• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

Navy AX and A/F-X projects

Triton

Donald McKelvy
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
9,722
Reaction score
478
Website
deeptowild.blogspot.com
Now that the US Navy has the F-35C and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and the F/A-18G Prowler, does the US Navy need a successor to the A/FX like the Boeing F/A-XX? Is Northrop Grumman likely to come up with an A/FX successor?
 

Matej

Multiuniversal creator
Joined
Feb 13, 2006
Messages
2,616
Reaction score
103
Website
www.hitechweb.genezis.eu
The key element here is the UCAS. If the X-47B will be good enough and will enter the serial production, the combination of the second generation, even much stealthified Superhornet, F-35C and A-47 will be good enough at least until the mid century.


Moderators note: please do not use hyperquotes. The quote of just one previous post (if you are not the next one) is just fine.
 

Dreamfighter

Senior Something
Joined
Jul 14, 2008
Messages
172
Reaction score
6
But if the US Navy doesn't go for the Ultimate Super Hornet (like with that stealthy missile-pod Boeing showed), they might need to replace the Superbug near the end of the 2nd decade.
Keeping the long development-phases in mind, perhaps a real F/A-XX-prototype might show up around 2020... to be production-ready ca. 2030 if all goes well. Of couse with no guarantee of actually going in production, things could get cancelled... ::)
Also it could be decided that the Navy would have to do with just the F-35 and a X-47 (A-47), once the F/A-18E/F nears retirement...
 

F-14D

I really did change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2007
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
133
Triton said:
Now that the US Navy has the F-35C and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and the F/A-18G Prowler, does the US Navy need a successor to the A/FX like the Boeing F/A-XX? Is Northrop Grumman likely to come up with an A/FX successor?
Neither the F-35C, Super Bug nor Growler deliver what was intended with the A/FX. The Navy still needs something like that, but now that things have gone the way they have, the question is whether they will ever get it. Certainly USAF will be opposed and lobby against it.
 

Dreamfighter

Senior Something
Joined
Jul 14, 2008
Messages
172
Reaction score
6
F-14D said:
Neither the F-35C, Super Bug nor Growler deliver what was intended with the A/FX. The Navy still needs something like that, but now that things have gone the way they have, the question is whether they will ever get it.
Exactly.

F-14D said:
Certainly USAF will be opposed and lobby against it.
Unless it would be optimised for A2A, and could also become a replacement for the Raptor. Yeah, I know the USAF doesn't want adopting Navy planes, but perhaps it could be vica versa (like with the F-22 -> NATF). Or USAF could be forced to by budget restraints... All depending on which design / development-efforts would start 1st; a F-22 replacement or a Superbug-one. As Boeing's released pics show, at least they have started thinking about the latter one....
 

F-14D

I really did change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2007
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
133
Dreamfighter said:
F-14D said:
Certainly USAF will be opposed and lobby against it.
Unless it would be optimised for A2A, and could also become a replacement for the Raptor. Yeah, I know the USAF doesn't want adopting Navy planes, but perhaps it could be vica versa (like with the F-22 -> NATF). Or USAF could be forced to by budget restraints... All depending on which design / development-efforts would start 1st; a F-22 replacement or a Superbug-one. As Boeing's released pics show, at least they have started thinking about the latter one....

If it was optimized for A2A, it wouldn't be the A/FX the Navy wanted and needed; that's one of the reasons they pulled out of NATF--too much fighter, not enough strike. Keep in mind that A/FX was only about five years or so behind Raptor, so the technology advance wasn't that much over F-22 level, and wouldn't be leading edge by the time Raptor needed replacement (after all, USAF was getting 700+ of those, remember?). USAF nominally looked at it as an F-111, F-15E & F-117 replacement, but I am cynical that they would have actually bought it, lobbying instead to use the money they would have spent on A/FX to buy more B-2s, or F-22s or even F-16s.
 

Dreamfighter

Senior Something
Joined
Jul 14, 2008
Messages
172
Reaction score
6
I agree with what you say. But looking to the future, wouldn't the Navy - assuming they have the F-35 strikefighter and an attack A-47 (an evolved X-47 or something, though not sure how long it's legs and how large it's payload would be) - become more interested in A2A again to a certain extent (fleet defense), then it was in the time of A/F-X ? (I'm thinking about what the F-14 was) And - though as meaningless as it might be - the prefix now seems F/A (-XX) again...
 

SDN

CLEARANCE: Restricted
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
F-14D said:
Neither the F-35C, Super Bug nor Growler deliver what was intended with the A/FX. The Navy still needs something like that, but now that things have gone the way they have, the question is whether they will ever get it. Certainly USAF will be opposed and lobby against it.
Do you think it's possible that the F/A-XX requirements will, over time, turn more into requirements akin to A/F-X? I think so long as the Navy has carriers, they might have a chance at getting their desired A/F-X.
 

Abraham Gubler

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
3,556
Reaction score
146
The next fighter for Navy, Air Force and the rest of the US aligned world will probably resemble the ATA more than the A/FX. The driving operational requirements are as much brains (ISR), legs (fuel) and stealth (LO) as possible. Its not so hard to combine all that in a ~70,000 lbs aircraft with ~8 hours of internal fuel as long as it isn’t trans/supersonic. With hypersonic missiles a real possibility from 2020 onwards the need for speed in the aircraft is significantly less. Of course this new fighter will be unmanned but it will carry one or two humans around with it. They can call themselves pilots or aviators if they want but their job will be all about target acquisition and mission control.
 

