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Out-of-sequence numbers and other idiotic designations...

Stargazer2006

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I wonder who are the morons who designated aircraft like the FB-22, the FB-111 or the F/A-18?

A standardized system was set up in 1962 (for better and for worse) and they just make a mess of it!

If it's a fighter with light bombing capacity, it should be a BF-22, certainly not the other way around... FB-111 should have been BF-111... F/A-18 should have been AF-18... And if the slash indicates an aircraft that can be as much a fighter as an attack aircraft, then it should be called A-18 and F-18 depending on the versions...
 

frank

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations


A man after my own heart! Don't forget the Cessna A-37 & AV-8 Harrier!

Stargazer2006 said:
I wonder who are the morons who designated aircraft like the FB-22, the FB-111 or the F/A-18?

A standardized system was set up in 1962 (for better and for worse) and they just make a mess of it!

If it's a fighter with light bombing capacity, it should be a BF-22, certainly not the other way around... FB-111 should have been BF-111... F/A-18 should have been AF-18... And if the slash indicates an aircraft that can be as much a fighter as an attack aircraft, then it should be called A-18 and F-18 depending on the versions...
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

After the skip to F-35 I have no problem with either the FB-22 or FB-23 designations. In fact I would love to see the USAF get either aircraft no matter the designation. In my opinion it would provide a capability we have been lacking since the F-111 was retired. Regarding the F/A-18 I thought the slash doesn't technically exist when it comes to official Navy work.
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

The FB-111A was more of a strategic bomber than a ground-pounder, and in no way, was it a fighter. And given the date of its initial operational capability, it should have been designated B-2 and the B-2 should be the B-3 and the so-called next generation bomber should be the B-4. Oh well...
 

Stargazer2006

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

frank, would you believe?? These very aircraft were part of my original post but I DELETED them!!! Great minds...
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

Anyone betting they are going to skip A-14 for our next attack aircraft due to some sort of recognition of the F-14?

Of course that would involve another attack aircraft... :'(
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

Look at the F-35 - they skipped the F-24 thru F-34 to come up with that.
 

Stargazer2006

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I have no problem with the notion that they skip numbers... either because they are concealing some black projects (as in the YF-24) or because they reserve them for possible attack versions of fighters for instance (A-14 for the Tomcat, A-15 for the Eagle and so forth...). In fact the F/A-18 seems to me like a way of saying that the aircraft is both A-18 and F-18... Creating improper designations is different! It says basically: some people have thought long and large about how to make this whole thing coherent and we don't give a hoot about it! YFC-36A is coherent as far as I'm concerned... but designating new trainers as T-6 AND T-51 in two different lists is not coherent! Or new transports as C-45 AND C-144!
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

Stargazer2006 said:
I have no problem with the notion that they skip numbers... either because they are concealing some black projects (as in the YF-24) or because they reserve them for possible attack versions of fighters for instance (A-14 for the Tomcat, A-15 for the Eagle and so forth...). In fact the F/A-18 seems to me like a way of saying that the aircraft is both A-18 and F-18... Creating improper designations is different! It says basically: some people have thought long and large about how to make this whole thing coherent and we don't give a hoot about it! YFC-36A is coherent as far as I'm concerned... but designating new trainers as T-6 AND T-51 in two different lists is not coherent! Or new transports as C-45 AND C-144!
Originally the Hornet was supposed to come in two versions with different emphasis and equipment fits, the F-18 and the A-18. They decided to combine them into one, thus the F/A-18.
 

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Colonial-Marine said:
Anyone betting they are going to skip A-14 for our next attack aircraft due to some sort of recognition of the F-14?

Of course that would involve another attack aircraft... :'(
USAF doesn't like the "A" for attack designation. The exceptions being the A-26 (a redesignation of the B-26 for political reasons) and the A-9/A-10, partly PR to convince others that USAF could handle the whole CAS mission, and there was no need for the AH-56. To USAF, everything is a Bomber or a Fighter.
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

I didn't mean to imply another attack aircraft would be a bad thing, I meant the opposite in fact.

