Future Fighters

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Twitch
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Future Fighters

Post by Twitch » Wed Jun 29, 2005 11:31 am

Note: this is NOT a sci-fi story but it is the stuff I professionally write in case anyone is interested in today and tomorrow's fighter planes.

FUTURE FIGHTERS
So what are they going to flying in the near future? Certainly the F-22 Raptor and Eurofighter, but what’s next, a version of the X-35? What about beyond that?

(jfswall7.jpg) “X-32 JSF- Boeing’s JSF-Boeing photo”
As we can see there are fewer types of aircraft in the inventories when we compare to Viet Nam and on back to WWII. There were vast varieties. Each plane had a special mission. Today that’s just too expensive and we see an aircraft in multiple roles more and more. Ultimately, in the distant future we will probably have one fighter that will cover all the military forces specifications and one or two bombers doing the same. It’s happening already. We have basically the F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18, B-1 and B-2 filling out the ranks of the armed services. Compare that to WWII when the number of types was too long to begin to list here.

Coming soon to an Air Force base near you will be the F-22. It will equal or better the stealthy F-117’s edge. It will deliver its payload from internal weapons bays and dogfight like crazy if necessary to get home.

TODAY-F22
Today there are no more 117-day wonders like the P-51. We must go back to 1982 when development of the Lockheed F-22 began. The Raptor was the planned replacement of the F-15 Eagle with an envisioned quantity of 750 to be built. After testing it was chosen over the Northrup F-23 by the USAF. General Dynamics and Boeing assisted in the development of first two prototypes built by 1988. A further two were constructed by the 1990 maiden flight. USAF serial numbers 87-0700 and 87-0701 were used in the initial tests.

In 1990 they launched AIM-9M Sidewinders and AIM-120A AMRAAM s plus achieved a Mach 1.8 maximum speed and supercruised at Mach 1.58 without afterburner. 1991 saw the aerodynamic and airframe fatigue tests completed. In 1992 a minor crash grounded the planes. But 1993 brought a reassessment of roles and an air-to-ground capability replaced the AIM-120s with two GBU-30 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) 1,000 lb. Bombs.

In 1993 the Air Force planned to purchase 648 F-22s at 84 million 1995 dollars each. What they will actually cost in 2001-2005 is anyone’s guess. So with the Soviet threat gone why build the plane? The Defense Department targeted China, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, North Korea and Cuba as potential menaces.

By 1994 the number of planned F-22s was slashed to 442 and cost was now $91 million each. Testing continued and in-air refueling was accomplished in 1998 as production engines were finalized with Pratt & Whitney supplying the powerful F119 engines. In 1999 funding for the project was in turmoil but is seems likely that initial delivery of F-22s may begin in 2004 with the production run completed in 2013. No final quantity numbers are project-able today.

(f22.jpg) “The F-22 Raptor”
Performance is encouraging. The F-22 will weigh 31,670 lbs. empty and 60,000 lbs. maximum. The 62.0’ length and 44.5 wingspan will be able to carry up to 5,000 lbs. of stores externally. The two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 develop 35,000 lbs. of thrust each to push the Raptor at Mach 1.8 (1,188 mph) with afterburning and Mach 1.58 (1,042 mph) without. Ceiling will be about 50,000 feet. Range has yet to be published but I would estimate a 750-mile combat radius and a 2,400-mile ferry range about right. And all this performance is with a full fuel load and all ordnance aboard. Larger inlets would have made for a faster plane but at the expense of stealth. Large engine air inlets make good radar reflectors.

The engines are the most powerful ever to mount in a fighter. They have a three-stage fan and a six-stage compressor. Liberal use of titanium keeps weights low. The real key to the package is the thrust-vectoring nozzle that moves up and down allowing for up to sixty-degree angle of attack maneuvers while it enhances stealthiness with a low exhaust signature.
(P&WF119.jpg) “35,000 Lbs. Of Thrust”

The cast titanium airframe will have composite molded wing spars that reduce weight and increase strength to give a +9G-maneuvering limit.

The 20mm Vulcan will mount above the right wing root and have 480 rounds. The four internal weapon bays will house all missiles and bombs though there are four external hardpoints for ferry tanks and/or weapons. In air-to air- configuration the F-22 will store two AIM-9Ms and six AIM-120Cs. Air-to-ground set ups can vary from the two AIM-9Ms and two 1,000 lb. GBU-30 bombs to two AIM-9Ms, two AIM-120Cs and two GBU-32 of 450 lbs. each. Of course any external ordnance would hinder the stealth performance.

