Jump to content
Ivanov

F-35 deployment to Ukraine?

Recommended Posts

"Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, said the top priorities for the deployments are to non-combat zones where the fighters can play a valuable role with respect to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. That includes in Ukraine and NATO-allied countries worried about Russian President Vladimir Putin's expansionist goals".

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/air-force-sending-f-35s-to-the-middle-east-in-the-not-too-distant-future/article/2615666

I don't believe that F-35 will be deployed to Ukraine anytime soon. It is interesting though, what Gen. Carlisle meant by saying that.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Basically it sounds like the F-35 is shaping up to have catastrophically failed as a cheaper option to the F-22, and might not be the chosen plane to replace all planes, but gosh darned if it's not starting to work like it's supposed to sometimes.  

Of course, in calling the F-35 out it's worth noting the PAK-FA is still literally catching fire sometimes.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, panzersaurkrautwerfer said:

Basically it sounds like the F-35 is shaping up to have catastrophically failed as a cheaper option to the F-22, and might not be the chosen plane to replace all planes, but gosh darned if it's not starting to work like it's supposed to sometimes.  

Of course, in calling the F-35 out it's worth noting the PAK-FA is still literally catching fire sometimes.  

According to the available data, the cost of F-35A is comparable to Eurofighter and Rafale, while Super Hornet is more expensive than F-35A. At the same time F-35B is 20% more expensive than Super Hornet. Mind you it's 5th gen aircraft vs late 4th generation planes. The whole F-35 program was hugely expensive, but the out of proportions unit cost is a myth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ivanov,

Am sure that will absolutely freak Putin out. If that video is so much as half right, I may have to fundamentally rethink my views on the F-35, which in the opinion of many, including mine, was a super expensive practically useless plane which, at the time I last checked, didn't so much as have a working cannon. Nor could it beat a 1980 vintage F-16 (forget the Block number) in a dogfight. Frankly, I thought it should've ben canceled, and the US Navy did push deliveries out considerably and bought more F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets instead in the interim. How can the mass produced, technologically mature Super Hornet cost more than the practically hand built, very much still a work in progress F-35? Absolutely don't get that math at all.

panzersaurkrautwerfer,

Believe you misunderstand what the F-35 was designed to do. It was never intended to be the USAF's principal fighter plane. That was the F-22s job. The F-35's primary role was to be strike. It was notionally to be stealthy on Day One of the war and dirty thereafter, since it would be carrying external weapons then, rather than just what it could carry internally. Thus, the F-35 should be thought of as complementing the F-22, not replacing it. Of course, I may've missed something somewhere. Perhaps its role has changed since last I looked. What we seem to have wound up with is a multi-role aircraft, but still primarily strike. The video indicates the F-35s were flying strike missions. Consequently, the air-to-air kills were almost certainly incurred in self-defense.

Regards,

John Kettler

 

Edited by John Kettler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, John Kettler said:

Ivanov,

Am sure that will absolutely freak Putin out. If that video is so much as half right, I may have to fundamentally rethink my views on the F-35, which in the opinion of many, including mine, was a super expensive practically useless plane which, at the time I last checked, didn't so much as have a working cannon. Nor could it beat a 1980 vintage F-16 (forget the Block number) in a dogfight. Frankly, I thought it should've ben canceled, and the US Navy did push deliveries out considerably and bought more F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets instead in the interim. How can the mass produced, technologically mature Super Hornet cost more than the practically hand built, very much still a work in progress F-35? Absolutely don't get that math at all.

panzersaurkrautwerfer,

Believe you misunderstand what the F-35 was designed to do. It was never intended to be the USAF's principal fighter plane. That was the F-22s job. The F-35's primary role was to be strike. It was notionally to be stealthy on Day One of the war and dirty thereafter, since it would be carrying external weapons then, rather than just what it could carry internally. Thus, the F-35 should be thought of as complementing the F-22, not replacing it. Of course, I may've missed something somewhere. Perhaps its role has changed since last I looked. What we seem to have wound up with is a multi-role aircraft, but still primarily strike. The video indicates the F-35s were flying strike missions. Consequently, the air-to-air kills were almost certainly incurred in self-defense.

Regards,

John Kettler

 

The F-35 was always intended to assist the F-22 in the air to air role, just as the F-16 was to the F-15. Not being the flagship fighter does not in any way mean that it was ever intended to be bad at all things not strike. The F-35's niche in the air force is very much akin to the High-Low Mix that has been the standard for decades at this point. It also was not "defeated" by a F-16 in a dogfight. The report you are referring to was a test of the control laws of the F-35's fly-by-wire logic which was not finished at the time. The issues in that test were the result of the safety mechanisms of the airplanes computers artificially limiting the airplane too aggressively, which meant they needed further tuning. That is the whole point of doing such testing. Although really this is all rather secondary since visual range fights where BFM actually matters are almost non-existent at this point. BVR is the order of the day, and the rare occasions where aircraft engage visually will still not be dogfights in the traditional sense far more often than not. 

