Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Air Power Australia, Flanker Analysis Examined

Unless you have stumbled across this blog by complete accident and are looking for financial commentary or a V8 page you’ve probably heard of Dr Carlo Kopp. Indeed he is perhaps the most famous, or infamous, analyst within the wider Australian defence community. The “good Dr” contributes to many respectable publications such as Defence Today Magazine on a regular basis, and often reports on a number of defence related issues which are in my opinion usually genuine and thoughtful articles. However his rather uncontroversial additions to various defence media are probably not the reason why you have heard of Dr Kopp. His most controversial articles and analysis all stem from the debate over the RAAF’s choice of combat aircraft and its viability when facing advanced Russian Flanker derivatives. His website “Air Power Australia” has flooded the internet with articles which invariably end with the conclusion on the outright inferiority of all western alternatives apart from the F-22A when facing the Super Flanker threat.

While the government went about considering tenders for an eventual replacement of the F/A-18C/D’s and F-111 fleet Dr Kopp and other associates (a Mr Goon included) lodged a submission to the DoD. Under Kopp’s plan the RAAF would acquire ~50 F-22A’s and retain 24 ‘upgraded’ F-111S’s. When this option was not chosen by the RAAF (the F-35 was chosen and then the F/A-18F as an interim solution) the Dr launched his PR campaign, arguing that only the F-22A could provide the RAAF with the necessary level of air dominance when facing the advanced Flanker threat. Soon the internet was flooded by APA PDF’s and his various pages on the APA site with long and seemingly comprehensive arguments illustrating the dire mistake the RAAF had made, and the inferiority of the chosen designs. To the layman (or even someone with a casual interest in air power) his arguments are very persuasive; indeed a younger, more impressionable Ozzy was swayed by the doctor’s conviction and apparent technical mastery. Debates on many forums included Kopp’s arguments, many of which had apparently not appeared before, it seemed that this Australian defence journalist had swayed thousands all over the world to his view of the contemporary battle space.


However after time, careful thought, significant discussion and a good dose of listening, reading and learning a slightly older, more sceptical Ozzy began to question the “good Dr’s” arguments and conclusions. Indeed it soon became apparent that Carlo Kopp’s work on contemporary air combat is, for the most part, an exercise in lobbying. After close examination it’s apparent that the vast majority of Dr Kopp’s arguments are based on mistruths, bogus analysis and conclusions drawn after only examining beneficial considerations. Below is the first section of a PDF authored by Dr Kopp available at his website, It is in many ways a typical piece of Kopp’s work which is why I decided to critically examine it. There was more to the piece but I could have gone on for ever; this two page article exemplifies Kopp’s major arguments and clearly illustrates the tactics and devices he uses to put together a persuasive and seemingly sound argument. Below I have outlined 16 major misrepresentations of fact, omissions, oversimplifications and deliberately partial analysis Kopp made on this 2 page journey in order to arrive at the damning conclusion that the F-35A or F/A-18F could at best, only hope to achieve parity when facing an advanced Flanker threat.


I have not altered the good doctor’s work outlined in blue below. The article full can be found here:


http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Rus-BVR-AAM.html


Russian BVR Combat Philosophy

The Russian paradigm of BVR combat has its origins in the Cold War period, when Soviet operational analysis indicated that the low kill probability of missile seekers and airframes, especially if degraded by countermeasures, would be a major impediment to success. By the 1970s the standard Soviet technique in a BVR missile launch was to salvo two rounds, a semiactive radar homing weapon and a heatseeking weapon. To this effect some Soviet fighters even included a weapons select mode which automatically sequenced the launch of two rounds for optimal separation.


The mathematics of multiple round missile engagements are unambiguous - the size of a missile salvo launched is a stronger driver of success than the actual kill probability of the individual missiles. If the missiles are wholly identical by type, then the following curves may be optimistic, insofar as a factor degrading the kill probability of one missile is apt to have a similar effect on its siblings in a salvo. However, where the missiles differ by seeker type and guidance control laws, then the assumption of statistically independent missile shots is very much stronger.


A question often asked is why are Sukhoi Flanker variants equipped to carry between eight and twelve BVR missiles? The answer is a simple one - so they can fire more than one three or four round BVR missile salvo during the opening phases of an engagement. In this fashion the aircraft being targeted has a difficult problem as it must jam, decoy and/or outmanoeuvre three or four tightly spaced inbound missiles. Even if we assume a mediocre per round kill probability of 30 percent, a four round salvo still exceeds a total kill probability of 75 percent.

1) This all assumes the engagement occurs within the Flanker/R-27’s No Escape Zone/Volume which is unrealistic in most scenarios. The NEZ for an R-27ER vs. an F/A-18F with detection at launch would probably sit somewhere in the 30~40nm range mark, just over half of the stated maximum range of the R-27 and well under half of the AIM-120D’s maximum range. If the launch occurs outside this range then multiple launches will have no additional effect on the engagement, i.e. if the target can outrun one incoming then he can outrun 10.

A critical question which must be asked when assessing the effectiveness of Russian BVR tactics is that of Western tactics and the effectiveness of the AIM-120 AMRAAM, the principal Western BVR fighter weapon. The AIM-120A AMRAAM was introduced at the end of the Cold War to provide a "fire and forget" active radar guided weapon with a midcourse inertial guidance system and datalink support provided by the radar on the launch aircraft, allowing multiple concurrent shots. The AIM-120A was followed by the incrementally improved B-model, and then by the "short span" AIM-120C-3 sized to fit the F-22A weapon bay. The AIM-120C-4 has better kinematic performance introducing a larger rocket motor and shorter control section, and a better warhead, while the AIM-120C-6 introduced a better fuse. The latest AIM-120D introduces a redesigned seeker built for better durability in high vibration carriage environments, a two way datalink, GPS to supplement inertial guidance, incrementally improved kinematics, and better seeker performance against high off-boresight targets.

2) Kopp conveniently forgets to mention that the AIM-120D’s “multi burn” rocket motor has extended its maximum range to 100nm, 30nm greater reach than the R-27ER long burn. Additionally every stage in the AIM-120’s evolution has systematically improved its ECCM package, and even the AIM-120B included a home on jam feature rendering noise jamming (the type most widely used in the 90’s) obsolete.

The performance of the AIM-120A/B/C models in combat to date has not been spectacular. Test range trials have resulted in stated kill probabilities of 85 percent out of 214 launches for the AIM-120C variant. Combat statistics for all three variants are less stellar, amounting to, according to US sources, ten kills (including a friendly fire incident against a UH-60) of which six were genuine BVR shots, for the expenditure of just over a dozen AIM-120 rounds. The important parameter is that every single target was not equipped with a modern defensive electronic warfare package and therefore not representative of a state-of-the-art Flanker in a modern BVR engagement. Against such "soft" targets the AIM-120 has displayed a kill probability of less than 50 percent [1]. It is an open question whether the AIM-120D when challenged with a modern DRFM (Digital RF Memory) based monopulse trackbreaking jammer will be able to significantly exceed the 50 percent order of magnitude kill probability of prior combat launches, let alone replicate the 85 percent performance achieved in ideal test range conditions [2].

