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AIM-260

BDF

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sferrin

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Another article on the latest RFI

So is the AIM-260 an interim solution? I'm confused as to why this RFI if the 260 is going to enter service in a couple years (hopefully.)
From the article you referenced:

"seeks industry ideas for technologies applicable to new dogfight missiles, which presumably would improve or replace the current generation of AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder, and complement the secretive AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile"
 

bring_it_on

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Another article on the latest RFI

So is the AIM-260 an interim solution? I'm confused as to why this RFI if the 260 is going to enter service in a couple years (hopefully.)
AFRL and the USAF at large has constantly invested in emerging technologies for tactical missiles. Why would it stop doing so now, just because the AIM-260 is in development? They would need periodic and constant upgrades to that weapon and new weapons in the future. In fact, I feel that the era of one vendor getting a 3+ decade monopoly on BVRAAM production might just be over. Newer platforms (like Skyborg and NG fighters) will probably demand a wider range of weapons (different capability and cost) compared to legacy systems.
 

BDF

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From the article you referenced:

"seeks industry ideas for technologies applicable to new dogfight missiles, which presumably would improve or replace the current generation of AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder, and complement the secretive AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile"
That's what I get for skimming through it. Thx
 

BDF

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AFRL and the USAF at large has constantly invested in emerging technologies for tactical missiles. Why would it stop doing so now, just because the AIM-260 is in development? They would need periodic and constant upgrades to that weapon and new weapons in the future. In fact, I feel that the era of one vendor getting a 3+ decade monopoly on BVRAAM production might just be over. Newer platforms (like Skyborg and NG fighters) will probably demand a wider range of weapons (different capability and cost) compared to legacy systems.
We'll thats why I was somewhat confused. To have overlap on multiple AAM programs in such a short space of time is, as at least as much as I can remember, unusual and hasn't been done in a while. Don't get me wrong, I think its great just (pleasantly) surprised that they're moving this aggressively. What is interesting is the they seem to be distancing a bit from the SACM concept for magazine depth. Although I thought it was still a program of record.
 

bring_it_on

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AFRL and the USAF at large has constantly invested in emerging technologies for tactical missiles. Why would it stop doing so now, just because the AIM-260 is in development? They would need periodic and constant upgrades to that weapon and new weapons in the future. In fact, I feel that the era of one vendor getting a 3+ decade monopoly on BVRAAM production might just be over. Newer platforms (like Skyborg and NG fighters) will probably demand a wider range of weapons (different capability and cost) compared to legacy systems.
We'll thats why I was somewhat confused. To have overlap on multiple AAM programs in such a short space of time is, as at least as much as I can remember, unusual and hasn't been done in a while. Don't get me wrong, I think its great just (pleasantly) surprised that they're moving this aggressively. What is interesting is the they seem to be distancing a bit from the SACM concept for magazine depth. Although I thought it was still a program of record.
Overlap as in? This particular solicitation is to research and develop promising technologies.

SACM had multiple technology development efforts funded. Boeing, Raytheon and Aerojet all received contracts for development and/or demonstrations. I believe the rocket motor demonstrations were contracted for late last year. Whit all that work, they were expecting to reach TRL-3/4 for that system by FY21. How that moves forward with further development and demonstrations will likely emerge with the FY22 budget request.

Until a year or so ago, few thought that the USAF would develop a completely new BVR AAM in secret. The JATM proves that they can not only do it but keep it pretty hush through the competition and a couple of years into development. We don't know if plans to begin more serious development on SACM or CAST off-shoots is already in the works. But given reports of Lockheed's CUDA flight tested having been funded by AFRL, it would be tough to imagine that they aren't thinking about those things already as they develop budgets for FY22 and beyond.

The D variant AMRAAM just recently became operational. Block II AIM-9 is in service and Block III is being considered with that program now continuing itno the early to mid 2030's at the least. Between AMRAAM, JATM, AIM-9, and SACM and MSDM we could be having new missiles or technology insertions happening every few years. There is definitly more urgency now given prior focus on A2G munitions given the wars we've been fighting over the last 2 decades.
 

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It could be they are looking for new missiles to equip the NGAD irrespective of their noting that the solicitation if for equipping 5th gen aircraft. If the AF kept the AIM-260 secret for as long into the program as they did it doesn't seem unreasonable for them to have a black world NGAD competition in progress.
 

bring_it_on

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The FY21 budget for NGAD includes money for "demonstrative prototypes" but this is justified even for equipping the current 5th generation fleet and other unmanned support assets like Skyborg. They should never really stop maturing emerging and promising technologies for tactical weapons. That is sort of what AFRL is supposed to do.
 

