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Posted: 11/19/2003 8:53:01 PM EDT
I'm watching a Discovery Channel program of stealth aircraft as I type this & they just touched of the F22 vs. F23 competition, but they did not go into detail.

Why did the F22 design win the competition to become our next generation air superiority fighter?
Link Posted: 11/19/2003 9:05:53 PM EDT
Details still mainly classified. Generally the F22 presented greater manueverability with a greater combat range. I'm sure cost came in to play somewhere as well.

The YF23 is actually much bigger and faster though.

Link Posted: 11/19/2003 9:08:18 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/19/2003 9:09:03 PM EDT by NYPatriot]
I have to admit that I am very partial to the F-23 design, but then again I still pine for the AH-56 Cheyenne & the F-20 Tigershark as well.
Link Posted: 11/19/2003 9:10:01 PM EDT
www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/f-23.htm


According to the Air Force, factors in the selection for production of the F-22 were a better designed for maintainability, greater potential for future development, and slightly lower cost. A popular view is that the decision reflected a preference for maneuverability over stealth, and it is universally held that the YF-23 was by far the better looking aircraft.


The YF-23 is a beautiful plane, as you can see in the photos at the link.
Link Posted: 11/19/2003 9:52:45 PM EDT
Didn`t one one of the YF-23 prototypes crash during a competition between the two?
Link Posted: 11/19/2003 9:56:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/19/2003 9:56:38 PM EDT by topgunpilot20]
wanna hear something kinda creepy: in the early nineties, i had a large GI Joe airplane that was an exact replica of the YF-23. weird.
Link Posted: 11/19/2003 10:02:19 PM EDT
Because NG was given the B2 and Lmart was going to be out of the fighter biz after the F-16 retired. Also, USG wanted to keep all the players in the stealth game (huge infrastructure). Plus Lmart was better at spreading the business around the country than NG; jobs in every state. Worked great for MILSTAR and worked great for the F-22.

CW
Link Posted: 11/19/2003 10:16:23 PM EDT
Guys, this is a fighter, not a bomber.

Maneuverability SHOULD take precedence over stealth.

Why?

Because if the F-22 is going to do it's intended job (kill airplanes), it needs to operate it's radar. When it does that, everyone knows it's there.

This thing was NEVER designed to be a bomber (although, like the ME-262, some whiz-kid had to ask 'can this thing drop bombs?', and said functionality was added, to the detriment of the design). It was originally intended to be a pure-play fighter, to replace the F-15C.

The limited stealth capability of the F-22 will allow it an edge in pre-engagement maneuvering, but once the pilot flips on his radar, maneuverability will still be there, stealth won't.

As for speed, these planes are both faster than any fighter we have now. However, as shown in the early part of Vietnam, speed without maneuverability is of limited use (the F-4 (being, of course, proof that even a lead brick will fly if you strap big enough engines to it) was faster than the MiG-21, but the '21 maneuvered better. US air combat docrine at the time placed the premium on speed, because 'dogfighting was dead'. This, of course proved to be a mistake.)...
Link Posted: 11/19/2003 11:04:59 PM EDT
I am a big fan of the YF23. (They used to have one at the Northrop Air Museum in Hawthorn CA. Yes, I have pictures.. ) Mind you its just a shell. All the good stuff was taken
out.)

Reason the YF22 won? It was to be manufactured at Airforce Plant 6 in Georgia. Sam Nun is from.... Georgia.

Note: it seems as if they incorporated some of the ideas form the YF23 into the body of the YF22. (So it least it lives on in some small way.)

PS... neither of the prototypes crashed.



My 2 cents worth..
Link Posted: 11/19/2003 11:09:31 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Dave_A:
Because if the F-22 is going to do it's intended job (kill airplanes), it needs to operate it's radar. When it does that, everyone knows it's there.



Actually isn't it designed to be able to have radar data streamed to it from some kind of AWACS type aircraft? So it doesn't need to "light em up"?
Link Posted: 11/19/2003 11:57:28 PM EDT
Im not sure why it beat out the 23 but I doubt it was cost. The further this thing goes in development the higher the cost goes and the lower the number of planes to be produced goes.
IIRC I belive these F22s will be like 100million each and the # produced went from 700 to 300.

