Home » Air » Air Force » Is a Lack of Secure Comms Keeping the F-22 Out of Libya Fight?

Is a Lack of Secure Comms Keeping the F-22 Out of Libya Fight?

by John Reed on March 25, 2011

There’s been lots of speculation as to why the F-22s haven’t been sent to Libya; everything from basing concerns to the embarrassment the U.S. would suffer if one of its premiere jets went down in Libya.

An anonymous tipster points out another little fact that may have contributed to the lack of Raptors in Op Odyssey Dawn; the jet’s don’t have the ability to pass secure info to other NATO planes due to their lack of the Link-16 datalink. Instead, the F-22 uses something called the Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL, pronounced “eye-fiddle”) to pass all sorts of info to other F-22s without being detected by the enemy.  The problem is, the Raptor’s advanced data link only works with other Raptors.

The Air Force is currently working to install Harris’ Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL, pronounced “maddle”) in the Raptor. This will allow it to securely communicate with the nation’s other stealth jets; the B-2 Spirit bomber and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, both of which will also have MADL.

For now, the Raptor fleet can only talk to itself without breaching secure comms.  This may well have been a significant factor in the decision not to include the pane in NATO’s campaign against Gadhafi’s troops.

This situation may not last too much longer, for a few years now, the Air Force has been experimenting with a device that attaches on to the vaunted Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (a system that translates information between the different types of data links used by the U.S. military and its allies) allowing it to interpret data from the Raptor’s IFDL into Link-16’s format.

 

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{ 107 comments… read them below or add one }

blight March 25, 2011 at 11:46 am

True. But the F-22's original use as a air superiority fighter speaks to the need of being able to intercommunicate with other aircraft in the battlespace. Unless the F-22 was actually intended as some sort of deep-strike fighter (as all stealth aircraft were in the Cold War era), where communication with other F-22's would be the bare minimum; but some sort of communication with B-2 and (at the time) F-117 would not be out of the question.

More likely Lockheed had a fancy communications gizmo all lined up and the Air Force shot it down, so it got shipped with F-22 only communications. Any chance JSF will have this particular issue? Probably not, especially if it goes overseas it will probably have Link 16 standard…

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Shail March 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm

That might be one more reason why the foreign partner nations want access to the source codes (now Turkey…), because they just don't trust the American gear that LockMart is (supposed to be) sending with each aircraft.

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Jacob March 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I heard something about how the Raptor was supposed to be operating deep in enemy airspace to shoot down enemy planes and cruise missiles….which I guess would entail the same communications paradigm as a deep strike fighter?

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joe March 29, 2011 at 4:16 am

Regardless, as soon as the concept of operation became 'F-22s are the elite forward forces', they have had a need for a datalink. The ability to share a common air picture between all sensors in a combat environment is a vital tool to survive.

Question – does IFDL mean the F-22 can only TRANSMIT to another F-22, or can it not recieve either? Because if not, whoever decided that the USAF's primary superiority fighter didn't need to plug into an E-3 Sentry AWACs feed seriously needs to be tarred and feathered…

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Mack March 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I'm gonna venture out on a limb here and ponder why exactly the F-22 would be needed in Libya, especially since America is dead set on pushing this as a multi-lateral, NATO Op. I mean the French seem to have the airspace patrol down with thier 4th Gen fighters, why foward deploy something as complex as an F-22?

Talk about not leaving a small foot print….

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Brian Black March 26, 2011 at 7:45 am

That's right, Mack. The US has said it wants a back seat role in this operation. What the Americans brought into the mix was their considerable initial strike capability.

While the US is still playing a full roll, the rest of the mission is much more within the grasp of the British, French and others. Much of the threat posed by the Libyan airforce has now gone, you don't need an F22 to shoot down a Galeb on a runway.

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halcyon March 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I completely agree. Great point.

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shik March 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I think the coalition is doing fine with the current tech they're using, no need for a more complex system in this theater.

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Rick March 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm

What good is the "latest and greatest" air-to-air fighter if we can't talk to it. It's like buying a car without air conditioning-very dumb!

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mike j March 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm

While everyone here is off on a tangent, Ares blog got a statement from the horse's mouth. USAF is claiming it was the last minute/ ad hoc planning that forced them to use assets they had available in-theater. Sounds plausible, but then again they had three B-2s go 11,000+ miles round trip… hmmm, what to think?

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Rick March 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I wonder how much that cost (per bomb) to have B-2 fly from the States. Not a good use of taxpayer money if you ask me

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sw614 March 25, 2011 at 10:14 pm

How much does it cost to deploy ships and tacair from home station to the FOBs? Keeping a CVBG off the coast? Cost of flying the B-2s out of Whiteman is significantly less than the logistical costs of deploying a squadron. Once the order is given, it does not take all that much to generate three FMC bombers. The costs become easier to swallow if you consider the targets they hit. I am assuming they were well defended C4I or radar sights. Hit 16 targets with Tomahawks and cost is $16 million. Hit 16 targets with B-2 carrying 16 2,000 lb JDAMs, then cost per bomb from a B-2 looks much better.

