Ace!

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by Lucky13, Oct 8, 2014.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Just top of my heid here.....

    With all the technology around today, does the achievement of becoming an 'ace' carry the same....I don't know, does the word carry with it, the same glory, as it did, or does, in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam?
     
  2. XBe02Drvr

    XBe02Drvr Active Member

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    The day they first let a RIO, a WSO, or a tailgunner call himself an ace, the glory of the term was indelibly and permanently tarnished! The term "Ace" is short for Ace PILOT. If you ain't driving the bird and squeezing the trigger, son, you ain't an ace!
    Cheers,
    Wes
     
  3. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    The term ACE became popular among military pilots during World War I, when French newspapers, eager to create a Hero to raise civilian moral and support the War effort, christened Adolphe Pégoud as l'as after he downed several German airplanes. However, the British, like the Americans, never officially accepted the term. Unofficially the British, French and Germans set ten confirmed aerial victories as the standard qualification for an ace. When American air units had still not gone into action at the beginning of 1918, the likelihood of any American pilot scoring ten kills before Germany's collapse seemed remote. Accordingly, it was decided to reduce the American qualification for an ace to five aerial victories. That standard of five now applies generally throughout the world.

    Even more confusing, the United States has changed the rules for achieving "ace" status from one war to the next. From the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama: In World War I, a flyer earned a whole aerial victory for each of the aircraft he helped to bring down. In World War II and the Korean War, the credit for bringing down a single enemy aircraft was divided into fractions for each of the flyers who contributed to the victory. In Vietnam, if an F-4 crew shot down one enemy airplane, both the pilot and the weapon systems officer each earned a whole aerial victory credit. During the Persian Gulf War, the fractional system of World War II and the Korean War was used again.

    The U.S. Navy, in contrast, has never officially compiled or issued a list of aces. From the Naval Historical Center: During World War II, the war period with the largest number of aerial shoot downs for naval flyers, the Navy did not keep an overall record of individual scores in aerial combat, hence, there is no official list of confirmed shoot-downs.

    Germany's Lt. Col. Erich Hartmann was credited with a staggering 352 aerial victories during the war, while the top U.S. ace, Maj. Richard Bong, bagged a mere 40. While that may seem massively lopsided it’s important to realize that, on the Russian front alone, German pilots were outnumbered 20 to 1, but they easily defeated inferior Soviet pilots early in the war (the balance shifted as the war progressed).

    Moreover, unlike their Allied opponents, German fighter pilots lacked the luxury of rotating out of combat for morale-building leave or new assignments. The average German pilot flew 1,000 to 2,000 missions throughout the war, while the most active Allied fighter pilots flew just 250 to 400.
    Major Erich Hartmann flew 1,425 missions flying from two to seven missions a day.... He was involved in more than 800 actual aerial combats."

    So in conflicts like World War II, where aerial combat occurred on a vast scale, the average fighter pilot had zero confirmed kills from the day he got his wings to the day he bought his farm. In World War II, only about 5% of pilots made ace, and they were responsible for 50% of all air-to-air kills. While Piloting Skills and Aiming Skills are vital they do not guarantee anyone becoming an ace. The most important factor is luck; that is, to actually meet enemies and face them in the air. In WWII, only 50% of American fighter pilots ever met Axis airplanes in the air. On the other hand, in a target-rich environment, such as which RAF faced at Malta, any pilot will eventually become an ace if he survives long enough. The second important factor is rank: it must not be too low nor too high. Most kills are scored by flight and squadron leaders. Ranks below First Lieutenant usually serve as wingmen, while Lieutenant Colonel and higher ranks are usually preoccupied on desktop jobs. Many pilots actually refused from promotion in order to be able to fly and score victories. While it is more difficult wingmen may also become aces, especially if they fly in target-rich environment.

