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No gunpod for UK F-35 Lightnings.


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2 hours ago, junglierating said:

Ooh 24 hours ....not much good when theres incoming and you¬†are on the ground you want HE and you want it fast.I think we are looking from different perspectives shipmate ...and besides its defo going of topic ūüėÄūüĎć

The point being that a drone can be overhead 24/7 in conflict areas, so that HE can be yours almost instantly! Apologies for topic drift I have enjoyed the discussion. ūüĎć

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1 hour ago, Rumblestripe said:

The point being that a drone can be overhead 24/7 in conflict areas, so that HE can be yours almost instantly! Apologies for topic drift I have enjoyed the discussion. ūüĎć

Ah, not quite. The drone with high endurance sacrifice speed. A Predator’s max speed (wiki warning!) is 118 knots. 
 

So, that means a (slow) transit to troops in contact. 

 

Assume a single platform, carrying 4 x Hellfires & 2 x Paveway MkIV (specifics not too important here - six opportunities to engage the enemy).
 

If an engagement requires more than that, the transit of the replacement aircraft, from its base to the area of operations, could be 4-6 hours away, assuming there’s an aircraft ready to launch at its base. 
 

 

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And all that assumes operation in a benign threat environment.  Good luck putting traditional UAVs into a near-peer fight against an adversary with tactical air defence systems that are integrated with ground forces. 

 

Now, you could use a low-observable UAV but that brings with it other compromises in terms of speed, range, weapons carriage etc....and such platforms aren't exactly mainstream at the moment.  

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1 hour ago, Rumblestripe said:

The point being that a drone can be overhead 24/7 in conflict areas, so that HE can be yours almost instantly! Apologies for topic drift I have enjoyed the discussion. ūüĎć

Ah, not quite. The drone with high endurance sacrifice speed. A Predator’s max speed (wiki warning!) is 118 knots. 
 

So, that means a (slow) transit to troops in contact. 

 

Assume a single platform, carrying 4 x Hellfires & 2 x Paveway MkIV (specifics not too important here - six opportunities to engage the enemy).
 

If an engagement requires more than that, the transit of the replacement aircraft, from its base to the area of operations, could be 4-6 hours away, assuming there’s an aircraft ready to launch at its base. 
 

 

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Are drones at the stage yet where in the fog of war they can make split-second decisions like aircrew based on a sudden change in target area, for example a child running into a target building just as the trigger is about to be pulled? 

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1 minute ago, mhaselden said:

such platforms aren't exactly mainstream at the moment. 

We think.

 

The F-117 was kept out of the public gaze for over ten years. We know what the defence departments are happy for us to know about.

4 minutes ago, Lord Riot said:

Are drones at the stage yet where in the fog of war they can make split-second decisions like aircrew based on a sudden change in target area, for example a child running into a target building just as the trigger is about to be pulled? 

Drones are "flown" from bases in the UK and USA over Syria and Afghanistan (that we know of) the delay between mouse click and weapon launch is measurable but the reaction of the "pilot" is still the component with the greatest delay. Any guided munition that is targeted at (for example) a building that a child has entered can be steered away into a field or other unpopulated area assuming the target is not in a built-up area. There are other developments in low cost drones that can be operated by infantry or from an armoured vehicle in a tactical environment, they are even being tested for clearing buildings in Urban warfare situations. I suspect that the F22 Raptor will be the high watermark for manned aerial vehicles. Future combat may be drone on drone either piloted, semi-autonomous or fully autonomous (which is more than a little scary)

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45 minutes ago, Rumblestripe said:

We think.

 

The F-117 was kept out of the public gaze for over ten years. We know what the defence departments are happy for us to know about.

 

Programmes like Loyal Wingman are well-published.  If there were existing systems, why bother developing and advertising Loyal Wingman with such fanfare?


I used the word "mainstream" deliberately because such platforms would be needed in large quantities during a near-peer fight.  The F-117 was never more than a niche platform - only 59 operational airframes were built.  The ability to keep a new high-tech system under wraps is inversely proportional to the quantity produced and made operational.  

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When F35 carries the gun pod its stealthiness is somewhat compromised anyway, so I am of the opinion that we're wanting our cake and eating it in our dismissal of the superior alternatives whilst doing mental gymnastics to contrive a reason why a non-stealthy F35 spraying cannon shells from a shallow dive right into optical aimed small arms and MANPAD's backyard is necessary.

