Defense Issues

Military and general security

Archive for January, 2014

Dangers of complex weapons

Posted by picard578 on January 25, 2014

Increasingly complex aircraft are rendering air forces across the globe increasingly impotent; same problem also haunts armies and navies.

Complex weapons are both more expensive and more prone to the cost growth than simpler weapons, as demonstrated by F-22, F-35, DDG-1000, LCS, FCS, VH-71 etc. This is a problem, since it was growing US superiority in numbers that crushed Japanese and German air forces in the World War II, and significantly more numerous Soviet troops tied up and destroyed three quarters of German ground forces. Small numbers of superior Me-262s were overwhelmed by large numbers of prop fighters.

F-35 costs around 200 million USD. F-16C costs 70 million USD, and A-10 costs 16 million USD. So instead of 1 F-35, 2 F-16Cs and 3 A-10s can be procured. And while single F-35 can fly 1 sortie every 3 days, two F-16Cs can fly 7 sorties in the same time, and 3 A-10s can fly 27 sorties. This is far from new problem for USAF, as new aircraft always tended to be more expensive than older ones – exceptions being A-10 and the F-16. F-22 is no better than F-35 – while being capable of flying 1 sortie every two days, it is even more expensive at 273 million USD, allowing 3 F-16Cs and 4 A-10s to be procured, giving 7 F-16 and 24 A-10 sorties in two days, compared to 1 F-22 sortie. For comparision of F-22 and F-35 with other Western fighters, see here. Read the rest of this entry »


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Stealth in the air

Posted by picard578 on January 17, 2014


While “stealth” is normally used as short for “radar stealth”, it actually means proper suppression of all following signatures: visual, radar, infrared, electromagnetic and sound.

Stealth vs sensors


Visual stealth depends on several factors: airframe size and contrast, presence/absence of smoke and visibility conditions.

Airframe stealth is achieved by small size and masking colors – usually light gray. Early F-16s and Gripens were delivered with a black radome, which was quickly repainted grey when it was realized how much impact it has on visual signature. Visual signature also changes depending on aspect – it is smallest from the front and largest from top/bottom.

Smoke can have a very large impact on detection range – F-104 smoked so heavily that it was detectable at twice as long range as required to see aircraft itself. However, modern fighter aircraft use engines designed to minimize smoke, so it may not be a factor, older aircraft such as F-14 and F-15 excepted.

Visual stealth is especially important for ground attack aircraft, since visually-aimed AAA has always been the greatest threat (caused 38% of casualties in the Gulf War), followed by IR SAMs (31%) and only then by radar-guided SAMs (16%) and radar-aimed AAA (15%).


Radar stealth depends on multiple variables: aspect to radar, radar’s frequency, materials aircraft is made of. For all fighter aircraft, radar signature is lowest head-on, and higher from all other angles; and due to the shape, they are only truly stealthy few degrees from horizontal. Frequency-wise, any RAM coatings are only effective against X-band radars; Read the rest of this entry »

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Comparing modern Western fighters

Posted by picard578 on January 11, 2014


This article will compare Western fighters that have entered service in late 1970s or later, and are still in service. “Western” in this context means Canada, United States as well as European countries that were not part of Warshaw pact. Thus list of fighter aircraft to be compared is:

United States: F-15, F-16, F-18, F-22, F-35

United Kingdom, Italy, Germany: Typhoon

France: Rafale

Sweden: Gripen C

Measures to be used in comparision Read the rest of this entry »

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Quality versus quantity fallacy

Posted by picard578 on January 4, 2014

As important as weapons are for waging war, they are simply enablers, and they put limits on what people can do. As a result, people are most important, strategy and tactics come second, and hardware is third. This is not to say that weapons are unimportant; as tools of war, they are crucial – without tools there is no craft, and war is but one of various crafts people engage in. Weapons that don’t work can bring down even best people and ideas.

In short, procuring the best weapon possible is important. But there are several definitions of weapon’s capability. Majority of modern militaries and all defense industry officials define capability in technological terms. But this way is useless when fighting a war; instead, quality has to be defined tactically, in terms of what works and does not work on a battlefield, and strategically, in terms of force presence and vulnerability when outside of combat. Read the rest of this entry »

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2013 in review

Posted by picard578 on January 1, 2014

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 81,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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