Su-34 of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the multipurpose F-15E “Strike Eagle” fighter of the 48 tactical fighter wing of the United States Air Force deployed at Leikenhes air base (Great Britain)
All those who are at least a little interested in the technical features of modern combat aviation and other military equipment, more than once in runet came across cheers-patriotic comparative reviews of the Su-35C multirole fighter with the inconspicuous fighter for gaining air superiority F-22A Raptor or the high-precision front-line fighter Su-34 fighter-bomber with the tactical fighter F-15E "Strike Eagle." In them one can find both quite adequate comparisons of the individual qualities of one machine with similar parameters of another (for example, with regard to maneuverability and capabilities of close air combat), and absolutely incompatible comparisons of onboard radar systems, as well as strike capabilities. Often the bias of such reviews lies in the fact that the authors operate on outdated information only from Russian-language sources, while the analyzed products (most often applies to Western European and American equipment) have already passed from one to two or more stages of modernization.
GETTING THE OPERATIONAL BATTLE READINESS OF JASSM-ER LONG-TREATED ROCKETS WITH THE F-15E ARMAMENT STRUCTURE IS A SERIOUS CHALLENGE FOR THE RUSSIAN EUROPEAN MILITARY ACTIVITY THEATER. WHAT DOES SU-34 OPPOSITE?
For today's review we were inspired by the information received on 8 in February from the Singapore Airshow-2018 air show. Here, official representatives of the Lockheed Martin military-industrial corporation announced the achievement of operational combat readiness of the AGM-158B JASSM-ER tactical long-range cruise missile as part of the F-15E Strike Eagle multipurpose fighter aircraft. What does this mean?
First, the acquisition of strategic strike qualities by all US Air Force squadrons equipped with Strike Eagle tactical fighters without exception. This will be achieved through a combination of the huge range of the AGM-158B rocket with a solid range of the F-15E. With a mixed flight profile without refueling, the strike range of this missile from the F-15E will approach 2500 km (comparable to the strikes of the Tu-22М3 long-range bomber using airballistic missiles of the X-15 family). Against this background, large air bases located in Western and Eastern Europe begin to pose a great threat at times. Take, for example, the large airbase of the British Air Force "Lakenheath", located in the south-west of Albion.
The tactical F-15E “Strike Eagle” tactical fighters deployed on this site (part of the 48 th tactical fighter air wing of the US Air Force over 25 years) will be able to launch JASSM-ER missiles on strategic military and industrial targets in our Western military district of the state. Without refueling in the air, launches can be carried out at facilities in the Belgorod, Kaluga, Pskov and Leningrad regions (subject to take-off from Avb Leikhenhes). In the case of a single refueling F-15E over the territory of Germany or Eastern Europe, the most important objects of the Kuban, Volga and Western Urals will be within reach. Such a situation cannot fundamentally cause concern, since JASSM-ER have much lower radar visibility than most of the Tomahawk Block III / IV UGM-109D / E strategic cruise missiles of the UGM-0,03D / E family. Effective scattering surface of the first barely comes to 0,05 - 300 square. m, which can cause problems of detection, tracking and capture, even for the C-300PS complex radar equipment. The only anti-aircraft missile system capable of effectively coping with the JASSM-ER is the C-4B9, the ammunition package of which includes 82М9МВ anti-aircraft missiles, capable of operating over-horizon targets due to the presence of active radar targeting heads. Also, the improved Ginger and 32C300М radar stations (of the C-4B30 complex) have significantly reduced lower bounds on the effective reflective target surface than the early 6НXNUMX.
The use of active radar homing in modern air defense systems, in the theaters of military operations of the XXI century, is paramount due to the use of enemy tactical and strategic cruise missiles of complex flight trajectories to the intended targets; these trajectories usually pass outside the radio horizon for covering the airspace of the air defense system. The enemy's air attack means “sneak up” through folds and other natural terrain details. Theoretically, the Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems should also work on over-the-horizon air violators, but in practice this quality has not been implemented due to the shortage (or absence) of 9М96EX2 missiles in the Four-Hundred ammunition.
