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Sturgeon's House
Belesarius

Bash the F-35 thred.

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I need to update the blog links on this site.

Also, they're getting their info from War Is Boring, which is an awful website.

I'd say more like 50% awful. Good luck separating the gold from the shit though.

Per the actual topic, I think foxtrot nails it by asking why it's a fighter at all. If you can't maneuver then a missile-armed B2 is infinitely better.

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I'm honestly surprised. The quick approximations of SEP and wing loading suggested that the F-35 would be a hair worse in a dogfight than an F-15, which is still quite respectable.

I think partly it was due to the thing being a cramped environment (the pilot physically couldn't turn his head enough to check 6), partly that it bleeds energy like a pig and partly that the mass/wing loading is a complete lie.

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I'm surprised it bleeds energy badly too.

 

The tendency in fourth-generation fighters onwards is to use the fuselage as a lifting surface to some extent (F-14, F-15), or to blend the wings and fuselage together so that it's hard to say where the fuselage begins and where the wing ends (F-16, SU-27, mirage 2000 to a lesser extent).  So you can't really use reference wing areas for accurate estimations of flight performance.

 

However, as a first approximation, the F-35 looks like it should turn OK.

 

The aspect ratio of the wings is moderate.  This informs the amount of induced drag the wings will create during a turn, which is a large contributor to energy bleed.  The aspect ratio is lower than, say, an F-16 or SU-27 (both champions of sustained turning), but it's much better than a delta-canard design or pure delta design.

 

The wing loading is also moderate.  It's not as low as a delta-canard, but it's not as high as a lot of last-generation strike aircraft and interceptors like a jaguar or anything with swing wings.  So it should have reasonable instantaneous turn rates.  Also, since the F-35 is fully unstable, the tailplanes are lifting during a turn, so their area can be added to those of the wing (instead of subtracted).

 

Thrust to weight ratio is OK-ish too.  Not amazing like an F-15 or MiG-29, but not terribad like an F-14A.

 

All in all, the F-35 doesn't seem obviously bad at dogfighting on paper.  But this article makes it sound like it's not even mediocre WVR.

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This just in: superior training the dominant factor in air-to-air engagements.

 

Well there wouldnt be much of a point in a getting a brand new aircraft if all America would ever feasibly go up against would be dollar store middle eastern air forces with half century old monkey model migs 

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I'm surprised it bleeds energy badly too.

The tendency in fourth-generation fighters onwards is to use the fuselage as a lifting surface to some extent (F-14, F-15), or to blend the wings and fuselage together so that it's hard to say where the fuselage begins and where the wing ends (F-16, SU-27, mirage 2000 to a lesser extent). So you can't really use reference wing areas for accurate estimations of flight performance.

However, as a first approximation, the F-35 looks like it should turn OK.

The aspect ratio of the wings is moderate. This informs the amount of induced drag the wings will create during a turn, which is a large contributor to energy bleed. The aspect ratio is lower than, say, an F-16 or SU-27 (both champions of sustained turning), but it's much better than a delta-canard design or pure delta design.

The wing loading is also moderate. It's not as low as a delta-canard, but it's not as high as a lot of last-generation strike aircraft and interceptors like a jaguar or anything with swing wings. So it should have reasonable instantaneous turn rates. Also, since the F-35 is fully unstable, the tailplanes are lifting during a turn, so their area can be added to those of the wing (instead of subtracted).

Thrust to weight ratio is OK-ish too. Not amazing like an F-15 or MiG-29, but not terribad like an F-14A.

All in all, the F-35 doesn't seem obviously bad at dogfighting on paper. But this article makes it sound like it's not even mediocre WVR.

I wonder how much it got screwed by having a fat cross-section for the lift fan? Further, I wonder how much the all-stealth design added in terms of drag?

As Sturgeon said, both sites do have a big 'ol hate boner for the plane. But it still seems like a waste to make a fighter and then comprise the design to the point that it is mediocre in maneuver. Might as well go for a two-crew bomber at that point, and win a bit in terms of payload.

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I wonder how much it got screwed by having a fat cross-section for the lift fan? Further, I wonder how much the all-stealth design added in terms of drag?

As Sturgeon said, both sites do have a big 'ol hate boner for the plane. But it still seems like a waste to make a fighter and then comprise the design to the point that it is mediocre in maneuver. Might as well go for a two-crew bomber at that point, and win a bit in terms of payload.

 

I used to buy the idea that the F-35 is poorly area-ruled because of the need to fit the lift fan in the V/STOL variant.  I'm not so sure now:

 

F-35A-front-taxi1.jpg

 

lmL6kxM.jpg'

 

The fuselages are noticeably differently contoured.

 

Could the fuselage have been made narrower without the V/STOL requirement?  Maybe some, but remember that it has to fit those huge weapons bays in there too:

OEJoUtN.jpg

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JPO refutation of the article on War Is Boring:

 

http://www.janes.com/article/52715/jpo-counters-media-report-that-f-35-cannot-dogfight

 

Edit:  Note, the JPO is saying that the F-35 isn't designed to dogfight.

Considering how many nations are considering buying this as their only next gen aircraft, dogfighting ability better fucking come included.  (I say that as a Canadian Taxpayer who might get saddled with some of these things.)

