American F-22 Raptor Fighter Jets Lose Anti-Radar Coating in Syria

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The US F-22 Raptor fighter jets, which are used by the US Air Force in Syria, have started to lose its radar-absorbing coating.

American F-22 Raptor Fighter Jets Lose Anti-Radar Coating in Syria

The F-22 Raptor fifth-generation tactical fighter aircraft (Photo: Reuters)

The US F-22 Raptor fighter jets, participating in a military operation in Syria, have started to lose coating, hiding them from radars, the Aviation Week news portal reported.

The radar-absorbing coating on bodies of the aircraft warped and started to peel off. According to the US Air Force, climatic conditions in the area of usage of the warplanes are one of the reasons of this trouble.

According to head of the F-22 program of Lockheed Martin, John Cottam, the coating wrinkles and peels off due to the fact that it loses its hardness and turns into its original liquid state. He also noted that this process is accelerated by external factors, including rain and sand dust.

Earlier, US pilots complained about destruction of radar-absorbing coating during contact with fuel and lubricating oil. In 2009, a former engineer of the Lockheed Martin, Olsen Derrol, accused the company of application several excessive layers of the radar-absorbing coating in order to hide the fact that the ‘invisible’ coating easily erased from a body of fighter jets under influence of water, oil and fuel.

Developers of the F-22 Raptor claim that they have created a new, more stable formulation and are going to use it on all the 186 produced fighter jets during maintenance operations. According to preliminary estimates, this process will take at least three years.

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  • Barba_Papa

    If we want to make fun of technical mishaps they can be found in any military. I’m sure there was much fun and laughter to be had in the Pentagon when that Russian mig crashed off the Kuznetsov within days of arriving off the coast of Syria. On the other hand I do worry that all those chemical coatings on the F-22, or the F-35 for that matter, turn those planes into potential flying environmental disasters.

    • Pippo Spano

      Of course tech mishaps can happend, is the reason why they happend that mast worry the american people
      “a former engineer of the Lockheed Martin, Olsen Derrol, accused the company of application several excessive layers of the radar-absorbing coating in order to hide the fact that the ‘invisible’ coating easily erased from a body of fighter jets under influence of water, oil and fuel”

    • Robert Ferrin

      Hmm wonder how much laughter there was when one of ours crash’s on landing on a flat top and yes many have,or is it he who laughs last laughs best and as for the F-35 that was a piece of junk to begin with ,and I see now there is a movement in congress to dis-continue the program, and as for the F-22 well that has its own problems with picking up all the ground chatter confusing its computers.!!!!

    • Bob

      That’s least of the USAF’s environmental issues – dropping depleted uranium tipped ordnance all over other countries from Yugoslavia to Iraq is the larger red flag. Whether US citizens can deal with the reality or not, USAF is in very real business of bombing other non threatening states – literally most days, and the civilian toll is staggering.

  • Carol Davidek-Waller

    Corruption eats nation’s from the inside out. Putting pilots at risk and taxpayers money.

  • Robert McMaster

    Who cares? Both Russia and China already have radar that can readily see these aircraft and they will get better yet. Let the American chase their tail and burn up money.

    • YourDaddi

      You really are ignorant of how radar works aren’t you? And how the anti-radar systems work on these aircraft… Please sit down and shit up before to hurt yourself.

      • Gary Sellars

        Get knotted, Yankistani troll…

      • aleksey

        Modern detection systems are much more sophisticated than original RADARs designed during WW2. They can use wide range of frequency bands from ultrasonic to microwaves, can use own transmitted signal or external sources (sun, em reflections, satellites and other orbital sources). The object that would need to be invisible would have to receive all frequencies from soundwaves through gamma rays and retransmit with same power and angle on the other side with adjustment for doppler effect and have ridiculous amount of such retransmit points. Such technology does not exist and will not exist for another 100+ years. Its infinitely easier to detect than hide. You are the ignorant one.