             Your "math" regarding the cost of the Super Hornet isn't working because you apparently equate "new and shiny" to "expensive and inefficient" and dismiss all other metrics that affect the cost of a aircraft. You also seem to think that being technologically mature (another word for old) as a synonym to "effective." The F-18 is also about as hand built as my Honda, which is in and of itself a baffling comparison since things that are build by hand are generally much more expensive. 

 

People wanted this airplane canceled for the same reasons that people thought the battleship would forever be king of the seas. 

              

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

F-35 is perfectly capable of carrying out CAP missions, its internal load of 4 AMRAAMS does limit this ability to an extent though (F-22 carries 6 internally). This problem will be solved with the block (24?) F-35 due out in 2024 which will increase interal payload capacity by 2 missiles. If you have to you of course have the option of an external load.

As for the dog-fight problem if a pilot has to resort to cannon in it he probably has done something wrong or has been put in a situation he shouldn't be in. To aid this the F-35 is capable of using Aim-9X which is capable of high off-boresight firing and targeting using HMCS (Helmet mounted display) or the F-35's external sensors that allows engagement in 360DG around the aircraft.

Its also important to note that the F-35 is a flying AWACS, Jammer and ISR aircraft, its sensors are very good at doing all of those things.

Edited by Raptorx7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

shift8 and Raptorx7,

The story about the embarrassing out turning of the F-35 by an ancient F-16 was widely reported on defense sites and in the usual news. What you stated really was going on was news to me, and I thank you for telling me! The last time we bought the "We don't need guns in the Missile Age!" argument it cost us dearly in a place called Vietnam when our Sparrows were hitting, as a SECRET level analysis called RED BARON showed, 3% of the time. 0.03! COMBAT TREE, which read JEM (Jet Engine Modulation) greatly helped, but with a sky full of planes, a highly lethal air defense environment from SAMs, AAA and fighters, all those rosy expectatations of BVR sweeping the skies were obliterated by a war in which such shots were generally rare and taken under conditions in which out of envelope launches were common. So much for BVR. Consequently, we had to go to  Sidewinders and gun pods on the F-4 until the F-4E, which had an internal gun, arrived. And what was the single most lethal fighter type in that war? The gun armed F-8U Crusader.

Believe it might be useful to see how the Russians think about the problem. Their view is that jamming is going to be very heavy; that in order to get one hit they may have to launch a swarm of missiles, which is why they can carry a whopping 10, mixed radar and IR, including the "had this type of weapon operational way before we did" high  off-boresight AA-11 and its HMS. That thing pretty much terrified us at Hughes Missile Systems Group, for the West had nothing like it and wouldn't for a frighteningly long time. They have a very accurate and devastating 30 mm gun fitted to all their frontline aircraft, too. In fact, it's so accurate that the general in charge of the MiG-29 program said something to the effect of "If I'd known it was going to be so accurate I would've halved the round count and used the weight savings for something else." They have thermals and supermaneuverability via 3-D exhaust nozzles on the PAK 50 FA. MiG-29, Su-27 and derivatives have 2-D as standard fit. 

I wasn't arguing you couldn't fly CAP with an F-35. Rather, my point is that the F-35's principal design focus was strike, whereas the F-22's was air-to-air. With the sorts of sensors the F-35 carries, let alone its ability to tie itself into pretty much everything (provided no one hacks us), I see no reason why it wouldn't be an effective AMRAAM platform. As for my math, all other things being equal, an aircraft in which the problems have been rigorously identified and addressed over a period of years and is in mass production is cheaper than the newest bleeding edge technology aircraft in the very early stages of operational status. The F-35 has to be at least an order of magnitude more complex than an F/A-18 E/F, and the more complex a system is, the greater the likelihood of failure. Just don't see how the super high tech F-35 can be cheaper than the Super Hornet. 

This latest F-35 info alarmingly reminds me of a cartoon in which two scientists are standing before a pair of blackboards covered with complex equations. On the far bottom right of the second board is written "Then a miracle occurs." The one reviewing the work observes this and archly responds with something like"Smith, you may want to rethink that last part." Somehow an aircraft which was widely viewed in both defense and civilian circles as a Grade One Turd has somehow become the belle of the ball and come up roses, too. This is a narrative of which I'm deeply suspicious, for I'm schooled in things like gun decking logs, not reporting an array of failures, setting up tests in such a way as to make a weapon system shine, regardless of its credibility from a warfighting perspective, inflating survivability, etc. History is very much on my side.

Also, I've been inside such stories myself on programs like the B-1B. "Yes, we can penetrate the Russian air defenses." Minor problem. The state-of-the-art jamming suite has scads of technical problems in its bleeding edge hardware and incredibly sophisticated (millions of lines of code) software, too. Worse, it can't deal with monopulse threats (SA-10/S-300, for example). Oops. "No big deal, we'll attack with cruise missiles from standoff." What's conveniently left out of that statement is there are deep underground structures which laugh at piddly little W80 type nuclear warheads on ALCMs. Which. is why, before we had the B61 earth penetrator nukes, we carried 20 MT laydown bombs. Can't fit one of those in an ALCM.

