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SteelChair
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Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:34 pm

It has been about 15 years, perhaps a little longer, since Mr. Cheney killed the Tomcat. I'm wondering how it has worked out, especially since so many people were so aggrieved by the decision.

Safety: One would anticipate that there have been far fewer SH lost than F14s over a similar 15 year period. How many Naval Aviators are alive today simply because of the change to the SH, perhaps 50?

Reliability: Mission capable rates were always a problem with the F14. One would tend to think that many more missions have been flown with better predictability due to the more reliable SH.

Fuel: The Hornet is smaller, has a smaller fuel capacity, and likely burns less fuel than the much larger and older Tomcat. Reliance upon AEGIS cruisers and destroyers for more of the fleet defense role has probably decreased the amount of time for SH on CAP, but then again the decision to retire other aircraft that had tanking capability has caused premature wear and tear on SH due to them performing as a tanker in the buddy tanker role.

Does anyone know how well the Naval Aviation Maintenance Center for Excellence (NAMCE) at Lemoore is performing? A year or so ago there was a flurry of articles about how many long term "down" aircraft they were returning to fleet service. I wonder how many airplanes they have put back into service in the intervening time?

Does anyone have any data regarding these topics?
 
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STT757
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Sun Jun 13, 2021 7:49 pm

SteelChair wrote:
It has been about 15 years, perhaps a little longer, since Mr. Cheney killed the Tomcat. I'm wondering how it has worked out, especially since so many people were so aggrieved by the decision.

Safety: One would anticipate that there have been far fewer SH lost than F14s over a similar 15 year period. How many Naval Aviators are alive today simply because of the change to the SH, perhaps 50?

Reliability: Mission capable rates were always a problem with the F14. One would tend to think that many more missions have been flown with better predictability due to the more reliable SH.

Fuel: The Hornet is smaller, has a smaller fuel capacity, and likely burns less fuel than the much larger and older Tomcat. Reliance upon AEGIS cruisers and destroyers for more of the fleet defense role has probably decreased the amount of time for SH on CAP, but then again the decision to retire other aircraft that had tanking capability has caused premature wear and tear on SH due to them performing as a tanker in the buddy tanker role.

Does anyone know how well the Naval Aviation Maintenance Center for Excellence (NAMCE) at Lemoore is performing? A year or so ago there was a flurry of articles about how many long term "down" aircraft they were returning to fleet service. I wonder how many airplanes they have put back into service in the intervening time?

Does anyone have any data regarding these topics?


Do you mean Rumsfeld? He was Defense Secretary, Chenney was Vice President when the F-14 was retired.
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LyleLanley
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:57 am

Cheney was Secdef when F14D/re-engineering was canceled~ 1991
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CRJockey
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Mon Jun 14, 2021 8:32 am

I would guess that it worked out tremendously well, especially with hindsight. The role of the Tomcat seems awfully one-dimensional from a todays' point of view, basically being limited to carrying AIM54 in reach of soviet bombers. And that role all but disappeared. The SH is a by far more versatile aircraft and if any airfield in the world needs versatility, it would be a carrier deck and the hangar space below.

Maybe I am wrong, but if weren't for the Top Gun movie, public opinion wouldn't give a damn about the Tomcat.
 
texl1649
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Mon Jun 14, 2021 10:17 am

This debate is now fully moot but to characterize what a Tomcat 21 type of aircraft would have been capable of (capable weapons load, maintenance, reliability, etc) is not really possible. It did not receive the steady upgrades it’s peer did over 5+ decades (F-15EX) certainly.

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/2 ... ooked-like

A good discussion of the overall design;

https://youtu.be/SsUCixAeZ0A

The very notional ST2010 is really what one would compare today’s Super Hornet capabilities to, not the F-14A’s of 1985/movie fame, if such an analysis is of interest. Now, whether that would have been fair even, is debatable.

