Russia is closing the gap with US air superiority

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mk82

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Unread post11 Aug 2016, 19:29

Nobody talked about one of the biggest elephants in the room..so I will..the lack of competition in the Russian fighter aircraft industry/domestic marketplace. Everything nowadays is Sukhoi or bust for new Russian fighter aircraft....Rossiya MOD: Hey Mikhail, we need X to do Y...Sukhoi: No problems we will modify a flanker to back flip 3 times and balance some borscht on its canopy....Russian MOD: How about Y to do X ...Sukhoi: No problems Tovarisch. We will modify a Flanker to forward flip 4 times and balance the borscht on its belly...success!!

Frankly, Sukhoi has gotten too comfortable and "lazy" serving up warmed variants of the Flanker for years and unsurprisingly struggled with a relatively clean sheet design/project like the PAK FA (which looks like a stealthtified version of the Flanker honestly). And why should Sukhoi try harder? Who is going compete with Sukhoi realistically - Mig? Mig is pretty much gutted surviving on breadcrumbs from the Russian MOD and small fish export orders. Yakolev? Apparently, only good for trainers.... One can imagine the conversation between Russian MOD and Sukhoi. Russian MOD: Put put is displeased with your effort on the PAK FA. I can't send you to Gulags Mikhail but I may have to look at another design from another design bureau. Sukhoi: (Laughs Russian MOD official out of the Sukhoi boardroom) Call me when you find someone else... Russian MOD: Hey Mig.....oh wait.....

One can imagine how much better Russian fighter designs can be with proper competition in the industry....even if it just between MIG and Sukhoi. Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Guverich must be spinning in their graves if they knew how far Mig has fallen...
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les_paul59

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Unread post11 Aug 2016, 19:36

The Russians just don't have the economy to compete with the U.S. not even counting NATO, hence why Putin is trying to cherry pick some resources from Crimea, and the arctic. He needs anything that he can get.
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str

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Unread post11 Aug 2016, 21:32

mk82 wrote:Nobody talked about one of the biggest elephants in the room..so I will..the lack of competition in the Russian fighter aircraft industry/domestic marketplace. Everything nowadays is Sukhoi or bust for new Russian fighter aircraft....Rossiya MOD: Hey Mikhail, we need X to do Y...Sukhoi: No problems we will modify a flanker to back flip 3 times and balance some borscht on its canopy....Russian MOD: How about Y to do X ...Sukhoi: No problems Tovarisch. We will modify a Flanker to forward flip 4 times and balance the borscht on its belly...success!!

Frankly, Sukhoi has gotten too comfortable and "lazy" serving up warmed variants of the Flanker for years and unsurprisingly struggled with a relatively clean sheet design/project like the PAK FA (which looks like a stealthtified version of the Flanker honestly). And why should Sukhoi try harder? Who is going compete with Sukhoi realistically - Mig? Mig is pretty much gutted surviving on breadcrumbs from the Russian MOD and small fish export orders. Yakolev? Apparently, only good for trainers.... One can imagine the conversation between Russian MOD and Sukhoi. Russian MOD: Put put is displeased with your effort on the PAK FA. I can't send you to Gulags Mikhail but I may have to look at another design from another design bureau. Sukhoi: (Laughs Russian MOD official out of the Sukhoi boardroom) Call me when you find someone else... Russian MOD: Hey Mig.....oh wait.....

One can imagine how much better Russian fighter designs can be with proper competition in the industry....even if it just between MIG and Sukhoi. Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Guverich must be spinning in their graves if they knew how far Mig has fallen...


Right...but the competition is a symptom, not the problem. There's not enough money floating around to support all of the old design bureaus. Which is why they were all merged 10 years ago into United Aircraft Corporation, which last year managed to sell less than 100 fixed wing aircraft last year. That includes Sukhoi and MiG fighters, as well as Tupolev and Ilyushin airliners.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Ai ... orporation

Honestly, part of the problem is competition. UAC would be a lot more functional if Tupolev didn't have to compete with Boeing, EADS, Embraer and Bombardier for commercial sales. But it does have to compete. And it doesn't win those competitions. So it relies almost entirely on Russian state funding (which as I stated earlier) is far, far less money than Lockheed, Boeing, Northrop, BAE and EADS get to fight over.

