May 2, 2018

F-35s Need to Use UnStealthy Afterburners to Stay Supersonic

Continuing on from http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2018/04/f-35-inferior-to-5th-even-4-generation.html on the F-35s weaknesses.

One issue less covered is the inability of the F-35 to, "supercruise" like F-22s (sustained cruising at supersonic speed without afterburner).

Wiki advises: “The [F-35’s F135 or F136 engine is] not designed to supercruise.[57] However, the F-35 can briefly fly at Mach 1.2 for 150 miles without the use of an afterburner.”

Japanese F-35s will probably need to travel supersonic to intercept Chinese jetfighters in many situations. In addition to the afterburner being used for takeoff Japanese F-35s will likely need to stay on afterburner during most long distance supersonic travel. From the Japanese home islands or from Okinawa supersonic flight may be essential for successful interception of Chinese jetfighters over many parts of the East China Sea including the "Senkakus". 

Use of afterburner causes a large infrared signature, observable from Chinese satellites and high flying drones. Minimising heat signature is an important requirement of stealth.

Afterburning also uses up jetfuel quickly compared to aircraft with supercruise ability..

Fortunately China and Russia are also having trouble developing (or reverse engineering) supercruise capable jet engines for their stealth jets - see

   russia/ (paysite) India dropping out of Russian PAK FA stealth project

and


Jet flight from Japanese home islands is a long way from Senkakus/Diaoyu dispute (Map courtesy Chinese Defence Ministry, EIA and Yonhap.)
---
Pete

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Supercruise allows one to extend the combat radius at supersonic speeds. Turning on the afterburner in an F-35 is like a Russian gulping down his vodka. Also with modern air combat, you want to accelerate to high Mach number quickly, launch your long range AAM and quickly turn away while your AAM with active radar seekers do the work. the F-35 above M1.0 is going to be turtle slow going. the F-22 has another advantage, its combat ceiling is much higher. The guy on top tends to have the kinetic advantage.
The SU-27/30/J-1x are all high drag planes but at least they can accelerate quickly to M2.0 so their AAM ranges are extended. They also have that IRST (infra red search and track) to likely they will see an F-35 out in the 80+km (frontal intercept) which is also when they can launch their infra red R-27ET. Luckily for the F-35 driver, the R-27 is an AAM with real lousy turn performance so you can evade it pretty easily. However, Russian doctrine calls for launching a radar guided AAM right after that R27. Hopefully, it is not an RVV-SD that the F35 driver has to face down.
In Syria, an F/A-18 initially failed to shoot down a Soviet era SU-22, not known for being a dogfighter, with its vaunted AIM-9x (between 100% successful tests and real life, there is a world of difference) and had to launch an AMRAAM to nail it finally. So USN doctrine is quite similar to Russian philosophy in the end. And that is the other issue with F-35. It carries only 4 AAM in its internal bay. If you need 2 per plane, you will soon run out of ammo.
KQN

Anonymous said...

China is filling a major gap in its aviation. The carrier capable J-15 EW is now in flight test. Growlers, watch out.
KQN

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) may operate F-35B, the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) fighter, in Izumo-class, the biggest helicopter destroyer of JMSDF [1, 2, 3].

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-defence-carrier/japan-considers-refitting-helicopter-carrier-for-stealth-fighters-government-sources-idUSKBN1EK0CF
“Japan considers refitting helicopter carrier for stealth fighters: government sources”, by Nobuhiro Kubo, Tim Kelly, DECEMBER 26, 2017

[2] https://thediplomat.com/2018/05/study-japans-largest-warship-can-support-f-35b/
“Study: Japan’s Largest Warship Can Support F-35B”, by Franz-Stefan Gady, May 02, 2018,
A study commissioned by Japan’s Ministry of Defense concludes that its latest class of helicopter destroyers can be turned into full-fledged aircraft carriers.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izumo-class_helicopter_destroyer

Regards

Peter Coates said...

Hi KQN

Yes the F-35's need of afterburner and trouble even getting to Mach 1.4 means an intelligent, increasingly well resourced Chinese opponent (with J-15 EW) could ambush F-35s.