F-14D

I really did change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2007
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
133
Dreamfighter said:
I agree with what you say. But looking to the future, wouldn't the Navy - assuming they have the F-35 strikefighter and an attack A-47 (an evolved X-47 or something, though not sure how long it's legs and how large it's payload would be) - become more interested in A2A again to a certain extent (fleet defense), then it was in the time of A/F-X ? (I'm thinking about what the F-14 was) And - though as meaningless as it might be - the prefix now seems F/A (-XX) again...
It's not that the USN ever was not interested in A2A. It's simply that their pressing need was and is strike. So, that was their main design driver. The fact that the plane evolved from AX to A/FX (partly driven by the loss of the F-14) shows they hadn't forgotten fighters. The a/c would have to be able to handle fleet defense as well as self escort and possibly protecting the strike force (A/FXs loaded for A2A protecting other A/FXs carrying more strike related ordnance). They realized they couldn't afford the best fighter around and the best strike, so they went for the latter and required a "good enough" fighter capability. They were counting heavily on AIM-152 which, had the F-14 Quickstrike and A/FX survived, probably would have reached production.
 

F-14D

I really did change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2007
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
133
SDN said:
F-14D said:
Neither the F-35C, Super Bug nor Growler deliver what was intended with the A/FX. The Navy still needs something like that, but now that things have gone the way they have, the question is whether they will ever get it. Certainly USAF will be opposed and lobby against it.
Do you think it's possible that the F/A-XX requirements will, over time, turn more into requirements akin to A/F-X? I think so long as the Navy has carriers, they might have a chance at getting their desired A/F-X.
Depends on how "roles and missions" shake out with the Air Force, and who's got more pull in the Pentagon.
 

Triton

Donald McKelvy
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
9,722
Reaction score
478
Website
deeptowild.blogspot.com
Abraham Gubler said:
Triton said:
I know that some authors were calling the US Navy aircraft derived from the F-22A the "Sea Raptor." I have not read any articles to suggest that the project was known as the Sea Raptor at Boeing or Lockheed Martin. Though it would have been interesting if the aircraft had been designated FA-22N.
Any use of the name "Sea Raptor" would be pure fiction. A/FX - the last gasp of a navalised ATF - was cancelled in late 1993 and the F-22 did not recieve the name "Raptor" until April 1997.
The F-22 was named Lightning II by Lockheed when Lockheed unveiled the prototype, then briefly SuperStar. The US Air Force rejected these names and called the aircraft Rapier and then changed the name to Raptor when it accepted delivery of the first F-22.

Source:
http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/q0221.shtml
 

Stargazer2006

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2009
Messages
13,240
Reaction score
428
Triton said:
The F-22 was named Lightning II by Lockheed when Lockheed unveiled the prototype, then briefly SuperStar. The US Air Force rejected these names and called the aircraft Rapier and then changed the name to Raptor when it accepted delivery of the first F-22.
So YF-22A WAS the Rapier and F-22A the Raptor. Thanks for this link, which confirms info I had collected at the time but could no longer trace as evidence. I had the Lightning II bit as well, but I must say SuperStar is new to me. For the record, Rapier was initially allocated to North American Aviation's cancelled F-108 high altitude escort fighter (for the B-70 Valkyrie); Superstar was apparently an unused inhouse name for the XF-90 prototypes, although I'm still looking for documented evidence of this.
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
13,327
Reaction score
1,348
"Superstar" (insert the Bart Simpson shudder).
 

InvisibleDefender

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2010
Messages
152
Reaction score
3
Triton said:
donnage99 said:
Triton, all these images you posted are found in Matej's website, in which he linked to back on page 1:
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,2150.msg20137.html#msg20137
True, but these images are larger and did not come from Matej's website. It is not my intention to waste bandwidth and storage space on the Secret Projects server. I understand that one of the goal's of the forum is that it can serve as an archive for years to come for drawings, artwork, and information concerning unbuilt projects. For example, Flateric has been encouraging that Members use attachments rather than hotlinking to a third-party image hosting site because these links may become dead.

If you believe that the images I have attached do not add value to the forum, may be common place, and/or waste forum resources, then feel free to report my post to a Moderator or Overscan. I will defer to their judgment.
Matej said it correctly earlier, "he's collected" a lot of stuff. Some came from my old website, some came from other places. He's just kept it all going. I'm glad to see that the stuff is still 'out there'
 

InvisibleDefender

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2010
Messages
152
Reaction score
3
Triton said:
Abraham Gubler said:
Triton said:
I know that some authors were calling the US Navy aircraft derived from the F-22A the "Sea Raptor." I have not read any articles to suggest that the project was known as the Sea Raptor at Boeing or Lockheed Martin. Though it would have been interesting if the aircraft had been designated FA-22N.
Any use of the name "Sea Raptor" would be pure fiction. A/FX - the last gasp of a navalised ATF - was cancelled in late 1993 and the F-22 did not recieve the name "Raptor" until April 1997.
The F-22 was named Lightning II by Lockheed when Lockheed unveiled the prototype, then briefly SuperStar. The US Air Force rejected these names and called the aircraft Rapier and then changed the name to Raptor when it accepted delivery of the first F-22.