You can never sustain more supply than you have demand for. You can't sustain demand for more than you can afford to buy.
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mk82

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Unread post12 Aug 2016, 09:02

You are right STR. But I still feel that -> Instead of forming one giant company (UAC) with multiple subdivisions (with Sukhoi still the King Kong and the other design bureaus pretty much on life support and uncompetitive), the Russians should have formed a few seperate companies of amalgated design bureaus (e.g UAC 1, UAC 2, UAC 3). This will give each new company adequate amounts of pooled funding/capital which will allow them to be more competitive (including the ability to hire more capable employees/designers/engineers)...and will give the Russian MoD real choices when it launches fighter competitions. The new companies could be seperated into commercial and military lines. That way, failures on the commercial side will not affect the military side of things.

Interesting that Mikhail Pogosyan is now one of the key leaders of UAC and I am not suprised if most of the funding/capital is being diverted to Sukhoi so that it retains its monopoly on the Russian tactical aviation market whilst MIG is kept on terminal life support until the legacy MIG fleets are retired (the newest MIG product is the MIG 35...quite weak sauce for the famed MIG design bureau). I do wonder if Mikhail Pogosyan was one of the main drivers behind a single UAC - Sukhoi won big there!
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zero-one

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Unread post12 Aug 2016, 10:17

So how many aircraft manufacturers are left out there

The US has:
Lockheed Martin
Boeing
Northrop (last fighter was the F-14 by Grumman)



Russia has:
Sukhoi
Mig
Yakolev
Tupolev (Just makes bombers now)

did I miss anything?
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hornetfinn

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Unread post12 Aug 2016, 13:16

I don't think aircraft manufacturing is the biggest problem for Russia. It's that the companies that manufacture electronics and avionics components don't have nearly similar technologies and capabilities to manufacture the products. They have imported some older technologies from Western sources, but production capabilities are quite modest and only cover pretty basic products like commercial CPUs. It's not straightforward to go and use that to produce more specialized items like militarized T/R modules or DSPs or similar. Russian companies also have very limited markets for such products and thus doesn't have money and resources for R&D to develop new products and especially new technologies very quickly. Of course they are improving, but not any faster than Western companies do, so the tech difference seems to stay pretty stagnant. I don't see them closing gap with USA at all.
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vilters

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Unread post12 Aug 2016, 13:48

Lack of competition is a worldwide problem.

Take the F-35 as an example.
Take the F-22 as an example.

What company, where on the globe, has a competitor for the F-35?
What company, where on the globe, has a competitor for the F-22?

Flying, working, ready for mass production and go in operations?

Eurofighter is older tech.
Rafale is older tech.
Griphen is even older tech with a fresh coat of paint.

Pak-FA? Born to be buried.

Flankers? Migs?
How many?
And how many are in flyable condition? Let alone combat ready?

China? Just starting, and they are not even close by a decade or 2.

Engine wise the USA is 40 years ahead in tech. 'Design AND materials.)
Avionix wise the USA is 20 years ahead.
Software wise at least 20 years ahead.
Airframe wise the USA is 20 years ahead.

In the coming decades, this difference will only be increasing because.

Neither France nor the UK has the money to invest in a new Airframe.

Russia will get poorer and poorer with gas and oil prices going down, and the system is drunk and corrupt to the bare bones.

China? Wish they could, and they are trying, but its OWN engine development has not even started to a point that it can be mentioned.

Engine and avionix/software tech is THE MOST important of any new design.

And that tech is only in the USA.
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arian

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Unread post16 Aug 2016, 01:45

milosh wrote:
arian wrote:But either way the most interesting thing is how they took a Kh-65 and strapped on a new front fuselage and claimed it to be a "stealthy" cruise missile, even though it's got a completely exposed engine hanging underneath the missile. I think that speaks volumes as to their philosophy.