3) Here Dr Kopp mistakes average PK with an individual missile shot’s PK which is what is meant to be discussed here. An individual missile shot’s PK is utterly dependant on the details of the missile launch. These include range to target, altitude relative to target, energy state, target energy state, target bearing/angle of track, target ECM and the individual missiles ECCM. What this means in real terms is if an AIM-120D was fired at a supersonic MiG-21 at 90nm when the launch platform was in a low energy state and the target was fleeing the PK would be less than 5%. According to Kopp’s line of reason the AIM-120D must have a PK under 20%. Thus taking the total number of AIM-120 combat shots and taking the % of successes and then attempting to use those numbers as some sort of evidence for a particular missile shots probability of success is a fundamentally flawed line of logic in my opinion. In sub surface naval engagements, a low PK torpedo shot may be taken in order to facilitate a response from the enemy, such as to force him to come shallow or disrupt the enemies firing solution by compelling them to manoeuvre. The same stands for A2A engagements. Many A2A engagements in the 90’s occurred with western fighters defending strike packages, and escorting fighters may have made shots that had a low probability of success in order to defend the package. In short PK is not an arbitrary number, it’s wholly dependant on the circumstances of the launch. While some forms of SJP may have effected the PK of individual shots is not clear by any means that non state of the art SPJ’s would have had a significant effect considering the AMRAAM’s HOJ and ECCM package.


4) The AIM-120D has the most advanced ECCM package available on the BVR missile market to date. Modern DRFM deception jammers work by analysing the seekers pulse frequencies and then transmitting a similar signal in order to deceive the missile or reduce the seekers/FCR’s range through active cancellation. There are two fundamental vulnerabilities with this kind of technology. One is if you don’t understand the algorithms that govern the threat seekers actions and ECCM capability it may well be that the seeker will see the EM source attempting to jam it. The second is if that occurs then the SPJ acts like a beacon as the seeker just follows the EM source to the target. Thus deception jamming is extremely intel dependant, because if you don’t understand how the threat seeker works or how its “brain” thinks SPJ’s of this type can, in fact, be counter productive. The reality is even though this technology can be quite effective if it is more advanced than the seeker technology opposing it; it is far from the “panacea” portrayed by Kopp.


Where does this leave Western air forces equipped with the AIM-120 when confronting Flankers armed with up to three times the number of BVR missiles?

Illustrative examples are the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-35 JSF, the latter armed in an air superiority configuration with two, the former with up to six AIM-120s [3]. Assuming the Flanker driver does not exploit his superior missile kinematic range and shoot first - an optimistic assumption - then the best case kill probability for the AIM-120 shooter firing two to four rounds is better than 90 percent. However, if we assume that hostile jamming and manoeuvre degrade the kill probability to around 50 percent - a reasonably optimistic statistical baseline here – then the total kill probability for a two round salvo is optimistically around 75 percent, and for a four round salvo over 90 percent. Arguably good odds for the four round salvo, only if the missile kill probability sits at 50 percent, but the F/A-18E/F or F-35 JSF will have expended all or most of its warload of AIM-120s and be unable to continue in BVR combat.

In a "many versus many" engagement, the low speed of both types leaves them unable to disengage and will see both types subsequently killed by another Flanker. This best case "many versus many" engagement scenario sees the F/A-18E/F or F-35 JSF being traded one for one with Su-30MK/Su-35BM Flankers in BVR combat, which is the general assumption made for WVR combat between like opponents, and representative of many historical attrition air campaign statistics. To achieve this best case "many versus many" outcome of trading F/A-18E/F or F-35 JSF one for one, we have stacked a series of assumptions against the Flanker - dumb Flanker pilots not exploiting a missile kinematic range advantage, dumb Flanker pilots not exploiting a firepower advantage, Russian BVR missile seekers no better than the AIM-120, and Russian DRFM monopulse jammers achieving a less than 50 percent degradation of AIM-120 kill probability [4].


5) First let me address a clear misrepresentation of fact. The F/A-18F has 8 AMRAAM capable hard points. Additionally is has a dual rail launcher allowing the 6 underwing hard points to carry two each. Theoretically the platform could carry 14 AIM-120’s and 2 AIM-9X’s for a grand total of 16 missiles, significantly more than the SU-30. In real terms the two inboard hard points would likely be taken up by external fuel carriage, reducing the AMRAAM load to 10. 12 AAM’s is a realistic war load for the super hornet, though 10 is more typical (identical to a Flanker). At IOC the F-35A will be able to launch with 10 AMRAAM’s on 10 internal and external hard points if need be, and currently a dual rail, internal AMRAAM launcher is being developed under LM’s spiral development program which will allow 12; again comparable or better to a Flanker. In real terms there is no real advantage in a Flankers war load, and the Hornet/Lightning will be carrying weapons a full generation more advanced then their Russian adversaries.











Left and Right: F/A-18F with a 10 AAM missile load displaying the dual rail launcher, note that the outboard under-wing hard-points are not equipped with the dual rail launcher. Additionally the inboard under-wing hard-points are available for external fuel carriage making this an operational configuration.


6) The ability to achieve first shot is not dominated by kinematical performance in the vast majority of cases; information is the critical asset in this instance. The F/A-18F has significant RCS reduction in the frontal aspect, reducing its clean RCS to<.5m2 (likely .1m2). Even when carrying weapons the Rhino’s frontal RCS would be far smaller than a Flanker’s (SU-30’s frontal RCS is an estimated 4m2 + weapons). In real terms this will significantly reduce the flanker’s detection radius (although not to the level of VLO). Furthermore the F/A-18F is equipped with the AN/APG-79, LPI AESA radar. The exact detection and track performance of Irbis/BARS PESA and the APG-79 AESA radars are classified, but considering the generic performance bonuses AESA systems enjoy it is probable the AN/APG-79 provides better D&T performance. Additionally the LPI AESA’s random frequency modulation makes it extremely difficult to effectively jam; the system should enjoy much better ECCM performance than its Russian peers.