Although its no where near the B2 Bomber at like 2Billion apeace (not including climate controlled hangers and all the other wiz-bang stuff they gotta have for them.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 12:43:42 AM EDT
Actually, Dave_A, unless the military is keeping the actual top speed of these planes a secret they aren't faster than what we have now. The F15, F14, and F16 are all Mach 2 or faster planes. It seems that new planes, F/A18, F22, and I would guess the JSF are all slower than the planes they replace.

I'm not taking a side on this issue, just clearing up that point.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 1:27:07 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/20/2003 1:28:20 AM EDT by sirensong]

Originally Posted By Dave_A:
Guys, this is a fighter, not a bomber.

Maneuverability SHOULD take precedence over stealth.



completely agree.



Why?

Because if the F-22 is going to do it's intended job (kill airplanes), it needs to operate it's radar. When it does that, everyone knows it's there.

The limited stealth capability of the F-22 will allow it an edge in pre-engagement maneuvering, but once the pilot flips on his radar, maneuverability will still be there, stealth won't.



completely disagree. 'stealth' is not some magic attribute which appears and disappears. the correct term, 'low observables', more accurately describes what stealth is. knowing a bandit is somewhere along a 2d vector (given by RWR) is all well and good, but if you can't track it, you can't really target it very well.

at long range, a radar track can be denied by any aircraft simply by 'flying the notch', or turning 90deg away from the threat emitter. an inherently 'stealthy' aircraft, even if acquired, will tend to disappear and reappear on a radar display. each time this happens, the threat will lose any useful targetting info, and will have to start the scan/acquire/track process again.

even if you can eyeball the target, you still can't effectively deliver radar or IR-guided munitions on a target whose signature profile keeps wandering into and out of sensor track parameters.

for the f22, stealth is useful primarily for, as you mentioned, pre-merge advantage. once the bad guy knows that the -22 is out there, the low observables are still useful by defeating the threat's weapon delivery sensors.

sorry to disagree, but stealth characteristics do NOT disappear once the f22 goes nose-hot. to say otherwise demonstrates an insufficient understanding of what stealth is and is not.

and on a side note, the f22 is not designed to be fast. i believe that it is rated to 1.8m, which is slower than any fighter aircraft in the US inventory.

[edit for tags. i'm rusty ]
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 3:01:50 AM EDT

Originally Posted By SNorman:

Originally Posted By Dave_A:
Because if the F-22 is going to do it's intended job (kill airplanes), it needs to operate it's radar. When it does that, everyone knows it's there.



Actually isn't it designed to be able to have radar data streamed to it from some kind of AWACS type aircraft? So it doesn't need to "light em up"?



Yep. The fire control system can datalink to an AWACS, Aegis cruiser, Patriot battery, or another Raptor (say, 50 miles behind) and lock on without emitting from its own radar.

I read in an article that the airplane looks ahead at threats, identifying them by their radar signatures (AA, SAM), categorizes them by threat level, and then plots a course for the pilot that minimizes his exposure.

Lots of cool stuff.

I also saw the Nova program on the JSF competition. Outstanding.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 4:11:29 AM EDT
I saw a program (b/f we cancelled cable) that said this new generation of fighters (F-22, JSF) is the last generation of human-only piloted fighters to be developed. It more or less said that the next wave of fighters will be developed so they can be either manned or un-manned. After that, all fighters (and presumably bombers) will be un-manned aircraft.

Any truth to this?
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 4:18:06 AM EDT

Originally Posted By A_G:
Actually, Dave_A, unless the military is keeping the actual top speed of these planes a secret they aren't faster than what we have now. The F15, F14, and F16 are all Mach 2 or faster planes. It seems that new planes, F/A18, F22, and I would guess the JSF are all slower than the planes they replace.

I'm not taking a side on this issue, just clearing up that point.



I think the benefit of the new plane is supersonic cruise without afterburner.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 4:25:30 AM EDT
As in the case of the YF16 and YF17, one plane was selected by the Air Force and the other by the Navy. The YF17 later became the F/A 18.

While the F22 won the Air Force contract, the Navy may select the YF23 for its next generation of fighters, and to redesign it for carrier operations.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 5:13:58 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Wobblin-Goblin:
I saw a program (b/f we cancelled cable) that said this new generation of fighters (F-22, JSF) is the last generation of human-only piloted fighters to be developed. It more or less said that the next wave of fighters will be developed so they can be either manned or un-manned. After that, all fighters (and presumably bombers) will be un-manned aircraft.

Any truth to this?



