Home » Air » Air-to-Air Warfare Isn’t Dead

Air-to-Air Warfare Isn’t Dead

by Ward Carroll on December 24, 2012

A couple of items involving Russian defense procurement lately caught our eye here at the DT World Headquarters.  UPI ran this item a few days ago:

The Russian government said it contracted with an aircraft maker for delivery of 30 fighter jets — in addition to the 30 for which it contracted in March.  The Irkut aircraft manufacturer will provide the Defense Ministry with the additional 30 Su-30SM fighter jets by 2016, RIA Novosti reported in Moscow Wednesday.  The Russian Air Force got its first two Su-30SM planes on Nov. 22, the newspaper said.  The Su-30SM is one of the air force’s most important planes. It boasts an improved radar, communications and friend-or-foe identification system, and new weapons, among other updates, the newspaper reported.

And this yesterday from UPI:

Russian air force Commander Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said Sunday tests are under way on a fifth version of the T-50 stealth fighter jet.  Bondarev said three of the planes are undergoing factory testing at the Zhukovsky airfield near Moscow and all will be flown to Akhtubinsk in the Astrakhan region in March for more extensive examination, RIA Novosti reported. Bondarev said the air force hopes to deploy the planes, also known as protect PAK-FA, by 2015 or 2016.  Sukhoi, which made the fourth prototype T-50, said the plane flew for the first time last week, a 40-minute flight at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur factory in Siberia. The T-50 was first unveiled in 2010 and shown publicly for the first time at the 2011 Moscow Air Show. RIA Novosti said the plane features stealth technology, super-maneuverability, supersonic flight without afterburners and advanced avionics. The Russian Defense ministry said it plans to buy 10 evaluation aircraft and then contract for 60 production models after 2015.

And then AP reported this today:

Russia and India signed weapons deals worth billions of dollars Monday as President Vladimir Putin sought to further boost ties with an old ally.  Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed cooperation between their countries as officials signed a $1.6 billion deal for 42 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets that will be license-built in India from Russian components and a $1.3 billion contract for the delivery of 71 Mil Mi-17 military helicopters.  “We agreed to further strengthen the traditions of close cooperation in the military and technical areas,” Putin said after the signing.

 Holy dogfights, Batman!

So as we pivot to the Pacific and marvel that the X-47 is able to taxi around a carrier’s flight deck and label the JSF “the last manned fighter,” maybe we outta consider whether one hundred and eighty-some F-22s is gonna be enough for the air war to come.

And you know how you defeat a stealthy unmanned strike aircraft?  You shoot it down with a piloted aircraft.

(And Merry Christmas to all of our loyal readers.  You guys remain the best.)

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{ 127 comments… read them below or add one }

xeno December 24, 2012 at 10:00 am

Yes, but how do you deal with hundreds of unmanned strike aircraft? The benefit of using drones is their relative low cost, in dollars, obviously, but also in lives. How many UAVs can we buy and build for the same cost as one over-engineered boondoggle like the F-22? How many drones can one Su-30 pilot take on at once? 3? We will send 10.

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Ben December 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm

It's a cute sentiment, but we'll never have the numbers of UCAV's you're thinking. The X-47 costs as much if not more than manned aircraft of similar air-to-air capability. It's not a cheap, high-performance throwaway aircraft.

And I'm sure a brand new Su-30SM can take down more than 3 UCAVs. We like to underestimate our enemies' capabilities, but the Su-30's aren't to be taken lightly.

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Robin December 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm

As of last spring, the Air Force was reactivating TR-1s because they are cheaper to operate than the Global Hawks. The fact of being more versatile because they are manned is an added bonus.

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blight_ December 26, 2012 at 11:01 am

They won't be cheaper for long. When the right parts become hard to find or ridiculously expensive it'll be game over for Dragon Lady.

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wpnexp December 26, 2012 at 8:16 am

Actually, it seems likely that the F-22 will fly with stealthy UAVs, like the X-47B, electronically tethered together. The UAV will operate around the F-22 as weapons trucks, either dropping bombs and air-to-ground missiles, or firing AAMs. The F-22s wil provide the man in the loop capability to make targeting decisions.

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Matt December 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I dont think we are there yet bro. Drones can't keep up with the mach 1+ /supercruise bombing/strike missions. Would be nice to have the mothership setup you describe but the AF missions you describe are too fast paced. The drones cant keep up and you cant afford to have them loitering out over the ocean all day in anticipation for the fast movers. The ideal and cutting edge mothership setup is on the current US Army Apache gunships with control and live feed of 1 or more drones in the AO.

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steve December 26, 2012 at 9:56 pm

AS LONG AS Iran doesn't get their hands on those drones?????

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Mark December 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm
Ron December 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Right on bro! Spoken like a true fighter pilot and red blooded American.

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Kosme December 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm

"The Su-30 is a piece of junk compared to the F-22" At least the su-30 doesn't choke their own piltos.

