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Thread: Modern Aircraft: Affordability and complexity...

  1. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by =Mike= View Post
    I would hope we don't have the same issue with the F35, but it appears project management is very poor when it comes to Aviation projects :/ Indeed, it appears to be a chronic failing.
    An interesting point.

    Can anyone name any significant development programs that were delivered on time and within budget since '50?

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mowers View Post
    An interesting point.

    Can anyone name any significant development programs that were delivered on time and within budget since '50?
    Avro Arrow? There's probably actually a few but that's one of the only ones I can think of off the top of my head. Funny that it was on budget, on schedule and performing well but was cut all the same (leading to the death of Canada's aviation industry).
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  3. #43
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    hmm, interesting thread. Let me add in my comment about the F-35. The F-35 was basically forced to be 3 aircraft in one airframe, as the United States Congress refuses to fund three separate aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines. So the Pentagon asked aircraft manufacturers to come up with a single engined, stealthy, STOVL aircraft for "cheap". The Lockheed X-35 won the contest in 2001. When 2008 rolls around, it is learned that the program is about 4 years behind schedule and that the F-35B model is about 400 pounds overweight, necessitating a partial redesign of all 3 versions, which cost money. Then in 2010, the F-35B was placed on probation to make sure it stayed on track, which it did, and was released from probation today. Then, the first12 F-35As were grounded due to one of them having a faulty integrated power pack. That was resolved in about a month. Basically, the F-35s problems stem from poor management and something called concurrency, where someone thought it would be a good idea to design, test, and produce an aircraft at the same time. This means that the F-35 has about 600 design changes left to implement, even as initial production begins. I.E. The first few dozen F-35s will not be completely "finished" developmentally. However, the F-35 is a stealthy 5th generation jet with an internal weapons bay, an incredible sensor suite, a single engine producing 50,000 pounds of thrust dry (no afterburn), and a built in laser targeting and IR imaging pod in the nose. Also, as for costs, the latest estimated have costs without development included, which the USA pays for at : about $85 million dollars for the F-35A model, 93 million dollars for the F-35B, and about 88-90 million dollars for the F-35C model.

  4. #44
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    problem is, very few European governments want to spend more money on many specialized aircraft when they can buy less multirole aircaft for cheaper that can do the job almost as well, but for half the price. hmm, interesting thread. Let me add in my comment about the F-35. The F-35 was basically forced to be 3 aircraft in one airframe, as the United States Congress refuses to fund three separate aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines. So the Pentagon asked aircraft manufacturers to come up with a single engined, stealthy, STOVL aircraft for "cheap". The Lockheed X-35 won the contest in 2001. When 2008 rolls around, it is learned that the program is about 4 years behind schedule and that the F-35B model is about 400 pounds overweight, necessitating a partial redesign of all 3 versions, which cost money. Then in 2010, the F-35B was placed on probation to make sure it stayed on track, which it did, and was released from probation today. Then, the first12 F-35As were grounded due to one of them having a faulty integrated power pack. That was resolved in about a month. Basically, the F-35s problems stem from poor management and something called concurrency, where someone thought it would be a good idea to design, test, and produce an aircraft at the same time. This means that the F-35 has about 600 design changes left to implement, even as initial production begins. I.E. The first few dozen F-35s will not be completely "finished" developmentally. However, the F-35 is a stealthy 5th generation jet with an internal weapons bay, an incredible sensor suite, a single engine producing 50,000 pounds of thrust dry (no afterburn), and a built in laser targeting and IR imaging pod in the nose. Also, as for costs, the latest estimated have costs without development included, which the USA pays for at : about $85 million dollars for the F-35A model, 93 million dollars for the F-35B, and about 88-90 million dollars for the F-35C model.

  5. #45
    the only plane i could of ever think of that ever worked for all 3 branches well was the f-4. other than that they all been pretty much flops.

  6. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by nielsenkc View Post
    the only plane i could of ever think of that ever worked for all 3 branches well was the f-4. other than that they all been pretty much flops.
    The F-4 is the only aircraft adopted by all three branches, so it doesn't really tell us anything. (The F-111 was never adopted by the Marine Corps)

  7. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Thiel View Post
    The F-4 is the only aircraft adopted by all three branches, so it doesn't really tell us anything. (The F-111 was never adopted by the Marine Corps)
    It does, it tells us the F-4 was a complete beast of an aircraft. One of the best in the world IMHO. Harrier coming in a close second.... of course this is while we are just considering jet aircraft. Would have to change the ball game once you start considering piston aircraft.

