Revealed: Why The Air Force Is So Confident In The F-35 Stealth Fighter

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The following is important to note: The idea is to enable F-35 pilots to see and destroy enemies in the air in time for a possible air combat scenario. This can be explained with a well-known strategic concept of the air force, which was developed years ago by the air theorist and pilot Col. John Boyd and is called "OODA loop" - for observing, orienting, deciding and acting. The concept is to quickly complete this process and make quick decisions while in an air-to-air battle - to penetrate the enemy's decision-making cycle, correctly anticipating and destroying an enemy before they can destroy you.
An F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could use its sensors, weapons, and computer technology to destroy 5th-generation Russian and Chinese stealth fighters in a high-end battle.
“When I was maneuvering an F-35 in a tactical environment, I saw nothing that led me to believe that there was another plane that I preferred to be on. I feel completely comfortable and safe to bring this aircraft into a combat environment. Lieutenant Colonel Matt Hayden, 56th Fighter Wing, Chief of Security, Luke AFB, Arizona, said Scout Warrior in a special pilot interview.
In addition, several F-35 pilots have made their determination clear that the multi-purpose fighter can outperform any other existing platform.
It was clear to Hayden that he still had no simulated combat missions against the upcoming 5th generation Russian stealth fighter Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA currently under development, or the 5th generation Chinese stealth plane Shenyang J-31 has flown. Although he said he did not personally know all of the technologies and capabilities of these Russian and Chinese aircraft, he was clear in his assertion of confidence in the F-35.
The information available indicates that the Russians have built at least 6 prototypes of T-50 PAK FAs for their Air Force and Navy. The Chinese carried out their J-31's first test flight in 2012. In addition, China is in pre-production with its 5th generation stealth hunter J-20. This fighter named Chengdu J-20 made its first flight in 2011 and is expected to be operational by 2018, according to publicly available information and various news reports.
Hayden did not address aspects of the J-20, but said he was confident of flying the F-35 against any aircraft in the world.
"All other countries (Russia and China) are also trying to develop technologically powerful aircraft - from the perspective of the F-35. We are no less capable than any airplane and all fighters out there, ”said Hayden.
In addition to using the best available technology in a fighter jet, winning a dog fight or combat mission would also depend heavily on a pilot's aerial tactics and decisions, Hayden explained.
"I didn't fly against some of these planes. When you fight an airplane, it depends on the airspeed. If I maximize the effectiveness of an F-35, I can take advantage of any other aircraft's weaknesses, ”he said.
Many analysts have estimated that the J-20 appears to be closely based on the F-35.
A report by the Defense Science Board, cited in a 2014 U.S. Military Rating by the Chinese Military (U.S. Economic Security and Review Commission), references specific development information and specifications for numerous U.S. weapon systems that are believed to be of Chinese computers have been stolen by hackers; According to the report, the design specifications and technologies for the F-35 were among those at risk from Chinese cyber theft.
An AIN online report from the Singapore Air Show in February last year cataloged a number of J-20 functions and technologies - including those that are believed to be quite similar to the F-35.
Chinese 5th generation
From the report: Original AIN Online Report HERE
“The J-20 is a large multi-purpose fighter with hidden features that resemble those of the American F-22 and F-35. Although very little is known about its intended purpose, the aircraft appears to offer capabilities in a number of roles, including long-range interception and precision attacks.
In terms of weapon transportation, the J-20 has a similar arrangement to the Lockheed Martin F-22, which includes two side slots for small air-to-air missiles such as the agile, imaging infrared PL-10 and a large sub-fuselage Bay to accommodate larger missiles and precision guided surface attack weapons. The 607 Institute's new PL-15 active radar missile is said to be the primary long-range air-to-air weapon that was reportedly launched from a Shenyang J-16 platform last year. The PL-21, a Ramjet-powered weapon in the same class as the MBDA Meteor, is another option for the J-20.
The sensor suite includes an electro-optical target system (EOTS) and a large array AESA radar developed by the 14th Institute of the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology (NRIET, 14th Institute) and may be referred to as Type 1475 / KLJ -5 . Diamond-shaped windows around the fuselage indicate that an infrared vision system with a distributed aperture is installed.
In the cockpit, the J-20 has three large color displays as well as other small screens and a holographic wide-angle head-up display. An advanced data link has been developed and there is a retractable refueling probe on the starboard side of the front fuselage. Much of the avionics suite was tested by the CFTE (China Flight Test Establishment) on board a modified Tupolev Tu-204C, similar to how the F-22 systems were tested in a Boeing 757. "
Regarding the Russian stealth fighter T-50 PAK FA, numerous reports indicate that the aircraft has numerous technological problems and that a 5th generation aircraft is "only in name".
