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The Air Force Wants a New Fighter to Accompany Its New Stealth Bomber

Discussion in 'The Americas' started by randomradio, Sep 23, 2016.

  1. randomradio

    randomradio Colonel REGISTERED

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    http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a22950/air-force-new-long-range-fighter/

    "Penetrating Counter-Air" would accompany stealth bombers deep into enemy territory.

    The U.S. Air Force is planning to purchase a new long-range fighter that would accompany the forthcoming B-21 Raider stealth bomber deep into enemy territory. The new fighter, of which few details are known, would help the bomber survive enemy air defenses. The new fighter, known as "Penetrating Counter-Air" (PCA) was revealed during the Air Force Association's 2016 annual conference and reported by Breaking Defense.


    According to that report, wargames have revealed the B-21 cannot penetrate as far as western China to destroy People's Liberation Army Strategic Rocket Force missiles and installations there. Those missiles will play a vital role in defending China, and by extension the Western Pacific, in any future conflict. The SRF is fielding ballistic missiles with increasingly long ranges, not only to threaten targets farther out in the Pacific but to also place them deep within China, behind layered air defenses. China's DF-21D "carrier killer"anti-ship ballistic missile has recently been supplanted with a longer ranged DF-26 missile. Even longer-ranged systems are an eventuality.

    In a hypothetical war, the B-21 would play a role in "rolling back" enemy defenses, striking deep into China to destroy systems such as the DF-26. That in turn will give American forces, particularly aircraft carriers, freer reign to operate closer to China.

    This PCA fighter would assist the Air Force's new bomber by flying nearby and shooting down any enemy fighters that might threaten the B-21s. The new fighter might also be equipped with standoff missiles to attack enemy ground-based air defenses, freeing up space in B-21s for ordnance to attack primary targets. The concept is similar to the long-ranged P-51D Mustang fighter of World War II, which accompanied B-17 raids over Germany and kept Luftwaffe Messerschmitts fighters at bay.

    PCA is envisioned as operational by the 2030s. That's intriguing, because it means there could be four Air Force fighters flying in the mid-2030s: the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the upcoming F-X Sixth Generation Fighter, and the Penetrating Counter-Air.

    What would PCA look like? The aircraft's design would likely be driven by two main factors: long range and stealth. PCA would need long range to accompany the B-21 and stealth to survive over hostile territory. It would use its radar and infrared sensors to destroy enemy fighters at beyond visual range, so it needn't be a dogfighter. A fighter-sized flying wing design, even something that looks like a miniature B-21, is a possibility. A flying wing could conceal lots of internal volume for weapons and fuel. A slightly redesigned F-22 Raptor with carefully designed conformal fuel tanks—so as to not "break" the plane's stealth—could also be a PCA candidate.

    Whatever the eventual design, PCA may be the Air Force's most daring concept in decades.
     
  2. randomradio

    randomradio Colonel REGISTERED

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    http://breakingdefense.com/2016/09/...l&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    The Air Force’s new bomber, the B-21 Raider, should come in almost $40 million below the official $550 million a copy official estimate, says Randall Walden,director of the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office. So, $511 million is the new $550 million.

    After his panel here at the Air Force Associations 2016 annual conference, Walden said the Pentagon’s office of Cost Estimate and Program Analysis (CAPE) has produced a new estimate of $511 million a plane, which matches earlier estimates by the plane’s builder Northrop Grumman.

    CAPE has been regularly performing cost estimates of the plane since 2012.

    CORRECTION Lt. Gen. James Holmes, deputy chief of strategic plans and requirements,CORRECT ENDS Walden made clear the Air Force will probably pursue a deep penetrating fighter to accompany the bomber to heavily defended targets deep inside a country. He didn’t say it but my understanding is war games have shown the B-21 is incapable of making it to western China to destroy the missile and artillery units there.

    The aircraft concept is called Penetrating Counter-Air (PCA). The program, I understand is called PCAP.

    Here’s what Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan says about PCA:

    “PCA will focus on maximizing tradeoffs between range, payload, survivability, lethality, affordability, and supportability. While PCA capability will certainly have a role in targeting and engaging, it also has a significant role as a node in the network, providing data from its penetrating sensors to enable employment using either stand-off or stand-in weapons.”

