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Stealth Air Superiority

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Wanttaja

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The US no longer seems to have a monopoly in the stealth fighter business. The news has been filled lately with stories of the Chinese developing a fighter that has stealthy qualities and so has Russia.

I guess I never expected us to be the only ones to use stealth tech to win battles. I knew that one day the others would do it too.

My question is what does a fight between two stealth planes look like? Would it be a return to guns and dog fighting (not that we've left that way of doing things)?
With two stealth aircraft of equal ability, the contest will depend on who detects the other guy first, whether that guy can maneuver onto the tail of the other aircraft, and how effective the IR countermeasures are. There's an ungodly amount of heat being produced by both aircraft, so both guys should be able to get IR lock into the other. Depending on the engine louvers, etc, they may defeat the all-aspect aspects of an IR missile but if they get of the other guy's tail, they should be able to get lock.

Ron Wanttaja
 

cheapracer

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Whoever "sees" the enemy first, wins.

.
Yeah, don't know about that, watched a bunch of Somalian pirates being blown to bits the other day and if those "smart weapons" can't hit a virtually stationary large boat from a pretty stable platform such as a warship then what hope have you got in a fighter moving around everywhere.

We all see the smart weapon promotional videos but I have seen plenty in real life that miss by quite the margin.
 

Wanttaja

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I don't see the point of stealth for a fighter. Either there is complete air dominance by one party and you don't need it, or rules of engagement prevent firing until you've identified the other guy, because not killing enemies is better than killing friends.
Note that the only "fighter" with actual combat experience isn't a fighter at all. It's a bomber.

The whole purpose of air superiority is to make it safe for your attack aircraft or to prevent the other guy's attack aircraft from harming you. In the former case, stealth isn't a big advantage (you WANT the bad guys to come after you), and in the latter, overcoming the bad guy's stealth is more important. Stealth features are good, from the point of view that it makes your adversary's weapons less effective, but other features will tend to be more important (carrying more missiles, more fuel, maneuvering better, etc.).

In both cases, you're probably relying on specialty equipment (AWACs, ground-based radar, etc.) to detect the threats. It's easier to shoehorn more capability on a few transport airframes than do a massive upgrade on hundreds of fighters.

Ron Wanttaja
 

Apollo

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Is this thread Homebuilt related?
I've always wondered how our government would react if an amateur created a homebuilt steath aircraft. There's enough public info on low Radar Cross Sections (RCS) and which materials to use that a sophisticated homebuilder might be able to do it. Barnaby Wainfain certainly could. The engine/prop would be a big obstacle to stealth, but use a couple small jet engines and it becomes feasible.

Why anyone would do this is questionable, but sometimes we do things just because we can. I'm sure a certain criminal element would be very interested in this type of aircraft.
 

BillM

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Always remember that even if an airplane "looks" stealthy it may not be, looks are not a big percentage of stealth- there is lots of it that you can't see (pun not intended)
BillM
 

JamesG

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With stealth: You might need just the 12 stealth fighter bombers. They'll be able to go in high, so they'll burn less fuel and might not even need tanker support.
only in the contemporary asymetritric conflicts of "first world" militaries picking on second rate ones. Against a peer, technologically and quality, you'd probably see a return of the various specialized task groups, and the need to "bum rush" the defense with as many aircraft as you can get into the air.
 

BBerson

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I've always wondered how our government would react if an amateur created a homebuilt steath aircraft. There's enough public info on low Radar Cross Sections (RCS) and which materials to use that a sophisticated homebuilder might be able to do it. Barnaby Wainfain certainly could. The engine/prop would be a big obstacle to stealth, but use a couple small jet engines and it becomes feasible.

Why anyone would do this is questionable, but sometimes we do things just because we can. I'm sure a certain criminal element would be very interested in this type of aircraft.
What radar?
I thought the plan was to get rid of expensive radar and replace with ADS-B.
 

FritzW

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Fighters don't fly around "looking" for other fighters, they haven't got enough radar. A fighter gets his target handed to him by "other resources", when that happens counter measures are far more important than "Stealth". Air superiority boils down to who has better "other resources".

Stealth can mean anything from "a 1968 vintage ZSU-23 radar can't track you" to "an E-3A doesn't even know your there". And "stealth" doesn't mean "cloaked", if it makes makes heat, light, noise, reflects light or has any radar return or electronic emissions your going to get caught. Your "level of stealth" only determines which systems can still target you. ...and there are always some that can

...and any comparison of ATC radar to military targeting/surveillance radar is just silly.
 

Himat

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what sort of radar signature does a wood ultralight have?
Very dependent on the details I would think.
Type of wing covering, type of paint, rigging wires, other metal parts and so on.
Then kind of radar and operating frequency.

One metal rigging wire that is a multiple of a quarter of the wavelength the radar use and it's a dipole with a strong return, large RCS, in two directions.
Aluminum paint on the fabric and the surface might be nicely reflective for a short wavelength radar.

Pure wood construction and minimal metal, carbon fiber or other conductive materials and it might be really stealthy.
 

Himat

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I've always wondered how our government would react if an amateur created a homebuilt steath aircraft. There's enough public info on low Radar Cross Sections (RCS) and which materials to use that a sophisticated homebuilder might be able to do it. Barnaby Wainfain certainly could. The engine/prop would be a big obstacle to stealth, but use a couple small jet engines and it becomes feasible.

