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ThePointblank
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F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:32 am

So much for the oft quoted "it won't fire from a F-35 till 2017" statement some detractors have repeated in the past...

http://www.edwards.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123454036

Quote:
7/22/2015 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Test Force is in the process of testing the F-35A's newest munitions asset - the GAU-22/A. The gun is a four-barrel Gatling gun that fires 25 millimeter rounds.

Unlike the Marine Corps and Navy variants, the GAU-22/A is integrated internally to the F-35A. In the other variants, the gun is mounted to the outside as a pod. A similar weapon, GAU-12, has been used on the AV-8B Harrier Jump Jet.

The first phase of testing started June 9, when the first shots were fired from tail number AF-2 on the ground at the Edwards Gun Harmonizing Range. The test team hopes to finish ground testing sometime during August and start the airborne phase late September. An operational gun capability will be added with a future block of software, which is in the beginning stages of testing at Edwards.

The tests are done using a target practice round, PGU-23/U, which fires from the gun, but does not explode on impact.

The tricky part about this test phase is that the gun will never operationally fire on the ground. To conduct the test, they have to use software to bypass interlocks and "fool the aircraft to make it think it's in the air."

"As an Air Force pilot, it's going to be one more thing that I can select to either strafe air-to-ground targets or shoot as an air-to-air weapon," said Maj. Andrew Rollins, 461st Flight Test Squadron, assistant director of operations.

Some released pictures of the test:

http://www.edwards.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/2015/07/150717-F-ZZ999-412.jpg

http://www.edwards.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/2015/07/150717-F-ZZ999-461.jpg

And there's a video of the first gun test as well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFoJ93Kb5z0

There will be more testing conducted on the ground before they move to validation in the air, which is expected to take place in September. Another production airframe will also assist in the gun validation testing as well, as AF-2 is the flight sciences aircraft and doesn't have all of the mission systems a production F-35 would have.
 
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kc135topboom
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Thu Jul 23, 2015 5:03 pm

I wonder if the gun muzzle door is going to fly off when the gun is fired inflight? That would put a hole in the stealth covering.
 
Ozair
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Thu Jul 23, 2015 8:49 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
I wonder if the gun muzzle door is going to fly off when the gun is fired inflight? That would put a hole in the stealth covering.

LM has already designed and put into service the F-22 which has an extremely similar gun door. I have seen no reports of this happening to the F-22 so the chance of it occurring to the F-35 must be very low...
 
Powerslide
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Sat Jul 25, 2015 11:16 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):

I wonder if the gun muzzle door is going to fly off when the gun is fired inflight? That would put a hole in the stealth covering.

It would only make sense to design and install a component on a new fighter that flies off in flight.  
 
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spudh
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Sun Jul 26, 2015 12:35 am

Quoting Powerslide (Reply 3):

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):

I wonder if the gun muzzle door is going to fly off when the gun is fired inflight? That would put a hole in the stealth covering.

It would only make sense to design and install a component on a new fighter that flies off in flight

Wouldn't be the first time for something like that, it happened with the F-14 inflight refueling probe doors, most flew without out them.
 
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moo
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Sun Jul 26, 2015 12:43 pm

Quoting Powerslide (Reply 3):
It would only make sense to design and install a component on a new fighter that flies off in flight.

That's how the Eurofighter does it, unless the mission specifically includes firing the gun its covered with a cover which is fired through and discarded in flight.
 
Ozair
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Sun Jul 26, 2015 10:57 pm

Quoting moo (Reply 5):
That's how the Eurofighter does it, unless the mission specifically includes firing the gun its covered with a cover which is fired through and discarded in flight.

The Eurofighter is not a VLO design though. The cover is there to preserve the stealth characteristics of the airframe from start to finish.
 
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moo
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Mon Jul 27, 2015 9:28 am

Quoting Ozair (Reply 6):
The Eurofighter is not a VLO design though. The cover is there to preserve the stealth characteristics of the airframe from start to finish.

It is a design which optimises LO from the front however, so missing that cover gives you a rather large hole...


Plus of course Powerslide didn't specify a VLO design, just a "new fighter".
 
Ozair
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Mon Jul 27, 2015 11:02 am

Quoting moo (Reply 7):
It is a design which optimises LO from the front however, so missing that cover gives you a rather large hole...

To a degree. The Eurofighter's 27mm cannon is situated within the wingroot. Compared to the two gaping intake holes situated next to it any exposed hole for the gun would be a minimal RCS increase and given the Eurofighter carries it's ordnance externally it is an even smaller comparative increase. Contrastingly, the F-35 has an RCS that is likely at least two orders of magnitude lower than the Eurofighter. When you are attempting to obtain that VLO level every little bit, like a gun port door, helps.