        • YourDaddi

          Wow how little you still know about detection systems and the use of stealth technology… Yes the world is going to build stealth planes that can be detected anyways… You really have no fucking clue what you’re talking about… You just literally talked about waves as of you understand the quantum effects on the skin of the aircraft and the ability of the radar to discern any info at all about a stealth aircraft…. Not to mention the enormous amount of energy a radar designed to detect stealth aircraft would have to use and in doing so make them a bright shiny damn target and destroyed before any good can come of it… So shut the fuck up dumbass

          • aleksey

            Nobody needs to prove anything to a troll. You run of arguments and think you can intimidate someone online with invectives, that notion alone makes you look like a loon.

          • YourDaddi

            The only troll I see is the idiot throwing out wave terminology as if he understands quantum particles and quantum physics or wave mechanics… Youre just mad that you’re an idiot… It’s ok. Your mom still loves you

        • YourDaddi

          http://www.materialstoday.com/composite-applications/features/going-stealthy-with-composites/

          Read up on some home work of just how different materials and designs can make your theory about radar ignorant… Please just shut up

      • Bob

        I am no expert but I gather older style long wave bandwidth – like a metre – actually have a remarkable impact on countering the low visibility radar signature of stealth based air-frame technology. There must be a good reason why Russia and China are interested and researching further into this area. If so, it is classic asymmetrical – low cost – counter measure to the astronomically expensive and advanced engineering of the stealth concept.

        • YourDaddi

          Again who is at danger when using low band radar? Definitely not the raptor as low band can merely see that something is there not what it is how fast it’s moving or where its heading or how large the object they detected is… What it can do is tell other radars to focus on that area… However when a lowband radar comes on it uses so much power that everyone can see it. Hence why it is impractical. It’s like turning on a Christmas tree in the middle of the dark. It lights up… So the first thing to go is the low band radar… All that effort wasted as the counter measures on a raptor and f35 are specifically designed to eliminate those first… The propaganda you read from china and Russia is just that… Why would they be building stealth aircraft if it was pointless…

          • Bob

            Not so much a binary issue – rather, if have enough low cost counters you can expect to lose a bunch and still create a deterrence factor. China to a certain extent has this approach with their unlicensed copies of Russian Flankers – build enough to swamp anything coming in.

          • YourDaddi

            In that same sense though, let’s assume they use a scattered array of low band radar to blanket a large area. Now they either leave these on all the time, which if they do they are painted targets as we can detect these sources from how far away? And target them, which sets up a hole in their array but let’s assume they have redundant measures so if one goes down another is still covering it, and hopefully out of range of an attack… Which in speech is fine but every active low band radar can be targeted and eliminated in a variety of ways. Prior to sending in a fleet of f22 or f35s we would ensure their success to the mission. However in our history of tactical planes such as the u2, we can have some failed attempts. But we do know for certain that low band radar is a bright light. And we know China and Russia intend to use them in order to increase the ability to detect stealth aircraft… But these detection methods come with a price…the fact is these radars don’t make stealth aircraft useless or pointless. You still need to target them and good luck getting a non visual lock. Good luck getting a visual at that.

          • Bob

            Actually never said stealth is pointless, just interested in asymmetrical engineering responses. ‘Prior to sending in a fleet of f22 or f35s we would ensure their success to the mission..’, again I am no expert, but AWACS/ cruise missiles aside, I assumed that these were the front-line aircraft that are exactly intended to go in first, and clear path for the legacy aircraft?

          • YourDaddi

            I know you didn’t say they were pointless but others have. And yes they are to be a first engagement aircraft As they can utilize their stealth to remain hidden from defenses, such as radar locked missle systems, and use their 5/6th gen features to target all of these radar systems and destroy them and never fire a shot. Can low band radar detect a stealth aircraft… Of course, but it merely slows down the mission parameters of a stealth aircraft. Until you can get a missle lock from low band radar 5/6th gen stealth aircraft create air superiority. And Bob… Thank you.

          • Bob

            Is all interesting info I get where i can :)

          • Robert McMaster

            You need to review your medication profile buddy.

          • YourDaddi

            Great argument there Robert… Took you two months on that one. Congrats

    • sólyomszem

      Radar is far not enough. You must have also missile, which “sees” the target.

      • Jackie Enzor

        “readily see” while accurate, doesn’t quite sum up the issue, does it? I’ve seen F22’s before, but I’d have as much luck shooting one down with a missle as I’d have hitting one with a thrown rock.

