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Navy AX and A/F-X projects

F-14D

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Triton said:
Was the United States Air Force interested in the A/FX as a tactical strike aircraft replacement for the F-111 and the F-15 Strike Eagle before the JSF program? Or was the United States Air Force annoyed that the Navy didn't buy the NATF? My history is a little unclear between the cancellation of the McDonnell Douglas A-12 Avenger II (ATA) and the beginning of the JSF program.

A/FX for USAF was supposed to be the the replacement for the F-111 mission, as was the ATA. The original plane intended for that was the B-1A and when it got canceled, the F-15E resulted. I don't know that USAF was that upset about Navy pulling out of NATF, because be doing so, they were conceding the "first string" fighter role to USAF. Some might opine that USAF at the highest levels wasn't a big fan of the existence of the Navy-led ATA or A/FX, but that's for another place. In any case, the two services were only required to consider the other's plane, they weren't required to participate.

ATA begat A/FX. STOVL Strike Fighter (SSF), Multi-Role Fighter (MRF),Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter (CALF) and work done on A/FX formed the core of what became Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) program . In 1994 Congress directed that the Marines' Advanced Short TakeOff Vertical Landing (ASTOVL) be merged into JAST, the resultant shotgun wedding gave birth to the Joint Stirke Fighter (JSF), which we now know as the F-35.
 

Triton

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Did the Bottom Up Review (BUR) performed by the Defense Science Board in 1993 and the then McDonnell Douglas F/A-18E/F Super Hornet kill the A/FX program?
 

F-14D

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Triton said:
Did the Bottom Up Review (BUR) performed by the Defense Science Board in 1993 and the then McDonnell Douglas F/A-18E/F Super Hornet kill the A/FX program?

The Super Bug was only intended to be an interim a/c until the arrival of the definitive A/FX. As the BUR was going on, feedback from Congress indicated that with the (then) projected IOC of the A/FX being so relatively close behind that of SH, they wold not be willing to fund both programs. NAVAIR, possibly thinking , "...a bird in the hand..." (and some other reasons), seemed to lean towards the E/F, so BUR canceled A/FX.
 

Stargazer2006

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Compared to all the specialists here I have very little knowledge and rarely intervene in these high-level discussions...

One question though: if the A-12 design was partly flawed for the mission it was supposed to fill, and since the Navy did not design it, could it be in part because of the odd pairing of General Dynamics and McDonnell Douglas? Surely, the companies that had the biggest edge and experience in stealth design at the time (namely Northrop and Lockheed) were not involved. And so, can we assume that if G.D. had been paired with either of these on the A-12 program, the odds might have been different?

Sorry for interrupting your discussion with my (probably idiotic) question, but thanks anyway to anyone willing to take a shot at answering it!
 

AeroFranz

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LEG, most informative post that I enjoyed reading. I'm ashamed to confess that I'm having a hard time with some of the most obscure acronyms you used, though (and I work in the aerospace industry!). I think the average SPF member is also going to have a hard time. Looking forwards to your future posts ;)
 

F-14D

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Stargazer2006 said:
Compared to all the specialists here I have very little knowledge and rarely intervene in these high-level discussions...

One question though: if the A-12 design was partly flawed for the mission it was supposed to fill, and since the Navy did not design it, could it be in part because of the odd pairing of General Dynamics and McDonnell Douglas? Surely, the companies that had the biggest edge and experience in stealth design at the time (namely Northrop and Lockheed) were not involved. And so, can we assume that if G.D. had been paired with either of these on the A-12 program, the odds might have been different?

Sorry for interrupting your discussion with my (probably idiotic) question, but thanks anyway to anyone willing to take a shot at answering it!


It's not an idiotic question. At the time it was speculated by more than a few that the gov't quietly "encouraged" those companies to form those teams. After all, Northrop and MDD had already teamed for the F/A-18 and the YF-23, and it seemed logical that continuing that teaming would have the company building the B-2 and one who had decades of carrier experience. Instead you had a team leader who had no experience in stealth or carrier aircraft partnering with a company that had not led a stealth design team in an acrimonius relationship. Opposing them was the Northrop Grumman team consisting of the company that designed and was building the B-2s partnered with the most successful builder of carrier aircraft the nation had. That team, BTW, saw the way the program was going and so eventually submitted a proposal they knew would be thrown out and they could withdraw.

