"There's not enough thrust in all of Christendom to make the F-111 a fighter!"
Or something like that. Adm Connelly was pretty cool.
Here's a very interesting report by POGO (Project On Government Oversight) about the F-22.
Colonel Riccioni is known as the father of the F-16, and today he was speaking at the Old Ebbitt Grill in D.C.
Quotes (since this is, of course, not copyrighted, I can post all that I want):
The dream mission, or the dream for this airplane was really quite good. It was intended to provide the United States with dominance of the air beyond the year 2005 and specifically designed against a very specific enemy. It was meant to do offensive counter-air operations deep in the heart of Russia. And to that end, the airplane was going to perform a very aggressive mission, which was a 100 mile flight to the borders of Russia, then a 400 mile supersonic penetration, supersonic for survivability, and then do its combat and fly 400 miles out and then 100 miles back to the home base. A very ambitious mission.
And along with that it was supposed to have ultra-high performance beyond that of current aircraft. And the other primary reason for the existence of the airplane is the F-15s and the F-16s are definitely wearing out. There is no question about that. So it was meant to rejuvenate an aging Air Force. That would become a subject of conversation.
The beauty of it is that it was all to be done for an airplane that was to cost $35 million, which, in 1982, which is when it was specified, or 1980, that was precisely the cost of F-15. These are unit fly-away costs, by the way, so the $35 million would translate in today’s inflated dollars and in total program costs, it would translate to about $40 [million] to $50 million. So that’s the cost that we’ll compare later.
So the visual signature. You know, one of the things I’ve always prided myself in life is that I see things that other people don’t. And I see things that other people don’t because they’re obvious. The first thing that impressed me about the F-22 is that it’s the largest fighter in the American skies. Now when I was creating the F-16 airplane, a great, great consideration was given to keeping it as small as possible, and I didn’t quite succeed in getting it as small as I wanted because the Air Force wanted to put more goodies in it and the airplane grew and I lost that battle to some extent. But the F-16 is on the upper side of small.
And here’s an airplane that’s at least five times bigger than the F-16 in size. In fact, most people don’t even know how to measure size, but I won’t get trapped into that unless you want that conversation later. But allow me to say that the largest airplanes in the skies today are the F-15 and the F-14, visible at six and seven miles and identifiable, and here’s an airplane that’s considerably larger, about 25 percent larger. So visual signature -- it’s anti-stealthy visually.
This airplane is unique if it’s going to super-cruise. It’s going to ram the air at 1.6, 1.7 Mach number. You'll get inevitable shock waves. You'll get inevitable leading edge heating, and you make a beacon in the sky out of the airplane because the heat contrasts well with the cold surroundings. Now in deference to the F-22, they very intelligently decided to cool the leading edges of the airplane with fuel. That was a very smart decision. You can cool the air frame but you can’t cool the hot air, and you can’t cool the hot air that comes out from the jet exhaust, because the only thing that moves the airplane, the only thing that gives you thrust is extremely hot air going at extremely high speeds out the back end of the airplane.
And they tried by putting sheets of cooling air above and below the two-dimensional nozzle, but the fact is the air tumbles when it gets out and so the jet wake is warm. The hot parts of the rear of the airplane are hot, and the shock waves will give you enough. Besides that, a good IR
sensor can sense a subsonic cruise airplane. And who has IR
sensors? The Russians have them on all their airplanes. The U.S. Navy has them on all their airplanes. Only the Air Force doesn’t have IR
sensors on their airplanes.
The performance of the airplane is not going to be spectacular. Now how do I know that? From public literature. How can you deduce that? If you know F = ma, the laws of physics is very easy to deduce if you know a little bit of aerodynamics on top of it. The thrust of the airplane is a nominal 70,000 pounds, two 35,000 pound engines. The weight of the airplane is 65,000 pounds. That means the ratio of the thrust to the weight, which gives you some idea of the ability of the airplane to accelerate, is roughly that of the F-15C.
The fuel fraction, which I’ll discuss at some length -- oh, I've missed supercruise. Wow! Wow! The fuel fraction is identical to the F-15. The fuel fraction is the weight of the fuel on board, ratioed or divided by the total weight of the airplane with fuel and weapons at takeoff. So it’s the percentage of the airplane that’s energy. It’s the percentage of the airplane that’s fuel. And those two are identical. They’re both 29 percent. So if the fuel fraction is the same, the thrust-to-weight ratio is the same, wing-loading is the same. It’s going to maneuver very much like an F-15.
Okay. So I’ve discussed performance. I’ve got to discuss the centerpiece of supersonic cruise. There are two enormous discrepancies in the supersonic cruise part of the airplane. One is a little bit complicated, but it happens to be the thing that created most of the trouble. The entire country has focused on the wrong definition of supersonic cruise, and the GAO has bitten it off. They have reported that the airplane has demonstrated supersonic cruise. What they reported was that the airplane flew at 1.6 and 1.7 mach number in dry thrust, meaning the afterburner wasn’t being used, just the pure central turbojet part of the engine.
Now that feature bodes well for the airplane. You want that feature. But that feature is necessary and it’s desirable, but it’s not sufficient to give you super-cruise. And besides, what is proof positive of this is if Lockheed and the Air Force know what they’re doing, the airplane will not be cruising supersonically in dry thrust. It will be at low afterburner power settings. That I have to demonstrate to you.
