Friday, May 12, 2017

What is BVR combat now?

Thanks to Joe for the link!

I'm lost in the woods on this one.  Check out this passage from a National Interest story covering the F-22's ability to kill enemy fighters at longer range (story here).
Developmental testers at Edwards Air Force Base in California have completed testing on the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor’s Increment 3.2B upgrade. The new configuration will significantly boost the stealthy fifth-generation air superiority fighter’s already fearsome air-to-air capabilities.
But then I remembered that the Navy was already working on making the Sidewinder a BVR missile.  Check out this Defense Update article from 2013.
 The US Navy is hoping to increase the range of the Raytheon AIM-9X air/air missile by some 60% over current Sidewinder variants. The Navy seek this enhanced capability particularly for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) says. The new weapon is scheduled to become operational in 2022.

To achieve the extended range the new AIM-9X Block III will be equipped with a new rocket motor providing increased rocket motor performance and improved missile power management. NAVAIR says. The new weapon will also use an insensitive munitions warhead, providing better safety on board aircraft carriers. The new missile will leverage the current Block II’s guidance unit and electronics-including the missile’s AMRAAM-derived datalink. The F-35 is currently cleared to carry two AIM-9X underwing, along with four AIM-120Ds are carried internally. When fielded, the fighters are likely be carrying Block II missiles internally, which can acquire targets after being launched, (lock On After Launch – LOAL), therefore enabling carrying the missiles inside the weapons bay.

According to NAVAIR, the current Block II AIM-9X already overlaps some of the range capability of the more powerful Raytheon AIM-120D AMRAAM, and this overlap is expected to increase with the future Block III, providing the F-35 pilot the flexibility to employ both radar guided or passive homing missiles in Beyond Visual Rang (BVR) engagments, NAVAIR says.
Forget the focus of the article on the F-35 using this missile.  This will make the Navy's primary fighter, the Super Hornet, even more lethal.

But back to my question.

What is BVR now?  If they're talking about a 60% increase in range and the AIM-9X can reach out to about 30 miles now then we're talking what 50 or 60 once this work is done?

This missile coupled with the Navy's Netfires Network could be formidable.  We don't have a proper improvement with the AIM-120 (yet) but we could have the longest ranged IR missile in service anywhere!

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