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Japanese next generation fighter study (aka i3, F-3)

Blitzo

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... is the JASDF still looking to get F-3 in service by 2030? Assuming a design is settled on within the next 3 years (which would be par for the course or even optimistic), it will probably take around 6-7 years of testing before it can begin to enter service in a limited form.


I wonder what the JASDF's internal assessments of the size of its F-35 fleet by 2030 will be, compared to the size of the PLAAF's J-20 and/or FC-31/medium weight stealth fighter fleets and whether the qualitative and quantitative balance will be judged acceptable as F-3 just begins to enter service at that time...



I also can't see Japan willing to go for a ride with the British or French-German fighter designs, as I it sounds like Japan wants to be the leading partner with substantial indigenous R&D going into it. Joining up with Tempest or the European FCAS while carrying the Japan's own additional baggage of capability and industry requirements will probably add on additional delays and costs to the respective programmes -- though I'm sure the eventual fighter produced would be very capable with an interesting mix of technologies.


Projecting things out, it does seem like F-3 will be similar to F-2 in terms of the capabilities it will offer relative to its peers, when it enters service.
By 2030, F-3 will probably be something like a 5.5 gen equivalent fighter, like how F-2 was arguably among the first 4.5 gen fighters. IMO the issue is whether F-3 (like F-2) will be produced in sufficient quantities, at sufficiently low cost, and arriving at a sufficiently early time to be able to allow JASDF to maintain the air capability they had traditionally enjoyed over other regional air forces including China. Obviously when F-2 was entering service in 2000 the PLA fielded only a small number of directly imported Flankers with no J-10s or SAC Flankers entering service in the immediate future.

By 2030, unless something drastic happens in the geopolitical or geoeconomic landscape (major war involving China, or economic collapse respectively), it's likely that J-20s (including "5.5 gen" equivalent variants) will be in service in decent number supported by an unknown number of medium weight stealth fighters as well, possibly with PLA's attempt at 6th gen emerging in the early 2030s as well.

The quantitative generational advantage vis-a-vis the PLAAF probably won't exist for when F-3 enters service vs when F-2 had entered service. The tradeoffs the JASDF must internally be conducting right now for F-3 are probably fascinating.
 

Ainen

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Blitzo said:
Projecting things out, it does seem like F-3 will be similar to F-2 in terms of the capabilities it will offer relative to its peers, when it enters service.
Drawing parallels with F-2 is dangerous, their role being extremely different.
F-2, regardless of all this generation stuff, never was a primary a2a combatant, even for Japan itself.

F-3, on the other hand, clearly intends to be exactly this, primary air superiority/air defence asset: f-35 is simply not up for the task.

P.s.the sad part for me personally is what northrop hasn't even responded. What a shame!
 

Blitzo

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Ainen said:
Blitzo said:
Projecting things out, it does seem like F-3 will be similar to F-2 in terms of the capabilities it will offer relative to its peers, when it enters service.
Drawing parallels with F-2 is dangerous, their role being extremely different.
F-2, regardless of all this generation stuff, never was a primary a2a combatant, even for Japan itself.

F-3, on the other hand, clearly intends to be exactly this, primary air superiority/air defence asset: f-35 is simply not up for the task.

P.s.the sad part for me personally is what northrop hasn't even responded. What a shame!
Their roles are different yes, though I was more thinking about the capability and the technology that each offered relative to global and regional competitors.
 

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Has there been any more word on that F-22/F-35 hybrid Lockheed Martin was talking about offering to the Japanese?

Ainen what were you expecting Northrop to offer? A new design or something based off the F-23? Either way would be a very expensive prospect.
 

Blitzo

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Colonial-Marine said:
Has there been any more word on that F-22/F-35 hybrid Lockheed Martin was talking about offering to the Japanese?
From the article sundog posted on the last page:

In response to a government call for proposals, three American and British manufacturers made offers to upgrade their existing models -- Lockheed Martin for its F-22, Boeing for its F-15, and BAE for its Eurofighter Typhoon.

