Military Review

Achtung: plus plus in the air!

Air battle of the XXI century

Su-27 and its numerous heirs will not be able to fight the "Raptor". We need either our own "Raptor" or a new reincarnation of the undeservedly forgotten MiG-31. The fifth-generation Russian fighter (or rather, its prototype), known under the working title T-50, 29 January 2010, finally took off from the factory airfield in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

Of course, this is a huge success of the Russian aviation industry, and of the military industrial complex in general. Perhaps this is our first real, not PR success in the field of modern military technology for the entire post-Soviet history Russia. However, it is clear that even with the most optimal (and extremely unlikely) developments in the series, it will not go for another ten years (the statement that the plane can go to the troops in 2013 year, it is better to leave without comment). And it is very interesting, what size will this series be, even if it takes place? Does it even make it to 100 machines? And, by and large, what will be the air battle in the XXI century?

True, it should be noted that F-22 is built very little, less than 200. Abroad they have not been exported at all and it is not very clear whether. As for the second American fighter of the fifth generation, the F-35 Lightning-2, which is to replace the F-16, it is still difficult to understand what will come of it. This plane should be at the same time a fighter, bomber, attack aircraft, and one of its options should be able to take off shortly and land vertically. When they want so much from one plane right away, as a rule, nothing good comes out. F-22 was purposefully done as a fighter of air combat, and creating an airplane for one task is incomparably easier than for several tasks contradicting one another.

F-35 Lightning II

And there are no more fifth generation fighters in the world. Something is quietly sculpted by the Chinese, but we will learn about the results of the sculpture only when this result passes the test stage. There is no point in doing divination. Hindus want to create a similar aircraft with Russia, the result is also completely unclear. It is not even clear whether this is the same T-50 or some other aircraft. Europeans are not going to strain at all. Their formally new "Typhoon" is far from the best aircraft even by the standards of the fourth generation. The only purpose of its production is not to let the military component of the European aviation industry die. The quality of the aircraft is unprincipled, because the Europeans will still not fight with anyone. In addition, some European countries will buy a little F-35, while others secretly hope that Washington will make an exception for them and sell F-22.


So while the fourth generation is relevant. F-15 is the most dangerous in it, but it will soon be written off because of resource development, and with F-16, F-18, Typhoon, French Mirage-2000 and Raphael, Swedish Grippen and Chinese J -10 handle seems to be easier. Moreover, most likely, we will not have to cope with the Europeans, but we will have to fight on all these planes someone else in the third world.


It should be noted that if the Israeli, American and Saudi F-15 has several dozen downed aircraft (Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian), then Su-27 conducted only two or three real air battles. In the summer of 1999, the Ethiopian Su-27 shot down one to three Eritrean fighters. Ironically, they were the MiG-29. On the other hand, for example, on the account of the “Mirage-2000” there is only one aerial victory: in October 1996, the Greek plane of this type threw down its sworn ally - the Turkish F-16D.

F-16s and> F-18s have not had much success, for example during Desert Storm in winter 1991. The F-18 shot down only 2 Iraqi MiG-21s (and there are no more victories on the F-18 account to this day), and the F-16 - no one at all. True, these aircraft are viewed more as strike than as fighters.


Alas, he showed absolutely nothing about the MiG-29, although he participated not only in the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, but also in the wars of Iraq against Iran and the USA, as well as in repelling NATO aggression against Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, there is no reliable information about at least one victory of this aircraft (there are only hints that in the first days of “Storm in the Desert” he may have shot down an 1 or 2 “Tornado”), but quite a lot of them were lost (in total no less than 20 in all the listed wars).

In general, the outcome of an air battle between approximately equal in terms of their performance characteristics by aircraft is determined by many factors. In the first place came the information factor. The pilot must present the situation as best as possible, he must first detect the enemy, avoid detection on his part and apply first weapon (and it is very desirable that the second use of weapons is no longer necessary). It should be understood that own reconnaissance assets (first of all, naturally, this is a radar station) can become a unmasking factor, they make it possible to detect the enemy, but at the same time inform the enemy about themselves with their radiation. Therefore, an increasingly important role is played by external means of intelligence (for example, DRLO planes). Fundamentally important is the information environment in which the aircraft is “immersed”. To this is added the means of electronic warfare (EW), which are designed to distort information for the enemy. At a minimum, to crush his radar with noises, as a maximum — to create for him a completely false picture of the air situation. On the other hand, one must be able to effectively counteract the enemy's EW means.

Further, the weapon factor is extremely important, especially long and medium range air-to-air missiles, with the help of which one can strike not simply from outside the visual visibility, but preferably before the enemy has even found himself attacking. And then comes the factor of maneuverability, it acts in the event that it came to melee, in which the opponents know each other and see each other.

And, of course, above all this is the factor of training the pilot, who must be able to act in the information environment, effectively use reconnaissance equipment and weapons, and evade reconnaissance and enemy weapons. All this is done in the conditions of every second change of the tactical situation and the strongest psychological and physical stress. Modern air combat is on the verge of a person’s psychophysical abilities, if not beyond it, therefore it is doubly important to create for the pilot an information environment that would make it as easy as possible for him to make adequate decisions. It is interesting, by the way, that if the shock drones are already being created in practice, the possibility of the appearance of an unmanned fighter is a purely speculative thing. The task of attacking ground targets is much easier to formalize, but the air battle is so complex and ambiguous that you cannot do without a person. On the other hand, the pilot can no longer do without the help of very powerful and smart computers.