    Now as Wes points out there’s some strong disagreement is on who is entitled to carry that designation. According to Wikipedia, there were five Vietnam Aces. They do make a distinction though, between the actual pilot Aces and “non-pilot Aces.” The majority of the Vietnam era jet fighters were two-seaters and the back-seat officer, the WSO or Weapons System Officer, (GIB Guy in Back to pilots) was actually the one who located, and tracked enemy aircraft and then launched the offensive missiles. So that leaves just two, front-seat, plane-driving and gun-shooting pilot Aces from that war. The first Vietnam Ace, the Navy’s Randy “Duke” Cunningham and General Steve Ritchie, the last Vietnam Ace.

    Charles B. DeBellevue was the top scoring American airman in the Vietnam War with a total of six kills, and he was the first Air Force WSO to earn ace status. DeBellevue flew in a F-4D Phantom II supersonic jet with a secret APX-80 electronics system code-named the "Combat Tree." The Combat Tree could pick up IFF signals from MiG's and determine their location while the enemy aircraft were still beyond visual range. DeBellevue scored his first four victories with pilot Steve Ritchie, including an AIM-7 Sparrow missile strike from roughly four miles out, an incredibly long-range hit.

    But let’s get back to PILOT ACES: On July 8th, 1972, then Captain Steve Ritchie already had two confirmed MIG-21 kills (5/10/72 and 5/31/72). On this day, Ritchie blew apart two MIG-21s with three missiles hitting their target. “On the second kill, I was just trying to get him to turn around, so I could use my guns on him. The chances of firing three perfect missiles are incalculable.” Ritchie explains: “The Sparrow missiles have an 11% PK (probability of kill) rate. That means that using those missiles at that time would hit an enemy aircraft only 11 out of 100 times.”

    Ritchie recalled of that morning, “I picked up the two MIGs at about 10 o’clock and they were trailing our man, preparing to shoot him down. The lead MIG and I passed about 1,000 feet from each other. I could see the pilot in the cockpit.”
    “We had also learned that the MIGs liked to set a trap by getting our pilots to engage on the first MIG passing and if you turn to get the first MIG, the second MIG is right behind you and shoots you down. So I let the first MIG pass and engaged the second one that I knew was coming.”
    “I was able to maneuver behind the MIG #2 and fired two Sparrow missiles at him. The first missile hit him dead-center in his fuselage, breaking the MIG into two pieces and creating a huge fireball. That was 47 seconds into the dogfight, so it happened very, very quickly.”
    MIG #1 was trailing my number four, a young kid named Tommy. It was his first mission. He radioed that he had a MIG on his tail and when I spotted him, there was MIG #2 closing on him. I cut across the circle to get to Tommy quicker and just wanted to get the MIG off his tail; so I shot another missile at the MIG, trying to get him to turn off the kid. Well, the missile hit MIG #2 dead-center too.”
    Ritchie had radioed in “Splash One” and “Splash Two” (the radio signals for downed MIGs) within 89 seconds, something that had never been done before. “My two MIG kills that day were immediately confirmed by radar and intel sources on the ground.”

    “There were more than 1,400 Aces in World Wars I and II; 43 Aces in Korea; and two Aces in Vietnam,” Ritchie said. Why the dramatic reduction in Aces to today? Richie replied, “It’s the technology. We have stand-off weapons and all sorts of equipment that makes our planes the most efficient and deadly from much farther away. Also, there are not as many airplanes in the sky for combat anymore. There used to be hundreds of aircraft in the sky during battle in the first two World Wars, then in Korea it was dozens and in Vietnam it was much less.”

    For example: On May 10, 1972, when his Ritchie’s squadron and over 100 American Air Force and Navy aircraft faced off in a busy sky against at least 16 MIG-21s. The Americans took out 13 of them within a couple of hours and the General downed his first MIG on that day. “The skies won’t be as crowded with fighters anymore mainly because of the technology,” Ritchie stated, “that’s why you probably won’t see Aces from Iraq, Afghanistan or future air engagements.”
     