        • Max Glazer

          RLM-M of NEBO-M system is accurate within 500 meters. Close enough for mid-course guidance of a SAM. It can easily bring the missile close enough for its own seeker to lock up the target, whether VLO shaped or not. That’s how BVR missile combat works by the way.

          Don’t bother mentioning jamming and EW since that is another conversation entirely.

      • David Cox

        An F117 was shot down during the Yugoslavian conflict.

        • sólyomszem

          Randomly.

        • PlayLoud

          That was more of a “perfect storm” shoot down.

        • Bob

          That is a great story – Zoltan Dani was Yugo battery commander look him up. But was bunch of factors involved – not least US arrogance as they flew same path everyday for months. The Yugo’s actually had eyes on ground watching Italian NATO base in Italy and knew what was coming and going, most importantly whether ground suppression aircraft operating on that day – and they weren’t. So they switched radar on and did use very long bandwidth – which would have got them killed if NATO suppression systems operating – and locked on open bomb bay doors. Boom. The canopy is in a Belgrade museum.

    • PlayLoud

      Long-wave radar can detect stealth aircraft, though they are not nearly accurate enough to fire a weapon. They are also the easiest radar to jam. They also, by definition, have very large antennas. Making them relatively immobile, and easy to destroy. They also cannot be fitted on a plane, as the wavelength requires the use of a big antenna.

      • Robert McMaster

        No. China and Russia have the means and incentive to circumvent all the humongous money and detriment to performance of the ‘stealth’ crap. It’s way cheaper and more efficient to develop better detection systems and so they have. Plus, the Russian KRET electronic systems wreck the U.S. hardware. And, what they’ve already got, will get much better soon .

        Another case of stupid U.S. military junk.

        • PlayLoud

          If stealth is so dead, why is China building the J-20 and J-31, and why is Russian building the PAK-FA?

          • Robert McMaster

            None of which qualify as stealth which is a dead end. The best ‘stealth’ is electronic counter-measures which Russia has and is rapidly developing. The U.S. still favours their stealth because it enriches their corrupt procurement system.

      • Robert McMaster

        You are quite a few years out of date.

      • Dave Gray

        Australia has been watching full stealth aircraft for years with their jindalee Radar , this radar can see over the horizon it is extremely low freq i believe .

        • PlayLoud

          Even if they can “detect” aircraft from long range with such a radar, they can’t fire a missile with it. They can scramble aircraft to that general area, but those aircraft are going to be using standard X-band radar, which is what stealth planes are optimized against. They would be scrambling fighters to their death.

          • Bob

            But military systems are no different to any engineering – you want redundancies. So multiple radars, both legacy and development working in tandem, including air frame based mobile systems. Operators can communicate and relay information – and thus co ordinates.

          • PlayLoud

            I remember reading an article where an F-15 pilot talked about being able to see an F-22 visually, but still couldn’t put a weapon on him. If your big ground radars point aircraft or SAM radars in the right direction, that helps. However, it is the ability to put a weapon on the target that really matters. If they know you’re there, but can’t shoot you, that’s still a big advantage you have.

          • Bob

            Point taken – have very basic knowledge of air to air missiles.

    • Ageless Yankee

      You are correct – radars operating at wavelengths above a few meters (say >3 meters or <100 MHz) don't "see" the target as a set of specular surfaces as an X-band radar would.. When parts of the airplane structure have dimensions near the wavelength of the radar, that part resonates with the signal painting it, effectively rebroadcasting a replica of the radar wave in all directions. Makes for a big radar cross sectional area and easy detection. One problem with long wavelength radars – the antennas are necessarily large. Antenna gain and beam width requirements for HF OTH radars mandate a fixed ground location. Low-VHF radars can be accommodated by small combatant and larger ships.

      • Robert McMaster

        It is simply practical for Russia, China, Iran to expend their not inconsiderable engineering resources on electronic defense and distance detection systems. All this ‘radar’ yabber goes out the window. Russia and China are beyond that. All the physical anti-radar dead weight on U.S. warplanes ruins their performance.