It really would only make sense in lieu of F-35 purchase and development costs (after the A-12 cancellation), which I am not sure ever would have been conceivable, imho, as an alternate Navair history. However, if the USN had, without politics being involved, decided to invest heavily in F-14 further development vs. the essentially all-new SH, it’s not accurate at all to say the reliability, safety, and A2G as well as A2A capabilities of the Tomcat couldn’t have been grown exponentially. Again the article details some of those ‘what if’ opportunities in greater detail.
 
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bikerthai
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Mon Jun 14, 2021 5:14 pm

Just like the F-111, you are carrying extra weight of the swing wing mechanism just to attain the supersonic efficiency that you rarely need. All the extra weight would better go into more fuel and payload.

bt
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744SPX
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Mon Jun 14, 2021 8:16 pm

bikerthai wrote:
Just like the F-111, you are carrying extra weight of the swing wing mechanism just to attain the supersonic efficiency that you rarely need. All the extra weight would better go into more fuel and payload.

bt


Which is why a swing wing makes more sense for an aircraft that will be spending a larger percentage of time at supersonic speeds, such as NGAD or a supersonic transport.

To be fair though, the F-111 benefitted tremendously from the swing wing at low altitude high speed flight, where it spent most of its time.
 
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Mon Jun 14, 2021 9:02 pm

744SPX wrote:
bikerthai wrote:
Just like the F-111, you are carrying extra weight of the swing wing mechanism just to attain the supersonic efficiency that you rarely need. All the extra weight would better go into more fuel and payload.

bt

To be fair though, the F-111 benefitted tremendously from the swing wing at low altitude high speed flight, where it spent most of its time.


You mean, like this? Complete with broken window panes? ;-)

https://youtu.be/J_Mh3dsln9M?t=48
 
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bikerthai
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Mon Jun 14, 2021 9:24 pm

Queue Kenny Loggins

bt
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ThePointblank
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Tue Jun 15, 2021 12:15 am

744SPX wrote:
bikerthai wrote:
Just like the F-111, you are carrying extra weight of the swing wing mechanism just to attain the supersonic efficiency that you rarely need. All the extra weight would better go into more fuel and payload.

bt


Which is why a swing wing makes more sense for an aircraft that will be spending a larger percentage of time at supersonic speeds, such as NGAD or a supersonic transport.

To be fair though, the F-111 benefitted tremendously from the swing wing at low altitude high speed flight, where it spent most of its time.

We've gotten around the need for a swing wing by designing the wing's shape for high speed, but incorporating advanced lift devices to give it better lower speed handing, along with relaxed stability flight control systems.

The weight and maintenance penalties for a swing wing design isn't worth it anymore from the standpoint of engineers.
 
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Tue Jun 15, 2021 11:19 am

744SPX wrote:
bikerthai wrote:
Just like the F-111, you are carrying extra weight of the swing wing mechanism just to attain the supersonic efficiency that you rarely need. All the extra weight would better go into more fuel and payload.

bt


Which is why a swing wing makes more sense for an aircraft that will be spending a larger percentage of time at supersonic speeds, such as NGAD or a supersonic transport.

To be fair though, the F-111 benefitted tremendously from the swing wing at low altitude high speed flight, where it spent most of its time.


The last time anyone tried to use V-G for a supersonic transport, it was Boeing's initial design for the B2707 SST, before any metal was cut however it was determined that such was the weight of the massive mechanism for the aircraft, it's payload would be zero, the ultimately abortive project was re-designed as a tailed delta.
But yes, in the 60's and 70's for military aircraft expected to do a lot of low level/high speed, aside from the F-111, there was the Tornado IDS, SU-24, T-22M Backfire, TU-160, B-1 Bomber.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Tue Jun 15, 2021 12:09 pm

Looking at the F-14D, if you just carry forward what it was, and do similar upgrades to what it's contemporaries had, you get a could of useful things. The first is that you would have room for a massive Active phased array radar in the nose. The electronics required to support it would be considerably smaller than what was required for the APG-71, and the ECM systems would have likely received at least one or two major upgrades along the way. The Sparrows and Phoenix would have been replaced with the AIM-120D, which, in my opinion, is a more reliable weapon that doesn't sacrifice a lot of effective range to the Phoenix. It would likely have received the required upgrades to operate all of the current stock of precision guided weapons.

