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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sferrin

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Unread post21 Jan 2020, 15:12

zero-one wrote:So the fighter sized component of PCA, weather a derivative of the F-22 or clean sheet may not be required to have extreme range at all. There may be a dedicated platform for that. Or there may be a Stealthy tanker as part of the PCA's family of systems.


What would be the point of a fighter lacking the range to be useful? Sounds like the USAF is trying to emulate the "success" of the Army's Future Combat System.
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wrightwing

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Unread post21 Jan 2020, 15:42

sferrin wrote:
zero-one wrote:So the fighter sized component of PCA, weather a derivative of the F-22 or clean sheet may not be required to have extreme range at all. There may be a dedicated platform for that. Or there may be a Stealthy tanker as part of the PCA's family of systems.


What would be the point of a fighter lacking the range to be useful? Sounds like the USAF is trying to emulate the "success" of the Army's Future Combat System.

Exactly. There won't be any components of PCA that don't have significant improvements in range, magazine depth, and low observabiilty. Those are pretty much a given. What remains to be seen are speed/agility requirements, along with whatever other features are included.
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mixelflick

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Unread post21 Jan 2020, 17:23

So assuming a 2030ish IOC date, shouldn't prototypes be flying now?

I know the USAF wants to avoid 27 year developmental histories, but we're just 10 years away now. Off the shelf components or not, they need to get moving. If it really is still on the drawing board, there's a lot of work to do. In fact, I can't recall the last fighter that took under 10 years from RFP to IOC?

Unless they're flying something now, its doubtful IMO 2030 is realistic. More likely 2035-2040. I just hope I see it before I die LOL. To see something so capable it makes the Raptor look feeble. Also, I think I read where the Navy's funding got cut on their F/A-XX. That doesn't bode well for a program I've long thought isn't plausible.

But back to PCA... does anyone really believe they're going to use off the shelf tech, at least in the final version? I just can't see it. Too much temptation for the latest and greatest, which of course will add to timeline and ultimately, cost. I suppose they have a responsibility/obligation to include the best tech possible for the warfighter..
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wrightwing

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Unread post21 Jan 2020, 20:00

mixelflick wrote:So assuming a 2030ish IOC date, shouldn't prototypes be flying now?

I know the USAF wants to avoid 27 year developmental histories, but we're just 10 years away now. Off the shelf components or not, they need to get moving. If it really is still on the drawing board, there's a lot of work to do. In fact, I can't recall the last fighter that took under 10 years from RFP to IOC?

Unless they're flying something now, its doubtful IMO 2030 is realistic. More likely 2035-2040. I just hope I see it before I die LOL. To see something so capable it makes the Raptor look feeble. Also, I think I read where the Navy's funding got cut on their F/A-XX. That doesn't bode well for a program I've long thought isn't plausible.

But back to PCA... does anyone really believe they're going to use off the shelf tech, at least in the final version? I just can't see it. Too much temptation for the latest and greatest, which of course will add to timeline and ultimately, cost. I suppose they have a responsibility/obligation to include the best tech possible for the warfighter..


I don't see a 2030 IOC being plausible. They haven't even identified the specific requirements yet. 2035-2040 Is far more likely, whatever they may be wishing for.
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Corsair1963

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Unread post22 Jan 2020, 02:52

wrightwing wrote:
I don't see a 2030 IOC being plausible. They haven't even identified the specific requirements yet. 2035-2040 Is far more likely, whatever they may be wishing for.



Exactly, this talk of vastly speeding up the development and production of the PCA/NGAD is just that....."TALK". :roll:
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zero-one

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Unread post22 Jan 2020, 08:41

wrightwing wrote:
sferrin wrote:
What would be the point of a fighter lacking the range to be useful? Sounds like the USAF is trying to emulate the "success" of the Army's Future Combat System.

Exactly. There won't be any components of PCA that don't have significant improvements in range, magazine depth, and low observabiilty. Those are pretty much a given. What remains to be seen are speed/agility requirements, along with whatever other features are included.


But thats exactly what the AF brass is saying:
https://www.flightglobal.com/usaf-backs ... 34.article
Grynkewich says range and payload are critical, but some studies show that speed, manoeuvrability and some level of low-observable shaping or stealth still have their place

develop a “family of systems” – including longer-range, higher-payload platforms to launch volleys of weapons at targets from “standoff” distances and others that will swoop in for direct attacks


So clearly, the PCA is not looking for all it's components to have extreme range. Not everything needs to cross the pacific in 1 tank of gas.

