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Thursday, July 18, 2013

F-35 vs F-15SE: South Korea's F-X III Competition - Part IV The Silent Eagle

Integrated Air Defense Penetration Capabilities 

To Review - Relevant Information From Previous Studies 

  • F-X III finalist must be able to suppress the North Korean IADS with minimal losses
  • F-X III finalist should ideally be capable of supporting the American "Pivot" in the Pacific 
  • The North Korean integrated air defense system (IADS) is obsolete and bares many similarities to the Iraqi IADS which was successfully dismantled by collation forces in 1991. 
  • The silent eagle F-15SE likely has a frontal radar cross section (rcs) in the range of .1-.025m^2 (.05m^2 chosen for simplicity's sake). 
  • The side and rear aspects of the aircraft are not stealthy. 
  • The aircraft remains easily detectable in the IR spectrum. 
  • The F-15SE can bank to a maximum of 15 degrees in either direction. Beyond 15 degrees, the low observable qualities are compromised as a 90 degree surface is exposed to enemy radars (Trimble, 2012, Source 51). 
  • Low probability intercept mode likely in APG-63(V)3 or APG-81(V)1. Radar warning receiver (RWR) passive detection minimal concern in North Korea but Chinese systems are more capable. 
  • The silent eagle does not feature a minimally detectable communication system and uses Link-16 and Have Quick II.  Emission locator systems are capable of detecting these emissions. 
  • North Korean emission locator systems likely non-existent. China does possess these capabilities. 

Boeing markets the low observable features of the silent eagle as a means to operate in high threat environments while enemy air defenses are still active during the opening days of the conflict. Once enemy air defenses have been suppressed, ground crews can modify the silent eagle into its conventional configuration for missions which require extensive ordinance delivery. Boeing's claims in regards to the silent eagle's IADS penetration capabilities will be examined in the case of North Korea. 

The North Korean IADS system is largely comprised of Cold War relics such as the S-75 (SA-2), S-125 (SA-3), and S-200 (SA-5) surface to air missile systems (SAM). Most of these systems rely upon late 1950s to 1960s era radar technology with some 1980s radar systems. According to the Department of Defense and IMINT Analysis, the following radar systems are used by North Korea: P-12/18 (SPOON REST), P-14 (TALL KING), P-35/37 (BAR LOCK), P-80 (BACK NET), 36D6 (TIN SHIELD), JY-8 (WALL RUST), 5N69 (BIG BACK), P-8/10 (KNIFE REST), P-15 (FLAT FACE), P-15M (SQUAT EYE), PRV-11 (SIDE NET), and PRV-13 (ODD PAIR). The highlighted systems appear in the graphs below. 

All image credit for radar detection images goes to Air Power Australia

The most threatening North Korean radar systems to the silent eagle are the P-18 Spoon Rest and the P-14 Tall King. Both the P-18 and P-14 are very high frequency (VHF) radars. VHF radars are less affected by the shaping techniques used by most stealth aircraft which are optimized against the X-band and S-band (most fighter radars and SAM systems utilize one of the two). The F-15SE likely has a radar cross section of ~.05m^2 meaning it would remain undetected until it was 40 nautical miles away from a S-18 Spoon or ~60 nautical miles away from a P-14 Tall King radar system.

In the worst case scenario where North Korean radars manage to locate the silent eagle at 60 nautical miles away, the only system capable of intercepting targets at that range is the S-200 (SA-5). The S-200 is largely incapable of hitting maneuverable aircraft like the F-15SE and is more of a threat to slow ISR assets (O'Connor, 2010, 52). Furthermore, North Korea's stockpile of S-200 interceptors consists of only 38 missiles (Johnson, Barr, Rivait, 2013, 53). The S-75 (SA-2) is more suited to intercepting maneuverable targets but has a limited maximum range of 35km-55km (19-30 nautical miles) depending upon the variant (Federation of American Scientists, 2000). Once the S-200 sites are disabled, the silent eagle can employ standoff weapons against the S-75 sites without fear or reprisal. Even if S-75 interceptors are successfully launched against the F-15SE, DEWS and anti-missile maneuvers should defeat the missile. In Desert Storm one pilot successfully evaded more than five S-75 missiles in one sortie (3:05). 

The F-15SE is capable of destroying the North Korean IADS given the selection of weapons on the DSCA report and the limited capabilities of the SAM systems employed by North Korea. However, more advanced SAM systems such as the S-300, HQ-9, and S-400 are more than capable of intercepting the silent eagle. As part II indicates, how far a stealth aircraft can penetrate into enemy airspace is usually determined by its rear radar cross section which is almost always larger than the front rcs aspect. The rear of the silent eagle is easily detectable to radar as the engine nozzles are completely exposed and planform alignment was not used on the rear flight surfaces. In summary, the silent eagle would be much less effective at suppressing a Chinese IADS system. 

