Daily Archives: December 3, 2015

The F-23 Fighter: The Super Plane America Never Built


November 12, 2015

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is the best air superiority fighter ever built, but could America have done better?

When the YF-22 prototype won the contract for the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) in April 1991, it was a lesser plane compared to the Northrop YF-23 in many ways. Though the YF-22 was a more maneuverable aircraft, the YF-23 had far greater supersonic cruise capability—especially when outfitted with the General Electric YF120 variable cycle engines. Even when powered by the less powerful Pratt & Whitney YF-119, the YF-23 had the ability to fly an entire sortie at supersonic speeds above Mach 1.4 (explained to me sometime ago by Barry Watts at the Wilson Center—who was an analyst on the Northrop team at the time). The sleek prototype jet could also cruise at slightly more than Mach 1.8 when equipped with the YF-120.

“I don’t recall Barry Watts, although the name has a familiar ring. He was right about supercruising for the whole sortie, as that’s the definition (Ps=0), but he was wrong about the number,” Jim Sandberg, test pilot of the YF-120 powered YF-23 told me a few years ago. “The one you quoted was just a bit shy for our PAV-1 that was equipped with the relatively underpowered YF-119 engines developed by P&W.  ‘My’ airplane, PAV-2, equipped with the more powerful YF-120 engines developed by GE supercruised quite a bit faster—‘very fast’, as the USAF censors advised us to say.”

The final production version of the F-22 Raptor also cruises at speeds greater than Mach 1.8 without afterburner—but its endurance is much more limited. In fact operational Raptor pilots tell me that it’s not very useful during real world missions. “Supercruise is impressive on paper but not very practical in a fighter with limited fuel,” a senior Air Force F-22 pilot said. “I would much rather have an aircraft that accelerates and gains energy back quickly than one that supercruises.”

The YF-23—contrary to popular belief—did not have an overall top speed that was any faster than the YF-22. Both jets were limited to an aerodynamic max speed of about Mach 2.2 as a result of their fixed-ramp external compression inlets. In fact, operational F-22 Raptors are “red lined” at exactly Mach 2.0 with an artificial placard because the aircraft’s stealth coating are prone to delamination if the jet went any faster—particularly around the canopy. The Northrop design also had better range compared to the YF-22, and was arguably a stealthier design.

But why did the YF-23 get beat by the Raptor?

On the surface, the decision to go ahead with the YF-22 might seem like a vote in favor of a more conservative design since both jets grossly more than exceeded the Air Force’s requirements. But there was much more to the Air Force’s decision than aircraft performance. Three major factors played in Lockheed’s favor.

This being Washington, politics matter. Northrop and partner McDonnell Douglas had antagonized the Air Force and Pentagon leadership with their performance on the B-2 bomber and A-12 naval strike aircraft, Watts explained.

The second factor was the U.S. Navy. Even though the service had dropped out of the ATF program, the U.S. Navy still had a vote on which aircraft would be selected. The Navy’s choice was the naval variant of the YF-22 design, which looked like bizarre hybrid of a Raptor and F-14 Tomcat with variable geometry wings. “The team, working hard on every detail of our NATF [Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter] design in late 1989 and early 1990, produced a very stealthy swing-wing fighter that could supercruise. It was very suitable for carrier operations,” according to Sherm Mullin, the Lockheed Skunk Works lead for the ATF program. “The Navy still got a vote in the ATF competition, and, as we found out later for certain, it cast it for our F-22 team.”

The Navy was not fond of the naval derivative of the YF-23, which had a canard configuration the service found less than appealing. In fact, because the Navy’s reaction was so favorable, Lockheed later pitched a modified version of its NATF proposal for the ill-fated AF-X project that the Navy was ultimately forced to cancel in favor of the Joint Strike Fighter program. Some Navy officials are bitter about that fact to this day.

The third major factor was that while Northrop adhered strictly to the requirements, Lockheed had the foresight to engage Tactical Air Command (and its successor Air Combat Command (ACC)) on what the Air Force actually wanted. While theoretically the YF-23’s combination of sheer speed, altitude and stealth should have carried the day; ACC operators had not fully bought into the fact that stealth would actually work.

Instead, ACC operators wanted to be sure that the ATF was maneuverable enough to defeat any comer in a visual range dogfight—and moreover—those pilots wanted a jet that would have grossly superior agility at all speeds, altitudes and angles of attack. Lockheed more than delivered on the Air Force’s desire for an extremely agile fighter with the thrust-vectoring Raptor.  Watts described the YF-22 as a “super F-15”—which was exactly what the operational Air Force wanted.