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    Well, lets hope that the F-35 ends up as good as the F-4

  9. #49
    well as far as front line service fighters go that worked for all the branches. thats the f-4. basically it was designed for the navy than the other branches wait this plane is cool and we need it in our branch. so the f-4 was adopted by all the branches.

  10. #50
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    What astonishes me the most, is that despite all the extreme costs of these airplanes, little thought has gone into how to best defend them where they are the most vulnerable.

    In an ambush enviroment simple (and 1000 times cheaper) propeller airplanes armed with a few unguided rockets could easilly knock out an entire airbase full off high tech stuff on the ground. Simply swoop in at low altitude and with only a few seconds to react the modern airbase is severly wounded if not knocked out.

    The next step is retailating, but how can you find a prop- airplane that can land/launch anywhere on any 20 meter long grass field and is so easy to hide??? You simply can't if they done their homework.

    Sure each successive step is better then the previous one and can defeat it with ease. But how would they fare if facing "WW2 tech" Prop- airplanes in numbers 10:1 or worse?
    All that expensive cool stealth and heatseaking missile technology is suddenly useless, because those cheap suckers don't even have radars or a jet engines!
    And since they are so small and fly so slow, they can just fly so low that radar has a very hard time to spot them if operating over land.

    While everyone seems focused on being able to knock enemy planes out of the skies is that really needed? The amount of bases these advanced beasts can launch from is so limited that finding them is no hard task, and all airplanes need to spend most of their time on the ground, where they are almost defenseless.

    I belive this kind off guerrilla-style air warfare could deal quite a surprise to the pride of our ultra-expensive airforces, if given a chance. And it would be leathal to under estimate it.

    The only thinking along these lines I have seen from Military side is actually part of Swedish defence doctrine that was invented to survive in an enviroment where your outnumbered 50:1 or worse (The cold war). All our jets were developed with the additional capability of being able to launch/land on any normal road being straight for at least 500m. The idea was that in case of a Soviet attack all our jets would just vanish from their normal bases out into the woods and operate from road bases to pop up behind little expecting enemies giving them some nasty surprises. Basically an airforce that could work fine even if all visible airbases are knocked out.

    The idea of stealth in the air has been considered as something extreemly important by almost all military experts. But how many others have been thinking about stealth on the ground??? As I said, it's ridiculously simple to take out an airplane on the ground, so that should be even more important in any scenario where your enemy can reach your airfields. Especially so in an enviroment when your fighting terrorists that can't get their hands on good radar or sams, but has no problems aquiring explosives, simple unguided rockets or prop airplanes.
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  11. #51
    I think you are grossly simplifying things here. You are assuming that the air base doesn't have air radar search, SAMs, AAA guns, land phalanx or any garrisoned soldiers. Most military airbases have all of those things. Coupled with the exclusion zone around most military airbases and any "prop" aircraft that decides to venture within firing range of an unguided missile will be wasted... completely wasted. Hell in that case modern assault rifles/RPGs/HMG/LMG's are all going to be dangerous to it. Most aircraft still come with a cannon and a prop aircraft would be completely shredded by a modern 30mm cannon firing from an aircraft.

    Furthermore "prop" aircraft are not invisible to radar, far from it actually as otherwise the battle of britain wouldn't have gone the way it did (despite the RAF harping on about how good our pilots were the luftwaffe actually had better pilot aces than we did due to the higher experience of their pilots. What allowed us to win the battle of Britain was radar which enabled local superiority). Furthermore most modern airfields also have forward looking posts in combat heavy zones.

    I'm sorry the idea that 100 spitfires would even stand a chance of conducting a "surprise raid" on a modern airfield is just amusing. They are vulnerable to radar like everything else. They are more vulnerable to damage being made of more simple materials. They are harder to organise as a group due to poor avionics compared to modern ones. They are no where near as agile as the F-22 raptor which can ALSO go as slow as any spitfire should the need demand it... They are vulnerable to AAA fire and small arms fire in the way a supersonic jet is not. They are especially vulnerable to things like land Phalanx.

  12. #52
    Well the us airforce does have the at-6 texan which is suppose to be used as a low level slow attack ground attack plane. but thats all what comes close to your idea of swarms of aircaft to attack one base. and you think a pilot willing get in an plane knowing they get shot out of the sky. if there desperate maybe as seen in world war 2 by the japense. but still!

  13. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by nielsenkc View Post
    Well the us airforce does have the at-6 texan which is suppose to be used as a low level slow attack ground attack plane.
    No it's not. True, the T-6B is capable of carrying stores, but as far as I'm aware it's not for combat.