  4. XBe02Drvr

    XBe02Drvr Active Member

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    So AF WSOs could actually launch missiles? I suppose that makes sense, as the F-4C and D were originally speced and configured for two pilots and could theoretically be flown entirely from the back seat. (The world's meanest advanced trainer!)
    Not so in the Navy. The RIO had the radar and controlled both his display and the pilot's repeater plus he controlled what passed for ECM and threat warning equipment. The pilot had the arming and selector switches for all weapons, as well as the trigger on the control stick. The only weapons function the RIO had AFAIK, was slaving the missiles to the sensors.
    Navy F-4s never had enough room in the back seat for flight controls, as the radar was massive, designed to search, locate and track at extreme range, beyond the radar horizon of the carrier and its AWACS aircraft. Unlike AF fighters, it was designed to operate outside the GCI environment. Besides, you couldn't see enough out of the back pit to hit the boat anyway.
    Cheers,
    Wes
     
  5. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Can't answer with any certainty but at a guess, NO. The pilot actually selected and launched. The AF WSO did have complete flight controls and could fly the aircraft at need. However his job was to locate, lock, and paint the enemy aircraft until the missile struck. The system was so cumbersome that one man simply could not do everything. It also seems that AF crews were not fixed so that pilot and WSO teams were constantly varying. So a 2 kill WSO could be teamed with a 0 kill pilot. Shooting down a MiG would then give the pilot ONE kill and the WSO THREE kills

    To intercept distant bombers, the F-4 needed a very sophisticated interception and weapons radar system. This was the Hughes AN/APQ-50. The complexity of this system required a second crew member to control the radar and weapons. The Navy called the front-seater a naval aviator and the back-seater a naval flight officer (NFO), who was the radar intercept operator or RIO. The Air Force called the front-seater a pilot and the back-seater a weapons system operator (WSO). Having a second pair of eyes proved invaluable in dog fighting. The crew worked as a team, and when they made a kill, both received credit for the kill. In Vietnam, the Air Force had three F-4 Aces, two of which were back-seaters. In the Navy, a single front-seat/back-seat pair made Ace.

    For its interceptor role, the F-4 needed long-distance radar missiles. This came in the form of the AIM-7 Sparrow. The Sparrow was a semi-active radar homing (SARH) missile with a range of up to 25 miles. In semi-active radar homing, the fighter has to keep illuminating the target with its radar. The missile reads radar reflections and uses these reflections to find the target. For closer-in fighting, the F-4 needed a heat seeker. This came in the form of the AIM-9 Sidewinder. These missiles could hit targets up to 2.6 miles away, at least in theory. Sadly, neither missile did well in Vietnam. On entering Vietnam, military leaders assured Congress that the radar-guided AIM-7 Sparrow carried by the complex and costly F-4 Phantom would give our pilots a 70 percent probability of a kill per missile fired. Instead, the much hyped Raytheon missile ended up with a BVR kill rate of less than 1 percent. Somewhat chastened, senior military leaders were forced to retrofit guns to the F-4 Phantom.

