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Posts Tagged ‘Red Flag Alaska’

On AviationIntel F-22 vs Typhoon article

Posted by picard578 on November 24, 2012


While author is indeed correct that training sorties do not necessarily mean that one type of aircraft is superior, multiple sorties can, when analyzed properly and assuming that setup is known, provide some information about respective fighter’s capabilities.

Huge control surfaces and thrust vectoring are useful for high-altitude and low-speed maneuvers, not in types of maneuvers required for close-in combat (transsonic low-altitude maneuvers). In fact, thrust vectoring is dangerous as it bleeds off energy, leaving fighter defenseless if it does not manage to get a kill immediately upon using it Secondly, German Typhoons in the exercise had no helmet-mounted sights, and as such had to point nose at F-22s to get a lock.

Modern radar warners, such as those carried by the Typhoons, are very capable of detecting even newest LPI radars. In any scenario where IRST-less Typhoon and F-22 went against each other with no AWACS support, both sides would be limited to visual detection.

In the end, visual-range combat is more likely than not to be decisive between fully equipped 4,5-th/5-th generation aircraft. As such, while F-22 is a capable dogfighter, it cannot be counted on to have a major impact in a war due to high cost and low sortie rate.

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Cleaning up Red Flag Alaska F-22 vs Typhoon debate (2)

Posted by picard578 on November 17, 2012

Author claims quite a few false things in the article linked above. I’ll counter them one by one.

  1. Exercises were 1 on 1 WVR BFM sorties. There was no need for AWACS or AIM-120D, and F-22 had to use radar to try and achieve a lock on Typhoon.
  2. Thrust vectoring is effective at speeds below 150 knots and above Mach 1. In entire envelope between these two speeds, TVC-equipped aircraft is no more agile than non-TVC one – and it is precisely there that 90% of air engagements happen.
  3. Neither aircraft did or could have used decoys, chaff or flares to “spoof” the missiles as these were completely simulated. Same goes for MAWS.
  4. At least some F-22s did use TVC in attempts to get nose on Typhoons and, thus, a simulated missile shots; this left them lacking in energy and thus vulnerable to Typhoons.
  5. Single engagements are most representative of individual qualities of the aircraft; as number of aircraft on both sides increases, coordination and quality thereof becomes more and more important.
  6. F-22 is inferior to Typhoon in medium- to high- -subsonic and transsonic agility, situational awareness (no IRST), cost, sortie rate, maintenance demands and gun quality.
  7. Typhoon’s pilots comments were referring to the training exercises where both Typhoon and F-22 were on the blue force, and while it is true that F-22 is peerless at BVR, unrealistic missile Pk and numerical difference assumptions call value of that superiority in question
  8. Air combat between peer opponents has historically been fought at visual range, and proliferation of advanced jammers, along with anti-radiation missiles, and long-range IR missiles coupled with cueing by launch platform, make it tactically prudent to remain completely passive
  9. Meteor BVR missile about to be used by Typhoon is shorter-ranged but offers far greater no-escape zone than AIM-120D, thus making it more effective – wether it will turn around dismal performance of BVR missiles remains to be seen.
  10. F-22 cannot escape detection, as it has to radiate in order to penetrate jamming; and even LPI radars can be detected by advanced RWRs at far longer distance than they themselves can detect target. Typhoon’s PIRATE IRST can detect subsonic fighters from 90 km head-on
  11. BVR missiles, when used against targets that were similar in numbers and capability to launch platforms, never went above Pk of 10%. It is not prudent to assume that it will change.
  12. F-22 weights 24 579 kg with 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder and 4 AMRAAM, and has 31 751 kgf of thrust on afterburner, giving it TWR of 1,29. In same configuration, Typhoon weights 14 427 kg and has 18 144 kgf of thrust on afterburner, giving it TWR of 1,26. Thus, while F-22 has TWR advantage, it is not as large as author claims, and is not enough to offset its disadvantage in wing loading. Nor will thrust vectoring help it evade missiles, for energy loss is too great and leaves it vulnerable to further attacks even if first missile is evaded.
  13. While F-22 has reduced temperture of exhaust – a very useful thing – it did come at cost of performance, and it did nothing to adress the IR signature of aircraft as a whole.
  14. While weapons advance over time, so do countermeasures, and new weapons and technologies very quickly cease to give a noticeable advantage. As such, visual-range dogfights being thing of the past is not a reliable assumption.
  15. In visual range, F-22 provides neither numerical nor qualitative performance required for securing a victory, or coming close to securing it. F-35, on the other hand, is a sitting duck in a visual range fight, leaving F-22s to fend for themselves once F-16s and F-15s numbers are reduced sufficiently.
  16. F-22 is 19 meters long, has a wing span of 13,4 meters and weights almost 20 tons when empty. Closest-sized aircraft it may face one day, Su-35, is 22 meters long, has 15,3 meter-wingspan, but weights little less than 18,5 tons when empty. Versus Typhoon, a smaller aircraft with lower wing loading, F-22 is at disadvantage as it takes longer to transit from one maneuver to another, and cannot turn as tightly as Typhoon can. While F-22’s superior TWR will provide it with slight energy advantage as fight drags on, assuming it does not use thrust vectoring, Typhoon’s lower wing loading, smaller size and superior aerodynamics will make a victory for F-22 far from guaranteed even in a prolonged fight.
  17. BVR IFF system is yet to prove reliable, and F-22 has neither advanced IRST or optical suite that may make reliable BVR ID possible.
  18. PAK FA, with its wide lifting body, low drag, IRST, and thrust-to-weight ratio only slightly worse than F-22s, will prove a dangerous opponent to F-22, assuming these two aircraft ever go face-to-face – a highly unlikely scenario.

