Tuesday, November 13, 2012

F-35. Yeah baby! It Super Cruises!

Sferrin told me they were talking about this on F-16.net.  Bjørnar gave me the Air Force Magazine article.  Check out this tidbit...

The F-35’s systems will even allow it to shoot at a target "almost when that airplane is behind you," thanks to its 360-degree sensors.
According to O’Bryan, the F-35 also can interrogate a target to its rear, an ability possessed by no other fighter.
If you survive a modern dogfight, O’Bryan claimed, "it’s based on the countermeasures you have, not on your ability to turn."
If the situation demands a turning dogfight, however, the F-35 evidently will be able to hold its own with any fighter. That is a reflection on the fighter’s agility. What’s more, a potential future upgrade foresees the F-35 increasing its air-to-air missile loadout from its current four AIM-120 AMRAAMs to six of those weapons.
The F-35, while not technically a "supercruising" aircraft, can maintain Mach 1.2 for a dash of 150 miles without using fuel-gulping afterburners.
"Mach 1.2 is a good speed for you, according to the pilots," O’Bryan said.
The high speed also allows the F-35 to impart more energy to a weapon such as a bomb or missile, meaning the aircraft will be able to "throw" such munitions farther than they could go on their own energy alone.

There is a major extension of the fighter’s range if speed is kept around Mach .9, O’Bryan went on, but he asserted that F-35 transonic performance is exceptional and goes "through the [Mach 1] number fairly easily." The transonic area is "where you really operate."
In combat configuration, the F-35’s range exceeds that of fourth generation fighters by 25 percent. These are Air Force figures, O’Bryan noted. "We’re comparing [the F-35] to [the] ‘best of’ fourth gen" fighters. The F-35 "compares favorably in any area of the envelope," he asserted.


  1. Beware the Naysayers...

    1. It's in a dive
    2. It uses "some" AB just not "full AB"
    3. It has no weapons and is using the very last of its fuel
    4. It's got a 4'6", 100lb pilot
    5. etc, etc

    One thing you can count on, they have no concept of what a "dash" is.

  2. 6. and the pilot is female!

    One of these went by the house a couple of weeks back probably 500 to 1000 ft high and it sounded like the wind going by.

  3. At this point there is nothing you can say to change the hater's minds. It would be like 2 people arguing over abortion. A lot of yelling and hard feelings but in the end nobody has changed their opinion.

    Luckily the people who are actually flying the damn thing are upbeat about it. Those are the only ones who matter in the end.

  4. I'm good with all of it except the 'throwing the spear' harder and farther bit. If you are managing your signature, in many cases (unless you slow down post-launch) you are going to close nearer to the point of attack post-launch than you would otherwise. (http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/2011/06/speed-vsstealth-stealth-wins.html) Unless your weapon is boosted, you will almost certainly get closer to the point of attack before the weapon hits. Not a problem as long as the target or a neighbor can't shoot back. Since we are in this case talking about small fractions (.3) of mach difference, you would almost certanly do better IMHO dropping from a higher altitude.

  5. So basically the F-35's supercruise is a little better than the Gripen NG and a little worse than the Rafale or especially the Typhoon?

    Certainly the F-35 supercruise capability is good news but the standard of comparison is not the F-16, i.e. "4th gen", when 4.5 gen has been in service for awhile already.

    1. i'll look but i don't have any definitive word...and that would be from an air arm using them or the manufacturer that the gripen ng,the typhoon or the rafale actually can super cruise.

      i hear fans of those planes saying it but i never heard pilots say it. additionally in my mind it checks a box but is of really no value. the F-22 super cruises but it has short legs. those 4th gen planes super cruise but can they do it in combat configuration? add gas bags and missiles and i doubt it. the f-35 can do it with stealth load out.

      last thing though is this. if you can't super cruise with combat load then you're just an air show performer, not a combat jet. oh and one other thing. the gripen ng uses the same engines as the F-18. yet i'm not hearing that plane super cruising. the f-16 clean has some of the best thrust to weight ratio going in aviation and i'm not hearing it super cruise. so again. hit me with something legit and i might listen.

    2. oh and check out elements of power take on the situation.

    3. For the Tiffy :


      "Auch ohne Nachbrenner-Einsatz ist ein Marschflug mit ca. Mach 1,5 möglich (Supercruise)."

      No doubt that's clean, but it gives a bit of margin for still being able to do it with additional drag. Like you I'm a bit sceptical about the whole supercruise thing - it only became a big deal when people were trying to hype the F-22, but several aircraft had managed it previously - the F-35 isn't even the first Lightning to supercruise, the English Electric version got there before it.

      The 2-seat Gripen Demo has maintained Mach 1.2 without afterburners :
      Official Saab report : http://www.gripenblogs.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?List=1d32d33f%2D2d8a%2D4254%2Dba7e%2D7f020e980176&ID=177&Web=f4e358e9%2D9737%2D43b1%2Db2f9%2Dc11c7b4ca9fa

      That case looks more like a marketing tickbox than a militarily useful capability, but since you asked....

    4. I probably wouldn't go as far as saying that at the moment. There are still many unknowns about circumstances in the Lockheed report. Then again, that's also true about the Gripen and Eurofighter claims which falls in the Mach 1.1-1-2 category with, apparently, an A2A combat load.

      What I think is interessing is that the F-35 appears to be demonstrating performances a little bit better than expected or previously marketed by the program. One can only guess as to what the pilots are really experiencing when pushing it and whether that is within safe and operational limits. Consider this: It's still relatively early in the test program. Who knows what we might learn in due time.

      Bjørnar Bolsøy

  6. Honestly, can someone explain to me how, without modification, we get from here...
    "What we can do in our airplane is get above the Mach with afterburner, and once you get it going ... you can definitely pull the throttle back quite a bit and still maintain supersonic, so technically you're pretty much at very, very min[imum] afterburner while you're cruising," Griffiths said. "So it really does have very good acceleration capabilities up in the air"

    ...to being able to simply being able to supercruise? With the 150 mile qualification, it tells me that they are taking the F-35 well above M1.2 and then using max dry thrust to keep the spped bleed-off low enough that it can maintain around M1.2 for 150 miles. So while it can "Dash Supercruise", it cannot actually supercruise in the traditional sense, i.e. get above mach and be able to stay there without AB until you run out of gas. Does it really matter in the big picture? Probably not, but it still smells a whole lot like marketing spin.

    1. quite honestly the whole super cruise 'craze' always appeared to me to be more marketing than a combat capability. i mean seriously, with the f-22 being short legged as it is then what use is super cruise when it comes to the way it actually fights? to be even more honest it seems to my untrained eye to be employed as a long range archer. if any airplane gets into knife fighting distance then something has gone totally wrong. so for the f-35 i expect it to live most of its life at .9 mach...faster than most 4th gen fighters in cruise and just as fast in burner.

    2. The discrepancy can be explained by the two quotes talking about two different altitudes.

      Drag, fuel efficiency, and the speed of sound all change with altitude.

      btw, "dash" is a portion of the flight envelope and not some artificial total limit to SC range. To put this in perspective, the LM Raptor site shows the F-22's range as 310nm+100nm SC Dash.

  7. I bet APA,Palmer,Sweetman and company are sh##ting their pants...LOL


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