Lethality - Combat History

It was a necessity to create a framework for comparing the relative strengths and weakness of different fighter aircraft. Lethality is a term that I created in order to assess the aggregate dogfighting capabilities of aircraft based from several factors: maneuverability, survivability, avionics, and weapon load/types carried.   A brief combat history of the Eagle primarily from the Israeli and American experiences will be reviewed in order to provide perspective on current South Korean - North Korean air force compositions and potential insights into how a potential air conflict would unfold. Following the combat history section, the modern silent eagle’s lethality will be assessed relative to prominent 4th and 5th generation aircraft.

The conventional strike eagle has achieved only one confirmed air to air kill in its service history which occurred during Desert Storm. The kill was rather unusual as it was accomplished utilizing a laser guided bomb against an Iraqi helicopter which was destroyed in mid-air. The weapons system officer kept the laser designator on the helicopter even after it took-off (Adcock, 2002). However, the conventional Eagle has a 104-0 kill ratio, the highest of any fighter aircraft in the history of aerial warfare. Israeli pilots are responsible for more than half of the total kills credited to the F-15. The engagements between Israeli F-15’s against Lebanese and Syrian aircraft (Mig-17,Mig-21, Mig-23) have a great deal of relevancy to current South Korea-North Korea air force comparisons. Most of the aircraft utilized by the Syrian and Lebanese Air Forces during the 1982 conflict are still in use by North Korea. The disparity in the level of training between the two Korean air forces and the disparity in training between the Syrian-Lebanese air forces and the IAF is also similar. The Israeli's won the air war decisively and eagles accounted for 40 enemy kills. 

"The Israelis put the aircraft to excellent use in the 1982 strike on the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, flying in under E-2C control for a veritable turkey shoot (to use the American term). Prior to the conflict the Israelis killed 141/z Syrian aircraft, mainly MiG-21 Fishbeds, and used the F-15 for top cover on the Osirak reactor raid. The F-15As shot down forty Fishbeds and Floggers in the Lebanese conflict, mainly using AIM-9Ls and Shafrir and Python missiles (IR), and also a photorecce Foxbat B which was downed with an AIM-7F (the film clip of the spinning Foxbat on international television was quite spectacular). The F-15A has three Foxbat kills to its credit, to date." - Kopp, 2005 

American F-15’s are responsible for 36 of the 39 air to air kills during Desert Storm. American pilots have encountered the most advanced Soviet aircraft supplied to North Korea, the Mig-29B, in two conflicts: Desert Storm and Operation Allied Force. In Desert Storm, four Mig-29B aircraft were destroyed by American F-15's (five if the January 19th engagement that resulted in the Mig-29 crashing into the ground counts). Eight years later in Kosovo, another four Mig-29B aircraft were shot down by American F-15C’s. Since the early 1990s, the sensors and weapons on the Eagle have only improved with time while the North Korean Mig-29’s have stagnated technologically. It is exceedingly unlikely that Russia would be willing to supply advanced Mig-29M or Mig-35 variants to North Korea.

In actual combat, the Eagle has definitively defeated the Mig-29B. The only instance where American F-15’s were commonly “defeated” by the Mig-29’s occurred in combat exercises in the 1990s against highly trained Luftwaffe pilots flying the more advanced Mig-29A variant. Although the Eagles had several advantages in terms of maneuverability (the Soviet’s never intended the Mig-29 to be up to par against the F-15 as that was the purpose of the more expensive Su-27), avionics, and beyond visual range missile technology over the Mig-29A, the engagements with the Germans occurred at visual range where the revolutionary helmet mount sights of the German pilots made short work of the Americans. The Soviets were many years ahead of their American counterparts in terms of deploying helmet mounted cueing technology. At the time, the Americans had no deployed equivalent to the Shchel-3UM HMD. The Shchel sight allowed the Germans to preform 45 degree off bore sight shots with their Archer missiles.

PLAAF pilot with Shchel-3UM HMD

However, the 1994 exercises with Germany are of less strategic relevance in the case of current North-South Korean Air force comparisons for following reasons:

  1. American-Israeli HMD’s have surpassed their Russian counterparts by a considerable degree since the end of the Cold War (plus its not even clear if the North Korean air force received Soviet HMDs)
  2. The Luftwaffe Mig-29A pilots are almost certainly more skilled than current North Korean Mig-29B pilots, South Korean pilots will have an extensive training advantage over the KPAF. 
  3. Since the development of the AMRAAM, the prevalence of visual range combat has decreased considerably. From the Vietnam war till just prior to Desert Storm, only a total of 4 in 527 kills worldwide were achieved using bvr radar guided missiles (RAND, 2008, 74). After Desert Storm and the Kosovo conflict, the number of kills achieved at beyond visual range jumped to 24 out of 588 kills (20 out of the 61 new kills). It is clear that both visual range and beyond visual range engagements will occur in a future air war but the historical trend does show an increased effectiveness of beyond visual range missiles. This trend will likely continue into the future with the proliferation of advanced radar guided missiles like the AIM-120D, R-77, and Meteor even with the new developments in electronic countermeasures (ECM).