Boeing is pumping massive R&D into UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles). What's the biggest limiting factor in a fighter's performance? How much stress (Gs) the pilot can take. If the airframe can take 12 Gs, but the pilot maxes out at 9, you can't do everything the airplane is capable of.

Also, consider how much weight & space are taken up with "people stuff." Everything from air conditioning & pressurization systems, oxygen system, egress, comm radios, etc. No need for all that junk if you get rid of the man.

This is the next leap forwad in air combat technology.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 5:18:39 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Brohawk:
Boeing is pumping massive R&D into UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles). What's the biggest limiting factor in a fighter's performance? How much stress (Gs) the pilot can take. If the airframe can take 12 Gs, but the pilot maxes out at 9, you can't do everything the airplane is capable of.

Also, consider how much weight & space are taken up with "people stuff." Everything from air conditioning & pressurization systems, oxygen system, egress, comm radios, etc. No need for all that junk if you get rid of the man.

This is the next leap forwad in air combat technology.


Skynet/Cyberdyne, anyone?
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 5:23:13 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Wobblin-Goblin:

Originally Posted By Brohawk:
Boeing is pumping massive R&D into UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles). What's the biggest limiting factor in a fighter's performance? How much stress (Gs) the pilot can take. If the airframe can take 12 Gs, but the pilot maxes out at 9, you can't do everything the airplane is capable of.

Also, consider how much weight & space are taken up with "people stuff." Everything from air conditioning & pressurization systems, oxygen system, egress, comm radios, etc. No need for all that junk if you get rid of the man.

This is the next leap forwad in air combat technology.


Skynet/Cyberdyne, anyone?



I know they have remote controlled stuff (the live pilot is miles away where the bad guys can't shoot at him), but I haven't heard if they are working on any autonomous combat engagement capabilities.

I wouldn't doubt that somebody is working on it. Software logic can probably integrate IFF, targeting, maneuvering, and so forth pretty easily.

Object detected.

Interrogate IFF.

No response.

Calculating distance, heading, relative altitude, closing speed.

Selecting appropriate armament.

Locked on target.

Fire.

Next...
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 2:50:51 PM EDT
You only need a pilot to do a close in guns only snap shot dogfight. The ability to remotely launch a long range missile or remote land has been around for 30+ years.

Now ground attack on targets of opportunity a pilot is nice to have around to identify the right targets.

No matter which goes into production manufacturing of assemblies is going to be spread all around. The gov't does (barely) recognize that the mfg capability needs to be maintained. After all they know that we (as a country) are almost out of the shipbuilding business..
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 2:54:04 PM EDT
... Politics


... Nothing to see here folks, move along"
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 3:15:02 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AR_Rifle:
As in the case of the YF16 and YF17, one plane was selected by the Air Force and the other by the Navy. The YF17 later became the F/A 18.

While the F22 won the Air Force contract, the Navy may select the YF23 for its next generation of fighters, and to redesign it for carrier operations.



Not a chance in hell. The Navy is buying Super Hornets and JSFs. There are no F23s in the Navy's future.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 3:17:25 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NYPatriot:
I have to admit that I am very partial to the F-23 design, but then again I still pine for the AH-56 Cheyenne & the F-20 Tigershark as well.



The F-20? Ick. It's just a redesigned F-5. Not very impressive. A western version of the Mig-21 only 20 years later.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 3:20:59 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Brohawk:
I wouldn't doubt that somebody is working on it. Software logic can probably integrate IFF, targeting, maneuvering, and so forth pretty easily.

Object detected.

Interrogate IFF.

No response.

Calculating distance, heading, relative altitude, closing speed.

Selecting appropriate armament.

Locked on target.

Fire.

Next...



There is software such as this. The Navy has it and it is known as Aegis. Been in service on ships since the late 70s/early 80s. Considering the considerable leaps in computing power since then I'll bet the computing power necessary can fit in an aircraft.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 3:46:57 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Winston_Wolf:
... Politics


... Nothing to see here folks, move along"



YEP,

The same reason the F-18E/F won out over the F-14D.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 4:00:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By A_G:
Actually, Dave_A, unless the military is keeping the actual top speed of these planes a secret they aren't faster than what we have now. The F15, F14, and F16 are all Mach 2 or faster planes. It seems that new planes, F/A18, F22, and I would guess the JSF are all slower than the planes they replace.

I'm not taking a side on this issue, just clearing up that point.



I distinctly remember the Raptor being Mach-2+ as well... I mean, the big deal about the design in the first place is 'supercruise' - it's able to operate at supersonic speed in level flight without afterburners (which none of the predecessors can)...