    This seems consistent with rumors that the Air Force is pursuing a new program to build an aircraft to accompany the bomber deep into western China, where the Second Artillery has its facilities and many of China’s most important capabilities.

    I’ve spoken with a number of industry experts who assume PCAP will be a program. They also decline to discuss it any detail, saying the threats and capabilities are classified.

    Walden also told reporters after the panel ended that Northrop and its suppliers are encouraged by their contract to deliver airplanes on time and on budget, with the fees pegged mostly to the end of the contract. That, he said forces them to do a really good job in the early parts of the program since schedule problems in the beginning simply cascade outwards. The fact that the incentives also apply to the program’s suppliers is intriguing.

    In a note sure to be read closely by Sen. John McCain, who has pressed for more openness on the B-21 program, Walden said the program is working closely with the Intelligence Community to assess what portions of the program can be declassified. He said they meet at least once a year with the IC. He also noted that professional staff on the House and Senate defense committee with the necessary clearances, as well as some senior lawmakers, have been briefed in detail about the plane’s costs, capabilities and programmatics.

    Gen. Robin Rand, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, said the service is in the midst of discussions about which bombers to replace as the B-21 bombers come online. I asked him about this during a later Q and A. He revealed that a study he called “bomber vector” — a “very elaborate study” — is underway. The results will be briefed to Air Force Chief of StaffDavid Goldfein before the results are released.
     
  3. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    I had posted a similar arrangement for LSA with Su-30MKI & Rafale. I also quoted the combination of Typhoon class subs and Akula class to buttress my point of view.
     
  4. BMD

    BMD Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Stand-off weapons would manage it if the bombers can't get that far.
     
  5. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    The S-400/500 system has brought a completely new set of problems to battle field. The SEAD/DEAD operations used to start from border areas and then move inwards into the enemy territory. S-400 system with its outstanding range and area coverage has redefined the challenges for SEAD/DEAD. The attacking force now needs to penetrate much deeper into enemy territory right at the start of battle to neutralize them. S-400 batteries deployed in depth mutually supporting each other can create an impregnable air defence umbrella. 4.5th Gen aircraft will not be able to penetrate these defenses and will be shot down the moment they enter the airspace defended by S-400. No amount of jamming can defend these aircraft as S-400 also has passive sensors spread in such a fashion as to provide complete direction finding and a fix of the aircraft resorting to jamming while having excellent ECCM. These missile batteries can only be targeted by Stealth aircraft. The vulnerability of S-400 system to Stealth aircraft is known to USA and therefore they are creating Stealth Platforms only. They plan to use Stealth to destroy the missile defences of their opponents and thereafter use 3rd Gen aircraft like B-52H and transport aircraft as “Arsenal Planes” to destroy enemy war fighting potential. USA has completely stopped production of 4.5th Gen aircraft for its own armed forces. 4.5th Gen aircraft like F-16/F-18 have no future in any India-China conflict and the offer of producing these aircraft in India will be counter-productive. All SAM systems will remain vulnerable to Stealth aircraft till we advance to next generation of avionics called “Phototronics” which will use photons for detecting targets.

    The kill chain has seven links and if we break even one the links, the whole chain collapses. They are Target Detection, Target ID, Target Tracking, Target acquisition for prosecution, Missile launch, Missile guidance to the target, Target Kill. These seven steps mean that there are seven steps available to break this chain and they are:- Avoid detection using Stealth or other means like active cancellation, Jam the tracking radar/system to deny Tracking data, Attack & Destroy the system trying to prosecute you, Detect the missile launch and initiate counter missile tactics like Jam the data link/break the communication between the launch platform and the missile, Jam/confuse the missile seeker with towed decoys, IR flares, Chaff or RF signals. Prevent activation of Missile warhead by jamming the laser/RF proximity fuse, Out Maneuver the missile. For a missile to successfully prosecute a target the missile must also be able to launch properly, fly true and track the target with no failure of seeker or the fuse. As can be seen from the kill chain, it can’t be activated till the target is detected.

