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Old 12-29-2010   #41
carl
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Default Chinese F-22?

The Information Dissemination blog has photos and many links to other photos and blogs regarding what appears to be a new Chinese 4th/5th generation fighter that is about to enter flight test.

http://www.informationdissemination....#disqus_thread

Maybe it is all photo shopped, maybe not. The consensus of the various authors is that it is not.

James Fallows wrote that the Chinese can get things into production and onto the streets very fast, faster than us. He gave an example of their having a knockoff of a new American electronic product on the street a day or two after the product launch of the American model. And the Chinese knockoff had more features. That may have some bearing on how fast they can get a new fighter into operation.
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Old 12-30-2010   #42
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Originally Posted by carl View Post
The Information Dissemination blog has photos and many links to other photos and blogs regarding what appears to be a new Chinese 4th/5th generation fighter that is about to enter flight test.

http://www.informationdissemination....#disqus_thread

Maybe it is all photo shopped, maybe not. The consensus of the various authors is that it is not.

James Fallows wrote that the Chinese can get things into production and onto the streets very fast, faster than us. He gave an example of their having a knockoff of a new American electronic product on the street a day or two after the product launch of the American model. And the Chinese knockoff had more features. That may have some bearing on how fast they can get a new fighter into operation.
What do you get when you cross a YF-23 with an F-22 and a PAK?

Which reminds me...I wonder what the J-10 reminds me of?

Maybe it's time we planted spies in China?
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Old 01-12-2011   #43
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This is Bill Sweetman on what he thinks the new Chinese superfighter, the J-20 is meant to do.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs...entId=blogDest

He figures it is a high altitude, long range supercruiser meant to pick off things we can't afford to lose, like AWACS, tankers and any little fighter that could not that happens to get in the way, from on high. I think this a bit worrisome.
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Old 01-12-2011   #44
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We'll see the length of their weapons bay soon. A moderate length would restrict the length of internal missiles to below super long range air-air missiles.
That in turn would not exactly support an anti-AEW mission.

An example for such super long-range A/A missiles are AA-13 Arrows.
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Old 01-12-2011   #45
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If the fighter had very long range wouldn't that make up for a missile of somewhat shorter range, especially if it were launched at great speed and from high altitude? The J-20 appears quite large. Perhaps something like a Meteor would do. That is a fraction of the size of the AA-13.
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Old 01-12-2011   #46
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It's not about the range, but about avoiding to close in, because that's risky.

An AEW&C aircraft may reliably detect VLO fighters at let's say 100 km. A F-22 combat air patrol could then escort it and go on supercruise to engage every attacker who's spotted at that distance.
A long-range missile would enable the attackers to shoot at the easily detectable AEW&C aircraft from 150-250 km away, avoiding the risky air combat.

(The figures were just examples, meant to only explain the dynamic.)
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Old 01-12-2011   #47
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A F-22 combat air patrol could then escort it and go on supercruise to engage every attacker who's spotted at that distance.
That's the rub. There won't be many F-22s.
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Old 01-13-2011   #48
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That's probably exactly the right thing.

The F-22 is already partially obsolete. It lacks some important features that were introduced about 30 years ago (IRST, helmet mounted sight) and has troubles with some utterly standard air war features (datalink).

Very low observability ("stealth") technology is at a maturity point, whereas signal processing and various counter-VLO technologies make still huge improvements. The F-22's design concept has been publicly known since at the latest 1991 (YF-22) and is really a 80's concept (actually, it dates in its philosophy back to about '71!).
All competitors were developed to defeat it and its ilk, as were some air defence systems.

(The F-22 is a parallel to the F-4: Expensive, large, impressive in its technology, dependent on one specific approach to air combat and most likely very vulnerable to opponents who deny to play along (the F-4 boasted great speed, unparalleled radar effectiveness, a second crew member, a medium range air combat missile and was supposed to defeat the enemy many miles ahead - but then obsolete MiG-17s began to close in, fly circles around it and shoot at it with supposedly obsolete guns!).
Similarly, the F-22 boasts stealth, supercruise, limited thrust vectoring, a very high combat altitude and is supposed to defeat the enemy with dash & run at high altitude and over long distances.)


