1989: F-15C MSIP vs. Su-27S

Discussion in 'Modern' started by Sgt. Pappy, Aug 16, 2012.

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Which squad qould win in 1989: F-15C MSIP or Su-27S?

  1. F-15C MSIP

    3 vote(s)
    75.0%
  2. Su-27S

    1 vote(s)
    25.0%
  1. Sgt. Pappy

    Sgt. Pappy Member

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    #1 Sgt. Pappy, Aug 16, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
    Accounting for:
    1) Traditional performance at low, med and high altitudes
    2) Radar/Sensor reliability, potency, power and capability
    3) ECM/ECCM
    4) Weapons
    5) Support from AWACS and GCI (but NO other aircraft)

    Which do you think would win if the two planes had to fight it out by the end of 1989 (say standard 4 vs 4)?
    Note that neither the long range R-27ER/ET series or the AIM-120A was available at this time.

    My opinion (some of it speculation):

    1) It is to my belief that the F-15 is faster at all altitudes and climbs better at med and high altitudes. I say this because upon comparison of some Russian Su-27 documents and the F-15 dash 1 manual (none of which I have on this computer right now), the F-15's speed advantage grows at higher altitudes and is only slightly better at sea level. Since the F-15 has a high T/W ratio (two 25000 lbf wet thrust engines with a 45000 lb loaded airframe) and is gets faster with altitude, I assume acceleration is similarly better at med and high altitudes and maybe the same at low altitudes.

    Of course, the Su-27's lower stall speed and general superior maneuverability affords it better turning and lower take-off/stall speeds (two 27200 lbf wet thrust engines with a 52000 lb loaded weight).

    2) I believe this one is relatively obvious. The AN/APG-63/70 (which was available back then) must have been more reliable, with a scan range of 160 nm against a bomber-sized target. Various modes and the planar array held many advantages of the Su-27's N001 Cassegrain design, which apparently could only scan about 200 km ~ 108 nm. Also, the nature of the N001's design meant that it was likely easier to notch simply because of the sidelobe clutter was hard to distinguish at low altitudes and looking down. The APG-63/70 had filters attached to the main array, reducing sidelobe clutter to far less at any aspect in which the radar array can turn. Processing power is digital and for the APG as well, which is another advantage.

    For tracking in the notch or an ECM-cluttered environment, the Su-27 has the OLS-27 IRST system. It had some bugs and as far as I know, it will only scan at about 20nm on a tail-on afterburning plane or about 10 nm head-on. However, it's something the F-15 doesn't have, and can make all the difference in an ECM-heavy environment. The F-15 cannot track when the enemy is in the notch and further than say, 10 nm. ISRT info: Sukhoi Flankers - The Shifting Balance of Regional Air Power

    The TEWS of the F-15 I think gives unparalleled situational awareness to the F-15C since it updates quickly and topographically shows everything being seen by the F-15's RWR in the air or on the ground (up to certain aspects of course). The Su-27's SPO-15 set is a little more limited as I believe is only senses in smaller aspects. TEWS info: http://www.dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY1999/pdf/99f15.pdf


    3) This one is tough because no one has any reliable data.. it's all classified. I'm under the impression that when one of the 4 Su-27's in a single flight is carrying Sorbtsiya Jammer pods, they have the upper hand in ECM power. But the F-15C has a small yet possibly versatile ALQ-135 jammer. There was an upgrade program going on for the ALQ-135 but apparently the upgrades were unreliable and many of the upgraded ALQ-135's ended up in storage. Given what I've read about ECM, it's far from reliable due to ECCM and real-world physics, so it's never been an end-all-BVR solution. After all there are sooo many jamming techniques and dedicated pods and planes just for EW. The pod-less Su-27 jammers only cover front and back, not sides. F-15 has everything covered, but has a tiny and therefore a less powerful jammer.

    4) In 1989, I'd have to say they're quite matched. The short-range R-73 of the Flanker is more maneuverable than the AIM-9M but both of them were probably flare-eaters for the time. The AIM-7M is longer ranged than the original R-27R and surely longer ranged than the IRH R-27T. I've never yet seen a figure that stated otherwise.

    5) Here I have no opinion and have done next to no reading on the true effectiveness of GCI.

    In conclusion, I think the F-15's better speed and high-alt climb rate along with more reliable radar and longer-ranged AIM-7M give it the BVR advantage. If it can't kill the Flankers BVR, it will at least reduce their energy state, setting them up to be bounced at close range.

    In the visual arena, the Su-27 has it for sure IF it can pass the merge alive. The F-15 can launch AIM-7M's or AIM-9M's last minute in visual range BEFORE the merge, but if the F-15's miss after that, the fight's all Su-27.
     

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  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Either aircraft should never get down to stall speeds during combat. If they do each pilot should just punch out, meet on the ground and have a real knife fight...
     
  3. Sgt. Pappy

    Sgt. Pappy Member

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    Of course, which is why US air-to-air doctrine has always striven for superior teamwork, electronic superiority in the battlefield and BVR combat. But it did happen even in Desert Storm in 1991 because BVR superiority was not a guarantee for success. I think a lot of the AIM-7 kills in Desert Storm were head-on shots fired before the merge.
     
