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Why the F-35 Will Smoke the Russians

by Ward Carroll on August 22, 2007

Our friend Harold Hutchison posted another update to his F-35 coverage over at Strategy Page blog…We’ve cross posted here.

While the F-35 compares favorably to some of the latest European fighters, the natural question emerges: How does it fare against some of Russia’s best, particularly the Su-27/30/33/35 and later versions of the MiG-29?
F35-cockpit.jpg

The Su-27 is roughly equivalent to the F-15. Like the F-15, it started out as an air-superiority fighter. However, as the years went on, it also proved to be very capable at ground attack. There have been very few combat tests of the Su-27 family to date. The only one known of is the Ethiopia/Eritrea conflict in 1999–2000, in which it scored at least five kills. The Su-27 family usually has ten weapons pylons, a 30-millimeter cannon, and a combat radius of 1,500 kilometers. The Su-30 is comparable to the F-15E, and has 12 weapons pylons. The Su-30 has been exported to a number of countries, including Venezuela, India, China, and Malaysia. It is arguably the best fighter that the Russians have been exporting, and one of the best in the world. Algeria is acquiring 28 of these planes.

The MiG-29 is a shorter-range fighter, with six weapons pylons, a 30-millimeter cannon, and a combat radius of 700 kilometers. Like the Su-27 family, it started as an air-superiority fighter/interceptor, but it also proved capable of carrying a lot of air-to-ground ordnance. The MiG-29 is flown by a number of countries, including Poland, Russia, India, North Korea, Cuba, and Iran.

What makes both of these planes interesting is their use of an infra-red tracking system. This is often used with the R-73/AA-11 air-to-air missile. The Archer has a range of 20–40 kilometers, depending on the version, and a 16-pound warhead. Another feature of the missile is the ability to work with a helmet-mounted sight (the missile goes for whatever the pilot is looking at). These are impressive systems, enabling a MiG-29 or Su-27 to get in a shot without having to use radar. Still, will they be enough to get a better chance against the F-35 in a fight?

The F-35 has one big advantage over these fighter families from Russia. Its visability, particularly with regards to its vulnerability to being picked up on radar, is very low. While the infra-red systems are an advantage, these fighters still need to be cued in via an airborne radar plane or a ground station, and they will still have trouble picking up the F-35.

The MiG-29 and Su-27, on the other hand, are much more visible on radar. In essence, the F-35 still retains the advantage it holds over the Eurofighter, Rafale, and Gripen: It will see its targets long before its targets see it. And that will enable it to get in the first shots. With missiles like the AMRAAM and AIM-9X, the F-35 will be very likely to kill its targets before they even know an F-35 is in the area. In essence, the F-35 will have the best Russian planes outperformed, and it gets worse when one realizes that the United States Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps will combine for more F-35s than there are Flankers and Fulcrums in service.

Harold Hutchison

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Pat Flannery August 22, 2007 at 9:50 am

Why does this read like a Lockheed-Martin press release?

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Mastro August 22, 2007 at 11:50 am

Great- it will beat 20 year old fighters 3-5 years from now-
What about the Russian/Chinese 5th generation fighters?

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IBT98 August 19, 2013 at 6:57 pm

It will beat all jets ass proven in 2011 and 2012 and recently in the U.S 2013 showed that the F-35 and F-22 destroys every single jet today…

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Tuomas H August 22, 2007 at 2:26 pm

Hey
No offence, but I used to read strategypage a lot couple of years a go, nut I noticed that it is so hugely biased towards USA (this is just a feeling, no evidence) that it feels like propaganda tool. This article is very usual to SP style of which is better this or that.
So the Press Release is what I feel too.
Just my 5 cents.
TH

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j house August 22, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Malaysia also flies the Mig 29. I regularly watch them train out of Subang airport in KL.

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S. Foster August 22, 2007 at 7:08 pm

Saying that the SU-27/30/33/34/35 are roughly equal to the F-16 or F-15 is not accurate.
Both American F-16's and F-15's have come up against the Indian Air Force SU-30 in mock combat and have lost! in
This family of Russian aircraft have evolved into dog-fighting champs with canards and thrust vectoring engines (which have not been taken seriously by the various US Aerospace firms).
Furthermore, AESA radar prototypes are already flying and in development for this family of Russian aircraft and with this technology the F-35 will not be invisible even with it's stealth technology.
The only US fighter aircraft capable of fighting it out at close range with the SU-30 is the F-22 Raptor which is a true air-dominance fighter .
The F-35 does not have the stealth, power (supercruise ability), or range to engage SU-30 as a fighter aircraft. It's AESA radar will not have the range to detect or fight beyond visual range weapons fielded by the Russian planes and it will have to be supported and protected by F-22 Raptor.
The US Navy is making F-35C it's front line fighter aircraft. This will seriously jeopardize naval carrier operations in the future when dealing with the many nations now flying the SU 27/30 variants.