 

If the area is so hot that an Apache, a drone or an F/A-18 can't survive in it, but a gun pod carrying stealth compromised F-35 at low level is expected to, I'd really not want to be in the situation the boots on the ground must be in to need close air support best delivered by a gun.

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17 minutes ago, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

When F35 carries the gun pod its stealthiness is somewhat compromised anyway, so I am of the opinion that we're wanting our cake and eating it in our dismissal of the superior alternatives whilst doing mental gymnastics to contrive a reason why a non-stealthy F35 spraying cannon shells from a shallow dive right into optical aimed small arms and MANPAD's backyard is necessary.

 

If the area is so hot that an Apache, a drone or an F/A-18 can't survive in it, but a gun pod carrying stealth compromised F-35 at low level is expected to, I'd really not want to be in the situation the boots on the ground must be in to need close air support best delivered by a gun.

Tbh going by Afghan situation its precise HE (fast)that was  required .the problem with guns and for that matter CRV7 is that they are indescriminate weapons useful when you know what you are getting in to just as RPAS (or drones if you prefer) also have their niches...observation ,planned ops but when a section comes under suststained fire from an enemy who owns the ground then at the moment fast jet is the answer.

Whilst on the subject of F35 very capable and 'Aware' platform but its primary role is mud moving and I pretty sure it will be an fab interceptor/fighter ....it had better be else those floating gash barges well wont be floating.I hope we dont come up against a equal adversary....might have other things to think about

 

 

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I guess the trick is having a properly balanced fleet. That means you can get away with not having a gun because you’ll have other types to do the gun fighting. In that sense, you can keep one platform stealthy for the really hard high-end jobs (the F-117 being used in conjunction with other aircraft is a perfect example of this).

 

Still, while I can see the logic behind not fitting a gun to the F-35, I can’t help but wonder if the powers that be are falling for another Duncan Sandys White Paper - after all, no plan survives first contact...

Edited by Blimpyboy
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Oh I can see the defense companies happily supplying enough drones to cover the operational cells on a small to medium sized country. Do not have to worry over much about speed when  you have numbers.

 

Heck, Perdix has shown that they can handle/decide on hand off between day/night shifts of drones.

 

Guess the can be jammed, but how and how much power.

 

 

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hmm strange decisions....after all the F-4 in RAF service always had it mounted externally.... they should know better!

 

then... how good is that gunpod? Is the Marines going o use it regularly? the US Navy? only time will tell....

from my point of view a critical design decision error... the space in the A is there anyways, no? I guess it is only weight issues here... so the gun pod can hardly  be better than the internal installation ;)

 

the months AFM also as an interesting, but party puzzling about the Lightning (and Typhoon) RAF status. Seem like Meteor is several years away, and they state that the USAF is going to get a rack for 2*3 Amraams in the bays... will Meteors also fit in there, or is it A model exclusive as the article kind of makes you understand? why A model only? isn't the C's bay the same size? (in comparison to the smaller (in weight only?) weapons capability on the B)

 

 

 

 

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Having spend the best part of 3 years coming and going to Cyprus to look after Tornados, i can only remember the gun being used over Iraq once (which missed so they used Brimstone anyway) it may have been used more but it was very rare for them to use it. Most the fighting that has happened in Iraq and Syria seems be fought by the jets at medium to high levels, the gun doesn't seem that necessary for air to ground now days, especially when you can drop a Brimstone and hit a target in the same building as friendly troops and not have any risk to them. 

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35 minutes ago, Motley said:

Having spend the best part of 3 years coming and going to Cyprus to look after Tornados, i can only remember the gun being used over Iraq once (which missed so they used Brimstone anyway) it may have been used more but it was very rare for them to use it. Most the fighting that has happened in Iraq and Syria seems be fought by the jets at medium to high levels, the gun doesn't seem that necessary for air to ground now days, especially when you can drop a Brimstone and hit a target in the same building as friendly troops and not have any risk to them. 

Hmmm as long as you have an unlimited supply of Brimstones that sounds reasonable... but in case you might not in a future/ larger conflict....

 

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Automatic gunfire is always considered to have an area effect, regardless from the altitude it's delivered. In this regard, it's always preferable to have a precision weapon, such as Brimstone/Hellfire, available for use supporting troops in contact, or where non-combatants or infrastructure are at risk of unintended damage.

