MiG-21 - still unpleasant surprise at Cope India exercise

misha

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Draft copy of the exercise Cope India report says:
While the superb performances of IAF Sukhoi-30s were somewhat anticipated, the performance of MiG-21Bison came as a major “unpleasant surprise” to the USAF officials. It also validates the claim of the Russian officials that they are capable of successfully converting “second generation” late-model MiG-21bis fighters to “fourth generation combat platforms”. Inherently the significant positive attributes enjoyed by MiG-21s were their dog fighting ability in WVR (Within Visual Range) combat. Even the earlier models had a low corner velocity of 556 kilometers per hour and at Mach 0.5 had an instantaneous turn rate of 11.1 degrees per second. The MiG-21Bison with more powerful R-25 engines not only considerably bettered this performance but it may also be credited with “jackrabbit” acceleration, a very critical attribute in WVR combat.

Something in-line to:
http://www.amazon.com/Fighter-Performance-Practice-Unexploited-maneuverability/dp/8660210174/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356439329&sr=1-1

Among many fourth generations attributes added to the IAF MiG-21Bison design, the incorporation of HMS (Helmet Mounted Sight) and high-off-boresight R-73RDM2 NBVR/WVR (Near Beyond Visual Range/Within Visual Range) AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles) have turned it into a “Great Equalizer” in the WVR combat scenario. Conceptually a small number of MiG-21Bisons maintaining “radar silence” can be guided towards their aerial target by a couple of Sukhoi-30s by secure data links in accordance with MFFC (Mixed Fighter Force Concept). Upon entering into an WVR combat envelope the MiG-21Bisons armed with HMS and deadly NBVR/WVR missiles had the capability of destroying even fifth-generation fighters alike F/A-22 Raptor as assessed by high-profile Fighter Analyst Ben Lambeth of RAND Corporation. According to Lambeth “in visual combat everybody dies at the same rate.” F/A-22 also has to slow down if forced into a WVR combat scenario and loses the advantage of its super-cruise attributes. The situation further complicates if the IAF Sukhoi-30s have acquired the capability of providing target illumination for RVV-AE (AA-12 Adder) BVR missiles being launched from IAF MiG-21Bisons at extended ranges.
 

Avimimus

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There is so much distortion out there... it is hard to get reasonable discussions either way.

This is the quote that stood out to me though:

misha said:
According to Lambeth “in visual combat everybody dies at the same rate.”
 

chuck4

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Nothing new about a 3g fighter being able to kill a 5g fighter in a furball, if it somehow get into wvr range and had been upgraded with 5g 360 degree lockon after launch ir missile capability.


There is also nothing earth shattering in the proposition that if you match the other guy plane for plane in modern g4 or g4+ fighters, then throw into the fray an additional posse of upgraded obsolescent g3 fighters, those additional fighters will give you an advantage. It's essentially saying numerical superiority is good if you've achieved qualitative parity.


The question dodged is can a g4+ fighter or the g3 fighters it is attempting to guide, do anything to a g5 fighter that can chose to engage or disengage or attack from Bvr without being first detected?
 

kcran567

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Yet another reason why the west needs a manned Gen5 lightweight fighter it can field in numbers. Small passive radar, some basic IR or advanced sensor, advanced aerodynamics with some stealth built in, and as cheap as possible. Numbers will win.


The big secret is that the super expensive fighters are good to have, but they can be beaten. The MiG 21 is very small and difficult to even see in WVR combat. With its radar off, it can be very difficult to track and detect.
 

chuck4

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5th generation fighter is intrinsically not light because stealth calls for an internal weapons bay. So if you contrive a scenario in which opponents are already within visual range, then all else being equal, a nonstealth fighter would likely enjoy an maneuverbility advantage because of lighter structural weight and probably better aerodynamics. So it is no surprised to me a lightly loaded EF2000 can beat and F22 in a turning dog fight. Or an earlier generation su-35 might be just as maneuverable as the f-22.

But the 5th gen fighter justify the structural weight handicap by seeing and shooting first.

Mig 21 may be harder to see visually, but it has many radar corner reflectors in its design and ought to present sizable returns from many aspects. Against a true stealth opponent it really would know where the opponent is, and would have trouble keeping its own most advantageous aspect towards the opponent.

So mig 21 would very likely be detected and attacked long before it was aware of the location of its opponent.
 

Jemiba

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chuck4 said:
So mig 21 would very likely be detected and attacked long before it was aware of the location of its opponent.

If it is Catch-as-catch-can, probably. But AFAIK, in all the latest conflicts, where air-to-air combat occured,
BVR was the exception, not the rule, because of the rules of engagement.
The conflicting parties generally aren't separated by vast empty areas and the neighbours, just protecting
their borders, maybe with the same aircraft, as your enemy, won't be amused about collateral damage
amongst their inventory. So, maybe even your 5G will have to approach its prey.
 