In my book A-26 is the correct designation for that whole line of aircraft due to the fact it was A-26 in WWII and did not become the B-26 until the actual B-26 Marauder was retired. Technically wasn't only that last modernized variant of the B-26 given the "new" A-26 designation?

I think the A-26/B-26/A-26 Invader wins the award for most confusing.
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

Stargazer2006 said:
I wonder who are the morons who designated aircraft like the FB-22, the FB-111 or the F/A-18?
...Probably relatives of the moron(s) who selected the F-22 over the F-23. Which means Dickhead Cheney has a rather vast extended family.
 

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Colonial-Marine said:
I didn't mean to imply another attack aircraft would be a bad thing, I meant the opposite in fact.

In my book A-26 is the correct designation for that whole line of aircraft due to the fact it was A-26 in WWII and did not become the B-26 until the actual B-26 Marauder was retired. Technically wasn't only that last modernized variant of the B-26 given the "new" A-26 designation?

I think the A-26/B-26/A-26 Invader wins the award for most confusing.
The "A"-26 moniker came back not because of any modernization, but rather because the diplomats thought that it would be too provocative for the US to send "bombers", but "attack" aircraft would be OK.
 

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However wasn't the B-26K which became the A-26 again refurbished and rebuilt by some small company with various minor improvements?
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

The main reason the F/A-18 designation bothers me is because all fighters eventually perform some form of A2G work.

It was the F-4, not the F/A-4. Oh man, how confusing would an F/A-4 have been with the A-4 in service? I mean, hell, the F-15E Strike Eagle was optimized for the A2G role, but it just became a different letter designation, not an F/A-15B. Of course, asking for logic where the Pentagon is concerned is like teaching horses to fly. Hmmm, maybe that's what they're really doing. ;)
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

Wouldn't A-18 have been out of sequence, then?

F-14D said:
Stargazer2006 said:
I have no problem with the notion that they skip numbers... either because they are concealing some black projects (as in the YF-24) or because they reserve them for possible attack versions of fighters for instance (A-14 for the Tomcat, A-15 for the Eagle and so forth...). In fact the F/A-18 seems to me like a way of saying that the aircraft is both A-18 and F-18... Creating improper designations is different! It says basically: some people have thought long and large about how to make this whole thing coherent and we don't give a hoot about it! YFC-36A is coherent as far as I'm concerned... but designating new trainers as T-6 AND T-51 in two different lists is not coherent! Or new transports as C-45 AND C-144!
Originally the Hornet was supposed to come in two versions with different emphasis and equipment fits, the F-18 and the A-18. They decided to combine them into one, thus the F/A-18.
 

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Sundog said:
The main reason the F/A-18 designation bothers me is because all fighters eventually perform some form of A2G work.

It was the F-4, not the F/A-4. Oh man, how confusing would an F/A-4 have been with the A-4 in service? I mean, hell, the F-15E Strike Eagle was optimized for the A2G role, but it just became a different letter designation, not an F/A-15B. Of course, asking for logic where the Pentagon is concerned is like teaching horses to fly. Hmmm, maybe that's what they're really doing. ;)
The original claim was that the F-18's primary mission would be fighter and it would replace F-4s an supplement the F-14. The A-18's primary mission and equipment would be attack, replacing the A-7. Unlike fighters, who basically just add the a/g ordnance and maybe some extra sensors but are still optimized for air-to-air, the A-18 was to be a dedicated attack bird. It was then proclaimed that the Hornet was so wonderful that only one version need be built; both missions would be its primary mission, and it would be as good in both roles as dedicated aircraft (pay no attention to that man behind the curtain). Therefore, since it had two primary missions that it did equally well, its designation should reflect that so that all could marvel at what had been wrought.
 

