Archive for the ‘U.S. Air Force’ category

Fighter Showdown: Air Force F-22 Raptor vs. F-14 Tomcat (That Iran Still Flies)

July 17, 2018

by TNI Staff July 18, 2018 The National Interest

Source Link: Fighter Showdown: Air Force F-22 Raptor vs. F-14 Tomcat That Iran Still Flies

{I feel the need for speed. – LS}

Even if the Raptors had run out of AMRAAMs and were forced to engage within visual range, the F-22s can use their stealth to close in unobserved to less than 1000ft to either kill the F-14s with Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinders or 20mm Vulcan cannon fire. Indeed, F-22 pilots flying during exercises such as Red Flag or Northern Edge will often sneak into guns range to make unobserved kills from very close distances by taking advantage of the Raptor’s stealth. More often than not, the Raptor’s quarry is caught completely unaware.

With the United States withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with Iran, a war with Tehran seems to be a distinct possibility.  In the event of a military conflict between Washington and Tehran, there is also the ever growing possibility that the White House might seek regime change in Iran.

A full-scale military campaign against Iran would require the United States to destroy the Iranian air force—which to this day flies American-built warplanes. The best of Iran’s decrepit fighter aircraft fleet is the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The Imperial Iranian Air Force purchased 80 of the powerful fourth generation fighters before the 1979 Islamic revolution, but deliveries were halted at 79 aircraft. Additionally, Iran had purchased 714 Hughes (now Raytheon) AIM-54A Phoenix long-range semi-active/active radar guided air-to-air missiles, which have a range of roughly 100 nautical miles.

When the F-14A was developed, it was amongst the most capable fighters developed by the United States during the late 1960s. The jet entered service with the U.S. Navy in 1974 equipped with the AWG-9 long-range pulse Doppler radar, which had a range of over 115 nautical miles and was the first American radar set to incorporate a track while scan mode to allow for a multiple shot capability. Coupled with the AIM-54, the AWG-9 could target six enemy bombers simultaneously. On paper, the Tomcat provided the fleet with a potent capability—though the reality did not quite meet the Navy’s public relations hype.

Iran has upgraded its Tomcats with new avionics and potentially new weapons, but only a handful of Tehran’s F-14s are in flyable condition—perhaps as few as 20 aircraft. However, other than perhaps 20 Russian-made Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrums, the venerable Tomcat is the Islamic Iranian Air Force’s most capable fighter. In the event of a war, the F-14 would be Iran’s first line of defense against an American onslaught.

The stealthy Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor air superiority fighter would almost certainly lead an American attack. Compared to the antiquated F-14, the Raptor is a technological marvel and is equipped with some of the most sophisticated sensors ever developed for a military aircraft.

The F-22 combines extreme stealth and sustained supersonic speed—it can cruise at just above Mach 1.8 without afterburners—with integrated avionics and extreme agility. The Raptor’s Northrop Grumman AN/APG-77 (V)1 active electronically scanned array radar and ALR-94 passive electronic support measures suite would spot an F-14 from many tens of nautical miles away before the Tomcat had any idea that an F-22 was in the vicinity.

The Raptor, having detected a flight of Iranian F-14s and given the go-ahead to engage, would likely turn toward the enemy and launch its Raytheon AIM-120D AMRAAM missile—which reported has a range of 96 nautical miles when launched from a conventional fighter—from high supersonic speeds exceeding Mach 1.5 and at altitudes well above 50,000ft. It would be all over for the Iranian F-14s before anyone in the enemy formation would have any idea they were under attack.

Even if the Raptors had run out of AMRAAMs and were forced to engage within visual range, the F-22s can use their stealth to close in unobserved to less than 1000ft to either kill the F-14s with Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinders or 20mm Vulcan cannon fire. Indeed, F-22 pilots flying during exercises such as Red Flag or Northern Edge will often sneak into guns range to make unobserved kills from very close distances by taking advantage of the Raptor’s stealth. More often than not, the Raptor’s quarry is caught completely unaware.