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Daryle March 30, 2011 at 9:35 pm

The entire Earth is in-theater for the B-2. They've always launched and recovered from Whiteman AFB.

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wmcritter March 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Seriously? I remembe seeing the movie Apollo 13 where they could not put the carbon scrubbers from the command module into the LEM because 1 was square and 1 was round. That was 40 years ago and we still have these kinds of retarded oversights happening? What bunch of untrained monkeys is running this place?

Seriously? Nobody thought it would be a good idea for F-22s to be able to communicate with any other plane in our fleet? Anybody remember a few years ago when a F-22 pilot got locked into his cockpit because nobody thought to put a manual handle on the inside (the electronic lock failed). Anybody remember when the F-22s had to have a software patch because they crossed the international date line and almost crashed? Who's running this show?

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Brian March 25, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Building a ship that can go to the moon, just like building a supersonic stealth fighter, is really, really hard. You're talking about a massive amount of coordination required to build any of this stuff. It's not like building a car, where Ford changes the design by a tiny amount every year, and then builds millions of them.

Remember guys, the problem here isn't that the F-22 can't communicate with other fighters. It can talk to other aircraft all day long. It just can't communicate with other fighters without giving away its position. That stealth is no good if you have to broadcast a constant stream of data from one plane to another. They can communicate with each other and stay quiet just fine.

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jamesb101 March 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Want the truth?

The F-22 is a aircraft with NO mission….

Everyday that becomes more apparent……

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Johnny Utah March 31, 2011 at 1:10 am

You're an idiot. The problem is that the F-22 is too capable to integrate with the rest of the "regular" force. BACN makes all the data anonymous so nobody can figure out who is sending what data. If you get a bunch of awesome data and you know its from from an F-22, then that doesn't make it very secret does it?

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jamesb101 March 31, 2011 at 1:45 am

Gheez calling me names isn't going change the fact that the US is or was engaged in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya and the F-22 is still a virgin…..

WTF do we have the a/c for?

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blight April 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm

We said that about our Cold War military until Saddam gave us the opportunity to test it. I agree it's a big investment, but there's a serious opportunity cost to not having top-line aircraft in opening night of warfare, where most of your peacetime troops will die in the first attacks. Having sub-rate equipment will mean more of your peacetime forces bite the dust, at the very moment that survivability of equipment and personnel until full wartime mobilization is essential.

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Jim J Ingersoll April 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Hey Jamesb102 . . .Just like home insurance . . .You've got it, and pay for it, "just in case." The fact that we have it and ready to go, in of itself is a deterrent to aggression. I'd rather have it and pay for it for 10 years rather than NOT have it and need it and don't have it. Having it, IS its mission!

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jamesb101 April 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Mussen…He, he, he….I love that one….
In answer to the insurance reply….
Ok…

But in this day and age of budget tightening….
That isn't going to hold much weight….

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brok3n March 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm

They won’t use it because there are to many bird watchers constantly tracking its every movement from base to base…this is more of a threat than “secure comms”.

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Lance March 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Seem like the F-22 has problems if it need complex problems and needs special comms to fight. F-15 of F-35 doesn't need them.

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Cameron March 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm

the f-35 will have both variants of comms nonetheless. It is still a stealth and crypted comm aircraft

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smarterthanu April 3, 2011 at 10:35 am

wow…you're an idiot

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theman March 25, 2011 at 3:31 pm

While I also believe the 22 would be overkill in this case, remember that it can RECEIVE data from other planes. I just can't transmit it.

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Tom March 25, 2011 at 9:27 pm

thanks for finally having said that.

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theman March 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm

In addition, the f22 can only carry two 1000lb JDAMS. So it is not very useful in the ground attack role.

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IronV March 26, 2011 at 1:54 am

Two, one thousand lb JDAMS sounds pretty useful to me…

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mike j March 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm

That's got the ring of truth. One thing that gives me pause though; 1st FW had been planning and prepping for deployment for at least a week before the balloon went up. Wouldn't they have given some thought to the logistics, even in a last minute situation?

Another thing- I'm a little surprised commenters haven't picked up on that story mentioned in the Twitter feed, top right of the page. The F-22 has been limited in training to 25,000 ft and under since the Alaska crash while they investigate whether the oxygen generator is faulty.

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STemplar March 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Giving thought to logistics, and actually having the authority in the form of an op order to do something are different. I think what they were trying to do is hurry up one of the incremental upgrades for comm and maybe ground attack. I don't recall whats what in the upgrades they are rolling out.