There was also the matter of the Russian response to such attack threat, the MiG-31 and its supporting SUAWACS, the IL-76 MAINSTAY. B1-B with jammers that don't work vs a highly capable (should be since it was in considerable measure our tech) almost AWG-9 in terms of target handling FCS and what we called the Phoenixsky (ripped off AIM-54 Phoenix) it carried=huge new problems.  MiG-31 also had AA-8s and a  cannon, which should tell you something. Can also tell you that to sell the B-1B as a low level penetrator after the supersonic B-1 was found unsurvivable at high altitude, the Pentagon lowered the official speed of the Russian fighter which could otherwise catch it. Believe it was the FLOGGER B. These are but a few of the games played at various levels to obtain and keep getting the military's favorite toys. The new is always preferred over the old, often when it means losing ground (F/A-18 replacing  A-6 and F-14, for example, where legs, bomb load and long range FAD were all sacrificed to get it). This is why the Air force has tried so many times to kill the A-10, for it fears having the A-10 in service will reduce the F-35 buy. Besides, the Air Force hates doing CAS, derisively referring to it as "air to mud." It is the very antithesis of its "scarf and goggles" fighter pilot ethos and focus. Make no mistake. It's the fighter mafia that runs the Air Force. On the Navy end, adopting the F-35 means losing the very important redundancy of having two engines, which the Super Hornet has. This is a big deal for a force which primarily operates over sea, not land. 

Addendum

Here's another Pentagon game. Our SAM's Pk is, say, 0.8. We eat the Russian Air force alive when it attacks us. Now, we have to penetrate the Russian air defense to hit the target. If we treat their equivalent system as having anything like that level of lethality, our aircraft get shot to pieces en route, so our (insert weapon here) can't do its job, therefore isn't bought. Oops. Solution? Factor in a series of what were/are called operational degrades (P Acq, P Detect, P Launch, P No inflight malfunction, P Fuze and a bunch more), all of which are then multiplied sequentially to arrive at (following repeated tweaks) a hugely diminished Pk of the order of 0.3. Guess what? 0.3 just happens to be the magic loss percentage an air force can sustain and not be wiped out by attrition. Of course, 0.3 is the worst case! Restated, ours work great, and theirs sucks. Historical experience suggests the reality is much higher, absent evasive maneuvers,  jamming, DEAD, CIA spies learning precise command frequencies (see SA-2 and HABRINK). etc.  SA-2 in NVN was running Pk 0.5. until the US got itself sorted out. Egyptian IAD, spearheaded by the revolutionary SA-6, tore up Israeli CAS in the Yom Kippur War so badly that Israel stopped CAS altogether until it had smashed the mobile SA-6 SAMs and driven tanks and APCs clear through the Sa-2 and SA-3 belt. 

Regards,

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that it is ridiculous its cannon doesn't work right now but at the very least it is supposed to have one!

Also your kidding yourself if you think the A-10 would be able to successfully operate in a battle sapce with systems like S-400,S-300 and successfully provide CAS. F-35 at the very least has built-in defenses against this such as its stealth capability. I'm not saying the A-10 needs to go because it absolutely has its benefits, but A-10's aren't going to be flying around busting T-90's on day one, its just not possible.

As for the "fighter mafia" and the air force doesn't enjoy air-ground thats an insult to the pilots who fly CAS today in theaters around the world. There isn't a more important thing to a CAS pilot or a fighter pilot than making sure the guy on the ground is protected to the best of their ability.

Edited by Raptorx7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Raptorx7,

I'm talking about how the Air Force has long operated institutionally. It's been run, almost certainly still is, for the fighter community. Am in no way knocking the people doing CAS. what I'm saying is that, given a choice, the Air Force would prefer not to have to do it at all. CAS is not its thing, isn't perceived as glorious and historically hasn't been a path to general's stars. If it doesn't do CAS, then the Air Force is likely to find the Army eating from the Air Force's rice bowl, because it's going to take away funding in order to get the same net effect some other way. In fact, during one of the Air force's A-10 dumping attempts, the Army said: "We'll take them," which caused the Air Force to have a fit at the thought of the  (gasp) ground pounders in control of part of their (the zoomies, as my brother calls them) sacred fixed wing role. Am inclined to believe you on the A-10 Day One argument, but I don't know the altitude minimums for the SAMs in question. 200 feet used to be (circa 1980s) be the magic altitude. Why 200 feet? Below it the probability of ground clobber (aka splat!) was high. Get above it, and the SAMs would eat you for lunch.

Regards,

John Kettler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know about F-35, but RQ-4 Global Hawk approx 1time per 2-3 weeks entering in our airspace with turned on transponder and conducting own task along frontline on high altitude. 