As for the JSF, it's also faster than it's predecessor - the subsonic AV8B 'Harrier'.

WRT the other comments, my observations WRT stealth/low-observability and radar employment assume a 'one dimensional' environment - i.e. F-22(s) vs opponent(s).

Current aircraft can datalink to AWACS too, but they still end up employing their radar.

And whenever anything turns on a radar, it sticks out like a sore thumb...

So in an engagement where the pilot may not be relying on a data-linked radar picture, or may be operating out of AWACS coverage, it's more important to be maneuverable than stealthly/low-observable. Hiding only works untill someone finds you...

Link Posted: 11/20/2003 4:03:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By AR_Rifle:
As in the case of the YF16 and YF17, one plane was selected by the Air Force and the other by the Navy. The YF17 later became the F/A 18.

While the F22 won the Air Force contract, the Navy may select the YF23 for its next generation of fighters, and to redesign it for carrier operations.



Not a chance in hell. The Navy is buying Super Hornets and JSFs. There are no F23s in the Navy's future.



Besides, it's very difficult for an 'Air Force' design to become a carrier aircraft (going the other way isn't that much of an issue, see F-4 (which was a Navy aircraft that the AF picked up))...

Navy planes are structurally designed for carrier operations. AF planes aren't.

Link Posted: 11/20/2003 4:15:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By AR_Rifle:
As in the case of the YF16 and YF17, one plane was selected by the Air Force and the other by the Navy. The YF17 later became the F/A 18.

While the F22 won the Air Force contract, the Navy may select the YF23 for its next generation of fighters, and to redesign it for carrier operations.



Not a chance in hell. The Navy is buying Super Hornets and JSFs. There are no F23s in the Navy's future.



Besides, it's very difficult for an 'Air Force' design to become a carrier aircraft (going the other way isn't that much of an issue, see F-4 (which was a Navy aircraft that the AF picked up))...

Navy planes are structurally designed for carrier operations. AF planes aren't.

Link Posted: 11/20/2003 4:25:41 PM EDT
The F22 wasnt designed to have a high top speed. What it has is called supercruise. It can maintain mach 1+ for a long period of time. yes a F15 can go to mach 2.5. But it will be on full afterburner and can maintain this speed for only minutes. An F15 or and most other fighters usually operate at subsonic speeds and sprints occasionally. The F22 will be able to intercept enemy planes much faster.

The F22 will also light up the minute it opens its doors to fire its weapons.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 4:38:52 PM EDT
Sam Nunn and politics (poli - tics = many ticks)

The F-23 is deader than dead - the Navy will not resurrect that airplane. Hell, the naval version of the F-23 was barely a wet dream with many itegration problems; not the same airframe.

The F-18E/F v. F-14D - apples and oranges

Supercruise - great when you can get it, I doubt it is available with stores on board (even though they are nominally carried internally, the airplane's weight is likely too high to permit supercruise)

Supersonic Fighters - when you hang a bunch of external stores (bombs) on these airplanes, they are anything but supersonic; they can barely get out of their own way - think 500 to 550 knots, tops. A couple of itty-bitty missiles aren't too bad. At any rate, no one goes cruising around with the afterburner swallowing enough gas to make a sheik shiver. Supercruise will be nice if we ever build an airplane that actually performs.

F-22 Low Observables - for insertion into bad guy land - if you can get close enough before they can track you, it's too late to respond. If you have LO in the right frequency range, it makes your airplane harder to shoot down. Note that detecting the presence of a target isn't enough, the radar must have a signal that is robust enough to permit tracking of the target, a whole 'nuther problem. In the mean time, while the bad guys are shining their radar, the good guys are shooting at the tranmitters.

The F-22 is starting to look like a $200 Million (that would be US dollars) airplane. We have manufactured about 40 "pre-production" airplanes and still aren't ready to send it to war, and won't be for years, maybe never if they don't get the software and structural problems in the tailboom fixed. It's a dog that we've spent so much money on that the .gov can't stand the heat from the public if the project is killed and the taxpayers get wind of the cost.

I'm sure the F-23 would have had some development problems, too, but I doubt that we would still be sorting through major screw-ups in 2003. But then again, I have seen MDC seize defeat a couple of times.


Last week at lunch someone mentioned an RFP for 160 F-15's ... As bad as I hate to keep warming over an old airframe, there are several technical reasons this airplane will remain the plane to beat for a while.