        U.S pilots can’t pee without Russia knows. The U.S. put its chips down on stealth and they come up empty.

        The Russians ran out their eighth T-60 PAK-FA prototype this week. The Chinese rolled out their 10th top-line J-16. J – 21, 31 to come. The point is when they want to build these babies, they can crank them out.

        KRET wrecks the U.S. Their stuff ruins the American game. It’s very flexible, can be applied quite selectively. Electronic weapons are cheap to make, easy to apply and ‘Hey, we can screw you bozos up very well’.

        Under assault, U.S. warplanes will emit targetable information. KRET will provoke a panic response and show themselves. The Russians and especially the Chinese can quickly obliterate every U.S. satellite service.

        How’s that F-16 on-board shit working out all by your lonesome self? They’re smart. They’ll hold back. Then, they will eviscerate you. They have taken your measure. Like aircraft carriers are coffins.

        Russia and China have taken the measure of the U.S.

  • Hunter1324

    One has to question why the USA has deployed F-22’s in Syria other than as a dick contest with Russia.

    F-22’s are after all intended almost exclussivelly as fighter and interceptors and considering the fact that as long as they don’t get near areas covered by S-300’s and S-400’s (which you could argue will probably detect the F-22 anyways) the only possible threats to aviation are autocannons and MANPADS which would be no more effective agianst F-16’s and F-15’s that they would be against F-22’s.

    • John Whitehot

      advanced IR missiles employed by todays aviations are able to lock on IRST cue at 100 Kms+. The airframe of a supercruising F-22 or F-35 is hot as hell, and likely to produce good IR signals at even greater distances, especially since they fly very high (where the air is much colder, and there is no clutter at all). I believe that there could be interesting developments for missiles like the R-77 if a terminal IR guidance is coupled with a mid-course datalink autopliot.

      • Ole Johansen

        I always enjoy and pay special attention to your post SIR … :-)

        • John Whitehot

          thank you :)

      • Max Glazer

        Russians had been combining IR with BVR frames for a long time. R-27T is a well known missile. Russian BVR tactic is firing a 2 missile salvo at a single target where missiles have one radar and one IR seeker. Makes it an absolute PITA to avoid both since tactics for avoidance of IR missile is totally different to that against radar headed missile.

        • John Whitehot

          yes but neither the R-27T or ET have mid course datalinked guidance. The point is that as IRST sensors on fighters get more and more sensitive and capable, they will outrange the sensors on IR missiles by a wide margin. Hence the above idea – by combining mid-course guidance you could exploit the stealthness of the totally passive IR homing with double, maybe even more, the range.
          It’s not true that evasion from IR missiles is different from radar ones, the only difference lays in the countermeasures employed but as far as maneuvering goes, the point is that the target needs to kinematically outperform the incoming missile – make it run out of energy. Slow and low flying aircraft have little chances, high and fast have much more.

          • Max Glazer

            Yes they do. How do you think they get close to the intended target before their seeker locks on? That’s how Sparrow worked, that’s how AMRAAM works and how R-27 and R-77 works. They don’t just fly straight in hopes that target is still there.

            Radar guidance tries to PREDICT where the target will be. That is how the lock works. Exrtapolation of current trajectory. Anti-missile maneuvers are designed to break the radar lock. Combined with directed jamming of deceptive nature rather then blanket white noise.

            That same method is worthless against IR missile where it looks for the heat so flares and low engine setting, as well as lazy movement to mimick the flares is what is used to fool the missile. Also attempting to point the tail AWAY from seeker to reduce the heat “blob” the seeker sees.

            Upcoming IIR (imaging infrared) are able to physically SEE what target looks like and thus ignore flares. To defeat these will be nigh on impossible by maneuver, especially modern METEOR which will throttle down to allow for more energy close to target. Countermeasures against these can only be of active nature such as ones on modern helos. Jammers such as President-S.

            Of course the energy maneuvering also helps to attempt to shake it off, you are right in that regard, but there is a lot more to anti-missile maneuvering then just that.