Source:
http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/q0221.shtml
So, I could be wrong here, but as far as I can remember the USAF never officially named the F-22 the Rapier. It was one of the many names floating around. Just as many names were floating around for the F-35 before the USAF officially named the jet.
 

Stargazer2006

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2009
Messages
13,240
Reaction score
428
InvisibleDefender said:
So, I could be wrong here, but as far as I can remember the USAF never officially named the F-22 the Rapier. It was one of the many names floating around. Just as many names were floating around for the F-35 before the USAF officially named the jet.
And sometimes the circulated names become official. A case in point was "Nighthawk", which to the best of my knowledge had never been used by any insider until the USAF revealed the aircraft and some inspired journalist coined that name.
 

AeroFranz

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 4, 2008
Messages
2,252
Reaction score
153
How are the names selected these days anyways? I have vague memories of it being decided by polls in the services. That would explain why you get (and here it's just my opinion) idiotic names like Reaper and Raptor, which seems more like the selection of Xbox-playing youngsters than say, a naming committee trying to preserve tradition.
I mean, which one would you rather name "Lightning II", a ground-breaking twin engine fighter designed for long range and high speed (F-22), or a single engine ground-pounder (F-35)? end of rant.
 

InvisibleDefender

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2010
Messages
152
Reaction score
3
I'm with you - and having particpated in the F-35 naming in the early stages, I can tell you it's a mess.
 

Stargazer2006

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2009
Messages
13,240
Reaction score
428
Thanks for sharing the logos! These are precious because they are usually hard to find and represent an integral part of the program, what the company communicates upon.
 

Triton

Donald McKelvy
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
9,722
Reaction score
478
Website
deeptowild.blogspot.com
AeroFranz said:
How are the names selected these days anyways? I have vague memories of it being decided by polls in the services. That would explain why you get (and here it's just my opinion) idiotic names like Reaper and Raptor, which seems more like the selection of Xbox-playing youngsters than say, a naming committee trying to preserve tradition.
I mean, which one would you rather name "Lightning II", a ground-breaking twin engine fighter designed for long range and high speed (F-22), or a single engine ground-pounder (F-35)? end of rant.
I am more disappointed that the names for raptors have been given to a tiltrotor and helicopters. The names Osprey, Merlin, and Kestrel, in my opinion, should have been reserved for fighters and attack aircraft. The name Osprey, named for the sea hawk or fish eagle, seems like an obvious choice to me for the AX, A/FX, or A/F-XX if we were to keep the birds-of-prey naming scheme for fighters going. Raptor is a naturalist term for a bird-of-prey and I don't think of it as the informal name for species in the Velociraptor genus of dinosaur, so the F-22 does keep the birds-of-prey naming scheme for fighters going.

The F-35 Lightning II might be remembered as a great plane and live up to its historical namesake. Previously unused names or names from canceled projects may create new legends.

Also with the consolidation of defense contractors and bankruptcies, it's difficult to continue manufacturer naming schemes.

The issues with what to name a new weapon system is a matter of taste, association, tradition, and politics. In the end though does it really matter what a weapon system is named as long as the services have it in sufficient numbers and it operates as it was designed and advertised?
 

AeroFranz

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 4, 2008
Messages
2,252
Reaction score
153
Triton said:
The issues with what to name a new weapon system is a matter of taste, association, tradition, and politics. In the end though does it really matter what a weapon system is named as long as the services have it in sufficient numbers and it operates as it was designed and advertised?
Maybe the problem is that I want the cake and eat it too. Seriously, how many weapon systems actually are delivered as promised by the contractor, on time, on budget, and performing as advertised? Compared to that, how hard is it to give an airplane a proper name? Hell, you could spend a million dollars and that would still be an infinitesimal fraction of the total. Or you could take three or four forum members, a few pints of beer and we'd be done in a couple of hours ;)

I guess that naming a plane in the same vein as previous aircraft with an illustrious past is a way to endow it with some of the same mystique. 'Reaper' or Raptor (which is a generic class bird AFAIK, not a species proper) doesn't do it for me.
 

Evil Flower

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Oct 12, 2006
Messages
223
Reaction score
3
I personally don't like the "II" suffix as to me it just screams uninspired. There certainly is no shortage of potential names for new planes.
 

Orionblamblam

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
7,848
Reaction score
1,053
Website
www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
Triton said:
In the end though does it really matter what a weapon system is named as long as the services have it in sufficient numbers and it operates as it was designed and advertised?
Yes. Consider:

F-18 "Crusaders" operating from the USS Vlad Tepes
A-10 "Heretic"
AH-64 "Infidel"
M-1 "SuperHog"
With Marines armed with shoulder-fired "MosqueBuster" rocket launchers

There just might maybe be a bit of a problem.
 

Stargazer2006

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2009
Messages
13,240
Reaction score
428
Evil Flower said:
I personally don't like the "II" suffix as to me it just screams uninspired. There certainly is no shortage of potential names for new planes.
"II" may seem uninspired, but it's also a nice way to build on a company's heritage...

