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Is the F-22 really superior to all other fighter aircraft

Posted by picard578 on December 1, 2012

USAF often touts F-22 as being the best fighter aircraft in the world. Is that really so? What are requirements for a good fighter aircraft?

By analyzing past wars we can see that following requirements have never changed:

  1. high agility at dogfighting speeds (currently in the medium subsonic to transsonic regime)
  2. superior situational awareness
  3. low cost
  4. high sortie rate
  5. capability to convert any split-second opportunity to the kill

High agility requires good acceleration, good turn rate, low energy loss and quick transients. Good acceleration and low energy loss require high thrust-to-weight ratio and low drag; good turn rate requires low wing loading, and quick transients require both. Energy state is important for gaining positional advantage and evading missiles.

Superior situational awareness requires not only having good situational awareness yourself, but denying it to the opponent. These requirements can only be met through use of passive sensors.

Low cost and high sortie rate are required for establishing a crucial numerical superiority over the opponent. Both are achieved by making the design as simple as possible.

Capability to convert any split-second opportunity to the kill is crucial in the dogfight, especially if multiple aircraft are involved on both sides, as it allows pilot to deny opponent the opportunity to reverse positional advantage, and allows him to kill more targets in the same timeframe.

With standard loadout of 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM, F-22 has wing loading of 313,5 kg/m2 and thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,29. For comparision, with same loadout, Eurofighter Typhoon has wing loading of 284 kg/m2 and thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,28; Dassault Rafale’s values are 276 kg/m2 and 1,22. Su-27s values are 324 kg/m2 and 1,24. Thus, F-22 is inferior in wing loading to both Eurocanards, and has only slightly superior thrust-to-weight ratio compared to Typhoon. It is also only slightly superior to the Su-27 in wing loading, and somewhat more in thrust-to-weight ratio.

As such, it has slightly better turn rates than Su-27, and worse turn rates than Eurocanards. Its large weight will make it more difficult to F-22 to make transit from one turn to another, and its thrust vectoring will, if used, cause major energy losses. More about that later.

As mentioned, superior situational awareness requires not only having good situational awareness yourself, but denying it to the opponent. What this means is that aircraft must be capable of detecting and identifying the enemy completely passively. Currently, IRST and optical sensors are only types of sensors, except for Mk 1 eyeball, to posses such capability. F-22 lacks both, and as such has to either have an uplink to another platform – and such uplink can be detected and jammed – or to carry out both tasks World War II style, with pilot doing detection and identification visually. While F-22 was supposed to have FLIR, it was deleted as the cost-saving measure, and there are no plans to fit it.

Moreover, while some measures have been taken to reduce F-22s thermal signature, no major reduction was (or could have been) achieved, especially from the front. F-22 is also very large, increasing its detectability by the IRST. Thus, F-22 will be easily detected at ranges exceeding 80 kilometers by opponent using QWIP IRST.

Modern heat-seeking missiles also do not have to rely on engine exhaust for locking on the enemy aircraft, but can rather lock on to aircraft itself.

F-22 also isn’t undetectable to the modern radar, despite what some accounts say. While F-22s RCS of 0,0001 and 0,0014 m2 reduces detection range considerably, Typhoon’s radar (which has detection range of 185 km against 1m2 target) can detect it from distance of 18 to 35 kilometers. On the other hand, modern RWRs can detect LPI radars from ranges two or three times greater than such radars can detect target with RCS of 1 m2 at, thus making any use of radar an unwise course of action for F-22 (and any other fighter aircraft).

Low cost and high sortie rate are where F-22 feels least at home. Its flyaway cost is 250 million USD per unit, which is twice (205%) the flyaway cost of the most expensive non-VLO fighter aircraft – Eurofighter Typhoon – and has maintenance downtime of 45 hours per hour of flight, compared to the 8* hours for Rafale, 9* for Typhoon, 10 for Gripen and 19 for the now-ancient F-16 (* have to be confirmed). However, flyaway costs of these fighters, which are, respectively, 33%, 49%, 16% and 11-24% of F-22s, mean that it will be at 10:1 numerical disadvantage compared to Typhoon, and 26:1 disadvantage against Gripen.

F-22 is also incapable of converting split-second opportunities into kills. Reason for that is the fact that it carries all its armaments internally. It takes around half the second for gun doors to open; for missile bay doors it takes at least that much, and possibly more. Worse, Sidewinders it will be using in visual range dogfight are not simply ejected into air, but have to be lowered by mechanism; however, it is possible that such action will be performed while doors open.

Gun itself is the Gattling design. It offers maximum rate of fire of 6 600 rpm (110 rps), compared to 1 700 rpm (28 rps) for BK-27 used in Typhoon and Gripen, and 2 500 rpm (42 rps) for GIAT-30 used in Rafale. However, firing rate alone cannot be used as a measure of effectiveness.

First, Gattling gun takes some time to achieve full firing rate. While M-61A2 takes 0,25 seconds to spin up to its full firing rate, fact that F-22 has to open bay doors to fire increases that time to 0,75 seconds. For revolver cannon, time is 0,05 seconds. Thus, in first second, F-22 will have fired either 13 or 68 rounds (depending on wether gun doors were opened before or after press on trigger); Typhoon would have fired 27 rounds in the same time, and Rafale 40 rounds.

Second, aircraft now are highly resistant. Thus, per-hit damage and weight fired may be more important than number of projectiles. At projectile weight of 100 g for M-61, 260 g for Typhoon and 244 – 270 g for Rafale, F-22 fares worst in per-hit damage category. For total damage, in first second F-22 will have fired 1,3 to 6,8 kg, Typhoon 7 kg and Rafale 9,8 to 10,8 kg of ammunition.

Third, rotation of gun barrels creates vibrations, which means that Gattling design will be less accurate (more spread) than single-barreled designs, and problem will only increase as gun keeps firing.

While F-22 is supposed to kill opponent at BVR, it only carries 6 BVR missiles. With usual 0,08 Pk ratio against same-era threats, it will take two F-22s to kill a single enemy aircraft. That is made even worse by the fact that F-22 not only has to radiate in order to lock on the enemy aircraft, but has to get close enough to penetrate any jamming – distance that was regularly around 1/3 of maximum radar range; in F-22s case, it will be 50 – 80 kilometers against 1 m2 target, such as Typhoon or aircraft with comparable frontal RCS (J-10?) in air-to-air configuration.

F-22s maximum speed of Mach 1,8 – 2,25 and supercruise speed of Mach 1,5 – 1,7 are better than those of most competitors, as Eurofighter Typhoon – the second-fastest supercruiser – can achieve “only” Mach 1,3 when in combat configuration. Thus, F-22 can choose to run if it finds itself outnumbered too much, but if it does choose to attack, it will most likely be forced to engage the opponent in the visual range.

How maneuverable F-22 is

Many say that F-22 is the most maneuverable fighter aircraft by virtue of its thrust vectoring. So, I have decided to take a closer look at various claims about F-22s agility.

F-22 is the most maneuverable fighter aircraft out there

Some claim that F-22 is the most maneuverable and agile fighter aircraft out there, due to the thrust vectoring. That claim, however, is false.

To execute a turn, aircraft requires lift to pull it around the turn. Even civilian jets make sharper turns this way, by banking. Amount of lift can be roughly estimated through wing loading figures, with the caveat that LEX and close-coupled canards do provide the additional lift during high-alpha maneuvers by strengthening vortices created by the wing.

However, while F-22 does have LEX, it is not the only one. Dassault Rafale has both LEX and close-coupled canards, Saab Gripen has close-coupled canards, and Eurofighter Typhoon, while not having either, does have vortex generators at sides of the fuselage.

Thus, actual lift at high AoA could be estimated by comparing length of forward portion of the wing to the aircraft’s weight. This method is only of limited accuracy, however, it is more accurate than standard wing loading figures for high alpha maneuvers, as large portion of wing stalls in such circumstances.

F-22 has combat weight of 24 883 kg and combined wing leading edge length of cca 12,58 meters, which becomes 20,56 meters when LEX and air intake leading surface are taken into account. Thus loading value will be 1210 kg per meter. However, LEX-generated vortices will improve value.

Eurofighter Typhoon, on the other hand, has combat weight of 14 483 kg and combined wing leading edge length of ~18,3 meters along with canards. Thus its loading value will be 791 kg per meter, or slightly higher, but as with F-22, vortices will improve value – this time vortices generated by strakes at sides of Typhoon’s hull. Both Typhoon and F-22 have similar wing sweep and high-lift devices, so actual lifting area per meter will be the same, except maybe for canards.

At lower angles of attack, when entire wing area is used, F-22 will have wing loading of 319 kg/m2 in standard combat configuration, and Eurofighter Typhoon will have wing loading of 283 kg/m2. Thrust loading ratios will be 1,28 for F-22 and 1,25 for Eurofighter Typhoon.

We can thus see that, while F-22 has thrust-to-weight ratio advantage, Eurofighter Typhoon has both lower combat weight and lower wing loading at combat weight, and thus has better maneuvering performance. Dassault Rafale will have similar advantages, although its canards act more like F-22s LEX, which makes it for two aircraft that have better maneuvering performance than F-22.

F-22 is comparable to F-15C (claim made by Pierre Sprey)

Comparing it to the F-15C, we see two things: wing loading and thrust-to-weight ratio that are very similar, with F-15C having slight advantage. While F-22 is larger and heavier aircraft, it is also unstable, improving its response time and removing resustance of aircraft towards the continued turn. It also has LEX, which improves lift at high angle of attack.

While its internal missile carriage adds weight and frontal area, that is cancelled out by reduced drag due to lack of external stores.

F-22 is worse than F-16

F-22 and F-16 have two major things in common: both are relaxed-stability designs and both have LEX. As such, similar wing loading figures and thrust-to-weight ratios will result in similar maneuverability, especially since F-16 was designed to achieve optimum performance when two wingtip AAMs are present.

With 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder and 4 AMRAAM F-16C has wing loading of 392 kg/m2, thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,186 and weights 10 936 kg. F-22 has wing loading of 313,5 kg/m2, thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,29 and weights 24 579 kg. Thus, while F-22 will suffer maneuverability penalty due to its size and weight, it is unlikely that F-16C will be able to outmaneuver it.

With F-16A it is a different story. With empty weight of 7 076 kg, it has wing loading of 349,5 kg/m2 and thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,29 (figures for 50% fuel and 2 Sidewinder). While its wing loading is higher than F-22s, F-16A is far lighter and smaller, so it is possible that it could be capable of matching the F-22.