Russian 5th generation
The following is a report on the T-50 PAK FA from Business Insider, also from this year's Singapore Air Show .... Business Insider Report HERE
"IHS Jane reports from the Singapore Airshow 2016 that" Russian industry has consistently referred to the Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA as a fifth generation aircraft, but a closer look at the program shows that this is just a "name". Designation."
This is mainly due to the lack of evolutionary technology on board the aircraft compared to previous jets designed by Russia and the United States. In fact, the PAK FA engines are the same as those on board the Russian 4 ++ generation (a bridge generation between fourth and fifth generation aircraft) Su-35. In addition, the PAK FA and Su-35 share many of the same on-board systems.
And even if the PAK FA's systems differ from those of the Su-35, the aircraft's specifications still don't meet actual fifth generation standards.
RealClearDefense cites Indian media reports familiar with a PAK FA variant built in India and notes that the aircraft has several technological problems. These issues include "the aircraft's engine performance, the reliability of its AESA radar, and poor stealth technology".
F-35 Sensor Fusion:
Despite various reports of technologies developed for Russian and Chinese 5th generation stealth fighters, it is by no means clear that both planes are in some way comparable to the F-35. Most publicly available information seems to indicate that the F-35 is superior - but to some extent the problem remains an open question. More information will likely be released when the Russian and Chinese planes are ready for use.
For example, according to the AIN report, the Chinese J-20 will be equipped with an electro-optical target system, a stealth configuration, a data connection, an AESA radar and precision weapons, which are quite similar to the F-35.
The computer algorithms woven into the F-35 architecture are intended to use early iterations of so-called early phases of "artificial intelligence". In general, artificial intelligence refers to rapidly developing computer technologies and processors that are able to collect, evaluate, and integrate information more autonomously to help people make decisions faster and more efficiently from a position of control.
"If there is a threat that I need to respond to by plane, I don't have to look at multiple sensors and displays from multiple locations, which could distract my time and attention from something else," added Hayden.
The F-35 software, which displays images on screens in the cockpit and on a pilot's helmet-mounted display, can combine the results of various radar functions on a single screen for the pilot.
"The F-35 picks up and combines multiple sensors on the aircraft in a way that is much easier to use and access - without affecting the other tasks the pilot is trying to accomplish," said Hayden.
For example, the F-35's electro-optical target system (EOTS) is an infrared sensor that can assist pilots in determining air and ground targets over longer distances, while performing laser marking, laser range finding, and other tasks.
In addition, the aircraft's Distributed Aperture System (DAS) consists of a series of six electro-optical sensors that can also provide the pilot with information. The DAS includes precision tracking, fire control functions and the ability to warn the pilot of an approaching threat or missile.
The F-35 is also equipped with an active electronically scanned array radar that can track a wide variety of electromagnetic signals, including return from synthetic aperture radar (SAR). This paints a picture of the contours of the ground or the surrounding terrain and, together with the Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI), locates something that moves on the ground, as well as objects or threats in the air.
Hayden added that the F-35 trained in simulated combat situations against other F-35s and tested basic combat maneuvers. After flying other fighter planes himself, he explained that many other F-35 pilots also fly the plane after they have had experience with an F-16, A-10 or other fighter aircraft.
“The F-35's low-observability technology can prevent detection. It's a strength that other planes don't have, ”he said.
F-35 and F-22:
At the same time, senior air force leaders have indicated that the technological superiority of the F-35 should be combined with the pure air-air capability of the F-22 of the service - a stealth aircraft with its speed and maneuverability. The thrust-to-weight ratio is determined by considered by many to be the most powerful air-to-air platform in the world.
“Every airplane has defects. When you design an airplane, you design an airplane with compromises - give up something else. If I were actually going to fight an enemy, it would be my job to take advantage of the enemy's weakness and use my strength. I can compensate for certain things, ”said Hayden. "There is a certain way to fly and fight in an airplane, and the airspeed is used to maximize the turning performance of the airplane."
During a public speech in 2015, Air Forces Air Combat Commander, General Hawk Carlisle, said the F-22 is designed to complement the F-35.