Once the YF-22 was officially selected for the ATF program, it was designated the F-22 Raptor. Pratt & Whitney won the engine contest with its F119—which while not as powerful, was far more reliable than General Electric’s novel variable-cycle YF120. Ultimately, Lockheed Martin did deliver a world beating air superiority fighter that offers performance that is unmatched by anything else fly. However, one can still wonder, what would an operational F-23 have looked like?

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar

©2015 The National Interest. All rights reserved.


Northrop YF-23


Source: gereports.com/nationalinterest.org/from the net

Korea to raise defense budget 3.6% to W38.8tr



Korea to raise defense budget 3.6% to W38.8tr

Published : 2015-12-03 18:20
Updated : 2015-12-03 18:20

The country’s defense budget is set to hike 3.6 percent to 38.8 trillion won ($33.3 billion) next year on the back of an increase in salaries and production costs of utility helicopters and other weapons systems.

Overall, more than 27.1 trillion won was allotted for force operations, while some 11 trillion won will be spent to advance defense capabilities such as by continuing the establishment of the Kill Chain and the Korea Air and Missile Defense preemptive strike systems slated to be completed by the early 2020s.

“We are planning to make thorough preparations for next year’s budget implementation so that the money will be used to maximize the military’s combat capacity in the most effective manner possible,” a Defense Ministry official told reporters on customary condition of anonymity.

With the country seeking to enlist an additional 10,000 young men in 2016 alone to curb the growing backlog of candidates, 63.2 billion won was earmarked for soldiers’ salaries, food and uniform costs. The military also plans to purchase about 2,700 washing machines and 2,900 dryers adding up to 2.7 billion won, while spending 500 million won for more ambulance units to facilitate the transfer of patients and first aid in mountainous frontline units.

On the weapons front, 2.8 billion won has been newly allocated for chemical, biological and radiological patrol cars, 3.6 billion won for an Ulsan-class batch 3 combat system and 2 billion won for air ammunition fuses. Among the major continuous projects is the manufacturing of Surion utility helicopters, worth 50 billion won.

But it is stoking concerns over possible setbacks for Seoul’s plan to beef up its reconnaissance capabilities against North Korea due to the slash in expenses for projects to adopt more spy satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles in frontline areas, amounting to 8 billion won and 11.6 billion won, respectively.

The funds for the initiative to develop indigenous fighter jets were also cut down to 67 billion won from the government-proposed 161.8 billion won. If the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, the state arms procurement agency, fails to clinch a formal agreement with selected contractor Korea Aerospace Industries within this year, it will lose another 19.8 billion won set for 2014. This year’s budget stands at 55.2 billion won.

“As KAI was already picked as our preferred bidder, we’re making our utmost efforts to sign it later this month and implement the entire expenditure assigned for 2014-16 next year,” another ministry official said, asking anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)

Original article : http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20151203000935


Korea Air and Missile Defense preemptive strike systems

The THAAD system is designed to intercept short-range, medium-range, and some intermediate-range ballistic missiles’ trajectories at endo-atmospheric and exo-atmospheric altitudes in their terminal phase. In conjunction with the Patriot missile system, THAAD would create an essential multilayered defensive shield for South Korea. THAAD’s large-area defense capability with 72 interceptors per battery would complement Patriot’s point defense and enable defense of more military forces, population centers, and critical targets.

A Lockheed Martin simulation showed that a single THAAD battery could defend most of South Korea against a North Korean missile attack, while two batteries would protect all of Korea except the southeast and provide greater protection against multiple missile attacks. Three batteries would cover all of South Korea.

The four most recent senior U.S. commanders in Korea have recommended that South Korea should deploy the THAAD system and join the allied missile defense network. Similarly, the two most recent South Korean Defense Ministers Han Min Koo and Kim Kwan-jin have assessed that THAAD would improve the country’s defense.

Source: heritage.org

Read about THAAD missile defense systems:


THAAD missile defense

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is a long-range, land-based theater defense weapon that acts as the upper tier of a basic 2-tiered defense against ballistic missiles. It’s designed to intercept missiles during late mid-course or final stage flight, flying at high altitudes within and even outside the atmosphere. This allows it to provide broad area coverage against threats to critical assets such as population centers and industrial resources as well as military forces, hence its previous “theater (of operations) high altitude area defense” designation.

