Why do the Aussies need even the F35?
Who are they going to go up against? A bunch of Roos carrying shoulder-launched AA Missiles?
A colourful Australian IT engineer and airpower zealot has published a stinging attack on the F-35 stealth jet fighter, which is to be purchased by military forces worldwide including those of the US and UK. Dr Carlo Kopp - to quiet applause from many in the aerospace world - says the F-35 "is demonstrably not a true stealth …
Non have ever been built, none will be. Even the 117 etc could be tracked not only by the UK Rapier missile system (built in the 80's !!!) but by civilian ATC radar as well.
It got to the stage where by the US military (and plane makers) stopped calling them stealth and started calling them low-observability aircraft. Their 'stealth' was not in the iron fillings put into black paint but the fact the pre-flight planning was done to fly around radar installations. This is OK for fixed radar but mobile radar setups easily capture ALL so-called stealth aircraft.
Steath, useful in concept, is not a reality but is a major money spinner for US arms manufacturers.
Well the Dutch were forced into this by their insane 100-day-long (post)Pim Fortuyn government.
Basically, in the early-noughties malaise a small populist party led by a flamboyant bald gay ex-communist now-rightwinger stirred up politics. Before any elections he got killed, so that a ridiculous number of people subsequently voted for this basically one-man party.
Strangely, the resultant party top was made up of about 50% ex-military cadre, and the only thing the subsequent (christian/centre-right led) government pushed through in their 100day regime was joining the JSF and agreeing to buy the stuff. I've never understood how this militarisation happened to a cheezed-off-little-men-anti-establishment party --- their platform was "liveability", in all its ecological, anti-poor and anit-immigrant facets, so "give cash to a few high tech firms with no other applications" was never a slogan.
The argument was that some minor parts built in Holland would bring in cash first, damn the billions expenditure later.
Is that the best preemption the author can come up with, that opposition to spending millions on a new toy is "old fashioned"? Not incorrect, or missguided, or niave, but "old fashioned"?
Bombing the sh*t out of 3rd rate powers with 2nd rate technology, is that not also terribly "old fashioned"?
Kangaroos with shoulder fire missles are a reality! It was in a demo once so it must be true!
Of course the demo in question is used as a re-use cautionary tale amongst programmers, but you can't expect managers to know the difference between reality and a demo with some programing bugs.
One page one the good doctors objections to the F35 claims of low observibility, zero pages countering those objections, 6 pages slagging the man and his history. Very balanced.
When the village idiot tells you that your house is on fire, it is considered wise to check that there is no smoke before you remind him that he is, in fact, an idiot.
Iran is the problem, not Russia or China, the US is just itching for a chance to start blowing them to bits, although we can hope that Obama is more open minded and into debate rather than war.
I think the real question is though, should we be leaning more towards this Aussie fella, who may very well have valid points about this fighter, or towards a pro-American journalist who thinks every bit of American tech is the best in the world and should be bought at any cost, even though the "crap" Eurofighter outperformed the Raptor in the US so badly the Americans cancelled the tests and sent the Eurofighter home.
Looking at Isreal for their opinion is a bit like asking a Scot what they think of Scotland. Isreal will buy whatever US tech they can get their hands on to keep the Americans happy whilst they commit war crimes with US tech in Palestine.
Do we really need stealth these days? Probably not, with planes having the ability to counter most threats, the objective should be to get as much firepower over the target as quick as possible and cause as much damage as possible. We already have machines that can do that, stealth is about as relevant in modern day warfare as a sword. If they truly do have Stealth, and as Adrian pointed out, they seem not to, then as soon as the stealth is broken the tech becomes obsolete, is the F-35 good enough without any stealth to compare with other fighters and come out tops in a dogfight? Is it worth spending so much cash on a machine which claims to have stealth but isn't?
But the big question remains, which jets will the US use when they invade Iran, will it be the Raptor or will it be the F-35, I'm betting on the Raptor, the F-35 is just for the export market, nothing else, which seems to shout out "its not good enough for us, lets keep the best one and sell off the 2nd best".
Obviously what we really need is for Japan to stop being so pacifict and start producing the Mecha.
MacNamara's Department of Defense forced the F-111 on the USAF. It was designed to serve both the Air Force and the Navy, but the Navy managed to get out from under it--though it cost the officer who led the opposition his career. How Dr. Kopp imagines that the F-111 is a great airplane, I can't guess.
Can't speak in detail because thats how it is with my experience in these things but I concur with Adrian. All "stealth" aircraft are low really observability which means that yes they can be tracked but the signature is much smaller or different to what it should be. Any object in the sky can be tracked by radar but the trick is to camoflage the object (much like ground forces) to make it look different and hope that the enemy systems or users mistake it for something else. And as Adrian says there are also avoidance techniques for missing radar stations, it's no coincidence that the B2 has such a high operating ceiling or that the RAF train far more in low level missions. Not to forget some counter-measures like jamming etc. although in practice that is far more likely to alert an enemy to your presence.
Now the longer an aircraft is operated the more the shape becomes recognisable and many modern AA radars can be changed on wavelengths and patterns to recognise the newer aircraft. But they have to see them, observe them and do all that shenanigans.
To be fair stealth is a good word but is over-used probably by people like The Sun, because the planes have never been invisible to radar. Low observability is a much better term.