However, refurbishing the stealthy, state-of-the-art F-22 is expensive, and "no clear explanation was given about the possibility of the U.S. government lifting the export ban" on the aircraft, according to a senior ministry official. The two other proposals also failed to meet the ministry's requirements.

Seems to me the "refirbished F-22" is referring to the F-22/F-35 hybrid, which seems like it was rejected.
 

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Unfortunate. Any option is going to be expensive though, it looks like they are expecting a first rate air-superiority fighter on the cheap.
 

Blitzo

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Yeah, the way I see it, for the programme they can choose two of the following three but not all three:
-low cost/affordability
-arriving on time with minimal delays
-having sufficient capability to meet their requirements
 

Ainen

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Colonial-Marine said:
Ainen what were you expecting Northrop to offer? A new design or something based off the F-23? Either way would be a very expensive prospect.
Yeah, small widow fanbois' dream of mine got crushed.
 

NUSNA_Moebius

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The 24DMU is already very Black Widow-ish. I figure if NG comes in as a partner, it would be the more likely development path.

As for government partnerships, countries with vast borders like Australia and Canada would stand to benefit from a YF-23-like design optimized for stealth, speed, supercruise, and range. The F-35 can't give them all that.
 

FighterJock

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NUSNA_Moebius said:
The 24DMU is already very Black Widow-ish. I figure if NG comes in as a partner, it would be the more likely development path.

As for government partnerships, countries with vast borders like Australia and Canada would stand to benefit from a YF-23-like design optimized for stealth, speed, supercruise, and range. The F-35 can't give them all that.
I am very surprised that Northrop Grumman were not helping with the program right from the start.
 

NUSNA_Moebius

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The whole thing still seems up in the air. 26DMU would probably be the configuration choice if LM gets involved (same config as F-22), 24DMU for a Northrop partnership. The YF-23 was already a fairly manuevarable planform, and the 24DMU would be as well no doubt. The drag savings should be worth whatever possible loss in agility the more F-22 style design would give them, as it means better kinematics and fuel efficiency. There is alot of inherit risk in such a "radical" design though, and the adoption of thrust vectoring nozzles would make up for the deletion of a full four-stab tail a la most large fighters. TVC however will require higher cost, and the Japanese haven't developed a full round 3D TVC nozzle yet either that we are aware of. Just the paddle type that I image is not as efficient.
 

Arjen

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NUSNA_Moebius said:
TVC however will require higher cost, and the Japanese haven't developed a full round 3D TVC nozzle yet either that we are aware of. Just the paddle type that I image is not as efficient.
I am no expert in the matter of efficiency of paddle TVC versus round 3D nozzle TVC, but the Rockwell-MBB X-31 achieved spectacular results with paddle TVC.
 

Blitzo

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totoro said:
Isn't preliminary configuration already chosen? Dmu26 looking a lot like f-22?
I don't think the JASDF ever said if they would be going with one of the DMU designs or a new design altogether when they were soliciting for foreign options.

I assume they're back looking at those configurations again but who knows, because they're all new clean sheet designs (F-22 lookalikes notwithstanding) and I'm not sure how strongly the JASDF are willing to go for an indigenous, twin engine, clean sheet design given the time and cost of it.


A part of me can't help but wonder if they might just end up asking LM for an "F-35J" where Japan gets a greater share of the work or something. Say, take the F-35A and give it larger F-35C wings without the folding mechanism.
 

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Blitzo said:
A part of me can't help but wonder if they might just end up asking LM for an "F-35J" where Japan gets a greater share of the work or something. Say, take the F-35A and give it larger F-35C wings without the folding mechanism.
Well in reply to the rfi, LM decided that offering an F-22 derivative was the best means of fulfilling the requirement. Although this seems to have been rejected on cost and exportability grounds.
 

kaiserd

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Hard to imagen a very slightly (perhaps only tokenly so) upgraded F-35 with more advanced air-to-air missiles than the AIM-120D (Japanese equivalent to Meteor?) wouldn’t be the most realistic interim solution.

The missile’s cost and development likely to be more realizable than a new fighter from scratch or a virtual new fighter (F-22/F-35 hybrid).
And clearly better than F-15X’s for the next 30 plus years.....
 

