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Fighter news round-up: Royal United Services Institute’s Justin Bronk examines the current state

ZedZeeshan

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https://hushkit.net/2016/07/24/figh...fighter-aircraft-programmes-around-the-world/

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What year do you expect the J-20 to enter service and how will it compare to Western fighters in terms of capability and technology level?

I expect the J-20 to start entering squadron service for IOC around 2020, with deliveries continuing at a fairly impressive rate throughout the 2020s. The J-20 will almost certainly fall short of the F-22 and F-35 in terms of all-aspect stealth and sensor fusion-enabled situational awareness, but will carry a more impressive internal payload and will have significantly greater unrefuelled range which will serve it well in the Pacific. Essentially, the J-20 will present the US and its allies in the region with a long ranged, heavily armed and difficult to track strike fighter-bomber threat. I would suggest its closest Western conceptual analogue would be a low-observable F-111.

How is the Sukhoi PAK FA programme going? What are the biggest challenges it faces?
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Not well is the short answer. The T-50 has been downgraded for now to a laughable 12 aircraft for the VVS. This is a huge indicator that the programme is beset by deep-rooted problems in many areas. The T-50/PAK FA as a whole is a perfect example of the lesson that whilst it is comparatively easy to create flying prototypes which look like fifth generation fighters, it is extremely hard to actually make them work as the US alone has managed with the F-22 so far. The huge delays and problems which have beset the F-35 project in spite of the eye-watering quantities of money and expertise which the US has thrown into it should not purely be seen as evidence of programmatic mismanagement (although there is much which I’m sure the US would do differently if given a second chance), but also as evidence of quite how hard what they are trying to achieve is. Russia can make superb airframes but extreme quality control and CPU-crushing electronic complexity are not areas where her aerospace industry has traditionally excelled. Sadly for the VVS, those are precisely what is required to make the T-50/PAK FA into something which can genuinely compete with the F-22 or F-35. Furthermore, Russia simply does not have enough money to fund its massive military modernisation programmes and priority is being given to the Strategic (nuclear) Rocket Forces, submarine force and new tanks for the army.

Many pundits dismiss the JF-17 – what would be a fair assessment of its effectiveness? Is it comparable to the F-16, and if so – which Block would it be on a par with?
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The JF-17 as an airframe is certainly competitive with the F-16, being slightly aerodynamically cleaner, with a lower wing loading but a less efficient engine than the F-16s latest F110-GE-129/132 engine options. In terms of pilot interface, sensor suite and weapon flexibility, the JF-17 is roughly at a par with 1990s-vintage F-16 Block 40/42 and could be close to the USAF-standard Block 50/52, although without the conformal fuel tanks, JHMCS helmet sighting system and radar upgrades which distinguish the later Block 50/52+ and AESA which equips the UAE’s Block 60/61s.

How would you rate the JF-17 in terms of within-visual range (WVR) and beyond-visual range (BVR) fightercapabilities?

WVR, equipped with the MAA-1 Piranha missile, the small and agile JF-17 will be a dangerous but not exactly world-beating opponent for existing fourth generation fighters. It is limited to +8/-3g and the current block 1 and 2 fighters do not yet have a helmet mounted sight system as standard (this is promised for block 3). The JF-17 also doesn’t have a greater than 1:1 thrust to weight ratio so would be at a significant disadvantage in terms of energy management against opponents such as the F-15C, Typhoon or Su-35. BVR, the KLJ-7 radar is significantly out-ranged by the F-16’s AN/APG-68 and completely outclassed by theRafale’s AESA array, Typhoon’s CAPTOR-M and the Su-35’s monstrously powerful Irbis-E. The JF-17s small wing area and lightweight also limit its missile-carrying capacity which further disadvantages it in BVR engagements. However, it is worth remembering that the JF-17 is not really intended to take on Typhoons, Rafales, F-15s or Su-35s. It is meant to be a cheap and cheerful light multirole fighter and configured accordingly.

