Into the Vertical: Swirl of Controversy, Cope India and Red Flag 2008 Exercises

Starting in 2004 the joint Cope India exercise began over South Asia after an absence of nearly 40 years, pitting F-15Cs of the USAF against a mix of older and newer Indian Air Force (IAF): Mirage 2000, MiG-21, MiG-27, SU-30Mk and Jaguar aircraft.

However, this is where everyone's expectations ceased.

By every available account: the IAF soundly defeated American F-15Cs over and over and over.
[Above] Note USAF F-15Cs and IAF Mirage 2000s operating with drop-tanks, while the IAF Su-30Mks - do not.

American officials credited Indian pilots with being:

"very proficient in [their] aircraft and smart on tactics. That combination was tough for us to overcome,"

"The adversaries are better than we thought," Col. Mike Snodgrass added.” And in the case of the Indian Air Force both their training and some of their equipment was better than we anticipated."

"The Indians flew a number of different fighters, including the French-made Mirage 2000 and the Russian-made MiG-27 and MiG-29, but the two most formidable IAF aircraft proved to be the MIG-21 Bison, an upgraded version of the Russian-made baseline MiG-21, and the Su-30MK Flanker, also made in Russia."

When questioned on the capabilities of IAF pilots, Col Greg Newbech, USAF Team Leader made the following remarks:

“What we’ve seen in the last two weeks is the IAF can stand toe-to-toe with best AF in the world.”

“I pity the pilot who has to face the IAF and chances the day to underestimate him; because he won’t be going home.”

“The greatest compliment we heard from an IAF pilot – You American pilots are just like us, simply down to earth people.”

When word of the Cope India 2004 results reached Washington DC, it caused an uproar. Some Western military observers quickly attempted to dismiss/reframe the results, claiming that USAF did not bring its true ‘go-to-war-gear’ to these exercises.

True, American USAF F-15C’s typically were outnumbered 3-to-1. However most of these explanations have dubious merit:

1.) AIM-120 AMRAAM missile and AESA radars would have made little difference in BVR - as new jamming technologies (like DFRM) degrade or negate most of these (radio EM-spectrum) AIM-120 class capabilities - regardless. In one sense: active-homing (fire-and-forget) BVR class weapons have become increasingly ‘easier’ to elude - using DRFM-class deception techniques. Indeed, this might be what effectively occurs during 'Red Flag' 2008, (so keep reading.)

2.) It is unclear which R-27 missile round was employed by the IAF in 2004: IR-homing (R-27T), semi-active radar homing (R-27R) or active radar homing (R-27AE). Had the latest fire-and-forget class been allowed, the IAF would have simply used their R-77 similar to the American AIM-120 round. R-77 also has an IR-homing version - so again - another “wash.”

3.) Russian Flanker was designed to counter and defeat F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18 series. It is no surprise experienced Indian aircrews might prevail.

4.) Indians only used the Su-30 "MK" not their Su-30 "MKi." Reportedly IAF Flankers simply used their larger radar and longer range weapons to fire on the F-15C before USAF fighters could fire back.

5.) Lastly, the American military always fights its wars over hostile airspace: so USAF-to-IAF numbers/odds/environment is 150% applicable.

Best link author could locate on Cope India:

Subsequent Cope India exercises in 2005, 2006 had little to no information coming out. Judging from the hubris displayed by the USAF in 2008 – the silence from the USAF during the 2005 and 2006 Gwalior exercises – was deafening...

- Now - jump to the 2008 Nellis AFB ‘Red Flag’ exercises hosted by the USAF -

This time the Indian Air Force bring their new Su-30 MKi.

The 64th and 65th Aggressor squadrons at Nellis AFB, Nev.

Colonel Terrence Fornof, Director of the Requirements and Testing office (USAF Warfare Center, Nellis AFB), was providing a briefing to a number of retired US generals, [video has in the past appeared, been removed, and then reappeared]:

Listen to a pod-cast audio regarding the same presentation (even MORE interesting) * note: this pod-cast with the editor "Flight" appears to have been pulled. The thrust of the interview was that Nellis instructors in the F-15 were able to catch the F-22A in a turn:

This means that according to the Colonels own hand positions - a properly flown Su-30 can (also) catch an F-22 in a turn. So what - actually - is the USAF trying to say?...

It says nothing.

The US Colonels remarks caused an international flap in India. Did some in the USAF have something to prove?

Novice IAF Su-30 pilots simply need to learn to fight in the vertical, as the USAF instructors did against the F-22. Had Indian pilots pulled up during the merge with Nellis instructors, the Eagle drivers would have had their hands full - and that would have effectively been the end of the Colonel Fornof's remarks. 

