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Posts Tagged ‘F-22’

PAK FA vs F-22

Posted by picard578 on October 11, 2015


This article will compare upcoming Russian PAK FA with US F-22, since both air single-purpose heavyweight air-to-air fighters. However, since PAK FA is still in a prototype stage, article will by its nature be incomplete. I should also note that while some use the term “Raptorski” for PAK FA, it is entirely inaccurate. In fact, while the F-22 clearly draws its basic design from its F-15 predecessor, utilizing some aerodynamic advances introduced by the F-16 (such as aerodynamically unstable design and LERX), PAK FA in the same measure draws its basic design from Su-27. F-22, like the F-15, has two closely set engines, air intakes on sides of the cockpit and classical wing-tail surfaces with shoulder-mounted wing. Both have standard armament of eight missiles and M61 20 mm rotary gun. Su-27 and PAK FA on the other hand both utilize large LERX, wing-body blending and spaced podded engines. They also have basic standard armament of six missiles and 30 mm revolver cannon. If comparison should be drawn, then F-22 can be described as a stealth!F-15, and PAK FA as a stealth!Su-27, as neither presents clear design departure from their predecessor that the F-16 did. They are also both hugely complex to produce due to their stealth designs, and as a result both US and Russia have decided to supplement them with large fleets of 4,0 (and, in Russia’s case, 4,5) generation fighters.

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Comparing stealth fighters

Posted by picard578 on December 24, 2014


A Christmas / New Year present for all of you.


This article will compare “stealth” fighters, regardless of wether they are in service. Aircraft compared are as follows: F-22, F-35, T-50 / PAK FA, J-20 and J-31. Following article will form a basis for comparision: Read the rest of this entry »

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CDI: The F-22: expensive, irrelevant and counterproductive

Posted by picard578 on November 1, 2014


Special to the Star-Telegram

On Dec. 12, the Air Force announced with considerable fanfare at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia that its F-22 fighter had reached “full operational capability.” Air Combat Command commander Gen. John Corley called it a “key milestone.”

Brimming with pride, a spokesman for the manufacturer, Lockheed, stated: “The F-22 is ready for world-wide operations” — and then added, “… should it be called upon.”

His afterthought makes the point: There are, of course, two wars going on, and the F-22 has yet to fly a single sortie over the skies of Iraq or Afghanistan. Nor has the Air Force announced any intention of sending the F-22 to either theater.

The Air Force is quite right to keep the F-22 as far as possible from either conflict. The airplane is irrelevant to both, and were it to appear in those skies, it almost certainly would set U.S. and allied forces back. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Weapons Systems Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , | 57 Comments »

Comparing modern fighter aircraft

Posted by picard578 on August 30, 2014

Nature of air to air combat

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

—G. Santayana

Fighter aircraft exist to destroy other aircraft, and allow other aircraft to carry out their missions without interference from enemy fighter aircraft. That being said, there exists a colloqial – and incorrect – use of term “fighter aircraft” as being applicable to any tactical aircraft, even those that are primarly or exclusively designed for ground attack, such as the A-10 and the F-35. Task of the aircraft is to enable pilot to bring weapons systems in position for a successful kill.

You never make a big truck and tomorrow make it a race car. And you never can make a big bomber and the next day a . . . fighter. The physical law means that you need another airplane. . . . You should do one job and should do this job good.

—Colonel Erich “Bubi” Hartmann, GAP Read the rest of this entry »

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CDI: The F-22: not what we were hoping for

Posted by picard578 on March 15, 2014

by James Stevenson and Pierre Sprey

The F-22 fighter aircraft’s focus on stealth brings big disadvantages in cost, weight and manoeuvrability, argue Pierre Sprey and James Stevenson

For decades, the US Air Force has pushed the F-22 as its fighter for the 21st century. Advocates tout its technical features: fuel-efficient, high-speed ‘super-cruise’; advanced electronics; and reduced profile against enemy sensors, known as ‘stealth’.

