Super Tomcat vs. Super Hornet

Discussion in 'Modern' started by tomo pauk, Jan 30, 2009.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I was never a fan of Super Bug, thinking that a further developed Tomcat could do a better job for the same amount of money. What's you take?
     
  2. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    The Tomcat is superb, if a little long in the tooth; the Hornet is a bit short-legged. You can give an upgrade to the Tomcat but whatever upgrades you give it, it's still a big blip on a radar screen.
    I don't know enough about the modern stuff to say, but I don't think the Hornet was better enough (if it is) than the Tomcat to enter production at all; a few more years would have seen an order of magnitude of improvement over the Tomcat in the form of the F-35, two generations of progress in avionics and weapons systems over the Tomcat, in an aircraft that you can't see on a radar.
    The Tomcat easily had the potential to plug the gap waiting for the new stuff to come on-line. I'm not sure what the USN's line of thinking was when they went for the Hornet and I'm not certain what its role will be at all alongside the F-35; contentious I know, but I can't help thinking of the Hornet as something of an expensive extravagance.
     
  3. SoD Stitch

    SoD Stitch Banned

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    You're gonna get a lot of discussion on this one; there are a lot of die-hard Tomcat fans here. I think this topic was already done to death in another thread (don't remember which one), but the bottom line is the Tomcat WAS getting a little long in the tooth, and the US no longer needs a dedicated fleet air defense fighter as expensive as the Tomcat (or a Super Tomcat).
     
  4. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I think it was the F-16 vs F-15 vs F-14 thread.

    I am one of the F-14 fanatics, but I am not all that knowledgeable....just saw the bird in action (well in flight), and fell for her there and then
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Thanks for the info, Ill check out hat thread.

    Btw, with 55 megabucks per piece, Super Bug is hardly a bargain. I know that F-14 was expensive, but 55 M$ seem a rip off.
     
  6. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    If I remember right from that F15/F16/F14 discussion, I believe parts availability and maintenance cost were huge factors in the Tomcats retirement.
     
  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Simple. Cost of maintenance and operation.
     
  8. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Check out the other thread. With the F-18 you do get AESA, you get hugely reduced recurring maintenance costs, you get wide-range weapons integration, a modicum of stealth modifications, and a multi-role capability all on one airframe.
     
  9. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    As with the other discussion there are pros and cons. I am not nearly as knowledgeable as some like FLYBOY so I defer to him about maintenance but I think what you get with a new manufactured Strike Tomcat is more range with as big an armaments load, since the external stores are carried conformally on a Tomcat, there is a huge performance advantage(don't discount this), zero wind over the deck capability( they had to waive this capability for the Hornet, don't know about the Super Hornet.) This is a big consideration for the carrier skipper when operating in the littoral. The new Tomcat would have all new electrical systems and digital electronics and the new Tomcat could launch without burner like the F14D. My guess is that the carrier skipper because of the increased range and zero WOD and because the Tomcat would be a much better fleet protector would take the Strike Tomcat over the Hornet in a minute.
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I worked with guys who maintained F-14s and they hated working on them, they were not maintainer friendly. Even with upgraded avionics you still have many systems left over from the original design that bring nothing to the table to enhance the design or its ability to operate in today's environment in a cost effective manner. You would have to go for a complete redesign the airframe to change some of the problems with maintenance like the way the aircraft interior was accessed as well as removing the engines and other large components. Not to say that the F-14 in its final configuration was a bad aircraft, but there was only so much more you were going to get out of the airframe. Like the old saying goes, "you can't polish a turd."
     
  11. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Hornet is still a very capable aircraft, and as is being pointed out, was cheaper to maintain
     
  12. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Just trawling and found this, thought it might be interesting to those of you more in the know than I am about modern stuff
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    First off, the F/A-18A/B/C/D is old news. It is no longer in production and it's costs are thus irrelevant. The F/A-18E/F costs considerably more than 37 million.
    That said, bluntly, the USN has screwed up every fighter procurement effort they've engaged in since the F-4. With the possible exception of the VAX (A-7) they have done the same with their attack types.
    Congress got tired of paying for their constant failures and so after the A-12 and AX got canned, they got desperate and designed a new fighter aircraft in a minimum timeframe and (again) avoided most of the oversight process by calling it an F/A-18 modification rather than the F-19 which is should have been.
    Since the jet they based the effort upon was itself an aerodynamic abortion and always will be, and since (among many 'rewrites' of the design justification) the F/A-18E/F was claimed to be 'based on the known quantities of Hornet-1 aerodynamics', is it any wonder that junk-in:junk-out ensued?

