrain following cruise missiles that don't need to communicate with us once they are launched?

All this stuff is setting us up for a big lesson in how, the more bells and whistles you need to do the job, the more Achilles' heels you bring with you to the contest, and the more sh&t you have available to break down at the most inconvenient time possible.

Rule One of electronics on expeditions and missions: Half your sh&t doesn't work any more, the minute you leave the end of your driveway/clear the jetties/clear the runway.


And here I agree with you. We are headed down a road where we have fewer and fewer manned aircraft, and they are more and more expensive and complex to maintain. It will bite us in the ass.
15 posted on 03/05/2012 8:49:22 PM PST by af_vet_rr
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To: af_vet_rr
I'm not trying to expand the topic into what definese air superiority since the definition has broadend over the years .....

Well, let's say it's what happens at 55,000 feet over the FEBA and go from there.

What's going to happen when you send UAV's and they send J-20's and Su-30MKK's to the party? I wouldn't even like a contest between your UAV's and a squadron of Gen 3 airframes like the J-7/8/8C (=MiG 21) "Fishbed"/"Finback".

...if we can dump in cruise missiles at will....

Against swarms of AWACS-directed older fighters armed with IR-seeking AAM's? Don't think so.

At some point you have to clear enough of the airspace you're going to be fighting in, to let the cruise weapons do their jobs. You have to clear it with manned fighters, because UAV's are not gonna git 'er done.

16 posted on 03/06/2012 4:19:08 AM PST by lentulusgracchus
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To: af_vet_rr
[Me] Not really. USAF pilots did just fine over Vietnam without satnav or GPS.

[You] USAF and USN lost over 2,200 aircraft to enemy fire and almost a thousand more due to operational problems

The point was, American pilots found their way around without 21st-century navaids. Losses due to enemy activity are not germane to the point here. The point is that American pilots could hack it, but UAV's could not, without their complex navaids and inertial guidance backup. And we're just talking here about finding their way around, not actually engaging highly motivated adversary pilots in modern aircraft.

By the way, that loss of 2200 a/c was incurred IMHO due to excessive micromanagement against a second-rate air and anti-aircraft establishment. If we'd campaigned like that against the Russians, we'd have gone through three times that many aircraft and pilots.

We are talking, I emphasize here, about engaging a major opponent, not an off-the-shelf Third World air force.

17 posted on 03/06/2012 4:27:44 AM PST by lentulusgracchus
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To: af_vet_rr
It's nothing new - back in the 1970s, the AF rigged some existing fighters to be unmanned and then had them go up against manned fighters. It wasn't pretty.

Are you saying the unmanned fighters kicked @ss on the manned ones? I find that hard to believe.

Still, sever the comm links and presto, you've got yourself a cruise missile flying on inertial guidance and computerized topo maps.

18 posted on 03/06/2012 4:35:16 AM PST by lentulusgracchus
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To: lentulusgracchus
Are you saying the unmanned fighters kicked @ss on the manned ones? I find that hard to believe.

I don't know what information has been made publicly available, but I'll just say that it shook up a lot of people and given the technology of the time, it was impressive, and they proved that when you take the human out of the cockpit, you can do some pretty amazing maneuvers that a human can't physically deal with from an offensive or defensive perspective. It's simple physics and simple biology. 20mm cannon are pretty useless in such situations because a non-human adversary can do things a human physically cannot do, and such engagements are incredibly rare in modern aerial combat anyways. Believe me, the USAF and USN and all of the other major players have been doing everything they can to help human beings pull just one or two more Gs, and they have run into the proverbial brick wall time and time again.

And we're just talking here about finding their way around, not actually engaging highly motivated adversary pilots in modern aircraft.

A human pilot can be highly motivated by their survival instincts, but at their core they are still a bag of fluids that is susceptible to the laws of physics and human biology.

And those "highly motivated adversary pilots in modern aircraft" are still basically flying a missile platform that just happens to have guns on it and they are liable to be firing the same types of missiles that a UAV is firing.

And if you want to bring up going to 20mm, out of our best modern example, the first Gulf War where we had a well-equipped adversary that was in fact able to shoot down some of our aircraft, only two Iraqi aircraft out of 40+ that were shot down, were shot down by cannon fire, and those happened to be A-10s shooting down helicopters with their 30mm Gatlings. There weren't Americans and Brits taking on Iraqis with their 20mm, it was allies and Iraqis going at it with missiles. All of the hits the Iraqi pilots got on our aircraft also happened to be missiles.

But we're still missing a major factor, which you bring up:

Still, sever the comm links and presto, you've got yourself a cruise missile flying on inertial guidance and computerized topo maps.

Going back to the best example we have of modern aerial warfare involving the US and a well-equipped adversary is the first Gulf War.

Who went in first? Cruise missiles and F-117s dropping bombs. Those F-117s weren't dogfighting the Iraqis, they were sneaking in and dropping bombs. Then only after they did their work did the air superiority fighters come in.

Out of the over 600-700 aircraft the Iraqis had, we shot down just over three dozen in air-to-air combat. The vast majority that were destroyed, were destroyed on the ground. We're talking probably 9 or 10 to 1 destroyed on the ground versus destroyed in the air.

