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Thread: Ask An Expert- Aviation

  1. #1
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    Ask An Expert- Aviation

    This is a thread for members to ask specific questions of the experts who will then reply if the question is in their specialty. Non-expert members may not answer, I will delete them.

    Opsec is in effect- don't ask for classified information or trade secrets.

    Follow on questions may not be rebuttals of the answer provided, but you may ask for clarification.

    question format (sample)

    Field- Fighters/bombers

    Question- Does the camo on tactical aircraft actually work? Does the grey underside/camo top make a noticeable difference in how far away you can put eyes on the target?
    Last edited by zraver; 04 Jan 11, at 01:52.

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    Question- Does the camo on tactical aircraft actually work? Does the grey underside/camo top make a noticeable difference in how far away you can put eyes on the target?
    Z- is that an actual question, or just an example of the format? ;

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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Question- Does the camo on tactical aircraft actually work? Does the grey underside/camo top make a noticeable difference in how far away you can put eyes on the target?
    I would rate the effectiveness of paint in the air as low. It's main purpose (IMO) is to eliminate sun glint and flashes off of bare metal. The size and especially the aspect of the aircraft are far more important than the color of the paint, obviously excepting day-glow orange and the like.

    At extreme visual ranges, there is little color perception; instead, what a pilot sees is typically a dark (or black) speck. Only at significantly closer ranges can the color actually be identified, and by then, his presence is obvious.

    What attracts the eye is movement relative to a background, not color. Even looking down on a Vietnam era camouflage job flying over foliage, the mottled green and brown does little to hide the target, because the movement over the jungle canopy naturally draws the eye.

    I can think of two cases where it can be a bit more effective. First, the high-flyers like the U-2 and SR-71 - at those altitudes, the sky is deep blue-black, and with no background, a black underside does work somewhat at keeping a jet hidden. And on the ground - parked in a revetment, for example - the AC can be considered the same as any other ground asset, and camouflage can break up the outline a bit.

    Ranges even in visual combat can challenge the best eyes. A T-38 simply vanishes outside of about two to three miles, due to its size rather than paint. An F-16 that is nose-on also cannot be easily seen outside of maybe 2 to 3 miles, and a planform view increases that to 5 to 6 miles max. Wing-flashes (AC rolling) attract the eye, but the jet often disappears as the wing flash ceases. That is where you'd typically use a radar auto-acquisition mode on the piece of sky where you saw the movement. 8 to 10 NM is about max to see F-15/Su-27 sized aircraft outside of the HUD TD (Target Designator) box; and you need to be lucky, skilled, or both, to acquire the jet with only your naked eye at those ranges.

    I think it was Yeager who claimed to be able to see Me-109's at 20 to 30+ NM. I believe this to be BS. He may have seen a glint, which can be visible for 50+ NM, but even a 20/10 set of eyes simply can't resolve such a tiny target. The sole exception might be perfect conditions, with the sun at an optimum angle, and looking down on Me-109's flying over a steady and even undercast. In that case, the contrast and movement might be detectable.

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    Chogy, Can camo be considered more effective on bombers compared to fighters (in flight)?

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    Can we ask professional questions about career paths/ positions etc?

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    Yes the only limit on questions is opsec and who can answer.

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    Several questions. Answer what you can or not at all. I'm going to a certain private aeronautical university probably with AFROTC scholarship...

    Alright, honest opinion here: Is pursuing a career in a manned fighter aircraft in the U.S. armed forces worthwhile or will it become a dead position within a few decades?

    Is it true that many air forces (ahem being general here) have abandoned yo yo's in their ACM doctrine?

    How do you activate from ANG to an active duty position? Are there instances where you can't? And conversely.

    Is the basic pilot training pipeline for ANG units different that of active duty Air Force? Or must you have come from active to be competitive?

    Is civilian pilot certification desirable to the Air Force?
    Last edited by Porsche917LH; 12 Jan 11, at 07:10.

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    Reply in part from personal experience

    Is civilian pilot certification desirable to the Air Force?
    Army National Guard helicopter units with open slots will accept enlisted personnel with a private pilots license who meets all other criteria into the warrant officers candidate school and helicopter flight school.

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    Chogy, Can camo be considered more effective on bombers compared to fighters (in flight)?
    I don't believe so. Again, size and aspect are more important than color during the day. I should probably amend my earlier reply by saying that at night, any dark color is better than one that is light, but I think "daytime ops" when considering camo. Ultimately, paint is needed for protection against corrosion and the elements, so you may as well pick a color that might be a bit effective.

