Capability gaps

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by gjs238, Jul 5, 2015.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    How often has an aircraft been retired before its successor was ready, creating a capability gap?
    And how often has a force (Air Force, Navy, etc) gotten away with the gap vs suffering in combat for it?
     
  2. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Nimrod was retired with no replacement, the UK has no airborne anti submarine recon capability.
     
  3. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #3 GregP, Jul 5, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
    We retired the SR-71 and STILL can't do what it did. Satellites don't cover everything and they KNOW when satelltites are flying over, so they can hide.

    We retired the Douglas Skyraider and STILL can't do what it did. I don't know of any plane today that can loiter around ground troops for 2 hours and shoot something or drop something on every pass if required.

    We retired the A-6 Intruder and STILL can't do what it did. The F-18 hauls half the bombs less than half as far at about the same speed. So, we send in twice as many F-18 as A-6s for the same payload.

    The Navy retired the F-14 and STILL can't do what it did. The Super Tomcat was a better fighter than any version of the F-18 and always will have been. The standard Tomcat was, too. They damned for sure aren't getting a better one in the Naval F-35, though it probably will hit targets better than the A-6 did ... but that isn't a fighter's job. What we needed was an updated, redesigned for maintenance F-14 with modular power systems, a reliable elecrtonics suite. I am not sure and never was that we needed a swing-wing plane, but the performance was certainly there.

    We've paid for ALL those in combat and will continue to do so.

    Perhaps the need for these tasks will not be great, I sure can't say. We'll find out about the F-35 as the story unfolds and I'm sure I'm not the only one who hopes it is up to the task. Perhaps so. With all the data the F-35 can gather, it certainly won't be at a loss to know the latest on-target intelligence. That's got to be worth something since we've never had that before in combat until the F-22, and it doesn't really hit ground targets or shouldn't anyway.
     
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  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    we have new weapons such as JDAM which allows bombs to be placed in a pickle barrel for real rather then just in USAF wishful thinking. So one aircraft armed with JDAMs can do the work of an entire bomber group armed with iron bombs.
     
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  5. cherry blossom

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    #5 cherry blossom, Jul 6, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
    According to Shattered Sword https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=krvlaQ5PQOQC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false, page 89, it is possible that the Imperial Japanese Navy were temporarily very short of aircraft at around the time of the Battle of Midway. Production of their main carrier based dive bomber, the D3A1, had been stopped but the D4Y1 was found to suffer from flutter and could not be used as a dive bomber. Production of the D3A had to restart with a new version, the D3A2, with a more powerful engine which was used in the Guadalcanal battles in late 1942. In addition during 1942, production of their early war torpedo bomber, the B5N2, was reduced because it was falsely expected that the B6N1 would soon replace it. However, the B6N1 was delayed because of engine problems.
     
  6. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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  7. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #7 GregP, Jul 6, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
    The German Heinkel He 118 dive bomber was competition for the slot won by the Junker Ju 87. On 27 Jul 1936 Ernst Udet arrived at Heinkel to try it out. The plane disintegrated around him and he parachuted to safety. It was found that the maximum dive angle was 50° due to the onset of wing flutter. They only made 15 He 118s and one found its way to Japan where it was in inspiration for the D4Y1.

    Unsurprisingly, the D4Y1, based upon the He 118, was found to have wing flutter in steep dives, so the D3A had to be restarted in production. The D4Y was fast and found a niche as a recon and glide type bombers, but the inherent weakness for vertical dives was never addressed.

    We have a D4Y at the Planes of Fame restored to static but taxiable condition. It was in very bad shape when we got it and we had to completely make some missing pieces, but isn has been restored to be a D4Y3 with a radial engine in it. We also have a restorable Aichi D3A and should be able to get that one flying some time in the future.

    Here is our D4Y:
    Judy_Bomb.JPG

    I am embarassed to say I have never taken a pic of the D3A since it is unrestored. I'll correct taht next weekend.
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Some points here folks...

    The Skyraider was a great plane it its day but cannot acquire a target and bomb like any attack aircraft since it was retired. The A-10 is way more capable.

