Too much faith in stealth technology?

Discussion in 'Modern' started by wuzak, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    I have been reading a lot about the F-35 in the past few days, trying to discover whether they will be the solution to Australia's needs in the future.

    Reports and videos tend to be either extremely positive or extremely negative on the aircraft, its capabilities and its cost.

    One of the big selling points of the JSF is the stealth design. It is often stated that in the future aircraft without stealth will be unviable. The counter argument is that the JSF is stealth-lite, not being as effective as the F117 or F22.

    There have been some suggestions that anti-stealth radar technology is being developed and/or deployed.

    Stealth technology and the counter-stealth response - Airforce Technology

    The normal defence to the F-35's lack of manouevrability vs the latest Flankers is that the Flanker will be shot down before it knows the F-35 is there. But is this the case? If it is the case, then will it be in the 8-10 years time when the F-35 is scheduled to be deployed?

    Australia signed onto the JSF program in 2002 before a competitive evaluation could be done. A few years prior to that the Russians apparently offered us a pair of Su-35s for 6 months for evaluation for free. And we turned them down. What's that about?
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I don't know what "accessories" the Australian government is being offered with their F-35s (I would guess it would be pretty close to what the US would operate). The F-35 is a lot more capable than what is being said and I believe in time its naysayers will be silenced. This was a recent article.

    RPT-F-35 makes headway amid criticism, US budget crunch | Reuters
     
  3. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Hi Joe,

    I tend to agree with your assessment. All too often, new aircraft get a bad rap before they've even had a chance to prove themselves. Sometimes the bad rap sticks but sometimes it doesn't. For example, most Brits will always associate the Tornado F3 with the "Blue Circle" radar (many Brit radars have the word "Blue" in the name - "Blue Parrot" was, IIRC, the radar on the Buccaneer). When the Tonka F2 entered service, the radar wasn't ready so the aircraft flew without the radar fitted but with weights instead to keep the CofG within limits. Some wit then claimed that the F2 was fitted with the "Blue Circle" radar, Blue Circle being a well-known cement company in the UK. Switch now to the F-15 - who remembers, today, that when the F-15A entered service, the radar had considerably worse performance than the F-4s it was supposed to replace? Short answer...hardly anyone.

    The proof of the F-35 pudding will be in seeing how it rises when it deploys on operations (plus how it copes in NATO exercises). If it does well, all ills will be forgotten, if not....well, that's for the historians to write.
     
  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Back when I was in the USAF, the Marines were testing the Blackhawk helicopters. Nary a week went by without one crashing and killing more Marines. It was heart-wrenching to read about them in the Stars and Stripes. In those days, I wouldn't dream of stepping into one of those. Today, they have served very well and will be more remembered for their great service.

    I also think that testing is more under a microscope than it has ever been. And it has been a long time since we have had a new fighter, so there are bound to be some teething problems. I have faith that the F-35 will deliver.
     
  5. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    The problem with the F-35 is that when it deploys with the USAAF and RAF it will be complimentary with other aircraft - like the F-22 and the Eurofighter. When Australia deploys them it's all we'll have.

    And the opposition will have moved on substantially by the time we get them.

    Also, both the current F-18E/F and the F-35 promise less striking capability than the retired F-111s.

    While the F-35 would probably fare quite well now, I wonder if its stealth capabilities will have been left behind by 2018.


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQB4W8C0rZI

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kssZua8MVc
     
  6. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    In 6 years? I doubt it. The counter to stealth has been known for a very long time - it's called bi-static radar where the transmitter and receiver are located far enough apart that signals reflected by a stealthy aircraft are still able to be collected (basically using the stealth design against itself). The challenge is making such a system work viably in an operational setting, and then to use such a system to get a weapon onto the target. Oh, and it has to be survivable too so fixed facilities are a no-no. The cost and technical complexity of such systems pretty much puts them out of reach for most of the world, and the rest are too busy making money or staying alive to care about such esoteric pieces of military hardware. In short, I think Oz will do very well with the F-35 - it may not be a "Pig" but I think it will do the job it's designed to do.
     
