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Author Topic: Blur between fighters and bombers  (Read 942 times)

Offline GWrecks

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Blur between fighters and bombers
« on: September 21, 2018, 11:24:18 am »
DISCLAIMER: I don't have citations for half of this and am not anywhere near sure I know what I'm talking about. So take it with a grain of salt...

I recall at one point reading an article that proposed using the B-21 Raider as an anti-aircraft platform, specifically by giving it air-to-air missiles. The article even mentioned that it might be used in the place of PCA - have B-21s with long-range anti-air missiles escort others with anti-surface munitions.

At first I thought this was just pure speculation but after looking at some fighters-turned-bombers like the FB-23 that supposedly had rotary bays (According to this anyway http://iiirdmillennium.blogspot.com/2014/06/northrop-grumman-fb-119-black-widow-ii.html ) and the MiG Product 701  https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,29.0.html I'm starting to notice a trend where fighters are getting much larger.

Is there going to be a point where there are no "fighters", just anti-aircraft bombers? Or at least, will there be a high-low system where you have medium bombers (Essentially smaller versions of modern bombers) take the place of fighters?
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Offline Jemiba

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2018, 01:58:59 am »
I've moved this theme, as, to my opinion, it's not just speculation, but a development, that actually started quite early
during WW II.
The type of the "light bomber", as exemplified by the Fairey Battle, Bristol Blenheim or Mitsubishi Ki-51 Sonia often proved to
be too slow and vulnerable in the standard bomber role. So, the task of those types were often taken over by fighter bombers.
Neverthless, the light bomber saw new developments, but with a somewhat different role: Low level bombing, ground attack
and strafing, more emphasizing fixed armament, making those types more suitable for the role as heavy fighter/night fighter,
too. Examples may be the Douglas A-20 Boston, deHavilland Mosquito, or perhaps Messerschmitt Me 210/410. After WW II,
most fighters could be used as fighter bombers from the start, I think, leading to types like the MDD F-4, that completely took
over the task of the former light bombers like Martin B-51/EE Canberra. At least with regards to external appearance, the light
bomber had completey merged with the fighter, think of the Republic F-105 (a bomber with a fighter designation), the Panavia
Tornado, or the F-111, and at least the latter hardly fit into the "light" category anymore, but was subject of being developed
into a fighter (just as the Tornado, though that still has size and shape of a standard fighter).
The list of bombers, which were used as fighters, developed with both tasks in mind, or at least giving the basis, probably is much longer:

- Jakowlew Jak-28
- SNCASO Vautour
- TSR.1
- Tupolev Tu-98/Tu-128


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Offline Archibald

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2018, 04:51:27 am »
Yeah, blurred lines, as they said.

You still a F-16 agile light fighter with cannon and sidewinders. Manoeuverability remain important, and beyond 15 - 20 tons, it takes a major hit. The vaunted F-14 Tomcat got its ass quicked in dogfight against F-5 Tiger II. Of course that supposed the Tiger II survived Phoenix and Sparrows. The F-15 had extremely powerful engines and a large wing area, so low wing loading, yet its large size could be troublesome during dogfights.

Then there are the heavyweights - F-15, F-22.

And then the super heavyweights - Tu-128 and MiG-25 - 31 and YF-12. Air variants of the F-111 and Tornado are close from that. Bar the MiG-31 that category has essentially disapeared with the end of Cold War.

Bombers were never really good for dogfight, either in WWII or today. At some point in the 90's it was hoped that advanced radars and AMRAAM would give A-6 Intruder or A-12 Avenger II some extended self-defense capability. Yet they were no "fighter" by any mean.

« Last Edit: September 23, 2018, 04:53:41 am by Archibald »
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Offline Avimimus

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2018, 09:19:52 am »
If DEWs replace manoeuvrability...

But, a lot might depend ultimately on how the boundary between fighters and surface to air missiles blur...

Offline kcran567

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2018, 04:06:28 pm »
The F-111 sized J-20 should seem to blur the lines between fighter and bomber.

Offline TomcatViP

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2018, 04:49:11 pm »
The vaunted F-14 Tomcat got its ass quicked in dogfight against F-5 Tiger II.
Sorry but I don't know where this comes from...

