Future Warfare: F-35s to Leisurely Direct Countless Missiles by Other Planes as Enemy Obediently Lines up to Be Obliterated

Future warfare will be a doozy. Just ask the Pentagon and Lockheed-Martin

One of the recent concepts for employing the F-35 is the idea that it will not engage in combat itself but will provide targeting for other heavily laden shooter platforms. Various shooter platforms have been proposed including B-1 bombers, F-18s, and F-15s.

What a great concept, right?  F-35s loitering around the aerial battlefield, unseen, picking out hapless targets to be dispatched with ruthless efficiency by shooter aircraft dripping with missiles. What’s not to like? 

You know, though, I feel a vague sense of uneasiness about this concept. Think about the history of modern aerial combat. It’s not an ordered, neat affair. It’s a confused, incredibly rapid, constantly changing melee and that’s completely at odds with the idea of a sensor aircraft leisurely spotting targets and passing off to a somehow unseen, unhindered, non-stealthy shooter while the enemy obligingly remains lined up and relatively static, just waiting to be shot.

If all that happens, I guess it could work. However, the reality, especially as the enemy employs more and more of their own stealthy aircraft, is that the sensor aircraft will be frantically engaged in their own life or death struggle to survive and won’t be leisurely passing on targets to shooters.

The shooters, being non-stealthy, will likely be targeted by enemy stealth aircraft and long range missiles and will also be frantically maneuvering for survival rather than calmly and methodically launching missile after missile.

Let’s think about the concept in a bit more depth.  What are the requirements for the concept to work?

For the sensor platform:

It must be close enough to see the targets with its sensor(s). Depending on the target, that could be a hundred miles away for a larger bomber or AWACS type aircraft or it could be a dozen miles to spot an enemy stealth fighter. Even spotting modern semi-stealthy fighter aircraft will require moderate proximity, say 30 miles or so. Now, the flip side of this requirement is that if the sensor is close enough to see a target, it’s also close enough to be seen unless we think the enemy doesn’t have the same kinds of radar, IRST, and other sensors that we have.

It must be unengaged. In order to calmly and methodically pick out target after target, the sensor aircraft can’t be engaged in its own frantic, twisting, turning, battle for survival. So, the sensor must be able to loiter around the battlefield, unseen and unengaged. Referring back to the previous requirement about range and mutual detectability, does this seem likely? 

Similarly, for the shooter platform:

It must be close enough for the missiles to be in range. Our standard long range missile is the AIM-120C/D which has ranges of 50-100 miles although the effective range is likely closer to 30-70 miles. As with sensing, if the shooter aircraft is in range to shoot, it’s also in range to be shot. In fact, Russia and China reportedly have longer range missiles in service than we do!

It must be unengaged. In order to calmly and methodically conduct launch after launch, the shooter aircraft can’t be engaged in its own frantic, twisting, turning, battle for survival. So, the shooter must be able to loiter around the battlefield, unseen and unengaged. Refering back to the previous comments about sensor and missile ranges, does this seem likely? Is a non-stealthy, heavily loaded (further increasing detectability) aircraft going to be able to loiter near an aerial battlefield without being detected and engaged?

Now, some of you may be saying, wait, we do this kind of sensor/shooter operation all the time on the ground.  For example, a spotter, hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan, calls in shooter aircraft to bomb the enemy into defeat. Yes, we do  However, note the key differences. The sensor (spotter) is able to remain completely hidden (thanks to long range optics, the presence of significant cover, and the ‘stealthy’ nature of a single human) while still spotting targets and the shooters are completely unengaged and unhindered because the enemies that we’ve used this tactic on have no aerial capability of their own. Our shooter aircraft are able to loiter over the battlefield with no interference, whatsoever, from the enemy. None of this will happen in the aerial sensor/shooter scenario against a peer enemy. Thus, the ground example has no relevance to the aerial scenario.

We’re left with a concept that sounds appealing but seems unworkable under realistic combat conditions. This seems like yet another example of the military’s tendency to believe that everything we do will work and that the enemy will cooperate in their own destruction.

The military seems committed to this concept with absolutely no basis to support it.  Where is the realistic testing that has proven this concept will work?  As is so often the case, the military has latched on to a concept without any foundational study and testing to justify it.

That’s my view of how this concept plays out. Do you see it differently?

Source: Navy Matters

  1. Marvin Joel Zavala López says

    At least the F-35 can take off, drop bombs, and… land???

    1. Hue Smith says

      Haaaaa! In your wet dreams, maybe!

  2. JustPassingThrough says

    …and the F35 must be able to get off the ground.