This was over 20 years ago. If we go to war against an adversary that is well equipped, guess what? Same thing as before, cruise missiles and stealth will be in the first wave or two. They are going to be suppressing air defenses and airfields just like before, except that they are going to be better.

Aerial superiority is no longer just about who has the best pilots or best aircraft, it's about things like denying the enemy their airfields and fuel. We're damn good at it, and we've only gotten better since the first Gulf War.
19 posted on 03/06/2012 1:19:52 PM PST by af_vet_rr
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To: lentulusgracchus
What's going to happen when you send UAV's and they send J-20's and Su-30MKK's to the party? I wouldn't even like a contest between your UAV's and a squadron of Gen 3 airframes like the J-7/8/8C (=MiG 21) "Fishbed"/"Finback".

So what if they send manned fighters to the party? While they are playing with our drones, unless we have complete and total idiots running our military, we're going to be removing the airfields/resupply areas those aircraft rely upon. Besides, those drones will have the same missiles that our manned fighters use, and the days of large-scale gun-on-gun engagements are long past. By the time the J-20s are deployed in large numbers, we'll have jumped ahead another generation or two in UAV technology. And like you said, the J-20s and even future Su30s have a serious problem: Rule One of electronics on expeditions and missions: Half your sh&t doesn't work any more, the minute you leave the end of your driveway/clear the jetties/clear the runway. .

Those complex aircraft are also going to find themselves grounded by our cruise missiles and other single-purpose weapons.

If anything, even as some UAVs get more complex, there is also work being done on smaller single-purpose UAVs - UAVs to engage in air-to-air combat, stealthy UAVs loitering around and waiting for enemy aircraft to return to their field, UAVs loitering around waiting for somebody to turn on a radar, etc. etc.

Modern manned aircraft with complex weapons systems are far too reliant upon their repair and resupply facilities. Far too reliant. The Chinese have good reason to get into the carrier game, but even that's risky as hell.
20 posted on 03/06/2012 1:27:59 PM PST by af_vet_rr
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To: af_vet_rr
Modern manned aircraft with complex weapons systems are far too reliant upon their repair and resupply facilities.

And UAV's aren't? That was my original point. Getting them just to work in combat is going to be a major achievement. And somehow the UAV's sensors are going to be better than those available to J-20 and F-22 drivers?

You make it sound like all we need to do is wind up their little rubber bands and they'll go forth and conquer entire air fleets of "Flankers" and "Finbacks". I guess we just disagree about this.

In the 1930's there was an idea floating around that, in future, air war would include a chemical component, consisting of aircraft equipped with big tanks of enormously toxic agents of some sort, poisoning the atmosphere cubic miles at a time to determine outcomes -- "better dying through chemistry." I think the "fighter UAV" concept to be something along the same lines -- a credible but specious pipe dream.

21 posted on 03/06/2012 2:09:40 PM PST by lentulusgracchus
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To: lentulusgracchus
And UAV's aren't?

In our hypothetical war with China, our UAVs would probably be based off of carriers. I don't see South Korea, Japan, or the Philippines rushing to offer us airfields, and airfields in Taiwan won't last long. That leaves us with carriers while China will most likely be launching from static airfields, leaving them much more vulnerable.

And somehow the UAV's sensors are going to be better than those available to J-20 and F-22 drivers?

Do you think the only UAVs in development are for ground attack?

You make it sound like all we need to do is wind up their little rubber bands and they'll go forth and conquer entire air fleets of "Flankers" and "Finbacks".

You make it sound like we have fleets of aircraft to counter those. We don't. Look at a map. We may have a lot of allies in the region, but they ain't going to be hot to trot when it comes to hosting our aircraft in a fight with China. That leaves us with carriers (or very long flights from American territory which means very tired pilots), and based on the procurement orders, that means very few F-35s, which leaves us with the good old F/A-18 going up against J-20s, and those F/A-18s will probably be outnumbered. That's not exactly a good scenario.

And if there are still "fleets" of Chinese fighters a few days into our hypothetical scenario, then that means far too many airfields weren't being hit, which means the USAF and USN have screwed up royally.

In the 1930's there was an idea floating around that

And in the 1940s, we spent money on a system that would put pigeons inside of missiles to guide them. Hell, the Russians were strapping explosives to dogs and trying to train them into taking out German tanks.

You think that the idea of a UAV engaging in aerial combat is a pipe dream, but do you honestly believe that 50 years from now we'll still have manned combat aircraft?
22 posted on 03/07/2012 10:15:56 PM PST by af_vet_rr
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To: af_vet_rr
It's nothing new - back in the 1970s, the AF rigged some existing fighters to be unmanned and then had them go up against manned fighters. It wasn't pretty. When you take the human out of the cockpit, it's amazing some of the maneuvers an aircraft is capable of, even an aircraft designed for humans.

At Holloman in 1970's when I was there we had a buttload of F-102s and Navy Skynights converted to drones.

They blowed up real good when confronted by Phantoms and Eagles.

What drones are you talking about?

23 posted on 03/08/2012 3:19:54 PM PST by hattend (Jesus wants me to make churches pay for abortions. - Barack Obama)
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