Like I said before, you can add range mid flight, via aerial refueling, but you can't add speed or maneuverability. The question is how much aerial refueling will you need. If the Raptor needs 10 to cross the Atlantic, reducing that to just 6 will be an improvement.

The AF has given no indication that all components of the PCA are required to be unreliant on Aerial refueling. So fighter sized components are still a possibility.

Regarding PCA candidates:
The planning chiefs did not rule out building derivatives of existing aircraft or even the Northrop Grumman B-21 bomber. Modest investments will also be made to upgrade and life-extending fourth-generation aircraft and modernise the F-22 Raptor.


So maybe my idea of having a modernized Raptor to fill out some roles within the PCA family isn't so far fetched after all.
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Unread post22 Jan 2020, 09:06

zero-one wrote:But thats exactly what the AF brass is saying:
Grynkewich says range and payload are critical, but some studies show that speed, manoeuvrability and some level of low-observable shaping or stealth still have their place

develop a “family of systems” – including longer-range, higher-payload platforms to launch volleys of weapons at targets from “standoff” distances and others that will swoop in for direct attacks


So clearly, the PCA is not looking for all it's components to have extreme range. Not everything needs to cross the pacific in 1 tank of gas.

Like I said before, you can add range mid flight, via aerial refueling, but you can't add speed or maneuverability. The question is how much aerial refueling will you need. If the Raptor needs 10 to cross the Atlantic, reducing that to just 6 will be an improvement.

The AF has given no indication that all components of the PCA are required to be unreliant on Aerial refueling. So fighter sized components are still a possibility.

Regarding PCA candidates:
The planning chiefs did not rule out building derivatives of existing aircraft or even the Northrop Grumman B-21 bomber. Modest investments will also be made to upgrade and life-extending fourth-generation aircraft and modernise the F-22 Raptor.


So maybe my idea of having a modernized Raptor to fill out some roles within the PCA family isn't so far fetched after all.


Literally the first part of the sentence is that range is critical. They won't be satisfied with just an 18% range increase like the ADVENT slides are showing for F-22. You might be able to get better range by increasing bypass and use a smaller core but then you'll probably sacrifice supersonic performance.

Also there are limits to bow much broadband stealth you can get with F-22 airframe from basic physics of the configuration. Aerodynamics and stealth has improved a lot since the 1990s F-22 airframe design, it's not hard to create something better with relatively low risk.

The plan was always to modernize the F-22 and F-35 fleet anyways, since EW is constantly evolving.

I just don't get why your plans keep going back to the F-22.
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zero-one

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Unread post22 Jan 2020, 09:43

disconnectedradical wrote:
Also there are limits to bow much broadband stealth you can get with F-22 airframe from basic physics of the configuration. Aerodynamics and stealth has improved a lot since the 1990s F-22 airframe design, it's not hard to create something better with relatively low risk.


well they don't have to. some components of the PCA can go nuts with stealth and sacrifice speed and maneuverability to have broadband stealth and extreme range. They can go tailess and be bomber sized which they will most likely be.

disconnectedradical wrote:I just don't get why your plans keep going back to the F-22.


Because thats what they said. Derivatives of existing designs or modernized versions of existing aircraft can be incorporated into the PCA family of systems.

We have to stop thinking that PCA will be another new jet that does everything. It could still be that, don't get me wrong, but the AF seems to be leaning towards a family of existing and clean sheet designs that complement each other.

If it were up to me, I would also want a clean sheet design that has 1,200 nmi radius and can pull 18Gs in an unmanned configuration with up to 10 AAMs and DI weapons for short range engagements.

But that just screams 10+ years of development and testing, something the AF has explicitly said over and over and over that they don't want. They want existing technologies that can be modernized and integrated into a family. I don't understand why you think a modernized F-22 a modified B-21 and some drones won't fit that description.
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disconnectedradical

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Unread post22 Jan 2020, 10:33

zero-one wrote:well they don't have to. some components of the PCA can go nuts with stealth and sacrifice speed and maneuverability to have broadband stealth and extreme range. They can go tailess and be bomber sized which they will most likely be.


You're making this "family of systems" idea more complicated than it needs to be and it feels like you're trying to force F-22 into the role. If you put F-22 into the role you'll need tanker support for longer range, missile aircraft for more magazine depth, and more EW assets to compensate for older stealth technology. You can split your 2030-2040 PCA capabilities into different platforms in a way that makes sense, but right now you're basically wanting F-22 to the fighter role, which needs all these supporting assets and it still won't be optimal.

