Saturday, 13 April 2013

F-22 upgrades targeted for budget cuts.

Why bother shooting it down when it'll just price itself out of the sky?

Remember that $37 million dollar per copy upgrade for the F-22? Well, it's no longer imminent. Thanks to the USA's budget sequestration, the program has now been put on indefinite hold. What does this mean for the world's deadliest (in theory if not yet in practice) jet fighter aircraft?
Sorry Raptor drivers, no fancy helmet for you.

It means the F-22 will not gain the ability to data link with non-F-22s. Its vaunted air superiority capability will continue to make due with missiles that are a generation behind the current AIM-120D and AIM-9X Sidewinder. The F-22 currently lacks a helmet mounted display that allows it to make a HOBS (high off bore sight) lock on an enemy. The F-22 also lacks any sort of IRST (infra-red search and track) capability, and will continue to do so.

China can actually afford to upgrade its fighters.
So what's the big deal? Just that the F-22, the world's most advanced and only operational 5th generation fighter, can't utilize missiles that older "4th generation" fighters can. It also means that the F-22's "Achilles' Heel", WVR (within visual range) combat, will continue to be left wanting, especially compared to smaller, cheaper fighters with HMDs and IRSTs like the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen E/F, and (gulp) Chengdu J-10B.

Better hope that stealth and outdated AMRAAMS are good enough, or there will be plenty more servings of "Raptor Salad".


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I have no doubt that you are a real person "nickname goes here" but your comments here have added very little of value and you seem more concerned with nitpicking arguing semantics. I take no joy in deleting your comments, and I do read every one, but your disrespectful attitude and insistence on flooding the comment section has left me with little choice. This blogsite is operated by me, so it is my prerogative what stays posted and what doesn't. If that sits ill with you... Please take your comments elsewhere.

      I have friends, family, and my own personal experience with the military as well, and that is partially what drove me to create this blog. You'll excuse me for not taking the second-hand word of your "A-10 driver" ex-girlfriend, as I have no way confirm this information. Sources matter, and the word of an anonymous internet commentator does not hold much weight.

      As for being a "hypocrite" I think my message has been pretty consistent. A Canadian Gripen for use as its main multirole fighter, supported by UAVs. I also post comments on the current US military's budget issues as a warning hoping Canada doesn't experience similar issues. Others have found errors in my posts, and I have thanked them for it and made changes after confirmation.

      As for your insults and generally poor attitude towards me, please. My "day job" involves dealing with drunks, drug addicts, and the mentally ill. There's not a lot you can say to me to hurt my feelings, I've heard it all before.

      If you can't be respectful, than I will continue to delete your posts. It only takes a couple of mouse clicks to do so.

    2. Why did you delete my post? I actually supported the point that the F-22 must be upgraded with time if it wants to stay on top of the hill!? In particular, helmet mounted displays are game changers in within visual range combat!

    3. I apologize for that. When I deleted the original comment, all comments attached to it were deleted as well.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. "Reality is reality, no matter who is telling the tale. A-10s have their drawbacks, they are not fast, carry no radar, can't deploy medium range missiles, have no SEAD capability... These are realistic things that kind of show that the A-10 will always be a supporting role, with stronger friends to help it. "

      So what? They are ground attack aircraft. And in close air support, you do get hit occasionally! The A-10 is designed to take some damage and survive.

    2. I didn't say it was untrue "nickname goes here", but I simply cannot verify your word that your ex-girlfriend is an A-10 pilot and that she told you such-and-such.

      This is the Internet and people with anonymous nicknames can make some outrageous claims. Without anything to back up those claims, such as links to a 3rd party article or similar, I cannot accept the claims as anything more than an opinion, which you are welcome to share, but don't expect me to redact my opinion purely on your say so.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. "If its critical to be "low and slow" helicopters are popular (but like anything they have their limits)"

      Yes it is critical to be slow and low because you have to be able to loiter over the battlefield and spot targets. Helicopters are also used in this role, the apache is an example. But, helicopter can hardly maneuver. They can only pull 2 to 3 G and are much slower than the A-10. So no, the ground attack aircraft is still very much needed.

    2. "For example, if CAS has changed thanks to PGMs, doesnt that mean that the Gripen can also be promoted as reliable CAS aircraft with PGMs?"

      Precision guided munition is all fine, but this cannot replace a dedicated close air support aircraft that goes down into the weeds. Promoting the Gripen or the F-35 as close air support aircraft because they can drop PGMs is disingenuous.

      "or do only planes with armored bath tubs get that role?"

      Yes, a decent armor is required for such an aircraft.

      "The A-10 is no longer the only aircraft that can do its job..."

      The A-10 never was the only aircraft that can do its job, namely close air support. Sure, one day it will be replaced. But, the F-35 or Gripen or no replacements. They cannot do the job.

    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    4. "Can F-35s and Gripens not go low?"

      No they can't because they cannot take any hits from gunfire. They cannot fly slowly, because of their swept wing design.

