[FoRK] "Two faces of the Tea Party"

mdw at martinwills.com mdw at martinwills.com
Sun Jun 27 10:19:08 PDT 2010

> On Jun 27, 2010, at 2:36 AM, Damien Morton wrote:
>> This is wrong. The F-22 is clearly designed as an air superiority weapon
>> - a
>> fighter, while  he F-35 is intended as a more multirole weapon - a
>> fighter-bomber,  replacing F-16, A-10 etc etc etc, which is a statement
>> in
>> of itself. When anyone looks at the F-35, do they see an A-10 AND an
>> F-16?
> The F-22 was designed as a multirole aircraft, including ground strike and
> AWACS, but its nominal primary role is air superiority since it was to
> replace the F-15C first. Some of these other capabilities were intended to
> be finished after the initial release in an air superiority configuration.
> The delivered F-22 has external hardpoints rated for 20,000 pounds,

This is an important issue that you fail to understand.  When the external
hardpoints are populated, the F-22 loses ALL STEALTH capabilites and
becomes a $138 million dollar target. This totally removes it from the
air-superiority role until they are cleared. They are used for additional
fuel stores for long missions,ferrying and electronic ECM/ECCM roles. You
will be very hard pressed to hang munitions on an aircraft that costs $138
million a piece that can be shot down by a simple air-to-air/ground-to-air
RG missle when they are populated with smart weapons.  All weapons are
carried in internal bays specifically for this reason.

> more
> than either the F-16, F-35, or the F-15E (F-15 strike variant).  Deep,
> fast bombing runs were always on the menu.
> The F-35 is replacing the F-16, an inexpensive and export-friendly
> multirole strike fighter. A difference is that they tried to glue more
> roles onto the F-35 program than the F-16 supports.
>> Its hard to see how the F-35 can perform all those roles well, in
>> particular
>> the CAS role of the A-10, but then maybe the A-10 has been supplanted by
>> systems such as GMLRS and other precision strike artillery. Certainly,
>> it
>> doesnt make sense to have 500kg warheads being carried around by 140
>> million
>> semi-stealthly aircraft when they can be lobbed just as effectively by
>> 0.7
>> million rockets with no stealth requirements.
> The problem with the A-10 is that it was never designed to be upgradeable
> in the way that modern fighter aircraft are. They've gone through heroic
> efforts to get the avionics and weapon systems out of the 1970s with only
> partial success. There is no money to design a new airframe so they are
> stuck with what they have, which limits support for new armaments.

You also forget they were retired and being removed from service before
Gulf War I. There wasn't any money spent to upgrade it in the first place.

> The F-35 is not a replacement per se.  A-10s are explicitly designed to
> survive multiple SAM strikes.

This is wrong.  The SAM's in the 70's were truck mountable only and not
shoulder mounted.  The A-10 was specifically designed as tank/armor
killers to counter the vast amount of armor that the Soviets had deployed
in Eastern Europe.  They were designed to absorb significant amounts of
ground fire (since they lived at mud-top levels).  The titanium tub, the
pilot sits in, was designed to prevent the penetration of 37mm AA rounds.
The dual engines and frame were designed to absorb the pounding from the
recoil of it's gattling gun. As a side-effect, it helped it absorb vast
amounts of ground fire.

> The Soviets learned the value of this in
> Afghanistan and they eventually redesigned their CAS airframes to
> integrate many A-10 features. The F-35 doesn't have any of these types of
> survivability features but the idea is that they can use stealth to loiter
> over a battlefield without getting shot at. This still doesn't make a
> great CAS platform but I think they believe that role can be handed off to
> other weapon systems in bits and pieces.
> The problem with MLRS and artillery is that they have limited range.

You fail to mention their biggest fault.  You can't recall an artillery
shell or a missile once it has left the barrel.  A pilot using the Mark I
eyeball has a significant edge on target prioritization and selection. You
significantly reduce the wedding bombs and civilian collateral if a pilot
is allowed to use his initiative. Artillery and missiles have no

> Battlefields no longer organize along lines. Having strike aircraft
> flitting around is a low-latency and high-precision delivery mechanism
> that can adapt to much more complex battlefields. The US military has
> pretty much canceled all new artillery platforms, only spending money to
> increase the range of the old artillery systems.

This is also incorrect. The major funds being spent, are for kinetic kill
devices and rail guns.  They have a several hundred miles range, can be
LAV/Tank mounted and have the potential to be guided to target in route.

> Artillery is inexpensive,
> but that doesn't help much if its limits render it useless for most strike
> missions going forward.
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