Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Diamonds, D&D, and Disco Balls... Demystifying Stealth

Sorcery?  Black arts?  Not quite.

One can not discuss fighter aircraft these days without mentioning its "stealthiness".  Stealth has become such an overwhelming issue that it has come to define the "Fifth Generation" of fighter jets.  Many even claim that a stealthy aircraft need not worry about other more traditional performance parameters like speed and maneuverability.  "You can't shoot what you can't see!" they say.  It is implied that stealth aircraft fly around completely unseen, like some sort of ninja in the sky.

So how does stealth work?

I am not going to pretend that this is a definitive thesis on the subject.  Modern stealth design is complicated stuff.  It is far from wizardry however.  



Radar

Radar is, in simplest terms, a form of electromagnet energy.  It is emitted from one source, radiates outward, then bounces off various objects in the atmosphere.  It is invisible to the naked eye, therefore it is a rather obscure concept to many of us.  When we think of radar, we think of big metal dishes, radiation, and microwave ovens

Since invisible radiation is a little abstract, we will instead imagine radar as a different form of electromagnetic energy:  Visible light.  

Visible light and radio waves differ simply by the frequency and wavelength.  While they do have different properties, they act the same.

Modern military radar installations work in much the same way as searchlights were used in WW2.  A "beam" is sent into the sky, searching for any shiny objects (aircraft) that do not normally belong there.  Energy from that beam is reflected from that object, back down to the ground to observers.  Radar does this invisibly, and at much farther ranges than visible light, but the principle is very much the same.  

P-61 Black Widow night-fighter

Radar absorbant materials

Making an aircraft hard to detect with visible light is relatively easy.  Paint an aircraft flat black, fly it at night, and you are done.  This method can be seen in some WW2 aircraft like the P-61 Black Widow.  

Making a radar hard to detect against radar, you have to be a lot more creative.  

Since radar reflects best off of metallic objects, an aircraft's radar cross section (RCS) can be reduced simply by reducing the amount of metal in an aircraft.  This can be done using materials such as carbon fiber, composites, and even wood.  The good news here is that many modern aircraft already use composites and carbon fiber, as these materials are lighter and stronger than traditional metals.  Metal still makes up a large part of modern aircraft, however, since you need it for wiring, engines, and other applications.  

The most desired method would be to replicate that flat black paint, only instead of absorbing visible light, it needs to absorb radar waves.  Modern stealth aircraft are covered with radar absorbent material (RAM).  Early applications of RAM used in the SR-71 consisted of microscopic ball bearings that absorbed radar energy, converting it into heat.  Modern applications have improved on this greatly.  

So why not cover a conventional aircraft with RAM coating and call it stealthy?

RAM coatings have serious drawbacks.  They are often expensive to make and difficult to work with.  It is also quite fragile and it does not work well in certain weather conditions.  The B-2 bomber needs to be kept in special air-conditioned hangers for this reason.  The original stealth fighter, the F-117 Nighthawk, had a RAM coating that was useless in wet weather.  RAM coatings are also not practical for certain parts of the aircraft, like jet-engine nozzles, canopies, or wing leading edges.

The biggest issue surrounding RAM coatings is that merely reduces, not eliminates, the radar energy reflected.  It also has to be tailored to a certain frequency.  This means that an aircraft covered in RAM material can be "seen" by radar simply by changing the frequency or increasing the power or the beam or sensitivity of the receiver.  

No matter how RAM is used, or how much nonmetallic materials are used in its construction, some radar energy will be reflected.  There is a way to deal with this.


I'm a nerd...  This is how I roll.

Facets

Like visible light, radar energy travels until it encounters an object.  It is then reflected.  How this energy is reflected is very much dependent on the surface of the object it is reflected from.  If it hits a flat object straight on, it is reflected back towards its origin, much like a reflection in a mirror.  If that flat object is tilted to an angle, then that energy is reflected at an angle.  By strategically placing those flat surfaces, or facets, one can control which direction incoming radar energy is directed.

Take a look at the dice above.  Those dice are used for playing Dungeons & Dragons, as well as other role-playing games.  Each dice has a different shape to facilitate a different range of numbers.  The one on the far left is a tetrahedral four-sided-dice or a "1D4".  Moving from left to right, we move on to the more familiar cube-shaped six-sided dice (1D6), the eight-sided (1D8), twelve-sided (1D12), twenty-sided (1d20) and finally the ten-sided 1D10 (two 1D10s are rolled together to each make a digit for 1d100).  

