If not the F-35 then what else?

Discussion in 'U.S. Air Force' started by Pathfinder, Mar 25, 2016.

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  1. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

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    For years people in the defense community, civilian leadership, and military have criticized the F-35 for various reasons. Criticisms against the F-35 include its alleged inability to dog fight, the idea that the F-35 is not stealthy, the idea that one plane can't be used for CAS and Air Superiority. I want to ask a simple question, if not the F-35 then what else? Should we have developed a new CAS jet and build more F-22's? Should we have developed a real 4.5 generation fighter like the Rafael to replace the F-16?
     
  2. Sven

    Sven Teh Viking dood Industry Professional Ret. Military

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    Maybe a modernized F-16 like that of the UAE? The F-22 would fall the same cost criticism as the F-35, especially as the production line is buried in a desert at the moment and would take time and money to restart. But why not replace the F-16 with the F-16? Sure, it's not a stealth platform. But does that even matter? Radars, electronic warfare, IR sensors, countermeasures are getting good enough to track stealth at ranges that would normally be thought of as safe from detection, as is the point of stealth (to limit detection range, not eliminate it). But an aircraft that's cost effective and offers everything you'll find in the Typhoon and Rafale, just with an American flare, is an attractive alternative.

    [​IMG]

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    It'd be even better if you can add an enclosed weapons pod.

    [​IMG]

    But here's an important question: would an alternative be cost effective? The Typhoon and Rafale aren't cheap. Neither is the Super Bug or a modernized F-16. When compared with the F-35, especially when put into mass production, are the competitors really offering anything radically different?
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
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  3. T-123456

    T-123456 Captain Staff Member International Mod

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    Isnt the F-16 Block 60 on par with the Rafale or Typhoon?
     
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  4. Falcon

    Falcon Major Staff Member Social Media Team

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    The aircraft we developed decades ago are still effective for modern missions. The missions haven't really changed and there havn't been any huge leaps in fighter air craft technologies except for "stealth" which in my opinion is a falacy. You can never fully conceal something that physically exists. Stealth is t even a significant development especially since it doesn't really work. The F-35 has advanced sensors and other sub systems that give it an edge over other aircraft but I would imagine that those other air craft could carry the same sub systems as well.

    If I could design the Air Force of the future I would have some super tucsnos, A-10's or an equivalent aircraft, I would have those Arsenal planes loaded with cruise missiles and air to air missiles, and I would have a highly agile dog fighter. I would keep the newer and upgraded F-15's and 16's around.
     
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  5. Atilla

    Atilla Major

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    The Turkish Air Force is acquiring over 100 F-35's, it seems that they will be replacing F-4 Phantoms in service. Even the F-35 will be in service with the 172nd that was deactivated when some F-4's were retired, now that squadron is being reactivated for the F-35.

    http://www.americanmilitaryforum.com/forums/threads/turkey-prepares-airbase-for-f-35-arrival.513/

    F-16's will stay in service for a long time and eventually be replaced with the TF-X. The conceptual design for the TF-X will be selected soon, this will decide if it will be a single engine or twin engine air superiority plane. I think with the Russian threat and Iranian purchase of Su-30's we will choose twin engine.

    The F-35 will work well for us because of how we will use it in our air force. It is not being used to replace everything only a specific jet. The F-35 will give us more capabilities and cause big headaches for our neighbors who can not afford to upgrade their air forces.

    The F-35 program is needed and there could be no replacement. China and Russia have 5th generation fighters, America must also have. I think if the F-35 had less delays no one would be complaining about it.
     
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  6. T-123456

    T-123456 Captain Staff Member International Mod

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    The US should never have ended the F-22 program,you should have at least produced a Thousand or so.
    (and 200 for the Turkish Airforce :0-: )
     
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  7. Technofox

    Technofox That Norwegian girl Staff Member Ret. Military Developer

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    Again, cost is a problem, at an estimated 100 Million USD (2009 est), but the F-15 platform is a proven killer. So why not a further evolution of that design?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

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    If people are saying that the F-35 can lose against older air planes or barely win against them in a dog fight then we have some serious issues. It brings into question the logic for even buying the jet.
     
