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Where do I get a Ticket for THAT?!

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Edited by slide

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http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26825/air-forces-secretive-xq-58a-valkyrie-experimental-combat-drone-emerges-after-first-flight

"This joint effort falls within the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) portfolio, which has the objective to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft. The objectives of the LCAAT initiative include designing and building UAS faster by developing better design tools, and maturing and leveraging commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost."

 

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http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26825/air-forces-secretive-xq-58a-valkyrie-experimental-combat-drone-emerges-after-first-flight

"This joint effort falls within the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) portfolio, which has the objective to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft. The objectives of the LCAAT initiative include designing and building UAS faster by developing better design tools, and maturing and leveraging commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost."

Ok, but design and manufacturing are not the issue here.  Reducing build time and cost are nice, but the overwhelming majority of what's driving the budget of things like the F-35 is the never-ending death spiral of computer software and hardware development.  At least in this case you have the benefit of losing the massive red-tape singularity that is multi-service/multi-nation support, and just make something the way the Air Force wants it.

If you want to produce something quickly and cheaply, then you need to accept that you're building something that will be obsolete within a week, and just deal with it.  You can build in some forward compatibility with emerging threats, but I think everyone would be better off if we stopped getting bogged down by designing aircraft that have capabilities for every imaginable mission.  Cut off the requirements chase, finish the design, and get it into service.  Then you can figure out the best way to use it, and put the lessons learned into a feedback loop for the next iteration.

I know it's not that simple anymore, and probably never will be again, but there was a time when aircraft were designed, manufactured, and sent into action within the span of a year.  Sadly, the move into the digital age has thrown several quantum leaps in complexity into the development cycle of any sort of aircraft, either from the capabilities side, or from the security side.  And in this particular case, no amount of "build it faster and cheaper" is going to fix the fact that you're making something that will require the most ridiculously air-tight digital security known to man before it can be effective.

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Was there a time when aircraft were "designed, manufactured, and sent into action within the span of a year" though? World War I, maybe, but if you look at some of the aircraft from World War II - usually the period held up as the era when aircraft design was "right", compared to the current age with its doohickeys and cost overruns - I'm not entirely certain that applies in many cases. 

The Supermarine Spitfire prototype first flew in 1936. It didn't go into combat until three years later, and production was only just bought up to speed in time (in fact, one could almost argue that at the time it was seen as the F-35 programme of its day, a near endless procession of production bottlenecks),

The Hawker Hurricane, the "simpler" of the two, first flew in 1935, entered squadron service 2 years later and 2 years after that was already being regarded as just barely capable against its main opponent and increasingly obsolescent after that.

The P-51 prototype may have been rolled out just over a hundred days after an order had been placed, but they didn't enter RAF squadron service until 1942 and the "war-winning"  models with Merlin engines not until late 1943/early 1944. North American also had the benefit of being able to obtain combat data that was unavailable to R. J. Mitchell or Sydney Camm and their teams. 

All these aircraft - especially the Spitfire and Mustang - were on the cutting edge of their day but they were also more basic than later jet aircraft, I'm not going to disagree that defence procurement isn't borked - I'm British! - but I'm just not sure things were as simple "back in the day" as is sometimes made out. 

Edited by F-ZeroOne

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I'm thinking more into the early jet-age designs, like the F-80/T-33.  I remember that one specifically was designed and flown in less than a year.

And you're right, that wasn't the norm.  Many designs might have been developed in the span of a year or two, but they took more time to be fielded.  Despite being flown before the end of 1943, the P-80 only barely made it into service before the end of WWII.

More what I'm concerned with is that there is so much requirements pile-up on a modern design, you never reach production.  The technology advances so much faster than the aircraft can be built, that you're never done, and every effort to future-proof the current design just means it never gets done.  This isn't even about the airframe itself, which was finalized long ago.. it's just that the components running it never settle down into a stable configuration.

At some point, you have to cut off the future-proofing, and finish an aircraft so you can get it fielded.  The real question then becomes what's good enough for the current mission.

The irony with the F-35 is that very little of its computer systems can be called "cutting edge."  You honestly don't want cutting edge technology, because you want something with a proven record of reliable operation.

At the bottom line, it's a massive task to find the optimum balance of speed and cost.  Which is more cost effective: fielding the aircraft now, and upgrading it later, or waiting until the upgrade is ready to field it at all?  In times of war, the "field it now" mentality will probably win out, and then you'll deal with the flak of fielding something that may need lots of upgrades over its lifespan.  Contrast that to today, and we're stuck with never-ending development, and ever-increasing cost that doesn't appear satisfyingly productive, but might need less upgrades over time, and might have a longer service-life.