It is cruise missile which mission is to fly low (under 110m) so I dont see why exposed engine is big deal.


So why do you think US stealth cruise missiles go to such trouble to hide the engine and intake in the fuselage? A cruise missile doesn't normally fly at it's lowest altitude the whole way. It usually only goes there in the terminal phase of approach in order to get range.

Even at 110m, radar horizon is about 60+km. Hiding such a large reflector as the engine would be important even at 110m altitude since you can be seen quite a long way, compared to a fully stealthy cruise missile which may cut this down to 1/3 or less.

Either way there doesn't appear to be any features of that missile, looking at the wreckage, that indicates stealth. Go take a close look at a stealthy US weapon like JSOW (there are some in museums, so you can get the chance to get a close look). Serrated edges, gaps are filled a filler which is probably some sort of RAM etc. A pointy nose doesn't make something stealthy like the Russians claim for KH-101.

han9 wrote:The question of perceived frequency of cruise missile failures may have something to do with the frequency and willingness of English language MSM to report it – that however is really OT here.

As to if Rus CMs actually hit have a look below

Rus UAV footage of places struck

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3eDynXdh8Y

for example at 0 : 17 the cross hair is on the building and split second later the explosions begin, so it is reasonable to say this was the target and it was hit just as intended. Claimed to be cruise missile strike but we could not see them coming.


Cruise missile strike

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGZHMSI17nc

One can actually see the cruise missile coming from the lower left corner towards the target. To make it easier to spot the frame is frozen for a few moments and the place the missile appears first is circled in red.

Cruise missiles again

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s96OR5K7Ego

at 0 : 29 and 0 : 41 to 0 : 43 one can, just barely, see the cruise missile coming


There's no indication any of these are cruise missile strikes, other than Russian MoD claim. They may well be regular LGBs. Second, there's plenty of videos of them missing their targets too, filmed from their own UAVs. Their very first UAV footage from Syria in fact was a...spectacular...miss of a whole hill underground complex. Missed by several hundred meters, yet they claimed it as a "success". There are a lot more UAV videos of them missing their targets than there are of them hitting their targets (and overall the whole use of guided weaponry by the Russians has been very small in Syria, with the vast majority being pretty indiscriminate bombing by dumb bombs)

Third, I'm sure of the dozens of cruise missiles they fired, some obviously hit their targets. Yet plenty of others crashed along the way or even failed to explode. Yes this happens with Tomahawks as well, as I said as well. But the cases of Tomahawks crashing or failing to explode can be counted on two hands out of several hundred missiles. With the Russian missiles we saw as many as 20% of their missile waves crashing. Out of 26 missiles launched in the first wave, 4 crashed in Iran and another 4 crashed in Syria (1 caught on video exploding in mid-air). Early Tomahawks from 1991 Gulf War had a slightly higher failure rate than today, but usage from the recent conflicts of the last 2 decades indicates only single digit failures out of hundreds of missiles.
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Unread post30 Aug 2016, 16:33

mk82 wrote:Nobody talked about one of the biggest elephants in the room..so I will..the lack of competition in the Russian fighter aircraft industry/domestic marketplace. Everything nowadays is Sukhoi or bust for new Russian fighter aircraft....Rossiya MOD: Hey Mikhail, we need X to do Y...Sukhoi: No problems we will modify a flanker to back flip 3 times and balance some borscht on its canopy....Russian MOD: How about Y to do X ...Sukhoi: No problems Tovarisch. We will modify a Flanker to forward flip 4 times and balance the borscht on its belly...success!!

Frankly, Sukhoi has gotten too comfortable and "lazy" serving up warmed variants of the Flanker for years and unsurprisingly struggled with a relatively clean sheet design/project like the PAK FA (which looks like a stealthtified version of the Flanker honestly). And why should Sukhoi try harder? Who is going compete with Sukhoi realistically - Mig? Mig is pretty much gutted surviving on breadcrumbs from the Russian MOD and small fish export orders. Yakolev? Apparently, only good for trainers.... One can imagine the conversation between Russian MOD and Sukhoi. Russian MOD: Put put is displeased with your effort on the PAK FA. I can't send you to Gulags Mikhail but I may have to look at another design from another design bureau. Sukhoi: (Laughs Russian MOD official out of the Sukhoi boardroom) Call me when you find someone else... Russian MOD: Hey Mig.....oh wait.....