There used to be a time when many aircraft companies had coherent naming systems for their aircraft, for instance:
- Douglas used the "Sky-" prefix
- Lockheed used names of stars, or "Star" as a suffix or a prefix
- McDonnell used names of spooky creatures
- Bell used the "Aira-" prefix (well, okay, THAT was a long time ago...)
- Boeing used the "Strato-" prefix and the combination 7*7 for its airliners (still do the latter)
- Beechcraft used titles of nobility (not systematically, but quite often)
- Fairchild-Republic used the "Thunder-" prefix
- Grumman used the "-cat" suffix
- Piper used names of Indian tribes

Usually the company name was good enough that the armed services simply went for it. Very rarely the name was changed. Most often when there was no company name, the armed services didn't bother finding one (think of the F-111 as a good example).

Today there is a series of factors that has complicated matters:
- Companies do not always care to build on their heritage
- They do not necessarily try to present a coherent line of products
- Many names that could have been used have been wasted or registered by the competition

Yet try to imagine the potential of Boeing building on its McDonnell Douglas heritage combining "Strato-" or "Sky-" with names of weird creatures: Sky Phantom, Stratospectre, Sky Demon, Sky Bat...

Try to imagine Lockheed enriching its names by combining "Star" with Convair names: StarDart, StarDagger...

Even without resorting to this combining stuff, there's plenty of names in each of the major companies' past to guarantee years of good names ahead. Think only of Boeing, which has the heritage of McDonnell, Douglas, Stearman, North American, Curtiss-Wright... Or Northrop Grumman, which has Northrop, Grumman, Ryan, Scaled... Think of Lockheed Martin which has Lockheed, Martin, Consolidated, Vultee, Stinson...

Trouble is, the name-choosing decision is left to people who have no knowledge of that rich heritage. And when the average employee is asked what name he would choose, they probably would rather pick the name of a TV character or a hero from a video game than one that is truly significant of the company and the product's philosophy.
 

frank

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
May 20, 2006
Messages
617
Reaction score
12
Cessna also used the 'sky' prefix on a number of their designs, often coinciding with a couple of Douglas names.
 

silkmonkey

CLEARANCE: Restricted
Joined
Jul 3, 2009
Messages
23
Reaction score
1
I hate to be a johnny come lately but can any one tell me if this aircraft was to be equipped with a super cruise engine of any type? Was it to be equipped with a built in LANTERN pod? Also what would the possible weapons load out for this type of aircraft be for both air to air and air to ground operations using modern precision weapons (such as JDAMS and small diameter bombs)? Also can the wings be equipped with turnable externalweapons pylons at the expense of stealth so the aircraft could carry an extra warload to target? All responces would be greatly appreciated.
 

lancer21

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
298
Reaction score
21
Fascinating projects these AX/ AFX/ NATF /ATA etc etc. Can i please ask , does anyone knows what kind of airframe performance this AX/AFX was suposed to achieve ? I read that supercruise doesn't seem to be a requirement, is it sort of F-35 ballpark performance ( 1.6M max with AB)?

Thanks. :)
 

F-14D

I really did change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2007
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
133
silkmonkey said:
I hate to be a johnny come lately but can any one tell me if this aircraft was to be equipped with a super cruise engine of any type? Was it to be equipped with a built in LANTERN pod? Also what would the possible weapons load out for this type of aircraft be for both air to air and air to ground operations using modern precision weapons (such as JDAMS and small diameter bombs)? Also can the wings be equipped with turnable externalweapons pylons at the expense of stealth so the aircraft could carry an extra warload to target? All responces would be greatly appreciated.
You'll find a lot by reviewing the previous posts in this forum, however briefly:

When the ATA (A-12) was canceled, the Navy still had a critical need for strike. Thus was born the AX. Unlike the ATA, which had little input from the operational forces in the Fleet, this time the operators were actually consulted and listened to. The AX would not be as stealthy as the A-12 was supposed to be, but it would be more flexible and versatile. Like the F-35, it was envisioned that it would operte totally stealthy when the need arose, but also would regularly operate with more ordnance in a less stealthy configuration when the situation permitted it (which would probably be most of the time). It would have better range/payload than what was eventually specified for the F-35.

As the initial phases of the program were refined, it became apparent that with the cancellation of the F-14 by Dick Cheney, the Super Hornet would not give the Navy the fighter capability it wanted. Remember, the F/A-18E/F was originally ordered as an interim aircraft until the AX entered service. Greater fighter capability was then made art of the requirement and it became the A/FX. You can kind of think of it at this point as the NATF was to be a fighter with secondary attack capability, while on the A/FX the priorities were reversed.

Avionics never really reached a definitive point due the the cancellation of A/FX, but it was planned that it would elverage work done on the A-12 with advances in sensors, possibly, but necessarily using some technology from the F-22. The A/FX would be more advanced, because it was alter design.

It would not be a match for the F-22 as a fighter, the desire was that it be "good enough". It would be a much, much better strike aircraft, though, since that was where the priority was. Supercruise was not a requirement. While it would certainly be welcomed if someone offered it, the Navy wouldn't have been willing to pay extra or sacrifice other capabilities to get it. AF was, but remember the F-22 is a fighter, pure and simple and is designed to dominate the air battle.
 

LowObservable

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2006
Messages
2,197
Reaction score
114
Looks like the same weather system as their NATF-22 concept art. It represents an interesting middle step between AX as it started out (a watered-down A-12) and A/F-X as it ended up (supersonic, swing wing but strike-oriented).
 

