CSBA Paper: Trends in Air to Air Combat: Implications for Future Air Superiority

CxxTxx

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Full paper here: http://issuu.com/csbaonline/docs/csba6110_air_to_air_report

The takeaway: Why invest in the F-35, or even a sixth generation fighter to create a ‘super F-22′? Both aircraft will offer marginal improvements over the F-22 at great cost, and both will still be fairly short-ranged (at least considering the operational distances in the Pacific and other theaters). Wouldn’t it be better to focus on a bigger aircraft?

The paper envisions a future fleet of around 400 bomber-like multi-role aircraft constituting the core of America’s airpower in the 21st century, a single, large, long-range, big payload, stealthy aircraft that would comprise the future United States Air Force’s combat arm.
 

jsport

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CxxTxx said:
Full paper here: http://issuu.com//docs/csba6110_air_to_air_report

The takeaway: Why invest in the F-35, or even a sixth generation fighter to create a ‘super F-22′? Both aircraft will offer marginal improvements over the F-22 at great cost, and both will still be fairly short-ranged (at least considering the operational distances in the Pacific and other theaters). Wouldn’t it be better to focus on a bigger aircraft?

The paper envisions a future fleet of around 400 bomber-like multi-role aircraft constituting the core of America’s airpower in the 21st century, a single, large, long-range, big payload, stealthy aircraft that would comprise the future United States Air Force’s combat arm.
Sounds right. The fashion of fighters never made sense..Fashion is always based on vanity not function. Folks often get lost in why one needs air superiority in the first place... it is the ground or the sea.. the surface not the air. That points generally toward bombing w/ some maneuver not a maneuver w/ some bombing.
 

Bruno Anthony

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I think it is more of CSBA's bomber-love stance that they have promoted to support their vision of Air-Sea Battle. I guess those bombers can just ignore the PLAAF fighter force? Or are they willing to accept significant losses of bombers? The Eighth Air Force circa early 1943 would love these guys.
Minor fighter performance advancement? Are they seeing some tremendous jump in bomber performance? I'm sure that wouldn't' cost much.
 

sferrin

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jsport said:
The fashion of fighters never made sense..Fashion is always based on vanity not function. Folks often get lost in why one needs air superiority in the first place... it is the ground or the sea.. the surface not the air. That points generally toward bombing w/ some maneuver not a maneuver w/ some bombing.

Maybe you should consider how well armies and navies fair when they do not have air superiority. It ain't pretty.
 

jsport

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sferrin said:
jsport said:
The fashion of fighters never made sense..Fashion is always based on vanity not function. Folks often get lost in why one needs air superiority in the first place... it is the ground or the sea.. the surface not the air. That points generally toward bombing w/ some maneuver not a maneuver w/ some bombing.

Maybe you should consider how well armies and navies fair when they do not have air superiority. It ain't pretty.

as usual completedly missed the point. ASup of course. ASup only enables effects on the surface ie 'the goal'. ASup for itself is pointless.
 

bobbymike

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Paper was already posted in 6th Gen fighter thread

Anyway that said I mentioned that it speaks to a platform like the LM 6th gen design. Large super stealthy with a very large weapons bay maybe even able to carry air launched PAC-3 or THAAD sized missiles.
 

DrRansom

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What I found interesting is the Author's primary argument: the US needs 1000nm + range fighters for the Pacific. That can only happen with a large airframe, anything else is just unrealistic.
 

sferrin

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DrRansom said:
What I found interesting is the Author's primary argument: the US needs 1000nm + range fighters for the Pacific. That can only happen with a large airframe, anything else is just unrealistic.

Sure, for the next generation. But that doesn't diminish the need for the current F-35 / F-22 fleets. Have a fleet comprised solely of bomber-sized fighters makes about as much sense as having a fleet comprised solely of F-5s.
 

marauder2048

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Not trying to snipe at the messenger but the author of this analysis was dumped from RAND after the study that must-not-be-named debacle.
 

jsport

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sferrin said:
DrRansom said:
What I found interesting is the Author's primary argument: the US needs 1000nm + range fighters for the Pacific. That can only happen with a large airframe, anything else is just unrealistic.

Sure, for the next generation. But that doesn't diminish the need for the current F-35 / F-22 fleets. Have a fleet comprised solely of bomber-sized fighters makes about as much sense as having a fleet comprised solely of F-5s.
never said bombers said 'bombing w/ some maneuver ' (in this case speed is included in maneuver) ie a largest practical payload fighter bomber.
 

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interesting analysis but the author assumes a much higher pK than is realistic in an era of DFRM jammers, laser dazzlers and potentially aesa's used not just for e-attack but terminal missile defence. Author cites futility of missile evasion but this only applies potentially in dogfights where aam (eg Aim 9X) has only recently exhausted rocket impulse. For BVR combat which the author favors, any aam (except meteor) is out of propellant at a-pole and several maneouvers will deplete missile airspeed further.The author also dismisses supercruise as unnecessary for evading enemy citing WW2 need for speed to evade gun envelope to egress but ignores fact that a receding supercruise target dramatically No-Escape Zone even if ir signature is significant. The author should have generated a proper simulation first or spoken to front-line pilots.
 

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It's worth noting that no bomber offensive was once stopped by the enemy defenses; from World War I to the present.