A fighter weakness is the best motivator for the development of a better fighter (or whatever takes over a fighter's functions) and might thus be very beneficial in the long term.
It's better to have 300 F-22 successors in 2030 than 500 F-22s.
This reduces the period of uncertain air superiority to about 2020-2030 unless the bureaucracy fails to launch and manage a timely successor program.
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Old 01-13-2011   #49
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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
It's better to have 300 F-22 successors in 2030 than 500 F-22s. This reduces the period of uncertain air superiority to about 2020-2030 unless the bureaucracy fails to launch and manage a timely successor program.
We won't have anything close to 500 F-22s, just that 187 or so. In light of our history, we won't have anything in 2030 but an artist's concept and a prototype that is confidently expected to make it's first flight sometime in the near future. The F-22 may be flawed as you say but it is the best we have and there aren't very many of them.

That period of uncertain air superiority is likely to last a long time.
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Old 01-13-2011   #50
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Default Have to agree with Carl...

My 2 cents, in reverse order from Fuch's post:
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A fighter weakness is the best motivator for the development of a better fighter (or whatever takes over a fighter's functions) and might thus be very beneficial in the long term.
It's better to have 300 F-22 successors in 2030 than 500 F-22s.
This reduces the period of uncertain air superiority to about 2020-2030 unless the bureaucracy fails to launch and manage a timely successor program
Fuchs I agree with Carl, it is unlikely there will be an F-22 replacement in the timeframe you discuss... the Next Gen Bomber was announced as being a priority again, meaning the bulk of funding in the timeframe you refer to (2020s) will be going to that, hence not a lot of $$ for R&D of fighters.

187 F-22s is not a lot (numbers wise).

Quote:
The F-22 is already partially obsolete. It lacks some important features that were introduced about 30 years ago (IRST, helmet mounted sight) and has troubles with some utterly standard air war features (datalink).
(The F-22 is a parallel to the F-4: Expensive, large, impressive in its technology, dependent on one specific approach to air combat and most likely very vulnerable to opponents who deny to play along (the F-4 boasted great speed, unparalleled radar effectiveness, a second crew member, a medium range air combat missile and was supposed to defeat the enemy many miles ahead - but then obsolete MiG-17s began to close in, fly circles around it and shoot at it with supposedly obsolete guns!).
Similarly, the F-22 boasts stealth, supercruise, limited thrust vectoring, a very high combat altitude and is supposed to defeat the enemy with dash & run at high altitude and over long distances.)
While the F-22 doesn't have an HMD, that doesn't make it obsolete. It was a conscious decision to save cost and not put an HMD in the Raptor. Some of the issues you mentioned will be fixed in upgrades that are coming up.

While stealth and supercruise are a big part of the effectiveness of the F-22, it also is one of the most maneuverable jets ever. It can win a close in fight as well as kicking butt BVR. Pilot training still matters, but the good thing is that F-22 pilots are still among the best trained in the world.

Bottom line, I would take the "cold war obsolete fighter" hype that some folks seek to spread about the F-22 with a huge grain of salt.

V/R,

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Old 01-13-2011   #51
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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
the F-4 boasted great speed, unparalleled radar effectiveness, a second crew member, a medium range air combat missile and was supposed to defeat the enemy many miles ahead - but then obsolete MiG-17s began to close in, fly circles around it and shoot at it with supposedly obsolete guns!
Mate! That is not good history or analysis. A MIG-17 could do nothing better than an F-4 except sustained turns at low speeds <450kts.
Yes the F4's lack of a gun, was criminally stupid, but that was corrected at east with the F-4E.
In the history of Air Warfare, the F-4, like the P-51, is a notable aircraft. The MIG-17 isn't.
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Old 01-13-2011   #52
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Mate! That is not good history or analysis. A MIG-17 could do nothing better than an F-4 except sustained turns at low speeds <450kts.
Yes the F4's lack of a gun, was criminally stupid, but that was corrected at east with the F-4E.
In the history of Air Warfare, the F-4, like the P-51, is a notable aircraft. The MIG-17 isn't.
Hardly. A F-4 costed many times as much as a MiG-17 and had no real chance (other than retreat) against two of them. The MiG-17 was fast enough to close in with bombers and fighter-bombers and force them to emergency drop their loads.

The F-4 is rather notable like the Bf 110 or P-38 than like the P-51 (the P-51 was an efficient airplane which was able to engage all enemies on equal footing).

In fact, the F-4 had quite exactly the double purchase cost, maintenance hours/flight hour, fuel consumption, crew requirement of a Draken, Mirage III or Mirage F.1 - but it wasn't better than them in air combat, even in the later versions. The lower cost F-8 was also a better fighter.