[Author’s Note: in the interest of not getting grilled by my German audience (again), let me clarify that I think the the aforementioned analysis does not take away from the considerable skill of German pilots. Americans in the aforementioned exercises certainly lost engagements for other factors aside from the Shchel sight (though it was a major advantage). Ich mag die Luftwaffe. Deutsch Jagdfliegern sind ausgezeichnet.  Hopefully that means what I think it means; I’ve only taken a year of German so far :) ]

The two most advanced aircraft in the KPAF, the Mig-23 and Mig-29, have been encountered by American and Israeli F-15 pilots. Both aircraft were routinely defeated by eagle pilots. The complete dominance of the eagle over the Mig-23 and Mig-29 is can be attributed to the considerable skill of Israeli and American pilots and the lack of adequate training of their opponents. However, the training disparity between the eagle's historical opponents is similar to the current KPAF-ROKAF and USAF training disparity.

Lethality – The Silent Eagle

Both the F-35 and F-15SE are more than a match for any North Korean aircraft. The assessment of the F-15SE's "lethality" serves to provide some comparison to the F-35 which will be discussed later. As Part I of the article notes, South Korea's current leadership supports the American Pivot strategy. The silent eagle and F-35 will be compared from a lethality perspective in regards to PLAAF aircraft. The silent eagle will be compared to prominent 4th and 4.5 generation aircraft in the region; the silent eagle will also be compared to emerging 5th generation aircraft from both China.

It is important to examine whether a single criteria is so weak as too inhibit or greatly diminish the aircraft’s overall effectiveness in combat by negatively affecting lethality other traits. No aircraft, not even the Raptor, is invulnerable. Fighter aircraft have a tendency to be stronger in certain types of engagements over others; The pilot who leverages the strengths of his/her aircraft against the relative weakness of the enemy’s aircraft most effectively typically wins the engagement.

"Know and use all the capabilities in your airplane. If you don't, sooner or later, some guy who does use them all will kick your ass." - Lieutenant Dave "Preacher" Pace, USN

Maneuverability: The silent eagle’s vertical maneuverability is impressive to excellent while its horizontal maneuverability is average relative to other 4.5 generation aircraft.  

Avionics: The silent eagle’s avionics package includes some of the most advanced sensors and systems available for export.  The APG-63(V)3 and APG-81(V)1 are considerable more powerful than any other fighter radar available for export when compared to both European and Russian equivalents. The IRST pod is an issue as IRST cannot be utilized in a “stealth” configuration.

Weapons: The silent eagle can accommodate a wide assortment of impressive weapons. The limiting factor is missile load during a stealth configuration. In a stealth configuration, the F-15SE can only internally carry four air to air missiles unless South Korea plans to acquire CUDA at a later date (in which case the F-15SE can carry eight) but CUDA is not mentioned on the DSCA report presented to Congress. The AIM-120 has a demonstrated .47 probability kill (RAND, 2008). Thus, the silent eagle will have to resort to using its cannon on a regular basis in a target rich environment. In a non-stealthy mode, the F-15SE is a missile truck as it could potentially carry at least ten air to air missiles, possibly twelve depending upon the new outer-wing weapon stations. However, in a non-stealthy configuration, the silent eagle is much more vulnerable. 

Survivability: The silent eagle’s modern electronic warfare suite and frontal radar reduction treatments grant it an edge over all other 4.5 generation aircraft currently in development or on the market. However, the F-15SE’s lack of a rear stealth capability is a serious concern in a high threat environment.

Lethality vs. 4th and 4.5 Generation Aircraft 

Image 7: China is in negotiations with Sukhoi for 24 Su-35 aircraft.

The People's Republic Army Air Force (PLAAF) is undertaking several programs to bolster its air power. Most of the additions to the PLAAF in recent years are domestically produced 4th generation platforms, the J-10A/B and J-11A/B. The PLAAF still retains a sizable number of its Russian imported fighter aircraft, the Su-30MKK and the Su-27SK. The original J-10A is similar to the F-16 and acts as a light fighter for the PLAAF while the Su-27SK, Su-30MKK, and J-11A is similar to the F-15 and acts as a heavy fighter aircraft. The level of technological sophistication for most of its fighter fleet is reminiscent of the 1980s.