----- (skipped some stuff, the wing's too big for efficient supercruise, not at a high enough altitude, etc)
Efficient supersonic cruise is done in supercruisers at high altitudes with afterburning. When you bite the definition that it’s going supersonic in dry thrust, you’re just talking about a characteristic of the airplane. It bodes well, but that’s not where you should be supercruising. You should be up around 60. And there’s nothing novel about this. The Russian MiG-31 supersonic cruise interceptor does it. The SR
-71, which flies very fast and very high, uses only the afterburner. It bypasses the turbojet engine completely. In fact, it goes to idle, and so it’s operating purely as a RAM-jet engine. An afterburner is a RAM-jet engine tied to a turbojet engine. So there’s nothing mysterious about this. Supercruise, properly done, is done in afterburning.
Proof positive that the airplane isn’t going to go very far in supercruise is the fuel fraction. It’s 29 percent. The F-4's fuel fraction is 29 percent, subcruiser, F-15. The MiG-29 is 29 percent, whereas the MiG-31, which is a Russian supercruiser, is up at 45 percent. And if you want a perspective on this from my experience in design, 29 percent and below gives you a subcruiser. That’s the F-22. Thirty-one to 32 percent gets you in the right direction. Above 35 percent you get pragmatic supersonic cruise missions.
Okay. I said I’d discuss the relevance of air superiority today. That’s a very easy problem. I even ran into an advocate of the F-22 and I asked them a leading question. I said, where in this world do we have an air superiority problem today? And I almost fell over. He gave me the right answer. He said, nowhere. The only countries that present any numbers of high performance Russian aircraft are Russia, China and India. I don’t think we’re going to go to war with Russia. China is not going to attack the United States. A sane U.S. is not going to attack China. Benevolent India is not going to attack the United States. So we haven’t got a problem there.
Where are other high-performance fighters? Europe. Well, we’re not going to go to war with Germany, France, Italy, England. So that’s not a problem. A few fighters in Bulgaria, Romania are not a threat to this country. There really is no air superiority threat. And an air superiority fighter is designed to shoot down enemy airplanes. We don’t have any opposition. Now World War II
was important. We had to not only shoot down those hordes of German aircraft, we had to shoot down their Stukas, which were bothering our ground troops.
But when you have an airplane that costs $190 million, that’s 339 divided into $64.2 billion, that cost, which is equal to one-third the cost of the B-1, is utterly obscene. Now why is it obscene? Because it’s going to actually degrade the fighting capability of air combat command. And I want to bring you to some history. They wanted 700 to 800 airplanes initially was to be the buy, for about $40 billion. Then they decided that it was going to be $70 billion. After one review, a SAR, selected acquisitions review, they put it down to $64.2 billion and 680 aircraft, 660 or 680 airplanes. And after the next bottoms-up review, they blew it down to 440 aircraft, but still for $64.2 billion. That’s important. And then after the last review they had -- I've got them in reverse order again. Okay. It doesn't matter. The quadrennial defense review. Thank you. The quadrennial defense review was 339 aircraft for $64.2 billion.
COL. RICCIONI: No. And certainly today we have more than enough. You know, today’s air tac command could almost take on the whole known world, almost any coalition in the whole known world with all its fighters. We absolutely don’t need new airplanes to counter the F-15s that we’ve sold to people.
COL. RICCIONI: The F-22 program is really -- it grew out of a desire of the Air Force to resurrect itself, you know. Given that you have a fighter, it becomes axiomatic that you want a new fighter upgraded to the modern technology. I mean that’s a cult. Whether you need it or not. I mean, a replacement airplane for equipment you’ve learned to depend on, okay? And as it grew, I remember -- in fact, I was at the flight dynamics lab at the time. General Dixon ordered my division at the flight dynamics lab to get in bed with the fighter requirements people at tactical air command then and with the engineers at Wright-Patterson, in the engineering part of the base, to evolve the requirements for this airplane.
And in their rush to get a great airplane for the Air Force, they put in this requirement, that requirement, another requirement, without regard to either cost. Cost was not their problem. They didn’t observe cost. And also without regard to the resulting airplane. And I broke up a meeting one time in 1975, where I got to the meeting a little bit late and I listened to all these requirements. I said, do you know what you’re doing? You’re asking for an airplane that’s going to cost one-third as much as a B-1, and it broke the meeting up. They recognized the error of what they were doing.
But the result is, I had no effect on the outcome and we have an airplane that costs one-third as much as the B-1. So the Air Force is just trying to propagate itself, just like the Navy is trying to propagate itself. In fact, that seems to be a rule of life, to propagate yourself.
Q. Your sixth thing that you mentioned.
COL. RICCIONI: Oh, okay, I’m glad you brought that up, my lady. Somebody’s got a good memory; I haven't. If you redefine stealth as how frequently the enemy sees an airplane, or how infrequently the enemy will see the airplane, then it isn’t the technology that gives you stealth on the F-22. It’s a by-product of the technology called the cost. Since you're going to buy so few of them, the enemy will seldom see them. So it’s really the cost that makes the airplane stealthy, not the technology.
You know, if you send 70 airplanes out to the Pacific to fight in that area and attack a country as expansive as China, the Chinese commanders will be wondering which province you’re operating against. Cost is stealth.
You know, there was another classic example of unilateral disarmament, and, again, maybe it wasn’t necessary. Strategic Air Command was operating 1,360 bombers -- 1,360 B-47s. Then they bought 680 B-52s to replace them. As the B-52s got older, they were going to buy 206 -- shades of the F-22 -- they were going to buy about 250 B-1Bs. They bought 100 B-1Bs for the total program cost. And then for the total program cost they bought 20 B-2s. They were supposed to buy 135 B-2s for $40 billion. And incidentally, on black programs, when you get a cost number on a black program, be very leery of it. You’re not getting it all. It’s hidden. It’s hidden from the enemy, the people, and their representatives.