The avionics are the other 21st century story. The computer will do what none before has- integrate all the systems of radar, navigation, weapons and ECMs plus sub-systems, and then assess it all for superior situation awareness. Now all systems have their own processors and the pilot must manage them all. This will allow the pilot to keep his eyes where they should be- on the windscreen and HUD. The Hughes processor, that has room for thirty percent growth since it is not used to full capacity, is the core. It can process 700 million instructions per second and can grow to 2,000 million.

The AN/APG-77 radar can see multiple threats and give information about them before the targets have detected the F-22. The radar has FLIR capability also over its 120-degree range of sight relative to the nose plus a side looking unit in each wing root that allows total coverage. Raptors can share system and target info with other F-22s without radio calls. The leader can check status and location of his squadron’s planes automatically like an airborne LAN. The computer system has three times the memory and operates sixteen times faster than the F-15’s. And I thought my old machine was slow!

Eighteen locations around the aircraft have ECM devices plus the usual flare and chaff dispensers. Liquid cooling of the electronic components make for improved reliability and longer life. They self diagnose and design allows for fifteen-minute component replacement by maintenance personnel. Two internal reference system gyroscopes feed data to the GPS with one alone for gun control to calculate lead at any angle of attack. This is routed to the main computer processor. There are 1.7 million lines of code for the software running the system.

The HOTAS control system is mounted on the right console and has only 1/4'” of movement. The HOTAS allows for sixty functions to be programmed in.

The F-22 has a low radar cross section and its contoured surfaces scatter active radar waves from receivers. The engine produces no smoke and chemicals injected into the tail pipe cut down exhaust air turbulence that can be picked by laser detectors. The engines are well masked and infrared and heat emissions are substantially reduced. The plane is coated with radar absorbent material and the light gray paint reduces spotting visibility. The F-22 will have a radar signature on par with a BEE in flight with less than a hundredth of a square meter reflection.

The servicing of the F-22 will require about half of the ground crew of current fighters since it can fly twice the hours of the F-15 before maintenance tasks. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Pratt & Whitney plus 4,800 subcontractors are now slated to produce 333 planes at an alleged $84 million each.

In the future it will soon be possible to complete cloak an aircraft from visible view. Tests with polymer color displays will change to reflect the surroundings. Gray in the clouds and green on the deck over a forest will make future stealth planes nearly invisible. This technology is being looked at for the infantryman too for ultimate camouflage, like the alien in Predator, and researchers are quite confident.

TODAY-EUROFIGHTER
The Luftwaffe likes it. The Royal Netherlands Air Force likes it. Just about every air force in Europe likes it- the Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon.

(euro.jpg) “Eurofighter EF-2000”
With the F-22 well along and the X-35 in the wings another 21st century fighter is coming with them. Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH in Munich is owned by BAE in England, CASA of Spain, Alenia of Italy, Matra of France and several subsidiaries are working on the project. A total of 620 aircraft is optimistically envisioned for the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain, with 148 solid orders that will enter service in 2002. Greece wants sixty to ninety planes by 2005. The early 1980’s program saw first flight in 1986, and in today’s form, 1994. Flight tests this year have confirmed Mach 1.6 and missile launchings have proved successful.

By all accounts it is on par with the F-22 in most respects being mindful that European air forces have slightly different wants that the USAF. The Ef-2000 is much smaller than the F-22, however. It’s more on par with the Boeing X-32 or Lockheed X-35. Small is good.

2 ENGINES 1 SEAT
Two Eurojet EJ 2000 engines of 20,000 lbs will give the single-seater a 1,321 MPH top speed at 36,090 feet-on the order of Mach 2.0 and will supercruise without afterburning at 13,500 lbs. thrust. Each engine weighs less than 2,300 lbs. Fiat of Italy, MTU of Germany a, Rolls-Royce of the UK and SENER of Spain will jointly construct them. Combat radius is on the order of 966 miles and 2,550 miles ferry range. Climb to 35,000 feet is supposed to be accomplished in 2.5 minutes. The Ef-2000 has reached 38,000 feet in tests and a ceiling of 50,000 feet in not unreasonable.

The airframe is composed of a high proportion of advanced metal alloys consisting of aluminum lithium, titanium and aluminum casting plus carbon fire composites and glass-reinforced plastic. It will be 9g rated. Dimensions are a 34.5’ wingspan with a length of 47.5’. Wing area, including the canard, is 564 sq. ft.

The EF-2000 will have STOL ability allowing for less than a 1,000 foot take-off run and less than 2,300 feet to land. Its small canard foreplane will improve handling stability all velocities.

