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US Navy Admiral Questions Expensive Stealth Platforms 490

Posted by Soulskill
from the doesn't-see-them-being-useful dept.
Trepidity writes "United States Navy Admiral and Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert stirred a controversy by questioning much of the thinking underlying current U.S. defense technology. He argues that stealth technology is unlikely to retain its usefulness much into the future, and so focus should switch towards standoff weapons. In addition, he criticizes the focus on expensive all-in-one platforms such as the F-35 fighter, arguing for a payload-centric, flexible approach he compares to trucks rather than luxury cars."
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US Navy Admiral Questions Expensive Stealth Platforms

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  • by Jimme Blue (1683902) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:28PM (#40837349)

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/07/f-22-germans/ [wired.com]

    "...individual German Typhoons flew against single F-22s in basic fighter maneuvers meant to simulate a close-range dogfight.

    The results were a surprise to the Germans and presumably the Americans, too. “We were evenly matched,” Maj. Marc Gruene told Combat Aircraft’s Jamie Hunter. The key, Gruene said, is to get as close as possible to the F-22 and stay there. “They didn’t expect us to turn so aggressively.”"

    I don't doubt this report. However, my understanding is that the point of F-22 is to conduct its engagements at long-range and avoid these close-range knife fights. If the threat gets to dog-fighting range, the F-22s have screwed up and lost their greatest advantages.

  • by srmalloy (263556) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:59PM (#40837589) Homepage

    I don't doubt this report. However, my understanding is that the point of F-22 is to conduct its engagements at long-range and avoid these close-range knife fights. If the threat gets to dog-fighting range, the F-22s have screwed up and lost their greatest advantages.

    That was the point of the F-14 Tomcat, too -- an airframe designed around carrying the AIM-54 Phoenix long-range missile to engage and destroy incoming Soviet bombers at ranges that would force them to launch their anti-ship missiles before acquiring good targeting information; while the swing-wing gave it an increased flexibility in maneuver, it was still a large, relatively unmaneuverable fighter. You will note that, despite upgrades like the Super Tomcat, the F-14 has been phased out, replaced by the much smaller F-18 and variants, plus the increasingly late and over-budget F-35C.

  • Re:Cui bono? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:01PM (#40837615) Homepage

    If you had actually read the article, you would have noticed a few interesting things:

    1. Although Stealth was indeed part of his thesis, it was only one of a number of subjects he touched on. He mainly was describing the current Navy attempts at creating Stealth vessels - attempts that have been very expensive and pretty much useless. He points out that anti stealth technology is advancing faster (and cheaper) than stealth construction techniques and it's tactical advantages tend to be rather modest. Basically, Stealth isn't and should not be the be all and end all of military research.

    2. Most of the article described the long lead times of military gear (especially naval vessels) and the short half like of various military technologies (like Stealth). He posits that making modular systems that can be re purposed easily for whatever tends the be the threat de jour.

    Of course, he spends a lot of time talking about non modular ships like the Enterprise (the CVN-65, not NCC-1701) and how they've been modified for different jobs over the years without being expressly modular, but the idea is there.

  • Re:How about... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Decker-Mage (782424) <jack_of_shadows@yahoo.com> on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:01PM (#40837617)

    This didn't deserve an off-topic. The primary mission of the United States Navy is to preserve freedom on the seas. That was the number one item on the back of my Liberty Card (for the short period of time I actually had one). We are dependent on that free trade for our national survival especially in time of war and this is true of many of our alliance and trading partners. Anything that threatens that mission threatens the nation, and in actuality the Constitution if you trace it back.

    I would be negligent not to also point out that warfare in the modern era (1800+) has been characterized by conflicts that start between major trading partners so preserving our strength for this mission may be helpful in preventing future conflicts. Frankly, those of us in uniform really do not want to see combat despite what those not in uniform may think. Getting shot at, and possibly killed, isn't on our list of high-points of a career in the military. I come from a long line of naval service on both sides of the family. Mom and Dad served in the Navy as well. I think I can speak for all of us on point about how we would like our careers to end. My career was hazardous enough without help from outside actors.

    So if spending a few billion here and there to prevent a war is possible, ....

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:17PM (#40837739)

    If you could predict the future and know what enemy you'd have to fight next

    Really, every conflict and war that the US has entered in since World War II has been a completely voluntary war. The US can (and does) choose the wars it wants to fight. Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Panama, Kosovo, etc. There hasn't been a war in the last 50 years that the US has -had- to fight, everything has been carefully chosen.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:38PM (#40837897)

    It seems that in air-to-air combat, as in a knife fight, 'the bad guys' don't always play by the rules.

    Actually if you bother to read the article where the German pilots were surprised to find themselves on an equal footing in a dog fight you will find that they also said that at long range they did everything they could and basically had little chance against the F22.