Quoting moo (Reply 7):
Plus of course Powerslide didn't specify a VLO design, just a "new fighter".

Hardly. Powerslide's comment was in direct relation to the F-35, made in reply "and quoting" KC135TopBoom's comment specifically about the F-35...

Quoting Powerslide (Reply 3):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):

I wonder if the gun muzzle door is going to fly off when the gun is fired inflight? That would put a hole in the stealth covering.

It would only make sense to design and install a component on a new fighter that flies off in flight.
 
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moo
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Mon Jul 27, 2015 11:15 am

Quoting Ozair (Reply 8):
Compared to the two gaping intake holes situated next to it any exposed hole for the gun would be a minimal RCS increase and given the Eurofighter carries it's ordnance externally it is an even smaller comparative increase.

Considering those intakes are modelled to hide the engines themselves and reduce radar return, its little different to the intakes either side of the body on the F-35.

Quoting Ozair (Reply 8):
Contrastingly, the F-35 has an RCS that is likely at least two orders of magnitude lower than the Eurofighter. When you are attempting to obtain that VLO level every little bit, like a gun port door, helps.

So minimising the increase in radar cross section on a less LO aircraft is not as important then?

Quoting Ozair (Reply 8):
Hardly. Powerslide's comment was in direct relation to the F-35, made in reply "and quoting" KC135TopBoom's comment specifically about the F-35...

We have to agree to disagree there.
 
Ozair
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:23 pm

Quoting moo (Reply 9):
Considering those intakes are modelled to hide the engines themselves and reduce radar return, its little different to the intakes either side of the body on the F-35.

It is different. The F-35 RCS reduction is built in from the start, embedded into the coating design of the intakes, intakes specifically positioned and designed to deflect or reflect returns to certain specific angles. It would be naive to claim that the Eurofighter had the same care, attention and funding for RCS reduction to achieve a similar result.

Quoting moo (Reply 9):
So minimising the increase in radar cross section on a less LO aircraft is not as important then?

In aircraft design there are trade-offs that must be made. Eurofighter made the RCS trade-off by hanging weapons externally, using a single vertical stabilizer etc. My opinion only but the treatment of a gun port embedded in the wing root probably makes little difference.

Quoting moo (Reply 9):
We have to agree to disagree there.

Sure...
 
Oroka
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Jul 28, 2015 12:26 am

lol AF-2 was the F-35A that got beat by a F-16 in a dogfight. Im surprised it had ammo in it for the test   
 
LMP737
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Jul 28, 2015 8:41 am

And the the USN and USMC F-35 have an external gun pod. Might as well not even have a gun.
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JetBuddy
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Wed Jul 29, 2015 9:31 am

Quoting Oroka (Reply 11):
lol AF-2 was the F-35A that got beat by a F-16 in a dogfight. Im surprised it had ammo in it for the test

You still haven't found out that it was pure BS? The F-35A in that test flew within a very limited test flight envelope. The F-16 did not. But people will believe what they want to.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Thu Jul 30, 2015 5:06 am

Quoting JetBuddy (Reply 13):
You still haven't found out that it was pure BS? The F-35A in that test flew within a very limited test flight envelope. The F-16 did not. But people will believe what they want to.

And it wasn't even a dogfight; it was a test to see if the flight envelope protection was effective at high AoA... the test revealed that the flight envelope protection worked as designed, and there was room for improvement in performance as well.
 
Oroka
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Sat Aug 08, 2015 10:09 pm

Quoting JetBuddy (Reply 13):
You still haven't found out that it was pure BS?

missed the sarcasm there? AF2 doing gun tests WITH ammo... more than it was equipt with against the F-16.
 
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Spacepope
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Sun Aug 09, 2015 10:58 pm

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 12):

And the the USN and USMC F-35 have an external gun pod. Might as well not even have a gun.

Because the external gun pod on the AV-8B is total junk/has never been used either? Riiiight.
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dl021
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:43 pm

External gun pods cant hold zero for very long during sustained use, and have never been found to be optimal solutions. Better than nothing if the airplane doesn't have a gun.

Guns are needed for ground support. Period. The Marines get it, but the Air Force would be just as happy without them it seems.

Similar to trying to field the new J model gunship without the 105 and refusing to order sufficient new parts for 40mm guns that are very useful. They ended up being forced to add the 105s after it was shown the small diameter bombs and small missiles have 50% functionality in tests, and they run out of ammo very quickly using the expensive electronic weapons. Dumb ammo seems to be the most called upon solution
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Ozair
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:07 pm

Quoting dl021 (Reply 17):
Guns are needed for ground support. Period. The Marines get it, but the Air Force would be just as happy without them it seems.

??? Your statement makes no sense. How do the Marines get it when the F-35B, which is the USMC version, has an external gun pod while the F-35A, which is the USAF version, has an internal gun?