A clean sheet fighter itself will cost more and take longer to make, but you get much more capability and you can also reduce how much supporting asset you need. If you want to go lower risk and better stealth, something like a v-tail like some of Lockheed Martin's concepts for 6th generation fighter can fit that bill. A tailless supersonic airplane will be riskier and more expensive.

zero-one wrote:Because thats what they said. Derivatives of existing designs or modernized versions of existing aircraft can be incorporated into the PCA family of systems.


No, that's what YOU want. They just say they're not ruling out existing aircraft derivatives, not that it must be F-22 derivative.

zero-one wrote:We have to stop thinking that PCA will be another new jet that does everything. It could still be that, don't get me wrong, but the AF seems to be leaning towards a family of existing and clean sheet designs that complement each other.


So your idea is to have clean sheet support aircraft instead of fighter so that you can have more F-22s? Because that's what it seems like you want. Sounds great if you're F-22 fan but then you may need more support aircraft to support F-22 than if you support a clean sheet fighter. Is that really more effective or cheaper?

zero-one wrote:If it were up to me, I would also want a clean sheet design that has 1,200 nmi radius and can pull 18Gs in an unmanned configuration with up to 10 AAMs and DI weapons for short range engagements.


Great strawman. Nowhere did I say we need some new magic plane. But a clean sheet design with much more range and payload, better stealth, and with mostly same performance as F-22 is not that hard to achieve especially with F-22 being more than 20 years old now.
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Unread post22 Jan 2020, 11:00

disconnectedradical wrote: If you put F-22 into the role you'll need tanker support for longer range, missile aircraft for more magazine depth, and more EW assets to compensate for older stealth technology.

Basically how the USAF has always operated.

disconnectedradical wrote:
A clean sheet fighter will cost more and take longer to make,

You mean exactly what they're trying to avoid

disconnectedradical wrote: but you get much more capability

Which is not really what they're asking for.

disconnectedradical wrote:
No, that's what YOU want.

Except its not. I already told you what I want. 1.2k nmi range and 18Gs maneuverability. No Raptor can do that.

disconnectedradical wrote:
So your idea is to have clean sheet support aircraft instead of fighter so that you can have more F-22s?


No.
B-21 derived long range interceptor,
B-21 derived long range tanker,
B-21 derived EW platform
and
F-22 derived air superiority fighter.
all of this, are just how I interpret the USAF's statements.
Just a possible outcome.

For what its worth, I honestly like your idea below better
disconnectedradical wrote: clean sheet design with much more range and payload, better stealth, and with mostly same performance as F-22 is not that hard to achieve especially with F-22 being more than 20 years old now.


But this is exactly what the USAF is trying to move away from. Another 16 year Dev period.
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Unread post22 Jan 2020, 11:53

zero-one wrote:
disconnectedradical wrote: If you put F-22 into the role you'll need tanker support for longer range, missile aircraft for more magazine depth, and more EW assets to compensate for older stealth technology.

Basically how the USAF has always operated.

disconnectedradical wrote:
A clean sheet fighter will cost more and take longer to make,

You mean exactly what they're trying to avoid

disconnectedradical wrote: but you get much more capability

Which is not really what they're asking for.


Really, USAF is not asking for more capabilities? Why are they putting so much emphasis on range and payload then? The whole point is a clean sheet fighter itself will cost more but need less supporting asset and is more survivable, so in the long run it may be better value than just using derivatives or only making clean sheet support aircraft.

zero-one wrote:Except its not. I already told you what I want. 1.2k nmi range and 18Gs maneuverability. No Raptor can do that.


I don't know why you're putting out these absurd numbers like 18g unless you're trying to make strawman on purpose.

zero-one wrote:But this is exactly what the USAF is trying to move away from. Another 16 year Dev period.


The huge development period is because F-22 and F-35 are developed as a SYSTEM, with airframe being just one part, the other two big parts are mission systems and engines. It's creating a whole system that's causing the long development times. Roper mentioned more emphasis on airframes, which can be sped up by decoupling mission systems and propulsion from airframes. I don't know if that is the way to do it or if that will actually make things more affordable, but new airframe is not the same as having a long development cycle.