Imagine if we were to shine a light directly on a side of each of these dice.  The 1D4 would reflect light from one facet, while the other three sides would remain in shadow.  By contrast, the 1D20 would reflect light strongly from the facet hit, as well as the three facets surrounding it, and more still from the facets surrounding those.  As we angle the light, more sides become visible on the 1D4, but never more than three.  Once facet always remains in shadow.  As this is done, however, the facets that are exposed to light become dimmer.  As they are placed at an angle, they reflect light away, instead of towards the source.  Moving the light source on the 1D20 has seemingly no effect, as one facet simply begets the next.  

More facets, more sparkle.

This is why precious gems are cut into intricate shapes with plenty of facets.  The facets help reflect light, giving the gem its characteristic sparkle.  Gems are cut to maximize the amount of light reflected, giving them a distinct sparkle.  Taken to a larger scale, to a non-transparent object, we get a very familiar sight to anyone who has ever been to a dance club...



As the amount of facets increase, so does the scattering of the light, or other electromagnetic radiation.  The convex shape of a disco ball is highly visible, even when only a small amount of light shines its way.  

Picture the shape of a traditional, non-stealthy aircraft.  For the most part, aircraft are basically shaped like long tubes with wings and tails.  Various openings are scooped out for engine intakes and the like.  Control surfaces like elevators, ailerons, and rudders are built in, and these surfaces move about as the aircraft flies.  On military aircraft, missiles and bombs are carried on the bottom of the aircraft on pylons.  Many modern aircraft still use propellors, which reflect radar like a strobe light.

Lots of shiny metal, bulges, fins, and propellors.  The Tu-95 is the "Anti-Stealth Bomber".
With its rounded metal fuselage, odd bits sticking out, and thirty(!) contra-rotating propellor blades, the Tupolev Tu-95 "Bear" is just about the farthest from stealthy an aircraft can be.  All the RAM in the world would do little to reduce its RCS.  

When the USAF set out to build an attack fighter that could evade enemy radar, engineers at Lockheed and Northrop had their work cut out for them.  

Looks like a D&D dice, doesn't it?

The "Hopeless Diamond".
Lockheed's proposal was simple in theory.  Design an aircraft where just about every surface reflects from the source.  Its shape is similar to the eight-sided D&D dice pictured above, only flattened out.  The aircraft's engines would be buried inside the aircraft, and the cockpit and air intakes would be placed inside the "shadow" of the aircraft's top.  

This early design did not have a hope of flying, earning it the nickname "Hopeless Diamond".  With no proper wings or control surfaces, it would have made a terrible aircraft, but it did have a tiny RCS.    So tiny, in fact, that a seagull perched atop a mockup resulted in a significantly larger radar signature.

Lockheed's "Have Blue" prototype.
Lockheed tweaked the "Hopeless Diamond" design, carefully adding larger wings and inward canted tails.  It was still ungainly and dangerously unstable during flight, but the recent advent of fly-by-wire controls meant that a computer could lighten the pilots workload.  

This prototype, designated the "Have Blue", was the basis of of the now famous F-117 Nighthawk fighter-bomber.  The F-117 proved itself quite valuable over its lifetime, but it was very much a niche product.  It was not particularly fast, nor did it have impressive range.  Its payload was minuscule, even when compared to multi-role fighters like the F-16.  The F-117 was able to sneak in where other aircraft could not, however.  By clandestinely knocking out enemy defenses, it allowed other fighter-bombers to do their work easier.

F-117 Nighthawk

Hotspots

Simply put, stealth aircraft attempt to do two simple things:
  1. Reflect as little radar energy as possible.
  2. Control the reflection of what radar energy cannot be absorbed, so it does not return to the sender's receivers.
In theory, a stealth aircraft is easily capable of these feats.  In the real world, things get a little more complicated.

Might as well put a disco ball back there...
Subsonic stealth aircraft like the F-117 and the B-2 bury their engines deep inside the aircraft.  This keeps all of their metal bits safely away from prying radar.  Supersonic aircraft do not have this luxury, however.  The use of afterburner requires an external exhaust nozzle, as ignition of an afterburner inside an aircraft's hull would have fiery consequences.  

Both the F-22 and the F-35 utilize  external nozzles.  The F-22's uses a two-dimensional nozzle that blends smoothly with the flattened fuselage.  These nozzles help stealth in another way, discussed later.  The F-35, as well as the Russian PAK FA and Chinese J-20 and J-31, all use more traditional round exhaust nozzles.  These rounded, metal nozzles are a definite "hotspot" for radar reflection.  They cannot be covered with RAM, and their shape is more akin to a disco ball.  While their RCS is mitigated somewhat by being inset slightly and shrouded by bodywork, it still is not very stealthy.

