garnetpalmetto
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AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Sun Dec 28, 2003 9:13 am

Does anybody ever know if it was ever planned to mount the Phoenix on the F/A-18F so that the long-range fleet defense capability would be maintained after the retirement of the F-14?
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Spacepope
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Sun Dec 28, 2003 9:39 am

I have never heard of this. Are the radars even compatable? As much as I hate to say it, I think depending on AEGIS ships for area defense (including ABM duties) is a much better idea for when the Tomcat goes than trying to get a Super Hornet airborne with 2000 pound missiles.

T.J.
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LMP737
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Sun Dec 28, 2003 9:54 am

As far as I know there were never any plans to have the F/A-18E/F carry the Phoniex. The Phoneix was specifically desgined for the AWG-9/APG-71 which only the F-14 carries. In addition the production line for the AIM-54 has been shut down for a number of years.
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AAR90
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Sun Dec 28, 2003 10:25 am

No it was never planned nor even contemplated.
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L-188
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Sun Dec 28, 2003 2:40 pm

Amraam replaced Phoenix
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garnetpalmetto
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Sun Dec 28, 2003 3:28 pm

Definitely not on Tomcats, L-188. In fact the logic for not fitting the F-14 with AIM-120s was that the F-14 already had a long-range missile in the form of the AIM-54. At any rate, I think it'll be sad to see the Phoenix leave the fleet. I'd have to respectfully disagree with spacepope. If I were commanding a CVBG, I'd take the 300+ NM range of the F-14 coupled with the 100+NM range of the AWG-9/AIM-54 combo over the 90 NM range of the SM-2 anyday of the week and twice on Sunday and keep the AEGIS cruisers as the 2nd line of defense if anything got past that F-14 CAP.
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L-188
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Sun Dec 28, 2003 4:50 pm

fact the logic for not fitting the F-14 with AIM-120s was that the F-14 already had a long-range missile in the form of the AIM-54.

But I think we have shown that at least over the past half decade, the Navy has been at least as anxious to be rid of the Tomcat as the 1990's Air Force was to be rid of the A-10.

I think the admirals just didn't see the logic of sticking Aim-120's on a platform they where trying to rid themselves of.

The military trying to save money I guess.
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jwenting
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Sun Dec 28, 2003 8:10 pm

AIM-54 left the inventory already, I think back in 1995 or so.
It was decided that it was no longer needed because there was no more threat (just as Europe decided there was no need for defense forces in the 1920s because WW1 had signalled the end of war, how wrong we were).
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garnetpalmetto
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Mon Dec 29, 2003 4:19 am

JWenting - are you sure about that 1995 retirement date for the Phoenix? The USN still maintains a page for it on its Fact Files, which they only do for systems still in the inventory (the ES-3 and the anti-ship version of the Tomahawk are no longer listed, for instance) and I've seen pictures taken post '95 of F-14s with AIM-54s onboard in addition to Navy Training System Plans for the AIM-54 dated June 1997.
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jwenting
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Mon Dec 29, 2003 5:46 am

Like I said it could be a bit later, but retirement was certainly planned for the mid-1990s.
It is of course possible that the delay of the NATF program (and subsequent cancellation in favour of the Super Hornet which caused even more delays) meant the plans were completely abandoned, but I think I'd have heard about that.
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LMP737
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Mon Dec 29, 2003 9:04 am

I believe it was the shutdown of the AIM-54 production line everyone is talking about. The F-14 still carries the AIM-54 as far as I know.

I remember when the F-14D and NATF programs were cancelled respectivly in favor of the "Super" Hornet. The pilots and RIO's in my squadron were not to happy about it. We all wanted the F-14D to act as an interm aircraft until the NATF was avaliable. No one wanted a Super Hornet. It's seems theat naval aviation has been getting the short end of the stick for some time.

