Do we need speed in modern fighters anymore?

Discussion in 'Modern' started by Burmese Bandit, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. Burmese Bandit

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    Since I am now a SENIOR MEMBER by virtue of having 100 posts in 48 hours...8) I believe I have earned the moral right to open a thread here, and my thread will be:

    Do we really need speed in modern fighters anymore?

    Modern air to air combat is all about missiles, and seeing the other enemy (on radar) before he sees you first. (apart from the seeing being done by eyeball, same as in WW II !):lol:

    Yes, yes, I am aware of the fact that accelerating your bird helps to put energy into the missile. And that speed is a dang good thing to have if you have a SAM chasing your tail.

    But now, with the latest generation of missiles being air breathers for really, really long range fighting, and with stealth replacing speed for survival against either ground or air threats, this old question arises again: should we build our planes to be fast and agile, or to carry a shipload of missiles and be stealthy???

    Let the debate begin!!!
     
  2. ScOoTeR1992

    ScOoTeR1992 Member

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    BB it all really depends on the type of mission or what not you need the aircraft for, e.g. if its for air-to-air combat you want to be faster and more agile than our opponent, and for lets say like suppression of enemy AA you want something more stealthier and harder hitting than something that's fast and agile, but I'm not that good about this so maybe that better people with more experience will better help you
     
  3. Burmese Bandit

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    But that's just the point scooter....what is modern air to air?

    You fly from your base towards your mission objective - say, a CAP over a certain area - armed with intelligence from satellites and a hovering AWACS. Once there the AWACS and/or satellites tell you where and when the enemy is approaching, and you turn in that direction and salvo your fire and forget missiles, and get the hell out of Dodge.

    Where's the need for speed and agility in all this? All you need is a stealthy airplane, a jam-proof radio and data link, and the ability to press buttons.

    Oh, not all air to air combat is like this today, I know. But we're getting there, and it looks like sooner rather than later.
     
  4. ScOoTeR1992

    ScOoTeR1992 Member

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    and then what happens if you get ambush half way there or back?, you maybe stealthy and carry a bigger payload but your opponent is much more faster and agile than you and is constantly getting into missile firing position, no matter how stealthy you are you cant dodge a trigger happy opponent that is a good shot with their cannon
     
  5. Burmese Bandit

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    The entire point of AWACS is that you don't get ambushed. The 'knife fight' (as I believe modern pilots call a cannon-dogfight situation) is rapidly becoming an anachronism in today's aerial battlefield.
     
  6. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Experts and analysts have believed the age of the dogfight was over ever since the 1930's (yes, even before ww2) and every single subsequent conflict has proved that theory wrong.

    Guns were even deleted from the design of fighters in the 1950's and everyone now agrees that was a big error which is why even the latest fighters all have a gun. A war is never fought how you want it to be.
     
  7. Burmese Bandit

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    "...Guns were even deleted from the design of fighters in the 1950's and everyone now agrees that was a big error which is why even the latest fighters all have a gun..."

    Yep. The F-4.

    And yes, that was a mistake then.

    But now?

    Could someone tell me (I am genuinely curious: this is a real, not a rhetorical question) when was the last air-to-air gun combat between a USAF fighter plane and an enemy? (I have chosen USAF as they have gone the furthest down the road of electronic realtime intelligence of enemy air movements.)
     
  8. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    The last U.S. gun kill of an enemy aircraft was made by now retired USAF BGen (I believe 1LT at the time) Gary Rubus back in 1972, flying an F-4E, against a MiG-21.... It's been all missiles since then....
     
  9. Burmese Bandit

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    ....thank you....which leads me back to my original question. Thirty years since the knife fight. Do we need speed...or should we have, say, a subsonic version of the F-22 with twice the legs and twice the missile ammo, but with the same stealthy characteristics?
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I think a guy in an A-10 used his gun to take down a helicopter during GW1.
     
  11. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    With the F-22 you're having it all.

    And it isn't so much the "speed" thing - it's a matter of acceleration not only during a fight but the ability to get to the target area quickly and efficiently. If aerial combat was solely about speed you would of seen operational fighters from the west as fast or faster than the MiG-25. I think its still essential to have a modern combat aircraft at least capable of Mach 2.
     
