BVR combat brief


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BVR combat was, for a long time, dream of both Western and Asian air forces. Today, it seems that the dream has been finally fulfilled; but is that really so?

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BVR combat brief

  1. 1. BVR combat brief
  2. 2. Philosphy of BVR combat● kill opponent beyond visual range● USAF position– first look– first shot– first kill● visual range depends on size of aircraft– generalized as anything beyond 37 kilometers
  3. 3. Comparision with infantry combat● infantry combat readily moved towards close tomedium range combat since World War I– sniper rifle: 1 000 - 2 000 meters range– battle rifle: 500 - 1 000 meters range– assault rifle: 300 - 500 meters range● main weapon until Vietnam battle rifles; assaultrifles appear in World War II (StG-44)● most combat happens at ranges no greaterthan 100 meters
  4. 4. Comparision with infantry combat● M-14 (top) wasreplaced by M-16(bottom) which wasinitially sabotaged byUS generals so itjammed in combat.M-16 itself washeavier version ofvery successfull AR-15
  5. 5. US concept of battle requirements● stealth works, enemy doesnt have it● BVR works, enemys doesnt● air bases and aircraft carriers safe from attack● AWACS safe from attack, enemy doesnt haveit● quality can compensate for quantitiy● history shows that these necessities areunlikely to hold true in case of conflict withcompetent opponent
  6. 6. Stealth● all US stealth fighters based on assumptionsthat:– combat will be solved at beyond visual range– enemy will use active X-band radar as primarycombat sensor for both ground and airinstallations– enemy will not use anti-stealth measures
  7. 7. Anti-stealth measures● fighters– stay passive– RWR– IRST– IR AAMs● ground– passive radar– HF/VHF radar– IR SAMs
  8. 8. Anti-stealth measures● stay passive– forces dilemma upon opponent● use radar and risk early detection● stay passive and loose advantage given by radarstealth– both courses of action render irrelevantadvantage provided by low RCS● RWR– modern radar warners can detect AESA LPIradars at two times or more its own detectiondistance vs typical fighter target– SPECTRA and F-22s defense suite can useopponents radar to generate firing solutions
  9. 9. Anti-stealth measures● IRST– QWIP IRST● PIRATE (Typhoon)● OSF (Rafale)● EO DAS (F-35)● OLS-50M (PAK FA)● possibly on J-20– allows for head-on detection of subsonic fightersat distances of 50-90 kilometers, and ofmissile flares to 90-150 kilometers
  10. 10. Anti-stealth measures● QWIP can operate in very longwave 15 micronband to detect targets whose temperature isonly few degrees Celzius different fromtemperature of their background/surroundings● result: air combat switch from visual+radarcentric to visual+infrared centric● IR missiles are not affected by radar stealth– modern IR imaging missiles can lock on totarget from any aspect– missiles IR sensor can be used in lieu of IRST iflatter is unavaliable
  11. 11. Anti-stealth measures● HF/VHF radar– radar stealth of aircraft dependant onwavelength of threat radar– all stealth fighters to date optimised for X bandstealth– can be used along with IR SAM
  12. 12. Anti-stealth measures● during Kosovo war,Serbs used VHFradar combined withIR SAM to shootdown one and crippleanother F-117– F-117 suffered 2losses out of1300 sorties– F-16 flew 4500sorties with 1being shot down
  13. 13. Anti-stealth measures● passive radar– multiple receivers on different locations– uses environmental EM radiation to detectstealth aircraft● multistatic radar– similar technique to passive radar, but uses itsown transmitters
  14. 14. BVR missile performance● g forces in tracking turn are square of speed● modern fighters highly maneuverable– 12 g turn at Mach 0,5 (combat speed) - 0,9(cruise speed)– BVR missile speed: Mach 4● missile needs to pull 237 to 768 g to defeatmaneuvering fighter
  15. 15. BVR missile performance● modern BVR missiles can pull 30 g in their no-escape zone– missile Pk● against target maneuvering at cruise speed: 13%● against target maneuvering at corner speed: 4%– this Pk does not account for any countermeasures● BVRAAM Pk against maneuvering targets withno ECM to date: 6-8%, compare to 15% forWVRAAM; ECM can reduce Pk by 50% > 2-7%