Indian Su-30MKi landing at Nellis AFB, Nev. in 2008

Problem is Colonel Fornof comments produced more questions than answers:

a.) Indian MiG-21IBis (I-Bis) "Bison" are equipped with Russian-made Kopyo radars, not Israeli “F-16” radars.

b.) Two conflicting accounts on what exactly happened at  Mountain Home AFB both agree Fornof is in error. The first is 1-v-1 DACT at Mountain Home AFBT never occurred. The second was the kill ratio at Mountain Home was so overwhelmingly in favor of the IAF flown Russian-built fighter that the Sukhoi was considered effectively unbeatable. There is almost zero chance the Americans will entertain allowing this information out. 

c.) FOD concerns are not unusual for any air force operating halfway around the world. The Flanker has simply immense loiter and combat persistence ability – take-off (fighter scramble) intervals are not (as) critical for Flanker - as for shorter range aircraft.

d.) MKi use Lyulka AL-31 turbofans, not Tumansky power plants as USAF officer states.

e) F-15C and other USAF fighters had the same number of blue-blue 'fratricide' as the IAF and in addition, the American were all networked with each other.

f) MKi did not use thrust vector mode during the Nellis AFB exercises and only sparingly at Mountain Home.

g) Watching video of Su-30 maneuvering - anyone can see the Americans have simply been outclassed by a significant margin.

[Below] Indian Air Force flying the MiG-21 'Bison' gave USAF F-15 drivers - a very bad day. "Low-tech" aircraft fitted with the right equipment, and properly trained crews - should never be underestimated. It appears the IAF (Indian Air Force) knows exactly what they are doing.
Indian Air Force MiG-21 IBis (I-Bis) "Bison." The paradigm(s) after 1982 Bekaa Valley and 1991 Gulf War - appear to have been misguided.
Indian MiG-21-IBis with R-77 "Adder" missile round. The R-77 is equivalent to the American AIM-120.

It is important to remember some historical context here. Everyone (everyone) wanted ACM training from the Indians after they soundly defeated Pakistani F-104s with MiG-21s during the Indo-Pakistani war in 1971. Indian MiG-21s downed F-104s with no MiG losses to Starfighters. So under actual combat conditions, the Indians do have a history of air-combat proficiency. Plus let's be honest – the Flanker is probably the best ACM fighter in the world - in the last 70 years.
So what other conclusions if any, can be drawn?
  • The paradigms established/embraced after Bekaa Valley ‘Turkey Shoot’ in 1982 and the results of the 1991 Gulf War appear to have been misguided by 2004 - due to Indian MiG-21IBis (I-Bis) versus the F-15 Eagle.
  • There is no substitute for flight hours and training. Proper training allows aircrews (of any air force) to extract the maximum performance out of their aircraft.
  • A similar post-stall counter-tactic was used by Nellis (F-15) instructors against less-experienced aircrews in both F-22 and Su-30. So by definition: a properly flown Su-30 also can catch F-22 in a turn.
  • Remarking on F-22 needing ‘more missiles’ - is consistent with F-22 having only two IR missile rounds, historical air-to-air missiles hit probabilities, and Raptors lack of helmet sighting. Su-30 brings helmet-sighting, nearly twice the number of missile rounds, IRST, and huge fuel reserves - at much (much) lower cost (and so in larger numbers?)- to the fight.
  • His remarks on the inability of USAF instructor aircraft to employ their AIM-120 AMRAAM round - is interesting. Whether it was jamming, snooping, heads-up defensive flying, or other tactical issues, his comments are (duly) noted.
  • Remarks on the Indian MiG-21 are revealing. During the Bekaa Valley (Lebanon) air battles of June 1982, Israeli F-15 and F-16 radars had no trouble seeing (and downing scores of) Mig-21s. So DRFM-class jammers even on a MiG-21 - may have pushed BVR off the table - for any radio-spectrum AIM-120 equipped fighter - even Raptor?
  • Colonel Fornof was referring to this video (F-22 and Su-30 side-by-side):

[The video has disappeared - again. We will attempt to find a copy] Looking at the video, an astute observer noting airspeed, afterburner usage, altitude-loss, energy-recovery and aircraft attitude during/between maneuvers: can see that both F-22 and Flanker evenly matched regardless of Colonel Fornof statements or hand position(s). For now, this video gives some idea:

Some believe as (or if?) the F-22A flight control system evolves - its maneuverability should increase - however look at what we dealing with here [see below]. This level of agility for a 20+ ton aircraft - is simply unprecedented. Remember F-22A lacks the pilot helmet-sighting of the Sukhoi. No matter how you rationalize it - the USAF and her F-22A Raptor fleet - is in huge trouble.