The Super Hornet, compared to other US fighters, has been a big export flop – why do you think this is, and how effective are the latest versions? Also- which fighter will Canada end up with?
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In simple terms, the F-18 series has not sold as well on the export market as other US fighters because it is a carrier-capable fighter competing for contracts with conventional fighters to countries which do not operate big-deck carriers. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is second only to the Rafale M as the most capable carrier fighter in the world, but to withstand the huge stresses and corrosive environment of carrier operations it is required to be built heavier, more over-engineered and more expensively than land-based fighters in its class. If a country does not need fighters capable of operating from carriers, it is more likely to go for something like the F-16 which offers similar and in some ways superior capabilities at a significantly lower cost than the Super Hornet. The Super Hornet is an excellent strike fighter with a fairly effective radar, huge weapon flexibility, adequate range and breath-taking high alpha nose authority in a dogfight. However, it does not have the thrust-to-weight ratio and manoeuvrability of the Typhoon or Rafale, the value for money of the F-16/Gripen or the raw power of the F-15. It also cannot offer the same future survivability as the F-35 in high threat environments. Canada will probably buy Super Hornet because they already operate the legacy Hornet (easing maintenance and pilot retraining burdens) and the Trudeau government is politically committed to getting out of purchasing F-35.

How is the F-22 ageing? Is it still extremely maintenance heavy? Is there evidence to suggest LO degrades with time?
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The F-22 is ageing well, having successfully maintained its status as far and away the most formidable air-superiority fighter ever made and with no sign of having that status seriously challenged anytime soon. It is less maintenance heavy than it used to be, especially since the new-generation stealth coatings developed for the F-35 have been incorporated onto the fleet. However, it remains extremely expensive to fly and maintain – USAF figures for last year show a cost per flight hour of $68,000 which is more than even the four-engine supersonic intercontinental B-1B Lancer heavy bomber. This is not only a function of the outdated and highly niche electronics and general mechanical complexity, but also of the very small fleet size compared to what was intended which means that fixed costs for the whole fleet are spread across a comparatively small number of flying hours.

Tejas- joke or hope?
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Joke. Thirty years of development to produce an aircraft with short range, poor payload, and severe quality control issues throughout the manufacturing process leading to badly fitting structural components, slow delivery rates and high costs due to remanufacturing and alterations requirements. India would have done much better to have just bought a licence to manufacture Gripen C/D.

What is the status of the F-2 fleet of the JASDF? How would you rate the F-2 in terms of effectiveness?

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The F-2 is, in effect, an F-16 with Japanese electronic wizardry baked into it and a slight aerodynamics upgrade. However, for that Japan has paid an extortionate cost per aircraft and one which cannot really justified by the marginal improvements over the F-16, especially given that the latest UAE-standard F-16 Block 61 Desert Falcons are cheaper and more capable in almost every way. The F-2 shares almost all the same strengths and limitations of the F-16 family so I won’t go into much more detail here. Certainly a useful aircraft for the JASDF but not worth the money and time it took to develop and procure unless the domestic industrial experience gained eventually enables a workable fighter to be developed from the X-2 Shinshin.

Is the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo a viable defence against the Chinese navy/air force?

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One on one, the F-CK-1 is more than a match for the J-7 and can probably hold its own against the J-11, but is outclassed by the recent Su-35s purchased from Russia and is certainly not an answer to the J-20 or Beijing’s huge ballistic and long range SAM arsenal within range of Taiwan. However, the F-CK-1 is unlikely to face Chinese fighters on anything like a one for one confrontation and would be hopelessly outnumbered in any likely invasion scenario.

Which of the new fighter projects (South Korea/Japan/Turkey/Eurofighter replacement) would you predict will come to fruition and how effective do you expect them to be?








