Ominous Warning: Russian Air Power in Ukraine

Airborne Infrared and Supersonic Stealth

[Above] The mighty SR-71 Blackbird (part of the A-12 program series) detailing its operational skin temperatures when flying at speed and altitude. The aircraft depicted is the two-seat trainer.

Interestingly, an airborne SOFIA-class Infrared threat model against a supersonic stealth platform (for which the F-117 and B-2 are not) - is totally absent - from seemingly comprehensive analysis of F-22 Raptor capability.

The NASA-DLR 'SOFIA' (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy).
If the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, (SOFIA) is flown at altitudes of over 41,000 feet [12,497 meters] - nearly the entire infrared spectrum will reach its telescope and measurement sensors: "Missions will be flown at altitudes of 39,000 to 45,000 feet, above 99 percent of the water vapor in the lower atmosphere that restricts the capabilities of ground-based observatories over most of the infrared and sub-millimeter spectral range."
When one moves the Infrared Search and Track (IRST) discussion out of military circles and into a different scientific discipline, in this case, airborne infrared astronomy - then the entire subject matter shifts with respect to what is possible.
Too many at the DoD and in the US public - simply do not understand the relationship between transmittance/wavelength-propagation and altitude/atmospheric density.  The higher the IR sensor is - the greater the distances it can see a high-altitude object. This inability to grasp basic physics could cost the lives of F-22 aircrews.
‘Fast-jets’ (stealthy or otherwise) should be understood as “energetic aerial objects.” [Above] F-22 traveling at transonic speed, note the array of physics on display. The amount of “work” needed to propel an object from transonic through to supersonic speeds - will produce heat. The visible vapor shock wave pictured is a function of air compression and therefore, heating - ahead of the wave. This relationship is called thermodynamics.
[Below] Anytime a gas (air) is compressed "squeezed" - it heats up. This is often referred to as 'the heat of compression.' Typical areas of thermodynamic heating forward the engines (not part of propulsion/combustion) are due to the aerodynamic-frictional heating “compression” of the atmosphere (which is a gas) as airspeeds increase. Keep in mind the engines themselves also use 'the heat of compression' Gas Law to operate.

[Below] The higher an IR sensor is flown, the more - the lower - transmittance %, (Y-axis) can reach the IR sensor.

[Above/Below] Once transmittance % starts to approach 100 percent, there is effectively nothing to interfere with the travel of IR wavelengths.
Comparison (see below) of the atmospheric transmittance between the Mauna Kea observatory at 4,480m [~ 14,700 ft] which is one of the best infrared ground-based sites, and SOFIA at 13,200m [~ 43,300 ft] altitude. Note the vastly expanded red-pink areas of SOFIA over the Mauna Kea line - both on - and extending off to each side - of the chart. F-22 Raptor IR signature will have no place to hide from a high-flying infrared IR sensor.

Combat aircraft like Eurofighter Typhoon (PIRATE)Sukhoi Advanced Flanker Series (OLS), Lockheed F-35 (DAS/ EOTS), and Rafale (FSO) Infrared Search and Track (IRST) sensitivity will also be more akin to an airborne SOFIA?
Stealthy F-22 may have little defense against detection from an IRST flown at high altitude(s) if Raptor is to be flown at high speeds and altitude, due to frictional heating of her airframe and canopy, in addition to (below) her exhaust heat plumes; in surrounding air temperatures of -30F, -40F, -50F, -60F degrees below zero.

Target RCS (Radar Cross Section) [below] is determined by 1) the power transmitted in the direction of the target. 2) The amount of power that impacts the target and is reflected back in the direction of the radar. 3) The amount of reflected power that is intercepted by the radar antenna. 4) The length of time in which the radar is pointed at the target.

The issue here is an IRST (IR sensor) can be "slaved" to the radar, to follow whatever the radar is tracking, or the radar can be slaved to the IRST to track whatever the IR sensor(s) "see." So in effect: 'Time on Target' (Pay close attention to numbers “1” and "4" of the graphic above).

This would be consistent with publicly available information stating that Stealth prefers hostile “scanning” radar(s) over hostile “tracking” radar(s).

Remember Stealth is effectively a 'radio spectrum airfoil' and its intent is to passively reduce the power of an opponent's "2" and "3" (see above graphic). Stealth has no capability to control "1" and "4". It could produce some type of radio/radar jamming-deception transmission(s), but this then potentially reveals its position. Not an easy problem to resolve for the Stealth fighter - that requires own/friendly radio energy transmission(s) to employ its primary weapon at range. Problems are compounded because, without own/friendly radio-transmission-targeting support, stealth aircrews could be forced to fly into the maw of modern, hostile, IRST detection envelopes before F-22 can fire its weapons.

The only American multi-sensor fighter in service at the time that could (with near certainty) detect and attack an F-22 (as Raptor was entering service with the USAF) - at militarily useful ranges - was the US-Navy Grumman F-14 (F-14D) Tomcat.
[Above] F-14D 'Super Tomcat' with her potent dual IRST-TCS sensor(s) system clearly visible under the chin.
 Photo: Lockheed Martin
[Above] F-35 EOTS Electro-optical targeting system under the nose.

The DoD would be quick to point out that the early F-14 Tomcat IRST (the AN/ALR-23) was of limited range, limited quality, and misidentified sources of IR emissions. However, a much-improved system was fielded in later USN Tomcats, the Northrop AN/AXX-1 Television Camera Set (TCS). On the F-14D Super Tomcat, the TCS was integrated with a dedicated IRST sensor, in a potent new dual-sensor package by GE Aerospace Electronic Systems. The detect/track range of the later GE Aerospace Electronic Systems Infra-Red Search and Track sensor (IRST) and TCS system fitted to F-14D, may have been in excess of 180km, 110 miles (97 nautical miles).
[Above] PIRATE-IRST on Typhoon.
Keep in mind that fighters like Flanker could employ their IR-version of the R-27ET medium-range missile; regardless of what happening (or not happening) in the radio spectrum, read: with less regard to RCS.