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The article notes that the length is not to exceed 156 inches which is 14 inches longer than the AMRAAM at 144 inches.
 

bring_it_on

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Does anyone know what the AARGM-ER length is? Seems that is probably the longest one could go inside the F-35's bay. The HARM is around 164 inches in length. Visually, the AARGM-ER would seem close enough to 156 inches given how much bay space it occupies.
 

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sferrin

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From the article you referenced:

"seeks industry ideas for technologies applicable to new dogfight missiles, which presumably would improve or replace the current generation of AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder, and complement the secretive AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile"
That's what I get for skimming through it. Thx
Happens to me all the time. ;)
 

LEG

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You might be better off firing a MALD-J at the AEW (I am assuming you meant AWACS) as it has a massive range advantage over a Meteor, it can do it's own jamming, and it runs cool enough to not trigger MAWS on the way in. Put a IIR seeker & a 20lb warhead in it and you are golden as a way to take out ISR, IFR, AEW, AWACS, etc.
True but a MALD-based weapon doesn't have the versatility for use in other A2A roles.

Why not?

If I can only detect a VLO platform at 25nm (Typhoon CAPTOR-M vs. F-22) and the difference between my A-Pole and his is miniscule in terms of what I can do to exit the seeker volume, why isn't it a superior option to have a missile _pre launch_ with 500nm on the MALD and say 250nm on the MALI, so that it can steam away at .85 or whatever and then have the cuing fighter come in behind it?

If the point is to solve for A-Pole, vs. F-Pole and you are range constrained in terms of the distance you can pull the stealth target in handing off the missile, then there rapidly comes a point where you are Q or thermal limited on the missile being able to get down range and 'lock on' before the enemy weapon can do the same.

An AMRAAM comes at you in HPRF at a HUGE amount of watts, for it's size. And then it settles to MPRF for the terminals, once it's acquired.

Presumably, other weapons are similar with the understanding that AAM-4 and PL-15 may in fact have multi waveform target scrubbing to pick up transient scintillance as edge glint or creeping waves on key features.

Does it really matter if Missile 1, somehow closing at Mach 6 (and as agile as a cement truck, especially at or below 40K) picks up the targets at 10 seconds and Missile 2 is closing at Mach 3.8 and gets the lock-on, 5 seconds later? Whoever lives or dies, it's not going to be about turn away and extension at those ranges. Such may even prove counterproductive on a signature-by-aspect level of RCS flicker.

OTOH, if the missile is 20nm downrange already, and you catch the Romulan Warbird decloaking (not easy on an F-22 with no longwave IRST, his ELS should catch your LPD APG-77 first, just based on long term exposure of the radar operating bands). Now does it matter?

I would say yes. Because now, a missile which can boost to 1.5 from .9 on a turbine. Or 3 from .9 on a booster in the turbine plenum, can cross those five miles in a huge hurry, possibly faster than the threat can work the switchology to launch. Assuming equal detection thresholds.

And remember, at least by-aperture, the J-20 has better passives than the F-22, by a lot.

Now, let's take this another step. You don't fire from the F-22 bay but from an MCALS on a C-130 or C-17. So that, now, you have a wave of 10-20 drones headed down range. And they all share at least a basic hunting datalink. Don't laugh. The AGM-124 WASP had this, in 1979, wherein a missile would loft downrange, look at the target footprint (pilot launch intuit), find a target or light a second pulse and climb up to look again. When it found a target, it signalled to all the other missiles: "Got One!" and thus interrupted their homing algorithms as it dove on target. LOCAAS was even more sophisticated in that it could coordinate search zones with different spiral/grid/bounding search priorities between missiles, recognizing, via autopilot no-go zoning, suching things as prelaunch inputs (from TRN) as lakes and streams, forests and roads as likely search boundaries.

Against a VASTLY higher value target, all that a hunting missile has to do is sweep a given lane with a modern SFPA @ 640X480 or equivalent. Again, look no farther than the Raytheon (I believe...) Box Office weapon which had both the ND-10 motor from the Python and a twist-to-stare seeker with 256X256 coverage.

AIM-9X is a cheap knockoff compared to what COULD have been and the denser a detector count you go with, in a 6" or even 8" seeker, the more you can treat the totality of the fired missiles as a search tool, rather than purely a homing terminal guidance (Think DTP-N/CPT, at the weapon level).

Now you can throw out your missile screen as far as you want, hounds before the hunters, and assuming:

1. The enemy politely agrees to not scatter their CAPs or Road Bases.
2. They GLI Zulu launch at all.
3. They don't copy you.

You don't have to worry about who sees who first. Because the missile impulse can be scaled to the cruise velocity or run through specific ('radish' on the AGM-129) mixer artifacts, in-stream, to scatter. So that IT is not seen before IT sees the enemy threat air which is literally pushing thousands of pounds of thrust out the back end, even in loiter cruise.