2IDSGT

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Perhaps we should re-evaluate exactly what constitutes a BVR/WVR engagement. If one pilot becomes aware of the other BVR and chooses to engage by maneuvering for advantage prior to making visual contact, I would call that a "BVR engagement," even if the ROE require the kill to be made from WVR. Even in the days when guns were the only weapons for all fighters, spotting the other guy first was a huge advantage.

That said, in a canned WVR exercise (daytime) where everyone knows where everybody else is, I have every confidence that a skilled Mig-21 pilot can still tear it up.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Jemiba said:
If it is Catch-as-catch-can, probably. But AFAIK, in all the latest conflicts, where air-to-air combat occured,
BVR was the exception, not the rule, because of the rules of engagement.

Actually in air combat during ODS and OAF BVR was just as if not more common than WVR. And in many cases WVR kills started as BVR engagements that ended up within visual range thanks to closing rate.
 

Pioneer

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  • I personally think that many top-brass in many of today's 'Western' air forces are more than willing to deliberately play down the capability of older and less complicated combat aircraft designs!
    This articular about the performance of the 'Bison's' only supports this concern.
    I think there is to much emphasis placed on technological 'bling' and 'self-driven' theories (by aerospace/weapons manufacturers and military top brass), which drive this thought process and hence the crazy and exaggerated cost of defence in the West.
    This fact should not be forgotten to the Indian Air Force of all air forces, who successfully employed 'then' deemed lightweight and obsolete HAL Ajeet (itself an adoption of the even older and simpler Folland Gnat Mk 2). The Folland Gnat in Indian Air Force service proved successful in combat in both the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. Indian Gnat's were credited with shooting down Pakistani F-86 Sabre's (Canadair Sabre Mk 6 regarded as the best dogfighter of its era).
    And of course there is the analogy of the Vietnam War - Yeah yeah .... I know 'here we go again'. But as today as then, an advanced air force (military and political system) over credited its technological advancement over its adversary's 'obsolete' fleet of fighter / interceptors, only to be kicked servilely in the teeth and head more than a few times, when their state-of-the-art all singing and all dancing fighters clashed with the North Vietnamese. So-called obsolete MiG-17's and MiG-19 meet and defeated more modern, more powerful and supposedly superior performing McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II's. As then, as is the case today, it would be superior pilot training which would make the difference. The tactics studied and created to teach a pilot-an air force the short comings and strengths of their and their enemy's equipment. A time to know where and when to do battle and fight another day!

    Once again I cannot but draw reflection on the likes of the Vought F-8 Crusader - said to be the United States best cost effective and combat proven dogfighter in its inventory at the time of and during the Vietnam War, and yet it was deliberately pushed and phased out of USN and USMC service for the want of the more expensive, more technologically troublesome F-4 Phantom II! Why? I have had some say that the F-8 Crusader was out of production by that stage! And? The world's largest industrial nation could not have the fortitude to re-instate a production line for one of its best proven combat aircraft? There is no doubt in my mind that as is the case today, it was predominantly because of self made and envisaged trend & 'bling' factor of the United States Industrial Military Complex, as opposed to combat reality (hell the F-4 Phantom II lacked the most fundamental weapon system deemed critical by the end of the air war in Vietnam - an internal gun(s). It's crown jewel - the Aim-7 Sparrow - the Phantom II's primary weapon system was an expensive flop. The real trend and reality of aerial combat at that time that was killing MiG's (whether it was over Vietnam, Middle East or India and Pakistan) was in reality dogfights with machine guns/cannon and close range IR-guided missiles.

    Regards
    Pioneer
 

chuck4

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Perhaps it would have been better if the entire us military had simply forgotten about the need to not lose an all out war against the soviet union herself tomorrow, and focused instead on winning the war against a war against a soviet proxy today.
 

Abraham Gubler

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If you have to go back 40-50 years to find a historical analogy that fits your argument then I think you're on pretty shaky grounds. Especially if said argument is just a surface read rather than a detailed assessment. Like calling the Sparrow/Phantom mix a flop because it was no good at shooting down fighters when it had been designed to shoot down nuclear bombers. Sparrow was later upgraded and integrated with a better fighter (F-15) and shot down plenty enemy fighters in ODS and in Israeli service.
 

kcran567

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Agree with you 100% pioneer. What if, perhaps I dare ask, all the stealth bling and advanced systems don't work properly in the next critical combat shooting war, just what if?


Alot of these systems are unproven and extremely labor intensive to keep operating. What if they don't work properly in combat? We've spent trillions on sophisticated defense systems that may fail in combat. In Vietnam as you said, the F-4 had no gun, and its "advanced" sparrow system had a .10 kill rate. Just one out of ten worked and actually downed an enemy aircraft.
There are some who criticize the extreme levels of defense spending on over sophisticated systems. I'm not against technology, on the contrary I fully support it. I just feel the more conservative, and cost effective approach is best. Like I said before a stealthy Gen 5 lightweight fighter.