[Below] FSO system (IRST and IFF Television Camera) on Rafale.
[Below] Since the time of our original writing in 2008/2009 the 'Skyward-G' IRST system has been introduced on the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen series. The system can reportedly detect targets flying as slow as 300 knots - regardless of aspect - likely using some form of internal Atmospheric Propagation (target characterization) Modeling.
Photo: Saab

[Editors Note: Below - since the time of this original writing in 2008-09 images of the American F-22A have appeared with AN/AAR-56 Missile Launch Detector (MLD) that could evolve into an offensive IRST. However, this is conjecture presently. The condition of the F-22A LO (Low Observable) coating is another question, as is the future of the F-22A fleet - but both are outside this discussion.]
The Raptors AN/AAR-56 window can be seen here. 

Flanker does not use radar to track an aggressively maneuvering dogfight target for its gun-firing solution. Only its IRST with laser rangefinder is needed. So it’s a fair statement to say Flanker's IRST has a robust air-to-air capability (IRST-OLS on Flanker is NOT THE SAME unit as MiG-29).

Some might argue that SOFIA looks up into space while an IRST must look out across the airspace for a target in the atmosphere. The problem is distance. SOFIA looks at celestial objects - millions or more miles away - while IRST targets need only be 50-100 miles away.

Since the time of our original writing in 2008/2009: the USAF 64th and 65th Aggressors Squadrons have begun incorporating (rushed?) the airborne IRST threat into their DACT. Whether lessons learned are disseminated up the chain of command to the DoD - remains unknown. Our concern is that stealth fighter programs will remain shielded and protected even when it is shown that stealth fighters can not deliver to justify their ultra-high unit cost(s).  

According to Tom Clancy (Fighter Wing: A Guided Tour of an Air Force Combat Wing - Clancy Tom; Penguin Group, 1995), the F-22 Raptor is an 'F-15 Eagle’ weapons platform, in a stealthy supercruising airframe. The only problem with Clancy's description is that the F-15 Eagle was simply no match for the Tomcat's combination of radar (+ IRST) and AIM-54 Phoenix missile. No match. Tomcat could also use AIM-9 and AIM-7 (AIM-120?) at longer ranges than Eagle. In fairness to Clancy, he dedicates one (1) sentence in his book, stating that long-wave infrared could be a problem in the future.

Remember that IRST integration into the weapon system may produce an aircraft that is highly resistant to the "Beaming" / "Beam-turn" / "Doppler turn" maneuver used by an opponent to break radar locks - because the target now presents increased engine heat aspect(s) to the sensor.

Iranian Tomcats would routinely orbit on station at ~ 13,000m (~ 40,000 ft) during the Iran/Iraq war to extend their endurance.
[Above] The US-Navy F-14 Tomcat could direct six (6) ultra-long-range AIM-54 'Phoenix' rounds at six (6) separate targets simultaneously. The Tomcat weapon system quickly scans aerial targets and creates a target “track-file” for each target.  Each track (file) represents where the target(s) should be at a ‘future three-dimensional point.’ It then loads these coordinates to her AIM-54s. At weapon(s) release, Phoenix climbs to 26,000m (80,000 ft) and accelerates to Mach 4+ towards its assigned track "file" coordinate. The weapon then dives down (using kinetic energy) to kill the target. The target profile presented to the AIM-54 is - the top of the target - not head-on. The top of a target (stealthy or otherwise) provides the largest possible: surface area, physical size, and RCS aspect. F-14D (Infrared+radar) targeting in this way, with Phoenix alone - would have presented an unacceptable DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) hazard for the new USAF F-22 Raptor.

Historical accounts over the Barents-Baltic Seas in the mid-late 1980s suggest that this will – indeed – be the case. The Soviet Mig-25 PD/PDS Foxbat and in particular, the MiG-31 Foxhound interceptors would routinely track American SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance sorties on the Warsaw Pact border using only the MiG's infrared (IRST) channel. They would simply lock onto the immense thermal signature of the SR-71 flying at speed and at altitude – reportedly from ranges of over 100km (62 mi). Both Foxbat and Foxhound could then illuminate Blackbird with their main radar (cued by IRST) had the order been given to attack. 
[Above] Soviet MiG-25PD 'Foxbat-E' interceptors were a major threat to Detachment-4 SR-71 flights over the Barents/Baltic Seas. The MiG-25 Foxbat was originally designed to shoot down the high-flying Mach-3 XB-70 bomber. After 1976, the Soviets upgraded the base MiG-25P to include a new 'Sapfeer-25' radar, IRST, a BAN-75 target identification system, as well as improved R-15BD-300 engines. Note the size of the MiG's R-40 missiles in relation to the pilot. Intercepts of Det-4 Blackbirds over the Baltic were conducted by the 787th IAP flying MiG-25PD out of Finow-Eberswalde airbase (GDR).

The Foxbat could employ four massive R-40 missile rounds, (two radar and two IR homing). Foxbat R-40s were designed specifically for targets at high altitudes. The SR-71 would have, with almost certainty, been unable to cope with the R-33s from MiG-31 Foxhound - targeted in this manner.
[Above/Below] A retractible IRST on the MiG-31 is called the 'OMB’ optical multi-functional apparatus. 
OMB shown retracted.

Taking a second look at this graphic, heat management of the airframe would have been a critical function for Blackbird crews. In recent years, folklore has sprung up around the aircraft and it also incorporated stealth technology. This would have been inconsistent with Kelly Johnson’s views on stealth at the time (and in particular at the time of Oxcart). Given the extremes in metallurgy, propulsion, and thermodynamics being confronted by the design - low radar cross-section (low RCS) was unlikely a design goal consideration either for the A-12 or its derivatives; the YF-12, SR-71 (or even the D-21 drone). The Russians always knew the American spy plane was inbound several hours beforehand - due to the support asset activity that always preceded the Blackbird's arrival. It is important to remember that immense afterburner plumes are generated from Oxcarts massive J58 engines, that could be detected at great distances.