Edited by Haiduk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, John Kettler said:

It's been run, almost certainly still is, for the fighter community.

That has been largely the case since Viet Nam. Before that, it was run by SAC and the bomber crowd, which didn't do the CAS crowd any good either. And then we have the ICBM crowd. They might not be doing a whole lot in the way of recent acquisitions, but they still absorb a lot of cash and talented people. CAS has always sucked hind tit, having mostly to do its job with second-hand machines that the A2A boys were tired of playing with.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as I know, The 17-1 kills were achieved in concert with accompanying F-22s. How many times will they be available, and of course not at all to US allies?

Lets see some results of F-35s only vs aggressors.

I assume that the scenarios did not include any WVR, since the F-35 is not cleared to shoot any AAM except for AMRAAM. Airframe stress tests with AIM9s on the outer pylons overstress the wings which will need to be fixed, outer pylon loadouts compromising the stealth anyway. As stated opening the gun door causes unequal drag that pulls it out of alignment, not to mention it has a very small ammo load-out.

Better hope you do not come up against any Sukhois flying 10k feet higher and 0.5 mach faster to impart extra range to their 10+ missile launches, also bearing in mind that look-down is not pure frontal aspect so reduces stealth effectiveness.

And when the F-35s have shot their 4 missiles, they will turn away but with their slow speed, poor acceleration, limited afterburner time, poor rear aspect stealth and big IR engine, they run the serious risk of being run down by opposing leakers or fast long range missiles, especially ramjet-powered just coming into service.

Sensor fusion does not yet work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a very good reason that the Air Force emphasizes the fighter community: this is the main job of an air force. 

An air force does not exist first and foremost to support ground troops. Before all else, it exists to maintain control of the skies. If you could do one thing ONLY with your air force and still meet its minimum justification for existence, it would be to control the sky.....or at least prevent the enemy from doing so. All other roles for the air force are ancillary to the air supremacy role. The only role that can be argued might be parallel to this is that of ISR. 

Once you contest or control the skies, your next task as a Air Force is to begin destroying ground based IADS.

Only after you present the capability to control the sky and carve out corridors for strikes can you even begin to contemplate attacking ground targets. Your first targets will not be of the close air support types. The first targets will be either strategic or logistical. Factories, roads, bridges, supply lines etc. Not only do these targets have a far larger effect than direct battlefield intervention, it also is more practical since low level IR SAM's and radar AA are much more difficult to weed out. 

Therefore force that is majorly or even exclusively fighters of one form or the other is the most desirable since it maximizes utility while also guaranteeing that every highly expensive aircraft you purchase is capable of performing the critical air supremacy mission that facilitates all the other possible uses for your aircraft. 

 

 

John, the vast majority of "expert" opinions on the F-35 have been favorable. The opposition to this plane has been largely facilitated by very bad "pop" history combined with the first time a weapons system of this magnitude had the terrible misfortune of being judged by the general public. Google is a double edged sword. Combined with concurrency and the massive scale the project, it was only a matter of time before every person and their grandmother had an opinion on something they had little context to understand. Much has been made of the supposedly inordinate cost and huge number of development problems. Anyone who takes the time to read reports on the legacy fighters in their infancy will realize that the F-35s issues are nothing new. And besides that we have already gone into the fact that the F-35 is really not any more expensive than planes like the Super Hornet, if not outright cheaper, if would seem illogical to compare the cost and scale of a program to replace several different fighter types with any one program....something everyone likes to do. 

 

Your analysis of Vietnam is not precisely factual. During the Vietnam war the vast majority of kills were inflicted by missiles. On the order of about two thirds, even with aircraft that had cannon like the F-8. The F-4 Phantom scored the majority of the victories during the war, not the Corsair. Phantoms shot down 107 enemy planes to the F-8's 19...and only about 16 of the Phantoms kills were with guns. Even the F4E with its integral gun made 2/3'ds of its kills with missiles.....mainly the sparrow.  AND the majority of F-8 A2A victories were with the sidewinder, not the gun. That is not to say that not having a gun was a mistake, but that the magnitude of the mistake has been grossly over exaggerated. 

Pk is also a horrendous method for analyzing the effectiveness of missiles. Remember that Pk is the number of launches vs number of kills. It is NOT launches were hits, which while everyone knows this, everyone seems to use the figure as if it is equivalent. Early Vietnam era weapons had their issues to be sure, but they were far more effective that they have been given credit for. They also were influenced by many factors that were not inherent problems with design, but rather tactical or logistical issues. For example, Vietnam aircraft had very crude systems compared with what is used to day to ensure that the launch aircraft was in proper parameters to fire. As a result alot of pilots fired weapons outside of parameters. Sometimes they did this on purpose, specifically to spoof enemy planes into thinking they were in position so that they could force them to break. Pilot training, which was lacking in Vietnam for a number of reasons, contributed greatly to out of parameter shots when combined with the simple missile cuing systems. Missiles were also frequently mishandled on the ground, unlike today, which lead to mechanical failures at a greater rate than should have occurred. For these reasons and others, some units actually made is SOP to fire several missiles at once, which guarantees a lower Pk even if every single missile finds its mark. On other words, training and tactics were the real problem........and the missiles STILL performed well enough to supersede all other forms of attack. Weird mystery that we still use missiles. 