However, on measures that determine winning or losing in air combat, the F-22 fails to improve the US fighter force. In fact, it degrades our combat capability. Read the rest of this entry »

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CDI: F-22 – arguments for stopping the production

Posted by picard578 on March 1, 2014

The F-22 Controversy, Part I: Arguments for Stopping Production.

The F-22 Controversy, Part I: Arguments for Stopping Production

There is a burgeoning debate in the Senate over the 13-11 vote in the Senate Armed Services Committee to buy seven more F-22s for $1.75 billion (an apparently new and improved unit “flyaway” cost of $250 million each, not the Lockheed/U.S. Air Force advertised $143 million each).

The Levin-McCain amendment to undo the new F-22 acquisition is refreshingly upright and clear cut. It restores $1.250 billion in readiness-related spending that Lockheed, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and 12 other SASC senators thought should be raided from the Military Personnel and Operation and Maintenance accounts to pay for the seven F-22s. It also undoes a “management savings” of $500 million to pay for the rest of the F-22 cost – a savings that both Levin and McCain properly found unjustified; “bogus” would be a better word. Read the rest of this entry »

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On Rafale vs F-22 BFM

Posted by picard578 on December 21, 2013

First, I will note this comment:

“During an official press conference the commanding officer of the French Rafale detachment at Al Dhafra, Colonel Fabrice Glandclaudron, claimed that in six within-visual-range ‘dogfight’ engagements with the F-22A, only one resulted in the virtual destruction of a Rafale. He said the other four engagements were ‘inconclusive’, or terminated due to a lack of fuel, or approaching the pre-determined height limit.”

What does it tell? There were six WVR engagements, gun-only; one resulted in a destruction of Rafale while other four were draws. What this means is that one engagement remains unaccounted for, and it must be Rafale’s victory since both F-22 victory and draws have been accounted for. So score is: 1 F-22 victory, 1 Rafale victory, 4 draws.

It should also be noted that while F-22 is almost exclusively air superiority fighter, Rafale is a multirole fighter and AdlA pilots train far more than F-22 pilots in air-to-ground role. Majority of 1/7 pilots (a squadron that did BFM with F-22s) came from Jaguars and Mirage 2000 D/N, and were air-to-ground specialists previously (engagements with F-22s may have been scheduled precisely for that reason).

Second comes this capture:


This is a capture of an OSF camera showing proximity warning. As it is video camera and not an IRST, it means that Rafale must have had its nose pointed in general direction of the F-22, diving on it while F-22 is climbing using its afterburner. It obviously did not result in a kill, though it may have resulted in one in an actual combat, depending on wether F-22 was within engagement envelope of MICA IR, and wether the missile hit. In fact, French have stated that, had they been able to simulate use of MICA IRs, it would have resulted in several F-22 kills.

Lastly, here is a youtube video of one of engagements:

Actual video begins at 2:15. Rafale’s speed at beginning is 360 knots, and it is turning at cca 6 g. It continues turning, with a bit of rolling, at 4-6 g, entire time keeping the speed above 300 knots and even getting it up to 500 before executing a semi-vertical turn and achieving over 8 g at 2:46. At 2:49, F-22 flies into the view from right, and Rafale rolls, pulling up and gaining altitude afterwards, loosing F-22 at 2:54. Afterwards, Rafale turns around, pointing nose towards the F-22 flying below it at 3:04 and achieving a lock-on and a missile launch at 3:07. Rafale’s speed at time of missile launch was 157 kts. At 3:10, gun targeting outline appears. At 3:23, F-22 is again in view, though it does not result in either gun or missile kill, and Rafale pilot does not roll to follow the F-22. Rafale continues turning until nose is pointed upwards at 3:35, after which it turns towards the ground. At 3:59, it again has nose pointed mostly upwards, and turns sideways towards the ground. At 4:10, F-22 is again in sight, and Rafale turns inside the F-22. At 4:20 lock-on is achieved but Rafale pilot does not call a missile kill, with low speed warning appearing at 4:26 (speed cca 120 kts) and disappearing at 4:28, to reappear at 4:29; low fuel warning appears at 4:26. At 4:29, Rafale rolls, with speed at 4:31 being 91 knots, staying below 100 knots for next few seconds, causing low speed warning to blip. At 4:35, Rafale is turing towards the ground and speed has gone above 100 knots again. Rafale gets F-22, which has regained the energy, in its view at 4:40; F-22 is turning hard for next few seconds, and at 4:50, Rafale is directily behind the F-22 and has achieved the missile lock. At 4:50 and 4:52 gun piper comes across F-22 twice in a row but Rafale pilot does not call a kill. At 4:54, F-22 flies out of view and Rafale makes no attempt to follow; at 5:00, Rafale has returned to level flight, and at 5:23 Rafale pilot is heard requesting termination of engagement.