Conclusion

To conclude, while Pierre Sprey’s notion that F-22 is no more maneuverable than F-15C is not supportable, those that insist F-22 is the most maneuverable fighter aircraft in the world are equally wrong. Indeed, new fighters such as Eurofighter Typhoon or Dassault Rafale will have better maneuvering performance with virtue of their better aerodynamics and superior attributes (wing loading, thrust-to-weight ratio, etc). F-22 also does not meet force size requirements.

59 Responses to “Is the F-22 really superior to all other fighter aircraft”

  1. MX1 said

    Estimating maneuverability with wing loading is not entierly accurate. Modern aircraft make use of Body Lift in order to lessen the wing load, Thrust to drag ratio should also be taken into account. An F-16 has higher wing loading than an F-4, but which will you bring to a “knife fight”?

    Here is a paragraph on the Eurofighter site itself

    At supersonic velocities (Mach 1.6 and 36,000ft) the sustained turn rate of the Eurofighter betters all but the F-22, while its instantaneous turn rate is superior to the F-22. At low altitudes, Eurofighter can accelerate from 200kts to Mach 1.0 in under 30 seconds. In a similar vain to its supersonic performance, the sustained and instantaneous subsonic turn rates of the Eurofighter are bettered only by the F-22. Only the Rafale comes close to the matching the Eurofighter’s capabilities in these comparisons.

    Clearly the raptor out turns the typhoon except on instanteous supersonic turns

    • picard578 said

      And at Red Flag Alaska, Typhoon was shown to be more maneuverable than F-22.

      Besides, you are wrong. Yes, modern aircraft use body lift; neither Typhoon or F-22 are an exception, but Typhoon has strakes whose function is to increase body lift during turns. At high AoA, F-22s body lift won’t be enough to make difference. It does have LEX, but wing loading, size and weight differences are simply too large.

      Second, F-22 is, regardless of what you can hear in LM commertials, rather draggy when turning due to TVC, and unlike so-called “legacy” aircraft, its internal missile carriage means that it carries permanent drag and weight penalty.

      For Eurofighter site, that is marketing for un-/mis- -educated people who believe that TVC = instant win button. TVC is largerly irrelevant for dogfight; it is only useful for post-stall and supersonic maneuverability.

      • Mangler Muldoon said

        As you know, stealth is achieved through more than just rcs and IR signature reduction. The various passive signature reduction methods on the F-22 are far more extensive than those on the Eurofighter. Emission control principles make the Raptor’s APG-77 much more difficult to detect than the Eurofighter’s ESA. While its true LPI radar’s can still be detected, its certainly helps. In this article, you don’t seem to consider it to be important at all. The cost issue is certainly correct. The com systems in the F-22 are also designed to be minimally detectable.
        The fly away cost you used seems to be on the highest end possible for those estimates (most are between 150-200 million USD). The Eurofighter Tranche 3A isn’t exactly cheap either in terms of fly away cost (~130 million USD). In terms of operating costs, the F-22 is indeed more expensive.
        In regards to maneuverability, no aircraft is always better in every criteria e.g. wing loading, sustained turn ability, g limit tolerance, thrust to weight ratio, rate of climb, angle of attack limitations, acceleration, etc. Its purely academic to list figures that are marginally different from one another and say the Typhoon is superior. Real world testing is always preferable. In the most recent red flag (not 2012 I’m referring to 2013) both nation’s pilots have stressed the different aspects in which their jets have improved maneuverability. characteristics over the other: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130211/TSJ01/302110009/British-U-S-Squadrons-Prep-Red-Flag?odyssey=nav%7Chead
        To say the Raptor is more maneuverable or the Typhoon is more maneuverable doesn’t actually really mean much. Pilots will always have capitalize on the relative strength’s and weakness of their aircraft. Both aircraft are supremely maneuverable. In regards to Pierre Sprey, he is in the extreme minority in terms of assessing the Raptor’s maneuverability characteristics. Real combat exercises have demonstrably proven the Raptor is superior to legacy platforms in nearly every aspect of maneuverability. Cost and practicality can certainly be argued, but to say the F-22 is less maneuverable than legacy aircraft is (to use the scientific term) BS.

      • picard578 said

        1) If radar and RWR use same or similar technology, radar will usually be detected by RWR at several times its own detection range, though sensitivity is also important. While AESA radars undoubtably are great advantage over opponents in Africa, Middle East and maybe some other parts of the world, it is detectable by more modern RWRs.

        2) Flyaway costs vary with time, fixes and upgrades, though usually not as much as unit procurement costs. Last figure I have for F-22 is from 2011, when it was 250 million USD; Typhoon’s flyaway cost is 118 million USD Tranche 2, 125 – 130 Tranche 3. F-22s flyaway cost estimates in particular were 177 million USD in 2006, 218 million USD in 2009. Typhoon’s flyaway costs vary between 100 and 130 million USD.

        3) Instanteneous turn performance is more dependant on lift, sustained turn performance is more dependant on thrust to weight ratio. Wing loading is, for most aircraft, good indication of maneuverability, though there are exceptions (Gripen and F-16 both have large amounts of body lift, for example).

        For F-22 and Typhoon, Typhoon is more maneuverable in transonic region and most of subsonic one, whereas F-22 is likely more maneuverable at very low speeds (<150 kt) and supersonic speeds above M 1,2 due to the thrust vectoring (I'm not entirely sure about supersonic maneuverability, though, as canards in long arm configuration also help a lot in that regime). Typhoon also isn't "legacy" platform, neither are Rafale and Gripen; actually I'd say that their aerodynamics are more advanced than those of F-22, which is limited by stealth requirements.

        As for F-16A, it is entirely possible that it may be able to outmaneuver F-22: both of them are relaxed-stability designs, but while F-16A has higher wing loading, it is also smaller, lighter and its configuration means that it will have more body lift. However, F-16A is not in US service any more, as what USAF is using now is overweight F-16C.

      • Dennis F. said

        @ Mangler Muldoon:

        http://theaviationist.com/2013/02/21/raptor-vs-typhoon-us/#.UXA_D7X8FkY

      • Duviel said

        “Thus, F-22 is inferior in wing loading to both Eurocanards, and has only slightly superior thrust-to-weight ratio compared to Typhoon”

        You should have said: Thus, F-22 is [slightly] inferior in wing loading to both Eurocanards, and has only slightly superior thrust-to-weight ratio compared to Typhoon and an even better Tw ratio to Rafale.

        Also your WL numbers are disputable I have read other publications that show better wing loading numbers for F-22. Looks like you are using the heaviest F-22 version in comparison to Eurocanards.

        Always finding small little ways to make youre point look better.

        You are a smart and sneeky fellow Picard.

      • picard578 said

        “Looks like you are using the heaviest F-22 version in comparison to Eurocanards. ”

        Not even close. Heaviest weight I have would give it wing loading of 400 kg/m2 at combat takeoff weight. I am, however, using the highest numbers I have for Eurocanards.

        “You are a smart and sneeky fellow Picard.”

        It’s sneaky, not sneeky, and you’re being it, not me.

      • Duviel said

        I have found numbers from 50-85Lbs/Sq. Ft. for Raptor. Wiki gives it about 51Lbs/Sq. Ft. empty and 77Lbs/Sq. Ft. loaded.

        I would have to do math for metric.

        Rafale gets 42lbs/Sq. Ft. empty and 63Lbs/Sq. Ft. loaded.

        You are comparing Rafale strenghts to Raptor weakness.

        Thats why you keep talking down radar, avionics and fusion (not to mention TV). because thats where Rafale falls way behind Raptor and behind Typhoon as well.

        Although I do agree that radar advantage is mostly negated by missile range and Pk and IR/optical would be best for stealth aircraft especially.

        Networking allows for Raptor to target without radiating itself and hacking comm link is possible but far from sure thing. Its an on-going fight. Just like RWR Vs LPI Radar is on-going fight.

        Although IRST can find airplane by skin friction heat alone, the 90km figures are for aircraft with hot plumes glaring I dont think 90km would apply for head on. Yes size produces big picture but you dont credit enough the cooling features that reduce heat.

        If F-22 added a good IRST and good optical sensor the Rafale would be in trouble even in close in fight, which is Rafale strenght. It would come down to pilot skill and support network.

        when it comes to being able to survive top line integrated SAM systems F-22 is clearly ahead of all else in service right now. Adding HARM ability to F-22 would be logical (I think) and giving it some of F-35 ground attack sensors

        While I have found your statements on TV to be correct (according to other sources) in some ways, it only applies if pilot not experienced in using TV.

        Using TV at lesser angles seems to solve some problems and nothing turns an aircraft in last sec abrupt style like vectoring thrust.

        Look I dont doubt you know your stuff. I just think you are a bit blinded by your love for Rafale and dont give proper weight to all factors. I could say same for me and Raptor. I guess truth is probably somewhere in Middle.

        I have loved the Eurocanards for a while now and I would not feel short changed with those but, US must develop its own tech for various reasons economic and national security.

      • picard578 said

        “Wiki gives it about 51Lbs/Sq. Ft. empty and 77Lbs/Sq. Ft. loaded. Rafale gets 42lbs/Sq. Ft. empty and 63Lbs/Sq. Ft. loaded. ”

        I’m using 375 kg/m2 for F-22s wing loading at combat takeoff weight, which is 76,8 lbs/ft2. For Rafale, I am using figure of 328 kg/m2 or 67,2 lbs/ft2 at combat takeoff weight. In other words, Rafale is the aircraft handicapped in the comparision, which is completely opposite to what you are saying. Number I used for Typhoon in the article is incorrect, but not so much that they would significantly changed anything.

        “Thats why you keep talking down radar, avionics and fusion (not to mention TV). because thats where Rafale falls way behind Raptor and behind Typhoon as well. ”

        Radar and TVC are far less useful than USAF and Hollywood would have you believe. You have completely inverted cause and effect here. Even in ideal conditions, no kills with radar-guided missiles were achieved at distances beyond 50 kilometers (F-16C shot down a MiG-29 at 35 km, which is the longest-ranged kill with AIM-120 I know of, though there may have been some BVR missile kills at cca 30 nm). Even those short-range BVR kills were against targets that were typically unaware they were being attacked and had no countermeasures, radar warners or missile warners (that MiG-29 I mentioned that was shot down by the F-16C? It was climbing straight into the missiles, not maneuvering at all and not using any countermeasures). How that translates into “radar and radar stealth are the end-all of air combat”, I do not know, but for some people it apparently does translate that way. Similarly, TVC is good for nose pointing but it does so at huge cost in energy (as for improving roll onset, roll is done by wing control surfaces, horizontal tail would have moderate effect at best, and in any case even the F-22 still uses horizontal tail for pitch – TVC only supplements traditional control surfaces, it does not supplant them).