    Phantoms fired 612 Sparrows during the war. These missiles only downed 56 MiGs—a kill rate of only 9%. The Sidewinders did only a little better, with 187 launches and only 29 kills—a kill rate of 16%. In fact, 56% of the Sidewinders failed to guide at all. The Air Force temporarily used its own heat seeker, the Falcon. This was no better than the Sidewinder. The miserable performance of the Sparrow was due at least in part to the way it was used. The AIM-7 weapons system assumed that the Phantom II would be fighting straight and level at the attacker and could illuminate the target with radar during the missile’s entire flight. In dog fighting, this rarely happened.
    NAVY
    Part of a two-Phantom patrol to waylay Hanoi-based MiGs, Guy Freeborn launched from the USS Constellation on August 10, 1967. They were soon jumped by three MiG-21s out of the clouds right over thrm. The lead Phantom launched two Sparrow missiles, which lost radar lock on the MiGs. Freeborn had other issues beside the finicky, radar-guided Sparrow: Behind him sat a RIO with no combat experience. “I felt I couldn’t rely on him to stay cool, get a radar lock-up, and do what he had to do,” he recounts. As the Phantoms rapidly closed the gap, he chose “Heat” on his front-seat weapons selector and launched an AIM-9 Sidewinder. The streaking heat-seeker locked on to and hit one of the MiGs. Though smoking and trailing fuel, the fighter remained airborne. Before Freeborn could unleash the coup de grâce, the pilot in the lead F-4 finished off the MiG with a Sidewinder. “I told my backseater, ‘Look! That bastard just shot my MiG!’ ”
    With only one target remaining, Freeborn quickly triggered another Sidewinder, which promptly misfired. “I said, ‘Oh man, it’s just not my day.’ ” He cycled the weapon selector once more and lit the next AIM-9. “That one blew him to pieces,” he says.
    AIR FORCE
    Unlike their Navy counterpart, the initial backseaters in Air Force F-4s were pilots. However, the Air Force soon decided that navigators were better suited to be F-4 WSOs—or “Wizzos.” “A lot of pilots were not really happy going into the back seat,” says DeBellevue. “But, as a navigator, I was just pleased as pink.” In November 1971, he was assigned to the 555th Tactical Squadron at Udorn, Thailand.
    DeBellevue recalls that on the day he reported, he got a blunt greeting from the 555th scheduler. “He looked at me and said, ‘You’ve got one year—if you live. Tomorrow morning you start on the dawn patrol.’ ” As a weapons systems officer, DeBellevue flew nearly 100 missions deep into North Vietnam.
    “Crossing the fence into North Vietnamese airspace, you’d start psyching up,” says DeBellevue. Once the F-4 engaged an enemy, he says, “nothing that was happening outside the cockpit was important to me.” With an impending life-or-death event looming at near supersonic speeds, he narrowed his focus to managing weapons systems, acquiring the enemy aircraft on radar, calculating direction of intercept, and feeding the frontseater what he needed to know.
     
  6. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    I dont know if there were any rear gunner aces but if any night time rear gunner got 5 confirmed kills and survived his tour I think a new title should be created.
     
  7. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jan

    I thought this was a very interesting and different perspective on WWI aces. It's from the book "Marked for Death" by James Hamilton - Paterson...

    img132.jpg
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  8. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    The concept of the "ace" emerged in 1915 and was a propaganda term intended to provided the home front with a cult of the hero in what was otherwise a war of attrition. The individual actions of aces were widely reported and the image was disseminated of the ace as a chivalrous knight reminiscent of a bygone era. As I already posted the term “ACE” derived from the French “I’As”. The British initially used the term "star-turns", while the Germans described their elite fighter pilots as Überkanonen (like the US Top Gun). In addition, the British high command considered praise of fighter pilots to be detrimental to equally brave bomber and reconnaissance aircrew – so that the British air services did not publish official statistics on the successes of individuals. The United States Army Air Service adopted French standards for evaluating victories, however, tired of waiting, American newsmen, in their correspondence to their papers, decided that five victories were the minimum needed to become an ace.

    While "ace" status was generally won only by fighter pilots, bomber and reconnaissance crews on both sides also destroyed some enemy aircraft, typically in defending themselves from attack. The most notable example of a non-pilot ace in World War I is Charles George Gass with 39 (16 solo) accredited aerial victories.

    On 26 March 1918, he was assigned to No. 22 Squadron as an observer on the two—seater Bristol F.2bs. The "Brisfit" had a maximum speed of 123 mph, which made it as fast as or faster than most enemy fighters, and was highly maneuverable. It had a forward-pointing Vickers machine gun for the pilot, and one or two Lewis machine guns that could be slid around on their Scarff ring mount by the observer/gunner to cover a wide field of fire. Gass scored his first kill, an Albatros D.V, on 22 April 1918. On 7 May, Gass and ace pilot Alfred Atkey took on 20 German scouts. They destroyed five of the attackers. Another on the 8th then on the 9th two more Germans. They then reeled off a series of multiple victory days. Two on the 15th; three on the 19th; three more on the 20th; two each on the 22nd, 30th, and 31st; three on the 27th. Gass had scored 28 times in the month, all but one in conjunction with Atkey. No one in World War I scored more victories in a single month.