As exercise was guns-only, missile kills were not counted. It is still clear that French statement about Rafale achieving several missile kills against the F-22 is correct. At around 4:40, Rafale pilot has missed an opportunity for another gun kill, but is otherwise mostly in control of the fight, with F-22 never gaining the initiative. Video does show that Rafale has good low-speed maneuvering performance and is capable of regaining lost energy at adequate rate.

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Usefulness of thrust vectoring

Posted by picard578 on April 13, 2013

With introduction of thrust-vectoring F-22 and Su-35, many claims have appeared, such as that thrust vectoring aircraft are most maneuverable in the world and that addition of thrust vectoring alone guarantees that fighter in question will be unrivalled in maneuverability, excepting of course other thrust vectoring aircraft. These claims hold that addition of thrust vectoring by itself is enough to turn otherwise-sluggish fighter aircraft into supreme air-to-air machine. Things are more complex than that, however; effectiveness of thrust vectoring depends on aircraft’s aerodynamic configuration, speed and altitude.

To discuss thrust vectoring, we must first know how non-TVC aircraft behave. Major parameters that impact aircraft’s performance are:

  1. weight
  2. lift, which can be approximated through wing loading
  3. excess thrust, determined by thrust to weight ratio
  4. drag

One of advantages of thrust vectoring is allowing aircraft to enter and recover from a controlled flat spin, yawing aircraft without worrying about rudder, which looses effectiveness at high angles of attack. However, aircraft using close coupled canards instead of thrust vectoring have also demonstrated flat spin recovery capability, example being Saab Gripen. But while thrust vectoring reduces drag during level flight, thus increasing the range, close-coupled canards add drag and decrease lift unless aircraft is turning, thus improving the range.

But to see what impact thrust vectoring has on combat performance, we have to take a look at parameters I have defined above. Mass of aircraft determines inertia – thus, heavier the aircraft is, longer it takes to switch from one maneuver to another quickly. This results in slower transients, making it harder for pilot to get inside opponent’s OODA loop – in fact, mass is defined as a quantitative measure of an object’s resistance to acceleration (to clear common mistake in terminology, acceleration can be in any direction – in fact, what is commonly called “deceleration” is mathematically defined as “acceleration”). But to actually turn, aircraft relies on lift. Lift is what allows aircraft to remain in the air, and when turning, aircraft uses control surfaces to change direction in which lift is acting, resulting in aircraft turning around imaginary point. It can be approximated by wing loading. But turning leads to increase in angle between air flow around the aircraft and the aircraft itself (this angle is called Angle of Attack), which results in increased drag. Increasing drag means that aircraft looses energy faster, and once fighter’s level of energy decays below that of his opponent, he is fighting at disadvantage. Loss in energy can be mitigated by excess thrust, which can also be used (usually in combination with gravity, aka downwards flight) to recover lost energy. All of this leads to expression “out of ideas, energy and altitude”, which basically means “I’m in trouble and have no way out”. Nose pointing allows aircraft to gain a shot at opponent with gun, and was crucial for gaining a shot at opponent with missiles before advent of High Off Bore capability, which shifted requirements more in direction of ability to sustain maneuvers at or near corner speed (minimum speed at which aircraft can achieve maximum g loading; it is usually around M 0,6 – 0,9). It must be noted that, while lift and excess thrust of aircraft can be approximated by wing loading and thrust to weight ratio, heavier aircraft will require higher thrust to weight and lift to weight ratios to achieve same turn rates as lighter aircraft.