What bothers me is that we are not seeing pictures of the AIM-260 and it's called a 'Joint Advanced Tactical Missile' (T3 Triple Threat Terminator = SEAD and high value strike as well as air to air) while retaining the Air Intercept Missile label.

Of course, if the enemy doesn't come up, and you have just fired 20 missiles at 2 million each, it would be a shame to not have them dive on AGE, BOQ, Command Condos, Fuel Farms, Active Ramps etc. at the airbase.

But the lack of imagery speaks to something unique to the missiles' capability which would be given away by an expert having a gander. For comparison, the AIM-120 was accurately (proportionately) drawn as early as 1978 in F-16 cutaways, right down to the wingtip mounting and photo'd as early as 1980 when it was carried under the F-14 in a completely accurate air loads and ballistic test vehicle.

So... Given this system will be mounted, first and preferentially, upon the F-22 (internal) and the F/A-18E (not) why are we not seeing it?

I think that a partial answer may lie in the uber-secure weapons igloo status. Obviously, if it has an inlet and is not a ramjet then it may be air breathing on a gel or liquid and still not be a 'ramjet' perse. Via a supersonic combustion phase turbine.

But the other thing that I wonder about is a radiosource thermal generator. Similar to what you are seeing on the SSC-X-9. Now, I don't claim to know a lot about the use of even minor (alpha not neutron) generators to increase combustion temps in rarefied atmosphere as a specific impulse booster. But the weapons handling pattern matches to prior high security storage of nuclear weapons. And would explain why a missile which was considered still within the carriage box limits of an AIM-120 would, in fact, have three to five times the functional effective range of say 20-25nm, exhibited by the Deny Flight Danish (?) F-16 which bagged that Orao in the CAP or landing pattern as it flew a long elliptical track.

Not even high grain propellants are going to give a nominal '40nm' ranged weapon a sudden improvement to 120-150nm in the same 350lb/12ftX7in carriage box. Fifteen to twenty percent? Sure. Better endgame energy? You bet. But whatever you want those kinds of standoffs /for/, if you make an order of magnitude increase in the combustion temps and then separate the contaminated booster from the kill vehicle, before going down range in a Mach 6 loft to 80-100K on an HGV trajectory, then you could still get a Mach 3-4 terminal profile, as a more conventional boost+boost kill after a very high midcourse loft.

Especially if you are also looking at a desired BPI/API weapon as TMD interceptor in the high endo, the ability to dump the mass as tail-wags-dog effect of a dead booster can and compress the residual system to a very short KKV with ACM and close coupled aeros makes more sense as having sufficient control authority (50-150K) to be effective.

Think about the VLS limits and sheer cost (7 million per SM-6, 10 million per SM-3IIa, 20 million per DF-21) of maintaining a purely S2A based AAW/TMD defense of a fleet unit transiting into the littorals to support Taiwan. Or trying to come through the Hormuz narrows in a Khalij Fars ICD threat zone where the missile is doing depressed trajectory strikes in combination with coastal Noors ASCM.

Which Super Hornets could not approach, conventionally, because of the nearby A2AD IADS presence.

Then compare this to the very limited Air to Air engagement in recent times. And the fact that there has been literally NO REASON to be penetrating a TARCAP force to 'save the missiles!' as you would a bomber with a 12nm JDAM BRL.

This missile is not what it seems to be. And the fact that it's not been shown says a lot about what the genuine threat optimization may really be for. And possibly how it achieves it.

An air launch SM-6 equivalent with a 'hot booster' in an AMRAAM weight class could do a lot to counter particularly the Iranian ballistic threat in a wartime environment where the risk was always present of either an Israeli nuclear response or a Saudi loss of refinement capacity similar to Abqaiq/Khurais. Now assume you wanted to conserve Mk.41 VLS cell counts for either offensive strikes with Blk.V Tomahawk. Or added inner-zone defenses for the battlegroup itself.

Doesn't a forward TMD which can catch missiles in the high probability boost or ascent phase rather than dodgy midcourse or terminal make a lot of sense, especially if it can hide within the auspices of a 'long range AAM' that is, in fact, utterly worthless against VLO targets which we cannot see that far anyway?
 

Forest Green

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You might be better off firing a MALD-J at the AEW (I am assuming you meant AWACS) as it has a massive range advantage over a Meteor, it can do it's own jamming, and it runs cool enough to not trigger MAWS on the way in. Put a IIR seeker & a 20lb warhead in it and you are golden as a way to take out ISR, IFR, AEW, AWACS, etc.
True but a MALD-based weapon doesn't have the versatility for use in other A2A roles.

Why not?