...that what Lewis is (really) saying, is that Lockheed and partners have managed to come up with something almost like a present day F4 Phantom - it's not the best bomber, it's not the best fighter, it's not the best reconnaissance aircraft or defence suppression aircraft, but it may well be that it does all of the above sufficiently better than most others that it doesn't make sense to buy anything else?
I remember watching an interview with a very senior former McDonnell Douglas chap who said, basically, that everything about the Phantom was either wrong, or a dodgy hack to deal with a problem; it was hugely un-aerodynamic, the flipped-up wingtips and droopy tailplane were there as bodges because they had to be, and it still worked, because crucially, none of the likely opponents had anything better (or at least they didn't once they put a gun on it...). In this case, if they have pulled that off, they appear to have done so with a plane that has a lot right with it (and even has a VSTOL option - I invite you to consider the implications of trying to get a VSTOL Phantom...but not with a full mouth or if you're prone to heart problems... ;-) ). That would really be rather a good thing, especially for our cash-strapped military, and our death-tech guys at BAE are involved in the F35 too, so it's not a dead loss from the jobs and economy point of view either.
Anyway, good article.
It seems like the F35 is a C21st version of the F16 - a (relatively) low cost, light single engine multi role attack fighter. While inferior as a fighter to the F15 it was more than a match for anything else except the latest gen of soviet fighters (Mig 29 & Su 27) operated by soviet forces, as proven by the Israelis. The F16 also sold by the bucketload to NATO countries, without putting the UK & French aviation industry out of business.
The Typhoon is also a more capable fighter.
Russian tech is overreted as always - their newest aircraft are just re-engined Su 27s - 1970s soviet technology. Whatever else they claim to have on the drawing board they cannot afford to build or operate.
The real issue with the F35 is that the Royal Navy is having to buy the crippled VTOL variant because our brilliant government made the genius decision to build our new aircraft carriers without nuclear powerplants - therefore no steam catapaults - therefore no capability to operate normal aircraft.
On the subject of spending more money on the army instead of 'frivolous' new aircraft, ships and submarines: Am I alone in thinking that the first - if not only - duty of our armed forces is defence of the realm - meaning defence of Britain against foreign attack - meaning defending our seas and airspace? Not sending our army on pointless and illegal wars on the other side of the world.
Some people seem to be missing the point - the F-35 is the natural replacement for the F-16, which was brought for the USAF as a mud mover primarily, but also to complement the more expensive and capable F-15 in the air superiority role. Comparing this plane to the Raptor is a bit like comparing the Tornado GR.X with the Eurofighter - not valid.
This project will keep on running because the US doesn't want to lose all those customers who fly the F-16 (and even in Europe's case, previously the pitifully inadequate F-104) to other suppliers. This is a political as well as a commercial calculation, to reinforce US leadership of NATO and other Western-leaning countries.
As for Stealth, it'll all become irrelevant pretty soon as the Russians will have kit in the next while capable of detecting these aircraft.
In the cold war people ascribed mythical status to some soviet machinery. After the cold war it has surfaced that some of their stuff was a bit crappy and other stuff was way more powerful than the western world had imagined.
Their electronics were a bit oldschool, their material science in engine tech was a bit behind. Their manufacturing lines didn't have a solid enough quality.
Aerodynamically their planes are quite superiour. In a test done by the US air force in India (IIRC) american pilots got to fly russian air superiority planes against F15s. The russian tech THRASHED the us tech (it was just pathetic).
The export versions of the planes like SU27 didn't even have the full radar system. US planes like the F15 and F16 have around a 20° slice in front of them which can be targeted by the rhe radar, The SU27 (domestic version) has around 200°field and targeting is helmet mounted, anything the pilot can see is dead.
The americans have been betting on not getting into close combat for a while and have made design choices based on that. If a F22 or F35 get into a close combat situation with a SU27 they are screwed. The swedish gripen might stand a chance as well as being designed for improved airstrips, the US planes need their 2km airstrips almost hoovered clean (just like the F15 and F16).
The Us planes are made for a situation where the owner has a superior position and is not subject to massive airstrikes. Basically for showing off and for agressive tactics.
The SU27 (and JAS Gripen) are made for defence as well, an enemy has penetrated into your country, you go up, dance, and win, possibly at short or medium range (you took of from a road 30km from the airfield which the attacker was heading for)
Add to that the idea that maybe these buying decisions are not made for practical reasons but largely for political reasons and greased by large amounts of brib.. I mean, grants from industry leaders to interested political parties..
The remarks about "low visibility" are correct - no aircraft is totally invisible to radar (or other detection methods, including sound and infrared). However, it is the degree of diminished effectiveness that matters. If I can effectively reduce a radar's detection range of my aircraft from 200 NM to 20 NM, I have a better chance of finding an uncovered path through an enemy's radar perimeter. Yes, I may need to adjust as I go, as some radars are portable and that gap may not be.
But the key point that needs to be born in mind is that it is easier to build sensors to test a stealth/low visibility design than it is to build a stealth/low visibility target to test sensors. Radars, as an example of a sensor, are comparatively simpler (and that is one of their strengths) when compared to, as an example of a stealth/low invisibility platform, a fighter/attack aircraft. For radars, I can alter broadcast (continuous wave, phase array, etc) and frequency and power - a large enough test stand can examine a number of these variables in various combinations. It is almost impossible to give a particular radar a similar variety of airborne platforms to test against.