The F-22 and its thrust vectoring nozzles.
Since a stealthy aircraft relies very much on its shape to reflect radar harmlessly away, it is very important for that aircraft to maintain that shape.  In flight, this is simply not possible.  Even while flying straight and level, an aircraft has to make minor adjustments using its control surfaces (rudder, elevators, ailerons, etc).  As these control surfaces move, the shape of the aircraft changes somewhat, possibly increasing its RCS.

Remember those thrust-vectoring nozzles on the F-22?  Not only are they properly shaped to help control radar reflection, but they can help make minor adjustments to pitch, reducing the use of the F-22's control surfaces.  

While small, minor maneuvers can be mitigated somewhat, more extreme maneuvers cannot.  Remember that four-sided dice from earlier?  From most points of perspective, the sides of the dice are all facing away from the observer.  Once that dice reaches a certain position, however, the observer is looking at a facet dead on.

Good stealth.

 From most angles, a stealth aircraft will reflect radar energy away from the source, rendering it useless to the radar operator.  The pilot of that stealth aircraft needs to be especially wary of the aircraft's position relative to the radar, however.  If the pilot initiates a maneuver that puts a large facet perpendicular to the radar, that facet will reflect energy straight back to the source, instead of harmlessly away.



Bad stealth.

Stealth aircraft operations thus far has emphasized a cautious, well planed flight path.  Known enemy radar installations are circumvented as much as possible, and pains are taken to limit the stealth aircraft's exposure to radar.  Heavy maneuvering is highly discouraged, as even a moderate turn could greatly increase the aircraft's RCS.


Boeing X-32 showing off its weapon bay.
A well known feature of stealth aircraft is the ability to carry some of its weaponry in internal weapon bays.  This reason for this goes well beyond aerodynamics or esthetics.  By carrying weapons inside of a stealthy fuselage, the weapons' RCS does not enter the equation.  

Most modern missiles and bombs follow a simple design feature; they are metal tubes with small fins attached.  Needless to say, a metal tube with fins sticking out is not a stealthy shape, especially when viewed from the side.  It becomes even less stealthy when it is attached to an aircraft's wing or fuselage by way of a pylon.  

AGM-158 "stealth" cruise missile.
It should be noted here that even "stealthy" weapons, like the AGM-158 or the Joint Strike Missile will significantly increase an aircraft's RCS when mounted externally.  The pylon and missile still add extra "facets" to the aircraft's shape, reflecting radar energy in various directions.  

The F-35's AN/APG-81 AESA radar.
Not only does a stealth aircraft have to deal with enemy radar, but they have to keep close tabs on their own emissions as well.  Going back to the WW2 spotlight analogy, all the flat-black paint in the world could not disguise an aircraft flying at night with its landing lights on.  

Much like a submarine, stealth aircraft need to "run silent".  This means that their own radio emissions need to be kept at a minimum.  This includes radio communications the use of radar.  Modern systems can mitigate this somewhat, with AESA radars capable of "steering" a beam to limit its chance of detection.  

Making the unstealthy...  Stealthy.

F-15SE Silent Eagle.  Not "stealth"...  But maybe "stealthy enough"?
Designing a truly stealthy aircraft requires an obsessive focus on that aircraft's materials and shape.  Even then, the aircraft needs to operate under strict parameters to avoid showing off "hotspots".  Knowing this, one can not simply take an existing design and make it into a true stealth aircraft.

It is possible to make an existing aircraft stealthier, however.

The F-15 Eagle is not a very stealthy aircraft.  It is big, uses lots of metal, and has a shape that emphasizes performance over all else.  Yet Boeing is now marketing the F-15SE "Silent Eagle" that promises to greatly reduce the F-15's RCS.  How can they make such a claim?

The most obvious change is in the way weapons are carried.  The F-15SE basically takes the F-15E's conformal fuel tanks (CFT's) than modifies them to carry missiles instead of fuel.  This effectively gives an armed F-15 the RCS of an unarmed F-15.  

Other modifications are more subtle.  For the F-15SE, the traditional flight controls are swapped out in favor of a "fly-by-wire" system.  This not only modernizes the F-15's flight controls, but it reduces the amount of metal in the aircraft.  Future aircraft may take this concept even further by utilizing a "fly-by-light" system that uses fiber-optic cable instead of metal wires.  

The F-15SE also utilizes RAM in key hotspots around the aircraft to reduce its RCS.  Special attention is paid on the foreword section of the aircraft, as this is the aspect that will be most likely "seen" by enemy ground radar.  

To a radar, this looks like a disco ball.
Imagine what a jet engine must look like to radar.  Lots of shiny metal bits, going in all sorts of directions.  In use, all those metal bits are spinning around reflecting radar energy in every direction.  The front of a jet engine is basically a rotating disco ball in the eyes of a radar receiver.  