Whether a supersonic Raptor can close and maneuver into firing position unseen by a modern/future IRST system should be a source of debate and secrecy for some time. These new IRST systems are so sensitive that even weapon release of an opponent’s missile round can be detected from its rocket plume and its nose cone heating. Suffice it to say that IR sensor design cycles will certainly - outpace - stealth airframes.

[Below] F-22A 'Pitot' tube is clearly visible at the nose. The Raptor has one tube on either side. These air measurement devices are electrically heated to ~ 270 C (520 F) to keep them from icing at altitude. Indeed, they appear as two hot spots on the nose under FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared).
The IRST ‘fishbowl’ (below) on this Flanker is clearly visible just ahead of the front canopy. Note it's physical size. The sensor is fully integrated into the weapons system and can cue thermal targets for the radar, pilot, or both. During helmet-sighting: sensors, radar, and missile seeker heads - look wherever the pilot looks.
Laser-rangefinders operating in the IR wavelengths would also have extended ranges at high altitudes?

The IRST might also use its own stored 'Atmospheric Propagation Model' to effectively “make an educated guess” as to target(s) relative range, aspect, and velocity – without the radar or laser rangefinder. In effect, the sensors own performance is characterized to construct a sensitivity model against known objects at known distances and velocities. Then during wartime when IRST sees something - it compares its own “known” internal Atmospheric Propagation Model - and the weapons system then extrapolates target range and bearing.
[Above] Sukhoi IRST on both Su-35 Flanker (left) and T-50 (right). Either spells big trouble for F-22. Note the simply immense heat distortion shimmer in the background - heat produced by all-powerful aircraft - stealthy or otherwise, regardless of national origin.

John C. Mather, Senior Astrophysicist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Mars Society, the University of Maryland 31-July, 2009; during his remarks on Doppler (red/blue) shift detection resolution-granularity in discussing astrophysics of celestial objects: “…we are able to see the velocity of a star down to one (1) meter per second.

Advanced Flanker IRST Doppler-shift sensitivity will not require the granularity of astrophysics because an F-22 Raptor traveling at Mach 1.1 will be moving at approximately 374 meters per second. By including air combat closure rates - this figure is even higher (!)

This would seem to fall well within, the definition of militarily useful sensitivity?

So in effect, Advanced Flanker variants could affect the engagement of a supersonic radio-spectrum airfoil (an F-22) using - all available sensors - in five (5) ways:

1.)True-Positive (Doppler): IRST uses infrared Doppler-shift w/APM to determine target range.

2.) True-Positive (Laser): IRST uses infrared and verifies the range to target with laser range-finder.

3.) True-Positive (Radar): IRST uses infrared and verifies the range to target with radar.

4.) True-Positive (Cycle): IRST uses infrared and verifies the range to target by cycling through steps 1-2-3-repeat.

And finally...

5.) Conceptually one can act on a - 'False-Positive' - even if stealth is 100% effective in the radio spectrum:

a) IRST picks something up.
b) Point your radar at it.
c) No (or strange) radar return? = stealth.
d) That is not ours.
e) Select R-27T / R-77-1 / R-37M class weapon - 'Fox!’

Editor Note - Since the time of our original writing - as of March 2021 the USAF claimed a cooperative target kill w/AIM-120D of 87 nm (161 km), 100 miles; in a controlled test. Also since our original writing, the VKS (Russian Air Force) has killed a Ukrainian aircraft with R-37M at some 177 km. 

Because the R-37M published range is ~ 400 km - the noncooperative combat kill in Ukraine of 177 km is ~ 44 percent reduction in the R-37Ms published figures. To compare apples-to-apples a 44 percent reduction factor must be applied to the AIM-120D for noncooperative targets under actual combat conditions. This gives us a range of ~ 49 nm (90 km) and 56 miles respectively for the AIM-120D (for noncooperative combat employment).   

Now putting it all together we can calculate with these assumptions:
  • F-22A is traveling at 65,000 ft at Mach 2.
  • F-22 can fire its primary weapons 56 miles from the target.
  • Su-35 moving at 400 mph. 
  • 98-mile IRST detection range.
  • Speed of Sound at 65,000 ft is 660 mph.
  • Stacked sections of Su-35s at 45,000 and 43,000 ft, contra-rotating "lazy 8" or "racetrack"
IRST on MiG-31 (called ‘OMB’ optical multi-functional apparatus) published range is ~50 km (~ 27 nautical miles). Yet during SR-71 intercepts in the late 1980s, the OMB was able to track and target the Blackbird from below at over (over) 100km (54 nautical miles). This is double the OMB published range. Su-35S IRST OLS-35's published range is 80 km, so we assess at least ~ 160 km (~ 86 nautical miles) as a plausible detect range for a high-speed 'hot' high-flyer + IRST sensitivity improvements since events in the 1980s. 

AIM-120D range, noncooperative (reduced by 44 percent) for actual combat conditions:

49 mn
90 km
56 miles

OLS-35 IRST published range:

43 nm
8o km
49 miles

x2 IRST detection range based on historical OMB vs. SR-71 (high, fast mover):

86 nm
160 km
98 miles

Subtract the AIM-120D range from IRST x 2 range increase (to get range delta). AIM-120 launch platform must travel these distances inside the IRST detect-sphere before it can fire:

37 nm
70 km
42 miles

Mach 2 at 65,000 ft is 1320 mph. AIM-120D speed ~ Mach 6 (Mach 4 + Mach 2 of F-22), so our hypothetical AMRAAM flies ~ 66 miles in one minute. Also hypothetical instantaneous acceleration of AIM-120 to Mach 6.