What it likely wouldn't have received is newer, more efficient engines. While it has longer legs than the Super Hornet, it consumes a lot more fuel per hour than the SH does. That fuel is neither free, nor does it come from bottomless tanks. The mechanics of the swing wing likely would have never been touched, save to replace a few components that have unacceptable wear profiles. This means that, while maintenance likely would have slightly improved, it would still consume vastly more wrench time than any other fighter on the ship.

While the F-14D's advantages were notable with respect to it's speed and surprising maneuverability in combat and also it's considerable range, given where modern air combat has evolved to, it's likely that none of those advantages would be of any practical use in 90% of the situations that it would find itself in. It's expected that combat against near pear adversaries will involve a lot of BVR engagements. While the large radar on the F-14 should give it considerable radar range, it would also be at an equal disadvantage given it's rather large radar signature, especially from the front, relying very heavily on its own ECM systems for any chance of survival. The SH has a significantly smaller signature when carrying an equivalent ordnance load, both by being physically smaller, and by having at least some attention having been given to signature reduction during it's development. Likely opponents would have LO features, rendering the radar less of an advantage as well.

I just don't see where the F-14 would be more useful than a SH in the overwhelming majority of situations that carrier strike groups would find themselves in these days.
 
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bikerthai
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Tue Jun 15, 2021 3:53 pm

From a practicality stand point, you can't add additional hardpoints to the outer wing like you could with the F-15, thus weapon capacity growth is limited.

bt
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texl1649
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Tue Jun 15, 2021 9:43 pm

It certainly had no need of additional hard points, and at the same time the mounted fuel tanks could have been expanded per the link. As to the engines, the F110 is still being delivered, new, in F-15’s to the USAF today so I doubt the -400 variant couldn’t have been improved upon (though I think the utility of discussed thrust vectoring wouldn’t have been worth the cost/complexity.

There’s basically no LO to the SH and I think it’s a misnomer to compare. Lest we forget the YF-17 (aka SH predecessor) was designed/laid out within 5 years of the Tomcat herself, and only bulked up over the many years, with what amounts to…a less powerful engine vs. the F110. As well, the Grumman Tomcat II might have actually made it into production at a fraction of the USN cost of the NATF/ATF/F-35B and C.

There are, needless to say, capability gaps to this day, and moving forward which the navy has never figured out how to fill fully;

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ ... lace-70341
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Tue Jun 15, 2021 11:42 pm

The SH may not be a "stealth" platform in the traditional sense, but, when not carrying pylons and external stores, it absolutely has a smaller radar cross section than the A-D hornet from MOST aspects. The most important changes being the reshaping of the jet intakes into boxes with edge alignment with other body edges, reshaping the intake duct to hide the fan face, using a radar scatter panel in the duct, and other more minor touches, all to make major reductions in the frontal cross section. No one believes that this makes them stealthy, but, it does reduce the effective range of opposing radars against them on top of the effects of any jamming.

Now, the more important question is, which airframe is more detectable at range with an equivalent war load out? With a bunch of iron bombs and fuel tanks, does it matter? With no tanks and a couple of low detectability cruise missiles, does it make enough of a difference for them to get close enough to launch without interception?
 
texl1649
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Wed Jun 16, 2021 12:47 pm

Found this elsewhere from an old discussion;

There's some confusion about the various proposed advanced versions of the Tomcat.