Similar things are true for the BVR portion of the coin, mainly in that even when sufficient systems were in place to use BVR weapons, units were rarely allowed to use them in this fashion. More so because of over caution of commanders, and not actual risk. 

 

 

The F-35 is going to be a spectacular aircraft. The combination of stealth, sensors, and weapons is going to more or less game changing. There will be no loose end non-stealthy planes and the fusion of the F-35s sensors will allow it to act as a force multiplier for the whole battle space, not just the USAF. 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

shift8,

Methinks thy math is off. Here's the breakdown I have from the pertinent Wiki. I count 47 20 mm kills, 57 AIM-7 kills, 60 AIM-9 kills and 5 AIM-4 kills. Remember, this was a war in which we supposedly didn't need guns anymore. Yet if my math's right, 28% of all the US MiG kills were from guns, That's hardly insignificant. Compared to the number of F-4s flying for the Air Force and the Navy, the F-8s were a fairly small portion, yet plane for plane they far outperformed the F-4s, which for much of the war lacked a gun at all, when it came to air-to-air kills. By the time the F-4E got there the air situation was drastically different, starting with a considerably smaller NVN air presence, allowing a far better chance of long range shots. But when you analyze the situation relative to the BVR rules crowd, almost 2/3 of the kills came from WVR missiles and guns. Don't know about you, but I think that's of considerable military significance, and I'm sure many would agree. Further, I would point out the US for quite some time had no dedicated SEAD on the Air Force side, while the Navy, I believe, rapidly got religion and began flying IRON HAND missions specifically to hammer SAM site and flak positions. Concur that missiles were mishandled, and I saw a classified Navy film specifically to show the shipboard environment. After watching it showing missiles hauled out of the magazine and I forget how many decks up, then wheeled considerable distances through the galley then practically rammed into a freight elevator to the hangar deck, etc., I marveled that any missile worked, let alone most of them.

Have no idea what you were reading regarding the F-35 but the coverage on it, on one defense site after another, including sites such as War Is Boring, was anything but favorable. Rather, it was one horror story after another, including an avionics suite at only 60% capability when operational, with full capabiity, presuming things worked properly, some unknown number of years later (recall it was hoped to be 2 or 3, but they didn't know for sure because the system was so--wait for it-- incredibly complex, especially in terms of the software and getting everything to talk to everything esle correctly), a gun two years or more then away from being able to fire, the super helmet which cost a bloody fortune ( $60K, later explained to me as being because each one had to be custom made for the specific pilot due to the way it displayed information, read what the pilot's eyes were doing and responded very precisely to any head movement). After that came the being out turned by the ancient F-16, a story leaked by appalled Air Force pilots involved in the evaluation. Who, then, do I believe? Piles of reports, some sourced from within the airplane driver community, plastering the defense and the mass media detailing one major problem after another regarding the F-35 or your bald assertion flatly contradicting almost all of them and substantiated by you with what, exactly? 

I think you misunderstand the purpose of an air force. Everything it does has the ultimate aim of putting ordnance on a ground target or deterring the foe by threat of doing that. And that is  really support for the ground forces which win the war. Everything else is a means of getting there. The Air Force hates CAS because it is messy, dangerous and inglorious. It does interdiction and other types of non-CAS bombing because it has to, but the fighter pilots would happily do nothing but air-to-air. It is their calling and great love. It is how they define themselves. For all their high tech, their mentality is very much informed by the salad days of WW I and II. And for decades, it is they who have structured the Air Force to suit themselves, with promotions reflecting that. Maybe things have changed, but that was the pattern for a very long time. Certainly, there were exceptions. Curtis LeMay was a towering figure who started with fighters but early on became a bomber guy and stayed on that path from the early days of the B-17 on, smashing and burning Japan with B-29s during WW II, then founding SAC, which he grew into a world shattering colossus. He ultimately became Air Force Chief of Staff, one rung away from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Am reasonably certain you'll find him an exceedingly rare exception. 