While the exhaust nozzle is a little harder to hide, a jet intake can positioned in a way so that radar return is unlikely.  Baffles can be put in place, or the engine can be "tucked in" behind a serpentine air passage.

The Super Hornet's air intake.  
While the intake fan is visible in the Super Hornet above, it will quickly disappear if the viewing angle changes.    The shape of the intake itself is coated with RAM and angled so as to discourage radar energy from reaching the engine.  

The Super Hornet also utilizes a stealthier AESA radar, closer attention to panel alignment, and the elimination of "gaps" and other potential hotspots.

Changes like these help the Super Hornet boast of a smaller RCS than the smaller legacy F/A-18 Hornet.  

Despite being physically larger, the Super Hornet's RCS is smaller than its predecessor.

Similar attention to stealthiness was paid during the design of the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, and Saab Gripen.  While none of these aircraft could be considered "stealth fighters", they are a great deal stealthier than older fighters like the F-16.  

It should be noted here that while fighters like the Super Hornet and Typhoon cannot boast of the same reduced RCS that fighters like the F-22 and F-35 can, they do offer reduced RCS without the added cost, maintenance issues, and performance sacrifices.

Much has been made about the F-35's decreased performance compared to older fighters.  Instead of revisiting that trope, we will instead compare the F-15 with the F-22.  Both fighters are roughly the same size and shape, but the F-22 has substantially more power.  Despite this, the F-15 has a faster top speed.  While the F-22 does boast of supercruise, this is mostly due to raw power over aerodynamics.  

Is it all worth it?

B-2 visible on IRST.
Even with the extra cost and performance compromises, stealth does promise to keep aircraft hidden from enemy detection.  "You can't kill what you can't see!" is the argument often used.  This is true, but only to a point.  

Like anything else, radar detection capability is improving over time.  The days of a radar operator hunched over a green screen searching for a "ping" are behind us.  Modern radar signals are interpreted by computer using software that is continuously updated to make the most out of it.  While a stealthy aircraft design is "baked in" during development, a ground radar's capability can be improved by something as simple as a software patch.  

There are other ways to detect aircraft besides radar, as well.  Infrared Search and Track (IRST) systems locate and track aircraft by the heat they produce.  While radar can be reflected harmlessly away or absorbed, it is much more difficult to reduce an aircraft's heat signature.  The very act of flying through the air produces friction, heating up the aircraft relative to the air around it.  From the rear, an aircraft's exhaust shines like a signal flare, especially while using afterburners.

"Not so stealthy now...  Are ya?"
Modern IRST systems do not currently have the range of radar, but they are improving.  As the use of stealthy aircraft proliferates, you can expect IRST systems to see even further enhancements.  The best part about IRST is that it is completely passive, meaning that it does not have to transmit a signal.  While a radar operator might potentially give away their position, the IRST operator does not.  

"I'm doing my part to help detect stealth bombers!"
One of the more interesting ideas on the horizon is the use of "Passive Radar".  Instead of using transmitters, passive radar takes advantage of all the ambient radar signals emitted by non-military sources.  Our atmosphere is full of signals generated by radio broadcasts, weather radar, and even mobile phones.  Passive radar installations simply monitor for radar reflections from this ambient radiation.  

In effect, passive radar forgoes the "spotlight at night" analogy altogether.  Instead, passive radar looks for aircraft using the light of day.  Since all of that ambient radar energy consists of different wavelengths and frequencies traveling in a myriad of different directions, current stealth designs would be of little use.  

Northrop Grumman's Next Generation Bomber concept.
Perhaps one of the biggest arguments against stealth is its own effectiveness.  

Current stealth designs do work.  They offer an unmatched first day of war capability in which they can "kick down the door" by invading enemy airspace and neutralizing air defenses.  With enemy radar installations, airfields, and surface-to-air missile batteries gone, the air battle is all but done.  

Once enemy air defenses are gone, stealthiness is pretty much irrelevant.  This is why non-stealthy aircraft like the B-52 bomber are still very much in use.  Despite being a much older design, the B-52 carries a larger payload and has longer endurance than the B-2.  The B-52 is also considerably cheaper to run.  

Despite this, it would seem as though stealth design in here to stay.  The USAF's NGB or "Next Generation Bomber" will be a stealthy design, much like the B-2.  Early concepts for a "6th Generation fighter" like the F/A-XX also appear to be stealthy.  Nations currently working on their own indigenous fighters, like Turkey, South Korea, and Japan also favor stealthy designs.  

