The reports presented above say that the F-35 cannot survive dogfights against maneuverable aircraft. So the gun is certainly not effective there - it will not be able to get close enough and point the gun and fire at opposing aircraft which can maneuver better
Read Col. Mat Kelly's interpretation of the report -First of all this was a DT test out of Edwards, not an OT, OPEVAL, etc. out of Eglin or Nellis or Yuma, etc. As such the focus was verification of the technical performance. This is pretty clear from the Objectives note, "The test was designed to stress the high AoA control laws during operationally representative maneuvers utilizing elevated AoAs and aggressive sick/pedal inputs." Also, later note, "various specified maneuvers in a dynamic environment." So in plain English rather than running a tightly scripted test aimed at verifying a specific result, this was an unscripted attempt to see if they could break the control laws at high AoA. This was borne out by the criteria, "The Flying Qualities criteria were that the aircraft response would be positive and predictable and that there should be no undesired, unexpected or unpredictable aircraft responses." In other words will it depart, or is the anti spin logic too conservative.
No where in the objectives does it say dogfight/BFM an F-16 with the objective of winning said dogfight. So, the objective was to evaluate the control laws, hence the reason all of those recommendations were about the control laws. Now, a prerequisite of spins/departures typically are high AoAs, onset rates are a big part of departures so necessarily the anti-spin logic will damp them. Since, this flight regime is pretty non-linear it shouldn't be surprising that those laws require tweaking based off of actual up and away testing.
Here's C.W. Lemoine take on the matter (He is a Viper Pilot, has flown the Hornet and does not particularly like the F35):
o while this particular article may lead you to believe the two aircraft went out there mano y mano and duked it out, the reality is that we don’t know where each deficiency was found. My guess is the critiques on the pitch rates for gunning and abilities to jink happened in the canned offensive and defensive setups. But one has to remember this is a test platform and they were out to get test data, not find out who the king of the mountain is.
The article talks about energy bleed rates, high-Alpha maneuvering, and the F-35 pilot’s “only winning move” to threaten with the nose at high angle of attack. What does that sound like?
To me, it sounds like a Hornet fighting a Viper. Of course, a Hornet is not going to do well against an F-16 in a sustained rate fight. Its strength is to get slow and use its angle of attack advantage, much like the F-35 did here. It also bleeds energy rapidly and struggles to get it back once bled down. The fact the heavier, drag-encumbered F-35 had this problem is not surprising to me–despite its monstrous amount of available thrust, and it doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things
As far as other things menitoned in the report, they are easily described if one follows what is actually happening. The AF2 does not have EODAS, does not have the latest software, has the FCS developed till 7G (2B/3i envelope) and was in the processing of validating and recomending changes to the CLAWS above that envelope (though it was cleared for full envelope). 9G capability and the final software build is not due by 2017 with the delivery of 3F. Secondly, the aircraft relies on DAS and HMD combo to provide 360 degrees SA, and not the pilot physically making effort to look all over through the bubble canopy as the F-16 did. With DAS there are no blind spots, and the physical work a pilot has to do is minimized (Try moving your neck at 9G's for more than a few seconds, as one A4 and F16 pilot commented, after a DACT at 9G on their way back to the debrief they used to take a fistful of snow from the ground and stuff it down their collars)..Lastly unlike the JHMCS and pretty much every other HMS, the WVR weapon is slaved to both the helmet and pilot as well as the EODAS sensor, so the pilot need not look at the opponent to send the Winder down range for a LOAL shot. All in all these capabilities earned their way into the F-35 WVR fighting concept after carefull validation and de-risking on the F-16 fleet that included actually flying mounted prototype DAS sensors and slaving them to the helmet. Without this the F-35 cannot discharge its WVR concept of operation, and neither could the AF2 which has most sub-systems replaced with test equipment and flight sciences kit.