But even if the generationally inferior Russian radars enjoy comparable D&T performance the Rhino’s reduced RCS means it will detect the Flanker first. Furthermore the massive power output and single frequency use of the Russian super PESA’s means they will be detectable by the Rhino’s fully digital AN/ALR-67(v)3 RWR well outside said radars detection footprint. The combination of ESM/RWR detection, superior radar performance and smaller RCS ensures that in the vast majority of scenarios the Rhino will detect the Flanker first. First look is critical to enabling first shot (hence the term first look, first shot, first kill). Once you detect the threat without being counter detected the pilot can take the positional advantage or disengage at will, by achieving first look the Rhino enjoys the ability to prosecute the engagement on his own terms. Attaining positional advantage significantly increases the chances of a successful engagement; engaging the enemy while remaining undetected (outside of the threats radar footprint i.e. anywhere but in front of it) while in a high energy state and possibly from higher altitude will have devastating effects on the target.


Delaying the detection of the missile shot as long as possible increases the NEZ dramatically, gives the pilot less time to react and keeps end game energy high through lack of target evasion. First look has nothing to do with kinematical performance and everything to do with information dominance, the high ground in contemporary warfare and the dominating factor in modern BVR engagements. Considering the Super Hornet will most likely enjoy first look, and is equipped with BVR missiles that provide a 30% larger engagement envelope I think its reasonable to assume in most occasions the F/A-18F will achieve first shot, and again kinematic performance has little to do with it.


7) Flanker’s missiles are INFERIOR in terms of range performance. Longest ranging Russian missile equipping the flanker series in the foreseeable future is the R-27 Long Burn. This missile has a range maximum engagement envelope of 70nm (source Carlo Kopp). The F/A-18F on the other hand is equipped with the AIM-120D. That missile has a maximum engagement envelope of >100nm.








8) The F-35 is an LO platform with an RCS smaller than .001m2 (comparable to a golf ball or insect). Throughout the Flankers operational lifespan (and the foreseeable future) BVR engagements will be dominated by X band radars, just like those equipping the Flanker. Thus the Flanker will likely not have the ability to engage the F-35 in the BVR regime full stop, let alone achieve 1 for 1 kill rates in the 100km+ range (the F-35’s likely AIM-120D launch radius).


9) The R-77 is the Flankers primary active radar homing missile developed in the early 90’s, along with the R-27ER/EA which is in effect an R-27 missile body equipped with a long burn motor and the R-77’s seeker. The R-27ER/EA is the most potent missile in the Flankers inventory; however it enjoys identical seeker performance to the R-77. As we all know the driving force behind Russian weapons development in the post Cold War era has been the export market. Clearly the Russian arms manufactures have abandoned their previous qualms on exporting degraded or inferior Russian equipment. This is illustrated by the fact that the most capable Russian built fighters operational anywhere are flown by the Indian air force, and the export of top line Russian ASCM’s such as the “Sunburn”. Therefore it would be atypical for Russian manufacturers to have more advanced seeker technology in production and it not to be available on the open arms market. The R-77E (export model) has been available for export for over a decade, and according to Janes the seeker has had no major upgrades during that time, which would infer that the seeker technology used in the R-77E (and hence R-27ER/EA) is in fact 1990’s technology (comparable to the AIM-120A/B). The AIM-120’s seeker package has been upgraded 6 times in that timeframe, and the D model introduces features like a 2 way data-link which can transmit seeker generated data back to the launch platform. The seeker hardware must be significantly more sophisticated to allow this to occur. Thus it is clearly a reasonable assumption to state that the AIM-120D provides a more advanced seeker than the R-77E or R-27ER/EA.


A competent Flanker driver gets the first shot with three or four round salvo of long burn R-27 variants, with mixed seekers, leaving one or two remaining salvoes of BVR missiles on his rails, and the same Flanker driver will have modern DRFM monopulse jammers capable of causing likely much more than a 50 percent degradation of AIM-120 kill probability. With a thrust vectoring engine capability (TVC), the Flanker driver has the option of making himself into a very
difficult endgame target for the AIM-120 regardless of the capability of his jamming equipment.

10) As discussed earlier the Flanker is unlikely to get the first shot considering the advantages the Rhino enjoys in terms of information dominance. Kinematical performance will not enable first shot if the Rhino remains undetected by the Flanker. In any case a “first shot” is unlikely to be inside the NEZ and thus the 4 round salvo would not increase the PK.


11) The assumption that DRFM deception jamming technology will reduce an AIM-120D’s PK to less than 50% has no real world evidence or even balanced logic behind it. The previous discussion on PK was on average PK not specific missile shot PK and has nothing to do with determining a specific shot’s chances. Thus the below 50% PK on an AIM-120D is an imaginary number. Considering the generic disadvantages this technology has (unless you know the seeker hardware and software that govern the missile it is extremely difficult to effectively fool an advanced active seeker, and them the EM source will itself guide the missile) in most occasions 50% PK reduction is optimistic in my opinion. Even if that is the case the significantly inferior R-77E’s seeker must provide a far inferior PK.


12) TVC will have no positive effect on a platform’s chances of survival with an inbound BVR missile. TVC improves instantaneous turn rates which has a positive impact on WVR engagements, however when dodging a missile the system becomes counter-productive. TVC allows higher instantaneous turn rates (moves the nose around quicker) by diverting thrust; however this has the effect of bleeding airspeed and kinematic energy through increased drag and decreased thrust through axis of movement. Slowing down and thus putting yourself in a low energy state is effectively suicide when facing an incoming, 50g+ rated, BVR missile in a high energy state. It’s impossible to out turn a missile, TVC or not. The missiles Achilles heal is the fact that after the motor burns out (usually after a few dozen seconds) its bleeding energy, and if you can bleed enough energy out of the missile by keeping in a high energy state it is feasible to, in fact, make it impossible for the incoming to maintain the intercept track. The key is to reduce the missiles energy state as early and as much as possible, and TVC only hurts this process. In this situation TVC is a liability simply because it robes you of your greatest asset, energy. However “bleeding” incoming missiles is becoming less and less effective; Meteor and AIM-120D use motors that provide thrust throughout the flight profile (through Ramjet or multi-stage burn rocket motor) equating to high end game energy states.


Since all of the AIM-120s fired are identical in kinematic performance and seeker jam resistance, any measure applied by the Flanker driver which is effective against one AIM-120 round in the salvo is apt to produce the same effect against all AIM-120 rounds - a problem the Flanker driver does not have due to diversity in seeker types and missile kinematics.

13) The number game of missile exchange applies to AMRAAM’s in the same manner it does to Russian missiles. If an AMRAAM has a PK of 50% within the NEZ, 2 AIM-120’s will increase the PK to 75%. The superior seeker performance and ECCM more than makes up for the mixed bag of seekers employed in Russian doctrine (western fighters are also equipped with effective IRCM). Just because a DRFM SPJ is successful in fooling one missile does not increase its chances of repeating that success with the second. Realistically if a platform’s IRCM are as effective as its ECM and the process of employing both is relatively automated, and are not missile specific, mixed seeker incomings should not have any additional effect in terms of countermeasures. Kinematical difference is negligible considering in this scenario (within the NEZ) both of the incoming will be in a much higher energy state and can turn much tighter than the target (Russian or western), thus any difference is academic. In any case the Boeing Joint Dual Role Air Dominance Missile or JDRADM is the intended to replace the AIM-120D as the US’s primary BVR weapon. The JDRADM will incorporate IIR and Active Radar seeker technology providing a mixed seeker on every missile (enabling precision strike capability), the system should be operational within the next 5 to 10 years and deployed on F/A-18F’s and F-35’s.