Empty weight is about 21,495 lbs. while maximum loaded is 46,297 lbs. Stores will weight between 14,300-17,600lbs. and will be hung on nine hardpoints (one centerline, six underwing and two wingtip) Four further semi-recessed underfuselage points will carry missiles.

WEAPONS & ELECTRONICS
Air-to-air configurations will use BVR (Beyond Visual range) AAM, ASRAAM (short range), AIM-9L and the excellent 27mm Mauser BK27 cannon in the starboard forward fuselage. Air-to-surface weaponry will consist of 1,000 lb. unguided bombs, BL 755 Cluster Bombs, DWS 37 anti-armor missiles and GBU 10/16 Laser Guided Bombs. In the future it will carry the new Brimstone air-to surface missile and a score of other weapons in development now.

The huge factor in future weaponry will be off boresight that the Brimstone offers. The BAE Systems Helmet Mounted Symbology System (HMS) will allow the pilot to look through the helmet sight reticule in any direction and launch the weapon and guide it with an active radar seeker unit made by Alenia Marconi Systems. The F-22 and X-32 systems ultimately plan to use this type of system as well. This concept will herald other missile types, such as short-range air-to-air. Look at the enemy at 2 o’clock. Shoot and the missile turns towards him as you continue flying straight ahead. There is almost n minimum range for the close-in missiles. The system immediately maneuvers the missiles to target after launch. Long-range shots are guided with transfer alignment harmonized with missile’s inertial system.

The HUD will show the flight reference data, weapon aiming and cueing, and FLIR imagery. Head Down Display (HDD) is multi-function and reads in color showing the tactical situation, systems status and map displays.

The pilot's control HOTAS fly-by wire system is a VTAS Voice-Throttle-and-Stick system with twenty-four fingertip controls housed on the stick and throttle tops for sensor and weapon control, defense aids management and in-flight handling. . The Direct Voice Input allows the pilot to carry out mode selection and data entry procedures that use voice command. It sounds sci-fi but the technology is here now.

The Luftwaffe’s JG 73 “Steinhoff” squadron tested the CAPTOR ECS 90 radar in a multi-target, heavy clutter and heavy interference engagement with MiG 29s and F-4Fs satisfactorily providing up to twenty “enemy” aircraft’s tracks. For unknown reasons Germany will probably use the excellent APG-65 radar.

A look-down/shoot-down capability exists as does terrain-following. Where kills were lost in Viet Nam era jets due to enemy aircraft flying low with radars unable to get a lock due to ground clutter, the EF-2000 will have today’s edge in this area.

Survivability is further enhanced by the inclusion of a fully integrated Defensive Aids Sub-System (DASS), as part of its avionics system. DASS presents the pilot with crucial and prioritized threat assessments, allowing for automatic or manual response to multiple threats with Electronic Counter Measures (ECM), Electronic Surveillance Measures (ESM), missile approach warning, laser warning, and chaff/flare dispensers.

Today and tomorrow’s fighters have two performance goals. They must be agile enough to mix it up close in. They must have weapons systems that allow Beyond Visual Range (BVR) detection and the ability to follow up with a missile shot before the opponent’s is capable of launching.

The EF-2000 is highly maneuverable in sonic and sub-sonic flight and has short-range missiles plus the cannon. BVR contacts at over seventy miles away will be assessed and prioritized from info gleaned by the radar and infrared (IR) sensors. The plane would then close at high speed, fire, and break away to avoid enemy missiles and the DASS would employ whatever countermeasures are needed based on the range of the enemy threat.

SEMI-STEALTHY SURVIVABILITY
The Eurofighter does not claim to be a super stealthy aircraft but it does have a favorably small radar cross section and low engine emission signatures. Its low IR cross section is thanks to the composite materials used. Using passive systems data is obtained, fed into the computer and analyzed, then best course of pilot action is suggested for manual or automatic response. Broadcasting powerful radar beacons is not stealthy and today’s passive data gathering systems are.

The EF-2000, like it’s American counterpart the F-22 will be able to take a lot of shots with its thirteen hardpoints. Up to ten assorted AAMs will be carried. This certainly a step up from Viet Nam era weaponry on fighters that carried perhaps only four AAMs or six at most. Plus the Mauser cannon will provide increased kill probability when and if the fight comes down to a saloon brawl. The BK 27 packs a good punch though number of rounds is unknown at this time. 300 rounds would ideally give a bit under four seconds firing time. The Armament Control System (ACS) manages weapon selection and firing plus monitors status. Nuclear weapons are capable of being delivered.