Given that the capability of all operational radars are known (there is no such thing as a "stealth" radar - once it begins broadcasting, its variables become readily known, which is one of the prime roles of surveillance aircraft. For a good account of the detection-change struggle for radars, see books on the Battle of the Atlantic by Morrison or Overy or others), then it is reasonable to assume that the designers of the F35 tested their platform against the large numbers of radar types available or projected to be available by potential adversaries. They did much the same with the F117 prototypes. The results of such tests have an impact, as has been at least implied by several earlier comments, on the tactics that are adopted.
For example, it may be the F35 is detectable by radar system A at 150 NM (but can see an F15 at 250 NM) and the enemy uses system A to oversee the battlefield which holds numerous targets that the force commander would like to address using the F35; on the other hand, system A can only see a B2 at 20 NM. On the battlefield, the enemy uses system B which, while movable, cannot see the F35 beyond 20 NM. Then the tactic might be to have the B2 kill any system A radars on its way over the battlefield while going after deeper targets, thereby opening up a path for the F35s. Using antiradar missiles with ranges well in excess of 20 NM, the F35s kill the system Bs and go on to deal with targets in the battlefield itself. The destruction of the Bs permits conventional attack aircraft to be used (F16, F15E, Typhoon, etc) for an even greater portfolio of targets. Again, this is nothing more than an example.
One other comment - the Foxbat was initially presented as the aircraft for which the West had no response. It's thrust was so great that no aircraft could turn with it, much less keep up. I still recall the classified presentation on the subject to my fighter group and the disbelief that many aircrew (we were a Phantom outfit) expressed. The briefers, as it turned out, were wrong and the aircrew were right. But that was the Cold War and the penalty for being wrong could have been utter disaster.
The Russian aviation has a long standing tradition - Mig gets the publicity and export contracts, Sukhoi gets the job done. While Mig 25 had all the adverts it was old Su-15 carrying interceptor duties in Voiska PVO. It was a Su-15 which shot down South-Korean flight 902 and flight 007. For a reason. Because it was what did the job.
F35 is a fairly even match to a Su-33. So if the armies meet across the fields of Ger^H^H^HUkraine there will be lots of fun all around.
Ditto for F35 meeting the Su-27+ exports.
Whilst the UK might be an island, in this day and age, we're reliant on imports. And exports too... (as Palmerston demonstrated to the Chinese at Shanghai - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_War). At what point would the threat to them be enough to warrant "peace keeping/observation" deployments?
Blair demonstrated that you don't have to have public opinion on your side to send out the troops either! And that was ostensibly for "self defence" too based on the 45 minute dossier. The more cynical of course say it was for the oil.
Today, would dying pensioners in the cold snap due to lack of gas be reason to send troops into Ukraine? We didn't need to in this last gas debacle, because our storage solution was working and the amount imported from Russia is 2%. So it's not too improbable to see future deployments over UK interests...
And conspiracists suggest the TRS2 was canned (boo hiss) because Wilson's government had a Soviet spy in it, and they a) wanted UK not to have a superior interceptor and more importantly b) it would be lots easier to steal the secrets of the F-111 were it on RAF bases as well as USAF.
Bring back the TSR2! A northern 'plane museum recently noticed the Germans making new FW-190s and in response have made a new Halifax[*], just in case they're up to something... so surely we can get some TSR2s together!
*No, not a flying example. But now there is one whole one in the world instead of none ;->
hmmm, I aint sure why you're all blabbering on about who's got the best plane, air combat as well as most of modern warfare died with the advent of nuclear weapons anyway, like it was also said in this article.
the main benefit of all these super jets, is the technologies they bring with them, you make lots of interesting advancements when building military kit and this isnt a new saying either, so think of it like this,
1) you HAVE to have the best equipment IF you ever fought a war
2) but you never will, but you still have to have it
3) you build it and keep the best tech to yourself
4) commercialise all the cool stuff you can sell (radar? gps?)
think of it like a way to keep our level of tech constantly increasing without ever having to require that level of technology, better to keep improving and spend your money on something than let it sit in the bank and do nothing, right??
so, it's not about wars and planes, it's about planes and tech :D
get it right boys. I'll leave the rest to you guys :D
The Vympel R-73 (AA-11 "Archer") was in service from '85 and comparable with the AIM-132 ASRAAM ('98), the AIM-9X Sidewinder ('03) and IRIS-T ('05) - far ahead of the short-range AA missiles of the US/NATO at the time. In a late-cold-war dogfight over the Fulda Gap, we'd have been decimated. Also, of note, is that those are all IR-guided missiles: low radar signature is about as relevant as the colour of the pilot's helmet.
Then there are the Serbians, with ancient soviet S-125s using very long radar wavelengths, downing an F-117. I hear shortwave (3~30MHz) signals have some interesting effects compared to X-band (7~12GHz) radars...
As for the F-111, the 'vark has some major advantages even today, for what it's worth. It's cheap, fast (50% faster than an F-35), has a huge range (4-5x that of an F-22/F-35), a large bomb-bay and already works with the Aussies' weapons. It's a damn fine Wild Weasel platform - by the time a SAM site has started painting it, it's launched ARMs, swept the wings back, and is heading away at Mach 2.5.
AC for obvious reasons...
Military minds (not necessarily brains) generally assess combat situations with the opponent at their very best and themselves at their very worse. With that in mind, any new weapon will always be at a "tactical disadvantage". That's just the way it done. A system like that has the usual outcome of breeding better soldiers, systems, and etc.