Secondly, F-15E will have a unique flexibility of use in long-range operations, unlike the same B-1B “Lancer” strategists, which is due to the effect of surprise created. The fact is that the radar signature of the Lancer, as well as the frequency parameters of radio-electronic interference from its on-board EW AN / ALQ-161 complex, are already known to our electronic reconnaissance units, and the detection of B-1B bombers on this or that airway will indicate on the preparing massed missile point JASSM / -ER, while the ESR "Strike Eagle" is almost identical to the reflective surface of the fighters to gain air superiority F-15C "Eagle". Consequently, the inability to clearly distinguish the EPR of the F-15E from the effective reflecting surface of the F-15C does not make it possible to finally determine the modification of the detected enemy fighter, and therefore to determine in advance the likely list of the operations it performs.
At this moment, one “Strike Needles” link is capable of launching AGM-12B JASSM-ER long-range missiles toward the targets of 158 (three missiles on the suspension nodes of each tactical fighter). And this is an extremely significant advantage of the US Air Force over the Russian Aerospace Forces at the current time. Why?
To answer this question, it is necessary to compare in detail the long-range F-15E “Strike Eagle” ammunition with the similar arsenal of the high-precision Su-34 bomber fighter. If the state machine is JASSM-ER, having a range of 1200 km, then our Su-34 main caliber is X-59MK2 Ovod-M with a range of 285 km, which is hardly ahead of the Turkish tactical rocket SOM and noticeably inferior to the first modification of the AGM-158A JASSM. As a result, the maximum “depth” of the Su-34 strike using the “Gadfly-M” is only 1415 km versus 2500 km at F-15E “Strke Eagle”, which does not allow the Russian car to strike at remote objects in Western Europe without refueling the air. However, this is far from the only criterion by which it is necessary to compare the potentials of Su-34 and F-15E.
THE ON-BOARD RADIO-ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT OF THE “FRESH” F-15E IS BUILT AROUND THE FRONT AFAR-RADAR, ENSURED “STRIKE NEEDLES” RADICAL TECHNICAL OPENING FROM SU-34. AN / APG-70 LEAVES PAST
Multipurpose airborne radar with an AN / APG-70 slot antenna array aboard the “early” F-15E (left) and the advanced AFAR-radar AN / APG-63 (V) 3 installed on the last E-F-15C radar. The latter is the basic product for the development of a better AN / APG-82 (V) 1
One of the most significant points is undoubtedly the comparison of the onboard radar systems of both cars. The Su-34 multi-purpose tactical fighter is equipped with an onboard radar system (WRLK) W-141, represented by a radar with a passive phased antenna array B004. The product was created by the Scientific Research Institute of Radioelectronic Complexes (NIREK), which is part of the Leninets holding (formerly SKB Zemlya, TsNPO Leninets). This radar has almost all the qualities characteristic of the more advanced AFAR-radar, designed for fighter jets of the transitional generation “4 ++”. In particular, the following modes are provided: SAR (synthesized aperture + mapping of the terrain with the resolution of the radar image, which allows to classify the object); GMTI (detecting and tracking moving ground / surface targets), identifying a group target and determining its size (with the classification of certain pieces of equipment), as well as detecting, tracking and capturing air targets.
Nevertheless, the W-141 also has a lot of disadvantages associated with far from the best range capabilities, depending on the power of the radiator and the sensitivity of the receiver. In particular, the pulse power of the B004 is 14 kW, which is almost 3 times less than that of the most long-range H035 “Irbis-E” radar. In this regard, the range of detection of various types of targets in W-141 is almost 3 times smaller than in "Irbis". A standard fighter-type air target is detected at a distance of 90 km, a surface corvette target is 120 km, a caravan is about 35 km, and a railway bridge is about 100 km. Similar objects are detected by the Irbis-E on-board radar at 2 times the distance. The bandwidth and target channel of the B004 leave much to be desired and do not even reach the НХNUMXМ “Bars” level (Su-011СМ): the first is able to “tie” 30 routes of air targets in the SNP mode, and also to capture 10 of them, while “Bars” »Accompany 4 air objects. The resolution of B20 in mapping is much lower than that of Irbis and amounts to 004 - 10 meters, which is a very weak indicator for PFAR radar.