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Cleaning up Red Flag Alaska F-22 vs Typhoon debate

Posted by picard578 on October 20, 2012

Since Eurofighter Typhoons defeated F-22s at Red Flag Alaska in June 2012, discussion has produced many claims. I will address some of them here:

1) WVR combat is only small spectrum of air combat.

Yes, and no – it mainly depends on numbers, and who you are shooting at. As enemy numbers, as well as quality of each pilot and aircraft, increase relative to BVR-oriented force, effectiveness of BVR missiles drops – while qualitatively and quantitatively superior air force might achieve per-missile probability of kill as high as 50% for BVR missiles (against non-maneuvering enemies with no jammers), BVR missiles have never achieved more than 10% per-missile Pk against force that has been comparable in all stated factors – and it must be kept in mind that BVR-oriented aircraft are always more complex (and thus both more expensive, and flying less often) than WVR-oriented ones.

In short, BVR combat is excellent when facing enemies you don’t need it against, but doesn’t work when needed most.

2) German Typhoons had helmet-mounted sights and this allowed them to dominate more maneuverable F-22

Incorrect. Exercise was held in June 2012, and only from July on did German Typhoons start getting HMD. As such, Typhoons at Red Flag had to point their nose at the F-22s to get a lock.

That can easily be confirmed by comparing helmets of Typhoon pilots at exercise:

with HMD one:

which can be seen to be less round.

3) Typhoon’s IRST can detect F-22 from 50 kilometers

While that claim might not be incorrect – and indeed most likely isn’t – it has no relation to exercise itself, as Luftwaffe Typhoons had no IRST.

(Photo is of Typhoon from exercise, same one which “bagged” three F-22 “kills”).

4) Typhoons were slicked-off

While Typhoons did not carry any missiles or tanks in exercise, Typhoon does have a number of hard points that are permanently attacked to an airframe. In any case, heaviest – BVR – missiles would be ejected, and even some WVR missiles expended, well before Typhoons got in the merge. Neither F-22 or Typhoon had missiles.

Grune’s exact words are:

“We pulled off all the tanks to get most Alpha on it (Typhoon), and it is an animal with no tanks”.

5) F-22s were performance-limited

One of claims I have found was that F-22’s maneuver envelope has been limited due to oxygen problems. However, performance limitations to F-22 have only been enforced some time after the exercise, and pilots also had their oxygen vests, which have only been removed a week after exercise itself.

6) F-22s BVR capabilities were “overwhelming”

That claim, while not incorrect, was not about Typhoon vs F-22 exercise, but was a comment on earlier exercises where F-22s and Typhoons worked together against agressor F-16s simulating threat aircraft – most likely Cold War era Su-27 and MiG-29, as USAF has no reliable data on newest Russian types. As such, effectiveness of simulated BVR missiles in such exercises is far overstated even beyond unrealistic Pk assigned (Pk in question is around 90%, as Typhoons in that exercise got 16 kills from 18 simulated missile shots).

7) Typhoon was unable to get within 20 miles of F-22 without being targeted

That claim is result of Grumbercht’s quote that has been taken out of context:

“If I get everything right BVR, I’m not going to get closer than 20 miles.”

That quote seems to be referring to the Red Flag exercises, and not earlier Typhoon/F-22 WVR dogfight, and should probably be interpreted as “I’m not going to have to get closer than 20 miles”.

EDIT 7. 4. 2013.

This is excerpt from Jane Defense Weekly, found on Internet:

Immediately before Red Flag JG74 took part in Exercise ‘Distant Frontier’, which included eight one-on-one basic flying manoeuvre (BFM) sorties against US Air Force F-22A Raptor air superiority fighters. The aim was to help pilots of both types gain a fuller understanding of the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of each other’s aircraft in order to allow them to operate together more effectively during Red Flag (where both types were assigned to the ‘Blue’ force) and during any subsequent ‘real world’ coalition operations.

During the process the pilots of JG74 gained a real boost to their confidence, said Col Grüne. “There were two mornings where we flew against them 1v1. We pulled off all the tanks to get the most alpha [angle of attack]; the Eurofighter really is an animal with no tanks.

“We expected to perform less with the Eurofighter but we didn’t … they were as impressed by us as we were impressed by them.”

Col Pfeiffer went into a little more detail. “In the dogfight the Eurofighter is at least as capable as the F-22, with some advantages in some aspects,” he said. “This is without the helmet. The Raptor’s unique capabilities are overwhelming, but as soon as you get to the merge, which is [admittedly] only a very small spectrum of air combat, the Typhoon doesn’t necessarily have to fear the F-22 in all aspects. We gain energy better than the F-22 when we are slow, for example.”

Red Flag demonstrated that the Typhoon had other advantages – being able to stay on station longer than the F-22, for example – but could not compete with the Raptor’s dominance in the beyond-visual-range (BVR) arena.

Both sides were coy about the relative kill:loss ratio gained during the Typhoon/F-22 BFM sorties, but Col Grüne was upbeat. “The only thing I can say is that I agreed to put out some whisky if they came back with some good performances … and I paid for quite a lot of whisky,” he said.

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