A theory I hold or hope is that the profit making US military-industrial complex will require all "true allies" to buy all these non-airsuperiority inferior F-35s they can afford. Then 10 years later (talking 2035-40?) the US will begin to sell by now not so cutting edge F-22s to these grateful allies.

These F-22s will still be lower spec, for export, models, of course. Somewhere in the above equation UCAVs may be allowed in by the Pilot Career Path Unions that run Western Airforces.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Anonymous [at 3/5/18 9:05 PM]

It will be interesting to see how Japanese mini-carriers, with about 6 F-35Bs each, will compare with medium-large Chinese carriers with ski-jumps and within about 10 years, CATOBAR.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_002_aircraft_carrier

Australia's Canberra Class LHDs have also retained ski-jumps to provide the option of hosting US F-35Bs in the nearer term and maybe eventually (about 6) Australian F-35s, See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canberra-class_landing_helicopter_dock#Design_and_capabilities

"The ski-jump ramp of Juan Carlos I has been retained for the RAN ships, although is not intended for use.[22] The Spanish use the ramp to launch Harrier jet aircraft, and although operating STOVL aircraft was decided against early in the Australian procurement process due to cost and detraction from the ship's main role, redesigning the ship to remove the ramp would have added unnecessary cost to the project.[31] The retention of the ski-jump has prompted multiple recommendations that fixed-wing aircraft be operated from the ships (primarily envisaged as a flight group of F-35B Lightning II STOVL aircraft)"

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

I suspect and will bet we will see a Chinese catobar carrier before 10 years from now. It is being built as we speak. EMALS has been in testing for a few years already, and it is one field where Chinese engineers are pretty strong (through their MAGLEV trains). Catobar capable J-15s are in flight tests already.

Hopefully the Japanese will be accelerating their upgrade R&D program on the Meteor, with an AESA radar seeker, for their F-35. That will be very potent equalizer which can be made available much earlier.

China deploys YJ-12 and HQ-9 to the Spratlys. That development is expected as the strategy is well known for years, to close off SCS to US fleets. China will then have overlapping fields of fire on both their Ashm as well as their SAMs. The distances between Fiery Cross and Subi reefs with mainland Philippines or Vietnam is just short of 500km. And the distances among the three Chinese strong points in the Spratlys are 200-300km.
KQN

https://libertyunyielding.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/SCS-Spratlys-YJ12-2018.jpg

wispywood2344 said...

Hi Pete.

The JASDF is proceeding with the deployment of F-35A as a successor to F-4 scheduled to completely retire by around 2020.
Apart from this, since the retirement of F-2 is scheduled to begin around 2030, the Japanese MoD has conducted research and technology development to develop "F-3" as a successor to F-2.
As part of technology development, production and testing of domestic engine are in progress, and its prototype "XF9-1" will be completed in next month.[1]
As XF9-1 is designed considering supercruise, F-3 likely be capable of supercruise.
I wrote an article on the new domesitc engine on my blog before, so please read it if you are interested.[2]

[1]http://www.mod.go.jp/atla/img/kousouken/news_20170628.pdf
[2]http://blog.livedoor.jp/wispywood2344/archives/55607907.html

Regards

wispywood2344

Peter Coates said...

Hi wispywood2344

Thanks for the information.

I will read http://blog.livedoor.jp/wispywood2344/archives/55607907.html

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete (continued from 3/5/18 9:05 PM)

In my first impression, three factors (heat resistance, corrosion resistance and mechanical strength) for deck coating of Izumo-class in F-35B operation should be taken into account, beacause the deck is exposed to sea water/moisture and repeated loading of heavy planes as well as massive heat from jet.

As organic coating is not heat resistant, non-organic coating is highly recomended. Silicon resin which is corrosion/heat resistant and fexible seems to be promising. I think US has the patents of this kind of coating and US may admit patent licensing for Japan.

Regards

Anonymous said...

I believe that the F35 needs afterburner to reach supersonic in the first place & can then stay supersonic for a while after without afterburner but will eventually slow down to the point you need it again. So it is really only stealthy for a max of that 150 miles (at supersonic). It does tend to indicate that true supercruise is close to obtainable if they could squeeze a bit more power out of the engine (or at least extend that 150 miles a bit)