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Old 12-14-2012, 01:20 AM   #876
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Build our own, superior aircraft for cheaper.

Why are we even considering the F-35 anymore?
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Old 12-14-2012, 05:48 AM   #877
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yodamaster View Post
Build our own, superior aircraft for cheaper.

Why are we even considering the F-35 anymore?
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Old 12-14-2012, 07:38 AM   #878
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Build our own, superior aircraft for cheaper.

Why are we even considering the F-35 anymore?
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Old 12-14-2012, 08:04 AM   #879
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Build our own, superior aircraft for cheaper.

Why are we even considering the F-35 anymore?
We should start up the Arvo Arrow program again!
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:41 AM   #880
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yodamaster View Post
Build our own, superior aircraft for cheaper.

Why are we even considering the F-35 anymore?
Err, did you mean to post in the http://www.revscene.net/forums/56514...thread-27.html thread?
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:11 AM   #881
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I like that the top competition listed by the Liberals and NDP are the Super Hornet and the Typhoon. The F-18E/F will be done production in 5-6 years when the US Navy goes on the F35, so how are we supposed to get continued support for the next 30 years from Boeing for an aircraft they no longer build? The Typhoon has a cost per aircraft of more than double the F35. Hell at almost 200mil per plane it's more expensive than the F22, with no North American parts or tech support, or operational compatibility (at this point) with our closest allies.

As Belka said it's purely political bullshittery by people who don't have a clue what's best for the RCAF.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:42 PM   #882
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i think the real issue is the lying about the costs and the cons not even giving competitors a shot or discussing it not on the feasibility of competitors
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Old 12-14-2012, 01:02 PM   #883
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i think the real issue is the lying about the costs and the cons not even giving competitors a shot or discussing it not on the feasibility of competitors
Not sure how you can lie about the costs since they haven't changed. It was always going to be around $1B/year for a fleet F35s. The DND/RCAF did an internal study where all the fighters were compared and that recommendation was given to the government, who approved it. (the F35) The public doesn't need to know all the details, they just have to approve the operating funds for the next fleet. The $1B/year is well within the DND long-term budget.

Just for shits and giggles how about someone do a cost-comparison for the 40 year cycle of the CBC.
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Old 12-14-2012, 01:08 PM   #884
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national news/tv/radio agencies are far more valuable than military equipment though and they play a greater role for the military as well
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:58 PM   #885
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national news/tv/radio agencies are far more valuable than military equipment though and they play a greater role for the military as well
Not government funded ones. Canada will do without CBC just fine.
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:05 PM   #886
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Feds told truth on F-35: Opposition really about clipping air force wings | Columnists | Opinion | Winnipeg Sun

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You are being lied to about the cost of fighter jets, except the lying isn’t being done by the government.

If you’ve paid attention to the news at all lately, you’ve heard about the “rising costs” of replacing Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18 fighter jets with the new F-35.

Initial government costs to buy the plane came in at $9 billion, but this week headlines screamed about the cost being $46 billion.

What a load of garbage.

A report from auditing firm KPMG, commissioned by the government, said the full cost of the plane, from development through operating and on to decommissioning, was $45.8 billion.

That estimate includes fuel, pilots and maintenance — all things that would need to be paid for regardless of which plane is purchased.

It is a strange form of accounting that says we need to account for every shoelace and jug of windshield washer fluid that might come near the planes.

Can you imagine what the cost of your car would be if you calculated its cost over decades, including estimates of every brake job, oil change and fill-up?

We don’t do this for other government programs or purchases, yet the opposition and the media demand that this is the only true way to account for military purchases.

When a previous Liberal government promised a new national daycare program, no one asked what it would cost over 40 years.

In fact, the F-35 program was signed on to by the Liberals and no one asked back then how much this would cost over four decades.

Here is something remarkable you haven’t seen in the headlines.

The report from KPMG found that the government had been telling the truth from the beginning: The cost to just buy the planes was less than $9 billion.

There are plenty of areas to criticize this government about when it comes to spending, but fighter jets that we haven’t purchased just isn’t one of them.

The money hasn’t been spent and even if we do buy the F-35, it will be money well spent compared to other budget items.