If I can only detect a VLO platform at 25nm (Typhoon CAPTOR-M vs. F-22) and the difference between my A-Pole and his is miniscule in terms of what I can do to exit the seeker volume, why isn't it a superior option to have a missile _pre launch_ with 500nm on the MALD and say 250nm on the MALI, so that it can steam away at .85 or whatever and then have the cuing fighter come in behind it?

If the point is to solve for A-Pole, vs. F-Pole and you are range constrained in terms of the distance you can pull the stealth target in handing off the missile, then there rapidly comes a point where you are Q or thermal limited on the missile being able to get down range and 'lock on' before the enemy weapon can do the same.

An AMRAAM comes at you in HPRF at a HUGE amount of watts, for it's size. And then it settles to MPRF for the terminals, once it's acquired.

Presumably, other weapons are similar with the understanding that AAM-4 and PL-15 may in fact have multi waveform target scrubbing to pick up transient scintillance as edge glint or creeping waves on key features.

Does it really matter if Missile 1, somehow closing at Mach 6 (and as agile as a cement truck, especially at or below 40K) picks up the targets at 10 seconds and Missile 2 is closing at Mach 3.8 and gets the lock-on, 5 seconds later? Whoever lives or dies, it's not going to be about turn away and extension at those ranges. Such may even prove counterproductive on a signature-by-aspect level of RCS flicker.

OTOH, if the missile is 20nm downrange already, and you catch the Romulan Warbird decloaking (not easy on an F-22 with no longwave IRST, his ELS should catch your LPD APG-77 first, just based on long term exposure of the radar operating bands). Now does it matter?

I would say yes. Because now, a missile which can boost to 1.5 from .9 on a turbine. Or 3 from .9 on a booster in the turbine plenum, can cross those five miles in a huge hurry, possibly faster than the threat can work the switchology to launch. Assuming equal detection thresholds.

And remember, at least by-aperture, the J-20 has better passives than the F-22, by a lot.

Now, let's take this another step. You don't fire from the F-22 bay but from an MCALS on a C-130 or C-17. So that, now, you have a wave of 10-20 drones headed down range. And they all share at least a basic hunting datalink. Don't laugh. The AGM-124 WASP had this, in 1979, wherein a missile would loft downrange, look at the target footprint (pilot launch intuit), find a target or light a second pulse and climb up to look again. When it found a target, it signalled to all the other missiles: "Got One!" and thus interrupted their homing algorithms as it dove on target. LOCAAS was even more sophisticated in that it could coordinate search zones with different spiral/grid/bounding search priorities between missiles, recognizing, via autopilot no-go zoning, suching things as prelaunch inputs (from TRN) as lakes and streams, forests and roads as likely search boundaries.

Against a VASTLY higher value target, all that a hunting missile has to do is sweep a given lane with a modern SFPA @ 640X480 or equivalent. Again, look no farther than the Raytheon (I believe...) Box Office weapon which had both the ND-10 motor from the Python and a twist-to-stare seeker with 256X256 coverage.

AIM-9X is a cheap knockoff compared to what COULD have been and the denser a detector count you go with, in a 6" or even 8" seeker, the more you can treat the totality of the fired missiles as a search tool, rather than purely a homing terminal guidance (Think DTP-N/CPT, at the weapon level).

Now you can throw out your missile screen as far as you want, hounds before the hunters, and assuming:

1. The enemy politely agrees to not scatter their CAPs or Road Bases.
2. They GLI Zulu launch at all.
3. They don't copy you.

You don't have to worry about who sees who first. Because the missile impulse can be scaled to the cruise velocity or run through specific ('radish' on the AGM-129) mixer artifacts, in-stream, to scatter. So that IT is not seen before IT sees the enemy threat air which is literally pushing thousands of pounds of thrust out the back end, even in loiter cruise.

What bothers me is that we are not seeing pictures of the AIM-260 and it's called a 'Joint Advanced Tactical Missile' (T3 Triple Threat Terminator = SEAD and high value strike as well as air to air) while retaining the Air Intercept Missile label.

Of course, if the enemy doesn't come up, and you have just fired 20 missiles at 2 million each, it would be a shame to not have them dive on AGE, BOQ, Command Condos, Fuel Farms, Active Ramps etc. at the airbase.

But the lack of imagery speaks to something unique to the missiles' capability which would be given away by an expert having a gander. For comparison, the AIM-120 was accurately (proportionately) drawn as early as 1978 in F-16 cutaways, right down to the wingtip mounting and photo'd as early as 1980 when it was carried under the F-14 in a completely accurate air loads and ballistic test vehicle.

So... Given this system will be mounted, first and preferentially, upon the F-22 (internal) and the F/A-18E (not) why are we not seeing it?