Thrust vectoring, as its name says, results in shifting of the thrust. Due to modern fighter aircraft’s center of gravity and center of lift never being behind its nozzles, shift in thrust results in aircraft rotating around its center of gravity, resulting in massive increase in Angle of Attack. Thus, comparision non-TVC aircraft turning and TVC-equipped aircraft turning would look like this:


This is result of forces described above acting on aircraft. In this model, assumption is that aircraft can reach angle of attack required for maximum lift both with and without thrust vectoring, which is true for all close-coupled-canard aircraft, but not necessarily for tailed and long-arm canard arrangements.

Thus, forces impacting turn ability of non-TVC and TVC aircraft would look like this:


It can be seen that thrust vectoring increases angle of attack, and thus drag (as entire airframe at high AoA drags far more than just control surfaces plus airframe at far lower AoA), while reducing thrust avaliable to counter the drag – and, in case of very high AoA values, lift avaliable to pull aircraft around. While TVC can improve turn rate even at combat speeds, it happens only if aircraft is unable to achieve angle of attack that is required for maximum lift, one example being F-16, which requires 32 degrees AoA for maximum lift but is restricted to 25,5 degrees by FCS due to departure concerns. Angles of attack in excess of 35 degrees are unsustainable, however, due to massive drag they cause, resulting in very large energy loss, turning fighter into a deadweight in very short order. “Benefit” of extreme AoA values is also not unique to thrust vectoring aircraft: while TVC-equipped X-31 achieved maximum controllable angles of attack of 70 degrees (compare to 60 degrees for another TVC design, F-22), whereas close-coupled-canard delta-wing Rafale and Gripen are able to achieve controllable Angles of Attack that exceed 100 degrees, with Gripen being able to sustain Angle of Attack of 70 – 80 degrees. Further, X-31 without TVC was unable to achieve more than 30 degrees of alpha, even momentarily, whereas without TVC F-22 is limited to 26 degrees, though not due to issues of lift but rather controllability. As such, TVC actually improved instanteneous (and possibly sustained) turn rates of both aircraft by allowing them to reach angle of attack required for maximum lift, which is between 30 and 40 degrees of AoA. Aircraft that use TVC during combat to achieve angles of attack beyond lifting capability of wing actually sink in the air, as opposed to turning, but if they are unable to achieve maximum lift capability without TVC, then TVC does indeed improve their turn capability. Close-coupled canard configuration, on the other hand, drags less in turning than TVC one as it achieves same lift at lower angle of attack, resulting in far lower fuel consumption. This is important as in visual-range fight, most kills have been historically made when one of aircraft fighting ran out of fuel; thus aircraft with less fuel consumption per unit of weight is (assuming similar fuel fraction) more likely to win the fight. Specifically, maximum lift for close-coupled canard is greater than that for just wing at any AoA past 10 degrees AoA; in configuration analyzed in this thesis, lift is greater than baseline value by 3,4% at 10 degrees AoA, 34% at 22 degrees AoA, 9,4% at 34 degrees AoA, 7,2% at 40 degrees AoA and 18,3% at 48 degrees AoA. Thus aircraft does not need to achieve as high AoA for same lift to weight and lift to drag values, consequently allowing pilot a choice (assuming other values are similar) wether to achieve same turn rate as opponent and outlast it due to using up fuel far slower than it is case with fuel-hungry thrust vectoring maneuvers or try to outmaneuver it with higher turn rate.