While stealth is likely to remain a major design emphasis in military aircraft, time will tell if it will continue in its current form.  IRST, passive radar, and other improvements may make stealth too difficult to incorporate into the majority of fighters and bombers.  Instead, stealth may again become a niche capability much like it was with the F-117.  

41 comments:

  1. Very informative. First of all Boeings X-32 was one ugly beast.
    There are a lot of factors. Ground radar could be jammed, they could be taken out by long range aircraft or ship based weapons or even special forces on the ground. There is nothing wrong with stealth design principles, but you still need an aircraft that has proper flaps, carry enough weapons, and large enough wings to fight in a dogfight and yes the dogfight will never go away.

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  2. That's why the Growler/Advanced Super Hornet will be game changers, affordably.

    http://elpdefensenews.blogspot.ca

    http://static2.businessinsider.com/image/535e929eeab8eaa843d4a346-947-631/screen%20shot%202014-04-28%20at%201.36.57%20pm.png

    http://cdn.thefiscaltimes.com/cdn/farfuture/prJXs0S9nZQOdlfs1y1vFHmHbtYINXvqwol88eUWF9Y/mtime:1398789073/sites/default/files/04292014_Electronic_Warfare_Image_1.png

    http://cfile8.uf.tistory.com/image/21731C38535DFFB91A2B92

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  3. Yes, I agree!
    The government in my mind has a fairly easy decision that would be ok with Canadians and the political powers south. By about 100 advances super hornets and 10 Growlers, a few pods, some bubby fueling systems, and more advanced missiles like the AGM 158 and AGM 88.

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  4. Stealth is a very interesting topic. Fighter jet comparison is always harder than it looks, but unlike other parameters the secrecy around stealthiness make the task even more difficult.
    RCS is about shape and materials but it also depends on frequency and angle of arrival : I don't think it is possible to build a stealth aircraft for ALL radar frequencies and at ALL angles of arrival. So, compromise begins here...

    F-22 and F-35 have left behind several compromises made for F117, such as no afterburner and no radar. That should make a significant difference! The nose of F-22 and F-35 should be rather "transparent" for radiowaves, at least in the radar band (likely around 10 GHz). What could be the RCS of these aircrafts when such a X-band radar beam "hit" the nose at the right angle? A radar antenna does not seem very stealthy to me : that cannot be good!
    So could we bet F117 was stealthier than F-22 and F-35?

    Still, I don't really understand how a bird can have some RCS (Iron in the blood? some metals in the bones?
    Panel alignment also seems to have a significant impact on RCS, is there a simple explanation about why?

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  5. DA
    writes: 'While a stealthy aircraft design is "baked in" during development, a
    ground radar's capability can be improved by something as simple as a software
    patch' And Paul comments: 'I still say Canada's strength maybe the
    development of better radars and detection and jamming equipment'. Ergo, for
    those lines of reasoning alone the LockMart is no 50 year fighter for Canada. If
    we blow the budget on 'baked in', and then have no money for R&D stealth
    countermeasures, we could get baked. Canada has to get serious and spend at
    least 2% of GDP on defense wisely and consistently.

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  6. It's incredible how we still wasting time waiting for the Joint Stryke Failure when we could have already an affordable and effective stealth airplane, with two engines, very safe and reliable and with advanced sensors, Aesa radar and capable to deploy all the USA arsenal for air to air, air to ground, maritime stryke, close air support, interdiction, buddy buddy refueling, recoignosance, interdiction, air superiority etc.

    http://www.boeing.com/boeing/Features/2014/05/corp_super_hornet_05_07_14.page

    http://youtu.be/UF7RQ50gwFY
    http://youtu.be/UF7RQ50gwFY
    http://youtu.be/Op3dupMZfz4
    http://youtu.be/Uthdi30MZEE
    http://youtu.be/RJSl9RUwG60

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  7. Well, if Canada buys the F35 we should be really close to the 2.0% GDP. Although I don't agree that we should budget 2% as military spending would be relative to our economic conditions. For example if our economy tanked than the same budget we spend today could be over 2%GDP. We are fortunate to have a strong GDP and are ~10/11th in the world economy and are about 15th in military spending. Other countries have to spend more of GDP just for basic defense needs as they have weaker economies.. NATO shouldn't be challenging our sovereignty by dictating our military spending budget.

