Aircraft Designation Questions

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Kryptid

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Unread post04 Feb 2009, 17:58

I figured that this would count as "doctrine", so I put it in this forum.

1) The prototype for the F-22A was designated YF-22, which seems to be the traditional way of doing things ("Y" being the designator for prototypes). However, the prototype for the F-35 was designated X-35. Is there any reason why it wasn't designated YF-35 instead?

2) What is the difference between the "bomber" and "attacker" designations? They both attack ground targets. The A-10 and A-37, for example, can deliver bombs, as can the B-2 and B-52. Is the difference about precision? It seems to me that modern bombers are increasingly designed to attack precise targets as opposed to the carpet bombing that older aircraft used to do. In this respect, they seem to be getting closer to attackers like the A-10 which has laser-guided bombs. What about the F-117? Is it a bomber or an attacker (it's certainly not a fighter)?
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StolichnayaStrafer

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Unread post04 Feb 2009, 20:30

As far as "A" and "B" designations, I believe it goes back to a number of things. One example is the A-26 Invader. When first built, there was already the B-26 Marauder. The A differenciated the two planes. After the Marauder was retired, the Invader was designated B. Now it gets weird. Kennedy wanted to deploy Invaders to SEA but was not allowed to, since they were bombers. They were then re-designated as A-26s again to beat the technicality.

Also, in the old TAC/SAC days, "A" classified planes were generally tactical/CAS type platforms, while "B"(and in the instance of the FB-111) designated aircraft were used in the strategic role for the most part. It seems to have carried over to the Navy and Marines for the most part too, as far back to the beginning of the Cold War pretty much.

That's pretty much what I've got out of that part of your question- never quite understood the randomness of the X and Y designations in some cases. Interesting though that the difference between the A and B can make in getting to use runways in allied countries. Politics sure makes things interesting, eh?
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That_Engine_Guy

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Unread post04 Feb 2009, 23:20

Read all about it...

http://www.designation-systems.net/usmi ... craft.html

There is even page for engines. :cool:

http://www.designation-systems.net/usmi ... rBreathing

Keep 'em flyin' :thumb:
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TC

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Unread post05 Feb 2009, 00:49

Attack jets, simply said, are tactical aircraft, which carry a light AG load, of mixed ordnance (i.e., rocket pods, CBUs, LGBs, etc.). As Stoli said, Attack jets typically perform FAC/CAS duties. Sometimes, as in the case of the Harrier or A-10, attack jets also have a limited self defense capability (i.e., an internal cannon and the ability to carry AIM-9s).

Bombers are heavy aircraft, which carry a large AG weapon load. These aircraft also perform a Strategic mission, by carrying "Nuke-U-ler Weppins".
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Roscoe

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Unread post05 Feb 2009, 02:58

Kryptid wrote:The prototype for the F-22A was designated YF-22, which seems to be the traditional way of doing things ("Y" being the designator for prototypes). However, the prototype for the F-35 was designated X-35. Is there any reason why it wasn't designated YF-35 instead?


Quite frankly, somebody forgot to brief the SecDef before he made the award announcement. For reasons beyond my recall, the JSF competitors were not considered prototypes but risk reduction designs, so somebody suggested "X" designations instead. In truth, the next "F" number should have been used but for whatever reason nobody anticipated the press questions and SecDef winged it (or so I was told).

That said, we aren't fielding new fighters every 6 moths any more so I doubt that by skipping 10 or so numbers we're at risk of running out of numbers anytime soon. For that reason alone there may actually have been a plan to use the winning "X" number design to avoid any confusion.
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StolichnayaStrafer

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Unread post05 Feb 2009, 03:18

Don't worry though, we won't run out of numbers too fast.

Plenty of time for our F/A-1020 Cutters of the Federal Air Command from post-blast America. :wink:

:lol:
Bet nobody knows where THEY came from!
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asiatrails

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Unread post05 Feb 2009, 05:30

StolichnayaStrafer wrote:Don't worry though, we won't run out of numbers too fast.

Plenty of time for our F/A-1020 Cutters of the Federal Air Command from post-blast America. :wink:

:lol:
Bet nobody knows where THEY came from!



The binary system?