The PLAAF's recent domestic acquisitions are plagued with technological limitations and reliability/quality control problems. The J-11B, an illegal copy of the Su-27SK, has crashed several times in flight testing (Defense News, 2013, 64). Producing reliable domestically manufactured jet engines also remains difficult for the Chinese aerospace industry and its domestically produced aircraft suffer major performance limitations as a result. The single engine J-10 relies upon the underpowered and unreliable WS-10 engine. In recent Red Sword Blue Sword exercises (China's version of Red Flag), J-10's were completely destroyed by J-11A's (license built copy of the Su-27SK) in mock dogfights. Furthermore, Domestic radar technology, as exemplified by the J-11B's radar, is woefully inadequate when compared to modern ESA and AESA systems:

"China's current domestically produced fighter radars are comparable to late 1980s to early 1990s US fighter radars in terms of both detection power and tracking performance. The pulse doppler radar utilized in the J-11B as of 2006 was capable of tracking six to eight targets and engaging four of them simultaneously [Source 55].  The domestically produced J-10A's radar can track ten targets and engage up to four simultaneously [Source 57]. The  APG-71 radar developed for the F-14D Super Tomcat in the late 1980s and fielded in 1991 could track 24 targets and simultaneously engage six of them [Source 58]." - A Word About Chinese Military Research, Matt, 2013 

The PLAAF's acquisitions from Russia are still formidable but are starting to show their age. The Su-27SK and Su-30MKK are equipped with a NIIP N001 VE and VEP type radars which are obsolete. In the graph below, the green line second from the bottom shows the detection ranges relative to radar cross section figures for the NIIP N001. The Su-27SK and Su-30MKK would be unable to detect the silent eagle until near visual range ~30 nautical miles assuming a .05m^2 rcs.

Image 9: The green line 2nd from the bottom is the NIIP N001 radar which is equipped in the Su-30MKK and Su-27SK (N001VEP N001 and VE respectively). Image credit: Air Power Australia

The Su-27SK and Su-30MKK are equiped with an IRST but the OLS-27 IRST system is also obsolete.

"The baseline OLS-27 IRST can scan a 120x75 degree field of regard, and cover as field of view as narrow as 3x3 degrees but has poor sensitivity with a head on detection ranges cca 8 nautical miles." - Kopp, 2012

The only redeeming quality to the Su-30MKK, Su-27SK, and J-11A when compared to the silent eagle is their extensive weapon storage capacity. The silent eagle can only carry four air to air missiles in a low observable configuration while the aforementioned PLAAF aircraft typically carry eight.

"In a typical interception mission, the aircraft [Su-27SK] carries four R-73 and six R-27 missiles. Alternatively, the aircraft could carry two R-73 missiles, six R-27 missiles, and two KNIRTI SPS-171/L005 Sorbtsiya active jamming electronic countermeasures (ECM) pods on the wing-tips for self-defence." - Sinodefense, 2009

However, the Russian made fire and control systems for the aircraft listed above are not compatible with indigenous Chinese manufactured missiles (Sinodefense, 2009). The aforementioned aircraft are dependent upon Russian imported missiles such as the R-27, R-77, and R-73 missiles. Only the J-11B and J-10A/B are capable of making use of domestically manufactured missiles such as the radar guided PL-12 and IR guided PL-10.

Summary vs Chinese 4th Generation

> superior to, - equal or on par with

  1. Maneuverability: F-15SE - Su-30MKK > Su-27SK - J-11A > J-10A
  2. Avionics: F-15SE > Su-30MKK - Su-27SK - J-11A > J-10A - J-11B
  3. Weapons: Su-30MKK - Su-27SK - J-11A > J-10A - J-11B > F-15SE
  4. Survivability: F-15SE > Su-30MKK - Su-27SK - J-11A > J-10A - J-11B

  • Silent Eagle will have first look, first shot, first kill opportunities against current PLAAF aircraft
  • At visual range, JHMCS II and AIM-9X Block II grants 90° off-bore sight weapon usage vs. 45°-60° off-boresight of Archer and Shchel (depending upon variant, 60° if R-77M)
  • Maneuverability of Su-30MKK superior to F-15E in horizontal but not vertical. F-15C pilots were able to defeat the more advanced Su-30MKI which has thrust vectoring in basic fighter maneuvering exercises. Maneuverability advantage is not so great as to make it impossible for superior pilot.  
  • Avionics of current PLAAF aircraft are obsolete, silent eagle will remain undetected until near visual range. 
  • Limited weapons load in low observable configuration is problematic
Overall, the silent eagle is well equipped to deal with current Chinese 4th generation aircraft.

5th Generation Aircraft 

Although the F-15SE qualifies for the low observable designation from the frontal aspect, it fails to qualify as a true 5th generation aircraft due to its lack of side and rear stealth. China currently has two different 5th generation aircraft in development: the Chengdu J-20 and the Shenyang J-31. The lack of reliable information on the two Chinese aircraft limits any comparison between the Chinese stealth aircraft and the silent eagle. However, the lethality aspects mentioned above will be discussed based on the limited information available and educated inferences based on observable design features.

The true purpose of the J-20 is unknown but three main theories exist amongst aviation experts: a high performance air superiority fighter, a long range strike aircraft, and a counter C2ISR (Command & Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) asset. Given the lack of rear stealth on the current J-20 design (engine nozzles are completely exposed), it is unlikely the J-20 will serve as a long range strike aircraft unless the engine nozzles are altered in the post-prototype phase of development. Both the air to air and counter C2ISR asset theories remain plausible given what can be deduced from the current design.