          • John Whitehot

            no they don’t. First of all you talked about R-27T, which are IR guided and need LOBL launch – the missile seeker needs to be locked on the target before launch and it gets there by its own guidance (in fact they are fire and forget weapons). Also you got it all wrong on radar guidance: in the case of Semi-active weapons (like R-27R or Sparrow) the radar turns from TWS (or RWS) to STT mode once the pilot (Or the FCR) locks the target. Once the missile is launched the radar once again changes its mode to direct all its energy in a very narrow beam that effectively constantly tracks the target – the antenna on the missile receives this signal and tracks the weapons to the impact point. Also, all current weapons employ Proportional Navigation, which does not mean that the RADAR predicts the target position, but that the missile is maneuvered so to “lead” the target based on the realtime data from the aforementioned signal. Mid-range datalink guidance is currently employed only on the latest AMRAAM marks and maybe on some R-77 versions. Yet those are Active radar guided missiles, where acquisition and attack work differently from the above SAHR methods. Active missiles are best employed using TWS radar modes so to avoid the target RWR to signal a launch and provoke the pilot to initiate evasion early. The targets RWR signals the incoming weapon only when the missile onboard radar turns on and attacks the target. At that point evasion is basically very hard to impossible.
            The effectiveness of jammers is the usual western style misinformation, if you think that an A-10C flying at tree-level can jam an incoming R-77 shot from above it’s because the scenario has never happened in real war. Also, you don’t need “IIR imaging” to discriminate flares, the R-73M already can detect several “colors” and form a detailed target signature that makes it virtually impervious to flares. Evasion hence goes down to maneuvering, possibly make the light missile run out of fuel.

          • Max Glazer

            R-27 is a BVR missile. So by design it can’t lock onto target as its too far. That is especially true for the extended range ET/EP/ER models. Hence it’s a seeker LOAL. Considering that R-27 came with both IR, SAHR and later or with active radar seeker,

            SAHR has been superseded long ago by active radar homing at the terminal stage. More reliable and a bit harder to jam or detect until late in the missile flight phase. Also SAHR doesn’t work off TWS. It works of CW. Inertial midcourse guidance via target location updates had been around for a long time.

            How do you propose the missile maneuver to lead? It has to predict where the target will be based on where the target was a certain timeframe (a tiny timeframe mind you) ago and where it is now. Hence the extrapolation. Russians call it “three-point method”. When I was talking about radar guidance I was talking about the way active radar seeker and its computing guide the missile, not the way the launch aircraft guides the missile to impact. But it IS that method th at maintains radar lock on target, whether a fighter radar or a missile one.

            Agree. Jamming works only so much. Defeating incoming missile involves a complex of different measures which involves anti-missile maneuvers, active jamming and chaff deployment, as well as deployment of towed decoys if installed.

            Imaging Infrared is simply the latest tech. Check out QWIP technology. And I am aware of multi-colour IR seekers. Imaging merely makes it even more reliable and also able to discriminate between targets when there is a multitude of them in a formation.

          • John Whitehot

            R-27 is the basic missile designation. R-27R , ER and EM are BVR missiles. R-27T and ET are not BVR, since they are IR guided. There are no Active Radar guided versions of the R-27 in service, although one was designed and produced some yars ago. Anyway all the in-service versions of the R-27 both IR and SAHR are exclusively LOBL weapons. When you say “Beyond visual” range, you are talking about the eyes of the pilot – in the case of missiles like the R-27T the target is acquired beyond that range, but only because the IR seeker and the IRST are far more sensitive than the human eye (that’s because they detect thermal emissions over the sky background, it’s relatively easy to resolve an emitting target in no clutter. As a matter of fact, acquisition range decreases if the target is observed from above, hence with the earth as background generating clutter). AFAIK the R-27T can acquire targets even on radar cue, but only after the FCR has pointed the missile seeker to the exact spot where the target is located and the missile has sensed and acquired it. I’m not sure if the FCR actually passes the coordinates to the IRST which in turns passes the lock to the missile – procedurally it’s the same.
            It’s true that SAHR does not work over TWS (which also contradicts your statement that R-27s are LOAL weapons btw), but the “mid-course” guidance is the same as the terminal and initial one and is performed exclusively by the fighter FCR – no datalinks or autopilots.