Why anyone would do this is questionable, but sometimes we do things just because we can. I'm sure a certain criminal element would be very interested in this type of aircraft.
I'll guess that a homebuilt aircraft built of wood or glass/epoxy composite is if not "stealthy", it might have a rather small radar cross section. With low speed and low altitude and it might not be that easy to pick up a steady return among a lot of "noise". On the other side, the story goes that an AWACS plane scrambled a F16 in Norway to intercept a speedboat...
 

Wanttaja

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what sort of radar signature does a wood ultralight have?
Folks have mentioned the metal bits (of which the engine is a pretty big one) but they're missing the big technical point: It's not just whether radar waves bounce off the target, it's how much energy is bounced directly back at the receiver. Robert Heinlein's "Between Planets" has a good use of this fact (as well as being a ripping yarn).

Imagine an aluminum RV-3 and a wooden Fly Baby are made out of very shiny chrome, and you're standing outside in the dark with a flashlight. You won't get a glint back unless you find a surface that directly mirrors the light back to you. Radar works the same way.

Similarly, consider a radar signal hitting both planes from the lower left. There's little of the metallic skin of the RV positioned to reflect the signal directly back at the emitter. Might get luck with some bolt heads...but heck, my Fly Baby has bolt heads, too. In fact, having a nominally radar-transparent structure, the radar is more likely to score on a bolt head in a Fly Baby. There's a ton of them inside. The metal skin of an RV is going to bounce the signal away rather than let it penetrate. You might get some signal back from panel edges or even metal granularity, but it's still going to be direction-dependent.

What's going to make the difference are metal "traps" that work like retroreflectors; objects that reflect energy back at the source irregardless of the angle. The end rib under the RV's fiberglass wingtips; maybe even the pilot's braces. The propeller is a prime candidate, it's a very curved object rotating in a circle. Probably, SOMEwhere on each turn, a bit of surface will be positioned to reflect directly back at the transmitter. Of course, if radar dish takes ten seconds to turn a full circle....

The biggest potential source for reflections is the engine. Lots of metal, lots of little traps that could be ad hoc retroreflectors. Ironically, my Fly Baby would be less likely to return a signal than an RV-3. The RV has a fiberglass cowling that'll let the radar signal inside and bounce around the engine and come back out. My Fly Baby has a metal cowling that'll bounce the signal away.

Ron Wanttaja
 

Himat

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Folks have mentioned the metal bits (of which the engine is a pretty big one) but they're missing the big technical point: It's not just whether radar waves bounce off the target, it's how much energy is bounced directly back at the receiver. Robert Heinlein's "Between Planets" has a good use of this fact (as well as being a ripping yarn)...
There is also distinction in wavelength of the radar and what kind of return you that a structure give. Most used is "short" wavelength radar that look for a "surface" reflection. With a "long" wavelength radar it is retransmission back to the radar by "resonators" in the structure that is of interest. And then there is bistatic and multistatic radars with two or more receiving antennas deployed to get the "bounce" of the target even if that goes in a different direction.
 

Jon Ferguson

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I've also noticed that this latest generation of fighter aircraft all seem to use vectored thrust to some extent to improve aerobatic performance. In an actual dogfight these planes could do remarkable maneuvers.

The networked aircraft concept is I think the greatest leap in all this as well. I saw an episode of Dogfights that ran a hypothetical scenario where drones went in and then relayed networked sensor data to stealth aircraft way back. The stealth planes launched missiles using the drones radar data and never were in harms way.
 

Doggzilla

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Im sure at least a few of you have heard the rumors about the F-35 not being designed to be stealthy from long wave radar. The truth is, no aircraft with a tail can be stealthy to those wavelengths. So its not a design flaw, its a reality.

There is a reason they have jammers. The good thing is that a missile cannot contain the radar receivers required to detect the frequencies that do reflect off the smaller surfaces of a stealth aircraft. If a missile were to be used, it would have to be command guided. This is where the jammer comes in. The search radar can be jammed quite easily, and the uplink with the missile as well.

Also keep in mind that any airspace with weapons capable of attacking an F-22 or F-35 would be hit with a B-2 and unmanned weapons. No tail on the B-2 means no radar return, even for long wave.

For some time, F-22 kills have been showing up on the side of other fighters. An F-18 recently gained one against an F-22 as well, and a Growler with a simulated AMRAAM. So I do believe they have some close range weaknesses, but keep in mind that the AMRAAM can be command guided as well, and does not need to actually be able to see the target itself.

In reality, the Russian and Chinese aircraft pose no real risk, as they have nearly no experience. They also have nearly no numbers. Seeing as how outdated USAF reserve F-15s without AWACs or AMRAAMs were getting 4:1 kill ratios against Indian flankers that greatly outnumbered them, and assisted by older Migs... you can bet that pilots in F-22s would be able to handle any comparable aircraft. Indian pilots are some of the most experienced in the world, many of them have 30 years and several wars under their belts. Russians and Chinese have zero experience against any kind of threat, even against their own export weapons. So the experience is a major handicap.
 
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