National defence is actually a responsibility of the federal government under the constitution unlike, say, running a television network or giving out corporate welfare under the guise of “economic development.”

If we accounted for the cost of CBC and economic development the same way the opposition and media demand we account for the F-35, both would cost more over the next

40 years than the fighter jets.

What this is really all about is an attempt to make sure that Canada does not have a suitable military.

There is a significant segment of the population that thinks the military should just do peacekeeping, search-and-rescue and snow removal in Toronto.

This part of Canada doesn’t want us to have fighter jets or a military capable of going into battle if need be.

Unfortunately, a large part of the media and both opposition parties fall into this camp.

Sure, they will tell you they are worried about the cost, but then will say we need to look at fighter jets other than the F-35.

We did exactly that on my show Byline and found that the alternatives to the F-35 cost as much or more than the plane we should apparently avoid.

This fight of the last few months isn’t about whether we should buy the F-35.

It is about whether we should have a properly equipped military.
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:53 PM   #887
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Err, did you mean to post in the http://www.revscene.net/forums/56514...thread-27.html thread?
No, I didnt, and I think that the lack of confidence in Canadian enginuity and/or support is apalling.

There is no denying that the F-35 is expensive, and the costs aren't even final at the packaged price of $45 Billion so far during the life of the fleet. It's a complicated aircraft that has been riddled with issues for years.

There is a highly political aspect to deciding what we need for an updated fleet of aircraft, do we want to primarily attack or defend? Personally I would like to see a fleet that is centered on the defence of this nation, I don't think that we should be meddling in affairs overseas that would require a plane that is not within our national interests at home.

I'm not going to go into the technical aspects of the Arrow, what I'm more interested in was the display of genius by the Canadian engineers that created it. It was 50 years ahead of it's time, designed and built so well that the first flight was practically flawless. Requiring little to no improvement, it was superior to anything the Americans had built, and it didn't even have the updated engines installed that were in the works, which would have made it even more spectacular. Those same engineers and designers were later hired into NASA, and helped make the Apollo program possible.

I believe that Canadians should build an aircraft for Canada, it's been proven that we can build a superior aircraft, regardless of the difference in technology between now and then. We have the resources, man power, and intelligence to do so. What most people are forgetting, is that if the plane is built in Canada, most of the money will have been spent in Canada. Buying the F-35 will ensure that $45 billion Canadian dollars are given directly to the Americans.

What some of us lack is the confidence to complete such a venture.

Last edited by Yodamaster; 12-14-2012 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:35 PM   #888
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No, I didnt, and I think that the lack of confidence in Canadian enginuity and/or support is apalling.

There is no denying that the F-35 is expensive, and the costs aren't even final at the packaged price of $45 Billion so far during the life of the fleet. It's a complicated aircraft that has been riddled with issues for years.

There is a highly political aspect to deciding what we need for an updated fleet of aircraft, do we want to primarily attack or defend? Personally I would like to see a fleet that is centered on the defence of this nation, I don't think that we should be meddling in affairs overseas that would require a plane that is not within our national interests at home.

I'm not going to go into the technical aspects of the Arrow, what I'm more interested in was the display of genius by the Canadian engineers that created it. It was 50 years ahead of it's time, designed and built so well that the first flight was practically flawless. Requiring little to no improvement, it was superior to anything the Americans had built, and it didn't even have the updated engines installed that were in the works, which would have made it even more spectacular. Those same engineers and designers were later hired into NASA, and helped make the Apollo program possible.

I believe that Canadians should build an aircraft for Canada, it's been proven that we can build a superior aircraft, regardless of the difference in technology between now and then. We have the resources, man power, and intelligence to do so. What most people are forgetting, is that if the plane is built in Canada, most of the money will have been spent in Canada. Buying the F-35 will ensure that $45 billion Canadian dollars are given directly to the Americans.