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Colonial-Marine said:
However wasn't the B-26K which became the A-26 again refurbished and rebuilt by some small company with various minor improvements?
The company was On Mark, which also did executive transport conversions of the aircraft, but the reason for the designation change was the one I described.
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

Therefore, since it had two primary missions that it did equally well, its designation should reflect that so that all could marvel at what had been wrought.
now that makes sense. I guess it also make it easier to lobby for something that way. Same thing happened to the F-22 when at one time it became the F/A-22. People were very concerned that its name did not reflect enough how much more it can do than shoot fighters down.

If politics can make such a mess within the military just when it interferes in military designation, imagine the impact it has when it starts to dictate battle plans. Then you start getting fiascos like the ones US military had to go trough in Vietnam, and the second time in Iraq.
 

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frank said:
Wouldn't A-18 have been out of sequence, then?
Yes, but then so was A-12 when you think of it... No A-11 ever!

And since we're on the subject of idiotic designations, what's the idea with the X-32/X-35 nonsense, anyway??? Why place the JSF demonstrators in the X-for-research category? The "X" designators has never been for evaluation flyoffs, but for pure research. Even the "X" as a simple prefix is no longer used for prototypes since 1962!!! Usually a prototype gets a proper DoD designation once it's been procured. In case of two competing prototypes being procured and evauated jointly, they should normally be evaluated in their regular category with a "Y" prefix to indicate their experimental status, and then one is selected (i.e. the YA-9/YA-10, YF-22/YF-23 and YC-14/YC-15 competitions). So the JSF prototypes ought to have been YF-24/YF-25, or YF-32/YF-35, or anything YF-..., but not "X-..." !!!
 

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Which A-12? Grumman's or Lockheed's?

Come to think of it... I've never seen a proper scale drawing of the Grumman A-12. Does anyone have it?



I was never too big a fan of the F-22 design but it grew on me over time... But this FB-22 is just taking the ....!
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
frank said:
Wouldn't A-18 have been out of sequence, then?
Yes, but then so was A-12 when you think of it... No A-11 ever!

And since we're on the subject of idiotic designations, what's the idea with the X-32/X-35 nonsense, anyway??? Why place the JSF demonstrators in the X-for-research category? The "X" designators has never been for evaluation flyoffs, but for pure research. Even the "X" as a simple prefix is no longer used for prototypes since 1962!!! Usually a prototype gets a proper DoD designation once it's been procured. In case of two competing prototypes being procured and evauated jointly, they should normally be evaluated in their regular category with a "Y" prefix to indicate their experimental status, and then one is selected (i.e. the YA-9/YA-10, YF-22/YF-23 and YC-14/YC-15 competitions). So the JSF prototypes ought to have been YF-24/YF-25, or YF-32/YF-35, or anything YF-..., but not "X-..." !!!
It's because they were originally just to be demonstrators, but the program morphed into a prototype/production contract program. There's also the rumor that it was a way of getting around the YF-24 designation, supposedly used for a classified program. However, I don't have any evidence to support that allegation. Of course, it most certainly would have raised eyebrows if the JSF demonstrators were the YF-25 and YF-26. ;)

Edit: I should add, that somewhere on these boards in the threads on the JSF, there is some good information on how they ended up with their designations.
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

lantinian said:
Therefore, since it had two primary missions that it did equally well, its designation should reflect that so that all could marvel at what had been wrought.
now that makes sense. I guess it also make it easier to lobby for something that way. Same thing happened to the F-22 when at one time it became the F/A-22. People were very concerned that its name did not reflect enough how much more it can do than shoot fighters down.