Schweinfurt, Nuremberg (RAF Night raid), Hanoi (despite B-52s attacking in extremely cliched formations and deliberately not turning on their built in ECM jammers against the heaviest air defenses outside of moscow at the time).

Conventional weapons accuracy with SDB is now such that a conventional bomber formation can now decide a war on it's own.

The B-1B can hold between 96 and 144 SDBs; and given that we have sixty B-1Bs that could be plausibly generated; that's 5,760 to 8,640 individial aim points that could be struck with a 250 pound guided bomb; with an accuracy great enough to ensure that even if a B-1B force is attrited by 25% in a opening day of war strike; they'll have destroyed a huge portion of a potential threat nation's strategic infrastructure.

It's basically the Atomic Bomb, but actually you know, useable.
 

jsport

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The other thread on B-1R may also be relevant as mini drone and DEW mothership . Bombers should be capable of keeping up w/ Fighter Bombers.

some more Bone money.

-Unlike the B-1A, the B-1B cannot reach Mach 2+ speeds; its maximum speed is Mach 1.25 (about 950 mph or 1,530 km/h at altitude),[71] but its low-level speed increased to Mach 0.92 (700 mph, 1,130 km/h).[61] The speed of the current version of the aircraft is limited by the need to avoid damage to its structure and air intakes. To help lower its radar cross section (RCS), the B-1B uses serpentine air intake ducts (see S-duct) and fixed intake ramps, which limit its speed compared to the B-1A. -

from wiki
 

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Said bombs (SDB) can be released from 50 nautical miles from the target at altitude. That puts you well outside the published envelopes for a lot of air defenses -- or at least the cheap to medium grade kind. You're still at risk from super deluxe air defenses (S-300 latest version); but there aren't that many of those floating around...
 

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RyanCrierie said:
Said bombs (SDB) can be released from 50 nautical miles from the target at altitude. That puts you well outside the published envelopes for a lot of air defenses -- or at least the cheap to medium grade kind. You're still at risk from super deluxe air defenses (S-300 latest version); but there aren't that many of those floating around...

And those sites will probably been seriously degraded when the first few hundred MALDs, JASSM and JASSM-ERs target them.
 

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From the introductory comments "I wish we would have built more F-22s" I hope we aren't saying that in some future conflict.
 

Bruno Anthony

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I thought Stillion's not so pro F-35 report from 2008 for RAND pointed out its air combat weaknesses. I am much more supportive of more F-22 types but that's me. As for this current report, I agree with the increase in BVR trends (sorry Pierre) but it sounds like he is advocating for the return of the YB-40.
He does state at the end that his report may be wrong especially if the data links from the missile carrier and its drones go to crap.
 

jsport

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Bruno Anthony said:
He does state at the end that his report may be wrong especially if the data links from the missile carrier and its drones go to crap.
yes but then speed will still be the most important "maneuver" as in running not fighting. If the drones are down ...better to egress.
 

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Full paper here: http://issuu.com/csbaonline/docs/csba6110_air_to_air_report

The takeaway: Why invest in the F-35, or even a sixth generation fighter to create a ‘super F-22′? Both aircraft will offer marginal improvements over the F-22 at great cost, and both will still be fairly short-ranged (at least considering the operational distances in the Pacific and other theaters). Wouldn’t it be better to focus on a bigger aircraft?

The paper envisions a future fleet of around 400 bomber-like multi-role aircraft constituting the core of America’s airpower in the 21st century, a single, large, long-range, big payload, stealthy aircraft that would comprise the future United States Air Force’s combat arm.
I was thinking about this for a bit, and I think the paper is aggressively wrong in that it directs the reader away from the path to thinking about the problem clearly by pointing the potential problem at datalinks. This is about as bad as B-17 box formation will defeat all fighter concept because so many guns and resilient airframe~

The idea of spotter drones and big bomber long range missile is based on superior stealth-sensor combo. The paper have opponents do the clearly stupid thing of blowing up their own signature "to get defeated to demonstrate a concept." A sane technological peer opponent in the stealth warfare regime would lower signature and attempt to obtain at least simultaneously detection.

In this situation, aircraft speed, if it blows up signature, is a back line and defensive trait, not a "edge of front line of sensor reach" (except in gambles on high value targets) trait. The ability for superior maneuver (significantly) outside of weapons range can be decisive given many combat regimes and the paper says little about that.

With simultaneous detection and assuming high pk weapons (against aggressive maneuvering targets), distant rear line missile support is not very relevant as the encounter would be decided before rear missiles hit, unless said missile have huge terminal seeker that'd work with midcourse updates killed early. It would likely be cheaper to have more front line airframes and use inflight refueling. Rear missiles barges makes sense in low pk regimes, where one may have to macross to kill.

There are number of variables that is basically unknown to the public that will actually shape how air combat works out, which off the top of my head includes:
1. The gap in distance between detection, identification and localization (for weapons). Big gap improves value of mobility, small gap favors super-optimization of sensor/stealth performance
2. The change in signature for "defensive" maneuvers.
3. Sensor cost to detection range curve: rapidly increasing cost to range favors low cost platforms and vice versa. NGAD would make little sense if large manned aircraft could not have a significant detection advantage over loyal wingmans.

And there is just a whole mix of very dissimilar airframes in the drone regime, all the cost curves combined with tactics. There is insufficient work in actually reducing the variable count as a continuous curve spanning 4 orders of magnitude is on the table, with the reduction of the human constraint.
 
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