PLA doctrine typically calls for the deployment of both heavy and light fighter types which is demonstrated by the deployment of the 4th generation J-11 and J-10 (Gary Li, 2012). It would be reasonable to assume the J-20 and J-31 continue the light and heavy procurement strategy if not for the fact that AVIC, the Chinese aerospace consortium which Shenyang is part of, states the J-31 is intended to serve as an export only aircraft  (Perrett, Hewson, Johnson, Sweetman, 2013, 71). However, I would not be surprised if the PLAAF acquired the J-31 anyhow.

The J-31 bares an uncanny resemblance to the F-35 which might be more than coincidental.

"In 2009, there was a forced electronic entry into the Joint Strike Fighter program and large Amounts of data were copied. According to present and former employees at the Pentagon, the attack can be traced to China. This could mean did it would be easy for China to defend itself against the aircraft (Which many western countries expect to acquire) and, Assuming the attackers have acquired enough data, They may even be viable to copy parts of it. The American chief of counterintelligence has been reported as saying that 'our networks are being mapped' with reference to American flight traffic control, and also as having warned about a situation in which 'a fighter pilot can not trust his radar.'"- Journal of Strategic Security Volume IV, Issue 2 2011

The same issues listed above for domestic 4th generation fighter production do apply for China's emerging 5th generation fighter aircraft as well. Information in regards to the specifications of the radars featured within the J-20 and J-31 are purely speculative at this time. Given the relative level of technological sophistication featured within the J-11B's radar in 2006 (which was inferior to 1980s Soviet fighter radars), I would tentatively guess Chinese radar manufactures caught up to late 1990s Russian radar technology. The J-31 has a smaller nose cone than the J-20 thus it will have a less capable radar similar to how the Raptor's APG-77 is more powerful than the F-35's APG-81. 

J-20 & J-31 characteristics analysis in regards to F-15SE:

  • Large nose cone of J-20 allows for a large element array radar but China has yet to field an AESA radar system. 
  • Best case scenario for China is a powerful but not stealthy 1,500 element TR AESA. Software for low probability intercept modes problematic
  • Unlikely that J-20 will feature a minimally detectable communication system similar to F-35 MADL. Once again, passive detection evasion remains an issue.
  • Possible inclusion of EOTS.  Both the domestically produced J-11B & J-10B feature an EOTS system. Possible development in J-20 either as upgrade post-deployment or final production variant. PAK FA T-50 prototype features an EOTS but X-35 demonstrator did not feature the EOTS and final F-35 production variant does.

Stealth Characteristics 
  • J-20 and J-31 both employ planform alignment, RAM, and DSI to lower their frontal and side radar cross section. No usage of specially shaped engine nozzles likes F-22 or F-35 means both the J-31 and J-20 lack rear stealth characteristics. 
  • It is unlikely that Chinese have mastered the complex ceramic coatings over the engine and heat sinks used on F-35 to reduce IR. 
  • Both J-20 and J-31 will be vulnerable to IRST systems.  
  • No official figures for rcs have been released, likely that J-20 & J-31 qualify for low observable designation ~.01m^2 
Maneuverability & Performance  
  • Underpowered and unreliable engines for initial production variants. Low engine performance will severely limit maneuverability and dogfighting potential especially with high combat loads. Latter variants or block upgrade could improve engines post deployment (at least ten years from now to get within current Russian counterparts). The best case scenario would involve an engine deal with Russia though it’s very unlikely. Chinese engineers have difficulty reverse engineering 1980s Russian engine technology from Su-27SK (WS-10). Even If the Su-35 deal goes through, it’s unclear if Chinese engineers would be able to effectively reverse engineer the technology from the ALF-41F1A 
  • J-31 prototype uses Russian RD-93 engines (Sweetman, 2012, 71)

Overall, the silent eagle is competitive to Chinese 5th generation aircraft. It is difficult to foresee how a potential engagement would pan out but in general it is safe to assume both the J-20 and J-31 have a lower radar cross section but the F-15SE has a much more powerful radar. Given how large (and heavy) the J-20 airframe is plus its underpowered engines, the silent eagle likely has a maneuverability advantage at least in the vertical. However, the J-20 can carry more weapons internally. The J-20 can carry six missile internally judging from the recently released pictures (center line weapon bay shown below): four in the main weapons bay and one in each of the two side bays.

Author's note: For the sake of brevity and time constraints, comparisons between the silent eagle and the PAK FA were omitted. More information on the PAK FA exists than on the Chinese stealth fighters so if viewers would like to see such an article, I can make it happen. Just let me know in the comments. 


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  74. Air Combat Past, Present and Future, John Stillion, Scott Perdue, August 2008.


  1. i love your articles but tell me one thing-how can you say that rcs of silent eagle is .01 or -20?And another thing i would love a comparison involving pakfa and rafale as i am from india and we are gonna get these birds.