As far as WVR/BVR and IFF, the father of the LWF project himself (even some top Navy officials) say that BVR is a myth. In actual combat you simply cannot risk downing a friendly pilot sitting in a $150 million dollar aircraft that is 40-100 miles away, so therefore you MUST positively identify the aircraft first before firing. And the Russians are betting on a close in fight in their older aircraft. I'm just asking for some common sense. Shooting fish in a barrel from 100 miles out sounds great on paper, but real war has a way of throwing in a few unexpected variables. Obviously the Mig-21 shows this.
 

Pioneer

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Abraham Gubler said:
If you have to go back 40-50 years to find a historical analogy that fits your argument then I think you're on pretty shaky grounds. Especially if said argument is just a surface read rather than a detailed assessment. Like calling the Sparrow/Phantom mix a flop because it was no good at shooting down fighters when it had been designed to shoot down nuclear bombers. Sparrow was later upgraded and integrated with a better fighter (F-15) and shot down plenty enemy fighters in ODS and in Israeli service.

Thanks for your feedback Abraham Gubler
I'm not being critical of your point of view or your right of reply my friend,but I used Vietnamair war (40-50 years) to find my analogy, because I deem that the last major war in which an enemy stood and fought against the United States (unlike the first Gulf War where a large part of the Iraqi air force either buried itself in desert sand or fled to Iran + Gulf War 2 was a no show for the Iraq air force).
Your come back about the "Sparrow/Phantom mix a flop because it was no good at shooting down fighters when it had been designed to shoot down nuclear bombers." Only goes to support my claim that the UN & USAF failed in its own analogy to forecast the role and mission of the 'next war'. Instead it overestimated the basic fundamental principles of aerial combat and the confusion of air combat - hence the rules of engagement (alas the political decision to deny the the USN & USAF the advantage of beyond visual engagement). A rule that prity well still stands today thanks to the short comings of IFF and the potential to shoot down civilian airliners or your own! That was a hell of a lot of time, money and resources expended by the the USN & USAF for shooting down a bomber threat which was proven to be both hyped up and exaggerated by the DOD and Intelligence itself, so as to stimulate the U.S. Military Industrial Complex! So how many bombers did USN & USAF actual shot down?
How many enemy aircraft were shot down my Sparrow over Vietnam? Research and debriefs have clearly shown that it was only a small (and very expensive) few Sparrows that were justifiably fired - most of these within the range of Aim-9 Sidewinders or due to the lack of Sidewinder's and gun!
I'm sorry but your analogy of the Israeli Air Forces use of the later and more effective Aim-7 Sparrow, like that during Vietnam have been shown to be in the high majority of cases within the engagement envelope of Sidewinder / Python or Shafrir missiles. I ask you to compare the air interception of enemy aircraft by the Israeli Air Force? Then break down the amount of downing s/kills by cannon, short-range / dogfight missiles and that of Aim-7 Sparrow (or even Aim-120 AMRAAM for that matter). I for one are more inclined to study and come to the conclusion that I would tend to acknowledge and follow the Israeli combat appreciation of real-world air-to-air combat than any other air force! and that is not 40-50 years ago either! Finally because of this analogy and Israel's first hand air combat appreciation and experience, I would be inclined to think if BVR was so important - no critical in today's modern aerial warfare - then Israel would have probably have developed, fielded and bloodied the worlds best BVR AAM at least a decade ago! But it has not! What I do see Israel having merit in deploying the likes of Aim-120 for is for intercepting the likes of nosy MiG-25R, and two MiG-25RB!

Regards
Pioneer
 

Abraham Gubler

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Pioneer said:
(unlike the first Gulf War where a large part of the Iraqi air force either buried itself in desert sand or fled to Iran.

That’s not true in the slightest. The professional air power community in the US, NATO and friends have put a huge effort into analysing the relatively minor problems of VietNam and fixing them. Which can be seen in the three main air campaigns of the 1980s and 90s (OPG, ODS, OAF) which despite the tabloid level analysis was not no shows or fighting monkey models.
 

TaiidanTomcat

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And of course there is the analogy of the Vietnam War - Yeah yeah .... I know 'here we go again'. But as today as then, an advanced air force (military and political system) over credited its technological advancement over its adversary's 'obsolete' fleet of fighter / interceptors, only to be kicked servilely in the teeth and head more than a few times, when their state-of-the-art all singing and all dancing fighters clashed with the North Vietnamese. So-called obsolete MiG-17's and MiG-19 meet and defeated more modern, more powerful and supposedly superior performing McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II's.

Overall the Phantom has gotten the best of the Migs by far.

As then, as is the case today, it would be superior pilot training which would make the difference. The tactics studied and created to teach a pilot-an air force the short comings and strengths of their and their enemy's equipment. A time to know where and when to do battle and fight another day!

So why are we talking about types of aircraft when as you say the big problem with the Phantom initially was the lack of trained pilots, not the aircraft itself?

Once again I cannot but draw reflection on the likes of the Vought F-8 Crusader - said to be the United States best cost effective and combat proven dogfighter in its inventory at the time of and during the Vietnam War, and yet it was deliberately pushed and phased out of USN and USMC service for the want of the more expensive, more technologically troublesome F-4 Phantom II! Why?

