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Su-57: Judging it by its intended role

Discussion in 'Air Force & Aviation' started by BenDavid, Sep 9, 2019.

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  1. BenDavid

    BenDavid New Member

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    I believe this aircraft is misunderstood. I think two technologies are key: can the two DIRCM turrets prevent hits from IR missiles and two can the AESA radars make an electronic attack against the seeker heads of meteor and AMRAAM missiles. We have been told that he F-22 can do an electronic attack with its radar to fry an opponent's radar. Given a missile seeker head would be closer than the opponent's radar, then the power of the emitted radio waves will be higher at the target.

    The aircraft has not been designed to counter an IADS. NATO doesn't really have those on land. The Okhotnik drone would probably be the penetrator. Though, that could be stealthier too.

    There are many other things, I can mention later on such as the role of the L-band radars in the Su-57.

    Stealth Inlets & Nozzles: F-22 and YF-23 vs Su-57 (AKA PAK-FA AKA Sukhoi T-50)


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2019
  2. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    An IADS is just that, an Integrated Air Defence System, there is no requirement that an IADS has to be significantly ground-based or GBAD for ground-based air defence. In point of fact, a number of NATO/allied nations have doctrines that call for a primarily aerial air defence system. Given the significantly greater sensor and response footprint for aerial assets like AEW aircraft as well as fighter interceptors, that does make sense.

    As for the importance of any onboard DIRCM... I honestly do not think they will be all that useful for fighter aircraft, especially if the fighter is supposed to be a LO aircraft. AFAIK IR-guided missiles tend to be either short-ranged WVR missiles or ground-based SAM's which large and/or slow aircraft (like transport aeroplanes and helicopters) would have a difficult time getting away from.

    Now an AESA aboard the Su-57 could enable an EA (electronic attack) capability which could possibly be used defensively under the proper circumstances, but I do not think that would be a major or primary feature of it either. In order for the AESA to be used for EA, the AESA's T/R modules, or at least some of them, would need to be positioned so that an RF beam could be transmitted in the direction of the inbound missile. That in turn means that the fighter nose would need to be pointed at least in the general direction of the incoming missile, when an attacking aircraft would usually want a side-on target, as opposed to a head-on target. It is also usually worth noting that the head-on RCS of an aircraft is usually the lowest.

    While I do not know to what extent Russia has pushed the development and adoption, I would imagine that a common data link system would be of greater importance.
     
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  3. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    There is some speculation about the Su-57 carrying a rear-facing radar. But details are lacking. We do know that it has side-facing radar in the nose, and an L-band in the wings, so it wouldn't be entirely outlandish to see a rear-facing one as well.
     
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  4. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    There are a few engineering and integration issues which would need to be overcome, as well as some potential problems with developing doctrine and platform deployment.

    One of the first questions is whether or not the Su-57 is still supposed to be a LO platform, with the answer to this question impacting doctrine and deployment, especially depending on what the answers are to some of the issues I will be bringing up.

    With a nose-mounted AESA, wing-mounted L-band radars, and a possible rear facing radome as well, how many of these radar emitters are ESA (electronically scanned arrays) as opposed to MSA (mechanically scanned arrays)? Of the ESA, how many are AESA and how many are PESA? Does the aircraft have a LPI (low probability of intercept) capability and if so, is this on all the arrays?

    I bring the above points up, because if the Su-57 is supposed to be a LO aircraft, then it is not going to want to turn on non-LPI radar arrays because the emissions from the Su-57 would essentially negate the LO features.

    There would also be potential issues with the onboard systems receiving all the radar returns (across different bands, apparently), processing those returns and then delivering operationally useful data to the pilots without overwhelming them.

    Power generation and cooling for both the T/R modules and avionics could also be an issue, especially if the doctrine calls for those emitters to be active for most of the time.

    Finally, the impression that I have is that the Su-57 has so many arrays positioned as they have been reported to be, because it is expected that air forces that are operators of the Su-57 will not have the quality and/or quantity of offboard sensing support that some other advanced nations will have.
     
  5. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    As points they're good, but as questions go... obviously you won't get a clear answer anytime soon. The aircraft is only now entering early serial production (note in Russia serial production refers not to production volume but to a serial technical passport being the template, meaning each aircraft is identical, as opposed to OKR models where each aircraft could be unique in the details). It's also likely that export versions will differ in equipment and capability based on customer requirements and Russia's level of trust for them.

    Well remember, the aircraft has been delayed by quite a few years. Possibly some of these problems are the reason it took this long to get to the first serial production contract. Russian LPI capabilities remain mostly a mystery, at least to me.