I think that a partial answer may lie in the uber-secure weapons igloo status. Obviously, if it has an inlet and is not a ramjet then it may be air breathing on a gel or liquid and still not be a 'ramjet' perse. Via a supersonic combustion phase turbine.

But the other thing that I wonder about is a radiosource thermal generator. Similar to what you are seeing on the SSC-X-9. Now, I don't claim to know a lot about the use of even minor (alpha not neutron) generators to increase combustion temps in rarefied atmosphere as a specific impulse booster. But the weapons handling pattern matches to prior high security storage of nuclear weapons. And would explain why a missile which was considered still within the carriage box limits of an AIM-120 would, in fact, have three to five times the functional effective range of say 20-25nm, exhibited by the Deny Flight Danish (?) F-16 which bagged that Orao in the CAP or landing pattern as it flew a long elliptical track.

Not even high grain propellants are going to give a nominal '40nm' ranged weapon a sudden improvement to 120-150nm in the same 350lb/12ftX7in carriage box. Fifteen to twenty percent? Sure. Better endgame energy? You bet. But whatever you want those kinds of standoffs /for/, if you make an order of magnitude increase in the combustion temps and then separate the contaminated booster from the kill vehicle, before going down range in a Mach 6 loft to 80-100K on an HGV trajectory, then you could still get a Mach 3-4 terminal profile, as a more conventional boost+boost kill after a very high midcourse loft.

Especially if you are also looking at a desired BPI/API weapon as TMD interceptor in the high endo, the ability to dump the mass as tail-wags-dog effect of a dead booster can and compress the residual system to a very short KKV with ACM and close coupled aeros makes more sense as having sufficient control authority (50-150K) to be effective.

Think about the VLS limits and sheer cost (7 million per SM-6, 10 million per SM-3IIa, 20 million per DF-21) of maintaining a purely S2A based AAW/TMD defense of a fleet unit transiting into the littorals to support Taiwan. Or trying to come through the Hormuz narrows in a Khalij Fars ICD threat zone where the missile is doing depressed trajectory strikes in combination with coastal Noors ASCM.

Which Super Hornets could not approach, conventionally, because of the nearby A2AD IADS presence.

Then compare this to the very limited Air to Air engagement in recent times. And the fact that there has been literally NO REASON to be penetrating a TARCAP force to 'save the missiles!' as you would a bomber with a 12nm JDAM BRL.

This missile is not what it seems to be. And the fact that it's not been shown says a lot about what the genuine threat optimization may really be for. And possibly how it achieves it.

An air launch SM-6 equivalent with a 'hot booster' in an AMRAAM weight class could do a lot to counter particularly the Iranian ballistic threat in a wartime environment where the risk was always present of either an Israeli nuclear response or a Saudi loss of refinement capacity similar to Abqaiq/Khurais. Now assume you wanted to conserve Mk.41 VLS cell counts for either offensive strikes with Blk.V Tomahawk. Or added inner-zone defenses for the battlegroup itself.

Doesn't a forward TMD which can catch missiles in the high probability boost or ascent phase rather than dodgy midcourse or terminal make a lot of sense, especially if it can hide within the auspices of a 'long range AAM' that is, in fact, utterly worthless against VLO targets which we cannot see that far anyway?
A MALD can easily be outmanoeuvred by a fighter and it's slower than the plane launching it.
 

LEG

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A MALD can easily be outmanoeuvred by a fighter and it's slower than the plane launching it.
A TJ-50M has a ~150lbf of thrust. It is pushing a 300lb missile that has 1/100th the drag of an F-35 which has a similar, .5, non afterburning, thrust to weight ratios.

At least in terms of energy addition, the MALD should get to speed and probably hold speed, better. Because a smaller wing also means less induced drag and any form of pippaf or TVC is going to work better given lower mass inertia resistance on the missile, even if it's technically maneuvering outside of traditional, lift based, control theory, in some kind of body lift regime where the wings are effectively acceleratively stalled or even retracted.

The big questions then become:

1. Whether the missile is using polarimetric or cartesian control theory and thus how much of a twist to steer or direct shunt maneuver theory it is subject to.
2. If it has an ACM at the front end, whether it can generate sufficient side force impulse to compensate for any lift shortfalls in conventional maneuver. As well as how fast it accelerates to the point where wingborne lift is offset by body lift.
3. If it has a warhead, how far that warhead works. Lethal EXCM, radar HPM and even lasers will rapidly change the ability of missiles to get close enough for a conventional, even blast-entrained, warhead to work. But what happens if you use a pulsed power (explosive compression wave) HPM generator of your own?
4. How far off the tanker is your jet? If he's just made his fence push time, and you're meeting him at the border because you can, he's gonna be a slug, especially with external ordnance. Think F-15E tobogganing behind KC-135 in ODS, through storm cells, because they couldn't hold height on the -220 engines.
5. If these missiles can be made netcentric, whether or not they can be made smart enough to stack passes. Until the manned platform is out of ideas, energy, altitude, expendables and luck.