One can imagine how much better Russian fighter designs can be with proper competition in the industry....even if it just between MIG and Sukhoi. Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Guverich must be spinning in their graves if they knew how far Mig has fallen...


This is very true (and insightful). The mighty Flanker has run out of room and can't be stealthed up, although they're trying with the PAK FA. So if it's not a true 5th gen design and won't will be for at least another 10 years, what good is it? I don't think they know the answer to that, other than it gives them something to sell to nations who can't afford/get the F-35.

Look at it this way: There are a lot of air forces like India that have long in the tooth 4th and 4.5 gen designs. They either won't or can't buy the F-35 - but they need something "like it". Hey, it just occurred to me who'd LOVE the PAK-FA.

Canada!!! :D
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Unread post30 Aug 2016, 17:33

mixelflick wrote: Hey, it just occurred to me who'd LOVE the PAK-FA.

Canada!!! :D

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milosh

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Unread post30 Aug 2016, 18:08

arian wrote:So why do you think US stealth cruise missiles go to such trouble to hide the engine and intake in the fuselage? A cruise missile doesn't normally fly at it's lowest altitude the whole way. It usually only goes there in the terminal phase of approach in order to get range.


KH-101/2 claimed range is 2700-5000km, first number is mostly lo-lo. New small KH-59 is similar to western approch:

http://ixbt.photo/photo/401381/56671Zrt ... 095956.jpg

So hidden engine isnt something Russians couldn't make, they didnt think it is most imporant for KH-101/2.

arian wrote:Even at 110m, radar horizon is about 60+km. Hiding such a large reflector as the engine would be important even at 110m altitude since you can be seen quite a long way, compared to a fully stealthy cruise missile which may cut this down to 1/3 or less.


In theory yes, but when you have SAM which radar antenna are angled with degradation of signal on its ends (which is with all pesa radars) in would impact horizon. Soviets decided to use mast radars because of horizon, do you really think they would do that if that isnt necessary?

arian wrote:A pointy nose doesn't make something stealthy like the Russians claim for KH-101.
[/quote]

I didnt saw they say KH-101 is stealth, I only read it has reduced RCS in comparison with KH-65. I dont read Russia stronk sites so much. If some russian journalist wrote stealth I would say poorly informed or over patriotic. AGM-129 is how big cruise missile look like if you want stealth.
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Unread post30 Aug 2016, 20:47

milosh wrote:KH-101/2 claimed range is 2700-5000km, first number is mostly lo-lo.


Highly doubtful.

So hidden engine isnt something Russians couldn't make, they didnt think it is most imporant for KH-101/2.


I'm sure they could make a hidden engine. I just don't think KH-101 is stealth, which is why they didn't bother. It simply looks that way for aerodynamic purposes.

In theory yes, but when you have SAM which radar antenna are angled with degradation of signal on its ends (which is with all pesa radars) in would impact horizon. Soviets decided to use mast radars because of horizon, do you really think they would do that if that isnt necessary?


Lots of people mount radars on masts, or in elevated positions too. The Soviets weren't the only ones, although they were the only ones facing the threat of actual low-level cruise missiles.

I didnt saw they say KH-101 is stealth, I only read it has reduced RCS in comparison with KH-65. I dont read Russia stronk sites so much. If some russian journalist wrote stealth I would say poorly informed or over patriotic. AGM-129 is how big cruise missile look like if you want stealth.