  16. 16. BVR missile performance● proximity fuze can trigger explosion if anythingflies nearby● ranges given for BVR missiles only at highaltitude against aircraft in attack– at low altitude range reduced to 25%– against aircraft in flight range reduced to 25%– AIM-120D range at low altitude against aircraftin flight: 10 km
  17. 17. BVR missile performance● pre-Vietnam AIM-7claims: 0,7 Pk● Vietnam performance:0,08 Pk against lessadvanced (butcompetent) opponent– most shots still fromvisual range● supports scepticismabout BVR missileperformance claimsPhoto source: Air Power Australia
  18. 18. BVR missile performance● BVR proponents counter: Desert Storm, AlliedForce and Iraqi Freedom– 5 BVR kills in Desert Storm; all other kills fromvisual range– F-15 AIM-7 Pk: 0,34; AIM-9 Pk: 0,67– AIM-120: 6 BVR kills in Iraqi Freedom andDesert Storm out of 13 shots
  19. 19. BVR missile performance● these claims are misleading– no targets had RWR or ECM– no targets had support from stand-off jammers– no targets had BVR weapon (radar, IR or anti-radiation)– majority of targets had no sensors to warn themabout incoming missiles and had bad cockpitvisibility: did not take evasive action– Allied forces had large numerical and pilotsuperiority
  20. 20. BVR technology penalties● increased cost and complexity– less aircraft– less sorties per day per aircraft● result– training penalties– numerical penalties● personnel > numbers > technology
  21. 21. BVR technology penalties● F-22 and F-15designed for BVR● F-16A designed forWVR● JAS-39C designed forWVR with some BVRcapability
  22. 22. BVR technology penalties● aircraft cost in 2013 USD– F-22A: 262 million USD flyaway, 61 000 USDper hour in the air; 13 300 USD per kg– F-15C: 126 million USD flyaway, 30 000 USDper hour in the air; 9 921 USD per kg– F-16A: 30 million USD; 4 240 USD per kg– JAS-39C: 40 million USD, 4 700 USD per hourin the air; 6 040 USD per kg
  23. 23. BVR technology penalties● missile cost in 2013 USD– BVR missiles● AIM-120D: 1 470 000 USD– WVR missiles● AIM-9X: 678 000 USD● IRIS-T: 270 000 USD
  24. 24. BVR technology penalties● cost per enemy aircraft shot down:– AIM-120D● Pk 3-8%● 18 375 000 - 49 000 000 USD– AIM-9X● Pk 10-15%● 4 520 000 - 6 780 000 USD– IRIS-T● Pk 10-15%● 1 800 000 - 2 700 000 USD
  25. 25. BVR technology penalties● Loadout cost and effectiveness– 8 BVRAAM● Pk 0,24-0,64● 11 760 000 USD– 8 WVRAAM● Pk 0,8-1,2● 2 160 000 - 5 424 000 USD● number of missiles for Pk = 1– BVRAAM: 12-33 = 17,64 - 48,51 million USD– WVRAAM: 6-10 = 1,62 - 6,78 million USD
  26. 26. BVR technology penalties● radar-based combat– radar is active sensor● gives away position of aircraft using it● can be used for IFF● radar signal can be used to target aircraft usingradar– only countermeasure to turn radar off
  27. 27. BVR technology penalties● longer range means larger radar– larger aircraft● heavier● more expensive● less maneuverable– more complex systems● more expensive per unit of weight● harder to maintain● less reliable
  28. 28. BVR technology penalties● Result– smaller force for $$$– less sorties per number of aircraft– less effective per sortie– does not provide advantage in effectiveengagement range
  29. 29. First look: electronically● modern defense suites (SPECTRA) can targetaircraft through its radar emissions● result: radars will be turned off in next major airwar
  30. 30. First look: visually● the biggest target in the sky is the first one todie
  31. 31. First look: visuallyUS F-15 jets intercepting MiG-29s at medium altitude
  32. 32. IFF● as recently as 2003 Iraqi Freedom,misidentified US aircraft were lost to alliedsystems● only reliable IFF visual one > optical systems
  33. 33. First look: visually● result: biggest target is detected first– reverses theoretical advantage of radar-basedBVR combatImage source: F-22 fighter performance by James P Stevenson
  34. 34. Numbers● number of aircraft for 1 billion USD– F-22: 3– F-15C: 7– F-16A: 33– JAS-39C: 22● Sortie rate:– F-22: 0,5, F-15: 1– JAS-39: 2, F-16: 1,2● 3:1 ratio maximum where superior quality cancompensate for superior quantitiy
  35. 35. Numbers● Sorties per day:– F-22: 1,5– F-15: 7– F-16A: 39,6– JAS-39C: 44