  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    They were but, still at higher air speeds. Info..

    US Air-to-Air Victories during the Operation Desert Storm - www.acig.org
     
  5. Sgt. Pappy

    Sgt. Pappy Member

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    Yes, I've read about this in Osprey's book dedicated to the F-15C in combat. There were a couple pilots who knew how to evade the F-15's radar - like the MiG-25's both listed. Then of course there were some really bad pilots like the MiG-29 guy who flew into the ground.

    The AIM-7 kills I was talking about were specifically the ones fired in visual range, but before the actual merge. I can't recall the specific DACT exercise, but I remember reading about one of the many where F-5's were tasked to fly as Red and the F-14s and -15s were to fly as blue. Apparently their favorite tactic was to fire their radar guided missiles as close as possible, and when the F-5s beamed to evade radar lock, the 'Cats and Eagles would just close in and fire a volley before merge.
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Actually he showed some agressiveness and was "flown into the grown" by the guy credited with the kill.

    "In the Gulf War, Rodriguez, call sign "Rico" scored the first two air-air direct hits of his Air Force career in the F-15 Eagle. His first hit occurred when he and his wingman Craig "Mole" Underhill came across two Iraqi MiG-29 "Fulcrums". The two F-15s quickly locked up the MiG-29s, which turned east to avoid them. However, an AWACS then reported two more MiG-29s coming in fast at them from the west a mere 13 miles away. The two F-15s and two MiG-29s charged straight at each other. Rodriguez's wingman quickly took out the lead MiG with an AIM-7 Sparrow, however, the second MiG-29, piloted by Captain Jameel Sayhood, "locked up" Rodriguez, who then quickly executed a dive down to the deck to avoid the radar lock. After seeing his wingman killed, Sayhood decided to bug out briefly. Rodriguez rejoined with Underhill until Sayhood reappeared. Underhill locked him up, though his computer would not let him fire the AIM-7 missile to destroy the MiG because of a glitch in his IFF which told him that the MiG was a friendly aircraft. Rodriguez and Sayhood then proceeded to merge, whereupon they both turned left and promptly got into a turning fight. As they descended towards the ground, Sayhood attempted to execute a split-s maneuver. However having insufficient altitude (about 600 ft instead of he crashed into the ground. Rodriguez was credited with a maneuvering kill"
     
  7. Sgt. Pappy

    Sgt. Pappy Member

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    Yes, I've read this account before. However, I never realized that his inability to fire was due to an IFF problem. It seems like that thing causes more trouble than it's worth. Good thing for NCTR and AWACS - although I know those had problems too.
     
  8. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    The Flanker would have been a formidable opponent in a dogfight.

    30mm cannon, archer missile and helmet mounted sight plus the excellent sheer performance of the MiG-29 or Su-27 makes it a visual range no no.

    Soviet BVR was very hit and miss and so the advantage was NATO with radar guided missiles. Some NATO fighters were only Siidewinder aimed and that would have been a very different ball game.
     
  9. Sgt. Pappy

    Sgt. Pappy Member

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    I think the Flanker would have absolutely dominated in the dogfight. Its only problem was getting there. I think the situation for it may have improved in 1990 when the extended range R-27ER came out, because that missile can fly further and faster than even the AMRAAM which entered service soon after. Although the AMRAAM's active seeker meant a whole new ball game.

    I think that's why the Su-27 had such powerful jammers on hand. Getting within visual range was likely paramount for it. That being said, the USAF focused on BVR capability meant that they were better trained and better equipped technologically for the BVR fight, but don't forget that even the US BVR tech was not invincible. Point in fact, the story that FLYBOYJ posted above shows that even an IFF glitch can screw things up.
     
  10. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    The radar glitch was a known weakness with Doppler radars. Those Foxbats were well flown.

    German experience with the Alamo and BVR in the Fulcrum was well below par and I have seen footage of German pilots saying dogfighting is no problem but getting there is!

    Although one could say the Iraqi or even East German kit was not Soviet standard.

    Although one can create scenarios where all AWACS and tanker support has been destroyed and pilots are having to visually ID all contacts in a very heavy ECM environment. Any Eagle flying over WarPac territory also faces heavy SAM defences and a chance thier home airfield is a smoking ruin. And have to face R-73 slaved to a helmet mounted sight. If we ever got to a situation like this then no one wins. A few well aimed SSM would put paid to the F-15 fleet in West Germany anyway.
     
  11. Sgt. Pappy

    Sgt. Pappy Member

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    This is true, but that is also akin to running into an ambush. USAF doctrine for the F-15 was reliable BVR fighting. Getting into a dogfight would have been suicide. Plus AWACs is an asset that would have to be protected at ALL costs. Having a dead AWACs would almost certainly mean retreat. Getting to the point where all AWACs and Tanker support is lost as WELL as a destroyed airfield means that they would have had done something terribly wrong.

    Thus the US developed NCTR for the F-15's radar to back up the IFF which could scan the an enemy's turbine or fan blades. It wouldn't work if the enemy was beaming though, but neither would STT lock anyway.
     
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