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jhm September 23, 2010 at 7:55 pm

YOu do come up with some good objections, but India won many air to air victories because the Americans weren't allowed to use BVR. Also, the shear numbers of the F35 will overwhelm any air force today. The F35 can supercruise, and although not totally stealthy, it can still sneak up on Su30s with ease since it only needs to get within 40 miles of the fighter.

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Sam November 10, 2011 at 4:27 pm

http://vayu-sena.indianmilitaryhistory.org/exerci
Ya while they may have won in India where the F-15's were limited they got ruined in America when the Eagle spread it's wings even when the SU-30MKI's were empty the F-15 was deadlier so ya ur description is wrong AMERICA!!!

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IBT98 November 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm

F-15 was restricted from what it could do and no radar….F-15 vs Su-27 flanker over many other mock combat and in india 2002, Langley 1996/2002 and Britain 2003

F-15's had a 9:1 advantage

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IBT98 August 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Funny saying buddy….testing done between U.S showed not only did the F-16 and F-15 destroy on average multiple Mig-29 and SU-37 and a new Su-35bm….
U.S has always made Superior planes….F-35 has been flown over Russia and not been detected…F-16 over come the Russian PAK-fa also. F-35 has farther Range and can do much more then the F-22. In almost every catagory.

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IBT98 October 24, 2013 at 7:49 pm

It is actually…Most Air to air mock engagements between the F-15 and F-16 with the Su-27..the F-15 and F-16 have a 9:1 advantage…the F-15 and F-16 are better..with radar..but the Cope India? It was rigged..the F-15's were stripped of there Radar..and capabilities…but in 2002 both years in the U.S and India against hs u-27 flanker..the F-15 and F-16 dominated then with yet again a 9:1 advantage

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Charlie July 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm

The F-15/16s have also come against the Indian SU-30's and won too.

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George Skinner August 22, 2007 at 8:05 pm

There's a lot of uncertainty as to what the Indian Su-30 vs. US F-15 exercises actually demonstrated. The US F-15s had a lot of restrictions placed on their employment that sharply limited their effectiveness. This was largely to prevent others from gathering intelligence on the full capabilities of the platform, but of course, who knows if the Indians didn't do the same with their Su-30s? The USAF also had motivation to "demonstrate" the inadequacy of the current F-15 force in order to justify more F-22 orders.
The dogfighting capabilities of the latest Russian fighters are highly over-rated. With the new generation of helmet-targeted off-boresight short range missiles, the game is more about seeing the enemy first rather than turning- and burning with them. I'm also not convinced of the value of thrust vectoring. The US and Britain have had quite a bit of experience with thrust vectoring over the years (Harrier, F-15 SMTD, X-31, F-22), but still don't bother incorporating it on the latest generation of fighters. Even the ATF competition ended up dumping the requirements for thrust vectoring by the time of the flyoff, although the F-22 retained it anyway. This indicates that it's not all that it's cracked up to be.

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average american July 26, 2012 at 11:45 am

Plus there is the fact that the exercise had Indias latest planes, best pliots and outnumbered the USA 3 to 1. and was programmed for dog fighting rather then long range combat with is the US strongest feature.

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@Nick_of_OZ July 4, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I see a lot of bias here though the real proof is in the pudding I've seen Russian fighter SU 35 placed in a stall then into a flat spin…….and recover. I've never heard it done in any other aircraft it usually means that mistake requires a bailout!. Stealth is on worth anything if its stealthy from the ground but the Russians now use long wave length radars which renders the F117, F35 & F22 dead! A lot of money for nothing, some one stated the cold war is over well I think its about to go weapons hot. The ABMs in Poland have already extracted a green light from the Dooma to destroy polish ABMs when the radar is turned on so the cold war is hotter than ever Russia is now annoyed & waiting for THEIR time to respond. Old Russian proverb " I may take my time to saddle my horse but I sure ride fast"

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Neil B. August 22, 2007 at 8:29 pm

Interesting, and what’s this about F-35 “comparing favorably to some of the European fighters.”? That means, not so favorably to others? I didn’t think they were all that great, but I am impressed with the Typhoon as I can watch on video, and the Gripen which I have seen in flight. It seems typical of the Russians to have the bigger bore cannon. Is that better than having more 20-25mm rounds, or not?

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Roy Smith August 22, 2007 at 9:40 pm

With a combination of attitudes like “the cold war’s over(which I guess means we’re living in peace & safety in a Kumbiya world),””we don’t need new fighter aircraft because there’s no fighter jets to threaten what we have now,””We can retire our old fighter jets(like the F-4 Phantom,F-14 Tomcat,A-6 Intruder,F-117 Nighthawk,& the AIM-54 Phoenix Missile) because ‘the cold war’s over,kumbiyah’,”We have [a token amount of] the F-22 Raptor ‘Stealth’ jets & [we promise] UAVs(even the kind that fire weapons).” All together,this all adds up to “We’re disarming the U.S. Military to integrate it into the U.N. & the New World Order,Kumbiyah.”