Clearly the Marines, who apparently get guns and ground support, are happy with an external pod...
 
ThePointblank
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Aug 11, 2015 2:43 am

Quoting dl021 (Reply 17):
External gun pods cant hold zero for very long during sustained use, and have never been found to be optimal solutions. Better than nothing if the airplane doesn't have a gun.

If the mount wasn't designed to take a gun pod in the first place, then it's an issue. The centre line mount on the F-35 IS designed to take a gun pod; in fact, its the only store qualified on that position.

Poor execution in one instance does not mean the concept as a whole is flawed.

Quoting dl021 (Reply 17):
Guns are needed for ground support. Period.

No they don't. Close Air Support is about putting ordinance on targets that happen to be very close to friendlies. Doesn't matter what ordinance is used. As such, you need the weapons that have excellent accuracy and consistency, plus the avionics and sensors necessary to pinpoint the target.

Quoting dl021 (Reply 17):
Similar to trying to field the new J model gunship without the 105 and refusing to order sufficient new parts for 40mm guns that are very useful.

1. The current AC-130J's are quick conversions of MC-130J Combat Shadow II's, done along the same as the MC-130W Dragon Spear precision strike package upgrades.

2. The existing 40mm L/60 Bofors cannon is incredibly out of date; it's a design dating back to pre-World War II, and was discontinued for a newer gun, which only shares the same round diameter. It was last manufactured in the 1950's.

The Bofors 40 mm L/70 is a totally different gun altogether. Longer round with a larger propellant casing, higher rate of fire, and was designed from the onset to be power controlled.

Quoting dl021 (Reply 17):
They ended up being forced to add the 105s after it was shown the small diameter bombs and small missiles have 50% functionality in tests

Actually, the issue was excessive vibration in the sensor package, plus electrical/radio frequency interference between the aircraft and the hand controllers that the sensor operators use to guide munitions.

Plus, they are salvaging the 105mm gun off retiring AC-130's (the M102 howitzer is a Vietnam era weapon), and only part of the AC-130J fleet will get a 105mm gun; the rest are slated to get a directed energy weapon in the future.

[Edited 2015-08-10 20:17:58]
 
Cross757
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Wed Aug 19, 2015 4:53 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 19):
Doesn't matter what ordinance is used.

It absolutely does matter. The choice of weapon is significant when dealing with an enemy that is 20-30 meters from friendlies as compared to 500 meters. Often times a gun is the best choice: offers high precision and quick reaction time.

Quoting ThePointblank (Thread starter):
So much for the oft quoted "it won't fire from a F-35 till 2017" statement some detractors have repeated in the past...

"Testing" and being "fully operational" are completely different. Considering how everything else has gone with the F-35, 2017 might prove to be accurate after all.
 
LovesCoffee
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:49 pm

From the Air Force Magazine - Daily Report of Friday 8/21:

Quote:
"F-35A's Gun Fires At Full Capacity:
The Air Force variant of the Joint Strike Fighter fired 181 rounds from its four-barrel, 25-mm Gatling gun this month in a ground test at Edwards AFB, Calif., the Joint Strike Fighter program office announced Aug. 20. Ground testing started June 9, using a production version of the gun and a target practice round, and is expected to be complete this month. Airborne gun testing will begin in late September, and the gun will be operational by the end of the system development and demonstration phase in 2017, according to the program office. The gun is embedded in the left wing of the F-35A and will allow pilots to strafe targets on the ground or in the air. But because the F-35 is a stealth aircraft, the gun must be hidden behind a door until the trigger is engaged. Testing is meant to certify that the door opens properly and that the gun can spin up and down correctly. The Marine Corps declared initial operational capability on its version of the F-35 on July 31; the Air Force expects to declare IOC next fall."
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ThePointblank
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:39 am

Quoting Cross757 (Reply 20):
It absolutely does matter. The choice of weapon is significant when dealing with an enemy that is 20-30 meters from friendlies as compared to 500 meters. Often times a gun is the best choice: offers high precision and quick reaction time.

So lets clear up the biggest misconception you are making: the vast majority of the CAS provided by A-10's is not done with the gun. 95% of the time they're using precision guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles. JDAM's have accounted for 80% of ordinance used by aircraft in both OEF, and OIF. Heck, the vast majority of CAS isn't being provided by the A-10 either; it's the F-16.

Weapons choice is made in consultation with the JTAC and the pilot. It's up to the JTAC/ALO or even CAS pilot, to determine the appropriate weapons to deliver that effect they need, as these guys know their weapons systems and their capabilities and limitations. When ground controllers pass their fire support requests to the pilots, they must accept the responsibility for the risk to friendly forces when targets are within a 0.1% probability of incapacitation of a friendly.