660 mph divided by 60 minutes = 11 miles per minute. 11 miles per minute x 6 (six-times Mach 1 of 660mph) = 66 miles traveled per minute at Mach 6 = 1.1 mile per second.

Divide the IRST detect range delta by mile per second AIM-120 speed; 42 / 1.1 = 38.18 seconds;  for Flanker flight to detect an AIM-120D launch/launch-platform and react.

So roughly Su-35 has a ~ 30-mile downrange engagement countermeasure window of ~ 30 seconds. 

Our hypothetical attacking AIM-120 friendly mid-course update detection by Flankers halfway to target regardless at ~ 19 seconds before weapon arrives.

i) Actual F-22 speed is more likely Mach 1.7
ii) Actual Su-35S speed likely 350 mph

In this scenario, the F-22A flies into the Su-35S IRST detect envelope for ~ 42 miles before the F-22A can release its primary weapon

There is just no way the F-22 maintains an element of surprise with a high/fast attack profile. IR wavelength transmittance-propagation is simply too great - as by definition - there are not enough gasses and vapor in the atmosphere to absorb the IR wavelengths. Even if we take the USAF's 100 mi test as a valid AIM-120D weapon release distance - it is still very much on the edge of higher altitude IRST detection range(s).

Whether the short-finned AIM-120 used in the F-22 has the control surface authority to get close to a 3-D thrust-vectoring fighter at higher altitudes - is unknown.

The only question in this scenario is what can (will) the Russian shoot to try and hit a high-fast mover? Possibilities could include derivatives of R-27, R-77-1, R-77M, R-77ME, R-37M? Or something we haven’t seen?
[Above] R-77 ARH (Active Radar Homing) and IR homing R-27T medium-range class weapons on this Russian Air Force Su-35S in Syria in 2016. The R-27T is on the outboard station - right side of photo.
[Above] Though not designed to hit a 2-D thrust-vectoring stealth fighter, oddly enough the Russian AA-6 Acrid R-40TD would have some capability against a high-speed, high-altitude target. Though originally designed to knock down an XB-70, the weapons large fins and large warheads are specifically designed to operate in high, thin atmosphere. The R-40 can be employed from a launch aircraft flying at high speeds.

This discussion is in a way - academic. The Russians have already identified two main areas to exploit supersonic Raptor.

They revolve around, and loop back into these two issues:

• F-22A Primary weapon.
• F-22A Thermal signature.

The infinite logic of this - is clear. If Raptor attempts to improve her kinematic situation by using high altitudes and high speeds – she will increase her thermal exposure. Any attempt to mitigate thermal propagation issues – by lower speeds or altitudes - directly impacts the power (reduces the range) of Raptors primary weapon.

There is no escape…

F-14 Tomcat w/the Northrop AN/AXX-1-TCS (IFF camera).

The F-14D 'Super Tomcat' had been slated to remain in service through at least 2008, but was retired from USN service in mid-2006 under former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. When the Navy asked for a replacement AIM-54 capability - it was denied. Tomcat aircraft were summarily shredded and manufacturing dies were destroyed for reasons allegedly involving Iran. However, the Iranians had already been producing their own F-14 spares/electronics for their F-14A-GR fleet, since the mid-1980s with US assistance via the Iran-Contra Scandal.

A good view of the IRST-TCS on this F-14D.

The 1st Fighter Wing at Langley, Virginia, declared the F-22 Raptor operational on 12-Dec, 2007.

Your thoughts?
[Be advised that Google has deleted this original writing link dated 2009. Original publish date can be cited however by using the date stamps of the comments in the comment section]

- All media found here is for scholarship and research purposes and protected under U.S. Internet ‘Fair Use Law - 


  1. Obrescia, can you explain how the Serbs were able to down an F117 during the Bosnian war?

  2. Hi Vijay, Thanks. It's a lot of work.

    The short answer: the US-Navy warned about insufficient EA-6B Prowler support at the ranges the USAF wanted to operate their F-117. The long answer: is more complicated. Typically there are a variety of operational factors that come into play. Take another look at the RCS graphic. Also, an F-117 flew right-in-between an F-15 engaging a Serbian MiG-29. The question might be: what in the world was a MiG-29 doing so close to operating F-117s?

    1. Actually, Serbs used VHF radar to detect and shoot down F-117 by SAM. Another F-117 was damaged by the same SAM battery.

    2. They also had a network of ground observers who indicated the routine path the F117 took to missions. It is a combination of human intelligence, bad tactics on the coalition, and good radar tactics on the Serbs, switching on RADARs quickly to track toward F117 path when human signal was given. There was also some luck, but ai think even a faint bird flying at 500mph is visible, at least using doppler.

  3. Thanks for that info. Obrescia. i was under the impression that the stealth planes in the US inventory are invisible to the radars even without support from electronic warfare planes.

    Also, I read somewhere that the F117 was detected by using obsolete low frequency radars and was then shot by a SAM. So, if the serbs were able to detect them how effective stealth technology really is?

  4. Hi Vijay,

    Stealth only possesses a smaller Radar Cross Section than a non stealth object of the same type. Even F22 displays threat-bubbles for its pilot. If you fly into a bubble - then that bad guy can see you. The trick is to stay out or fly around these bubbles. How effective Stealth actually is (or will be) is a matter of debate. Review our Phased Array Radar material and watch the video. Weapon Location Radar can detect/track all manner of very small (tiny) aerial objects. Stealth is an open question in our view.

    - The Boresight

  5. G777GUN

    I knew IRST was the only way to detect those F22s and B2 jets. They say they were unconfirmed. Well i know now that the PIRATE does work. I am chuffed!