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Roy Smith August 22, 2007 at 10:09 pm

Retire the U.S. Army,Navy,& Marine Corps,the Coast Guard,we don’t need them any more.We have F-22s & UAVs. No more tanks,no more aircraft carriers,no more submarines,Why? We have F-22s & UAVs. Stand Down Gitmo(its not just a prison) & give the keys back to Cuba.You know why,we have F-22s & UAVs,woohoo.Russia,China,& Iran,your ICBMs & submarines have no effect on us,we have F-22s & UAVs,Bwahahahahahaha.We can retire our military lift aircraft,our helicopters,& in fact every other aircraft & weapons systems except for our F-22s & UAVs(we can even have a “UAV” air refueler).

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S. Foster August 22, 2007 at 11:10 pm

Saying that the SU-27/30/33/34/35 are roughly equal to the F-16 or F-15 is not accurate.
Both American F-16′s and F-15′s have come up against the Indian Air Force SU-30 in mock combat and have lost! in
This family of Russian aircraft have evolved into dog-fighting champs with canards and thrust vectoring engines (which have not been taken seriously by the various US Aerospace firms).
Furthermore, AESA radar prototypes are already flying and in development for this family of Russian aircraft and with this technology the F-35 will not be invisible even with it’s stealth technology.
The only US fighter aircraft capable of fighting it out at close range with the SU-30 is the F-22 Raptor which is a true air-dominance fighter .
The F-35 does not have the stealth, power (supercruise ability), or range to engage SU-30 as a fighter aircraft. It’s AESA radar will not have the range to detect or fight beyond visual range weapons fielded by the Russian planes and it will have to be supported and protected by F-22 Raptor.
The US Navy is making F-35C it’s front line fighter aircraft. This will seriously jeopardize naval carrier operations in the future when dealing with the many nations now flying the SU 27/30 variants.

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Bhareth August 23, 2007 at 3:48 am

I think what the Americans have forgot is that Russia is working on plasma stealth technology.Besides,an F-22 or F-35 only plus point is its stealth.If a SU-35 or a SU-47 acquires stealth,then western fighter aircrafts will be matchless against their agility,manueverability.

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IBT98 August 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Plasma? Russia can't make Laser or any of that shit…Much less Plasma….do you know what the major plasma tech is for something like that?…..No Western Aircraft have once again Dominated

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Charlie July 15, 2014 at 1:57 pm

You cant acquire (slap on) stealth on an existing frame, you have to build it from the ground up. The T-50 is essentially a Su-27 with a rebuilt stealthy shape. If the Russians are really working on plasma i bet 1 hundred bucks they're not generating it but instead working on flying in the ionosphere, where objects generate a natural plasma shell while flying at high speeds.

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Roy Smith August 23, 2007 at 7:25 am

Are we really sure that "Stealth" really works. If anybody remembers,a F-117 Nighthawk was shot down over Serbia in the 90's.The Serbians claimed that they used old radar technology(stealth is only supposed to work against the modern radar) to shoot it down. I am about to propose a theory that is totally SciFi,what if,with the help of the Russians,the Serbians were able to erect a type of electro-magnetic field to prevent the F-117 from passing through? I've read articles that the Russians,since Stalin,have been working on Tesla theories that American scientists dismissed as nonsense.One theory is erecting an electro-magnetic field called a "Tesla Dome).If this ACTUALLY existed,then Stealth is useless because this "dome" would knock anything out of the sky.I'm sure there are people here who would think that Tom Bearden(for those who know who he is) is a total nut & maybe Stan Lee has more credibility than him,but lets assume he is right.
The F-22,the F-35,& our UAVs,long with B-2 Bombers would be doomed if this "science fiction" actually turned into "science fact."I'm not going to go into Bearden's other claims which would totally stretch the "credibility" of my question.This "Tesla Dome" doesn't have to see or know that a stealth plane is coming,it just has to be erected prophyllactically to stop ANYTHING from passing through.

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Charlie July 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm

No one really thinks stealth aircraft are invisible/invincible, just that they are more survivable in general. A stealth aircraft will have an advantage over a non stealth aircraft always. Still they can be shot down, but nobody said flying in a war zone wasn't dangerous.

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Wembley August 23, 2007 at 6:52 am

It’s sad to see so much effort going into justifying this kind of billion-dollar dinosaur.
Maybe we should be concentrating on systems that can actually win future wars of the type we’re likely to be involved in? Or does anyone think the F-35 would have made any difference?