This capability makes THAAD different from a Patriot PAC-3 or the future MEADS system, which are point defense options with limited range that are designed to hit a missile or warhead just before impact. The SM-3 Standard missile is a far better comparison, and land-based SM-3 programs will make it a direct THAAD competitor. So far, both programs remain underway.

The THAAD terminal (formerly theatre) high-altitude area defence missile system is an easily transportable defensive weapon system to protect against hostile incoming threats such as tactical and theatre ballistic missiles at ranges of 200km and at altitudes up to 150km.

The THAAD system provides the upper tier of a ‘layered defensive shield’ to protect high value strategic or tactical sites such as airfields or populations centres. The THAAD missile intercepts exo-atmospheric and endo-atmospheric threats.

THAAD system provides the upper tier of a ‘layered defensive shield’

The sites would also be protected with lower and medium-tier defensive shield systems such as the Patriot PAC-3 which intercepts hostile incoming missiles at 20 to 100 times lower altitudes.

Patriot PAC-3 Air & Missile Defense System protects the lower and medium-tier defensive shield systems

THAAD missile battery

The THAAD battery typically operates nine launch vehicles each carrying eight missiles, with two mobile tactical operations centres (TOCs) and a ground-based radar (GBR).


THAAD missile information

The target object data and the predicted intercept point are downloaded to the missile prior to launch. The updated target and intercept data are also transmitted to the missile in flight.

The missile is 6.17m in length and is equipped with a single stage solid fuel rocket motor with thrust vectoring. The rocket motor is supplied by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. The launch weight is 900kg.

A separation motor is installed at the interstage at the forward end of the booster section. The separation motor assists in the separation of the kinetic kill vehicle (KKV) and the spent boost motor.

The shroud separates from the KV before impact. The KV is equipped with a liquid-fuelled divert and attitude control system (DACS), developed by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, for the terminal maneuvering towards the target intercept point.

A gimbal-mounted infrared seeker module in the nose section provides terminal homing to close in on the target missile in the terminal phase of approach.

THAAD missile

During the initial fly-out phase of flight, the seeker window is covered with a two-piece clamshell protection shroud. Metal bladders installed in the shroud are inflated to eject the protective shroud before the seeker initiates target acquisition. The infrared seeker head, developed by BAe Systems, is an indium antimonide (InSb) staring focal plane array operating in the mid infrared 3 to 5 micron wavelength band.

General data:
Type: Guided Weapon Weight: 900 kg
Length: 6.17 m Span: 0.37 m
Diameter: 0.37 Generation: None
Properties: Anti-Air All-Aspect, Level Cruise Flight
Targets: Missile
Sensors / EW:
IIR Seeker – (THAAD) Infrared
Weapon Seeker, Imaging IR
Max Range: 18.5 km
THAAD C-1 – Guided Weapon
Air Max: 370.4 km.

Lockheed Working To Extend Range of U.S.Missile Interceptors: HERE

20160225091315_1Image: keypublishing.com

Unlike the current THAAD interceptor, which uses a single-stage rocket, the longer-range version would have two stages, similar to rockets that launch satellites into orbit. The first rocket would launch the interceptor to a high altitude in or above the Earth’s atmosphere while a second “kick stage” would propel the rocket toward the enemy missile.

“The first stage gets you out longer and higher against modern threats and the kick stage is responsible for narrowing the distance between the target and the interceptor so you could turn over to the kill vehicle,”

THAAD_ER 1Image: keypublishing.com

A missile defense system works like this: A missile is launched. Ground and space sensors detect that launch and calculate the speed and path of the missile as it makes its way into space. A rocket-powered interceptor is then launched and put on a collision course with the missile, destroying it before it hits the target.

THAAD is designed to intercept an enemy missile as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere.