However, if by some bizarre circumstance the F-22 is embroiled in a dogfight with the F-14, the chances are the Raptor will kill the Tomcat unless the American pilot suffers from extremely bad luck or makes a serious error. The Raptor holds all of the cards in terms of instantaneous and sustained turn rates—which in the F-22’s case is greater than 30 degrees per second—and energy addition. The Raptor’s incredible specific excess power and sheer maneuverability combined with its new AIM-9X missiles makes it so that the odds are grotesquely stacked in the F-22 pilot’s favor. It would be like clubbing a baby seal.

Of course, that’s just in the case that Iran’s leaders are foolish enough to take the United States head on. It would be much smarter for Iran to use asymmetric means to take on the United States instead of challenging America in the air.




US threatens to shoot down any Iraqi warplane targeting Kurds

October 16, 2017

US threatens to shoot down any Iraqi warplane targeting Kurds, DEBKAfile, October 16, 2017

Iraqi and Kurdish sources reported Monday that the US had warned the Al-Abadi government against deploying the Iraqi air force against Kurdish targets in the fighting which erupted around the oil town of Kirkuk Monday. The US Air Force would shoot the Iraqi planes down, Baghdad was warned. The US also informed the Iraqi government that its military offensive against the Kurds over Kirkuk constituted a flagrant violation of Clause 9 of the Iraqi constitution, as well as a breach of Iraqi-US agreements which prohibit the use of military force for resolving internal political disputes.

ISIS’ Kirkuk raid spreads. US air force in action

October 22, 2016

ISIS’ Kirkuk raid spreads. US air force in action, DEBKAfile, October 22, 2016

kurdish_gen-_mariwan_mohammed_21-10-16Kurdish General. Mariwan Mohammed

The raid of Iraq’s northern oil city of Kirkuk launched by the Islamic State Friday began to spread Saturday, Oct. 22 to surrounding towns. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that ISIS fighters headed south from Kirkuk in two heads. One tried to enter Laylan, a town 21 km south of the oil city, which was defended by Kurdish Peshmerga and Turkman paramilitary forces; the second seized the crossroads of Rtes 2, 3 and 24 to sever Kirkuk from Baghdad.

When Kirkuk first came under attack, the Kurdish defenders still left there appealed for US air support against the Islamist invaders. The US air force went into action late Friday. They first targeted ISIS sniper positions on the town’s highest rooftops. Then, the next day US aircraft struck twin targets: the jihadist fighters storming Laylan and the fighters heading down the roads to the south of Kirkuk.

Nonetheless, up until Saturday pm, ISIS was still in control of at least five of the oil city’s neighborhoods as well as buildings in the town center, including government offices.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish Peshmerga, according to our military sources, dispatched to Kirkuk their special counterterrorism unit to dislodge the raiders. Kurdish sources also warned that this city was only the first of a row of Iraqi towns still in ISIS sights. They added that they would not be surprised to find the Islamists heading out to strike European towns as well.

Iraqi and Kurdish sources have since Friday been throwing out high ISIS casualty figures and reporting that many were put to flight. They were attempting to play down the scale of the raid on Kirkuk.

In fact, our sources report that the Islamists found extra numbers and ammunition caches waiting for them in two places – sleeper cells in Kirkuk and local Sunni sympathizers.

The numbers of civilian casualties and refugees mounting since the onset of the Mosul operation are mounting, causing grave concern to the UN and international aid agencies.

DEBKAfile first reported on the ISIS raid of Kirkuk Friday.

No one doubted that the US-Iraqi-Kurdish offensive to liberate Mosul would be drawn out and fraught with unforeseen setbacks before the Islamic State was finally thrown out of its Iraqi capital. But on Oct. 21, five days into the Mosul operation, the ISIS terrorists landed their most severe blow, when Islamist fighters and suicide bombers suddenly hurled themselves on the Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk in a coordinated attack.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that taking advantage of a chance to catch the US, Iraqi and Kurdish generals leading the attack on Mosul unawares, the Islamist fighters were able to open a second front to the rear of the main battle arena against ISIS.

Kirkuk is some 175km southeast of Mosul and 230km from Baghdad. By hitting this important oil city, the terrorists came close to enough to menace the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government region and its capital, Irbil, and expose the Kurdish Peshmerga troops fighting for Mosul.