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campbell August 23, 2007 at 8:22 am

here guys…..you have a "stealthy" aircraft. Ok. I'm the adversary. With no more cost and not much more complexity than a cell phone, I create thousands upon thousands of ACOUSTIC detectors, which I can then "sow" via chopper over vast areas…..which can then listen to you fly over, trangulate and FIND YOU. I can vector fighters in, or throw up SAMs….but I'll get you. You may be totaly invisable to my radar, you may have a smaller infra-red signature…but you cannot hide your acoustics. Period.
SOSUS for subs……same for your vaunted stealth aircraft.
You're toast.

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AFPilot May 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Hey doofus, learn your technology. If the strike is coming supersonic, you can't hear it until it passes you. Anyone who knows anything about missiles should know that firing a SAM as a target is leaving is not particularly successful. Plus, you would always be tracking where a target HAS BEEN, not where it's going. Another point, sound is slow! Seconds lost in sound transit can give you false and incorrect readings, and sound is LOUSY for determining distance alone! A mere thunderstorm would wreak havoc with your sound net. What a stupid idea.

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fronten August 23, 2007 at 9:47 am

hehe, that last paragraph reads like a wishful prayer ;)

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Benjamin Fan August 23, 2007 at 9:53 am

Isn’t Harold repeating the same argument over again – that stealth makes the F-35 better than non-stealthy jets? He’s repeating the same thing he said about the F-35 against the Rafale or Eurofighter.

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TrustButVerify August 23, 2007 at 10:40 am

I have a sneaky feeling that any prospective air combat opponent of the U.S. is going to take advantage of BVR targeting restrictions (at least during the initial phases of a conflict) to score some easy kills. In the initial stages of an honest-to-Bob war it seems almost a given that U.S. pilots will be required for political reasons to visually ID targets before firing. The conclusion is left to the reader as an exercise.

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Mike August 23, 2007 at 11:55 am

Roy, lay off the drugs man. I’m about to propose a theory, what if, the Chinese, with the help of Atlantis, made an invisible lazer beam that could shoot down anything that it wanted to shoot anywhere in the world with just the mere thought of Edward Gein. If this holds true, obviously the F-35 and 22 will be a waste of our taxpayers money and we will have to re invent the wheel.

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campbell August 23, 2007 at 1:32 pm

heh heh! (just love playing devils' advocate)
Now, I'm no expert on tech, nor aircraft. my turf is somewhere else, where I AM expert.
All I'm saying, again and again and again is that the wisest response to those who decry a non-tech, simple idea like, oh, elephants over the alps, is:
you either gotta start thinking out of the box, or you'll come home in one.

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Opsikon March 14, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Not to nitpick too much, but Hannibal's elephants over the mountains was an unmitigated disaster. Trained shock infantry like the Romans had handled the few elephants that made it over the alps with ease. Hannibal sure won many battles, but that can be attributed to the incompetence of 90% of the Roman generals at the time and his superior and more numerous cavalry. (both raid and shock)

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George Skinner August 23, 2007 at 1:12 pm

Sure, stealth works. It simply has limitations like any other technology. A stealthy aircraft has shorter detection range than normal aircraft, but can still be detected. For that reason, the repeated use of the same flight routes by planes attacking Serbia was kind of a giveaway in terms of where to site SAMs in order to increase probability of intercept.
Campbell, I think I first read about acoustic tracking Craig Thomas’s novel Firefox. Nice idea, but I think there are going to be some big problems with signal locatization and noise filtering. Sound doesn’t propagate nearly as well in air as it does in water, and there’s a big difference in the relative speed of sound to target speed that you’re trying to attack as well (nuclear submarine, 40 knots/21 m/s, Vsound in water, 1400 m/s. Aircraft, 140 m/s, speed of sound in air, 340 m/s.) That’s going to make terminal guidance a big problem for any weapons system. If you just want to detect a target in your airspace, why not go back to the Britain’s WW2 observer network?

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Robert Fritts June 11, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I know this to years removed, but. We now know that the J-35 in any version is a gas guzzler. It can't go over to the next county without a refill. Also LM now has revised all of their claims that J-35 is a stealth. It is now called "stealthy" by its maker. For any thing except hollywood flybyes it will have to carry ordanance, EW or fuel on the exterior which means all the "stealthy" features are for not. Even if it is totally stealth, two fill ups on a mission from Pensacola to Miami and back make it worthless. Why? Pretty easy to find the Stealth plane when the KC-10 slows down and flys straight and level @ 160Kts for 5-15 minutes. Hope this finds you after all this time.