    Alright, honest opinion here: Is pursuing a career in a manned fighter aircraft in the U.S. armed forces worthwhile or will it become a dead position within a few decades?
    Do you think you will still be flying in a few decades? Very few officers fly for all 20 years of an average career. Most will pack all the fun in the first 10 years. After that, command, staff, non-flying billets are common. You have gobs of time. While air to ground might become robotic, air to air will (I think) remain manned for our lifetimes at least.

    s it true that many air forces (ahem being general here) have abandoned yo yo's in their ACM doctrine?
    Interesting question that would take many paragraphs to answer properly. Hi and low yo-yo's have been around since WW1 and right up to the F-4 era. Yo-Yo's allowed a jet (or any airplane) with less thrust and lift to control the angles generated by a break turn, then solve line-of-sight problems across the turn circle. The original core of F-4 pilots flew the F-15/16 like an F-4 until it was learned that in-plane or very slightly out-of-plane maneuvers worked better, and resulted in fewer angular problems during the attack. Modern jets had the thrust and lift to handle this "brute force" approach, and likewise, as a defender, an attacker who remains close to your plane of flight does not provide an opportunity for a reversal, which was easy to do against an F-4 who flew well out of plane of motion.

    Nutshell: Modern fighters have the thrust and lift to square the corner, then dial in a turn rate which denies the defender any opportunities to reverse or escape. If the defender breaks out of the plane of motion, it simply makes it easier for the attacker.

    How do you activate from ANG to an active duty position? Are there instances where you can't? And conversely.

    Is the basic pilot training pipeline for ANG units different that of active duty Air Force? Or must you have come from active to be competitive?
    On the first, that changes from year to year and I can't answer it with confidence. On the second, it too may have changed, but when I went through, Guard units sent their candidates to standard UPT, but these lucky souls already knew what they would fly. If it was a fighter, all they'd have to do is ensure they became FAR (Fighter/Attack/Recce) qualified, and move on to the T-38. Those with a Guard fighter assignment were envied by those of us who didn't know what the future held.

    Is civilian pilot certification desirable to the Air Force?
    Short answer - not really. It doesn't hurt, but it really doesn't help all that much either. We had a guy with 1,000's of hours almost flunk the T-37 phase. He had to "un-learn" many habits and techniques, while the rest of us were raw clay. What it can do is give a student confidence and also knowledge of instrument procedures, but many maneuvering skills don't translate as well as one would imagine.

    Don't let that stop you. Fly because it's fun! HTH

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    What was the general ground attack doctrine during Vietnam and how did it differ from one during WW2?

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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Reply in part from personal experience



    Army National Guard helicopter units with open slots will accept enlisted personnel with a private pilots license who meets all other criteria into the warrant officers candidate school and helicopter flight school.
    Yep, I know someone going that path that right now. Just left after being home for Christmas. He had some difficulty finding enough work flying helicopters after getting his license and decided that was the way to go. I don't have many details, will have to find out more about how he's doing...
    Last edited by sappersgt; 13 Jan 11, at 08:37.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chogy View Post
    Nutshell: Modern fighters have the thrust and lift to square the corner, then dial in a turn rate which denies the defender any opportunities to reverse or escape. If the defender breaks out of the plane of motion, it simply makes it easier for the attacker.
    That is amazing stuff Chogy.......as a civilian FI I would be interested to know the procedure to perform this square your turn manoeuver. For example is there a airspeed or altitude limitations on entry (no need numbers), Rudder pedal forces, thrust lever applications before and after entry (no numbers), elevator pressure, heading changes, and maybe the aerodynamics behind it if you can be bothered. Is there a short stall (like snap roll?) wild

    Thanks for answering my last question btw, ever heard of Active Camo? weard stuff.
    Cheers




    To Porsche917LH: You should do it plus it will give a good idea if your are made for flying before you commit yourself and then end up getting disappointed.

    Don't let that stop you. Fly because it's fun! HTH
    Nothing like it. X2

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    I've gotten a few hours in on a 172. Feels great but I've never soloed...

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    Subject fighters:
    What is the largest A2A missile load (number of missiles) normally carried on a modern fighter?
    "If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
    If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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    Subject fighters:
    Are there any instances of aircraft surviving direct hits with missiles. How likely is this?

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