Haha... wow. I sure do have a lot to reply to, don't I.
Apologies for the late response, but sometimes real life does intervene.
Power post about tactics on Page 4/5 VivS.
First things first. I think a lot of posters on this forum seem to invest too much faith in some technology/weapons, to the point of thinking that they are invincible silver bullets. They aren't. Specifically, things like LPI and the Su-30MKI (especially the latter). They do have their limitations.
Even the Su-30, while a brilliant platform, we must acknowledge, was developed in 1997-2000. It is coming up for an upgrade soon enough. It is a powerful bird, but to think that it can whoop the asses of either of the two contenders (or vice versa) would be wrong. Secondly, the Russians DO have limitations in technologies, especially in things like avionics and sensor integration. Nothing to be ashamed of though. Horses for courses. Phenomenal stuff in one area, reasonably ok tech in the other.
A few notes before that though:
a) Captor-E doesn't exist yet, and the earliest timeline is only post 2015. So i'd rather not try and use that to bolster the Tiffy's superiority much. I'm sure a swashplate RBE-2EE will exist before the Captor-E swashbuckler
b) The Tiffy people are more media savvy and open than the Rafale's. Doesn't mean the Kat doesn't have the goods. Wrt random goodies that one might or might not have, i'd rather not speculate, and i'd rather as much as possible make comparisons wrt concrete goods.
MarcH wrote:K prasad,
Irregardless of how much range you have (or don't have) on your radar a modern RWR will always detect you earlier than you get a useful return. LPI get's better, as do RWR's. In the end, you've got just a less powerful radar. There is nothing positive about it. Even the Raptor has a very powerful radar, and it has way better stealth than Rafale. Because if you have to activate it, you want as much power as possible. And btw a bigger antenna is more subtle than a smaller one. Simply because you need less power output to get a useful return.
Further more, typical targets tend to become more difficult to detect, too. While you may detect a 5 sqm fighter at 150km, a stealthy cruise missile will be detectable at considerably less range. And all those passive detection stuff is useless in that very situation. A cruise missiles doesn't emit radar signals. Plus the French diva doesn't even have an IRST at the moment. So much for the superior passive detection qualities.
In the end it boils down to always the same conclusion. Rafale is better at deep strike missions. (Where I would raise doubts about it's stealthines thanks to tons of external stores)
Tiffy is better at airdefense. Radar, Pirate, climb rate, supersonic performance, two way datalink for Meteor, Striker + supermanouverable WVR missles, Libelle... you name it. Only true selling point for Rafale is in my opinion SPECTRA. Transplanting it into a true 5th gen airframe (e.g. AMCA) is a quite mouth watering idea. Remains to be seen if Thales would be willing to share the crown jeweles.
Sigh. Here goes.
a) Rafale DOES have an IRST - google for OSF please. This should start you off - http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/20 ... afale.html
. Note that they wouldn't remove an IR channel without having an equally effective alternative.
b) F-22 has stealth for so many reasons. Apart from the VLO aspect itself, the APG-77 is a revolutionary radar. So yes, that is probably the ideal of LPI we want to have, and the ideal of LPI that people have been talking about. But no other radars are there yet. Or even close. And even the APG-77 mgiht be vulnerable for all we know. By the time other radars reach that level, the ESM and avionics would also have caught up
c) A powerful radar isnt just because it puts out more watts. If you can have a more sensitive receiver, you won't need to. Radar power is a function of so many things. Which is why they don't give you the output power, and let you calculate the range from it. They tell you the range for typical targets, because its not a simple 1-to-1 relation between the power and range. Other factors do play a role. Second, even stray emissions are a danger. Third, a less powerful radar doesn't mean a less lethal system, which is what i've been trying to state.
d) You are right about the bigger collector aperture of course. The question is, by how much.
SaiK wrote:1. "If I can see you, I am aware you are there. and I hope I can reach to hit you" [radar+weapons].
2. If you can't see me, and I am still aware you are there [given the range scope of weapons], and I get to hit you.
I guess the 2 takes over 1, in any operational sense.
Range is important in one sense, where all this works say 100km range, where I have both radar and weapons to deliver. Now if that can be increased, it would be great to have.