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mike j March 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm

The 3.1 software- synthetic aperture radar, electronic attack, and the small diameter bomb- enables the SEAD mission. You can see what the Raptor advocates were thinking. Their bird was gonna shoot all the radars and all the bad guy planes too… ta da.

What you say about op orders makes sense, but there's a difference between "we weren't asked" and "we weren't capable." This article is trying to say they couldn't do the mission. Seems more likely to me it was the bumbling politicians. They weren't even ready to act yet when the resolution passed, even though the military has said now they were set. But still, they got the strike moving out of Whiteman AFB and the UK… maybe it's me, something seems weird.

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Praetorian March 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm

A future upgrade called Increment 3.2 was to have included the Multifunction Advanced Data-link (MADL) found on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, however, the Air Force deleted funding for that data link last year.

The MADL is also planned for integration into the B-2, which would have enabled the entire Air Force stealth aircraft fleet to be connected during operations inside hostile airspace.

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Uncle Bill March 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I think a take away for a lot of the world is that the USA took out Libya's air defences, air force and communications so easily. No F22's were used, but neither were any carrier strike groups or B52's. They weren't needed here and they are still available to fight a real war against a more capable foe. And, the same could be done to any number of dictators, using limited assets.

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Blue1 March 25, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I’m still hazy on why the rebels need ground pounding.

Saw some “rebel” footage the other night on AC360 of a group of people fighting a tank. What I could see from the video(which was bouncing all over the place) it was a T-54/55 with skirt armor on the hull. There was more footage of destroyed equipment from air strikes of T-72s, wheeled rocket launchers, scud platforms, and 2S6 arty platforms. The classic vanilla variety of RPG-7s and 14s would easily waste all of that. Setting up NFZ to level the field, I got, but CAS? Really?

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Blue1 March 25, 2011 at 4:17 pm

What I guess I’m saying is that the bombing payload of a F-22 should be inrelevent here as the mission should be only be concerned with aircraft and air defense. Carrier Group has the assets to handle that, the Air Farce like usual is useless.

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sw614 March 25, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Seems to me the 'Air Farce' is doing more than USN Tacair at the moment.

F-15Es and F-16s out of Italy are performing well. How many USN Bugs and SuperBugs are flying strike missions over Libya? How many USN acft can strike flying out of home station in CONUS?

USAF flew more sorties in ODS, too.

BTW – rebels need the strikes to keep from being overwhelmed by numbers and superior arty support.

The bomb payload is more than the F-15Cs the F-22 is replacing (F-15A/B/C/D – not a pound for air to ground). Two 1,000 JDAMs or eight SDBs can mean a lot when placed properly. What type of acft flew over Baghdad the first night of ODS? F-117s dropping two 2,000 LGB each. Seems to me that light (compared to all other strike acft at the time) load properly placed proved its worth many times.

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Mack March 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm

While a trained light infantry force, hell, probably of BN size, could make a stand against Libya's military, you have to realize that the rebels, for the most part, aren't exactly Benning trained 11Bs. When you're a teenager using an AK-47 and fighting for your freedom against your very own government, knowing how to waste a track in a urban setting by hitting it from above probably doesn't even begin to register.

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blight March 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Maybe if someone drops them a bunch of Milan ATGM's we can re-enact the Toyota War on Libyan soil?

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SJE March 28, 2011 at 5:57 pm

That assumes that they will know how to use Milan's.

The Libyan conflict shows the importance of training and leadership. The rebels have very little training. Doing things like standing together and getting killed by a single shell, failure to build defensive fortifications etc. I am worried that the Ghaddaffi forces will just roll back right over them.

Of course, training isn't "sexy" and doesnt have the gee-whiz factor that the media likes.

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Stephen Russell March 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Have NATO allies pay fee to install like system in its planes, copters alone for F22 use for next war?

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Praetorian March 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm

The F-22 has Link 16, it can receive incoming, but not transmit.

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Byron Skinner March 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Good Evening Folks,

Sounds like someone blowin’ chaff to me. Since all military radios are software defined, what the big deal.

No the F-22 is just to expensive to RISK in combat of such low value. It was just to much of a risk that one of Gadhafi’s guy would have the best day of his life and make a luck shot or some air defense system would emerge like the one that took down and retired the F-117 in Serbia during the Kosovo War on March 27, 1999.

With a new congress looking at the funding for the F-35 such an event could kill the F-35. It far better for the USAF to look bad and like a kid with a shinny new bid that doesn’t want to risk scratching the paint on a fall.

The ironic thing is that for quite awhile now any air wars the US gets into will more resemble Libya rather then the liberation of Europe in 1941-1945. With Syria appearing next on the dance card and the F-18, I did notice the E/F-18G didn’t have any “radio problems” and made it to the Libyan dance where it is doing a great job. I guess the Navy could find the program disc’s.