What some of us lack is the confidence to complete such a venture.
You must be a used car salesman.
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:39 PM   #889
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Buy Chinese and Russian planes then, i'm sure our neighbors who essentially are our protectors will love that
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Old 12-14-2012, 07:36 PM   #890
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Not government funded ones. Canada will do without CBC just fine.
BBC greatest example; imho CBC is far more valuable to the country than jets or any firearm/bomb/vehicle (pen stronger than the sword deal)
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Old 12-14-2012, 08:06 PM   #891
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BBC greatest example; imho CBC is far more valuable to the country than jets or any firearm/bomb/vehicle (pen stronger than the sword deal)

(and my mom works for CBC)
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Old 12-16-2012, 01:17 AM   #892
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I was JUST about to post this same article. It has been run by the Toronto Sun as well. Points that stand out to me:

Quote:
report from auditing firm KPMG said the full cost of the plane, from development through operating and on to decommissioning, was $45.8 billion.

That estimate includes fuel, pilots and maintenance — all things that would need to be paid for regardless of which plane is purchased.

The F-35 program was signed on to by the Liberals and no one asked back then how much this would cost over four decades.

report from KPMG found that the government had been telling the truth from the beginning: The cost to just buy the planes was less than $9 billion.

...alternatives to the F-35 cost as much or more than the F-35.
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Old 12-16-2012, 09:56 AM   #893
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Lexington Institute

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"Assuming that the production ramp-up in the revised program unfolds as planned, the cost to build each Air Force variant of the plane should fall to $64 million in today's dollars in the tenth production lot, funded in fiscal 2016 and delivered in fiscal 2018. As with the legacy fighters in the force today, that does not include the engine, which the government procures under a separate contract. When you add up all the expenses, though, the cost of manufacturing each F-35A (the Air Force variant) five years from now looks likely to be identical to what manufacturing the latest version of a single-engine F-16 costs today. That's important because the plane was conceived mainly as a replacement of the aging F-16 -- although the F-35 will be far more survivable and versatile than the F-16."
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Old 12-16-2012, 10:05 AM   #894
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Wasn't it the Liberal Government who got Canada into the F-35 program in the first place?

NVM - read above. Its a subject where blame or phrase is hard to place here. Both Liberals and Conservatives earned some here.
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:50 AM   #895
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Wasn't it the Liberal Government who got Canada into the F-35 program in the first place?
Yes, but they are now backing out and saying they invested in the "technology", not the jet itself. Fucking non sense bullshit lefty garbage.

Anywho....

Quote:
The F-35 fighter jet is not dead.

Fevered reports to the contrary, there is every chance that when a review of the options is probably completed by Public Works Canada by next fall, the F-35 stealth fighter may still be at the top of the shopping list.

Following the F-35 fracas from Egypt, where truly momentous political events are being debated, the hysteria in Canada over the F-35 seems rather quaint. Most of what critics have written and said about the Joint Strike Fighter has been just as confusing and misleading as what the Harper government has had to say about it since a Liberal government got Canada involved in the project.

Although already nearly 15 years old, Boeing’s fourth generation F-18 Super Hornet is the only serious rival to Lockheed Martin’s fifth generation F-35 Lightning. But as argued by the National Post’s John Ivison, the clear leader on the F-35 story for months, the Super Hornet has far less of a cost advantage than the JSF’s critics have led the public to believe. In fact if Canada were to buy the two-seat electronic warfare variant of the Super Hornet or a mix of that model and the attack version, it might not be cheaper at all.

The “life cycle costs” of the F-35 — development, acquisition, sustainment, operations, attrition and disposal, including fuel and air and ground crew — have been described in Canada in apocalyptic terms. Here, the analogy to a car purchase is apt. When you buy a car for $30,000, you’re paying for the development of that car, a profit for those making it, and for the car itself. Few people budget for the fuel, maintenance or insurance costs over the vehicle’s “life cycle.” But they know keeping the car on the road for ten years will cost roughly double the purchase price. Since we buy military equipment for longer life cycles — in this case 42 years from 2010, although the international standard for measuring this has usually been 20 years — those costs increase in step. Hence, misleading headlines such as that the “F-35 costs five times original estimates.”

Nor have fair cost comparisons been done with other big government-funded enterprises such as the CBC, which as Sun Media has noted, will have cost taxpayers more by 2052 than whatever new fighter jets Canada eventually purchases.

Also lost in the hullabaloo over life cycle costs was that number crunching by KPMG that was presented to Parliament last week indicated that cost estimates prepared several years ago by National Defence were accurate.