Because it was the better aircraft, and continues to serve today in multiple air forces a full 60 YEARS later. It is widely considered one of the most successful fighter aircraft ever built. It could also carry more bombs and was valuable in many roles besides dogfighting.

I have had some say that the F-8 Crusader was out of production by that stage! And? The world's largest industrial nation could not have the fortitude to re-instate a production line for one of its best proven combat aircraft?

The F-8 was a single engined aircraft at at time when engine reliability was a problem, its was tricky to land in a service where landing is already tricky enough. And it had it had reached its maximal growth potential. The Phantom shot down far more aircraft over the skies of vietnam than the crusader did. "best proven" is a little dubious in that case

There is no doubt in my mind that as is the case today, it was predominantly because of self made and envisaged trend & 'bling' factor of the United States Industrial Military Complex, as opposed to combat reality (hell the F-4 Phantom II lacked the most fundamental weapon system deemed critical by the end of the air war in Vietnam - an internal gun(s).

But of course the phantoms where given gun pods and new versions had guns. It was far easier to add guns to phantoms, than sparrows to Crusaders. The "Bling" was about intercepting bombers that would threaten the US or the Carrier Group, not about developing a fighter to beat north vietnam in the air, before the US was involved in Vietnam. Not only that but the Phantom proved to be a fine dogfighter over north vietnam, while the F-8 was never able to be the fleet interceptor that was needed for what was presumed to be the future war against the USSR.

It's crown jewel - the Aim-7 Sparrow - the Phantom II's primary weapon system was an expensive flop. The real trend and reality of aerial combat at that time that was killing MiG's (whether it was over Vietnam, Middle East or India and Pakistan) was in reality dogfights with machine guns/cannon and close range IR-guided missiles.

Here is a list of kills in vietnam. Please note how often the Aim-7 appears:
http://myplace.frontier.com/~anneled/usvictor.html

sparrow also got majority of kills in the gulf war and its follow on, AMRAAM continues to get BVR kills in recent conflicts like those over the former yugoslavia
 

TaiidanTomcat

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[/i]I'm not being critical of your point of view or your right of reply my friend,but I used Vietnamair war (40-50 years) to find my analogy, because I deem that the last major war in which an enemy stood and fought against the United States (unlike the first Gulf War where a large part of the Iraqi air force either buried itself in desert sand or fled to Iran + Gulf War 2 was a no show for the Iraq air force).

There were 44 kills in the first gulf war and the majority of kills were by.... Sparrows.

A rule that prity well still stands today thanks to the short comings of IFF

Could you please explain how the majority of kills from 1990 on have been BVR then?

and the potential to shoot down civilian airliners or your own! That was a hell of a lot of time, money and resources expended by the the USN & USAF for shooting down a bomber threat which was proven to be both hyped up and exaggerated by the DOD and Intelligence itself, so as to stimulate the U.S. Military Industrial Complex! So how many bombers did USN & USAF actual shot down?

Isn't it fun how the military industrial complex that created the F-8 is "Good" when the same military industrial complex creates the phantom it is "bad"? It needs to be remembered too that F-8s didn't disappear with the arrival of the phantom, they continued throughout the war and were retired later. So the Evil military industrial complex did exactly as India did --- they made a "bling" fighter but kept the older one too throughout. It should also be noted that india has far more Flankers than Bisons, in the same way that the navy produced more phantoms but again, kept the crusader around.

also, as we mention IFF it should be noted that often the F-8 was confused for the Mig-21 visually. so please don't pretend that pilots in combat relying on the old mk.1 eye ball are far better than the advanced IFF systems that are in use today, along with things like Visual sensors to still visually indentify targets at long ranges safely. The latest avionics today have aides that IFF aircraft electronically in a furball with red for enemy and green for friendly.


How many enemy aircraft were shot down my Sparrow over Vietnam? Research and debriefs have clearly shown that it was only a small (and very expensive) few Sparrows that were justifiably fired - most of these within the range of Aim-9 Sidewinders or due to the lack of Sidewinder's and gun!

59 Sparrow kills according to the list i presented. F-8s got 20 kills (only 4 with guns) F-4s killed 155 (14 with guns) F-4s sure did suck.

I for one are more inclined to study and come to the conclusion that I would tend to acknowledge and follow the Israeli combat appreciation of real-world air-to-air combat than any other air force! and that is not 40-50 years ago either! Finally because of this analogy and Israel's first hand air combat appreciation and experience, I would be inclined to think if BVR was so important - no critical in today's modern aerial warfare - then Israel would have probably have developed, fielded and bloodied the worlds best BVR AAM at least a decade ago! But it has not! What I do see Israel having merit in deploying the likes of Aim-120 for is for intercepting the likes of nosy MiG-25R, and two MiG-25RB!

Maybe there isn't a reason to develop it because they are satisfied with the AMRAAM/Sparrow? the Royal Navy has more combat experience than any navy the last 100 years, and yet they don't have Super Carriers, does this mean the supercarrier is obsolete? Should all the navies of today break out their battleships?


