The continuing criticism of the F-35 fighter by the military and the media, as well as its incompatibility with the modern philosophy of air combat, force the US Air Force to consider the option of resuming the production of X-NUMX-summer F-40 and F-15 fighters. Is F-16 so bad? It's just that its creators made the same mistake as Beria.
Since the First World War, the actions of the fighters were built according to the scheme formulated most clearly by the Soviet ace Alexander Pokryshkin during the Second World War: "altitude - speed - maneuver - fire". This formula, in turn, was based on the principle of “bullet - fool, the plane - well done”.
“What about the vaunted superiority of the United States in the air and the need to have supergangs of the 21st century in order to restrain China? Well, we could have such a plane, but we don't have one. ”
In other words, the emphasis was placed on the fact that the fighter could catch up with the enemy, get close to the distance of a cannon shot or the distance defeated by an air-to-air missile, and in the case of a maneuverable aerial combat, surpass the enemy in aerobatic qualities. However, starting from the third generation of fighters, designers are beginning to deviate from the “bullet-fool” principle, making the aircraft’s armament more and more intelligent. There are missiles with infrared head pointing, pulsed radar. On-board equipment with a more sophisticated guidance system allows you to hit targets that are out of sight. Typical representatives of this generation are American F-104 Starfighter and F-4 Phantom, Soviet MiG-19 and MiG-21. The trend towards the intellectualization of destructive armament has been consolidated and intensified in the fourth and fifth generation aircraft.
Designers F-35 had to solve the dilemma "platform or dog dump". The “classic” fighter was traditionally built under the Pokryshkin formula, but the creation of intelligent long-range weapons was considered by the designers of the F-35 to reduce the functions of the aircraft to a simple computerized platform. The task of which is to be a “launching pad” for these funds and at the same time their control center. No wonder, as applied to modern combat aircraft, the term “complex” is increasingly being used, emphasizing the integration of “intelligence”. weapons in the "intelligence" of the aircraft.
Imagine now that this platform will not only be able to avoid entering the enemy’s air defense zone, but it also will not have to catch up with the enemy, hide from it, or conduct a maneuverable air battle with it, which is also called a “dog dump”. Launched from a distance, the rocket itself will find the target long before it can dodge the strike.
And if the aircraft will have to solve combat missions in the sky controlled by the enemy, then the defense will be focused on systems capable of confusing the missile. And it’s better to make sure that the enemy simply didn’t see you, so the creators of the F-35 paid much attention to its radar invisibility.
Highly intelligent equipment and weapons are not the only distinguishing feature of the F-35. Military officials decided to make a unified aircraft for the three types of US forces - the Air Force, Navy and Marines. In fact, why spend the effort and money on the creation of three different types of aircraft, when you can build one with minor (as it was then thought) modifications? This explains the paradox: why, having already had an F-5-type 22 fighter, the USA began to create F-35. F-22 - machine, created mainly for air combat. He can strike at ground targets, but his main task is to destroy enemy aircraft. F-35 is a “multipurpose”, in which, depending on the modification, the bombing of ground objects and direct support on the battlefield play the same important role as the fight against enemy aircraft.
"Turkey", embodied the mistake of Beria
One of the main designers of the F-16 fighter Pierre Spray in an interview with the American Internet resource Digg.com called the F-35 "turkey". In America, turkey - one of the symbols of a hybrid of stupidity and satiety. According to Spray, any attempts to create a universal aircraft such as the F-35 are doomed to failure. Take, for example, the F-35 vertical take-off designed for the Marine Corps. The massive propulsion system “eats up” a significant part of the aircraft’s carrying capacity, and the relatively small wings do not provide it with the necessary maneuverability either for air combat or for direct support of ground forces. The same lack of maneuverability is different options developed for the Air Force and Navy. The maximum speed of the F-35 Mach, a component of the 1,6 Mach, is also unlikely to strike the imagination, given the fact that this indicator in modern fighters from Russia, Europe and the USA, including the F-15 and F-16, either reaches or exceeds the Mach 2.
As for the “invisibility” of F-35, then, according to the American Internet resource Fool.com, this invisibility can be ensured only if it carries all its bombs and missiles inside, and this is only 17% of its capabilities. If something is on the external suspension, the aircraft becomes as noticeable as conventional winged cars.
In this regard, I involuntarily recall историяwhich was told by the former deputy general designer of the aircraft Andrey Tupolev Leonid Kerber in his memoirs Tupolev sharaga. Even before the war, Lawrence Beria tried to convince Stalin to build a super-bomber. Tupolev also proposed to build an average front-line dive bomber, which was destined to go down in history under the name Tu-2.
“I told your suggestions to Comrade Stalin,” said Beria to Tupolev. - He agreed with my opinion that we now need not such a plane, but a high-altitude, long-range, four-engined dive bomber, let's call it PB-4. We are not going to inflict pinpricks (he pointed out with disapproval the ANT-58 drawing [which was later named Tu-2]), no, we will smash the beast in its lair! .. Take action (nod towards the prisoners, among whom was Tupolev), so that in a month they would prepare proposals on PB-4. Everything!"
This “technical task” is difficult to call anything other than delusional. High-altitude means a hermetic cockpit, that is, a limited view, and a breeder taking aim with his plane needs a magnificent view. Four-engine, distant, therefore, heavy. Since a dive of the PB-4 would have been subject to much greater overload than when bombing from horizontal flight, it should have had a much stronger construction, and this, in turn, led to further weight gain. In addition, a dive involves strikes against targets from low altitude, and the four-engine giant is an excellent target for anti-aircraft gunners. Finally, the dive biker needs maneuverability at the level of briskness, and where can we get it from such a heavy truck?