Lockheed vehemently wanted no part of the ATA/A-12 competition, so they played no role.
 

Triton

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Concerning the A/FX, it sounds like the United States Air Force has, or had, a "not invented here" bias against Navy aircraft even though they were in need of a replacement for the F-111, F-15E, and F-117A and had participated in the AX program since its initiation. Was there any effort to save the program as a joint program between the United States Navy and United States Air Force? Or point out the 20% parts commonality between the F-22 Raptor and the Lockheed Martin/Boeing A/FX proposal? Or at the time, did the United States Air Force believe that the air interdiction mission was not as important as other missions or would have preferred the FB-22 to the A/FX? Was an F-16 replacement deemed more urgent?
 

quellish

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LEG said:
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.

At the time, USN as an institution did not realize how low the signatures could go for a number of reasons. USN acutally had run a number of their own LO programs previously, which may have lead them to false assumptions about the lowest practical signatures - and how to get there.


That said, what you are describing above is what happens when you take a design that has demonstrated some degree of LO success at medium and high altitude, and then shove it into the weeds out of negligence. GD did not understand *why* that design had some success, and why it would not work at low level.

And then there was TEAL DAWN. Same time period, different customer, different part of GD, may as well have come from a different planet.
 

SOC

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Are all systems literally going to have a 360-degree engagement zone? Obviously not. But I'm sure you are aware of the fact that radars can rotate? A search radar like BIG BIRD rotates and views a 360-degree area, and will most certainly give you a "bubble". An engagement radar like TOMB STONE will give you a wedge, but the radar is fully capable of rotating to a new axis. It is simpler to show the "bubble", because that's the complete area the missile system or radar could be covering, and in the case of TOMB STONE that's the place you would like to not be.


Plus, making the circles is easier than plotting the azimuth of each radar system and then constructing the wedge. There's also the issue that terrain is not fully accounted for using the "bubble" method, but that's something I think I might actually have figured out how to fix. At any rate I always find this kind of argument hilarious, because is the way it was done (for those basic reasons) when the government was paying me to do it. Or do people really think that charts were annotated with some weird animated live-updating overlay capable of always knowing the exact azimuth of a TOMB STONE?


Also, TALL KING? That one rotates through 360 degrees, you can see one doing it here at the very beginning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ZhdIrgjPzSo Pretty sure Vostok does as well based on some shots I've seen of the operator's console. TALL RACK (Nebo-U), however, I'm not sure about. I know the arrays are repositioned frequently, but I'm not sure if they rotate during scan or if they're rotated just to reposition their focus.
 

JFC Fuller

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Just a quick question about the AX and A/F-X weapons bay dimensions. I read over the weekend that at one point it was intended to integrated JASSM with the F-117A and that the proposal got at least as far as the fit-checking stage. Bill Sweetman's "Lockheed Stealth" actually has an image of an F-117A with an AGM-158A on the trapeze launcher of the weapons bay. Were the A/F-X weapons bays intended to be the same size as those in the F-117A?
 

F-14D

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JFC Fuller said:
Just a quick question about the AX and A/F-X weapons bay dimensions. I read over the weekend that at one point it was intended to integrated JASSM with the F-117A and that the proposal got at least as far as the fit-checking stage. Bill Sweetman's "Lockheed Stealth" actually has an image of an F-117A with an AGM-158A on the trapeze launcher of the weapons bay. Were the A/F-X weapons bays intended to be the same size as those in the F-117A?

Jump back about 10 posts:
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,2150.msg192725.html#msg192725

Since they never got to source select, we can only take what the requirements were and surmise. Depending on how the contractors' chose to meet or exceed the requirements determine the size of their bays, and except for Lockheed we don't know much about the proposals.
 

hesham

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Hi,

http://archive.aviationweek.com/image/spread/19920203/28/2
 

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allysonca

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From the collection... came from a friend that worked at GD in Texas. Looks to be 1/40th I think.
 

