STEALTH- is it worth it?

Discuss air warfare, doctrine, air forces, historic campaigns, etc.

Is the cost of US stealth programs worth it?

Yes
47
84%
No
9
16%
 
Total votes : 56

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snypa777

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Unread post18 Sep 2005, 22:13

Been trawling around the net and was surprised to come across a lot of opposition to STEALTH aircraft in general. A lot of it from inside the US. A guy called Chuck Myers was involved in early stealth development apparently, he says ...." We have not yet produced a REAL stealth aircraft yet".

Most of the argument around stealth is the enormous cost of these aircraft. People argue that the US already has an airforce which is more advanced than any other without stealth. In 2003, the USAF had 3,000 combat planes, more than IRAN, IRAQ, CHINA and N.KOREA put together. For the entire cost of the B-2 fleet, you could put up a thousand Vipers! People talk about the combat record of the F-117 for example, in ODS. Not one lost. Four other aircraft had no losses in the same conflict but didn`t get the same props`. The `Vark flew many more sorties and didn`t get a scratch.........Ok, the F-117 flew in a higher threat enviroment, although it had radar supression support. The argument was that it was not really tested in IRAQ.
The above comments are not my own, just some comments I have seen.
The US has sunk more than $200 Billion into stealth aircraft.....Is it really worth the cash guys?????
Be interesting to see your comments guys...so I added a poll too.
"I may not agree with what you say....but I will defend to the death your right to say it".
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catisfit

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Unread post19 Sep 2005, 02:12

Great topic!

Personally, I think it's a great 'warm and fuzzy' to know that you're in something with low visibility to radar. It's definitely the current buzz in the US. But is it worth it? I'd say probably not.

Stealth is great as an aid in going undetected, but eventually you will be detected, and when that happens, you'd better hope that you can cope with whatever is staring down the fins of that ASRAAM...

I guess, if you have air superiority and you can guarantee that you have AWACS support and not many bandits about on CAP or whatever, then I'd take an F/A-22 for the added security stealth offers. If you're not in that position and there's a proper air war going on, then I'd sure as hell want to be in something that was designed for closer combat, especially with multiple bandits, not running and hiding (supercruise and stealth combination). In that situation, with a Su-35, a F/A-22 and a Typhoon parked on the apron in front of me, the F/A-22 would be bottom of my list (and I'm fully expecting the insults to come in after saying that!).

Stealth on the F-117 and B-2 makes a lot more sense to me.

I guess when it comes to cost, I'd be concerned that all that money is going to make a/c difficult to detect by what is effectively WWII technology. If you have something that can detect wake turbulence, all of a sudden it doesn't matter one bit how visible to radar your a/c is...

It will be interesting to hear what everybody thinks about this topic. Nice one snypa! :)
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Pat1

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Unread post19 Sep 2005, 05:33

I dare anybody to find a Eurofighter/Rafale/Grippen pilot who woudn't prefer the RCS of the F-22
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LordOfBunnies

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Unread post19 Sep 2005, 15:11

The point of stealth is first sight, first shot, first kill. That's why the raptor was designed. It is as good or better than any of its current competitors in the air superiority field. We've obviously run the tests and found this all to be worth it. If you look at the capabilities versus costs of the Raptor vs. the Typhoon. We come away look pretty good, superior fighter for marginally more ($10 mil I think). Nothing will save you when you are close in and are having an IR missile shoved up your tailpipe. That's why BVR has been focused on. Ok, done with the rambling, in short, I believe stealth technology to be worth it.
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snypa777

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Unread post19 Sep 2005, 16:46

Thanks for your response Catisfit, Pat and Bunnies. Boy this is slow moving though! I just want to say that the topic isn`t an attempt to "Rubbish" stealth programs. Nor is it a sideways try at "winding" anyone up! I just want a discussion here. It is a discussion forum after all!
As Catisfit said, given the choice of taking an aircraft into combat into dangerous airspace, I would take the Raptor every time. Along with every Eagle driver in the airforce I assume.
The thing is, it does look like the number of procured airframes has been reduced to 180 units, instead of the original 300+. Is that based on cost? Or operational requirements? I know the USAF wants all 300+, so it has nothing to do with requirements. The US millitary is stretched right now having a lot of international operational commitments. This costs a great deal of $. Something has to give way. All branches of the US millitary are going to feel the pinch. There have been re-thinks in the US millitary. Commonality of weapons platforms, getting the airforce down to just a few types of airframes, cost effectiveness are the buzz words we in europe have known for decades. We haven`t heard that before over here from across the pond! It seemed, for many years anyway, the US just threw money at every project. Half of the worlds R&D budget is currently spent by the US on millitary aircraft.