Currently classified capabilities such as the use of the APG-79 or APG-81 AESA radar as an Xband high power jammer against the Russian BARS or Irbis E radar are not a panacea, and may actually hasten the demise of the F/A-18E/F or F-35 JSF in a BVR shootout.This is for the simple reason that to jam the Russian radar, the APG-79 or APG-81 AESA radar must jam the frequencies being used by the Russian radar, and this then turns the APG-79 or APG-81 AESA radar into a wholly electronically predictable X-band high power beacon for an anti-radiation seeker equipped Russian BVR missile such as the R-27EP or R-77P. The act of jamming the Russian radar effectively surrenders the frequency hopping agility in the emissions of the APG-79 or APG-81 AESA radar, denying it the only defence it has against the anti-radiation missile. A smart Russian radar software designer will include a "seduction mode" to this effect, with narrowband emissions to make it very easy even for an early model 9B-1032 anti-radiation seeker. The flipside of the electronic combat game is no better. The F-14A/B/D included the AAS-42 Infrared Search and Track set which allowed a target to be tracked despite hostile jamming of the AWG-9/APG-71 radar. It is clear that the addition of the podded AAS-42 to the Super Hornet and "air to air" use of the JSF EOTS are intended for much the same purpose.


While this may permit the continuing use of the AESA radar to datalink midcourse guidance commands to the AIM-120s, it does nothing to deny the Flanker its own BVR shot. The notion that the defensive jamming equipment and infrared decoys will be highly effective against late model Russian digital missile seekers can only be regarded to be optimistic.


14) The extremely narrow and focused EM beam coupled with excellent side lobe performance that allow 3rd gen AESA’s to be used as stand off jammers also mean that if the anti radiation missile is not within the boundaries of the beam itself it will likely not be able to detect the EM source (unlike DRFM deception SPJ’s which do not transmit on a single bearing). Thus unless the radar is attempting to jam the missile itself its range will be reduced dramatically. Contemporary BVR missiles achieve current range performance through using semi-ballistic flight profiles. Due to the limitations of line of sight, the AR AAM will have to behave like a beam rider, achieving comparable range performance to early, beam riding, variants of the AIM-7 (comparable in terms of size) thus leading to a maximum effective range in the 20~30nm ballpark. The exact effective range 3rd gen AESA’s can effectively apply EA effects remains classified, however the USN stated that its effective range was “tactically significant” inferring comparable or greater range to a BVR missile max engagement envelope, or ~100nm. Thus in real terms the AR variant of the R-27 will have no effect on EA capability employed by the F/A-18F or F-35 unless said platforms are in near WVR. In real terms the capability is useless in the vast majority of the BVR regime.


Even within this “effective range” all the transmitting platform has to do is stop jamming the target for a matter of seconds and the incoming missile will lose lock. Once the missile looses the track it will not be able to manoeuvre with the target and when transmission resumes the missile will be out of its acquisition “basket” (i.e. the beam). The F/A-18F can then continue to apply EA effects on the target at will, disrupting comms and degrading radar performance. The only way AR variants of the R-77 or R-27 will be effective is if the transmitting platforms continue to jam the target right up until missile impact, indeed even if the missile is within a km or two and the target stops transmitting the shot is rendered useless. Against a fighter this weapons system has almost no chance of a kill due to the speed and manoeuvrability of the target and fleeting nature of the EM source. The best one can hope for is compelling the threat to cease applying EA on you for a matter of seconds.


15) Currently Russian designers have yet to produce a digital IIR missile seeker for the R-73 missile, which still relies on analogue rotating reticule technology last seen in the west on the AIM-9L/M. Due to the lack of international interest there is, to my knowledge, no major drive for digital IIR seekers on Russian BVR or WRV weapon system’s.


In electronic warfare terms neither side has a decisive advantage, but the Flanker does have a decisive advantage in aircraft and missile kinematics and in having up to six times the payload of BVR missiles to expend. The simple conclusion to be drawn is that operators of the F/A-18E/F or F-35 JSF should make every effort to avoid Beyond Visual Range combat with late model Flankers, as the best case outcome is parity in exchange rates, and the worst case outcome a decisive exchange ratio advantage to the Flanker. Given the evident design choices the Russians have made, this is not an accident, but rather a consequence of well thought through operational analysis of capabilities and limitations of contemporary BVR weapon systems.

16) The ability to apply EA effects at stand off range is currently an ability that the Flanker does not enjoy, and will not, ever (the last production Flanker, the SU-35BM, is equipped with the Irbis PESA radar and its likely that the first Russian platform to field an advanced AESA capable of EA will be the T-50 PAK FA), the F/A-18F and F-35A do however. Additionally the ECCM employed by 3rd gen AESA’s are significantly more advanced then their Russian peers. The random frequency modulation employed by LPI AESA’s make them virtually impossible to jam through active cancellation and deception simply because it is impossible to predict the next frequency the AESA will use on any number of its beams (i.e. its random). In order to effectively jam the LPI AESA with deception or active cancellation techniques the SPJ or EA source would have to transmit on as many as a thousand specific frequencies which have ben chosen at random by the Radar, i.e. basically impossible. The only form of ECM that has any effect on 3rd gen AESA’s is 80’s vintage noise jamming, because it transmits loudly on all frequencies throughout the band. This form of ECM has virtually been rendered obsolete by the increased D&T performance of FCR’s (increased burn-through capability) and the HOJ capability provided by many contemporary BVR weapons. The AN/ALR-679(v)3 is a fully digital RWR currently deployed on the F/A-18F, it’s half a generation ahead of current gen (analogue) Flanker RWR. Presently Russian digital RWR technology is still in the developmental stage. Clearly in every area of EW, ECM, ECCM & ELINT the F/A-18F & F-35A hold a distinct advantage.


This conclusion is typical of the tactics, techniques and devices Kopp uses to argue his case. The premises of many of the conclusions stated on the final paragraph are built on arguments made previously under false logic (such as using average PK to determine specific PK) or flat out falsification (such as the inferior war load). Using the faulty or misleading arguments outlined in previous paragraphs, each sprinkled with real capability and fact to increase the feeling of legitimacy, to arrive at the desired conclusion can be very convincing. Hence we must examine the whole article in order to dismantle the conclusion.