We'll never really know until the neat air war opens, but if you'd like to get a flavor of near real world results goto: http://www.acc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123041725
You might find flaws with the approach, but with the Raptors flying the same exact sorties as other craft, the Raptors lost only one encounter. I think the final numbers were Raptor kills 244, "The Enemy" 1.
I, too, am aware of that incident and some other stuff, besides. Suffice to say, F-117 is not 'stealthy' to first world nations, at all, in the sense commonly understood and sold to the general public and gullible customers.
As regards smaller RADAR returns; if the weapon system can still achieve a guidance lock, it doesn't matter that you're 'different looking' and 'half as large as the real outline'. :-)
Black Helo for similar reasons, of course...
P.S. JonB - It was a reasonably capable system when sold, the fact that it was a bit 'dated' by the time the UK used that variant is hardly the fault of the system (well, not in that sense) or the manufacturer as it was never sold with assurances against those opponents (IIRC).
"And in fact, this seems to be the true reason why the F-35 is so disliked in the aerospace world: because if it is even close to what its makers say it is, it has a fair chance of putting almost every other Western fighter make out of business."
That's exactly what was predicted with the F-16. It was comparatively VERY inexpensive yet, in the hands of a well-trained pilot, could outfly darned near anything in the sky. Boatloads of them were sold to just about everyone, even some Arab nations. Yet, so far as I know Saab, Dassault, BAE, et.al. are still making and selling fighters.
However the most important point of all, apparently missed by many here, is that a superior PILOT will win the day nearly each and every time, even when flying somewhat inferior aircraft. The F35 is inferior to the F22. It may or may not be inferior to anything made by Sukhoi or Mikoyan. However, I'll bet heavily on the US or western European pilot over any non-Israeli. It's all a matter of skill and training. The west and the Israelis have it. The Russkies certainly USED to (and may still). As for the others, who knows until the shooting starts?
In some ways for Australia the choice of the F-35 to replace BOTH the F-111's and the F/A-18 is a bit baffling as both aircraft served very different purposes for which the F-35 doesnt completely replace either. The F/A-18 is a superb superiority fighter, the F-111 a strike bomber (ie a bomber with some fighting capability). The F-111 also has a superb range (ie it can hit Indonesia (Australia's only real threat) and return). The F-35 is a fighter that is not a focused superiority fighter and it is designed to have bombing capabilities although not as good as the F-111. It also has a severely reduced range over the F-111.
So in that respect if the aim of this purchase was to keep the status quo the F-35 isnt the best choice. The best would be a combination of F-35's and F-22's (with possibly a few FB-22's if they ever get made). However the F-35 isnt for sale now (and probably wont ever be!), and Aus really could never justify the HUGE expense of an F-22 fleet. To counter the drawbacks of the F-35 Aus has purchased a number of inflight refueling aircraft to give it the range it needs, the government is buying more F-35's then we currently have F-111's and F/A-18's (or at least they were last time i looked) so basically for once our government seems to actually have thought there way through something.
As has already been mentioned, if your after the best fighter in the world you will try to get a hold of the F-22, if your after the next best and are willing to pay exorbitantly you'll buy the Eurofighter, however if your after something affordable, which will do the job against most enemies that the nations who are buying it are likely to face, you'll buy the F-35. Its not rocket science!
Oh and for the comment that the Americans are just going to keep the F-22's and sell the F-35's to export customers. The Yanks are continuously reducing the number of F-22's there buying because of the exorbitent costs and already have over 400 (if my memory holds out) of the Carrier Variant F-35's on order (more then the rest of the worlds orders combined!)... As for the conventional variant i hate to think how many are going to be produced for the yanks alone!
The Russians are good at math & physics. The Soviets were far ahead of the west on understanding non-linear dynamics. AFAIK one place an understanding of non-linear dynamics is very useful is designing high performance aircraft - all those gnarly gas/fluid flow equations.
Paris because she knows a thing or two about fluid flows.
If Oz et al cannot expect to fight the USA or Russia then one might argue that there is no strong requirement for air superiority fighters.
When fighting yer typical 2nd/3rd world country mostly I think you need to be able to bomb stuff, and a couple dozen cruise missiles will take out most of their radar systems.
So the F35 might be a good fit for all the 2nd tier first world nations.
Is an irrelevance.
Wars these days will either be between 2 second rate nations or between a modern western nation or Russia and a second rate nation.
With the differences in training and resources second rate nations have no chance of getting air superiority and then the fighting will move on to guerrilla street fighting where air power is important but a couple of spitfires would achieve the same as a F22 or F35 or whatever.
If the UK (for that is all I am really interested about) was to be involved in a war with another equally equipped and funded (or more so) country then air superiority would matter little once the nukes started flying.
Also I heard a report that the F35 and F22 have at best stealth that gives teh return radar signature equivalent to a pigeon or similar. So really all you have to do is get your radar to fla up any pigeons that are flying at 200 knots or more and then you send up the Typhoons to hand them their arses. Anyone want to buy some Typhoons? I believe the UK government has a few hundred on order that we don't need, have no use for and can't afford.
I think it's terrible that, in the 21st Century, we still have countries like Russia and China to worry about, instead of them, and all other countries, being, like Australia and the U.K., firm allies of the U.S., and also of all the world's other democracies, like Taiwan or Georgia or Israel, and not threats to them in any way.
You'd be amazed how few radars pick up pigeons. The point of a return that small is it massively reduces the range the contact is detected at, I think you're getting back to WW2 levels of detection where the night fighters had to be within a few miles of the enemy bomber to pick it up.