“By going to the [THAAD extended range] version, where you have a bigger booster and a kick stage, you can launch much earlier and you can attack that threat before he might try to do some evasive maneuvers,”

THAAD_ER 2Image: keypublishing.comScreen_Shot_2016_01_23_at_4_56_35_PMImage: keypublishing.com

“With an additional stage and an ability to loiter, THAAD[extended range] has been reported to have nine to 12 times existing THAAD coverage, and its increased velocity could potentially both counter hypersonic threats and have homeland missile defense applications, supplementing [Ground-Based Midcourse Defense],” Excerpt from defenseone.com

2ndstage_ERImage: keypublishing.comScreen_Shot_2016_01_23_at_7_21_17_PMLaunch vehical missile reduced from 8 to 6 missiles to accomodate the larger ER version – Image: keypublishing.com

M1075 truck-mounted launcher

There are nine M1075 truck mounted launchers in a typical THAAD battery. Launch vehicle is a modified Oshkosh Truck Corporation heavy expanded mobility tactical truck with load-handling system (HEMTT-LHS). The 12m-long by 3.25m-wide launch vehicle carries ten missile launch containers. While on the launcher, lead acid batteries provide the primary power. The batteries are recharged with a low-noise generator.

After firing, reloading the launch vehicle takes 30 minutes.

Ground-based radar

The cueing for the THAAD system is provided by the Raytheon Systems AN/TPY-2 ground-based radar (GBR) for surveillance, threat classification and threat identification. THAAD can also be cued by military surveillance satellites such as Brilliant Eyes.

ABM_AN-TPY-2_Full_System_Raytheon_lgRaytheon Systems AN/TPY-2 ground-based radar and cooling equipment unitclip_image004AN/TPY-2 radar

The AN/TPY-2 radar provides a common mission capability:

  • in Terminal-Based Mode (TBM) with the THAAD Fire Control Center in support of the THAAD weapon system, and
  • in a Forward-Based Mode (FBM) with command, control, battle management and communications, enabling MDA’s Ballistic Missile Defense System.
second-ballistic-missile-defense-radar-deployed-in-japanAntenna Equipment – Image @upi.com

The electronic equipment unit houses radar control and signal/data processing equipment using modified software to provide acquisition and tracking of ballistic missiles of all ranges in the boost phase and the transition to the midcourse phase of flight. The system uses fibre optic datalinks as the communications medium. The radar and system components require a total of 2.1 megawatts of power to operate.

The AN/TPY-2 radar system elements include:

fig4-2Image: globalsecurity.org
  1. the phased-array antenna
  2. the electronic equipment unit
  3. a 1.1 MW prime power unit
  4. a cooling equipment unit which provides cooling for the antenna array
  5. an operator control unit which contains operator consoles for operations, maintenance and communications monitoring (using an own power unit).
General data:
Type: Mobile Vehicle(s) Crew: 0
Length: 4 m Width: 6 m
Operator: Air Force Commissioned: 2009
Sensors / EW:
AN/TPY-2 TMD-GBR – Radar
Radar, Ballistic Missile Battle Management
Max Range: 1000.1 km

Source cmano-db.com

fig4-4Cooling Equipment Unit – Image: globalsecurity.org

The ground based radar units are C-130 air transportable. The AN/TPY-2 radar uses a 9.2m² aperture full field of view antenna phased array operating at I and J bands (X band) and containing 25,344 solid-state microwave transmit and receive modules. The radar has the capability to acquire missile threats at ranges up to 1,000km.

The first production radar is being tested at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. In September 2004, the THAAD radar tracked a tactical ballistic missile, cueing a successful intercept by a Patriot PAC-3 missile. A second radar was delivered to White Sands in June 2007.

Tactical operations centre

1-_th_tfccImage: mda.mil2-_inside_tfccImage: mda.mil

Each THAAD battery has two tactical operations centres (TOC). The TOC has been developed by Northrop Grumman, formerly Litton Data Systems Division. The TOC accommodates two operator stations and is equipped with three Hewlett-Packard HP-735 data processors.

fig4-3Interior View of TFCC Tactical Operations Station (TOS) – Image: globalsecurity.org

Mobile BMC3I units

The THAAD system is able to ‘hand over’ targets to other defence systems and can cue the targets to other weapons. THAAD is able to interface to other US or allied air defence data information networks and to the battle management and command control and communications centre.

Northrop Grumman has been contracted to develop the THAAD BMC3I. The battle management and command, control, computers and intelligence (BMC3I) units are installed in hardened shelters mounted on high-mobility multi-wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs).

The THAAD communications system can use JTIDS, mobile subscriber equipment, SINCGARS and the joint tactical terminal for voice and data communications and for intelligence data transfer.

Source: fas.org/radartutorial.eu/army-technology.com/ mda.mil/lockheedmartin.comps

Updated Oct 18, 2016