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Squeaky

F-35, dogfighting, etc.

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First, I hope it's ok to start a new thread.

 

I'd just like to add my two cents worth about the F-35/modern ACM environment debate as a life-long aviation nut, the son of a Marine jet & helicopter pilot, and (for what it's worth) the grandson of a Battle of Midway B-17 pilot & Pearl Harbor survivor. However, I am not a military pilot or defense sector worker so please pardon me if I sound totally ignorant. I just have a good eye for big picture stuff, and a sense for history. I'm sort of on the outside looking in.

 

The issue with regards to the Air Force seems to be cultural - not technical. It seems like the Air Force has been trying to prove itself ever since it's birth as an independent branch of the military. That might be wrong, but a habit I've noticed is for the Air Force to always want the most complicated plane possible. Perhaps this is because W.W.II demonstrated the vital importance technology. 

 

The Air Force seems to not like to adhere to the K.I.S.S. principle. Thus, the grudge against the A-10. I remember some bean counters wanting to get rid of the A-10 sometime around 1989 - 90 without a suitable replacement. Just give its missions to the F-16. I thought "bad idea." Thank God that didn't happen because Desert Storm came and the A-10 really shined. A less sophisticated airplane excelled at helping to win a war. It still shines.

 

Douglas's designer Ed Heinemann adhered to the K.I.S.S. principal and produced great aircraft for the Navy like the SBD Dauntless, the A-1 Skyraider, and the A-4 Skyhawk - less relatively sophisticated planes during their respective time periods. All excelled with (as far as I know) high reliability rates, wonderful performance, and an ability to take damage. I'm not saying we should revert to 1950s/60s technology. I just think the Air Force would be served well if it tried to keep things as simple as possible. The simple Dauntless sank Japanese carriers which my Grandpa's more sophisticated B-17s (with the vaunted Norden bomb sight) completely missed.  

 

To be fair though, I submit what an F4U Corsair veteran and test pilot for the A-37/T-37 program once told me: "What makes an airplane fly? Money."  

 

So ... financial constraints force the military services to still try to make a tactical plane be a jack-of-all-trades. It seems only increases in the military budget will allow for more mission specific designs like the A-10. My Dad flew the F-4 Phantom - an obviously famous multi-role jet. He said it was excellent at what it was originally designed to do: point defense interception. You had to force it to be a dogfighter or attack bird. He also seemed to allude to it's sophistication by saying he never flew a full systems F-4. There was always a squawk of some sort with it's avionics/radar system. He also flew the TA-4F Skyhawk a lot. By comparison, it was trouble free. 

 

I just hope newer jets like the F-22 and the F-35 don't become the "Tiger Tanks" of the modern ACM environment. It just seems like planes that adhere to the K.I.S.S. principle are more reliable & successful.

 

Do you really need a Surgeon rifle with a Night Force scope ($$$) to shoot that trophy buck, or will a .30-30 do the job? I propose that for attack missions the .30-30 will do just fine. For air superiority, however, you do need the Surgeon rifle. Trouble can come when one mixes the two. Keep a S.E.A.D. /Wild Weasel capability in specialized aircraft. You want a plane to really excel in that role. 

 

I suggest, however, that we continue developing U.C.A.V.s to fulfill the attack and fighter roles so you don't need manned tactical aircraft anymore (or not as many). I also suggest that somehow we develop weapons that can be dropped by satellites onto certain types of targets so we don't need attack planes or drones. Use G.P.S. and miniature M.I.R.V.s.

 

I sincerely hope my points are valid. Again ... I'm just a layman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Squeaky, very thoughtful and thought provoking points you provided.

Thanks for all the service your family give to our great country through the generations!

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Basically everything you mentioned applies to the entire military in toto. 

When it comes to KISS nobody in government in any fashion follows that path, just more obvious when dealing with billion dollar airplane platforms.

As for the "Tiger Tank" comparison, if given the choice I would rather button down in that than a damned Sherman which happened to be REAL simple.

 

Nothing is easy or simple when you get down to it, all we know for sure is government does not work... :)

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I guess what I'm saying is I hope today's technology gets applied in the simplest manner possible in order to ensure reliability. As for actual combat, you don't want a fighter pilot to experience information overload, or failing missiles, or jamming guns.  