One day the world will grow up and stop spending billions upon billions of useful money on pointless toys and fireworks for the elite few to play with, and perhaps start trying to address more immediate problems, such as getting food and water and medicine to places that haven't got it, in this apparently enlightened and technologically advanced day and age in which we live.
Excellent article, Lewis, thank you, there are things of excellent class. As, surely, always.
I think Queen Elizabeth Class needs a special support nowadays (nice and professionally targeted photoshop at page two), with probably just more police actions for those who'd rather buy some food or pay the bank's interest. It's nearly a tragical situation to maintain the national war supply level as high as "enemies" do, providing for the future some necessary gadgets like new combat fighters and aircraft carriers.
Also, seems a kind of an alert to focus the reader's view on Mid-East and Pacific Theatres, including such specific keywords as "Russia", "China" and "Syria". Must sound terryfying... but not for readers of El Reg (-;
I'd buy a transformer of F35 for the team, just for kicks - http://gizmodo.com/5062451/awesome-f%2035b-video-shows-us-marines-already-have-transformers. But there is nothing stealthy in the sky since the world has bright students and excellent teachers. Just look up at the exhaust and see the bombing bay opened. And - oh, LW radar band, rain and such casualties...
Does anyone know why the Russians don't want to win the world?
They love to spend their vacations abroad.
One thing all commentator forget is truly stealthy aircraft are ridiculously expensive and usually have small payload. F22 are limited role interceptors. Australia has never had the resources for specialist aircraft. Australia has always had a strike bomber and multi-role fighter (at the moment F-111 and F-18). The appeal of the F-35 is that one day it will be stealthier supersonic multi-role fighter, we can buy 2 or 3 of them for the price of one F22 Raptor and most importantly it is available for us to buy.
The other thing is that Australia rarely makes incursions into russian airspace, and none of our neighbours can afford top of the range russian fighters and if they could we would have more fighters than they have missiles. Australia is largely immune to stealth technology itself as we use over the horizon look down radar technology.
So while everybody makes good points against the F-35 Sales brochure, and developing a new fighter is always full of cost overruns, but even our F111 and F18 cant fly forever and very few people are suggesting valid affordable alternatives.
Typhoon is no good against Flanker with supercruise engines? Also ineffective against UNIT Vanguard flying aircraft carrier, Imperial TIE fighter and Great Cthulhu...
Carlo Kopp is good at distilling open source technical data into "reviews" of aircraft and weapons, but his analysis/strategy pieces often venture into science fiction, and the concept of cost effectiveness is unknown to him. Yes we could put the F-22 engines and radar in an F-111 and rebuild the airframe using composite materials but that would be STUPID.
Long time reader - first time commenter (because I usually don't give a....)
The author of this *cough* unbiased *cough* commentary shows incredible ignorance of Australia and it's strategic security needs.
Look at a map of the Asia-Pacific (AP) region. Australia is massive. It's air defence needs cannot be met with a short/medium range single-engined aircraft that Europe is so fond of making. Lose an engine and there are no handy diversion fields. The twin engine requirement was the reason that the single engined F16/Mirage 2000 didn't get to final RAAF fighter selection in the 1980s over the F15/F18. The ADF seems to think that improved engine reliability over the F100/F110/F404-generation engines means that engine shut-downs are a freak occurrence. No thoughts here of FOD ingestion/mechanical failure and the loss of a $100million fighter.
With such large distances in the region/area of operations, aircraft range is paramount. Once again, AP is NOT like Europe where "deep strikes" are a matter of 200nm over a border. The F111 has NO modern replacement. Which is why Kopp is so fixated on it. In the US, the F111 was just another platform and was easily retired and replaced by the F15E and tanker refuelling. In Australian service it is IRREPLACEABLE in terms of strike radius and bomb-load, and the RAAF doesn't have hundreds of tankers like the USAF to throw into a F35 strike package. There are no aircraft today or planned that can replace the F111 and it's capability at reasonable cost (so no B2s under the RAAF Christmas tree!). However, I don't believe that the life of the F111 can be extended with modern technology. Dr Kopp believes it can. We'll just have to differ.
Once again, look at a map of AP and where Australia is. Do you really think that Russia is anywhere on the Defence agenda? Where do the main lines of supply/trade move? Through AP, moron! Where are Australia's largest trading partners located? AP. Are you seeing a pattern? Australia sees the F35 as fighting in the AP region protecting resource rich, but extremely vulnerable, areas of Australia's north (increasingly valuable energy - oil, gas, uranium), as well as protecting supply lines and allies in the region. Once again, this is an area where range is VERY important and suitable airfields possibly unavailable in a crisis. And Australia doesn't have the resources to maintain several aircraft carriers to make up for it.
China is seen as a possible adversary, despite good relations and China's dependence on Australian resources. Possible triggers for a conflict include Taiwan, resource rich Spratly and Paracel Islands, North Korea, or even a possible of a re-emergence of a hard-line Communist element within China. It is the role of Defence to not plan for what is happening now, but for potential future eventualities. Nobody has a crystal ball. We can't always guarantee that money spent on capability will be well spent and used fully. Not in defence, not in IT, not in any industry.
Historically, Australia's defence has depended on qualitative superiority over all other armed forces in the region in order to maintain security. There has lately been a proliferation of SU27 Flanker types in this region. Nations in the AP region that field these aircraft now include China, India, Russia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, the first three in very large numbers. These aircraft are a very real threat to the security to Australia. In addition, these nations have or are purchasing sophisticated Russian air defence systems to complement their SU27s.
