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The Russian Cobra maneuver and its usefulness?

Discussion in 'Air Force & Aviation' started by STURM, Aug 25, 2011.

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  1. STURM

    STURM Well-Known Member

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    Over the years, a number of military aviation magazines have conducted interviews with current USAF/USN pilots who are of the opinion that the Cobra maneuver, whilst impressive at airshows, are of little use in a real world 'dogfight' situation. And with the latest IR off boresight missiles now in service, no amount of maneuvering and G pulling will able to evade these missiles. The Russians on the other hand are of the opinion that despite the emphasis now on network centric BVR engagements, the days of the 'dogfight' are not yet over and that high G maneuvers such as the Cobra still have an important role to play.

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O9q6EJhssQ"]Su27 Cobra Manuevre - YouTube[/nomedia]


    Would appreciate any opinions.
     
  2. StobieWan

    StobieWan Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The first thing a trained pilot will say on seeing a Cobra performed in front of him is "Going guns" - dogfighting will remain an important skill but with a Cobra, you've bled all your air speed away to get the aircraft almost at rest with respect to a radar seeker, hoping to deny the lock. If you succeed, you're looking at an opponent with plenty of energy and altitude, while you're out of at least one and perhaps both.

    As far as I understand it. the front line aircraft all have their alpha limiters set to prevent reaching that attitude - the display aircraft have them turned off to allow the move to be performed.

    Ian
     
  3. STURM

    STURM Well-Known Member

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    I've seen non display aircraft or aircraft that belong to an active squadron - perform a 'mini-Cobra' - the RMAF's Su-30MKMs - then again they could have had their alpha limiters switched off for the air display. Off topic but I would assume that display aircraft take off with near empty fuel tanks to save weight?

    Fariz
     
  4. Haavarla

    Haavarla Active Member

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    Most if not all fighters doing flight display are geared up with minimum fuel fraction.
    They are flying directly over the runway anyway, så they do not need much fuel otherwise.
    In short, less fuel-less weight-better performance.

    As for the Alpha or G-limiter, both display and operational Russian fighter can switch em off at any given time, like during airshow.

    The difference however is on the expirience and skill on the pilots.
    Usually its the top brass of Russian pilots, often senior Instructors and test pilots that do those airshow stunts.
    It is very demanding and quite dangerous manuveres, while the G-limiter is switch off.
    Air speed and altidude are the two important factors when applying such manuveres. You want to be able to recover your aircraft before it hit the ground, and if you have too high airspeed you risk damage the aircraft.
     
  5. Bonza

    Bonza Super Moderator Staff Member

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    You might find this video interesting Sturm, it's an unclassified briefing by a USAF Colonel who flies in the Aggressor squadrons and discusses the SU-30MKI in part, although he doesn't mention the Cobra specifically he does talk about fighting thrust-vectoring aircraft (Sukhoi and F-22) while flying an F-15 and maybe it'll give you an idea of what it's like to fly against aircraft with this level of maneuverability. Not sure if it's part 1 or part 2 where he talks about it, but the whole thing is definitely worth watching anyway. :)

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2siH9W5P4E"]SU-30MKI at Red Flag Lecture Part 1 - YouTube[/nomedia]
     
  6. NICO

    NICO New Member

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    Good video, came out awhile back on DEW line. Created a big fuss in India. Actually, IMO the guy was pretty complimentary of Indian pilots, noted how much progress they had made and they were very good now with their jets and weapon systems compared just to a few years back. Also what got lost was how safe Indians flew, my understanding of Red Flag is some countries were never invited back because they were so dangerous, that is what I heard thru the grapevine.

    Anyways, back to the Cobra. I agree with most of the regulars here and not with the armchair pilots. It is a nice display at the last MAKS, great airman ship but not sure it does a whole lot for you in real combat. That Sukoi is probably on half fuel, no central line tank, no missiles. Yeah, that's real representative of a combat load. I have seen demos with at least fake missiles and stuff but this demo didn't even have the dummy missiles, it was clean. As someone noted, how do we know that SU was stock? How much was the FCS changed? How many safeties were removed? Were the engines tweeked? What about the FADEC? More importantly, what happens when you fly with missiles? Does it depart in all kinds of directions?

    Not sure you could do the same with an F16 or F18. Maybe if you took an SH and tweeked the engines a bit, relaxed FCS and such, you might get close. But then again, how representative would that be of a stock USN Super Hornet?

    Last but not least, the guy flying the demo is a test pilot, not your regular Russian pilot that gets how many hours a year these days? 80?90?100? By the way, I am not trying to be derogatory to my Russain friends, I am pretty sure your average USAF/USN and Euro pilot that get 150 hours or more would have a hard time doing this kind of display safely also. More than likely, they wouldn't do a great job, would make mistakes and soil their pants or create a nice crater on the runway.
     