"You will use the F-35 for air superiority, but you will need the raptors to do some things in a high-end fight to penetrate the denied airspace," he said. “The aircraft is designed for multi-purpose capabilities, electronic warfare, and sensors. The F-35 will win against any fourth generation aircraft - it will do exceptionally well in close combat. In the future there will be a combination of F-22 and F-35. "
Hayden continued to address these claims, arguing that the F-35 has another number of strategic advantages, including the ability to use internally built sensors. This prevents the need to use external pods in a fighter jet, which can increase drag, slow down and limit an aircraft's maneuverability.
“As an F-35 pilot, I can carry bombs to a target area where I can now ward off air-to-ground threats. You have to look at the overall picture of the aircraft. The aircraft was designed to overwhelm the battlefield in an unacceptable threat environment where 4th generation fighters do not persist, ”he added.
The F-35 is equipped with a 25mm cannon and can carry and fire a variety of weapons. The aircraft has already demonstrated the ability to fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile), JDADM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU 12 (Laser Guided Air Bomb) and an AIM 9X Sidewinder Air-to-Air Missile.
The so-called "Block 3F" software for the F-35 also increases the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF and gives it the ability to drop a small-diameter bomb and a 500-pound JDAM.
As a multi-purpose fighter, the F-35 also functions as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform that can be used to capture and process videos, data and information from a great distance. Some F-35 developers have even gone so far as to say that the F-35 has ISR technologies that are comparable to many drones in use today and are able to tactically “soda straw” video view relevant battle locations in real time.
Finally, with regard to dog fighting, it is worth pointing out a 2015 War is Boring report quoting an F-35 fighter pilot explaining how an F-16 did a "fake aerial combat" could win against an F-35. The F-35 Joint Program Bureau contested this claim, saying the F-35 used in the scenario was in no way representative of today's operational F-35. The software, weapons, and sensor technologies used in dummy air combat were not comparable to the most advanced F-35.
In addition, the F-35's advocates claimed that the aircraft's advanced computer technology and sensors would allow it to see and destroy enemy fighters from much farther away - essentially destroying enemy fighters before being seen.
OODA loop
The idea is to enable F-35 pilots to see and destroy enemies in the air long before a possible air combat scenario exists. This can be explained with a well-known strategic concept of the air force, which was developed years ago by the air theorist and pilot Col. John Boyd and is called "OODA loop" - for observing, orienting, deciding and acting. The concept is to quickly complete this process and make quick decisions while in an air-to-air battle - to penetrate the enemy's decision-making cycle, correctly anticipating and destroying an enemy before they can destroy you.
The F-35 is equipped with long-range sensors and data fusion technologies so that it, as a fifth generation aircraft, can complete the OODA loop much faster than potential opponents, the F-35 claims.
Mission data files
The mission data files, known as the aircraft's brain, are extensive on-board data systems that gather information about geography, airspace, and potential threats in known areas of the world where the F-35 may conduct combat, Air Force officials said.
The mission data files consist of hardware and software and are essentially a database of known threats and friendly aircraft in certain parts of the world. The files are being processed in a reprogramming laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, Air Force officials told last year. The mission data files work with the aircraft's radar warning receiver, which is designed to find and identify approaching enemy threats and fire.
The mission data packets contain a variety of information, including information about commercial aircraft and details about Russian and Chinese fighter aircraft. For example, the mission data system would allow a pilot to quickly identify a Russian MiG-29 if it was recognized by the sensors of the F-35.
Mission data files are designed to adapt to new threat and intelligence information as it emerges. For example, the system is designed to one day contain all the details of a Chinese J-20 stealth fighter or a Russian T-50 PAK FA stealth aircraft.
As a clearly visible, expensive acquisition program, the F-35 has many critics and supporters. The aircraft has had some development problems over the years. Some of these problems include complications with the ALIS main computer system and a now corrected engine fire on board the aircraft. Overall, most critics have pointed to the growing cost of the program, which program officials have said has been significantly improved through various money-saving initiatives and bulk purchases.
Kris Osborn became Managing Editor of Scout Warrior in August 2015. His responsibilities at include managing content on the Scout Warrior website and creating original material from independent sources. Scout Warrior aims to provide engaging, rich military-specific content that covers a number of key areas such as weapons, emerging or next-generation technologies, and issues that are relevant to the military. Shortly before joining Scout Warrior, Osborn was an Associate Editor at Osborn previously worked at the Pentagon as a highly qualified expert in the army's deputy secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at CNN and CNN Headline News. This story originally appeared in Scout Warrior. (This first appeared in January 2017.)
Image: Flickr.
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