If opponents of the F-35 had examined the cost of the alternatives — as they should have and as the government should have — they would have long ago realized that there are no “cheap” options. The four other frequently mentioned contenders have list prices equal to or greater than the F-35 — and none of them is classified as a “stealth” aircraft. According the U.S. Department of Defense, Boeing’s Super Hornet costs $88 million per aircraft, which is identical to KPMG’s estimate for a F-35. According to Australian reports, the latest batch of Super Hornets that Canberra may buy will cost more than $100 million each.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence lists the Eurofighter Typhoon at $115 million per aircraft. France’s Rafale costs from $80 to $120 million each depending on the model. Sweden’s Gripen E was just purchased by the Swiss air force for $100 million per plane.

It is not hard to find critics of the F-35 outside Canada. There have been doubts about its stealth technologies, its computer coding, assembly line delays and cost overruns. However, only in Canada has the debate over the potential purchase of 65 JSF’s been so out of whack.

With far less noise Australia, which still intends to acquire as many as 100 F-35s, has purchased a couple of dozen Super Hornets to make up for F-35 delays and is considering buying a couple of dozen more. The difference in Oz, which has a smaller economy than Canada’s, is that there has long been all-party and media maturity about defence procurement issues. Nor has there been much bombast over F-35 costs in tiny Norway, Denmark or Singapore, just gritty acceptance that this has become the cost of doing national defence.

The frenzy over the F-35 is reminiscent of the attention that Afghan torture allegations got several years ago. Remember those charges that Canadian soldiers were complicit in war crimes? The Red Cross, which is responsible for such matters, never found evidence to warrant even beginning an investigation. But critics have never set the record straight, nor will they.

Critics had insisted that Canada’s allegedly criminal behaviour in Afghanistan would cost the Tories dearly at the polls. As it turned out, this issue only excited Parliament Hill. Through two federal election campaigns the alleged mistreatment of Afghan detainees on Canada’s watch was never raised by voters.

There are similarly dire predictions today about the political consequences that will result from how the government has handled the F-35 file. Well, good luck with that.
When compared to the alternatives, the F-35 is still the best option


The critics will soon be silenced completely with their bullshit arguments and non sense.
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:54 AM   #896
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Wasn't it the Liberal Government who got Canada into the F-35 program in the first place?

NVM - read above. Its a subject where blame or phrase is hard to place here. Both Liberals and Conservatives earned some here.

yes, but at that time, nobody knew, that the bird would end up costing as much due to costs overruns. and as other countries drop out of the project price per piece is going up.

regardless, they should have had a transparent bidding process.
given f-35 is good and all, but its an overkill for Canadian forces (my opinion),,
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Old 12-24-2012, 10:23 AM   #897
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:02 PM   #898
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U.S. F-16s tasked to destroy enemy radars, missile batteries to get the same
radar-absorbing paint job of the F-35


Posted by David Cenciotti
The Aviationist

August 30, 2012

All the U.S. "Wild Weasel" F-16s are being given a new paint job similar to
the one of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

It is called "Have Glass 5th generation" as it represents the evolution of
the standard Have Glass program that saw all the F-16s receiving a two-tone
grey color scheme made with a special radar-absorbing paint capable to
reduce the aircraft Radar Cross Section; in fact, "Vipers" are covered with
RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) made of microscopic metal grains that can
degrade the radar signature of the aircraft.

For the moment, the JSF-like paint job will be applied to the F-16CM
(formerly CJ) Block 50 Fighting Falcon aircraft that can carry a variety of
air-to-air and air-to-surface ordnance, including HARM (High-speed
Anti-Radiation Missiles) and precision-guided munitions.

Their role is to enter the enemy territory ahead of the strike package to
take care of the enemy air defenses: radars and fixed and mobile SAM
(Surface-to-Air Missiles) batteries.

Therefore, the units that will fly with the F-16CMs in the new color scheme
will be those tasked with SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) missions:
the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem (Germany), the 35th FW at Misawa
(Japan), the 20th FW at Shaw Air Force Base, the 169th FW at McEntire Joint
National Guard Base (SC), and 148th FW at Duluth International Airport,
(MN).