    Besides, even the most basic airfield defences would chew up any number of prop bashers. Heck, most manpads have longer ranges than whatever weapons you could fit on one. (Unless you go for something like the Tucano, but then the whole hide near the enemy airbase aspect disappears completely and then where'd you be?)

  14. #54
    Indeed, lets face it most modern AAA would absolutely murder old prop aircraft due to the weight of fire it could put up. Things like land phalanx can shoot down mortar shells so why would it have any trouble at all with old prop aircraft? Id love to try and see them intercept a ship with sea wolf that can shoot down 4.5 inch shells its radar is that good... I think the statement he made about no thought being given to the defence of the airfield is very naive. Bordering on ignorant... Thad why we have RAF infantry regiments, Manpads, Aster and land phalanx along with radar on most airbases as well as a CAP in a combat situation.

  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brutoni View Post
    They are vulnerable to radar like everything else
    Actually no.

    Due to flying at 1/10:th of the speed of a jetfighter they can fly 10 times closer to the ground (due to having 10 times more reaction time). All aircrafts become impossible to detect on radar no matter how advanced if there is a hill in the way. A small cessna can fly below the horizon until the very last moment, unlike anything travelling faster could.
    There is also the issue of stall speed, a small airplane can fly many times slower then a jet airplane can.

    Due to being so small, a Cessna is also likley to have at least half the cross section of a larger jet airplane. Combined with the above it should mean that the low flying cessna is about 5-20 times harder to detect on radar then a low flying (non-stealth) jet airplane. Meaning they can get that much closer before being detected.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brutoni View Post
    Thad why we have RAF infantry regiments, Manpads, Aster and land phalanx along with radar on most airbases as well as a CAP in a combat situation.
    Far from all airbases are defended by advanced radarguided AAA cannons. Especially ones that can be made ready at moments notice without previous warning.

    I wasn't talking about a general warfare tactics, but more off a surprise raid tactic that could well work against airbases once or twice, but not really in the long run.

    My main point is that at $500 million for an F22 (including development costs) you could afford 4000 say Cessna 162s for each of them. Now add explosives and remote controls and you might still afford 2000 off them. Or just add crazy terrorists that don't mind suicide missions but feel like hitting a military target this time (which would actually mean they are not terrorists, but anyways...)


    Even if a modern airbase only has a few off these ultra expensive airplanes a low tech surprise strike through numbers could very very quickly overwhelm any defenses for a fraction of the cost off the airplanes destroyed. Any guerilla or insurgency fighting US forces today is ready to take hundreds of losses on the ground already, why would high risk missions in the air be any different?

    I'm not saying any attacks should involve hundreds or thousands of airplanes, just that you could take these kind of losses and as a weapon kind it would still be cost effective if it can knock out a single F22...

    It doesn't matter how quickly a phalanx would tear through a Prop airplane, they can still only fire for less then 20 seconds anyways before they are out of ammo and are 100% useless for the next 5 min while reloading (assuming reloads are even close at hand). In a WW2 situation any AA gun spending 93% of the time reloading would have been regarded as useless, you would need a battery of 15 guns taking turns to have full AA cover in a situation where the sky is filled with enemy airplanes.


    SAM won't work at all since they come in two kinds:

    1.) Radar guided which have a mimimum engagement range and are meant to hit high flying bombers or ballistic missiles (Aster in Airbase defence role for example can't engage targets within 3000m).
    2.) Heat seaking, Stinger style that are guided by the hot exhaust off a jet engine (you would be more likley to hit a nearby Humvee then the heat signature of a 100hp Cessna engine).

    You do mention stationing 100:eds of soldiers with HMGs in a wide perimiter, which would ofcourse work fine. But this is not something that is in place at any airbases today which means they are vulnerable to the element of surprise attack. Currently those few HMGs are pointed towards the access roads in case a insurgency truck loaded with explosives would show up...
    "A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week." - Patton

  16. #56
    I'm sorry your wrong. I know that sounds very blunt but I need to address a few things.

    Phalanx only has a few seconds of continious fire however most land phalanx teams are mounted on the back of a mobile vehicle, furthermore they are deployed in a group of 4-5 of them to provide circular, mobile defences. This is quite common and indeed more so than you think due to hit and run style attacks being used on airbases and outposts by Taliban and insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. It means that there is a huge capability to "even the odds" very very quickly.