I think it makes perfect sense. Maximise your forces in the most cost effective way. I dont know enough about the Raptors performance in close in ACM to make a judgement on whether it is a better dogfighter than say....SU-35 or Typhoon. However, with thrust vectoring and a superior T/W ratio, it may be very,very good.
I am sure most fighter pilots would prefer lower RCS than one the size of the goodyear blimp! A correction from my first post....For the entire B-2 fleet, you could put up nearly 2000 Vipers!
Another point I saw written about. What effect will stealth have on the US millitary aircraft industry? The US wont be exporting stealth, except in degraded versions to some airforces. Who wants a degraded aircraft? There is more choice now in the international fighter market. In ten years time, will anybody want F-15s or Vipers when they can have a Rafale, Typhoon or an SU`? Exactly what will the US export?....
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ACSheva

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Unread post19 Sep 2005, 21:07

Ask the Iraqis if its worth it. :D

Shev
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Knifeedge

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Unread post19 Sep 2005, 21:13

i think at the cost, it is definitely not worth it, but the cause, worth it.
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elp

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Unread post19 Sep 2005, 22:02

I think it is. But you probably need the opinion of someone already shot down by large radar assisted SAMs or maybe the squadron commander of the F-117s in Desert Storm who was counting heads coming out of Iraq the first night. That was a stiff air defense environment. And even with the other football team total special team support assist like ECM, SEAD, DEAD etc.... legacy ( non-stealth ) aircraft were still lost to ground fire. Consider also that they mission planned Desert Storm, thinking they were going to lose some F-117s. No one knew. Some of the old heads knew one thing: It was a stiff defense. I would say B-2 is worth it. Put down multiple PGMS... ( JDAM and soon SDB only help this as they can be launched farther away)meaning, more total protection from traditional radar sensors) and you have a contempt of engagement of traditonal threats, that didn't exist before. Not too long ago, a B-2 dropped 80 JDAM-38's ( 500lb BLU-111 ( or mk-82? I forget) dumb iron -- with a JDAM kit on it...) . .... In one pass..... from around 40,000 ft.... miles away..... and all the weapons hit different targets.... Add SDB to that.... ( where some people say in public consumption... that it will kill 60-70% of known target types.... and now the same aircraft can hit over 1?? plus targets, in one mission.

Stealth only makes our cheap near all weather PGMs.... net centric warfare (NCW) ( which is steady at maturing )... much more powerful. Even though, reliable, cheap PGMs, and NCW really started to shine, long after stealth was already fielded.
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cmcd

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Unread post13 Oct 2005, 00:52

It seems to me, and correct me if I'm wrong, that Elp's main point is that stealth allows us to exploit our other advantages to the greatest extent- PGM's. It allows us to fight on our terms. I believe he is true to a point.

I think there is a balance to be reached somewhere in the spectrum between expensive stealth and inexpensive non-stealth aircraft. Imagine the extreme scenario- a fighter that can totally dominate any other, but so expensive that we can only have one- and no other aircraft beside it. Obviously this would be a foolish purchase, the advantage would only be ours until that single jet ran out of missiles or fuel. Soon our enemy's numerous low tech surviving aircraft would destroy our forces.

While this particualr scenario is fictional its not as irrelevant as it mey seem. Look at the direction the Air Force is headed, just a few hundred F-22's, while we retire at least as many F-16's and 15's. Can 2 or 3 squadrons of F-22's defend an area that today requires many more F-15's? Can a few squadrons of JSF's project the same power as twice the number of vipers at the same cost? Which would be more devastating to our enemies, large numbers of attacking vipers (some of which get shot down) or fewer JSF's (who are not getting shot down)?

I think there needs to be a healtyh discussion on the role of stealth/ expensive systems in the future. Should we sacrifice numbers (and the force that large numbers bring) for a relatively few technologically advance fighters? Or should stealth be retained as an expensive battering ram, a device we use to reduce the enemy to such a state that they are incapable of defending themselves against our lower tech forces? Or, on the flipside, should we invest ourselves in stealthy technologies? Perhaps the balance we need is that every one of our planes should posses as much advantage as possible even if it means limiting the number of those planes we can own due to budget.