  3. Papajahat Mamabaik says

    Oh boy, I really really hope they’ll follow through this concept of engagement.

  4. Godfree Roberts says

    ‘the sensor platform..must be close enough to see the targets with its sensor(s)’ but far enough to avoid China’s PLA-15.

    Propelled by novel dual pulse rocket motors on a semi-ballistic trajectory, the giant missile homes on AWACS and airborne tankers loitering behind battle lines.

    In 2015 USAF General Herbert Carlisle told Congress, “Look at the PLA-15, at the range of that weapon. How do we counter that?”

    The general added that the USAF can field two hundred F-22 Raptors carrying six missiles while China’s more numerous fighters carry twelve longer ranged weapons.

    In 2019, The Air Force canceled recapitalization of the E-8C AWACS in favor of the Advanced Battle Management System — an integrated network of sensors across multiple platforms — with the rationale that any new non-stealthy airplanes would be easy prey for advanced fighters and anti-aircraft weapons.

  5. John C Carleton says

    The congressional pigs, the sold out Israhell firsters in the big white cat house, have ripped off the American worker to buy from their buddies, getting kickbacks of course, a gee whiz killing machine which does not work.

    They are now looking for excuses, trying to justify their corruption and treason, with fairytale scenarios.

    An Operation Plan, works flawlessly, until first contact with the enemy.

    1. Tyler says

      F35s were a result of contract bidding, despite that this article is absolute rubbish.

      The F18s are not fighters and working with the F35s is more for ground targets because of the sizable bomb capacity of an F18 (which is actually and F/A18).

      Working with other planes for targeting other aircraft is not a new concept, the F18s have been doing this with the F22s for years (I know I was there).

      We trading like we fight, and the ability of our aircraft to utilize the tech they have is there. It works and works very well, as has been shown numerous times during war exercises with other countries.

      1. John C Carleton says

        USA military does not have real Generals and admirals.
        Those are butt kissers, real warriors, real Americans, were weeded out in favor of yes men who are loyal to Israhell first, not America.

        1. Tyler says

          The capability of the aircraft has nothing to do with those in charge and everything to do with those who work on and fly those aircraft.

          Sure the admirals steer the fleet and make big decisions, but the combat prowess of the pilots dictate how well they can utilize the systems of any given aircraft.

          The reality is the US naval pilots are simply some of the best pilots in the world, watching them land on a strip of moving metal shows how capable they are. And with competent mechanics the aircraft has the ability to defend the CAG from thousands of miles out if needed.

          1. John C Carleton says

            Its is a Khazarian controlled corporation produced dog.
            It barks.
            It is whizzing money down a Rat’s hole, into the Rat’s bank account.

            If America had any Generals or admirals, with natural ability, integrity, loyalty to America, courage, America would not be fighting Israhell’s wars, with American blood and treasure, and buying simulated gold plated junk for solid gold prices.

            There would probably have already been War crime, pedophilia, bribery, treason, trials and executions in Washington DC.

            The lack of honor, integrity, loyalty to America, among the yes men butt kissers who wear the stars, is why the American worker has half his paycheck stolen for junk like the F-35.

            America does not have a military, the USA, a corporation has a military.
            Although the USA military is corrupt, has not won a war in a longggggggg time, no country in the world except Israhell, which is allowed to murder Americans at will, dare attack American homeland.

            Why would they.

            China and Russia together could kick the USA’s butt in conventional warfare, Russia can sink all the USA’s carrier groups and never get close enough for the carriers to spot them.

            But why?
            Cause they would suffer too, their countries would suffer also.
            There is no pay off for war with the USA.

            What, Cuba is going to invade?
            There are no need for all these gee whiz war toys mass produced to suck money out of the American worker.

  6. Jesus says

    Against peer enemies the F35 can be seen and locked on by multi band radars including UHF and VHF frequencies that are fused to provide precise location with a missile lock. As far as peer EW against the F35 and standoff missiles, it is quite likely that Russian and Chinese EW will create havoc with this concept, neutralizing expensive technology with passive weapons.
    This is just another half baked idea to justify the procurement of this aircraft, that carries a minimal weapon payload, its maneuverability and performance is similar to third generation aircraft and has a low sortie rate, due to abnormally high levels of maintenance.

    1. Marko Marjanović says

      So far seems EW won’t be even necessary as the “data links” don’t even work without interference.

      1. Jesus says

        Use of excessive unproven technologies is a self defeating move, BTW, according to Lockheed, the problem will be solved with latest software developments.

        1. Hue Smith says

          Isn’t that what Boeing are yapping about with their POS aircraft?!

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