Whilst two aircraft in the U.S. flew the Have Glass 4 paint job for test
purposes (98-0004 and 98-0005 flying with the 85th Test and Evaluation
Squadron from Eglin AFB) the first aircraft spotted in the new livery is a
Minnesota ANG F-16CM, 91-0391, that is currently deployed at Kandahar,
Afghanistan.

The F-35 will replace the F-16CM in the SEAD role in the future.

===================================

New F-16 software platform to be tested by 40th, 85th

by Samuel King, Jr.
96th Test Wing Public Affairs

12/18/2012

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- For the first time ever, developmental testing
for an F-16 operational flight program will occur at the 40th Flight Test
Squadron here.

The testing for Block 40 and 50 model F-16s is scheduled to begin in 2014
and will also be the first time developmental testing and operational
testing of the OFP will be conducted at the same base.

"This not only gives DT and OT pilots the unique opportunity for daily
face-to-face contact to discuss potential test issues, but also allows OT
pilots to participate in DT missions alongside their counterparts," said
Beau Booth, the F-16 M7 OFP project specialist for the 40th Flight Test
Squadron.

An OFP is the software in the F-16 that controls the avionics and allows the
jet to interface with external weapons. It is currently in the
design-try-out phase here. This phase is primarily to help the software
developers.

"In the DTO phase, a few early versions of the software, with limited
subsets of the planned new capabilities, are flight-tested to ensure basic
functionality so the software engineers can easily make any fundamental
changes before they get too far into the coding," said Booth.

This takes on a greater importance with this new OFP because it's the first
time an Air Force unit has developed the software. Previous F-16 OFP updates
were created by Lockheed Martin, but the 309th Software Maintenance Group
from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the developer for this iteration.

Previous DTO phases had a limited number of sorties due to resources and
test objectives.

"While this approach is adequate, it results in a relatively small number of
opportunities to find potential errors," said Booth. "Since there are
multiple ways to execute most tasks in the F-16, there are a lot of
potential combinations of pilot actions. DT does not have the resources to
test."

This was not the case with this DTO phase, however, since both OT and DT
pilots were available to participate. To date, the combined test team has
flown 41 test sorties. The previous F-16 OFP DTO included only 13 test
sorties.

"The ability to conduct a fully-integrated DT/OT test program allows us to
test new OFPs more thoroughly and field them faster and cheaper than ever
before," said Booth.

Historically, even though an OFP passes DT, OT pilots would find new
software errors due to the amount of flight time and pilot availability. The
added use of OT resources increases the potential of finding anomalies in
the software. It also gives OT pilots, who are ultimately responsible for
the final fielding recommendation, a chance to evaluate the software
development early. OT's upfront involvement cuts down on any late software
changes. It also avoids the associated extra test requirements, increased
costs, and fielding delays that could happen.

Although this F-16 OFP partnership is a new endeavor for the squadrons, the
40th and 85th are frequent collaborators in developmental and operational
testing. They are even headquartered in the same building for additional
functionality.

"In these fiscally-constrained times, the 40th and 85th are setting the
benchmark on how to perform integrated test," said Lt. Col. Thomas Seymour,
the 85th TES commander. "Being collocated is the key. This allows us to
share aircraft, infrastructure, aircrew, and ideas, which results in more
effective and efficient test and a better end product for the warfighter."

This new software package will be incorporated in all active-duty F-16s and
many Reserve aircraft.


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Old 12-28-2012, 03:38 PM   #899
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Oh christ, wait for the first numpty in the media to suggest we just paint our current hornets to get the same 'stealth'. "It's all in the paint, has nothing to do with shaping."

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Old 12-29-2012, 01:45 AM   #900
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Originally Posted by belka View Post
Oh christ, wait for the first numpty in the media to suggest we just paint our current hornets to get the same 'stealth'. "It's all in the paint, has nothing to do with shaping."

Haha, on that note:

7 Secret Ways America's Stealth Armada Stays off the Radar

It's no secret how America's stealth warplanes primarily evade enemy radars. Their airframes are specifically sculpted to scatter radar waves rather than bouncing them back to the enemy. Somewhat less important is the application, to select areas, of Radar Absorbing Material (RAM) meant to trap sensor energy not scattered by the plane's special shape.

