FWD From the LWJF / Critical Analysis The State of US naval Fighter Aviation
--- In LWJF@yahoogroups.com, "MGC" <max_g_cunningham@...> wrote:
There is a big distiction these days between
"Performance" and "Capability."
In many respects, in terms of pure areodynamic performance,
(accelleration, manuverability, top speed, range, high and low
altitude capability and handling, etc,, ) the latest generation of
US made Jet Fighters offer a diminishing return on investment, in
relation to thier exorobident costs, (the F-22 is a good example).
Specificaly in relation and measurement of pure areodynamic
performance, in comparison with previous aircarft, in fact
particularly in relation to cost, many can be considered a
significant step backwards.
In terms of "capability" however, the Mil. Ind. Complex assures us
that there has been progress, in the justification of enourmous cost
increases. It's important to realise in saying so, that "they"
have a very highly vested interest.
This is the essience of the claims and some of the hype, about
stealth, BVR capability supercruise, and SVTOL, etc, etc,
The question is, how much do we believe them ?
The following peice reveals a lot, and the truth can be painfull,
it's talks about the US Navy, but IMO in many respects it's also
indicative of the USAF phycie, and the entire MIL. Ind. Complex.
Let me begin by stating that the US Navy is an important fighting
organization, but it is not a person. It is not the flag, and it is
nobody's mother or child.
It is an employer of hundreds of thousands of people, but
importantly, one that has extracted billions of dollars from the
taxpayers. It is not a religion, it is not sacred, and as such, it
can and must be subjected to rigorous criticism when warranted.
It is in the spirit of sincere and constructive criticism that I
write this paper. I say this because, despite good intentions, and
extensive documented evidence, often provided by current or former US
Navy officers who want to turn this organization around, there are
some who are apparently incapable of engaging in constructive but
critical discussion on their current or former service.
The legendary Late Colonel John Boyd, USAF (Retired) was no fan of
swing-wing airplanes like the USAF F-111 or the Navy's F-14, and
there was much criticism of the F-14 in his 2002 biography.
"Hollywood and the movie Top Gun notwithstanding, the F-14 Tomcat is
a lumbering, poor-performing, aerial truck.
It weighs about fifty-four thousand pounds. Add on external fuel
tanks and missiles and the weight is about seventy thousand pounds.
It is what fighter pilots call a "grape": squeeze it in a couple of
hard turns and all the energy oozes out. That energy cannot be
quickly regained, and the aircraft becomes an easy target.
Navy admirals strongly discourage simulated battles between the F-14
and the latest Air Force fighters. But those engagements occasionally
take place. And when they do, given pilots of equal ability, the F-14
always loses." This observation tends to confirm what even CNO
Admiral Ernest King, USN, quietly admitted in World War II, that land-
based aircraft are, in fact, naturally "superior" to carrier-based
The F-14 is now fading into the pages of history, and it is being
replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
While certainly much newer than the F-14, the Super (expensive)
Hornet is considered to be no improvement over the existing F/A-
18C/D, or the F-14 itself, in fact in many parameters, it is actually
less capable than its predecessors.
Critics have roasted the new aircraft for its compromised "do-it-all-
with-one-platform" philosophy, and in 1999, the US Marine Corps even
stated that it would flat out refuse to buy the aircraft. Even
compared to the stylish but overpraised F-14, the Super Hornet falls
short in key areas. Consider payload and range,
for example. Said Bob Kress and Rear Admiral Paul Gillcrist, US Navy
(Retired) in 2002, "Though it's a whizzy little airshow performer
with a nice, modern cockpit, it has only 36 percent of the F-14's
The F/A-18E Super Hornet has been improved but still has, at best, 50
percent of the F-14's capability to deliver a fixed number of bombs
(in pounds) on target. This naturally means that the carrier radius
of influence drops to 50 percent of what it would have been with the
same number of F-14s. As a result, the area of influence (not radius)
drops to 23 percent!"
"The Super Hornet program is still not the performance champion among
combat aircraft," echoed another critic, Bill Sweetman, in 2004. "The
F-15 and Rafale will carry more weapons and fly farther, and the
Rafale, F-16, and Typhoon will out-accelerate and outmaneuver the F/A-
18E/F at high speeds." Stan Crock pontificated that a great many
naval aviators appear to be quite unimpressed with the new airplane,
and consider it a step backward, not forward: "`If the Joint Strike
Fighter dies,'" frets one airman, "`we're stuck with the Super
--- End forwarded message ---