Another attempt to compare existing samples was made by the American publication The National Interest. On May 26, in the Security section, it again published an article by Sebastian Roblin entitled F-22 vs. PAK-FA: What if Russia and America's Stealth Fighters Went to War? ” (“F-22 vs. PAK FA: what if Russian and American stealth fighters go to war?”), Originally released a few months ago. As is clear from the title, the theme of this material was a comparison of two combat aircraft, which represent the pinnacle of development aviation Russia and the United States.
S. Robin began his article with a statement of the obvious facts related to the combat use of modern and advanced aviation. He notes: if the US Air Force prepares F-22 Raptor fighter jets for a meeting with F-15, F-16 or other fourth-generation aircraft, then the newer technology will have noticeable advantages in detection and destruction. However, in the case of the meeting of two modern stealth aircraft, the detection and attack ranges will be much less.
The Russian aircraft PAK FA / T-50 and the American F-22, according to S. Robin, are capable of carrying long-range missiles with similar capabilities. So, the newest Russian K-77M missiles will be able to hit targets at a distance of up to 200 km, while American AIM-120Ds will fly 160 km. It is noted that the advantage in the firing range can be leveled by the inconspicuousness of the target aircraft. In addition, other missiles of new types are mentioned, but reliable information about their readiness for use by the troops is not yet available.
In the cargo compartments of the F-22 fighter, six AIM-120 missiles are placed, and the internal volumes of the T-50 are capable of holding only four. This, according to the American author, gives the United States aircraft very modest advantages, since the air battles of the future are likely to imply the massive use of rocket weapons. Probably, in order to reliably defeat a specific target, it is no longer possible to manage to launch just one missile.
S. Roblin mentions that many foreign experts doubt the technical potential of the Russian aircraft. They believe that the PAK FA may not have avionics and network technologies already used on fifth-generation American fighter jets. It is noteworthy that the creation of detection tools based on low-frequency radars with an active phased antenna array will allow missiles to be aimed even at inconspicuous aircraft. At the same time, we should not forget that over the past years, the F-22 is also outdated and may need to be modernized.
After such an introduction, The National Interest author proceeds to the main part of his article. He invites the ladies and gentlemen to take their seats, for the two best stealth aircraft of the present time converge in the ring: the F-22 Raptor and the T-50 / PAK FA. The first is already removed from the series (or not?), And the second is only preparing to leave the “factory nest” (or not?). The author suggests considering the possibilities of two aircraft in different fields and in solving different combat missions. To keep the reader in suspense, he intends to consider a hypothetical battle "in the reverse order" - not the way it should take place in reality.
At a distance of direct visibility - an invisible swordsman in a shootout?
The author recalls that the development of missile weapons has long allowed air combat at distances in 100 or even 200 km. However, in the case when both combatants have reduced visibility for radars, the radius of detection and attack of the enemy is sharply reduced. In theory, such features of the development of aviation can revive short-range rocket battles.
S. Roblin proposes to recognize that both the T-50 and F-22 have excellent performance. They are able to fly one and a half times faster than the sound without using an afterburner and develop in this mode the speed M = 1,6 and M = 1,8, respectively. The ceiling of both aircraft reaches 65 thousand feet (almost 19,7 km), which, in particular, more than the newest F-35.
So, who will emerge victorious from the “dance of death” at short distances? F-22 - the most maneuverable fighter in the whole history American combat aircraft. However, the Russian T-50 is even more maneuverable. The Russian fighter has a three-dimensional thrust vector deflection system, which provides additional control over the three channels, and also allows you to reach very large angles of attack. For complex maneuvers, the thrust vector may deviate at large angles relative to the direction of flight.
Raptor - reminds S. Robin - is equipped with a two-dimensional thrust vector control system capable of deflecting jets only up and down. Because of this, it is possible to increase maneuverability only in pitch. What still surprises the author - the F-22 is still the only US aircraft with the so-called. super maneuverability. However, its capabilities in this matter are not equivalent to the “dexterity” of the PAK FA.
What is the use of maneuverability for a fighter? With its help, the aircraft can evade enemy missiles (this positive trait applies not only to close combat), but can also reach the most advantageous position for an attack. However, active maneuvering requires an appropriate expenditure of energy, and American concepts have always preferred to preserve its maximum reserve. Because of this, the F-22 looks like it spends energy more slowly than a Russian competitor.
Then S. Roblin turns to the issue of weapons. F-22 differs in reduced visibility in the infrared. However, the problem is that in the melee even stealth planes are vulnerable to thermal homing missiles. Both vehicles in question can carry two such weapons each.