ALLONS,
Byron Skinner

\\\

ALLONS,
Byron
“Stewart’s Platoon”

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theman March 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I can virtually guarantee you that we will not be going into Syria.

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William C. March 26, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Byron, Kosovo did not "retire" the F-117A. The aircraft served on into 2008, and by the time it had retired seen some 25 years of active service.

The Super Hornet was always a multi-role strike aircraft and was originally intended to be an interim solution. The F-22 on the other hand is a pure-bred air-superiority fighter with a limited ground attack attack capability. By the time the F-22 would be flying CAP patrols in theater, the Libyan Air Force was already reduced to nothing.

The reason the F-22A cannot transmit via Link 16 is due to stealth concerns. Such a lack would cause problems when attacking ground targets and probably contributed to the USAF's choice not to bring them to Libya.

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Josh March 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

Once again, Byron needs to be corrected.

There's a difference between data links and the software definable ARC radios that are on most fighters now. The F-22 doesn't have the physical hardware needed to receive and transmit over Link-16. An odd design oversight but a deficiency either way.

What makes you think the F-117 shoot-down "retired" the aircraft? It was in service until a couple years ago. Not sure what the E/F-18G reference it relavent to…

While I don't believe the data link is what's actually keeping the F-22 out of the fight the article is factual about the issue none the less.

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IronV March 26, 2011 at 1:57 am

You're not going to need every asset for every force of arms action. The F-22 simply isn't needed for this mission. But, mark my words, when we need the F-22, we're going to REALLY need it…

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jamesb101 March 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Yea….Maybe….NEVER….

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IronV March 26, 2011 at 8:11 pm

You miss the point, which is to keep any potential enemy at an extreme disadvantage. It is and should be an integral part of weapons development philosophy and practice. Stay far out in front of everybody else's development cycles…

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Matrix_3692 March 26, 2011 at 3:19 am

a few questions: 1) what the hell is the type of target you need the Raptor hitting in Libya? 2) tell me if I am wrong (don't dislike me first) but to my knowledge, only small diameter bombs can fit in a raptors weapons bay, do you really think that using raptors for ground strike missions is the best option? 3) does it really look good for a 5th gen fighter's debut combat?(doing a job that other 4th gen fighter could do, only slightly better?)

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theman March 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Actually, the Raptor, as of right now, cannot use SDBs, but that will change with the new upgrades.

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DualityOfMan March 27, 2011 at 11:43 am

We're using the B-2 in Libya.

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Kristofer March 26, 2011 at 6:03 am

Personally, I believe Gates is nixing all of the Block upgrades for F-22's because he does not want it to be a capable fighter. Where are the cheek arrays? ground attack updates? Instead of building the F-35 which has no ability to fight a T-50 or J-20 in a real air to air battle. The Raptor could be improved upon a lot instead of wasting 300 Billion in buying a single engined disaster, but on another note, The F-15 or even A-10's can suffice in this NFZ in Libya.

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popsiq March 26, 2011 at 7:25 am

America has never been shy about using every weapon in the arsenal of democracy. Except the banned ones, if anybody important was around to notice.

What a wonderful photo op the fighter plane of the future fying top cover while somebody takes out Khaddafi.. Well, who's taking out Khaddafi? The UN might not have noticed, uou can't protect Libyans without 'taking out' Khaddafi.

He's got light sweet crude did you say ? And 150 BILLION in gold.Why this cakewalk could pay for itself!!

Free the Raptors fer freedom!

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Wellduh April 14, 2011 at 12:21 am

yeah right

Its not like Khaddafi doesn't have a fair amount of experience with what targets an aircraft performing accidental assassination can attack. I am sure he is bunkered under the biggest most clearly marked combination children hospital, mosque, and veterinarian's clinic complex in Libya. Definitely SEAL or Spec Ops time…except we promised everyone not to do that…and its not really plausible to say he died there accidentally without any collateral damage.

And Raptor losswise… no international commission is going to let liberator pay their war loses out of the treasury of the liberated country. In fact you are expected to double your financial losses with a contribution to put the newly liberated nation on a smoother path.

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DualityOfMan March 26, 2011 at 10:59 am

We have a $300 million aircraft and it can't even work with those of our allies? Who allowed our flagship aircraft to enter service without the important capability to network with NATO planes?

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Riceball March 28, 2011 at 10:55 am

You've misread the article, as people have stated previously the F-22 has no problems with communicating with any other aircraft in the world. The only communications problems it has is doing it stealthily, it's currently only capable of secure comms with other F-22s.

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Dfens March 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I'm sure the F-22's amazing 68% mission ready rate has nothing to do with why they are sitting in their covered parking spots instead of fighting overseas. I'd say the F-22 pilot has the best job in the USAF, but that wouldn't be true because those planes are hot in the summer time and cold in the winter. Pretty much have the crappiest user interface ever designed into an airplane. They made the cockpit TOP SECRET so you'd never know what a piece of crap it is. I can't wait for the F-35, which should have about the same mission ready rate despite the propoganda. Not only will we be screwed with that one, our allies will be in the same boat with us. The gift that just keeps on giving. The really important part is that the contractor building these crappy aircraft continues to make record profits while screwing the US taxpayer and the guys who fight our wars.