Indian News Report of2008 Red Flag:

The Sukhoi is going to be with us for quite awhile, and by any measure, is (and will be) a nightmare for USAF/USN brass, planners and aircrews alike. Flanker has unrefueled loiter and combat persistence ability - that has no western equivalent.

Train how you fight and fight how you train, train and train.

The question may be who fights over friendly airspace and who fights over hostile airspace?

We count no less than 12 hard points on this MKi: four on each wing, one on each engine nacelle, and two on the aircraft's centerline. Even without external drop tanks, Flanker unrefueled endurance and combat radius remains unequaled in the world.  

Multi-sensor Advanced-Flanker with pilots of equal skill - is more (more) than a match for F-22.

When or if the Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor participates in a future Cope India exercise at Gwalior India, whatever the results, they are certain to be quite the revelation - even if we never officially hear about them.

Conversely, we firmly conclude that procuring additional F-22s for the USAF will not resolve anything of this. One can purchase between three (3) and seven (7) Advanced Flanker for the cost of a single (1) F-22. To put it another way: if four (4) F-22 Raptors fly against twelve (12) to twenty-eight (28) Advanced Flankers - none (none) of the F-22s can survive this engagement. F-22 is simply far (far) too expensive for a real world.

India has placed a fresh order for forty (40) more Sukhoi aircraft with Russia.

Your thoughts?

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


  1. The results of the fights against the MIG-21 Bison are similiar to the F-14S and F-15s against T-38 and F-5s (both equipped with simulated off boresight WVR AAMs) in the 1970s AIMVAL/ACEVAL tests. The results against the MIG-21s don't surprise me that much.

  2. With the Indo-Russian Fifth gen. fighter in the works:

    Maybe in future cope-India/red flag exercises the FGFA would go up against the raptor and the results would be interesting to say the least. But, US has had 5th gen fighers for 3 decades now and the Russian/Indian project is just a fetus compared to it. With China, pumping undiclosed billions in its own 5th gen fighter program the future of combat aviation is scary.

    But, these aircrafts are probably the last of the greatest manned fighter jets that will every fly, before the drones take over the battle field.

    Can you please write something about the 5th gen drones that the US and France are developing?

    Thank You

  3. India will place an order of 50 more MKI's, soon bringing up the total number that it operates to 280.

    A lot of these ac's are to have AESA radars. Also, the older su-30's will get an AESA upgrade.

  4. honestly i don't feel to great w/ my countries fighters starting to feel that the f-22 is'nt what it's been billed to be! why? if it was, why would'nt the usaf be whipping ass at ever meet? and from my understanding the f-35 is a better f-18 not a true dog fighter,u.s f-16 are all block 30/ & 40/ old, is america most to fight off ww3 with 183 f-22 w/ few missles in the pocket?? if china russian and india gos 5th gen soon and i'm sure they will i read the f-22 blueprint plans was hacked and stolen if so that got mulit-billion $ of reseach for nothing. are we going to stay on top if we are now? because i only know that the f-22 is the best fighter in the world hand down prove it usaf. so whats our next move, other than train some more? and yes i'm new at this bear w/ me

  5. Hi conservativepacheat:

    If one gets a chance to read the rest of the articles on this blog you will come away with solid understanding on most of these matters. The realities of Flanker are enormous, even with 5th generation airplanes in the equation. The Flanker therefore (we feel) holds a unique place in aviation history (Advanced Flanker variants have set the “bar” so high right now that the even next generation airplanes don’t surpass it.) Interestingly the F35 may have some capability against F22 due to it planned helmet sighting and IRST – which F22 lacks. Remember that all “stealth” airplanes need have constant attention paid to their stealth coatings (which are sand-blasted off during flight) – and this only get worse with high-speeds stealth airplans like F22. Raptor will rely more and more on her electronic (DRFM-class) technologies to survive the next 30 years. The USAF aversion to F35 “Joint strike fighter” may include some in the DoD who subscribe to the this neoconservative document (see link):

    Remember one can buy 3-to-5 Flankers for the price of a single F22. It’s a near certainty that four F22s will - not survive - an engagement against 12-to-20 Advanced Flankers. We feel the cost vs capability of an F22 - is in fact - an issue.

  6. I cant wait for the day that the F-22 or even the upgraded F-15's meets the Su-30MKI in ACTUAL air to air combat. We all saw what happened to them when the IAF brought them to Red Flag in 2008 and they fought our F-15's 1 on 1 w/ no restrictions. India sent it's most advanced aircraft and most experienced pilots, and they got SMOOOKED. It wasn't even close. All of you MIG and Sukhoi fanboys were saying the same things about the MIG 29 when it first came out, how it was gonna dominate the F-15; and what happened each and everytime they met? The MIG 29 was sent crashing to the ground in a flaming heap.