The F-4 was meant to be a bomber interceptor for the navy's carriers, complemented by the dogfight-capable F-8 Crusader.
It was forced on the air force as a fighter because the air forces' '100' series had yielded no useful fighter (F-104 was utterly useless for all but short range nuking or photo reconnaissance). As an air force fighter it was OK at low or no visibility and at high altitude, but it was terribly inefficient as a fighter in support of a land war.



Likewise, the F-22 is best at tactical dancing - supersonic launch of AMRAAM at target, turn and run at supersonic speed to avoid incoming missiles, repeat.It's like a boxer with long arms who ties to throw jabs all the time to keep the enemy at long distance because he's not good in the infight. He needs to have a great leg work and needs to cede ground all the time.
This mode is an impossible luxury if you need to protect assets, for the enemy could keep pressing forward and could only be stopped with a more decisive engagement (a launched AMRAAM doesn't equal a kill at all).
The F-22s will therefore be forced into a suboptimal combat style whenever they need to protect assets, such as a ground target, a fleet, slow support aircraft or a strike package.
Again, this is similar to how F-4s had to leave their preferred medium range engagement fantasy and were forced into dogfights in which they weren't good despite their high cost.
(The F-22 is superior to F-16s in dogfighting thanks to TVC, but afaik that advantage dwindles when the F-16s have HMS and AIM-9X).
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Old 01-13-2011   #53
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Default It's about advantages...

Have to disagree on historical grounds...

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Hardly. A F-4 costed many times as much as a MiG-17 and had no real chance (other than retreat) against two of them. The MiG-17 was fast enough to close in with bombers and fighter-bombers and force them to emergency drop their loads.
Fuchs, not true. The F-4 had the ability to take the fight vertical, or extend, disengage, and then re-enter at high speed.

The big issue was training. Early on, the USN and USAF pilots were not adequately trained and tried to fly the F-4 like it WAS a P-51 or F-86... not smart. Later on, when TOP GUN and USAF Fighter Weapons School had refined the tactics, thigns went better.

OBTW, at the end of the war the F-4 was able to employ BVR again based
Combat Tree. That's how Steve Ritchie became an ace. With Tree, the F-4 was again dominant - as they could employ BVR and hold their own WVR.

Every aircraft has advantages and disadvantages. The key is knowing how to fight your jet where you have an advantage and the other guy doesn't. The smart fighter pilot will also evaluate the enemy's tactics and use tactics the other guy probably hasn't seen.

A good book to read is Fighter Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering by Robert Shaw. He takes you through how an F-4 can beat the MiG-17, or even two MiG-17s.

Quote:
The F-4 is rather notable like the Bf 110 or P-38 than like the P-51 (the P-51 was an efficient airplane which was able to engage all enemies on equal footing).
Your opinion. The P-51 had issues just like any other fighter. For example, low caliber armament and a vulnerable cooling system.

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In fact, the F-4 had quite exactly the double purchase cost, maintenance hours/flight hour, fuel consumption, crew requirement of a Draken, Mirage III or Mirage F.1 - but it wasn't better than them in air combat, even in the later versions. The lower cost F-8 was also a better fighter.
What are you basing this assertation on? F-8 may have been a better dogfighter, though even that is questionable if you look at the E-M diagrams... Draken/Mirage - no way. Especially the F-1... piece of junk.

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The F-4 was meant to be a bomber interceptor for the navy's carriers, complemented by the dogfight-capable F-8 Crusader.
It was forced on the air force as a fighter because the air forces' '100' series had yielded no useful fighter (F-104 was utterly useless for all but short range nuking or photo reconnaissance). As an air force fighter it was OK at low or no visibility and at high altitude, but it was terribly inefficient as a fighter in support of a land war.
Again, what is this based on? The F-4 had decent loiter time, a ton of weapons, and could take a lot of punishment. Yes, back seat vis was not as good as other fighters... but that was later fighters, not those of it's generation. The Mirages you sight had horrible vis!