Here's a real world data point from RED FLAG when I was at Hughes. F-15Es with F-15 CAP were tasked to hit a "heavily defended target" out on the range. This involved using the best US imitation of the Russian IADs to trigger RWRs,  ECM, "Smokey SAMs "to simulate SAM launch and such. What happened next? As the strike package was about to enter the IADS envelope the F-15 CAP refused to continue to the target and flat out abandoned the F-15Es, which had to precede alone. That was the fighter pilot mentality of that time at least. "Escort to the target and back? Really? But there are SAMs there (so I'm not going where they can shoot me)." This really happened, and it was a cause for both consternation and derision in my department. We couldn't believe the CAP would dare do such a thing on an exercise, and if a simulated IADS scared those pilots so badly they abandoned their charges, what would they do in wartime? By Desert Storm, we had ourselves sorted out, had  our AD killing act together, decapitated the IADS on Day One by first creating a small opening, created a safe corridor and ran largely wild thereafter, obliterating Saddam's air force in HAS which during the Cold Ware were practically immune to attack. I know, because I worked on that problem, along with the even worse NK artillery emplacements. By contrast, the Russians built NATO's version of a HAS, the TAB V, on one of their test ranges and proceeded to blow great honking holes in it with 240 mm rockets! I saw the deliberately degraded but still unmistakable as to what happened, S/NOFORN/WNINTEL satellite photos, so I know exactly what I'm talking about. 

Regards,

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, John Kettler said:

shift8,

Methinks thy math is off. Here's the breakdown I have from the pertinent Wiki. I count 47 20 mm kills, 57 AIM-7 kills, 60 AIM-9 kills and 5 AIM-4 kills. Remember, this was a war in which we supposedly didn't need guns anymore. Compared to the number of F-4s flying for the Air Force and the Navy, the F-8s were a fairly small portion, yet plane for plane they far outperformed the F-4s, which for much of the war lacked a gun at all, when it came to air-to-air kills. By the time the F-4E got there the air situation was drastically different, starting with a considerably smaller NVN air presence, allowing a far better chance of long range shots. But when you analyze the situation relative to the BVR rules crowd, almost 2/3 of the kills came from WVR missiles and guns. Don't know about you, but I think that's of considerable military significance, and I'm sure many would agree. Further, I would point out the US for quite some time had no dedicated SEAD on the Air Force side, while the Navy, I believe, rapidly got religion and began flying IRON HAND missions specifically to hammer SAM site and flak positions. Concur that missiles were mishandled, and I saw a classified Navy film specifically to show the shipboard environment. After watching it showing missiles hauled out of the magazine and I forget how many decks up, then wheeled considerable distances through the galley then practically rammed into a freight elevator to the hangar deck, etc., I marveled that any missile worked, let alone most of them.

Have no idea what you were reading regarding the F-35 but the coverage on it, on one defense site after another, including sites such as War Is Boring, was anything but favorable. Rather, it was one horror story after another, including an avionics suite at only 60% capability when operational, with full capabiity, presuming things worked properly, some unknown number of years later (recall it was hoped to be 2 or 3, but they didn't know for sure because the system was so--wait for it-- incredibly complex, especially in terms of the software and getting everything to talk to everything esle correctly), a gun two years or more then away from being able to fire, the super helmet which cost a bloody fortune ( $60K, later explained to me as being because each one had to be custom made for the specific pilot due to the way it displayed information, read what the pilot's eyes were doing and responded very precisely to any head movement). After that came the being out turned by the ancient F-16, a story leaked by appalled Air Force pilots involved in the evaluation. Who, then, do I believe? Piles of reports, some sourced from within the airplane driver community, plastering the defense and the mass media detailing one major problem after another regarding the F-35 or your bald assertion flatly contradicting almost all of them and substantiated by you with what, exactly? 

I think you misunderstand the purpose of an air force. Everything it does has the ultimate aim of putting ordnance on a ground target or deterring the foe by threat of doing that. And that is  really support for the ground forces which win the war. Everything else is a means of getting there. The Air Force hates CAS because it is messy, dangerous and inglorious. It does interdiction and other types of non-CAS bombing because it has to, but the fighter pilots would happily do nothing but air-to-air. It is their calling and great love. It is how they define themselves. For all their high tech, their mentality is very much informed by the salad days of WW I and II. And for decades, it is they who have structured the Air Force to suit themselves, with promotions reflecting that. Maybe things have changed, but that was the pattern for a very long time. Certainly, there were exceptions. Curtis LeMay was a towering figure who started with fighters but early on became a bomber guy and stayed on that path from the early days of the B-17 on, smashing and burning Japan with B-29s during WW II, then founding SAC, which he grew into a world shattering colossus. He ultimately became Air Force Chief of Staff, one rung away from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Am reasonably certain you'll find him an exceedingly rare exception. 

Here's a real world data point from RED FLAG when I was at Hughes. F-15Es with F-15 CAP were tasked to hit a "heavily defended target" out on the range. This involved using the best US imitation of the Russian IADs to trigger RWRs,  ECM, "Smokey SAMs "to simulate SAM launch and such. What happened next? As the strike package was about to enter the IADS envelope the F-15 CAP refused to continue to the target and flat out abandoned the F-15Es, which had to precede alone. That was the fighter pilot mentality of that time at least. "Escort to the target and back? Really? But there are SAMs there (so I'm not going where they can shoot me)." This really happened, and it was a cause for both consternation and derision in my department. We couldn't believe the CAP would dare do such a thing on an exercise, and if a simulated IADS scared those pilots so badly they abandoned their charges, what would they do in wartime? 