    The F-14 was done. it was a maintenance nightmare even after refurb. There were F-14 guys in my squadron who were relieved to get away from the aircraft in it's last years.

    The Super Hornet doesn't have the speed of the F-14 but it is more maneuvable and more modern in design and systems. My Reno pilot flew both and had to eventually admit that the F-14s days were over.

    The A-6 carried 18K of bombs. The A/F-18E slightly less, the F-35, 18K
     
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  9. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The Skyraider was WWII technology and I know it. I could be fitted with whatever avionics asked for. It never was fitted with modern avionics since it was retired before modern avionics were invented. I'd love to see a modern version in turboprop for specific missions, but I know it won't happen. I think everyone knows that. We still can't do what the Skyraider could do in Viet Nam today with the same number of aircraft. We'd probably have to send in rotating teams of attack helicopters.

    If I am not mistaken the A-6 had about a 2,800 mile range, or up to and 1,000+ mile radius. I think the combat radius of an F-18E is 390 miles ... could be wrong there, but not by too much. I also thought if you loaded up an F-18E/F with the max bomb load, your fuel fraction was so low as to make most missions completely dependent on tanker support ... that is, take off, hit a tanker, hit it again on the way in and on the way out. Am I wrong there, Joe? If you put 18,000 pounds of ordnance on an F-18E/F, what is the combat radius?

    I know guys who still say the Tomcat was the best Naval fighter ever made. Guess you can find people who like either plane and who don't like either plane. I never flew or worked on either myself and was in the Air Force, not the Navy.

    I am aware of the very much lower maintanance requirements for the F-18 family and I think that is the primary reason it replaced the F-14. When the F-14 replacement came, I belive the maintanance hours per flight hour for the F-18 was on the order of 20 hours versus 120 hours for the F-14. Pretty telling numbers and the main reason for the retirement ... other than simply wearing them out. I never DID like the original engines.

    But the Super Tomcat with the uprated engines was another story. I never did know if the Super Tomcat got an avionics package upgrade and what the maintenance hours per flight hour were for it as I never saw the Super Tomcat broken out from the rest of the Tomcat family in that area. If it was still above 50 - 70 hours, then the retirement was a good decision financially.

    But because retiring something was a good decision doesn't mean we didn't create a capability gap. Sure we can DO the missions those older planes could do with more assets, but that in itself is a capability gap that is filled with greater numbers of assets.

    The thread asked about capability gap. It didn't ask about the expanded capabilities that we now have that weren't possible with older planes. That list is larger than the capability gaps I wrote and I don't in any way suggest wew trade one for the other. I was just responding to the thread title.
     
  10. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    #10 mikewint, Jul 6, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
    The Blackbird was/is an awesome looking aircraft and certainlly has the beginnings of stealth. If any were ever shot down there is no public record of it though a number are listed as "Lost". Like my cell phone, car keys, one sock, etc. to that invisible black hole leading to Neverneverland. It still holds a number of "public" records: since 1976 the worlds fastest air-breathing manned aircraft MACH 3.5 and highest altitude 85,069 ft sustained. I suspect its demise was brought about with the development of the Mig-31 and its R-33 MACH 4.5 missiles. According to what is published the ever mysterious AURORA is its successor though publically Northrup's RQ-180 UAV is slated to take its place. Considering the mission of such reconnaissance aircraft drones are probably the best bet.
    The butt-ugly flying tadpole certainly had the range and payload advantage but its low altitude missions left it a sitting duck for ground-fire and AA. Vietnam losses were something like 85 aircraft with 55 or so due to ground-fire and/or AA. Then it had no offensive weapons.
    Skyraiders are my all time favorite aircraft along with the HUEY. The AF is in love with the jet and no matter what we asked for jets were usually sent. Zipping by at 500mph and with a 10min loiter time. A ground-pounder's bestest friend.
    Can't really speak to the Tomcat. It was a big, heavy expensive bird $38million in '98. Grumman gives 575mi combat radius and 1841mi ferry range and a 14,500lb load carrying ability. The F-14D was the last either as remanufactured F-14As or new F-14Ds. IMHO part of the retirement was that we gave F-14s to Iran in a better day NOW its a problem and the US is shredding old F-14 to keep Iran from getting spare parts
     
  11. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Could the gap between the Bf 110 and the Me 410 be used?
     