All of its tactical components are dispersed around the airframe like the F-22’s. Without clustering them survival rate increases if damage is taken. The extreme maneuverability may make it the Zero of tomorrow able to flick out of the sights of a close range gun-carrying enemy plane.

With all-weather, multi-role abilities in a tiny, maneuverable package, the Eurofighter Typhoon is just the tool for the job in tomorrow’s Europe. All the air forces involved seem to thinks so too. How many will be made remains to be seen since almost all new aircraft programs get trimmed and total production is revised. A figure of $2 million DM per copy is the figure as of now.

It will be the first single-seat fighter since the English Electric Lightning. With today’s advanced management systems, capable of being controlled by one crewman, back-seaters may be history.

TOMORROW
With the awarding of the $200 billion Lockheed X-35 contract by the Pentagon the Boeing X-32 seems to be the loser though Boeing is slated to do sub-assembly in conjunction with Lockheed. Per copy price in today’s dollars will run from $40-$50 million each.

As the JSF, the production F-35 will compliment the F-22 and replace F-16s and A-10s in USAF inventory by 2008 with 1,763 planes. The Navy will get 480 examples to replace F/A-18 E/Fs by 2010. Marines aircraft will number 609 and phase out Av-8Bs and F/A-18 C/Ds by 2008. The UK’s Royal Navy and RAF will get about 150 planes to replace Sea Harriers and GR-7s now in service. Pentagon contracts call for F/A-18 and F-22 production to continue until 2011 however. At this stage the JSF will number 3,000 planes spread out over the next forty years.

The F-35 will carry its undisclosed weapons array internally in the 45-foot fuselage to prevent a “dirty” clutter that can be seen by radar. Wingspan is 36 feet. The RN and USMC variants will have a 30-foot wingspan. The whole package will weigh about 50,000 lbs. at takeoff with 13-17,000 lbs of it being payload. Range will be around 685 miles

The STOVL- Short takeoff Vertical Landing capabilities will hopefully replace the VTOL features of the Harrier derivatives using two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100s developing 35,000 lbs. of thrust each. They are designated the JSF-119-611 for this project. The vertical landing ability is possible due to the Lift Fan able to swivel 90-degrees and produce 20,000 lbs. of lift.

Apart from the bomb and missile armament a 27 mm Mauser cannon with a ROF of 1,800 RPM will be standard except on USMC variants where an external pod can be mounted.

To acquire targets a Grumman (AESA) Advanced Electronically Scanned Array multi-function radar will be used. The AESA has integrated radio frequency subsystems combined with multifunction array. The system integrates the agile beam steering capabilities as seen in the APG-77.

Once acquired the targeting system will be brought into play with the Lockheed Martin (EOTS) Electro-Optical Targeting System featuring long-range detection and pin-point targeting and incorporates a mid-wave, 3rd generation FLIR, dual mode laser with laser tracker and marker plus CCD TV. Grumman’s (DAS) Distributed Aperture System is a thermal imaging system that will be standard. DAS uses multi-infrared cameras providing 360-degrees of coverage. DAS also presents navigation, missile warning and (IRST) Infrared Search and Track. EOTS is attached under the F-35’s nose, and DAS sensors are fitted at several positions on the aircraft.

In the cockpit the pilot will use voice commands or a cursor on-screen plus the helmet display allowing look-there shoot-there capability. How high and how fast he will fly is yet unknown.

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW
Boeing is involved in another advanced project in the X-43 or Hyper-X. The first model is a pilot-less, scaled-down version of what may come. It is just twelve feet long with a five-foot wingspan for now but a revolutionary “scramjet” engine that burns hydrogen fuel powers it. A rocket booster will ignite after release from a B-52 mother ship at 24,000 feet and push it to 100,000 feet where it will separate the boosters and fly on the primary engine that must have Mach 1 airflow to light off. A first, brief powered flight in May 2001 went bad when the rocket didn’t perform correctly.
(x-43.jpg) “X-43 Space Plane Or Weapons Platform?”

After further testing the X-43 should approach its maximum test speeds on the order of Mach 7-10! Proposals for 200 foot long piloted versions are foreseen by 2025. Call it a space plane or whatever the velocities will be obtainable due to the thinner atmosphere at ultra high altitude. One variant could replace the space shuttle and another could be an Aurora replacement as a recon ship or even a fast-response weapons launch platform able to arrive at a point of concern anywhere in the world in 1.5 hours. Motive power for the full size ship to achieve its initial Mach 1 could be permanent rocket engines or jets. The Air Force proposes just such an aircraft with a myriad of weapons like cruise missiles and more in their SHAAFT (Supersonic/Hypersonic Attack AircraFT) coincidentally, for the year 2025 traveling 10,000 miles at Mach 12 in 74 minutes! I guess the message here is “mess with the USAF and you’ll get the shaft!”