 

ZedZeeshan

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I think the Japanese X-2 follow on fifth/sixth generation project is the most likely of these to actually develop into a frontline type. However, this assumes the US does not build an F-22 Raptor replacement first and export it to Japan. If this does not happen, the fact that F-35 is not particularly well suited to Japan’s specific air superiority requirements suggests that they might well feel their own stealth fighter is essential. If it were developed, the aircraft would most likely be at least comparable to the F-22 to make it worth the trouble and so would be formidably capable by almost any measurement.

The most exotic fighter in development is the MiG-31 replacement – what do we know about this?

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Sadly, very little indeed. It is yet another potentially very expensive ambition for the VVS but given the fate of the T-50/PAK FA project, I wouldn’t hold your breath on this one until something much more concrete than a statement of requirement emerges.

Will India ever get Rafales? What are the Rafale’s export chances?

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India will most likely get its 36 off the shelf Rafales and then many more once the purchase model has finally been agreed upon. However, the terms of that deal and the timescale are anyone’s guess. Basically, the Indian Air Force is in desperate need of new fighters and the Rafale is simply too capable to stick at 36 aircraft given the poor serviceability which plagues the Su-30MKI fleet and the disappointing Tejas. Assuming they do take delivery of 36, I would bet on India ordering more and possibly a lot more.

What are Typhoon’s export chances?

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Whilst the Kuwaiti order has been a great morale boost for Eurofighter, it is difficult to escape concluding that Typhoon has more or less run out of significant new export opportunities for the foreseeable which means production will end by around 2020. The problem is that although the aircraft is formidably capable as a top-class multirole fighter, it is simply too expensive to compete with the F-16 and F-18 for medium-rank air forces whilst it is so late with promised capabilities such as the AESA radar that those countries that are looking for gold-plated solutions and might once have bought the jet are mostly waiting to purchase the F-35.

Any news on the status of the Meteor on Gripen? How would you rate the frontline Meteor-armed Gripens in terms of A2A capability?

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The Gripen with Meteor is a highly capable platform BVR but relies on permissive rules of engagement to be able to take advantage of the long range punch of the missile. It also does not have the grunt of Typhoon to get the most out of the missile with supercruise launch profiles at very high altitudes guided by CAPTOR. However, Meteor certainly makes the Gripen even more competitive on the export market as it can continue to provide (in very rough terms) 90% of the capability of a Typhoon or F-15 at a third of the price. Coupled with the Gripen NG’s impressive electronic warfare package, Meteor will give the Swedish and Brazilian air forces a very respectable fighter for the next decade with a bargain price tag

What should I have asked you?

Probably something on FCAS but that can wait for another time!

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Justin Bronk is a Research Fellow at the Military Sciences at Royal United Services Institute. He has written articles on the Su-35, RAF’s role in Syria, and the Rafale versus Typhoon.



 

ebrahym

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View attachment 320623

I think the Japanese X-2 follow on fifth/sixth generation project is the most likely of these to actually develop into a frontline type. However, this assumes the US does not build an F-22 Raptor replacement first and export it to Japan. If this does not happen, the fact that F-35 is not particularly well suited to Japan’s specific air superiority requirements suggests that they might well feel their own stealth fighter is essential. If it were developed, the aircraft would most likely be at least comparable to the F-22 to make it worth the trouble and so would be formidably capable by almost any measurement.

The most exotic fighter in development is the MiG-31 replacement – what do we know about this?

View attachment 320624

Sadly, very little indeed. It is yet another potentially very expensive ambition for the VVS but given the fate of the T-50/PAK FA project, I wouldn’t hold your breath on this one until something much more concrete than a statement of requirement emerges.

Will India ever get Rafales? What are the Rafale’s export chances?

View attachment 320625

India will most likely get its 36 off the shelf Rafales and then many more once the purchase model has finally been agreed upon. However, the terms of that deal and the timescale are anyone’s guess. Basically, the Indian Air Force is in desperate need of new fighters and the Rafale is simply too capable to stick at 36 aircraft given the poor serviceability which plagues the Su-30MKI fleet and the disappointing Tejas. Assuming they do take delivery of 36, I would bet on India ordering more and possibly a lot more.