    1. It's a legitimate question, there are no publicly released official figures from Boeing Regarding the rcs of the silent eagle. In part II of the series of articles under the stealth section I explain how I narrowed down the possibilities rcs figure and arrived at a range .1 - .025 m ^ 2 (which is a pretty large range). I used .05 m ^ 2 just for the point of simplicity afterwards to provide some point of comparison. I was very insistent upon specifying what did it merely an educated guess. However, it's a reasonable figure. It would mean the silent eagle has an rcs larger than that of the PAK FA, F-117A, F-35 and F-22. Which makes sense as the silent eagle uses mostly RAM treatments along with the canted tails instead of platform alignment, shielded inlets (eg DSI), and RAM. Stealth is achieved mostly through shaping techniques. A Lockheed engineer said stealth is accomplished 80% through shape and 20% through materials.

    2. but matt recent reports from russia suggest that rcs of pakfa(not fgfa though) is approx .5m^2!!How can that be.As much as i love silent eagle and appreciate boeing's efforts to make it stealthy i don't see how it can be more stealthy than pakfa??maybe they are just talking about prototypes.....who knows

    3. Hmm, where did you get the .5m^2 figure? The only figure I have been able to find from a reliable source is Air Power Australia. “The only cited RCS performance data was a recent claim by Sukhoi that the PAK-AF will have 1/40 of the RCS of the Su-35S. Unfortunately this was not qualified by threat operating band, aspect, or whether the Su-35S was clean or laden with external stores. The RCS of the Su-35S, head-on in the X-band, has not been disclosed, but given the extensive RAM treatments applied could be as low as 0.5 - 2 m2 for a clean aircraft with no stores. If the latter were true, then the PAK-FA X-band head-on RCS would be of the order of -13 to -19 dBSM. Such performance would be consistent with the shaping design, but not with the application of mature RAM and RAS to same. Analysis of tactical options, as published in March 2009, assumed a PAK-FA forward sector X-band RCS of about -20 dBSM, which fits the outer envelope of the Sukhoi disclosure almost exactly.” – Kopp, 2010
      During the Cold War, Russia had a history of claiming its equipment was much better than it actually was so maybe it’s true but .01m^2 or -20 dBSM is the figure I have for the frontal rcs of the PAK FA.

    4. Russians and india are gonna get second stage engine(product 30) around 2018 with about 176 kn thrust which would probably make it the most powerful jet ever made,,(if usa decides to use twin engined f-135 story would be diff but major problem of f-135 is the weight of about 1.7 tonnes while russians claim product 30 would weigh about 1300 kg)But whatever,india's major concern is china and i badly want pakfa to surpass j-20.I guess j-20 would be a better stealth fighter but as far as hardware goes like engine and radar,or even performance it can never match pakfa,not so soon.And regarding ur pivot to asia i guess its usa's fault that relationship with india is just so-so.USA dosen't offer india any tot like russia or french and as late as 2010 indian space research organization was under sanctions.USA has to understand that its a give and take relationship and any friendly gesture now would come handy in decades to come when india,due to its growing population is poised to be one of the top 3 economies around 2050 timeframe.

    5. I'll believe it when I see it in regards to product 30. Frankly the ALF-41F1A is more than powerful enough for the PAK FA's needs (it will be on par with the Raptor in terms of maneuverability). As a general rule of thumb, the problem with Russian jet engines is reliability. Indian pilots at Red Flag 2008 were very frustrated when their Su-30MKI engines failed and they had to have them sent all the way back to Russia for repairs. I think the PAK FA has the edge over the J-20 until China gets better engines, avionics, and software. Pilot training is also very important. China is very aggressively trying to improve its fighter training programs and has had a great deal of success recently.
      With respect, the technology transfer agreements India has imposed on the defense industry have been very rigid and hinder further US-India defense ties. I can understand wanting to improve domestic defense manufacturing and development capabilities but the current system is not working. Look no further than the MMRCA. First of all, the whole MMRCA competition was a flop in my opinion (Dassault low-balled their price figures by a considerable degree)and now they are very hesitant to grant HAL manufacturing responsibilities for the Rafale as they don't think HAL is capable enough.

  2. Great work, Great article, thanks for putting the time into writing them ;-) Could you do one on Russia Jet engine on the T-50 and the potential benefits if china was to install them into J20-J31. What Range would china get with them installed. First Island, Second Island and Weapon load?
    Also, China is planing to buy S400 air defense system form Russia. What Effect would have on F22 and F35.

    1. My pleasure, all the hard work is worth it as long as people enjoy them :) Sure, I can write an article about the implications of the Russia-China arms deal (effect on US position, anti-access strategy, etc.). I need a break from the F-X III series anyway. Frankly is hard to believe Russia is shortsighted enough to sell China its latest and greatest weapons. They sold them the S-300 and they reverse engineered it and made the HQ-9 SAM system which is now competing against the S-300 in sales abroad (e.g. Turkey). Russia sold them the Su-27Sk and the ALF-31 and they copied those as well and made the J-11B and WS-10. If this isn’t an example of “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I don’t know what is.