  36. 36. Numbers● Missiles carried:– F-22: 8 BVRAAM– F-15: 4 WVRAAM, 4 BVRAAM– F-16: 6 WVRAAM / 2 WVRAAM, 4 BVRAAM– JAS-39: 6 WVRAAM / 2 WVRAAM, 4 BVRAAM
  37. 37. BVR technology penaltiesCost Cost per kg Operating cost Aircraft for 1 billion USD Sorties Missiles050100150200250300350F-22JAS-39F-15CF-16A
  38. 38. Numbers● Lanchester square–●●●●● critique not fully applicable to air combat
  39. 39. Numbers● OODA loop– observe– orient– decide– act● too large number of hostile fighters in the aircan significantly slow down, or even break, theloop
  40. 40. USAF self-delusion● assumption: technology neutralizes numbers● assumption: long-range air-to-air combat givesunparalleled advantage● justification: F-22 BVR dominance in exercises● exercises between F-22 and F-15/F-16 useBVR missile Pk of 0,65– justification based on combat in Iraq– AIM-120 had Pk of 0,46 against non-maneuvering fighters without ECM; AIM-7achieved 0,34 in Iraq in same conditions
  41. 41. USAF self-delusion● reality:– WVR performance still important– air bases under constant threat of attack - evenwhen one side has undisputed air superiority● cruise missiles make this problem even worse● rewriting history– agility was always important● von Richthofen („Red Baron“) opted for moreagile fighter at expense of speed● agility continued to dominate air-to-air combatthrough WW2, Korea, Vietnam
  42. 42. BVR fighter performance in WVR● as shown above, BVR combat does not workagainst competent opponent● result: fighters forced to fight within visual range– requirements: small size, light weight, low wingloading, low thrust loading, low drag, high fuelfraction, numerical superiority, ability toachieve quick kills● how do BVR fighters compare?– BVR requirements: high speed, large missilepayload, large radar >> maneuvering andnumerical penalty
  43. 43. Size
  44. 44. Capability penaltiescombat w eightcombat w eight w ing loadingw ing loading thrust loadingthrust loading flyaw ay costflyaw ay cost sorties per day per aircraftsorties per day per aircraft051015202530GripenCGripenCF-16CF-16CF-22AF-22AF-15CF-15C
  45. 45. Result● excessive BVR requirements (radar and radar-guided BVR missiles instead of RWR, IRST andIR BVR missiles) mean that most BVR fightersare (performance-wise) actually fighter-bombers– cant fight against dedicated fighters– cant bomb as well as dedicated bombers● but modern fighters operate at speeds too highto attack tactical targets on ground, and are toodelicate to withstand AA fire
  46. 46. Secure air bases?● BVR fighters, especially stealth ones, basedupon implicit assumption of safe air bases– but how safe air bases really are?● even when Allies had complete superiority inthe air, their bases were attacked
  47. 47. Secure air bases?● US air bases use hardened shelters for fighters
  48. 48. Secure air bases?● air base tendering: using fighters to shoot downopponents fighters when they try to take off– Sidewinder-armed Fokker DR.1 can shoot downF-22 by using that tactic, and several canclose down entire air base● aircraft spend majority (over 2/3) of time on theground; consequently, problem of secure airbases among most important– possible solution: use fighters that dont needconcrete runways or any large, fixed facilities– US super-carriers unable to keep CAPoverhead
  49. 49. Secure air bases - conclusion● air bases are never secure– small numbers of expensive, so-called „high-performance“ fighters that have to operatefrom highly visible concrete runways requirerelatively small effort to destroy whencompared to large numbers of small, cheap,rugged fighters that can operate from nearlyanywhere– large numbers of fighters are required to defendair bases
  50. 50. Aircraft carriers● US carrier force– 10 fleet carriers● currently Nimitz class super-carriers● to be replaced by very similar Gerald F Fordclass– 9 amphibious assault ships● can host V/STOVL fighters● smaller, cheaper than „fleet“ carriers
  51. 51. Aircraft carriers● very vulnerable to assymetric response– cannot generate sorties as efficiently as land airbases– can be quickly sunk by cheaper weapons● AIP/diesel submarines● „carrier killer“ cruise missiles● problem– very complex BVR-based fighters– tankers can be converted to flattops, but whatabout fighters?
