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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Corsair1963

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Unread post25 Feb 2020, 08:27

madrat wrote:FCAS is actually in the same weight class as F-35, so it most certainly is a threat to the program.



No as they belong to different "Generations" and are decades apart in development.


Germany and Spain can't wait 20-30 years for a replacement for their 4th Generation Fighters. (Tornados, Hornets, and Harriers) Nor, does replacing them with F-35's compete with the forthcoming FCAS. As the latter won't be ready for 20 years and would replace the Typhoons in the Air Superiority Role first. (i.e. Germany and Spain)
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cn

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Unread post17 Mar 2020, 12:56

I am 18 pages in so i have not read everything.
My question is why is a b21 a bad pca
I want real and argued reasons.

The only ones i can see are:
* Cost. But this really should be measured as $/kgOfPayload
* time to engagement. But against this is the speed and legs of the missiles it can carry

Thanks
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mixelflick

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Unread post18 Mar 2020, 11:37

Because it's a bomber, not a fighter. As such, it's not optimized for air to air missions.

It'll have good range and excellent stealth. But the radar will be optimized for air to ground, not air to air. The weapons bays will need to be completely re-wired and whatever new AAM's they're using will need to be re-qualified. Completely new training/tactics to effectively perform the air to air mission will need to be developed.

Add to this the fact it's only a subsonic bird, and things get even worse. Launching AMRAAM's or AIM-260's at subsonic speed sure isn't optimal, but the B-21 will have no other choice. No, the PCA launch platform will have to fly a lot higher and faster than the B-21.

All of these things make it a non-starter. I do hope they give it a self defense capablility - even just 2 AAM's would go a long way IMO. But it will not be part of PCA, there are just too many deficiencies...
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cn

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Unread post18 Mar 2020, 12:30

Thanks mixelflck
mixelflick wrote:Because it's a bomber, not a fighter. As such, it's not optimized for air to air missions.

It'll have good range and excellent stealth. But the radar will be optimized for air to ground, not air to air. The weapons bays will need to be completely re-wired and whatever new AAM's they're using will need to be re-qualified. Completely new training/tactics to effectively perform the air to air mission will need to be developed.

Add to this the fact it's only a subsonic bird, and things get even worse. Launching AMRAAM's or AIM-260's at subsonic speed sure isn't optimal, but the B-21 will have no other choice. No, the PCA launch platform will have to fly a lot higher and faster than the B-21.

All of these things make it a non-starter. I do hope they give it a self defense capablility - even just 2 AAM's would go a long way IMO. But it will not be part of PCA, there are just too many deficiencies...


the optimisation of the radar makes good sense but remember the system has to avoid lots of aircraft but i suppose it is not for targeting
The lack of kinetics to assist missile launch is also a good point but remember some of these missiles have rocket boosters to launch from the surface
The reorganisation of the weapons bay is a good point. But that seems to happen regularly with other aircraft especially the B 52.
However, i am sure you are right. thanks again for your answer
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wrightwing

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Unread post18 Mar 2020, 18:52

cn wrote:I am 18 pages in so i have not read everything.
My question is why is a b21 a bad pca
I want real and argued reasons.

The only ones i can see are:
* Cost. But this really should be measured as $/kgOfPayload
* time to engagement. But against this is the speed and legs of the missiles it can carry

Thanks

The PCA will be the follow on air superiority platform. It's priority is counter air, and as such will need much greater kinematic performance than a bomber could ever achieve (think agility that's competitive with F-35 and F-22, with superior combat radius, persistence, and supercruise range.) The plans I've seen are for ~400 aircraft, which would be out of the question for a B-21 platform. The speed and legs of missiles are related to the speed and altitudes, which they're launched at (i.e. the same missile fired by an F-22 at >M1.5 and 60k feet, will have ~50% more range, than if fired at M.8/35k feet.) You can forget about subsonic intercepts, too. A subsonic bomber is simply not suitable for an air superiority platform, no matter how many missiles it could carry.
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weasel1962

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Unread post19 Mar 2020, 02:13

To add the lay-weasel's view, a strategic bomber frame (e.g. B-21) is structurally optimised for heavy payloads i.e. fuel and weapons, particularly many very heavy weapons. That means the airframe would have to be strong (and thus heavier).