    S-400 system is designed to track aircraft using its VHF band radars which provide a general area of approach. This initial detection by VHF radar is then passed to S/X band radars which search this limited area using pulse compression and narrow beam. This effectively doubles their target tracking range. S-400 then knocks out these aircraft with its extremely high speed missiles. Our AWACS can be detected by S-400 system from as far away as 600 kms and our SU-30MKI can be picked up and targeted at 400 kms. However the S-400 detection range for Stealth aircraft is much lower compared to any 4.5th Gen fighter. Shown below are the X-band detection ranges for various aircraft based on their RCS values. The VHF band detection ranges will be three times these ranges while the detection range for X-band radar employing pulse compression & narrow beam will be double of these ranges. To explain it further, F-35 will be detected by S-400 VHF radars at a maximum range of 102 kms and fired at a maximum range of 68 kms from S-400 X-band radar. These ranges are about 1/4th of the ranges for the legacy 4.5th Gen fighters. Stealth fighters create serious problems for S-400 system.


    The vulnerability of S-400 system to Stealth aircraft was known to Russians from 2007 onwards. Russians also realized this serious shortcoming of S-400 system in the war gaming they did using Pak-Fa prototypes with S-400 system. They are now developing “Morpheus” defense system. This system is designed as a short-range air defense system to protect the S-400 from various threats at their terminal phases like glide bombs/missiles. The missile system consists of radar, infrared sensors and 36 missiles. The missiles have up to 10 km range and an altitude of up to 3500 m. This system is like the Iron Dome system of Israel.

    China has rapidly moved to counter our overwhelming advantage in Air Power along its borders by deploying S-400 missile systems and J-20 Stealth aircraft. The combination of these two weapons will completely neutralize the advantage which IAF holds and will even put at risk the S-400 missile systems to be acquired by us in the near future. China will start series production of J-20 Stealth aircraft next year and will be able to deploy 36 of them by end 2018. They will also be able to conduct wargames using J-20 against S-400 and develop tactics to knock them out using their weapon systems. IAF is not likely to have Stealth aircraft till 2027 and by then IAF would have decisively lost qualitative and quantitative edge to PLAAF forever. PLAAF will be able to take out our S-400 batteries using J-20s while we will not be able to destroy their S-400 batteries. This means that for the first ever time in our independent history, PLAAF will have overwhelming advantage over IAF. We need to counter J-20 with our own Stealth aircraft on an urgent basis.

    I had stated that SPECTRA system is an over rated system and does not provide the kind of RF cancellation as is required to make Rafale completely stealthy. The French are working on an evolution of Rafale called DEDIRA to give Rafale a fixed RCS for multiple weapon combinations thru conformal pods. SPECTRA as a system is more suited for Stealth aircraft which have internal weapon bays and whose RCS does not change with weapon load. Low frequency radars of VHF/UHF band do not have frequency agility like that of S/X-band radars and therefore can be spooked by systems like SPECTRA. AESA radars with LPI are extremely difficult to jam and SPECTRA is of limited use against such radars. However it remains effective against the radars fitted on active homing missiles and fire control radars. One of the design goals of Light Stealth Aircraft is to have extremely short development and induction time by using complete avionics architecture of an existing aircraft like LCA. LSA can also use full avionics package of Rafale and active cancellation of SPECTRA to avoid V/UHF radars of S-400 to target Chinese S-400 batteries from much shorter ranges compared to J-20s of China.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016
    surya kiran likes this.
  6. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Every stealth bomber will need to fight its way to its targets in future and for that they too will need stealth fighters to escort them. I have quoted above part of what I wrote to top boss few months ago. My thinking has now been confirmed by USAF who are planning on Penetrating Counter-air fighter. As a fighter pilot I do my own analysis of emerging threats.
     
    surya kiran likes this.
  7. BMD

    BMD Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/research/a22970/lockheed-hypersonic-weapon/


    Tactical Boost Glide could move at speeds of up to 13,000 miles an hour.


    [​IMG]
    There is more to the B-21 and F-35 than stealth alone, the EW is cutting edge incorporating both RF attack and cyberwarfare and they also have an array of very capable stand-off weapons as above. There's also the option of using LRSO against large, largely static SAM sites like S-X00s.

    Passive sensors are never a full-proof method and they can also be duped by jamming. Don't forget that the Rx of a radar is a passive sensor too. Cyberwarfare also introduces some new options. Furthermore SAMs have never proved to have a very high Pk and a typical S-400 launcher has just 4 rounds, and is therefore vulnerable to swarming technology such as MASSM, Gremlin and MALD.