 

With regards to equipment & performance, I'm mindful of how "high-tech" American jets could get shot down by simpler MiGs and their cannons - and they did.

 

The theory of missile engagements sounded great in the 1950s & 60s, but missile technology was immature. I just hope we're not repeating the same kind of mistake by thinking advanced avionics, today's missiles, and AWACS will once again preclude the need for a true dogfight capability in our planes and pilots.

 

I can see an unwary F-22 or F-35 pilot getting blasted out the sky by cannon fire. You can't jam a bullet. However, I'm all for giving our pilots the ability to "reach out and touch someone" from a farther distance than a bad guy can because maneuverability does no good if you're spinning about the same spot in the sky. In that case, you're just a high-G target.

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The biggest problem is numbers.  We've been cutting down on the numbers but advancing the tech.  Sooner or later, you reach a point where there's more targets than your aircraft can overcome...Then you're toast!  We need a system that's inexpensive to field large numbers of.  The other problem is pilots.  We have a serious problem there as, most kids coming out of high school are 4F.  We need to boot shoot a heck of a lot of those snowflake professors and teachers, and start teaching the things that really matter.

 

I'm all for "service for citizenship!"

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The biggest problem is numbers.  We've been cutting down on the numbers but advancing the tech.  Sooner or later, you reach a point where there's more targets than your aircraft can overcome...Then you're toast!  We need a system that's inexpensive to field large numbers of.  The other problem is pilots.  We have a serious problem there as, most kids coming out of high school are 4F.  We need to boot shoot a heck of a lot of those snowflake professors and teachers, and start teaching the things that really matter.

 

I'm all for "service for citizenship!"

 

Do you want to know more?

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Looks like guys here have a pretty damned good idea of what we need in an air superiority fighter. Virtually everything is off the shelf technology. All we need now is an airframe, a  company and a budget.

Edited by patriot

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Mmm I dont know if we will ever see a quality of quantity for manned platforms in .mil, it hasn't been part of our protocol since the disaster with the Shermans and rightly damn so says anyone that had to button down in one of those fire traps. 

 

I would offer the best plan for .mil is stop fighting all these wars but hey obvious is obvious...

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It all comes down to maintaining a 20+ year edge on technology over our adversaries.

 

Our economy allows us to outspend all other nations, for now.

 

The Chinese caught up fast thanks to the Clinton and Obama's lack of military spending.

 

The Russian's caught up in tech after they collapsed and Western computers flooded in. This was not lost on Putin. Their aircraft development improved quickly after adopting western corporate structure.

Edited by Sim_Player

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It all comes down to maintaining a 20+ year edge on technology over our adversaries.

 

Our economy allows us to outspend all other nations, for now.

 

The Chinese caught up fast thanks to the Clinton and Obama's lack of military spending.

 

The Russian's caught up in tech after they collapsed and Western computers flooded in. This was not lost on Putin. Their aircraft development improved quickly after adopting western corporate structure.

...and don't forget all the tech the Klintons GAVE China, as well as China's continued espionage in the US. Russia spies on us too, but not nearly as efficiently. We catch Chinese spies pretty much monthly.

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F-16, and F-18 assembly lines are still working. Foreign sales still making some $$$$$. We need to keep them open so we have the ability to scale up to wartime production QUICKLY!

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F-16s WORK. Relatively simple, agile, and one of the top fighters in the world today.

(And it kicked the F-35's ass!)

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  • G O B's comment about production lines made me remember a point I've been worried about.

Do we have (or can we create) enough production capacity for  a big war again? Having a design for the best plane, rifle, or ship or sub is no good if you can't make it quickly enough or enough of them.

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Capacity is no problem, Uncle Sugar got the $$$$, we WILL make a zillion of whatever they want!  The problem was always that the best designs were not available. Liberty Ships were an OBSOLETE WWI design - but quick and easy to build. The Sherman Tank was an infantry support tank -  designed and put into production in a matter of weeks. We DID NOT have a main battle tank until AFTER the Battle of the Bulge, it took THAT LONG to design one and it's assembly line. 

There is some good logic behind always having the most $$$ weapon systems in production for peace time. They are the ones that take TIME to get into production. The workhorse secondary weapons Detroit can mass produce quickly.

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