            In regards to guidance: iirc the 3-point method is employed on ground SAM systems, where the launcher is stationary, and only on subsonic targets (Although technology could have removed some limits). In air combat such method is not viable as the speeds involved would make the missile unable to track in the latest seconds of the engagement (especially if the target is uncollaborative). Hence you need methods which constantly compute the lead based on radar (or other sensors) coordinates and flight parameters. For the above reasons (extreme speeds which limit reaction times to milliseconds), you need realtime computing and communications, the rate at which the missile path is corrected must be very high.

            in regards to SAHR – it’s not been superseded and will not be for some time. There are multiple reasons, but talking abt jamming, it’s fairly right to say that it’s much easier to jam the little radar antenna on the missile, with its “low” signal power, than the much bigger and powerful one on the attacking fighter, which in SAHR does basically all the work (On the missile you only have a receiver). If you look at the service record of the AIM-120, you can see that it’s been effective only against unmaneuvering targets. Some Yugo MiG-29s were shot down with it, but they operated without RADAR ,RWR and ECM. In one case it’s reported that a Serbian pilot managed to avoid 3 or 4 Amraams, before running out of energy and got hit.

            And about IIR – you need Imaging when an operator needs to see a picture of the target (or whatever) in the cockpit. AAMs don’t need to see how the target appears, not even what plane it is, to engage it. Using IIR in AAMs, if true, seems a measure to multiply costs without really increasing system efficiency.

      • Bob

        Excuse my ignorance – but does that mean USAF front line aircraft are actually highly vulnerable to Russian SAM’s and stand off air to air missiles?

        • John Whitehot

          It’s a subject where most of us are ignorant, due to the quality of the published info.
          it’s not easy, based on public available sources, to surmise how vulnerable they are. Generally speaking, history shows that US (and other western) countries are far from undefeatable, or impervious to Russian or Chinese weapon systems. They tend to divulge information to make their public opinions (and ofc others) believe that they are much “powerful” than in reality; yet so far they only faced adversaries whose defenses were hopelessly outdated, out-trained and outnumbered by their side. Consider this: during Desert Storm an Iraki MiG-25 shot down a USN F-18C using an obsolete R-40 missile. Several F-16, A-10, Tornados and the like have been downed by obsolete Shilkas, S-125, S-75 (in export versions moreover). It does not matter that these are isolated events – they show that those aircraft and pilots are not invincible, not to the degree they would like people to believe.

          • Bob

            Shilka’s…wow, didn’t know that. The thing is Lockheed Martin and the like spend huge sums on what are slick sales brochures and data sheets aimed at politicians both domestic and foreign so it so hard to ascertain what’s what. L-M regularly take out full page color ads in the political influential newspapers in countries like Australia to keep the F-35 project in their politician’s mind’s eye. The fact that USAF pilots have stated they do not want to be anywhere near S-300 is perhaps the best sort of low key info source. Thanks will look up Shilka stories.

    • Pavel Pavlovich

      Yes, but at half the range. Stealth helps avoid detection, it doesn’t make it impossible.

    • Max Glazer

      F-22 was designed to operate in environments where SAM threat is all-aspect, thus it was made to be VLO from all aspects: front side and rear. F-22 possesses an extremely capable ISR system on board so it’s not just a fighter-interceptor, but a spy plane as well. One would be extremely short-sighted not to have seen an opportunity to fit such a system on a plane that is very hard to detect. Today that plane is in Syria more for SIGINT/ELINT gathering then keeping Russians in check.

  • John Whitehot

    most analysis documents, and I mean those with some military significance (as opposed as those made for propaganda and marketing) tend to concur that the low observability is in much part owed to the design of the aircraft, specifically the angles that make up the airframe form. Take the F-117: it was designed in an era (the 70ies) where the processing power available to engineers was a tiny fraction of the current. That plane has been designed sacrificing basically everything to “low obs”, because the calculations to make a design that was “stealth”, but also fast, agile and powerful were too complex for the era. Today, the CAD-like softwares employed by aero-engineering have access to processors able to solve those problems with ease. They just input the desired constants about an airframe, and the software produces a design almost ready for testing. I believe that the “Radar absorbing coating” was a disinformation stunt made by the US intel agencies to mislead the soviets into spending lots of resources developing such materials. Unclassified documents say that the coating is responsible for maybe 5% of the low observability, the rest determined by the angles and proportions.