The author is a fool if he is comparing Soviet-era weapons technology to those being sold by Russian firms today. Russia may not be able to afford them, but India and China are more than happy to stump up the cash for their development. Defence consensus is that Russian weapons systems are as good or better than their US or European equivalents in many categories. There is no longer the assurance of a qualitative advantage. Instead the "west" has to rely on training, tactics, ISR, and networking to provide the advantage. So far this has been enough to ensure dominance. But it hasn't been tested yet against an adversary equipped with advanced Russian weaponry in an integrated AD environment. Yugoslavia and their 15yo MIG29s and 25yo SA6s don't count as "modern".
This is a particularly bad ad hominem attack against Carlo Kopp. I don't know the man, never met him, never had anything to do with him, but he has far more credibility and peer respect in the defence community than your hatchet-job gives him credit.
He is particularly active and published in electronic and network warfare circles, which, forgive me if I'm wrong, is his basis for saying the F35 sucks! Furthermore, he isn't alone in his opinion of the F35. Many other respected experts have grave misgivings about the F35 and the capabilities that are being sold to us (for many, many bucket loads of cash). As far as Australia is concerned, the F35 will be the ADF's biggest ever acquisition, dwarfing previous purchases. I would expect that this is similar for many defence forces contemplating a F35 purchase. It would be best to go in with eyes open.
All you did with this article is expose the slender grip of your understanding of the F35, the needs of the RAAF (please note that the needs of the RAF/RN are irrelevant in the context of Dr Kopp's assessment), and the kind of environment that the F35 will be required to operate in the AP region. Your Euro-centric outlook is almost as noisome as other's US-centric view of the world.
> It was a reasonably capable system when sold, the fact that it was a bit 'dated' by the time the
> UK used that variant is hardly the fault of the system (well, not in that sense) or the manufacturer
> as it was never sold with assurances against those opponents (IIRC).
It was up against Skyhawks, an aircraft from the same era, also they were operating at their
range limits, which should've made them easier targets.
The Russian fans, might want to consider Iraq war 1 where Iraq's modern Russian fighter jets were knocked out of the sky virtually without loss whenever they went into combat. Resulting in them running to the border (not even a friendly one, Iraq never got the planes back).
I agree with the analysis of the article, criticism of the Eurofighter has upset the author somewhat.
As to the other commentator that Iran will be next - oh dear. Iran has old F14s which are poorly maintained (cannot get the parts easily!). They are reverse engineering them to build a 100% Iranian made plane, but it'll be as high tech as the English Electric Lightning (OK, I'm being a bit unkind here). The Ukrainians have, in the past, offered support but not on the new fighters. Iran is not a problem, the US won't attack, it'll let Israel do it and then stall proceedings in the UN - most people know this is the strategy. No need for Raptors, Iran's air defenses will last only a few hours.
All these expensive fighter jets will spend most of their lives in hangers. What good is all the technology in places like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq? Perhaps Pakistan can offer significant resistance but it relies on US technology and money.
"We'll never really know until the neat air war opens, but if you'd like to get a flavor of near real world results goto: http://www.acc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123041725
You might find flaws with the approach, but with the Raptors flying the same exact sorties as other craft, the Raptors lost only one encounter. I think the final numbers were Raptor kills 244, "The Enemy" 1."
Against F-15/16s and Tornado GR-4s? I'd be stunned if they didn't. How about against some modern fighters?
The F117 was very effective against Iraq in taking out their radar defenses. However, in the Balkans where the terrain is mountain/hilly, and approaches to targets can be limited, the F117 was vunerable to attack and I believe one was shot down by the Serbs.
The point is that 'Steath' technology isn't perfect nor impervious to detections.
The author of the article points to an Israeli raid deep in to Syria where advanced Soviet ground radar was ineffective. Again the point is that the way to overcome a defensive shield is multifaceted.
As to the Aussie 'genius', just a few points.
1) Clearly the F35 isn't as 'stealthy' as the F22 Raptor. Forget about looking at the specs. The US is selling F35 to their allies, but not the F22. That alone says it all.
2) Steath technology is very expensive. I mean horrendously expensive to design, test and build a prototype. If the UK, EU or even the Aussies wanted to do their own stealth program, have at it. It will crush your economy.
3) The F35 is stealthy enough. In aircraft combat, an F35 against a less 'stealthy' fighter would have a real advantage. (First one to see the other guy usually wins) Against ground attack, how accurate are those shoulder launched rockets against a 'stealth' aircraft? And thats the point. How does the airforce that owns an F35 plan on using it.?
4) In a large scale air assault, you lead with you stealth aircraft or you can use sat imagery and JDAMs / Cruise / etc to launch stand off missiles against the radar shield. Either you knock them out, or you get them to turn them off. Either way, they lose their radar defense.
The point is that as a cost effective, reduced radar signature of the F35, along with its ability to be a multi-role fighter, you have a viable plane to replace your aging fleet of 70's and 80's era of technology. There has to be a trade off.
Which would you rather have, a Harrier jump jet or an F-35 equally outfitted to that role?
Personally I'd love to see an upgrade to the SR-71. Sats are too easy to predict in orbit and the SR-71 was fast enough to evade anything even after detection. Purely as an observation platform, it did its job well.