Neither is main “benefit” of thrust vectoring, post stall maneuverability, anything new. Aside from close-coupled canard designs, which have extensive post-stall maneuverability, Russian Su-27 has demonstrated stall recovery capability and post-stall maneuverability. It is also important to note that John Boyd was able to do Cobra in F-100, and other pilots did it in J-35 Draken. While TVC certainly improves post-stall capability, capability by itself is useless in multi-bogey scenario, as it bleeds energy very fast. As such, thrust vectoring is tactically useless for most fighter aircraft, especially in age of high-off bore missiles, as usage of thrust vectoring would leave then slow-moving aircraft very vulnerable. Further, Cobra – one of main “poster maneuvers” for TVC – is easy to see in advance, and if done, leaves fighter without energy and at opponent’s mercy; so while usage of TVC may surprise pilots that do not know what it allows, it is suicide agains pilots that are aware of it.

TVC does not necessarily increase security either, as resistance to departure and superstall which it provides are inherent advantages of close-coupled canard designs. However, it does allow non-close coupled canard configurations to recover from these conditions.

Using TVC for maneuvering is beneficial for tailed aircraft, however, at two regimes: at velocities well below corner speed, and during supersonic flight at high altitudes. Simple reason for that is that in these two regimes, flight surfaces are not very effective. At very low speeds (150 knots – M 0,23 – and below), large control surfaces’ deflections are required for turning due to weak air flow, thus increasing drag – and even when surfaces are fully deflected, aircraft responds comparatively slowly. This also includes takeoff and landing; as result, aircraft with thrust vectoring can take off and land at lower speeds and in shorter distance than same aircraft without thrust vectoring; this capability can be useful if parts of air strip have been bombed (though it is always smarter not to require air strip at all). During supersonic flight, tail finds itself in wake behind the wing, which reduces its effectiveness. Thus thrust vectoring can be used to compensate for this effect. Further, at high altitudes (12 000 to 15 000 meters) aerodynamic control surfaces are less effective, and there is less drag, which means that thrust vectoring provides greater benefits and less penalties. As dogfights happen at altitudes of 1 500 to 10 000 meters, and speeds that start in transonic range, thrust vectoring is obviously not effective for WVR – and, therefore, real world combat.

In level flight, thrust vectoring allows for trimming, thus increasing range due to reduced drag. 3D TVC nozzles can also reduce drag by optimising their shape. Further, thrust vectoring can add STOL capability to otherwise-CTOL aircraft, but it is always better to look at simpler, lighter and cheaper options. If aircraft lacks roll authority, TVC can be used for pitch, freeing up tail control surfaces to improve roll rate – examples of this are F-22 and Eurofighter Typhoon.

TVC (especially of 3D variety) can also provide ability to quickly point nose in a certain direction, but this is only useful in one-on-one gun-only dogfights (which do not happen in real world) as it leaves aircraft with seriously depleted energy and thus vulnerable to opponent’s wingman, and/or its target if attack was not successful. This is especially problematic in age when HOB capability is becoming increasingly common. But even in such unrealistic dogfights, TVC does not garantee victory. In upper set of images, F-22 is seen from Rafale, pulling a turn; OSF is clearly visible, showing that Rafale’s nose is pointed towards the F-22 (allegedly, Rafale won 2 out of 7 engagements; further, while IRST does have high off-bore capability, video camera is fixed):

rafale F22

F-22 does have major advantage in thrust-to-weight ratio over Rafale, however, allowing it to recover some of energy lost through TVC usage simply by flying straight and level for short time. But against aircraft with higher thrust-to-weight ratio, TVC usage will be even more problematic.

As for air shows, in this video, at 0:50, MiG-29 can be seen doing Cobra:

At 1:54 and later, several S-35 Drakens can be seen doing Cobra:

Reason is simple: while TVC-aircraft relies on TVC to provide both lift and forward motion, close coupled canards allow for lift production beyond 100 degrees of alpha, while forward motion is provided by inertia. Energy loss is high, but so it is with thrust vectoring, and neither version of Cobra has any real tactical application.

Edit 19. 6. 2013.

Here is link to a video recording of DACT from which upper row of screenshots in image comes (thanks to Jeneso):

Another one (just recording):

Edit 22. 8. 2013.