An air superiority fighter (e.g. F-22) would want to be as light as possible to increase maneuverability and take advantage of engine power. Due to the development of more powerful engines plus a requirement for greater range/endurance, fighters have grown heavier to carry more fuel but the principles probably remain the same. The F-22 was only intended to carry AMRAAMs (but added SDBs later to try and make it more relevant to the requirement for multi-role fighters today)

Strike fighters (known previously as FGA or fighter ground attack but now also called multi-role fighters) is the compromise between the 2. An example would be the F-35. The airframe would need to strengthen to carry more weight (beyond just fuel but also more heavier weapons) but not as much as to lose its maneuverability.

It is because the F-35 due to its later development has such a powerful engine that its TW (on A2A loadouts) or thrust weight ratio makes it more effective in the A2A role. Even then the F-22 still has the advantage due to its twin engine even though it has less powerful engines but which are more powerful than the F-15 ones that it was intended to replace. Hence a PCA can actually take advantage of the engine developments to maximise the potential of an air superiority fighter much better than the aging F-22.
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eloise

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Unread post19 Mar 2020, 05:22

wrightwing wrote:The PCA will be the follow on air superiority platform. It's priority is counter air, and as such will need much greater kinematic performance than a bomber could ever achieve (think agility that's competitive with F-35 and F-22, with superior combat radius, persistence, and supercruise range.) The plans I've seen are for ~400 aircraft, which would be out of the question for a B-21 platform. The speed and legs of missiles are related to the speed and altitudes, which they're launched at (i.e. the same missile fired by an F-22 at >M1.5 and 60k feet, will have ~50% more range, than if fired at M.8/35k feet.) You can forget about subsonic intercepts, too. A subsonic bomber is simply not suitable for an air superiority platform, no matter how many missiles it could carry.

But they don't need to use the same type of missile. A bomber can carry much bigger missile, imagine putting SM-6 on bomber. And you can put high power laser on the bomber to intercept incoming missiles.
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cn

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Unread post19 Mar 2020, 11:41

Thanks to all those who gave answers to my b21 suggestion
Interestingly the first page of posts on this topic also discusses the b21
I was surprised that manoeuvrability was brought up. i don’t understand why that is needed at all.
Getting to the fight fast ie super cruise was also not that compelling
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wrightwing

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Unread post19 Mar 2020, 21:12

cn wrote:Thanks to all those who gave answers to my b21 suggestion
Interestingly the first page of posts on this topic also discusses the b21
I was surprised that manoeuvrability was brought up. i don’t understand why that is needed at all.
Getting to the fight fast ie super cruise was also not that compelling

Maneuverability and speed are pretty compelling to the folks who understand what capabilities are necessary, going forward. A subsonic bomber is entirely unsuitable for OCA/DCA missions, no matter how many missiles it could carry. There's a reason why no air force has ever considered it. It's the same reason we didn't send up B-17s on A2A missions vs Me-109s, even though they could carry a lot more guns/ammo.
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f119doctor

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Unread post20 Mar 2020, 01:40

Actually, the AAF did try with the B-17 to self escort in WW2. See the YB-40 version of the B-17.

It was not terribly successful, although I believe it as the first use of the forward chin turret that was incorporated in later versions of the B-17.
P&W FSR (retired) - TF30 / F100 /F119 /F135
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wrightwing

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Unread post20 Mar 2020, 02:47

f119doctor wrote:Actually, the AAF did try with the B-17 to self escort in WW2. See the YB-40 version of the B-17.

It was not terribly successful, although I believe it as the first use of the forward chin turret that was incorporated in later versions of the B-17.