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Kosme December 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm

°pilots

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Russ December 27, 2012 at 9:01 am

The trouble with drones is you can't fly "hundred" in the same piece of sky. Since each drone must be remotely controlled, there has to be enough bandwidth to ensure each one could receive independent their signals without these signals interfering with other drones nearby. (Think about how cell phones drop calls in congested areas.)
Not that drones aren’t valuable—they are. They have long endurance and do not put people at risk. However, drones require an enormous amount of manpower to operate, and there are limits on our ability to mass drones simultaneously in the same location.

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Ben K December 27, 2012 at 9:28 am

Considering the F-14 could lock onto 24 different targets simultaneously 42 years ago, I would assume it could defeat ten drones.

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Josh December 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm
Chris December 27, 2012 at 10:53 am

Doesn't matter, if the Russians are smart they would fight the global empire in an unconventional way…plenty of examples of people giving the United States a black eye without using machines to do it.

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Mark Wynn December 27, 2012 at 10:22 pm
Total December 24, 2012 at 10:18 am

Oh ye Gods. Exactly the same scare tactics were used in the 1990s to sell the F-22. Russian planes in testing or being ordered were held up as the new scary threat. None of them actually shipped in any numbers. When the Russians have a squadron or two of these on active duty and flying, then let's talk.

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ChuckL December 26, 2012 at 12:05 am

Perhaps you simply do not understand tht it is impossible to create, develop, and fully activate a newly designed airplan in under 100 days, Please do not bring up the P-51 built by North american Aviation in less thatn 100 days. At the time this was built, airplance wer less complicated than cars are today. We also are unable to roll planes off of the assembly lines ar a rate of 10 an hour, or greater.

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wpnexp December 26, 2012 at 8:19 am

There was a reason why the PAK-FA was delayed until the F-22 was out of production. It is lilely the same reason why they are progressing in their testing, as they spent a lot of time working out the kinks on the ground. They wouldn't be involving the Indians in production unless they were seroius about buying the planes.

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Stratege December 28, 2012 at 3:22 am

Actually, the Indians are not involved in PAK-FA's development and production.
But the FGFA (which is simply an export model of the PAK-FA )would be co-produced aircraft.

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candor December 27, 2012 at 10:53 am

By then it will be too late

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Godzilla December 24, 2012 at 10:56 am

In the 1970s fighters were supposed to be obsoleted by missiles. With bombers replaced by ICBMs fighters were supposed to become obsolete. Now the talk is about drones. However, just like in the 1970s, people will find that fighters still have their uses and are not obsolete at all. A Su-35BM with Irbis-E can track up to 30 targets and attack up to 8. Most current drones are neither supersonic nor can they fire modern air-to-air missiles. Even when drones get good enough quite likely there will still be several 2-seater fighters with long range weapons in use. Communications can be intercepted, jammed, the only way to solve the problem is to put some brains inside the plane. AI weapon fire control is neither advanced enough nor considered a viable option at this point.

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Belesari December 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm

+10 internets to you sir.

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tiger December 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I hope you don't plan on shooting Aim-120's?

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ChuckL December 26, 2012 at 12:11 am

And Godzilla, just where are these drones being flown from? When I talk to my son in Germany, and we just happen to have the same football broadcast on the TV, the time lage between my receptionand his andd the return over the telephone to me is on the order of 5 – 7 seconds. Just how well will a fighter that is 3 seconds late in making its defensive maneuvr last in combat.

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blight_ December 26, 2012 at 11:00 am

'cause drones can be operated by ground control stations, and previously; Ryan Firebees were teleoperated from C-130s from very close by.

When drones are ready for game time you will see the massive investment in teleoperation that it deserves.

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Juuso December 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm

That sort of C-130 would be a prime target in a air combat situation.

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wpnexp December 26, 2012 at 8:27 am

Drone fighters are a bit of a stretch, but as I said above, seems like stealthy UAVs would make excellent missile trucks for aircraft like the F-22. They could also be used as forward sensor nodes to allow the F-22 to see further and to detect stealthy enemy fighters earlier.

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John Doe December 30, 2012 at 4:58 am

Jets are obsolete if it turns into a missle war, as they require ground support at some point. Long range missles are all that are required for us to defeat most enemies, but we have signed treaties that render them useless. However if we were attacked with such measures we would respond in kind and our fancy billion dollar jets wouldn't have much of anything left to bomb or shoot out of the air. I believe that jetfighters are mostly good for helping to secure Navy ships. Since most Navy ships travel only in small clusters sending a nuke to open ocean wouldn't be a financially sound decision. This is where jetfighters come in. When it comes to air/land/sea to land attacks, the missle is the superior technology. They are basically super long range artillery which keeps troops at great distance and out of harm's way. Fighting jets serve little purpose when you obliterate the land mass that supports the short range fighting jets you'd be dogfighting while they're still on or near the ground.