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DoD: US Air Force wrong to blame the pilot

Posted by picard578 on February 16, 2013–abc-news-topstories.html


While USAF has, in effort to protect its sacred cow – the F-22 programme – blamed the pilot Jeff Haney for a crash that has happened some moths earlier, Department of Defense has stated that Air Force’s conclusion is not supported by facts.

What is interesting is the fact that even USAF has admitted that pilot has experienced senses similar to suffocation. Further, USAF has concluded that “by clear and convincing evidence, the cause of the mishap was the MP’s [mishap pilot’s] failure to recognize and initiate a timely dive recovery due to channelized attention, breakdown of visual scan, and unrecognized spatial disorientation.” In fact, Haney failed to notice that he was in dive for full quarter of minute, and there was no radio call about emergency. This suggests that he was unconscious during the dive, something that Inspector General agrees is a possibility.

While USAF has insisted that OBOGS system (that was added to F-22 solely to increase cost) has been fixed, it seems that it is not necessarily so. To remind readers here, USAF conclusion was that it was faulty valve in suit that was to blame. However, F-22 is covered in stealth coating, glued together with toxic glues, while OBOGS takes oxygen from surrounding air. While F-18, another airplane using OBOGS, did have accidents related to pilot disorientation, rate was much lower, and no pilots ever experienced “Raptor Cough”. This is what F-22 pilot Major Gordon told “60 Minutes” about “Raptor cough,”: “In a room of F-22 pilots, the vast majority will be coughing a lot of the times. Other things – laying down for bed at night after flying and getting just the spinning room feeling, dizziness, tumbling, vertigo kind of stuff.”

These symptoms are not typical of either oxygen deprivation, fuel poisoning or carbon monoxide posoning – but they are typical of neurotoxins. Five maintenance workers also showed same symptoms. Only other aircraft whose workers suffered similar symptoms were B-2 bombers, where employees on production line were getting strange illnesses, that were diagnosed by doctors as poisoning.

Adhesives used to apply stealth covering can take months to dry. But half of F-22s maintenance is spent on stealth coatings, which means that adhesives are being constantly reapplied.

Worst part? It’s all for nothing. Stealth coating is useless in face of long-wavelength (L-band, VHF, HF) radars and IRST systems.

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Aircraft combat presence comparision

Posted by picard578 on December 8, 2012

Aircraft combat presence = total sorties per day = aircraft bought for a cost * sortie rate

Aircraft bought for 1 billion USD (using flyaway costs):

F-22: 4

F-35A: 5

EF-2000 T2 Luftwaffe: 9

EF-2000 T2 RAF: 8

EF-2000 T3 RAF: 8

Rafale C: 12

Rafale M: 11

F-15 A: 23

F-15 K: 10

F-16 A: 38

F-16 C: 16

YF-16: 62

F-18: 14

Gripen C: 25

Gripen E: 18 – 27

Sorties per aircraft per day:

F-35A: 3,5

F-35B: 6

F-35C: 4

(above figures are USAF estimates and are not reliable)

F-22: 0,5

F-35A: 0,6 (estimate)

EF-2000: 2,4

Rafale: 2,7

F-15: 1

F-16: 1,2

F-18: 1,2

Gripen C: 2,2

Gripen E: unknown, assuming 2-2,5

Total sorties per day for number of aircraft:

F-22: 2

F-35A: 2,5

EF-2000 T2 Luftwaffe: 21,6

EF-2000 T2 RAF: 19,2

EF-2000 T3 RAF: 19,2

Rafale C: 32,4

Rafale M: 29,7

F-15 A: 23

F-15 K: 10

F-16 A: 45,6

F-16 C: 19,2

F-18: 16,8

Gripen C: 55

Gripen E: 36 – 67,5


As it can be seen, it is absurd to suggest that stealth aircraft are strenghtening defense of any country. In fact, more stealth aircraft means weaker combat capability, due to far smaller number of aircraft, as well as number of sorties single aircraft can perform in certain time, as opposed to the non-stealth aircraft. It is failure to find the balance between cost and performance that leads to the weaker defense, and F-22/F-35 projects can be rightly blamed for reduction of USAF’s combat capability.

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