 

For fixed wing aircraft, air-to-surface gunnery is typically an action of last resort, if you've expended everything else and the situation - and attendant geometry - really warrants it (unless you're an A-10 or AC-130, or an attack helicopter).

 

For air-to-air actions, it's also a last resort, but one that's tactically and doctrinally easier to employ (there's generally little in the way of collateral damage, and hearts and minds issues at stake in an air-to-air action).

Edited by Blimpyboy
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Define ‚Äúarea effect‚ÄĚ. Accuracy of the M61 (for example) is 5 mils at 30 degree dive angle. So, (theoretically)¬†50% of the rounds fired will fall within 5 metres of the point of aim, if fired at 1,000 metres (10 metres @ 2,000 etc.). There‚Äôs a reason that guns have a closer minimum engagement/safety¬†range than a 500 pound bomb, for example.¬†

 

Anyway, considering that the Lightning’s gun pod (B/C) has proved to be more accurate than the integral gun on the A, it may be more accurate than the Typhoon’s!

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Yeah, "area effect" is a broad church!

Automatic gunfire has an area effect in that it is not particularly singular in impact point and certainly not precise - in this regard, the only difference between a gunnery run from a fighter, an MRL salvo and an Arc Light-style bomb run is the overall size of the beaten zone around the aim point/DMPI.

It is, of course, relative, and very much a function of the effect being achieved in conjunction with the weapon system being used - nevertheless, you are not really always going to get (or plan each attack on attaining) a nice tight grouping.

 

 

and

 

 

and

https://www.military.com/video/operations-and-strategy/air-strikes/a-10-gun-runs/663193948001

and

https://www.military.com/video/operations-and-strategy/air-strikes/double-a-10-gun-run-on-taliban-position/1801292270001

and

 

 

You're right in that the safety trace is smaller for gunnery, however, this is based predominantly on warhead size and effect around the aim point, more than being due to any sort of accuracy issues. Weapons such as Brimstone, Hellfire and SDB are very much smaller than a 500 lb bomb - and accurate and precise! In this regard, it is often more desirable in some CAS geometries, to employ a small precision-guided weapon rather than a gunnery run (if such weapons are available).

 

The 50% to 5 m CEP for fighter-delivered gunnery runs is indeed theoretical and probably best left to the harmonisation stands or firepower displays in a totally permissive environment. The vast majority of air-to-ground gunnery in combat is generally not based on a constant line of sight to the target, as a 'walk through' methodology is typically employed from a dive, which throws that figure (and page of the manual) right out the window. Plus, depending on the threat environment, you're not necessarily going to have a nice initialisation or follow-through in the target area, so your burst(s) will be subject to an amazing amount of spread (see videos above). You also have atmospheric conditions to consider.

 

The gun - for an F-35 - makes more sense in an air-to-air environment, for when you are out of/unable to employ missiles. It's not the best situation to be in, so that's why the gun provides the last arrow in the quiver. It wouldn't make much sense to use a platform of the F-35's calibre (pun intended) to strafe things on the ground, unless it was the last combatant in the area and had exhausted all other options - this goes back to having a mixed fleet and using the appropriate platform for specific tasks. If we consider the F-117 and the F-111, the former had no gun and the latter generally did not have it fitted for the majority (dare I say all) of its combat loadouts. 

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On 6/10/2020 at 9:26 PM, NoSG0 said:

Perhaps this is more of the you do not fly the F-35 like it is an F-16/F-18/Harrier etc thinking.  It should be flown in such a way/envelope so as to maximize it's stealth etc.  That is what I read in the link I posted in the other F-35 thread.

 

Perhaps the thinking is that they(planners/higher ups) in this case do not want the F-35 down low to use a gun, and the pilot should not need to get themselves into a dogfight anyway.  If the pilot is in a dogfight, they have messed up in a big way.

 

 

Which is fine so long as the enemy is willing to play by the same rule book. History has shown that is rarely the case.

On 6/12/2020 at 8:28 PM, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

When F35 carries the gun pod its stealthiness is somewhat compromised anyway, so I am of the opinion that we're wanting our cake and eating it in our dismissal of the superior alternatives whilst doing mental gymnastics to contrive a reason why a non-stealthy F35 spraying cannon shells from a shallow dive right into optical aimed small arms and MANPAD's backyard is necessary.