LEG

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Jun 20, 2013
Messages
35
Reaction score
31
F-14D,

Forgive this necroposting breakin but I feel there are problems with your argument that are too multifaceted to ignore:

1. I don't believe the USN did or does know as much about LO as the USAF does.
They certainly didn't during the A-12 program when their approach created massive problems in both resonant dipole and optical scattering areas due to a mis-apprehension that RAM, layered on like the latest layer of linoleum in a 30 year old apartment, could solve for every issue. It doesn't. It never did. It is useful solely as surface coating to help blend discontiguous material junctures and as a deep channel 'circuit' to spread the impedance load around the airframe periphery. The USN broke both of those rules with the straight TE which scattered traveling waves as Rayleigh all across the front sector and with the nose which was so bad with multi-surface junctures around the inlets that they had to affix a bra to it like on a high end sports car. They showed similar errors in judgment with the design of the buried engines and in particular with the exhaust scheme which didn't provide for the active cooling as materials adjustment which LM was doing almost two generations earlier in the F-117. It was, bluntly, a _very bad_ idea to put a lower hemisphere exhaust on a VLO penetrator intended to operate in the heart of the trashfire because the USN flatly refused to believe that stealth could work, out of the clutter. Their experience with the A-6 drove part of this but it was still something which they should have known more of before they dared to set RFP specs for an airframe which was weight critical. Since the Navy was also going the cheap route and insisted the contractors break standing rules (after 1988) for a Fixed Price program by buying in on a spec'd airframe that it was essentially purchasd for 73 million instead of the 130 that even GDM originally requested, it became -essential- for them to kick down compartment doors into the ATB and 117 efforts and the USAF essentially said: "No, I'm bigger." the USN forced the companies to work both the weight reduction and the signatures issue while already in over their head from Concept Formulation onwards with freeby services. This is what put the program out of cost and it was obvious to everyone, including Elberfeld, from the outset, largely because men like Ben Rich were _telling them_ that they were not going to get away with cheap skating.
2. The F-22 is a Fuel Cooled LE airfoild platform.
Which is also Top Coated to shift the IR response into a band which has high attenuation. The IR signature rise of supersonsics derives from the oblique shock which comes off the nose. At Mach 1.4 it's hardly noticeable. By Mach 1.7 it is predominant. Slow Supercruise is still better than subsonics when it comes to both getting to radius quickly withing a given fuel usage. And controlling fight geometry in the intercept phase.
Modern IRST like the PIRATE and ORLS-30 looking up at a hot spot at 60K from 40K 'with no radar return' may well be excused for shooting at the target on-assumption. But the problem is that the target has a dominant F-Pole advantage over them of a dozen miles or more and THEY will be at burner to hold even that much leverage. It's the SR-71 game.
3. The A/FX is inherently flawed in it's design as an SC&M Fighter.
When you retract the wing you drastically change aspect ratio, center of lift and total wing area. This means you effectively can go faster for any given thrust increment but your Ps is going to be in the basement because you are robbing lift and making some bad trades in terms of trim. The F-14 with it's glove vanes (and .6 higher Mach) is an illustration of what you have to do to get a 6G turnoff extension from a VG platform. Even then you are in a winddown condition, not a constant maneuver one.
4. The utility of Supercruise
Doesn't lie in it's mechanical use as a threat avoidance capability. It never did. It's greatest use, especially today where we are facing threats like the Klub and DF-21D, is simply in getting from A to B (1,000nm radii, minimum gas pass tanking) on a given amount of gas without taking 5+hrs, each way, to do it.
Contrary to the popular conception, there is no 'WEZ Bubble' condition-


It is a single wedge of a TallKing/Nebo/Vostock type system-


With all the forward placed sites in an EMCON condition _until engagement_.
You overfly a well designed IADS layout at high Mach and altitude, you are giving weapons like the SA-4/5 let alone SA-10/20/21 easy shots. Because they have the impulse to make the cutoff on anything short of an SR-71 and they are going to use the low band EWR to provide the initial cue signature from a _non emitting_ ambush condition. As you reach your point of closest approach, they will searchlight you with high PRF in a tight beam and, 'LO or no' you are gonna get tracked because the ERPS off a modern EPAR like the Flap Lid or Tombstone are enormous.
Blundering about at intermediate SSC under these conditions is like knights riding across a thicket of hidden punji stick traps. You won't see'em until you are engaged and then they will grow in front of you like Jack's beanstalk.
Which brings me back to argument 3. Because if the A/FX has a compromised set of signature values at anything but full sweep (where all the planform angles align) and it's aerodynamic configuration is such that, at height, it cannot penetrate at more than M=.85, it is NOT going to be either quick enough to goose-thru or sectored-return stealthy enough to ghost-thru.
You cross into the beam at 500knots and <40K and the threat shoots. You break and instantly lose 150 knots as the wings come out. Past which you are a flat plated, conventional signature, target drone with no more EM than a Hornet.
Which should tell you a lot about why the A/FX's weapons bays, far from being as _small as_ those of the Raptor are in fact a minimum of 16 feet (to accomodate the 14ft GBU-24 and 15ft AGM-84E) and 13.5ft long (to accomodate the AIM-120).
Skinning around a weapons bay volume larger than you need to deliver precision gliding or boosted ordnance (MMTD and FOG-S, both in the 6-10ft and <1,000lb class) was a mistake the USN also made on the A-12. One which ended up costing them the program in terms of weight vs. cost issues. I think it significant that the USN was still using LGBs (<6nm at altitude) and standoff missiles (>60nm, turbine powered) as threshold delivery metric rationales for A/FX platform design, as the USAF prepared for a mass-shift towards 2.65m CEP IAMs.
This is not a LO-knowledgeable design driver decision.