    Spectra and any non-AI form of active cancellation has problems against any unpredictable signal, not just AESA, it can be thwarted by PRF jitter, pulse compression techniques, and amplitude and phase modulation, even without frequency hopping. Furthermore there are several things for it to jam/cancel in an S-400 kill chain. The actual ground radar, the missile radar's ARH and the missile's SARH. The F-35 will be able to not only jam all these things but also hi-jack the datalink with the ground unit.

    The military will always under play capabilities so that it gets more funding. If you consider the South China Sea situation right now, every single one of the military targets on those reefs and islands could be taken out within less than 2 hours of giving the go ahead, without even putting a plane even in a position it could be hit. ELINT and surveillance satellites know their position from the get go, so all it takes is a huge cruise missile barrage.
     
  8. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    No, USAF will find it extremely difficult to even strike the eastern shore of China by stealth bombers. The HVAs like AWACs and Tankers will have to be kept outside the detection zone of S-400/500. which means any aircraft intruding into Chinese airspace will need to have fuel for atleast 600 Nms i.e 300 Nm range. This a capability which makes use of any fighter presently in service of USAF useless. None of them including F-22/F-35 will be able to penetrate. As the penetration range increases, the approach cone becomes smaller and therefore the area to be searched reduces and the penetrating aircraft can be intercepted by fighters more easily.
     
  9. BMD

    BMD Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    I'm talking about the SCS assets. They could all be taken out from the opposite side of the Philippines with cruise missiles. Fire them at currently know targets, use combination of Block IV ESM and passing satellite information to re-target in flight if need be and sites destroyed. B-1s can also carry up to 24 JASSM-ERs each. Tomahawks and ALCMs could indeed reach Hainan from the opposite side of the Philippines and Beijing could be reached from the opposite side of Japan.

    Have you considered buddy refuelling from a bomber?

    You mention the S-400's VHF detection range of an F-35 as 102km maximum. That's hardly very useful against AARGM-ER or SPEAR or JSOW or JSOW-ER, or even SDB. And that's not even lock range
     
  10. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    All the missiles mentioned by you fly a fixed track and can be easily intercepted. You are talking about islands in SCS while the main threat to USAF and allies is from Chinese mainland.
    Using a stealth Bomber to refuel another stealth bomber in a disputed airspace is something I won't even consider as an option. One thing what you have failed to understand is that an IRST of the size of a normal radar carried by a fighter in its nose can give detection ranges of over 300 kms. The Aperture size of IRST has nearly the same effect on its detection range as the antenna size of a radar and its power.
     
  11. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    The ECCM quoted by you like PRF Jitter, stagger or staggered Jitter, beam sharpening, pulse compression etc are more effective against noise jammers and have little use against DRFM jammers or the smart jammers like SPECTRA which can even analyse and break the codes of jamming alogrhythm to be able to jam the radar. Long range detection/early warning radars will always have this problem because of very large wavelengths and therefore they can be jammed more easily compared to other high frequency radars.
    @Picdelamirand-oil, what are your views on this aspect.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016
  12. BMD

    BMD Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    No, they can be retargeted in flight and also manoeuvre to evade air defences. They are also extremely low RCS.

    Of the missiles on the Chinese mainland, the DF-21D is out-ranged by cruise missiles and can't hit submarines or bombers. The DF-26 can be intercepted.

    You would stagger it so other fighters are providing cover during that period.

    Actually no, IR dies fairly quickly with range, it's an exponential decay, and it can't see through cloud either. That's why people chose radars in the first place.

    http://www.ursi.org/proceedings/procga05/pdf/F01P.7(01729).pdf
     
  13. BMD

    BMD Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    They do because they add unpredictability and a copycat can't copy unpredictability.
     
  14. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    What I meant was that they can't take evasive action like a manned fighter. IRST can see thru some layers of cloud based on frequency of detection. Pls read what I wrote to top boss. I spoke about Photonics and Phototronics also.
     
  15. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    You can't create a radar wherein each example uses different alogrhythms for transmitting as it will mean that each radar is different.
     

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