    2. man believe me when i tell you chinese are gonna surpass russia pretty soon,,,,i mean in 10-15 years at the most and its giving goosebumps to us indians.Just look at chinese economy,its 4 times that of russia and with a foreign reserve of about 2-3 trillion its poised to be a military power now or later i don't know?The main thing though is that their weapon systems are so secretive that no one has any idea what they are capable of but a country that can make a stealthy airframe like j-20 notwithstanding it may be espionage surely deserves credit,,,,,they have got huuuuge $$$$$$ man.

    3. The thing is matt,russian economy is down the drain anyway.If it was not for india that invested heavily for su-30 mki,mig-29k,t-90 mbt,akula 2 submarine they would have already collapsed.But india did right in rejecting mig-35 for mmrca contract.As for chinese,they are shameless ppl really copying anything they can

    4. I am quite interested in the field of macroeconomics and all the source material I’ve read indicates that it is impossible for a nation to sustain 8%-10% GDP growth rates for too long. Already China’s GDP growth rates are starting to decline and Q2 growth was down to 7.5% (which is still very good but noticeably less). Behind the substantial economic growth, the Chinese system has its share of problems. I’ve never been into environmentalism (I’m not a big fan of hippies) but when 60% of your fresh water is undrinkable due to pollution, I can see how that would cause problems. More importantly, the population dynamics of the country have the potential to cause serious problems for China. Due to the one child policy, the older generations (both the grandparents and parents) are dependent upon a single income provider for the entire family (typically the son in the case of China). It is similar to the problem the US has with the increase in retirees from the “baby boomer” generation but much worse.
      Militarily China will is already formidable but has the potential to become much more. America’s ace in the hole is its strategy to build regional alliances, which is one of the ways we accomplished the containment of the Soviet Union. Already China has ticked off many other countries that are now looking to the US to increase its regional presence e.g. Philippines, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Vietnam. I am somewhat disappointed that US-India ties have not increased further in recent years. Although, I can understand the viewpoint that Indian politicians do not want to align themselves too closely with the US as to be seen as a direct competitor by China.

    5. On the plus side, I’d rather have China reverse engineering Western and Russian equipment with the outcome of it producing largely inferior products rather than China being able to produce high quality equipment on its own. In time though, China’s extensive efforts to invest in science and technology will bear fruit. It is my opinion that if you throw enough engineers, money, and time at a problem you can accomplish almost anything. I do believe China will surpass Russia technologically but it will still take some time. The United States was at the forefront of technological innovation during the Cold War largely because the Government was willing to throw duffle bags of money at scientists in an effort to surpass the Soviet Union militarily. Some of the greatest inventions of the 20th century from the internet, GPS, lasers to even the microwave oven can trace their origins directly or indirectly to the US DOD (e.g. DARPA). One of my favorite scientists, Dr. Michio Kaku, explained that during the Cold War if you were a scientist in America and you needed funding for research all you needed to do was to go before Congress and say one word “Russia”. In return Congress would say two words, “How much?” If America continues to turn its back on science and R&D, the consequences will not be pretty.

    6. You maybe totally right but the amount of funding they are providing in their defence programs is astounding,,,,like they recently cleared 16 billion $+ for jet engine development!!And mind you,innovation always starts after some help or even some reverse engineering(in case of german v2 rockets etc,soviets and usa had huge help)British gave way to americans and soviets.SOVIETS GAVE WAY TO USA and its only been 20 years and we already see signs of multipolar world again.No one can predict future,,,,,but china can easily balance its slow manufacturing with increasing consumption of population to sustain growth.

  3. Thanks Matt for responding. The reason why Russia will sell the chines Jet Engines (or SU35s)saturn 117s (al-41f1a) engine, is that Russia has confidence that China will struggle to reverse engineer the engine and it;s parts. At the moment china is still buying jet engine to power it's jet fighter form Russia and still are struggling to make High Quality Parts for them. So Russia has 2 option, 1. Sell Jet engines and technology to china and make some money now in the hope that china buys 100-200 engines within the next 5-10 yrs and accept that China will within 10-15 years(2025) will have there own Jet engines. OR 2. Don't sell Jet engines to china and be cut out of the chines market and Let them keep spending there $$$ Billion in R&D and lose Billionsin Russian sales. I can see that China will produce a Domestic Jet engine for there Passenger plans (these is where most of there engineers have gone as well, the chines are doing Joint Venture with other engine manufacturer on engines) before they can produce a reliable military jet engine. China Approved early this year a $16 Billion (USD) R&D program Just for jet engine material & manufacturing of internal jet engine blades. Even Russia Manufacturer Acknowledge publicly in reports that it's now on a matter of time before china stops buy technology from Russia. China have a 20 year plane for Jet engines technology and the first step was the $16 billion, there will be more investment over the next 20 years on engines. Also Russia is finding it hard to sell jet fighters as well. The F16/F18/F35 are being sold heavily in Asia now. Also France Fighter is trying to move into other South American Country to try to do similar deals they did with India. Russia are struggling to Accept that when they sell jest, they have to also give Technology to the country, You can't Keep sending Jet engines back to Russia every time they break down (Indian military source reported in the news during interview. One of the main reasons why Russia did not win the contracts. Also sticking point on the T50 project as well. EU are starting to heavily relax there policy on military technology transfer as well. Russia still no 2 world arm sellers, But more and more country want to build everything at home or at least repair it without have to order part for other country's. Gee wrote to much. lol