Top three aircraft

F-01010110

F-00000100

F-00001000
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Guysmiley

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Unread post05 Feb 2009, 18:11

asiatrails wrote:
StolichnayaStrafer wrote:Don't worry though, we won't run out of numbers too fast.

Plenty of time for our F/A-1020 Cutters of the Federal Air Command from post-blast America. :wink:

:lol:
Bet nobody knows where THEY came from!



The binary system?

Top three aircraft

F-01010110

F-00000100

F-00001000


How about hexadecimal?

F-15 = F-E
F-16 = F-F
F-22 = F-16
F-35 = F-23

Confused yet? :)
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asiatrails

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Unread post06 Feb 2009, 02:09

Guysmiley wrote:
asiatrails wrote:
StolichnayaStrafer wrote:Don't worry though, we won't run out of numbers too fast.

Plenty of time for our F/A-1020 Cutters of the Federal Air Command from post-blast America. :wink:

:lol:
Bet nobody knows where THEY came from!



The binary system?

Top three aircraft

F-01010110

F-00000100

F-00001000


How about hexadecimal?

F-15 = F-E
F-16 = F-F
F-22 = F-16
F-35 = F-23

Confused yet? :)


Guy, I was leading up to show how to convert an F-22 into an F-16 and a F-35 into an F-23 but you beat me to it.


F-01010110 is the F-86

F-00000100 is the F-4

F-00001000 is the F-8
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TC

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Unread post06 Feb 2009, 04:21

I must ask 3 things:

1) What the hell were you guys smoking?
2) How much?
3) Where can we get some? :lol:
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asiatrails

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Unread post06 Feb 2009, 05:16

TC wrote:I must ask 3 things:

1) What the hell were you guys smoking?
2) How much?
3) Where can we get some? :lol:



1. The good stuff

2. Dirt cheap

3. All gone

':cheers:'
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TC

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Unread post06 Feb 2009, 05:26

asiatrails wrote:3. All gone


Yeah, no $h!t, I can tell. :lol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnBjuicpUrE&NR=1

You've also inspired me to change my signature line. :lol:

"Aloha Mr. Hand!"
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Bodizzle

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Unread post06 Feb 2009, 06:42

This page: http://www.designation-systems.net/usmi ... tions.html says that the designation YF-** designates a test aircraxt, whereas X-** is an experimental design. I think, and this is just my hypothesis, that since up until just recently none of the 35's produced were production models; they were heavier, had some different systems, etc... So they weren't really the test models of the aircraft. The ones rolling off the assembly line now, AF-1, BF-1, etc... I think would technically be the YF-35's and would remain so until the completion of OT&E, which is supposed to be starting up at Edwards if memory serves.
As for the jumps in the X-** designation, there are actually X-planes for nearly every number, so 35 was just the next number in experimental aircraft. More than likely they kept 35 when the contract was awarded to prevent confusion.
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Kryptid

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Unread post26 Feb 2009, 14:52

3) This one is kind of a nitpick, but whenever I see F/A-18 written, it always has a slash between the "F" and the "A", whereas other aircraft with multiple letters in their designation often do not (ie. FB-111, XB-70, KC-135). What's the reason for that?
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TC

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Unread post27 Feb 2009, 00:10

When the Hornet was originally marketed, it was intended to be two separate aircraft, built by Northrop and McAir. Northrop was, at the time marketing the F-18L (L in this case, standing for "Land-based"). On the drawing board, it was a more direct descendant of the YF-17 Cobra, but this project was a non-starter and never saw the light of day. The Canadians, Spanish, and Aussies bought the same carrier-capable Hornet that the USN and USMC utilize.

However, I digress...

The A model Hornet was, as I previously stated, originally intended to be two separate aircraft: The F-18 would have been an A2A fighter, and the A-18 was intended to be a strike fighter to replace Phantoms, Skyhawks, Intruders, and Corsairs, and would retain limited self-defense capabilities.

However, advances in avionics, and some changes to the design of the weapon stations allowed McAir (at that point, the primary contractor) to combine the two designs, slash the price tag, and attract more customers, who were wanting a dual-role aircraft, much like the F-16.

The combination of the two designs, which already had two separate official designations, led to the first-ever forward slash "F/A" designation.

Other aircraft do not do this, as they are simply adding on a new mission to, or are a modification of, a previously designated airframe, hence the RF-4, EF-111, etc.
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