For example, if your focus is just on airframe, create a clean sheet v-tail fighter with 1,200 nmi radius, Mach 1.5 supercruise, 7.5g maneuverability, 50% more magazine depth, and then use mature technology like F-35 avionics and also engine that has high enough TRL like ADVENT. Something with numbers like what sprstdlyscottsmn put out, though with a clean sheet rather than F-35 derivative you might get slightly lower gross weight for same capability. You might save a lot of time and money buy focusing on airframe while using existing or nearly ready avionics and engines.
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Unread post22 Jan 2020, 13:35

disconnectedradical wrote:Really, USAF is not asking for more capabilities?

They're asking for more capability that can be delivered by existing or mature systems, not more capability at the cost of another 10 year dev period.


disconnectedradical wrote:I don't know why you're putting out these absurd numbers like 18g unless you're trying to make strawman on purpose.

How many times have we heard the statement "the aircraft is limited to X Gs by the CLAWS but the aircraft is capable of much much more than that. I've heard that from Raptor, Typhoon and Rafale pilots, aircraft that were designed for just 9Gs to protect the pilot from GLOC. With an unmanned system, whats stopping them from doubling that?

An aircraft maneuvering at 9G will always be harder to hit than an aircraft at 3Gs, now imagine hitting something at 13 or 15Gs.

disconnectedradical wrote:You might save a lot of time and money buy focusing on airframe while using existing or nearly ready avionics and engines.


If it was possible then great, if it was possible then someone would have done it by now. Right now the fastest programs to develop are the ones that are derivatives of existing designs.
i.e.
F-15E: (ETF Program announcement 1981, IOC - 1989)
F/A-18E (Proposed as a replacement to the A-12 program in 1991, IOC - 2001)

These 2 programs seems more in line with what the USAF wants. No clean sheet design in recent memory has come close to those 2 in development time periods
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Unread post22 Jan 2020, 15:50

Interesting discussion..

I don't believe "more range and payload" are capable by modifying current airframes. Even a "stretched" F-22 isn't going to get to where USAF wants. That's even moreso true for the F-35. What we do know is that advanced derivative engines are being developled for each, with more info being availabe on the F-135. I've long thought the F-119's vague, "35,000lbs class" afterburning turbofans was suspect. Meaning I think they've been tinkering with it behind the scenes and have an up-rated, perhaps 45,000 - 50,000lb version (at least on the stand). Hell the F-135 can put out 43,000lbs, 2 to 7,000lbs more shouldn't be an issue. Fuel burn might, but that will come down with time. As for the avionics, I think those will be ported over from the B-21.

So with those 2 out of the way, we need an airframe. I don't think there's any question it has to be new build - no current American fighter is large enough to hold the necessary fuel/weapons. I don't think it's the B-21, as that's widely considered to be a subsonic design. I do think it'll be B-21 sized, but more along the lines of the YF-23's outline and with 0, 1 or 2 crewmembers.

But there's no way it gets here before 2030, or at least IOC by then. Until that time, modifying F-35's/22's with up-rated engines, sensors and especially the AIM-260/Perigrine will be crucial. And if USAF intends for the F-15C/EX to soldier on, that platform will need the same attention.

Would love to be a fly on the wall at Skunk Works... :)
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Unread post22 Jan 2020, 16:13

zero-one wrote:i.e.
F-15E: (ETF Program announcement 1981, IOC - 1989)
F/A-18E (Proposed as a replacement to the A-12 program in 1991, IOC - 2001)


From my perspective the two programs are nearly opposites. The F-15E was an evolution of the F-15B/D to the point that the first F-15B was modified into the demo unit for the F-15E, much like how an existing F-15E was modified with a Conformal Weapons Bay to be a demo aircraft for the F-15SE.

This would be like throwing CFTs on an F-35A to see what happens.

The F/A-18E was a brand new airframe with a familiar visual form using off the shelf systems and a derivative engine.

This would be like building a bigger F-35A with F135 upgrade path 2.
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Unread post22 Jan 2020, 16:32

To be perfectly honest. I'm not ruling out the possibility of a clean sheet design.
I just can't imagine how it can be achieved in the kind of time frame the USAF is saying.
5 years?
they got the Mud hen in 8 years, the Shornet in 10 years and the Lightning and Raptor in around 20+ years from concept to IOC.

But taking an existing design and upgrading it to modern standards is a more feasible way then starting from the ground up.

In fact, there are rumors that the B-21 seems to have taken it's design from the original high altitude version of the B-2.
https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-b ... mber-15352

If this is true then the B-21 can be called somewhat a derivative of the B-2, maybe thats why its called the B-21 or B-2.1 instead of B-3
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