  7. Haavarla

    Haavarla Active Member

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    From the top of my head i think its an avarage 80-100(it could be higher now!) hours a year and rising.
    Perhaps not the NATO standard yet, but its a lot more than 5-8 years ago.

    Here you can read about the daily service of a typical Russian Sq:

    19.GvIAP
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  8. Haavarla

    Haavarla Active Member

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    I'm pretty sure its fuel enough for the duration of flight time 5-10mins with full AB tops.
    Could be 1000kg or less, who knows..

    The Russian aircraft is not tweaked in any extra ordinary way.
    However if you watched the Su-35 protoype doing its display at MAKS2011, those new Flankers come with a special AB throttle setting. You have regular AB mode which produce 14.000kgf, and then you have the enhanced AB mode which produce 14.500kgf thrust.
    Pretty sure he just flick a switch on the Throttle sticks and he is in enhanced AB mode. Togheter with a new enhanced Flight Control System(FCS), all the flight parameters are enhanced, thus making it even more reliable and agile while manuvering.

    The SH would be the closets of the Teen famely me thinks, but it cannot duplicate the flight display of those Flankers.. its isn't stable in the longetude direction enough, hense it would get into troubble while recovering.
    Anyway, airshow display is just that, and i loved whatcing the Rafale and F-15E at MAKS2011 too, it was high-speed manuvering with lots of condense around the wings, awsome.:)
     
  9. Haavarla

    Haavarla Active Member

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    Airshow cobra display aside..
    While whatching the Su-35 doing its display, it looked like it was a tad lighter in compairison to the other Flankers.
    It recovered faster, lost less altitude and while it was sitting on its engine, it actuall started to climb:eek2
    It could just be all that extra thrust, but it could also be that it is has less empty weight..
     
  10. STURM

    STURM Well-Known Member

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    Bonza, appreciate the link, thanks.

    Here's an interesting link - [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF6FK9AoYiY"]SU 27 Flanker - Interview with Anatoliy Kvotchur - YouTube[/nomedia]


    A very low past by Anatoly Kvotchur at the LIMA exhibition in Malaysia.

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3c6fMql2uk&feature=related"]Kvochur Low Pass - YouTube[/nomedia]

    Below are some excerpts I have from an Indian forum regarding the MKMI's participation at Red Flag and the USAF Colonels observations.

    ''The IAF did not undertake any IvIs at Nellis during Red Flag, nor did they engage thrust vectoring during the Exercise. IvIs were flown only at Mountain Home AFB. In none of the IvIs were the Su-30MKIs ever vulnerable, let alone shot down. As all exercises were flown with ACMI, the situations are recorded and available to substantiate this aspect. Additionally, the MKI's behaviour with thrust vectoring is dramatically different from that described by the Colonel. F-15 and F-16 aircrew were well appreciative of IAF manoeuvres with thrust vectoring.''

    ''Colonel Fornof's statement on Su-30MKI rates of turn with thrust vectoring (20o/ sec) is grossly 'out' but apparently gives away actual F-22 performance (28o/sec) Pitch of the talk seemed as to whether thrust vectoring was important or not. As all sorties were with ACMI, entire profiles are recorded, can be analysed and surely would have been replayed to drive the point home and make the 'chest thumping' sound more real. Apparently this was not done. Perhaps, as the Colonel is aware of F-22 data, he has tried to down play the Su-30MKI in comparison. Surprisingly, while there was no systems / avionics / comparison between the two types or with any other type of 'legacy' aircraft, the speaker does admit that radar of the MKI is 'superior' to that of the F-15 and F-16, however 'inferior' to AESA of the F-22 (a correct assessment). However, the IAF used the Su-30's radar in the training mode, with downgraded performance vis-à-vis operational mo! de, as they could hardly participate without this primary sensor''.


    '' Now hear this : the F-15C and other USAF fighters had the same number of fratricides as the IAF ! Considering they are well networked, yet their pilots shot down the same number of 'friendlies'. This was not only a major concern but also turned out to be a major source of embarrassment as the USAF had everything -- Link 16, IFF Mode 4 etc and the IAF had nothing. Under the Rules of Engagement, they did not even permit the IAF to use data link within themselves. All cases of USAF fratricide were covered in the next day's mass briefing as lessons learnt by concerned aircrew. In the IAF, the incidents were covered by concerned controllers, and attributed to lack of adequate integration, excessive R/T congestion and poor controlling. Gloating on cases of IAF fratricide is frivolous and unprofessional.''

    '' However, Colonel Fornof did appreciate IAF 'professionalism' and that the IAF were able to dovetail with USAF procedures within short time. There was not a single training rule / airspace violation. This is a most important aspect.''