If politics can make such a mess within the military just when it interferes in military designation, imagine the impact it has when it starts to dictate battle plans. Then you start getting fiascos like the ones US military had to go trough in Vietnam, and the second time in Iraq.
In the case of the F/A-18A-D, it was mostly for bragging and PR. The Hornet program didn't have to lobby, it already had the strongest one in existence. Pretty much anything it wanted it got. It was the only fighter of its era that never suffered a numbers cut. In fact, President Peanut's Secretary of Defense tried to kill the AV-8B, and so ordered a bunch more Hornets specifically to make up the shortfall in numbers caused by the loss of the AV-8B. When the AV-8B survived, those orders became superfluous. Instead of canceling them, the decision was to buy 'em anyway.

For the Raptor, that was pure marketing and lobbying. The F-22 was being criticized for being designed as a pure fighter when attack capability was were the shortfall was. Voila: the F/A-22, even though there was no weaponeering going on to clear it for a wide range of existing a/g ordnance (in fact a new a/g type of ordnance had to be developed to fit in its bay, which was then adopted by other platforms), no a/g sensors, designators or electro-optical capability entered development and the only way it could communicate or pass data with ground forces was via non-secure voice. Everyone saw this for what it was, and with the next change in leadership the "F/A" was appropriately dropped.
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

Sundog said:
It's because they were originally just to be demonstrators, but the program morphed into a prototype/production contract program.
They were never intended to be just technology demonstrators the intent was always to go to a production vehicle. But the JSF project started as the DARPA Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter (CALF) project. So as a DARPA project the aircraft received X codes. If it was an Air Force project they would have been YF-24, 25, 26, etc. When the SDD contract was awarded to Lockheed rather than rename the X-35 the F-24 someone decided to keep the number and just call it the F-35.

Because these designations are just names and the primary objective of any name is differentiation not description. Once a number code is already established then its preferred to keep it if the descriptor changes. Like FB-111, F-35, A-37 and so on.
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

Abraham Gubler said:
Sundog said:
It's because they were originally just to be demonstrators, but the program morphed into a prototype/production contract program.
They were never intended to be just technology demonstrators the intent was always to go to a production vehicle. But the JSF project started as the DARPA Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter (CALF) project. So as a DARPA project the aircraft received X codes. If it was an Air Force project they would have been YF-24, 25, 26, etc. When the SDD contract was awarded to Lockheed rather than rename the X-35 the F-24 someone decided to keep the number and just call it the F-35.

As I recall with my imperfect memory there was a press conference announcing the results of the competition and one reporter asked what the aircraft would be called. No one had briefed the Government official making the announcement on this point, and rather than be embarrassed (the worst thing that can happen in Washington) and admit he didn't know, he said, "Mmm, the F-35" (it should have been F-24). Once a high ranking official had made such an Official Proclamation, no one was going to embarrass him, so F-35 it was.
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

What F-14D said. I saw the press conference and remember thinking "idiot". He obviously was winging it and didn't have the slightest idea what it should have been called.
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

Dear members and mods,
should we not move our discussions about US-designations (F-18 + A-18 = F/A-18, F-22 -> F/A-22 -> F-22, FB-111, F-35, A-37, F-117, SR-71 etc.)
over to a sticky topic either at "The Bar" or at the other sub forum "Designation Systems"?
 

Stargazer2006

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I absolutely agree, and in fact I wanted to make the same suggestion... ;)
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

I absolutely agree, and in fact I wanted to make the same suggestion...
That's funny... Din't you start this topic deviation yesterday?

Anyway. We should move all replies after the last Flateric's post (including mine) to the Bar. Someone, please make this happen!
 

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Done. Sorry, I was unable to think about some appreciate topic title :D
 

Jos Heyman

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Be prepared for more unusual designations and, for that matter, serials.
Here is my thought on it.
These systems were designed before this marvellous thing called 'the computer' was created. Designations and serials had to be in some sensible order so that hard copy (paper) files could be stored in that order allowing quick retrieval.
We now have computers that store all the information and you can recall it within seconds, no matter how it is designated or serialed.