      The job is to monitor the battlefield, communicate with the ground forces, identify friend and identify foe, and finally attack a foe in accordance with the demands from the ground. You cannot do this while flying in high altitudes above the battlefield. You need a dedicated aircraft for this role.

  4. Lets be fair, lets be reasonable. I'm sure If I told you I had a friend in the F-35 program that told me secretly that the cost was going to explode soon, you probably wouldn't mind taking that source at his word. Right now SAABs Gripen NG is nothing but beautiful CGI and a tech demonstrator with pretty paint, and ya drink that right up.

    "It's on a PowerPoint slide! That means it has to be true!

    Seriously though, where do the get these incredibly specific numbers when they don't have a fully operational yet?"

    --Doug Allen, EPL blog.

    How is the Gripen NG any different right now Doug? If you want to say "we can tell because of the original gripen" thats fine, but you know the US has aircraft it can also use as yard sticks for the future as well.

    Why is it all black magic with the F-35, but pure reality with the Gripen NG?

    You think Eric Palmer has inside imformation? Or Peter Goon and Kopp? Are these experts in their fields? What have they done to be considered credible in you book besides have websites or blogs??

    If my ex girlfriend starts an A-10 blog is she then suddenly a credible source? because its on the internet? If she rights that the A-10 is like a battleship compared to aircraft carriers and destined for the trash can soon, do you believe her? If she mentions she likes the F-35 is she a "hack?" and now anything she says is invalidated?

    Is that my problem Doug? I have chosen to comment on your blog instead of going through the extreme task of starting an internet blog myself that gives instant credibility because I say things that you agree with?

    If you don't want to believe me, that fine, but why not say "OK lets say that is true for now, but I have a SOURCE that disagrees with her and here it is, and that I'm afraid is better than your girlfriend dude" instead its "this guy says his old girlfriend flies A-10s and she says this so it can't be true." what is so crazy about it? that I had a girlfriend or that she can fly such a manly airplane? what am I missing? Are A-10 pilots monks? Shes been on combat too BTW

    Maybe we give my claim the benefit of the doubt for a second at least? Especially if it starts to look like others say similar things? like maybe she is right. (despite being an ex girlfriend to someone?)

    What is the burden of proof Doug? is it like the AMRAAM 9 kills vs AIM-9X 0 kills? Do I have to provide 9 sources, for every 0 you provide and it still doesn't count, because: insert reason here?

    If you want to have a Socratic debate lets do so. Thank you for responding to my post.

    1. If you had a friend in the F-35 program who told you each fighter was going to cost an extra $100 million dollars each, the answer is: "No. I would not post it." If you provided a link, sources, or otherwise put me in contact with your friend, I would certainly follow up on it.

      Industry PowerPoint slides are what they are. If a manufacturer makes claims that they cannot back up, be it Lockheed, Saab, or anybody else, they deserve to be called out on out.

      As for Palmer, Goon, Kopp, and others, I won't comment on whatever inside sources they may or may not have. I do enjoy reading their material, but I certainly don't agree with everything they say. I will give them credit for providing their sources and for clearly explaining their opinion.

      Getting back to the topic of missiles (the actual topic of the original post): It would be rather unsuitable to compare the AIM-9X variant to the entire AMRAAM family, don't you think? How about we instead compare all variants of the AMRAAM to more current "all aspect" Sidewinders, starting with the AIM-9L. The AIM-9L was responsible for 80% of kills during the Yom Kippur War and The Falklands. During the first Gulf War, the AIM-9M was responsible for 13 kills. I think its fair to say that the Sidewinder has proven itself as a weapon system. The AIM-9X has yet to be proven, true, but its unlikely it would be any less effective.

      As far as the AMRAAM is concerned, 9 kills, I believe 8 of which were against poorly maintained Iraqi MiGs without Radar warning receivers, and one friendly fire incident against a Blackhawk helicopter, is not enough to convince me that the AMRAAM will be sufficient by itself. I do believe that data-linked missiles like the MBDA Meteor and AIM-120D AMRAAM will result in superior capability. However, as missile technology improves, so do countermeasures, so I still believe that a balanced mix of radar and IR guided missiles is the best option.

  5. "Why do you have to be "in the weeds" if the ground FAC/JTAC is coordinating all the movements and friendly/foe positions?"

    In military tactics, close air support (CAS) is defined as air action by fixed or rotary winged aircraft against hostile targets that are close to friendly forces, and which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces.

    Because the battlefield changes all the time. You own troops may be advancing or retreating. The opponent may be changing his position. Chances are high that you are going to kill your own troops unless you fly low and slow above the battlefield in order to identify friend from foe. Slow and low that is the tempo! ;-)

    Consequently, the aircraft must be able to fly slowly at low atlitudes. The plane must be able to take fire without getting downed immediately, because the mission is dangerous. The plane must be able to accelerate and turn fast in order to run away once it gets attacked from the ground. That's the advantage of fixed wing aircraft over helicopters. Yes, you can drop precision guided bombs from high altitudes at targets on the ground with any old aircraf. You can do that with an F-15, F-16, F-18 and a B-52. But that's not enough for true close air support.