For a long time, the Russian Air Force had the advantage in the form of short-range air-to-air missiles of the P-73 type, coupled with a helmet-mounted target designation system. The pilot was not required to direct the entire aircraft at the target: he could just look at her and launch the rocket. However, now the USA has an analogue of this system. An AIM-9X rocket with similar capabilities was created in 2004. In 2017, it was planned to integrate it into the F-22 armament complex. By 2020, the rocket and the aircraft will be supplemented by a target designation.
By that time, Russian T-50 fighters will have to get into the troops. As a result, both aircraft will have approximately equal opportunities in terms of combat at short ranges.
S. Roblin summed up the first "battle". In his opinion, the Russian aircraft PAK FA has a slight advantage. Both fighters have high performance, but the Russian looks more agile. However, melee has one characteristic feature. To enter it, the aircraft needs to survive a collision at long ranges.
Out of Sight - Keep Close to the Locator
The author proposes to pay attention to the elephant in the room (or in the air) - to the obvious problem that they prefer not to notice. F-22 is notable for its great secrecy. Its effective area of dispersion, according to open data, is equal to the total 0,0001 sq.m. The same parameter for the Russian PAK FA is 0,1 square meters in front of the projection. According to the patent for the PAK FA, the maximum EPR of the fighter reaches 1 sq.m. In this regard, S. Robin speaks ironically on the topic of three-dimensional vector thrust control: such cool nozzles simply cannot fail to attract the attention of radar.
A relatively large EPR may not be a serious limitation in the conduct of defensive battles when enemy aircraft are forced to search for targets at the maximum range for themselves. However, such features of the fighter seriously limit the ability to penetrate deep into the defenses of the enemy. Perhaps the Russian command is not very worried about such problems, but it still means that the PAK FA / T-50 is more noticeable than its American rival.
In other areas, two aircraft are approximately equivalent. F-22 and PAK FA carry radars with an active phased antenna array. At the same time, the H036 “Belka” station for the Russian aircraft is not yet ready for operation. Stations with AFAR are more secretive, accurate and resistant to interference. According to S. Roblin, the PAK FA and F-22 will be able to detect each other at a distance of about 50 km, although accurate data on this subject is simply not available.
The Russian T-50 carries an optical-location station capable of detecting a target by infrared radiation at distances up to 50 km. F-22 does not have this equipment, but should get it by the 2020 year. The nozzles of the Raptor fighter engines were designed to reduce infrared radiation and, accordingly, reduce the detection range. At the same time, PAK FA nozzles do not have such features.
As a result, it remains only to guess which of the aircraft will be able to first find a competitor. At the same time, S. Robblin recalls that the optical-location station only allows to monitor the air targets, but does not provide for the use of weapons of some types.
In the wings of the PAK FA, additional L-band radars are mounted. They, in theory, should help detect inconspicuous aircraft. However, their detection range is not too long, and accuracy does not allow to accompany the target. Also, additional wing stations have a certain disadvantage in comparison with optical detection tools: when operating, they unmask the aircraft with their electromagnetic radiation.
Then S. Robin repeats the reasoning and theses given at the very beginning of the article. He recalls that when two stealth planes collide, combat ranges will be noticeably less than in the case of fighters of the fifth and fourth generations. The author also again mentions the K-77M and AIM-120D missiles, and also considers aircraft ammunition volumes again. Finally, there are repeated assumptions about the possible lag of the PAK FA in terms of avionics and network capabilities, as well as the need to update the F-22.
The American author believes that in a real armed conflict, the F-22 Raptor should work in conjunction with other means of the armed forces. It must communicate with the systems of observation and detection of various kinds: marine, air and ground. In addition, the possibility of using low-profile aircraft as an intelligence tool is already being discussed. In such a role, F-22 will have to fly over enemy territory with minimal risks for itself and perform the detection of priority targets. Further, according to his target designation, a full-fledged air strike will be carried out, for which long-range B-52 bombers with long-range cruise missiles should be responsible.
In contrast, Russian analysts insist that ground-based long-wave radar stations, as well as long-range ground-to-air missiles from the C-400 anti-aircraft systems, should be the solution to the problem of the low-profile enemy aircraft. S. Roblin suggests that such a strategy is related to the need for T-50 fighters to work near important ground targets. In general, this corresponds to the current views of Russia in the field of security.
The results of the battle at large distances, according to the author of The National Interest, are as follows: it leaves the advantage in this area to the American F-22 fighter. History shows that in a dogfight the one who manages to shoot first will usually win. In this context, the more likely winner is the American aircraft. Nevertheless, the result of a real meeting of two fighters may be different.
