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  1. #16
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    I've heard of two of those. The long range weapon I've not heard mentioned. To me those are still pie in the sky items that may or may not make it into inventory. The USN decided AIM-9X block 3 wasn't worth funding; I could easily see one or more of those three projects being canned for cost overruns, especially the self defense missile which seems very pie in the sky. Also it seems more likely a solid state laser would fulfill that role before technology to create such a system was developed; there is already a test bed for ~100kw airborn free electron laser I believe.
    I'm pretty confident SACM is going to happen. Raytheon has a contract to work on SACM out until 2021, (Lockheed is pursuing similar self funded research) and the fact that we've seen industry mockups like CUDA and the USAF deciding AIM-9X Block 3 isn't going to be funded point to a superior alternative becoming available in a timeframe that would reduce or negate the need for a 9X block 3 buy. Since it was scheduled for IOC in 2022 that puts it just a few years ahead of SACM's intended debut in the late 2020s.

    As an interesting note there are patents available that demonstrate putting AESA T/R modules in the fins of a missile, which leaves the nose free for EO/IR sensors. Toss in a modern data link and home-on-jam capabilities for ARM duties and you've got one missile that can do it all, including holding VLO types at risk.

    I'm hoping the LREW component turns out to be SACM + common booster interface. That would help bring the price down on SACM's undoubtedly expensive sensor suite via high volume production if it can replace both AIM-9 and AMRAAM entirely and would let USAF and USN play legos with a variety of booster options like dual pulse rockets, ramjets/scramjets, or Variable Flow Ducted Rockets. But I could be wrong and it could be a standalone missile.

    MSDM I see as more of a backup in the event that the DEW option doesn't pan out. The fact that DOD requested the F135 engine upgrade specifically be tailored for DEWs tells me that's the prefered route for self defense, but MSDM provides a measure of redundancy now that HTK technology is reaching maturity. Or it could be that both will be utilized in a layered defense. I'm not entirely confident in the abilities of a fighter borne laser to stop some of the monsters that modern SAMs can fire. Bring truck or ship launched, they can afford the weight penalty associated with an ablative coating that would take a laser some time to burn through, and with the trend of investments in hypersonics that further reduces the engagement time available to any defensive DEWs.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 31 Jul 18, at 18:38.

  2. #17
    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    If the US can commit 1800 aircraft to the Gulf War, they can commit a lot more than that to a conflict with Russia. Iím not all that convinced Russia would have superior fixed mobility among fixed wing forces either. Theyíd be fighting on essentially 3 fronts with limited tanker assets as the US/Nato hit them from the West in Europe, from the south via Turkey/ME, and from the East in Japan. The ring of allies acts very much like internal supply lines for the US.
    Iraq invaded Kuwait on 02 Aug 1990
    The first planes landed in Saudi (around 100) 07 Aug
    Ground War began 22 Feb 1991

    Don't think we will have 6 months to prepare in a major conflict with Russia/China
    Using US pilots as missile bait isnít going to fly. (sorry couldnít help it) China or Russia could probably get away with that, but short of an attack on CONUS I donít see it for the US. Luckily there are other good options in the bait department. One of the most interesting in my opinion is that MALD decoys have apparently been modified for deployment by the Ohio SSGNs and Virginias via the TLAM tubes, I wouldn't be shocked to learn that AARGMs could be deployed that way as well. It's a whole little SEAD campaign in a box that doesn't require a single jet!
    I was thinking from an enemy standpoint. Use older planes/UAVs as missile magnets ahead of your modern assets
    Besides, 5th gens can fill the role of missile truck with more utility than a 4th gen by hanging back and firing externally mounted missiles until they run dry, then dropping their external pylons to go full stealth and move in close to serve as a sensor/shooter node for those coming in behind them with all 6 (F-35 block 4) internal AMRAAMs still untouched and ready to go.
    Those external pylons get expensive when you don't bring them back. Plus the chance of poor separation damaging the plane. You also let the enemy know a general location of where the 35s are operating. Plus these F-15 can still carry more missiles than the 35 and are more than capable of taking on 95% of the worlds fighter planes.

    High/Med/Low mix instead of putting all your eggs in one basket.