  6. A Layman Question, How Does IRST have Look Down capability & more especially sensing threats from rear hemisphere, i mean, IRST is fixed on Canopy, then how does it look down and take pictures of ground based targets?

  7. Hi SeerSucker,

    You are correct in that the main unit only have forward hemisphere sensing. The American F-35 chin mounted IRST may have expanded coverage below and to the side of the aircraft. The F-35 and MiG-35 (and others) have additional defensive IR sensors (some in binocular pairs) located around the aircraft to warn of approaching hostile weaponry. IRST is not technically the same as FLIR (forward looking infrared) as it may (or may not) create an IR image (a picture) of the target. In some ways, modern IRST can also double as LADAR (laser radar). Though IRST is no panacea in foul weather, neither is Stealth (when stealth gets wet its airframe/coatings ability to manipulate hostile radar mechanics degrades dramatically until it dries out). The Americans seem to favor FLIR-class for ground attack, the Russians traditionally IRST for IR-only attack or burning thru hostile radio jamming/deception on all manner of aerial targets (low flying penetrators to high-flying reconnaissance). Having said that, the MiG-27, Su-25 and other Russian attack/strike craft also uses FLIR for ground targets.

    How they Russians have adapted these technologies IRST/FLIR (newer capabilities like Su-34) is uncertain however, Russian airpower simply annihilated Georgian ground forces in 2008.

    The type of IR sensor and it location(s) is the best indicator for what the aircrafts main purpose is.

    - The Boresight

  8. Thnx for enlightening...if you see this image it can be seen that optronics ability to detect in rear hemisphere is rather double than the front??..ths is a picture of SU-30 & this optronic by name is OLS 52sh refer to this:

  9. Make that Wolf said...... :D

    This blog is seriously good and sheds a new light on a lot of aspects. I really like it. BTW, we Combat Flight Simmers are discussing these themes diversely among ourselves. I think most of those people, that believe that "America pwns!" are mostly the Ace Combat Flight Action game kind. Still I like your in depth assessment, and I have seen first hand a lot of disbelief concerning the Iranian Tomcats. And the shredding is just another reason to hate Rumsfeld. Well and we do have some that have that america belief and a lot of others that don´t, especially those that have flown Russian Fighters in any sim, Like FC 2. One thing to love about the Flanker is that unless you are really dumb, you can´t run out of fuel, and you´ll have the iniative most of the time. And hey if we can manage our Fuel, then the Real Flanker Pilots definately can. We nearly never fly with the full fuel load.

    BTW I´m Wolf, known as TFA-Wolf or Wolve in some of those Simulation circles. I don´t have a Blogspot account and the Name URL gave me hassle.

  10. Not a problem.

    I dabbled in some old Falcon 4.0 and some of the Maddox/Ubisoft Sims. Neat stuff.

    Thank you for your input!

    - Boresight

  11. As a side note, what are your thoughts on the whole Stealth helicopter business in the killing of OBL?

    I am deeply skeptical about the whole matter since the idea that Pakistan had no way of knowing about an incursion seems far fetched, since not only do choppers have limited range without external fuel pods ( reports from Dawn cited that the choppers had to have landed within Pakistan atleast once in order to refuel and prep) and that Abottabad actually lost power during the period of the operation in question.

    That and a host of other issues - namely the idea that either visual pickup, IRST or even audio once the choppers were at the operations zone - seems unlikely to say the least.

    I know that the Comanche program attempted this, but this was part of the reason why that program was shut down in the first place.

    1. "As a side note, what are your thoughts on the whole Stealth helicopter business in the killing of OBL"
      While I leave the technical question on this to others I can however add a bit of information that might surprise you about the larger subject of that mission into Pakistan.

      There are, to put it bluntly, several very large, glaring problems with the official story of the mission to murder Osama bin Laden. Problems which are unanswerable within the constraints of the official story. Some of the more obvious problems are these:

      *Why would the "world's most wanted terrorist" be guarded by only two bodyguards who may not have even been armed?

      *Why would the "world's most wanted terrorist", after spending the money on a compound to live in complete with a privacy wall around it, NOT have some kind of escape tunnel, even a crude one dug by hand? Why would he have a compound with no way out of it except for through the gate?

      *Why would someone like Osama bin Laden who supposedly hated America with every fiber of his being allow his bodyguards to stockpile famous American products like Coke and Pepsi? Why would someone who hates America so much not at the very least boycott their products even if it meant drinking bottled water or whatever the Pakistani equivalent to Coke or Pepsi is?

      *Why did the U.S. government refuse to release any photos showing the body of Osama bin Laden? Even when practically all the locals living in the town said that they knew it wasn't the real Osama bin Laden, his neighbors said that they knew him and confirmed that it was not Osama bin Laden and many, many people around the world were asking for incontrovertible proof that the man the U.S. says was bin Laden was in fact him? Considering photos showing the dead body of both of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay were shown on t.v., photos showing the dead body of some other notable guerrilla in Iraq whose name escapes me were also shown on t.v. it is ludicrous to presume that if the man the U.S. says it killed WAS in fact bin Laden that they would not show photos of his body to the world to prove it beyond any doubt.

      *Finally the Pentagon slipped up big time in announcing that they had known of bin Laden's whereabouts for nine months before the raid was launched. Plenty of time for the SEALS to build a mock-up of the compound and practice assaulting it, sometimes as a demonstration for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nine months. For the man that is the "most wanted terrorist" in the world they would wait nine months taking an enormous risk of him being tipped off, to go to ground and disappear again for another decade. It is insane that they wouldn't immediately raid the place as SOON as they knew he was there and they could assemble a kill team. They wouldn't wait nine hours let alone nine months, this is common sense.