    F-14 -The ability to engage strategic aircraft at 100 miles, variable geometry wings make for great low speed handling, a must for a carrier born A/C
    The turkey is almost impossible for a novice to bring aboard on a good day without functional DLC and autothrottle. At night with a heaving deck and you cannot do it with less than old hands and 1,200hrs.
    The massive separation of thrust-lines and the pancake effect among other things demanded a digital flight control system which the USN sat on until what, 5 years before retirement? That it was such an unsafe platform that they STILL went through with the mod says lots about the vagaries of VG as a slow-behind-boat machine.
    As for 100 nautical mile (nm) shots. IIRC, the longest that the Phoenix has ever killed something at was 73 nautical miles. What this means is that if you are facing a threat with nuclear tipped AS-4/6 cruise missiles with ranges on the order of 350-400 nm; your _typical Tomcat_ is going to still be shy of engaging with all TWO of it's onboard Phoenix in the time it takes for the Russians to make it an arrow not archer contest from a standing FORCAP position, 150nm and significantly less than 2hr out.

    WHETHER THE BADGERS AND BACKFIRES DIED AT THAT POINT THEN BECOMES MOOT.

    Mind you, you can 'cheat' by taking a squadron out 700-1,000nm and killing the bad guys on the backs of a fleet of whales so that the bombers die still in transit. But then you can do that with a Hornet or a Phantom too.

    The difference being that a carrier group is a helluva lot harder to hide and runs away from a localization at less than 40knots (less than 25 if it's escorting a REFORGER). While the Russians had both numbers, nukes and RORSAT on their side.


    F-4 - Good bomb truck (12,500lbs), 2nd rate fighter. High speed, long range.
    Well handled, an F-4J or S will easily take a Tomcat. The Israeli's laughed their asses off when they trialed the jet against A-4 and Mirage platforms. Conversely, the F-4 is a lousy 'bomb truck' in USN service because carrier limits restrict it from using outboard 370s and it has almost no smart weapons access. Any jet which is restricted to iron weapons and rockets at a time it's USAF equivalents are using LGB and HOBOS is NOT a good bomb truck.

    F-9F - The Navy`s first jet fighter, High speed, good maneuverability, range was limited on early jet A/C
    Couldn't tell you, wasn't there. I would personally say that the comparable land-based airframes had superior wing sectional aerodynamics and probably vastly lower operating weights while the development of the Fury series based on the F-86 aeros says a lot.


    Now the F-18. Average Bomb load (13,700lbs), relatively short range, less than impressive maneuverability (except roll rate) Average cruise speed, but a slow max mach(1.6)
    None of the things you mention really matter as determinative factors in a fighter's quality. A GBU-39/BRU-61 combination gets you more bombs on one pylon than an F/A-18E/F can likely carry on all four if it wants to make range. Or have suppression/A2A weapons as part of the mix.
    Mach 1.6 is useless if it starves you of fuel to the extent that you're a mission kill. Which is to say that supersonics is most justified in the distances it lets you cover in a given timeframe rather than it's combat+ factors.
    Relatively short range is an issue but you only need look at USN _LIES_ about the maximum bringback, assymetric 330 carrige and Hornet-1 'incompatibility' with 460-480 gallon tanks to realize that this too is a fixable problem.
    If 'fixing things' is what you are interested in doing.

    On the plus side the F-18 has great avionics but lets face it, the US would put great avionics on a -172 just to make it a gimmick box. We also put some great pilots into the cockpit. This alone will make the difference when fighting the 2nd rate pilots like the ones US has been facing for the past 25 years. But what if we have to fight a better trained and equipped country (China)?
    It does? The APG-65 gave nothing but trouble throughout it's gestation in both close and long range modes. As a system, it was later compromised almost completely, to the Russians. The APG-73 has similar stability and processing problems, especially on the F/A-18E/F.