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ohwilleke August 23, 2007 at 1:14 pm

The Japanese didn’t prevail at Pearl Harbor because they had superior dog fighting skills.
The more clear it becomes that a dog fight is a bad idea, the more attractive alternatives, like pre-emptive attacks on air bases become to adversaries. In the same vein, simple IEDs can make the logistics of supplying forward air strip with fuel and spare parts extremely expensive, limiting the effective size of the force that can be deployed from forward bases. And, until we invent silent strike aircraft, or stealth aircraft that don’t need to launch from an ground based air field (and hearing a takeoff doesn’t require a spy to get very close to the air base so preventing this possibility is quite difficult), we have another stealth problem. The relatively simple, Serbian used method of having a spy inform people in the likely strike zone that a U.S. plane has taken off from Italy or some other ground based airbase used in operations against them can place a very narrow time window on when people in the strike zone can expect to be hit, allowing them to prepare while spending considerable time in an operational mode during safe intervals.
Also, apparently somebody hasn’t woken up to the notion that dog fights with the Russians are not anywhere near the top of the threat list at the moment; they haven’t been for the last 18 years. The Russians are busy reassembling their fallen empire in the face of insurgencies and political struggles. The Russians also have a much more powerful weapon with which to threaten Europe — plumbers with great big wrenches that can shut off the natural gas supply to Europe in the midst of a bitterly cold winter.
Very few of our plausible enemies have advanced weapontry and reasonably well trained pilots. At least two of those plausible enemies — Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, can thank us for that privilege.
China may be gunning to replace Russia as the world’s most heavily armed plausible opponent, and does buy and license advanced Russian aircraft, but that doesn’t help China stop the biggest threat it faces in its most worrisome possible and plausible military scenario: a sea based invasion of Taiwan. No Russian jet can stop a barrage of anti-ship missiles and torpedoes from sinking a Chinese amphibious fleet.

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Bean counters still count August 23, 2007 at 6:13 pm

It also boils down to variables like cost efficiency and press effect, if a US or allied F-35/F-22/Eurofighter is shot down, what do you think the global press coverage will be relative to a

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Chuck August 23, 2007 at 9:13 pm

How about comparisons with the more maneuverable Su-37 and Su-47 variants? More importantly, it seems the argument’s “what ifs” postulate Russia to be the future enemy. That’s a reach!

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Victor M Negrete August 23, 2007 at 10:45 pm

Anyway these Countries lika Russia or anybody else they wish to have the capabilities and money or technology to countermeasure the armed forces of USA in other words they are almost broke

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Roy Smith August 23, 2007 at 11:33 pm

“We used a little innovation to update our 1960s-vintage SAMs to detect the Nighthawk,” Dani said. He declined to discuss specifics, saying the exact nature of the modification to the warhead’s guidance system remains a military secret.
It involved “electromagnetic waves,” was all that Dani

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Roy Smith August 23, 2007 at 11:52 pm

I read an article that the Ukraine has sold Iran an ESM system known as the Kolchuga Passive Sensor which is claimed to be able to pick up stealth aircraft.I’d say that unless the material that the F-22 & the B-2 are both made of is different from the F-117,then there could be some truth to this,especially since Russia could have taken possession of the F-117 wreckage from Serbia,studied & attempted to recreate the material for both their Skat UAV & to attempt to calculate their radar to detect it.Since Russia,along with China are Iran’s major ally & supporter,they could have worked with Iran to be able to detect stealth aircraft.This only means that you still need electronic jamming aircraft working in concert with stealth planes.After all it doesn’t hurt to wear both a belt AND suspenders.
Of course…..if Russia does have the ability to put up a[n] “[electro-magnetic]screen” figuratively speaking like the screens we have on our windows & doors to keep out bugs…..I mean,we don’t wait until we see the bugs & then put the screens up,we have them up already as a precaution.

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Roy Smith August 24, 2007 at 12:10 am

If that “[electro-magnetic] window screen &/or screen door” does exist,then it doesn’t matter if you are flying stealth(F-22 & B-2),hypersonic(B-70 Valkyrie),UAV,cruise or ballistic missile,or blimp,or even carrier pigeons(or bats with fire bombs attached),its gonna go down.If I heard a “Woodpecker” on the radio,I’d just send an unarmed UAV over towards Iran or wherever just to see if there was anything to a “Tesla Dome” or if it was all just total BS.I’m totally willing to accept the idea of a “Tesla Dome being BS.I mean there has to be a way to detect if an EMP type of weapon was being deployed or about to be deployed without waiting for your own equipment to burn out from the end result.

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scotty August 24, 2007 at 6:19 am

First Strike Capability is only good if one's command structure hasn't eliminated it from one's protocol of rules of engagement. Hmmmm? comes down to politics again.

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Mat August 24, 2007 at 5:56 am

One thing that is certanly overestimated is the value of ‘stealth’ ,as firstly all stealth aircraft are designed have a small RCS primarily head-on (even small deflections incerease RCS dramaticaly),second the planes are only paritaly stealthy compared to B-2 or F117 and even these aircraft can only operate in airspace with no fighter oposition,and even to do that these aircraft operate with help of of all sorts of suport aircraft ,jammers,fighters,tankers,awacs etc + they opreate on specific rutes avoiding known radar sites,an f117 was shot down in yugoslavia using 60s tehnology.Next big issue is the BWR combat as with every new weapon as new missles are built so are the countermeasures and in is quite posibile if not certain that many misslles can be defeated in near future remember helicopters us varius coutermeasures to defeat shoulder lauched missles ,the same can be done to air launched ones.
F35 is a bomb truck ,and primarily a ground attack plane not a dogfighter ,so it is not comparable to pure dogfighters like SU-27 ,electronics are not everything ,and they are obsolete every couple of years + for BWR you could fit same/beter one to a 747 or Learjet or to an old F4 Phantom but it still wouldnt make it a dogfighter.