The funny thing was that the F-14D program was on time and under budget. Naturally the DOD cancelled the program, go figure. In addition if the NATF had gone through the unit cost of the F-22 would have been lower.
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jwenting
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Tue Dec 30, 2003 12:30 am

Yes, NATF would have saved the F-22 program allowing it to run to a far larger number of units.
Problems might have arissen with the planned missile to replace Phoenix (which was of course also cancelled) as that would have been a Navy-only weapon, but the aircraft itself could well have worked without that weapon.

A major obstacle to NATF was the Navy insistense on a swingwing design (at least that's what I heard) in favor of folding wings thus increasing cost and reducing commonality (not to forget the eternal inter-service rivalries that make almost any program impossible to get to work where both USAF and USN are involved in).
Effectively NATF went the way of F-111 and F-16 (and probably many others) in their naval versions.
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LMP737
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Tue Dec 30, 2003 12:57 am

The only replacement that I'm aware of the Navy had in mind was the AIM-120. As we have seen the AIM-120 is an effective and combat proven weapon.

What killed the NATF was Dick Cheneys pen, not any particular design feature. Any fighter program will have design challenges. However since the NATF never left the drawing board the Navy never got the chance to prove the validity of a swing wing or wing fold design.

Jwenting:

What "commonality" are you refering to?
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garnetpalmetto
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Tue Dec 30, 2003 3:34 am

LMP: The USN did have another missile planned that was going to replace the Phoenix. The AIM-152 Advanced Air-to-Air Missile (AAAM) was going to take over for the AIM-54 while being both smaller and lighter than its predecessor as well as to incorporate a plethora of new technologies like advanced multimode-guidance, an air-breathing integral-rocket-ramjet propulsion system, new warhead and fuzing designs, and advanced airframe and steering technologies. Two teams were selected to design the AIM-152: Hughes/Raytheon and General Dynamics/Westinghouse

The Hughes/Raytheon proposal:


The GD/Westinghouse proposal:


The Hughes/Raytheon proposal was to use a hybrid solid-rocket/ramjet propulsion system with mid-course guidance being provided by an intertial nav system with command updates and terminal homing coming from a dual-mode active-radar and IR seeker. The GD/Westinghouse design, meanwhile would have been propelled by a multiple-pulse solid-propellant rocket motor with a booster stage that would be dropped during flyout. Their concept also employed inertial guidance with dual-band semi-active radar homing for mid-course guidance and an electro-optical sensor for autonomous homing during the terminal endgame. GD's proposal also had a backup IR seeker and called for fitting the F-14 with a targeting pod featuring forward- and aft-looking radar to illuminate the target from any angle.

AAAM was supposed to enter service in the mid-90s, but like so many other weapons, it's usefulness was called into question with the end of the Cold War, and Congress finally axed it in '92.


JWenting: Interesting you bring up the interservice rivalry aspect. The problem is, Congress often tries to write off legitimate gripes from either service as mere parochialism. Take the F-111, for instance. From the start, the aircraft was the wrong aircraft for the Navy, but they did try to go along with it. The realization came, however, that "there wasn't enough thrust in all Christiandom to make the F-111 a fighter" and more importantly, that the very act of landing the F-111B was dangerous to flight crews due to the unusually high angle-of-attack needed during flight operations - I believe the AOA was so high that the pilot routinely would lose sight of the flight deck and arresting wires during landing -NOT something you want to happen during a trap. It's obvious that while commonality is cost-effective, when it risks the lives of aircrews it is no longer desirable.

At any rate, your information about the NATF is incorrect as the Navy was not the one insisting on a variable-geometry design for the NATF. When Lockheed was trying to sell the NATF to the Navy, the artist's conception included a variable-geometry design as Lockheed thought that Tomcat drivers seeing the picture would have a favorable reaction. And, while the Navy did briefly write a proposal for the NATF, the idea was scrapped in order to provide more funding for the A-12 Avenger II.
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jwenting
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Tue Dec 30, 2003 4:07 am

I was under the impression the navy had insisted on VG in order to provide a smaller wingspan than could be provided without it while preventing the complexity for no other gain incurred by folding wings (VG would provide added performance as well as smaller wingspan when swept fully back).

