Tuesday, 31 July 2012

What the F-22 vs. the Typhoon tells us

The anti-F-22 crowd over at Wired bring up some great points about the F-22 and Typhoon. Also, they may have overlooked or just didn't get around to mentioning some other things in the big picture of air power emerging threats.

For starters, while the F-22 may face some challenges in air-to-air combat, anything less than that is going to suffer a hard time in coming anti-access threat scenarios.

With the Typhoon, consider that (except for its F-18-class airframe profile), its speed and performance mimic some of the SU-35 capability. The SU-35 is the non-stealth reference threat for the Pacific in coming years. It was designed to exploit the Raptor. However many of the SU-35 are made, expect its technology to bleed elsewhere.

One big difference between the F-22 and the Typhoon is that one of them is going to have more difficulty in a high-end SAM environment.

What Wired, or us, do not know, are the rules of engagement for the exercise. By getting the F-22 into within-visual-range (WVR) practice with the Typhoon, we give the F-22 a look at what it will have to deal with when facing emerging reference threats in the SU-35 class of jet: or worse.

Wired is right to bring up the single point of failure in the U.S. air power roadmap. That is the AIM-120 AMRAAM. While it may have some combat victories, they were against poor opponents and not someone using cross-eyed jamming in a new-gen Flanker. Once the AMRAAM probability of kill is lowered to that of a Vietnam-era AIM-7 Sparrow, we have problems.

According to Janes and others, we have even more of a problem with the AMRAAM. Rocket motor production for the AIM-120D AMRAAM (the new supposedly longer range variant) is in dire straits because of serious production defects. This problem has affected all AMRAAM deliveries within the last two years.

The fix here is that the U.S. needs to get competing sources for beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles in the AMRAAM class. Sooner rather than later.

That and a dual mode or family of BVR missiles that use not only radar but optical guidance for terminal homing.

Years ago, when the advanced tactical fighter (ATF) project started--which gave us the F-22--red-force evaluators knew that stealth, for stealth's sake, was not good enough against emerging threats. One had to have extreme altitude and super-cruise to lower the effectiveness of enemy firing solutions by degrading missile no escape zones (NEZ).

With its AN/ALR-94, it has an interesting way of detecting targets; passively. Also the F-22 has usable combat range. And, certainly more than the F-35 will ever see, if it ever shows up in combat trim.

The most important thing that the Typhoon vs. F-22 flights show us is that against almost any emerging threat for the foreseeable future, the F-35 is dead meat. It's BVR capability may count for something, but with the AMRAAM PK taken into effect and a serious lack of dancing ability, what will be delivered to the warfighter are tales of the Brewster Buffalo, Vindicator and Helldiver.

The Pacific isn't looking all that great for air power deterrence. In part, we can thank, Gates, Schwartz and Donley: three people that when you combine their total fund of air power knowledge, it could be written inside of a match-book; with a large-sized crayon.

This should also worry the Israelis when looking at all those Typhoons. For them, the F-35 will not provide a credible deterrence. There was a time we supported our allies. President Clinton did promise them the F-22. Too bad for them, the U.S. didn't follow through.

Today? All the U.S. really wants from its allies is to purchase faulty weapons systems. No matter what the consequence. Asian Defence News

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