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George Skinner August 24, 2007 at 12:15 pm

One final reason for building the F-35 is that something is needed to replace all of the aging F-16s, F-18s, and Harriers. Old aircraft lose capability as they age and become increasingly difficult to support. Take a look at early model F-18s: the electronics suites are obsolete, there are fatigue problems in the airframe that impose limits on handling, and many of the parts suppliers have gone out of business or discontinued manufacture of subcomponents. Upgrades get increasingly expensive without completely restoring capability or updating the technology, and re-opening the production line is nearly as expensive as designing a new aircraft. So, we design a new aircraft, and in the process keep the fighter knowledge base alive by passing on experience to a new generation of engineers.

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Roy Smith August 25, 2007 at 12:07 am

Yeah,but they are still building & modernizing both F-16s & F-18s,we are just not buying them,only Greece,Poland,Israel,& the U.A.E. are buying these highly upgraded & advanced F-16s for one example.

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Roy Smith August 25, 2007 at 12:29 am

I forgot to mention the Japanese F-2 Fighter which is a licensed copy of the F-16.

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Roy Smith August 25, 2007 at 2:44 pm

“Why the Messerschmitt Me 262 Will Smoke the Allies.” Its Deja Vu all over again.

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Larry August 25, 2007 at 3:15 pm

Matt: Your comments are very interesting, but your bad spelling makes them hard to read. I suggest you download a spell check for your browser or get a dictionary.

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Timid observer August 25, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Few points:
Stealth works when no or very little active electronics is used otherwise it is a different ball game. Similar with multiple platforms in restricted airspace.
Anti AEW&C in future will use UCAV/UAV in passive mode as front guard. Latest conflicts were with country’s with vastly inferior tech and under prolonged embargos (maintenance and update problems) and that will not be always the case.
Su-30 derivatives are heavy machines with payload that can be in future traded for latest EW tech. And contrary to new platforms where R&D time is measured in decades the evolution/revolution in EW will probably continue to deliver new facts on future battlegrounds.

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SMSgt Mac August 25, 2007 at 7:41 pm

Kudos to the author for a VERY successful post. I haven’t seen so many Computational Electro-Magnetics (CEM)experts gathered in one place since (redacted).
The reference by one commentor to Dr Kopp’s spiel is particularly interesting. I seriously doubt Dr. Kopp is in an informed position or has the proper background to make an accurate assessment of the F-35′s low observables. If he were, he sure wouldn’t give one (a correct one anyway) in public.

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Sven Ortmann August 26, 2007 at 5:17 pm

Ah, a reminder why I stopped reading defensetech.org.
Harold Hutchinson has gone onboard.
I already noted more than a year ago how much nonsense and no-news he wrote on Strategypage.com, compeltely devoid of publicly available info on the subject and presenting silly comparisons between equipment all the time (“Best MBT” and the like).
Abot the article; the Su-35 has lots of tricks and some tricks will be added until JDF is coming into play.
The Russians use an active warning system to detect incoming AMRAAMs, for example. That enables them to dodge those not very maneuverable missiles. They can furthermore shoot down an E-3 Sentry AWACS (AEW&C) from about 300km distance, forcing stealth fighters to rely on other radars to pick their targets (theirs, for example).
The Su-27 might have been a F-15 equivalent, the later Su-3x is judged by the publicly available information superior. There’s always classified info on such stuff, but there’s little reason to expect anyone who comments in public to know the classified info about both designs, so best we can do is to stick t the available info.
The JSF is a fighter-bomber, by the way. It’s not an air superiority fighter. He’ll have that role for the USN, but there’s little reason to expect that its characteristics (incl. stealth) are oriented enough for air combat instead at surviving air defenses.
The Su-35 is a full-blown air superiority fighter with easy-to-have ground attack capabilities (Su-4 is the real ground attacker), and it follows a completely different design philosophy than the U.S. stealth supercruise designs.

