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Thread: SEAD/DEAD Aircraft

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    Senior Contributor JA Boomer's Avatar
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    SEAD/DEAD Aircraft

    Something I've been pondering:

    The current USAF wild weasel aircraft is the F-16CJ Fighting Falcon (the block 50/52 F-16). They took over this role from the F-4G Phantom. As far as I know, the F-16CJ has no additional internally mounted equipment that makes it suitable for the wild weasel role. Of course they train to fulfill this mission, carry the HARM and dedicated electronic pods that help them with this mission. But the F-4G had the AN/APR-38 RHAW (Radar Homing and Warning System) which replaced the 20mm cannon in the Phantom design, was specifically designed for the SEAD/DEAD role, and from what I have read was very capable.

    So here's what I'm wondering: Does the F-16CJ have dedicated SEAD/DEAD internal equipment. Does the RHAW make the F-4G a better wild weasel aircraft, or does the newer gadgetry associated with the much newer F-16 outweigh this. Why does the USAF not develop a more dedicate SEAD/DEAD suite for the F-16CJ (cost? airframe numbers?).

    It seems a dangerous time to let the capability of the SEAD/DEAD aircraft in inventory slack, as better SAM's and airspace defense networks seem to be coming online every year.

    If anyone would like to chime in, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

    Boomer

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    Senior Contributor Yusuf's Avatar
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    I think the role has now been taken over by the F/A 18 Growler, modified from the Super Hornet.

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    Senior Contributor JA Boomer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yusuf View Post
    I think the role has now been taken over by the F/A 18 Growler, modified from the Super Hornet.
    That's a negative, the EA-18G Growler is the electronic warfare version of the Super Hornet. In the testing stages currently, it will replace the EA-6B Prowler in carrier air wings. The USAF has been without a didicated tactical electronic warfare asset since the retirement of the EF-111 in 1995.

    The F-16CJ's operate in the SEAD/DEAD wild weasel role, related to but different from the electronic warfare mission.

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    Senior Contributor Yusuf's Avatar
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    F 35 i gather will be assigned that role when it comes through. Make sense since it is stealth. Gives it that added advantage of not being detected and then smashing the SAM sites.

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    Senior Contributor JA Boomer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yusuf View Post
    F 35 i gather will be assigned that role when it comes through. Make sense since it is stealth. Gives it that added advantage of not being detected and then smashing the SAM sites.
    Yes, I assume that would be the plan, as the F-35A is slated to completely replace the F-16C. I wouldn't actually expect the Lightning II to take over the role for a very long time however, as it is the newest F-16's in the USAF inventory (Block 50/52) that perform the wild weasel role, and as such will be the last to be replaced by the F-35A.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yusuf View Post
    I think the role has now been taken over by the F/A 18 Growler, modified from the Super Hornet.
    I know the navy is flying the Growler, but I don't believe the AF is using it.
    I want what I do not have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scorefour View Post
    I know the navy is flying the Growler, but I don't believe the AF is using it.
    True on both points.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JA Boomer View Post
    ...It seems a dangerous time to let the capability of the SEAD/DEAD aircraft in inventory slack, as better SAM's and airspace defense networks seem to be coming online every year.
    F-22 can standoff and lob SDB's from well beyond the range at which it can be detected and targeted by any SAM.
    "We will go through our federal budget – page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way." -President Barack Obama 11/25/2008

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    Quote Originally Posted by highsea View Post
    F-22 can standoff and lob SDB's from well beyond the range at which it can be detected and targeted by any SAM.
    ALR-94 is supposedly a very capable system. Wasn't there a precision emitter location upgrade in the works? Does it still have funding?

    I wouldn't be so sure that an F-22 dropping SDBs is invulnerable to S-400+ class systems.

    On the bright side, there are various efforts underway to develop a suitable internal-carriage ARM for the F-22 and F-35.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JA Boomer View Post
    The current USAF wild weasel aircraft is the F-16CJ Fighting Falcon (the block 50/52 F-16)... the F-16CJ has no additional internally mounted equipment that makes it suitable for the wild weasel role...

    Does the F-16CJ have dedicated SEAD/DEAD internal equipment?... Why does the USAF not develop a more dedicate SEAD/DEAD suite for the F-16CJ (cost? airframe numbers?).

    If anyone would like to chime in, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts
    JA, I've been pondering your questions and also on the different routes to developing SEAD capabilities taken by the USAF and the IAF (Please correct me if I'm wrong).