F-14 Quickstrike (also called the "Block IV upgrade") was basically an F-14D with greater strike capability. Since the Tomcat-Ds APG-71 incorporated a number of common features with the F-15Es APG-70, the plan was to port over a good portion of the Strike Eagle's a/g software. The APG-71 had a bigger antenna and a more powerful transmitter than the APG-70 so it would have had greater range and resolution than the F-15Es. It would have Synthetic Aperture Radar like the F-15E, and Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar, which the Strike Eagle lacked. Sea surface search would be developed as would terrain avoidance modes. Off the shelf nav/attack and laser rangefinder/designator pods would be added. There would also be some cockpit changes. Weapons testing and clearance trials would be undertaken for different types of a/g ordnance.

This would produce an aircraft superior to the Super Hornet in both fighter and strike roles, but would cost 1/22 as much to develop, since these would be enhancements to an existing aircraft, whereas the F/A-18E/F is essentially a new program. At equal production rates, a Quickstrike would cost about $2 millino more than a Hornet E/F.

Super Tomcat 21 was an outgrowth of earlier Tomcat 21 studies for a more affordable alternative to the Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter with greater strike capability. It would use the higher thrust GE F110-429 engines. It would also modify the wings to incorporate Fowler flaps and an increased chord leading edge slat to bring back the approach margin that had been used up by weight growth in the Tomcat over the years. The 9,000 lb. bringback capability of the -14D would be increased to 16,000 lbs (17,000 if you count the gun). Although the APG-71 would be retained, it would be enhanced and the radar output would be doubled from 10 Kw to 20. This, combined with the enormous antenna (36 in, possibly increasing to 40), would allow very long range and/or high resolution beyond other aircraft. The FLIR and sensor pods would be permanently mounted. All analog systems would be digitized and fly by wire would be an option, although not in the base design. The cockpits would be completely redesigned and there would be a one piece windscreen. It would also be capable of carrying larger conformal external fuel tanks

There would be structural enhancements for the ST-21's increased agility. The glove vanes, removed after the F-14A would still be gone, but the glove itself would be modified so that its shape would be that of the old glove withe the vanes extended. This is where the 2,000 lbs of fuel would go, along with a relocated IFF. ST-21 would have all-weather strike capability, even better than Quickstrike's and be an enormous advance in air-to-air.

Attack Super Tomcat 21 is essentially ST-21 with the priorities reversed. The IFF goes back to the nose, which allows 300 lbs. more fuel to be carried.. The TCS and IRST would be made removable and a Forward Air Controller beacon mode would be added to the radar. The pylons under the nacelles would be modified so that they could carry weapons as well as fuel. Although the APG-71 is retained, the option would be there to put in A-12 avionics, if the Navy was willing to fund it.

Both Super Tomcat 21 and its attack sibling would cost less to develop than the Super Hornet, although their production cost would be more. Also, existing Tomcats with sufficient airframe life could be rebuilt into ST or AST-21s, alongside new production.

ASF-14 would be a Tomcat derivative in ATF class with new avionics, some borrowed from A-12 and ATF, some carried forward, and some custom developed. Because the design of this aircraft would "lock" a few years after the F-22's in some ways its (along with ST and AST-21's) avionics would be more advanced. It would have provision for a conformal radar in the leading edge of the wing, resulting in a different outer wing panel. It would use engines from the ATF and would also incorporate 3D thrust vectoring (F-22 is 2D, only 3D in service is on SU-30MKI). Although you could not rebuild earlier F-14s into ASF-14, is development cost would still be less than that of Super Hornet. However, it would cost substantially more.

That would be the problem with ASF-14. It would cost twice what ST-21 would cost but would not offer twice the warfighting capability. It would be stealthier, but also heavier and draggier, which would eat up the extra thrust. So, even Grumman wasn't too enthusiastic about ASF-14.


