Radar vs stealth: Nothing new here, folks

I must say I’m disappointed. As I wrote earlier this week, I looked forward to reading the the Radar Game report issued this morning by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute. I anticipated that Rebecca Grant would build on her 1998 report of the same name, and present a well-researched update on the eternal battle between radar and stealth technology.

I assumed wrong. The new report is a copy-and-paste job from Grant’s 1998 study with only a single-page Forward section that unfortunately provides no new data. Most disappointingly, even the “future” section is copied word-for-word from the original report published 12 years ago! If you want a late-1990s update on the status of stealth technology and evolution of aircraft survivability, it’s not a bad read. But overall it’s a missed opportunity to contribute fresh knowledge and research on such an important topic. 

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3 Responses to Radar vs stealth: Nothing new here, folks

  1. SMSgt Mac 1 October, 2010 at 1:19 am #

    Well at least there will be more hard copies out there again. I had several, but all the ones I loaned out tended to not come back. I shepard my sole remaining copy of Dr. Grant’s IRIS version closely now.
    On the other hand, what exactly were the expectations? The LO/Counter LO dynamics have not substantially been altered in the last decade, other than the dBs have been driven lower, more computing power allows more intricate outer mold line designs, and the maintainability of the LO has been markedly improved via new material chemistry and better/cheaper structures. IADS capability development over the same timeframe is less impressive and has not propagated far beyond developer nation borders (yet).
    IMHO, the real story (so far) is while the defenders are marginally improving their capability, the main benefit from such improvement comes in their ability to defeat non-LO systems, which in the interval between the Radar Game releases, have become just the kind of systems we are now keeping in the field, longer.

  2. Lightndattic 1 October, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

    I haven’t read the original report, but I’m assuming it included hypothetical adversary stealth designs against allied radar systems. The unveiling of the Pak-FA, even if it’s not the fully polished LO version is a significant change from 1998. Also allied stealth designs like the Neuron, Taranis, and Barracuda UAVs have fully come into the open enough to at least make an educated guess on their effectiveness versus our radar systems.

    Real data on the effective stealthy-ness of the F-35 versus manufacturer promises may change some of the conclusions. What about stealth enhanced Gen 4 aircraft like the Silent Eagle? We all know that caught everyone in the defense journalism field off guard when it was unveiled.

    Another difference could be more information on powerful, long range advances air defense radars such as Long Pine, AN/TPY-2, and upgraded or recently revealed capabilities of the S-300 and S-400 systems. I’m not sure how effective these missile defense radars oriented radars would be against stealthy aircraft, but with the Long Pine and AN/TPY-2, as large, advanced AESA arrays, one would think there would be some capacity either now or in the future even if their current systems software doesn’t support it.

    The more I think about this report’s zerox’ing compared with some of the other reports Dr. Grant has put out, the more disappointing it becomes.

  3. FighterFan 4 October, 2010 at 2:11 am #

    Well, to be fair, the AFA website did say the report was being “republished”, rather than “revised” or “updated”…

    So much has been written about AA/AD systems and double-digit SAMs that one sometimes gets the impression that defenders have the upper hand now. More public discussion about LO advances (without specifics, of course), would be good – to let the other side know that stealth is keeping pace, and their massive investments in SAMs, lo-freq and OTH radar etc, might be for naught…

    Bill Sweetman has alluded to developments in extremely-LO technology in this Ares blog:
    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/dti/2010/09/01/DT_09_01_2010_p24-249345.xml&headline=Pentagon%20Bomber%20Evolution%20Underway&channel=defense

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