  12. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    Skua to Barracuda naval dive bomber gap?
     
  13. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    #13 mikewint, Jul 6, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
    I think this fits here but all the talk of capability gaps and looking back at the Intruders, Skyraiders, Tomcats reminded me of a related topic, the thing that at billions carries these birds into combat
    From what I read, current air wings are around half the size of air wings from the '80s. In 1981 the typical air wing had 5 squadrons (VF VA) totaling 60 aircraft. These are the combat planes. The remaining helos, ASW, AEW, electronic warfare, etc. brought the total to around 92 planes. Compare this to the current air wing which consists of 4 squadrons (VFA Hornets) totaling 44 combat planes and around 60-64 for the overall wing size. Going further, the Navy has already announced that when the F-35 enters service, the squadrons will be reduced by 2-4 planes, each. As a further comparison the WWII Essex class carried around 100 combat planes.
    So today’s carriers have fewer aircraft, now consider range, the combat radius of the Hornet versus its predecessor, the A-6 Intruder. The Intruder had a combat radius of around 1000 nm versus the Hornet C/D with around 200 nm and the E/F with around 300 nm. The F-35 will have a radius of around 400 nm.
    So fewer and fewer planes with shorter and shorter ranges. Sounds like Military Intelligence to me. Now one more little gem: How much munitions can be delivered. The stores capacity of the Intruder was 18000 lb versus the Hornet C/D of 13700 lb and the E/F of 17700. The future F-35 will only have 3000 lb of stores capacity without resorting to external hardpoints and sacrificing stealth and range.
    We appear to be headed for a point where the supercarrier's cost can't be justified due to the ever decreasing effectiveness of the air wings.
    I’m not a general, admiral or air marshal but it seems to me that it's the air wing that's important, not the carrier and the air wings are getting steadily smaller and less capable. Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE carriers but you have to ask, is the cost of a modern supercarrier justified to carry around 40 combat planes?
    AND the new Ford class ($12.68 billion) is bigger than the Nimitz but will carry an air wing approaching half the size that the Nimitz first carried. Am I the only one who sees a logical inconsistency here?
    Are carriers the new "Battleships/Dreadnoughts"
     
  14. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #14 GregP, Jul 6, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
    The logical end-item is a Super-Super Carrier that can't carry any aicraft, but has enough spare parts and fuel for the whole fleet and is capable of landing one if required. The aircraft will be so expensive that the entire GNP will purchase just one tactical aircraft that will have to be shared 3 1/2-days each week bewtween the Air Force and the Navy. The Navy and Marines can fight it out for their 3 1/2-day allotment.

    That is loosely adapted from Augustine's Laws ...
     
  15. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    SR-71 replacement: Boeing X-37?
     
  16. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Doubt that one, but who knows? Could be as long as it photoraphs from orbit. Because once it comes down, it IS going to land, regardless of any desire to do anything else. It isn't going back up twice under its own power.
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I believe we can - the skyraider was loved and performed well in its day, but a lot of its ordinance never touched a target. There were a couple of skyraider vets working at my place a few years ago and they confirmed many times they were bombing blind or missing targets all together. With a FAC their job was a lot better but in today’s world with laser guided ordinance, GPS and FACs giving drop coordiances within a few meters of target, today's strike aircraft have targeting capability leaps and bounds above the Skyraider. The Skyraider’ s main strength was its ability to loiter and depending on the scenario, that’s done with attack helicopters

    the A-6 had legs - depending on the load out 500 to 1000 mile combat radius. I believe the newer F/A -18s could carry their 18K bomb load about 350 miles. The crutch for the lack of range were tankers.
    That's an opinion - I know guys who say the same about the Hornet. Others say they are both good

    I don't think there was ever a capability gap between the F-14, A-6 and F/A-18. There were tradeoffs and compromises when one airframe replaced two but in the end I think the job of bombing the bad guys and defending the fleet has never been done better, but that's just an opinion from an old sailor.
     
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