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Symmetric and assymetric counters

Posted by Picard578 on October 12, 2013

Introduction

War consists of solving problems that prevent accoplishment of the goal; this is also present in weapons design. This design involves compromises and weapon that is intended to be equally good at everything always turns out to be equally useless at everything. But this presents a question of what areas to focus upon and which solution to use for the specific problem. Solution can be obvious (symmetric), like countering enemy weapon by negating it with identical weapon, or countering need for greater range by increasing fuel load of an aircraft. It can also be assymetrical, by exploiting weaknesses in enemy approach, such as negating advantage offered by his weapon by preventing conditions required for its use from forming, or improving range of aircraft by reducing drag. Third possibility is semi-symmetrical, such as using identical weapon as enemy’s while reducing enemy weapon’s performance, or improving range of aircraft by using tanker, thus increasing its effective fuel capacity.

Examples

Ground combat

Problem: enemy has larger number of tanks superior in straight combat

Symmetric counter: design a tank that will be better armored and armed than opponent’s

Semi-symmetric counter: use tank destroyers

Assymetric counter: use infantry and CAS aircraft

Examination: While it would be obvious to use tanks against tanks, opponent’s superior numbers and per-tank quality mean that it is not a smart idea. Designing a “superior” tank would increase cost and reduce number of tanks avaliable even more. Thus, tanks are best left to hunt soft targets, such as fuel trucks and supply dumps. Tank destroyers, basically a huge anti-tank gun at tank chassis, are a relatively cheap and very effective counter to enemy tanks. Drawback is that they are less effective than tanks for supporting infantry, but if tank destroyers are tasked with destroying enemy tanks, actual tanks are left free to do exactly that. Infantry itself has proven to be extremely dangerous to tanks in urban or hilly areas (only areas where tanks are relatively safe from infantry are steppes and deserts) but on its own it lacks maneuver capabilities of tracked vehicles; APCs are almost as large targets as tanks while being at heavy disadvantage against them. CAS aircraft such as Stuka and P-47 in WW2 or modern-day A-10 have historically proven extremely valuable in destroying enemy armored vehicles, but unlike ground vehicles they can’t be constantly present on the battlefield regardless of weather. Thus, combination of semi-symmetric and assymetric counter is optimal approach, whereas symmetric counter is relatively costly and ineffective. Even if opponent’s quality and quantity of tanks can be matched, it may not be a smart idea as it might lead to ignoring tanks’ true purpose: destruction of enemy support elements behind combat lines.

Air combat

Problem: enemy has aircraft with long-range radar

Symmetric counter: use aircraft with longer-ranged radar

Semi-symmetric counter: use stealth aircraft

Assymetric counter: use RWR to target enemy aircraft

Examination: again, symmetric counter is an obvious solution. Assuming that two aircraft have comparable RCS, one with larger radar will be able to detect another first. Stealth aircraft, instead of increasing one’s own radar range, focus on decreasing opponent’s radar range by decreasing one’s own RCS. Both approaches lead to large, expensive aircraft with compromised performance. They also ignore the fact that user of radar is in same position as a person using flashlight in the dark: its user might find the enemy, but enemy will see emissions from his radar/flashlight far sooner than enemy himself is noticed, and even if detection device is not directed in a way that allows user of device to detect the enemy even from relatively close range. Radar warners are relatively cheap, and work by detecting enemy radar emissions – effectively forcing everyone to shut down their radars or at least use them very sparingly, thus eliminating radar’s theoretical detection advantage – and rendering heavy radar-based fighters impotent. In this view, both symmetric and semi-symmetric counters are bad, but semi-symmetric counter is worse due to larger costs involved.