    Again, your comments on radar... radar can track and engage missiles... objects mover 3x the speed of sound that are much smaller than any "prop aircraft". Furthermore although small prop aircraft will probably have a surprisingly large RCS due to the somewhat "unstealthy" shape of them. They are not even sleek fighters and as such they have lots of bits and bops to reflect a signal. With regards minimum range that is an issue however Aster 15 has a minimum range of 1.7km. That is half of what you have stated above which is actually Aster 30. Aster 15 CAN be used on the ground just as easily as Aster 30 as they share a similar warhead and booster, the Aster 30 just has a larger one.

    Your assumption is that not 1 single aircraft is deployed on CAP. I find that highly unlikely, a base with bombers, F-22 etcetc is very likely in wartime to have 2 aircraft flying CAP. Those aircraft have IR, Radar (look down shoot down radar also), optical sensors and can be fitted with laser guiding sensor pods to enable a "semi-active" launch of AAM's and guiding the missile onto target. Furthermore most modern Aircraft are coming equipped with thrust vectoring which allows the aircraft to fly as slow as any "prop aircraft", not for as long granted but then they are coming to you so that's not an issue. Then there are issues like Bradleys, MBT's, IFV's, Soldiers with manpads... all of which will present a considerable threat to your rag tag team of aircraft trying to sneak up on you.

    There is also the issue of range, a modern airbase is often deploying within friendly territory so you still have to navigate through enemy territory to ambush them, while hiding 10-20 Prop aircraft is not going to be hard hiding 2000 is not going to happen, furthermore unless you calculate a very intricate attack pattern they will have to fly as a formation and thus be more likely to be detected by Radar, of course with less capable communications they are more vulnerable to losing cohesion and not arriving en mass and therefore losing the power of their numbers.



    Flying low is true to an extent but depends on the terrain and the weather... Planning around terrain means you are relying on the battle taking place in a location of your choosing, however the enemy is unlikely to situate and aibase in a really hilly location just so you can have an easy time approaching it.


    Your method of attack can work however to be quite frank a special forces team inserted quietly by helicopter that covers the remaining distance on foot would be more dangerous as they can disable the airfield and/or guide precision weapons onto the airfield. They are far more psychologically damaging to the opponent as well. Simply put if what you said was true then it would have been done already, however it hasn't. It hasn't because I don't think you understand radar, IR imaging and other modern systems as well as you think you do. Radar was used to beat aircraft in WW2. It has only got better. Your entire strategy relies on the airbase being relatively undefended, positioned in a location that enables easy low-level attack/special forces attack AND that doesn't have a CAP flying... Quite frankly that's an airbase that is vulnerable to any number of targets.

  17. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_brunius View Post
    Actually no.

    Due to flying at 1/10:th of the speed of a jetfighter they can fly 10 times closer to the ground (due to having 10 times more reaction time). All aircrafts become impossible to detect on radar no matter how advanced if there is a hill in the way. A small cessna can fly below the horizon until the very last moment, unlike anything travelling faster could.
    There is also the issue of stall speed, a small airplane can fly many times slower then a jet airplane can.

    Due to being so small, a Cessna is also likley to have at least half the cross section of a larger jet airplane. Combined with the above it should mean that the low flying cessna is about 5-20 times harder to detect on radar then a low flying (non-stealth) jet airplane. Meaning they can get that much closer before being detected.
    On the other hand since they are so slow radars have plenty of time to refine the picture, making it fairly easy to spot them. Remember, most of our current systems were developed to detect near supersonic jets flying just above the trees and attack helicopters flying below them.
    Additionally, many LW civilian planes of the type you seem to have in mind are deliberately designed to be highly visible on radar, in order to make air traffic control easier.