  7. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Well, the last fighter introduced for the US was the F-22 in 2005. Does that count as a long time ago? And they're still debugging them 6 years on.

    What will the F-35 actually deliver?


    I assume the Blackhawk had reliability issues?

    Surely the F-35 has as many concerns over performance as it has reliability?


    Also, why 3 versions? Couldn't the Navy and Air Force use a common version?
     
  8. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    I consider the F-22 and F-35 to be in the same generation. So, yes, it has been a long time. The last "new" fighter the US built prior to the F-22 was the F-18, and it's first production model was built in 1980, 30+ years ago. Everything else has been updates or upgrades to aircraft that were built in the 1970s. The F-22 is the most advanced fighter ever built by the US and with new technology comes new challenges. If you compare it to the B-1 program, there are similarities.

    The F-35 will deliver a multi-role fighter, capable of fighter, attack and bomber roles with the advantage of stealth technology. While I agree that three different variants is a little crazy, the three variants will all be used in different mission profiles.

    The Blackhawk initially suffered a few shortcomings. Rotor blade delamination was one of the things I remember and they had some mechanical issues IIRC. Today though, they are solid and used in many nations with good reliability.

    I don't think issues on the F-35 currently will cause the project to be shelved. Remember that today, the enemy is quite different and the days of waves of fighters attacking each other are probably not going to happen. You need a swift light force that can be deployed quickly to a hot spot.

    I have heard the argument about the F-111 and while I am a huge fan of the F-111, it's operational record was far from outstanding. Plus the fact that the last F-111 was built in 1976, so that is also an aging airframe.
     
  9. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    What about 10, 15, 20 years? Remembering that RAAF F-35s are expected to see 30-40 years of service.
     
  10. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    I understand all that. But the F-22 and F-35 are not the same program. So the last new fighter the USAAF received was the F-22.

    As I understand it, the F-22 was chosen over the F-23 in part because it posed slightly less technical risk.



    Surely the USAAF and USN versions will be performing essentially the same role(s)? The only difference being the USN one will launch and recover to carriers.



    No doubt the F-35 program will soldier on. After all, there is a lot invested in it already.

    But will the issues with the F-35 have some bearing on its long term competitiveness?

    I am not an expert in aerodynamics or combat aircraft, but from what I am reading the F-35's combat ability is mostly about the stealth design, and its sensors and electronics suites. Negate them and the aircraft becomes vulnerable.

    The F-35 force will definitely be a "light" force. But will it be "swift" and quickly deployable? How much will the F-35 require the back up of tankers and AEWCS to perform at optimum?
     
  11. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Hypothetically, if the F-35's stealth abilities were effectively negated now, what would it mean for its effectiveness, particularly in the air to air role?

    It would seem that Russian BVR missiles have a range advantage over the AMRAAMs - so Russian built jets so equipped would hold the advantage if they could detect the F-35 at range.

    And at close range the likes of thrust vectoring Su-35s would surely run rings around an F-35?
     
  12. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    And when was the last close range air-to-air combat? The F-35 is not being billed as an air-superiority fighter, but a multi-role fighter.

    The F-18 is a multi-role fighter and the old mission of the F-14s is being done by F-18s, which are not as good at air-superiority as the F-14. Yet they are doing the job against the current threats. I don't think we will see a war like WWII again, and the more recent conflicts have been asymmetrical warfare.

    Issues today as they find them get worked and engineered to not become operational problems later on. I don't really think they will have any bearing on long term competitiveness. Whatever electronics and avionics and sensors they go into production with will get upgraded as better technologies evolve. That is how we have been able to keep using F-15s, F-16s and the like.
     
  13. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #13 FLYBOYJ, Nov 29, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
    Close vectoring is for airshows. My father in law used to deliver F-15s to USAF Squadrons. He once told me that if one allows themselves to get in close in modern combat they probably deserve to die. The only time you're going to get "close in" if you have to fight without radar, and if you're in that situation, you shouldn't be in combat to begin with.
     