Furthermore, if there is a reasonable expectation that the opponent is well armed and trained with MANPAD's, no way is an air commander going to send aircraft down low; they will stick to the medium to high altitude range and toss PGM's at range. Rescuing pilots that are shot down because they were flying low and slow to provide ground support just increases the risk of friendlies being killed, from the pilot, to the troops that were being supported, to the CSAR team that has to go in to rescue the pilot if they can. As a mission commander, you cannot risk and cause the deaths of more friendlies than the ones you are trying to save.
 
Max Q
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Aug 25, 2015 4:39 am

Congrats to the F35, nice to know it can successfully fire its gun on the ground.



At least there's one test where it wasn't defeated..
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checksixx
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:10 pm

Quoting Max Q (Reply 23):
Congrats to the F35, nice to know it can successfully fire its gun on the ground.



At least there's one test where it wasn't defeated..

There are those that follow and assume, and there are those that read, fact check, and know the truth. My suggestion is to stop following and actually get the facts...but that's up to you.

The gun program is going as planned. Not sure what the big deal is. The software/gun issue they speak of doesn't prevent it from firing for testing.
 
Cross757
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Aug 25, 2015 7:09 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 22):
So lets clear up the biggest misconception you are making

Let's clear up YOUR misconception: my post didn't say anything about the A-10, so why did you assume I did?

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 22):
Weapons choice is made in consultation with the JTAC and the pilot. It's up to the JTAC/ALO or even CAS pilot, to determine the appropriate weapons to deliver that effect they need, as these guys know their weapons systems and their capabilities and limitations

Yes, I know. But your original statement of...

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 19):
Doesn't matter what ordinance is used

...is completely untrue, which is what I correcting by giving an EXAMPLE of how it might matter. Even a small 250-pound class IAM will pose an extremely high fratricide risk to friendlies when it's attempted to be used on a target only 20-30 meters away.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 22):
Heck, the vast majority of CAS isn't being provided by the A-10 either; it's the F-16.

This still has nothing to do with your original statement, and regardless of what aircraft is providing CAS, the choice of weapon ABSOLUTELY matters.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 22):
It's up to the JTAC/ALO or even CAS pilot, to determine the appropriate weapons to deliver that effect they need

You seem to be back-tracking on your own statement that the choice of weapon doesn't matter...if it doesn't matter, as you stated before, then why would the pilot need to consult with the JTAC? According to you, the pilot just needs to flip the master arm switch to "Arm" and press the pickle button and whatever weapon falls off the aircraft is good enough.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 22):
It's up to the JTAC/ALO or even CAS pilot

The JTAC usually requests a weapon; ultimately the pilot has the responsibility to ensure the most appropriate weapon is used. Some of the JTAC's we worked with in OEF were very inexperienced (which was not their fault: there was a high demand for JTAC's in theater and they were being pressed into service almost immediately after completing training). Sometimes that meant the JTAC would request a weapon that was not at all appropriate for the target.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 22):
no way is an air commander going to send aircraft down low

The specific ROE for the AOR would usually dictate medium altitude tactics, however for weapons delivery, lower altitudes can and are used. This is often required to achieve the desired weapons effects.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 22):
Furthermore, if there is a reasonable expectation that the opponent is well armed and trained with MANPAD's, no way is an air commander going to send aircraft down low

Which is a reason why self-protection flares and tactics exist to minimize the threat from MANPAD's. It's impossible to eliminate all risk. If zero risk was the goal, then airplanes would never leave the ground.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 22):
As a mission commander, you cannot risk and cause the deaths of more friendlies than the ones you are trying to save.

Actually, Personnel Recovery (PR) is generally regarded as the only zero-fail mission. If a pilot is down behind enemy lines (or any isolated personnel for that matter), there is generally no limit to the amount of risk that will be taken to get that person (people) out. That knowledge is one of the cornerstones of morale that a downed pilot has to fall back on.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 22):
When ground controllers pass their fire support requests to the pilots, they must accept the responsibility for the risk to friendly forces when targets are within a 0.1% probability of incapacitation of a friendly

Technically, it's the ground commander of the unit involved that accepts the risk. Usually confirmed by passing the ground commanders initials to the pilot via the JTAC.
Furthermore, although the JTAC (or ground commander) ultimately gives the authorization for weapons release, it is up to the pilot to decide whether or not a weapon comes off the aircraft. Which brings us back to your statement of "...the type of weapon doesn't matter". With all due respect, your statement is wrong. Weapon selection is absolutely crucial.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Fri Aug 28, 2015 3:13 am

Quoting Cross757 (Reply 25):
Which is a reason why self-protection flares and tactics exist to minimize the threat from MANPAD's. It's impossible to eliminate all risk. If zero risk was the goal, then airplanes would never leave the ground.