UCAV and RPV pilot-less and remotely piloted vehicles hold promise but there is nothing like a pair of human eyes attached to the best computer of all- the human brain- over a battle arena.

(laser.jpg) “Airborne Laser”
In 2002, a Boeing 747 is scheduled to test a chemical oxygen iodine laser beam weapon capable of destroying an ICBM init vulnerable launch boost phase. Flying at 40,000 feet the 747 could engage targets after receiving intel from satellites. Boeing, Lockheed Martin and TRW are working on it now. The weapon could fire 14-20 times engaging up to forty targets but as in-flight aircraft refueling is possible, so is weapon recharge.

A Hughes beam weapon successfully destroyed a missile over the White Sands missile range in 1996 with a chemical powered lased focused through a 1.5-meter aperture telescope housed in a 5” naval gun turret. Aircraft or missiles could be knocked down from the ground and even satellites could be destroyed in orbit.

With an orbiting battle platform The Air Force conceives that beam weapons could be deployed with excellent results on enemy forces with surgical accuracy. Beam weapons in space could even instigate adverse weather modifications over unfriendly areas.

The laser packaged aboard the 747 is large but expectations foresee a continual development of more compact versions. It is likely that when the last F-22 and F-35 are due for replacement, say about 2035, the next generation of fighters will have such a weapon. That’s where the USAF minds are going.

LINKS:
http://www.lockheedmartin.com Info on F-35
http://www.fighter-planes.com/ Some F-22 info
http://users.dbscorp.net/jmustain/xpmain.htm Info and links on X32 & X43
http://www.milnet.com/milnet/lasers.htm For thoroughly researched USAF documents on beam weapons.

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Zered003
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Post by Zered003 » Wed Jun 29, 2005 11:52 am

I have remained somewhat out of the loop on info about fighters. Got a question for ya. Have they already started on something to replace the good ole F 14? Last I remembered they were still in use. Or was it the F 18 that was suppose to replace it? Having trouble remembering.
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Post by Twitch » Thu Jun 30, 2005 1:33 pm

The FA-18 will go for a while I guess till the JSF F-35 Navy variant gets in service. The F-14 has been upgraded to ultra-modern status so don't count it out as a viable plane. :D

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Post by Zered003 » Thu Jun 30, 2005 8:05 pm

Oh I am not counting it out. My favorite 2 jet fighters were the F-14 and the F-16. I feel sorry for anyone who goes up against either one. Specially with the USA's highly skilled pilots.
I enjoy the moments of peace and quite.
You know, when you dont think about anything.
I enjoy all 3 seconds of the day when that happens.

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Post by Logius » Fri Jul 01, 2005 2:29 am

Yeah, American pilots especially LOVE the F-16. I was actually interning at Lockheed in Ft. Worth when they were competing for the new JSF contract. Right next door to the production facility is a Naval base (can't remember the name of it) but Lockheed has several pilots on staff to do the test-runs and shakedown flights of each plane before they ship. I got to talk to some of the fellas who were testing out the F-35 and asked them how it compared to the F-16 (since they made the F-16s in the same facility and flew at least 5 of them every day). They all said the same thing, "Well... she's bigger..." Apparently one of the things that made the Falcon so popular was its small size which led to high maneuverability. With modern designs, though, they were able to make the JSF just as maneuverable while increasing the payload and decreasing the radar sig. Rumors have it that F-16 pilots weren't too crazy about the switch but after each actually tried the F-35, they quit complaining.

The coolest part of the F-35 is the vertical takeoff capabilities. A few of us got to see the testing of the lift-fan and watch as the prototype plane coasted along the runway back and forth then accelerated to take-off speed while still hovering 50-ft or so off the ground. Very cool :D. Rumors had it that Boeing's vertical engines had a tendency to burn the asphalt off the runway everytime it lifted up.

The only thing that makes me nervous about the new plane is I know two of the guys who helped to write the missile guidance system. Let's just say I was there when they were taking their shirts off in a drunken stupor and waving them over their heads as makeshift lassos while singing along to Kidd Rock's song "Cowboy" at the top of their lungs. :? Somewhere there may be pictures of that... perhaps 8). So if you guys hear any news reports about misfiring missiles or off-target strikes, then you know who to blame. :D
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Post by Twitch » Thu Jul 07, 2005 2:16 pm

Yeah it's really time for mainstream use of VTOL craft.
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