  7. Hi trpilot6,

    There is likely a lot who share your views.

    Remember Nellis F-15 instructors could also catch less experienced F-22 pilots in a combat turn - as well. The Flanker will only be superior with pilots of equal skill. Colonel Fornof understood this and talked to this point, in explaining what happened to the USAF over South Asia as: do to a mix of American F-15 pilot skill(s). India also brought a mix of skills to Red Flag.

    I might direct your attention to our link:

    ...where we make no huge superiority claim for MiG-29 [as of yet]. Indeed it appears Su-27 also has been able to dispatch the MiG-29 – reportedly downing at least 5 and damaging a 6th.

    However the MiG-29 global contribution to the modern combat fighter is transformative – it is the Fulcrum helmet-sight system. After unification German pilots flying East German MiG-29s against NATO jets in exercises believed the MiG was nearly unbeatable in a dogfight when armed with the Russian R-73 “Archer” short range missiles in conjunction with the MiGs helmet-sighting system. These results led to helmet-mounted sighting becoming standard equipment on most modern combat aircraft around the world.

    The USAF problems over India in 2004, 05, 06 were MiG-21IBis and the SU-30MK, which for the F-15C, conventional wisdom says makes no sense whatsoever?

    - The Boresight

  8. what i think is Indian pilots are far more trained than the rest. But still if the Indian govt. could invest some more money for their combat fighters they could improve them a lot. I believe that russian made sukhoi's and mig are efficient but then also if we go for somewhat more advanced technology combat aircrafs then no one can defeat us. We should also emphasize on tactics such as electronic warfare and ers tagging....

  9. Hi Amrit,

    As far as South Asia in concerned, none of your neighbors can match the Indian Air Force. China has serious systemic issues that historically produces air combat proficiencies that are – abysmal. Pakistani F-16s are – simply no match at any level - with Indian Su-30 MK never mind MKi. Any emerging Pakistani aircraft will also be - simply no match.

    The Americans at Red Flag is effectively a non-issue:

    a) Experienced Red-Flag F-15 instructors caught less-experienced F-22 pilots in a turn.

    b) In an exercise at Maharajpur, against Indian ACM instructors in Su-30s, the good Colonel (Fornof) would get his butt kicked in his Eagle.

    c) To put it another way (for American readers) - the good Colonel would (again) get his butt kicked by “Top-Gun” instructors flying SU-30s against Red-Flag instructors in F-15s. The USAF Red-Flag is a copycat of the Top-Gun program started by the US Navy in the late 1960s.

    - The Boresight

  10. It's called lobbying, folks. At the time, the Air Force was desperately pressing Congress to keep the F-22 factories open.

    If you want new gear, have some up-and-coming team wreck your old gear.

  11. It was the British Fleet Air Arm pilot instructors who started off Top Gun for the Americans. Before which there was organised dog fight tactical training.

  12. what sn intellectual masturbation with non-facts,god these nationalists ignorants,you will never undesrtand the reality

  13. Hi Anonymous,

    All comments are welcome. We’re not sure what area your comment was directed at precisely, but please see our latest post – you may find it most interesting. We found it a revelation.

    - The Boresight

  14. Nice article. At the end of the day, you will have best of the best pilots in all air forces. The best Pakistani pilots could wreak rookie Indian pilots and mid0-experienced Indian pilots could wreak American/Russian pilots. All I ask and wish for is that the world should never see real combat, we can satisfy the jingoes with such training exercises. Combat is something not worth losing good pilots from the world over. Of course when it does come to kicking some invading ET's ass, then bring it on!! We have our MKI's and Eagles all readied up.


    An Indian :-)

  15. @trpilot6: A point by point rebuttal for your claim that the MKI got "smooked" at Rd Flag: they were operating with their hands tied back:


  17. This article is quite interesting, and, in light of the F-22's additional problems (lack of IRST to cooperate with the AMRAAM, damage from rain/storms, outrageous costs, low operational availability per year, etc) really make one wonder what the USAF was thinking during the F-22's development.
    As far as the Indo-American exercises are concerned, though, I cannot say I can believe you, or anyone else.I've heard all kinds of arguments from both sides-Indian radars being in "training mode" (does such a radar operation mode even exist?), US aircraft not allowed to fight BVR, Indian pilots having more flight hours than the average pilot to go up against them, and many more.On the other hand, though, it is widely believed that the Indian victories were, just like in the case of the HAF, greatly assisted by the helmet mounted sights, and the HOBS capability of their close-range missiles.That, of course, means that the USAF could not easily defeat the Indians in close combat, in spite of having received superior training.The question, however, remains: Who is superior?I am asking this because: a) no results were officially published, b) US officials always praise foreign air forces that compete with them, c) helmet mounted sights never let aircrews show their true skill in knife fights over the skies.