    If for no other reason than, what happens when a defect is found that grounds all 35s at once? Thats happened to every plane out there. When the F-15 fleet was grounded, we still had the 16s flying until the problem was sorted out.
    Same with the 16 and 18s. There was something to take their place until all inspections got the affected planes flying again
    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

  3. #18
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gun Grape View Post
    Don't think we will have 6 months to prepare in a major conflict with Russia/China
    That works both ways though, Russia or China won't be any more prepared than the US if an unexpected skirmish kicks off. Large movements of men and material in preparation for a major conflict aren't catching anyone off guard with satellites keeping an eye on things either. The US has a lot of practice in mobilizing and deploying combat power, and I don't think it's hyperbole to claim that the US could buildup combat power in Japan faster than Russia could mobilize to the far east. For that matter, the PLA doesn't have a lot of real world experience moving significant combat power beyond their borders.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gun Grape View Post
    Those external pylons get expensive when you don't bring them back. Plus the chance of poor separation damaging the plane. You also let the enemy know a general location of where the 35s are operating. Plus these F-15 can still carry more missiles than the 35 and are more than capable of taking on 95% of the worlds fighter planes.
    More missiles? How do you figure? the F-15X proposal has the F-15 carrying 22 AMRAAMs with a pair of conformal fuel tanks to free up the necessary pylons.

    An F-35 has 4 external pylons rated for the AMRAAM quad racks, and 6 internal AMRAAMs with Block 4. That's 22 AMRAAMs plus a pair of AIM-9Xs on the wingtips for good measure. Plus the F-35 brings much lower RCS, better sensors, and better C&C via datalinks and networking. It also costs less to buy and fly due to the huge volume of production and those ongoing costs are going to dwarf any dropped pylons that may be expended in a shooting war.

    It would be one thing to slap some quad racks on existing F-15s along with some upgrades and FAST packs, I'm all for that. But I don't see a compelling argument for buying brand new F-15Xs when they don't seem to offer any capability the F-35 doesn't already cover while being more flexible than a 4th gen in almost every other role.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gun Grape View Post
    If for no other reason than, what happens when a defect is found that grounds all 35s at once? Thats happened to every plane out there. When the F-15 fleet was grounded, we still had the 16s flying until the problem was sorted out.
    Same with the 16 and 18s. There was something to take their place until all inspections got the affected planes flying again
    The F-15/F-16/F-18E fleets aren't going anywhere in the immediate future, and by the time F-15Xs were out in the wild, PCA will be just around the corner.

    Missiles aren't too picky about which fighters they hitch a ride on and all our fighters are compatible with AIM-120s, so make the quad racks platform agnostic. Keep some handy over in Germany, SK, and Japan then you can use them on whatever fighters happen to be nearby rather than buying a new aircraft just to play missile truck.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 02 Aug 18, at 16:19.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gun Grape View Post
    Iraq invaded Kuwait on 02 Aug 1990
    The first planes landed in Saudi (around 100) 07 Aug
    Ground War began 22 Feb 1991

    Don't think we will have 6 months to prepare in a major conflict with Russia/China


    Not exactly the same scenario as essentially we had no significant Saudi bases for Desert Shield. All of that had to be orchestrated. We have the bases already in Europe so we could surge rapidly if we saw large build ups on the borders.

    In addition to the Air Force assets mentioned we also had two Carrier Battle Groups forward deployed that arrived on station (Gulf of Oman, Red Sea) by Aug 7th. Don't think any nation or their allies could surge such a force as rapidly. In regards Iraq the initial US surge forces were enough to deter a further incursion into Saudi Arabia. The Air War started in mid January.

    I wonder how the F-15x would hold in today's environment whether in less likely scenarios (China, Russia) or more probable but less threatening regional conflicts which still seem to flourish today. Seems like a mix of aircraft is prudent in the near term.

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    When the Saudi's first purchased their AWACS the most expensive in the world, it included all the necessary infrastructure to go with it. The US logistics trail is what takes time. You fly the planes and personal in but what about the stuff they use? No F-16 or F-111 in the Saudi inventory. That's a lot of shelf space to move.

    Satellites would be the first causalities in a war with China or Russia. Try using your GPS today in parts of Syria or the Black Sea. The Russians learned a lot from Operation Mole Cricket 19 in Syria.

    Weight and Drag affect all aircraft performance and range. I haven't a clue about this stuff, but I don't see strapping missiles on an aircraft just so you can tanker missiles. The missiles themselves, I got believe they have to inspect safed before and after a flight. A lot of resources unnecessarily wasted.