    2. Now, none of these questions that render the official story quite hard to believe are answerable within the confines of the official story. The ONLY possible answer is that the man who was killed on that mission was most certainly not Osama bin Laden. The real Osama bin Laden most likely died of renal kidney failure in the mountains of Afghanistan in December 2001. The man who was killed in Pakistan was the actor that the C.I.A. has been using to play the part of Osama bin Laden in the "Osama" videos that they released every so often, usually around election time ("Osama bin Laden says vote for the Democrats!") to score political points or remind Americans that they're "at war". The problem is this man didn't look exactly like Osama bin Laden, very similar but not exactly like him. (The last video released by his C.I.A. handlers even screwed up his beard color, dying it jet black like he was in a Just For Men beard and mustache dye commercial, and they took so much ridicule over it that this was the last video they attempted, after that they just used audio tapes from "bin Laden", MUCH harder to prove are fake.) This man playing the part of Osama was the man assassinated in the raid in Pakistan. Only this explains all the otherwise unexplainable problems with the official story:

      *Why only 2 bodyguards who may not have been armed? He didn't feel he needed them as he was after all NOT really the "world's most wanted terrorist" but rather an operative on the C.I.A.'s payroll living in a secure compound and doing the C.I.A.'s bidding.

      *Same answer for the question of why he had no escape tunnel, he didn't think he needed one. Who was going to come kill him? The C.I.A.? He was working for them and they needed him to play the part of Osama bin Laden to continue to scare the shit out of the American public.

      *Why did he allow his bodyguards to stock up on American made products? Because he didn't actually hate America in the slightest, he was working for America's C.I.A. so there would be no political reason NOT to have Coke or Pepsi or whatever there.

    3. *Why did the U.S. government refuse to release photos of his dead body and just expect the world to take their word for it? Because if they released photos of his body it would take all of about ten minutes for it to appear on the Internet next to a known photo of bin Laden with facial matching technology showing that it is clearly not a match, leaving the U.S. government with one hell of a lot of explaining to do.

      *Finally why did the U.S. wait nine months, giving "Osama" plenty of time to go to ground? Because they knew he wasn't going anywhere, the C.I.A. was paying his salary and paying for his compound. He wasn't going anywhere unless the C.I.A. told him to. They could have waited however long they wanted. In fact it makes sense that they waited until they did if one knows the truth behind it, as less than two months after "bin Laden" was killed the U.S. began the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. This way the killing of "Osama" was fresh in the American public's mind and that of the rest of the world, so this way it doesn't look like the U.S. is retreating from Afghanistan with its tail between its legs, no, this way it can announce that it is withdrawing victoriously after killing the man it had been looking for all these years. Mission accomplished! Time to go home and bask in the glory of our victory!! While the Taliban end up controlling Afghanistan, nevermind that, we killed "Osama bin Laden"! Woo hoo! Did I mention mission accomplished?

      This is the only logical, plausible explanation for the otherwise bizarre and counterintuitive facts of the mission in Pakistan. You all can plug your ears and go LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU or you can look at it with an open mind, realize that the U.S. government has been lying to its own citizens about all sorts of things since before any of us was born and accept the facts as they are as this is the ONLY way that all this can be explained.

    4. A stealth helicopter is laughable as the all those whirling rotor blades act like huge radar reflectors. Its just clever marketing by arms manufacturers in partnership w/US military for more tax-payer funded toys. The reason they were able to get into Pakistan is:

      a) US drone operations (and other operations) have tacit approval of the Pakistani government and/or ISI.
      b) They flew a nap of the earth profile – which would conceal even a non-stealth helicopter
      c) USAF F-15s were in apposition to intercept PAF F-16s were they to threaten the raid.
      d) You guys are getting off-topic.

      - Boresight

  12. I am a PakistanI. The OBL issue has greatly been done under the nose of elite army personal as a scapegoat issue on WOT. There is nothing serious about it, however on a side note I also must mention that all our radars are US made/supplied. On the legitimate side that can be said that makers have installed some software backdoor in the customers hardware

  13. what about SOFIA's ability to spot "stealth" satellites ?

  14. It is truly a shame the F-14D program was curtailed by SECDEF Cheney in the early 90s. The "Super Tomcat" has given the Navy unparalleled air supremacy, as well as a robust air to ground capability. The F/A-18E/F simply can't hold a candle to it.

  15. @the F-14 fan: You have obviously no clue what a dog of an AC that F-14 really was.Underpowered,overweight,useless swingwings that weakened the airframe with stress fractures and a solid red EM-chart.The F/A-18 is better, but can´t hold a candle to the F-16 nor the F-15.

  16. A modernized F-14D in a DACT would shoot down all your Eagles, F-16s, and Hornets with AIM-54s before anyone could do anything about it. We find it interesting that the USAF “discovered” during their late 1970s ACEVAL/AIMVAL – they needed an AIM-54 (just in an AIM-7 body to fit USAF aircraft). Also the F-14s were not allowed to employ their AIM-54 during the ACEVAL/AIMVAL exercises. – The Boresight

    1. Well said. I just wanted to say the same.

      -Another F-14 fan

    2. I just recently saw your comment.Do you really believe in these phoney orchestrated maneuvres?( )You show me an IFF system that actually works and we talk about that AIM-54-that-was-so-good-that-they-don´t-use-it-anymore-in-the-Navy again.And I know that the Iranians have a lot of kills with it, but against what kind of equipment and what kind of pilots? You obviously fell victim to the old idea, that during a conflict you´ll see a blip at the screen...hit a button and that blip disapears. Not so.Funny though that you finally discovered what scam the whole stealth thing is.Congrats.

    3. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at the geography and topography of the Persian Gulf to know the US 5th Fleet would be on the receiving end of nearly the entire Iranian arsenal were hostilities to erupt over US bombing of Iranian nuclear program. This includes IRIAF Su-24s. Keep in mind that Iranian airbases were built by the Americans to use in a war against the Soviets.