Problem: enemy is using VLO fighters

Symmetric counter: use VLO fighters

Semi-symmetric counter: use aircraft with long-ranged radar

Assymetric counter: use IRST and RWR

Examination: symmetric counter is again the most obvious one: if enemy has stealth aircraft, best way would obviously be to counter them with stealth aircraft of one’s own. Most obvious and easiest way it is, but it is far from being the best one. Stealth fighters are hugely expensive to both procure and maintain, reducing force presence as well as pilots’ skill. Second counter is to use aircraft with longer-ranged radar. This is even worse in some ways, as strong radar signal allows one to be detected very early on, and potentially attacked without seeing the enemy. Plus side is that it allows some amount of numerical superiority over the enemy. Third counter means remaining completely passive. If enemy uses radar, he will be detected first and may be in danger of being attacked completely passively. If enemy stops using radar (an only logical action), he automatically removes any advantage gained by using stealth aircraft. Thus assymetric counter allows for countering very expensive enemy capability comparably cheaply and effectively, whereas other two counters are far inferior to it from both tactical and strategic viewpoints.

Problem: range of aircraft being designed has to be increased

Symmetric counter: increase internal fuel capacity

Semi-symmetric counter: allow for more drop tanks or conformal tanks

Assymetric counter: reduce drag and increase fuel fraction by reducing aircraft’s empty weight

Examination: Symmetric counter to problem of range, to increase internal fuel capacity, means that aircraft has to get larger and heavier. This in turn increases drag and forces stronger engines, which increases fuel consumption, starting a circle of weight and size increase – which in turn increases cost and decreases combat performance. Semi-symmetric counter allows aircraft to have comparably low fuel fraction by relying on sources of fuel other than its internal fuel tanks. Drop tanks can be discarded when needed, but they also increase drag and reduce maximum speed – consequence being that 25% increase in fuel capacity only translates into 10-15% increase in range. Another problem is that they take up external hardpoints, reducing aircraft’s ability to carry weapons; they also have to be discarded if a fighter aircraft using them gets into combat (Eurofighter Typhoon’s centerline tank might be an exception). Assymetric counter results in a more efficient aircraft, reducing fuel consumption and making aircraft lighter. This allows relatively small fighter to have very good range, and reduces both cost of aircraft and cost of fuel required to carry out a mission. As a result, assymetric counter is by far best one, though semi-symmetric one can be used as a patch when even more range is required by an already finished design. Assymetric counter also has additional benefit of improving aircraft’s dogfight performance.

Problem: fighter aircraft has to have a good turn rate

Symmetric counter: increase wing area

Semi-symmetric counter: use high-lift devices and wing-body blending to increase lift

Assymetric counter: eliminate excess equipment to reduce weight

Examination: Symmetric counter is obviously worst; increase in wing area leads to increase in drag and increase in weight due to larger wing, stronger structure and stronger engine required to counter increased drag and stresses; this in turns requires even larger wing, resulting in growth spiral with lift and thrust chasing weight and drag. Semi-symmetric counter has no such problems, and provides for increase in lift-to-weight ratio without almost any adverse effects; however, it does not adress issue of inertia and thrust-to-weight ratio stays the same. Reducing weight allows for both increased lift-to-weight ratio, thrust-to-weight ratio as well as decreased inertia. Assymetric counter also eliminates both excess weight and excess equipment, reducing cost and improving reliability. But since weight reduction is limited by other requirements such as structural strength, range and provisions for pilot and weapons, combination of semi-symmetric and assymetric counter is the best idea in this case.

Naval combat

Problem: enemy has aircraft carriers

Symmetric counter: produce aircraft carriers

Semi-symmetric counter: use VTOL aircraft to turn any ship into impromptu aircraft carrier

Assymetric counter: procure more submarines and/or anti-ship cruise missiles

Examination: Symmetric counter in this case has both advantages and drawbacks, as do other two. Aircraft carriers can be useful transport ships and symbols of power (gunboat diplomacy). They also allow air support when establishing and maintaining beachheads, without requirement for a friendly nation being nearby. However, they are very expensive and visible; this, as well as their diplomatic clout, quickly turns them into magnets for varios types of high explosives. Semi-symmetric counter allows for ship-based air support without aircraft carriers; however, VTOL fighters are inherently incapable of outmaneuvering competently flown CTOL and STOL air superiority fighters and are thus at disadvantage even without accounting for huge production and maintenance costs. AIP submarines and anti-ship cruise missiles are excellent way to counter enemy aircraft carrier but also lack carrier’s versatility, particularly for diplomatic role. Because of this, procuring low-cost conventional aircraft carriers as well as submarines and cruise missiles is the best option.