Finally lets take a look at Air to Air battle in general. the Majority of US Aircraft lost in Vietnam were not from the statistically rare dogfights. they were from SAMs and ground fire. Iraq only lost 44 aircraft in the first gulf war yet their air force was devasted on the ground, so effectively in fact pioneer that you don't even feel its statically worth analyzing.. Air to Air combat has been a fraction of what has killled aircraft. post vietnam its been a fraction of that fraction in WVR fighting. For all we know Iraq had some of the worlds best dogfighting pilots, yet very few of them ever got close enough to ply their trade and those that did were killed by missiles, not guns. and within days their air force was no more. Conversely, the Iraqis killed 44 aircraft, and only one-- an F-18 shot down on the first day by a MiG-25 (with a BVR missile!!) -- was downed by aircraft.

Let em have their Bisons, i like what we have.
 

TaiidanTomcat

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Numbers will win.

examples? and what kind of numbers will you need to make it work? India has only 125 Bisons. and plans to start phasing them out next year.

The big secret is that the super expensive fighters are good to have, but they can be beaten.

of course they can beaten, and yet we still wait for F-15 to be bested in Air to Air Combat. Good to have? how about great to have? How about you don't stand a chance without them? Why does india have flankers? Why are they investing in the Rafale?

less than perfect does not mean failure. Lets say an F-15 was bested in A2A combat, does that mean that the 140-1 score is now worthless because the F-15 lost ONCE? the F-15 would have to lose 140 times in a row ... just to break even with its adversaries. Of course it can be beaten. Of course it can. Its odds, though. I would be an idiot to bet against the F-15, even if it wasn't perfect. If the F-15 had been shot down 35- 140 its still 75 percent in favor of the F-15. If losing just one aircraft in combat means its worthless, I must wonder why we promote the Mig-21 in any form. hundreds have been shot down even against aircraft that it is "equal to" like the Mirage III. Its faired even worse against phantoms, F-16s, F-14s, and F-15s.

The MiG 21 is very small and difficult to even see in WVR combat. With its radar off, it can be very difficult to track and detect.

And yet they have been killed in alarming rates in air to air combat their entire service life.


Agree with you 100% pioneer. What if, perhaps I dare ask, all the stealth bling and advanced systems don't work properly in the next critical combat shooting war, just what if?

Then you fall back on the Already dominant western aircraft of yesteryear? are we dealing with an enemy that has the perfect combination of tech that can best fifth generation fighters whos advanced tech failed, yet not best the fourth gen aircraft who's less than advanced proven tech still succeeds? And where is the guarantee that a LW fifth generation aircraft that utilizes the exact same tech as its larger more expensive doesn't also fail along with them?

Where is this perfect combination of old yet new, advanced yet safe 5th gen yet 4th gen, heavy enough to get the job done yet still light enough to be ultra nimble fighter? We keep talking about this mythical fighter that is "just right" It will not fail when punching above or below its weight class, getting the best of the PAK FA/J-20, but also kicking Bison butt as well. And all at a low price, for a complex yet simple machine.

Alot of these systems are unproven and extremely labor intensive to keep operating. What if they don't work properly in combat?

Then you don't have to bother about continuing to operate them

We've spent trillions on sophisticated defense systems that may fail in combat. In Vietnam as you said, the F-4 had no gun, and its "advanced" sparrow system had a .10 kill rate. Just one out of ten worked and actually downed an enemy aircraft.

Everything "may fail" in combat, 100 percent of systems in combat have been imperfect. Generally In the military 70 percent is considered acceptable. Perfect is for the internet military.

If the phantom is considered a failure in combat and service, I would love to see what people consider a success.



Obviously the highly upgraded Mig-21 shows this in the case of this training exersize.

Fixed it for ya. Because IRL, Mig-21s have been getting annihilated by F-15s. suddenly this one exersize retroactively proves the Mig-21 can best the F-15? I understand that a lot of Modern Air Combat is "theory" but Mig-21s meeting F-15s is not one of them. take a look at the history its goes 100 percent in the F-15s favor.

chuck4 said:
5th generation fighter is intrinsically not light because stealth calls for an internal weapons bay. So if you contrive a scenario in which opponents are already within visual range, then all else being equal, a nonstealth fighter would likely enjoy an maneuverbility advantage because of lighter structural weight and probably better aerodynamics. So it is no surprised to me a lightly loaded EF2000 can beat and F22 in a turning dog fight. Or an earlier generation su-35 might be just as maneuverable as the f-22.

But the 5th gen fighter justify the structural weight handicap by seeing and shooting first.

Mig 21 may be harder to see visually, but it has many radar corner reflectors in its design and ought to present sizable returns from many aspects. Against a true stealth opponent it really would know where the opponent is, and would have trouble keeping its own most advantageous aspect towards the opponent.

So mig 21 would very likely be detected and attacked long before it was aware of the location of its opponent.

Sums it up very well.