  6. #21
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
    You fly the planes and personal in but what about the stuff they use? No F-16 or F-111 in the Saudi inventory. That's a lot of shelf space to move
    Luckily for us Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Turkey (maybe) and half of Europe will be operating F-35s!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
    Satellites would be the first causalities in a war with China or Russia. Try using your GPS today in parts of Syria or the Black Sea. The Russians learned a lot from Operation Mole Cricket 19 in Syria.
    Some satellites perhaps, but the GPS constellation is pretty robust.

    Hitting a spy satellite that's 200 miles up in LEO is pretty feasible with ASAT missiles or perhaps a particularly powerful laser. Hitting a GPS satellite orbiting way out at 12,500 miles would require a full on multi-stage space launch vehicle. Even then, accurate GPS readings require 4 visible satellites and the average number visible at any given time is 9. You would have to take out 10 or 15 satellites before the GPS network was seriously degraded and even then it would be temporary outages.

    The more likely situation is that China or Russia uses ground based jamming to spoof or disrupt GPS receivers in the vicinity since going after the satellite constellation itself isn't all that practical. That being said, ground based jamming is hard to hide and vulnerable to air/missile strikes.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 03 Aug 18, at 15:51.

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    As noted, all nav sat constellations are at very high altitudes, be it NAVSTAR, GLONAS, or whatever the Chinese and EU are setting up. All ASATs tested to date involve LEO orbits on the order of 1000km or less. This isn't to say that there aren't unannounced ASAT systems for higher orbits, but as noted we're talking about very large boosters at that point that would be hard to do in mass. Each constellation has fair amount of redundancy that includes older satellites in stand by and the fact that particularly at altitude you're within LOS of eight plus satellites. Also since there are multiple systems, it isn't too hard to simply gracefully degrade to some other system - Russia or China could probably count on each other to provide GPS data for each other; the EU and US presumably would cooperate in most circumstances. Civilian GPS units already explicitly make use of multiple constellations; I have a hard time believing it isn't at least a fall back mode in military sets.

    GPS jamming on the other hand is pretty easy due to the low signal strength, but to be really effective it is best to be above the system you are jamming. Military grade GPS systems usually use beam steered receivers that null out signals from directions in which satellites couldn't reside. About a year ago the USAF issues a warning over Nevada that GPS would be unreliable out to around 500km down to sea level during an exercise - that is consistent with mounting a GPS jammer on U-2 or RQ-4.

  8. #23
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    As noted, all nav sat constellations are at very high altitudes, be it NAVSTAR, GLONAS, or whatever the Chinese and EU are setting up. All ASATs tested to date involve LEO orbits on the order of 1000km or less. This isn't to say that there aren't unannounced ASAT systems for higher orbits, but as noted we're talking about very large boosters at that point that would be hard to do in mass. Each constellation has fair amount of redundancy that includes older satellites in stand by and the fact that particularly at altitude you're within LOS of eight plus satellites.
    The other thing about military satellites is that they tend to carry a lot more fuel on board than their civilian counterparts as well as countermeasures to ASAT weapons. At the outset of hostilities with a major power I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that US military satellites had deployed metallic balloons in their existing orbits, opened up dark RAM coated "umbrellas" to face the earth and shifted orbits. Astronomers took more than a month to find the X-37B after it pulled a disappearing act and shifted to a different orbit. Satellites could even modify their signatures to blend in with the thousands of commercial or defunct satellites still spinning around up there as they relocate to new orbits. That sort of procedure performed every so often would make targeting US space assets a painstaking process of hunting down relocated satellites and trying to confirm that they are the real deal and not a decoy for your limited ASAT weapons.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 03 Aug 18, at 17:50.

  9. #24
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    Moving GPS satellites would cause them to be out of service until their exact orbit could retracked and certified from ground stations if I understand how the system works correctly. So it wouldn't be terribly practical to move them. The LEO satellites almost certainly could be moved and I'd like to think at the beginning of any conflict or at least upon first ASAT use they would change their orbit. It wouldn't guarantee safety but it would help for the next overflight of enemy territory for polar orbits. X-37 has I believe a much larger engine than any normal satellite combined with the fact that it can land for refueling if it has to maneuver a lot, so it can do things regular satellites can't. On at least one mission it evaded amateur observation twice for weeks at a time. Presumably military grade surveillance by a peer state wasn't fooled for that long; it shouldn't be hard to re-establish a track with ABM type radar and ID the track with telescopes dedicated to the purpose (USAF maintains a ring of such things around the world).