What are Typhoon’s export chances?

View attachment 320626

Whilst the Kuwaiti order has been a great morale boost for Eurofighter, it is difficult to escape concluding that Typhoon has more or less run out of significant new export opportunities for the foreseeable which means production will end by around 2020. The problem is that although the aircraft is formidably capable as a top-class multirole fighter, it is simply too expensive to compete with the F-16 and F-18 for medium-rank air forces whilst it is so late with promised capabilities such as the AESA radar that those countries that are looking for gold-plated solutions and might once have bought the jet are mostly waiting to purchase the F-35.

Any news on the status of the Meteor on Gripen? How would you rate the frontline Meteor-armed Gripens in terms of A2A capability?

View attachment 320627

The Gripen with Meteor is a highly capable platform BVR but relies on permissive rules of engagement to be able to take advantage of the long range punch of the missile. It also does not have the grunt of Typhoon to get the most out of the missile with supercruise launch profiles at very high altitudes guided by CAPTOR. However, Meteor certainly makes the Gripen even more competitive on the export market as it can continue to provide (in very rough terms) 90% of the capability of a Typhoon or F-15 at a third of the price. Coupled with the Gripen NG’s impressive electronic warfare package, Meteor will give the Swedish and Brazilian air forces a very respectable fighter for the next decade with a bargain price tag

What should I have asked you?

Probably something on FCAS but that can wait for another time!

View attachment 320628 View attachment 320628

Justin Bronk is a Research Fellow at the Military Sciences at Royal United Services Institute. He has written articles on the Su-35, RAF’s role in Syria, and the Rafale versus Typhoon.


great read
 

Path-Finder

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Tejas- joke or hope?


Joke. Thirty years of development to produce an aircraft with short range, poor payload, and severe quality control issues throughout the manufacturing process leading to badly fitting structural components, slow delivery rates and high costs due to remanufacturing and alterations requirements. India would have done much better to have just bought a licence to manufacture Gripen C/D.


...............................................................................................................

How dare he mock this jewel of aviation :pissed:
 

war&peace

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Great article. JF-17 block III will be highly capable aircraft and after this review of different programs around the world that we should be really happy how JF-17 is evolving. However, J-31 is absent from the analysis so that's a bit disappointing but J-20 appears to be very promising and that my help J-31 or any future 5th gen aircraft program PAF embarks upon.
 

Falcon26

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Excellent neutral thoughts regarding the JF-17. With more improvements, it can be the perfect jet for Pakistan. Indians can gloat over their imaginary and worldwide laughable LCA.
 

shah1398

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The JF-17 as an airframe is certainly competitive with the F-16, being slightly aerodynamically cleaner, with a lower wing loading but a less efficient engine than the F-16s latest F110-GE-129/132 engine options. In terms of pilot interface, sensor suite and weapon flexibility, the JF-17 is roughly at a par with 1990s-vintage F-16 Block 40/42 and could be close to the USAF-standard Block 50/52, although without the conformal fuel tanks, JHMCS helmet sighting system and radar upgrades which distinguish the later Block 50/52+ and AESA which equips the UAE’s Block 60/61s.
If they are comparing JF-17 Block I-IIs with Block 40/42 and with a "could" option to Block 50/52, I say its a big thing as Block-III is incorporating all except CFTs. Nonetheless I sincerely hope we see a more powerful engine soon and is the need of hour.
 

艹艹艹

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Great article. JF-17 block III will be highly capable aircraft and after this review of different programs around the world that we should be really happy how JF-17 is evolving. However, J-31 is absent from the analysis so that's a bit disappointing but J-20 appears to be very promising and that my help J-31 or any future 5th gen aircraft program PAF embarks upon.
The improved J-31 is ongoing
 
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I S I

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This article is haram. God will throw the author in hell for disrespecting Worlds greatest innovation of mankind in such honest way. :chilli:
 

MastanKhan

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If they are comparing JF-17 Block I-IIs with Block 40/42 and with a "could" option to Block 50/52, I say its a big thing as Block-III is incorporating all except CFTs. Nonetheless I sincerely hope we see a more powerful engine soon and is the need of hour.
Hi,

The curren JF 17 is a unique aircraft in this day and age---if it was not for the embargo of the french EW suite---to hold it back and bad marketing----Kamra could have been sitting on an order close to 250---300 aircraft by now.