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  8. Stealth airplanes have a single purpose. You can obtain similar results with low observable airplanes combined with electronic attack airplanes, but when you are trying to stop a formation od 200 tanks ad Lavs, few steath airplanes with few bombs inside won't be enough to protect your soldiers or your base against massive attacks in a conventional war. Watch what a couple of Super Hornets can do fully loaded with gas tanks for endurance, missiles for self protection and fully loaded with heavy bombs. This is not a demonstration but a real training mission, where we can appreciate the value of a high maneuverable airplane avoiding AAA or SAMs during the attack. What the highly inflammable and non maneauverable F-35 would do to protect the troops on the ground?
    Its a long video but it's worth it to watch

    http://youtu.be/9hRTuRZWvZE

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  9. Forgot this one


    http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/the-right-fighter-for-canada-is-the-super-hornet-not-t-1587492909

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  10. Maybe a bit ironic, but Ericsson has placed development http://www.tu.no/industri/2014/05/21/saabs-viktigste-radar-skal-lages-i-halden of its AESA radars in Norway, as Norway has ordered the F-35 it is possible that it also will sa no(r)way that the F-35 will be able to hide due to stealth. It is a bit fun that the powerpoint presentation for the reporter only included PAK FA/T-50.

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  11. Another interesting article Doug.

    For a first day strike you need to be able to get in undetected and blow shit up. Sounds like the perfect reason for a stealth cruise missile. Its cheap (relatively) and no pilots are put at risk an it does the job. So there goes the argument for the F35 on the first day. On the following days of the ground war, the F35 will have all sorts of stuff hanging off the wings, making it unstealthy.

    So with the F35 you have paid LOTS of money for an aircraft that has lots of compromises that can be out done by stealthy missiles at a fraction of the cost. Forget about days 2, 3 and 4 because that F35 that flew the 1st days is being still be maintained. The other days the work can be done by an aircraft at half the cost.

    I prefer the Gripen NG over the other contenders, but the Rafale has ALL the gee whiz tech (working) that the F35 has (but not working) and its reliable and its available NOW.

    What bit am I missing that says the F35 is a the best plane to have?

    A large envelope with lots of cash is just pushed under the door, with "Courtesy LM" on it. Now I get why the F35 is the plane to buy.

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  12. IMO this is a very good primer on stealth tech
    and I have gone over it more than once already. Also a good overview on why an
    air force might want or not want certain kinds of stealth. Thanks for the link to
    the Horten HO229 rebuild project. BTW Cdn Neflix now has Nova Rise of the
    Drones-stealth figures in the program somewhat, including a brief reference to
    the RQ170 capture by the Iranians.

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  13. I respect your point of view Shawn. I agree spending 2% GDP because one or two
    allies think we should would be for the wrong reason. On the other hand if we
    had kept that as a kind of target through all the economic ups and downs in the
    last 20 years or so, then maybe we would not be so behind the eight ball as we
    are now. Certain kinds of military spending can stimulate the economy. Buying
    jets that have been fault prone prototypes for quite awhile and with
    no realistic timeline when they will become 'turn key', is not one of them IMO.

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  14. I agree with your observations about cruise
    missiles vs a stealth fighter bomber. IMO I do not get a warm fuzzy feeling that
    a proper cost/benefit analysis has been done, and here is hoping I am wrong
    about that. Why in the heck would Canada want to stock up on tools of war that
    would be good at deep penetration into another country's sovereign territory in
    the first place? OK, maybe a stock a few, but not at the expense of other
    defense philosophies.




    Most Canadians want a military that sends a
    strong message-its going to really hurt if you mess with Canada or her
    allies-the price is too high.

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  15. Totally agrre with you about the missiles. It doesn't even need to be stealthy to do its job. I may be wrong, but long range missile like the AGM158 are not that easy to stop once they're launched. With 1000km of range, aircraft like the SH, Rafale, Typhoon or Gripen have more than enough safety margin to get in range, launch the missile, and get back to base before any defenses has the opportunity to get them down, even if they detect them.

    Unless in some very specific situations, why would someone risk to send in a costly F-35 to drop a bomb when it could simply launch a long range missile without risking the aircraft ?

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  16. It seems tha they are dropping out of the air so maybe they are not that safe http://wtkr.com/2014/06/05/oceana-based-fa-18e-crashes-off-coast-of-california/

    And Canada's Hornet experience http://www.ejection-history.org.uk/Aircraft_by_Type/CF-18/cf_18_hornet.htm

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  17. Yeah, maybe they are suffering the fatigue for so many "controled crashes" every time they come back to the carrier loaded with weapons and gas tanks, or like in the case of the Canadian F-18 for being flying beyond it's projected flying hours, intercepting Russian Bombers over the Artic, not like the Gripens that prefer to stay in their hangars when the Russian Bombers and fighters visit Sweden borders.