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William C. March 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Are you still going off old reports? The readiness rate has steadily improved and matched or exceeded that of other aircraft in recent exercises. The glass cockpit is also very user-friendly, however someone cut corners when it came to being able to manually open the thing…

Sorry but flying F-15s and F-16s for all eternity isn't a solution. All of the problems on the F-22A are fixable, however Gates and company doesn't want to throw another single dime that direction.

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Oblat March 26, 2011 at 8:09 pm

The choking stench of contractor greed.

We have the most expensive fighter ever built that has been "operational" for 6 years and cant be used because the greedy contractor wants even more money to fix it.

While the Europeans fly thier 5th generation aircraft into combat, we are left with 40 year old aircraft and Bills pathetic excuses.

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William C. March 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Perhaps if welfare leeches like Oblatski would stop voting in crooks and criminals this wouldn't be a problem.

All aircraft have teething problems, want a list of examples? The F-22 is no different except in the fact that production was cut short and Gates doesn't even want to pay for future upgrades.

BTW the Europeans don't even have any 5th generation aircraft.

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mike j March 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Re: "teething problems," imagine you had two or five or ten times as many teeth as you do now. What do you guess a dental appointment would cost? That's a pretty good analogy for why it's smart to avoid a lot of complexity in a weapon system.

As for paying for future upgrades, the Air Force is having trouble finding room in its budget for all kinds of upgrades and development and acquisition programs. If you're wondering why, start with that $380+ billion F-35 that's gobbling up money into the 2020s and beyond.

navy259 March 27, 2011 at 2:37 am

Funny how this site blocks out the cock in cockpit.

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Dfens March 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

68% is the last mission capable rate I saw, and it was not too long ago. If it has varied slightly from that, who gives a damn? It has not been in harms way, so naturally a fighter that sits in a covered parking spot all day long is going to have a better mission capable rate than one that's fighting in the desert and having to cope with sand, dirt, bugs, and, oh yeah, bullets being shot at it.

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Joseph Dewar March 26, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Quick note from Canada. I agree with Gates that 180 F 22 can take out any other air force on the planet in an afternoon, so why build more, and they are clearly unnecessary against Libyas air force. Canadian govt just opted for F35 and I think its a mistake. They will be del'd barely in time to replace F-18 IF they are on schedule, and for less money we could get double the number of super-hornets and have a twin-engine plane for long arctic patrols, where pilot extrication can be a significant problem if an engine craps out. I figure super-hornet good to 2030 at least if purchased new and phased in between now and 2015 or even 2020. If you don't have enough planes to do the job, however good the plane, the job doesn't get done. Throw in a dozen growlers and we're golden. I figure. Any thoughts on this? ( Tip of the hat to Canadians US and nato personnel in Afghanistan, and the US in Iraq , we're having an election up here and that makes me think of them these days. )

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William C. March 27, 2011 at 1:13 am

A number of factors. Attrition, the need to replace aging F-15A-D models, and the fact that such a small overall production run is bound to cause problems down the road.

Many European air forces operate small numbers of F-16s and other aircraft, yet they all benefit from the huge stockpile of everything F-16 related the USAF has. With only 187 aircraft there isn't that all of extra stuff to use.

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Joseph Dewar March 27, 2011 at 1:51 am

Hey William , I was proposing that Canada, a one-fighter airforce, buy the super-hornet instead of the F35. The F22 is not for sale to any other country at any price, It is in any case, too expensive for us to field in adequate numbers, as the F35 is starting to be on any reasonable cost-benefit analysis. I would prefer that we field F-18 super-hornets to replace our F-18s at higher numbers than we could afford in F 35s. I don't see the upside of F35s over more F-18 super hornets with growler support in the apps we need. Let's face it. If Canada is facing a state-of the art capable air force, which only Russia and Nato have, we would need US and/or NATO help, but to operate in Libya and Afghanistan type ops, in support of no-fly or ground troops in peace-keeping/ insurgency, I think the Super-Hornet is adequate and we are better off with more of them. The Super-Hornet is no slouch in the grand scheme of things. Is there a better alternative to F35 than the Super-Hornet F-18 II ?

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Skipper March 26, 2011 at 10:27 pm

BRING BACK THE F-117A..Dumb ***** were wrong..The Raptor can not and never be able to do the Nighthawk mission…

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Riceball March 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

Nor was it ever designed to, much like how the F-117 can't preform the F-22 missions except that the F-22 does have some ground attack capability while the F-117 (despite the F designation) has 0 air-to-air capability.