        Of course I’d seem to be talking them down when compared to utterly unrealistic claims of their effectiveness you can typically find in mass media. But you’re seeing what isn’t there.

        “Although IRST can find airplane by skin friction heat alone, the 90km figures are for aircraft with hot plumes glaring I dont think 90km would apply for head on.”

        90 km is for PIRATEs performance against head-on subsonic target. What you’re thinking of are older-generation IRSTs which did not use QWIP technology – OLS-35 for example can only detect fighter head-on at maybe 30-50 km.

        “Yes size produces big picture but you dont credit enough the cooling features that reduce heat. ”

        They can’t reduce it that much – first, ambient temperature at high altitude is some 50-100 deg C below temperature of aircraft’s skin, and second, skin friction is not the only source of heating.

        “If F-22 added a good IRST and good optical sensor the Rafale would be in trouble even in close in fight, ”

        F-22 is still too large to match Rafale in WVR, it wouldn’t be easy but Rafale is more likely to win than not.

        “when it comes to being able to survive top line integrated SAM systems F-22 is clearly ahead of all else in service right now”

        That is true.

        “nothing turns an aircraft in last sec abrupt style like vectoring thrust. ”

        Nothing loses as much energy as well. While it can be very useful in one-on-one dogfights, energy loss from using TVC is unacceptably large in actual fight.

      • Duviel Rodriguez said

        Canards push airplane by catching air. TVC does it by vectoring thrust. Canards do add wing area. Canards do not lose as much energy because thrust always remains pointed in same direction of nose and because the pitch is less instantaneous. TVC thrust angle can be switched pretty quick putting thrust back in line with nose almost instantly. Also by using TVC at lesser angle and thrust the pitch is less violent reducing energy loss and loss of altitude. Not sure if fly by wire is programmed for this but it can be. Also F-22 has awesome thrust allowing it to regain energy pretty quick. Also, sometimes you want to lose energy pretty quick and TVC can do that if needed. TVC is not a silver bullet but I would rather have it than not. You can use it at your need.

        Did they finally instal the helmet mounted sight on F-22? For off boresight shots. Not sure?

        Radar is good for more than just guiding missiles. It provides long range recon and situational awareness. As you move into merge its good to be able to launch missiles to take your apponents attention (at very least) while you gain position for short range shot and/or gun kill if it gets to that.

        And again you are not considering that a squadron of Raptors can operate based on just 1 raptor (or AWACS) radiating. Modern secure links are not easily jammed and less easily hacked.

        I know there are missiles that can switch guidance from radar to IR/optical. Do you know which ones?

        Guiding at radar until inside 30km (give or take) and than switching to IR/optical for end game sounds like a heck of an idea.

        I do need more data from various sources regarding Pk and also IRST capabilities. Many of my arguments are not fully verified but I think still worth mentioning for discussion.

        You also have to look at US airpower as 3 airforces with in depth capabilities. When looking at F-22 (or F-35, F-18, B-2 etc.) you have to also look at support network. And honestly, you have to look at rest of NATO as part of that airpower too as in most engagements US would be fighting with NATO. F-22, F-15, F-16, Rafale, Typhoon, F-35, F-18, Growler, A-10, B-52, B-1, B-2, A-10, AWACS, RivetJoint, P-8, Global Hawk, Etc. All of these supporting each other are really awesome to look at.

        That is why If anything I do agree that the US should reduce defense spending at or below 2% (not 5%) of GDP like most EU nations. 250 Billion is more than enough to secure our ability to defend ourselves.

        On that note programs like F-22 and F-35 (as well as these new G. Ford class carriers) are too expensive and should be reduced just to theorethical research with at most a handful purchased for technology development not a whole fleet.

        I still beleieve this, even looking at recent situations in Ukraine and the new rise of Russian militarism. Although if Russia keeps this course reducing defense spending may not be workable.

        Those 2-3 billion per Aircraft Carriers are only useful in influencing geopolitics outside US. Useless in defense of NATO or US territory.

        Cheers!

      • picard578 said

        “Canards push airplane by catching air. TVC does it by vectoring thrust. Canards do add wing area. ”

        Yes and no.

        Long arm canards serve as a control surface, like a horizontal tail. Unlike the tail, however, long arm canards push the nose up to initiate a pitch, thus leading to momentary increase in lift when turn is initiated. During sustained turn, long arm canards remain lift-neutral, adding absolutely no lift at all. Since they are not blocked by wing like tail is, they remain an effective control surface even in supersonic regime.

        Close coupled canards are primarily a lift enhancement device. Like long arm canards, they themselves provide lift during pitch onset and are lift-neutral during sustained turn. However, they also have strong influence on the wing. First, they increase lift over the front portion of the wing, moving center of lift forward and thus increasing instability compared to the canard-off configuration. At high angles of attack, canards produce two sets of vortices. Outer set reinforces air flow over outer portion of the wing, while inner set reinforces wing’s own root vortices, and, in conjuction with them, reinforces air flow over inner portion of the wing. This delays air flow separation at high angles of attack, thus improving maximum lift as well as control surface effectiveness. Vortices also improve wing response to control surface inputs, and reduce drag during the turn. Result are increased turn onset, roll onset, instantaneous and sustained turn rates. They also keep effectiveness at supersonic speeds, though they are not as effective as long arm canards.

        Thrust vectoring is just what the name says. It vectors the thrust, which has a result of shifting part of thrust from pushing the aircraft forward to rotating it. However, thrust vectoring does not improve lift by itself. As a result, while it does help the aircraft to achieve angle of attack somewhat sooner, it does not necessarily increase turn rate. Using it also means penalty in thrust-to-drag ratio, which leads to major energy loss even during short applications. While energy loss can be limited by limiting the maximum angle between nozzle and aircraft axis, it is always there. As a result, it has two main purposes: to allow the aircraft to reach angle of attack required for maximum lift if it cannot do it on aerodynamics alone, and to improve maneuverability at very low speeds (<150 kts) as well as very high speeds and high altitudes, which are two operating regimes where classical control surfaces lose effectiveness. This means that it has, so far, only found application on high-altitude interceptors (F-22, some Flanker variants) and aircraft that have dual-role air superiority and ground attack requirements (Flanker variants again, MiG-29 variants). It can improve pitch and roll onset rates, but effect is not large due to limits on maximum nozzle movement speed.

        "Also F-22 has awesome thrust allowing it to regain energy pretty quick."

        What matters are thrust to weight and thrust to drag ratios. F-22s TWR is 1,35 at combat weight, which is excellent, but regaining energy will still take time.

        "Also, sometimes you want to lose energy pretty quick and TVC can do that if needed."

        You can also do that with canards, if FCS is programmed for it.

        "TVC is not a silver bullet but I would rather have it than not. You can use it at your need. "

        Russian aircraft have an option to switch TVC on or off. F-22 uses it automatically for the pilot. But I don't agree that it is better to have it than not, as close coupled canards offer most of its advantages at far less risk (TVC is complex and adds a rather damage-vulnerable subsystem). Of course, sometimes you can't use canards (stealth requirements, for example), and then using TVC does make sense.

        "Did they finally instal the helmet mounted sight on F-22?"

        I don't think so, though there is some talk about it.

        "Radar is good for more than just guiding missiles. It provides long range recon and situational awareness."

        And even longer ranged recon and situational awareness for your opponent. If you can detect the enemy at 100 km, chances are that he has already detected you. Keep in mind that, even with perfect reflection, you will receive only 1/16th of the energy you sent out, or 1/4 of what your target received. Since only about 1-2% of the energy that reached the target actually gets reflected towards you (family car has an RCS of 100 m2, compared to 1 m2 for modern fighters), even LPI AESA is far from undetectable. And some jamming techniques can make the aircraft basically invisible to radar.

        "And again you are not considering that a squadron of Raptors can operate based on just 1 raptor (or AWACS) radiating."

        One F-22 can provide the surveillance, but it will still betray their presence. Plus, there is an issue of actually attacking. Even with GPS (which likely won't work in a major war), a launch platform may have to turn the radar on in order to provide accurate enough midflight update.

        "I know there are missiles that can switch guidance from radar to IR/optical. Do you know which ones?"

        There are missiles which have both IR and RF versions, and I believe that in most if not all of these cases you can actually exchange IR seeker head for RF one, and back. MICA is the only Western example, but Russians typically use two or three guidance options for their BVR missiles (RF, IR, AR). R-27 for example has semi-active radar, active radar, anti-radiation and IR homing variants. R-77 has these variants as well.

        "Guiding at radar until inside 30km (give or take) and than switching to IR/optical for end game sounds like a heck of an idea. "

        No need for radar. Missile that's out of thrust and has gone ballistic has little to no possibility of hitting an maneuvering target, and if you are up against a reasonably well equipped opponent, then using radar will definetly alert them – and even without radar, missile warners will do the job, if little later. This means that best option is to wait until you are within range that missile can cover with engine actively burning, which in turn means that you can use command or beam guidance, neither which requires range data and is easily doable with IRST.

        "I do need more data from various sources regarding Pk and also IRST capabilities."

        You can find some of them on this blog, more specifically here:
        https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/links/
        https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/technology/

        "250 Billion is more than enough to secure our ability to defend ourselves. "

        That is correct. But US, as they are now, are an imperial power. This requires abilities of force projection and agressive warfare, and indeed half of the budget goes towards such capabilities (majority of the most expensive weapons in the US arsenal – nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, stealth aircraft – are inherently offensive weapons. Then there is also the fact that there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of US troops still in Europe, and even more all over the world).

        "I still beleieve this, even looking at recent situations in Ukraine and the new rise of Russian militarism. Although if Russia keeps this course reducing defense spending may not be workable. "

        It would be workable if done smartly. Lot of defense spending goes not just for too complex or even unnecessary weapons and capabilities, but literally for nothing. Why do generals have to have such hefty salaries? How come that there are more admirals in the navy than there are ships? How come that every year, billions of dollars literally disappear? (Mind, these questions apply for most Western militaries, not just US).

        "Those 2-3 billion per Aircraft Carriers are only useful in influencing geopolitics outside US. Useless in defense of NATO or US territory. "

        Agreed. BTW, I have made a proposal for a far smaller and cheaper carrier, that would actually be useful for defense of NATO as well as current NATO missions (for one, it would have CAS fighters on board. Modern Western carrier fighters – F-18, F-35, Rafale – can only a) defend the carrier from air strike and b) attack other surface ships. They can't support amphibious landings, can't support troops on the ground).