Oh, and as far as the serials are concerned - in particular the USAF serials - they can now be based on the construction number, unit using the aircraft, multi years acquisitions and, if here is some space, the old straight forwards numerical way.

But as I said before, if the authorities would follow the rules to the letter, we would not have so much fun.
 

Stargazer2006

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

Thanks for creating a separate topic. Almost immediately after going off-topic in the FB-22 thread, I felt like suggesting this split, so it's nice you were able to do it.

Since I'm responsible for this talk, I'm taking the liberty to rename the topic from "Designations, designations, designations and designations" to something hopefully more descriptive of what's in it: "Out-of-sequence numbers and other idiotic designations...".
 
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F-14D said:
The "A"-26 moniker came back not because of any modernization, but rather because the diplomats thought that it would be too provocative for the US to send "bombers", but "attack" aircraft would be OK.
No, it was because at the time the existing treaty with Thailand did not allow bombers to be based in
Thailand, so the US "honored" the treaty by re-using the attack designation. A paper change which was more
cynical than political. The point became moot as the agreement was later modified to allow the basing of B-52s
at U Tapao.
 

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Re: Designations, designations, designations and designations

Stargazer2006 said:
Yes, but then so was A-12 when you think of it... No A-11 ever!
I have one crazy idea... I think, A-11 index was planned for the aircraft which is now known as the F-117! But at least, they decided to give it an "atypical" index, completely out of line, to confuse everybody and to increase the mystery around this aircraft... You understand, F-117 isn't a fighter in any case. The name "A-11" would suit it much better.

What do you think about it?
 

Stargazer2006

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Very logical indeed. The F-117 was the only true attack aircraft developed between the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the A-12 Avenger II. If any aircraft deserved to be called the A-11, it's the Nighthawk!

I once came up with a theory about how the F-117 monicker might have been misquoted in the first place... Assuming the A-14, A-15 and A-16 designation may have been reserved for possible attack versions of the F-14, F-15 and F-16, and considering the fact that the A-18 is indeed the attack part of the F/A-18 program, the F-117 could logically have been the A-17. Now supposing some politician misread the A17 from an official document, this is what could have happened:



Probably a little far-fetched, but hey! Isn't the F-117 a nonsense in itself already?
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
I once came up with a theory about how the F-117 monicker might have been misquoted in the first place... Assuming the A-14, A-15 and A-16 designation may have been reserved for possible attack versions of the F-14, F-15 and F-16,
This assumption is demonstrably incorrect, and regarding the F-14, it doesn't even remotely make sense ;) .
and considering the fact that the A-18 is indeed the attack part of the F/A-18 program,
A-18, on the other hand, was indeed officially allocated. In fact, all current Hornet designations (FA-18A through EA-18G) are in the A-series.
the F-117 could logically have been the A-17. Now supposing some politician misread the A17 from an official document, this is what could have happened:

Wow :D!

I have read various wild "theories" about the origin of the F-117 designation, and sometimes thought "It can't possibly get more bizarre!" - I was wrong ;D!
 

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Very logical indeed. The F-117 was the only true attack aircraft developed between the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the A-12 Avenger II. If any aircraft deserved to be called the A-11, it's the Nighthawk!

I once came up with a theory about how the F-117 monicker might have been misquoted in the first place... Assuming the A-14, A-15 and A-16 designation may have been reserved for possible attack versions of the F-14, F-15 and F-16, and considering the fact that the A-18 is indeed the attack part of the F/A-18 program, the F-117 could logically have been the A-17. Now supposing some politician misread the A17 from an official document, this is what could have happened:



Probably a little far-fetched, but hey! Isn't the F-117 a nonsense in itself already?
There's always been the possibility of A-11 being reserved for the Piper Enforcer in the event that this plane would enter production. Also, F-117 was derived for pilot's manual and allocated in the F-for-Fighter series to deceive people into thinking it was a fighter plane. Moreover, A-14A was the first designation for a US-evaluated Super Tucano plane.
 
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