Penetrating Counter Air / Next Generation Air Dominance

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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popcorn

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Unread post19 Jul 2017, 01:07

Form follows function ie. the platform is secondary to the capabilities the AF will prioritize. IIRC Gen. Hostage said the 6Gen could be a button that you press and the enemy blows up. :mrgreen: That's a lot of leeway for designers to play with.
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Unread post19 Jul 2017, 07:22

Is it remotely possible that a 6th gen system could be partly space based?

I ask simply because by 2020 space X will have a launch platform capable of putting the mass of a small naval corvette in orbit (roughly 1 million lbs). To not leverage that capability for our military would be a waste imo.
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Dragon029

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Unread post19 Jul 2017, 08:17

Well NGAD is meant to be a family of systems and the F-35 + F-22 already utilise space assets, so I wouldn't be surprised if the PCA incorporates increased sensor fusion with space-based assets.

As for SpaceX's ITS / BFR, it definitely could be useful for the USAF / the Space Corps, but it'll be a while until it's proven to be reliable enough to carry the kinds of government payloads that would require its thrust.
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Unread post19 Jul 2017, 17:10

arian wrote:South China Sea? Isolated island outposts hundreds or 1,000 miles away from China? I'm pretty sure that doesn't require much in new assets to deal with (not from us anyway. China would need a heck of a lot of new technologies however)


China's plans for the 2035-2070 timeframe are a little unclear. :)
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Unread post19 Jul 2017, 23:27

talkitron wrote:
arian wrote:South China Sea? Isolated island outposts hundreds or 1,000 miles away from China? I'm pretty sure that doesn't require much in new assets to deal with (not from us anyway. China would need a heck of a lot of new technologies however)


China's plans for the 2035-2070 timeframe are a little unclear. :)


Maybe we can get some climate scientists on this. They seem to be able to come up with accurate predictions 100 years into the future.
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Unread post19 Jul 2017, 23:49

arian wrote:Maybe we can get some climate scientists on this. They seem to be able to come up with accurate predictions 100 years into the future.

Huh?
No one ever claimed they can make accurate predictions for centuries in the future, but they DO have models with some predictive power.

On topic: the Chinese plan to dominate the SCS and if the US will want to have a say in that, they would prefer to stay out of AShM range when things get too hot, so PCA will definitely need lots of range.
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arian

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Unread post20 Jul 2017, 03:03

juretrn wrote:Huh?
No one ever claimed they can make accurate predictions for centuries in the future, but they DO have models with some predictive power.

You won't know if they have any predictive power until you observe the outcome and compare with the prediction. So, in 20 years. But yes, lets get back on topic. I posted that as a joke.

juretrn wrote:On topic: the Chinese plan to dominate the SCS and if the US will want to have a say in that, they would prefer to stay out of AShM range when things get too hot, so PCA will definitely need lots of range.


SCS isn't the place such an asset would be used, or useful, or planned for in my opinion. SCS is a lot of island chains, some close to China and some very far away from China, but most within range of several other countries as well. So on the flip side, the Chinese would also need stuff with a lot of range and endurance if they intend to keep them in a full-scale war scenario (a highly unlikely scenario)

But, more importantly, SCS is not a place where an enemy can have convincing "area denial" capability. A few isolated islands cannot prevent much from moving around that area, regardless how many SAM batteries one puts on them.

In my opinion, this PCA concept is for countering future 5th gen fighters. If in the future an enemy will have a comparable 5th gen fighter (and eventually someone will), then your existing sensors on your 5th gen fighters may be insufficient to counter them. So you'll need a platform that will be able to carry all sorts of additional sensors to augment your own, and operate with your 5th gen planes deep in an enemy's territory. You may need AESAs with different bands, more powerful EO or IR sensors, more powerful ESM sensors etc. All of that takes too much space for a fighter-sized plane, so this thing would need to be big and mostly full of sensors.

However, the swarm UAV concept aims to do the same by distributing sensors across multiple UAVs controlled by 5th gen planes, flying ahead of it and giving it an advantage over a 5th gen opponent lacking these additional sensors.

Personally, I think the best idea would be a combination of the two. UAVs may not have the range to operate too far, or the speed to keep up with the 5th gen planes. But a UAV mother-ship can deploy them when needed, and have the ability to operate "deep" with the 5th gen fighters.

PS: As to the geopolitical implications of SCS, I never understand why we get involved in their disputes. Who cares if China wants to squabble with Vietnam and the Philippines over that area? There are some things not worth fighting over.
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Unread post20 Jul 2017, 06:14

arian wrote:PS: As to the geopolitical implications of SCS, I never understand why we get involved in their disputes. Who cares if China wants to squabble with Vietnam and the Philippines over that area? There are some things not worth fighting over.


As I understand it the US is taking no sides and encourages the parties to work issues out diplomatically. The military posturing has everything to do with reminding China that their pop-up islands don't carry any weight as far as restricting the US' Freedom of Navigation rights in the area.
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Unread post14 Dec 2018, 03:09

This article will probably be posted later in other threads but I thought I place this in PCA because its the first instance official doc discussing numbers.