Our military sources note that a large Peshmerga force of some 11,000 troops had been posted to secure the town and its oil fields, under the command of Gen. Mariwan Mohammed.

But then, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, the US-Iraqi-Kurdish joint command of the Mosul offensive decided that Kurdish reinforcements were necessary to provide the operation with greater impetus. The extra Peshmerga troops were accordingly ordered to set out from Khazar, 40 km east of Mosul, and join the coalition offensive.

However, what they missed, despite the mainly American spy satellites, drones and reconnaissance planes collecting intelligence, was an ISIS concentration clandestinely building up at Hawja, 57km east of Kirkuk. According to our military sources, some of the jihadists reported by the Western media to have turned tail on the run from Mosul had been gathering to the southeast, some 57km from Kirkuk. They stood ready to attack that town.

Their opportunity came when the large Kurdish group exited Kirkuk and headed out to Mosul. Kirkuk was left exposed without defenders.

Friday morning, the Islamic State launched its surprise attack on the defenseless oil city. Its fighters and suicide bombers slammed into four police stations, Kurdish security offices, residential neighborhoods and a power station to the north. Clashes continued during the day with unknown casualty figures on both sides.

At some point, the governor claimed control of the city was regained but residents reported the clashes continued.

ISIS said in a statement it had seized “half the city” and had also attacked the Dubiz power plant, killing all the security forces inside, but the claims were not possible to verify.

Russian Jet Threatened U.S. Recon Aircraft

April 17, 2016

Russian Jet Threatened U.S. Recon Aircraft, Washington Free Beacon, April 16, 2016

(No problem. Weakness is strength and strength is weakness. — DM)

rc-135-540x286RC-135 / image via Wikipedia

A Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft on Thursday in the latest military provocation by Moscow over the Baltic Sea, the U.S. European Command said Saturday.

“On April 14, a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft flying a routine route in international airspace over the Baltic Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner,” said Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez.

“This intercept comes shortly after the unsafe Russian encounters with USS Donald Cook,” he added. “There have been repeated incidents over the last year where Russian military aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns, and we are very concerned with any such behavior.”

Hernandez said the U.S. aircraft, a militarized Boeing 707 jet, was operating in international airspace “and at no time crossed into Russian territory.”

“This unsafe and unprofessional air intercept has the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all aircrews involved,” he said. “More importantly, the unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries.”

According to Hernandez, the Su-27 carried out “erratic and aggressive maneuvers” by approaching the RC-135 at a high rate of speed from the side.

The Russian jet “then proceeded to perform an aggressive maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the U.S. aircrew in the RC-135U,” the spokesman said.

“More specifically, the SU-27 closed within 50 feet of the wing-tip of the RC-135 and conducted a barrel roll starting from the left side of the aircraft, going over the top of the aircraft and ended up to the right of the aircraft,” he said.

The U.S. government is protesting all the incidents this week to the Russian government through diplomatic channels, he said.

The RC-135U, an electronic intelligence-gathering aircraft, is normally operated by five air crew and up to 16 electronic warfare officers and six or more regional specialists.

The dangerous aerial incident came two days after a simulated Russian aerial assault against the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea. Washington called the simulated assault a military provocation, and said it nearly caused an international shootout.

Two Russian fighter-bombers, identified as Su-24s, made close passes over the Cook, including one jet that came within 30 feet of the warship.

A Navy officer said the buzzing was the most reckless flyover of a U.S. warship by either a Russian or Chinese warplane since the Cold War. “I’ve been in a lot of those situations and I’ve never seen any plane come that close,” the officer said.

The aerial harassment appears to be part of a Russian military campaign of intimidation against the United States and NATO.

Moscow has adopted hostile military policies toward the United States over U.S. deployment of missile defenses in Europe, which Moscow says threaten its missile forces. The Russians also have been upset by Western sanctions against its military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

Strategically, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been seeking to regain control and influence over what Moscow calls the “near abroad”—former Soviet republics and Eastern Bloc nations along the periphery of Russia’s borders in Eastern Europe.

The policy has led to military aggression against the Republic of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, where Russian troops took over the Crimean peninsula and are continuing to fuel separatist activity in eastern Ukraine.