    Had Gass been a single-seat fighter pilot he would have received multiple decorations. For Gass, it brought a Military Cross. He received his MC from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 16 November 1918.
     
  9. XBe02Drvr

    XBe02Drvr Active Member

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    And how! I got a couple hops in my local ANG's F-102 sim while I was home on leave, and found flying the A/C and "flying" the radar to be a real mindbender. (Underpowered overweight pig that bled energy badly in ACM, with a short range radar that couldn't hold lock more than about 35 degrees or so off axis).
    Mike, where do you get all that info you dredge up? Those missile kill statistics are fascinating! I wasn't in 'Nam, but most of the instructors I dealt with had been and expected to be, and they had no use for "tweets", as they called the sparrow, but loved their 'winders. They had strong opinions about the vulpod, too. "Rather have a fuel bag and zunies."
    By the time I was in, Hughes was a dirty word in the Navy, as neither their radar fire control system nor their revolving breech cannon worked worth a damn in service. Our birds had Westinghouse AN/APQ-72 (F-4B) and AWG-10 (F-4J) radars, which had phenomenal range (for the time), and even better for interception and ACM, gimbal limits of 120 degrees spread in azimuth and 90 degrees in elevation. And they would hold lock right to the limit. Long before you could see the bad guys you could maneuver for a stern attack while keeping them on your scope. The arc you had to fly to keep them on scope just about guaranteed an advantageous position if they chose to run or to attack. (Drill was to go for an altitude advantage as you began your arc.)
    Both the APQ-72 and the AWG-10 had large bulky scopes that dominated the cockpit space when deployed, and had auxiliary panels of knobs, switches, and circuit breakers using up a lot of instrument panel real estate. A full set of flight controls and instruments was just not feasible. Remember, this bird was designed around late '50s technology.
    Cheers,
    Wes
     
  10. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    United States, as well as many of its allies, have always looked towards increasing range of combat as much as possible. Unfortunately BVR combat is, conceptually, operationally and technologically, a massively complex affair. BVR theory states that future air combat will be comprised of large “missile truck” aircraft flying at supersonic speeds, launching radar-guided missiles at targets that are way too far to be identified visually. This has resulted in development of aircraft that are very heavy (most weigh about 16.5 tons (15 metric tons) empty – for example, Tornado ADV weights 16 tons (14.5 metric tons), and F-22 weighs 21.7 tons (19.7 metric tons), carry large numbers of missiles, and are far more expensive and much less reliable than aircraft with a bias towards visual-range combat.

    MISSILES
    In order to pull as tight a turn as a fighter aircraft, a missile has to pull a total g-force that is the amount of g’s the aircraft can pull multiplied by a factor of the difference in their speeds squared. Thus if a missile travels at Mach 3 and the fighter aircraft travels at Mach 0.6 (corner speed of many modern fighters) and can pull 9 g maneuvers, then the missile needs to pull 225 g to match the fighter’s turn radius, or 100 g if the fighter is travelling at Mach 0.9. Now if the missile is fired outside of the ideal position, it has to maneuver in order to point its nose towards the target, thus lowering the probability of a kill; there is also a danger of targeted aircraft simply flying out of missile’s field of view. This danger is still present with active-seeker BVR missiles. In BVR, an AIM-120 travels at Mach 4, and can pull 30 g within its NEZ, yet it would need 400 Gs to reliably hit a modern fighter which is maneuvering at a corner speed of Mach 0.6, or 178 Gs if target is still at standard cruise speed of Mach 0.9.

    Main problem with evading missiles is their speed, which makes timing somewhat difficult. However, with a missile closing at 1200-1400 meters per second (in the best case), at 20 kilometers, this means 14-20 seconds to reach the target for a BVR missile, or 20-23 seconds for IR missile.