Edited by Chronocidal

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Its probably an issue for most democracies, I guess. Theres so much pressure to get "bang for the buck" that theres a tendency to stuff as much as possible into one package, because that might be all the package you're going to get. And most democracies have competing pressures for funding,

Though again, I'm not sure its entirely a new issue - we developed the MK. VIII Spitfire, but the Mark IX got built in bigger numbers - because it was much more suited to the immediate requirements at the time.

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I'm thinking more into the early jet-age designs, like the F-80/T-33.  I remember that one specifically was designed and flown in less than a year.

 

How about the Heinkel He162 Volksjaeger?  Reich Air Ministry asked for designs in Sept. 1944, approval was given the next month, and first flight took place in Dec of that year. Went into service in Feb. 1945. Granted, the engine was the same BMW 003 used in the Me262 and Heinkel had already been doing preliminary work before the Air Ministry's request. Still, it went from paper to squadron service in a span of about 6 months.

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Yeah... and it was VERY tricky to fly, thought stability was a thing other airplanes did, and was badly built. 

Pretty much the reason to NOT rush airplane design. 

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So Heatblur Simulations' F-14 Tomcat Module for DCS drops on the 13th, and they've provided some sweet sweet Tomcat Porn in their Launch Trailer:

 

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They really make good trailers. I feel, though, they missed an opportunity and should’ve released this on the 14th. B))

Chris

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Damn that looked almost real, what kind of super computer were they running that on?

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Did I see a F-14 firing unguided rockets at one point in that trailer? Did they ever do that in the "real" world?

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Did I see a F-14 firing unguided rockets at one point in that trailer? Did they ever do that in the "real" world?

According to this resource, yes. They did test the Zuni rocket pods on the Cat.

http://www.anft.net/f-14/f14-detail-zuni.htm

f14-detail-zuni-04l.jpg

 

From what I've heard, this will be the most complex module to date released on DCS. It definitely looks it. Heatblur is working on a detail AI version of the A-6E and KA-6D Intruder to boot which I can't wait to see and have voiced the possibility of developing the F-14D if the F-14A/B module is a  big seller.

Edited by Shadow

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...From what I've heard, this will be the most complex module to date released on DCS. It definitely looks it. Heatblur is working on a detail AI version of the A-6E and KA-6D Intruder to boot which I can't wait to see ...

My understanding is they want to make the A-6 they build flyable, as it's been 'On their list since Day-1', but not full-fidelity [like the A-4 Skyhawk module]... which I'm down for

 

man... is it Wednesday yet?

 

They really make good trailers. I feel, though, they missed an opportunity and should’ve released this on the 14th. B))

Chris

So that we can all download it on the 13th. and play it on the 14th:D

Edited by slide

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Ok, but design and manufacturing are not the issue here.  Reducing build time and cost are nice, but the overwhelming majority of what's driving the budget of things like the F-35 is the never-ending death spiral of computer software and hardware development.  At least in this case you have the benefit of losing the massive red-tape singularity that is multi-service/multi-nation support, and just make something the way the Air Force wants it.

If you want to produce something quickly and cheaply, then you need to accept that you're building something that will be obsolete within a week, and just deal with it.  You can build in some forward compatibility with emerging threats, but I think everyone would be better off if we stopped getting bogged down by designing aircraft that have capabilities for every imaginable mission.  Cut off the requirements chase, finish the design, and get it into service.  Then you can figure out the best way to use it, and put the lessons learned into a feedback loop for the next iteration.

I know it's not that simple anymore, and probably never will be again, but there was a time when aircraft were designed, manufactured, and sent into action within the span of a year.  Sadly, the move into the digital age has thrown several quantum leaps in complexity into the development cycle of any sort of aircraft, either from the capabilities side, or from the security side.  And in this particular case, no amount of "build it faster and cheaper" is going to fix the fact that you're making something that will require the most ridiculously air-tight digital security known to man before it can be effective.

Current design paradigm seems to be distributed system of systems. Drones will be tailor made for specific roles while multirole manned aircraft direct those drones to act as eyes and ears and missile slingers. Will probably still require tight cybersecurity, but it seems like the only way out of rising costs associated with manned aircraft development.

 

DARPA SoSITE.png

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Well, I'm all happy at the thought of being so interconnected.  I'm just waiting for the Cylons and/or Skynet to take advantage of this interconnectedness.  