Image

More here;

http://www.anft.net/f-14/f14-history-f14x.htm

Again, I think there were good arguments on both sides relative to SH vs. F-14 evolution options. I don't think the SH is simply better at anything than what the Tomcat could have been enhanced to do (loiter, payload, attack, air defense), but ultimately I do think McD delivered a safe/reliable aircraft.

Image
 
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Zkpilot
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Sun Jun 20, 2021 10:37 pm

CRJockey wrote:
I would guess that it worked out tremendously well, especially with hindsight. The role of the Tomcat seems awfully one-dimensional from a todays' point of view, basically being limited to carrying AIM54 in reach of soviet bombers. And that role all but disappeared. The SH is a by far more versatile aircraft and if any airfield in the world needs versatility, it would be a carrier deck and the hangar space below.

Maybe I am wrong, but if weren't for the Top Gun movie, public opinion wouldn't give a damn about the Tomcat.

Even before it was retired, the F-14 was far from “one-dimensional” and was used for reconnaissance and as a bombcat CAS. There were 3 reasons why it was retired: 1) Maintenance costs/time (which would have been massively improved with Tomcat-21 etc). 2) 2 crew when 1 does the job in most cases - again there were options to make it single crew operable. 3) Politics - Grumman wasn’t popular with Cheney/Rumsfeld due to their vested interests.
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tomcat
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Sat Jun 26, 2021 5:21 pm

SteelChair wrote:
Safety: One would anticipate that there have been far fewer SH lost than F14s over a similar 15 year period. How many Naval Aviators are alive today simply because of the change to the SH, perhaps 50?


For what it's worth, here is a summary of the records of Aviation Safety Network:
F-14A+/B/D: 22 incidents, of which 21 write-offs between their entry into service in the early 90s until their retirement in 2006.
US Navy F/A-18E/F: 21 incidents, of which 17 write-offs since early 2008. I haven't looked at the earlier incidents.

Given the similar timespan under consideration and an SH fleet about 5 times greater than the F-14B/D fleet, the safety records are in favor of the SH. This shouldn't come as a surprise given that it is a much newer aircraft (pretty much 2 generations ahead considering that the SH is a significant redesign compared to the original Hornet). I don't know whether the average mission profiles can partly explain the difference in respective crash rates or not. For sure, performing tanker missions mustn't be pushing the flight enveloppe very much.

https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/type/F14/1
https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:p3IHBs_5wkIJ:https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/type/F18/3+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=be


Fuel: The Hornet is smaller, has a smaller fuel capacity, and likely burns less fuel than the much larger and older Tomcat. Reliance upon AEGIS cruisers and destroyers for more of the fleet defense role has probably decreased the amount of time for SH on CAP, but then again the decision to retire other aircraft that had tanking capability has caused premature wear and tear on SH due to them performing as a tanker in the buddy tanker role.


The internal fuel capacity of the F-18E is only 9% less than the Tomcat internal fuel capacity (15% less for the F-18F), while the SH typically carries more external fuel than the Tomcat. The SH probably only burns less fuel than the Tomcat when in a clean configuration. Once loaded with external stores the SH becomes much draggier, an issue that was not affecting so much the F-14 with an equivalent load out. That's the beauty of the relatively low drag induced by the external stores carried in the "tunnel" of the Tomcat. The variable wing geometry also optimizes the drag according to the flight regime. All in all, I'm not convince that the SH burns any less fuel than the Tomcat once loaded with external stores.

And here is something funny:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2020/08/22/forget-stealth-the-us-navys-new-fighter-could-look-like-the-old-f-14/?sh=69024d307c01
 
SteelChair
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Sun Jun 27, 2021 8:21 pm

The larger number of SH on a cruise versus the smaller number of F14s that were carried, plus the fact that each airplane is also more reliable. must have led to a much higher reliability. Not sure if that is captured in any metric by the Navy.

Has there been a single time in the last 20 years that the high speed of the F14 was needed? In other words, a time when the F18 SH wasn't able to do its job because it was too slow?