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STemplar March 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I tell you one thing. This is 3 conflicts and we haven't used the F22 to fire a single shot. Our Gen 4 are doing just fine, even in pretty poor shape that they are in apparently with the F15 having the mechanical issue. Over the next few years if we get involved somewhere else and don't use the F22s, and the F35s continue down the cost overrun trail, people are going to start asking why not just buy more teen series updated.

I read a piece somewhere that canceling the F35 completely and going with updated teen series aircraft would save about $78 billion. That's about what the NGB would cost. I'm not necessarily advocating abandoning advanced aircraft design, but in an age of $14 trillion dollar debts we can't afford major weapons systems that sit out multiple conflicts or ones that keep skyrocketing in price. That's just economic reality. People can be fans of one or the other or not like reading that but it doesn't change facts.

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mike j March 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I think you've hit at the core reason why the F-22 isn't over Libya, and it's got little to do with a comm system or how fast the mission developed.

*** There are not enough of these aircraft because we CAN'T afford them! ***

If they had only cost $60 or 80 or even 100 million fly-away a piece, that's still an awful lot of money, but we might have had a wing of them over at Aviano or Spangdahlem. -And there are NO GOOD reasons why the F-22 ended up costing $146 (or whatever) million per unit.

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Tenn Slim March 28, 2011 at 9:43 am

The reason the Raptor ended up costing so much, and the figures here are not correct, is this.
1. USAF requirements for the EMD design changed almost daily from 1992-1997, when the bird made the first flight.
2. Congress cut budget allocation every year, 1992 2001, cut the end goal of some 400 birds down to 138, last count.
3. Shifted production from ONE location to THREE.
4. Congress Denied Multi Year Production runs, consistently, during EMD, LRIP and final Production runs.
There are a host of good reasons why your tax dollars and mine, were wasted on this project. The main fault lies in the Congress and the Admins at the time. Today, finally, we have an excellent aircraft, logistics support and a dedicated LM team to make the systems work and work well.
end
Semper FI

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FtD March 27, 2011 at 6:24 pm

when facing this 14trillion problem, DOD should should switch on their thinking cap about researching/producing gen4.5+ raptor downgrades with reduced stealth coating for easier maintanence, bringing down per unit cost & start selling them to other countries. So the more of them being made, the easier for the type to be upgraded…. USAF can keep their ultra expensive full version F22 themselves whilst Japan/Aust/UK etc. can fly the 4.5+ version. That's how Sukhoi evolved their Su27 into Su35, can't see why Americans can't do similar thing…. & let F35 runs its cause of whether it will make it to full production or not….. as i believe countries who are looking for air superiority package will go straight pass the F35 & get the F22-4.5+….. as the tech & tools are there & ready to go!

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arias March 27, 2011 at 12:16 am

Personally, I do not think any aircraft should ever be designed with only one engine, especially if it's going to cost 200 million a piece. Block upgrades for an f-22, its a brand new aircraft, what the hell could it possibly need. Why waste money on a new toy when your not gonna play with it.

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guest March 27, 2011 at 5:13 am

I would because the best pilots in the USAF would be driving them. I paid for this bird, let it earn it's keep.

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George N. Roll, Ltc. March 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm

The Preident of the United States does not like the F-22. When he made a speech at an USAF Base in Alaska the dias had been set up with an F-22 in the background, White House staffers insisted the F-22 be removed and an older F-15 be put in it's place so the President would not seem to be endorsing the F-22 (which happens to be the hotest fighter in the world). Whith this kind of political climate it is no wonder the F-22 has not made an appearance in the sky over Libia. That said the Libians are not activly challanging our air superiority with their own air assets. Like the Iraq AF if they fly they know that they will die, so if they fly it will only be to escape from air bombardment.

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PMI March 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Could you give details on your plan to move Arleigh Burke's & Tico's into the mountains of Afghanistan?

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STemplar March 28, 2011 at 12:26 am

Could you please give me an ETA on a conflict when we will actually use the F22 and Ill get back to you, because we used the Burke's in Libya and Iraq, so that makes them 200% more useful than the F22s.

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citanon March 27, 2011 at 10:51 pm

I'm surprised that no one has yet mentioned this: the FRENCH are there listening with their electronic toys. Y expose the F-22 to them when there's no need?

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mat March 28, 2011 at 9:04 am

F22 is a plane that will mot likely newer see action as its a dog to maintain and due to budget cuts the electronics are not quite what they were supposed to be ,talk about digital datalink Mig 31 had it in 1980 lack of IRST that all eastern planes had in late 70's and most 4th gen fighter in the world have it now or in pipline for upgrades ,lack of jamming equipment ,laser designator limited ground attack capability .
Not to mention F22 is being kept in the dark so that 'friends and foes' wouldn't gather to much radar intel on it all in all it will run out airframe hours or corrode before it is used in a war.