If we could know who our enemies will be in 20 years this decision would be easy. If we'll still be fighting terrorists then more 16's would be the best way to go. If we are going to fight China, then we'd better keep investing in F-22's and 35's. But since there's no way to know, where is the healthiest balance?

So, I guess I'm inviting opinions. Should the Air Force structure itself towards lower numbers of higher cost airframes (stealthy) or should it adjust to possess a few high cost assets and then a larger volume of lower cost airframes. Which scenario prepares us best for the widest possible scenarios in the future?
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Roscoe

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Unread post13 Oct 2005, 04:55

I would bet a paycheck (now that I'm retired it is substantial :)) that the folks saying NO are not close to the world. Those of us who are the LO world understand what it can and cannot do. LO is a force multiplier...it makes everything else more effective. To butcher Boyd, anything that we can do to slow down the bad guy's ability to make informed decisions and lets us stay "inside his decision loop", well boys, that's what wins battles.
Roscoe

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Roscoe

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Unread post13 Oct 2005, 04:57

How do we vote? I see no buttons
Roscoe

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IDCrewDawg

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Unread post13 Oct 2005, 05:33

I think its a good idea. My reason? Well this is going t sound really bad but its my opinion and how I feel about it.

I think if america is going to continue its mission in forcing our way of life on the rest of the world, we need to be ready to punch the guy in the nose that want's to fight us about it. For example, china may want to give us the finger and tell us to leave all areas of the planet that are within striking range of thier airplanes. They don't want us interfearing in their affairs any longer. Of couse we know that america wouldn't stand for that kind of thing so we would go toe to toe. If we are going to get into a kicking match with some other country who is well equiped, well manned, and has the home field. I believe we should go into the fight with all the weapons we can possibly have to win the fight.

Iraq isn't a good example, they were using very old equipment, and under trained. If we are to go against another superpower (China is one of these), then I think we need to pursue every avenue possible to give our boys the best chance at bending chinas ear to our will, and then comming back home to see their kids participate in the school play.
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snypa777

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Unread post13 Oct 2005, 19:31

Hmmm, Roscoe, the voting buttons were there, now they are gone????
Can any of the mods` tell me why?

I think a crucial point concerning stealth is just what kind of enemy is America going to face in the future, if any? Does the US millitary "hedge" it`s bets and go for an expensive all stealth force to cover any eventuality? Or do a strategic review , wargaming session to decide whom the US is likely to face? Then go for a mixed force of stealth and none stealthy jets?

I think this question has already been answered. The F-22 and the F-35 are "GO".....The millitary is covering all possible angles. Not just in aviation but also with stealthier navy ships and the army`s future armour.

If the US went with a none stealthy force, then all of a sudden "needed" stealth against a big league player, OH-Oh, big problems....
If you go all stealth, at least in the most needed types of jet, A2A A2G, no worries, you got all bases covered.
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LordOfBunnies

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Unread post13 Oct 2005, 19:49

Snypa, that is why almost all of our stealth aircraft can hang store on the outside as well. In some cases, they can hang a LOT of store outboard. I'm not sure how many slots the Raptor has but remember it can also care things inside and has a lot of carrying capacity. The US knows how to cover its butt. The thing is, I think we need more non-stealth get the job done assets. This means either upgraded legacy aircraft, or modern, cheap non-stealth aircraft. Think a newerish Viper for the modern age. Stealth assets aren't needed for that long, they are needed for to clear the skies so the legacy aircraft can kick butt unimpeded. As they say, it's for the first 3 days of the war. The skies will either be cleared or the enemy aircraft will be destroyed on the tarmac. The US has to much strike capability for things like that to last much longer.
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snypa777

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Unread post13 Oct 2005, 19:56

Bunnies, that could be justification for a smaller F-22 force, give an enemy a three day pounding with hard to kill stealth jets, then hand over the reigns to the none stealthy forces.... 180 Raptors may be enough.

On the other hand, we can`t guarantee 3 day fights that go according to plan.
"I may not agree with what you say....but I will defend to the death your right to say it".
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