The report it is in fact a validation of the fact that the F-35 in this particular regime flies more like the Hornet than the Viper, and this was what folks had been saying for quite a while now, ever since the KPP's were released so it should not be any surprising. If you are going to pit the Hornet (or the eagle) or the JSF against the viper and do so in a sustained turning gun fight at 15-20K, all three fighters will loose..However that has not stopped the Hornets from scoring consistent kills on the Viper as the Top Gun jocks will attest. You simply fight differently and to your strength. The pilot did not mention this because this was not his mandate (to evaluate eh F-35's gun fighting or dogfighting ability to the Viper), that will be done during OPEVAL. So as Col Kelly and others including a JSF-hating F-16 and F-18 pilot (read the article from the previous page) have noted, this report is not an indication that the F-35 is going to loose against the Viper in a tactical WVR engagement.
Every fighter designed post HOBS/LOAL missiles in the US has had a higher AOA component/envelope to exploit that reality as opposed to the F-16 that was designed with a very dated Sidewinder and guns only capability. To read the evolution of aircraft design and tactics go over this and the references provided -http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/201 ... ility.htmlBut, as they say, time marches on, and in the past 10-12 years, several significant advancements have been made in the capabilities of fighter aircraft and air-to-air weapons. Three of these advancements; the all-aspect IR missile, greatly improved weapons delivery systems, and high thrust-to-weight engines have dramatically altered the character of the air battle, especially the close-in fight. The modern air battle is characterized by (1) time compression – shorter duration maneuvering required and (2) harder maneuvering - nose position at the expense of energy vs. nose position with energy conservation…
Air combat trends have expanded to ever increasing altitudes and speeds for beyond visual range (BVR) combat and conversely have tended to a lower and sometimes slower arena for close-in, within visual range (WVR) combat. … …This changing complexion of air combat, primarily due to the all-aspect IR missile, has altered the relative significance of the various performance characteristics with which we judge relative merit.
I am sure modern 4th and even 5th generation aircraft can't fight as well as WW2 fighters in certain slow regimes, that doesnt mean they are inferior, it just means that the technology (jet engines in this case among others) and weapons have changed the things that the designers design around.
Your defense cited is that this is irrelevant because the F-35 is not intended for close-range combat, only for cellphone cooordination and BVR attacks
WVR is a lot lot more than a gun-fight..In air combat you have BVR, the transition that is now an area where later version MRAAM's (Aim-120C7 and D and Meteor) are increasingly effective, and WVR using HOBS/LOAL IR missiles, and then guns. Tactically gun-fighting is a matter of last resort and gets a smaller portion of training compared to the other two regimes of air combat.
If it can also not do any better than guns on manueverable aircraft, it cannot prevent those aircraft from approaching within dogfighting distance once the BVR missiles are expended.
WVR Missile?? Aim-9X Block II, Future Aim-9X Block III, ASRAAM, Future Python 4/5 etc Of course the fighter is just getting started, the F-16 was a simply IR and Gun fighter when it got started, there is strong indication that both AFRL, DARPA and the services are pursuing the next generation of air to air weapons in all regimes, and have to that end procured 1000+ Aim-120D's, test fired the Triple Target Terminator (T3), and have a long standing demand for a SACM - 'Hitile' weapon of which the CUDA is one industry funded choice. As the stealth-internal-weapons fleet gains a higher percentage in the total tactical fleet, these programs will get proportional investment because that would be the need of the hour. Details emerge about Lockheed’s Cuda missileNew (still quite secret) Hit-to-Kill missile for the F-35 unveiled: the Lockheed Martin “Cuda”
So my question is, what is the purpose of the gun on the F-35? Seems like the weight and cost would have been better spent on BVR missiles, which seem to be the **only** effective defense on this extremely expensive and (per reports - I don't have any personal knowledge) poorly-maneuvering aircraft.