    • Freedom

      Soviets? Today?

      • John Whitehot

        no. In the 70ies, when the issue first appeared.

        • Max Glazer

          Except the Soviets didn’t believe in that disinformation. Before USSR put ANY concept into development, they conducted fundamental research into implied vs actual effectiveness. And they were more then familiar with Ufimtsevs Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction work which was used to create the F-117. USSR decided that making VLO planes is not cost-effective at the time. And it was partially true when you look at the cost to make F-117A as well as operate.

          • John Whitehot

            I don’t believe that even today they are cost-effective. In fact my opinion is that advancement in radars and IR technologies will likely render the VLOs (And by that definition we don’t really know what we’re talking, since there is no unclassified data about the F-22 or 35 radar cross sections at different wavelenghts) “observable” in any sense. At that point, 4th gen fighters with upgraded sensor and weapons will likely be better, at least cost-ffective-wise. In fact, as the specifics of 6th gen are being discussed, one can notice that the biggest differences will be in performance, both in speed and altitude, and maybe the definitive elimination of the “man-in-the-loop” part, by making them unmanned.

          • Joseph Scott

            The Air Force gave estimates though. Having given the F-22 as a ‘marble’ (frontally; sides are a little bigger, and rear is a moderate amount bigger than that) and the F-35 as a ‘golf ball’ (frontal only; sides are much worse, and rear isn’t stealthy) we can estimate RCS of @.0003 for F-22 and .002 for F-35. However, that is with internal weapons only. If they mount anything externally, that increases. Those numbers sound impressive, until one realises that the effect of RCS on detection range is to the fourth root of RCS. So, an F-22 would be able to be detected by a given radar at a bit more than 1/8 of the range that a clean-configuration F-16 would, and an F-35 at a bit more than 1/5 the range. A radar that has a 50% detection probability against a clean F-16 at 226km (the radar on the MiG-31BM) would have 50% frontal detection on F-35s at 48km, and F-22s at 30km, assuming the USAF’s numbers are good. Of course, both are bright and hot on IRST.

          • John Whitehot

            I wouldn’t trust the USAF in this, if I were them I would not release realistic values. Also, If the published value is .0003 (I assume square meters), there is no specification on the wavelenght of the observing radar, which is like saying basically nothing. There has been data published saying that the fighter size VLOs are actually only slightly “stealthy” @metric wavelenghts (And it makes some sense, also implies that the B-2 would be less observable due to its size). I believe you are correct on the detection range as a function of cross-section, yet it seems that there could be changes in that basic rule with the latest PESA and AESA designs – their ability to form their beams in complex shapes could actually mean they have, at least to some degree, the means to alter the signal output at certain given distances). There is also the fundamental subject of discrimination, I mean, modern radar antennas could be sensitive enough to resolve and track objects with absymal RCS – but another thing is making the system “acknowledge” that it is observing a valid target. The solution once again lays in processing power. The above process can be completed only by designing complex software. To run complex (and well written) software @realtime speed, you need powerful processors. The point is that, when the F-22 and the F-35 were firstly incepted, the processing power available worldwide was a tiny fraction of todays, and had much higher cost. Today, even off the shelf technology makes computers able to do things unimaginable even in 1998.
            Can you please elaborate on how it would be calculated that the MiG-31 radar has a 50% detection probability against a F-16? That does not makes much sense to me – does it mean its 50% over a specified time?

          • Joseph Scott

            Yes, I mean square metres.

            Radars are typically specified in terms of the range at which they achieve a 50% probability of detection against a given size RCS, which is Marcum’s Visibility Factor. This probability is the chance that, in a single scan or pulse the object will be distinguishable from background noise and false signals, and thus a blip will actually be put on the screen. For an F-16 that is 226km. vs. the radar on a MiG-31BM (Zaslon-M S800 PESA). At 2x that range, single-scan detection has dropped to 15%, at 5x that range it is 1%, and at 9x it is .1%, while at 2/3 that range the chance is 75%, at half it is up to 90%, at 1/3 it is 99% and at 1/5 it is over 99.9%. Obviously, operator error will reduce this, but cumulative scans will increase it.