    The AAR-38/46 are the world's worst targeting pods. And the AAR-50 and ASQ-173 which cover for their shortcomings ensure that the jet will not have the option of carrying an MRM if mounted. The ASQ-228 ATFLIR is not as good as the Sniper and shows the continuing 'Service Preference' for pioneering their own ways of doing things just to ensure that they are not compatible and thus 'uniquely suited' to their own needs. The ALQ-126 is ancient junk. The ALQ-165 is middle aged junk for which there are too few ship-sets to equip on more than a rotation. The Hornet doesn't mount an effective towed array or MAWS.
    I'm not sure how many other facets of 'avionics' truly count in a combat sense but I suppose a decent cockpit interface can at least tell you you're screwed in ten different multifunction colors.
    Having said that, most honest fighter pilots will in fact tell you that today the gizmology is indeed what makes the jet. That they are all driving crates whose mission effectiveness is determined by their weapons system capabilities.
     
  13. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    IMHO the F-18 is no match for the Su-3x series, and the JSF may not be enough either. In a perfect world, I think the F-23 would be perfect, but in reality its a bit out of price range for the Navy.
    Oh please. Give it up. The F-23 is a has been that was never proven as a naval contenduh to begin with. It has several issues that render it unlikely for CVTOL suitability (discretely podded fuselage/engines, absent center-keel, long wheelbase, long tail:MLG fraction. No horizontal tails). And as a USAF spec'd fighter you can be sure that the USN would do all in it's power to find something wrong with it, just as they did the superior F-111B in comparison to their precious Tomcat.

    Any thoughts?
    The Super Flanker in all it's many flavors deserves to eat laser from an ABL 300-400km out. For that matter so to does every 'cheap' (104 million dollar) JSF. They are systems bloated obscenities exampling a continuing habit of military mismanagement and waste, solely for the purpose of preserving a manned mission profile that is itself utterly bogus for what swinging stick brings to the cockpit.
    Two years of consecutive Cope Indias has already shown that, without a dominant BVR missile capability, driven by EA as much as sensor, motor pole and seeker, no pilot is 'all that much better' than the rest of the world (at WVR mandated knife-fighting).

    The only valid response to 'who handles who' (aerodynamically) then being "who cares".

    There are fewer than 1,000 Su-27 variants world wide with no individual opfor state having more than 200 or so total in service. Of those, less than half are of a version sufficiently modern as to challenge a late-block AMRAAM shooter as is. Given that they will never 'vanish from the screen' as a VLO this means that IF someone finally exports an AA-12 or SDL-10 or Astra clone capable of challenging US BVR dominance.
    You REALLY need only develop another bullet to beat that bar, not the airframe one.
    There is no organic targeting that the USN can rely upon for strike coordination. As soon as the USAF gets their damn dirty netcentric digits in the pie, Air Dominance will get ripped from betwixt the USN's clenched fists regardless.
    Lastly, given the likely proliferation of truly effective AAW weapons. Weapons which don't have to rely on moronic pilots with less than 60hrs per year and less than 10 aircraft on a scramble order to the bad guys. Weapons which pursue a threat like an airplane but have the size:cost factor of missiles (if not AAA rounds in the case of laser bursts).

    The REAL question becomes: not why are we not building a better fighter. But rather WHY we are not building throwaway bombers.

    Bombers which themselves need no training and don't care if they die, flash vaporized in burst of coherent light. Bombers which are inherently more stealthy. Bombers which can carry missiles as 'buses not trucks'. Bombers which HAVE NO MAN TO LOSE. And so are cheap enough to win wars in the face of acknowledged attrition losses.

    A Flanker with all the fixings costs about 50 million each.