Quote:
Likewise, the F-22 is best at tactical dancing - supersonic launch of AMRAAM at target, turn and run at supersonic speed to avoid incoming missiles, repeat.It's like a boxer with long arms who ties to throw jabs all the time to keep the enemy at long distance because he's not good in the infight. He needs to have a great leg work and needs to cede ground all the time.
This mode is an impossible luxury if you need to protect assets, for the enemy could keep pressing forward and could only be stopped with a more decisive engagement (a launched AMRAAM doesn't equal a kill at all).
The F-22s will therefore be forced into a suboptimal combat style whenever they need to protect assets, such as a ground target, a fleet, slow support aircraft or a strike package.
Again, this is similar to how F-4s had to leave their preferred medium range engagement fantasy and were forced into dogfights in which they weren't good despite their high cost.
(The F-22 is superior to F-16s in dogfighting thanks to TVC, but afaik that advantage dwindles when the F-16s have HMS and AIM-9X).
Fuchs, you forget the part where the F-22 uses the oldest tactic in the book, the unobserved entry, to roll in at the F-16's six and gun its brains out. Stealth is a pretty sweet capability. While you're right on the pK of the AMRAAM, you discount the ability of the Raptor to use it's advantages (stealth, supercruise) to get to a position of advantage.

The F-22 is superior to even an F-16CCM with HMS and 9X. If the pilot knows what he is doing, he will have no issues - even if outnumbered. I've fought the Raptor with the weapons above, and it is the toughest opponent I've ever faced.

Like I said before, the F-22 is not the end-all, but it is the best fighter in the world, at least for the next 10-15 years. Training is still almost as important though, like I said before.

V/R,

Cliff
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Old 01-13-2011   #54
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There's of course the advantage of a faster aircraft over a slower one- like P-38 vs. A6M. This advantage is largely dependent on the ability to surprise, though. The higher/faster-flying fighters pick those targets which seem to be unaware, hit them and regain there relatively safe higher/faster setting asap.
This isn't very relevant in certain missions such as escort or low level attack, though.
You cite the book (have it, but didn't read all of it yet) for how a F-4 could defeat two MiG-17s (not going to happen with equal quality crews imo). You also stress the importance of pilots, training and tactics. What you didn't mention is that the F-4 had no LD/SD capability to speak of (before Germany upgraded some with APG-65 and AIM-120) and two MiG-17s were thus able to deny a F-4's BVR capability whenever they were protecting mobile (army) targets that couldn't be attacked from high altitude.




About mock combat vs. F-22s; surprise becomes rather rare in large formation air combat. As WW2 aces said; loss percentages were lower in great air battles (wing vs. wing) than in small ones (flight vs flight). Few fighters were able to surprise anyone in large air battles, and surprise was involved in about 80% of the air/air kills of the time (80% of kills happened without target having seen the attacker). It's difficult to surprise a F-16 from behind with a visually huge F-22 if there are multiple other F-16 plots able to see that position.

Mock air combat in NATO - even Red Flag - is typically about rather small engagements afaik. That favours surprise tactics.
There's rarely a training like a pulse (saturation) attack of 300 combat aircraft at once on a 200x200 km area. I doubt that VLO/LO characteristics help much in such a situation, and IIRC a RAND study published in 2010 about F-22 capabilities over East Asian waters pretty much reinforced this point.
Again, I doubt that real peer/peer air war would look anything like the preferred scenarios for F-22 employment. The F-22 may face especially great obstacles on offensive missions (over red territory). Fighters are merely a component in a combined arms effort these days, after all.


There's also the issue of contrails. Certain atmospheric conditions create contrails reliably (at high altitude) and there's little chance to surprise anyone in WVR combat in such a zone if fighter pilots cooperate properly. Sensors (such as certain missile warning sensors) can even be programmed to detect contrails at large distances and direct extra sensor attention to the contrails' ends. The USAF doesn't do this, of course (afaik). It doesn't attempt to defeat a F-22.

It doesn't give its other aircraft the tools to defeat a F-22. Even West Europeans don't do that (at least not much). The Russians and Chinese on the other hand try hard to defeat it, and that's all-important for the appraisal of a F-22's quality.
A small anecdote for illustration:
An engineer/physicist team developed a radio proximity fuze for 5" shells in WW2. An engineer from another lab asked them if countermeasures were possible - the answer was a very sure "no". The lab itself had failed in its attempt to defeat its own product. Said engineer was puzzled, thought about it and two weeks later his laboratory had patched together a jammer. It was tested and defeated the proximity fuze reliably.

Now think about it. I hear all the time from the U.S. (the lab that invented the thing) about how great it is and how its own attempts at defeating it fail.
At the same time I have a Flug Revue issue from 1991 (!) on my desk with a big article on the YF-22. The Russians probably had espionage results on the program back in the 80's. Two decades of high priority countermeasure efforts (some of them already known, as truck-mobile search radars with wavelengths that pretty much prevent even LO characteristics for aircraft of the F-22's size through sheer physics).