Regards,

John Kettler

I think that it is you who misunderstands the purpose of an air force. The ground forces do not "win" the war any more than the air force does. All of the arms support each other, BUT to do that they must first achieve their intrinsic purpose. The purpose of a ship is to sink ships. The purpose of a tank is to kill tanks. And the purpose of a rifleman is to kill other rifleman. Only when they achieve mastery of these areas can they properly merge as a fighting unit. 

I will say this one last time for emphasis: Destruction of the enemy air force is the first and foremost mission of any air force. Period. 

 

The mentality of those pilots was absolutely correct, and the scenario only makes my point. Without said escort, we wouldnt even being discussing the IADs problem, because you never would have gotten their in the first place. And we wouldnt be arguing over the role of the fighters AFTER they successfully made sure the strike package arrived. It makes little sense for valuable fighter planes who have no weapons capable to engaging the SAMs to put themselves in range of the SAM's. Its senseless to risk aircraft for no purpose. 

 

Furthermore John, if you are going to reference something like War Is Boring as an example of "expert" opinion, I am afraid we have a rather large difference in perception when it comes to what that entails. When I was referring to "everyone and their grandmother" having and opinion on the F-35, I was specifically noting things like that site. The reason you had "horror" story after another was because like I said, you had a bunch of relatively ignorant journalists and enthusiasts writing articles about things they know nothing about or to promote what particular worldview they like. If they had been reporting every single design process of the F-15 in the 60s or 70, you would have had the exact same crap going on. 

 

As for the math...

I stated that around 2/3s of the air to air kills in Vietnam were done with missiles. Not sure precisely how you see the numbers you gave as differing on that statement. You listed the total kills as 169. With 47 gun kills, we get a gun kill percentage of 28%......or less than a third. The rest of my figures were for specific aircraft. I also specifically stated that not having a gun was a mistake, but that the severity of this has been massively overstated. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do any of you remember the "massive" controversy surrounding the development of the Bradley in the '80s? It all turned out to be made up BS, the Bradley has a better combat record than the Abrams. I suspect this on going argument about the F 35 will turn out the same way.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You guys definitely don't want to believe all the bad press you've seen online.  F-35 is pretty damn cool.

I always find it interesting that the folks talking about the newest Russian/Soviet wunderwaffe* with a pk greater than 1 and an intercontinental range are the same ones saying how important it is for modern fighters to have guns.  Don't get me wrong, to quote another pilot "I've never met another pilot I didn't want to gun" and I absolutely love BFM flights, but there's not going to be a lot of that in a peer to peer conflict.

My experiences are limited to the Super Hornet (I've never heard that it's more expensive than an F-35 and I guarantee operating costs are lower) and the biggest issue with it is fuel capacity/range.  Simply put it sucks, and the F-35 improves upon this.  I've also had the opportunity of trying out the F-35 simulators used for training pilots.  There is a lot of really cool features built into the plane that really does put it on the next level up.  The comparison that it's an AWACS/Jammer/ISR aircraft strapped onto a fighter aren't wrong.  Here's an example of the sort of things it can do.  You don't see that everyday.  The F-35 will complement nicely other 5th generation fighters as well as current 4th generation inventories.  It's an exciting program  (I was a skeptic before entering the Fighter Attack community).

Let's break down the big three Russian toys:
-The PAK FA has 8-12 airplanes produced last I checked, of which only the last 5 airframes are potentially combat capable.  There have been promises that production will start "soon" in order to reach IOC sometime between 2020 and 2025.  That's a big window that's pretty damn close.  There are also reports of discussions in Russia as to whether or it not it justifies the cost (sound familiar?).  The US has experience with research, development, and procurement of stealth and fifth Generation aircraft.  Russia does not.  There is no way in hell that this program will be an easy development and acquisition on the Russian side, and we have seen signs of that.  The Indians also have expressed grumblings about their side of the program and are beginning to actually move away from it.  So until there are shadows on ramps, treat it as another novelty, or at best a technology demonstrator.
-The R-77 (or AA-12 Adder) began initial development in the 1980s and was subsequently cancelled, only to be revived for limited development in the 1990s where it fell victim once again to budgetary issues.  Fewer than 200 rounds were produced prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, until export versions started popping up and getting sent to other countries.  It's hard to find any sort of mention of production (although lots on development of super versions of the missile, which again, never appear to have been produced.  Sounds familiar).  The most recent mention was a request for proposals on production in 2015, but not an actual order.  If you look at photos from Syria you'll notice the vaunted (and beautiful, not going to lie) SU-30SM only carrying the much older R-27 missile (Sparrow equivalent) instead of the Amraamski.  Only after Turkey shot down the SU-24 did a limited number of R-77s appear. So while a capable missile, yet again there aren't nearly as many when compared to the AIM-120.

-S-400 or SA-21:  Last report I saw was that the long range missile, the 40N6 was still in development as of 2015 and is only just starting to roll out, if at all.  There is no evidence to suggest that the long range 40N6 has in fact been deployed.  The other long range missile, the 9M96 appears to be stuck in development hell and they have stopped trials on it.