    If I wanted to kill one, I would count the number of kills it has onboard (10-13) and divide 50 by that number + 2. The resultant 'fighter' I would design to escort those cow bombers would cost no more than 3.3 million dollars. It would have an endurance of 1-2hrs. It would be dropped from standoff 'missileer' type assets. And it's sole purpose in life would be to formate with the Flanker and explode a handgrenade sized charge beside the canopy. Multiply that by 20 individual intercepts and you should come up with 300 turboAAM and just shy of 1 billion dollars worth of expendable 'fighter' hardware.
    Which should be more than enough. Because rarely do we fight airpowers with more than 20 frontline jets (certainly not better than ours) available to them and NEVER has the USN done so, alone.

    Don't BS me with 'aesthetic privileges'.

    War is altogether ugly in everything but the economic gains it makes and the enemies if forever kills. Since our slaughter dogs are not allowed 'morally' to do either in paying their own way through tribute and land, wasting money on new fighter designs just to employ utterly worthless Sky Knights as a military class elite is ruining all that our country stands for. For no particular end.

    And that sir is what I think of 'new fighters for old'. I hope the USN sticks it in their lamp and rubs it the wrong way.
     
  14. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Sounds like a very opinionated F-4 driver who was around for early 14s.






    Or a blithering idiot!
     
  15. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Thats a glaring error ch and you should know better. The F14 was never in competition with the F-111B and as for it being superior, the F-14 was only created in the first place because the F-111B was an abject failure. Why would Grumman go to the expense of developing a whole new fighter when they they had the contract to build the F-111B all sewn up? Answer, because the thing was no bloody good.
    If you want to know why you're wrong and cannot manage to ask openly, say something like 'Please Elucidate.'
    Until then, try reading Illusions Of Choice by Coulam.

    As a starting primer:

    1. The F-14 with six Phoenixs runs in what is called an 'overload waiver' condition. This means that it doesn't have the same G ratings or wind over deck requirements. The F-111B was required to perform at 'full G with full fuel and weapons'. Which at the time meant 30,000lbs of go-fur and six AIM-54. Furthermore, 'in the interests of commonality'; the USN insisted that the jet perform to the period USAF definition of combat G. 7.33 rather than 6.5. We'll get back to the F-14 equivalents in a minute but as a baseline, the Tomcat cannot operate (recover or launch) with the TF30 engine and adequate fuel to perform it's mission and recover with particularly nighttime reserves.

    2. The F-111B had 29 'fix or no-fly' major deficiencies in it's initial evaluation. The F-14 had 43. The A-6 changed 8% from it's statistical base weight to it's final critical design review mapped out (detail design drawings) issuance. The F-111B changed ZERO. Because the USN would not write a spec for it that listed their gotta haves and wanna haves as is typical for every military aircraft design process on the planet. And by which the contractor starts working trade-offs.

    3. The Navy routinely insisted that the Sea Vark was not carrier suitable. Yet again equally REFUSED to issue a specification by which that capability could be met by any jet. Until Daddy Mac got tired of their little-children-want-more-water-so-they-can-have-to-pee-and-then-a-story-please delay of game and cancelled the VAX which was shaping up to be the Boeing TFX contender as a workaround to true commonality. ONLY THEN did the USN go from 235 jets to 450 odd. ONLY THEN did they put a flag rank officer at the SPO with the authority to sign off on subjects and write a spec that had nothing to do with meeting weight and performance issues. But only with yet another round of DOG'ing the program until it became one. Namely via the 'N1' set of specs which demanded 2,500lbs more fuel and 6,000lbs more structural weight to carry it.

    4. The F-111B was deemed 'underpowered' yet the Navy would not mandate (empower $$-wise) P&W with a fix order becauase 'that was GFE and we don't want to mess with the system'. Eventually the engine they needed would be built, for the USAF, as the TF30-P-100 aboard the F-111F. With 35% more power in both military and burner. Squid Air did demand a minor increase in thrust and reliability for the 111B/N1 that eventuated as the P-10. But only 3 years into the program with the specific intent of making the jet miss the 1967 production commit decision as they wouldn't evaluate anything but the 'full production standard' Sixth Prototype (the heaviest and most delayed). Comparitively, only the first 67 of 463 intended F-14's was supposed to be built with the TF30 engine. Yet despite THREE major overhauls and at least TWO DOZEN early losses directly attributed to the specific installation of the TF-30 on that 'fighter' jet, they never did qualify the intended F401 for production. Instead they derated the PW-412 engine until the Tomcat literally couldn't takeoff in a lot of wind over deck conditions exactly similar to those of the F-111B. Preferring to replace JBDs and accept yet another hit on station time and safety (reserves) as a fuction of burner-always takeoffs.

