Super Hornet Replacement

Discussion in 'Modern' started by Waynos, May 9, 2010.

  1. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Boeing has started to air its thoughts on how it will replace the F/A-18E/F after 2025. Here are a couple of designs which are quite different to each other and so show its still at an early stage. The upper one, thanks to the fuselage topline, has an almost Sukhoi-esque look to it.

    What are peoples thoughts here?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Interesting designs but in reality the decision to replace the Super Hornet by 2025 will not be Boeing's, all they can do is try to offer up a proposal and a lot can happen in 15 years. As of right now the only replacement for the Super Hornet will be the F-35 unless the US Congress and DoD decide to fund a direct replacement, and after a recent speech made by Secretary of Defense Gates, there Inst going to be any major defense procurements for a very long time.
     
  3. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Nice art.
     
  4. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Think that Super Bug is going to be replaced with UCAVs...
     
  5. red admiral

    red admiral Member

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    As FlyboyJ said, the replacement for the F/A-18 is the F-35 CV which will still be in production in 2025. Most likely next generation carrier aircraft is looking to be a UCAV, probably based off X-45.
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    UCAVs are going to be major players but you'll still see manned combat aircraft, especially in the air to air role.
     
  7. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    #7 Waynos, May 9, 2010
    Last edited: May 9, 2010
    From the responses on the thread it seems that people are interpreting this as an unsolicited proposal from Boeing.

    Its not, its a response to a USN requirement, currently referred to as F/A-XX that is intended to find a Superbug replacement. This is not currently intended to be the F-35C, but I can see it becoming that, or a version of it.

    As I understand it, the F-35C is set to replace the F-18C whereas the E/F are to remain in service. There is currently no F-35 two seater, as an eventual replacement for the F and G models, though I would expect to see one eventually.

    I also foresee a future RAF requirement for a two seater (F-35, not F/A-XX) from what I have seen, though that would naturally be few in number and would also depend on an operational UCAV evolving either from Taranis or elsewhere and so would be absolutely dependant on a US need for a two seater in order to be satisfied.

    Ultimately, I think that buying more F-35's as a SH replacement is probably more likely than an all new type, but the totally tailless design direction, pioneered by Boeing on the X-44 and continued here, is interesting.
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    From your original post...

    From Aviation Week....
    U.S. Navy: Unmanned Combat Squadron by 2025 | AVIATION WEEK

    Right now this is in a conceptual stage and a lot could happen in 15 years. More info...

    Walkaround–F/A-XX concept ELP Defens(c)e Blog
     
  9. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Yes FlyboyJ, if I'd added "if it wins an order through F/A-XX" to that line it would have been clearer. For some reason I assumed people already knew about F/A-XX. My mistake.

    But otherwise I'm not sure what you are saying in response to the other part you quoted?
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    No worries
    If you gather everything up, I think its way too soon to even think about conceptual designs for a Super Hornet replacement as the UCAV world is still evolving and by the time the Pentagon is ready to plunk down money for this, the world and the mission might be a lot different than what's being advertised. As stated, a lot can happen in 15 years.
     
  11. Trebor

    Trebor Well-Known Member

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    I love the first one!
     
  12. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Ah right, I get you now. I thought it might prove an interesting discussion point precisely because, as you rightly say, it is at such an early stage and so many options are still up for grabs.

    There may be a parallel of sorts. It strikes me that F/A-XX is a similar sort of programme/requirement as the UK's FOAS in some respects. Although, in the finest British tradition, FOAS is no more, we are still pursuing the 'preferred option' that FOAS identified for our future needs. This involves a manned two seater that operates as a 'UCAV Leader' (for want of a better term) whilst itself being fully combat capable in its own right.

    Taranis is the, current programme that, it is hoped, will lead to an operational UCAV. Either as a development of it or as a lead in to UK participation in an international venture (penny pinching again? what us? lol)

    The 'UCAV Leader' element has been developed by BAE and QINETIC and recent flight trials occurred where a 'simulated UCAV (very much manned, just in case) was mission-led from a Tornado (I am presuming this involves a lot more than mere remote control :) )

    This is where I see our possible future acquisition of a two seat F-35, providing the US builds one. Otherwise we would no doubt use a variant of the Typhoon T.2 for the job.

    Now, being fanciful, the Boeing F/A-XX looks tailor made for this requirement at first glance so I don't see this proposal as necessarily detrimental to acquiring UCAV's. Another reason I am thinking along these lines was a report I saw a while ago where one of the US services, I cannot remember which one, is also looking at possible future UCAV operation in this manner, rather than the previously widely discussed 'fully autonomous' mode that has all the doomsday merchants wetting themselves (ie in the manner of the movie 'Stealth). IF, of course, it was the USN that was airing those thoughts, it all seems to fit like a jigsaw.

    The potential here is quite stunning I think. I know lots can happen, both good and bad, but isn't speculation what a fair proportion of what this web site is all about? :)
     
  13. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    I kind of prefer a mix with the wings of the lower one grafted onto the upper one 8)
     
  14. red admiral

    red admiral Member

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    Do you mind if I ask where you're getting this information? I'm not aware of anything being released on this subject.

    In the 1990s, the UK had FCBA (Future Carrier Borne Aircraft) which resulted in JSF (hopefully CV) though a number of other types were examined. This progressed into FOAS (Future Offensive Air System) which had a different focus. A number of types were examined for this, including JSF again. The BAeS designs (of which some images can be seen) are pretty much the ultimate manned strike/fighter aircraft . A lot more capability than JSF but likely more expensive. During the last decade, the threat changed and FOAS was discarded, being replaced by FCAC (Future Combat Air Capability) which I can't tell you anything about.