  18. Hi thodoris,

    We don’t know what went wrong with the F-22. Some may have known it was a boondoggle from the start (just like the B-1 bomber), as they farmed-out parts to build the F-22A to nearly every congressional district in the country. This is a political ploy to keep a program from being cancelled – because “now” it’s a jobs program for congress members district – never mind if the airplane doesn’t actually work. Lockheed is based in Texas and was pushed by the Bush administration – also from “Texas.”

    After unification German pilots flying East German MiG-29s against NATO jets in exercises believed the MiG was nearly unbeatable in a dogfight when armed with the Russian R-73 “Archer” short range missiles in conjunction with the MIGs helmet-sighting system. These results led to helmet-mounted sighting becoming standard equipment on most modern combat aircraft around the world. For some reason that no one can explain - the USAF had been dragging their feet on helmet-sighting their fighter fleet. This has since changed. The problem is in 2005, 06 the USAF and the IAF also had exercises. Judging from chest-thumping displayed by the USAF at the Red-Flag exercises in 2008 – had things had gone well for the USAF in 05-06 in India – the USAF would have said something. They didn’t.

    We would assess the IAF as good as the USAF assuming the same pilot mix (instructors, experienced, and rookies). The USAF also always fights over foreign (enemy) airspace.

    Indian instructors trained Arab MiG-21 aircrews during the 1973 Arab/Israeli War, to extracting maximum performance out of the MiG in combat. Arab air forces downed more Israeli aircraft in air-to-air combat (including many gun kills.) in 1973 than will ever be acknowledged by the Israelis – to this day.

    - The Boresight

    1. I never heard of that u have said in last paragrapj .could u give me more indight in to the issue

    2. Regarding Indian instructors? That information is contained within the pages of our reference material. Please see that page.

      - Boresight

  19. Will you write something about what happened in Red Flag Alaska 2012 with the F-22 & Typhoon?

    From what I've read so far from the results of that exercise, it seems Thrust Vectoring leads to energy loss in WVR combat maneuvering; making someone an easy target.


  20. Even though I'm a little late to the party, I have a few criticisms to make. I also didn't quite investigate the various claims about what may or may not have happened during the exercises between the USAF and IAF, so take these for what you will:

    1. So, in other words, during Cope India, two comparable fighters met, but one type was outnumbered 3:1, so the other won. Why is this surprising?

    2. We simply can't stop hearing about Russian HOBS HMS super-missiles, but nobody seems to remember that the AIM-9X had been in service since 2003. What about this missile? Was it used during any of these exercises? How come Russian HMS is paraded around as having been such an effective weapon while the AIM-9X gets no recognition whatsoever? Was it not used or what?

    3. Are any such jammers known to be in service either in Russia or India? And if Russians have one, it's no stretch to assume that the US has a better one. Additionally, as others have pointed out, it would not surprise me if such technology could be countered. And last but not least, the R-77 is in no better position than the AMRAAM in this regard.

    4. The F-104 was pretty much a failure in almost every respect, especially as a dogfighter. It would be surprising if MiG-21s didn't defeat them. Thus, it is a bit of a mystery to me why "everyone" would want ACM training from Indians as if they'd achieved anything notable by killing F-104s with MiG-21s. It would be far more likely that their wars with Pakistan made them desirable DACT instructors than the victories over the tragic Starfighters.

    5. You mentioned that USAF fighters were "networked with each other". Did the same not hold true for the Indians as well?

    6. What do you mean when referring to the paradigms of Bekaa Valley?

    7. "Historical" air to air missile records include the vastly unreliable early versions which scored a majority of these kills. Heatseekers used to be tragic. Today, the latest models have no known reliable counter. But then again I haven't check most of any of this in a while, so I may be a little outdated here.

    8. The F-22 can still take advantage of the extreme off-boresight ability of the AIM-9X without using helmet cueing. But this upgrade is programmed to happen anyway, unless I remember wrong (certainly has taken them a while though).

    10. The "more than a match for the F-22" Flanker shows up on the APG-77 long before the F-22 shows up on any of the Flanker's sensors. "Shoot first" does not depend solely on missile range, especially if you can "see first". Additionally, the PESA Bars radar lights up RWRs like Christmas trees, whereas the APG-77 can even track targets without them knowing. Also, the F-22 incorporates a passive sensor that Sukhois don't boast: a highly advanced passive receiver that can assist in, if not independently carry out, missile guidance, and will of course be a major asset in defending against Flankers. And speaking of jammers, the APG-77 is said to be fairly capable in this regard (not DRFM specifically, but it's said to have jamming capability).