Problem: enemy is using AIP submarines

Symmetric counter: use AIP submarines of your own

Semi-symmetric counter: use nuclear submarines

Assymetric counter: use aircraft

Examination: as AIP submarines are very quiet and tend to stick around in littoral waters, where there is lot of noise interference, they are very hard to notice. Also, their small size means that they can maneuver in littoral waters comparably well. This means that using nuclear submarines to counter them is right out of window, as nuclear submarine’s size will get it murdered against smaller and stealthier AIP submarine. Using AIP submarines is a comparably good solution, but one has to be prepared to lose few of them. Aircraft, on the other hand, are mostly invulnerable to submarines, and can be equipped with magnetic anomaly detector which is likely quite capable of detecting any submarine, even AIP ones (though it will still be more effective against nuclear submarines; and while there are ways to reduce submarine’s magnetic signature, these are bound to be more effective when used on AIP submarines). Thus combination of symmetric and assymetric counters is the best option.

Conclusion

It can be seen that assymetric counters are very effective and cheap, but require understanding of nature of warfare, and are thus more difficult to properly implement. They are sometimes inferior in roles other than direct combat with whatever they were intended to counter, however, which means that in some cases more expensive weapons and approaches still have a role on the battlefield (for example, aircraft carriers). While assymetric and semi-symmetric counters can easily complement themselves to achieve low-cost dominance over the enemy, symmetric counters are in most cases inferior to and more expensive than such combination. This is consistent with the fact that winning a war is done by leveraging one’s strength against opponent’s weakness.

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20 Responses to “Symmetric and assymetric counters”

  1. HGRhgr said

    Excellent topic. I would like to add a little more to the Naval side.

    In Naval fighting asymmetrical warfare involves using relatively inexpensive weapons to exploiting weakness in enemy weapons that are far more expensive and seemingly far more powerful. In the old days a dreadnought type battle ship was armed will all big guns and while overwhelmingly powerful in fleet action it could not defend itself against small boats armed with torpedoes.

    In WW1 two Austrian dreadnought type battle ships where sunk by Italian speed boats using torpedoes. That certainly made the point that small boats armed with torpedoes could be lethal to even the largest battle ship.

    To fight very fast small ships armed with torpedoes you require a more maneuverable ship with guns that have a higher rate of fire than those huge guns that the battleship had. The ship type that we know today as “destroyers” was developed just for this purpose. It was originally called “torpedo boat destroyers” but that name was eventually shortened to “destroyer”. The destroyers had another quality; they where sea going ships with high endurance and more than enough speed to stay with the fleet so they became very useful in other missions but protecting against torpedo boats was their original one.

    Incidents like the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in 2009 by a North Korean midget submarine, the damaging of the Cole in 2000 by a small boat loaded with explosives, the Iranian speed boats swarm tactics that have been staged against US Navy ships, the planting of mines by sailors disguised as fishermen, the use of floating mines for terror, taking over off-shore oil rigs with small boats all the latter tactics used by Iranians, pirates in Somalia, weapon and drug smugglers in Africa and the Caribbean, etc. are examples of the type of asymmetrical warfare that we need to contend with in our days. All dirt cheap resources that target narrow vulnerabilities in much larger and much more powerful ones. Almost all of these incidents occurring in littoral areas or their near waters that can be reached by small boats. Almost all of them in lawless areas of the world or near rogue states like Iran and North Korea.

    A big problem in dealing with these threats is that the littoral waters are busy commercial arteries.The Straits of Malacca sees nearly 170 ships go through it every single day, day after day. And in some parts of the world the sea is a vital sources of food. People living in the littoral waters are often forced to go to the sea even if there is conflict and war. Their alternative would be the halting of an industrial economy by lack of raw materials or hunger to subsistence seafaring communities in non-industrial economies. So not going to the sea is not an alternative for either. In this fighting environment the “good guys” has to find a single “foe” among a huge number of “innocents” using littoral resources for trade or living.

    The United States is trying to develop resources and alternative tactics to deal with these threats. Eventually these alternative tactics might become as ubiquitous as destroyers are now. But at this time there is a lot of experimenting going on.