-----

I based the comparison of F-4 and Mirages etc on the fact that
fuel - twice engine power = roughly twice fuel consumption
maintenance - 30-50 hrs/hr vs. 15-20 hrs/hr
crew - 2 instead of 1
Granted, the Draken was ill-armed with its Falcons and single gun, but the Mirages were very capable for their time AND capable of more sorties/day. Israeli Mirage IIIs did cut the time for loading fuel and weapons down to ten minutes. Ten minute breaks between sorties!
The F-4 had an almost double probability of one engine requiring urgent maintenance and its electronics required more care as well.
You seem to compare these 60's fighters too much to modern fighters in regard to visibility and "crap".


We also need to remember that kill statistics are questionable when discussing the F-4's qualities. The North Vietnamese exaggerated their kills (and had an impressive array of supposed aces) and the U.S. did most likely exaggerate air combat kill statistics as well. This happened in WW2 unintentionally and even with strict rules up to a factor of about two. BVR combat hasn't exactly made BDA more simple post-WW2.
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Old 01-13-2011   #55
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Fuchs:

I am getting a little mixed up with all this talk of MiGs and Messerschmitts. I understand the importance of using historical analogies but a lot of things are fundamentally different now vs. then. Missiles really work well now and stealth does give you some advantage. So the most important thing to be derived from the history of air combat is that sheer performance gives you an advantage.

The J-20 is likely to have a sheer performance advantage over anything but the F-22. The J-20 has some stealth and will have a good radar and missiles that will work. The J-20 will not have to escort alpha strikes in order to totally wreck us. It can do that by acting as a missile shooting on high interceptor and by destroying things like AWACS, C-17s and tankers. The only thing that could stop it are F-22s. We will not have enough F-22s to do the job. I will bet that the Chinese will get the J-20 into squadron service much more quickly than we think and I will bet that they make considerably more than 187,

We have no idea how to fight and win without air superiority. The J-20 can take that away from us. This is very serious.
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Old 01-13-2011   #56
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So the most important thing to be derived from the history of air combat is that sheer performance gives you an advantage.
Ceteris paribus - yes. It's not generally true, for otherwise The Finnish wouldn't have fared so extremely well in air combat and the I-16 pilots would have been able to slaughter Cr.32 pilots over Spain.

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The J-20 is likely to have a sheer performance advantage over anything but the F-22.
It's too early to judge. It could well be superior, keeping in mind that the F-22 is a mix of 80's and 90's tech and J-20 was likely developed to defeat it.
It could also be inferior to many more planes; the T-50 and even Typhoon if it gets its next radar.

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We have no idea how to fight and win without air superiority. The J-20 can take that away from us. This is very serious.
I doubt that we have a good idea how to fight a modern peer/peer war at all. We had no reality check for 65 years.
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Old 01-13-2011   #57
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Fuchs:

You are confusing me a little.

You say it is too early to tell if the J-20 will have a performance advantage over any thing but the F-22, but at the same time you say the J-20 was developed to defeat the F-22 and may have superior performance. Then you say the Typhoon may have superior performance to the J-20. But I thought it was widely accepted that nothing in the west can match the flight performance of the F-22. I am talking about flight performance and should have been more clear that is what I meant.

I stand by my opinion about flight performance giving an advantage. The best example of that would be swept wing vs. straight wing jets in the early 50s. Pilot quality in that case didn't matter much. Straight wings had no chance because of inferior flight performance.

The J-20 will most likely have very superior flight performance to anything but an F-22.
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Old 01-13-2011   #58
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There's actually no logical collision in the F-22 / J-20 / Typhoon triangle, just wide margins of uncertainty.

Nevertheless, it's my turn to be confused.
Why don you dismiss the PAK-FA/T-50 in regard to flight performance?
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Old 01-13-2011   #59
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Nevertheless, it's my turn to be confused.
Why don you dismiss the PAK-FA/T-50 in regard to flight performance?
I don't believe the mafia state that is Russia will make those things in important numbers, if at all. So I don't include it. Just a personal opinion.
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Old 01-13-2011   #60
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This isn't very relevant in certain missions such as escort or low level attack, though.
You cite the book (have it, but didn't read all of it yet) for how a F-4 could defeat two MiG-17s (not going to happen with equal quality crews imo). You also stress the importance of pilots, training and tactics. What you didn't mention is that the F-4 had no LD/SD capability to speak of (before Germany upgraded some with APG-65 and AIM-120) and two MiG-17s were thus able to deny a F-4's BVR capability whenever they were protecting mobile (army) targets that couldn't be attacked from high altitude.
True on the radar's look-down-shoot-down, although the limitations are somewhat overrated. A lot of that depends on the operator, and there are still modes where an F-4 could shoot look-down.