As with most modern aircraft the gun is a matter of last resort, a feature that the developers leave in there as both them and the operators don't want to take a gamble and not provide that capability if worst comes to worst and it is required. The overall strategy is obviously to maintain a considerable advantage in the net-centric portion of warfare and keep your BVR and WVR weapons updated with the latest technology and to enjoy SA superiority to enable better tactical employment of those weapons. For the USAF it gains even higher importance since they fight in an expeditionary environment. Close quarter fighting even with IR missiles can at best get you a 60:40 advantage based on aircraft and weapons, the rest of the advantage comes from training and tactics and if you assume parity as one would for the sake of planning against a near peer the loss is unacceptable for an expeditionary force that will mostly fight with inferior numbers compared to an opponent that is closer to home.
The Marines and the Navy have gone in for a missionized gun, as opposed to an internal gun like the air-force. CBSA did a really nice summary of the gun kills over the last 50 years, and they have over the last 5 decades of conflict (not all conflict involved the US) - the gun kills have gone from 65% of all kills in the 60's to 7% of all kills in the 80's to under 4% of all kills in the 1992-2002 time period.
Another factor that the missile-dodgers have to acount for is the fact that dodging a few BVR missiles, and a few WVR missiles saps the $hit out of the aircraft and pilot (See the F-16 dodging SAM's video I posted earlier) and how much fuel and energy is left over for a sustained gun battle is highly questionable. Regardless the gun is kept by most as a matter of last resort so that it can be used in case all missions are used used up or if the fuel state does not allow an aircraft to light up and exit the fight.
So I ask whether the purpose is to conduct attacks against ground targets. Again, if it has to fly close to the ground, it becomes vulnerable to ground fire, where survivability is dim. Stealth is irrelevant there.
Strafing is not going to work in any contested environment as the A-10 pilots from Gulf war will completely vouch for. I have posted what MD and others (Gums) from Back in the day have to say about what happened when A10's were sent out against a contested target and why that was quickly turned around and medium altitude bombing was sanctioned. For non-contested environments, Strafing does have some utility and analysis has shown that although the F-35 has less number of rounds its by design is more accurate. Mac on his blog
did that analysis and he was one of the folks whodeveloped the A-10 tactics back in the day.
he more I read, the better the LCA-US/F-35 combo seems.
How does the LCA compare in a WVR engagement to the EODAS+HMD equipped F-35? We don't know yet. Also, how will an LCA keep up and escort an F-35 that is designed around a 600+ nm un-fueled mission radius?
Each F-35 needs an escort of 4 or 5 maneuverable aircraft with guns to protect it while it busily makes all those cellphone calls, sends text messages etc needed for Net-Centric Warfare.
No one feels the need for that...Certainly not the operators.
UB,you've forgotten that this "magic bullet" in the sky aka the JSF is pensioning off the heavily armoured A-10! That is why it needs a little pecker to strafe the likes of the Taliban and ISIS ,even though its designers and manufacturers are fretting at its extremely fragile structure,not armoured and vulnerable to an Afghan armed with a muzzle loader!
Here's a neat little exercise for you. Find out what the overall combat CAS sorties flown were in both Afghanistan and Iraq by the A-10's as a percentage of the overall CAS sorties, and what percent of those sorties were conducted using the canon as opposed to dropping a PGM. http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/201 ... -part.html
But no fear: the tests shown in the video are at point-blank range. Target destroyed - just like with the Sgt York demo
The video is simply a milestone of the first integrated gun being fired on the CTOL, it is not a significant portion testing phase and there would be milestones and OPEVAL requirements that would need to be satisfied just like there are for certifying other capability.The video is as much a "test" as the first flight of a new type is a "test"...All fighters have to go to the range and prove the accuracy of the weapon, and prior to that they simulate the event. The F-35 will have to do so as well..They are just getting started on integrating the gun on the CTOL, the STOVL and CV have had the pod integrated but all three versions will begin their flight testing and deployment later this year as the software build is delivered. The Gun is a 3F capability, and 3F will begin trickling into the test-fleet by early next year and into the operational fleet 12-15 months after that.