    I suspect that the Su-57 was aimed towards the requirements of one specific airforce, the VVS. So for offboard sensors we have to look at what the VVS will have over the next two decades. On the one hand they've clearly learned much about A2G from the Syrian campaign, and the changes to their tactics and CONOPS are a good indicator. On the other hand they haven't fought an actual enemy airforce since the Soviet days. So... best case scenario regularly available A-50U AEW with rare A-100 AEW, some Tu-214R for modern airborne ELINT, and obviously some integration with GBAD, their traditional strength. Not all that bad. Worst case scenario the Tu-214R remains a 3-aircraft program, the A-100 never takes off, and the A-50U remains a relatively rare bird.

    EDIT: Bear in mind, the current Su-57 is sometimes referred to as the stage 1 Su-57. This is mainly connected to the engines, but from the way some of the information is presented suggests that perhaps other things are planned for the stage 2 aircraft. Possibly some of the more advanced sensor capabilities will be limited in operation or integration until them. There's really too little information to say.
     
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  6. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Possibly, though it would seem that the delays were not all that significant in length, given how complex it can be to integrate multiple radar arrays.

    I am specifically referring to how long it took Boeing and Northrup Grumman to develop and successfully integrate the L-band MESA for use aboard what the RAAF now lists as E-7 Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft.
     
  7. PhysicsMan

    PhysicsMan Member

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    According to the link, all five antennae (three x-band and two L-band frequencies) are AESA. N036L is the L-band piece.
    Как сообщается, серийный вариант истребителя Т-50 получил официальное наименование Су-57
     
  8. kinetic

    kinetic New Member

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    You're referring to the kind of doctrines that could be only described as formalized guidelines to creative suicide, the fact of which was experimentally proved to be such to the users of the said doctrines beyond all doubt by the very same Russians in 2014. Although it probably deserves a mention that North Koreans and Iranians also had a hand in getting the point across.

    Ultimately the above-mentioned revelation had led to an explosion of frantic activity on part of users in question, in effort to unscrew the epic mess the likes of which the civilized world has never seen since 1973.

    You're describing the EWSPS 'Himalayi' of Su-57, the emitters of which are scattered across the aircraft.

    Wrong assumption. The nature of Su-57 as air superiority fighter first and foremost automatically makes it the most generously supported 5th gen fighter of them all, simply because for the most part it is supposed to operate in within the detection envelope of the stupidly extensive airspace surveillance sensor grid, being integrated into the most sophisticated IADS on the planet.

    The situation will change somewhat when it's going to be flying behind enemy lines, but over the territory that is controlled by friendly ground forces it will have all the sensing capabilities it may possibly need.
     
  9. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    Hmm, interesting as your post is, how about some reputable reliable sources to back up your assertions please.
     
  10. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    This is an odd claim to make. Care to explain how Russia in 2014 proved that an air-centric IADS is "creative suicide"? In 2014 Russia took Crimea, against a Ukraine that on paper had a robust GBAD arrangement, as well as sufficient fighter aircraft. Neither mattered because of the state of the Ukrainian armed forces and the fundamental unwillingness of many commanders to fight against Russia. To top it off Russia didn't need to invade Crimea, Russia already had bases and troops in the province, and the local population including local government, law enforcement, and even military and paramilitary structures were heavily under Russian influence. Are you under the impression that these factors will come into play against some of the above-mentioned NATO airforces?
     
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  11. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    This is a far more sophisticated aircraft and capability set then what can possibly be crammed into the T-50 airframe. And the Su-57 has been in official development since 2002, with serial production beginning in 2019... that's 17 years. The RFP for the Wedgetail was awarded to Boeing in 1999, and first aircraft delivered in 2008 if I'm not mistaken, so 9 years. The first serial Su-57s haven't even been delivered yet...
     
  12. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    The RFP was issued in 1996, with the contract awarded in 1999. The first two Wedgetails were delivered (but still owned by Boeing) in November 2009, with RAAF acceptance not coming until mid-2010, with the project having taken longer than expected and had been seen as being at risk, due to the difficulties integrating the radars and computers. IIRC there was a problem with both managing the steerable beam coverage, and keeping the radar from adversely impacting the Wedgetail avionics. Again, IIRC one part of the solution was to raise the position of the Northrup Grumman MESA so that it is further from the body of the aircraft, so that the beams have a greater area where they can sweep without intersecting with the airframe or especially the wings.

    The above is one of those problems which is really hard to model accurately simply due to the number of variables, and at a certain point, definitive answers requires actual physical testing.

    The programme which has led to the Su-57 might have officially been running since 2002, but how much time has Russia had AESA radars to test and experiment with? Similarly, how much time has there been for comparable AESA radars to be fitted to and tested on an Su-57 airframe?

    From my perspective, the task of developing the Wedgetail and integrating the MESA radar would likely be easier than developing the Su-57 while making it both LO and fitted with a number of AESA in different locations on the aircraft.