Which is why the vast majority of the time today, aircraft performing air support missions are doing so from medium to high altitudes. Technology has enabled aircraft flying at high altitudes to assess the tactical picture, identify locations of friendlies and enemies, and put ordinance down with a very high level of accuracy and consistency.

If you need to, and there is no other option but to operate within a enemy's threat envelope, you do so. But if you don't have to and can do it above their envelope, then you do that. No need to create additional risk when the operational need isn't there.

Quoting Cross757 (Reply 25):
...is completely untrue, which is what I correcting by giving an EXAMPLE of how it might matter. Even a small 250-pound class IAM will pose an extremely high fratricide risk to friendlies when it's attempted to be used on a target only 20-30 meters away.

Which is why we are developing and deploying reduced lethality bombs for use; furthermore, we have weapons like APKWS, and AGM-176 Griffin that can hit targets close to friendlies with a smaller warhead. Also, adaptations of existing munitions with reduced warhead size are also available; take the Focused Lethality Munition variant of the SDB.

These guided munitions are considerably more accurate and consistent in all conditions than an fighter or attack aircraft cannon. In addition, aircraft and UAV's can carry more of these smart munitions and engage more targets compared to more traditional bombs. Witness how many SDB's can be fitted on an aircraft compared to the same aircraft carrying 500lb JDAM's.

Furthermore, with the US military and DARPA working on PCAS, which is platform agnostic, response times for CAS will drop immensely. What would take 30-60 minutes to coordinate a CAS mission will take 6 minutes to achieve the same effect, and allows the operator to be able to call and get support instantly. PCAS makes for closer, faster CAS that is more precise and easier to use even under full combat conditions, and also reduces the risk of friendly fire casualties and collateral damage. In addition, it allows the use of smaller munitions placed more precisely on smaller, multiple, or moving targets. In short, a JTAC on the ground can request support and direct the ordinance onto a target of his choosing right on an KILSWITCH tablet computer. Furthermore, troops on the ground can be networked using KILSWITCH and a node (say, a Switchblade UAV), and instantly populate the locations of friendlies for enhanced cooperation on the ground and from assets providing air support in the air. Some of this technology has demonstrated by the USMC (no less) in the recent TALON REACH exercise.

Quoting Cross757 (Reply 25):
Actually, Personnel Recovery (PR) is generally regarded as the only zero-fail mission. If a pilot is down behind enemy lines (or any isolated personnel for that matter), there is generally no limit to the amount of risk that will be taken to get that person (people) out. That knowledge is one of the cornerstones of morale that a downed pilot has to fall back on.

Except when a AH-64 got shot down just outside of Baghdad during the early phases of the Iraq War... while there was an immediate attempt to organize recovery of the crew, the commander in the area, Lt Col Mike Drowley, upon realizing the threat environment was way too risky with intense A-A fire upon probing the area in his A-10, immediately aborted the attempt and called off the special operations team even before the team had gotten off the ground. Although he didn't know it at the time, the AH-64 crew was immediately captured, rendering a rescue attempt futile to begin with.

If the threat environment is way too intense, there is no way a commander will allow ~20 para-rescue operators plus the crew of their helicopter(s) and escorts to go in. You will loose far more people in such an environment, with an almost certain chance of mission failure.

There are some fates that are worst than death; one is knowingly sending service members into certain death with mission failure as the only option as a commander.
 
LMP737
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Sat Aug 29, 2015 3:44 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 19):
No they don't. Close Air Support is about putting ordinance on targets that happen to be very close to friendlies. Doesn't matter what ordinance is used. As such, you need the weapons that have excellent accuracy and consistency, plus the avionics and sensors necessary to pinpoint the target.

Numerous cases in Iraq and Afghanistan say otherwise.
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ThePointblank
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Sat Aug 29, 2015 6:01 am

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 27):
Numerous cases in Iraq and Afghanistan say otherwise.

JTAC manual says otherwise:

https://fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp3_09_3.pdf

Page 27 of the PDF:

Quote:
CAS can be conducted at any place and time friendly forces are in close proximity to enemy forces. The word “close” does not imply a specific distance; rather, it is situational. The requirement for detailed integration because of proximity, fires, or movement is the determining factor. At times, CAS may be the best means to exploit tactical opportunities in the offense or defense. CAS provides fires to destroy, disrupt, suppress, fix, harass, neutralize, or delay enemy forces.

Nothing in the manual says you need a gun for CAS. The manual just states on page 33:

Quote:
Appropriate Ordnance. To create the desired effects, planners, JTACs, FAC(A)s, and aircrews must match the weapons and fuze settings to the target. For example, cluster and general purpose munitions are effective against area targets such as troops and vehicles in the open, but not against hardened targets, or when friendly troops may be affected by the immediate strike or by unexploded ordnance. In all cases, the supported commander needs to know the type of ordnance expended, if it will create the weapon effects desired, the probability for collateral damage, and the possible impact on the unit’s current or subsequent mission.

