The F35 is the biggest scam in the history of mankind.It takes a certain kind of chutzpah to offer a plane that is inferior to a fifties MIG 21 in flight characteristics and charge 300 mil usd for it.The whole F117 "stealth" program was ended by a 1961 S-125 Neva SAM and it was common knowledge even among Warsaw pact armies that the 1959 Oborona P-14 Tall King could easily track that aircraft. But then again the best marketers in the world are in the US and Lockheed has a long history of bribes and failed aircraft. F104 Starfighter flying coffin lost badly to the MIG21 in air to air combatNot so much about the flight performance, but about the older Soviet radars being able to track the Nighthawk.
The "Holy Grail" of stealth technology has been the ability to be equally concealed in all portions of the spectrum. The problem is, that just ain't happening.
Older Soviet ADA radars used longer (lower) wavelengths than newer, higher resolution higher frequency RADARs used in aircraft for targeting. This means a Nighthawk can be "stealth" against another aircraft and not stealth against a ground RADAR tuned to different frequencies.
Even when we talk about "stealth" we have to talk about "what frequency, and what angle" in order to determine anything useful. Most "radar signatures" are calculated using the "head on" profile assuming that there will be an aircraft to aircraft detection. For pilots looking to engage other aircraft this makes sense. For ADA RADARs, this does not make sense. This is why the F117 Nighthawk got so much Electronic Attack support in Desert Storm.
Secondly this brings up another aspect of modern warfare, information sharing. If you can block the information from the ground RADAR station from getting to the enemy aircraft, you have nullified that aircraft from having any effect on your "stealth" aircraft. This is why I predict that AWACs are going to be the number one priority target for any future air battles (or war games).
The ability to use a broad range of frequencies requires a bigger antenna (which may be another blog post if anyone is interested), so AWACs, big, slow, and not stealthy at all, might be the only thing flying that can actually "see" an enemy stealth aircraft, which means the information from the AWACs needs to get to the friendly "swarm" of stealth aircraft to provide an effective intercept. If you can block the AWACs from getting that message out, you can support the insertion of the aircraft that will attack the AWACs. We'll come back to this in a bit.
But if this doesn't make you start going, AHAH! That's why the Navy has been buying Growlers like they are going out of style! Although keeping the production lines open is another good reason for the Navy, there just wasn't much affordable performance growth left for the EA-6B platform.
And this brings us to the proliferation of counter stealth technologies.
Does anyone remember the big selling points for the F-35 included the extensive EW and networking capabilities as part of the sales pitch?
Back in 2013 BAE started working on new EW algorithms for ECM/ECCM in aircraft. http://www.upi.com/Business_
Now in 2015 BAE got the contract to upgrade the EW systems for the F-15.
Will the new EW Suite have the new algorithms in it as a core capability? Or will that be added in later as a software upgrade? Don't know, the answer is probably classified.
In other news, the venerable Tornado is getting an ECM upgrade: http://www.finmeccanica.co.uk/
What is seems like is the "Generation 4+, 4++ and 4.5" fighter aircraft are steadily being upgraded.
And, because the proliferation of "stealth" is on the way, expect a huge explosion of IRST systems to get mounted on legacy airframes.http://www.miltechmag.com/
What it boils down to is that the "stealth" 5th Gen fighters are going to need a non-stealthy platform to keep them informed, otherwise they'll emit RF which will give away their location. And once they emit, they have such small airframes that the frequencies they can effectively receive on so they can be spoofed. So expect AWACS hardening to be the "next big thing" for the USAF, and expect peer threats to develop jammers to specifically target AWACS capabilities. The transition to "network centric warfare" in the sky has been going on as long as I've been paying attention, so expect more targets to cut the lines of communication between nodes.
Maybe the next big thing will be a dispersed "radar array" with a headless network architecture so that the tactical aircraft don't have to rely on an AWACs. Who knows?
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