In short, the four most important aspects of stealth are "shape, shape, shape, and materials", to quote Lockheed Martin analyst Denys Overholser, whose pioneering work resulted in the F-117 Nighthawk, the world's first operational stealth warplane.

But in addition to shaping and RAM, the Pentagon's current stealth planes -- the B-2 Spirit bomber, the F-22 Raptor fighter, the RQ-170 Sentinel drone, and the in-development F-35 Joint Strike Fighter -- boast other, lesser-known qualities that help them avoid detection. (We left the Army's stealth helicopter out of the discussion owing to a lack of information.)

These other stealth enhancements include: chemicals to eliminate telltale contrails; sophisticated, untraceable sensors and radios; specially-designed, hard-to-detect engine inlets; radar-canceling paint; and cooling systems for reducing a plane's heat signature. All of these evasion methods have been disclosed by the Air Force, although sometimes in scant detail.

With China and Russia both demonstrating a rapidly improving grasp of stealth shaping -- and materials to a lesser extent -- these other, possibly harder-to-master aspects of radar-evasion are arguably becoming more important to maintaining America's aerial advantage.

1. Smart Sensors

Radar is like long-range eyes in the sky for modern warplanes. Without this sensor, a plane is more or less flying blind. The problem is, radar works by emitting energy -- lots of it. And that can be detected by an enemy's own passive radar receptors in the same way that someone standing in a dark room can track the movements of another person carrying a flashlight.

The F-22, F-35, and B-2 work around this problem by practicing what Aviaton Week stealth guru Bill Sweetman called "emission-control principles". With the Raptor, emissions from the jet's AN/APG-77 radar "are managed in intensity, duration, and space to maintain the pilot's situational awareness while minimizing the chance that its signals will be intercepted." In other words, the plane's software is smart enough to use just enough energy to find and track targets -- and no more. The B-2 and F-35 have electronically-scanned radars that are similar to the Raptor's and probably employ the same tactics.

Plus the Raptor and Joint Strike Fighter both have non-emitting backup sensors that can fill in the gaps in the radar coverage. The F-22's AN/ALR-94 radar-warning receptors are among the most sensitive ever designed and can accurately -- and "silently" -- detect most radar-using targets at long range. The F-35 boasts a powerful set of cameras that achieve the same effect.

2. Radio Silence

A stealth plane's communications could also betray its location. In the case of the RQ-170, the dish for the drone's satellite radio hardware itself is a possible giveaway, as its antenna is potentially highly "reflective", or non-stealthy. It could be that's why Lockheed Martin designed the Sentinel spy drone with two distinctive humps on its back, each apparently containing a separate satellite dish. "If your UAV is being illuminated by radar, you turn to place that radar on one side of the aircraft and use the antenna on the opposite, 'shadow' side of the aircraft to communicate," Sweetman explained.

In the case of the B-2, F-22, and F-35, the bigger problem is how to communicate with other planes without sending out some obvious signal that can be tracked back to the source. Voice radio is out of the question. "As soon as I talk, I give myself away," said Mike Therrien, an Air Force comms expert. Likewise, non-voice radio datalinks used by older jets are too easy to detect. Lockheed Martin installed on the 187 Raptors a short-range, low-power datalink that is minimally detectable and the Joint Strike Fighter is getting a new, purpose-made, stealthy datalink that's also being added to the B-2.

But both of these links have problems interfacing with older comms networks, sometimes requiring stealth warplanes to be accompanied by special EQ-4 drones or E-11 manned planes with radio translation systems installed (http://tinyurl.com/9kje8qp).

3. Stealth with an "S"

One of the biggest radar giveaways is inside an aircraft. In most planes, the engine turbines are visible through the air inlet -- and they're a huge source of radar reflectivity. To mask the turbines, stealth warplane designers must connect the inlet to the engine indirectly, by snaking the inlet duct inside the fuselage in a rough S-shape.

The S-shaped inlet is a tricky bit of engineering to pull off. Boeing refined its engine-obscuring techniques using a futuristic, one-off test plane called the Bird of Prey (Boeing: Boeing Unveils Bird of Prey Stealth Technology Demonstrator), among whose most important features was a very stealthy inlet. But the Lockheed Martin-built RQ-170 is apparently too short for a curved duct and instead relies on a radar-blocking grill that covers the inlet mouth. Otherwise, the serpentine inlet is practically standard on current U.S. and, apparently, Chinese jets, but surprisingly Russia's T-50 stealth prototype doesn't have them (New Russian Airpower Efforts Show Progress).