In a thread where we talk about "learning all the wrong lessons" its worth noting that many dogfighting exercises today take BVR out of the equation to keep it "fair" and of course emphasize WVR dogfighting. The Majority of the F-15s kills have been against older generation migs. like the Mig-21. so reality vs exercise cuts both ways. In fact many countries have tried to best the F-15 with older migs, so far the score has been pretty decisive the F-15s way. There are plenty of real world examples of obsolete aircraft running afoul of modern BVR equipped aircraft since about 1980 onward and it has not been pleasant for those flying the older machines.

Lets pretent that the WVR aircraft beats the BVR aircraft 1 time out of 10. (Even though the number is no where near 10 percent success in real life) Why would it be smart to bet on the 10 percent solution, rather than the 90 percent solution? if each side has 1,000 aircraft and one is Mig-21s and the other F-15s and the F-15 finish the war with "only" 900 aircraft surviving, and the other side has zero. how is that considered a success for the MiGs? why would it be intelligent to invest in an aircraft that requires 10 aircraft for the enemies 1 to have any chance of success? in life, sports, and war, it is always easy to point to the exceptions. but when it comes down to it, odds are odds. Sure there are "upsets" here and there, occasional surprises. Its fun to play the lottery! but thats usually because you accept that you probably won't win, and the cost of a ticket is pretty small. If you had to bet your life or your fortune to play the lottery no one but the most desperate would buy a ticket.

Lets take the position that a Mig-21 bison with advanced AAMs is a truly impressive aircraft and even this older/cheaper design can take out a plane newer and more expensive in WVR combat-- In that case the idea of trying to "out mig the mig" is stupid. If the best and the worst aircraft die equally close in, then its in the more expensive aircrafts best interest to avoid that fight. "Don't turn with a Zero" the answer wasn't to try and build a better zero. Don't fight his fight. If you are fighting a boxer, get him on the ground and force him to wrestle instead. Not only that but India does not rely primarily on the Bison, but on those "blingy" FLankers, and other aircraft as well.

Essentially we are taking the "exception" and trying to make it the "rule"

Finally fifth generation aircraft so far are also gun equipped and capable of pulling nine Gs and also have advanced off boresight missiles and helmet cueing. Its not like fifth generation aircraft aren't prepared for dogfighting. they can do BVR and WVR. So all the dogfight nuts-- you can have your cake and eat it too. please don't pretend that "lessons have been forgotten" when the aircraft are equipped and prepared to dogfight if needed.
 

Pioneer

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Wow Taildan Tomcat!! Some great information with your informative comeback!!
I don't wish to engage you in an endless dogfight on this topic. Nor do I want to come across as being argumentative. But I think you will agree (for the sake of the forum) that this can go on and on.
I'm happy to take your (and Abraham Gubler's) points on board! - Hence the beauty of this web page ;)
For me to continue means the delving into the mercy mud of sticky and dirty politics - something and somewhere non of us want to go :-X
I was simply attempting to show that a grade lower in generation is and has been proven to remain effective.
I am not doubting, nor am I against technological advancements in latter generation combat aircraft or weapon systems they employ!

Please keep up the good work and positive contributions Taildan Tomcat &Abraham Gubler's !!

Regards
Pioneer
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Any success the MiG-21 Bison had proved that *avionics and weapons* are the key to success in modern air combat.


I would liken the Bison to the Sea Harrier FA2. Subsonic, elderly airframe, but with AMRAAM and Blue Vixen radar it was a pretty nasty adversary.
 

TaiidanTomcat

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PaulMM (Overscan) said:
Any success the MiG-21 Bison had proved that *avionics and weapons* are the key to success in modern air combat.

Agreed. Any "new lease on life" is payed for with things like highly capable missiles and no-joke jammers. I also think it is important to emphasize that if fifth generation aircraft fail, there is no guarantee that the 4th generation aircraft would somehow not suffer as well, if not worse.
 

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Something that appears to be absent from this discussion: WVR means just that. In that environment, F-5s and MiG-21s can hand out a nasty surprise.

Also, note that Bf110s did not rule the skies in the Battle of Britain.
 

Abraham Gubler

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LowObservable said:
Something that appears to be absent from this discussion: WVR means just that. In that environment, F-5s and MiG-21s can hand out a nasty surprise.

But they have to get into visual range first (<5-10km). And part of their 'suprise' is their small size making it hard to see them. An aircraft like the F-35 with EODAS will have no problem knowing where every F-5, MiG-21 is in close and which direction it is facing irrespective of pilot eyeball alignment.

LowObservable said:
Also, note that Bf110s did not rule the skies in the Battle of Britain.

Yes but the Bristol Fighter DID rule the skies over the Western Front and Palestine in 1917-18. So take that anti-large fighter historical analogies.
 

kcran567

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TaiidanTomcat said:
Numbers will win.
Where is this perfect combination of old yet new, advanced yet safe 5th gen yet 4th gen, heavy enough to get the job done yet still light enough to be ultra nimble fighter? We keep talking about this mythical fighter that is "just right" It will not fail when punching above or below its weight class, getting the best of the PAK FA/J-20, but also kicking Bison butt as well. And all at a low price, for a complex yet simple machine.