    9. I am of course not aware of your cost estimate sources, however AFAIK a F-22 is approximately 3 times the cost of an advanced Flanker variant (MK-X, Su-35, etc). And judging by the performance results of the F-22 published by the USAF (with the F-22s scoring dozens of kills for 0 losses), the plane still appears to score fairly well in terms of cost-performance.

    1. Hi. Yes I will go through your comments

      It is unclear what you mean by “comparable fighters” Americans were outnumbered in totality. Indian ACM instructors in their Su-30MK and MiG-21Ibis “Bison” proved to be the big problems for the Americans. No one would say the MiG-21 is comparable to a US spec F-15C.

      The AIM-9X was only developed in grudging recognition of the superiority of the helmet-sighted Archer. The $350 million F-22A still has no Archer class weapon. A major handicap.

      Yes DRFM is in used by almost everyone, including the Chinese. So “first shoot, first kill” is likely no better than a 50% hit-probability affair - or worse.

      This was very notable. The surprise was on Lockheed’s end – whose assertions that its F-104 would reign supreme - the narrative of American technical hegemony - against the backwards communist “MiG” would prove false under actual combat conditions. So it was a surprise – but for the Americans. The Indians also flew the MiG skillfully enough produce this outcome. Anyone who pulled this kind of upset should be taken seriously, as Cope India 2004, 05, 06 attests. Indian ACM instructors are just as good and the Americans ACM instructors.

      For 2004, 05,06 its doubtful. The IAF was not networked at Red Flag 2008. A wise decision. The Americans were wanting revenge and would have snooped any EW signals from Su-30MKi network traffic. We are not fans of battlefield networks – too vulnerable – they may having limited use in the beginning – but will quickly stop working and be full of false targets and bad data, and junk.

      The US-Israel touts Bekaa Valley as another feather in the cap of American technical hegemony – as scores of “inferior” MiG-21 and MiG-23 were downed by ‘Israeli’ F-15 and F-16. So from an air combat perspective the MiG-21 Bison performance against USAF F-15s and F-16 must produce the same result as Bekaa Valley. It did not. So Bekaa Valley proves little or perhaps nothing.

      We think hit probabilities will not exceed 50% for all weapons fired (by both sides) for all reasons. As seekers improve, so counter measures.

      No it can’t. Extreme off-boresight requires the pilot to help the seeker head acquire. The F-22 will be relegated to old fashion seeker head target hunt – which take valuable seconds. Also if there is also a friendly in front of an F-22 the Raptor pilots can’t fire because they won’t know who the AIM9X is looking at. The F-22 is a generation behind in this respect as well as its 2D thrust vectoring, (remember the lessons of Lockheed’s last jet fighter, the F-104).

      Irrelevant. As we see in Syria the Russian are using Krasukha and Khibiny EW-ECM pods that in all likelihood degrade western-radio-spectrum weapons (read: AIM-120 hit-performance) to expectable safe levels. Fox-3 shots will have a poor hit probability – so the F-22 BVR will become almost useless, and then as the fight quickly moves into WVR, F-22 will be at a disadvantage with no helmet-Archer and 2D thrust vectoring.

      Good’ol Lockheed hyperbole…wild lopsided F-22 kill claims are coming from the Americans – and need to be understood as such. American adversary aircraft have no authentic IRST threat model for the F-22 to deal with. Some aggressor teams have attached FLIR pods for IR targeting to try and approximate the threat – but there has been little information on what’s really going to replicate the threat. Please read our “Airborne Infrared and Supersonic Stealth” article.

      Thanks for writing!
      - Boresight

    2. "Acceptable safe levels"

    3. You're wrong about the F22s HOBS capabilities. The AIM9X does not need a HMS to be able to conduct HOBS shots, it has a helmet less capability. The AMRAAM has a passive homing capability able to home in on an emitter that is jamming it. The F22s radar is an AESA design that can hop frequencies hundreds of times per second. While in theory it is possible to jam it, it shouldn't be relied upon. Further more, with its huge detection range advantage a raptor pilot can choose when and where to engage. Remember, if the F22 is as crap as you say it is, why is Russia developing the SU 57 and China the J20?

    4. What??? HOBS and everything else on AIM-9X program ??? Your kidding me right? You know AIM-9X failed its combat debut, the american weapon was defeated by countermeasure flares from a Su-22 over Syria. You know that right? I think the threat of American technology is being vastly overblown.

