USAF concludes F-35 is not the plane they set out to make

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
3,757
2,687
118
Sure, but aside from a deterrent for other major powers, how much does that come up? It seems like air forces in modern conflicts are mainly about being able to provide air support and its probably easier to have a drone just in the air all day then an A-10, especially since those have been decommissioned which was a stupid thing to do.
The A-10 is not decommissioned, although its future remains uncertain.

However, it is a flawed aircraft in the sense that without clear air superiority and the opponent having low quality ground-based air defence, it's a liability. It was great for Iraq and subsequent operations, because those conditions were met, but a drone can do most of the job of dropping bombs on insurgent camps. Thus arguably it's a lot of money keeping them in the air for modest benefit.
 

09philj

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
413
332
68
The A-10 is not decommissioned, although its future remains uncertain.
The A-10 Thunderbolt, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and F-16 Fighting Falcon are all in a similar position where the F-35 was meant to replace them but then the project went off the rails and the armed forces decided they'd just extend the service life of what they had until the F-35 was ready or they came up with a better idea.
 
Last edited:

Eacaraxe

Elite Member
Legacy
May 28, 2020
792
675
98
Country
United States
Modern AA systems have the capability to reliably intercept cruise missiles.
Yes, because cruise missiles fly low and slow for having been developed at a time that was the most effective means to avoid countermeasures. That's not what I'm suggesting.

A UAV can reach neither the speeds nor the G forces of a cruise missile and present a bigger radar signature.
The hell they can't. The X-43 hit Mach 9.6 and the X-51 is designed to cruise at Mach 5 at 70,000 feet above sea level. Hell, the X-51 is a proof of concept for hypersonic, high-altitude, cruise missiles -- which is stupid because the damned engine is going to cost more than the damned warhead, and we'd do better using it as a retrievable deployment platform for conventional bombs.

Bigger radar signature than cruise missiles, sure, but even weaponized not as big as a comparable manned aircraft.

They are comparatively easy targets for conventional AA systems and since they are so vulnerable to jamming (which also deploys far faster then even the best modern missiles like Aster or Iris-T) they are not a realistic threat in an open conflict.
If your intent is for them to loiter in hostile airspace, performing air superiority, ground strikes, and close air support, yes that would be the case. However, that is not what I suggested.
 

Gethsemani

Hardcore Feminazi
Legacy
Apr 5, 2020
1,070
849
118
Country
Sweden
Yes, because cruise missiles fly low and slow for having been developed at a time that was the most effective means to avoid countermeasures. That's not what I'm suggesting.
You do realize that in the time when Air Defenses can intercept a cruise missile it is in the "pop up" phase and will be a quickly accelerating target only available in a very brief time window? They can also intercept tactical ballistic missiles that can reliably go above Mach 5.

The hell they can't. The X-43 hit Mach 9.6 and the X-51 is designed to cruise at Mach 5 at 70,000 feet above sea level. Hell, the X-51 is a proof of concept for hypersonic, high-altitude, cruise missiles -- which is stupid because the damned engine is going to cost more than the damned warhead, and we'd do better using it as a retrievable deployment platform for conventional bombs.
This is cool and all but the X-43 is a NASA prototype and not meant as a weapons platform and the X-51 was all experimental and with no intended weaponized applications. Even so, the X-51 can be intercepted by current gen AA missiles. The thing that makes UAVs easier to intercept is that they, unlike missiles, will be designed with increased maneuverability in mind and that limits top speed. Even if you get both like the X-51 you can't do both at the same time, you need to choose between going fast or turning quick which is what modern AA system exploit with their moment to moment trajectory calculations. If you go Mach 5, your turning radius will be huge and your trajectory options limited, which allows for missile intercept.

All this is irrelevant though because even if the X-51 goes Mach 5 it will lose connection to its operator the moment your enemy throws up ECMs, which was my initial argument.

Bigger radar signature than cruise missiles, sure, but even weaponized not as big as a comparable manned aircraft.
Irrelevant. My point was that a UAV, particularly one carrying weapons, will be easy to detect on approach and from there it is almost literally a push of a button to throw up ECM and make it a self-propelled piece of junk.

If your intent is for them to loiter in hostile airspace, performing air superiority, ground strikes, and close air support, yes that would be the case. However, that is not what I suggested.
I know what you suggested, but it is explicitly not what I talked about which is a conventional war against an enemy with technological parity. Since that is part of the mission statement of all Air Forces the world round, manned fighters will be around until drones can be reliably operated even in areas where ECMs are being deployed. That you bring up another scenario as a rebuttal and then pretend as if that disproves the initial scenario is kinda weird.
 

Eacaraxe

Elite Member
Legacy
May 28, 2020
792
675
98
Country
United States
You do realize that in the time when Air Defenses can intercept a cruise missile it is in the "pop up" phase and will be a quickly accelerating target only available in a very brief time window?
Yup. I'm also unaware of any CIWS or point defense SAM on the planet that can hit a target flying at an altitude of 80,000-100,000 feet above sea level let alone one traveling at Mach 4-6.

They can also intercept tactical ballistic missiles that can reliably go above Mach 5.
You already know the reason for this, considering you just said as much:

Even if you get both like the X-51 you can't do both at the same time, you need to choose between going fast or turning quick which is what modern AA system exploit with their moment to moment trajectory calculations. If you go Mach 5, your turning radius will be huge and your trajectory options limited, which allows for missile intercept.
One is an unpowered warhead on a ballistic trajectory in its terminal phase with limited guidance options, the other is a powered aircraft. Hence the FALCON project to design a hypersonic warhead-equipped glider that doesn't rapidly decelerate during terminal phase while retaining maximal maneuverability.

The rocket equation applies to missile defense systems too.

This is cool and all but the X-43 is a NASA prototype and not meant as a weapons platform...
...designed as a proof of concept for scramjet-powered aircraft that would be designed as a weapons platform...

...and the X-51 was all experimental and with no intended weaponized applications.
The X-51 is literally the prototype for the HSSW propulsion system.

Even so, the X-51 can be intercepted by current gen AA missiles.
Really, which ones? Only one I can think of right now with the requisite acceleration, effective range, service ceiling, and top speed is THAAD, and the Pentagon's nuking the books from orbit on that fucking boondoggle. Successful interception of dummy warheads dropped with parachutes from C-17's on predetermined trajectories, is about as applicable as Bradley armor successfully repelling pre-inspected dud eastern bloc RPG's.

PAC-3's? oh yeah, with that incredible 100% effectiveness...which required multiple battalions to successfully intercept individual thirty-year-old TBM's at twice the price-per-unit of munition fired.

All this is irrelevant though because even if the X-51 goes Mach 5 it will lose connection to its operator the moment your enemy throws up ECMs, which was my initial argument...Irrelevant. My point was that a UAV, particularly one carrying weapons, will be easy to detect on approach and from there it is almost literally a push of a button to throw up ECM and make it a self-propelled piece of junk.
Here, you're arguing against the inverse square law because ECM's aren't exactly hit-to-kill, ya know.

I know what you suggested, but it is explicitly not what I talked about which is a conventional war against an enemy with technological parity.
Funny, because that's exactly what I'm talking about, too. You don't need fuckin' hypersonic cruise missiles in an asymmetric conflict in the first place.