When it was first retired, I thought it was the wrong decision. But as time has passed this appears to have been a textbook case of a time when the users in the field were wrong.
 
889091
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Sun Jun 27, 2021 10:09 pm

SteelChair wrote:

Has there been a single time in the last 20 years that the high speed of the F14 was needed? In other words, a time when the F18 SH wasn't able to do its job because it was too slow?



Without the F14, Maverick would not have been able to reach Iceman and Slider at supersonic speeds within 30s... I kid, I kid... :)
 
LordTarkin
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Mon Jun 28, 2021 6:39 pm

The Tomcat is the best looking airplane, ever, and there is no comparison to the SH in that regard. :D
 
744SPX
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Mon Jun 28, 2021 8:16 pm

The SH is the first front line Navy fighter to be incapable of exceeding the sound barrier at sea level since before the introduction of the F4; and that is without the heinously draggy outward canted inboard pylons.

I'd take the regular Hornet any day over the SH. The modest power increase over the C is more than eaten up by the airframes excessive drag and 9000 pound weight gain over the C.
 
SteelChair
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Thu Jul 01, 2021 3:43 am

744SPX wrote:
The SH is the first front line Navy fighter to be incapable of exceeding the sound barrier at sea level since before the introduction of the F4; and that is without the heinously draggy outward canted inboard pylons.

I'd take the regular Hornet any day over the SH. The modest power increase over the C is more than eaten up by the airframes excessive drag and 9000 pound weight gain over the C.


Was there ever time when that capability was needed?

Ah yes, but what about the difference in endurance, bring back, and electronics?
 
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Sat Jul 03, 2021 6:52 pm

I remember a conversation I had with a Bombcat RIO...

Me: "why did we get rid of the Bombcat?"

Bombcat RIO: "Because we sucked."
 
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Tue Jul 06, 2021 10:07 pm

SteelChair wrote:
Has there been a single time in the last 20 years that the high speed of the F14 was needed? In other words, a time when the F18 SH wasn't able to do its job because it was too slow?


I don't think high performances are required to bomb a pick-up truck in the middle of the desert. A good old A-4 would be sufficient for that kind of job so even the SH could be considered too much of an aircraft for most of the flying it has accomplished so far.

What needs to be looked at to justify the choice or the design of an aircraft is the whole scope of missions it would be intended to cover combined with the threats it would need to face. High performances are only required to perform a limited set of missions.

Also, when talking about speed, not just the top speed must be looked at. What's important is also the ability to drop bombs and launch missiles at a relatively high speed to maximize their range. In this arena, the Tomcat was obviously outperforming the SH by a significant margin.
 
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Tue Jul 06, 2021 10:23 pm

744SPX wrote:
The SH is the first front line Navy fighter to be incapable of exceeding the sound barrier at sea level since before the introduction of the F4; and that is without the heinously draggy outward canted inboard pylons.


I have never found precise figures about the effect on drag of these canted pylons. Are they really much worse than non-canted pylons would be?

If the canted pylons are really detrimental in terms of drag, I'm wondering if a trade-off has ever been made between retaining only 2 underwing pylons and more spread apart vs the 3 current pylons and this in case this configuration with 2 underwing pylons would have avoided the need of the outward canting. Two underwing pylons instead of three would have obviously limited the bomb load but if it would have allowed a significant drag reduction, it might have been a wise choice.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Tue Jul 06, 2021 10:58 pm

tomcat wrote:
744SPX wrote:
The SH is the first front line Navy fighter to be incapable of exceeding the sound barrier at sea level since before the introduction of the F4; and that is without the heinously draggy outward canted inboard pylons.


I have never found precise figures about the effect on drag of these canted pylons. Are they really much worse than non-canted pylons would be?