All of these are things worth considering.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Splinty said:

Do any of you remember the "massive" controversy surrounding the development of the Bradley in the '80s? It all turned out to be made up BS, the Bradley has a better combat record than the Abrams. I suspect this on going argument about the F 35 will turn out the same way.

 

I would definitely recommend watching The Pentagon Wars. It's a comedy but feels all to real haha. (help me...)

@shift8, what credentials do you have over John or anyone else?

Responding specifically about the CAP, I imagine it was in place to deal with interceptors that are part of any good IADS? If they wave off, the ground pounders become pickings for GCI MiG 25s in John's example.

On the purpose of an air force, wasn't one of the major lessons of WWII that you can't win a war from the air, no matter how hard LeMay tried? CAS was the lifeblood of combined arms in the Btitish, US, Soviet and German armies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, HerrTom said:

 

On the purpose of an air force, wasn't one of the major lessons of WWII that you can't win a war from the air, no matter how hard LeMay tried? CAS was the lifeblood of combined arms in the Btitish, US, Soviet and German armies.

Nor did @shift8 ever say otherwise; his statement was quite clear to me: Win air superiority then everything else (re: effective CAS and sealing off a battlezone) fall into place.

Which, btw, the US did to the 9th degree in both WWII and the Gulf-War. Highly successful ground and amphibious offensives, supported by overwhelming CAS, were the end result of months long strategic air superiority campaigns and shows-of-force. Shift8's assertions aren't just correct; they are propped up by the lesson of history.

Furthermore, I have to say he's quite right about dissecting John's argument. The math actually supports his earlier assertion (i.e: 2/3rds of all kills were with missiles) which everybody except Shift8 and Duchess are somehow conflating with "2/3rds of all kills were BVR" - 'missle kills' especially in that era were often WVR. Further, the PK assertion is also correct. Let me put it into an analgous format: It took dozens upon dozens of rounds to get a confirmed kill in WWII with small arms - ergo, the M1 was a poor weapon. It's obviously a silly statement and its a legitimate BVR and WVR missile tactic to 'smoke em if you got em' to get the enemy fighter defensive, whereupon your follow-on salvos will get them flat-footed.

ECM and chaff is also not a magical barrier that slaps away missles like a Guardian angel. In reality if you're heading into a situation that's not favorable, you freaking egress, not pucker up and go for a merge because you're in a sci-fi transplant. Because you're not. The sheer speed and capabilities of modern missiles make disengaging the safest option, every time. None of this (a) precludes dogfighting or (b) suggests that the US and other NATO country's dedication to learning BFM is silly, just that its not going to be common. BFM takes up a disproportionate amount of training time not because jockey's are convinced we're going to be gunning one another in a peer-conflict, but because BFM is difficult, complex and physically taxing and helps develop good pilots regardless of how often it will practically be used.

2 hours ago, Splinty said:

Do any of you remember the "massive" controversy surrounding the development of the Bradley in the '80s? It all turned out to be made up BS, the Bradley has a better combat record than the Abrams. I suspect this on going argument about the F 35 will turn out the same way.

Haha, bang on.

I applaud people who are skeptics and critical of new procurements for their country's armed forces - it is, after all, your tax money and your co-citizen's lives at risk (the F-35 became an election issue in Canada, for example). It's part of being a participating citizen, so I'm in no means saying 'be quiet you don't know any better', I enjoy these discussions, I just think that there's a bit of panic-history going on here in lieu of evidence to the contrary.

Edited by Rinaldi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, OK Rinaldi, I guess I misunderstood the argument on that point a little.

 

But on missiles, WVR kills whether they are guns, IR homing, or radar guided, all still require maneuverability. I think John's point was along those lines and got lost in the guns/no guns argument. The root of that was that long range missiles were the beginning and end of aerial engagements. Admittedly, Vietnam's lessons are mitigated somewhat in that missiles are able to fire when you're pulling more than 2 gees or whatever, but it still is salient. The F4 was a brick with wings because it was meant to be a truck for missiles, carrying along that philosophy and lost out on the maneuvering front much to its detriment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, sburke said:

You're joking right?

I know what you're getting at but a person can be a good resource on some things and be unreliable in others. John has pretty unique experience in this area and disparaging that because of unrelated things isn't reasonable. For example, I may truly believe in the flying spaghetti monster but does that mean that anything I say about rocket engines is bupkis?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't one to derail this but his source citing is typically unreliable as noted above. To cite him as a reliable source compared to someone like @shift8 is just way off base. I truly do not intend to insult John but it has been noted repratedly that he does not vet the resources he links to. It is simply a flood of data frequently from very questionable sources. It is what it is and in a very detailed technical discussion one does need to consider the historical reliability of a source and not just consider all views as equal. This is not about any commentary on his activities outside this forum, that is not relevant here. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...