    But a very real problem that was and continues to be into our day is that the asymmetrical threat is by definition far less expensive than its counter. Just like in the old days the “destroyer” was a far more expensive ship than the torpedo boat today the frigates and littoral combat ships that are designed to suppress a swarm attack or prevent the take over of an oil rig by small boats are also more expensive to built and maintain in station than the threat they counter.

    The good news is that you can’t win a Naval war with asymmetrical resources. At least I do not know of any that has ever been won like that. If the damage from these asymmetrical tactics becomes too bothersome the the Naval powers affected they will bring overwhelming resources to bear and the threat will go away.

    Asymmetrical warfare is not the same as access denial type of naval warfare. The latter while less expensive it does use modern equipment and technology and it allows a smaller or less wealthy nation a degree of protection since the resources required to overwhelm this type of defense are typically available only to large Navies. Patrol boats and corvettes, shore based missile-batteries, diesel electric submarines, moored mines and patrol air crafts of all sorts are normal for this type of warfare and as you can see it requires technological expertise and it is expensive but not quite as expensive as an ocean going fleet that projects power beyond your shores. You will find excellent examples of Navies built around this concept among the Baltic nations.

    • picard578 said

      Indeed, but I did not mean “assymetric warfare”; rather I meant “countering enemy capability with different capability of your own”. Javelin missile or a recoilless rifle vs tank for example. And it is correct that existence of a cheap and highly effective counter does not mean that weapon is useless; it does mean, however, that weapon’s pros and cons must be objectively assessed, and that cost is no guarantee of adequacy. In Gulf War I, A-10 and F-16 were far more useful than the F-117. They were cheaper, but they were equally survivable when flying at night (F-117s flew only at night) and they struck far more targets than the F-117s did, in part due to their greater numbers and higher sortie rate.

      • GEORGE said

        The cheapest and best way to counter stealth fighters is to use of VHF mobile radars… They are the cheapest and easiest radar to make. They can detect a aircraft stealthy or not from great distances, really there is much smaller difference in detection and tracking ranges now between stealth or non stealth fighters now with A tracking range of 350km on a F-117a. This targeting information can then been given to existing low cost 4th generation fighters, these fighters then can use their IRST and also “Vostok-E” radar picture uploaded to them through data links to find stealth fighters.

        This radar is worlds first Aesa VHF mobile radar, it came out in 2005, by 2015 with increase of electronical and computing, power ranges detection and tracking in 2015 with upgraded model will likely be 525km on a F-117a.

        (moore’s law)

        Moore’s law is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law

        “Vostok-E” radar, since it is frequency hoping and in the vhf band is very difficult to jam, and is immune even to anit radiation homing missiles which are designed to home in on x band radars. Due to physics you would need a large radar antenna to home in on the VHF band radar, think a missile 600% to 1,000% larger than traditional x- band radar homing missile, no such missile is in existence today that I know of and none could be carried internally due to the size.

        http://www.kbradar.by/text/pages-view-37.html

        Here is the pic of radar up..

        Here it is being driven with radar stowed.

        Here is a great video of radar being deployed from stowed transport position.

        http://www.kbradar.by/uploads/all/file/%D0%92%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%BA.avi

        RLM-M Nebo M is yet another Russian radar with significant 3d detection of stealth targets at long ranges.

        100 such radars were recently ordered and bought by the Russian defense ministry for the same price as a single F-22.

        http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Nebo-M-Annex.html

  2. HGRhgr said

    I agree… cost is not a guarantee of adequacy. The USA is no stranger to making expensive mistakes.

    And the comments about the A-10 and the F-16 are right on the money. Efficient and effective. There is nothing out there to take their place.

    I loved the comment that you made about range of aircrafts. It is one of my favorite topics to read about. Extending range and loiter time via aerial refueling is one of the lynch-pins of the USA way of air war.

    The aerial tankers make the USA missions more efficient… the aircrafts can stay on station and use more or all their weapon load in each mission. So every sortie the USA makes is more efficient than those of their enemies. Eliminating the aerial refueling could place the USA aircrafts in the same situation as the British where with their Vulcans during the Falkland War or the German fighters during the Battle of Britain… very inefficient strikes or fighters very little time to fight (defeated because they lack the fuel to keep on fighting).