Lewis Page, your article is an embarrassment. Now I understand your reputation clearly.
Good insight / counter to Dr. Kopp's paper.
Why is the F-117 LO technology being discussed on the same level as the F-35?
The F-117 in Serbia was brought down because of bad planning and battlefield management. it was flying the same region over and over and that's all it takes.
Stealth does not mean invisible. It means the returns are minuscule enough that it is difficult to MAINTAIN a track, and almost impossible to provide TARGET QUALITY FIRING DATA to the missile. If the missile is semi-active or goes active radar in the terminal phase, what makes you think a missile's on-board radar is strong enough to provide targeting data of a VLO/LO aircraft?
Modern Air combat has changed since 1980. No one seems to realize this. It is about battlespace management, networking, information, data linking, sharing resources, and most of all SYSTEMS. Anyone who pits platform vs platform is only destroying their credibility.
The amount of arrogance and ignorance in some of these comments (most, seemingly by Russian fan-boys?), are just plain wrong.
What is the point of comparing F-117 early-generation LO design/materials to the F-35? They are completely based around different technologies.
The point of moving from WVR to BVR combat is to get first look, first shot, first kill. And most importantly, the opportunity to PICK YOUR BATTLES.
No one seems to discuss the REAL issue of modern aircraft combat...the sensor suite.
There are plenty of resources out there to do your own homework, but majority of these comments are downright embarrassing to real world scenarios.
Other people seem to discredit a technology (F-117 early generation LO) because support aircraft (Elec Warfare/jamming) was used. I don't see how it is wise to NOT use all of your supports/advantages during war-time; especially during the opening days where SEAD/DEAD are most important. After the IADS is knocked out, the legacy/cheaper fighters can do the heavy work-load. Expensive VLO/LO aircraft are the tool for knocking the door down on the opening days of war.
Systems, people...study the Systems.
"As far as Dr Kopp's standpoint goes, there is absolutely nothing to suggest that the Raptor will ever be exported to anyone: he is arguing for a "solution" that isn't on the table."
Is also bit wrong. The very fact that the export ban of F-22 was recently lifted suggests that there is high probability of such in future. (else why bother lifting it),
Countries that have stated an intrest to buy it are atleast Japan and Israel.
Typhoon would be a capable aircraft if it delivered to it spec.
Oh, I know that the pilots who fly it, love it for it's flying abilities and acceleration, but it's systems are woefully underperforming.
While it may fly like the aeroplane equivalent of a Lotus Elise the things that matter in modern warfare- the systems - are over budget, late, and still don't deliver everything that was promised, and very probably used in these air-combat simulations. Basically the models use an idealised Typhoon that the real thing can't yet, and may never, deliver. Systems that were supposed to give it a combat edge but were causing problems ten years ago are still causing problems, even the solutions were also known ten years ago. The reason no fixes have been implemented is because the Eurofighter consortium companies spend so much time arguing. First they argue about who's responsibility the problem is - not that anyone ever need fear the consequences of a bollocking - these people are second only to the Civil Service in complacency about their job security. Then once that' arguments resolved start another about who is going implement and bear the cost of the fix. Just because you've been fingered for creating the problem doesn't mean you're prepared to have to pay to fix it. In the meantime the budget goes to ratshit in round of pointless, international, expensive debate. By the time the consortium members are all agreed on a fix and who should do it there's no money left in the pot so you have to either go back to government for more cash or the plane stays broken and underperforming.
It is widely know in companies that that subcontract to BAe that your worst performing employees outperform their equivalent BAe counterparts in terms of productivity. As the recession bites and BAe takes more work back in house to protect it's own jobs in places like Brough and Farnborough the general level of competence of people working on Typhoon is going to degenerate even more.
Lets not forget that BAe has it's finger in the F-35, Typhoon and Gripen pies so wins so long as people don't buy from those dastardly Frenchies.
"so long as people don't buy from those dastardly Frenchies"
How come the French are so capable -their own ICBMs, Exocet, export of home developed fighters etc. What happened to the UK ?
It's not just military capability, we cant (apparently) even build our own Nuclear Power Stations without international involvement. Our banks are in trouble, unemployment is rising...
Time to emigrate or is this the after effects of the worst day of the year yesterday (Monday 19 Jan)?
Balance from the Beeb???
BALANCE FROM THE BEEB??????
Not in a month of Sundays, old son.
Unless of course, your idea of balance is to have the permanent smug, self-satisfied arrogance of the middle-class self-proclaimed "intellectual liberal" - who invariably show all the intellectual characteristics of a turnip coupled with the liberality of the SS - pretty much the same as the utterly useless shower who cynically but successfully (so far) describe themselves as a "Labour" movement.
Sorry for the (slight) digression but the terms "Balance" and "Beeb" are mutually exclusive.
Bugger.... you beat me to it, I got so excited I was going to be the one to heckle and shatter Brutus' view of BBC reporting... *waves fist*
@ Lewis - Is there nothing you don't know inside out!! :o You are like the El Reg incarnation of Jeremy Paxman... *awaits ordered flogging from dominatrix*
@ Brutus -
Well, mostly, for the Beeb [as cited] readers you Must be Galileo or Giordano or another modern astronomer to balance with. No comments, you maybe are, so why not open to the others the deciphering log.
A weird chain/ladder from F-35 to Galileo, though.