In short, know what your weapons are capable of, determine what sort of effect you want, and match the effect to the weapon available. There is a document that describes the weapons available, with their effects here:

https://info.publicintelligence.net/MTTP-JFIRE.pdf

Interesting to note that the GAU-8 has one of the highest 0.1% PI of all of the fixed wing frontal aircraft weapons, at 65m. The AV-8B's GAU-12 is lower at 55m, and with the F-35's gun being a derivative design, and designed to be more accurate, I would at least expect similar performance as well.

Both documents indicate that if you are employing any sort of munitions in a danger close setting (inside the 0.1% PI radius of the weapon), it is recommended that one employ the weapon parallel to friendly force’s axis or orientation, to reduce the risk of munitions impacting long or short of the intended impact point onto friendly positions.
 
LMP737
Posts: 5979
Joined: Wed May 08, 2002 4:06 pm

RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Sun Aug 30, 2015 12:06 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 28):
JTAC manual says otherwise:

https://fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp3_09_3.pdf

Page 27 of the PDF:
Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 28):
Nothing in the manual says you need a gun for CAS. The manual just states on page 33:

Oh a manual says you don't need a gun. Well as we have seen what a manual says and what happens in the real world are to different things.
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
 
ThePointblank
Topic Author
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Mon Aug 31, 2015 4:34 am

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 29):
Oh a manual says you don't need a gun. Well as we have seen what a manual says and what happens in the real world are to different things.

And still the fixation of having a big gun... the type of missions that where the only weapon of choice is an aircraft cannon is increasingly being taken over by attack helicopters and the AC-130. So it's not that the A-10 isn't good, it's more that its niche role is increasingly being taken over by other aircraft: the F-16 (and in the future, the F-35) for precision bombs, helicopters/gunships for guns, etc. And there are some missions where the A-10 won't be able to complete, such as CAS in a denied airspace environment, where the only option is to use other platforms.

The new-normal of CAS is medium altitude CAS. Practically every fixed wing platform, including the A-10 is operating from there, and systems and munitions are optimized to be employed from there. There's no need to come down into the small arms/automatic weapons threat range unless absolutely necessary for certain situations. Technology has advanced to a point where it allows a change in tactics which reduces risk to the aircraft, and removes limitations where previously, the state of technology limited capabilities.

So in my mind, if we are reviewing CAS and what sort of platforms are to be funded, we need to think of the following questions and then use that to gauge the effectiveness of the different assets:
1: What are the future representative situations of CAS?
2: How would all of the various assets (F-35, A-10, helicopters, gunships, UAV's, artillery, etc.) fare in them?
3: What effect will future technology (things like compound attack helicopters like the Sikorsky S-97 Raider, improved A-A defences, and directed energy weapons) affect the battlespace and tactics?


Once you have done that, you can then decide upon your future force structure and fund programs effectively.
 
LMP737
Posts: 5979
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Mon Aug 31, 2015 4:42 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 30):
There's no need to come down into the small arms/automatic weapons threat range unless absolutely necessary for certain situations.

And we have seen numerous cases of this happening.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 30):
Technology has advanced to a point where it allows a change in tactics which reduces risk to the aircraft, and removes limitations where previously, the state of technology limited capabilities.

Where have we heard that before?
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
 
ThePointblank
Topic Author
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Mon Aug 31, 2015 4:53 am

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 31):
And we have seen numerous cases of this happening.

It's one thing to say 'numerous cases', but a totally different thing to quantify it. So quantify it. Make it measurable. Out of all the CAS sorties in both OEF and OIF, what percentage of them required aircraft to get down low? Of those instances, what percentage had to get down low because of technical limitations? Quantify it.

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 31):
Where have we heard that before?

So why have we been upgrading every single fixed-wing CAS platform to use all sorts of high tech equipment, such as targeting pods, precision guided munitions, etc?

Hint: It's because the NEW way of doing things is more effective than the old ways of doing things.
 
Max Q
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:48 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 32):
the NEW way of doing things is more effective than the old ways of doing things.

I sure wouldn't want to be on the ground surrounded by bad guys and you in charge of the cavalry..
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
LMP737
Posts: 5979
Joined: Wed May 08, 2002 4:06 pm

RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Sep 01, 2015 3:36 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 32):
It's one thing to say 'numerous cases', but a totally different thing to quantify it. So quantify it. Make it measurable. Out of all the CAS sorties in both OEF and OIF, what percentage of them required aircraft to get down low? Of those instances, what percentage had to get down low because of technical limitations? Quantify it.