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  9. Technofox

    Technofox That Norwegian girl Staff Member Ret. Military Developer

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    It does bring into question the logic of buying the F-35... but only if we trust that logic to be true. And I've found people are rarely objective when their own interests are in play.

    Reportedly the F-35 stacks up well against the F-16 - according to Norwegian interests - actually surpassing it in many respect. We've already partially exported this report, from Norway's Maj. Morten Hanche, but here it is again:

    http://theaviationist.com/2016/03/0...g-in-the-f-35-a-jsf-pilot-first-hand-account/

    After looking over his assessment of the F-35's performance versus the F-16 - which he has over 2000 hours of flight time with for the RNoAF - it seems this logic is a bit un-logical, though it's equally devoid of logic to claim the F-35 will always come out on top of 4th gen aircraft either.

    ...

    There's an another assessment here of the F-35 versus the F-16 - in Norwegian for those that can read it.

    http://nettsteder.regjeringen.no/ka...the-right-stuff-top-gun-eller-noe-helt-annet/

    If you'd like a translation, give me a few minutes to work one out.
     
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  10. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

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    hows my Norwegian? :0?:

    Many of my flier colleagues are curious about what the F-35 does in terms of pure performance; how fast, how high, how far? Performance has also been frequently debated in both newspapers and Internet forums. In this post, I therefore intend to look at how both "stealth" and performance can affect the outcome of a dogfight. I hope you understand that I can not share the "juicy details" but I do not think it is necessary to get your message across.

    Modern Air Combat bears little resemblance to fly sequences known from his movie Top Gun. In Top Gun we see "melee" in the air; planes chasing each other with only a few tens of meters. When we exercise equivalent setup between two F-16, the goal is often to kill your opponent using only aircraft cannon. Usually starting setups between 1,000 and 3,000 meters. Within the distance has shrunk to 500 meters tend battle to be settled, without the help of missiles. Top Gun looks great, but it does not describe modern air combat. Training with cannon is not irrelevant, but modern air combat is happily settled before the pilots can see each other with our own eyes. Modern missiles have long range and is highly maneuverable. They also have reliable sensors and deadly warheads. When we consciously limit ourselves to only use the gun, it takes a lot for not a missile shot has ruled the fight a long time before there is talk of "dogfight".

    Air Combat is a ruthless arena. The outcome is influenced by many factors, including weather conditions, the aircraft's maneuverability, range, speed, sensors, antidotes, weapons systems, visual and electromagnetic signature, the pilot's knowledge, training level and will. I mean it is not possible to point to one single factor as the most important. The whole is composed. One weak area does not necessarily mean that the aircraft is poor in dogfight, but the properties must be balanced.

    The most maneuverable aircraft has the advantage if it comes to "dogfight". If I can 'point' own plane in the direction of your opponent, I can also accompany him with its own sensors and threaten all weapons. Yet it is not always so that most maneuverable aircraft winner. Modern sensors and missiles changes the balance in a dogfight. Our old F-16 is quite heavy in the butt when they are dressed up with all the necessary role equipment: External Fuel, målbelysningsutstyr, weapon mounts, weapons and equipment of electronic countermeasures. There is little left of maneuverability as the audience will watch a air display.

    In return, our F-16 equipped with a helmet sight and a very maneuverable heat-seeking missile. Therefore, it is not as critical that our F-16 is not particularly manoeuvrable in armaments; our missiles are more maneuverable than any other fighter. Helmet Screened means we do not need to point the nose of the plane in the direction of the opponent - we can "throw" a shot over the shoulder. Shot hardly escapes ...

    It is advantageous to have the fastest fighter. Superior speed makes it possible to obtain or escape an opponent. All javelin throwers user misses to throw as far as possible. Likewise it is an advantage to fly high and fast when a missile being shot. The missile gets more energy, which in turn increases the range, so that the missile can be fired by the longer distance. If we assume equally proficient pilots, equally good sensors and equally good missiles, it seems that raw performance alone can determine the outcome of an air battle - the flying fastest shoot first. Whoever shoots first wins often.

    Pierre Spey and other critics have pointed out that the F-35 is not as fast or maneuverable as modern Russian fighter. In a previous section I argued that the performance of the F-16 at air display is theoretical and not available in a war situation. Combat aircraft like the F-16 carries the load out. This reduces the practical range, speed, maneuverability and maximum altitude. (This also applies to your opponent's aircraft, which carries the load out).