 

If the area is so hot that an Apache, a drone or an F/A-18 can't survive in it, but a gun pod carrying stealth compromised F-35 at low level is expected to, I'd really not want to be in the situation the boots on the ground must be in to need close air support best delivered by a gun.

The F-35 does not need to be stealthy all the time. When interdicting hostile airspace with radar, SAMs and fighters then you want to be as stealthy as possible on your mission to drop a couple of LGBs from your weapons bay on a command centre. You won't need a gun pod. When operating CAS against insurgents in pick-ups stealth is irrelevant, and you can hang as much fundungus under the wings as you can get away with to do the job.

 

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1 minute ago, Truro Model Builder said:

The F-35 does not need to be stealthy all the time. When interdicting hostile airspace with radar, SAMs and fighters then you want to be as stealthy as possible on your mission to drop a couple of LGBs from your weapons bay on a command centre. You won't need a gun pod. When operating CAS against insurgents in pick-ups stealth is irrelevant, and you can hang as much fundungus under the wings as you can get away with to do the job.

 

 

Yes, I agree with all of that. I am testing what I consider a logical fallacy that it simply must be F35 carrying a gun pod. There are a plethora of options open ranging from helicopters extremely well suited to shooting at insurgents in pickup trucks to other fast jets which do carry guns to drones which are much more expendable than F35s are. Yet all the alternatives are being shot down (pun intended) in circular logic scenarios - "can't send a Hornet because what if the area is hot??"

 

I suggest that if you need a gun on your F35, you're using your F35 wrong.

 

I further suggest that if the target most in need of neutralising is a pickup truck with insurgents in it, then it's probably not a battlefield with radar guided SAMs as a major concern so you can send in a Hornet or an Apache as safely as an F35 if your target needs guns rather than a precision guided bomb or a missile.

 

I'm not saying there might not be situations after any serious military threat is neutralised when it might be a nice option to forego stealth and fit a gun pod to the F35 before launch, but if that be the case then the modern military probably also has other assets which can deliver ordinance in theatre too so optional non-stealthy gun pods for the F35 still wouldn't be top of my agenda, frankly. A drone could get to those in need just as quick as an F35 could be launched with a gun pod fitted, and if it's safe enough to have your F35 already patrolling with gun pod already fitted, then you'll already have a drone nearby too which doesn't need a tanker flying around just across the border to top up a thirsty F35 on patrol just incase needed for CAS.

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21 minutes ago, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

 

Yes, I agree with all of that. I am testing what I consider a logical fallacy that it simply must be F35 carrying a gun pod. There are a plethora of options open ranging from helicopters extremely well suited to shooting at insurgents in pickup trucks to other fast jets which do carry guns to drones which are much more expendable than F35s are. Yet all the alternatives are being shot down (pun intended) in circular logic scenarios - "can't send a Hornet because what if the area is hot??"

 

I suggest that if you need a gun on your F35, you're using your F35 wrong.

 

I further suggest that if the target most in need of neutralising is a pickup truck with insurgents in it, then it's probably not a battlefield with radar guided SAMs as a major concern so you can send in a Hornet or an Apache as safely as an F35 if your target needs guns rather than a precision guided bomb or a missile.

 

I'm not saying there might not be situations after any serious military threat is neutralised when it might be a nice option to forego stealth and fit a gun pod to the F35 before launch, but if that be the case then the modern military probably also has other assets which can deliver ordinance in theatre too so optional non-stealthy gun pods for the F35 still wouldn't be top of my agenda, frankly. A drone could get to those in need just as quick as an F35 could be launched with a gun pod fitted, and if it's safe enough to have your F35 already patrolling with gun pod already fitted, then you'll already have a drone nearby too which doesn't need a tanker flying around just across the border to top up a thirsty F35 on patrol just incase needed for CAS.

Some interesting points, most of which appear to depend on the presence other assets almost certainly being available when/as required. The answer in a particular scenario may well be that it must be a F-35, as nothing else is available. 

 

Side note: there’s no evidence to suggest that the gun pod decreases the stealthiness of the F-35B. 
 