If you look at the chart above, you start to think about where the critical points of vulnerabilities are, and then you start working on how to chop off those assets to throw the system into chaos.  From both charts above, the biggest weakness appears to be the AWACS.  So, may be the Russians and the Chinese have a good idea about using hypersonic AAMs to chop off support functions.  

No tankers means the strike package doesn't get the range it needs.  No AWACS, fantastic, there goes command and control.  The solution I'm sure someone will divine is going to be a distributed command system, like multiple drones handling info.  Which will lead to people more interested in hacking those drones, and it'll keep going on and on.

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And I promise you the hackers will always win, and sooner than you’d like. It’s an asymmetric fight between hackers and sysadmins. 

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Well, I'm all happy at the thought of being so interconnected.  I'm just waiting for the Cylons and/or Skynet to take advantage of this interconnectedness.  

If you look at the chart above, you start to think about where the critical points of vulnerabilities are, and then you start working on how to chop off those assets to throw the system into chaos.  From both charts above, the biggest weakness appears to be the AWACS.  So, may be the Russians and the Chinese have a good idea about using hypersonic AAMs to chop off support functions.  

No tankers means the strike package doesn't get the range it needs.  No AWACS, fantastic, there goes command and control.  The solution I'm sure someone will divine is going to be a distributed command system, like multiple drones handling info.  Which will lead to people more interested in hacking those drones, and it'll keep going on and on.

 

The USAF has already thought up such a scenario where command & control support is lost.

Red Flag 19-1 and the F-35

"After refueling at night over a southern-Nevada dust bowl called Texas Lake, scores of U.S. and coalition warplanes crossed into contested air space on a mission to suppress state-of-the-art enemy air defenses. The formation was soon bombarded with warning signals as radars of advanced surface-to-air (SAM) missile batteries with the reach of Russia’s S-300 and S-400 air defense systems switched on.

Electronic jammers struck as fighter pilots tried to communicate with an E-8 Joint STARS command-and-control aircraft; rear-area command cells had satellite linkages disrupted by cyberattacks. Starbursts of surface-to-air missile launchesflashed on the ground below, and cockpit alarms warned that the formation was being painted with multiple radars from enemy aircraft with paint schemes and capabilities designed to replicate the likes of the advanced Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker fighters in the arsenals of both Russia and China.

Because this was the final mission in a three-week Red Flag exercise, however, the “Blue Force” pilots did not panic when confronted with a coordinated attack by Red Force Aggressor Squadrons operating in all domains – air, ground, space and cyberspace. Working in tandem, fifth generation F-22 Raptors and F-35 Lightning aircraft escorting the Blue Force formation exploited their stealth and speed to close quickly with the most immediate threats. The F-35s used their unprecedented sensor suites to gather, fuse data and distribute a common picture of the threat array to other aircraft. Fourth generation F-15s, F-16s, F-18s and British Eurofighters used that targeting data to launch beyond-visual range missiles and bomb strikes on SAM sites as strike aircraft proceeded successfully to other enemy targets. The simulated warfare felt surprisingly real in the cockpits of warplanes traveling at supersonic speeds."

 

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To be fair, its not exactly a new threat, though the nature of it has changed a bit. The Luftwaffe did damage accidentally to the RAFs radar control network during the Battle of Britain that caused some real difficulties on occasion to the defenders (the Luftwaffe didn't realise the value of the network and though there were some attempts to target it directly, most of the worst damage was caused by bombs being jettisoned that then by pure chance knocked out power cables or the like). 

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Cool. Arsenal ships are a decent idea, I think. 

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Cool. Arsenal ships are a decent idea, I think. 

Imagining a scenario where a hostile aircraft being baited by a lone F-22 runs into a wall of AMRAAMs fired from a few Super Hens.

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Yep, dat scenario...

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A good read on a test pilot for the YF-23 who would also later fly the F-22.

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/27309/the-only-man-who-flew-both-the-f-22-and-the-yf-23-on-why-the-yf-23-lost

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Another great display by the Swiss Hornet.

 

Edited by Shadow

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2 hours ago, AN/ALQ128 said:

Amazing they got something so big off the ground.  The left side of that thing is unpressurized, and from the other pics looks like it went wheels down after the right side.

 

i think the idea is ultimately to slight a rocket in the middle right?  Look forward to the day when that happens.

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Or put three Pegasus launch vehicles on there, one under each wing. 

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