Ok. Fair enough. I was responding more to the stronk website claims, or the general opinion of KH-101. Although, these are claims the Russian government itself makes.
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Unread post30 Aug 2016, 21:58

mk82 wrote:You are right STR. But I still feel that -> Instead of forming one giant company (UAC) with multiple subdivisions (with Sukhoi still the King Kong and the other design bureaus pretty much on life support and uncompetitive), the Russians should have formed a few seperate companies of amalgated design bureaus (e.g UAC 1, UAC 2, UAC 3). This will give each new company adequate amounts of pooled funding/capital which will allow them to be more competitive (including the ability to hire more capable employees/designers/engineers)...and will give the Russian MoD real choices when it launches fighter competitions. The new companies could be seperated into commercial and military lines. That way, failures on the commercial side will not affect the military side of things.


There is only one capital source: The Russian state, which again, manages an economy roughly the size of Mexico. There is a *finite* amount of money and projects to fight over. They've already shelved PAK DA for the time being, because there are other more pressing needs in the Russian military. And each generation of aircraft is markedly more expensive than the last to develop. Aerospace companies the world over are already consolidating. There's only a handful left even in America and Europe, where there used to be dozens.

I know people like to think competition cures all, but competition only happens when a market is big enough to support it. If you split UAC in half, without giving them more than Putin's largese to live on, both companies will die. Never underestimate economies of scale.
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Unread post31 Aug 2016, 01:03

str wrote:
mk82 wrote:You are right STR. But I still feel that -> Instead of forming one giant company (UAC) with multiple subdivisions (with Sukhoi still the King Kong and the other design bureaus pretty much on life support and uncompetitive), the Russians should have formed a few seperate companies of amalgated design bureaus (e.g UAC 1, UAC 2, UAC 3). This will give each new company adequate amounts of pooled funding/capital which will allow them to be more competitive (including the ability to hire more capable employees/designers/engineers)...and will give the Russian MoD real choices when it launches fighter competitions. The new companies could be seperated into commercial and military lines. That way, failures on the commercial side will not affect the military side of things.


There is only one capital source: The Russian state, which again, manages an economy roughly the size of Mexico. There is a *finite* amount of money and projects to fight over. They've already shelved PAK DA for the time being, because there are other more pressing needs in the Russian military. And each generation of aircraft is markedly more expensive than the last to develop. Aerospace companies the world over are already consolidating. There's only a handful left even in America and Europe, where there used to be dozens.

I know people like to think competition cures all, but competition only happens when a market is big enough to support it. If you split UAC in half, without giving them more than Putin's largese to live on, both companies will die. Never underestimate economies of scale.


Right. Competition isn't the answer because you also have a monopsony (the reverse of a monopoly). Competition in a monopsony is literally going to kill the losers, since they won't have any other customer to go to. This is what happened in the West.

I'm actually amazed some of these companies continue to exist.

As for civilian side of things, almost none, if any, of these Russian companies have civilian/commercial sides to them. The few dozen small airliners Sukhoi is going to build for third world customers are hardly worth talking about. They are not Boeing. LM, NG and others are diversified into other defense industries. All these Russian companies are single business entities.

Hiring competent people is complicated by the fact that Russians aren't required to stay in Russia, like they were in USSR days. The best talent will leave for astronomically higher wages and benefits in the West, or even be employed by Western companies in Russia itself. Boeing has a branch in Russia for example. Or did they close that down after the sanctions? But there's also other Western engineering firms in Russia that will attract them outside of aerospace. Who is going to go work for MiG these days?
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Unread post31 Aug 2016, 01:10

PS: On this topic, I just finished reading The Billion Dollar Spy, a book about Adolf Tolkachev who was a CIA spy that worked for NIIP and who gave the US secrets of Russian radar development (he gave them the Zaslon designs for example, as well as the A-50 radar etc.) The book goes into some detail about his standard of living, as a relatively high up designer inside this design bureau.

It was pretty astonishing just how poor these people were, and what sort of standard of living they had. Such a high ranking scientist, living in a 1 bedroom apartment in some commie block tower, with barely any access to good food or goods.

I can't imagine the situation has improved dramatically for scientists and engineers in Russia these days. Although certainly better, there is no comparison to the way a top designer at LM would would be compensated and their living standards. Why would any Russian scientist with marketable skills stay in Russia?
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