How did Dr Kopp reach the conclusions of a best case parity exchange ratio without examining the effect of information dominance and networking on the engagement? The primacy of ISR capability and information distribution has been clearly illustrated in every high intensity conflict fought by the west in the post cold war era. Surely the impact of VLO should be considered before making such damning conclusions? Rendering threat radar performance practically irrelevant should be worth consideration shouldn’t it, particularly considering X band radars dominate BVR engagements? Not once was the effect of RCS reduction addressed in the whole article. On three or four occasions Kopp examines an engagement that is clearly 4th gen platforms manoeuvring within the others radar footprint, and then lumps the F-35 in the conclusion even though VLO renders the previous comparison utterly moot.


In fact how is a Flanker going to achieve a 1 to 1 exchange ratio with an F-35 when it lacks the ability to effectively engage or track the platform with its primary sensor at BVR? Oh, that’s right the IRST! Yet another conclusion drawn from a previous argument based on misleading information and half truths. Not even western designers have achieved performance even close to AESA radars with IIR technology, and even Dr Kopp admits the Russians are yet to field systems as advanced as operational western designs (the developmental OLS on the MiG-35 is the only Russian system comparable to current gen western technology like PIRATE). The critical factor with IRST technology is it can not effectively search a large volume in the same manner as a Radar, its akin to searching for an aircraft in the sky with a pair of binoculars when you don’t know its there and you cant hear it. Even if technically an IRST can detect an afterburning F-35 at 50 or 100km, without another sensor cueing the IRST (like if you heard the aircraft or someone else told you to look with your binoculars) its chances are one in a million. Even if the IRST does acquire the F-35 it can not effectively track the target (IRST’s can not generate range information and thus a track) and relies on a laser range finder. The only feasible way for an IRST to track a VLO target is if it is cued by an RWR/ESM, which is difficult considering all F-35’s comms and active sensors are LPI, and in combat many will have stringent EMCON procedures applied (i.e. probably EM Cold receiving sensor information from other platforms). In short the F-35 equipped force will have a near clear picture of the battle space, and the Flanker equipped force will have nothing of the sort i.e. wont be able to detect or track the threat platforms with supporting ISR platforms or fighter Fire Control Radars. Anyone who has an objective viewpoint and has examined the effect on information dominance on modern air campaigns (including desert storm) should come to the conclusion that a 1 for 1 exchange ratio is extremely optimistic for the Flanker equipped force.


Over and over again Kopp presents opinion as fact and the authority the average reader grants the writer allows him to effectively do so, often without question. He continually uses prior conclusions as evidence, however those prior conclusions are invariably built on analysis that either deliberately omits vital elements or blatantly falsifies information. In effect Kopp has constructed a house of cards with specious analysis and conclusion using prior specious analysis and falsehood as its foundation, which like any house of cards collapses if one critically examines the assumptions and claims that hold the entire argument together. Someone who continually needs to resort to such tactics to argue his case must have a serious personal interest in being seen to be correct (even if in reality he is not) that goes far beyond pride or patriotic interest. Indeed the systematic way Dr Kopp builds artificial conclusions on spurious analysis and distortion indicates a malicious intention to mislead the reader rather than stimulate thought and genuine debate.


Resources:

http://www.janes.com/defence/news/jdw/jdw000904_5_n.shtml

http://www.janes.com/extracts/extract/jalw/jalw3025.html

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Rus-BVR-AAM.html

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Flanker.html

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/218m-for-new-aim120d-amraam-lead-materials-02249/

14 comments:

rubbish said...

BZ OzzyBlizzard.

A little piece of trivia for those who wax lyrical on IRST (and nicely slotted by you in your response).

I've been lucky enough to witness and participate evaluations of ISR rated IRST systems. Typically we found that the claims made by vendors related to detecting a smear or "blob" - actual "target useful" data pulls (as in targetting quality) were typically at 65% of the claimed range. The problem with a smear is that it could be anything - eg a MALD

when people like Kopp start talking about the magic of Russian IRST - well, it's a farago of nonsense.

Of course, I would imagine that he can stand up in front of the enthusiastic fan clubbers and trot out his Clearance Levels (at least we know what Rated material he can see if he identifies any Clearance Level) - and of course he must have aslo been on a platform or tender evaluation team - otherwise he would be using OSINT material - oh hold on, he can't. If he was on an Eval team with appropriate access to system detail, then he knows he can't "tell"..

But, there is a way out of this - he can give us some comfort by just identifying which Tech eval teams he's been on, - that would obviously establish credibility and then we could clearly see what he would have had access to. Problem is, no-one who's been on air combat evaluations, or weapons systems evaluations, or sensor systems evaluations in this country has seen him in the same room. So I guess he's been on Russian tech teams.....

Methinks it will be a long wait before we find out that all he has ever had access to is OSINT - and that on unsupported material he's a pretty enthusiastic extrapolater when promoting his own expectations ....

gf0012-aust

Richard said...

Ozzie you put a lot of time into this and clearly you must have time to work your blog - that's good. I would ask myself what can I learn from both you and Carlo, your personal attacks are cheap-shots and too Australian for a Yank, but it must be you. My 2 cents would be that you gloss over too much the platforms themselves because if the F-18 / F-35 / Sukhoi's were to find themselves in combat the scenario that forced that combat would have a whole lot to do with how the first actions develop, and from Australia's perspective you will either be going one hell of a distance or hanging around CAP's for long periods trying to fill holes in anticipation of something coming - both mean that the configuration of your F-18's and perhaps F-35's will not be with a dozen missiles.

Those F-18 pictures with 10 missiles are nice photo-op stuff but I would ask - (1) how far does that clean F-18 go with that load, (2) how many AIM-120's does Australia own right now and what is the state-of-the-art or modern version of them, and (3) even with the F-35 how many missiles will be ordered / purchased by Australia from the US or Europe that would enable any RAAF fighter to launch with let's say just four missiles more than once. And then go right down the line of systems and subsystems - what in the hell do you think the RAAF would actually own when they may have to face off with say a force of some 40 to 60 Flankers of any variety. In the same light how many Targeting Pods do you think the RAAF will order for the F-18's under order, perhaps one for every aircraft with spares to go - no way and you know that. 50% will be a good number and those several years after the first jets arrive. So this whole mismatch of kits and varieties has to be dealt with and right now the West is way behind the power curve.

Unfortunately - for us - the Chinese and Russians build complete machines and their customers get the whole deal or perhaps the full Monty. Sudan who just ordered 12 more MiG-29's and I would wager that the Sudanese Air Force right now has more BVR missiles then the Australian Air Force. The Malaysian AF also probably has more AMRAAM/AA-12 class missiles by a factor of 2 then the RAAF.