That's hilarious Taiden Tomcat. I have to agree. All you're points are valid about the mythical fighter, and the F-15's record, etc.


Just for laughs, maybe the future is a lumbering, stealth shaped 747 sized aircraft loaded with BVR missiles. I'm sure that is an option too.


I still think that a clean sheet stealthy "F-5/Mig-21 type" aircraft would be successful for the same reason that the Bisons were successful in the exercise. Small, difficult to detect if some stealth built in, and (if possible) cheap to produce. I see you're point though. But I'm not saying that we should go -back to the future- and start building 3rd and 4th gen fighters, there's no going backwards only forward i guess.
 

TaiidanTomcat

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LowObservable said:
Something that appears to be absent from this discussion: WVR means just that. In that environment, F-5s and MiG-21s can hand out a nasty surprise.

Assuming they can even make it to the engagement, A Canadian F-5 pilot was recently talking about how the F-5 was so short legged that it couldn't go looking for trouble, it had to hope trouble found it-- and preferably near the airfield. . A 5th gen light fighter has to carry fuel internally to maintain stealth. So even a "light" 5th gen is going to be far bigger/heavier than an F-5 or MiG-21. Even you want to use another Battle of Britain analogy, the F-5/Mig-21 will burn a lot of fuel just getting there, and won't leave much time for dogfighting.

Also, note that Bf110s did not rule the skies in the Battle of Britain.

If only there was some kind of technology that was developed after the Bf110s propellers that could give a heavier twin engine fighter an advantage?
 

kcran567

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TaiidanTomcat said:
Assuming they can even make it to the engagement, A Canadian F-5 pilot was recently talking about how the F-5 was so short legged that it couldn't go looking for trouble, it had to hope trouble found it-- and preferably near the airfield. . A 5th gen light fighter has to carry fuel internally to maintain stealth. So even a "light" 5th gen is going to be far bigger/heavier than an F-5 or MiG-21. Even you want to use another Battle of Britain analogy, the F-5/Mig-21 will burn a lot of fuel just getting there, and won't leave much time for dogfighting.

Also, note that Bf110s did not rule the skies in the Battle of Britain.

If only there was some kind of technology that was developed after the Bf110s propellers that could give a heavier twin engine fighter an advantage?


Well, thats what (the f-5s) were designed to be. the Vietnamese Mig-21's and Mig-17s had a target rich environment, basically the big heavy f-4s and f-105s had to haul all that gear and fuel to bomb/fight on their turf then had to tangle with the lightweight more agile fighters once they got there. And that's my point. Something like the F-35 is more of an light attack strike/bomber. As a result of its complexity/weight its going to have a hard time in WVR against a lighter, simpler opponent. imagine if that opponent was a next gen stealthy f-5/Mig-21. Maybe a stealthy version of the Jf-17 or the J-31 would fit that bill. The US is missing out in this area I think.
 

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Mig-17 and mig-21 worked for north vietnam because their de facto strategy was to wait for Americans to go over their turf and bomb them. If American stretegic outlook is now to wait for the Chinese to come and bomb us, a stealthy, short legged modernized f-5 might provide adaquate local defense. But if the outlook is still to push any war as far from American soil as possible, while putting as much of enemy's own home turf in play as possible, as they still are last i looked, i am afraid stealthy f-5 or mig-21 would be losers for our purposes.
 

kcran567

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chuck4 said:
Mig-17 and mig-21 worked for north vietnam because their de facto strategy was to wait for Americans to go over their turf and bomb them. If American stretegic outlook is now to wait for the Chinese to come and bomb us, a stealthy, short legged modernized f-5 might provide adaquate local defense. But if the outlook is still to push any war as far from American soil as possible, while putting as much of enemy's own home turf in play as possible, as they still are last i looked, i am afraid stealthy f-5 or mig-21 would be losers for our purposes.


Building a stealthy mig-21/F-5 would be a winner: 1) export market sales, 2) putting people to work, 3) maybe equipping air national guard units also.
 

TaiidanTomcat

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kcran567 said:
chuck4 said:
Mig-17 and mig-21 worked for north vietnam because their de facto strategy was to wait for Americans to go over their turf and bomb them. If American stretegic outlook is now to wait for the Chinese to come and bomb us, a stealthy, short legged modernized f-5 might provide adaquate local defense. But if the outlook is still to push any war as far from American soil as possible, while putting as much of enemy's own home turf in play as possible, as they still are last i looked, i am afraid stealthy f-5 or mig-21 would be losers for our purposes.


Building a stealthy mig-21/F-5 would be a winner: 1) export market sales, 2) putting people to work, 3) maybe equipping air national guard units also.

1. The F-35 already has the market cornered
2. I can't deny that
3. There is only so much money, and although the guard is important, is it worth watering down other areas? Will the guard unit deploy and can its F-5/mig-21s keep up with F-35s and F-22s when it does?