    Don't quote me but I think an F-22 can carry a maximum of six medium range missiles and two short range missiles. Assuming a 100% hit rate in a fight against multiple non-stealthy bogies the pilot will have his work cut out for him.

    Not really. The Germans were flying the $110M (Euro 90M) Eurofigher against the $150M F-22. The Eurofighter is a contemporary of the F-22, only a couple of years older, not something from a previous design generation. The other guy is not going to have some huge numerical advantage.

    That said, we should have a more balanced force. We have had long range over the horizon capable jets going back to Vietnam but they are rarely every allowed to engage at such distances. They are almost always required to get visual IDs on the other aircraft. I'm sure there will be specialized missions where the F-22s are the way to go and we should have some. But we should also have modern incarnations of a dedicated fighter and a dedicated close air support aircraft, as we did in the past with the F-16s and A-10s. For those unfamiliar with the origin of these legendary aircraft, the Air Force did not want either one. They were both designed by rouge design teams that did not believe in the concept of multi-mission aircraft, and after demonstrating amazing performance in their respective roles, they were forced upon the Air Force by a cost conscious Congress.

  • by catmistake (814204) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @12:53AM (#40838503) Journal

    As they hovered above the target, however, the first helicopter experienced a hazardous airflow condition known as a vortex ring state. This was aggravated by higher than expected air temperature ("a so-called 'hot and high' environment") and the high compound walls, which stopped the rotor downwash from diffusing. The helicopter's tail grazed one of the compound's walls, damaging its tail rotor, and the helicopter rolled onto its side. The pilot quickly buried the aircraft's nose to keep it from tipping over. None of the SEALs, crew and pilots on the helicopter were seriously injured in the soft crash landing, which ended with it pitched at a forty-five-degree angle resting against the wall. The other helicopter then landed outside the compound and the SEALs scaled the walls to get inside.

    source [wikipedia.org]

    79 commandos and a dog flew in pitch black for 200 miles from Jalalabad, mostly inside Pakistan, and the loss of the helicopter had nothing to do with the stealth technology, nor did it prevent the mission's success... there were no US casualties and they were gone before anyone knew what happened.

    Yes, right. And crashing one in the process. I call that a major fail.

    Wow, you take slashdot snearing to new heights. Just wtf does it take to impress you?

  • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOSpam.Gmail.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:04AM (#40838893) Homepage Journal

    That was the point of the F-14 Tomcat, too -- an airframe designed around carrying the AIM-54 Phoenix long-range missile to engage and destroy incoming Soviet bombers at ranges that would force them to launch their anti-ship missiles before acquiring good targeting information; while the swing-wing gave it an increased flexibility in maneuver, it was still a large, relatively unmaneuverable fighter. You will note that, despite upgrades like the Super Tomcat, the F-14 has been phased out, replaced by the much smaller F-18 and variants, plus the increasingly late and over-budget F-35C.

    Uh, the Tomcat had a tighter turn radius than anything but the F-16 and F-18... and it was pretty close. The swing wings gave it miraculous maneuverability. The problem that the Tom did have in performance wasn't maneuverability or even it's large size, but rotten engines that were underpowered and finicky. The Tomcat drivers I knew used to joke that "If it says Pratt & Whitney on the engines, it'd better say Martin Baker on the seat" (for those that don't get the reference, Martin Baker makes ejection seats for military planes).

    Please note that the Tomcat served longer in frontline service than any fighter in the history of the U.S. Navy. Over 30 years. Not even the Phantom served that long in fleet squadrons. The reason the Navy retired the Tomcat had nothing to do with performance and everything to do with cost. It was expensive as hell to maintain and fly. Even with the much-better GE F110 engines in the D model, the Navy simply couldn't afford to keep it anymore. Pilots that had flown both the Tomcat and the Hornet will tell you that in fleet air defense, they'll take the F-14 all day long, thank you. Ask any pilot familiar with both platforms and they'll tell you that, performance-wise, the Navy traded down. The Super Hornet won the day because of cost, cost to buy and cost to fly. It has much fewer maintenance requirements. Economics is the sole reason the Tomcat is no longer with the fleet.

  • Re:Cui bono? (Score:4, Informative)

    by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOSpam.Gmail.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:17AM (#40838959) Homepage Journal

    Gotta love the Hollow Force era!

    Many civilians never knew things were that fucked up...across the board.

    I served in the 80's and it was quite a bit different. A lot of the older salts... Chiefs and 1st class PO's that had served in the 70's... relayed a lot of the "hollow force" horror stories to us younger guys. Like the USAF, a lot of the Navy's air fleet were hangar queens for lack of spares and short of money for training and maintenance.

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