The first issue is that at what date in time would the RAAF have a force of any kind of new fighters with all the appropriate kit top deal with a like force of Flankers from any of many countries in the Pacific Basin. If 30% of the total force is fully capable at any one time then that may be a real miracle. Every enemy force - short of the trained pilots of course - will have enough if not more kit in working order, that is now a trademark of the Russian / Chinese sales organizations. What may not be there is the ISR feeds and this should remain a big advantage to your side unless the Russians or Chinese join the frey. If Australia does not have all that external C4ISR magic stuff that basically would allow any platform to remain quiet while being fed all the right poop, then the game probabilities vary, don't they.

So before we talk AESA theory and all of the amazing things that "could" be done with it, first find out if you have any and if they are working after you decide if you can get to the fight in the first place.

As much as I appreciated you back and forth with Carlo, I think you need to encourage the RAAF to honestly seek good debate on all kinds of things simply because we may be our own worst enemy at this stage in history. Simple and cost effective we are not and will suggest to you that someday after the F-18's are driving you nuts with availability issues and the F-35 is still half a decade away in promise and God knows how far in actual practice, Australia will be scrambling to keep a dozen F-111's flying and more then likely will search hard for some used F-16's or anything...

The problems are way beyond your analysis and this is why a good gun and a reliable mount still may make the day - both of which are lacking in the F-18 and F-35. I have no clue if the F-22 would be any better, but I suspect if you had one it would earn its way into sucking up enough budget to be kept flying simply because it can go high, fast, and far - something that the others can not and that is the battle space where you will meet the Flankers.

Ski

Tim 'Ozzy' Blizzard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim 'Ozzy' Blizzard said...

Richard;

Thanks for the Input, nice to know people are reading my work. as to your points:

"the scenario that forced that combat would have a whole lot to do with how the first actions develop, and from Australia's perspective you will either be going one hell of a distance or hanging around CAP's for long periods trying to fill holes in anticipation of something coming"

JORN provides the RAF with the ability to avoid standing CAP's in the manner you describe. We will see enemy strike packages coming a very long way out. All feasible combat scenario's are well within our sensor footprint. In any case a 10x AAM war load is not a heavy load for a Rhino, the USN operates over northern Afghanistan with A2G loads that induce significantly more drag. In any case if Su-30's are operating at extreme range do you expect them to be carrying a 12x AAM warload? By the way the AIM-120 is both smaller and lighter than either the R-27 or R-77.

"Those F-18 pictures with 10 missiles are nice photo-op stuff but I would ask - (1) how far does that clean F-18 go with that load,"

Well for one they wouldn’t be clean; if they were they would be unarmed considering the F/A-18F does not carry any weapons internally. As for its range of action with a 10x AAM war load & external fuel, that entirely depends on the flight profile and AAR availability. Remember external fuel tanks can be dropped. If you are insinuating that a 10 AAM war-load is not realistic for action 500nm off the Australian coast, but an Su-30 operating at twice that radius is (with less AAR capability) then I absolutely disagree.

“(2) how many AIM-120's does Australia own right now and what is the state-of-the-art or modern version of them,”

Currently the RAAF is equipped with the AIM-120C5, the standard used by the USAF and the most advanced AIM-120 model available. In any case the AIM-120B is more advanced than the R-77E.

As for war stocks, I don’t know the actual numbers of missiles sitting in canisters in RAAF bases, I would estimate 100~200. But I do know we have an agreement with the USAF that in a time of need we have access to their war stocks, witch number 10,000+. In any case how many do you think we need? Geography dictates that the only flankers we are going to have to deal with will be operating at extreme range or possibly from regional air forces. We will know if there is an escalation of the local threat and currently only elements of the PLAAF’s fighter force will be able to reach the Indonesian Archipelago.

“(3) even with the F-35 how many missiles will be ordered / purchased by Australia from the US or Europe that would enable any RAAF fighter to launch with let's say just four missiles more than once.”

Again we have access to USAF war-stocks, so the total number of weapons sitting around it’s really that relevant. It’s only relevant in a worst case surprise attack, but unless you have absolutely no faith in the ADF’s considerable intel capability that is extremely unlikely.

“And then go right down the line of systems and subsystems - what in the hell do you think the RAAF would actually own when they may have to face off with say a force of some 40 to 60 Flankers of any variety.”

Where did the 40 to 60 flankers come from? Did they arrive in our region without us or our partners knowledge?

Systems and subsystems? What did you mean by that exactly? Avionics subsystems come with the platform.

“in the same light how many Targeting Pods do you think the RAAF will order for the F-18's under order, perhaps one for every aircraft with spares to go - no way and you know that.”

Well the RAAF already owns 37x LITENING AT pods for the legacy hornet fleet, more than 3 squadrons could feasibly use at once considering the other elements of the package. I remember reading the RAAF has 24x ATFLIR pods under order, to go with the 24x Super Hornets. Only 18 will form the operational squadron, so the RAAF will have 6 spares on hand.

Tim 'Ozzy' Blizzard said...

“So this whole mismatch of kits and varieties has to be dealt with and right now the West is way behind the power curve.”

The kits are interchangeable, they are all NATO standard. How is the west behind the “power curve”? Are you referring to the power of systems and subsystems? Targeting Pod power? The west is far in front on the technology curve.

“Unfortunately - for us - the Chinese and Russians build complete machines and their customers get the whole deal or perhaps the full Monty. Sudan who just ordered 12 more MiG-29's and I would wager that the Sudanese Air Force right now has more BVR missiles then the Australian Air Force. The Malaysian AF also probably has more AMRAAM/AA-12 class missiles by a factor of 2 then the RAAF.”

What are you basing that opinion on? Sounds like a pre conceived notion that the RAAF can’t afford enough missiles? It is my understanding that Indonesia doesn’t have any weapons for its flanker fleet. And the Russians or Chinese don’t give access to their missile stocks in the same manner as the Americans do. Incidentally the RuAF does not even use the R-77E, thus there are no stocks beyond what customers buy from Vympel upfront.

What did you mean by the Russians build complete machines? Somehow the Americans only build partial machines?

In any case we have access to the largest missile stocks in the world so your entire line of reason on this vein is fundamentally faulty.

“The first issue is that at what date in time would the RAAF have a force of any kind of new fighters with all the appropriate kit top deal with a like force of Flankers from any of many countries in the Pacific Basin.”

Well the RAAF already has the capability to deal with ANY flanker force capable of operating within the sea air gap, with the current F/A-18C’s fleet. It takes much more than a shiny new fighter to win an air battle. It’s not the western front in 1918. The RAAF enjoys massive advantages in C4ISTAR, comm’s, tactics, training and weapons. Platforms are only a part of the system.