All I can say is WOW. You start a thread about the F-35A firing it's internal cannon and then turn around and question the importance of one. Make up your mind. As for quantifying it I would say the Marines that were saved from being overrun in Iraq by an F-16 making multiple strafing passes because weather conditions precluded using PGM would do that rather nicely.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 32):


Hint: It's because the NEW way of doing things is more effective than the old ways of doing things.

Kind of like "Dogfighting is a thing of the past. We have these fancy new missiles so we don't need a gun". Same exact mindset.

Hint: They ended up needing the gun after all.
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
 
ThePointblank
Topic Author
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:43 am

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 34):
All I can say is WOW. You start a thread about the F-35A firing it's internal cannon and then turn around and question the importance of one. Make up your mind.

Look at the recent history of air combat (say, past 40 years so we include the 1982 Lebanon War and the Falklands War), and look at the lists of aircraft shot down by another aircraft, and identify the weapon used. The gun hasn't been a highly used weapon against enemy aircraft. In the Falklands War, the AIM-9L missile was the predominant weapon used by FAA Harriers, with 25 kills for 27 launches against faster aircraft in marginal weather, a resulting success rate of 93%. A very similar story can be found in the Bekka Valley during the Lebanon War, as again, the AIM-9L was the predominant weapon used by Israeli fighters.

Go a bit further to the 1991 Gulf War. The predominant weapon used by Allied aircraft against Iraqi aircraft? AIM-7 Sparrow's and AIM-9L's. Guns only accounted for two kills, and they were against helicopters.

Also, look at the types of ordinance dropped in OEF and OIF. The JDAM is the most prevalent weapon used by aircraft in both campaigns, with over 80% of ordinance used being JDAM's.

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 34):
As for quantifying it I would say the Marines that were saved from being overrun in Iraq by an F-16 making multiple strafing passes because weather conditions precluded using PGM would do that rather nicely.

So, you have one instance. One instance out of perhaps hundreds, or even thousands of CAS missions. If that F-16, say, had JDAM's or some other type of PGM that allowed it drop them through weather, the F-16 would have used that instead.

So in reality, you have made another argument in that we need to equip more aircraft with PGM's with all weather capabilities, like JDAM, not that a gun is absolutely essential.

Furthermore, nothing prevented the F-16 pilot from just dropping his bombs dumb as well; the F-16's avionics is equipped with CCIP, and Paveway's and JDAM's behave very much the same as a standard Mark 80 series dumb bomb ballistically. So basically, roll in using CCIP and drop accordingly.

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 34):
Kind of like "Dogfighting is a thing of the past. We have these fancy new missiles so we don't need a gun". Same exact mindset.

Hint: They ended up needing the gun after all.

See first comment. Aircraft missiles have become extremely reliable in the past 20-30 years, thanks to more mature technology, realistic testing, and improved tactics.

And now, we have more evolved versions of those reliable missiles that are capable of engaging targets off boresight coupled to helmet mounted sights. I can now engage a enemy fighter just by looking at them and pulling the trigger. That's an incredibly bad situation for any side not equipped with these new off-boresight weapons. Dogfights will be incredibly short affairs as a result because of these new weapons. And if both sides have off-boresight weapons, then in reality you are better off not getting into a dogfight in the first place, because the likely scenario is that both sides will shoot each other down very quickly.

The gun realistically in a world of advanced PGM's, and off-boresight weaponry is now at most a last-ditch weapon, or a weapon for use against targets of opportunity.
 
LMP737
Posts: 5979
Joined: Wed May 08, 2002 4:06 pm

RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:49 am

Tell you what why don't you prove they don't need a gun on the F-35. Then when you do please tell us what the point of this entire thread was.
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
 
ThePointblank
Topic Author
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:55 am

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 36):
Tell you what why don't you prove they don't need a gun on the F-35.

The fact that the USMC and USN have seen fit to not only introduce a fighter into service without an internal gun speaks volumes about how useful a gun is in combat.

The USMC, by far the most experienced service in terms of using aircraft to support ground forces, and has one of the strongest ethos when it comes to supporting infantry will all arms, is more than comfortable getting F-35B's without an internal gun. That alone says a lot of things.

And with directed energy weapons under development, such a weapon could completely remove the need for a gun altogether; if say a future variant of the F-35A saw the removal of the gun in favour of installing a generator to power a podded directed energy weapon underneath the aircraft, I would have that over a gun in a heartbeat.

The gun is another tool in the tool box and of course, the planners still envision a need for a gun, but increasingly, it's a tool being less frequently used in combat. There is a very good chance that future 6th generation fighter designs could completely omit an internal gun altogether.
 