  52. 52. Aircraft carriers
  53. 53. Aircraft carriers● solution– small fighter that can take off in relatively shortdistance, and is cheap and simple enough tobe produced in very large numbers– dedicated strike aircraft– navalized A-10– island bases and „island hopping“● same solutions applicable for land-basedaviation– completely contrary to BVR combat „logic“
  54. 54. What about AWACS?● AWACS is one of corner stones of USAF BVRdoctrine– large aircraft with huge, long-range radar
  55. 55. AWACS killer missiles● K-100– range of 200 kilometers● Vympel R-37– range of 400 kilometers against AWACS; workstill in progressKS-100
  56. 56. Scenario: PLAAF invasion of Taiwan
  57. 57. Combat assumptions● All scenarios– all F-22s (183) on Taiwan > 90 sorties per day– use low and high end to estimate bothpossibilities– stealth fighters invulnerable to BVR shots● Scenarios 2 and 4– 450 F-35s, 225 sorties per day● 300 F-35s on Taiwan > 150 sorties per day● 3 carrier battle groups near Taiwan > 150 F-35s,75 sorties per day
  58. 58. Combat assumptions● 1 200 Chinese fighters in range of Taiwan– by 2030 PLAAF likely to have 20 J-20, 800 Su-30/J-11B, 800 J-10– assume 1 200 J-10 and J-11/Su-30 with 1 sortieper fighter per day● 15 J-20: 5 sorties per day● 600 J-11: 600 sorties per day● 600 J-10: 600 sorties per day
  59. 59. Combat assumptions (Sc 1&2)● BVR missile Pk– 0% against F-22, F-35, J-20– 4% against Su-27, 30, 33, 35● WVR missile Pk– 15% against F-22, Sukhoi, J-20– 22% against F-35A, 29% against F-35B, 27%against F-35C● gun Pk– 30% against F-22, J-20, Sukhoi– 50% against F-35
  60. 60. Combat assumptions (Sc 3&4)● US missile Pk: 100%● PLAAF missile Pk: 0%
  61. 61. Missile loadout● F-22: 6 BVR, 2 WVR● F-35: 4 BVR– unsurvivable in visual range combat● J-10: 6 BVR, 2 WVR● J-11: 6 BVR, 2 WVR● Su-30: 6 BVR, 4 WVR● J-20: 6 BVR, 2 WVR
  62. 62. Combat assumptions● radar detection range– against F-22: 45 km– against F-35: 80 km– against J-20: 60 km– against legacy: 100 km● WVR missile range– USAF (AIM-9X): 26 km– PLAAF (PL-8): 20 km
  63. 63. Combat assumptions● Closure rate– scenario 1: 850 m/s– scenario 2: 650 m/s– range in time:● 100 km = t● 80 km = t+23s (Sc1), t+31s (Sc2)● 60 km = t+47s (Sc1), t+67s (Sc2)● 45 km = t+65s (Sc1), t+85s (Sc2)● 26 km = t+87s (Sc1), t+114s (Sc2)● 20 km = t+94s (Sc1), t+123s (Sc2)– does not account for time required to evademissiles
  64. 64. Combat assumptions● SAMs have been taken out by cruise missilesand dont participate● Taiwanese air forces do not participate● all sorties avaliable launched at once– Scenario 1● USAF: 90 F-22● PLAAF: 5 J-20, 600 J-11, 600 J-10– Scenario 2● USAF/USN: 90 F-22, 225 F-35● PLAAF: 5 J-20, 600 J-11, 600 J-10
  65. 65. Scenario 1● t = 90 F-22 launch 540 BVR missiles against1200 PLAAF legacy fighters; Pk = 0,04; 22targets destroyed● t+65 = 1183 PLAAF fighters launch 7230 BVRmissiles; Pk = 0, 0 targets destroyed● t+87 = 90 F-22 launch 180 WVR missiles; Pk =0,14, 25 targets destroyed● t+94 = 1158 PLAAF fighters launch 2316 WVRmissiles; Pk = 17%; could destroy 394 F-22sbut only 90 present; 90 targets destroyed
  66. 66. Scenario 1● End result– USAF aircraft lost: 90– PLAAF aircraft lost: 47– USAF aircraft remaining: 0– PLAAF aircraft remaining: 1158– USAF kill/loss ratio: 0,52