Blitzo

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red admiral said:
Blitzo said:
A part of me can't help but wonder if they might just end up asking LM for an "F-35J" where Japan gets a greater share of the work or something. Say, take the F-35A and give it larger F-35C wings without the folding mechanism.
Well in reply to the rfi, LM decided that offering an F-22 derivative was the best means of fulfilling the requirement. Although this seems to have been rejected on cost and exportability grounds.
Yes, though the difference is that the F-22 has been out of production for years, so Japan would be paying for the cost of not only restarting production but also paying for testing and development of the whole new derivative, and that was assuming the US would allow an F-22 derivative to be exported.

OTOH, I was suggesting an F-35 derivative that combines some elements of F-35A and F-35C in the form of an "F-35J" with more Japanese components and certain specific Japanese subsystems (avionics, weapons etc). Such an aircrat would be developed and produced while the F-35 production line worldwide is running hot with substantial US funding into F-35 to be ongoing as well... so it seems a lot more realistic than not only restarting F-22 development but making an F-22 derivative as well.

But whether an "F-35J" would be acceptable to the JASDF as their next generation air superiority fighter is another matter. An F-35J would essentially be to the F-35, what the F-2 was to the F-16, but slightly more specialized for range+A2A, than range+ASuW (at the time).


Though this is all academic. I have a feeling the JASDF will end up with a clean sheet design given the trajectory of regional air forces (i.e.: China's).
 

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Well there has been work on a new long-range AAM based on MBDA Meteor technology linked to the F-3 programme so its likely to be the weapon of choice.

This seems to be a political smokescreen to reject an off-the-shelf buy and push for a new design and shake some more Yen from the Finance Ministry. Whether they will ultimately pair up with Team Tempest or Airbus/Dassault or an American company is still anyone's guess. I would be surprised if the 2017 UK-Japanese study was simply bolting new bits to Typhoon and I suspect there is more background work going on. But if any nation was going to go it alone and make a real 5th gen fighter, then Japan is the most likely to do so.
 

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I agree Blitzo. Not sure why LM offered F-22 derivative rather than F-35 derivative.

Lengthened F-35A fuselage with bulged doors, potentially with the F-35C wing. Effectively trying to get better l/d and fuel fraction and room for 6+ AAMs. New VCE from the US may help too.

But this would eliminate Japanese domestic industry. They need to do a new product development if they want to retain industry capability.
 

NUSNA_Moebius

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Arjen said:
NUSNA_Moebius said:
TVC however will require higher cost, and the Japanese haven't developed a full round 3D TVC nozzle yet either that we are aware of. Just the paddle type that I image is not as efficient.
I am no expert in the matter of efficiency of paddle TVC versus round 3D nozzle TVC, but the Rockwell-MBB X-31 achieved spectacular results with paddle TVC.
I was talking about actual engine thrust efficiency, not the efficiency or effectiveness of the thrust vectoring itself. The X-31's F404 still has the entire convergent-divergent nozzle ahead of the paddles. The IHI XF5 does have at least have a convergent part.

I also wonder if the XF5 is a design that can be scaled up with ease into the 20 or even 30,000 lbs thrust range. Anyone have any real hard data on the X-2's supercruise performance?
 

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The F-22 line will not be restarted. There isn't enough of a fighter threat from any other nation and the USAF is already working on the F-22 replacement. They aren't going to jeopardize getting an aircraft that is optimized for the PTO for one that isn't.
 

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Not that I expect it to happen but I'd rather the DoD just accept the costs of restarting the line and upgrading the F-22 rather than simply wait for the future "6th generation" fighter.

It wouldn't negate the need for a follow-on fighter optimized for longer ranges but I highly doubt we will see such an aircraft by whatever date they are currently projecting. The way the program's name seems to change every year or two doesn't inspire much confidence that they've even decided on what they want.
 

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Hood said:
I would be surprised if the 2017 UK-Japanese study was simply bolting new bits to Typhoon and I suspect there is more background work going on.
Tempest?
 