      • Duviel Rodriguez said

        As always, you don’t fail to impress me. Everyone has some bias but, you are always articulate and knowledgable in your dictation.

        I have been heavily into air warfare (hobby) for many years and I have learned more from this blog in 2 months than in the previous 7+ years.

        Ps. No one has ever accused me of being good (or interested in being good to be honest) at spelling or grammar. Please forgive my errors. Without spell check and an editor I am a fish out of water.

        I almost forget, Can you address the following topic, please:

        Taking world events into consideration, how do you suppose a full-scale (non-nuclear) war between Nato and Russia would proceed in 2015. I dont expect this scenario to occur (I sure hope not) but if you choose to accept this task I am sure it would be awesome to read.

      • picard578 said

        “No one has ever accused me of being good (or interested in being good to be honest) at spelling or grammar. Please forgive my errors. Without spell check and an editor I am a fish out of water. ”

        No problem. I screw it up myself sometimes.

        “Taking world events into consideration, how do you suppose a full-scale (non-nuclear) war between Nato and Russia would proceed in 2015.”

        No idea. Main fighting would be in Europe I expect, though conflict over eastern Siberia, Alaska and western Canada is possible. While US have a major numerical advantage, deploying a sizeable force to either Europe or Alaska would be an issue. As far as Europe goes, NATO only shares a land border with Russia in Norway and Baltic states. It is however possible that Finland and Belarus would be drawn into the conflict, and Ukraine would probably be drawn into it as well (being the cause), so division on front might end up looking a lot like Europe in 1941, with a continuous frontline from Baltic to Black sea. NATO would be unwise to take the offensive due to logistical issues that come with invading Russia, but attempting to push the front back to the Russian border is definetly an option.

        As for Russia, if Finland and Belarus are not drawn into the conflict, there would be rather limited offensive options. Main conflict would be within Ukriane itself, with limited fighting in Baltic states and Poland (I doubt that NATO can prevent Russia from overruning Baltic states). If Belarus is drawn into the conflict, Russia would have more options for the offensive. In that case, a lot depends on how quickly European NATO states can mobilize and get their troops to the frontlines. Regardless of where the front is stabilized, we would likely be looking at a protracted attrition warfare, with Russia almost certainly losing the war – both sides are quite adept at maneuver warfare, so there wouldn’t be anything like what Germany achieved in 1939-1941. That being said, if Russia somehow manages to gain the air superiority (due to NATOs overreliance on huge air bases or other factors), it could somewhat alter what I have written.

      • Duviel Rodriguez said

        Do you really beleive Russia has a chance in the air?

        Don’t both sides rely heavily on large airbases and runways.

        Other than Harrier (F-35B is not an option in 2015) no other Nato Jet can take of without runway, right? Are there not a whole mess of private runways all over Europe that can be used too?

        I know that most NATO Jets require long runways so I am not sure if most private runways will do. I know Gripen has short take-off run.

        I don’t know what it is officially but I have seen Raptor take off in person from a municipal airport in a small Florida town and it did not need the whole runway. It gets off ground real quick but it looked like it took a little bit longer to get high up. Maybe it had to do with what pilot was doing?

        Russia has a Yak airplane that does VTOL but thats it right? Flankers and Fulcrums need long runways too right? Maybe not as much maintenance.

        Do you think the Flanker is better than Fulcrum? Russia seems to think so.

        Personaly I beleive that if they have a chance anywhere it would be in a ground fight around their borders.

        This is a weakened Russia just getting over two decades spiriling downward without its former republics or Warsaw Pact allies. Nato on the other hand has expanded. Although, NATO defense budgets have gone down.

        I expected to hear that Russia would lose big. I just wanted to know your take on those possible air battles and how many losses NATO would take.

        The fact that you think Russia has a chance in 2015 surprises me. What have I overlooked?

      • picard578 said

        “Don’t both sides rely heavily on large airbases and runways. ”

        They do, but both Su-27 and MiG-29 (and their later variants) place a lot of emphasis on dirt strip basing abilities. About the only Western fighter which is intended to operate from something other than typical air base or aircraft carrier is Gripen.

        “Other than Harrier (F-35B is not an option in 2015) no other Nato Jet can take of without runway, right? ”

        I don’t think even Harrier or F-35 can do it, not with full internal fuel and typical weapons load at least. Even when they do, they need some kind of concrete support to prevent kicking up dirt and debris.

        “I know Gripen has short take-off run.”

        Rafale also has relatively (for its size) short take off run, as does Typhoon. Probably F-22 as well. However, all three are far harder to maintain than Gripen, as well as far larger.

        “Flankers and Fulcrums need long runways too right?”

        For typical ops yes, but if needed they can fly from dirt strips or frozen lakes (assuming that ice can carry their weight).

        “I expected to hear that Russia would lose big.”

        In the long run probably, but NATO is far from using its resources optimally. So is Russia, as a matter of fact, but it typically isn’t as bad about it as many NATO countries.

        ” I just wanted to know your take on those possible air battles and how many losses NATO would take. ”

        That would need an article by itself, and it is basically impossible to predict. For one, most NATO aircraft would be vulnerable to being taken out of picture by missile strikes on air fields. On the other hand, many of them (Gripen, Rafale, Typhoon, F-16, F-18, MiG-21) could use road bases if necessary, though it would limit sortie rate. Once in the air, it depends on how many aircraft can each side field. F-22 wouldn’t have much impact even if it survives due to low numbers and extreme maintenance requirements, and it would probably come down to the types I have listed.

        Now:
        https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/nato-air-forces-proposal-3/
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Air_Force

        NATO types I have listed as surviving would give it 2.262 aircraft and 3.096 sorties per day (28 Gripen, 127 Rafale, 351 Typhoon, 1.452 F-16, 189 F-18, 63 MiG-21, 52 MiG-29). However, during peacetime they also operate from air fields, so actual number of surviving aircraft will be lower (I’d assume that around 50% of those stationed in Europe survive the initial strike, leading to 1.588 aircraft and 2.096 sorties per day total). Russian Air Force would have 828 air superiority fighters (694 without MiG-31) flying between 800 and 1.000 sorties per day.

        However, I am far from certain about actual ability of many of the aircraft listed to operate from road bases effectively, so number of actually survivable NATO aircraft might be as low as 91-332, flying 119-398 sorties per day.

        “The fact that you think Russia has a chance in 2015 surprises me. What have I overlooked?”

        Above. NATO is powerful on paper, but force structure of United States, and quite few other members, overlooks basic tenets of Sun Tzu, Napoleon and German Blitzkrieg: military marches on its stomach, and military that cannot be effectively supplied is as good as nonexistent. For example, many Western fighters burn way too much fuel, and are incapable of road basing in addition to being hard to keep operational (F-22, looking at you. F-35 and F-15 are also bad in this regard. About the only Western fighter that is adequate in this regard is Gripen). US main battle tank – M1 – drinks up fuel at several times the rate of “normal” diesel tanks when in combat, which in fact allowed Saddam’s Republician Guard to escape back in 1991, and save Saddam’s regime from collapse. It is also far from being maintenance-friendly. M-16 rifle was adapted from a rifle meant for air port security, and isn’t really maintenance friendly.

      • Duviel said

        Ok, Thanks.

        What about using private and municipal airfields or flying from North America which is very possible (in smaller sortie rates) as I doubt todays Russia can take out enough airfields in US.

        If you look at Google maps carefully there are dozens of hidden airfields out there not in regular use and that’s just in Florida.

        One of largest and more lengthy maintenance processes of F-22 is stealth coating. If you fly without worrying about coating the maintenance is much less. without coating F-22 is still relatively stealthy and still more capable BVR and WVR than any current Russian Jet. They would be used at key moments not in mass but will play key role, I think.

        Most NATO fighters (Bombers will have to fly from deep US territory with very low availability in theather) will be able to fly from dispersed airfields (equipment would have to be dispersed to those fields) that are not likely to be targeted. Just too many of them. More likely that NATO would take out Russian airfields than vise versa early. More cruise missiles and other long range precision weapons than Russia.

        Even in your calculus NATO would have 2x daily sortie rate.

        Surveillance ability of US is also a big advantage.

        MI Tank is much better at defense. Compared with Russian tanks much better armor and better precision at longer ranges like open fields. Problem is need for fuel trucks and protection of engine from back.

        Every engagement between Russian and US/NATO tanks has proven superiority of Western tanks. Russia has a numbers edge if they are able to mobilize reserve.

      • picard578 said

        “What about using private and municipal airfields or flying from North America which is very possible (in smaller sortie rates) as I doubt todays Russia can take out enough airfields in US. ”

        It is possible, but most US fighters are too complex to operate effectively from such conditions (all but the F-16 and possibly F-18).

        “If you fly without worrying about coating the maintenance is much less.”

        True.

        “will be able to fly from dispersed airfields (equipment would have to be dispersed to those fields) that are not likely to be targeted.”

        That depends on how conscipious these airfields are and how many there are. There is also a question of how much maintenance can be carried out in the field. Gripen is very good in that area, while F-22 and F-35, and quite likely F-15, can’t be effectively maintained in the field. Not sure about the rest.

        “More likely that NATO would take out Russian airfields than vise versa early. More cruise missiles and other long range precision weapons than Russia. ”

        That is a possibility, but if you use submunitions then you don’t really need many cruise missiles to make air bases unusable (assuming most missiles don’t get lost along the way, or shot down, which is in no way certain).

        “MI Tank is much better at defense. Compared with Russian tanks much better armor and better precision at longer ranges like open fields. Problem is need for fuel trucks and protection of engine from back. ”

        That is true, but M1 is basically a mobile bunker in strategic sense. Main use of tanks is mobile warfare, and M1 simply isn’t built for it. Even within its “mobile bunker” role, Challenger II would be a better choice. Overall, I’d say that best Western tanks are either Leopard II or Leclerc.

        “Every engagement between Russian and US/NATO tanks has proven superiority of Western tanks.”

        More like superiority of Western tank crews, as NATO never engaged Russian-crewed tanks. That being said, I do believe that most Western tanks are superior when compared to Russian tanks – but only in one-on-one comparision.

      • Duviel said

        MI Tank consumes crazy fuel but even though it is heaviest most armored tank in existence (Challenger II might be equal and Merkava Leclerc, Leopard II right behind) it can move like no other. There’s a reason it consumes fuel it has more power than anything else. The biggest issue is the protection of engine and the need for fuel. Although no tank is immune to needing fuel trucks.

        Also Russian T-72 can be easily taken out by front back side top. MI is vulnerable by the back but by the front or side it would take a lot to take it out.