As to interservice rivalry, the F-111 was indeed not the best idea for the navy, but the main reason the F-16 was not chosen was pure rivalry.
The fact that it is single-engined was purely a paper argument.
Up until the F-4 all navy tactical aircraft (or almost all) had been single engined, and the new aircraft would replace a single engine type.
Not that the F/A-18 isn't a superior aircraft to the F-16 (IMO the F-17 would have been a better choice for the USAF and NATO than is the F-16) but it's not that much better that it should have warranted the development cost.

LMP737, NATF was meant to be in large part identical to ATF (which became F-22) in the same way that the naval and airforce versions of the JSF are to be largely identical.
The main differences would be the heavier landinggear of the NATF (to survive carrier operations) and a different wing (either folding or variable geometry).
The idea was the same as that behind the F-111A and B, the proposed naval F-16, A-6D and E, F/A-18A and L (L never entered production, it was a proposed lightweight exportversion), and AF and Navy F-4 versions, to save on development and production cost and to easy interservice cooperation.
Neither the USN nor the USAF ever liked that last idea for some reason, the rivalry being as old as naval aviation (in the early days the USN claimed they should control aircraft operating from ships and water because they were naval, the airforce (then army aviation) claimed they should control them because they controlled everything that could fly).
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AAR90
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Tue Dec 30, 2003 7:33 am

I believe the AOA was so high that the pilot routinely would lose sight of the flight deck and arresting wires during landing -NOT something you want to happen during a trap.

If you're looking at the flight deck and wires during a shipboard landing, you're doing it wrong. That is called "spotting the deck" and is very dangerous.

...but the main reason the F-16 was not chosen was pure rivalry.
The fact that it is single-engined was purely a paper argument.


Single-engine was but one problem. The F16 airframe could not be strengthend enough to withstand shipboard ops. The F16 nosewheel could not be redesigned to incorporate the catapult tow-link without significantly redesigning the entire airframe nose section. The F16 engine intake required significant redesign to reduce/prevent steam ingestion. And that's just the stuff I recall off the top of my head.

Not that the F/A-18 isn't a superior aircraft to the F-16 (IMO the F-17 would have been a better choice for the USAF and NATO than is the F-16) but it's not that much better that it should have warranted the development cost.

The Navy had no use for either YF16 or YF17 [light weight fighters] when they were forced by Congress to choose one design or the other as the next airframe to enter USN service. USN wanted a light attack aircraft w/significant payload capability...something both designs lacked... to replace the A7E. USN eventually chose YF17 supposedly because the basic design had greater growth potential for what the Navy wanted to "morph" it into.... an attack aircraft with a "fighter" designation. Politics probably had a hand in the selection process, but certainly not service rivalry.
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LMP737
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:28 am

Garnetpalmento:

Guess I spoke to soon. Very interesting info, to bad it never came to fruition.

Lockheed definitely had Tomcat pilots in mind and not Tomcat maintainers when they put out that artist rendering of the NATF with a swing wing. While the swing wing design on the F-14 was a marvel of engineering it was also heavy and complex. Flap/Slat lockouts were a common occurrence. Then there was the simple fact that you had to contend with leaks and what not with the swing wing system. While I love the F-14 if the NATF had been built it would have had a folding wing. Less complex and easier to maintain.
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maiznblu_757
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RE: AIM-54s On F/A-18Fs?

Thu Jan 08, 2004 5:26 pm

It will not. I worked with the Super Hornet carrier suitability program at Patuxent River MD. We lose the Tomcat, we lose the weapon. It cannot carry it.

As far as "The production line being shut down"? AO's build these weapons on the ship or on the NAS. I know for a fact F14's were carrying them on my 2nd deployment, in 1996-1997 on board the USS Kitty Hawk. At Patuxent River from 1998-2001, F14's were carrying them when doing certain flight tests, taking off from the catapult or catching the wire.

[Edited 2004-01-08 09:35:02]

[Edited 2004-01-08 09:37:22]

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