Beyond which, I stand by what I said: F-Pole is a metric for distance downrange, over time, from launch. It is a relic of the SARH era. A-Pole tells you straight distance from the threat when the missile goes autonomous/active and thus is the figure of merit if you are dealing with a stealthy airframe where you don't have the option to engage at distance and so accepting the close-in fight means putting a 150-200 million dollar, irreplaceable, F-22 as Gen-5 technology base look-in. If it's his weapons bay vs. your inflight weapon, you have a definite if narrow advantage on a ~25nm acquisition. Because the bay weapon has to fly 10nm down range at say .6nm/second to put itself in cone to detect the stealth jet at ~15nm. Whereas the in-flight weapon is already at acquisition point when either it or it's parent gets the popup acquire.

Does a turbine missile have to look like a MALD in terms of performance shortfalls from grid fins and other decoy mission nonsense? No.

But if you are performing in the shortrange acquisition game vs. peer VLO threats, it most assuredly SHOULD NOT look like a multistage JATM. JATM has to be for something else. Or we have to have a _considerable_ range edge in generating fire control quality tracks on VLO targets.

At a minimum a JATM translates to a sudden and considerable shortfall in our own confidence in Stealth as a penetration aid in controlling the intercept phase of the fight.
 

sferrin

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Would you rather have a run time of 3 minutes or half an hour?
 

AeroFranz

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@LEG , very interesting discussion but i'm melting my brain trying to understand some of the more obscure terms/acronyms you are using. I have two Aero eng degrees but they're probably in the wrong disciplines :oops:. If you spell out the acronyms once, the first time you use them, i can always Google-fu the hell out of them to educate myself. Thanks!
 

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@LEG , very interesting discussion but i'm melting my brain trying to understand some of the more obscure terms/acronyms you are using. I have two Aero eng degrees but they're probably in the wrong disciplines :oops:. If you spell out the acronyms once, the first time you use them, i can always Google-fu the hell out of them to educate myself. Thanks!
LEG has the habit of putting an excessive number of acronyms in his post, I guess to look like someone who has "been there, done that", but they aren't really that complex though, and when you understand the acronyms then his writing is quite random and all over the place
VLO =Very low observable
MALD = Miniature Air Launched Decoy
MALI = Miniature Air Launched Interceptor
F-Pole = the distance from the launching aircraft to the target at missile impact or better known as the missile stand-off distance (often used for SARH missile)
A-pole = the distance from the launching aircraft to the target when the missile begins active terminal guidance
OTOH = On the other hand
TRN = Terrain Referenced Navigation
HPRF = High pulse repetition frequency
MPRF = Medium pulse repetition frequency
RCS = Radar cross section
IRST = Infrared search and track
ELS = Emitter locating system
LPD = Low probably of detection
MCALS = MALD Cargo Air Launched System
SFPA = shortwave focal plane array
LOCAAS = Low Cost Autonomous Attack System
CAP = Combat air patrol
HGV = Hypersonic glider vehicle
DTP-N = Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked
SEAD = Suppression of enemy air defense
BPI = Boost Phase Intercept
API = Ascent-Phase Intercept
AAM = Anti air missile
TMD = Theater missile defense
KKV = Kinetic kill vehicle
BRL = Bomber rotary launcher
ACM = Air combat maneuver
ODS = Operational Desert Storm
AAW = Anti air warfare
ASCM =Anti ship cruise missile
TARCAP = Target Combat Air Patrol
IADS = Integrated air defense system
TVC = Thrust vector control
HPM = High power microwave
SARH = Semi Active Radar Homming
 
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AeroFranz

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Hahahaha...many thanks for the glossary, this is awesome!:D
I was mostly blanking out on the EE terms, and this helps a lot!
 

Forest Green

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A MALD can easily be outmanoeuvred by a fighter and it's slower than the plane launching it.
A TJ-50M has a ~150lbf of thrust. It is pushing a 300lb missile that has 1/100th the drag of an F-35 which has a similar, .5, non afterburning, thrust to weight ratios.

At least in terms of energy addition, the MALD should get to speed and probably hold speed, better. Because a smaller wing also means less induced drag and any form of pippaf or TVC is going to work better given lower mass inertia resistance on the missile, even if it's technically maneuvering outside of traditional, lift based, control theory, in some kind of body lift regime where the wings are effectively acceleratively stalled or even retracted.