@ JonB Fri 16 Jan 09 14:04 -
"consider Iraq war 1 where Iraq's modern Russian fighter jets were knocked out of the sky virtually without loss whenever they went into combat" -
... and also in Georgia, Caucasus Russians issued a no-shoot order to stop the Navy Team Spetznaz cutter which was about to be ready to rescue M. Saakashvili to an USS from Poti during "The 5-day war". Was quite reasonable and wise not to do it. These cutterways also helped Tbilissi eacape of the trouble with bombing, artillerying and tanking.
Of course, if anyone needs war he'll get it, sooner or later. But it's strictly recommended to remove this anyone as closer to the Pole as possible... and let the white bears keep an eye on him (-:
Even let alone the beginning of Iraq 2 when Russian External Intellingence Team Spetznaz "Zaslon" ["Screen"] broke through Syrian border on jeeps along with some "important papers" and A0 class "delicate cargo" from Bagdad . As I remember, there was an American tank, or whatthereeelz, hit during a short encounter, with zero loss of jeeps. An order from Command matters, I mean, only.
And, how one might ever suppose that "modern Russian fighter jets" were there to protect borders of Iraq for the goals of Russian policy? Psst, sure not ! With so few planes? Waste of money and pilots. But R. Cheney's little business owns three oil fields to Lukoil now... He needs a heavy rhetorics and actions to show if he's now as tough as he was looking like (-;
Business&Jus, nothing personal.
a few things.
of course the F-1117 was tracked at the air show - it was in benign space and it had everything up (geez louise look at the images published at the time). unless the Rapier was busted it could not have avoided tracking it. If a Rapier could not track an aircraft within 500m then british technology is in serious trouble. So rather than misunderstand how LO works (and in particular how the F-117 or any sensitive aircraft works in friendly airspace) then refer to "Bandits Over Bagdhad" (A history of the "stinkbug" written by pilots and some of the designers) where the entire flight entered Saudi airspace (and they had everything up as they were terrified of the iraqis doing a surprise dump) and didn't find the aircraft until they were on short finals - ie transmitting with all 3 aerials up.
or conversely, again in Bandits over Bagdhad where F-15 pilots WVR in the same mission corridor could not "see" the stinkbugs for love or money.
Serbia was successful because the pilot became indolent and complacent and used the same flight path for successive nights. Human Factors - not technology.
btw, the pilots nickname for the F-117 is "stinkbug" - Nighthawk is the common Janes/Journo's reference.
The comment about the F-22 being available is also wrong. It is subject to Congressional approval due to a number of things. These include ITARs restrictions (NOT lifted on the plane) and the Obey Amendment - now you have to be a brave individual if you think that Senator Obey, now that his Govt is in power is going to take a contrarian view on release. He is not remotely interested. As far as Obey is concerned the US should be witholding a number of technologies from US allies - he has not resiled from that stance in years - and there is no indication that he will.
The plane is not legally available - and requires 3 specific events to happen before it can be. Israel, Japan, Sth Korea etc can ask as much as they like.
Well I think we are quite happy with our P3s and C130s thanks.
If your country was silly enough to employ people who take Lockheed's bribes to buy the Starfighter - then silly you.
You didn't think to have a pilot test the starfighter first or your bribed offical didn't listen to the pilots?
No one forced you to buy F104s.
The presistant rumour is, that it was such an old tech as S-125 Neva (aka SA-3 Goa) battery, which shot F-117 down over Serbia. And then there are the interesting facts, like the one where US Air Force scraps the entire fleet of F-117 bomber ...before it was due to do so. ....with no budget problems. ...while being middle of a shooting war. Second rumor is, that there weren't that many F-117s on the skies over Afghanistan or Iraq in this last round.
If true, all it took was one smart SAM battery commander doing something designers hadn't thought of and Air Force swept entire plane under a rug mumbling excuses.
@ Anonymous Coward, Fri 23 Jan 01:01
"could not track an aircraft within 500m then british technology is in serious trouble" -
not only British one, but any electronical. Better fix up to the MANU @ 500 metres, warm up a gun machine would be the proper action, rocketry covers target occasionally... also plz don't forget to have "I'll Get Lucky" switch on (-;
Paris, because she's tracking F-35, au dessous des nuages.
@ Anonymous Coward, Fri 23 Jan 01:01
"could not track an aircraft within 500m then british technology is in serious trouble" -
not only British one, but any electronical. Better fix up to the MANU @ 500 metres, warm up a gun machine would be the proper action, rocketry covers target occasionally... also plz don't forget to have "I'll Get Lucky" switch on (-;
Paris, because she's tracking F-35, au dessous des nuages.
what, you think that the USAF parked 63 stinkbugs because of 1 kill in Serbia?
the stinkbug is made of 6 different aircraft - it was designed as a hybrid of spare parts so as to fast track its build - some of those parts (including F104 and skyhawk) are no longer available. Its a logistics nightmare
there are now over 100 raptors available at the 1 manned LO aircraft level in service
the mission of the F-117 has been overtaken in a lot of areas by the new generation PGM's and standoff weapons - it's 25 years old, it's running out of parts, one of its replacements is in service and there are superior weapons delivery capabilities in play?
why keep a logistics embuggerance when there are at least 4 superior support vectors that say get rid of it.
and again, the Serb shootdown was due to human factors, a pilot who broke the rules - and a serb commander who had initiative to recognise that they were complacent and moved accordingly.
LO is not invincible - why people carry on about stealth aircraft and then don't understand the implications of bad employment is just fan clubbing commentary.
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