    I have hard time believing most satellites have significant counter measures. Balloon decoys might be possible since that's cheap and light, but shrouds seems very far fetched - the only satellite that was thought to do this in open source were MISTY, and these did that upon deployment so that they could conduct recon without their dwell times being predicted. That would be a major installation in terms of expense and weight and I doubt any thing in orbit is so equipped (unless it is already operating as such now).

    Edit to add: The military payload that was supposedly 'lost' after separating from a Falcon 9 booster due to shroud failure would be a key candidate for a MISTY class orbiter; MISTY was launched with similar ruse.
    Last edited by Josh; 03 Aug 18, at 18:18.

  10. #25
    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    More missiles? How do you figure? the F-15X proposal has the F-15 carrying 22 AMRAAMs with a pair of conformal fuel tanks to free up the necessary pylons.

    An F-35 has 4 external pylons rated for the AMRAAM quad racks, and 6 internal AMRAAMs with Block 4. That's 22 AMRAAMs plus a pair of AIM-9Xs on the wingtips for good measure. Plus the F-35 brings much lower RCS, better sensors, and better C&C via datalinks and networking. It also costs less to buy and fly due to the huge volume of production and those ongoing costs are going to dwarf any dropped pylons that may be expended in a shooting war.
    Do you have any info on quad AMRAAM racks? No plane in US inventory has those. Not even the 15X concept
    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

  11. #26
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gun Grape View Post
    Do you have any info on quad AMRAAM racks? No plane in US inventory has those. Not even the 15X concept
    Boeing has a patent on a Multiple missile and bomb carriage system they've been trying to leverage into additional aircraft sales for a while now. In addition to providing another spot to physically attach ordnance, it divides a single existing pylon signal set connected through a single generic connector to multiple weapons.

    Existing methods to carry multiple Air-to-Air (AA) stores at a single aircraft pylon station require that multiple signal sets be carried from the aircraft stores management system (SMS) to each of the AA stores. This means additional long electrical routing paths to the pylon station given that the. SMS is centrally located on the aircraft. Additionally, this requires retrofit to existing aircraft if these additional signal sets and associated wire routing paths are not in place. Additionally, no carriage system exists that allows for integration of multiple AA or Air-to-Ground (AG) stores at a single weapon station using a common carriage structure and ejector racks. It is therefore desirable to provide an improved carriage system having the ability to carry multiple AA or AG stores using standard mechanical and electrical interfaces without costly and time consuming modifications to a military aircraft.
    You can see here and here from the boeing renderings of the 2040c F-15 proposal that they've got 4 missiles on a single pylon, presumably utilizing this setup. The F-15X proposal hasn't come with any official renderings that I'm aware of but since it sports more missiles than were advertised on the 2040c proposal I assume it's more of the same unless they've come up with another means of getting 22 AMRAAMs on a single jet.

    My argument is that since these things utilize standard mechanical and electrical interfaces, it makes more sense to use them with the existing fleet mix rather than altering it to buy specialized aircraft. The F-16 fleet is a lot younger and cheaper to operate than the F-15s and F-35s are going to be acquired in job lots, why not leverage what you have already?

    Once PCA arrives on scene you have your High/Med/Low mix with PCA/F-35/F-16.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 04 Aug 18, at 19:10.

  12. #27
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    Air Force not considering new F-15 or hybrid F-22/F-35

    "We are currently 80 percent fourth-gen aircraft and 20 percent fifth generation aircraft,” she said. "In any of the fights that we have been asked to plan for, more fifth gen aircraft make a huge difference, and we think that getting to 50-50 means not buying new fourth gen aircraft, it means continuing to increase the fifth generation.”

    What about a new fifth generation plane that would combine the F-35 and F-22?

    Wilson shut down that idea as well, saying that proposal "is not something we’re currently considering.”

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    The Air Force secretary’s proclamations seem to pour cold water on both Lockheed and Boeing’s sales pitches, but it is always possible that others inside the service are in favor of buying the F-15X and F-22/F-35 hybrid — and that they could continue making the case to Air Force leadership, potentially winning them over.

    Sources that spoke to The War Zone said Boeing was in “very serious” talks with the Air Force over the F-15X, but that the service had shied away from making its interest public so as to not to derail it’s number-one procurement priority, the F-35. Defense News has also heard from multiple sources that the Air Force has been in talks with Boeing over the F-15X for over a year, though it’s unknown at what levels those conversations currently reside
    .......

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