    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_brunius View Post
    Far from all airbases are defended by advanced radarguided AAA cannons. Especially ones that can be made ready at moments notice without previous warning.
    True, but the ones within range of the type of strike you're talking about are. (See Kandahar airbase in Afghanistan for an example)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_brunius View Post
    I wasn't talking about a general warfare tactics, but more off a surprise raid tactic that could well work against airbases once or twice, but not really in the long run.
    We're well aware of that, but it's a moot point since the type of airfields you could attack tends to be within friendly territory. Good luck trying to sneak a dozen planes in, let alone a couple of hundred.
    Even assuming the radars are blind as bats you'll in all likelihood be found by your radio chatter. Even with the best of planning you'll still need to coordinate the strike on-site since you won't have the chance to rehearse it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_brunius View Post
    My main point is that at $500 million for an F22 (including development costs) you could afford 4000 say Cessna 162s for each of them. Now add explosives and remote controls and you might still afford 2000 off them. Or just add crazy terrorists that don't mind suicide missions but feel like hitting a military target this time (which would actually mean they are not terrorists, but anyways...)
    Again this is a moot point because you're never going to be able to launch any kind of mass strike.
    You also assume that these planes are left standing around in the open. Surprisingly, they're not. In peace time they're stored in hangars, which makes hitting them pretty hard since you won't know which one to hit (Not much point in hitting one that's filled with Cessnas)
    In wartime they're relocated to hardstands. This is airforce lingo for bunkers. You know, the buildings designed to resist actual armour-piercing bombs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_brunius View Post
    Even if a modern airbase only has a few off these ultra expensive airplanes a low tech surprise strike through numbers could very very quickly overwhelm any defenses for a fraction of the cost off the airplanes destroyed. Any guerilla or insurgency fighting US forces today is ready to take hundreds of losses on the ground already, why would high risk missions in the air be any different?
    Because it takes a whole lot more planning and training. First off you have to actually get all the planes. How would you even do that? Even mass produced ones like the 165 isn't made in that huge numbers and some intelligence character is bound to ask question if someone started stockpiling them. Then you have to teach them how to fly, which means you'll need instructors. And then you need to train for the actual raid. Compared to this, training an insurgent involved finding a likely person, buying an AK and a couple of grenades for him and take him into a large basement and let him shoot of a couple of mags at a target.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_brunius View Post
    I'm not saying any attacks should involve hundreds or thousands of airplanes, just that you could take these kind of losses and as a weapon kind it would still be cost effective if it can knock out a single F22...
    It'll never be cost effective so long as it doesn't work. Which is doesn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_brunius View Post
    It doesn't matter how quickly a phalanx would tear through a Prop airplane, they can still only fire for less then 20 seconds anyways before they are out of ammo and are 100% useless for the next 5 min while reloading (assuming reloads are even close at hand). In a WW2 situation any AA gun spending 93% of the time reloading would have been regarded as useless, you would need a battery of 15 guns taking turns to have full AA cover in a situation where the sky is filled with enemy airplanes.
    True, if you were dealing with a single layered defence and you were flying mill-grade aircraft.
    However, you're dealing with a multi layered defence and you're flying incredibly fragile piston engined (with all the associated fire hazards) aluminium cans filled with explosives.
    Simple assault rifle fire will suffice to kill you, a single 20mm round will pull the engine out through the tail.
    Oh and and you're going to need a lot of explosives since you can't count on actually crashing in to them. This will cause your aircraft to be extremely heavily loaded and ungainly.


    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_brunius View Post
    SAM won't work at all since they come in two kinds:

    1.) Radar guided which have a mimimum engagement range and are meant to hit high flying bombers or ballistic missiles (Aster in Airbase defence role for example can't engage targets within 3000m).
    Roland, Super Hawk, SeaSparrow and Sea Wolf disagrees with you. (Okay they do have minimum ranges, but they are measured in tens of meters, not hundreds, let alone thousands)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_brunius View Post
    2.) Heat seaking, Stinger style that are guided by the hot exhaust off a jet engine (you would be more likley to hit a nearby Humvee then the heat signature of a 100hp Cessna engine).
    Ever seen those police shows on the tellie where they chase the crook with a helicopter? Notice how he lights up like a Christmas tree compared to the background? The same technology that makes that possible is used in IR guided missiles. Now, instead of a scant 10 or 20 degrees celcius in difference you have about 100, so targeting should not be a problem. And indeed it isn't. After all, the drones they train against are essentially remote-controlled cessnas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_brunius View Post
    You do mention stationing 100:eds of soldiers with HMGs in a wide perimiter, which would ofcourse work fine. But this is not something that is in place at any airbases today which means they are vulnerable to the element of surprise attack. Currently those few HMGs are pointed towards the access roads in case a insurgency truck loaded with explosives would show up...
    Funnily enough, the layout of defences are one of those things the various militaries all agree on shouldn't be shared, so we don't actually know how places like Kandahar is defended in detail. So we don't actually know if those defences are in place or not.

  18. #58
    Really just use cruise missiles. There still cheaper and may have a chance at getting threw the AAA and killing something. Or do a swarm UAV attack, again more chance of them getting in and doing something.

  19. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by Zacho View Post
    Really just use cruise missiles. There still cheaper and may have a chance at getting threw the AAA and killing something. Or do a swarm UAV attack, again more chance of them getting in and doing something.
    If we resort to cruise missiles then we're looking at a strike that'll cost almost as much as the target.
    The point behind Alex_brunius's idea was that it would be much much cheaper to do it his way.

  20. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thiel View Post
    If we resort to cruise missiles then we're looking at a strike that'll cost almost as much as the target.
    Not if you take out a hangar with F-22s or F-35s!

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