    5. The AWG-9 weighed 1,900lbs in the F-111B yet for the same reason, the USN would not allow Hughes to be issued a design challenge to come up with weight savings (in the F-14 exactly this challenge WAS issued and resulted in a 1,300lb production radar).

    6. The F-111B was supposed to have a -8 know WOD to launch. Instead, it had a +19 knot requirement. But it could launch with six AIM-54s. The F-14A could not. And indeed it's basic 'qualifying' weapons load was more akin to the F-4s, namely six AIM-7 and 2 AIM-9 (1,800bs vice 6,000lbs).

    7. The F-111B landed too fast, here the USN actually screwed themselves over to the extent that they had to both add major N1 'final spec' increases to an overweight bird and delay flight tests until after a 'gentlemens agreement' saw the F-111B program cancelled before carrier suitability tests began. Because, thanks to some ingenious flap mods, the F-111 with six AIM-54 and a 1,900lb radar and 2,500lbs more fuel and 6,000lbs more structure, (roughly 16,000lbs overweight) landed at 115 knots. 11 knots slower than the F-4. 20 knots slower than the F-14 would in the same configuration.

    Grumman test pilots in 1968 said it handled well in the carrier circuit. Only USN fighter jocks were the only ones allowed to vote however. If the aircraft had been seen and used as a missileer (i.e. 'suitable for evaluation by attack pukes') the evaluation would have come down to an angry admiral telling a ready room full of 'career naval aviators' that they would have to lie for the good of the USN. Because flag didn't want a USAF jet. And the fighter mafia didn't want to do the mission well if they could 'dogfight instead'.

    7. The F-111B was supposed to loiter 3.5 hours at 150nm (by comparison the F6D was supposed to carry eight 1,300lb Eagles and stay on station 6 hours). It made THREE. The F-14 was set at a 2hr loiter at the same distance and missed by 20%. The reason was nominally that the TF30 was missing its TSFC by 5%, a reason that had also been applied to the F-111B. The difference being that this time, the USN was willing to live with it rather than demanding that everything be exactly to-spec. Keeping in mind that the program was dead before this OPEVAL type (pass/fail) rating could be applied, you have to understand that if the jet had been given good marks, a lot of high ranking Naval personalities would have been 'embarrassed' right out of a job (comparitively, the USN insisted that the F/A-18E/F was a 550nm strike aircraft until it was not. Then they demanded it achieve 390nm. Which it did not. Before 'rewriting the rules' so that 363nm was good enough. While the F/A-18A made a 580nm flight with two targeting pods, three tanks and four Mk.83, back in 1980 or so).

    If the little boys in the Squid Patrol had acted like men, they would have had the F6D and the F-4H at a time when the USSR was starting to make CMs a real threat, in the late 50s. They would have effectively had a BETTER BULLET system which could put up fewer jets with more missiles and kill targets (up to 300km/185nm away if assisted by the E-2C) further away than the F-14 ever did.
     
  16. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    By the time the 70s rolled around, the entire concept behind which the Missileer mission itself was formed had been proven faulty because:

    A. We were operating too close into shore to be safe even against saturation attack by even light bombers on the order of the Il-28 and Su-7.
    B. The Russkies had RORSATS which made deep blue and iffy hiding spot, particularly in securing SLOCs populated by 40nm long convoys.
    C. They had supersonic standoff weapons which could be fired from supersonic standoff bombers.
    D. THEY STILL HAD NUKES. And the ability to use them, in Europe, before any USN CVBG could get into position to counterforce hostage 'equivalent' assets in the Soviet Union. i.e. The Russians are a landbased navy who use railroads to roll to their fights. They outnumbered us 10:1 and could afford to lose their conventional forces in HUGE numbers. While all's we could do was threaten to end the world.