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Scott December 24, 2012 at 11:43 am

http://articles.cnn.com/2004-11-02/tech/brain.dis

"brain in a jar" since this 2004 tech, I wonder what they are doing now.

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UAVGeek January 2, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Great until you get a Sharon Apple or a Ghost X-9

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Marcellus Hambrick December 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm

We should be worried about the Chicoms and not the Russkies!

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jez December 30, 2012 at 2:36 am

Hey? Who do you consider the russians are concerned with more-some one a thousand miles away with their own internal problems(the USA) or someone they have a common border with and a history of border disputes. The Chinese have a history with the Russians. It's called Siberia. The Chinese want it back. There will be war when? who knows but it will happen. read history. then think it thru. our economy is funding the Chinese PLA. Would it be in Russias interest if Chinas larget trading partner went down the tubes?
What? you don't think there is more than one kind of battle to fight here????

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Flyboy 23 December 31, 2012 at 1:26 am
Belesari December 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

OK PEOPLE. I am going to write this post for YOUR INFORMATION.

The Facts of Drones.

Drones when they started were cheap. At just a few million they were as cheap as fighters of the 60's. They have little capability but that was accepted.

Today the MQ-9 Reaper cost 36.9 Million per aircraft a new F-18F cost around 60mil. It can carry more, Faster and also do air superiority. Drones can fly to a target release a bomb and return. PERIOD. Anything else is atleast for a decade or more scifi. And then i guarrante they will cost as much as any manned fighter if not more.

Their cost also doesnt include the satelites that are required to provide their links back to the stations they are controled from.

Reality shes a bitch. She cares nothing for your power point presentations. Nothing for your wants, and wishes or feelings.

Now can we get back to reality

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ingo December 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm

SHACK!!

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Aerospace December 30, 2012 at 9:29 am
mpower6428 December 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm

i have a question.

why dont we do like the russians. the russians order in multiples of 10, (20, 40 70) why are we ordering in multiples of 100s or even thousands.

short production runs of increasingly improved and advanced 1st rate weapons. and dont gimme that "economically viable " BS. irkut is using the same damn factory

the continued lobbying for a vastly increased production run of the 10 year old F22 is really just an idictment of cheaply bought politicians on both sides.

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blight_ December 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Short production runs have crap economies of scale.

Maybe we should stop deluding ourselves into thinking we can do economies of scale and just go back to microscales with incremental upgrades to arrest the cost spiral?

The differences between each incremental set of aircraft are rather small, which helps keep costs down. However, it raises the spectre of earlier blocks of aircraft being totally obsolete when they can no longer be supported, whereas a large buy of an airframe forces you to ensure that you can support an airframe properly for years, if not decades.

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tmb2 December 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Buying in the dozens is all Russia can really afford. They've had a ton of prototypes of rifles, tanks, aircraft, and other items, but they haven't bought much of anything since the USSR fell apart.

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Juuso December 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Russians have kept their ICBM production in a good shape, but that's probably only way for them to keep Russia relevant in a modern world.

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Lance December 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Well that is if the Russian economy holds.

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Stratege December 27, 2012 at 7:03 am

Russian economy is in pretty good shape. But the production capacity to produce an aircraft production in a huge numbers (hunders, not dozens) is still insufficient

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zivbnd December 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm

As natural gas prices drop, Russia is flailing for a way to finance their government. If natural gas prices don't rebound within a year or two, Russia's military will have its spending cut severely. The US has a failure of will, the Russians have a failure of demography and a growing lack of customers for its gas exports.

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Stratege January 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm

"Russians have a failure of demography and a growing lack of customers for its gas exports."

No, that's simply wrong.
And it's demographic issues are less actual nowadays because of positive dynamics in balance of a population.

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tiger December 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I say forget the jets. More money for Stargate technology…..

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BlackOwl18E December 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Since the 20th Century the Russians have usually been the only ones able to compete with us in terms of making proficient warplanes, air combat weapons, and making quality fighter pilots. They still have the infrastructure to do it. The Chinese are still trying to build the infrastructure and just because they can copy the F-35 and make the J-31 doesn't necessarily mean that they know how the make all the systems for it nor that they will know how to use it as well in combat.

I've said this before but right now and at least for the near future Russia is still more of a military threat than China. The Russians have more combat aircraft of better quality. They have more tanks and more armored vehicles. They also know how to use the equipment inside and out where as the Chinese only know how to copy the machines. On top of that the Russians are almost as innovative as us. The one thing the Chinese lack in supply is innovation. I think the only place that China will be a threat in the near future is the Pacific and their surrounding borders.

Then again, being able to militarily defeat these countries is useless if your economy is in shambles and you're broke. I think we should focus more on getting a healthy economy rather than focus on improving our air combat capability.

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bob December 24, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Agreed. People seem to think that them asianssssssss slanty eyed puckers are the ones that are going to fight us.

