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The Military Technology

New Russian Fighter Not Up To Western Standards 354

schwit1 writes "Despite initial high expectations, the Indian Air Force appears to be souring on a joint development deal with Russia for a new fifth-generation fighter jet, according to the Business Standard, a major Indian business publication. The Russian prototype is 'unreliable, its radar inadequate, its stealth features badly engineered,' said Indian Air Force Deputy Air Marshall S Sukumar at a Jan. 15 meeting, according to minutes obtained by the Business Standard. 'They're very good at building airplanes,' Cordesman said. 'The problem that Russia, since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, has been putting out the military equivalent of show cars. They look good, but it isn't always clear how practical they are and how many of the specifications they can actually meet.'"
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New Russian Fighter Not Up To Western Standards

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 26, 2014 @12:30PM (#46073229)
  • by DMUTPeregrine ( 612791 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @12:55PM (#46073437) Journal
    Essentially it seems to be a problem with the entire concept of "fifth generation" fighters. The idea that you can have useful all-aspect stealth without sacrificing performance in other areas is ridiculous with current technology. The PAK FA (Russian version) sacrifices stealth for performance, the HAL/PMF (Indian version) changes the avionics and tries to add more stealth features. No 5th gen fighter has lived up to its manufacturer's promises of "invisible, supermanuverable ultra plane!!! At a reasonable price!!!" They're all over budget with worse performance than promised. The F-35 is an un-stealthy brick, in the variants that actually work. It also costs as much as an F-22, if not more. The F-22 was cancelled because it cost too much. The PAK FA is a 4th gen fighter with some front-aspect stealth tacked on, and better avionics, including anti-stealth radar. It's probably also going to be the cheapest of the lot.
  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @01:05PM (#46073507)

    If you read the history books, you'll also see how the F-4 was going to destroy all opposing aircraft with missiles, so it would never need a gun because they'd never get close enough.

    Once it actually got into actual combat in the actual real world, there were sudden orders for a gun pod for close-in dogfights.

    The F-22 may be able to hit less stealthy aircraft with missiles from well beyond visual range, but that doesn't help if the rules of engagement won't let them fire missiles at random dots on a radar screen. Also, I was reading recently about new IR trackers which can detect F-22s from well beyond radar range, making radar stealth far less useful.

  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @01:37PM (#46073739)

    And if you can afford it, it really pays off. Take a good look at what the highly trained, badly outnumbered Israeli air force did to to the Egyptian, Syrian, and Iraqi air force during the Six Day War. The Soviet trainers of those national air forces there were explicitly prevented from providing extensive training and from keeping the aircraft fully fueled and armed. The constant concern was that educated, trained local pilots would steal the planes and fly to NATO airbases, for both economic and political reasons. The list of successful pilot defections during the time is quite long:


    It's an amazing list, and purchasers of Soviet aircraft of the era were constantly handicapped by the risk of the best trained and educated pilots defecting.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Sunday January 26, 2014 @02:02PM (#46073945) Homepage

    One (of many) reasons that the US military sucks up so much money is that our pilots train continuously. In the C17, pilots do not reach the Aircraft Commander level until 4 or 5 *years* after putting on wings. Obviously, fighters have a different training program, but clearly huge amounts of continuous training are involved. So, yes, in practical terms, the operational Air Force is made up of almost nothing but experienced pilots.

    In practical terms, no, the operational Air Force is anything *but* made up of experienced pilots. You have a significant fraction that are relatively new (less than two or three years experience). You also have a significant fraction that have (within a year or so) just returned from non-flying duties.
    Not to mention the "experienced" pilots in the OP are either pilots with notable air combat experience, or long (twelve to fifteen years plus) service experience.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Sunday January 26, 2014 @02:23PM (#46074117)

    Yet another reason to move to pilotless planes. Drones don't need training, they just need to be programmed.

    *Some* drones are pilot-less, mostly high altitude reconesonce drones. *Most* US drones in fact have qualified pilots at the controls, sitting in control rooms at places like Creech Air Force Base, outside of Las Vegas. Creech is both a training / testing base for drones, as well as a Command and Control location where actual pilots sit in rooms controlling drones in "real-time".

  • by SpankiMonki ( 3493987 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @02:31PM (#46074169)

    One (of many) reasons that the US military sucks up so much money is that our pilots train continuously.

    Off topic, but the USAF flight training budget for FY2014 represents just over 1/2 of 1 percent of the total USAF budget. In terms of money suckers, flight training is way way down the list.

    Total budget = $144,425B (page 4 here [])

    Flight training budget = $792M (page 1 here [])

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Sunday January 26, 2014 @03:02PM (#46074349)

    Well, there is a *grain* of truth in the post I'm objecting to. Some pilots take non-flying staff jobs later in their careers for a few years, but these are senior folks who wouldn't be doing much flying anyway. And, some younger pilots have other career issues that take them out of the "seat". But the majority of USAF pilots fly training or operational missions several times a month not counting simulator time, which is much more extensive than civilian pilots. For our airframe here at McChord, our aircrew fly 10 day missions into the AOR (shit-holes like Shank, Bagram, Kandahar, what have you) with a week or so off here at Home Station, and than out again for more of the same.

    This will significantly uptick in 2014 as we pull out of Afghanistan - try to get as much of our crap out as possible - and than things should quiet down a bit unless some politician (or General Dynamics lobbyist) gets us into another war.

  • by garyebickford ( 222422 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (cib73rag)> on Sunday January 26, 2014 @03:22PM (#46074471)

    Yes, IIRC (probably from Wikipedia) that the Air Force insisted on using the Sparrow despite strong encouragement to use the Navy's Sidewinder, which was already well established as effective. But NIH predominated. The AF finally did accept the Sidewinder, but I think that was much later. I think the Sidewinder is still in use, on its 9th design iteration.

    But from what I've read, missiles alone would still not have been a good idea in Viet Nam. Sometimes getting up close and throwing lead 'rocks' is still necessary. For example, what if all your missiles are gone? If the opponent _knows_ you don't have guns, they know you're a sitting duck. If they don't know, they have to be a little more careful, leaving you a way to either continue fighting or scoot on out of there.

  • by SpankiMonki ( 3493987 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @04:54PM (#46075081)

    That barely scratches the surface. Consider the time on jets, fuel, maintenance, support operations, etc. Once you add in actual secondary costs the cost is very very high.

    It's true that the line item "Flight Training" in the USAF's 2014 budget likely doesn't include any of those costs. But even if you add in the entire "Air Operations" budget of $6,730B, you still only arrive at 5.2% of the USAF total. And the total "Air Operations" budget includes a lot more than support costs for training alone.

    Disclaimer: I've never worked for the USAF, but I am an accountant familiar with GAAP for government/NFP. (well, I was...I'm semi-retired)

  • Re:Hrm... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 26, 2014 @06:16PM (#46075611)

    Soviets were prone to make lofty claims about their equipment

    True. I am an reserve officer of Serbian Army. When we learned about Soviet/Russian equipment, we always learned two values - declared value (e.g. range) and actual value proved in practice.

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