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Steve Pace

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It's beginning to look like stealth shaping is really getting to be "old hat." USAF Lt. Gen. David J. "Marshall" McCloud told me in 1990 that a stealth aircraft is based upon 85% shape, 15% other things. He was also a pilot of F-117s. -SP
 

donnage99

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allysonca said:
From the collection... came from a friend that worked at GD in Texas. Looks to be 1/40th I think.
Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful bird. Imagine if we have a fleet of this bird today. Our strategy concerning the china sea would be a lot less headache to deal with.
 

VTOLicious

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GAU-8 Avenger said:
On the AWST article discussing the companies involved and their proposals, it says Northrop joined the General Dynamics and McDonnell Douglas team which was proposing the A-12 based design. Yet on Matej's website these pictures are shown of a different Northrop A-X (or A/F-X) model.
I will presume Northrop was working independently on this, so what led to them teaming up with GD and McDonnell Douglas on their proposal? Personally I find this a very interesting looking design.

It fits ;) ...what a beauty! Looks like the perfect sucessor of F-117 btw ;D

EDIT: This pic appears in "Flying Wings and Radical Things Part 1" @41:30
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWOq0pdXxFU
Tony Chong calls it "balanced based". Balanced between LO and performance.
 

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VTOLicious

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Another configuration is shown @30:15. Tony Chong calls it the "signature driven design".
 

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Sundog

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Both of those are in his book, plus a third. I won't post it here due to copyrights (Buy the book, it's worth every penny!), but the one not shown was the performance driven design. The first pic you posted was the balanced design, between signature and performance. (I see you posted it in the other thread and I think it violates the rules here, but that's for Paul to decide.)
 

VTOLicious

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Sundog said:
Both of those are in his book, plus a third. I won't post it here due to copyrights (Buy the book, it's worth every penny!), but the one not shown was the performance driven design. The first pic you posted was the balanced design, between signature and performance. (I see you posted it in the other thread and I think it violates the rules here, but that's for Paul to decide.)

All pics I posted are from the video and I provided a link to it.
 

LEG

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Triton said:
Concerning the A/FX, it sounds like the United States Air Force has, or had, a "not invented here" bias against Navy aircraft even though they were in need of a replacement for the F-111, F-15E, and F-117A and had participated in the AX program since its initiation. Was there any effort to save the program as a joint program between the United States Navy and United States Air Force? Or point out the 20% parts commonality between the F-22 Raptor and the Lockheed Martin/Boeing A/FX proposal? Or at the time, did the United States Air Force believe that the air interdiction mission was not as important as other missions or would have preferred the FB-22 to the A/FX? Was an F-16 replacement deemed more urgent?

A/FX was a linear descendant of the ATA-12. It was made into a cubist F-14 because the USN, as they had when forced to join on the F-111B effort (vastly superior to the F-14 in the FADF mission btw.), saw where the USAF was going on ATF and _self sabotaged_ the Avenger II with a myriad of contractor/government stunts which pushed the boundaries of Fraud in the Inducement and Anti Deficiency Act restrictions.

They have done it before, see Coulam on the F-111B and the 'N-1 package' of naval modifications, introduced late enough to make sure that their side of the program failed, the USAF had to spend megabucks to get their interdictor into service after the USN preemptively (before carrier suitability testing) got their variant cancelled and _in so doing_, destroyed the F-X(15)'s nice-to-haves like the Eagle Eye optical adjunct, AIM-92 CLAW, and the developed radar data computer which had to wait until half the jets were built. Essentially rendering the entire F-15A fleet into an FSD hangar queen extension.

The USAF never pulled such a stunt. Even when the ATA was shown to need an Edwards sized field length to make maximum gross weight takeoffs, they stuck by their 600 requirement on the A-12. It was the USMC who put the Kaibosh on the ATA, pulling their requirement for 200 or so jets and automatically taking the 'office party' price from '35 million or we don't buy the thing' (USN Navair Admiral in charge of overall R&D) to what a savvy reporter rand the numbers on and figured would be a minimum 73 million. And /he/ was off (short) by over 80 million.

I myself have often wondered if the A-12 wasn't simply a placeholder (geopolitical bluff) to get the Soviets to bankroll another 'same mission, similar airframe' development effort as part of the giant Reagan era attempt to call on every raise until the other side ran out of chips.