    Since aerial tankers will be defended to the last war-plane then knocking them out in conventional air war will be very hard. An alternative tactic to compensate for that advantage could be for the enemy to operate just like you said. Using air crafts that have more endurance and in larger numbers.

    But also important would be to use aircrafts that can fly significantly more sorties per day… more sorties per day could help make a few look like many. This has been done by the Israelis and the USA Navy with their aircraft carriers.

    More sorties also leads to more losses. The USA Air force had a tolerable rate of loss per sortie with their B52 flying over Vietnam BUT since they flew so many sorties that rate accumulated to a loss of a significant number of total air crafts. This point is sometime missed… more sorties = more losses.

    So more sorties could be another solution.

    An asymmetrical tactic might be not to have an airforce. This is the path that Hamas and Hezbollah have been forced into in their fights with Israel. Same thing for their Navy… they have none. They use asymmetrical tactics like hiding rockets among the urban mass and using public opinion to defend them. Like all asymmetrical tactics this one can be defeated but firing at urban centers no matter with what level of exactitude will include collateral damage and that is a problem in today’s world of limited war.

    • picard578 said

      It is interesting that Germans had external fuel tanks avaliable during Battle of Britain, but they were not used for whatever reason.

      What you mentioned for sorties per day is yet another shortcoming of expensive, complex fighters. Take for example Gripen and F-22. For cost of 12 F-22s you can buy 70 Gripens, but it does not mean that Gripens have 6:1 numerical advantage; as F-22 can fly 0,5 sorties per day per aircraft, and Gripen 2 s/d/a, actual force is 6 F-22s vs 140 Gripens, or 23:1 numerical advantage for Gripens.

      More sorties means more losses, but not only to one flying these sorties but also for the opponent. Aircraft that sit entire war in underground hangars may not suffer a single loss, but what matters is their effect on the war. But here cheaper aircraft are also advantageous, since target saturation means that enemy defenses won’t be able to concentrate and operate as effectively.

      As for urban warfare, A-10 could be OK solution if DU bullets are replaced with tungsten ones.

  3. HGR said

    Correct. Not just any aircraft could fly from Guam to Vietnam and back with a load of huge bombs so the loss of a B52 represented the loss of a scarce and finite resource while the loss of a SAM represented the loss of a resource that was in ample supply and active production and could be replaced. What you mentioned about the F22 and the Gripen is understood the same way.

    I have to think that at some point in time that technology from the F22 and the F35 will find its way into cheaper aircrafts that can be made in larger numbers. The cost of those new aircrafts will seem reasonable if the development of the technology is already behind and paid for with the F-35 production.

    • picard578 said

      It just doesn’t work that way. More complexity = more cost, there is no escape from that. And there isn’t much technology from F-22/F-35 that would be advantageous for Gripen; Rafale is another story though (OSF, DDM NG, IR signature reduction measures).

  4. GEORGE said

    Another thing you have to consider is if the F-22 and the Gripen are in a bombing mission f-22 can only carry 2 1,000 pound bombs for a payload of 2,000 pounds in it’s stealthy mode. Gripen can carry 11,700 pounds or ordinance, so not only more planes and more sorties but significantly more ordnance as well, if you compare all this it is a huge difference. True f-22 can carry more but not in the stealth mode.

  5. HGR said

    So how does the F22 fit into the USA Airforce plans? That is the question. It probably does fit in missions like targeting enemy radar early in a conflict when flying is the most dangerous and that might justify the low tonnage as long as the aircraft remains hard to find by radar.

    I think that another question is would a small regional air force on a budget buy an F22 or an F35? I think the obvious answer is no. The cost, the tonnage, the sorties, etc. make it a poor choice for such an air force. Not just the cost of the F22 and F35 but the cost of the other aircrafts that go with it… the AWACS, the electronic warfare aircrafts, the tankers, etc.

    Or what should you use for the sundry missions that take place after the enemy air force is suppressed? I do not think the F22 or the F35 are a good choice either. I believe that at some point the USA will need to come up with lower cost aircrafts. The technology might be borrowed from the F22 and F35 once it is paid for with that production but will be used on airplanes that would be more aptly described as descendants of the A-10 and the F16.