As Chuck says, we are an expeditionary force we don't fight over our home. If we really wanted to use North Vietnam as the model we would have a vast integrated air defense where light aircraft make up only a very small portion of what defends the skies. (we also have to count on our enemies to not bomb the airfields thanks to idiotic ROE-- A "vietnam lesson" that never gets mentioned)

Anothr problem you run into is that the Stealthy/Mig-21/F-5 is a very limited machine in its scope, but it would still cost a lot of money because it needs lots of sensors, and advanced weapons, and jammers, and nice radar, and all the other bells and whistles.

Was the Mig-21 bison a bit of a shock? Yes. Is it worth imitating with a whole new class of aircraft? IMO No. Is it worth training for such threats? this exercise would say yes, And its a valuable lesson learned. If your girlfriend burns your toast, do you get a new toaster, a new girlfriend, or do you adjust the settings on the toaster?

Its good training, thats why we have it. You show me the group or country that "always wins" in training and I will show you some seriously rigged contests. the USAF took notice, the USMC still practices against F-5s the Mig-21 threat has always been taken seriously-- these were some well upgraded MiG-21s, (not your fathers Mig-21...) That might have been the "real surprise" in this whole cope India. Not the Mig-21s we are used to seeing.
 

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As nice an idea as this lightweight fighter thingy is, it isn't going to happen. Why? Well, the expensive bits of a modern combat aircraft are; the engine(s) and the avionics. The airframe itself is a relatively cheap item.

For this lightweight to be useful, it'll need modern engines (T/W ratio, specific fuel consumption etc.) and decent avionics (low probability of intercept radar, IRST, data networking etc.). These items are the same or similar to those fitted to a larger platform but now you don't have the range etc. of that larger platform.

So, in short, yes the lightweight will cost a little less but it'll deliver massively less capability and hence poor value for the taxpayer. Put another way, I believe the Americans have an expresion that goes along the lines of "buy cheap - buy twice"...

But that's just my take on it all ;)

Regards,
 

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Great discussion!
A couple of points I would like to add (forgive me if they have already been mentioned). In aerial combat, the defender usually has an advantage in that it doesn't have to carry extra fuel to get to the target, it can be loaded with just a few missiles (and perhaps a gun) because he usually has a number advantage (many aircraft intercepting incoming aircraft), and a speed advantage (he can go faster for a shorter period of time because he doesn't have to conserve fuel for a long return trip). This is why the lessons from Viet Nam point to the fact that older generation aircraft which are often simpler and lighter can best a much more complex weapon system. But don't forget the US still had well over a 3:1 kill ratio at the begining (considered poor) and that by the end of the war, with training, new tactics, and weapons advancement, the kill ratio ended up at 11:1 during the final years. All that in a highly technical, heavy, poor dogfighting aircraft. If the rolls were reversed and Mig-17, -19, and -21s were loaded down with bombs intent on delivering them to South Viet Nam, lightly loaded (no fuel tanks, just missiles) F-4s would have had a field day because the roles were reversed and the Migs would be loaded for bear and had to watch their fuel if they wanted to return home and the Phantoms could use their speed and power to shred the attacking aircraft.

One more thing about the kill ratio in Viet Nam. The figures are misleading. The US aircraft that were being shot down (air-to-air) were mostly aircraft loaded with bombs trying to get to a target to take it out. Very few aircraft flying MigCap which were tasked to the air-to-air role ended down. So you also have to consider the mission profile the aircraft is loaded for. Just because an aircraft that is on a bombing mission has a few air-to-air missiles on board, doesn't make it an ideal air-to-air platform.

The reason for the difficult rules of engagement during the V.N. war were to protect against friendly fire when relying on BVR attacks. The AWACs of the day just weren't that advanced yet to keep track of who was who, and often didn't have the coverage of todays systems. That is why you see in the Gulf wars and other conflicts the West's aircraft using BVR attacks to shoot and kill hostile aircraft, you now can be (more) definate of who you are shooting at.

The argument for simpler light weight aircraft has been tried in the US before. After Viet Nam there was a cry that we needed a lightweight fighter (even though we had the F-5 which was a very good aircraft). Hence you had the flyoff between the YF-16 and the YF-17. The F-16 won the flyoff, but both aircraft ended up winning as the YF-17 later emerged as the F-18. But being the practical nation that we are, we demanded a lot more for our buck. So soon these very nice, light weight fighters, were recast in the mold of the F-4 Phantom II, by adding more and more equipment (and weight) to a nimble little fighter until they were no longer nimble or light. Now I am not arguing that it is a bad thing. We have two very capable aircraft in the F-16 and F-18, just that they aren't what they started out to be. I mean look at the F-16, it has lumps and bumps and humps until it is a long cry of that beautiful nimble and manuverable aircraft it started out to be.

The military philosophy seems to be that we need to do more with less, so aircraft have to be able to do everything, not just one thing well. I personally think that the F-4 Phantom spoiled military planners and they are constantly in search of that next aircraft that can do everything well.
 

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