CONCLUSION:
As a collectivized argument for or against the A/FX supercruise in an 'otherwise LO' penetrating interdictor, I think it a pretty damning argument against the Navy that they could not see the /how/ of Raptor multi-layered mission performance achievement as being integral to the -why- their own assumptions of integrating the capability within a VG CVTOL platform design was never going to work.
The F-22 has an 840 square foot wing area for a reason. The F119 has a 50% higher SFC than the F100 for a reason. A Raptor pilot can tweak back those monster engines to a dull rumble and not stall out while it 'hovers' at 60K, EMS vacuuming the ether and still have a 30+nm flyout on GBU-53 as an IADS killer at 250KIAS. Or it can gain massive sprint lead from a strike package as presweep time to a BARCAP offset -beyond- the target, giving crucial leverage in the mission persistence as threat reaction window. And finally, as a penetrating interdicator itself, it can treat radials as leg segments which allows it to make 1hr transits from an A2AD protected base to tank well beyond the fence, fly another 300nm into the target area and back, gas up again and be home in another hour. Across an 1,100nm total radius. Try that in an F/A-18E/F or an A/FX and you will have AfG mission times on the order of 10-12rs. Minimum.
Subsonic VG doesn't give you LO with carrier capability because VG adds enormous weight and CG penalties of it's own which functionally takes away supercruise -as heighting- (thrust minus drag) automatically.
Even as the residual subsonic envelope (<40K, <1.2M) you are left with inevitably means you are transiting emitter lines at such slow-low numbers that you are bound to be picked up when you pass through your optimized front-sector protected cone. This in turn means that, whatever the optimum planform sweep alignment, the defenses will see you long enough to get the lock and when they do, your wings will be coming full forward to try and put more area under lift because the baseline area of a VG straight airfoil is just too small when swept to be useful. And thus any evasion at all has you bleeding E and mirroring a wider return aspect like a chrome plated stuck pig.
The F-22 wins in all three areas of thrust trust, optimized LO and optimized lift because it takes all three together to ghost through, high-fast, and keep the engagement window narrow enough to prevent the threats from forcing the evasion which brings you down into their ideal engagement envelope.

LEG
 

Sundog

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2006
Messages
2,816
Reaction score
255
Actually, there have been many modern design studies that show you can design a VG aircraft without suffering too much of a weight penalty. You also have to consider LO wasn't as big a concern for the USN in terms of fleet operations as the primary mission is to defend the fleet against cruise missile launchers and the ability to loiter, not so much high end speed, which definitely explains the design of the Northrop NATF, though it doesn't have a VG or the top end speed of a Raptor.

But it would be hard for you are or I to say what is the right trade off regarding AF/X because neither of us have the actual mission profiles in our hands. It's the mission that designs the aircraft, not the other way around. As such, it wasn't an accident that so many of the AF/X submissions had VG, as witnessed by so many of the submissions from the various competitors. I would argue that it would have had a fixed wing instead of a VG if it could have met the mission requirements with one, simply due to lower costs. The AF/X couldn't do what the Raptor does, while conversely, the Raptor couldn't do what the AF/X was designed to do. If it could, then Lockheed would have just offered a navalized version to the Navy. The fact that they didn't tells us clearly that the Raptor simply could not meet the AF/X mission requirements.
 

F-14D

I really did change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2007
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
133
LEG said:
F-14D,

Forgive this necroposting breakin but I feel there are problems with your argument that are too multifaceted to ignore:

1. I don't believe the USN did or does know as much about LO as the USAF does.
They certainly didn't during the A-12 program when their approach created massive problems in both resonant dipole and optical scattering areas due to a mis-apprehension that RAM, layered on like the latest layer of linoleum in a 30 year old apartment, could solve for every issue. It doesn't. It never did. It is useful solely as surface coating to help blend discontiguous material junctures and as a deep channel 'circuit' to spread the impedance load around the airframe periphery. The USN broke both of those rules with the straight TE which scattered traveling waves as Rayleigh all across the front sector and with the nose which was so bad with multi-surface junctures around the inlets that they had to affix a bra to it like on a high end sports car. They showed similar errors in judgment with the design of the buried engines and in particular with the exhaust scheme which didn't provide for the active cooling as materials adjustment which LM was doing almost two generations earlier in the F-117. It was, bluntly, a _very bad_ idea to put a lower hemisphere exhaust on a VLO penetrator intended to operate in the heart of the trashfire because the USN flatly refused to believe that stealth could work, out of the clutter. Their experience with the A-6 drove part of this but it was still something which they should have known more of before they dared to set RFP specs for an airframe which was weight critical. Since the Navy was also going the cheap route and insisted the contractors break standing rules (after 1988) for a Fixed Price program by buying in on a spec'd airframe that it was essentially purchasd for 73 million instead of the 130 that even GDM originally requested, it became -essential- for them to kick down compartment doors into the ATB and 117 efforts and the USAF essentially said: "No, I'm bigger." the USN forced the companies to work both the weight reduction and the signatures issue while already in over their head from Concept Formulation onwards with freeby services. This is what put the program out of cost and it was obvious to everyone, including Elberfeld, from the outset, largely because men like Ben Rich were _telling them_ that they were not going to get away with cheap skating.
2. The F-22 is a Fuel Cooled LE airfoild platform.
Which is also Top Coated to shift the IR response into a band which has high attenuation. The IR signature rise of supersonsics derives from the oblique shock which comes off the nose. At Mach 1.4 it's hardly noticeable. By Mach 1.7 it is predominant. Slow Supercruise is still better than subsonics when it comes to both getting to radius quickly withing a given fuel usage. And controlling fight geometry in the intercept phase.
Modern IRST like the PIRATE and ORLS-30 looking up at a hot spot at 60K from 40K 'with no radar return' may well be excused for shooting at the target on-assumption. But the problem is that the target has a dominant F-Pole advantage over them of a dozen miles or more and THEY will be at burner to hold even that much leverage. It's the SR-71 game.
3. The A/FX is inherently flawed in it's design as an SC&M Fighter.
When you retract the wing you drastically change aspect ratio, center of lift and total wing area. This means you effectively can go faster for any given thrust increment but your Ps is going to be in the basement because you are robbing lift and making some bad trades in terms of trim. The F-14 with it's glove vanes (and .6 higher Mach) is an illustration of what you have to do to get a 6G turnoff extension from a VG platform. Even then you are in a winddown condition, not a constant maneuver one.
4. The utility of Supercruise
Doesn't lie in it's mechanical use as a threat avoidance capability. It never did. It's greatest use, especially today where we are facing threats like the Klub and DF-21D, is simply in getting from A to B (1,000nm radii, minimum gas pass tanking) on a given amount of gas without taking 5 hrs, each way, to do it.
Contrary to the popular conception, there is no 'WEZ Bubble' condition-

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DeD3FURlcPw/TYRKd9j_i2I/AAAAAAAAC7A/jA6HFDidIeU/s1600/LIBYA%2BALL%2BLAYERS.jpg

It is a single wedge of a TallKing/Nebo/Vostock type system-

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_0HCJq6B1wZA/SgJm8zs3UjI/AAAAAAAACG0/3YEgIRE6BVk/s400/WEDGESST17.jpg

With all the forward placed sites in an EMCON condition _until engagement_.
You overfly a well designed IADS layout at high Mach and altitude, you are giving weapons like the SA-4/5 let alone SA-10/20/21 easy shots. Because they have the impulse to make the cutoff on anything short of an SR-71 and they are going to use the low band EWR to provide the initial cue signature from a _non emitting_ ambush condition. As you reach your point of closest approach, they will searchlight you with high PRF in a tight beam and, 'LO or no' you are gonna get tracked because the ERPS off a modern EPAR like the Flap Lid or Tombstone are enormous.
Blundering about at intermediate SSC under these conditions is like knights riding across a thicket of hidden punji stick traps. You won't see'em until you are engaged and then they will grow in front of you like Jack's beanstalk.
Which brings me back to argument 3. Because if the A/FX has a compromised set of signature values at anything but full sweep (where all the planform angles align) and it's aerodynamic configuration is such that, at height, it cannot penetrate at more than M=.85, it is NOT going to be either quick enough to goose-thru or sectored-return stealthy enough to ghost-thru.
You cross into the beam at 500knots and <40K and the threat shoots. You break and instantly lose 150 knots as the wings come out. Past which you are a flat plated, conventional signature, target drone with no more EM than a Hornet.
Which should tell you a lot about why the A/FX's weapons bays, far from being as _small as_ those of the Raptor are in fact a minimum of 16 feet (to accomodate the 14ft GBU-24 and 15ft AGM-84E) and 13.5ft long (to accomodate the AIM-120).
Skinning around a weapons bay volume larger than you need to deliver precision gliding or boosted ordnance (MMTD and FOG-S, both in the 6-10ft and <1,000lb class) was a mistake the USN also made on the A-12. One which ended up costing them the program in terms of weight vs. cost issues. I think it significant that the USN was still using LGBs (<6nm at altitude) and standoff missiles (>60nm, turbine powered) as threshold delivery metric rationales for A/FX platform design, as the USAF prepared for a mass-shift towards 2.65m CEP IAMs.
This is not a LO-knowledgeable design driver decision.