Quote:
About mock combat vs. F-22s; surprise becomes rather rare in large formation air combat. As WW2 aces said; loss percentages were lower in great air battles (wing vs. wing) than in small ones (flight vs flight). Few fighters were able to surprise anyone in large air battles, and surprise was involved in about 80% of the air/air kills of the time (80% of kills happened without target having seen the attacker). It's difficult to surprise a F-16 from behind with a visually huge F-22 if there are multiple other F-16 plots able to see that position.
What are you basing this on? I would argue that surprise is MORE likely when there are a lot of planes around... you say that few fighters were able to surprise, but 80% of kills resulted from surprise... the F-22 can surprise someone because it is stealthy!

Quote:
Mock air combat in NATO - even Red Flag - is typically about rather small engagements afaik. That favours surprise tactics.
There's rarely a training like a pulse (saturation) attack of 300 combat aircraft at once on a 200x200 km area. I doubt that VLO/LO characteristics help much in such a situation, and IIRC a RAND study published in 2010 about F-22 capabilities over East Asian waters pretty much reinforced this point.
Again, I doubt that real peer/peer air war would look anything like the preferred scenarios for F-22 employment. The F-22 may face especially great obstacles on offensive missions (over red territory). Fighters are merely a component in a combined arms effort these days, after all.
No one has the aircraft or ability (these days) to put 300 aircraft in one airspace. Airfields are a big LIMFAC, as you can't exactly take an F-22 or T-50 off from a grass strip like a Mustang or Spit. Even if you could launch that many aircraft it would be almost unsafe - coordination would be difficult at best.

That said, Red Flag (Alaska and Nellis), Northern Edge, and like exercises typically involve large numbers of aircraft. Northern Edge involved 60+ aircraft at a time, which is about as large a force as anyone is likely to be able to concentrate at a given location.

Surprise still works. Yes the F-22 can be swarmed by other aircraft... so can any airplane. Numbers matter. That said, you would be better off going 2 v 10 in an F-22 than 2 v 6 in an older jet...

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There's also the issue of contrails. Certain atmospheric conditions create contrails reliably (at high altitude) and there's little chance to surprise anyone in WVR combat in such a zone if fighter pilots cooperate properly. Sensors (such as certain missile warning sensors) can even be programmed to detect contrails at large distances and direct extra sensor attention to the contrails' ends. The USAF doesn't do this, of course (afaik). It doesn't attempt to defeat a F-22.
Cons typically occur only at certain altitudes. Anyone looking outside will see them and direct their sensors there. Cons can be avoided.

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It doesn't give its other aircraft the tools to defeat a F-22. Even West Europeans don't do that (at least not much). The Russians and Chinese on the other hand try hard to defeat it, and that's all-important for the appraisal of a F-22's quality.
I think you underestimate how good the USAF Aggressors are, Fuchs! Why do you think anyone would publicize how to defeat their own systems?

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I based the comparison of F-4 and Mirages etc on the fact that
fuel - twice engine power = roughly twice fuel consumption
maintenance - 30-50 hrs/hr vs. 15-20 hrs/hr
crew - 2 instead of 1
How many Mirages do you lose a year due to (single) engine failure? What's that cost you?

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We also need to remember that kill statistics are questionable when discussing the F-4's qualities. The North Vietnamese exaggerated their kills (and had an impressive array of supposed aces) and the U.S. did most likely exaggerate air combat kill statistics as well. This happened in WW2 unintentionally and even with strict rules up to a factor of about two. BVR combat hasn't exactly made BDA more simple post-WW2.
The thing is that we KNOW how many US aircraft were lost... so the Vietnamese might have been lying but they still did some pretty good work. Kill ratios went up a lot after TOP GUN and USAF FWS improved training. As for US kill verification, both gun cameras and other means of verification were a lot better in Vietnam. The limited number of kills meant that they were very closely looked at... Modern kills (like those in Allied Force) are even better scrutinized, as there is almost always some sort of surveillance asset that can verify what the gun camera film shows.

V/R,

Cliff
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