The big questions then become:

1. Whether the missile is using polarimetric or cartesian control theory and thus how much of a twist to steer or direct shunt maneuver theory it is subject to.
2. If it has an ACM at the front end, whether it can generate sufficient side force impulse to compensate for any lift shortfalls in conventional maneuver. As well as how fast it accelerates to the point where wingborne lift is offset by body lift.
3. If it has a warhead, how far that warhead works. Lethal EXCM, radar HPM and even lasers will rapidly change the ability of missiles to get close enough for a conventional, even blast-entrained, warhead to work. But what happens if you use a pulsed power (explosive compression wave) HPM generator of your own?
4. How far off the tanker is your jet? If he's just made his fence push time, and you're meeting him at the border because you can, he's gonna be a slug, especially with external ordnance. Think F-15E tobogganing behind KC-135 in ODS, through storm cells, because they couldn't hold height on the -220 engines.
5. If these missiles can be made netcentric, whether or not they can be made smart enough to stack passes. Until the manned platform is out of ideas, energy, altitude, expendables and luck.

Beyond which, I stand by what I said: F-Pole is a metric for distance downrange, over time, from launch. It is a relic of the SARH era. A-Pole tells you straight distance from the threat when the missile goes autonomous/active and thus is the figure of merit if you are dealing with a stealthy airframe where you don't have the option to engage at distance and so accepting the close-in fight means putting a 150-200 million dollar, irreplaceable, F-22 as Gen-5 technology base look-in. If it's his weapons bay vs. your inflight weapon, you have a definite if narrow advantage on a ~25nm acquisition. Because the bay weapon has to fly 10nm down range at say .6nm/second to put itself in cone to detect the stealth jet at ~15nm. Whereas the in-flight weapon is already at acquisition point when either it or it's parent gets the popup acquire.

Does a turbine missile have to look like a MALD in terms of performance shortfalls from grid fins and other decoy mission nonsense? No.

But if you are performing in the shortrange acquisition game vs. peer VLO threats, it most assuredly SHOULD NOT look like a multistage JATM. JATM has to be for something else. Or we have to have a _considerable_ range edge in generating fire control quality tracks on VLO targets.

At a minimum a JATM translates to a sudden and considerable shortfall in our own confidence in Stealth as a penetration aid in controlling the intercept phase of the fight.
But the bottom line is that a MALD is less manoeuvrable than any modern fighter and would therefore fail an intercept, not to mention that the launch aircraft would have to turn and run while the MALD is getting there. It would also be of zero value in a dogfight. It could work well as an extra pair of eyes though.
 

sferrin

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@LEG , very interesting discussion but i'm melting my brain trying to understand some of the more obscure terms/acronyms you are using. I have two Aero eng degrees but they're probably in the wrong disciplines :oops:. If you spell out the acronyms once, the first time you use them, i can always Google-fu the hell out of them to educate myself. Thanks!
As a PM once told me, "sounds like you need to brush up on your TLAs". "What the hell is a, "TLA""? "Three-Letter-Acronym." :p

I've only see one poster in my decades wading through this aerospace online stuff who can't post anything less than a WOT (wall of text) with verbiage so abstruse only he understands it: Kurt Plummer.
 

TomS

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I've only see one poster in my decades wading through this aerospace online stuff who can't post anything less than a WOT (wall of text) with verbiage so abstruse only he understands it: Kurt Plummer.
Thank you. I was trying to remember that name! LEG's posting style is certainly similar...
 

BDF

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I've only see one poster in my decades wading through this aerospace online stuff who can't post anything less than a WOT (wall of text) with verbiage so abstruse only he understands it: Kurt Plummer.
Ding ding ding! We have a winner!
 

BDF

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JATM has to be for something else. Or we have to have a _considerable_ range edge in generating fire control quality tracks on VLO targets.

At a minimum a JATM translates to a sudden and considerable shortfall in our own confidence in Stealth as a penetration aid in controlling the intercept phase of the fight.
Eh I'm not convinced that's the case per se. The AF has been talking about out gunning the PL-15 for at least 5+ years. Gen Goldfein feels we have a asymmetric advantage in network and is dismissive of platform to platform comparisons. Which would be more inline with your previous postulation that we have a range advantage in building engageable tracks. My hope is that the network he speaks of has more than just 5th gen fighters as sensor nodes.

In any case this would suggest that they're:

A.) not willing to cede the high ground in missile performance
B.) the JATM will have multispectral sensors optimized for engaging LO/VLO targets whereas the AMRAAM doesn't
C.) they want a system that has the kinematics to take advantage of fleeting shot opportunities against 5th gen LO supercruisers
D.) want to keep enema OCA sweeps as far away from HVA assets as possible before they can in turn launch their LRAAM
E.) Possibly, there could be concern that any missile launch will be detected and the counter shot will have too much end game performance to out run or run it out of energy.