“In a word,” recalled Kerber, “the masses are“ against ”and not a single“ for ”, except for primitive thought: since the Germans and Americans already have single-engine dive-bombers, we must surpass them and create not a“ king-bell ”, but“ a king -picker "!"
After some thought, Tupolev decided that it was possible, but not necessary, to make such a “universal” monster. He insisted on his point of view, as a result of which the Soviet pilots received one of the best bombers of the Second World War, the Tu-2. It is obvious that the creators of F-35 did not take into account the experience of "Tupolev", and most likely, just did not know about it.
Only “old men” go into battle - and win
The American magazine Popular Mechanics called the F-35 an "impressive misfortune," and according to one test pilot of this vehicle, it was "not worth a penny" in aerial combat. At the same time, the magazine referred to the declassified test report of F-35, which fell on the pages of the American Internet resource War is Boring. This report contained information about test air battles conducted between the F-35 and F-16, which has been in service with the US Air Force for over 40 years. Despite the fact that the F-35 flew in the most lightweight version, and the F-16 "dragged" under its wings fuel tanks, the "old man" in these battles showed far better fighter qualities. Even the famous F-400 pilot’s 35 thousand dollars helmet, which gives the pilot all the necessary tactical information and allows him to see “through the cockpit”, turned out to be “too bulky” to allow him to look back without any obstacles. Interestingly, the developer of the new fighter, Lockheed Martin, did not dispute the pilot’s conclusions, saying only that “F-35 was designed to destroy the enemy aircraft before the start of the maneuvering battle”.
Apparently, these test battles, in addition to the exorbitant cost of F-35, became one of the reasons why the Pentagon, according to the American Internet resource Aviation Week, began to seriously consider the additional purchase of 72 multi-role fighters like F-15, F-16 and even F / A-18. These machines were developed by 40 and more years ago. Of course, we are talking about the acquisition of deeply modernized fighter jets, which, together with the upgraded 300 F-16 and F-15 fighters, "will be able to strengthen F-35 and F-22 in intensive air combat". According to the plans of the Pentagon, F-15 and F-16 will remain in service until at least 2045 of the year. This means that the “old men” will quantify F-22 and F-35 at least until the end of the 2020-s.
The US Department of Defense intends to purchase X-NUMX aircraft of the F-2547 type by 35. The total cost will exceed 2038 billion dollars, which will make this military program the most expensive in US history. For comparison: the cost of the whole Apollo lunar program, taking into account inflation as of 400, did not exceed 2005 billion dollars a year. If we add to the cost of purchasing the F-170 also the cost of operating them until the last aircraft of this type is written off, then the F-35 will cost US taxpayers 35 a trillion dollars or more. And this despite the fact that this car does not justify the hopes placed on it.
How do the military capabilities of Russia and NATO
According to The Week magazine, "it's time to put an end to this." “The only reason this has not yet been done is the money already spent on this program. Many military experts agree that combat aviation I could better solve my problems with the F-16 and F-18 than the prohibitively expensive F-35, ”the author of the publication believes.
“What about the vaunted superiority of the United States in the air and the need to have supergangs of the 21st century in order to restrain China? - He wonders. - Well, we could have such a plane, but we do not have it. And the best incentive for military contractors to produce good equipment is to show that Washington can “knock down” a program that is not working and that costs 1,3 a trillion dollars while in flight. Will Washington have enough political will to do this? ”
The victim of far-fetched doctrine
So what happened to the F-35? The same as with the Soviet fighter MiG-3, created on the eve of the Second World War. His image was determined by the doctrine popular in those times that the upcoming air battles will take place at high altitudes and speeds. But, as it turned out, the Luftwaffe pilots were not going to compete with the Soviet fighters in speed and altitude, but preferred to fight at low and medium altitudes, and not always at full throttle. As a result, good at high altitudes, the MiG-3 turned out to be heavy, clumsy and not fast enough on small and medium-sized, it was withdrawn from the “first line” units and was used only in air defense units.
Like the MiG-3, the F-35 fell victim to the doctrine, which did not fully correspond to the modern tactical realities of the air war. Recall that, according to its creators, "F-35 is designed to destroy an enemy aircraft before the start of a maneuverable battle." But, as it turned out during the tests, the characteristics of the F-35 do not give him a guaranteed opportunity to do so. It means that with a high degree of probability he cannot avoid a “dog dump”, in which the Russian MiGs, Su and Chinese fighters designed on the basis of them have a clear advantage over F-35 in terms of maneuverability.
Perhaps the situation with F-35 would not have seemed so dramatic in the United States if the Yeltsin-Clinton era of the “strategic partnership” between Russia and the United States continued. Then the United States would not have to worry about possible fights between Russian and American fighters in the foreseeable future.
But times have changed - Moscow began to actively pursue in the international arena a policy that sometimes runs counter to the interests of Washington, and the events in Syria demonstrated the quality of Russian military aviation. The prospect of an armed conflict between Russia and the NATO forces, alas, is now more real than 20 years ago, and therefore the United States needs to think about what to oppose to the Russian “Su” and “MiGs”. And the deeply modernized "old men" F-16 and F-15, in their maneuverability and dynamic characteristics, seem to be better suited for this role than the ultra-modern F-35.