F-22's crashed during early flight testing. Imagine that. The F-23 had a gear that failed to latch during the first flight, but I recall that it didn't collapse on landing, and I could be wrong.

sirensong - I don't think flying in the doppler notch is very effective with modern radar that can measure a very low relative velocity (of course this requires a signal that can be tracked, just as you pointed out above). I agree with the rest. At any rate, the signature off the beam is so large that you could detect it with a glass of water.

Near rants, opinions, and facts - I don't care if anyone agrees with me, so save your flames. Now if anyone has a case of willies, ...
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 5:02:20 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AeroE:

... sirensong - I don't think flying in the doppler notch is very effective with modern radar that can measure a very low relative velocity (of course this requires a signal that can be tracked, just as you pointed out above). I agree with the rest. At any rate, the signature off the beam is so large that you could detect it with a glass of water.

Near rants, opinions, and facts - I don't care if anyone agrees with me, so save your flames. Now if anyone has a case of willies, ...




... Roy, is that you?
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 5:04:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AeroE:

... I agree with the rest. At any rate, the signature off the beam is so large that you could detect it with a glass of water.

Near rants, opinions, and facts - I don't care if anyone agrees with me, so save your flames. Now if anyone has a case of willies, ...




... Roy, is that you?
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 5:08:41 PM EDT
I agree completely with Therealsundance.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 5:51:04 PM EDT
Winston_Wolf

Yes - see your IM
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 6:29:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Dave_A:
As for the JSF, it's also faster than it's predecessor - the subsonic AV8B 'Harrier'.



The Harrier would be one of it's predecessor, but not all. Is it faster than an F-16 ot the F-18A/C/D? Nope.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 6:51:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TheRealSundance:

Originally Posted By Dave_A:
As for the JSF, it's also faster than it's predecessor - the subsonic AV8B 'Harrier'.



The Harrier would be one of it's predecessor, but not all. Is it faster than an F-16 ot the F-18A/C/D? Nope.



Depends upon the stores load on the F-18. With lots of goodies the poor thing can't even do Mach.

CW
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 6:53:27 PM EDT
Cold Warrior pretty much nailed the reason.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 7:00:18 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AeroE:


The F-18E/F v. F-14D - apples and oranges




Funny that they were both trying to fill the same need of the Navy.

The F-14 was found to be superior in all areas as a all-weather attack aircraft.

Here is what RANDY`DUKE'CUNNINGHAM, the first ace of the Viet Nam War presented to congress about the F-14 vs the F-18. It is old, but you will get the point.

HON.RANDY`DUKE'CUNNINGHAM

in the House of Representatives

TUESDAY, MAY 7, 1991

* Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call my colleagues' attention to a letter which has been sent to the naval institute's magazine, Proceedings. Lt. Steven E. Harfst, USNR, of Fighter Squadron 111 at NAS Miramar has written a timely and thought-provoking article on the future of naval aviation.

* Lieutenant Harfst's article was accompanied by a letter signed by 58 Navy pilots. These aviator feel strongly enough about naval aviation to get involved in the process, and I commend them for their interest and efforts.

* Naval aviation played a critical role in the war in the Persian Gulf, but we could conceivably lose that edge unless we move rapidly and decisively to beef up naval aviation. In this former naval aviator's mind, the need for the F-14D is clear. While other aircraft can and should be used in different roles, the F-14D is central to naval aviation. As a superior all-weather, night, medium attack and long-range air-to air fighter, it is the right plane for the mission.

* Mr. Speaker, the F-14D is an airplane which can fly today. The taxpayers have already paid for much of the R & D costs. If we are truly concerned about preserving the United States' overwhelming superiority in this field, then I hope my colleagues will carefully review this article.

* The letter follows:

The recent decision by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (O.S.D.) to cancel the F-14D program in favor of an updated version of the F/A-18 has caused a great deal of concern within the Navy's fighter community.

It has been recognized for some time that a replacement is needed for the aging A-6 Intruder. The Persian Gulf war has shown the importance of the medium attack role for the Battle Group Commander as well as highlighting the need for a precision weapons delivery capability in the Carrier Air Wing.

With the cancellation of the A-12 program and the apparent massive reduction of the F-14D Super Tomcat program, the war fighting capability of the Carrier Air Wing is in jeopardy. By opposing the Pentagon and reinstating fiscal year 1991 funding for the F-14D, Congress has taken a step in the right direction. Yet serious, practical decisions need to be dedicated to the needs of the Carrier Air Wing as it approaches the 21st century.