Public sources are all over the place but some place the PL-15's max range at 300km which might give it a NEZ range of roughly 75-100km at altitude. This would suggest even a supercruising Raptor won't be able to out crank it and may not even be able to escape via a split S and drag it down to thicker air.
 

sferrin

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Public sources are all over the place but some place the PL-15's max range at 300km which might give it a NEZ range of roughly 75-100km at altitude. This would suggest even a supercruising Raptor won't be able to out crank it and may not even be able to escape via a split S and drag it down to thicker air.
Which Chinese sensor can detect an F-22 at 100km? As for the range I'm wondering if it's getting confused with that giant AAM (PL-21?) spotted on that Flanker.
 
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TomcatViP

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Yes range won't help much if you can't detect it. This recent focus on range sounds quite like the tight turnings of biplans at the onset of WWII.

Not to say that the most expensive of them is now called... The Meteor.
 
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BDF

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Which Chinese sensor can detect an F-22 at 100km? As for the range I'm wondering if it's getting confused with that giant AAM (PL-21?) spotted on that Flanker.
Hopefully no airborne sensor can detect a F-22 at 100km, but my hypothesis is perhaps MLDs could detect the launch and boost phase of AMRAAM launches. This could cue other sensors and result in a counter shot at the F-22 or F-35. Another option might be a somewhat analogous to a submarine snapshot down the line of bearing at launch transients. A J-20 might detect the launch and then lob a PL-15 at the launch point. It won't be as accurate as tracking shot but still dangerous nonetheless.

As far as the PL-15 goes you could be right. There isn't any reliable publicly available info on Chinese missiles and range estimates seem to vary from 200 to up to 300km. I've seen range estimates for the PL-21 as 300 all the way up to 400+km as well. To me it makes sense that the PL-15 outranges the -120D which as that seems to be the general vibe coming from AF brass. Gen Genatempo stated that the JATM is being fielded in direct response to the PL-15 for example.
 

BDF

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Yes range won't help much if you can't detect it. This recent focus on range sounds quite like the tight turnings of biplans at the onset of WWII.

Not to say that the most expensive of them is now called... The Meteor.
I'm not so sure. The Meteor can accept third party updates and possibly be dynamically retargeted; i.e. its a network enabled weapon. A high and fast Typhoon can lob those over 5th gen assets that can cue those missiles to enema tracks. Pretty lethal combo IMO. The question to my mind is weather the seeker can reliably engage LO/VLO threats.
 

sferrin

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Which Chinese sensor can detect an F-22 at 100km? As for the range I'm wondering if it's getting confused with that giant AAM (PL-21?) spotted on that Flanker.
Hopefully no airborne sensor can detect a F-22 at 100km, but my hypothesis is perhaps MLDs could detect the launch and boost phase of AMRAAM launches. This could cue other sensors and result in a counter shot at the F-22 or F-35.
I keep hoping nobody figures out how to detect those wing-tip vortices. They're pretty much 5th gen calling cards. (Sure, you see them on other aircraft at times but not to the same degree.)
 

Josh_TN

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Aren't fighter type LO aircraft readily detected in the UHF band? Maybe not a weapons grade track necessarily, but enough to focus a lot of power from an AESA at one patch of sky.

It makes sense to have the ability to push opponent fighters back, especially if you have your own LO aircraft acting as scouts to generate target tracks for less discrete aircraft.
 

sferrin

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"For example, the USAF is interested in hearing about ideas for lifting body missile airframe designs. This is a radical departure from the tube-and-fins profile that have characterised air-to-air missiles for decades."

Lifting bodies and internal carriage don't mix.
 

TomS

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I'd say so. As long as the overall shape fits inside an AIM-120D "box" there's no reason you couldn't design a missile with a trapezoidal fuselage relying on body shaping for lift. Sounds like a way to get more usable volume in the same OML, at the expense of extra wetted surface and probably extra structural weight.
 

bobbymike

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I'd say so. As long as the overall shape fits inside an AIM-120D "box" there's no reason you couldn't design a missile with a trapezoidal fuselage relying on body shaping for lift. Sounds like a way to get more usable volume in the same OML, at the expense of extra wetted surface and probably extra structural weight.
Any thoughts on air to air “teaming”? F-22/35s in closer designating targets (within AIM-120 range) and F-15EX with external carriage of an ultra-long range AAM like this?
 

sferrin

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Potential for "Have Dash III"
I'd say so. As long as the overall shape fits inside an AIM-120D "box" there's no reason you couldn't design a missile with a trapezoidal fuselage relying on body shaping for lift. Sounds like a way to get more usable volume in the same OML, at the expense of extra wetted surface and probably extra structural weight.
More usable volume is probably dependent on your propulsion system. A solid motor is always going to be cylindrical so anything outside that is going to be wasted space, more drag, more weight.
 
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