Max Q
Posts: 8115
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:55 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 37):
The USMC, by far the most experienced service in terms of using aircraft to support ground forces, and has one of the strongest ethos when it comes to supporting infantry will all arms, is more than comfortable getting F-35B's without an internal gun. That alone says a lot of things.

Yes, I bet what it says is that an internal gun couldn't fit inside a B model, not with all the other machinery taking up every last square inch !


Nothing more than that.


A gun is vital, when all your missiles are gone or you're too close, or your need to provide close air support, nothing else does the job, no matter what the endless LM commercial says !
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
Ozair
Posts: 4944
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:38 am

RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:17 pm

Quoting Max Q (Reply 38):
Yes, I bet what it says is that an internal gun couldn't fit inside a B model, not with all the other machinery taking up every last square inch !

Sure, but the B brings the ability to VTOL and the aircraft it is replacing, the AV-8B also didn't have an internal gun.

Quoting Max Q (Reply 38):
Nothing more than that.

I guess the Harrier suffered the same issue. Can you point to where the Marines have been complaining for the last 30 years about the lack of an internal gun?

Quoting Max Q (Reply 38):
A gun is vital, when all your missiles are gone or you're too close, or your need to provide close air support, nothing else does the job, no matter what the endless LM commercial says !

LOL, where have LM said you don't need a gun? They didn't advocate for a gun or for not having a gun, they delivered a capability based on the requirements mandated to them.

Just to ensure clarity here, all variants of the F-35 have the ability to carry a 25mm cannon. The A model has the cannon internal; the B and C models have the cannon external. If the Navy and Marines had demanded the cannon be internal, it would have occurred. Clearly the Marines are happy with an external cannon, given they have operated that capability for 30 years, and the Navy are comfortable with the trade-off as well.

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 36):

Tell you what why don't you prove they don't need a gun on the F-35.

No one is saying you don't need a gun. Everyone, including JTACS (you know, those guys who are responsible for calling in air support to ground forces), are saying you need the right weapon for the right target. Even PointBlank and Cross757 can agree on that.

What is clear is that in the 21st century, more often than not that right weapon is a PGM and not a gun and the use of PGMs is only going to increase as smarter and smaller weapons become available and the sensors available on the battlefield, from both manned and unmanned systems, improve.
 
JohnM
Posts: 395
Joined: Sat Feb 24, 2001 12:35 pm

RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Wed Sep 02, 2015 1:21 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 37):
The USMC, by far the most experienced service in terms of using aircraft to support ground forces

What is the source for that info? Tons of weapons dropped? Number of missions flown? I think they would be number 3 in experience behind the Army and AF.
 
Ozair
Posts: 4944
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:38 am

RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Wed Sep 02, 2015 2:23 am

Quoting JohnM (Reply 40):
What is the source for that info? Tons of weapons dropped? Number of missions flown? I think they would be number 3 in experience behind the Army and AF.

My understanding was the Marines excel in having the shortest time from CAS request to weapon drop. It is apparently significantly better than the USAF, which shouldn’t be a surprise given it is usually Marines talking to Marines.
 
ThePointblank
Topic Author
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RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Wed Sep 02, 2015 3:58 am

Quoting JohnM (Reply 40):

What is the source for that info? Tons of weapons dropped? Number of missions flown? I think they would be number 3 in experience behind the Army and AF.

Historically. The USMC pioneered the use of aircraft to directly support ground forces, with the first USMC aircraft flying missions in support of ground forces during the Banana Wars. The initial tactics developed during the Banana Wars was further refined in World War II and the Korean War. Close air support has been the hallmark, the defining factor of Marine Aviation, and it has been like that for the past 90 years.
 
Oroka
Posts: 1132
Joined: Sat Dec 09, 2006 4:37 am

RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:02 am

Apparently the USAF is going to do an actual head to head competition and have the F-35A take on the A-10 to test how the former stacks up against the latter. IIRC there will be no limit on how the sorties are performed, each aircraft can use its special features in different ways to complete the same tasks.

Only issue, the battle is in 2018 when they expect the full combat capable Block 3F software to be complete.

http://www.defensenews.com/story/def...ve-cas-capabilities-face/71336130/
 
Ozair
Posts: 4944
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:38 am

RE: F-35 Ground Tests Gun

Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:58 am

Airborne testing of the F-35 gun has now begun.

The F-35 Lightning II, a Lockheed Martin joint strike fighter, has just completed its first in-flight firing of its 25mm gun.

The flight, piloted by U.S. Air Force Major Charles Trickey, took place on Oct. 30.

The F-35 fired has a four-barrel, 25mm Gatling gun embedded in its left wing and will provide pilots with the ability to strafe air-to-ground or air-to-air targets.


http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/m...tning-ii-flight-gun-test/75056904/

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