Time to kick some russian ass.

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Ron December 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Don't be so sure Japanese gave us a surprise at Pearl Harbor—– rooounnnd eyes!!!

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Ron December 26, 2012 at 12:13 am

Oh yeah by the way Russians are Asian's (Eurasian) learn Geography and History before mouthing off, yah dope!

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RussianDudeNewYork December 26, 2012 at 1:12 am

In the Asian continent you dumb idiot. Is that why Russians are categorized as Caucasian you dumb ass?

Man, this is why Americans are known to be stupid.

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Pete December 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Nope. Russians women were raped by the mongol golden horde for 500 years. You don't even know you're own country.

blight_ December 26, 2012 at 11:02 am

The "Russians" would be a little bit of both, but most Russians are west of the Urals and European in stock. There is a part of Russia that goes well into the east and is populated by Aboriginal people (read: close relatives to the Inuit and related to the first peoples of North America), and they would be "Asian".

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blight_ December 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm

"Then again, being able to militarily defeat these countries is useless if your economy is in shambles and you're broke. I think we should focus more on getting a healthy economy rather than focus on improving our air combat capability."

I think people forget America defeated the Nazis in WW2 starting with a powerful peacetime economy tooled for war, not a hollow shell tricked out for war with no additional slack (which is how the Germans started WW2).

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John December 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Wow, thirty. Now maybe they can take on tiny little Georgia.

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STemplar December 24, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Pray tell why would Russia build infrastructure to deliver gas to Europe and lobby the US for trade agreements only to go to war with us? Russia’s coming demographics issues preent them with the same challenges ad China. We use old adversaries for justifications of failed systems like the F22 &35. Over priced POS’ S that are falling on their faces technically and financially.

The focus needs to be on maniacs like lran an the Norks an the other failed nations or close to failed nations that have or are close to having nukes. We are at the point in history where countries other than the traditional east an west power blocs might unleash nuclear armageddon on Earth an never ask DC, Moscow or Beijings permission to fuck the planet up for the rest of us.

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Galloping Ghost December 28, 2012 at 8:58 am

I agree with your points in paragraph 2.

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Boehners_Buddy December 29, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Not only that but how are we going to pay for food stamps, medicaid, section 8 housing, WIC and headstart if we continue to develop top of the line weapons?

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Nicky December 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Ait-to-Air isn't dead, it just evolved into Air Dominance warfare.

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jake December 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm

The problem with the JSF was that the designers were forced to use the same mold line for both the conventional and STOVL version. If that wasn't the case the JSF would be a kick ass plane and probably already in service.

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ChuckL December 26, 2012 at 12:25 am

Jake, sorry ;but the F-35 specs are lower than the F-4 in speed carrying capacity and maneuverbility. The F-35 is only 1/10 th as stealthy as the F-22 from the front and quickly looses stealth from other anbles. This means that it can easily be targetd by a networked defensive system which can be totally airborne and the Su series aircraft ar all Mach2+. vs the F-35's Mach 1.6 design speed which is only attainable without external arms.

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wpnexp December 26, 2012 at 8:38 am

Are you suggesting we buy more F-4s instead of F-35s? Somehow I doubt the F-4 has the same transonic acceration as the F-35, which is more important in combat. Once you load an F-4 with external weapons and tanks, they become much less maneuverable. Once the enemy air defenses are beaten back, the use of external stores on an F-35 will be nearly the same as an F-4. Of course, with PGMs, those weapons will do much more damage anyways. If the F-35 was supposed to be an air superiority fighter, you might be correct in your assessment, but it is not. And if the country does the right thing and buys the F-35 in bulk, having 3 or 4 F-35s over a single PAK-FA or J-31 will easily overcome the F-35s shortcomings.

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blight_ December 26, 2012 at 10:59 am

"having 3 or 4 Z over a single A or B will easily overcome the Z's shortcomings."

Mmm, mmm, attrition.

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Boehners_Buddy December 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Yeah, but it creates a lot of jobs. Look, I've been working on the B-52 program since Eisenhower was president. It has paid for my house, kid's college, my summer house, and my retirement. Let the youngsters have a similar program.

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ChuckL December 26, 2012 at 12:26 am

Just how big would our F-22 fleet be if we had spent the money wasted o the F-35 on building F-22s?

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blight_ December 26, 2012 at 11:02 am

Maybe 400 fighters instead of 187.

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maxtrue December 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Yep. Still think the F-22b was the one we really needed. The next generation of hypersonic missiles will need the larger bays for the craft to remain stealthy. And more fuel for longer range. Would you say an upgraded F-22 is far superior to the F-35? If yes, then what are we doing? I remember some said the F-35 would have a laser cannon. Really? One must admit what F-35 critics warned is coming true. Like most topics media is asleep. My only worry is whether the military is too.

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Matt December 26, 2012 at 6:40 pm

America is going to sleep.