There was simply too much that was DEAD WRONG with the ATA, technically and programmatically, from the beginning. Putting a Navy Captain in charge of a multibillion dollar program and then lying to the contractor on agreed weights (2-4,000lbs over = inability to complete the contract which is not something the Federal Government is allowed to do while acting as an executor for the public exchequer, it's not their money...) while the absence of the COEA/MENS studies makes it impossible to develop a doctrinal model that makes sense.

Winning wars is about DMPIs per day, to XXnm downrange. Not to be a 'Top Gun' mood killer but really it is about statistics of targets serviced and nothing more. Everything that effects that (EA-6B jammers and F/A-18 HARM shooters) is an important variable but only insofar as it ups the number of designated mean points of impact which are hit. If you want cheap, put 4 JASSM-ER on your jet and forego target penetration. You will get more hits and fewer megabuck losses while paying less for a 100-300nm standoff bus platform than you ever would undertaking the same mission with hammer class heavy ordnance as direct delivery.

If your system is so expensive that you are operating as an A-6 equivalent with 10-12 jets on deck and half of them down for LO maintenance at any given moment, EVEN WITH simply silly assigned warloads of X24 internal Mk.82, you are not going to be survivable at radius because your escorts cannot reach 1,000nm like you can and you can only do so (subsonically) once per day.

The USN _did not_ yield deep strike as a Tomahawk can go 900nm in 3hrs and has no RTB requirement. But if you look at the USN problem of sustaining the hulls as the airwings that ride on them, you start to see that a 150 million dollar Avenger II is the same as saying a deckload of ONLY A-12s and nothing else. This killed the ATA, sure and simple. Because it never would have worked without the support sorties and now you have just killed the airwing constellation for TWO reasons: radius+cost.

The USN CFU ended up costing everyone as the F/A-18E (a new build passed off as a redesign that failed almost every KPP metric of a pass/fail OPEVAL, including radius of action) became a 'get it or we lose carrier air' mandate which stole money from the F-22 and C-17 and ASTOVL efforts as well as ongoing upgrade and training/maintenance on the Harrier and Bug (the USMC was essentially a non-air exponent for much of the 90s).

The USAF was quite happy to finish out the 2000-2010 period buying upgraded F-16s (or Agiles) and completing their Raptor buy until they could BEGIN thinking about CALF. But the USN complete trainwreck of the tacair acquisition, dogpiling multiple new starts onto a cluttered production schedule, ruined everything and made the F-22 die so that the Navy and Marines could have a lower quality Sea Stealth. Which their TAMP 2001
agreement promptly chopped up from 600+480 to 400+250 which is ALSO not enough to sustain a deep strike capability. Especially on a weight critical STOVL which will normally operate with 10-12Klbs to allow for external ordnance and hot'n'hi effects on it's thrust reserves, massively increasing drag and taking a nominal 460nm radius down to about 250nm, tops.

This in turn skewered the USAF plan to have a supercruise to 1,000nm change of game in the Raptor while leaving them stuck with the check on the majority of the F-35A purchase which is, functionally, little more than an F-117 replacement, including the utterly moronic choice to go for a deep-not-broad weapons bay (room for the SDLF module) which is designed around the GBU-31 munition with only 10-12nm of standoff. 10-12nm from an SA-20/21 is at least 15nm past WEZ/NEZ on the SAM.

IMO, the USN should never be allowed to touch another tacair program again, ever. Their nasty habit as constant strategy of sabotaging what they cannot control directly makes Dassault and the French look like saints.
 

LEG

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SOC said:



Are all systems literally going to have a 360-degree engagement zone? Obviously not. But I'm sure you are aware of the fact that radars can rotate? A search radar like BIG BIRD rotates and views a 360-degree area, and will most certainly give you a "bubble". An engagement radar like TOMB STONE will give you a wedge, but the radar is fully capable of rotating to a new axis. It is simpler to show the "bubble", because that's the complete area the missile system or radar could be covering, and in the case of TOMB STONE that's the place you would like to not be.