    Now consider the missiles actual flight path. When a rocket powered air-to-air missile is fired at a target it delivers the same amount of thrust over a certain period regardless of the tactical scenario. If the target can be reached without the rocket motor burning out, or shortly after it does so, the missile will have a high-energy state during its terminal attack phase. This will allow it to maneuver very hard. If the target is farther away, the missile will usually climb to a high altitude while its rocket motor is burning and then coast on its built-up energy with gravity on its side until it reaches the terminal phase of its flight. If the target isn’t too far away, and the missile is still above it, it will dive down on the target in an attempt to maximize its ability to make hard maneuvers. The longer the shot, the less energy the missile will have for its critical terminal phase of flight.

    Consider the U.S. AIM-120 AMRAAM. It is regarded as a fire-and-forget weapon, and it does have a mode to do just that. Basically it takes the targeting data from the aircraft’s radar and calculates where the target “should be” when it arrives in the target area.
    It then flies out to that area using its own inertial navigation system. Once there, the missile’s small radar seeker, which has far less range and scanning capability than the radar on the fighter that fired it, starts to look for the bad guy. If said bad guy is within the AMRAAM radar’s cone of detection it can lock on and attack.
    The problem is that at intermediate and long ranges the fire-and-forget performance is abysmal. If the target is not where the missile thought it would be, within a limited cone of the sky, it’s a miss. As such, this mode is really for shots taken at close ranges where there is less flight time in which the enemy can change course, altitude and tactics.

    The only way to counter this is by the fighter aircraft that launched it sending it mid-course updates as it flies out to the target. As it goes along its way, and as the range between the missile and the target decreases, its ability to predict where the target will be improves as it has much more recent telemetry to rely on. Ideally the fighter will provide updates to the missile until it locks its own radar on the enemy target.
    While this works it means that the pilot has to keep his radar pointing towards the bad guy and continue sending radar data to the missile to improve its chances of a kill, but that exposes him to the enemy as range between him and the target decreases.

    AIRCRAFT
    Speed was life in air combat until the jet age. The pilots who became Air Force generals in the Fifties had learned their trade in the Thirties when speed was the most-desired quality in a fighter. Thus when the requirements for new fighter aircraft were written in the Fifties, those generals made sure that a higher top speed was part of the specification. The Generals got their supersonic aircraft which then flew in Vietnam. When the Air Force in the late Sixties accumulated the flight data from several years of Vietnam War air combat, they found that all aircraft had accumulated just minutes at Mach 1.4 and only seconds at Mach 1.6 out of more than 100,000 combat sorties. Never was even Mach 1.8 flown in aircraft which had been optimized for Mach 2.4 (F-104, F-105, F-106A, F-4D/E and F-111). The WHY is simple physics: the shape of the turn rate vs Mach number relationship for an aircraft. In combat, each pilot has the tendency to fly his aircraft so as to maximize his turn rate. He thus gains angular position on the enemy which, in turn, may permit a missile launch or a gun firing. It can be seen that the pilot's urge to maximize his turn rate will unfailingly drive his Mach number to about 0.7. Thus, if the pilot is going to join in combat, his speed will inevitably drop to subsonic speeds. Even if the turn rate is held constant while increasing the speed, the turn radius and load factor increase, bringing with it increasing problems of keeping the enemy in sight.

    The second reason given in the study is the dramatically smaller combat radius once the aircraft starts to fly at supersonic speeds. Even for flying into the combat arena supersonic speed was rarely advantageous. Northrop studied a multitude of intercept cases and found that speeds above Mach 1.1 were almost never helpful because they curtailed the combat radius severely.
    Flying at Mach 2+ requires heavy and complex air intakes, a heat-resistant structure, high wing sweep and heavy, low-bypass engines. This all degrades the combat qualities at high subsonic speed, which was where those aircraft were used the most. Building into them the capacity for Mach 2+ made them worse for what they were actually used for.

    COMBINATION
    There are also other problems such as reliable IFF at long distance, dangers of using active sensors in combat, increased weight degrading performance, cost factors and complexity penalties making it very difficult to maintain and repair BVR systems in the field, as well as training penalties caused the by aforementioned penalties on weapons system.