And when would the RAAF have a force of NEW fighters ready for battle, well how about 2012, since all 24 F/A-18F’s and all of their supporting kit would have been delivered. In addition to the 24x ATFLIR the package includes:

• 48 installed engines and six spares
• APG-79 AESA radar in each plane
• Link 16 connectivity with the AN/USQ-140 Multifunctional Informational Distribution System (MIDS)
• LAU-127 guided missile launchers
• AN/PVS-9 night vision goggles
• 12 Joint Mission Planning Systems (JMPS)
• AN/ALE-55 fiber optic towed decoys

So, in mid 2012 the RAAF will be able to field a full 18 platform strong squadron of F/A-18F’s, equipped with everything they need to go to battle. And no, A2A missiles stocks will not be a problem.

Continued......

Tim 'Ozzy' Blizzard said...

“If 30% of the total force is fully capable at any one time then that may be a real miracle. Every enemy force - short of the trained pilots of course - will have enough if not more kit in working order, that is now a trademark of the Russian / Chinese sales organizations.”

Roger I’m sorry but the above comment is absolute rubbish. That you could actually claim that any threat air force would achieve higher rates of availability than the RAAF, when equipped with notoriously unreliable Russian kit is ludicrous. Not only that, its insulting to the RAAF and derides the enormous professionalism of the fine people who make up its ranks. In exercise Pitch Black RAAF hornets achieved extremely high availability rates, and even with 40 year old F-111’s deployed at Red Flag the RAAF were achieving availability rates comparable to brand new Indian Flankers. You think 30% availability would be a miracle (thus 10 or 15% would be the norm)? So right now the RAAF could field 11 F/A-18C’s? What are you basing this ridiculous notion on? It is my understanding that even during the dark days of HUG all 3 operational hornet squadrons never fielded less than 16 battle worthy platforms. Do you think that the RAAF lacks the supporting infrastructure and thus can’t field most of our fight force? Is it basing infrastructure? We have plenty. The Americans didn’t provide us with the appropriate supporting elements? Like what? As stated earlier we have plenty of targeting pods, access to US war-stocks, enough JHMCS, about to reach IOC with KC-30B, Wedgetail is coming along.. What is this massive deficiency you see?

Additionally you seem to think that Russian or Chinese companies provide more support than LM or Boeing? That stands in stark contrast with much of the anecdotal evidence I’ve heard. How about MiG’s fiasco with the Algerians or the notoriously poor reliability of Indian Fulcrum engines? I have never heard of availability being a problem for western 4th gen platforms, especially in comparison to Russian contemporaries. This is basically due to the superior build quality of western kit.

“What may not be there is the ISR feeds and this should remain a big advantage to your side unless the Russians or Chinese join the frey. If Australia does not have all that external C4ISR magic stuff that basically would allow any platform to remain quiet while being fed all the right poop, then the game probabilities vary, don't they.”

What do you mean “join the frey”? They already have, and they are decades behind the US. Why wouldn’t the RAAF have all of the “ISR stuff”? We have it now, there are no magic countermeasures and we have access to the best game in town. It’s not going to magically go away. If you want to discuss those sorts of possibilities what happens if UAC falls over and there is no more support of R&D for the flanker family? Not good for the Flankers, but then again probably not going to happen, neither is the RAAF’s “ISR stuff”.

“So before we talk AESA theory and all of the amazing things that "could" be done with it, first find out if you have any and if they are working after you decide if you can get to the fight in the first place.”

The AN/APG-79 is operational, right now. It works and is currently the most advanced fighter radar on the planet, not to mention extremely reliable (AESA’s generally are). EA is part of its spiral development program and is being developed, right now. EA is not something that “could” be done with it; it “is” being done with it.

Continued.......

Tim 'Ozzy' Blizzard said...

“As much as I appreciated you back and forth with Carlo, I think you need to encourage the RAAF to honestly seek good debate on all kinds of things simply because we may be our own worst enemy at this stage in history.”

The RAAF had an extensive debate on this issue; it allowed significant public input and even had Dr Kopp present to a parliamentary committee on the issue. There were years of extensive debate, and the F-35A and F/A-18F were deemed to be the most suitable options for the RAAF, by the RAAF. After that choice was made Dr Kopp went beyond furthering debate and, in my opinion, attempted to manipulate facts in order to generate public support for his force structure proposals, or at the very least, discredit the current plans. That my friend is not furthering honest debate.

“Simple and cost effective we are not and will suggest to you that someday after the F-18's are driving you nuts with availability issues and the F-35 is still half a decade away in promise and God knows how far in actual practice, Australia will be scrambling to keep a dozen F-111's flying and more then likely will search hard for some used F-16's or anything...”

Availability rates? What are you talking about? According to the USN the F/A-18F is MORE reliable than the F/A-18C and we haven’t had any major issues with the legacy hornet fleet. Its Carlo’s beloved F-111 fleet that has the massive reliability problems. The F-35 program is only slightly behind schedule (better than the F-22A program at its comparable phase) so I don’t see any reason why the F-35 will be a decade late, or even 2 years late. It seems to me you are fabricating issues in order to sure up pre-conceived notions on the RAAF and western fighters.

“The problems are way beyond your analysis and this is why a good gun and a reliable mount still may make the day - both of which are lacking in the F-18 and F-35.”

How do you know what the F-35A’s reliability rates will be like? It is still in development. Reliability is a key design feature. The F/A-18F has proven to be extremely reliable, and operating in a maritime environment to boot. Flankers are the platforms with the reliability problems; Russian engines have infamously short operational lives.

What do you mean by a good gun? The missiles, sensors and information management tech (i.e. the part of the platform that actually kills other aircraft) are far superior on the F/A-8F and F-35A than the Flanker family. The western platforms problems you allude to are actually strengths.

What problems have I missed in my analysis? You have only included missile stocks (not platform related) and some sort of reliability issue which I haven’t heard of to date (the opposite in fact). In any case I was rebutting Carlo’s argument and the prospects of the F-35 program were beyond the scope of this discussion.

Continued…..

Tim 'Ozzy' Blizzard said...

“I have no clue if the F-22 would be any better, but I suspect if you had one it would earn its way into sucking up enough budget to be kept flying simply because it can go high, fast, and far - something that the others can not and that is the battle space where you will meet the Flankers.”

The F-22A would be superior in the air superiority role; it would also be extremely expensive. See the problem with the F-22A is it is not available for export, and due to some significant design limitations in terms of electronic architecture, they won’t be building many more. So in real terms the F-22A is irrelevant to the discussion. I would love to see the F-22A in RAAF colors, but sadly it’s just not going to happen.

By the way the F-35A and F/A-18F have comparable ceilings to the Flanker family; the F-22A will fly higher and faster than both. But as discussed in my article, simply flying fast will not win you the fight.