    Under these conditions and given that a well flown F-4 will routinely beat the anaemic and spin-happy F-14 with equal weapons; the reality is that the Tomcat is probably one of the biggest snowjobs ever perpetrated on the US taxpayer 'for the glory of the Navy'. And really, no better reason than that the USAF had the FX-15.

    The F-111B could have, at least, fulfilled a useless mission while leaving funds for the F/A-18 to be properly designed as (an the 18E/F size and pylon count) F-4 replacement. Or it could have been a true 'multirole' platform that took USN tactical bombing out of the subsonic stone age as a replacement for the A-6 as well. Instead the Turkey and it's cost caused the F-4N and S programs to prolong the life of the Phantom into the 80's, long after it was past due for replacement. While the 'cheap' LWF alternative itself turned into a 40 million dollar asset that wasn't worth the powder to blow it to hell.

    Either way, the F-111B was a superior mission system because it could do the job as a single-squadron aircraft. Whereas it took two such squadrons of ***** Cats to fulfill the 'FAD-F' envisioned role of a dogfighter that 'on occasion' carried Phoenix (ten hours before the world ended). Largely because the USN flew them with two such weapons each (if that) and the TSFC deficiencies and complexity of the jet prevented it from being available sufficiently enough to be a strike platform in it's own right.
    Thus the very argument which the USN used to cancel both the F6D and the F-111B in fact most aptly applies to the F-14.

    If you're going to get basics like that wrong its a shame because most of the rest of it was bang on.
    Blah, blah, blah. How convenient that my statements 'agree with' marketing for the 20-years-new-from-EU fighter concepts which are making more or less the same mistakes, 30 years on, in designing lightweight toy fighters without the payload:range to protect the basing mode or the supercruise to sustain the sortie rate in winning small-force wars. While costing so damn much that you end up with a CV draft tonnage twice the weight of a USN Lexington class. Yet unable to support more than 1/3rd to 1/5th the equivalent airwing size.

    All problems which the Hornet itself 'pioneered' as much as suffered from.

    But which at least we are honest enough about to have available for discussion via the open press. So that 'theoretically' (hand to eyes, searching the far horizon for a thinking ape among the moo-ing masses) we can judge the efficiency or lack thereof of our government and it's so called defense establishment. While you folks of course have 'Official Secrets Acts' that covers everything from avionics to flight control issues on the Flubber in particular. I pity the fools that trust a Euro contractor. Because they get screwed without even a chance to look stuff up and be lied to their faces on.
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    F6D, F-4H. This stuff is pretty dated.
     
  18. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Don't know enough about modern stuff to say and certainly don't know enough about the politicking of US procurement policy. Link below

    Why the F-18?, page 1

    interesting read, if nothing else; the guy definitely shoots from the hip...
     
  19. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    He does - and it’s an interesting read, but he's also bringing up things that happened in the late 60s!

    He sounds knowledgeable but I'm wondering if he's a former driver or cone head (engineer). Some of his points were either wrong or proved to be wrong.

    I think the 18's record speaks for its self. He made some points about the F-14 and getting on a carrier, but let’s face it, for the years operating the aircraft and for the amounts lost during attrition, the navy did something right.

    I've seen that site - some nutty stuff!
     
  20. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Hmmmmmm, February 1973, early F14 V F4J with slats. Tomcat flown by Charles Sewell of Grumman, Phantom flown by Navy test pilot, Lt. D Walker.Starting position, F4J 1000 feet astern of F14, both at Mach 1.25 and 35000 feet. 7.4 G break by F14 forces F4 to overshoot. F14 reverses, initiation of scissors. Second reversal by F14 and it establishes ACM superiority and forces F4J out in front. F14 reverses again into firing position , just 15 seconds after initial break. 8 engagements were flown at different speed and altitudes, the F14 out scissored it's opponent in seconds in all of them. My conversations with at least 3 Naval aviators don't jibe with much of the posts by Colin.
     
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