    • picard578 said

      Stealth aircraft can be useful for some missions, but basing entire tactical part of air force on them should be a big no-no. But $$$ and contractor wishes prevailed.

  6. GEORGE said

    HGR you have alot of good points, and I agree with what your saying, I feel the F-22 at 425 million and the F-35 at 250 million with all development costs in is simple to costly with to much maintenance, small payloads, I mean imagine flying these planes in Afghanistan against the Taliban in the heat and fine sand flying all over the place from windstorms? what a nightmare that woud be, they can hardly get them to fly in perfect conditions.

    If I was a dictator of a smaller country for the cost of 16 f-22 of 7.0 billion (I know the F-22 is no longer in production, and the usa would not sell the F-22 to anyone let alone a dictator)

    I would buy…

    40 PAK-FA for 4 billion, (I believe it to be the best fighter in the world once introduced for air supremacy and high end air dominance at a fraction of the trouble, costs and maintenance of the F-22) No plane on the planet will be able to do what the PAK-FA can at the cost it likely to be sold for, like stealth, sensor fusion, top end IRST, 5th gen ecm, 360 degree surveillance, High power Aesa radar, super maneuverability, super cruise etc…

    60 Su-34 fighter bombers for 2.1 billion for strike missions or to be used in longer lower intensity wars like Chechnya, Afghanistan, or at higher altitudes, once another major airforce is at least partially suppressed.. Su-34 are cheap to buy, run, operate and can take off and land on short unprepared runways close to were they are needed and carry 8 tons of smart munitions, a armored flying tank that can fly under the radar day or night and be more able to invade radar completely compared to f-22 or f-35, including radars of all frequencies not just x-band.

    60 new upgraded A-10d for 900 million, we know how useful these are in all kinds of wars for direct air support for ground troops and tank hunting and other missions. Again these are they are cheap to buy, run, operate and can take of and load on short unprepared runways close to were they are needed.

    Total cost

    4 billion + 2.1 bilion +900 million Total 7 billion for 160 aircraft

    Same price but you can do so many more missions and you have an airforce much better and that is 10 times larger. Plus the F-22 stealth is not as stealthy as most think anyways.

    • picard578 said

      IMO, PAK FA will cost at least 150 million USD unit flyaway if they include stealth coating. Then again, shaping is a main way to reduce RCS, but it will still mean more weight, more complexity = more cost, plus less payload. And PAK FA is quite large; you’d be better off buying Rafale C – it has everything that PAK FA has, except all-aspect radar stealth, but is cheaper and likely more reliable.

  7. HGR said

    I would not underestimate the way the military uses technology that is already paid for to make a new project look good to congress.

    The following comment is just one example, in this instance a jet engine that was developed for the B-1 and once it was paid in that program then used in others. It comes from Wikipedia…

    ” The B-1A’s engine was modified slightly to produce the GE F101-102 for the B-1B, with an emphasis on durability, and increased efficiency.[72] The core of this engine has since been re-used in several other engine designs, including the GE F110 which has seen use in the F-14 Tomcat, F-15K/SG variants and most recent versions of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.[73] It is also the basis for the non-afterburning GE F118 used in the B-2 Spirit and the U-2S.[73] The F101 engine was the basis for the core of the extremely popular CFM56 civil engine, which can be found on some versions of practically every small-to-medium sized airliner”

    In military budget accounting once a technology is paid for then it is free for others within the same military to use. You can argue that if they had followed GAAP the B1 was a less expensive aircraft than advertised and the F-14, F-16, B2 and U2S more expensive since the engine technology developed for B1 would have been amortized through-out the full production run of all five aircrafts types and not just one.

    And of course the Civilian engines derived from that same B1 technology “which can be found on some versions of practically every small-to-medium sized airliner” should have paid royalties to the B1 project so potentially there are thousands of engines out there that should have helped pay for the development of that engine.

    I anticipate something like this happening with the F22 and F35 technology and that is why I hope or think that cheaper but capable aircrafts will be available in the future.