      - Boresight

  21. It took me a while, but here I am:

    1. The Su30K should be comparable to the F-15, AFAIK. And the Bison, while not comparable per se, is still a dangerous opponent, even against a F-15. ARH (even with a modest-performing radar)/HOBS missiles can make any plane dangerous.

    2. I'm aware of that, but it does not answer my initial question: The Archer is hailed as quite the performer during Cope India/Red Flag thanks to its extreme capabilities. The similar AIM-9X, which may have been available in 2004 and was definitely available in 2008, should have at least somewhat leveled the playing field. And yet all reports are of defeat. How is it possible that a type of weapon so helpful to the Indians failed to be of any aid to the USAF?

    3. I'm not so sure about that. The weaknesses of the F-104 showed rather quickly, and the USAF was never too happy with it. It filled a temporary interceptor gap, and had been retired or passed to ANG units before the 1971 war had even started, if memory serves. If anyone should know its shortcomings, that would have to be the USAF, thus Lockheed should have known as well (after all, their plane had to bribe its way to the international market). On 2nd thoughts however, it's possible that the general reputation of the F-104 at the time (it was a notable design) may have led the world to believe that the shootdowns were a greater exploit than it really was.

    4. I am not sure if the technological balance between these exercises and Bekaa Valley can be compared. Elementary BVR exclusive to MiG-23s and basic WVR (rear-aspect-only R-60s, IIRC) MiG-21s are not the same as datalink (though not used here), fire-and-forget BVR, EW, and HOBS. And of course there were other advantages too (IIRC Indians had AWACS support as well, unlike the Syrians). Furthermore, in war a fight starts once one flight is made aware of the other's presence. In training, the fight starts when the briefing says it will. By that I mean that if Bisons were also fought WVR-only/didn't always face BVR threats (Cope India), then any advantage the Eagle might have had BVR has been artificially negated. The Bison is an example of how big an impact electronics can have on old airframes.

    5. It certainly won't be the same as with helmet cueing, but it's still better than the AIM-9M, and if it can use radar to cue the seeker (think I read that somewhere, idk), then the disadvantage is further offset. And I imagine it could compensate through TVC too (snap-shot ability). You make a good point about the IFF issue, though.

    Btw, what does the F-104 have to do with TVC?

    6. If I'm not mistaken, those numbers were from the USAF, so it's technically not Lockheed's exaggerations. But technicalities aside, even foreign pilots have attested to the F-22's BVR prowess (I think it was either UK or German EF crews that called it "overwhelming" at BVR). IRST threat models were indeed absent during most of the USAF vs USAF exercises, however even with its own lack of IRST (seriously, of all the things they could delete...), the F-22 is not so hopeless vs IRSTs. IR-spectrum AEW aircraft are unlikely to appear any time soon, the F-22 is equipped with a MAWS which should detect even EM-silent weapons, and finally, IRSTs are at a disadvantage in terms of range. For example: Considering that the much earlier picture from radar/AWACS will allow the Raptor to dictate the engagement before it is seen either on radar or on IRST, for me at least it is doubtful whether IRSTs provide such a great edge in combat. It's another trick in the bag for sure, and even more dangerous than radar under certain conditions, but it should not be treated as the new super-weapon that will defy all the features of 4,5/+ gen. aircraft.

  22. Can you have some consistency please? First you attest to the uselessness of having an AESA radar on the F15s because of DRFM and then you talk about how much more deadly the SU 30s are going to become when they are upgraded with AESA radars. Either an AESA is effective or it isn't please choose one. Next, DRFM jamming is questionable when the radar is switching frequencies dozens if not hundreds of times per second. While it's not impossible you shouldn't dismiss the bonus of an AESA radar. Let's not forget that AMRAAMs also have a passive homing mode that allows them to seek out the source of a jamming signal if their active radar seeker is being jammed. Now about your comments regarding the F22. You discount all the advantages the F22 has over legacy platforms. I'll get into those in a bit but first here's another inconsistency in the original post. It boasts about how effective the flanker was at beating F15s so with its numbers no F22 can survive. You seem to forget that the F22 also easily beats F15s, even in outnumbered scenarios. So if the F22 also performs well against F15s what makes you think the F22 doesn't stand a chance? In Cope India the F15s were outnumbered 3 to 1 and in every red flag exercise since the Flankers were flying with American and European fighters as well. Now back to the actual advantages of the F22. It has a much more powerful and harder to jam AESA radar (the APG 77v1) which is effective against a 1 square meter target at 250mi plus. The flanker has a RCS of 20 meters squared making it even easier to detect. The flanker uses the N011M radar with a 90 degree search cone (compared to the 120 degrees of the F22) and a tracking range of 140km for a Mig 29 size target. On top of that the F22 has full 360 with its RWR which has a range in excess of 400km. From the front the F22 has a RCS of just 0.001 meters squared. All of this means that the f22 has a massive advantage over any number of flankers at range using both active and passive detection measures. The f22 is also slated to add an IRST function for its IR/UV MLD, giving 360 degree IRST coverage as well. By 2020 the f22 will also have a HMCS to fully utilize HOBS missiles. The SU 30 is a very good aircraft, but it is in no way able to counter fith generation fighters. And if you want to talk about numbers the Indians have 230 flankers with another 50 on order while the US has 183 F22s. No where near the outrageous numerical dominance the original post suggested. If you still think the SU 30 is king then ask yourself this: why is Russia developing the SU 57?