        Other than the fuel issue what makes Leopard II or Leclerc better?

        Centurions and M-60’s can also fight on par with any Russian tank I think. Bigger gun makes the difference but other than that M-60 better than all but maybe T-90. Way better than T-55 T-62.

      • picard578 said

        “even though it is heaviest most armored tank in existence ”

        As a matter of fact, five M1s were destroyed by Iraqi tanks – despite the fact that Iraqi tankers were some of the most incompetent in the world, and that Iraqi tanks were using steel rod penetrators. Both Challenger II and the M60 fared far better, suffering no losses to tank fire during the Desert Storm. Result is that US built far more heavily armored M1A2, but Challenger II Streetfighter is still far better armored than it. Quality-wise, composite armor that the M1 is supposed to have is one generation behind Challenger IIs Dorchester Composite, and I have even found some sources stating that the M1 uses laminated steel armor.

        One Challenger II loss to tank fire was a round that penetrated down the hatch.

        See here:
        http://www.williammaloney.com/aviation/VermontMilitaryMuseum/M1AbramsMainBattleTank/index.htm

        And RPG-7 can penetrate M1s armor, while Challenger II simply shrugs it off.

        “it can move like no other.”

        Actually, maximum usable speed is 72 kph, exactly same as Leopard II, and off-road speed of all three tanks (M1, Leopard II, Challenger II) is similar. In fact, Challenger II might be the fastest tank off-road due to its suspension system.

        Also, in-service M1 variants do not have the best power-to-weight ratio:
        M1: 20,7 kW/t – now a museum piece
        M1A1: 19,6 kW/t
        M1A2: 16,5 kW/t
        Leopard 2A6: 17,7 kW/t
        Challenger II: 14,2 kW/t
        Leclerc Series 1: 20,5 kW/t
        Leclerc Series 2: 19,9 kW/t
        Leclerc Series XXI: 19,4 kW/t
        M84A4: 19,5 kW/t
        M84D: 19,9 kW/t with no ERA; 17,4 kW/t with ERA

        “There’s a reason it consumes fuel it has more power than anything else.”

        Reason is that US went for quieter and lighter gas turbine instead of the typical diesel engine. It still has far less range than most other tanks – 463/391 km vs 550 km for Challenger II / Leopard II / Leclerc, 650 km for M84A4 and 700 km for M84D. Endurance at idle power is 8 hours for the M1, compared to 60 hours for Leopard II and 68 hours for Leclerc.

        “Other than the fuel issue what makes Leopard II or Leclerc better?”

        Leopard II:
        newest variant (A7) has significantly better 55 calibre 120 mm cannon (M1 uses 44 calibre one)
        lower IR signature
        better ground clearance (0,54 vs 0,48/0,43 m)
        possibly superior armor protection

        Leclerc:
        superior fire control
        higher power-to-weight ratio
        52-calibre 120 mm cannon
        lower IR signature
        better ground clearance (0,5 vs 0,48/0,43 m)
        possibly superior armor protection

        “Centurions and M-60’s can also fight on par with any Russian tank I think.”

        With T-72 definetly, not sure about T-90.

      • Duviel Rodriguez said

        “As a matter of fact, five M1s were destroyed by Iraqi tanks – despite the fact that Iraqi tankers were some of the most incompetent in the world, and that Iraqi tanks were using steel rod penetrators. Both Challenger II and the M60 fared far better, suffering no losses to tank fire during the Desert Storm. Result is that US built far more heavily armored M1A2, but Challenger II Streetfighter is still far better armored than it. Quality-wise, composite armor that the M1 is supposed to have is one generation behind Challenger IIs Dorchester Composite, and I have even found some sources stating that the M1 uses laminated steel armor”.

        I would have to have time to research this. I will have to respond to this later.

        But, I will add this. M1 Tanks did most of the fighting in Gulf war 1. Also, 5 losses in a battle that involved over 1,000 M1 tanks and around that number of Iraqi tanks is miniscule. Especially when you are penetrating fast into enemy lines and getting shot from behind. How many Iraqi tanks were destroyed? I think I remember it was around 1,000. I’m willing to bet that all of those five were back or side hits. Also, one thing is to disable a tank another is to destroy it and kill its crew. Crew is probably more important than tank in long-run. No tank is invulnerable.
        The armor on M1 was originally developed in Britain and I am sure that if the British develop a better composite they would share that with US. M1-A2 is heavier and there is also a heavy armor version of M1-A2 developed in last 5 years. The M1 losses no speed with heavier armor because the engine is so powerful. The only reason it is not faster in M1-A1 is it is restricted with governor to prevent driver from going too fast. There are artificial laminates being produced that are supposed to be much stronger than steel and more resistant to heat too. M1 is the heaviest tank by weight (even with lightweight composites and laminates) and all else equal more weight is usually because of more armor.

        “One Challenger II loss to tank fire was a round that penetrated down the hatch.
        See here:
        http://www.williammaloney.com/aviation/VermontMilitaryMuseum/M1AbramsMainBattleTank/index.htm”

        My computer blocks a lot of your links I would have to view from home.

        “RPG-7 can penetrate M1s armor, while Challenger II simply shrugs it off”.

        I have to research this statement before I respond

        But, I do know the story of one M1 (picture is popular online) tank that took wrong turn and got caught in ambush. Dozens of RPG’s (reportedly up to 100) hit the tank making it look like a burnt out mess but the crew survived inside until rescued.
        “Actually, maximum usable speed is 72 kph, exactly same as Leopard II, and off-road speed of all three tanks (M1, Leopard II, Challenger II) is similar. In fact, Challenger II might be the fastest tank off-road due to its suspension system”.
        I’ll give you this one.

        “Also, in-service M1 variants do not have the best power-to-weight ratio:
        M1: 20,7 kW/t – now a museum piece
        M1A1: 19,6 kW/t
        M1A2: 16,5 kW/t
        Leopard 2A6: 17,7 kW/t
        Challenger II: 14,2 kW/t
        Leclerc Series 1: 20,5 kW/t
        Leclerc Series 2: 19,9 kW/t
        Leclerc Series XXI: 19,4 kW/t
        M84A4: 19,5 kW/t
        M84D: 19,9 kW/t with no ERA; 17,4 kW/t with ERA”

        I have to verify but Leopard 2 & Leclerc are considerably lighter in armor. Therefore, comparison unfair.

        “US went for quieter and lighter gas turbine instead of the typical diesel engine. It still has far less range than most other tanks – 463/391 km vs 550 km for Challenger II / Leopard II / Leclerc, 650 km for M84A4 and 700 km for M84D. Endurance at idle power is 8 hours for the M1, compared to 60 hours for Leopard II and 68 hours for Leclerc”

        Have to verify but sounds likely.

        “Leopard II:
        Newest variant (A7) has significantly better 55 calibre 120 mm cannon (M1 uses 44 calibre one)
        lower IR signature
        better ground clearance (0,54 vs 0,48/0,43 m)
        possibly superior armor protection”

        Is caliber not same as size of round? Are you talking about weight? I believe M1 and Leopard 2 can fire same or interchangeable rounds from gun. M1 gun comes from Germany as armor from Britain.

        “Leclerc:
        superior fire control.
        higher power-to-weight ratio
        52-calibre 120 mm cannon
        lower IR signature
        better ground clearance (0,5 vs 0,48/0,43 m)
        possibly superior armor protection”

        Superior fire control is a dubious statement but I would have to research.

        Maybe equal at best in quality of armor. But, like I said before, Leopard 2 and Leclerc are much lighter in armor.

        I very seriously doubt Leclerc or Leopard 2 has better armor. It is widely accepted that “Chobham type” armor on M1 and Challenger is the best in use.

        “Centurions and M-60’s can also fight on par with any Russian tank I think.”
        With T-72 definetly, not sure about T-90”

        Basically we agree that NATO tanks are clearly superior to Russian. Although Russian theory (as in WW2) is to build simple tanks that can be massed produced quickly and that accounts for quality most likely.

        Problem is that in 2015 Russia would probably not field more tanks than NATO if war took place; at least not initially. They have many in storage that would have to be worked on to be brought to combat ready. T-72’s (T-90 less but also quicker) are simpler and quicker to produce than any modern NATO tank. Manufacturing capacity (as in WW 2) would play role.

        Realistically if will to fight persists it would be a heck of a fight with heavy losses on both sides but I believe Russia can’t win if NATO willing to finish them.

        Fun to discuss in theory. In real life, it would be a great human tragedy as every war is no matter how small.

      • picard578 said

        “and I am sure that if the British develop a better composite they would share that with US. ”

        Actually, no. The only reason why they shared that armor was that they were obliged to, under terms of the WWII Lend-Lease treaty (they had to share any technology they developed with US for 50 years after the war). Chobham armor was developed after that treaty has expired, and was not shared with US.

        “The only reason it is not faster in M1-A1 is it is restricted with governor to prevent driver from going too fast.”

        Same goes for Leopard II and, I believe, Leclerc. That being said, what you are talking about is road speed. Transmission might well be more important than the engine when offroad.

        “M1 is the heaviest tank by weight (even with lightweight composites and laminates) and all else equal more weight is usually because of more armor.”

        Not necessarily, a smaller tank by volume can easily be better protected than a larger and heavier tank. And it is not the heaviest Western tank either. Leopard 2A6 weights 62,3 metric tons, Challenger II Streetfighter weights 74,95 metric tons (compared to 62,5 metric tons for the basic variant), while M1A2SEP weights 63 metric tons (compared to 62 metric tons for the basic M1A2). Out of the three, Challenger II Streetfighter is by far the best protected.

        “I have to verify but Leopard 2 & Leclerc are considerably lighter in armor. Therefore, comparison unfair. ”

        Wrong. Leclerc is considerably lighter, but Leopard II is not. Only difference is that none of the tanks listed uses DU inserts. But Challenger II at least uses tungsten layers in the armor, and in fact US had to use DU just to match Chobham’s level of protection.

        “Is caliber not same as size of round?”

        Length of a gun is measured in calibres. 55 calibre 120 mm gun is 6600 mm long while 44 calibre one is 5280 mm long. Result is a greater muzzle velocity, penetrating power, precision and range, all other things being equal.

        “But, like I said before, Leopard 2 and Leclerc are much lighter in armor. ”

        And you are wrong about Leopard II, while Leclerc is smaller than the M1 so it doesn’t need as much armor for same level of protection.

        “Realistically if will to fight persists it would be a heck of a fight with heavy losses on both sides but I believe Russia can’t win if NATO willing to finish them. ”

        Most likely. Though it is always hard to tell… in 1940, Germany had less personnel, less hardware as well as inferior hardware compared to what Allies had in France, and still won. That being said, NATO is nowhere as incompetent as Western Allies were in 1940, at least when it comes to actual fighting.