      IFF is not a perfect science and another reason the F-22A will never live up to the hype. The F-14s TSC may have gone a long way in attempting to close the IFF gap (though also not perfect). By the 1991 Gulf War, reportedly F-15Cs had evolved better IFF equipment than USN Tomcats in 1991 (however USAF still deferred to AWACs to increase IFF confidence – whatever that meant). Again favorable air tasking orders/rule of engagement by the Iranians to use the AIM-54 was likely a huge factor. Remember there was also huge political pressure: the IRIAF High Command authorized commanders to use the Tomcat and AIM-54 Phoenix in combat to demonstrate the effectiveness of the aircraft to the clerical leadership in Tehran – who at the time was considering selling the entire Tomcat fleet back to the Americans.

      The Iran-Iraq war saw Soviet, East German, and French pilots flying for Iraq. The Soviet flow Iraqi MiG-25s had an excellent RWR that could pick up the AIM-54 mid-course update data pulses coming from the AWG-9 (before the AIM-54 seeker went ‘pit-bull’). This saved several MiG-25 aircrews who would then initiate a defensive maneuver against an inbound Phoenix.

      We still believe the F-14D would have been an unacceptable DACT threat to F-22A and F-35. The F-22A attempts to replicate the AIM-54 with a high-speed/high-altitude flight profile to give it short range (short finned) AIM-120 more reach.

      - The Boresight

    4. You do raise an excellent point. The dream of the missile designer was to destroy the blip on the screen. Under actual combat conditions this remains a pipe dream to be sure. The Iranians appear to have used the AIM-54 with chilling effect though many 54s failed to hit their targets as well. The 54s large blast radius was perhaps helpful. Not until 1988 did the French begin to supply the Super 530D (w/AWG-9 anti-radiation mode) that could be carried by Iraqi F1EQ5/6 to home-in on the AWG-9 – and did down some F-14s.

      - The Boresight

    5. Off topic but what do you think of the helmet sight issue`s?

  17. AIM-54 use in AIMVAL was restricted because HPRF modes + analogue Kalman filtering in the F-14 AWG-9 severely effected the capabilities of the system to extract useful Doppler return in LDSD and the jet was a pig when carrying that much weight for nothing.

    Coupled to restricted range sizes which would have inhibited useful simulated employment of the Phoenix, even in limited (19-21nm from lolo) lookup modes, it did not make sense to burden the jet with 2X 980lb of ballast as CATMs for purposes of realistically testing a configuration which the radar and doctrinal models (as inventory round counts) would not normally support in overland projection as MIGCAP modes.

    This 'preference' for deplaning the LRM continued throughout the late 70s and 80s during which time, several technology inserts to the AWG-9s signal and data processor were made though still shy of the full F-14C planned upgrade which was first delayed and then scrapped on the way to the F-14B/D (roughly equivalent to that of the F-15C with APG-63V PSP).

    This is why period photos of F-14As, regardless of whether they are performing FADF or MiGCAP missions, are shown with either X3 AIM-7E4/5 and X2 AIM-9H/L while carrying 'empty' (ECA and ALQ-162) Phoenix pallets or with the pallets themselves removed and X4 or X6 AIM-7M and X2 or X4 AIM-9L/M underwing. FORCAP endurance in particular often depended on not having the Phoenix aboard.

    The AIM-54A is a very clumsy (liquid cooling cycle limits) to employ, very slow in the midcourse, ('Buffalo' = Mach 2.6 transit speed) weapons system which functions as a dropped hammer only in the last few moments of an autopilot loft after an /incredibly/ prolonged flyout. For these reasons alone it would not be considered an ideal weapon for a high density air threat condition where even the 25 seconds of a typical AIM-7 flyout were an eternity of straight and level exposure in USAFE.

    As an adjunct to this, there is only marginal return on the Phoenix high-loft mode against fighter targets because the missile is exceptionally limited in cross-track compensation for large target pump or grind displacement maneuvers that take the weapon out of it's fixed autopilot trajectory window and it cannot self-steer if the parent STT drops due to long range aspect changes because, again, limited PRF filter gates in the Kalman analogue system led to enormous tail on/nose on variances in detection threshold without an MPRF mode to provide a contiguous range rate averaging ping (Hi/Lo interleave did not do it) in the TWT duty cycle.

    Since we are talking about (AIM-54A) a very limited ability to command snap down without SARH midcourse pickup on the seeker, the weapon is thus very easy to overshoot with as the seeker ARH activation window is almost always set long to prevent the weapon from going pitbull early and spoiling it's stored kinematic energy profile in an early descent.

    1. AIM-54A had dual boost/sustain and was still a slowmotion avalanche. AIM-54C changed to boost only and was better but remained range dependent (actually a little shorter poled) in it's ability to hit fighter type targets.

      Early AIM-54 also had about a 16G excursion capability while later AIM-54C had 21 or so, neither of which are really impressive against a tactical target which is going to go downhill and away to get 'inside' the terminal dive profile and then snap back up against the missile lead commit to force it to curve back against it's own intercept track.

      This rapid change in target closure, along with chaff could and did effect the monopulse gimbal angle steering limit and fuzing to cause the weapon to blow well below the target fighter.

      Ironically, the AWG's ability as a Sparrow shooter was excellent. It had the imbedded CW for support of the AIM-7E4/E5 whereas the period F-15 was unable to do so and had to 'emulate' via a manual HPRF switch to make the AIM-7F think it was getting the juice.

      This, along with the nearly doubled TWT power gave the F-14A considerably longer effective reach with the Sparrow than the F-15A could manage, even or especially in clutter (where Conscan is dicey).

      Such would remain the case until the AIM-7M and particularly AIM-7MH came online which allowed passive monpulse angle tracking to make very quickly compensations for target aspect as centroid changes while suppressing noise from clutter.

      MH had a digital IMU which also greatly aided trajectory shaping and a better tether to give reliable TOF indication which allowed the pilot to precisely time his illumination as flyout times in the SARH vs. SARH chicken game.