Ainen

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red admiral said:
I agree Blitzo. Not sure why LM offered F-22 derivative rather than F-35 derivative.
Because offensive and, especially, defensive counter air matters for Japan.
And f-35 deriatives just don't fly good enough.
 

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If they want range and better kinematics while still have top-notch stealth at an affordable price and reasonable delay it might have seemed much easier to put an F-35 inside an F-22 airframe than vice-versa ;)
 

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TomcatViP said:
If they want range and better kinematics while still have top-notch stealth at an affordable price and reasonable delay it might have seemed much easier to put an F-35 inside an F-22 airframe than vice-versa ;)
Not sure about the affordable price and reasonable delay part.

Of course, conversely a larger sized F-35J would probably be unable to achieve the range and kinematics part, though it would probably be somewhat affordable and not suffer from the kind of delays a modernized F-22 would... so JASDF's got to choose their poison I suspect
 

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no. Not sure at all. And that's probably where they will be heading for a fundamental upgrade with the advent.

But modifying the size, altering significantly the structure while maintaining its RCS will cost long years of development. I think that's why LM offered the F-22 body transplant. Hence my two lines of comment above. It's a faster way to get the same result.
 

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TomcatViP said:
no. Not sure at all. And that's probably where they will be heading for a fundamental upgrade with the advent.

But modifying the size, altering significantly the structure while maintaining its RCS will cost long years of development. I think that's why LM offered the F-22 body transplant. Hence my two lines of comment above. It's a faster way to get the same result.
Well, such a programme would involve restarting the F-22 production line, while also upgrading the entire F-22 to F-35 equivalent standards, and incorporating the likely inevitable Japanese subsystems, which would be fairly costly and time consuming.

Of course, it would likely be faster Japan going for a clean sheet twin engine heavy air superiority fighter (whether it's alone or with a partner) -- but it would be slower than going for a modded F-35 given the F-35 is still very much in production with a much more active infrastructure and industry still working on it

The way I see it, in terms of time and cost, it goes something like:
Clean sheet F-3 design > modernized F-22 >> modded F-35

But in terms of air superiority capability, it'll probably be something like:
Modernized F-22 would likely be similar in capability to clean sheet F-3 design >> modded F-35


The other factor to mention is the degree of Japanese industry involvement in the project, whether they have control of the key subsystems and so on. In that regard, I imagine it would be something like:
Clean sheet F-3 design >> modernized F-22 similar to modded F-35



So the most capable option that also has the most Japanese involvement would also likely end up being the most time consuming and expensive option. A modernized F-22 will probably be broadly similarly capable but will probably be only a little less expensive and slightly less time consuming but will probably not have anywhere near as much Japanese industry involvement. A modded F-35 OTOH will be the least expensive by far and also least time consuming but it won't have the same kind of kinematic performance as either a clean sheet F-3 or a modernized F-22, and like the modernized F-22 it probably won't have as much Japanese industry involvement.


... so it'll depend on what the JASDF ends up valuing more
 

Ainen

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Blitzo said:
Clean sheet F-3 design
Above the reasons you stated, clean sheet F-3 means superior air defence capability.
Americans just do what they need.
F-22 airframe is very much about air superiority, its interceptor qualities aren't exactly on top.
Many F-35 design choices are literally the exact opposite of a good loitering interceptor.
 

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Ainen said:
Blitzo said:
Clean sheet F-3 design
Above the reasons you stated, clean sheet F-3 means superior air defence capability.
Americans just do what they need.
F-22 airframe is very much about air superiority, its interceptor qualities aren't exactly on top.
Many F-35 design choices are literally the exact opposite of a good loitering interceptor.
The F-22 already has Mach 2+ speed and supercruise, with the exception of the MiG-31 there are no pure interceptor designs around these days. If the JSDF thinks the upgraded F-22 offer was too costly they're going to be in for a shock at the real cost of a clean sheet F-3 design with VLO stealth, superior qualities as an interceptor, and the latest and greatest avionics.