    With the F-35, we get more of all this, compared to what we are used to today. To discover how much more there was a positive surprise for me. In full war equipment operates F-35 effortlessly 10,000 to 15,000 feet higher than our F-16 manages, without using afterburner. The speed in 'cruises' is without further 50 to 80 knots higher. In F-16 I have to use afterburner and take running speed before a missile shot. F-35 "cruiser" both faster and higher. Therefore, I am ready to shoot far anytime.

    In full war equipment operates F-35 effortlessly 10,000 to 15,000 feet higher than our F-16 fails

    F-35 also has more fuel than we are used to, it carries the load inside and is not as dependent on afterburner. Therefore we are left with more range than the F-16 and similar aircraft can achieve. "Combat radius" for the F-35 is between 30% and 70% longer than we get to the F-16! The extra range comes in handy in our country. The range may alternatively be replaced in endurance over a given area. This is useful for our small organization, which disposes tanker and relies on versatility at all levels.

    Back to performance; perhaps it so that it flying as quickly shoot first? In this case, I take even one important reservation; both planes must discover each other at the same distance if kinematics alone shall be conclusive. My experience shows that this is not very realistic . In daily training between its own F-16 , and in meeting with our allies , we experience in practice what radar signature and electronic antidotes means . Our old F -16 is " slim " in radar and is detected late, as compared with other modern combat aircraft . We also notice the effect of external load ; the heaviest loaded aircraft is detected at the longest distance because the external load increases radar signature. I therefore maintain that it is unrealistic to assume that two militant fighters recognize each other simultaneously, although the sensors initially are equally good. The effect of radar signature and electronic antidotes are great.

    If an opponent with " old-fashioned " radar signature meets an aircraft as the F - 35, with very small radar signature , it becomes difficult to take full advantage of the superior performance provides. Imagine a meeting between a highly trained sprinter and a sniper . The mission is to shoot counterpart. Both are armed with hunting rifles , but only sharpshooter has a telescopic sight . Sprinter is known to give a more powerful rifle , but he is dressed in neon colored tracksuit , taking up positions on the short end of a football field. Marksman is camouflaged somewhere on the opposite track end . Sprinter is the fastest and the most powerful rifle , but what is he shooting at ? While sprinter galloping across the field in search of his opponent , he must take shot after shot . This is not an even match. Unfortunately I have found that it is extremely frustrating to train dogfight when we can not find opponent with its own sensors. It ends rarely good .

    The outcome of a dogfight between two identical fighter determined ultimately by the individual pilot. It requires time and extensive resources to cultivate a skilled pilot. Especially important is perhaps a steady supply of flying time, a good and constructive learning environment, availability of suitable airspace and an organization that facilitates training. During exercises have my colleagues in the Air Force and I have often flown against more modern fighter than our F-16. Yet, "wins" we sometimes air war against more sophisticated opponents, technically speaking. Often the explanation is that we are facing inexperienced pilots. More interesting is that maybe when we meet pilots with completely different culture for learning and collaboration. My impression is that cultures where the distance from the conductor to lead is large, fail to cultivate equally proficient pilots. In such highly hierarchical organizations, it is perhaps impossible to be honest with your boss in "debriefing" after the flight. Therefore, they miss out on important learning.

    My point of this post was to show that many variables affect the outcome of the dogfight. Things are rarely black and white. One of the most diffuse might skill of the individual pilot. I am often surprised when I read cocksure posts in newspapers and comment fields. Common to many such posts is a "digital" interpretation of performance data. A speed XY, B speed YY = A is best, period. One problem is the source data referenced. Another is that it tends to focus isolated on a few parameters. Our experience with the F-35 so far has shown a fighter that will surprise many in air-to-air role. The combination of high performance, good sensors and low signature makes the F-35 into a dangerous opponent in air campaign. Finally; remember that even Arnold Schwarzenegger had to resort to lavsignatur in the old classic "Predator." When using mud. Brute strength is good but camouflage works too ...

    Excellent article, I recommend that everyone reads it. |Bookworm|
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2016
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