CBO: 414 PCA with service entry in 2030 to start replacing the F-15C/D and F-22 by 2050.

https://www.cbo.gov/system/files?file=2 ... unding.pdf

The 2 most relevant paragraphs.
Penetrating Counter Air Aircraft
The PCA aircraft is one component of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance effort to develop systems that will eventually fill the air-superiority role that the F-15C/D and F-22 occupy today. The Air Force has not determined the characteristics of the PCA aircraft, but the Air Force Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan indicated the need for a highly advanced air-superiority aircraft to be fielded in the early to mid-2030s. CBO’s projection includes purchases of 414 PCA aircraft with an average procurement cost of about $300 million each. Procurement appropriations would begin in 2028, and the first PCA aircraft would enter service in 2030. (In light of the long development times associated with F-22s and F-35s, however, that projection of the PCA aircraft’s delivery schedule may be optimistic.) CBO projects that, by 2050, the PCA aircraft would replace the roughly 400 F-15C/Ds and F-22s that the Air Force operates today.

CBO’s projected procurement unit cost for the PCA aircraft is based on two factors. First, the PCA aircraft would probably have a greater range and payload, as well as improved stealth and sensor capabilities, than today’s F-22; those characteristics would help it operate in the presence of the high-end air defenses that DoD believes China, Russia, and other potential adversaries may have in the future. (Stealth capabilities reduce the chance of detection by radar and infrared sensors.) Second, other stealthy aircraft, such as the B-2 bomber and the F-22 and F-35A fighters, have experienced cost increases that resulted in lower production rates and decreased total purchases. Containing costs for the PCA aircraft may be similarly difficult.
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sferrin

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Unread post14 Dec 2018, 04:28

If they want 414 they'd be better off asking for 2000.
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Unread post14 Dec 2018, 05:31

CBO report shows the limitations of projecting the past into the future. Industry and DOD have learned to contain costs on stealth after f22 f35 and b21. PCA might just as well come in on budget and on time.
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Unread post14 Dec 2018, 16:43

sferrin wrote:If they want 414 they'd be better off asking for 2000.


^^^THIS^^^

Time and again, asked for numbers get whittled down. Look at the F-22: Original requirement? 750. Then every few years/Congressional reviews, down to 330 or so. We wound up with a silver bullet fleet of 187, which is really more like 120 combat coded (perhaps 150, if they fund upgrades to some of the "lesser" aircraft). It happens every time..

So yeah, we're going to have to ask for at least 1,500 - 2,000 to wind up with 414. That number itself I feel is insufficient, especially when you consider where a lot of the other $ is going. The USAF desperately needs an aircraft with a combat radius of at least 1,500 miles (each way), to minimize Chinese threats to our tankers, AWACS etc..

The F-15/F-22 fleet (tiny as it is) is probably adequate for most conflicts, minus the SCS. Much depends upon just how good the F-35 is air to air, as its ability to "pinch hit" is vital. Like the 1,000 swing role F-16's we have today, the F-35 may be needed in the air superiority role in the future. Personally, I think it'll do just fine. But even the F-35's legs will be insufficient in the SCS, at least without tankers.

And yes, PCA will have to be sold as mult-mission. It'll have a stated primary function of air to air, but also air to ground, forward AWACS/ISR and flying magazine platform.

Like an aircraft carrier in the sky.,..
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Unread post14 Dec 2018, 20:38

weasel1962 wrote: because its the first instance official doc discussing numbers.


It's pure speculation and extrapolation on CBO's part. Nothing more.
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Unread post14 Dec 2018, 23:30

mixelflick wrote:
sferrin wrote:If they want 414 they'd be better off asking for 2000.


^^^THIS^^^

Time and again, asked for numbers get whittled down. Look at the F-22: Original requirement? 750. Then every few years/Congressional reviews, down to 330 or so. We wound up with a silver bullet fleet of 187, which is really more like 120 combat coded (perhaps 150, if they fund upgrades to some of the "lesser" aircraft). It happens every time..

So yeah, we're going to have to ask for at least 1,500 - 2,000 to wind up with 414. That number itself I feel is insufficient, especially when you consider where a lot of the other $ is going. The USAF desperately needs an aircraft with a combat radius of at least 1,500 miles (each way), to minimize Chinese threats to our tankers, AWACS etc..

The F-15/F-22 fleet (tiny as it is) is probably adequate for most conflicts, minus the SCS. Much depends upon just how good the F-35 is air to air, as its ability to "pinch hit" is vital. Like the 1,000 swing role F-16's we have today, the F-35 may be needed in the air superiority role in the future. Personally, I think it'll do just fine. But even the F-35's legs will be insufficient in the SCS, at least without tankers.

And yes, PCA will have to be sold as mult-mission. It'll have a stated primary function of air to air, but also air to ground, forward AWACS/ISR and flying magazine platform.

Like an aircraft carrier in the sky.,..


so far the F-15 and F-16 have been the only ones that went the other way. The original plan for F-15s was 729 and F-16s was 1388.
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Unread post15 Dec 2018, 01:39

marauder2048 wrote:
weasel1962 wrote: because its the first instance official doc discussing numbers.


It's pure speculation and extrapolation on CBO's part. Nothing more.


It's a bit more than that. It's long term budget planning. Good idea to start parcelling out priorities. That will influence eventual project definition. I read it as more signalling limits on affordability. That appears to be the intent of the paper, not just on PCA but overall replacement strategy.
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