    1. Too simplistic AESA vs. PESA only difference is the radar wave generation source. The West says ASEA is better only because it has an advantage in semiconductor sub-micron lithographic miniaturization.

      Home on jam wont work against DRFM because if there is no attacking radar transmission source - DRFM wont be stimulated to produce copy-cat spoof signals of its own. If the attacking seeker goes quiet - so does DRFM.

      Yes against long range platforms like the MiG-31 and the Flanker family. If you read our latest post - your learn what we suspected all along. The F-22 fuel fraction is too high (despite endless claims of drag reduction) and so it range too short, it remains too dependant on high value support assists like AWACS and especially air-refueling tankers - to conduct a "power projection" mission.

      The F-15 has no IRST to its not an applicable threat model. Just USAF stealth-fighter hype. We'd like to see some typhoons at 40,000 ft and have Raptors try and come in on them at Mach 1.5 at 50,000 ft.

      Cope India was remarkable in how well the Indians did and how far the USAF underestimated them. The F-22 fires a hopelessly short range "short finned" primary weapon. So long detection ranges don't tell the whole story. RCS of the F-22 in only in a narrow x-band. does the F-15 or Typhoon have L-band radars?

      The Indian could shoot down (or just frighten off) all your air tankers and AWACS and the war is over. Kh-31 should keep American AWACS radars turned off and the Americans will have no better situation awareness than the Indians. F-22 need AWACS for target vectoring and to find tankers to stay stealthy.

      The SU 57 is being built in such small numbers its more a technology demonstrator evaluation vehicle. They can fly it against their existing systems and apply what they learn.

      DRFM could perhaps be beaten by having one attacker turn on his radar to "paint" the defender (to stimulate DRFM transmission from defender) while a second attacker fires a home-on-jam missile round.

      thanks for writing

      - Boresight

    2. I can't believe you've written down a bunch of arguments without sources and tried to cover 1 of the fundamental fact: Indian got beaten badly in 1v1 fight

      1) Where did you got info
      " Two conflicting accounts on what exactly happened at Mountain Home AFB both agree Fornof is in error. The first is 1-v-1 DACT at Mountain Home AFBT never occurred. The second was the kill ratio at Mountain Home was so overwhelmingly in favor of the IAF flown Russian-built fighter that the Sukhoi was considered effectively unbeatable. There is almost zero chance the Americans will entertain allowing this information out"
      I want your sources

      2) You pointed out many inaccuracies in his speech, yet ignore thae main point:
      "Speaking about the encounter between the Su-30MKI and the F-15Cs, Fornof said: The (IAF pilots) were amazed, matter of fact they were floored to the point after the first three days, they didn’t want any more 1 vs 1 stuff. Let’s move on to something else (laughs). Funny ’cause in India, they wanted only 1 to 1 – ’cause they were winning at that"
      There is no way he would lie about that in a private debriefing. Su-30 is not that unbeatable as you think. The indirect proof for this can be found at Red Flags 2016 when IAF didn't fought against US Blue Forces this time but as a part of Blue Forces against Aggressors' Red Forces:

      What's wrong colonel sanders.... Chicken!?!?

  23. You have done a really good research on the issue and provided a lot of valid arguments. But at the end of the day, this debate will never end because the conolete details are yet to be released on public domain. But until then, I am really impressed from this proper writeup.

    1. Hi. Thank you. Yes we must use public domain material only. A lot of the arguments are simply logically deduced. Its obvious the USAF was upset at what had been happening repeatedly during Cope India exercises and want to embarrass the IAF. In my view USAF instructors simply used a tactic on Indian flyers outside of the training syllabus. Fighting in the vertical is a well known tactic to the IAF and the USAF instructors in F-15 used in to also defeat the turn performance of the F-22A.

      So that's all the Americans did.

      But what they also did what gloat and brag about it - and that is not professional. The IAF is not worried about any of this as fighting in the vertical is well understood by Indian ACM instructors.

      Thanks for your comments!

      - Boresight


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