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  18. https://news.vice.com/article/us-navy-looks-to-retroactively-stealth-up-some-super-hornets

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  19. I'd like to add that the article quoted for the Hopeless Diamond and the Seagull stories ("How Lockheed's Skunk Works Got into the Stealth Fighter Business") is amazing! I found particularly interesting the fact that F-117 was designed as an assembly of facets because computers weren't powerful enough to compute RCS of curved surfaces. THAT answers a lot of questions!

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  20. Another reason why the Super Hornet is the right airplane for Canada and not the F-35

    http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2014/07/24/canadian-fighter-jet-hit-by-lightning-lands-safely-in-alberta

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  21. Its a super hornet, relatively new. It is designed to have controlled crashes for the rest of its lifetime so if that's the reason for the mishap then there is something wrong.
    In the case of Canada, the cf18's are expected to fly beyond its projected lifetime since they are not operated in a carrier. Less salt in the air and more controlled "controlled crashes", among other things.

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  22. On a different note. A CF-18 got struck by ligthning and the could safely land. Guess its a good thing that we did not switch to the F-35... Explodind in the sky is not really stealthy
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9813125/Lightning-will-ground-F35-fighter-jet-known-as-the-Lightning-II.html

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  23. It seems that there is a need of a lot of people to maintain a deployment, if comparing Canada and Czech republic deployment to protect Island.

    Canada need 160 persons and 6 CF-18s http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/28/canadian-forces-iceland_n_2970563.html when the Czechs only need 75 persons and 4 Gripens http://www.shanghaidaily.com/article/article_xinhua.aspx?id=231384 .

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  24. So? The CF/A-18 are older but not less capable than those Gripens. The Super Hornets are way more capable and if we buy them will need 30% less people.

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  25. Yeah and it is also old Gripens and 30 % less people is not even close and with 50% extra aircraft come on.

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  26. For a bigger and more capable airplane than the Gripen in the case of Super Hornet 20% extra people is not too much, considering also the benefit of 2 engines over Iceland.

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  27. So how is your math, 30% less from 160 gives 112 and that is 37 more than the Gripen¨s 75 people deployment or 49,3% more? Of course you will now once again say that Canada is a big country which can afford it, but say that fo those that do divide the money also.

    And show me that two engines are safer and not only more expensive, it is a bogus way to try to win only not looking at the actual figures.

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  28. Sorry I made a mistake, the bigger and more capable tween engine Super Hornet requires little bit less people to operate than the small and less capable one engine mini Gripen.

    112 people for 6 (SIX) Super Hornets is 18.66 people per airplane.
    75 people for 4 (FOUR) airplanes is 18.75 people per airplane.

    And yes, two engines are safer any where in the world.

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  29. Yeah invented calculation is a way to "improve" with ordinary rounding it the same.

    The problem here is why there is a need for 50% extra aircrafts, the turn around time is bad, needs a lot of service or something else obvious a problem to address?

    So were is the figures you cannot be serious with putting up a Boeing-man with a very ironic smile to give an independent analysis is goal is to promote his product in every way.
    You need to look at the SPOF, Single Point Of Failure, if only looking into bird strike is it statistically shown that the bird hit direct in a way that it will be sucked into the engine? In the Hornet case it is by design like that I assume but in the Gripen you do have bends which will behave as hinder for the bird which will go into the wall instead.

    If you do buy an engine that is design for a two engine installation you can get rid of some reliability which was the case with the 404 which Volvo had to improve. Changes from the standard F404 includes greater reliability for single-engine operations (including more stringent birdstrike protection), increased thrust, and the adoption of a full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system. With FADEC you know the status of the engine before it breaks and an engine change is a simple fast work in Gripen. Volvo sold the improvments back to GE so now it should be included in the 414 otherwise Volvo or GKN as is the company now have look into it again.

    So where is it a SPOF with a bird strike even with two engines probably in several places like knocking out the pilot for instance.

    The talk about not being able to recover a down pilot is of a bit strange is that you do not plan for that even that the worse case senario must be planned for?

    So the figures should include the extra cost against an extra crash at least.

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  30. 3 Symbolic sporadic air patrols per year with variable number of airplanes and crues does not count for a serious comparison. Every country deploy what ever wants.
    If the symbolic little Czech air force deploy more than 4 airplanes to Iceland it won't have enough airplanes even for them.
    Please, be more serious if you want to makemake a comparisoncomparison between the Gripens and the Super Hornets or Hornets.
    At the end if Iceland have a serious threat the USAF will be the real air force to defend its airspace.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_Air_Policing

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  31. As expected the answer tries to to make fun and not answer the questions, so how about the Baltic Air Policing then http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltic_Air_Policing ? The czechs still manage with 4 Gripens but only need 64 people http://www.army.cz/en/ministry-of-defence/newsroom/news/czech-gripen-aircraft-participate-in-the-baltic-air-policing-73328/ But Canada still needs 6 Hornets and on top of that needs support from Portugal, Netherlands and Germany. Here it is 24/7 readiness so what is symbolic now?