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jez December 30, 2012 at 2:18 am

F-22 and JSF/F35 are not interchangeable as far as mission capability goes.F-22 is optimized for air superiority, F-35 is set up for air to mud. each could do the others designed job, but with severe disadvantages. I recall the experience of using multi million dollar two man aircraft to bomb truck parks in the jungle. stupid. battle tactics evolve during an air campaign and the speed at which commanders relearn lessons of the past will have a large affect on how the battle proceeds.and that will only happen if the commanders are flexible in their thinking which past experience has shown them to not be.
Here is a thought. How fightening to an enemy land force would be the sight of five hundred A-10s humping up over the local horizon be? The idea of a front of Su-22s coming at me would get my undivided attention in no time at all. How many A-10s would the JSF program funding have bought our air and ground forces? one can ask questions like that a lot. but they mean nothing.. you fight the battle with what you have at hand now.

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blight_ December 26, 2012 at 11:03 am

Trying to imagine the disaster if we had pre-planned the High-Low program in advance and gave Lockmart both ATF and JSF at the same time.

"Look, we can integrate technologies!"

"Look, both programs integrated together cost twice as much as they would separately!"

"If you don't buy it, the Chinese will overmatch us!"

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maxtrue December 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

If advanced Lasers and Rail Systems existed, one could argue the days of air borne threats (manned or unmanned) would be pushed back. >Until that happens a stealthy manned fighter-bomber (or AI fighter of equal abilities) has the best chance to penetrate defensive lines and deliver larger advanced missiles to their targets. >Until drones can equal this, the idea manned craft are obsolete is wrong as several people here have already pointed out.

Fighters under various situations do have less clout these days, but to argue the most advanced stealthy and super cruise ones don't have a real advantage is also wrong. I wonder how many critics have noticed that drones can get hacked (and so can manned air craft). The DEW environment ahead is going to present some serious manned hazards, but again drones will be effected too. If the military makes a fighter bomber that is too fast for humans to ride, or a stealth technology that limits human space, I could see the point of putting a bigger emphasis on robotics. Still, if the US can field a stealthy manned air craft that is fast and situationally aware, a hypersonic missile is more likely to surprise an advanced enemy at close range than present drones could deliver. Well, that's just a layman talkin, but consistent with much that is post at DT.

Also cost? Apart from the human cost, I think it takes seven pilots on a weapon carrying drone. The drone capable of covering the missions an F-22b could, would be very expensive. Without an AI system that doesn't exist yet, the cost would be more expensive and we would have to let a machine make decision of life and death, another problem the article doesn't take up.

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James Maxwell December 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

In Viet Nam we got F4's with no guns. Guess what the figured our real quick that we needed guns on the birds. No matter how good your unmanned birds are there will always be a need for a manned aircraft to take out the trash at the end of the day. No computer system or remotely piloted vehicle can ever replace the man at the controls of the weapon and his ability to identify a target when it gets thick out there either on the ground, in the air or on the water.

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Rich December 26, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Those were the days!

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Fred Weems December 26, 2012 at 8:32 pm

First, let me admit to a rather limited perspective. Aardvarks and Warthogs. Been shot at a few times. I figure that the very pretty, fast and glamorous jets will kill each other off early on. Then there's going to be the long, embarrassingly drawn out slug fest that will take at least about as much time as it takes to get a college degree. Who the enemy is does not even matter. Vietnam, anyone? It'll be up to something as ugly and omnivorous as a Warthog to finish the job. Drones are for the weak of heart, and more often than not end up killing the wrong people. That will lose the war for hearts and minds, and the rest doesn't matter. Remember the movie Terminator? In the end, those with the reputation for fair and honorable dealing will come out on top.

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Hoosgon December 26, 2012 at 8:34 pm

It just seems that we continue putting all our faith, dollars and planning in ever higher tech stuff. I keep remembering Nam all over again, a dirt simple enemy with dirt simple tactics dragged a supposedly high tech air force into beating the bushes for used prop jobs that could actually counter the threat. Just think what would happen to all our wonderful toys if a couple of the current crop of crazies gets even a crude ASAT capability or just pops a nuc with an EMP. Like it or not, a smart military still has to be able to fight KISS basic: beans, bombs, guns, and talent. This type of argument brings to mind a small pearl of wisdom: The more complicated they make the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain." (Cmdr Montgomery Scott, Starfleet Command.)

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George December 26, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I can remember my dad telling me that fighters were obsolete in the 1950's because of missiles. This is an old story for me. I'm worried that we will be in the state that we were in 1940 — the P40's and Brewster Buffalo's against the Japanese Zero. Here we go again.

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Guy December 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm

But look at ourselves at the end of the war with the Corsair and P-51, those were damn good fighters. And the F-35 isn't as bad as the P40 was.