The proposal by the O.S.D. for an all F/A-18E/F air wing is not the answer to the problems of power projection in the future. The F/A-18 was originally envisioned as the low end of a highcost-lowcost mix of aircraft on the carrier, a mix that has proved to be not only cost effective but tactically effective as well. However, the Hornet will never be an adequate replacement for either the A-6 or the F-14, and falls considerably short of the mark as a replacement for both.

Until a long term, cost effective alternative to the A-12 can be found, and until the extent of the Navy's involvement in the ATF program is decided upon, relying on a short range attack aircraft with a limited air-to-air capability cannot be the answer. The best hope of the Carrier Air Wing of the future exists today in the form of the F-14D Super Tomcat performing the all-weather, night, medium attack and long range air-to-air figher mission.

By exploiting the full air-to-ground potential of the Super Tomcat, the Navy would have a long range, all-weather strike-figher with capabilities comparable to those of the F-15E Strike Eagle. HARM, Harpoon and the ability to carry a multitude of existing and new generation air-to-ground weapons is already a reality in the F-14D. With the current strength and the future growth potential of the F-14D we have the best solution to the problems of power projection into the 21st century without giving up any of its proven air-to-air capabilities.

Apparenty there are forces at work in Washington D.C. which are against any future for the F-14. The problem should not be the choice of one aircraft over another, but the proper mix of aircraft that allows superiority to be maintained in every tactical arena. The Hornet, or any other single aircraft, will never meet all the requirements of the Carrier Air Wing. The F-14D Super Tomcat is more capable than the proposed F/A-18E/F, is here now, and should be utilized to its full potential.

The F/A-18E/F will never match the air-to-air capabilities of the Super Tomcat. Even with the addition of the developing AMRAAM technology, the limitations of the Hornet's weapons system cannot match the performance that the Tomcat possesses today with its Phoenix missiles and powerful, large aperture radar. While the Tomcat will carry AMRAAM when it becomes available, the Hornet will never carry the Phoenix missile and is still waiting for a multi-shot capability.

The key to success in aerial combat is the ability to locate and prosecute the enemy in a heavy electronic counter-measues (ECM)/stealth environment while gaining the first shot, first kill advantage. The Super Tomcat's powerful APG-71 radar coupled with its advanced weapons control system gives it this capability.

It is true that the F-14 has a large radar cross-section, but this is not a major tactical disadvantage. The radar cross-section of the F-14d is roughly equivalent to the F-15E which has had proven combat success in the Persian Gulf. While it would be difficult to make the Tomcat smaller, it can benefit from current stealth technology to reduce its radar cross-section.

A fighter aircraft in the interceptor role must have the ability to detect aircraft employing stealth technology. This ability is crucial and is directly related to a given radar's power-aperture product. The Hornet's low power-aperture product, a limitation caused by its small radome, results in short detection ranges and a weak capability against stealth targets.

In contrast, the F-14D possesses a robust counter-stealth capability due to its large aperture, high power out radar. The Tomcat's radar far exceeds that of the Hornet in both passive and active detection ranges. The Tomcat will always have the first-shot advantage over the Hornet. The long range, multi-shot, first shot capability is one that the Carrier Battle Group Commander cannot do without.

Long wave infrared search and track is a proven counter-stealth capability and the IRST system currently on the F-14D is a quantum leap over any other passive detection system in the world. The ability to passively detect, track and destroy enemy aircraft will be a crucial advantage in future aerial combat. Aircraft employing low observable/stealth technology cannot hide from the proven combination of the IRST and the APG-71 radar. Only the F-14D Super Tomcat can accomplish this today!

The combination of the new F-14D powerplant and the advantages of variable geometry wingsweep, gives the Super Tomcat the advantage in maneuverability. The variable engine inlets in the F-14 give it the speed necessary for survival in combat. The size of the F-14 engine nacelle's will allow it to carry new generation engines, such as those designed for the ATF, giving it a `super cruise' capability.

Link Posted: 11/20/2003 7:01:28 PM EDT
Fighter and attack pilots have a saying that `Speed is life'. The inability of an aircraft to detach from an engagement or to egress from a target area because of a speed disadvantage will be fatal. The fixed engine inlets of the Hornet are a liability by limiting its ability to achieve those speeds necessary for survival. The variable engine inlets of the F-14 allows the flexibility to achieve higher airspeeds and increase survivability.