        “In real life, it would be a great human tragedy as every war is no matter how small.”

        Ineed.

      • Duviel said

        “Chobham armor was developed after that treaty has expired, and was not shared with US”

        Actually, Chobham armor was shared with US. M1-A1 armor is Chobham like in original Challenger II. Later upgrades were not shared. Although US did upgrade armor for M1-A2 with DU and Laminates that are both light weight and (supposedly) stronger and more heat resistant than steel. Its all academic as far as who has better scientists and engineers.

        “A smaller tank by volume can easily be better protected than a larger and heavier tank”.

        “And it is not the heaviest Western tank either. Leopard 2A6 weights 62,3 metric tons, Challenger II Streetfighter weights 74,95 metric tons (compared to 62,5 metric tons for the basic variant), while M1A2SEP weights 63 metric tons (compared to 62 metric tons for the basic M1A2). Out of the three, Challenger II Streetfighter is by far the best protected”.

        M1: 60 short tons (54 t)[5]
        M1A1: 63 short tons (57 t)[5]
        M1A2: 68 short tons (62 t)

        Length Gun forward: 32.04 ft (9.77 m)[6]
        Hull length: 26.02 ft (7.93 m)
        Width 12 ft (3.66 m)[6]

        Height 8 ft (2.44 m)[6]

        Leopard II:
        Weight 2A6: 62.3 tonnes (61.3 long tons; 68.7 short tons)
        Length 2A6: 9.97 m (393 in) (gun forward)
        Width 2A6: 3.75 m (148 in)
        Height 2A6: 3.0 m (120 in)

        Challenger II:
        62.5 tonnes (61.5 long tons; 68.9 short tons)

        Length 8.3 m (27 ft 3 in), 13.50 m (44 ft 3 in) with gun forward
        Width 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in), 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in) with appliqué armour
        Height 2.49 m (8 ft 2 in)

        Leclerc:
        Weight:
        series 1: 54.5 tonnes[1]
        series 2: 56.3 tonnes
        series XXI : 57.4 tonnes[2]

        Length:

        9.87 m (6.88 without gun[1])

        Width:

        3.60 m[1]

        Height:

        2.53 m[1]

        These numbers are a bit different than numbers I was quoting in my Janes book from 10 years ago. Leopard II has put on some serious weight, and Leclerc some too.

        Looking at the numbers looks like Leopard II is longest, widest, tallest of 3, with Challenger II being smallest. All are between 68 and 68.9 short tons. I could not find data on Streetfighter or MI-A2 Heavy Armor. Both are urban combat upgrades with heavier armor. Leclerc is only slighly smaller than the other 3 but even more notably lighter.

        Does look like you are correct about Challenger II being best protected. Although, I would not say by far.

        “Length of a gun is measured in calibres. 55 calibre 120 mm gun is 6600 mm long while 44 calibre one is 5280 mm long. Result is a greater muzzle velocity, penetrating power, precision and range, all other things being equal”.

        Thank you for clarification. Looks like a strong factor. Although, I would add that M1 gun has proven to be more than capable of killing Russian tanks and China’s tanks are even lighter. Not sure if longer gun is needed but, its nice to have I guess.

        “Leclerc is smaller than the M1 so it doesn’t need as much armor for same level of protection”

        Difference in size is very small. Difference in weight is not so small. Even with US using lightweight laminates. DU is heavy but so is titanium and tungsten used in Leclerc.

        Honestly argument is purely academic as all 4 tanks are so close in numbers and technology of industries is so similar.

        “Most likely. Though it is always hard to tell… in 1940, Germany had less personnel, less hardware as well as inferior hardware compared to what Allies had in France, and still won. That being said, NATO is nowhere as incompetent as Western Allies were in 1940, at least when it comes to actual fighting”.

        Good point! Probably worth a discussion.

      • picard578 said

        “Actually, Chobham armor was shared with US. M1-A1 armor is Chobham like in original Challenger II. ”

        Yes and no. I confused Chobham and Dorchester armor. Chobham armor (which was used in Challenger I) was indeed shared with the US. However, Dorchester armor used in the Challenger II was never shared with the US, as by that time a clause requiring UK to share advances in technology with US has expired.

        “Although, I would not say by far.”

        I was specific for Streetfighter, which weights 75 tonnes at combat weight. Basic Challenger II actually has no composite armor at the vehicle underside or, I believe, lower front body, which led two of them to being penetrated by IEDs (one was a typical IED, another was an RPG-29 fired as an IED). Rationalization behind that design was that Chally was to wait for Russian tanks in a hull-down position and pick them off as they advanced. So only turret and upper hull were actually armored with composite armor. Streetfighter upgrade adressed that issue, as well as increasing armored protection on sides and rear of the tank.

        You can see Streetfighter here:

        Mind you, these boxes are not ERA, but rather plates of Dorchester armor.

        “Although, I would add that M1 gun has proven to be more than capable of killing Russian tanks and China’s tanks are even lighter.”

        We simply don’t have any combat data against modern Russian tanks for comparision. All Russian tanks that were engaged by Western tanks in combat were either old or monkey models (not to mention, typically crewed by incompetent crews). Granted, going by technical specifications Western tanks are likely superior to Russian ones, including better protection.

        “Difference in size is very small.”

        Looks like you might be correct. I was always under impression that Leclerc is smaller than the Challenger II, and I know that Challenger II is smaller than the M1.

        “DU is heavy but so is titanium and tungsten used in Leclerc. ”

        Tungsten is heavy, titanium is very light. That is why it is used in aircrat construction as well.

      • Duviel said

        “I was specific for Streetfighter, which weights 75 tonnes at combat weight’

        Yes but, you have to compare Streetfighter to M1-A2 Heavy Armor not regular M1-A2.

        “We simply don’t have any combat data against modern Russian tanks for comparision.”

        “Granted, going by technical specifications Western tanks are likely superior to Russian ones, including better protection”.

        Yes, I agree on both.

        Except Russian tanks can probably be built more quickly and probably easier to maintain. Although on the last statement I hear russian tanks are built with poor quality control.

        “Looks like you might be correct. I was always under impression that Leclerc is smaller than the Challenger II, and I know that Challenger II is smaller than the M1″

        Its all too close to call.

        “Tungsten is heavy, titanium is very light. That is why it is used in aircrat construction as well”

        Thank you for the correction.

        As a Note, NATO should share their tank tech with US since in a land war US would supply most of tanks. Britain and France built like 300 Challenger II and Leclerc’s each. Germany originally built over 2,000 Leopard II’s but only few have been upgraded from what I hear. US built 9,000+ M1’s If you are not willing to spend the money atleast allow your ally to be better capable of saving your B**ty if a land war kicked off. not that EU tech is necessarily better but at times it can be. I beleive it should go vice versa too. Atleast with Western EU allies, Canada, and US.

        I would rather spend money on tanks than bombers (one is offensive only the other mostly defensive). Although I would spend on light (to carry) and easily crew served anti-tank weapons first.

        Know anything about NLAW?

      • picard578 said

        “Yes but, you have to compare Streetfighter to M1-A2 Heavy Armor not regular M1-A2. ”

        M1A1 HA weights 61,3 metric tons, I couldn’t find anything about M1A2 HA and I do not believe that version actually exists. To put it simply, only difference between M1A1 and M1A1HA are DU plates at front of the turret, and I believe that M1A2 has this feature as standard. M1A2 SEP is the best protected M1 version, and it weights 63 metric tons, compared to 75 metric tons for Challenger II Streetfighter.

        “As a Note, NATO should share their tank tech with US since in a land war US would supply most of tanks.”

        US aren’t sharing tech, why should rest of NATO do it? Besides, armor used in the M1 Abrams is British, though that was forced sharing under WWII lend-lease agreement (which expired in 1995, IIRC), and US might have upgraded or replaced it by now.

        “If you are not willing to spend the money atleast allow your ally to be better capable of saving your B**ty if a land war kicked off.”

        1) Land war is not likely to kick off. Europe and Russia are too interdependent in economic terms. Take a look at trouble in Ukraine – lot of tough talk from both sides, but both EU and Russia are unwilling to take any real action against each other. And Putin knows this.
        2) I don’t think that Russia can win against whole of the EU, so “saving our butt” is not something US are likely to have to do. For comparision, EU has 1,55 million active personnel compared to Russia’s 845.000, though counting in reserve personnel would significantly reduce the gap (or eliminate it, I’d assume cca 2,8-3 million personnel on both sides). EU has 7.695 MBTs compared to Russia’s 2.562 MBTs. And since EU will be on defense, Russia will likely need numerical superiority. While Russia has a lot of equipment laying aside, most of it is unserviceable, and it is question wether they could man all of it even if it was restored. Problem is air force – while EU does have more tactical aircraft (2.025 vs 1.365), some 284-1.555 are actually “survivable”, and latter number is a major stretch, counting basically all aircraft whose wingspan may allow launching from highways. That being said, air force by itself cannot win the war.
        3) US aren’t willing to share technology either – not that either side has much of it that is clearly superior to the other’s (problem with US is not lack of technological knowledge, but often-crappy employment of the same). So why would Europe do it?

        “Know anything about NLAW?”

        You mean LAW? Seems to be quite good, and from what I have seen it can use either top-attack or line of sight attack profile. If so, then a different warhead would allow use against buildings (though I’d prefer a recoilless rifle for that).

      • Duviel Rodriguez said

        Looks like you may be right about Streetfighter. You also have M1-A2 with TUSK equipment which adds protection in many ways.

        “EU has 7.695 MBTs compared to Russia’s 2.562 MBTs”

        How many of those are Challenger, Leclerc, Leopard II, Ariete? Even counting 2,000+ Leopard II total number is probably around 3,000. And, most of Leopard II’s are not A6’s. You are counting (I estimate) around 4,500 older tanks for EU.

        US operates over 8,0000 M1-A2’s

        and thousands of M-60 series (most need extensive work to be battle ready, but in war time that would be less than one year) sit in storage. Yes, many M-60’s will be manned by guys in their 40’s and 50’s.

        Also, Russians might have 2,562 in service but, they had as many as 40,000 in 1990 (granted many are T-54/55/62 which are crap) Russians could whithin one year probably re-activate many thousands of T-series tanks. Although many will be crap and manned by guys in their 40’s and 50’s.

        US having to save rest of NATO’s buts (in case of war with Russia) might be an overstatement (Europe has clearly larger population base and labor/manufacturing capability) but only slightly.