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BD Cooper December 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm

George the first version of the Phantom was built without a nose gun because missiles would do all the work. Thats when dumbass pilots started getting shot down by Migs after they fired all of their missiles at the migs without bothering to arm them first.

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tiger December 29, 2012 at 2:05 am

Actually blame the rules of engagement. It's easier to hit MIgs on the ground. We were not allowed to bomb airfields. SAMS were the same way. We could not sink a ship load because the ship was Soviet.

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Martin Jones December 26, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Heres the deal. The missiles work perfectly (?) but someone decides you have to first see the whites of their eyes before you kill them.

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tiger December 29, 2012 at 2:06 am

But they don't work perfectly…..

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TJRedneck December 27, 2012 at 7:10 am

Along with building more F-22's, we should upgrade all of them with the latest Tech. We should also move forward and build the B-1R which would have the capability of shooting down whole squadrons of manned or unmanned opponents. We could also immediately replace all of our old F-16s with the latest F-16s that we are trying to sell to India and Israel, and replace all of our old F-15Cs with F-15SEs. While doing this we work on 6th generation fighters. Dogfighting will NEVER die!

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John Doe December 30, 2012 at 4:50 am

Weather balloons with pinging abilities can create an anti-stealth network. Jets with lasers can provide defensive and offensive capabilities that can shoot almost anything out of the sky, incoming missles and aircraft. New technology always renders old tech useless. Think about the musket, plate mail, catapults, etc. I'm sorry but it would seem that perhaps dogfighting is on the verge of extinction.

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emery December 27, 2012 at 8:23 am

he jsf is certainly not the last manned fighter, right now drones are no match for an air war, in the nexxt 30 years it would still be unlikely. software is just not their, I use ardupilot as im into my drones, i cant be done. a pilots skill is better over a computer program, and even is we had the software they would still need manned aircraftto beat the skill of enemy pilots

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Tiger December 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm
top dog December 27, 2012 at 8:38 am

Ward, you wouldn't be one of those guys that thought the world was gonna end because the Myan calendar ran out would you? Russia building a new jet is nothing new, H-ll, I expected it sooner. We built the F22 and 35, they counted it with this bird. Knowing it was going to happen anyway, why should we be worried about it???

A belated Merry Christmas to you too…..and have a Happy New Year!

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grandadfromthehills December 27, 2012 at 10:51 am

The F22 can handle anything flying – turn inside it and wax it. Now how is that a fail? I do not think so. Costly, but the best flying.

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jez December 30, 2012 at 2:48 am

good point. I've got a missle that has and all aspect thermal seeker that see's in the far uv and far IR that will nail your butt from 100km distance after my track and scan systems and bi-static radar picks you out of the noise. Cheap and it works now. so now what to do?

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Dave December 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

And while we are at it, instead of spending money on a new design tanker, just build some more KC-10s (upgraded) and then use the money to build more F-15Es and F-22s.

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ERIC December 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm

air TO air COMBAT IS DEAD WHY WOULD YOU PUT HUMAN LIVES AT STAKE WHEN YOU CAN SEND A DRONE IN THAT CAN OUT MANEUVER FLY HIGHER AND FASTER AND USE AN ARRAY ASSORTMENT OF WEAPONS FROM LONG RANGE TO REALLY LONG RANGE TO REALLY REALLY SHORT RANGE DOESNT MAKE ANY SENSE.

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Stooch December 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

the caps lock is located just underneath your tab button. use it to type like a normal individual.

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Mark Wynn December 27, 2012 at 10:29 pm
dino December 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm

The age of new aircraft, and other military is definitelly coming to an end, we are now going to spend our resources on welfare, foodstamps and other give away benefits. We don't have to worry about a future military force to defend this country, another country would just offer better gov benefits, and take over this country without a fight. dino

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Aviator_Guy December 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

What we need is a fighter that can fly Mach 2+ , shoot down air to air targets at a range of 100 miles and have the ability to cruise at supersonic speed without using afterburners… The F14 Tomcat has all of those capabilities… LoL

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Mark Wynn December 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm
Guest December 27, 2012 at 11:59 pm

i agree that A2A isn't dead, that we need more than 187 F-22s, and that drones are not nearly ready to handle the role (not an expert here, but a few issues i see: what is the fastest that a drone has ever flown or maneuvered? how resistant are drones to jamming? how much does control latency affect high-speed maneuvering? how close is AI to controlling drones autonomously (my opinion – not close)?). that said, the maintenance costs of the F-22 are a concern – maintaining the stealth coating is quite costly per flight hour. with the never-ending saga of the f-35 (and no guarantee that its costs will be much lower), maybe we need a high-low mix with the f-22 at the high end and a non-stealth fighter at the low end?