    1. I've been reading into it since your initial post, thanks for pointing me in the right direction. You seem to know your stuff. My article, Implications of the Potential Russia-China Arms Deal, aught to be finished in a week or so. It will discuss the implications of the S-400, Su-35, and Lada submarine deal for Taiwan, Japan, and the United States. I"m also working on another article right now though (Defeating China's Anti-Access Strategy: The US Perspective) so I'll probably release it after that one. Let me know if you have any other insights.

    2. Thanks Matt for putting the time and effort of doing this. :-) Can't wait to read it.

    3. No problem, hope you will like it :)

  4. «The IRST pod is an issue as IRST cannot be utilized in a “stealth” configuration.»
    I am surprised that you dont consider the fact that if the KoAF (or any customer )whants the F-15 CAN be fitted with an internal IRST.The japanese F-15J use it(over the nose)...and the IRST under the chin of the Advanced Super Hornet could also be used at custumer discretion...

    1. The F-15J’s equipped with IRST are a special case. The capability was added through the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Mid-Life Upgrade program and not directly through Boeing. If South Korea wanted to do the same, Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) would likely have to come up with a retrofit program of its own. While it is known that Boeing has tried to leverage systems from the Super Hornet international roadmap variant (BLOCK III) for the silent eagle, I did not come across any reputable sources that cited internal IRST capability for the silent eagle. As an author I feel it is irresponsible to just assume a capability exists for an aircraft (that is as important as IRST) if I don’t find a source that says so. That is why I take great pains to cite my sources even if it’s the least enjoyable part of writing an article. The audience can always check for themselves if they don’t take my word for it. If you find me a reputable source that claims the silent eagle has internal IRST capability without retrofit, let me know.

    «Boeing has not finished tinkering with the configuration. It confirms that one upgrade being considered is the integration of an infrared search and track (IRST) sensor inside the fuselage. An IRST is essentially a miniature telescope scanning for targets by heat emissions. It is helpful when an onboard radar cannot be used, as the electronic emission can be detected and pinpointed by enemies in the air or on the ground. An IRST is a passive sensor, so it only receives infrared energy.

    Today, the F-15E already includes an IRST pod, carried in a wing pylon above the navigation pod. That placement is impossible when the F-15SE operates in "silent" configuration, but Boeing could install an IRST sensor into a faceted, low-observable chamber blended into the fuselage. This would resemble the electro-optical targeting system installed in the fuselage beneath the F-35's cockpit.

    Boeing has proposed a similar layout for a new IRST in the international roadmap version of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and engineers are debating where such an IRST sensor should be installed on the F-15 to minimise aerodynamic disruption. Positions atop and below the fuselage are being considered.»

    1. That same article is already been cited here, I read it and I'm aware of Boeing's Block III proposals including internal IRST. The reason why internal IRST won't happen in regards to Korea is listed in the DSCA request. Why would South Korea order 60 AN/AAS-42 Infrared Search and Track IRST system if they are going to mount another system internally? The ASS-42 is a pod mounted system which is incorporated into the Tiger Eyes system mentioned in Part II.

  6. Been wondering that as well...maybe they will retrofit it...dont know but Boing IS working on that

  7. In the face of more capable Flanker variants, and in the absence of more F-22s, the F-15 is the best option. I bet the Navy is missing the F-14D by now!

    1. Despite my thorough write-up on the silent eagle, I'm actually in favor of the F-35 over the F-15 (although I would have favored continued F-22 production until 300). Check this out, it was a proposed aircraft for the Navy in the NATF (Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter) similar to the ATF which spawned the YF-22 and YF-23:

      Its worth noting that air superiority isn't the only concern of an air force and although the F-35 is not an F-22, it is still superior to existing 4.5 generation aircraft in the air-to-air role. I explain most air-to-air concerns in the Canada and the F-35 article
      The American Doctrine series which I am working on now goes into even greater detail and it aught to be out shortly.

  8. I stand corrected. Although the F-35C isn't the most capable AAW platform possible, it is still impressive. Of course, it isn't as impressive as the NATF concept, but it is superior to the retired F-14D. The Lightning should have no problems against aircraft like the SU-35S.

  9. Now, if only we could have an F-35C, and F-14D/ASF air wing combination. An advanced Tomcat would surely have been more valuable than the Rhino. If you hung the proposed AIM-152 AAAM on the airframe, you could let the F-35C penetrate anywhere it wanted to while the advanced F-14D would stay back and defend the carrier. I'm sorry, even though the decision was made long ago, I just feel the need to vent. Thanks for all the info.