F-35s are fast (certainly faster than an Apache or drone), they have a human in the cockpit of a platform with a lot of organic sensors, they have good legs (835 km combat radius, unrefuelled), and are capable of delivering accurate (25mm) gunfire (if required), if fitted with the pod.
 

Deciding at the start of a type’s operational life to munt the potential capability is disappointing, and, I contend, short sighted. Perhaps agree to disagree?
 

Either way, is only 017 marked with the full-colour flag on the lift fan cover?

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On ‚Äé6‚Äé/‚Äé10‚Äé/‚Äé2020 at 9:54 PM, Lord Riot said:

…...Unfortunately all decisions are made solely by bean counters who are never in harm's way......

Agree re the sentiment of having gun  availability, but I think you oversimplify the procurement process, it involves strategists, operators, military and yes accountants...….. but not solely, it's a team effort from conception to specification to design and onwards.

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10 hours ago, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

 

Yes, I agree with all of that. I am testing what I consider a logical fallacy that it simply must be F35 carrying a gun pod. There are a plethora of options open ranging from helicopters extremely well suited to shooting at insurgents in pickup trucks to other fast jets which do carry guns to drones which are much more expendable than F35s are. Yet all the alternatives are being shot down (pun intended) in circular logic scenarios - "can't send a Hornet because what if the area is hot??"

 

I suggest that if you need a gun on your F35, you're using your F35 wrong.

 

I further suggest that if the target most in need of neutralising is a pickup truck with insurgents in it, then it's probably not a battlefield with radar guided SAMs as a major concern so you can send in a Hornet or an Apache as safely as an F35 if your target needs guns rather than a precision guided bomb or a missile.

 

I'm not saying there might not be situations after any serious military threat is neutralised when it might be a nice option to forego stealth and fit a gun pod to the F35 before launch, but if that be the case then the modern military probably also has other assets which can deliver ordinance in theatre too so optional non-stealthy gun pods for the F35 still wouldn't be top of my agenda, frankly. A drone could get to those in need just as quick as an F35 could be launched with a gun pod fitted, and if it's safe enough to have your F35 already patrolling with gun pod already fitted, then you'll already have a drone nearby too which doesn't need a tanker flying around just across the border to top up a thirsty F35 on patrol just incase needed for CAS.

are you implicating the US NAVY/ Marines decision was wrong/ irrational in having a gun pod developed or that it should have been airframe internal? (or is this also a waste of space/ money/ weight etc... )

thanks!

 

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 "A drone could get to those in need just as quick as an F35 could be launched with a gun pod fitted, and if it's safe enough to have your F35 already patrolling with gun pod already fitted, then you'll already have a drone nearby too which doesn't need a tanker flying around just across the border to top up a thirsty F35 on patrol just incase needed for CAS."

 

Hmm really fast dash sub sonic on call up in response to an immediate call for air support versus a usefull in the right circumstances RPAS which maybe in the area ....well i guess either will do but if the RPAS is miles away then it will be a fast jet or artillery.

Anyway it aint got a gun and thats that ...did you know theres a seperate mods budget but then the hoops to get a non UOR in to service are considerable. So who knows ...but the Americans will make us pay thats for sure .

 

Edited by junglierating
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1 hour ago, exdraken said:

are you implicating the US NAVY/ Marines decision was wrong/ irrational in having a gun pod developed or that it should have been airframe internal? (or is this also a waste of space/ money/ weight etc... )

thanks


You raise an interesting, force-specific point.

 

Putting a gun on the aircraft indeed makes sense for carrier operations, especially in contingencies where there may be no other mission-suitable aircraft types available on the carrier.

The USMC and USN (and most other carrier-borne F-35 operators) will almost certainly have deployment contingencies that envisage no support from any other force or direct combat platform.
In a similar vein, countries that have chosen the F-35 to be the only direct combat fighter in their inventories will also face similar contingency scenarios.

Therefore, a gun becomes an important option.

 

However, for countries that choose to maintain mixed fleets, or deploy in conjunction with allied/coalition elements, the imperative for a gun is not as great.

 

The F-35 is the silver bullet for high-end peer-on-peer combat. While capable of many roles, it is simply not appropriate to spend that much money on an aircraft when other platforms can do a specific job that much better, and with less cost to acquire and maintain.

It also makes more sense to not risk that much treasure in a CAS mission unless it’s really the only option left.

Edited by Blimpyboy
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