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BD Cooper December 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Big deal. This story shows both the sorry state of the russian air force and their manufacturing capability.
The russians always design world class equipment and build shit. So the air force is ordering 60 planes. Add that to the 5 backfire bombers putin ordered years ago and that will bring their new plane purchases since the fall if the soviet union to 65. I'm really scared.
Also as demonstrated before with the T-90 sales russia is allowing india to manufacture the entire order in india. Usually the ratio is 30/70% but russias ability to actually manufacture these planes in country is next to zero. Just as the US was a paper tiger under Carter, Russia is a paper Bear. Only its nukes keep the chinese at bay.

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displacedjim December 30, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Right on target!

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Lewis December 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm

There are no drones currently out that can stand up to a modern, or even an older, fighter jet.

However, there is currently no real push to build such drones. We've never seen a real fighter drone.

If that push comes, I personally am unconvinced that manned aircraft will prevail. Perhaps for a while, perhaps 20 years, perhaps 100.. but forever? In the context of moores law, materials advances, advances in AI, communications, encryption, etc.. forever?

Yes we've seen the argument before that fighters will disappear, and they haven't yet. But other military technologies took their time to die as well. Cavalry, the sword, the walled fort, the long gun, the battleship.. all of these things had their proponents right up to their retirements.

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tiger December 29, 2012 at 2:13 am

We build QF-4' & QF-16's all the time……

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Lewis December 29, 2012 at 7:58 am

That's not really the same thing.

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JD White December 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm
jez December 30, 2012 at 1:41 am

Boy! you guys both crack my up and piss me off at the same time.
you have to keep in mind that you go into battle with what you have available right now-not what you plan on having. that means FA-18s and F-15s and F-16s. the F-117s are scrapped. F-22s outsmart their pilots when they arn't asphixiating them and the JSF/F-35 program is still just a pipedream about to get terminated. Macnamara showed us in the 1960s that the one size does all fighter doesn't work. So now we spend how many billions of our dollars to relearn this lesson?
As far as buying the technology to do the battle goes, we would be better off investing in training, maintenance and upgrades for our solders, airmen and sailors sake.

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John Doe December 30, 2012 at 4:45 am

Shoot it down? I want nothing of the sort. I'm more fearful of China than of Russia. I think we should continue to work on our diplomacy with Russia and create a stronger bond there. Continue to work on reforms in both our government and in theirs. Freedom for all, and let's stand against the stronger gulf/eastern powers together if we must. We need to embrace unity and trade, and stop trying to escalate things into another cold war. That's not good for anyone on earth, as modern militaries have the capability to wreck the ecological balance of the entire earth in a heartbeat.__It seems we have a LOT of bloodthirst in the US these days (video games be damned) but we need to ask ourselves if we want the whole world to go up in smoke or if we would prefer peace and enjoyment of life. I for one dislike living in fear. Strong allies means that we don't need to maintain as strong of a military force, and that also means more wealth for humanity. Let's raise our standards of living and realize that war is only good for the capitalist pigs that profit from it.

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Mastro January 4, 2013 at 10:10 am

Not seeing the Boogie Man Russian threat here- look at a map- what is there to fight with Russia over? Georgia? Hell- let them have Estonia if they really want it.

If they were anything lie a threat Germany wouldn't be downsizing their army to meter maid status. If Russia gets threatening- let the Germans buy some more Typhoons- they are ready to mothball the ones they have now-

Russia has to build some new fighters- and yeah- they have enough tech to roll something out that looks competitive- just like the Su-27 was/is.

No reason to maker 1000+ F22's or build a bomb shelter.

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crackedlenses January 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Last time we let them "have" countries they started calling themselves Soviets and trying to take over the world by force or by proxy.

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Mastro January 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

Thanks for the history lesson.

Georgia and Estonia was part of the USSR for my entire childhood- managed to get through OK.

I'm not saying we shouldn't honor NATO commitments- but the Russian Boogie man is obsolete- and we shouldn't get all frantic about them upgrading their much smaller air force.

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Thomas L. Nielsen January 9, 2013 at 10:25 am

"Georgia and Estonia was part of the USSR for my entire childhood- managed to get through OK."

Just a question for clarification: Was it you who managed to get through OK, or was it the Georgians and the Estonians? Or all three?

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Mastro January 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm

America- and Luxembourg too.

Don't worry- if there's a war I doubt Luxembourg will lead the way and take many casualties- defense freeloaders they are.

crackedlenses January 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm

The Boogie man may be obsolete, but the same crooks behind the original "boogie man" are still around ('cough' Putin 'cough'), and are taking back control.

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Quarlo Kobrigny January 7, 2013 at 2:36 am

No way is the PAK FA actually entering service in 2015. Russian statements regarding procurement schedules are orthogonal to reality. Since the end of the Cold War, their production and R&D schedules have been pathetically long by Western standards, yet somehow the PAK FA will go from first prototype flight to IOC twice as fast as any Western fighter of the past two decades?

I doubt they'll ever procure and operate much more than 100 of the things. We're talking about a country with ~10% of the US's GDP and defense budget — and that gives a much larger chunk of that to corruption and nukes.