      The F-14 was basically out of the game by this point because the APG-71 of the Delta wasn't necessary for the AIM-7, the surface threat made long interval commited support of the Phoenix impossible and everyone knew the AIM-54s weaknesses in loft.

      What the F-14 needed more than anything (even more than AIM-120) was AAAM and a digital radar with MPRF dedicated to overland use.

      As is, they tried to make the X-Band AWG-9 function like an S-Band surveillance system while using steep clutter suppression thresholds to beat back wave clutter in restricted PRF/PRI channel steps that ended up making it a self-dazzling searchlight. A longrange naval interceptor was thus crippled overland by poor missile performance and poor radar target tracking/guidance support where harmonic clutter models were alinear and things like sidelobe blanking had to be helped out with complex PRF stacking.

    2. Hello Boresight,

      I am interested to know who (in terms of countries) is most interested in developing more advanced IRST sensors. I am puzzled about the OLS-35 system, it is supposedly superior to the original OLS systems employed in earlier Flanker/Fulcrum(s), but while this is a notable advance on behalf of the Russians, how does the OLS-35 system compare to the F-35 IRST system? (I understand that the Flankers will be flying higher and therefore have kinematic advantage) But would happen if Lockheed people got smart and would attempt to implement this system on an already existing fighter (F-22) or any fighter under development?


    3. Also, the author of the American Innovation blog did not pick up on the radar-stealth/radar-detect in same frequency paradox. In addition, the author mentioned the CUDAC missile (warheadless, but unknown degree of agility/tracking ability). The author had mentioned IR signature reduction measures on the F-22 and F-35 (in this regard F-22>F-35) but thought that these measures would greatly reduce IR signatures for both planes beyond the ability for 5>X generation fighters. But considering the amount of work that the F-22's engines are making to haul a heavy airframe be greater than the amount of work exerted by a Flanker, even with IR reductions measures in use? Same question with F-35 (please answer despite the fact that the Flanker would still win). I have also seen some media of F-15 carrying X>12 missiles with drop tanks as part of their loadouts, possibly breaking the Flanker's Record for missiles carried. I have also seen media where Raptors in a non-stealth role carry 10-12 missile rounds w/ drop tanks. (I have not seen anything that would indicate the use of Photoshop on any of these media).

    4. Hi Cameron,

      We’re not sure who is working on new IRST. The T-50 appears to have a new OLS unit as well as Typhoon and possibly now Rafael. Also MiG-35 has a better IRST station called OLS-UME. The Russian appear to use a gimbaled system with mirrors that can act much like a laser barcode-reader at you local supermarket IRST + Ladar (laser “radar”). The main difference between the Russian OLS and the F-35 EOTS is that the EOTS can produce a FLIR image of the target to the pilot. OLS is only track/ranger/designate (no image (as far as we know). The F-35 EOTS is a huge leap over anything on the F-22A but comes with a RCS penalty. Indeed YF-22 had two thermal sensors (one in each wing root) but was deleted on production F-22A. The Russians used IRST very effectively on MiG-31 to target the SR-71 (from 20, 30, 40, 60 miles out). Russians went out of their way to never turn on the MiG-31s main radar during SR-71 intercepts – so not to give away these sensitive radar signals to American RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft supporting Blackbird flights loitering near by to collect just such Foxhound signals.

      - Boresight

    5. Regarding the American Innovation blog radar-stealth/radar-detect same frequency band paradox – we don’t know for sure. It would be highly classified. One can get around dealing with classified material by using inductive/deductive reasoning to construct a hypothesis/conclusion regardless. American Innovation blog does a good job based on the reference material he is using. We just think they’re using industry reference material (loaded with talking points) and so naturally will come to the same conclusions that 100% of the stealth proponents come to. Remember once your opponent can see you "tallyho" stealth is gone – never mind the whole whispery (never discussed) subject of long-wave radars that likely killed the USAF F-117 over the Balkans. The F-22A display threat bubbles to the pilot (fly into the bubble, the bad guys can see/detect you, out of the bubble perhaps not)…so F-22A drivers know they’re not invisible…otherwise they would be no need for bubbles at all.

      Yes certainly the F-22A can carry missiles on it wings also. Our understanding is F-22 hard points cannot fire weapons, so only for point A to point B carriage. But this may change. F-22A is now flying around with drop-tanks…so we don’t know what happen to all that ‘drag reduction’ we paid for on F-22A? Likely the F-119s just use more fuel in normal operation and so it’s a wash.

      Regarding F-22/F-35 IR reduction measures – they only have a chance of working if you stay out of afterburner. Take a look at our “Forward Looking Infrared of F-22 Raptor”
      Stealth aircraft light up like a Christmas tree in the IR in afterburner. Even then zooming around in the stratosphere at military power in -40, -50, -60F degrees below zero will be a challenge we think evading IR detection.

  18. I’ve heard that F-117s received ECM support during Desert Storm; it seems strange, but it’s true:

    Thanks for this amazing post Obrescia…

    1. Yes it's true. American generals were arguing amongst themselves about why EF-111 Raven electronic attack aircraft were to be sent with the F-117 strike packages into Iraq during the opening to the 1991 Gulf War.

      American authorities claim the EF-111 was just used as a precaution for F-117. That’s nonsense as the non stealth EF-111 flying with F-117 - effectively announced the presence of the F-117 package.

      Stealth only works “better (?)” if it is integrated with - and into - your proven force structure of traditional support assets and capabilities.

      As soon as stealth operates outside of traditional support assets integration – it gets killed.

      The F-117 fleet was summarily put in storage (mothballed) after the loss in Kosovo.

  19. Great job bro. nicely explained

  20. Really I am very impressed with this post. Just awesome... I haven’t any word to appreciate this post.

    4 Point Contact Ball Bearing


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