I'm talking about OCA/DCA missions, not self escort. The RAF didn't launch Lancasters to fight Me-109s and FW-190s, in the Battle of Britain. It doesn't matter how many guns (or in the case of the B-21, missiles) a bomber carries. It's no substitute for a fighter. The PCA isn't a self escorting bomber. It's a post F-15/22 air supremacy platform.
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weasel1962

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Unread post20 Mar 2020, 07:59

Mosquitos? That's probably the closest I can think of where a bomber design ended up as a fighter.
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falcon.16

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Unread post20 Mar 2020, 13:40

Corsair1963 wrote:
madrat wrote:FCAS is actually in the same weight class as F-35, so it most certainly is a threat to the program.



No as they belong to different "Generations" and are decades apart in development.


Germany and Spain can't wait 20-30 years for a replacement for their 4th Generation Fighters. (Tornados, Hornets, and Harriers) Nor, does replacing them with F-35's compete with the forthcoming FCAS. As the latter won't be ready for 20 years and would replace the Typhoons in the Air Superiority Role first. (i.e. Germany and Spain)



Yes, few days ago a Spanish Admiral told will be F-35B by 2027 for replacing Harrier II, and its possible F-35 A for Air Force. They are studying to buy all together B and A versions.

In 2022 or 2023 will take a final decition.
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mixelflick

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Unread post21 Mar 2020, 14:08

falcon.16 wrote:
Corsair1963 wrote:
madrat wrote:FCAS is actually in the same weight class as F-35, so it most certainly is a threat to the program.



No as they belong to different "Generations" and are decades apart in development.


Germany and Spain can't wait 20-30 years for a replacement for their 4th Generation Fighters. (Tornados, Hornets, and Harriers) Nor, does replacing them with F-35's compete with the forthcoming FCAS. As the latter won't be ready for 20 years and would replace the Typhoons in the Air Superiority Role first. (i.e. Germany and Spain)



Yes, few days ago a Spanish Admiral told will be F-35B by 2027 for replacing Harrier II, and its possible F-35 A for Air Force. They are studying to buy all together B and A versions.

In 2022 or 2023 will take a final decition.


Given their requirements (and if they want to stay in the STOVL business), they don't really have a choice. The F-35B is the only game in town. Luckily for them, it and the F-35A are easily the best too.

The F-35 really is re-defining air combat/strike fighters. Previously, NATO and non-NATO allies bought plenty of F-15's, 16 and 18's (although more of the latter 2). This brought them to parity insofar as performance with Russian Flankers and Fulcrums. Buying and fielding F-35's gives them a dramatic advantage. Mostly stealth, but also SA that'll run circles around those previous aircraft.

Pre-F-35 Red Flags went well for the blue forces if they scored 2:1, maybe 3:1 over red air (air to air arena), or took "acceptable" (read, more than a few) losses to red SAM's and integrated air defense networks. Flying the F-35, blue force achieved up to 20:1 air to air records, along with few if any losses taking out red SAM's, attacking key targets etc..

That's a BIG difference. They will (almost overnight) out-class much larger air arms, including (in some cases), Russia itself. Lemme put it this way: Russia would take it on the chin were it to send its Flankers, Fulcrums, or what have you into Israel. Every day that ticks by, more F-35I's arrive. And with them, out the door goes any perceived Russian advantage. They can fly their best SU-30SM's/35's into Israel, including their best pilots.

Most of them won't be coming home...
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wrightwing

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Unread post21 Mar 2020, 19:13

mixelflick wrote:



Pre-F-35 Red Flags went well for the blue forces if they scored 2:1, maybe 3:1 over red air (air to air arena), or took "acceptable" (read, more than a few) losses to red SAM's and integrated air defense networks. Flying the F-35, blue force achieved up to 20:1 air to air records, along with few if any losses taking out red SAM's, attacking key targets etc..

That's a BIG difference. They will (almost overnight) out-class much larger air arms, including (in some cases), Russia itself. Lemme put it this way: Russia would take it on the chin were it to send its Flankers, Fulcrums, or what have you into Israel. Every day that ticks by, more F-35I's arrive. And with them, out the door goes any perceived Russian advantage. They can fly their best SU-30SM's/35's into Israel, including their best pilots.

Most of them won't be coming home...

The >20:1 was the first Red Flag F-35s participated in, and with 3i software/envelope limits. 3F jets have had even better performance at Red Flag.
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