Plus, making the circles is easier than plotting the azimuth of each radar system and then constructing the wedge. There's also the issue that terrain is not fully accounted for using the "bubble" method, but that's something I think I might actually have figured out how to fix. At any rate I always find this kind of argument hilarious, because is the way it was done (for those basic reasons) when the government was paying me to do it. Or do people really think that charts were annotated with some weird animated live-updating overlay capable of always knowing the exact azimuth of a TOMB STONE?


Also, TALL KING? That one rotates through 360 degrees, you can see one doing it here at the very beginning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ZhdIrgjPzSo Pretty sure Vostok does as well based on some shots I've seen of the operator's console. TALL RACK (Nebo-U), however, I'm not sure about. I know the arrays are repositioned frequently, but I'm not sure if they rotate during scan or if they're rotated just to reposition their focus.

Actually, you use sectoring to control for apparent RCS and ARM vulnerability. If you have groundwave or tropobounce (and a LOT of processor power) you can look over the near horizon, well beyond the nominal 12-15nm limit. So it becomes a matter of driving the threat into the weeds where you can use cheaper, gapfiller (Snow Drift, ADADS, Acoustics, even Observer Corps), to grab an alternative signature. But the sectoring is to take 'cuts' between the terrain masks and to specifically look across and even behind the threat ground track using an analogy of a lone lighthouse cuing a sudden flip of the switch on a Christmas Tree.

The standforward or escort jammer is suddenly hip deep in alligators and all your decoys and loitering ARMs/jammers (MALD/MALD-J) are beyond the point where they can surround sound dogpile the threat and force a strobe through a sidelobe. And then you're screwed. Because this isn't the 1960s where it was one Fan Song or Low Blow per target with 2 missiles. Nor even the 1970s where it was 2-3 missiles per two targets with a Straight Flush or LASHE as CW flood. This is 40-60 shots, all of which can be dumped, via SAGG/GAI, very quickly (Mach 7), on a torpedoes-down-bearing basis of saturating the target volume until someone's seeker cube overlays the threat occupation zone.

Which of course makes the whole F-35 'pack hunter' principle a great way to lose a four ship while simultaneously destroying your 'no target fusion repeats' ISR ability to vacuum the total battlespace for targets.

In fact, it is almost certain, just looking at the awkward, conventional, bulbous and bumpy, shape of the F-35 that 'RAM goodness, baked right in!' is a misnomer for what is almost certainly an active loading system as 'jammer at the skin' ability to cancel through some form of rapid impedance sampling system. As the SOLE justification for why the BAe ASQ-239 has had billions thrown at it for what is essentially a ELS capable (APR-47) RWR without a companion ARM. _Except_ that this system is measuring Doppler and Phase interactions, every couple inches, along the skin, to generate complex cancellation waveforms, without regard to wavelength vs. airframe surface geometries which are too easy to FES model weak points for.

I mean what idiot is going to fix his RAM capabilities to an in-composite ability where he cannot even change coatings or surface panels (short of PDM stripping the airframe) when, 'suddenly', a waveform changes and some complex phase or frequency loading variation of a multi-lobe AESA scan 'charges up' the old scheme until it starts to reemit like any other surface wave backscatterer.

If you have some form of nanocircuitry built in, similar to that tested on the A-10 with the spray-on, electrochromic, system (back in the 90s), whereby /turning off/ the optical countermeasures suite gave you RAM effect, presumably, you can apply selective charge as conditioned power through the system to specifically cancel inbound, longwave, emissions.

This is why the mission data files are so important and so regionally specific.

It is why the various services are not supremely red faced about the relative 'survivability' of a jet operating 400nm past the effective accompaniment radii of EW/SEAD escorts and within 10nm of a target which can probably shoot down the JDAM you drop, never mind the jet which carries it. Given DEAD is likely Mission #1 for the F-35 on the first 5 nights of the war (we have nothing else which will penetrate far enough in an A2AD environment dominated by BASM and ASCM), there is little point in a 'front sector only' (+/- 20` on either side of the nose) when you are going to have to bull your way through MULTIPLE layers of back-track looking radars which blink on and off to deny cruise and lethal decoy shots into their withers.