Considering all of the work that would have to be done to restart the F-22 production line and update the aircraft would it feasible to enlarge the aircraft a bit to allow for more fuel and weapon bay space? IIRC the most modest of the FB-22 studies was pretty much just that. Obviously a no-go unless both Japan and the US get interested in the idea.
 

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Colonial-Marine said:
Ainen said:
Blitzo said:
Clean sheet F-3 design
Above the reasons you stated, clean sheet F-3 means superior air defence capability.
Americans just do what they need.
F-22 airframe is very much about air superiority, its interceptor qualities aren't exactly on top.
Many F-35 design choices are literally the exact opposite of a good loitering interceptor.
The F-22 already has Mach 2+ speed and supercruise, with the exception of the MiG-31 there are no pure interceptor designs around these days. If the JSDF thinks the upgraded F-22 offer was too costly they're going to be in for a shock at the real cost of a clean sheet F-3 design with VLO stealth, superior qualities as an interceptor, and the latest and greatest avionics.

Considering all of the work that would have to be done to restart the F-22 production line and update the aircraft would it feasible to enlarge the aircraft a bit to allow for more fuel and weapon bay space? IIRC the most modest of the FB-22 studies was pretty much just that. Obviously a no-go unless both Japan and the US get interested in the idea.
as I wrote on the last page, I imagine one of the benefits from the Japanese POV for a clean sheet F-3 design would be to give work to domestic industry and to lead the project's overall direction.

But between cost/time, capability, and domestic benefits I think they can only choose one or two of those at most realistically.
 

Ainen

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Dreamfighter said:
Ainen said:
a good loitering interceptor.
A lot of fighters designed as interceptors are not (very) good at loitering.
Yep, interceptors were(and still are) different, just as other fighters are.
One of key concerns for Japan are chinese LACMs, including their air launched variety.

It requires everything: ability to stay airborne for extended periods of time, dash capability, heavy enough missile load(preferably - with a true long range missile, to endanger the archer), ability to effectively seek and destroy multiple low-observable terrain-following targets, and so on.
At the same time, other fighter qualities can't be compromised either.

The list is already beyond any modern /western/ fighter, and even those who are close just aren't tuned for this exact sort of mission. Sure, f-22 has some of the qualities in question(and in US service some of the others aren't so painful), but Japan isn't the US. There are another fighters with strong interceptor qualities(for example, eurofighter), but it is not the kind of fighter Japan needs.
There are even specialised LACM interceptors(ANG SABRE-equipped f-16s), but that's it about what they can do.

Even a good old missile-carrying H-6K is a suprising pain in the (...) to deal with for an island nation, actually.
And Japanese problems do not end with H-6.
 

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Ainen said:
Yep, interceptors were(and still are) different, just as other fighters are.
One of key concerns for Japan are chinese LACMs, including their air launched variety.

It requires everything: ability to stay airborne for extended periods of time, dash capability, heavy enough missile load(preferably - with a true long range missile, to endanger the archer), ability to effectively seek and destroy multiple low-observable terrain-following targets, and so on.
At the same time, other fighter qualities can't be compromised either.

The list is already beyond any modern /western/ fighter, and even those who are close just aren't tuned for this exact sort of mission. Sure, f-22 has some of the qualities in question(and in US service some of the others aren't so painful), but Japan isn't the US. There are another fighters with strong interceptor qualities(for example, eurofighter), but it is not the kind of fighter Japan needs.
There are even specialised LACM interceptors(ANG SABRE-equipped f-16s), but that's it about what they can do.

Even a good old missile-carrying H-6K is a suprising pain in the (...) to deal with for an island nation, actually.
And Japanese problems do not end with H-6.
JASDF seeking to effectively shoot the archer against PLA LACMs will be... ambitious, going into the future, as the geography of northeast and eastern China means most of Japan will be under threat of H-6K launched KD-20s even when H-6Ks operate a few hundred km deep inside Chinese territory. That is not to speak of land TEL launched DF-10s and the eventual proliferation of DDG launched LACMs on 052Ds and 055s (essentially giving those ships a TACTOM or Kalibr capability).