Given similar loadouts, the Tomcat enjoys an approximate 200 knot advantage in either a high speed ingress or egress to or from a target area. This is a recognized liability for the Hornet and is directly related to aircrew survivability. Clearly the Hornet 2000 would be seriously underpowered in many situations.

The Hornet has an acknowledged range problem. External fuel tanks can help to alleviate this problem, but they severely degrade many of the Hornet's tactical advantages. The F/A-18 cruise configuration (two wing tanks plus a centerline tank) results in a radically different aircraft in terms of maneuvering capabilities compared to a `clean' Hornet. In this configuration, the Hornet's combat range is still extremely limited, the amount of ordnance, it can carry is drastically reduced, its air-to-air capabilities are extremely limited and it still requires extensive tanker support. Long combat range and the ability to take bombs across the beach is crucial to the Battle Group Commander.

The necessity to plan around the short range limitation of the Hornet is a hindrance to the rest of the battle group by monopolizing airwing tanking assets and often requiring the coordination of non-organic tanking assets as well. The F-14D represents over twice the combat range capability and possesses significant advantages in on-station time compared to the Hornet, and when external tanks are carried by the Tomcat, they do not degrade its ordnance loadout.

The F-14 is the only air wing asset capable of carrying four two-thousand pound bombs, along with its air-to-air armament, while maintaining its ability to recover back aboard the carrier without expending its ordnance. The Hornet cannot even taxi with that kind of ordnance load. Once airborne, the Tomcat can carry its heavier payload twice as far, stay longer and retire faster than the Hornet.

The size of the F-14 also equates to growth potential. Options exist to increase internal fuel carriage by 20%. The relatively small size of the Hornet has lead some to believe that an Air Wing Commander can put more of them on the deck of his carrier. This is not necessarily true. Because of its landing gear design, much of the Tomcat can be placed over the water when it is parked along the deck edge of the carrier.

As evident during recent testimony on Capitol Hill, the Hornet requires major modifications including fuselage plugs and larger wings to perform the mission it will be tasked with. In reality, this will result in a completely new, unproven, untested aircraft requiring extensive flight testing before it will become operational.

The fleet needs an aircraft with advanced technology and capabilities today; not in the undetermined future. A simpler and far more cost effective alternative would be minor changes in the existing, proven and tested F-14D. Software developments adding the air-to-ground capability to the F-14D are already paid for and are due for introduction in 1993 Why throw away a proven, carrier capable platform which can meet the fighter and medium attack requirements well into the 21st century?

It is not only unreasonable National Strategy to discontinue the F-14, a move which would severely impact our industrial base, but unsound policy to forego the present use and future development of the F-14D and await the development of a new aircraft. Will the ATF contract winner really be able to carrierize the F-22/23? How long will we have to wait? And while we wait, how many antiquated aircraft will we be forced into combat with in the interim?

Surely the cost of research and development for the F/A-18E/F will far exceed that needed for upgrades to the F-14D that are already available. Why should we be forced to await the arrival of the proposed F/A-18E/F when we could be training and fighting with the very technology (the F-14D) that the new Hornet is projected to provide?

It is my sincere belief that the best, most sensible course of action is to continue to produce and develop advanced versions of the F-14, while continuing to exploit the relative advantages a mix of different aircraft affords. An intelligent mix of F-14 variants covering the medium all-weather/night attack role and the all-weather fighter role alongside a compliment of less expensive F/A-18 aircraft to cover the traditional day-attack and point defense fighter roles is the most effective use of taxpayer dollars. It is irrational to wait for the introduction of an aircraft which could be 50% more expensive and possess less capabilities than the F-14D. The Super Tomcat is here today, not a proposal on a design sheet. It is my hope that every consideration will be given to continuing the F-14D program.
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 8:08:03 PM EDT
One major drawback of the F14 was that it was/is a maintenance bitch. It takes too long to pull out an engine, or work on other major parts. The F/A18 surpasses the F14 in this regard.

Thanks to politics early on, the F14 was doomed. The terrible P&W TF30 engines it first had caused many planes to crash and be lost. Plus these engines didn't allow it to perform as well as it could have. Couple this with Dick Cheney's decision to destroy all the tooling for the F14 and you have the reason why these mighty legend will be phased out.