4. Chilling Out

Airplanes generate a lot of heat. And even if you completely mask a plane's radar signature, it might still give off telltale infrared emissions, especially around the engine exhaust, but also from electronics, moving parts, and surface area exposed to high wind friction.

The B-2 and F-22's flat engine nozzles spread out the exhaust to avoid infrared hot spots, but to save money, all 2,400 planned U.S. F-35s will have a traditional, rounded nozzle that spews a lot of concentrated heat. The Spirit, Raptor, and Joint Strike Fighter apparently all feature gear for cooling hot leading edges such as the fronts of wings. They also boast systems that sink much of the heat generated by the on-board electronics and actuators into the fuel. The F-35 in particular pushed that concept to the extreme (F-35 partly recovers flight test record in 2010, but fresh obstacles await). "We're out of heat-sink capacity for the F-35," said James Engle, a former Air Force deputy assistant secretary.

Some researchers have considered new fuel types with better thermal properties in order to boost the heat capacity of today's planes. One university study (PDF: http://www.energy.psu.edu/sites/defa...ed_jetfuel.pdf) found that standard JP-8 jet fuel derived from coal instead of petroleum could safely absorb more heat.

5. Skin Deep

For U.S. stealth warplanes, a paint job is about more than good looks. Stealthy Spirits, Raptors, Joint Strike Fighters, and presumably Sentinels are coated in special paints that suppress heat and partially cancel out radar waves. But to work correctly, the paint has to be maintained in immaculate condition. "We are working all day every day," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Duque, an Air Force F-22 paint technician. Increasingly, high-tech robots guided by laser sensors are taking over stealth painting duties.

In any event, the paint on the F-35 is designed to be more robust than that on the Raptor. The Air Force has such high hopes for the new pigment that it is also painting some of its F-16s with the same formula (The Aviationist » U.S. F-16s tasked to destroy enemy radars, missile batteries to get the same radar-absorbing paint job of the F-35), hoping to lend the older jets a degree of stealthiness.

6. Contrail Control

Contrails are formed when jet engines spew sulfur, nitrogen, tiny fragments of metal, and other impurities into the atmosphere, attracting vaporized water that adheres to the pollutants and forms long, linear clouds that are visible for many miles in all directions, sometimes even at night.

That's obviously a problem for infiltrating warplanes trying to remain invisible to enemy defenders. In 1994, the Air Force paid Northrop Grumman $16 million to add a "contrail management system" to the 20-strong fleet of high-flying B-2 stealth bombers. The system somehow chemically prevents water from sticking to the bombers' exhaust, erasing any contrail. "How do those work? Beats the hell out of me," Matt Rasmussen wrote in an article on the phenomenon.

It's unclear if any of America's other stealth warplanes have similar contrail-suppression gear, but it wouldn't be surprising if they did.

7. Stealth Surprise

Perhaps the most remarkable quality of America's stealth warplanes is their continuing ability to escape public notice during years or even decades of development, testing, and initial operations. The F-117 and B-2 were secrets until the Air Force didn't want them to be anymore. The F-22 and F-35 have always been highly-visible programs, although many of the jets' specific capabilities are classified. The RQ-170, by contrast, reportedly flew during the 2003 Iraq war without any outsiders realizing what it was and stayed in the shadows until a lucky photographer finally spotted one of the 20 or so Sentinels in Afghanistan in 2007 (Return of The 'Beast of Kandahar' Stealth Drone | Danger Room | Wired.com).

Today the Air Force is apparently designing or testing at least two new radar-evading drones (Air Force May Be Developing Stealth Drones in Secret | Danger Room | Wired.com) plus the new Long-Range Strike Bomber, an even stealthier successor to the now-25-year-old Spirit. But the only evidence of these classified programs is oblique references in financial documents, vague comments by industry officials, and the occasional revealing commercial satellite photograph. Who knows what new qualities the next generation of stealth planes might possess in addition to those of the current armada.
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