    Care to discuss:
    (i) the pros and cons of each approach; or
    (ii) where are the areas of the overlap.

    1. USAF Approach

    1.1 As I understand it, F-16CJ has a Electronic Support Officer (instead of WSO) who focuses on targeting and electronic warfare while the pilot focuses on flying and evading air defenses.

    1.2 F-16CJ is equipped with the HTS have independent targeting capability similar to that of the F-4G, but with less coverage in both frequency and location (The original concept called for teaming the F-15 Precision Direction Finding and the F-16 HTS). The current approach calls for the improvement of the HTS capability. The improvement will come from the Joint Emitter Targeting System (JETS), which facilitates the use of HARM's most effective mode when launched from any JETS capable aircraft.

    1.3 There are however limitations to the HTS Pod and the RT Pod. They have limited power. The USAF has worked around this limitation by deploying the RC-135V/W Rivet Joint electronic recce aircraft. The Rivet Joint will orbit out of the range of hostile air defences, and perform as an electronic vacuum cleaner, receiving, identifying and locating any radar or radio emissions in the area of interest. Should an emitter be considered a threat to US aircraft, SEAD fighters are sent to engage the emitter.


    2. IAF Approach

    2.1 Sensors on the $45-million F-16I includes an APG-68(V)9 radar with high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping capability. The WSO focuses on targeting and electronic warfare while the pilot focuses on flying and evading air defenses.

    2.2 The F-16Is of also carry the EL/M-20600 Radar Targeting Pod. The RT Pod integrates a Synthetic Aperture Radar, Ground Moving Target Indication and precision target tracking. The RT Pod provides high quality radar images of ground targets and terrain even through clouds, rain, fog, battlefield smoke and man-made camouflage.

    2.3 The IAF uses their locally developed G550 for big picture awareness (instead of the RC-135V/W Rivet Joint). The Litening targeting pod provided scene matching for images sent by the Spice-2000 missile (with a standoff range exceeding 60 km). Sensors on the $45-million F-16I includes an APG-68(V)9 radar with high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping capability to enable long range strike by the F-16Is.

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    Senior Contributor JA Boomer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunnyamy View Post
    As I understand it, F-16CJ has a Electronic Support Officer (instead of WSO) who focuses on targeting and electronic warfare while the pilot focuses on flying and evading air defenses.
    Because it's a CJ, it's a single-seat fighter. There are DJ's, but the vast majority of the block 50/52 Fighting Falcons are C models

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    Quote Originally Posted by B.Smitty View Post
    ALR-94 is supposedly a very capable system. Wasn't there a precision emitter location upgrade in the works? Does it still have funding?
    I thought it already had this capability in some form or another.

    I wouldn't be so sure that an F-22 dropping SDBs is invulnerable to S-400+ class systems.
    What's an S-400 going to do against an F-22 lobbing SDBs from 40-60nm away? They can waste missiles on the SDBs ... of course this assumes teh F-22 knows they're there to begin with, which is not necessarily true.

    On the bright side, there are various efforts underway to develop a suitable internal-carriage ARM for the F-22 and F-35.
    For now, the SDB works nicely. Maybe they'll make some sort of ARM version of AMRAAM?

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    **Edit**

    Ignore me, found the answer to my question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GGTharos View Post
    I thought it already had this capability in some form or another.
    The true capabilities of ALR-94 are classified, but I remember reading something about an emitter location upgrade. Some capability may exist today.


    Quote Originally Posted by GGTharos View Post
    What's an S-400 going to do against an F-22 lobbing SDBs from 40-60nm away? They can waste missiles on the SDBs ... of course this assumes teh F-22 knows they're there to begin with, which is not necessarily true.
    The S-400 can play coy and not emit until it gets word that an F-22 is close.
    It could also catch the F-22 at a bad angle, or when the bomb-bay doors are open.

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/gener...aw122407p1.xml

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    Quote Originally Posted by B.Smitty View Post
    The S-400 can play coy and not emit until it gets word that an F-22 is close.
    That is what I implied, though ... just how it would get word of that ...

    or when the bomb-bay doors are open.
    Fantasy. The bay doors are open for a very short amount of time and can and will very likely either not be open during the sweep, or get rejected as a false return when they close - assuming they cause a return to be generated by being open in the first place.

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