  14. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    There are a lot of questions here I would like to address. First, a bit of info on myself, I was on the proposal team on the B-2 and was a design manager and/or project engineer on that aircraft for maybe 25 years. After that, I worked on the proposal team for the JSF with Lockheed Martin. While not directly involved in stealth design, or mission profiling, I was exposed to the design philosophy of advanced aircraft and stealth design.

    Also, I have been around a looong time and remember the abuse of such programs as, the F-111, which I think, became one of the most underrated fighters, F-15, Abrams tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, etc., and have seen their successes, so I have little patience with these types of comments.

    The aircraft design activities are not only applied to effectiveness of the enemy defenses at the time of aircraft design but also to the effectiveness of the expected enemy defenses seen over the projected lifetime of the aircraft. Now, the engineers and scientist assigned to project the enemy threat are as capable as the ones designing the revolutionary aircraft itself. They are well aware of the techniques that could be applied to defeat stealth; in fact, efforts must be applied to defeat enemy stealth. They know the complexities of each concept, the difficulties of fielding such a design and the up-and-coming concepts of defeating the defeaters. These issues were all planned in the implementation of the aircraft. Of course unanticipated, unknown unknowns, capabilities can always pop up.

    The F-35 is designed to be a replacement for the F-16, a light, cheap (?), relatively capable aircraft and is not as capable, or expensive, as the F-22. It is designed with sophisticated avionics which integrate into a network with many supporting assets. It is a “wolf pack” type hunter. I have no doubt it will be effective over its assigned lifetime.

    Two types of the F-35 for the Navy and AF are required due to the complexity and weight difference of naval aircraft compared to AF. If the YF-17 had been selected by the AF, the Navy version would still look like the F-18, which is significantly different.

    An enemy missile may indeed have a longer range, but would that fighter radar be able to detect and lock on at fifty plus miles? Or would that little five inch antenna radar seeker in the missile have the sophistication of those big, powerful ground base radars such that it can lock on at five miles? There are lots of issues to overcome.

    Stealth has more advantage than just reducing cross section; it magnifies the effectiveness of any electronic countermeasures. An F-15, hit by a powerful beam must generate a powerful countermeasure to defeat it because the reflection is so great. That beam, hitting a stealth aircraft can be defeated by a relatively minute power countermeasure to defeat the very small return signal. Now, I must say, I know of no active countermeasures used on any stealth aircraft, I am just stating the obvious.

    I think the F-35 will join the ranks of those weapons systems that were lambasted by critics and yet performed magnificently in combat.
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Im feeling pretty old right now, because i cant really comment on this generation of aircraft. But i can say that big criticisms were levelled at the F-111 up to the time they were introduced. After they were introduced all of that criticism went away. suddenly we had the fastest, most potent strike aircraft in the region, and it just got better and better. after the half life update, these aircraft were potent......stand off missiles, smart bombs, advanced computer systems and sensors. They were considered unstoppable and long ranged. When they exercised against the RAN, we had to introduce speed and electronic limits on their cpability, otherwise they would sink us every time. I can tell every regional air force in our part of the world feared these aircraft.

    They will be a very hard aircraft to replace. i know nothing about the JSF, but it will take an exceptional aircraft to fully replace the F-111Es that we recently retired.
     
  16. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    So why do the likes of the F-22 have 2d vectoring engine nozzles? Was not agility a goal in that design?



    So, all engagements will beyond visual range?
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    It is/ was - but not the way the Russians are advertising it with maneuvers like "the cobra."
    They should if tactically possible.
     
  18. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Isn't this what happened with the F4's in Vietnam?
     
  19. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Wonder how the P-38, P-39, P-40 would fare being introduced with today's climate?
    I can see 60 Minutes doing a piece on P-38 compressibility or P-39 flat spins.
     
  20. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Vietnam had "rules of engagement" introduced my some moronic politicians. In the early part of the war a US fighter could not fire until fired upon and had to make visual contact with an agressor. Things changed later in the war that enabled the F-4 to engage when radar contact was made.
     
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