The next section of his article, Sebastian Robin, begins with a joke: “What is it, I hear your crying? How dare I discredit the purity of a noble falcon duel with vulgar financial nonsense? ”
The author immediately explains the reasons for his “bad deed”. He recalls that the PAK-FA / T-50 can be a real competitor or opponent for the F-22 only if the Russian Air Force receives a large number of such aircraft. In other words, troops need more than 12 aircraft planned for delivery before the end of this decade.
Of course, the American F-22 are not numerous - in the United States Air Force is the only 178 such machines. However, with so many of these aircraft remain "thin thread", which can rely on the command, wishing to ensure air superiority over the next two decades. S. Roblin notes that the proximity of the characteristics leads to specific consequences. Because of this, a small amount of T-50 will not be able to challenge the American F-22 or even the less advanced F-35.
Further, the author raises an important question: why the plans for the construction of the serial PAK FA underwent such a large reduction? First of all, the basis of such problems is the complexity and high cost of developing the required products, primarily engines. The cost of the program as a whole continues to grow, but in recent years the Russian economy has experienced a recession. As a result, financial opportunities are declining, and the country has to reduce its appetite for the construction of mass-produced aircraft.
As a result of all these processes, another unpleasant feature of the project is manifested. Many of the capabilities of the T-50 aircraft are planned rather than exist. For example, a new radar with AFAR is still being tested. Currently, the aircraft are equipped with AL-41F1 turbofan engines, which are characterized by insufficient fuel efficiency and do not provide the required high thrust. In the future, they are planned to be replaced with more advanced engines "Item 30", but their development and refinement can be delayed until the 2027 year.
In other words, the PAK FA project is still under development, and therefore the final characteristics and capabilities of production aircraft are not completely clear. At the same time, the project is distinguished by a very high cost, due to which the question of its real prospects in terms of the number of serial machines becomes relevant.
All this leads to new problems. Thus, India, an investor in the PAK FA program, has already openly complained about the problems of a promising aircraft. Both the project cost and technological deficiencies are criticized. There are violations of the quality of the assembly, such as a mismatch of the joints of parts, which, among other things, may increase the effective area of dispersion. The Indian version of the T-50 under the designation FGFA may be significantly more complex than the base aircraft. However, if India decides to abandon the development of the fifth generation fighter for its Air Force and the subsequent construction of more than a hundred production aircraft, the basic project of the PAK FA may face the most serious financial problems.
The author of The National Interest does not exclude a positive scenario in which the situation will change in the future. Russia's defense policy and economic situation can seriously change. As a result, "one fine day" there will be additional orders for the production of low-profile serial fighter of a new type. Yet it is difficult to imagine that after all the costs and investments in the new project, the entire 12 production machines will be built.
Studying the problems of financial and industrial nature S. Robin is not the most positive thesis. So far, everything indicates that until the end of this decade, the Russian air force will be able to receive only a small number of promising fifth-generation fighter jets. A limited number of aircraft will not allow a change in the ratio of forces in the air in the near term.
The outcome of the situation with finances and production capabilities S. Robblin summarizes with the help of a famous quotation: quantity turns into quality.
The article "F-22 vs. PAK-FA: What if Russia? It should be noted that, despite a certain age, the publication still remains relevant and does not contradict the information available at the moment.
Comparison of the latest developments of leading countries is a very popular topic, but it is far from always being done correctly. In this case, the American author, using a few known data, managed to accurately compare the combat capabilities of the two aircraft and draw certain conclusions. What is important, with such a comparison, the author tries to adhere to a neutral position, and the supply of irony and malice spends only on giving the article vitality.
The conclusions drawn from the comparison of two aircraft in three situations are very interesting. In the context of close combat, according to Sebastian Robblin, a Russian-made fighter has significant advantages. The American aircraft, in turn, is the leader in long-range rocket combat. Nevertheless, the third section of the article and its conclusions are of particular interest. Indeed, it is hard not to agree with the American author that without mass construction, the newest T-50 / PAK FA aircraft simply cannot become true competitors of foreign technology, regardless of its belonging to one or another generation.
Nevertheless, it should be remembered that the present comparison of various types of military equipment with real results can only be carried out during an armed conflict, while the study of known characteristics and capabilities remains just a fun exercise for the rest of the public. Nevertheless, it is better to compare weapons and equipment with empirical methods, and not on the fields of real battles.
The article "F-22 vs. PAK-FA: What if Russia and America's Stealth Fighters Went to War? ":