        US alone makes up atleast half of NATO fighting strenght.

        I agree war is unlikely. My point is both parties (I really mean US and Western EU) should share technology and capabilities more comprehensively. I know they don’t. I think they should. US, Canada, and Western Europe share too many interests in common and have no logical reason to fear each other. It would be a money saver and allow for better common defense. I believe their is less danger and more to gain from Western EU sharing tech and capabilities with US than with most eastern EU nations who are not fully stable yet. Even in US California has differences from Texas and some differing interests but each is better of United. I’m not saying give up local governing im just saying some things can be better done united.

      • picard578 said

        “My point is both parties (I really mean US and Western EU) should share technology and capabilities more comprehensively. ”

        True. But it would mean less profit for the armaments industry, and industrial interests are driving Western defense policies right now.

      • Duviel said

        I guess you are right.

        War has always been profitable to some. Now that same group profits war and peace.

      • picard578 said

        BTW: http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2012/173/c/9/dare_to_compare_____m1a2_abrams_sep_vs__leclerc__by_blacktailfa-d54i9z9.gif

      • picard578 said

        “and I am sure that if the British develop a better composite they would share that with US. ”

        Actually, no. The only reason why they shared that armor was that they were obliged to, under terms of the WWII Lend-Lease treaty (they had to share any technology they developed with US for 50 years after the war). Chobham armor was developed after that treaty has expired, and was not shared with US.

        “The only reason it is not faster in M1-A1 is it is restricted with governor to prevent driver from going too fast.”

        Same goes for Leopard II and, I believe, Leclerc. That being said, what you are talking about is road speed. Transmission might well be more important than the engine when offroad.

        “M1 is the heaviest tank by weight (even with lightweight composites and laminates) and all else equal more weight is usually because of more armor.”

        Not necessarily, a smaller tank by volume can easily be better protected than a larger and heavier tank. And it is not the heaviest Western tank either. Leopard 2A6 weights 62,3 metric tons, Challenger II Streetfighter weights 74,95 metric tons (compared to 62,5 metric tons for the basic variant), while M1A2SEP weights 63 metric tons (compared to 62 metric tons for the basic M1A2). Out of the three, Challenger II Streetfighter is by far the best protected.

        “I have to verify but Leopard 2 & Leclerc are considerably lighter in armor. Therefore, comparison unfair. ”

        Wrong. Leclerc is considerably lighter, but Leopard II is not. Only difference is that none of the tanks listed uses DU inserts. But Challenger II at least uses tungsten layers in the armor, and in fact US had to use DU just to match Chobham’s level of protection.

        “Is caliber not same as size of round?”

        Length of a gun is measured in calibres. 55 calibre 120 mm gun is 6600 mm long while 44 calibre one is 5280 mm long. Result is a greater muzzle velocity, penetrating power, precision and range, all other things being equal.

        “But, like I said before, Leopard 2 and Leclerc are much lighter in armor. ”

        And you are wrong about Leopard II, while Leclerc is smaller than the M1 so it doesn’t need as much armor for same level of protection.

        “Realistically if will to fight persists it would be a heck of a fight with heavy losses on both sides but I believe Russia can’t win if NATO willing to finish them. ”

        Most likely. Though it is always hard to tell… in 1940, Germany had less personnel, less hardware as well as inferior hardware compared to what Allies had in France, and still won. That being said, NATO is nowhere as incompetent as Western Allies were in 1940, at least when it comes to actual fighting.

        “In real life, it would be a great human tragedy as every war is no matter how small.”

        Indeed.

      • Duviel said

        “Its large weight will make it more difficult to F-22 to make transit from one turn to another, and its thrust vectoring will, if used, cause major energy losses”

        What you should have said: Its large weight should make it more difficult for F-22 to make transit from one turn to another, but its thrust vectoring will mostly remove that defecit. Although, it will cause major energy losses.

      • picard578 said

        “What you should have said: Its large weight should make it more difficult for F-22 to make transit from one turn to another, but its thrust vectoring will mostly remove that defecit.”

        Not necessarily, as close coupled canards have mostly the same effects as TVC with far fewer drawbacks.

      • Duviel said

        Thus, F-22 will be easily detected at ranges exceeding 80 kilometers by opponent using QWIP IRST.

        What you should have said: Thus, F-22 will possibly be detected at ranges of upto 90 kilometers (if you beleive IRST manufacturer specs) in perfect weather by opponent using QWIP IRST.

      • picard578 said

        ” Thus, F-22 will possibly be detected at ranges of upto 90 kilometers”

        Up to 150+ kilometers, depending on aspect.

        “if you beleive IRST manufacturer specs”

        You believe everyone except them.

        “in perfect weather”

        In other words, just conditions where the F-22 will typically operate in.

      • Duviel said

        With usual 0,08 Pk ratio against same-era threats, it will take two F-22s to kill a single enemy aircraft.

        You keep quoting these super low Pk’s. I have yet to find anyone else, or any publication (Other than followers of yours) that quotes such low Pk numbers.

        I still don’t see how firing of salvo where missiles are a few seconds apart will not greatly increase Pk of the second and third missile. Unless you can jam all the missiles. And, each has own radar guidance. Only Growler is known to be able to do this type of massive jamming.

      • picard578 said

        “You keep quoting these super low Pk’s. I have yet to find anyone else, or any publication (Other than followers of yours) that quotes such low Pk numbers. ”

        Problem is that you are not searching. Try looking at POGO and RAND.

        EDIT:
        You also have links on this site, try these:

        http://pogoarchives.org/labyrinth/11/09.pdf
        http://pogoarchives.org/labyrinth/09/08.pdf
        http://pogoarchives.org/labyrinth/09/07.pdf
        http://pogoarchives.org/labyrinth/11/12.pdf
        http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a111544.pdf

        “I still don’t see how firing of salvo where missiles are a few seconds apart will not greatly increase Pk of the second and third missile. Unless you can jam all the missiles. And, each has own radar guidance. ”

        With most types of jamming, jamming one missile will also affect the others. AESA jamming is an exception, but there jammer itself can jam several missiles at once.

  2. Basque_Spaniard said

    I´m Spaniard and I said:
    1º F-22 (USA): The Best one without any doubt
    2º PAK-FA (Russian)
    3º Eurofighter Typhoon (EU)
    4º F-35* (USA)
    *The F-35 in special climate difficults can win to PAK-FA and Eurofighter typhoon and its the best “naval” fighter in the world.
    In the case of PAK-FA and Eurofighter Typhoon, there was a test in UK between PAK-FA and Eurofighter, the test win PAK-FA but the pilot said that the Eurofighter push all the PAK-FA limits in order to win.

    • picard578 said

      F-22 isn’t really that good, PAK FA isn’t operational and F-35 is bomber; Rafale is definetly superior to F-35.

      As for that test, I assume it was BVR combat simulation, I doubt that Russians would provide a prototype for dogfight.

  3. […] Is the F-22 really superior to all other fighter aircraft […]

  4. FrankW said

    There is a difference between agility and maneuverability. The Rafale is probably the most agile fighter in existence today (just watch its airshow demos, the cameras can barely keep up with the jet). While the F-22 (due to TVC) is probably the most maneuverable jet. However, In a knife fight, lets use a little common sense here. The Rafale is far smaller, has canards, has less drag, and lighter than the Raptor. Just as the F-16A was far smaller (had less drag) and lighter than the F-15A. While for BVR the Raptor is probably by far, the best (and it has a lower RCS). The French learned their lessons with highly swept deltas (Mirage III, Mirage 2000, Mirage 4000). They decreased the wing sweep to 48 degrees on the Rafale (they probably realized that even with the canard, a highly swept delta (52 degrees or more) still produces a considerable amount of drag). The Brits did not do this with Typhoon (53 degree wingsweep), and as a consequence it seems not as agile as Rafale. However, the Typhoon, like the Raptor, is a better BVR platform than Rafale. Finally, all three jets have their advantages and disadvantages. But it is rather laughable to say that the F-22 is the best in every category just because Lockheed-Martin says so-

    • picard578 said

      F-22s trun rates are still limited by aerodynamics, TVC compensates for lack of effectiveness that classical controls surfaces experience at supersonic speeds.

      As for BVR, what you say is true if you take only radar into account, but RWRs and IRST may well become primary sensors in the future.

  5. Kevin said

    This was such a dumbass article.It’s like the author has a personal vendetta against the F-22.Not only did he negate the fact that the F-22 has effective IR reduction methods, he goes on to say that AESA with LPI is not a good idea.Also,the F-22 has the most advanced passive sensors, and can carry 6 AMRAAM,not 4.What pisses me the most is that he said 45 hours of maintenance per hour flow,it’s 10.Many F-22 early assertions are incorrect.Watch F-22 Raptor WP report =incorrect on youtube to see more false assertions disproved.

    • picard578 said

      Your info is outdated, and other is wrong. F-22 has no IRST, which means that it only gets first detection if enemy is stupid enough to use radar and/or not to use IRST. While it does have IR signature reduction measures but it doesn’t really help considering it is still huge target and modern IRSTs can detect differences in temperature that are in single digit degrees C. If F-22 uses radar, it gets detected. For maintenance, 10 hours was a target which was never achieved, Gripen achieves 10 hours of maintenance per hour of flight and do you really expect F-22 to be better than a single-engined fighter specifically designed for easy maintenance?

      And where did I say that F-22 can carry 4 AMRAAM? I used 2 IR AAM and 4 BVR AAM simply in order to have equal loadout for all fighters compared, so as to avoid penalizing larger fighters – Gripen can carry a maximum of 6 missiles, and that is what decided loadout used for comparision.

      • Kevin said

        Never did I say the F-22 has IRST, I said IR signature reduction was part of the F-22 design.45 hours of maintenance per hour flown is highly unrealistic.The actual figures are closer to 10.LM never claimed that the F-22 is the best in every category,they just said the best fighter.

      • picard578 said

        IR signature reduction is a relative thing, an aircraft with no IR signature reduction measures but inherently low IR signature can have lower IR signature than larger aircraft with extensive IR signature reduction measures.

        10 maintenance hours was a goal that was never achieved. F-22 and F-35 currently can fly a single 1-hour sortie every two days.

        And F-22 is not the best fighter:
        https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/comparing-modern-fighter-aircraft/

    • ari said

      I fully agree with that, the assessment regarding the F-22 is extremely biased.. Sounds like someone working for Lockheed Martin who was fired..

      • picard578 said

        I’m sure you’ll be able to find something factually incorrect in the article, then. Generally, such statements are supposed to be supported by arguments.