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War is Boring isn't the best source ever. The F-35 lost to one of the best turn fighters in the skies. I don't see how that's surprising.

 

Also, the original source itself is sort of fishy. Especially that bit about a cramped cockpit. The Viper doesn't exactly have much room in there either.

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Apparently the F-35 that "failed" at dogfighting wasn't equipped with its stealth coating and did not have its advanced avionics which would allow it to fight from a distance, pretty much allowing the F-16 to have a chance to get close enough to dogfight. So the test isn't an accurate representation of the F-35's anti-air capabilities as it was handicapped. 

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Apparently the F-35 that "failed" at dogfighting wasn't equipped with its stealth coating and did not have its advanced avionics which would allow it to fight from a distance, pretty much allowing the F-16 to have a chance to get close enough to dogfight. So the test isn't an accurate representation of the F-35's anti-air capabilities as it was handicapped. 

 

As pointed out earlier, if you are intending to zap them with long range AA missiles from a distance, why isn't F-35 just a B-2 with loads of AA missiles? With the way ROE are going dogfighting is far from dead

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As pointed out earlier, if you are intending to zap them with long range AA missiles from a distance, why isn't F-35 just a B-2 with loads of AA missiles? With the way ROE are going dogfighting is far from dead

I'd love to know what the Pk is for an AMRAAM against 5th gen aircraft.  If it's low, considering how few missiles the F35 carries, dogfighting against other 5th gen fighters may be the only way to get a kill.

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As pointed out earlier, if you are intending to zap them with long range AA missiles from a distance, why isn't F-35 just a B-2 with loads of AA missiles? With the way ROE are going dogfighting is far from dead

I don't think a B-2 could fit on a carrier. 

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JPO refutation of the article on War Is Boring:

 

http://www.janes.com/article/52715/jpo-counters-media-report-that-f-35-cannot-dogfight

 

Edit:  Note, the JPO is saying that the F-35 isn't designed to dogfight.

Considering how many nations are considering buying this as their only next gen aircraft, dogfighting ability better fucking come included.  (I say that as a Canadian Taxpayer who might get saddled with some of these things.)

 

 

And, third, it is not equipped with the weapons or software that allow the F-35 pilot to turn, aim a weapon with the helmet, and fire at an enemy without having to point the airplane at its target," said the JPO.

 

I think this is an interesting excerpt - that'd be damn useful in a dogfight, and dispatching them with an ASRAAM once you're in dogfighting range ought to fit any sensible ROE

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I think this is an interesting excerpt - that'd be damn useful in a dogfight, and dispatching them with an ASRAAM once you're in dogfighting range ought to fit any sensible ROE

Yeah, but the Russians have the same tech. BVR is great, in theory.  But when ROE is restrained and you have to close and engage, stuff like IRST and look down shoot down negates a lot of stealth advantages.  Manoverability and having a damned gun aren't going to go away anytime soon. 

 

And again, I'm curious as to what kill probability a Slammer will have against another 5th gen fighter.

I thought I had linked an article about it here, in Unstart's trends in air to air combat thread a while back, but I didn't post it. Have to see if I can dig it up.

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I think this is an interesting excerpt - that'd be damn useful in a dogfight, and dispatching them with an ASRAAM once you're in dogfighting range ought to fit any sensible ROE

 

 

It's actually South African technology originally.

 

The Soviets fell in love with it and put it on their fulcrums and flankers.

 

I believe the way it works is that there's a gimbal on the heat-seeking array of the missile, and the pilot's helmet can steer that around.  Instead of the target needing to be in a five degree cone, it's more like a forty-five degree cone.

 

 

 

Pk of BVR AAMs is complicated.  Those "maximum range" numbers you see on spec sheets for AAMs?  Those are basically made-up numbers.

 

BVR AAMs work better at high altitude.  There's less air, so they have less drag and thus go further.  If they're high enough, their targets' engines and control surfaces don't work optimally either, so they have an easier time catching them.

 

Whether they're firing up or down affects Pk too.  If they're firing down, they have additional potential energy.  If they're firing up, then that's more energy they have to waste getting to the target.  However, most BVR AAMs are radar guided, and air to air radar works best if it's looking up because it isn't getting cluttered up by return signals from the ground (the pulse-doppler signal filtering for removing this clutter still isn't perfect).

 

BVR AAMs work best if the target is flying towards the aircraft firing them.

 

Et cetera.

 

Range and Pk are related.  The less energy the AAM has to expend getting to the target, the more energy it's going to have to maneuver to hit the target.

 

If the target is forewarned, there's a lot more it can do to avoid the missile.  Missiles are faster than aircraft, and can withstand many times more Gs.  However, they only have as much kinetic energy as the initial burn of their motors provided, and they bleed kinetic energy very quickly when forced to maneuver because their maneuver surfaces are so small.  So, if the pilot has enough room to work with, avoiding a mach 5, 20-G capable guided missile is not out of the question.

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I knew they had it - my point is that dogfighting with and without the system is totally different. The dangerous zone of your aircraft is much larger, and since you only need to get the enemy aircraft into that area in a dogfight the F-35 was substantially hamstrung by turning that off. Which is fine if they were just interested in testing the pure aerodynamic capabilities, but it's not an accurate reflection of dogfighting low end instable fighters with awkward ROE

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