CONCLUSION:
As a collectivized argument for or against the A/FX supercruise in an 'otherwise LO' penetrating interdictor, I think it a pretty damning argument against the Navy that they could not see the /how/ of Raptor multi-layered mission performance achievement as being integral to the -why- their own assumptions of integrating the capability within a VG CVTOL platform design was never going to work.
The F-22 has an 840 square foot wing area for a reason. The F119 has a 50% higher SFC than the F100 for a reason. A Raptor pilot can tweak back those monster engines to a dull rumble and not stall out while it 'hovers' at 60K, EMS vacuuming the ether and still have a 30 nm flyout on GBU-53 as an IADS killer at 250KIAS. Or it can gain massive sprint lead from a strike package as presweep time to a BARCAP offset -beyond- the target, giving crucial leverage in the mission persistence as threat reaction window. And finally, as a penetrating interdicator itself, it can treat radials as leg segments which allows it to make 1hr transits from an A2AD protected base to tank well beyond the fence, fly another 300nm into the target area and back, gas up again and be home in another hour. Across an 1,100nm total radius. Try that in an F/A-18E/F or an A/FX and you will have AfG mission times on the order of 10-12rs. Minimum.
Subsonic VG doesn't give you LO with carrier capability because VG adds enormous weight and CG penalties of it's own which functionally takes away supercruise -as heighting- (thrust minus drag) automatically.
Even as the residual subsonic envelope (<40K, <1.2M) you are left with inevitably means you are transiting emitter lines at such slow-low numbers that you are bound to be picked up when you pass through your optimized front-sector protected cone. This in turn means that, whatever the optimum planform sweep alignment, the defenses will see you long enough to get the lock and when they do, your wings will be coming full forward to try and put more area under lift because the baseline area of a VG straight airfoil is just too small when swept to be useful. And thus any evasion at all has you bleeding E and mirroring a wider return aspect like a chrome plated stuck pig.
The F-22 wins in all three areas of thrust trust, optimized LO and optimized lift because it takes all three together to ghost through, high-fast, and keep the engagement window narrow enough to prevent the threats from forcing the evasion which brings you down into their ideal engagement envelope.

LEG

LEG:

Thanks for a most detailed and informative reply.

Can't disagree with most of what you're saying, but I think you're focusing on the wrong things.

Absolutely AF knew more about stealth than USN. After all, they had three stealth designs flying and Navy had none. Without rehashing the seemingly never-ending court case here, that is one of the big contentions in the GD/MDD appeal against their termination for cause: that USAF would not allow access to the basic stealth data needed to refine their design.

On the ATA (A-12), USN did not design the aircraft. They set the requirements (which were arguably excessive), but it was the contractors that chose how they were going to fulfill them. For example, what illustrations we have that have surfaced regarding Northrop Grumman's proposal (before the effectively withdrew for many of the reasons you cited)), shows exhaust more in line with your reasoning. I totally agree with your condemnation of Navy's use of a fixed-price development contract, which always go wrong on these kind of things. We learned that over and over in the '60s, but it makes you sound so precise, confident and "learned" when asking for money that the temptation to use them is strong.


As you also state, Lockheed wanted nothing to do with ATA. It is interesting, though, that they eagerly wanted to participate in A/FX, which had reduced (and even further reduced as the concept evolved) stealth requirements relative to the A-12. Unlike ATA, where it appears the gov't picked who would team, for A/FX, there were mutlitple teams forming voluntarily to the point you practically needed a program to figure them all out.


Regarding supercruise and some of your other points. It's important to remember that A/FX was first and foremost a strike aircraft. The A2A capability was secondary and primarily to be provided by AIM-152, AIM-120 and what would become AIM-9X, once it was invented. It had nowhere near the fighter performance of the F-22, nor was such required For the role in which it was intended, supercruise was not one of the requirements. They'd certainly take it if they could get it, but they would not be willing to sacrifice any of the main criteria in order to achieve it., nor would they be willing to pay a lot more to get it. USN was not looking for another NATF, one sign is that the A/FX engines would probably generate significantly less thrust than the F-22s F119s while being less thirsty Note that except for the F-35, no subsequent USAF program (not counting the notional 6th GEN fighter) including the NGB, has requested supercruise, or even supersonic speed.

The only bidder that was willing to talk freely about their A/FX concept was the Lockheed-led team. From what they said, they would achieve no radar returns (and they were looking for a broader spectrum of stealth because A/FX would be encountering a number of ground based radars) over an arc of ~110 degrees in the forward hemisphere for the Navy version and ~142 for the USAF version, the latter accepting a decrease in AoA performance for even more stealth. Their design would also address IR stealth more than their ATF design, one noticeable aspect in the design of the A/FX nozzles. That info also confirms that the (USAF) AMG-86E determined bay length and GBU-24, I believe determined the width. AIM-120/152 would probably have been housed in the larger side bays on strike missions, although I imagine there would have been some mechanism to use them in the main bay during more fighter oriented flights. One thing I'm still wondering about, at least on Lockheed's design, was that when full stealth was not a requirement, the a/c could carry more ordnance externally, ala the F-35. With those weapons bays, it looks like they couldn't use the belly as the F-14 does, and a glove mount (again like the F-14) would seem to interfere with the side bays, unless they are not used on that profile(?).

Regarding the F-14A's glove vanes, they were there to reduce the amount of trim (and consequent drag) as the center of lift moved further aft with wing sweep. They were disabled and eventually dropped to reduce maintenance and because the crews kept on manually using them as maneuvering devices in transonic ACM, which stressed them which cause more maintenance. As a side note, the proposed Super Tomcat 21 reshaped the glove so as to get the same result (and provided more internal space) with a fixed leading edge.


I guess what I'm saying is that I read your post as saying that the A/FX was the wrong way to get a navalized equivalent to the F-22 or do its mission, and I agree . But then, they weren't trying to do that.
 
Top