I agree, it is useless illumination and worries if scanning emits can be tracked by enemies. Now, if that can done without them knowing it [scan and track mode, special frequency at which we operate, or some other technique by which we can track], then it is unnecessary over weight of t/r modules on the nose. OTOH, if the range increase comes with additional benefit such that it satisfies case 2 above, then it is wonderful.
Currently, I don't see any long ranged AAMs that is greater than 200km.
It would, if the "I can hit you" could happen soon after the "I can see you", then 2. would be great. But it isnt so. Statement 2 is a misnomer, considering that radar emissions go out much farther than they are received back. Which means ideally, someone can sense your emissions much before you even detect them.
I think on this forum, a lot of people are bought over by technologies into thinking they are invincible, or the be-all-and -end-all. In most cases, they aren't. They might confer advantages, but not invincibility. LPI is no silver bullet as of now. Its a red queen race. Let us not make the mistake of thinking that Low Probability of Intercept means No Probability of Intercept. It doesn't. Every bit of emissions jeopardizes the stealth of the mission. Hell, thats why radio silence is maintained, even though they can use short range radio.
What I'm trying to make clear here is the need for a compromise re. awareness and stealth. Is it a disadvantage? Of course it is. Is it suboptimal? I don't think so.
Take an eg of a SEAD operation inside enemy airspace. Obviously the first aim is mission success. Followed by survival. If the mission is detected and has to scamper back, that's it. The enemy will be vigilant, and we would've lost our chance to destroy their SAMs and radars. I don't need to explain what would happen then. As the commander of that theater, I would rather lose 3-4 aircraft so as to ensure control of that airspace rather than have those aircraft survive and not have control, and worse, alert the enemy to my plans.
Note that when we're inside enemy territory, he has waaay more eyes than us. What then happens is that the moment there is even a semblance of emission picked up, even a faint signal received by an RWR, they would be extremely alert. they don't even need to confirm it. The enemy will then switch on his own radars on wideband, and flood the area, exposing the bandits. mission finito. no success, even if the bandits can successfully egress.
Its like trying to infiltrate a fort to open the gate. If we switch on our torch, chances are, someone might see something, and switch on their searchlights and find our assault party. That forever closes that gate to us. The best bet is to stay in the dark, sneak up on the guards and shoot them and open the gate.
With re RCS, a larger aparture array does have a larger RCS. Since the nose radome of an aircraft is RF permeable, the array, being what it is (an excellent collector and reflector of RF energy), acts like a cat's eyes for any emissions. Hence the canted arrays that we see nowadays. Even that doesn't guarantee no returns. Thus, a smaller array. (This is me putting on the Dassault cap).
Which means that if the same or equivalent SYSTEM (not radar, but the complete platform) effectiveness were achievable, a smaller array might be preferred, or a slightly less capable radar could be tolerated. Lets also remember that array size is only one aspect of radar performance - processing, operation, array sensitivity, power density, beam agility and versatility, spectrum, interleaved modes, all of these add up and are important to radar performance.
Assuming that all these are equal on both platforms, given the smaller nose, Kat will always have a slightly less powerful radar. How much less is one question, and I believe that it would not be cripplingly lower. If the system in totality helps us achieve a greater mission success rate, which is what the Rafale designers have sought to do, then so much the better. A small sacrifice at the micro level which gives greater returns at the macro level is desirable. The question now stands about whether the Rafale has achieved that. Do I say it has? No, I don't. Do I think it has achieved it. I'm leaning towards saying yes.
At the end, we would all (me included), like a bigger radar aperture on the Rafale. The big questions though, are:
a) If a bigger array isnt possible, how much does it degrade the Rafale's advantage vis-a-vis the Tiffy.
b) How much would the bigger array influence or affect the Rafales performance, for good or bad? A bigger radar might give x % more range, but would also make the rafale y % more susceptible to detection. The larger nose would also lead to z% change in airframe performance. Does the x improvement justify y and z costs? With the interactions between x, y, z and others lead to a better killing machine or a worse one?
These are answers that no one here might be equipped enough to answer. But the French and the IAF eval team would certainly be able to. Do we trust the former to have found the most optimal solution, and the latter to have made the best judgement on this? I'd certainly say yes.