I hope I have addressed any area’s which you think I did not cover, but remember I was only addressing the major points made by Carlo in order to expose the tactics he uses to manipulate the discussion. I used to buy into the Kopp faith as well, but the more I read and the more I learned I saw Kopp for what he is. That not to say everything he says is not legitimate or that he is not an incredibly knowledgeable individual, however the more you learn about the topic the more you see how he uses his immense knowledge to mislead the individual, and personally I think that is incredibly dishonest.

Thank you for the input though, although I disagree with your statements I am glad people are reading my work and questioning it, the only way misunderstandings can be addressed is if counterpoints are made. Please don’t hesitate to contribute again.

OB

Tim 'Ozzy' Blizzard said...

Correction: 18x ATFLIR under order.

obrescia said...

great blog! some food for thought?

what about when IR is flown high up...?

see link:
http://theboresight.blogspot.com/2009/07/airborne-infrared-and-supersonic.html

- Olaf

Jason said...

As to Australian warstocks, I refer you Richard, to missile and precision guided munition purchases, Australia has made in recent years:

1. Javelin ATGW purchase - 666 missiles - 2002.

http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/Australia_02-45.pdf

2. AGM-84 Harpoon Block II - 64x missiles - 2002.

http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/Australia_03-04.pdf

3. AGM-158 JAASM stand off weapons - 260x weapons - 2005.

http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2005/Australia_05-15.pdf

4. SM-2 Block IIIA Standard surface to air missiles - 175x weapons - 2005.

http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2005/Australia_05-22.pdf

5. Modular artillery charge system and Excalibur artillery based PGM - 2400x MACS, 250 Excalibur precision guided munitions - 2006.

http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2007/Australia_08-09.pdf

6. Super Hornet weapons - 47x AIM-9X Sidewinders, 50x AGM-154C JSOW - 2007.

http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2007/Australia_08-24.pdf


7. Additional MACS and Excalibur PGM purchase - 2400x MACS, 250x Excalibur PGM - May 2008.

http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2008/Australia_08-51.pdf

8. Boeing was awarded a $50m contract to build JDAM tailkits for RAAF in 2005. Though the number of kits was not disclosed, this sum should allow for around 2500 JDAM kits for RAAF, based on USAF purchase prices.

9. Australia has made multiple acquisitions of AMRAAM missiles in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006. These have ALL been listed in DSCA and State Department's report to Congress. No quantities or values have been announced, however these reports contain transactions that MUST by legislative requirement, cost USD$14m or more.

As a minimum therefore, Australia has spent USD$56m on AMRAAM purchases in 4x batches since 2000. We KNOW that Australia has purchased AIM-120A, AIM-120B and AIM-120 C5 since 2000, defence photographs publicly released prove this and we know Australia is currently planning an AIM-120C7 purchase to acquire additional AMRAAM missiles for it's Super Hornet fighters.

With a minimum of USD$56m spent and costs for AMRAAM being $386,000 for an AIM-120C5 as of 2006, Australia has bought up to 145x AMRAAM missiles for that quantity, not including contractor support etc.

10. Australia placed a USD$62.1m contract with BAE for it's AIM-132 ASRAAM acquisition. Subsequent to this 20x confirmed missile firings have been conducted of the AIM-132 by RAAF F/A-18 aircraft.


As can be seen, Australia buys significant quantities of PGM's up front for it's defence acquisitions and follows this on with additional "multi-year" purchases.

Arguing about our warstocks, should be borne with these facts in mind.

Compared to our regional neighbours, (with the exception of Singapore) our declared weapons purchases vastly exceed those announced by others and even our announcements don't approach the truth, the numbers of follow-on weapons purchased are rarely declared as they are acquired through direct commercial sales with the manufacturers.

abass said...

Can you allow me to advertise my online business in your blog? it will be a great help if say yes. thanks a lot!
You helping a lot of PPL thanks for your golden ideas about home based jobs.

I would like to share the secret of profit online
Learn How I Earn $50 to $250 Every Day!

www.onlineuniversalwork.com

excredor said...

^ great golden ideas.

Great blog, and yes, APA's one sided analyses of Su's vs F-18's or F-35's are painful to read.

You would swear that half of the avionics that are built into the F-35 just don't exist when you read their articles.

Luke said...

A good article and it's nice to see some realistic responses. Unfortunately most defenses of the jsf etc is something along the lines of "it's classified, but trust us, it's good", which doesn't cut it. I've been hoping to see some counterpoints for a while now that realistically tackled the issues.

I do however want to ask a few things. It's 2012 now, and has any of these points changed or reached a critical point?
Secondly, while the F-18F made great sense as an interim fighter, the F-35 is undeniably still some time away and our original F-18s are showing age. I'm happy to compare the "F" to new flankers, but what about the others?
Just as you said we can't apply the aggregate missile shot to an individual kill probability, we can't ignore te aggregate either. While individual kill probabilities might be 85%, fact is that over the course of te missiles, we will probably make the same decisions regarding how we use te missiles (with the 18F t least). While the F18 can afford to use missiles like this, I don't think the F35 can. It has a choice of stealth or large missile load, not both.

The thing is, the F-35 is expensive, having teething problems and it's capability is being eroded bit by bit to avoid continued high development costs. Hopefully it'll sort itself out, but then you're betting a lot of money that "the other stuff" such as sensors and LO are enough. These things are great, but they work synergistically with the airframe that they are on. At this point in time, I just don't believe that no one in the region is ignoring these systems and not doing their best to counter it or acquiring their own systems.

As to the Su30s, well there's a much viewed red flag debrief/talk about them. While its not much use for anything other than interest and it was fraught with errors, I do think points were raised almost in passing.

The Su for some reason was engaged in dogfights and mention was made of not being able to get shots on them. Why was this? Red flag doctrine? Or does the USAF feel unable to overcome the jamming. Regardless, in that situation, which is meant to reflect some semblance of opperational realism (or as much as can be gained given the participants), the Su ended up in knife fights with USAF fighters. The pilot describes beating them, and I'm confident that a hornet in that regime would stand a good chance, but what about the f-35? Surely with improvements in LO from both sides, the lack of IR capabilities in scanning large areas and improved ECM, isn't it more than likely that we'll find ourselves in WVR engagements? Sure, the F-35 is meant to emulate the F-16's performance which was meant to be the ideal point of the energy equation, but how do F-16s fare vs Su-35s in exercises like Ref Flag and Cope?

Thank you for providing a reasonable argumunt against APA, as it's important to hear both sides of the story. Just be careful though as just as every article of APA feels like quiet pro F111/F22 propaganda, you shouldn't spend too much time focusing on APA or you'll be a one track pony. But I'm about to read some more f your great blogs and I'm sure that theylle be fascinating.

Cheers
Luke