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Tenn Slim March 28, 2011 at 9:37 am

1. Raptors are probable the most sophisticated aircraft ever made, to date. The maintenance/logistics support is right there also. Never, ever, make a statement w/o adequate facts.
2. Budget cuts for the Raptor, LM engineerring and USAF requirements, determined the COMM Final package. Air to Air Links of which there are many varieties were and are on the Raptor.
3. As to gathering Intel on the Raptor, first flight 1997, saw radars blind to the flight. Stealth and all that entails is extremely valuable data. Raptors dont allow data gathering, AKA ITS A STEALTH AIRCRAFT.
end
Semper Fi

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mat March 28, 2011 at 5:46 pm

1.Probably most sophisticated but proven dog to maintain that is a fact 2/3 of them were even grounded to solve airframe corrosion problems

2.Electronic suite ,radar are not the above what other fighters have ,lack digital datalink,IRST ,laser designator limited air to ground capability all due to budge restraints impose great limits on plane usefulnes

3.Raptor never plays with foreign AF fighters on red flag due to stealth signature being keept secret but on other hand stealt doest mean its invisible to radar it is just less so or visible at shorter range but there is no such thing as all aspect stealth , or stealth at all ranges that is just a story from LM PR department.

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Tenn Slim March 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

Opine
1. An ex LM Raptor EMD participant here.
bt
Comms in the Raptor were INITIALLY intended to talk to all forces. USAF and LM worked the Comms to support a FLEET of Raptors, dominate airspace theories etal. Hence, the Comms came down to talking only to the Airspace Combatants, AKA A Nato/ Russion confict.
bt
My guess as to why the Raptors aren’t on scene in the Med.
1. Alaska is a far piece to project Dominant Airspace power. NK, China, etc. are still on the front burner in the Pacific.
2. There simply was not an air force to dominant by the time Obama got around to needing a dominant fighter force.
3. Losing an F15 was bad enough, losing a Stealth Fighter would not be smart. Albeit, the only threat would be missles and an accident.
4. Raptors are few, due to the budget cuts over the years 1992 to now. We have few of these assets, and need every one.
bt
Raptors are very special assets. They are the USAF Pride and Joy. Flyers love them, and they can do everything advertised, in spades.
Semper FI
end

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Dfens March 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

By the way, the F-22's real nickname in the USAF is "Precious".

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Dfens March 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

Yeah, like the ring.

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Thomas Carney March 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

No surprise here. The Air FARCE leaves secure commo as an afterthought. There were complaints back in 1980 that only TEN PERCENT OF THE AF'S PLANES HAD SECURE COMMO on board. I see not much has changed in the Air FARCE's commo planning and capabilities. What a flustercuck.

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Tucker March 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm

So it has been 9 or so conflicts now that we have used any nuclear weapons. Does that mean we shouldn't have made all of them? Its called deterence. The F-22 has its part in the defense of our country, shooting down trainers in Lybia is not it.

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Byron Skinner March 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Good Morning Folks,

Regardless of why the F-22 didn’t make it to the party, it turned out that they were not needed. The French F-3 Rafale flying off the De Gualle has been kicking Colonel Gadhafi’s butt. Right now the Rafale F-3 is the bad boy of hostile skies until somebody else can PROVE otherwise, Viva France.

The F-22 can go back to shadowing Boeing 737′s around the US. Ah, how many cup holder do you get with the F-22 for $250 million plus bucks?

It would seem that the rather budget priced Rafale F-3 ($30-$50 million USD’s vs. $96-$150 million USD for the F-35) is more then enough fighter aircraft for the coming decades. The F-22 is just more expensive overkill and the F-35 will be just as useless.

The E/F-18G Growler at $70 million UDS’s seems to be a far better deal for the tax payer the the F-35.

Oh by the way the F-18 can and has trapped on board and then shot off from the de Gualle as the Rafale has been from a US carrier. Maintenance crew from a US carrier and the de Galle switched engines on each others aircraft.

ALLONS,
Byron Skinner

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mat March 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Nailed it

RIght now Rafale is the king of the skies over Libya and its omnirole(multirole) design that is also carrier borne makes it the best tool for the job ,Eurofighter and F22 are too A2A orientated to do any good in this kind of operation.

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SJE March 28, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Not to denigrate the Rafales, but with the amount of destruction already wreaked on the Ghaddaffi forces, you could probably fly around in prop planes by now.