Let us turn to the review of the onboard radar complex tactical fighter F-15E "Strike Eagle". Many military-analytical publications, as well as reference resources, erroneously indicate that the Strike Needles airborne radar still remains a multifunctional AN / APG-70. As you know, this product is represented by a flat X-band slot antenna array (8-12 GHz) with mechanical scanning and a beam transfer rate of 140 deg / s. The frequency of the radar control processor is 1,4 MHz, while the signal processor has a frequency of 33 MHz. Despite the introduction of capabilities for detecting and tracking ground / surface targets and even the synthetic aperture mode, the APG-70 is an obsolete radar developed on the AN / APG-63 radar element base (the latter are an integral part of the F-line 15C "Eagle"). The presence of AAR indicates a spectrum of deficiencies characteristic of the H001VEP (Su-30MKK / MK2) and Zhuk-M radars. Thus, the noise immunity of the APG-70 in the early Strike Eagles was ensured only by adapting the received signal processing algorithm by means of the signal processor and the signal converter, while AFAR radars filter the interference using digital control of each receiving-transmitting module. The only advantage can be considered a good range of the APG-70, which for the purpose of the MiG-35 type reached 125 km.
But let us assess the situation more soberly and not be deceived by the moderate technological capabilities of AN / APG-70, because at present most of the F-15E “Strike Eagle” fleet has been updated with brand new on-board radars with an active AN / APG-82 (V ) 1. The modernization is carried out as part of the RMP (“Radar Modernization Program”) program, which was initiated by the US Department of Defense back in 2008, at the time Boeing was allocated to allocate 281 million dollars for RMP research and development.
This advanced radar is a hybrid of an on-board radar with an AFAR AN / APG-63 (V) 3 (adapted according to the requirements of the Saudi Arabian Air Force for F-15SA fighter jets) and an even more advanced on-board radar AN / APG-79, designed for deck multifunctional fighters F / A-18E / F. From the first, the AFAR canvas was borrowed, from the Super X X-NUMX, a promising high-performance processor designed to effectively manage tunable radio-frequency filters (RFTF, Radio Frequency Tunable Filters), through which separate groups of receiving and transmitting modules can be used for setting interference in the direction of the enemy’s radio. Moreover, RFTF filters condition the hardware implementation of the LPI mode (“Low Probability of Intercept”), which consists in the emission of wide-band complex-structure and amplitude-varying electromagnetic pulses by the radar, reducing the likelihood of detection by old means of warning about the type of radiation -79 "Birch" to zero (to detect such a source of radiation can only specialized means of electronic intelligence, for example, the new SPO L-15 "Pastel", ORTR Tu-150P and called RTR "Valeria" emnye stations). About the above qualities of the radar AN / APG-214 (V) 82, the Su-1 pilots can only dream.
To adapt to the new APG-82 radar, all F-15Es get a new multi-frequency radio transparent fairing, as well as a significantly improved cooling system for the antenna array and software-controlled modules with RF generators. The AN / APG-82 (V) 1 active phased array antenna consists of more than 1500 receiving and transmitting modules that, combined with a new on-board computer and highly sensitive receivers, allow you to track 20 airborne 6 for subsequent launch of long-range air combat missiles of the AMRAAM family . Target detection range with EPR 1 square. m is APG-82 about 145 km, which is 60% better than W-141 (B004) installed on the Su-34!
Considering the higher resolution of the first one, the possible LPI mode, the ability to create directed interferences, as well as the ability to form “dips” in the directivity pattern at the source of the REB source, the total potential of the F-15E in air superiority tasks and distances over 50 km 34, and this is a very alarming bell! Here you have the consequences of the slipping AFARization of obsolete generation machines "4 + / ++". And we have not yet considered regularly exaggerated deficiencies in the DVB, which are observed due to the absence in the armament of our tactical aviation of "straight-through" missiles RVV-AE-PD ("Product 180-PD"), while the American long-range AIM-120D sent to high volume production. Note that a similar situation is also observed in the comparative review of the Su-30CM with Strike Eagle. It is extremely important to consider the surviving interceptor qualities of the “Strike Needle” at the level of the advanced F-15C, because the maximum speed of the machine, taking into account the 4 AMRAAMs on the suspension, is kept at the level of 2,2М. The AN / APG-82 (V) 1 AFAR architecture gives the F-15E significant advantages for air-to-surface operations, including anti-ship strikes. The number of AN / APG-82 operating modes corresponds to the best radars for multi-purpose transitional and 5 fighter jets (AN / APG-83 SABR and AN / APG-81).