All of the above refers to the battle between the "traditional" fighters. If the invisible person enters the battle, the situation changes. Invisibility gives the aircraft a decisive advantage over the enemy, since it loses information about the “invisible being” and the ability to use a weapon on it, turning out to be blind and deaf.

True, the paradox is that the radar "invisible", on the one hand, provides him with the opportunity to beat the enemy from a long distance, at which he in principle is not able to detect it. On the other hand, the working radar informs the enemy that it is attacked by the "invisible". And if it allows him to not hit the "invisible", then at least take the maneuver of evading attack. Here, for the “invisible”, it becomes fundamentally important to obtain information about the enemy from external sources (from DRLO planes, ground-based radars and space satellites).

Quite interestingly it turns out, if “invisible” on both sides converge in battle. As stated in the article "Invisible Flying Object", the ESR of such aircraft is the same as that of a large bird. At the same time, the planes themselves are bigger than the bird. Thus, they are easier to detect visually than with a locator. Because of this, the radar for the "invisible", going into battle against another "invisible", is not just useless (because it does not detect the enemy), but harmful (because unmasks itself). As a result, ranged combat becomes impossible again, it all comes down to close combat with the help of cannons, short-range missiles and high maneuverability. Like in Vietnam. And if it happens at night, melee combat is hardly possible, invisibility becomes complete.

Of course, Russia can continue to develop the Su-27 main line and the incidental MiG-29, hoping that we will never fight with anyone, and for export to third world countries these machines will be enough for a long time. If the Russian Air Force is still being created to reflect possible aggression against its country, and not as a permanent exhibition for potential buyers, the further development of the Su-27 line is unpromising. It does not have a fundamental qualitative superiority over fourth-generation fighters (at best, quantitative in some respects) and is not able to fight the fifth generation.

Accordingly, you need to make your "Raptor", combining invisibility, electronics, weapons and maneuverability. A very interesting question: how much is Russia capable of that today? So far nothing is known about the performance characteristics of our new fighter, there are only different rumors (more precisely, dreams). Judging by the appearance, the T-50 will be as close as possible to the “Raptor”. Then an interesting thing will turn out: the F-22 will become the most maneuverable of American aircraft, and the T-50 - the most invisible of Russian ones. So we and the Americans will finally come to a "common denominator."

True, even if we contrive to do something close to the F-22, our plane will still not be part of a giant information network that the US military is turning into within the concept of network-centric warfare, which puts it in a deliberately losing position compared to Raptor. Another thing is that the fourth generation will be their Bito anyway.

However, there is another option - to create a heavy fighter as the heir to the MiG-31, a remarkable and clearly underestimated aircraft. That is, to make not so much a fighter as an interceptor with a very powerful radar, while capable of carrying many long-range air-to-air missiles. The main requirements for this aircraft (let's call it conditionally MiG-31bis) should be a large flight range (taking into account the size of the country), a large number of missiles on board (more than the current MiG-31), the highest flying range of these missiles and, of course, radar, providing their application to this range and capable of seeing even the “invisible” for at least a hundred kilometers.

Of course, from such a machine it will be impossible to demand either stealth or maneuverability, it must win at the expense of the range and power of the missiles and radar. Win even the "Raptor". And fourth-generation airplanes and cruise missiles of such a MiG-31bis should simply "throw bundles" while remaining out of their reach. Since such an aircraft will certainly be large and heavy, you can hang on it powerful EW equipment, which increases the combat capabilities of the machine.


However, you can do both the T-50 and the MiG-31bis at the same time, they would complement each other very well. Perhaps this would be the best option. But the easiest way is to continue the multiplication of the advantages of the Su-27. Which will inevitably lead to complete degradation of one’s own aviation.

In the meantime, we continue to develop the Su-27, drawing all the new incarnations with all the new pluses (“4 + generation”, “4 ++ generation” ...). At the same time, it is clear that even with F-15, which does not have any hints of invisibility and sometimes falling apart in the air from old age, our “pluses” will be difficult to fight. A series of Indian-American exercises, in which Indian Su-30 utterly defeated F-15, should not be misleading: there was a deliberate game of giveaway by the Americans, F-15 were placed in deliberately losing tactical conditions. The goal of the game was obvious - to knock out allocations from the country's leadership for additional F-22. And the “Raptor” beats the “Eagle” really utterly.

In the same way, F-22 will break all our wonderful “plus pluses”, they have no chance in a fight with him at all. Alas, the fourth generation of Russian planes do not have any advantage over the Raptor in any parameter. Even in maneuverability, the Yankees caught up with us. But in terms of electronics and invisibility, the advantage of an American is so absolute that there will be no fight, there will be a beating. Even if you do not take into account the order of a higher level of combat training of American pilots compared to ours. We must remember that “Raptor” was originally built under the concept of network-centric warfare, therefore its pilot has “all the information of the world”. In a battle with this plane, the Su-27 and its derivatives will simply be blind and deaf.
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  1. Mi
    Mi 27 October 2010 10: 44
    I have only one question - whether the pilot’s brain will burst from all the information received.
    Maybe it’s time to make changes to the human DNA (++++) adjusted for these planes. and how about air defense?
  2. Nickname
    Nickname 27 October 2010 19: 48
    For Khramchikhin - we recommend AMBULANCE wink
  3. djjn
    djjn 2 December 2010 22: 32
    and not able to fight the fifth generation.
    And what, training battles were conducted, or is it "from the lantern" 7
  4. dob
    dob 3 December 2010 20: 47
    There is no need to dramatize everything like that, the Chinese Drying downed the Raptor a year ago at the border of the PRC, and neither of them advertise it. So, there will be business for another 5-10 years on the Union "KNOW HOW".