    I assum that you do not have your whole airforce on alert to hunt some russians either, more likely 2 CF-18s?

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  32. What is funny is that you put a link showing how the Swedish air force was not able to protect their airspace with their own Gripens and you still talking about how deployable it is.
    Maybe you are too young to know that Canada with just 2% of the coalition force in Kosovo was responsible for the 10% of all the air strykes and it is recognised that Canadian air force has a punch way over its weigh. Feel safe, Canada has deployed again its CF/A-18 to help your continent as always did when you are in trouble.

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  33. Still making fun and not answering but I'm not surprised. What do Swedish Gripens have to do with this Sweden is not a part of NATO which the Estonia, Latvia and Latvia and it is their airspace that is patrolled.

    And trying to spread the rumor about the Swedish Gripens still after you have got it explained is not ok so please stop and be serious instead.

    And how hard is to be a truck delivery with bombs? Sweden did 37% of the reconnaissance in Libya with top points from NATO

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  34. To be a truck delivery with bombs is not hard, what is har is to be a truck delivery with boms that can maneauver and kill other airplanes in the mean time, something that your little Gripen will never do.

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  35. Come on, of course Gripen can do it and I wonder which other airplanes you was afraid of. It is only some wishful thinking from your part, how about reconnaissance in your CF-18s or are the only thing you can do deliver bombs when there is no other aircraft to be afraid for due to air superiority?

    But how about trying to answer the questions instead?

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  36. I already demonstrated you how the SH needs less people to operate and is way more capable than the Gripen, and like in the case of the Hornets in Irak, can kill other fighters and finish the job bombing the targets with out problems.I asked you to show me a single video of the Gripen fully loaded with bombs and wheapons really maneavuering like the bigger and more capable Super Hornet. You won't do it because your small fighter fully loeaded is not as maneauverable and capable as it lkes to show just in clean configuration to impress the public.Until now your comments and logic to demonstrate how the Gripen is the best airplane for Canada instead of the Super Hornet have the same merit as this dog fight, just to entertain the public.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rjba0DeTUpo

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  37. In the comparision between Superhornet and Gripen E I recognized a false
    claim: "Superhornet can carry much heavier weapons load". Facts is that
    Gripen carry 7200 kg, Superhornet 8050 kg. Gripen carry 7200/8050=89%
    of what superhornet can. Not a big differance. Furthermore, when on low
    level strike mission high wingload is better, which is what Gripen have
    under this conditions. Gripen E will have the ability of buddy tanking
    and use super carriers. The ability to reposition the AESA and the
    superior tactical data link combined with link 16 and IRST make it
    better for ground attack than Super hornet and most other fighters,
    maybe all.
    No fighter have higher initial turn rate than the Gripen.
    The revolver gun have much faster rate of fire the first second than
    gatling guns. 1.st second is the kill second. The higher caliber is
    needed against hard targets.
    The AESA in the Gripen is made with GaAs. But the EW suite use GaN, which is revolutionary and contribute to high survivability.
    To
    make a fighter small and capable at the same time was impossible
    before, but not since fly bu wire and close coupled canard was combined
    with new materials in the 1980:th. The close coupled delta-canard
    configuration in Gripen and Rafale can generate 35% higher CLmax than
    other configurations like tail variants. It`s physics, not magic.

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  38. http://news.usni.org/2014/07/29/chinese-russian-radars-track-see-u-s-stealth

    I thought this was interesting on the subject of radar. (higher computation processing allow the use of lower frequency radar to detect stealth craft... Russia & China have implemented both together to target. Also, article discusses data link functionality in a highly jammed environment as well.)

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  39. From http://arcturus415.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/for-those-questioning-f-35-all-aspect-stealth/

    F-35's engine nozzle include stealth shaping sawtooth.

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  40. You have F-35's RAM classified data?

    General Mike Hostage has stated F-35's stealth is better than F-22.

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  41. www.dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2013/pdf/dod/2013f35jsf.pdf

    "The program redesigned the On-Board Inert Gas Generation
    System (OBIGGS) to meet vulnerability reduction and
    lightning requirements. The program is currently planning
    the tests for FY14 to ensure that the system is able to
    maintain fuel tank inerting throughout all mission profiles.
    The system should protect the F-35 from threat-induced or
    lightning-induced fuel tank explosions"

    JSF program includes redesigns and testing in FY14.

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