The identity of the AN / APG-82 (V) 1 and AN / APG-79 onboard radar control processors architecture defines another positive aspect - the unification of the radar software update interfaces and the update packages, which will speed up the F-15E software upgrade several times and deck F / A-18E / F / G in wartime, without the need to create a separate “package” for each type of machine.
As for the use of Su-34 in interception operations, in contrast to the “Strike Eagle”, the maximum speed with suspension in 1,7М does not quite correspond to these tasks. Indicators of survivability in melee air combat are entirely due to such criteria as the thrust-weight of the machine and the aerodynamic characteristics of the airframe. In the first parameter, the American F-15E tactics are noticeably ahead of our Su-34. So, with a normal take-off mass in 20892 kg, the F-15E thrust-to-weight ratio can reach 1,25 kgf / kg, thanks to which the car can realize excellent high-speed "energy" maneuvering both on the horizontal and on the verticals during the afterburner operation. The sufficiently high angular speed of the F-15E “Strike Eagle” steady reversal can be seen in the video footage prepared during numerous aerospace showrooms (including MAX 2000-s). The overclocking qualities of the American car, though insignificantly, are superior to those of the Su-34, which is explained by a slightly higher afterburner thrust per midship (2484 kgf / sq. M versus 2380 kgf / sq. M, respectively).
Let us turn to the maneuverable qualities of the Su-34. Despite the "sharpened" this machine to the shock operations, maneuverability remains at a very decent level. This is achieved through the use of well-proven aerodynamic scheme "integral longitudinal triplane" with all-rotating horizontal tail, which is very related to such machines as the Su-33 and Su-30CM. However, the aerodynamic qualities of the airframe created by the carrier scheme can be realized only in a short period of time, after the “Drying” set speed in 750 - 850 km and rapid deceleration when performing a maneuver. The fact is that the car has an extremely heavy nose, represented by 17-mm armored capsules to protect the crew of two pilots from anti-aircraft artillery and other means of destruction while overcoming the enemy’s air defense in the following terrain mode.
Multi-purpose fighter-bomber Su-34 with under-body container RTR "Sych"
Also Su-34 can boast of reinforced structural elements of the wing, center section, tail section, as well as massive twin chassis, which ultimately led to an increase in the mass of an empty Duckling to 22000 kg. Even with the 50% filling of the fuel system (6050 kg) and the deployment of 4 air strikes RVV-AE (700 kg), the thrust ratio is at the level of 0,94 kgf / kg, which is not enough for "energy" maneuvering; and the maximum operating overload in 7 units. imposes serious restrictions on "aggressive pilotage." Consequently, in a close encounter, the Su-34 pilots must rely on a short-term quick turn towards the target, as well as on the potential of the R-73 rocket RDD-2.
Reservations for the cockpit can be considered the undisputed advantage of the Thirty-Four over the Strike Eagle, because the modern aggressive theater of war, stuffed with a huge range of medium-range and long-range air defense systems, increasingly forces tactical aircraft to “cling” to the earth's surface, which often leads to hot meeting with "Shilkami" and the enemy's ZUk-shki: F-15E, unlike "Duckling", is unlikely to survive a similar meeting. In the same turn, it must be remembered that even the integration of Su-34 radar, electronic and opto-electronic variants of Sych outboard containers for tactical reconnaissance (providing Duck's advantage in reconnaissance capabilities) should not be an occasion for refusal to re-equip with new on-board radars based on active phased arrays, because the latter play the decisive role in combat situations when the crew must be thoroughly informed of the smallest tactical details in the forward hemisphere and at a distance two or three hundred kilometers.