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Sven Ortmann August 26, 2007 at 7:47 pm

by the way; the loss of a F-117 over Yugoslavia in 1999 tells nothing about the survivability of other stealth planes.
The F-117 with its polygonal surface design was stealthy by scattering the signal into any direction but not back to the sender.
Other stealth planes etc. use absorption as primary means for stealth (both concepts hide moving objects like turbines).
So how to shoot a F-117 down?
It could have been found and tracked because the shape was probably optimized for other bandwidths. That was often mentioned, but I don’t believe it applies to the case.
It’s known that the western air forces were in some aspects quite amateurish and used repetitive patterns and routes – and became predictable. So the Serbs knew where to lay the trap and hen to become active.
The F-117 had also no support (SEAD, ECM) – an old justification for stealth planes was that they need no support. Well, the concept failed in that case.
My scenario how it was done:
1. The Serbs built a cluster of radars and sent their radar signals into an airspace from different directions.
2. The F-117 happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (as predicted).
3. The radar signals were scattered away from the senders, but reached other radars that worked on the same frequency.
4. Using passive detection principles they figured out where the plane was and concentrated their radar power on that point.
5. Once tracked it was unable to break contact and the illumination radars simply needed to illuminate from different angles and different radars with high power.
6. A salvo of several missiles raised the chance of hit high enough to finally damage the plane (afaik it was not shot down directly, but damaged. A fighter finished it off).

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dashinterhund September 4, 2007 at 3:02 am

As for the way the 117 was shot down, some may say that the lit up version you hold to added to the fact that they may have been on the same frequency is a good one. One more problem they seem to have with the configuration is the problem of air flow in heavy humidity or rainy conditions. It seems the radar actually “sees” the hole the plane is in and can actually discern the position and, in this instance, knew they were dealing with a stealth craft. Together, they tried to get as much as they could to sell to the highest bidders (Russia, China, etc.), but it was bombed before much if any of it was taken. The newest in the arsenel is better because of it’s inherant design of absorbing radar waves instead of re-directing them.
I am curious about the need for all this considering the UCAV programs other countries will deploy just to get one of our pilots in their hands. I hope our country will use the same initiative to add this program to the table with some if not all the present stealth configurations. I am not happy that the new plane will not have thrust vectoring in the works as this gives the pilot more maneuvering capability and with that more chances of coming back the victor instead of a pile of wreckage and a lost soldier. Maybe one day the pilots will be the last to enter the fray to mop up instead of spear-heading the ops.
If our government has as much weight to bring to bear as our service men and women, we will prevail. If we adhere to our principles and remember to keep our fights on the side of good against evil, we will always prevail. God bless America and Semper Fi.

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Abdul October 26, 2007 at 4:39 am

You are quite right Tuomas, this sounded very much like propaganda. The only way to know a superior craft is for the Top gun to pitch its very best using a russing craft against one of its own.

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horseman July 7, 2008 at 7:51 am

The F-35 is an excellent fighter but it is on par with current European fighters such as Typhoon, Rafale and Gripen. The F-35 might be on equal terms to the MIG-35. As for the MiG-29, an improved version may held on its own. It all boils down to pilot tactics and using technology which the F-35 may find weakness such as IRST.
In my view, if i was a leader of a country, I wouldnt want to share how my air force works and its tactics on joint exercises. These exercises are an excuse by western military to understand another’s country’s capability as well as seeking intelligence report on people. By not having exercise, it would prevent possible conflict because of uncertainty. The F-35 maybe a fine fighter but it is not ahead of the European fighters, it is on par. All is said, this is just a PR stunt by those concern. What a publicity. The US has always been a nation of sales people. They have terrific sales pitch to sell their planes.

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Chris S April 2, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Well the newer SU-37 is roughly equal to the Eurofighter and possibly the F35. the su 27 the proginator of the su-37 to begin with is better then the F-15 for these reasons able to go at least 1200 miles with out external fuel stores versus the 700 miles of the F15 so the the su27 can stay on station longer. The russians are rather good at making upgrade packages for their older designs an example would be the mig21-93 package wich is roughly equal to the F18.The Mig 29 has the abiliy to operate from roads when runways are unavailable. If you look at their projects the russians are quite inmpressive in recent years like the SU-47 and Mig 1.44 projects.

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JACK April 21, 2009 at 4:17 am

WELL ALL I CAN SAY IS AUSTRALIA HAS SPENT BILLION ON USA RUBBISH AND STILL HASNT GOT AN AIRFORCE OF JETS THAT COULD FIGHT OFF A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS ,WE ALWAYS GET RUBBISH THAT IS HOPELESS FOR OUR NEEDS OF LONG DISTANCE AND WELL ARMED ,TIME WE BUILT OUR OWN I THINK .

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wayne August 5, 2009 at 8:39 am

all i can say is if rudd govn’ gets the f-35 jsf for Australian air force, he is dumb as a sheep this is what we have for a pm’, they won’t make any thing hear any more, and the army wants to know why no one wants to join the defence force any more. lol

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Al Reimer September 30, 2009 at 11:08 pm

In order to see the Russian aircraft,the f35 would have to use its own radar.Long before a strong enough return is received by the f35′s radar,the radar in the Russian plane could passively detect the f35 trying to find the Russian plane.The most stealthy tactic is to not use active detection of any sort.Turning on radar gives your location away every time.As far as maneuverability , my money would be on the Russian fighter.
Suddenly not so one sided eh!!