    Has the Russian military/naval data link architecture changed significantly recently? AFAIK while Russia can have extensive coverage with various ground-based and aerial platforms like AEW aircraft, it had been difficult for the different types of systems to 'talk' to each other to share data, thus making it more difficult to form a common operating picture, or feed needed data to assets which could respond or otherwise make effective use of that data. If different types of Russian systems are still unable to share sensor data directly with each other, or with a common node which can communicate with every system, then the degree of sensor coverage (which might or might not be effective at detecting LO objects) is going to be less important.
     
  13. kinetic

    kinetic New Member

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    The air-centric approach is justified at sea, but if you try using it on the ground instead of adopting a well-balanced approach as you should be doing, ultimately you end up getting this as the result.

    Starts at 13:58.
     
  14. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I have seen this video and have the same thoughts from my side of the fence. Thanks for sharing and explaining.
     
  15. Boagrius

    Boagrius Active Member

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    I'm not sure the Ukrainian experience totally invalidates the use of an air power centric IADS.

    The video above describes the way larger Russian GBAD systems like Buk et al were able to force Ukrainian aircraft to lower altitudes where they were picked off by coordinated MANPAD/SHORAD assets. What it doesn't seem to mention is how well equipped the Ukrainian air force was to deal with a SAM threat of that magnitude (my guess is not very).

    Much as the Israelis did in the Bekaa Valley in `82, a better equipped air power based force may seek to suppress or destroy those larger systems to prevent their tactical aircraft from being forced to low altitude in the first place. The Ukrainians surely didn't have the VLO aircraft, EW assets or standoff weaponry required to pull this off in ~2014.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  16. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    This is very informative, thank you for sharing. In that case you might be right to be doubtful about the integration of the sensors on the Su-57. I guess we will have to wait and see. I suspect it will be quite a while before we get any sense of the true capabilities and limitations of the Su-57.

    It actually has changed significantly, though whether the issue you talk about has been resolved is an open question. The VVS has gone through a major re-armament, it's the branch of service in Russia that has probably received the greatest proportion of new equipment 2009-2018, including ~100 each of Su-30SM, Su-35S, and Su-34s, as well as upgrades to the Su-25 and Su-27 fleet, and all of those come with datalink capability well beyond what the Soviet-era equivalents carried. However whether they've managed to push a single standard that allows all of the above to share data among each other horizontally, and integrate into a single picture vertically, is an open question.
     
  17. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It's an interesting video but there is a huge gap between "a balanced approach gets you the best outcome against a peer power" (something I agree with) and:

    Not all of NATO, I would argue not even most NATO countries, are preparing individually for a high-tempo war against a peer power, and for NATO as a whole... there is no peer power. Not on the strategic level. Russia or China could pose a peer-level threat within a highly geographically and temporally constrained battlespace. In other words Russia and in principle China could move very fast, hit very hard, and accomplish a tangible political objective without escalating to a major war, before NATO can bring its weight to bear. But if NATO chooses to bring its weight to bear, both are left relying primarily on nuclear deterrence.

    The question of what kind of military to build fundamentally depends on what kind of what you're preparing to fight.
     
  18. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    I will need time to actually watch the entire clip, as well as to make notes and digest the material it contains.

    Having said that though, there were a couple of things which struck me as either being inaccurate, or incomplete (and hence why I need time to watch the whole thing).

    One of the first was a statement from Dr. Karber about US forces operating under the assumption "that we controlled the air space, since the Korean War, or really the last half of World War Two..."

    Which struck me as either inaccurate, because the US has indeed engaged in air combat operations in contested air space since WWII, or incomplete if what he actually meant was that US ground forces have not operated in areas of contested air space.

    US combat operations during the conflict in Vietnam and the surrounding areas is a prime example. While the US and South Vietnam did (for the most part) have control of the air space over South Vietnam and therefore US and allied troops were operating under friendly air, the air space situation over North Vietnam was a very different story. IIRC the GBAD around Hanoi were deemed the densest in the world at the time. The North Vietnamese IADS also had fighter jets, flown by skilled pilots who knew what they were about. In point of fact, aircraft losses over Vietnam led the USN to start the Fighter Weapons School aka Top Gun, at NAS Miramar to improve the air combat capabilities of USN fighter crews.

    It could also be argued that a number of the US and NATO technological and doctrinal developments were influenced by the air war over Vietnam.

    There are a few other points as well, but again I really need a chance to watch the entire thing, to see if Dr. Karber raises and/or addresses some of what has come to mind.
     
  19. Milne Bay

    Milne Bay Active Member

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    MIG-15s over Korea were no cakewalk and came as a very rude shock.
    I would certainly call the Korean war one of contested air space
    MB
     
  20. kinetic

    kinetic New Member

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    Yemen.

    He's referring to the popular misconception that is nicely summarized in this quote.

    In reality the only places where said air superiority was anticipated were propaganda and headspaces of... medically interesting individuals, because the NATO simply lacked the capacity to achieve air superiority on theatre in any other way except widespread employment of nuclear weaponry in absence of the Soviet nuclear response, which would have instantly turned the REFORGER into a NONSTARTER.