In response, the United States and NATO are bolstering U.S. and allied military forces in Eastern Europe, with a specific emphasis of increasing military forces and troops near the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as in Poland.

The recent Russian military provocations coincide with military activities by Moscow in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, which remains a major subject of U.S. monitoring. Russia in the past has threatened to deploy nuclear-capable Iskander short-range missiles in the enclave on the Baltic Coast between Poland and Latvia.

Earlier this week, Brian McKeon, principal undersecretary of defense for policy, told a House subcommittee hearing that Russia has prevented U.S. and allied flights over Kaliningrad that are allowed under the Open Skies Treaty.

Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic forces analyst who specializes in Russian affairs, said the recent incidents over the Baltic Sea, including the simulated attack of a U.S. warship, are fundamentally different from past Russian provocations.

“It is a major escalation of Russian aggressiveness although it fits into a pattern of Russian activity that goes back years,” Schneider said. “The Russian Defense Ministry reaction was blatantly dishonest.”

Schneider said the likely U.S. response to these provocations are what former Pentagon official Richard Perle once dubbed “demarche-mellows,” or very weak, pro forma protests.

“If so, incidents like this will probably continue to escalate,” Schneider said.

Thursday’s aerial encounter involving the RC-135 was at least the second time this year that Russian jets have conducted a dangerous intercept of a reconnaissance aircraft.

On Jan. 25, a Russian Su-27 came within 20 feet of an RC-135 over the Black Sea in what Navy Capt. Daniel Hernandez said was an “unsafe and unprofessional” action.

Unlike Thursday’s encounter, the Russian jet in January did not do a barrel roll, but instead made an aggressive, high-speed banking turn away from the intelligence aircraft.

The maneuver disturbed the pilot’s control of the RC-135.

The dangerous Su-24 overflight of the Cook on April 12 came a day after two other Russian Su-24s flew over the ship 20 times, including a dangerous pass as an allied helicopter was being refueled, causing a delay in flight operations until the Su-24s left the area.

The same day, a Russian Ka-27 Helix helicopter flew around the Cook, which had finished a port visit to Poland and had a Polish helicopter on board.

“The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian,” the European Command said in a statement.

The Pentagon released video of the encounter showing the close pass, which created a wake in the water.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday criticized the Russian military provocation, though he declined to say what steps the United States would take in response.

The State Department lodged formal protests with Russia.

“We condemn this kind of behavior. It is reckless. It is provocative. It is dangerous. And under the rules of engagement that could have been a shoot-down,” Kerry told CNN and the Miami Herald.

“People need to understand that this is serious business and the United States is not going to be intimidated on the high seas. … We are communicating to the Russians how dangerous this is and our hope is that this will never be repeated,” Kerry said.

The Cook is equipped with anti-aircraft defenses including the Close-In Weapons System, an automated air defense gun that can destroy aircraft with 25-millimeter rounds. The weapon was not readied because the ship was operating under the U.S.-Russian agreement not to illuminate each other’s aircraft.

“We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers,” the European command said in a statement.

“These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death.”

Kerry on Friday discussed the Cook incident with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, a State Department spokesman said.

Moscow sought to play down the incident involving the Cook. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told the state-run Interfax news agency that the Russian pilots acted within safety guidelines.

The incidents violated the bilateral U.S.-Russian agreement designed to prevent incidents at sea. The accord prohibits conducting simulated attacks and also limits the use of automated anti-aircraft guns.

Other incidents in recent months included a near collision between a Russian fighter and an RC-135 over the Black Sea on May 30, and on April 7, 2015, a Su-27 flew within 20 feet of an RC-135 over the Baltic Sea.

Additionally, last October, two Russian Tu-142 bombers made low passes near the aircraft carrier USS Reagan as it sailed in the Sea of Japan near the Korean peninsula. And on July 4, 2015, two Tu-95 nuclear-capable bombers approached within 40 miles of the California coast and radioed a “happy birthday” message to intercepting U.S. pilots.

The July 4 provocation occurred the same day President Obama held a telephone call with Putin.

Russia also has sent Tu-95 bombers to circle the Pacific island of Guam several times. The island is a major military hub and central to the U.S. military’s pivot to Asia.