I don't think any nation in the world has yet to come up with a truly effective counter against a large number of opposing long range LACMs yet, and things won't get easier as those LACMs eventually all get replaced with stealthy successors in the future.


I imagine the top of the list for JASDF's demands for F-3 would optimally be to have the performance, armament, sensors, and overall capability to outfight PLAAF 5th gens when F-3 enters service, likely advanced J-20 variants and probably a PLAAF medium weight fighter maybe derived from FC-31. I think that would be an ambitious enough goal to start off with, but there's also the demand of operating enough F-3s so that they aren't a low quantity wunderwaffe that will suffer from low availability and suffer from attrition during an actual air/missile/naval conflict.
 

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Blitzo said:
JASDF seeking to effectively shoot the archer against PLA LACMs will be... ambitious, going into the future, as the geography of northeast and eastern China means most of Japan will be under threat of H-6K launched KD-20s even when H-6Ks operate a few hundred km deep inside Chinese territory. That is not to speak of land TEL launched DF-10s and the eventual proliferation of DDG launched LACMs on 052Ds and 055s (essentially giving those ships a TACTOM or Kalibr capability).
You can counter in-land launched LACMs by air defences. They will slip through, but they will have to ram defences. Even here, though, we already need a fighter to reinforce threatened portions of a network. Especially with time, because AD will degrade gradually. Even here american 5th gen fighters are sub-optimal, because what we need here is a rapid-reaction missile truck with maximum look down/shoot-down capability.

Other launchers are mobile, and can outflank your air defence network. Surrounded AD networks don't work especially well evrn if they are designed this way, and Japanese one isn't. On top of that, Japan is big, mountainous, lacks strategic depth and is full of tasty targets.

All 3 forms of outflanking launchers(surface combatants, subs and bombers) are a problem, but bombers are particularly so: they can return and return(re-strike capability), they can change axis of attack even in process, for example, avoiding surface ships.
Not all archers can realistically be reached, but those who can better be shoot at. If anything, to limit their launch options and not let them too close.
Otherwise, their payloads become our target.
 

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Ainen said:
Blitzo said:
JASDF seeking to effectively shoot the archer against PLA LACMs will be... ambitious, going into the future, as the geography of northeast and eastern China means most of Japan will be under threat of H-6K launched KD-20s even when H-6Ks operate a few hundred km deep inside Chinese territory. That is not to speak of land TEL launched DF-10s and the eventual proliferation of DDG launched LACMs on 052Ds and 055s (essentially giving those ships a TACTOM or Kalibr capability).
You can counter in-land launched LACMs by air defences. They will slip through, but they will have to ram defences. Even here, though, we already need a fighter to reinforce threatened portions of a network. Especially with time, because AD will degrade gradually. Even here american 5th gen fighters are sub-optimal, because what we need here is a rapid-reaction missile truck with maximum look down/shoot-down capability.

Other launchers are mobile, and can outflank your air defence network. Surrounded AD networks don't work especially well evrn if they are designed this way, and Japanese one isn't. On top of that, Japan is big, mountainous, lacks strategic depth and is full of tasty targets.

All 3 forms of outflanking launchers(surface combatants, subs and bombers) are a problem, but bombers are particularly so: they can return and return(re-strike capability), they can change axis of attack even in process, for example, avoiding surface ships.
Not all archers can realistically be reached, but those who can better be shoot at. If anything, to limit their launch options and not let them too close.
Otherwise, their payloads become our target.
hmmm, I don't see what the difference between ground launched LACMs and air launched LACMs are in terms of air defence.

Are you suggesting that air launched LACMs can potentially have more range to use waypoints to circumvent certain regions where air defence is more prominent? I suppose that is not untrue, however I would go even further to say that a purely ground based air defense system without a robust and round the clock AEW&C fleet to provide long range detection and cuing for ground based air defenses, means the IADS will be at a significant disadvantage against relatively low flying cruise missiles due to the inability to detect, track and intercept them before they reach the terminal phase.

JASDF has a respectable AEWC fleet with four E-767s and over a dozen E-2Cs and to get some E-2Ds as well, but they probably don't quite have the kind of numbers you'd want for true round the clock national coverage given the geography of Japan, not to mention those AEW&Cs will be in hot demand for an A2A war as well.