    Sort of. Taranis is a technology demonstrator more than anything else (really effective at destroying wind turbines as well if you believe the press). Yet to fly but the programme seems to have been pretty successful. It puts the UK onto a similar level as the US for UCAV design so it doesn't just have to buy whatever comes out of X-45.

    I'd assess the possibility of a two seat JSF as extremely unlikely. For a joint manned-unmanned air system? The technology has moved on since then.

    Given the long lead times of aircraft (15 years is very little), I'd expect something based off X-45 for the USN's UCAV or the requirement to slip and more JSF (or developed JSF) being purchased.
     
  15. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    #15 Waynos, May 10, 2010
    Last edited: May 10, 2010
    Not at all. I've been following BAE's UAV programme online (where permitted of course, much is released after the fact) and in Flight International for a number of years now. The stuff about the flight trials was on QINETIQ's own website, I tried to find it again to post a link but I'm afraid I can't anymore. There was a feature in Flight around a year ago that covered this and Taranis and how they tie in together in the UK's 'vision' for the future. I tried to find that on Flights online archive but its not sufficiently up to date.

    Going back to those older impressions you referred to, they often showed a manned and unmanned version of the same design flying together, I recall. In reality we were never going to fund that sort of solution.

    Yes, that's kind of what I was getting at (without the bit about wind turbines, lol)

    It seems a logical progression to me, most types have a two seat counterpart. I'm not saying its certain, by any means, but I have haven't yet thought of a reason for them not to make one.

    This puzzles me, a lot of work is currently being put into making this a reality on both sides of the Atlantic and QINETIQ's recent experiment was a world first. In what way has it moved on? In the reports I've read the option to have unmanned delivery systems operating symbiotically with a manned formation is seen as highly desirable for the options it gives.

    Or a mix of both, which is what I wouldn't be surprised to see.
     
  16. red admiral

    red admiral Member

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    Waynos, I wouldn't believe everything that Flight magazine says. Its really just speculation, especially with regards to "UK's vision for the future". It doesn't help when BAeS shows off all the cool stuff they _could_ build, if only we gave them oodles of money. I'm sure Qinetiq is looking into the technology, but that is all. Lots of what is currently going on is for technology demonstration in order to put the UK into a better position for the future (e.g. better bargaining chips with the US or France) but it doesn't relate to the actual programme being pursued. Of course, we're still waiting around for SDR to see what gets cut...

    I can think of one massive reason; cost. Two seats is a bigger change than CTOL-STOVL-CV. Why is having a paired system good? The major reasons behind UCAVs are lower cost and better signatures, both of which go out of the window when you start putting people into the mix. The cost of developing two types would be the real problem though I feel.

    Look at newer UAVs like Mantis and you see much much greater levels of autonomy. No longer the ground based pilot of Predator systems, but essentially autonomous, with only weapons being subject to human command.

    Some things that are happening are widely ignored;

    http://www.science.mod.uk/Engagement/documents/423706_MOD_CV_inners_AW_mw2.pdf
     
  17. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Please forgive my ignorance (for I have a lot of it), but how would a manned aircraft lead UCAVs in combat? The picture I have in my mind is of a two-seat combat aircraft with a flight of 'drone' wingmen behind it. But assuming the guy in the front of the manned a/c is actually flying it, that leaves the guy in the back carrying out a nav/RIO role forthe a/c he is in, AND directing 1-3 drones. Surely that is too much work for one person, even assuming a degree of intelligence in the drones?

    I recall we had a very lengthy debate some time ago over what a UCAV might be able to achieve without human input, and I think we concluded that a significant amount of human direction would still be needed, especially in air-to-air roles :?:
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Not in this day and age. Nav/RIO duties have become a one man show and a single pilot can easily take care of that as a second crew member can possible handle the drones.
     
  19. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Red Admiral, thats true enough regarding Flight and speculation, but speculation is what I intended this thread to be about. There are umpteen threads on here speculating about stuff that never happened but could have if things had worked out slightly differently, I'm just trying to speculate about stuff that might happen but probably wont :)

    Why a manned unmanned mix?

    I am aware of the autonomous nature (and the advantages thereof) of UAV and UCAV operations. Even the RAF has already carried out attacks in this way, but this is in addition to that, not instead of it. An operational option that currently does not exist.

    As far as I understand (which is not a massive amount by any stretch) its not a case of having to have a manned element, but of wanting one. Again, I am merely speculating because I have never seen this spelled out, but I imagine, with the fluidity of warfare and the ever changing frontline picture, plus our recent history of friendly fire incidents, there may be an element of wanting a human decision maker in close proximity to avoid, or at least minimise the chance of, mistakes? I read somewhere an interview with a high ranking USAF officer talking about UCAV's in current and future ops and he said something about the desire, rather then the need, to have a human decision maker 'on the spot'.

    What we can afford and/or what we may yet cancel is somewhere the fanboy in me doesn't want to go, at least not in this particular thread, that is a major discussion in itself :) It does remind me though. IF (emphasised) we did eventually get our manned/unmanned mix option, it would have to be either the F-35 or Typhoon that formed the manned element as the RAF has committed to becoming a two-type fast jet force with these two types according to another recently published interview.
     
  20. red admiral

    red admiral Member

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    Speculation is fine, its just quite amusing to people who know what's going on. We're getting on for looking 15-20years in the future so quite a few things might have changed since then in terms of what actually makes it into service in the end.

    I don't see why having a human in close proximity to the UCAV gives better situational awareness. It'd likely be worse than sitting in an office watching realtime footage on a big screen. There's no speed difference to pressing a button 1000miles away to pressing a button 5miles away.
     
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