    The airforce is not the only one that does this. At this moment the Navy is shamelessly raiding the already paid technology of an advance ship class named the Zumwalt for use in other ships. The 600 feet long Zumwalt’s production ended at 3 because of budget overruns but its already paid technology lives on as it is being exploited for use on other ships at zero cost to the latter.

  8. GEORGE said

    You are right HGR

    Another example of this is that the F-117 in order to cut costs and be developed in a reasonable amount of time, F-117 used alot of of other aircraft technology… For example the engines and landing gear came from a f-16, many other parts came from other fighter systems as well that were mature and cheaper to use.

    For the F-35 for example aesa radar, irst, das, helmet mounted display, software, glass cockpit could now all be put in other aircraft or used to upgrade u.s 4th generation aircraft, or more cheaply put on a new aircraft altogether saving costs and developmental time.

    Russia is the master of doing this, look at su-27, su-30, su-30mk, su-30mki, su-34, su-35 and now the Pak-Fa, they were able to cut costs and time by doing this, that is why the Pak-Fa costs only 100 million each as some of the technology was just put on the su-35, now it is being upgraded and put on the Pak-Fa during the flight testing while newer systems are being developed to be put on the Pak-Fa model when it enters serial production in 2016, saving lots and cutting maybe 5 to 6 years off of development time, it also greatly decreases risk on the project. This is why the Pak-Fa project has experienced little problems during the first few years of flight testing so far compared to western designs and is on time and on budget, same can’t be said for F-35 or F-22.

    http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-2010-01.html

  9. GEORGE said

    I have to add something to my top post after having to think it all over.

    If you think the F-35 cost 45 billion to develop, but aesa radars already existed, so did ram coatings and flir…

    das just came from flir, even though 3rd gen flir already existed, yes F-35 got a new helmet display but it does not even work yet neither is the das even working yet as they all have huge problems. Now it took R&d to figure this out but still.

    I would say 70% of the 45 billion went to pork for lockhead and profit… Also there is 50 F-35 doing flight tests right now, and lockheed on the F-35 has to fix 1,000 problems per month, so they have thousands of engineers trying to fix all these initial design flaws and other problems. So they have to rip apart each jet to fix all these problems then rebuild each one then test to see if it is fixed then build new planes with this new fix hoping it cured these problems without being totally fully tested with the new fix, so the entire thing is a disaster, so alot of the money goes to just keeping these 50 jets going and keep rebuilding them..

    So yes technology things can be taken out of the F-35, but if you did the R&D separately it might equal 3 billion, so 42 billion has been lost on this disaster.

    So if they could get this things working, they could put das, a new glass cockpit and the newer helmet on an upgraded f-16 among others, but then even those would have to fit the f-16 and it’s design so more work would have to be done to get them compatible and the right size etc, so it might not be as much as a guy thinks.

    So yes lots can be taken out of the F-35 for other projects but 90%+++ of the money was wasted if you just went to design the tech separately.

    Thats what I think.

    • picard578 said

      Technology in many cases existed, but you still have to develop a product. F-35s RAM skin is different from F-22s, its engine is completely new, so are sensors (take a look at my FLX proposal and how it uses already existing technology, same as the F-16, for exactly that reason). That being said, large part of it is the pork.

  10. […] Symmetric and assymetric counters […]

  11. […] This recalls my old post, but more detailed and better explained: https://defenseissues.net/2013/10/12/symmetric-and-assymetric-counters/ […]

  12. altandmain said

    In many cases, ironically the semi-symmetric counter is worse than the symmetric counter due to the inherent drawbacks.

    Perhaps the ultimate example of an asymmetric counter is Fourth Generation Warfare vs a Conventional Army. Don’t face head on, use advantages of defender (Ex: able to blend into civilian population, knowledge of homeland, etc), to achieve surprise each time. While such an army cannot force a large conventional army to withdraw, it can slowly bleed the enemy and perhaps even play a role in bankrupting them (USSR invasion of Afghanistan’s costs played a role in their bankruptcy, the Vietnam War was very costly for the US, and the “War on Terror” is also costly today”).

    • picard578 said

      Indeed. Semi-symmetric counter is a compromise, and so it is compromised (lol). And yes, 4GW is indeed an assymetric counter, but what people forget is that it can also be used by a conventional army against either conventional or unconventional opponent.

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