Offline TomS

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2018, 05:12:12 pm »
The vaunted F-14 Tomcat got its ass quicked in dogfight against F-5 Tiger II.
Sorry but I don't know where this comes from...

I assume it's referring to F-14 vs. F-5 at Top Gun?

Online PaulMM (Overscan)

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2018, 06:50:15 pm »
The F-111 sized J-20 should seem to blur the lines between fighter and bomber.

Not really. It's designed for high manouverability. Its long, for low drag at high speed, but its not as big as you think it is. Wing loading is low, and thrust/weight reasonable (and very good with the intended engine). Configuration was optimised for air/air.
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Offline Colonial-Marine

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2018, 06:55:16 pm »
Every new fighter with an inexperienced pilot looses in a mock dogfight to an F-5E with a veteran pilot at some point in its lifetime. That doesn't mean the new fighter is inferior though. With a pilot who has mastered the F-14 the odds definitely favor the F-14.

There is a point though where you simply cannot make a fighter of a large size compete with a smaller fighter. I think the Flanker series (minus the Su-34) is probably close to the upper limit of how large you can be while maintaining excellent maneuverability. I imagine the J-20 will be reasonably maneuverable but it won't have the "supermaneuverability" that was the big buzzword back in the 90s and early 2000s.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2018, 05:47:10 pm by Colonial-Marine »
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Offline GWrecks

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2018, 07:00:23 pm »
I imagine the J-20 will be reasonable maneuverable but it won't have the "supermaneuverability" that was the big buzzword back in the 90s and early 2000s.

I imagine that the entire reason why they put very-very-unstealthy canards on it was because it had no chance of maneuvering otherwise.

Of course, I do recall hearing at one point that "supermaneuverability" is on its way out because no pilot could actually use it without getting G-LOC or something. No idea if that's true either. All I have is hearsay!
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Offline _Del_

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2018, 08:28:22 pm »
Not exactly what was brought up in the OP, but I think an interesting twist on this "blurring" is the way operationally since Desert Storm, bombers have been withheld from overflying strategic targets relying on standoff weapons and used against Republican Guard divisions and enemy combatants in the field, while tactical fighters were sent downtown to Baghdad to do the dirty work with EW support.

Offline r16

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2018, 03:43:25 am »
re F-14 vs F-5 there seems to be a point where they put better flaps or at least some improvement so that the late build F-14As could out turn the Tiger .

looking for expert views on why F-14D failed to live up to its promise though in the 1980s .

Offline Jeb

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2018, 07:56:57 am »
looking for expert views on why F-14D failed to live up to its promise though in the 1980s .

Did it? What part of its mission did it fail at?

Cost to operate was always a big factor but also there were certainly political complications that had nothing to do with the airframe itself that doomed it to lack of further development. And you have to think that even if it wasn't being publicly acknowledged, there was the factor of "stealth is coming and we need aircraft that fit the bill" that played into Navy decisions (although the Navy was TERRIBLE at requisitioning/developing stealthy platforms).

Offline DrRansom

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2018, 08:13:15 am »
It is definitely the case that smart bombs and avionics have blurred the lines between fighters and bombers. However, this shift should also be understood as occurring in a relatively low-threat environment. A low-threat environment reduces the need for specialized training, which in turn lets fighter planes act as bombers.

As we are moving back into a high-threat environment, I think that specialization will cause a shift in the opposite direction.

Manned lightweight fighters are likely to be totally replaced by lightweight unmanned aircraft, which will fulfill roughtly the same roles, light BAI and defensive counter-air.

Offline r16

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Re: Blur between fighters and bombers
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2018, 12:42:24 am »
looking for expert views on why F-14D failed to live up to its promise though in the 1980s .

Did it? What part of its mission did it fail at?

the one of allowing Heater Heatley to stick with anyone out there . Now that it appears USAF has been mocking the Turkey late in the game when dogfighting exercises against only against F-14s were considered half a mission , while F-18 would rate a full one .

the guy was a Top Gun instructor , appearing by face in the movie , too , eagerly waiting for the D . (ı have always treasured this softcover book ı bought in the 1980s about the institution , which happens to be quite a part of my understanding of aerial tactics and the like .)