If the canted pylons are really detrimental in terms of drag, I'm wondering if a trade-off has ever been made between retaining only 2 underwing pylons and more spread apart vs the 3 current pylons and this in case this configuration with 2 underwing pylons would have avoided the need of the outward canting. Two underwing pylons instead of three would have obviously limited the bomb load but if it would have allowed a significant drag reduction, it might have been a wise choice.

You'll have to ask the USN and Boeing for the exact details, but the reason why the pylons were canted in the first place was due to a stores separation issue that was discovered late during testing.

The issue they found was that ordinance or external fuel tanks when dropped from the pylons would not separate from the aircraft in a manner that was safe for the aircraft; from what I remember hearing, dropped ordinance and fuel tanks would not fall immediately away from the aircraft, and would instead either collide with the aircraft or with other ordinance hanging off the aircraft.

By the time the USN and Boeing discovered the issue, it was extremely late in the testing program; there was no way to modify the aircraft in production in a cost effective manner. Modifying the placement of the pylons would have entailed a complete redesign of the wing, which would have been extremely costly so late in testing.
 
SteelChair
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Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Fri Jul 16, 2021 7:37 pm

tomcat wrote:
SteelChair wrote:
Has there been a single time in the last 20 years that the high speed of the F14 was needed? In other words, a time when the F18 SH wasn't able to do its job because it was too slow?


I don't think high performances are required to bomb a pick-up truck in the middle of the desert. A good old A-4 would be sufficient for that kind of job so even the SH could be considered too much of an aircraft for most of the flying it has accomplished so far.

What needs to be looked at to justify the choice or the design of an aircraft is the whole scope of missions it would be intended to cover combined with the threats it would need to face. High performances are only required to perform a limited set of missions.

Also, when talking about speed, not just the top speed must be looked at. What's important is also the ability to drop bombs and launch missiles at a relatively high speed to maximize their range. In this arena, the Tomcat was obviously outperforming the SH by a significant margin.


It sounds as if your primary objection is against the multirole concept. It appears that you think a carrier complement should involve specialized aircraft per the 1970s and 80s doctrine: fighter/interceptor, ground attack, ASW, EW, COD, with tanking attached to one of those.
 
tomcat
Posts: 766
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2000 4:14 am

Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Fri Jul 16, 2021 11:43 pm

SteelChair wrote:
tomcat wrote:
SteelChair wrote:
Has there been a single time in the last 20 years that the high speed of the F14 was needed? In other words, a time when the F18 SH wasn't able to do its job because it was too slow?


I don't think high performances are required to bomb a pick-up truck in the middle of the desert. A good old A-4 would be sufficient for that kind of job so even the SH could be considered too much of an aircraft for most of the flying it has accomplished so far.

What needs to be looked at to justify the choice or the design of an aircraft is the whole scope of missions it would be intended to cover combined with the threats it would need to face. High performances are only required to perform a limited set of missions.

Also, when talking about speed, not just the top speed must be looked at. What's important is also the ability to drop bombs and launch missiles at a relatively high speed to maximize their range. In this arena, the Tomcat was obviously outperforming the SH by a significant margin.


It sounds as if your primary objection is against the multirole concept. It appears that you think a carrier complement should involve specialized aircraft per the 1970s and 80s doctrine: fighter/interceptor, ground attack, ASW, EW, COD, with tanking attached to one of those.


No, I don't have any objection against the multirole concept. In particular, I appreciate the fact that the Tomcat has become more versatile in the 90s. What's not to like about that? Its range and twin-crew were put to very good use in ground attack missions.