  12. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Got to agree with Joe here. Was just about to bring up the fact that speed is necessary so that you get where you need to be quickly. There is no point in having an enemy aircraft coming in to attack/launch missiles and it takes you longer to get to him that it takes him to get to his launch site. No that most engagements are BVR this is less important but getting to where you need to be quickly is still key. But as Joe said if speed where everything we would have pilots in essentially rockets with wings which could barely fly like the Mig-25.

    Nowadays acceleration is as important (if not more) and manoeuvrability is also still key especially if things get in close which is getting less and less common. As anti missile defences improve things may change but still unlikely.

    Range could of course be improved by decreasing speed etc. But having less thrust means you accelerate slower and thus can't get out so quickly and also you can reduce some manoeuvrability you don't want to be fighting at slow speeds with low thrust (Me-262 vs piston engined fighters is case in point).

    Bottom line in my opinion speed is still needed to get in quick and get out quick giving less time over the danger area and reducing risk. It isn't as important as it once was (Mig-25 era) but it still is needed alongside the other factors for a capable fighter to be created.
     
  13. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    I believe speed is just as important then ever if not more important. Especially since our weapons are faster. Many things in modern combat has needed to get faster from the infantryman to our interceptors.
     
  14. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Well just when does speed become less important?

    If a hypothetical fighter can do mach 2 sustained have an edge up on one that only does 1.4?

    The faster you go at those speeds, the more fuel you burn up in a hurry.

    I would also think any plane going in the range of mach 2 will be so hot, as to have a nice IR signature.

    IMHO, its maneuverability and stealth that is the key.
     
  15. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    That would be correct
     
  16. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    How in the hell did you do that? :lol: Thay all must have been gems.
     
  17. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    If you want a fighter then by definition you are going to need as much power as you can get for air combat. This almost by default will give you speed.

    If the thread had been, do we need speed for a strike aircraft then the reply is no, the A10 being a good example. I believe that there is a place for a small cheap low performance aircraft in the strike roll such as the single seat Hawk. The trend these days is for small smart weapons to reduce collateral damage a number of which could be carried in good numbers on such an aircraft.
     
  18. Burmese Bandit

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    Ah, I am being praised by.... *squints* .... "The master of duplicate posts" himself...:D

    Ok, they weren't all gems, but I would humbly submit they weren't spam either.

    NOW BACK ON TOPIC...(I keep thinking that topic is the name of a girl, OK OK I'm back of topic for real)...

    Nearly all who have replied in this thread say that speed is still needed in fighters, though perhaps most would agree that in attack aircraft not so much.

    Very well. Since 1985 speeds of new fighter aircraft have remained steady at Mach 2...and with the new F-22 it's still about that, although it DOES have that 'supercruise' ability.

    And the future? 2020...2025...More of the same, or a 'missile truck' air cruiser?

    My bet is that future fighters will be more missile truck air cruisers than cheetah fast 8-10 missile aircraft.
     
  19. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Personally I think the opposite. The next generation of aircraft are not going to see a huge increase in their max speeds (less than 1 mach if at all). Acceleration and manoeuvrability will be factored in (like with the F-22). The main difference that will occur is that they will be starting to incorporate Supercruise with the speed of this cruise increasing. This increases average speed but not max speed thus they would be able to get there quickly and more fuel efficiently thus giving more fuel to deal with whatever happens over the objective.

    With attack aircraft speed isn't as key unless you go by the "get in quick, get out quick" doctrine. But with speed you forfeit armour and so being slow you can take more punishment and carry a higher payload but you are over the target area for longer thus giving more danger.

    No doubt we will see examples of both in Strike aircraft (if helicopters aren't used instead). As for fighters, all round fighters will still have a balance of all the factors like is seen in the F-22. As for interceptors they could go either way but that is down to preference and speed as already been tried and passed over. Stealth will be the main area of development rather than speed I think.
     
  20. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Future fighters will likely be pilot-less vehicles anyway. The amount of weight saving that comes from no life support and safety equipment for the pilot will allow for a larger payload. Granted dogfights are mostly a thing of the past, but in the event that it gets down to that, dogfighting is about energy management. If you have the energy going into the fight, you have a much better chance of winning.
     
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