Everything we know and assume about contemporary stealth is likely 10-20 years out of date now. We're talking the same degree of advancement as from the Windecker Eagle to the F-117.
SOC said:



Are all systems literally going to have a 360-degree engagement zone? Obviously not. But I'm sure you are aware of the fact that radars can rotate? A search radar like BIG BIRD rotates and views a 360-degree area, and will most certainly give you a "bubble". An engagement radar like TOMB STONE will give you a wedge, but the radar is fully capable of rotating to a new axis. It is simpler to show the "bubble", because that's the complete area the missile system or radar could be covering, and in the case of TOMB STONE that's the place you would like to not be.


Plus, making the circles is easier than plotting the azimuth of each radar system and then constructing the wedge. There's also the issue that
Triton said:
Concerning the A/FX, it sounds like the United States Air Force has, or had, a "not invented here" bias against Navy aircraft even though they were in need of a replacement for the F-111, F-15E, and F-117A and had participated in the AX program since its initiation. Was there any effort to save the program as a joint program between the United States Navy and United States Air Force? Or point out the 20% parts commonality between the F-22 Raptor and the Lockheed Martin/Boeing A/FX proposal? Or at the time, did the United States Air Force believe that the air interdiction mission was not as important as other missions or would have preferred the FB-22 to the A/FX? Was an F-16 replacement deemed more urgent?
SOC said:



Are all systems literally going to have a 360-degree engagement zone? Obviously not. But I'm sure you are aware of the fact that radars can rotate? A search radar like BIG BIRD rotates and views a 360-degree area, and will most certainly give you a "bubble". An engagement radar like TOMB STONE will give you a wedge, but the radar is fully capable of rotating to a new axis. It is simpler to show the "bubble", because that's the complete area the missile system or radar could be covering, and in the case of TOMB STONE that's the place you would like to not be.


Plus, making the circles is easier than plotting the azimuth of each radar system and then constructing the wedge. There's also the issue that terrain is not fully accounted for using the "bubble" method, but that's something I think I might actually have figured out how to fix. At any rate I always find this kind of argument hilarious, because is the way it was done (for those basic reasons) when the government was paying me to do it. Or do people really think that charts were annotated with some weird animated live-updating overlay capable of always knowing the exact azimuth of a TOMB STONE?


Also, TALL KING? That one rotates through 360 degrees, you can see one doing it here at the very beginning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ZhdIrgjPzSo Pretty sure Vostok does as well based on some shots I've seen of the operator's console. TALL RACK (Nebo-U), however, I'm not sure about. I know the arrays are repositioned frequently, but I'm not sure if they rotate during scan or if they're rotated just to reposition their focus.

Actually, you use sectoring to control for apparent RCS and ARM vulnerability. If you have groundwave or tropobounce (and a LOT of processor power) you can look over the near horizon, well beyond the nominal 12-15nm limit. So it becomes a matter of driving the threat into the weeds where you can use cheaper, gapfiller (Snow Drift, ADADS, Acoustics, even Observer Corps), to grab an alternative signature. But the sectoring is to take 'cuts' between the terrain masks and to specifically look across and even behind the threat ground track using an analogy of a lone lighthouse cuing a sudden flip of the switch on a Christmas Tree.

The standforward or escort jammer is suddenly hip deep in alligators and all your decoys and loitering ARMs/jammers (MALD/MALD-J) are beyond the point where they can surround sound dogpile the threat and force a strobe through a sidelobe. And then you're screwed. Because this isn't the 1960s where it was one Fan Song or Low Blow per target with 2 missiles. Nor even the 1970s where it was 2-3 missiles per two targets with a Straight Flush or LASHE as CW flood. This is 40-60 shots, all of which can be dumped, via SAGG/GAI, very quickly (Mach 7), on a torpedoes-down-bearing basis of saturating the target volume until someone's seeker cube overlays the threat occupation zone.

Which of course makes the whole F-35 'pack hunter' principle a great way to lose a four ship while simultaneously destroying your 'no target fusion repeats' ISR ability to vacuum the total battlespace for targets. Don't believe this is dangerous? Just look at the S-350 Vityez with it's essentially 'dumb launch box, smart network node' approach to putting a 9M96 TEL under every rock.