The point I've tried to make was that it's not because the SH has been able to do all the jobs it was tasked for so far that its speed is sufficient. Higher speed may only be required in missions that the SH didn't need to do so far but it doesn't mean that the SH can cover all the missions the Navy would like it to perform. If you can increase the range of your A2G ordinances thanks to a higher launch speed (which the F-14 was capable of), you can for example remain at a greater distance from potential air defense. This can be useful in well defended theaters. But it's obvious that such benefits were not sufficient to justify keeping the expensive to operate Tomcat and spending more dollars to integrate additional precision A2G ordinances to it beyond the laser guided bombs and the JDAM. So, even if a higher speed might be desirable in some cases, the SH was a reasonable choice for the Navy.
 
tomcat
Posts: 766
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2000 4:14 am

Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Sat Jul 17, 2021 12:07 am

ThePointblank wrote:
tomcat wrote:
744SPX wrote:
The SH is the first front line Navy fighter to be incapable of exceeding the sound barrier at sea level since before the introduction of the F4; and that is without the heinously draggy outward canted inboard pylons.


I have never found precise figures about the effect on drag of these canted pylons. Are they really much worse than non-canted pylons would be?

If the canted pylons are really detrimental in terms of drag, I'm wondering if a trade-off has ever been made between retaining only 2 underwing pylons and more spread apart vs the 3 current pylons and this in case this configuration with 2 underwing pylons would have avoided the need of the outward canting. Two underwing pylons instead of three would have obviously limited the bomb load but if it would have allowed a significant drag reduction, it might have been a wise choice.

You'll have to ask the USN and Boeing for the exact details, but the reason why the pylons were canted in the first place was due to a stores separation issue that was discovered late during testing.

The issue they found was that ordinance or external fuel tanks when dropped from the pylons would not separate from the aircraft in a manner that was safe for the aircraft; from what I remember hearing, dropped ordinance and fuel tanks would not fall immediately away from the aircraft, and would instead either collide with the aircraft or with other ordinance hanging off the aircraft.

By the time the USN and Boeing discovered the issue, it was extremely late in the testing program; there was no way to modify the aircraft in production in a cost effective manner. Modifying the placement of the pylons would have entailed a complete redesign of the wing, which would have been extremely costly so late in testing.


Indeed, I realize that going back to 2 pylons instead of 3 at that stage of the program would have been expensive and time consuming. But I was just curious if purely in terms of payload-range capabilities, this could have been an interesting option. In hindsight, what would have been the preferred configuration between 3 underwing canted pylons vs 2 ideally spread underwing pylons assuming this would have avoided the need for canting?
 
LightningZ71
Posts: 608
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2016 10:59 pm

Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Sat Jul 17, 2021 3:08 am

Considering that, typically, we see at least two of the pylons filled with drop tanks, the proposed addition of CFTs could have been coupled with the disuse of two of the pylons to allow for improved airflow. I wonder if, when paired with the centerline fuel tank /IRST module, it could have made for a notably improved platform?
 
ThePointblank
Posts: 3799
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:39 pm

Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Sat Jul 17, 2021 10:43 pm

LightningZ71 wrote:
Considering that, typically, we see at least two of the pylons filled with drop tanks, the proposed addition of CFTs could have been coupled with the disuse of two of the pylons to allow for improved airflow. I wonder if, when paired with the centerline fuel tank /IRST module, it could have made for a notably improved platform?

Boeing discovered they had structural issues related to the proposal to install CFT's on the Super Hornets and that idea was dropped from development due to costs and technical challenges.
 
744SPX
Posts: 523
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:20 pm

Re: Revisiting Super Hornet versus F14

Sun Jul 18, 2021 7:49 pm

ThePointblank wrote:
LightningZ71 wrote:
Considering that, typically, we see at least two of the pylons filled with drop tanks, the proposed addition of CFTs could have been coupled with the disuse of two of the pylons to allow for improved airflow. I wonder if, when paired with the centerline fuel tank /IRST module, it could have made for a notably improved platform?

Boeing discovered they had structural issues related to the proposal to install CFT's on the Super Hornets and that idea was dropped from development due to costs and technical challenges.



I just saw that. So "Block III" is essentially meaningless as the conformal tanks actually reduced drag and they are clearly not going to purchase the F414-EPE. Electronics upgrades is all it will get. What a sad joke this program has turned out to be. No excuse.

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