  67. 67. Scenario 2● t = 90 F-22 + 150 F-35 launch 840 BVRmissiles against 1200 Chinese legacy fighters;Pk = 0,04, 33 targets destroyed● t+65 = 1172 PLAAF fighters launch 7032 BVRmissiles; Pk = 0, 0 targets destroyed● t+87 = 90 F-22 + 150 F-35 launch 480 WVRmissiles; Pk = 0,14, 67 targets destroyed● t+94 = 1105 PLAAF fighters launch 2210 WVRmissiles; average Pk = 24%; could destroy 530targets but only 240 present; 240 targetsdestroyed
  68. 68. Scenario 2● End result– USAF aircraft lost: 240– PLAAF aircraft lost: 100– USAF aircraft remaining: 0– PLAAF aircraft remaining: 1105– USAF kill/loss ratio: 0,42
  69. 69. Scenario 3● t = 90 F-22 launch 540 BVR missiles against1200 Chinese legacy fighters; Pk = 1, 540targets destroyed● t+65 = 665 PLAAF fighters launch 7230 BVRmissiles; Pk = 0, 0 targets destroyed● t+87 = 90 F-22 launch 180 WVR missiles; Pk =1, 180 targets destroyed● t+94 = 485 PLAAF fighters launch 970 WVRmissiles; Pk = 0, 0 targets destroyed
  70. 70. Scenario 3● End result– USAF aircraft lost: 0– PLAAF aircraft lost: 720– USAF aircraft remaining: 90– PLAAF aircraft remaining: 485
  71. 71. Scenario 4● t = 90 F-22 + 150 F-35 launch 1140 BVRmissiles against 1200 PLAAF legacy fighters;Pk = 1, 1140 targets destroyed● t+65 = 65 PLAAF fighters launch 390 BVRmissiles; Pk = 0, 0 targets destroyed● t+87 = 90 F-22 launch 180 WVR missiles; Pk =1, 65 targets destroyed● t+94 = 0 PLAAF fighter aircraft remaining
  72. 72. Scenario 4● End result– USAF aircraft lost: 0– PLAAF aircraft lost: 1205– USAF aircraft remaining: 240– PLAAF aircraft remaining: 0
  73. 73. PLAAF Taiwan invasion summary● numbers matter– in 3 out of 4 scenarios US defenders defeated● it is unwise to rely solely on a „silver bullet“solutions● even with perfect missile Pk and invulnerableaircraft, defenders were unable to win if PLAAFsent more fighters than they had missiles– with more realistic assumptions, maximumbreak even force ratio is 3 PLAAF aircraft forevery US one - assuming USAF superiority inevery aspect
  74. 74. Scenarios critique● do not take into account PLA area denialsystems– cruise missiles– diesel electric and AIP submarines● these systems are designed for assymetricwarfare against US Navy; likely to prevent UScarrier operations near Chinese coast● do not take into account Republic of Chinas(Taiwan) air forces● excessively optimistic
  75. 75. Scenarios critique● many PLAAF air bases significantly harder thantypical US air base– underground hangars– no visible fuel storage– result: US bases vulnerable to attack; US forcesizes portrayed are too optimistic● IRST not taken into account– OLS-35 can detect subsonic stealth fighterhead-on at 50 kilometers; 10% more ifsupersonic– QWIP IRST allows for detection range of 90 kmhead on vs subsonic fighter; possibly used onJ-20
  76. 76. PLAAF air basesFuzhou air base - clearly visible entrances tounderground facilitySource: 2008 RAND brief
  77. 77. USAF Kadena air baseSource: 2008 RAND brief
  78. 78. Scenarios critique● IR BVR missiles not taken into account– unlikely to achieve significantly better Pk thanradar-guided BVR missiles for reasons ofphysics, but negate US advantage in radarstealth● VHF SAMs used byChina - can detectstealth aircraft
  79. 79. Scenarios critique● PLA SAMs more likely to survive initial missileexchange than US/Taiwanese SAMs● many PLAAF fighters - being copies of RussianSu-27 and MiG-29 - can operate from dirt stripsor any sufficiently flat and hard surface; USfighters cannot● stealth aircraft are not invulnerable to radar-guided missiles
  80. 80. Written by● Picard578●