Besides, if anything, improvements in the PAK FA line are good news. The only country that might operate them effectively in large numbers is America's most important ally of the 21st century. The few idling on the ground, gathering rust in the belly of Communism's corpse simply don't matter.

And, yes, air-to-air warfare isn't dead yet. But it will be soon unless hardening, concealment, and dispersal can keep the cost of smashing a shiny 5th gen fighter on the ground with ever-more accurate cruise/ballistic missiles higher than the cost of the fighter.

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Steve Jacobson March 10, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Without air superiority, or preferably air dominance, the troops on the ground cannot do their work effectively. We cannot simply concentrate on a recidivistic Russia as our only future enemy. China is manufacturing a navy and air force with one purpose, to deny the US Navy access globally, and to be able to outnumber and outmaneuver American aircraft. Our F-15 force is fatigued and a 1970's design, and our F-16 fleet is not much better. The F-35 Lightning II will never have the full dogfighting capability of the F-22. One of my friends, an F-22 Pilot, and my cousin who worked on the F-22 program for Lockheed Martin agree with me and the many pilots and outspoken Air Force personnel ( including my daughter) realize that we are no longer equipped to win air dominance as we have been able to in the past. The only real answer is to reopen the F-22 production line. How do we pay for this? Easy, we use the natural resources that America has in abundance, oil, natural gas, and coal. We approve the Keystone pipeline for the interim, then begin to develop our massive oil and natural gas reserves. I have sent a plan to our traitorous Commander in Chief outlining how to provide a balanced budget within 10 years, rebuild our military technological and numerical edge, and save America's economy. Of course he won't listen, because his loyalty lies with his Hollywood money bags, and his environmental lobby. In 2014, if we do not return to a Republican controlled House and Senate, and boot men like John ( I'm the only veteran ever) McCain, America's reign as the global superpower is over. Obama should be impeached, imprisoned, and his whole gaggle of freedom hating socialists need to go with him.

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Jayson December 24, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Yeah Canada is done with the F35. There was even talk of reviving our own homebuilt and updated Avro Arrow for a while and likely be a lot less than the F35. That got the public excited at the thought.

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George December 25, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Is that really how Canadians spell "brakes"?

I know they're better at math than we are… example

price of 1 (F35) = price of 4(CF188)

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Steve December 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Drones will be jammed. Invest a hundredth of what went into the F35 and you'd have some very effective means at knocking all drones out of the sky. We're fifty years away from truly pilotless fighter aircraft.

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ChuckL December 26, 2012 at 12:16 am

See my comment above. The delayed reaction will kill any drone.
We can ignore the comment by the Aussie fighter pilot in an F-15 who could see the F-22 target "out the window" but the damn radar would not lock on.

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Nicky December 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm

It looks like it won't be long before Canada jumps in with Australia and buy's Super Hornets. I think the Super Hornet is a much better choice for Canada and Australia.

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Micheal1000 December 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm

It would be smart for the united states to help bulk up and improve Australias air-force, you never know when there might be a need for a long time ally that close to the pacific region to assist with air power.

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Edward December 26, 2012 at 10:28 pm
Leo December 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Roger on the Maggot.

Unkle Leo

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kassim Abiola December 27, 2012 at 12:46 am
top dog December 27, 2012 at 8:43 am

Allen West!!!! Is that you????

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jez December 30, 2012 at 1:50 am

once one reaches the "thresh hold of stupidity" the degree of stupidity cannot be quantified. One is either stupid or not stupid. The question of being "a little bit pregnant" or not is similar.
As to the aligation of the comment "magot" being racist, I would agree with you. Magots all over the world are no doubt highly insulted with the comparison to Mr Obama, and will probably go on strike in France.

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Brad January 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Roger that. Geo. W. was by far the most ignorant CIC in my lifetime. I still blame GW Bush for the economy stink we are in. Nobody except the most stupid person in the world would engage in a war as if it were an elective subject in high school.

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blight_ January 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm

By the fourth word I thought you were about to dish out on George Washington.

I think he will be tarred with the same brush as LBJ: Guy Who Got Us Into Some War Over There.

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crackedlenses January 7, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Bush had a legit excuse (we got our tower blasted and 3000 civies dead). LBJ was out to prove Dems could win a war.

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blight_ January 7, 2013 at 11:33 pm

At the time, we thought that the North Vietnamese had the gall to open fire on American forces. Though I think by then; we'd invested in advisors and were beginning to all but plan to put men on the ground.

The ideological alignment of the times is theoretically Dem, but in practice there were southern dems who split with LBJ on civil rights and became republicans (Byrd, I'm looking at you!), and New England Democrats, plus elements of the Republican party that shifted from the party of Lincoln to the party of Kennedy/Johnson.

That said, I think LBJ was riding the wave of WW2 victory and the South Korean stalemate, and similarly thought NV could be contained.

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