  6. […] https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/is-the-f-22-really-superior-to-all-other-fighter-aircr&#8230; […]

  7. Jimmy said

    The F-22 and F35 are both from the same company, that’s practically a gold mind of a defense contract. I just have freaks over the cost of the F22 and at this point even the F35. When for US servicemen, the A-10 is by far the most favored by troops on the ground and arguable most useful. The A-10 cost is very low compared to any new generation plane. The Marines themselves have ample support from the UH1/AH1 and F-18s.

    is the need for an air superiority plane as needed in this modern day of warfare? Carrier-based platforms with skilled pilots can perform the same array of missions and have the luxury of a moving airbase with them. To me air superiority seems to more pissing contest than actual needs/uses. I’ve always liked the Super Hornet and the carrier based stuff, but now days it seems i’ve taken a liking to rotary wings.

    Good write up though, thanks for the read.

  8. Stryker said

    This article seems to be only good for starting arguments, and based on some isolation of certain aspects of chosen aircraft to make points that in a combat situation won’t matter as much as the author hopes.

    Every fighter aircraft has advantages and disadvantages, and dissimilar flight envelopes. Our European friends have made some admirable aircraft which have proven their worth in various theaters of operation. With the U.S. going in first to soften up the opposition, taking out air defense capability and degrading a lot of the enemies’ air defense capacity, but that’s another whole pub discussion.

    Not being a perfect weapons system, the F-22 Raptor has weaknesses. But every fighter pilot is trained to use his fighter and enter every engagement to maximize their advantages, and U.S. pilots aren’t stupid. What I would take as a serious word on how good or weak the F-22 is, wouldn’t be from some blogger with no given credentials, but the fighter jocks who have to train against each another. On that point, I present this:

    “They [the F-22s] always start defensive as you might imagine because anything else is kind of a waste of gas. So the F-22 always start defensive. On rare occasions the F-22 guy — first of all, the [F-15] Eagle guy, you have to fly a perfect fight. You have to have AIM-9X and JHMCS [joint helmet mounted cueing system] to get an off-boresight IR [infrared] capability. And the F-22 guy has to put up his power (electronics and radar) a nanosecond too early and not use his countermeasures and you may get a fleeting, one nanosecond AIM-9X shot, and that’s about it.” – See more at: http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2012/02/top-usaf-general-explains-exac/#sthash.kIxS5ham.dpuf

    And

    “We’ve (F-15s) been fighting the Raptor and getting our butts kicked, and you know the only chance you have against the Raptor is when he’s in the turn and he’s coming around the corner — and you have an inexperienced guy because the experienced guys know not to get there — but the inexperienced guy has got — and this is, no [shoot], 28-degrees-per-second turn rate at 20,000 feet. The F-15 has an instantaneous [turn rate] of 21 [degrees] and a sustained [turn rate] of about 15-20 degrees. The Raptor can sustain 28 degrees. Some of these young guys, that’s not enough for them. They want more than that! So they come around the corner, and, here you are in your Eagle, just hoping that he gets scared and … [the F-22 pilot] pulls to the point where he’s going post-stall manoeuvring. Once he goes post-stall, the airplane stops moving around the centre of lift on the wing and it goes around the centre of gravity up by the nose because it goes on just thrust, and the ass-end drops down, and the airplane will rotate like this. Well, in the Eagle, or in the [F-16] Viper, when you see that, you immediately go vertical because you know he’s not going to be able to go up with you, and you have one fleeting opportunity against the Raptor and that’s it.” – See more at: http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2012/02/top-usaf-general-explains-exac/#sthash.kIxS5ham.dpuf

    Honestly, I think rather than pitting allies against each other to make the author feel good about some aspect of French fighters, this blog should have been concerned with the Sukhoi Flanker family of fighters, which are seriously challenging opponents. But maybe next blog…

    • picard578 said

      ” With the U.S. going in first to soften up the opposition, taking out air defense capability and degrading a lot of the enemies’ air defense capacity, but that’s another whole pub discussion.”

      Completely wrong, in Libya Rafales were bombing before US started SEAD/DEAD operations – Rafales started bombing on 19 March 2011; at the same day, US only carried out cruise missile strikes, with first US aircraft combat sorties carried out on 20 March (these included Growlers). RAF aircraft also started bombing on 19 March, albeit later than Rafales. And Rafale strikes started *before* US cruise missile strikes.

      This is rough timeline:

      19 March:
      16:45 – Rafales attack Libyan ground forces
      21:00 – US and UK ships launch Tomahawk cruise missiles

      20 March:
      11 sorties by French aircraft over Libya
      3 B-2 bombers targeted 45 Libyan aircraft shelters
      EA-18G started jamming Libyan radars and communications
      4 Danish F-16s fly their first mission over Libya

      21 March
      55 sorties by French aircraft over Libya; a T-55 destroyed by Mirage 2000-D 100 km south of Benghazi
      all fixed SAM sites have been taken out

      22 March
      aircraft from Charles de Gaulle began operations over Libya
      F-15E crashed
      113 sorties by US aircraft over Libya

      (…)

      Also see this:
      http://www.defense-aerospace.com/article-view/feature/125860/rafale-in-combat%3A-%E2%80%9Cwar-for-dummies%E2%80%9D.html
      >>Rafale pilots are also very complementary about their SPECTRA self-protection suite, which is of critical importance as France does not have any aircraft dedicated to the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) missions. “SPECTRA allowed us to begin operations over Libya the very same day the political decision was taken, and to fly deep into Libyan territory without an escort,” says one pilot, adding that “the Americans also flew in, but only after they had fired 119 Tomahawks to take out Libyan air defenses.” <<

      Rafales were capable of independent operations over Libya, while most US aircraft required a) cruise missiles strikes prior to operation, and b) jammer escort during the mission.

      "U.S. pilots aren’t stupid"

      But US generals are.

      "Honestly, I think rather than pitting allies against each other to make the author feel good about some aspect of French fighters, this blog should have been concerned with the Sukhoi Flanker family of fighters, which are seriously challenging opponents."

      I am interested in (among other things) failures of Western procurement system. F-22 is one example of that failure – while it is a-ok in one-on-one comparision, it is a strategic suicide for air superiority due to being too expensive to procure in numbers needed and too complex to fly as often as needed. As far as comparision with Flankers (and some other Eastern fighters) goes, see here:
      https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/comparing-modern-fighter-aircraft/

      As for your articles, that is one of examples of causes of that failure. Yes, F-22 is far superior to the F-15/F-16/F-18 in one-on-one comparision, but you shouldn't be comparing solely one F-22 to one F-15 or F-16, but one F-22 to four F-15s or six F-16s, in keeping with their relative sortie generation capability. Numbers matter.

  9. Kevin Vasquez said

    F-22 carries 6 AMRAAM in main weapons bay,and 2 sidewinders on side bays. You say that the other planes have an advantage because they are cheaper and can be bought in greater numbers? Well,tell me how many planes they have been able to afford. Also,in the Red Flag exercises, in terms of maneuverability, both the F-22 and the F1 Typhoon were pretty much equal in 1 on 1 dogfights. And I’m very sure most pilots would agree to say that one hit is all it takes for them to pull the ejection lever. And it’s false what you say about the F-22 having to visually identify airplanes, the F-22 has an advanced IFF. And like I said before,45 hours of maintenance per hour of flight is a lie. The goal was 10 hours and it has been achieved, and the engineers have actually done better than 10 hours.

    • picard578 said

      1) I know that F-22 can carry 8 missiles internally but I used 6 missiles as a standardized loadout so as not to penalize larger aircraft.
      2) Sweden has 80 Gripens on 9.700.000 inhabitants (1 aircraft per 121.250 inhabitants). France has 133 Rafales, 166 Mirage and 21 Super Etendard on 66.600.000 inhabitants (1/500.751 for Rafales and 1/208.125 total). US have 178 F-22, 39 F-35, 343 A-10, 473 F-15, 1.241 F-16, 647 F-18C/D, 473 F-18E/F, 117 EA-18 on 316.100.000 inhabitants (1/1.456.682 for stealth aircraft, 1/391.698 for “modern” aircraft and 1/90.031 total). So not much better than Sweden despite far greater (3 times as large) defense spending per capita.
      3) And Typhoon is significantly inferior to Rafale in maneuverability.
      4) Advanced IFF that nobody can really use because of surprise (stealth) requirements of combat.
      5) Goal maintenance has never been achieved.

      • Duviel said

        I want to thank everyone writing in this blog for teaching me so much about this topic I love.

        I may not agree with it all but evaluating each has made me so much smarter.

        Thank you!

  10. Duviel said

    Just wanted to add something I just found online:

    During Gulf War I only 18 Abrams tanks were taken out of service due to battle damage:

    Nine were permanent losses, and another nine suffered repairable damage, mostly from mines.

    Not a single Abrams crewman was lost in the conflict.

    Although hot and dusty desert terrain was expected to be a problem for Abrams, there were few reports of mechanical failure. US armor commanders maintained an unprecedented 90% operational readiness for their Abrams Main Battle Tanks.

    • picard578 said

      Aye, but IIRC Kuwait M-84 had as good survivability as M-1 did. Comes down mostly to crew quality.

      • Duviel said

        Yeah crew quality is important.

        Not sure how M-84 can be as survivable as M1. Have to see all details of engagements. M-84 has strenghts (simple design, speed, range, etc) but armor protection was/is not one of them.

      • picard578 said

        I might be misremembering it. However, M-84s main advantages over M1 are its small profile and likely better acceleration – surviving a hit is good, not getting hit is even better. So M84 having as good overall survivability as M1 (number of tanks destroyed / number of tanks deployed) is not impossible, or even surprising.

      • Duviel said

        profile would be almost identical to its T-72 cousin. It is lower profile. Lenght and width (if I remember correctly) are not notably different.

        M-84 is even lighter than T-72 (with all the advantages and disadvantages that come with light armor) with some added Yugoslav Mods. Not sure what mods. I sure hope fire control is one improvement. You cant fully use maneuverability advantage if you cant reliably hit targets while on the move.

        M-84 in a blitz type fight (like Panzers did in 1940-41) would be able at advantage. But, blits like that requires an enemy that is poorly led, organized, and mostly incompetent.

        Tank Battles of 1942-45 are probably more realistic.

        M-84 ability to penetrate fast and not require much fuel (Comparably) would be useful in any engagement if well crewed and generals are competant.

        We are comparing apples and oranges. M-84 is light tank, M1 is heavy tank. Having both tanks I think would be best tactically.

        Otherwise best utilized and crewed tank force would probably exploit others weakness and win.

        I guess it does come down to crew quality if difference in crew quality is large.

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