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Byron Skinner March 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Look up how F3s and the Euro”Trash”Fighter have faired against F22s in air to air training, and then try to back up your uninformed statement. Their radars suck so bad, they couldn’t even fire off a missile. Countries with second tier aviation industries to the US like China/Russia are doing everything they can to copy the Raptor. Euro countries keep designing non stealth **** like the F3

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DAY8293 March 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm

IT IS ONLY "SECURE ENCRYPTED" COMMUNICATIONS THAT DON'T WORK,,, THEY ALL STILL CAN TALK ON UN-SECURE RADIOS, LIKE THE ONES THEY TALK TO THE TOWER ON,,,
…. AND THE RAPTOR IS AN AIR TO AIR AIRCRAFT,,, NOT MEANT TO HIT ANYTHING ON THE GROUND, AND KADAFFI DOESN'T HAVE ANYTHING THE RAPTOR WOULD BE NEEDED FOR ANYWAY IN THE AIR,,,

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roland March 31, 2011 at 1:17 am

Let's reserve it for future conflict, like if we were attack by Rooskies, Norks and Chicons.

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Duane March 31, 2011 at 6:48 pm

It has taken that long to get the bugs worked out of the F15 & F-16. By the way I first worked on F-16's in 1981( they had been in service about 4 years then). The F-22 was already to the flying prototype stage and crashed the first one in 1982. This plane was in development over 20 years and stuff like this is still an issue. I haven't worked on the F-15 strike eagle, but I think it could carry the load for 10 -15 more years and it's proven.

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I Wolf April 3, 2011 at 9:52 am

We could beat the present threat w/ P-51s

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oblatisgay April 3, 2011 at 10:37 am

obvously in these "wars" it hasn't been against anyone with any sort of airpower great enough to worry about even sending the f22… You wouldn't be saying that shit if we went to war with russia next month…we would be using them. You spew ignorance.

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Nevada April 3, 2011 at 11:00 am

The reason they did not use the F22 is because it's an expensive piece of crap that can be easily shot down because the active stealth system does not work most of the time and the passive stealth is not that good. They are afraid that the Libyan's would shoot it down before it could strike any targets and they would be so embarrassed.

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blight April 3, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Stealth is not active. It is passive, based on RCS coatings and contouring. The Russians are the only ones working on active stealth, based on emission of ionized gas to distort radar readings ("plasma stealth").

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blight April 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Stealth designs are optimized for VHF radar and are vulnerable to UHF radar (or was it the other way around). Regardless, changing the wavelength of the radar you use will result in a somewhat better reading on stealth aircraft. That and flying predictable flightpaths…

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buck April 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

Let an F-22 do a fly-by over gaddafi's tent,balls to the wallat100feet. He may have an attitude change that couhasten the outcome of this mess.

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Riggs April 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm

What the F___ are you talking about??? As far as France goes (a few F-22's) could take out their whole air force. Stop pretending that a NATO force attacking a backwards 10 rate military with 1950's weapon systems is a real accomplishment. The only modern equipment they had was taken out by US cruise missles to clear the way. A few of our A-10's is all thats needed. Wish we still had some P-51's.

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Wellduh April 14, 2011 at 12:16 am

awefully expensive aircraft to fly where there really isn't any need. As for using Iraq and Afghanistan for practice…well to be honest accidents (birdstrikes etc) and emergencies do happen and the USA remains a pretty friend place with lots of places to MAYBE recover a distressed aircraft. But even Iraq and Afghanistan pose a lethal environment to a partially or totally disabled aircraft. Once you have an engine fire its amazing how much easier it is to hit you as you try to land and no go arounds to clear the perimeter of hostiles.

Heck the #1 issues is the lack of alternative landing zones. And in hostile areas you have to blow up your aircraft to prevent intact capture. The USA many landing areas including private strips and if you land intact you don't need to blow up the aircraft.

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STemplar March 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Agreed, that would not be tacair though. I'm not opposed to tacair, but it has never been the source of real deterrence. The NGB, SSGNs, possible PS from existing VLS cells, a CSG off the coast with tacair is real deterrence. Tacair itself isn't the real deterrence. Tacair really is for when deterrence failed and now action is needed.

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William C. March 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm

GBU-39 SBD capability was demonstrated awhile back, although these can't hit moving targets. I believe the AN/APG-77(V)1 radar upgrade also adds ground attack focus capabilities. The F-22A can also carry external stores although I don't know what is wired for.

But in Libya, other aircraft (that we have enough of) can do the same job, so why bother?

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Chuck March 28, 2011 at 10:14 am

They have dropped numerous SDBs, but only from previously ID targets, they will get the SAR to provide the grid coordinates in flight with newer blocks. Also, the SAR is not a camera, it is a radar. So it should be obvious that it only produces black and white images. Try to get an camera image of the ground through clouds, a sand storm or at night some time. Hope you see the usefulness of SA now. You will also know why the F-15E also uses SAR. Developing SAR capabilities from an AESA radar, which is new, is why it is not in use yet by the F-22, as the priority was air-to-air for the fighter.

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Joseph Dewar March 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I must agree. the only role of the F 22 is to take out large state-of the art air forces, which are becoming exceedingly rare, and combat against, increasingly unlikely.

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