    IFF problems, the only reliable IFF method is visual one, especially since pilots often turn IFF transponders off to avoid being tracked. Visual IFF, unless assisted by optical sensors (be it camera or IRST), usually requires two aircraft to approach within one mile or less (sometimes as close as 400 meters), whereas minimum range of AIM-120D is 900 meters. But even when assisted by visual sensors, it may not always be reliable, as opponent may be using fighters of same type or at least of very similar visual signature.

    Active Sensors, are outright suicidal in combat. Aircraft using active sensors will be quickly detected and targeted by modern defense and EW suites, and a unique radar footprint may even allow for BVR IFF identification. This can allow passive aircraft to launch BVR infrared or anti-radiation missile, and/or to use data acquired to achieve optimal starting position and speed for following dogfight. Only countermeasure is to turn radar off and rely solely on passive sensors. IRST is especially useful here, as while air temperature at 11 000 meters is -56 degrees Celsius, airframe temperature due to air friction can reach 54,4 degrees Celsius at Mach 1,6 and 116,8 degrees Celsius at Mach 2. It is also very difficult to impossible to jam, and offers greater angular resolution than radar. Result is that flying from cloud to cloud is still a viable combat tactic; but it is not perfect either, as clouds are not always present and may not be close enough for aircraft to avoid detection.

    Weight Difference. The Gripen C weights 6622 kg empty, compared to 19,700 kg empty for F-22; F-16A weighs in at 7076 kg compared to 12,700 kg for F-15C. It can be seen that WVR fighters are significantly smaller and lighter than contemporary BVR fighters. And with cost of $6645 USD per kg, Gripen C is significantly cheaper per unit of weight than F-22 which costs $13,300 USD per kg, whereas F-16A costs $4240 USD per kg, which when compared to F-15C’s $9921 USD per kg gives similar ratio to F-22/Gripen one. Bigger radar – focus of the logic – required bigger airframe, which in turn required bigger engines. Both weight and complexity spiraled upwards, creating fighters that were costly, flew very few sorties and had maneuvering capabilities more typical of strategic bombers than of fighter aircraft – logic being that they will not have to maneuver, as they will destroy the enemy far before it comes to the merge. So we have the F-22 and F-35, both of which are utterly expensive and maintenance intensive, and latter of which is in its major characteristics more similar to century series than modern fighter aircraft. F-35 in itself is utterly incapable of handling itself in close combat due to large weight, high drag, high wing loading and low thrust to weight ratio. It can also carry at most 4 BVR missiles in internal bays. With this in mind, claims by manufacturer that F-35 is 4 times as effective in air-to-air combat as next best fighter in the air would require probability of kill for BVR missiles of 80-90%, and opponent’s complete inability to engage F-35 itself at BVR range. Track record of BVR missiles to date as well as development of infrared BVR missiles and long range QWIP IRST sensors mean that any such assumptions are nothing more than wishful thinking on part of sales department and high technology addicts.

    Training, BVR-oriented aircraft, low in number, hugely complex, extremely expensive to maintain and operate simply cannot be used for training often enough. While technologists typically counter this argument by pointing to increased ability of simulators, that argument is not realistic: simulation is never perfect, as quality of the end result is never better – and is often lot worse – than quality of data used to compute it. Simulators often misinterpret reality, and support tactics that would get pilots killed in real combat. Further, simulators cannot prepare a pilot for the handling of shifting g forces encountered during both dogfight and BVR combat maneuvering.
     
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  11. XBe02Drvr

    XBe02Drvr Active Member

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    Back to the old two-ship VID of Viet Nam days. One shooter and one eyeball, who's pulling frantically to get out of the lethal cone after he's made his "MiGs!" call. That's what we trained in the sim over and over again. After the first couple reps, the instructor would usually take the rest of the class to the coffee mess lounge to "dispense combat wisdom" while I ran the poor student on the scope through many reps of stern, head-on, overhead, and deflection VIDs. Thought I was pretty good at it until I found myself in the back seat of a "J" trying to do it for real in what was definitely not a one G environment!
    Cheers,
    Wes
     
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