            Sure, maybe the Air Force is lying about the numbers. They were desperate to justify their over-budget aircraft, and using the numbers to justify them, so it seems unlikely the numbers are better than that. But maybe they are worse. They are, like I said, optimal conditions, with nothing mounted on the wings or fuselage, and frontal aspect, wither their shape is best. They deteriorate on the sides, and much more to the rear, especially on the F-35, which isn’t really even LO on rear-aspect.

            There are a number of books and papers available on the internet that discuss radar, like these: https://books.google.com/books?id=gYmVWEFhKCoC&pg=PA29&lpg=PA29&dq=definition+of+50%25+probability+of+detection&source=bl&ots=W8f-3Ig9ps&sig=yPjHLtaiwWM0pephrlJTZ5C4cew&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjE-4uLuO_QAhVDv7wKHVtkA6wQ6AEITDAH#v=onepage&q=definition%20of%2050%25%20probability%20of%20detection&f=false

            http://www.mar-it.de/Radar/RCS/RCS_xx.pdf

            https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj98Z_7zO_QAhUFxWMKHYlvCVoQFggyMAM&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dtic.mil%2Fcgi-bin%2FGetTRDoc%3FAD%3DAD0701321&usg=AFQjCNGAJPGeGx-T_xgTNmrs6DJGCXH8zA&sig2=stk2OSB7fPxmcQPPDhRJqw

            These one discusses cumulative detection probability vs. single-scan, but I haven’t wrapped my head around the math.

            https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_memoranda/2008/RM3095.pdf

            https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_memoranda/2008/RM4643.pdf

            I can’t say I understand all of what is contained in those, but I learned a few things.

          • John Whitehot

            Thanks m8, very interesting.

          • Dave Gray

            Australia has had a lot of good use from the F117 its was a well designed and a multi role platform .

          • Max Glazer

            F-117 was never a multi-role platform. It was a short-range precision strike platform with capability to carry only two precision guided bombs.

            Australia never had F-117. We had F-111. Is that what you mean?

            F-111 was indeed a really capable strike platform for Australian purposes. Too bad they were retired and never replaced with a model of similar capability. The only plane that can replace it today with any similarity of abilities is Su-34, but alas that won’t happen.

          • Dave Gray

            whoops F1-111 was what i meant i am now going to look up F-117 ,s

    • Bob

      When first read about F-117 in late 80’s the thing that struck me was the basic compromise in airflow dynamics to achieve low visibility angular panels. The two are not naturally aligned, it took the computer power of the day to keep it in stable flight. It always struck me as a technical marvel but not a logical air-frame concept. No doubt a successful military product for its brief, but I mean just in terms of pure flight.

  • VGA

    It doesn’t matter, the US tax payer is paying for everything. Just like they are paying for air refulling saudi aircraft to bomb Yemen. Just like paying “moderate rebels” who would cut their throat in an instant if they got the chance.

    Money “well spent”…

  • chris chuba

    The $64,000 question is, how well did this improve the Russian ability to track the F22’s?
    Since the U.S. has been flying F22’s in Syria, the Russians have now had plenty of opportunity to test their S3/400 radars against the F22’s. I’d love to be a fly on the wall to here that analysis.

    • John Whitehot

      have you ever heard about “signals discipline”?

  • Nathanaiel BenHur

    Basic “coating” problem for this jet is named A2/AD, S-400 Defense system.

  • LeseMajeste

    Ha-ha-ha, just throw some more debt-based currency at Lockheed, that always works!

  • Rick0Shea

    Time to apply some military grade duct tape – $10,000 a roll.

  • Jhon Doe

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  • Bob

    Basic observation: anyone who lives close to either side of the equator line can tell you that in these conditions any exterior paint/treatment/coating/gel will get hammered in a season by sand/salt and UV light.

  • nomayor

    Long-range radars get reflection from the air frame itself! Stop this bs!