In the case of H-6K, in the case of a hypothetical Sino-Japanese conflict, I can't imagine H-6Ks would be ordered to venture much outside of China's own defended borders to launch their 1500+km range KD-20s in the early phases of a conflict, given the threat of Japanese fighters (whether 4th gen or 5th gen), in fact I wouldn't be surprised if they were tasked to remain a few hundred kms within Chinese airspace. In other words, if F-3s really did have a mission to shoot the archer, with the archer being H-6Ks, it would require not only fighting through "neutral" airspace over open ocean which would be contested by PLA combat air, but also to then venture into Chinese airspace which would be defended by China's own internal CAP and ground based IADS as well... with debatable effectiveness in reducing the absolute amount of LACMs the PLA can launch, considering the number of H-6Ks in service and the sheer number of other ground and naval platforms capable of launching LACMs.

Employing what I expect to be a somewhat modest total fleet of F-3s (tbh I don't expect more than 100 F-3s considering how many F-2s were produced) to go after H-6Ks in a 2035 scenario (which is a generous timeline for having produced 100 F-3s imo), would be a bit of a poor use of a high capability, low availability asset considering that by then a credible force of stealthy H-20s will also be in service, hundreds of PLA stealth fighters of their own, and many more ship and sub based LACM launch platforms.


Considering the likely balance of air power in 2035, I have a feeling that the best use of F-3s would be in a defensive, hit and run manner to try and attrit PLA air forces the best way they can, preferably with F-3s deployed in a dispersed way among many air bases so that an LACM or SRBM strike against a single airbase won't take out 1/4 of the entire F-3 fleet.
 

Ainen

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Blitzo said:
hmmm, I don't see what the difference between ground launched LACMs and air launched LACMs are in terms of air defence.
Short sidestep: russian officers, visiting their Jugoslav counterparts in 1990s, noted a particular difficulty to organise any sort of a robust ADF when you can be attacked from any direction, anytime, and immediately at close range. One of them was what active radar has extremely low time to operate safely before coming under attack. It's like being a dish on a plate.
Not a direct analogy, but many lessons are translatable.

Back to the topic.
Well, as an absolute example - imagine Russian tu-160(quite a valid concern for Japan, too) with full missile load(x-102, 12 units), being capable to launch missiles far to the East of Honshu, while covering all the distance in unobservable international airspace clockwise, down low.
This way, not only launcher and missiles won't be observed, but missiles will be able to use all-low trajectory with essentially as many waypoints as will be necessary. They can even wait for launcher or other assets to alert another direction and draw defence attention there, untill it is too late.

H-6k can't go that far, sure, and its missiles are far shorter-ranged. But they are far more numerous, and they still can attack from, say, extreme South or even SSE. And, unlike my example with blackjack, it can be escorted by both fighters and new chinese escort jammers.

F-3 planners has to take into account not just h-6s, bears and blackjacks, but future Chinese and Russian developments, full usage of chinese SCS bases, even for possible non-friendly Taiwan, just in case.
 

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Isn't f-3 project supposed to replace the f-15? That's why Japanese originally wanted f-22. And that's why f-35 wasn't good enough for them. Otherwise, if it was only f-2 that needed replacement, f-35 would be quite a good fit. Those f-15s can't fly forever...
 

TomcatViP

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IMOHO (and as shown by the above discussion) Japan and UK share the same defensive need: projected defense in contrary to air dominance that is known more through its offensive side. If the F-22/35 hybrid wasn't deemed to satisfy the Japanese, a joint UK/Japan fighter and system strategy (carrier/offshored based missile fregates) might have plenty of advantages past their similarities. On the industrial side, there are plenty of parallel that can be drawn (with its fair share of conflicting needs as well) . The clever part will be then to aggregate some of the European needs since at the age of permanent war, foreign basing will be compromised at a partner level and in A Vs B scenario. So this defensive fighter design might well be correlated with an offensive 21st century's version of a JABO twin.
 
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