In fact, it is almost certain, just looking at the awkward, conventional, bulbous and bumpy, shape of the F-35 that 'RAM goodness, baked right in!' is a misnomer for what is almost certainly an active loading system as 'jammer at the skin' ability to cancel through some form of rapid impedance sampling system. As the SOLE justification for why the BAe ASQ-239 has had billions thrown at it for what is essentially a ELS capable (APR-47) RWR without a companion ARM. _Except_ that this system is measuring Doppler and Phase interactions, every couple inches, along the skin, to generate complex cancellation waveforms, without regard to wavelength vs. airframe surface geometries which are too easy to FES model weak points for.

I mean what idiot is going to fix his RAM capabilities to an in-composite ability where he cannot even change coatings or surface panels (short of PDM stripping the airframe) when, 'suddenly', a waveform changes and some complex phase or frequency loading variation of a multi-lobe AESA scan 'charges up' the old scheme until it starts to reemit like any other surface wave backscatterer.

If you have some form of nanocircuitry built in, similar to that tested on the A-10 with the spray-on, electrochromic, system (back in the 90s), whereby /turning off/ the optical countermeasures suite gave you RAM effect, presumably, you can apply selective charge as conditioned power through the system to specifically cancel inbound, longwave, emissions.

This is why the mission data files are so important and so regionally specific.

It is why the various services are not supremely red faced about the relative 'survivability' of a jet operating 400nm past the effective accompaniment radii of EW/SEAD escorts and within 10nm of a target which can probably shoot down the JDAM you drop, never mind the jet which carries it. Given DEAD is likely Mission #1 for the F-35 on the first 5 nights of the war (we have nothing else which will penetrate far enough in an A2AD environment dominated by BASM and ASCM), there is little point in a 'front sector only' (+/- 20` on either side of the nose) when you are going to have to bull your way through MULTIPLE layers of back-track looking radars which blink on and off to deny cruise and lethal decoy shots into their withers.

Everything we know and assume about contemporary stealth is likely 10-20 years out of date now. We're talking the same degree of advancement as from the Windecker Eagle to the F-117.
 

LEG

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Triton said:
Concerning the A/FX, it sounds like the United States Air Force has, or had, a "not invented here" bias against Navy aircraft even though they were in need of a replacement for the F-111, F-15E, and F-117A and had participated in the AX program since its initiation. Was there any effort to save the program as a joint program between the United States Navy and United States Air Force? Or point out the 20% parts commonality between the F-22 Raptor and the Lockheed Martin/Boeing A/FX proposal? Or at the time, did the United States Air Force believe that the air interdiction mission was not as important as other missions or would have preferred the FB-22 to the A/FX? Was an F-16 replacement deemed more urgent?
quellish said:
LEG said:
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.

At the time, USN as an institution did not realize how low the signatures could go for a number of reasons. USN actually had run a number of their own LO programs previously, which may have lead them to false assumptions about the lowest practical signatures - and how to get there.


That said, what you are describing above is what happens when you take a design that has demonstrated some degree of LO success at medium and high altitude, and then shove it into the weeds out of negligence. GD did not understand *why* that design had some success, and why it would not work at low level.

And then there was TEAL DAWN. Same time period, different customer, different part of GD, may as well have come from a different planet.

DARPA programs should be universally accessible to all service chiefs in the relevant investigatory project field branches and all relevant (major) industrial partners to any resulting production program. That's how you get from experimental to rapid prototyping stages, outside the conventional procurement system, without a lot of wheel reinvention.

Similarly, I don't know when LOCLOEXCOM came online but if James McDonnell had needed help in the 1980s, as an ATF partner whose financial stability was critical to the upcoming YF-23 prototyping fabrication phase, all's he would have had to do was hop the fence, have a quiet word with Tom Jones and the two of them could have gone to DSARC or JRMB or whoever was running the financial milestone funding releases for ATA and there would have 'been a reckoning' as it's never what you know but who.

It would have been no skin of Northrop's nose to share B-2 data at that point.

Even in a black-UA program, you just don't screw over your industrial base with false promises as premises and everyone knows that the blue suits are the fair haired kids on the technologies block, not the squids.