You guys should understand one thing---even this expert is stating that the JF17 is a little too small of an aircraft---. The optimum size would have been the 20-25% larger aircraft----.

But the current aircraft is no slouch either. Their only problem is that other than Alan Warnes---no other foreign correspondent has been given total access to this aircraft---so the foreign media do not get the whole and true picture of the aircraft---and as the paf talks in riddles---it confuse many an observer.
 

shah1398

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Hi,

The curren JF 17 is a unique aircraft in this day and age---if it was not for the embargo of the french EW suite---to hold it back and bad marketing----Kamra could have been sitting on an order close to 250---300 aircraft by now.

You guys should understand one thing---even this expert is stating that the JF17 is a little too small of an aircraft---. The optimum size would have been the 20-25% larger aircraft----.

But the current aircraft is no slouch either. Their only problem is that other than Alan Warnes---no other foreign correspondent has been given total access to this aircraft---so the foreign media do not get the whole and true picture of the aircraft---and as the paf talks in riddles---it confuse many an observer.
U are absolutely right Sir. But what I think is that they will only give access to other scribes from foreign media when they are through with the integration of what all is left plus when IFR probe is operational. Its not worth presenting an aircraft with "WOULD BE" and "MAY BE" part at all. Nonetheless they need a good marketing agency preferably a foreign on. Yes Thunder is small aircraft and has less hard points right now but so was the case with F-16 once but they managed to add hard points in due course. My main concern is a powerful power plant for Thunder as to achieve max from it we have to go for a more powerful power plant with relatively high T/W ratio and Long Life with atleast FADEC onbaord.

Did he say the JF-17 is currently almost as good as a block 52 :o:
This "almost" part is quite extended one actually :P
But I am still happy with them comparing the current versions of Thunder to F-16s block 40/42.
 
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MastanKhan

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U are absolutely right Sir. But what I think is that they will only give access to other scribes from foreign media when they are through with the integration of what all is left plus when IFR probe is operational. Its not worth presenting an aircraft with "WOULD BE" and "MAY BE" part at all. Nonetheless they need a good marketing agency preferably a foreign on. Yes Thunder is small aircraft and has less hard points right now but so was the case with F-16 once but they managed to add hard points in due course. My main concern is a powerful power plant for Thunder as to achieve max from it we have to go for a more powerful power plant with relatively high T/W ratio and Long Life with atleast FADEC onbaord.
Hi,

The difference between the current JF17 and a supposed 20-25% larger JF17 is like the difference between a 5.56 to a .308 round----.

Or from a .308 to a .338 Lapua round---. The difference of the power and range of strike from these two examples is momentous---.

Once you have the size----the engine will become available---. The chinese engines are not going to stay in oblivion forever---maybe another 2-3 years---in the meantime---all the weapons and systems can be integrated and the pilots trained in flying---just like they are doing it to the J20----by the time---the chinese engine gets ready for it---the J20 would have a whole sqdrn of aircraft already integrated with weapons and electronics.

But as I stated earlier---if the JF17 was not sabotaged by the French---it would have been on a totally different plateau.

And it happened because you know who---failed to secure the deal properly.

Did he say the JF-17 is currently almost as good as a block 52 :o:
Hi,

yes he did---didn't he---for the USAF non aesa BLK50-52's. Which means the the USAF non aesa BLK50/52's did not have the upgrades as the BLK50/52's of other nations did.

And as I have stated many a times---the aesa equipped JF17 would fit in between the BLK52 and the BLK 60---nice and smooth.
 

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