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Al Reimer September 30, 2009 at 11:10 pm

In order to see the Russian aircraft,the f35 would have to use its own radar.Long before a strong enough return is received by the f35′s radar,the radar in the Russian plane could passively detect the f35 trying to find the Russian plane.The most stealthy tactic is to not use active detection of any sort.Turning on radar gives your location away every time.As far as maneuverability , my money would be on the Russian fighter.
Suddenly not so one sided eh!!

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Woote March 5, 2010 at 8:06 pm

The F35 is a replacement for ground attack and strike aircraft like the F-18, F-16 and a VSTOL version for the marines harrier replancement, it is not made to dogfight any aircraft, I am sure that if the US tryed to attack a large country like china or russia the first objective would be to desimate there ability to make war in the air, this would be done with the careful application of F-22s alot of tomahawks and a very good stratagy, the F35 is not in direct competition with air supiriority aircraft, it is simply a good replacement for everything else, that being said the capabilitys of the F35 are increadible when you compare them to other strike aircraft and not airsupiriority fighters like the T-50 and the SU-30

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Robert Fritts June 11, 2010 at 4:33 pm

I know this to years removed, but. We now know that the J-35 in any version is a gas guzzler. It can't go over to the next county without a refill. Also LM now has revised all of their claims that J-35 is a stealth. It is now called "stealthy" by its maker. For any thing except hollywood flybyes it will have to carry ordanance, EW or fuel on the exterior which means all the "stealthy" features are for not. Even if it is totally stealth, two fill ups on a mission from Pensacola to Miami and back make it worthless. Why? Pretty easy to find the Stealth plane when the KC-10 slows down and flys straight and level @ 160Kts for 5-15 minutes. Hope this finds you after all this time.

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Teddy August 12, 2010 at 5:33 am

Look guys all i'm going to say is this the f-35 has thad the best scientests and $220billion spent making her fly the best of aviation tech from 10 diffrent countrys and cost about $200 million each and the su-30/47 is about $130-$140 million each and has the know how of russia, china and india (which they bought of france) all i say is trust in your country

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Enthusiast August 12, 2010 at 6:35 am

Russian stealth PAK-FA (fully operational in 2015) will be capable to easily smoke this fat duck which have "F-35" destignation.
Remeber "maneuverability is irrelevant" (C) F-35 designers. It's looser's position.

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TDyhr June 2, 2012 at 12:55 am

What you don't know can kill you! The west was totally unaware of the power of the Mig-29, its lazer imaging system that can track an American plane without the pilot being aware and it can target a stealth plane aswell. This was in 1989 at the Paris airshow when the west was shocked that the Russians had such an aircraft.
The Russians produced weapons and thats all they did save one thing, the money ran out when the Soviet Union collapsed. Fast forward to today. Russia is capitalizing on ubundandant natural resources such as oil and gold. They are putting that money into defence and the United States with Obama at the helm is going on the cheap. Russia has the know how to build many weapons given sufficient resources.
The new Russian planes are lethal threats not to be taken lightly and the time has come to realize, the Russians can build air superiority fighers and they are deadly serious about doing it.

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Andrea January 22, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Wrong, Russian radars can track american "invisible" BS. Remember 1999 Sarajevo, not even needed a radar there.

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Don Johnson May 21, 2014 at 4:25 am

Stealth is visible when L-band is used. All the eastern AESA radars have X-band/ L-band radars with better resolution/focus capabilities, keeping the stealth purely visible on the radar. They combine very big BVR capabilities with the long-burn missles, outrangeing the AIM-120C and D in both range and G-force parameters. Latest russian stealth fighters have employed stealth as a mean of marketing, and also as a last passive defence in air-to-air combats. No need for stealth if you allready have better BVR radar and missles. The F-22 and F-35 can see eastern aircrafts (allthough, this is also questionable, due to the radar-absorbing paint, used by the russians throughout decades) but, it doesn't mean a lot since they have to wait a lot before they fire their BVR missles, while eastern fighters allready have them locked on with the 200miles+ longburn AA missles.

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Michael June 12, 2014 at 7:55 pm

The F-35 is seven years and 156 billion over budget. The latest reports have concluded the F-35 cannot outfight or out run the current crop of Chinese fighter aircraft. In simulated fights using the F-22, F-35 and the F/A 18 E/F based from Japan and carriers against the latest SU aircraft based in China the American force lost hundreds of aircraft in a matter of a few hours. It was described as "clubbing baby seals". We bought into L.M,'s hype and it will destroy us. The long wave radars used by the Russians (and now sold to anyone with cash) has no problems picking up our stealth fighters. The age of "stealth" is over and we have lost.

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picard578 October 5, 2013 at 1:55 am

"Double-edged sword" means that it is harmful for both user and the enemy. But you are right, stealth technology goes towards a single-edged sword in that it will be harmful only to the user.

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