What the Elberfeld and Navair were doing was flatly illegal relative to COEA/MENS and the need for oversight on even a SAR effort and this plus the fact that they were doing this against the DFARs _already in place before FSD_ meant that nobody would have been called to carpet on a Cry Uncle moment with Weinberger if need be. You don't make friends within the five walled asylum this way but you do protect your corporate financia status and I flatly do not believe that GDMDD were ignorant of their sole contractor status, even during the ATA BAFO/BARFO period and certainly thereafter as Northrop was busy on the ATB and LM were doing ATF and hadn't even bid. So if even one of the A-12 contractors says 'See'ya!' and can prove that default (on LO technologies contractual tortes) was the driver, they have the USN over a barrel. To the point where it basically comes down to whether the USN wants to have a seat at the stealth table or are going to cancel the ATA and take their chips elsewhere (better CMs and particularly aeroballistics would have been a game changer, in 1985).

In this, the USN is a worse enemy than the Russians WRT sibling envy of anything USAF. They wanted a fancy stealth _fighter_ too. And the ATA was never going to be that. Kill the A-6F, terminate F-14D(R) reman and then throw barrelfulls of monkey wrenches into the ATA finances and baddabing, you kill the strike bomber and roll right on into F-18E and A/FX.

Tech base wise, you don't walk into a dark room full of snakes without a really good flashlight and a solid fireplace poker. Mac McDonnell may have gotten most of his technical solutions from the Great Book of Aerodynamics For Dummies (F-4) but he knew how to hold a program to spec and on budget. John may not have been as good but the MDD board was.

And they were not outside the LO loop.

Having said this, what I am interested in is Teal Parrot and 'Fuzzyballs'. Because, IMO, that's the only way the JSF works and it would have likely applied to the AX and certainly the A/FX.
 

AeroFranz

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LEG, very interesting discussion...but sometimes i struggle to follow because of some of the more arcane acronyms you're using. Can you spell out when first using the really obscure ones? I'm enjoying the very informative posts! ;)
 

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Matej said:
"McAir Vought AXInlet 1993" Does somebody recognize this configuration? B-2 like air intakes on the top and the swept wing.
Look like this:

I found this slide in some old Vought material, it at least gives a little hint of the design.
 

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flateric

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Oh, how cool is that! Thanks!
 

Ingraman

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Does anybody remember the origin of the famous image GD/McAir/Northrop(?) A/F-X proposal? Thank You Very Much!!
 

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Sundog

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Does anybody remember the origin of the famous image GD/McAir/Northrop(?) A/F-X proposal? Thank You Very Much!!
I don't think Northrop had anything to do with that design. That is just a development of the A-12 with a slightly higher aspect ratio.
 

Ingraman

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I was just wondering if it was an official artwork or a nice fanart, maybe based on a description from an article or a book.
 

Ingraman

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Thank You!
Wow, " This page was last updated on 05 May 2002 "! Maybe infos and imagecome from the infamous book:
The $5 Billion Misunderstanding: The Collapse of the Navy's A-12 Stealth Bomber Program. James Perry Stevenson. Naval Institute Press, 2001

From the Internet Archive:
General Dynamics and McDonnell Douglas (GD/McAir) agreed to offer the government a modified A-12 for their A-X submittal. The roles and responsibilities of the two contractors remained basically the same as in the A-12 program when it was terminated, with a few exceptions. The major exception is that General Dynamics would have been responsible for final assembly and fly-out.
McDonnell Douglas's New Aircraft Product Division (NAPD) was responsible for the A-X work on both the GD/McAir proposal and on the McDonnell Douglas/Vought proposal.
James Sinnett, NAPD President, stated that the A-12 knowledge possessed by McAir and GD engineers would go a long way in providing a competitive advantage on their A-12 derivative submittal. Sinnet said that he expected fewer problems in terms of weight growth on the A-12 derivative than on the original A-12. "There has been an enormous influx of knowledge on deep-depth composite structure that makes us a little bit smarter then we were five or six years ago." The internal rearrangement of the design may also lend itself to a more efficient use of structural concepts than were employed in the A-12, he said.
 

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