The F14 always had the ground attack capability but that wasn't exploited until the mid 1990s due to politics and Navy bureaucracy. Then again the A6 filled the attack role better than the F14 or F/A18 could.

IMO the F14 is twice the plane the F/A18 is. It's speed, range, capabilities, and hell even looks surpass it. Only it's maintenance is a drawback.

Ready to be flamed!
Link Posted: 11/20/2003 10:40:48 PM EDT
AeroE, you mean the (USAF news release) 18 production F-22's at Tyndall in Florida and the 8 at Edwards are are not production aircraft? LOL!
(I agree with you)







Originally Posted By AeroE:
The F-22 is starting to look like a $200 Million (that would be US dollars) airplane. We have manufactured about 40 "pre-production" airplanes and still aren't ready to send it to war, and won't be for years, maybe never if they don't get the software and structural problems in the tailboom fixed. It's a dog that we've spent so much money on that the .gov can't stand the heat from the public if the project is killed and the taxpayers get wind of the cost.

Link Posted: 11/21/2003 2:52:24 PM EDT
KA3B
Yep. I found out today that I overestimated the number of airplanes that have been delivered - that number is only about 20. I can't keep track of the number of F-22's the taxpayers have paid for. Now they have been approved for "Low Rate Initial Production", which is another way of saying that the airplane is full of bugs but we want to build some anyway.
Link Posted: 11/21/2003 3:05:08 PM EDT
I do agree that maintaining old F-14s is a bitch, but if they had spent the money when they should have ( for the real disease instead of the symtoms ), it wouldn't be a problem.

I hear from active duty pilots that the newer F-14Bs and Ds are much easier to maintain due to the plethora of digital upgrades - hell, when the AWG-9 used to have to be recycled in the air, the APG-71 works - all the time.

I do think it was a big mistake to begin phasing them out.

As for the F/A-22, I think it is a good idea, but the ground attack capability has been neglected - the multi-mission capable aircraft era is here to stay.

And one major reason it cannot go too far past mach 1.6, is because a large percentage of the skin is made of polymers. When traveling at that speed, the stresses and air friction induced upon the aircraft are incredible.
Link Posted: 11/21/2003 3:37:11 PM EDT
Wasn't the biggest strikes against the F-14 the fact the production line had been shut down for a while and Grumman had been bought out by Northrop and it would take too much $$$ to restart it?

I'd prefer the F-14 Tom/bombcat over the F-18 gas guzzler myself.
Link Posted: 11/22/2003 10:47:15 AM EDT
Blackjack, the F-14 is an old school design that is a mechanics and an airframers nightmare compared to an F-18.

Once again I'll speak from a MECHANICS viewpoint:
The F-18 can have an engine removed from the engine bay in about 45 minutes.
In 45 minutes the F-14 maintenance crew is still removing the various panels and access doors in oder to gain access to the mounting hardware.

Ever tried to replace a hydraulic pump on an F-14? Wing sweep actuator? Rig the flapperons?

Everything on the F-18 is right there for the mechanics to work on plus it has a systems troubleshooting computer to aid the mechanics.

The F-18 is not a gas hog, it gets "better milage" than an F-14. HOWEVER, the F-18 does not have the fuel capacity of the F-14.

The F-14 does not handle (ACM) in the same league as the F-18. Been sitting on the edge of the flight deck of a couple carries when "real" airshows happen. The F-14 needs a head of steam in order to do rolls and to go supersonic.

The F-18 can just about do it from a standing start.

Finally, unless they redesigned the entire F-14 instead of building the same F-14's or remanufacturing them, you would still end up with an F-14.

In about six months after the newest F-14's were delivered to the fleet they too experinced the same breakdown, parts shortages and maintenance delays that the oldest ones had.



Originally Posted By Blackjack272:
I do agree that maintaining old F-14s is a bitch, but if they had spent the money when they should have ( for the real disease instead of the symtoms ), it wouldn't be a problem.

I hear from active duty pilots that the newer F-14Bs and Ds are much easier to maintain due to the plethora of digital upgrades - hell, when the AWG-9 used to have to be recycled in the air, the APG-71 works - all the time.

I do think it was a big mistake to begin phasing them out.

As for the F/A-22, I think it is a good idea, but the ground attack capability has been neglected - the multi-mission capable aircraft era is here to stay.

And one major reason it cannot go too far past mach 1.6, is because a large percentage of the skin is made of polymers. When traveling at that speed, the stresses and air friction induced upon the aircraft are incredible.

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