    ''Since the Colonel could hardly tell his audience that the IAF had given the USAF good run for their money, they downplayed the Su-30's capability. It is correct that the IAF aircrew included some very young pilots -- nearly 70 percent - but they adapted rapidly to the environment (totally alien), training rules (significantly different), airspace regulations etc but to say that they were unable to handle the Su-30 in its envelope (something that they have been practicing to do for four to five years) is just not credible ! If young pilots can adapt to new rules and environment within a short span of two weeks, it is because they are extremely comfortable and confident of their aircraft.''


    ''The IAF's all round performance was publicly acknowledged during, and at end of the Exercise, specifically by those involved. Not a single TR / airspace violation was acknowledged. Mission achievement rate was in excess of 90%. The drop out / mission success rates of all others, inclusive of USAF, were significantly lower. This is of major significance considering the fact that IAF was sustaining operations 20,000 km away from home base while the USAF were at home base. (The 8 Su-30s flew some 850 hrs during the deployment, which is equivalent to four months of flying task in India over 75 days). IAF's performance at Mountain Home AFB was even better that that at Nellis AFB.

    ''FOD : At Mountain Home, IAF had reduced departure intervals from the very beginning (30" seconds) considering that operating surfaces were very clean. However, a few minor nicks were encountered and it was decided to revert to 60 seconds rather than undertake engine changes. This was communicated by the IAF at the very start (IPC itself).''

    ''There is no need to go in for 'kill ratios' as that would be demeaning. However, the IAF had significant edge throughout and retained it. In fact the true lesson for the USAF should be : 'do not field low value legacy equipment against the Su-30MKI' !. (demeaning or otherwise, it is understood that the kill ratio (at Mountain Home AFB) was 21 : 1, in favour of the Su-30MKIs)''.


    1) In the absence of AWACS-based airborne battle management support in the within visual range air combat domain, the Su-30MKI or for that matter any other combat aircraft (like the Rafale and Eurofighter EF-2000) equipped with an infra-red search-and-track system (IRST) will undoubtedly prevail and this is most likely what happened at Mountain AFB. In fact, so vital is the IRST sensor today that even the US Navy has contracted Lockheed Martin to develop a pod-mounted IRST system for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

    2) When operating in the supermanoeuvrable mode the 35-degree rate of turn per second mentioned refers to the instantaneous turn-rate, I presume. However, I've come across different figures being mentioned by RMAF Su-30MKM pilots for both the instantaneous turn rate and sustained turn rate.

    3) As far as data links go, neither the Su-30MKI nor the Su-30MKM has the kind of Russia-origin airborne data links that are on board the Su-30MKK or Su-30MK2 or Su-27SMK. This is because the Su-30MKI and Su-30MKM are not required to share tactical air situation data with one another, but to exchange such data with AEW & C platforms. On the Su-30MKI the data links are of Israeli origin (from TADIRAN SpectraLink) and they will be operationalised only AFTER they are commissioned into service, which will happen only after the PHALCON AEW & C platforms are commissioned into service. This has nothing to do with OPSEC.

    4) The question of dispensing chaff and flares during Ex Red Flag doesn’t arise at all since all the AAM firings (for both within visual range and beyond visual range intercepts) are simulated and are not live firings.

    5) The equipment used for calibrating, monitoring and recording air combat engagements in real-time is the DACTS/ACMI system, which is also used for sortie debriefing. It is not a classified or restricted system, but it has an open architecture design which allows non-US DACTS/ACMI pods carried by participating aircraft to be data-linked in real-time. It is for this reason that the Su-30MKIs were clearly seen equipped with such underwing pods (supplied by RADA of Israel) when flying over the skies of Nevada.

    6) Every contemporary on-board radar, be it for the F-16E, the F-16C/D or even the Su-30MKI, has a training mode, which is made use of during simulated air warfare exercises. One must bear in mind that the Red Flag series of exercises, while being the most realistic worldwide, are not a ‘no holds barred’ event and are held in a highly controlled environment when it comes to the participation of air forces not hailing from either NATO member-states or major non-NATO allies. In such an environment even the host air force, the USAF, is loathe to expose the full spectrum of its air dominance capabilities, particularly the crucial non-cooperative target recognition (NCTR) mode of US-origin airborne radars and the EW environment that would otherwise be created. Therefore, even the IAF had to adopt the norm of reciprocity and consequently desisted from putting to use the NCTR mode of the Su-30MKI’s NO-11M BARS radar, and decided not to equip the deployed Su-30MKIs at Nevada with EL/L-8222 jamming pods. As for the BARS’ ability to survive in an extreme EW environment and maintain its functional integrity, this is a non-issue as all electronic LRUs and components of the radar are already ‘hardened’ to prevent them from being ‘cooked’ by ultra-strong EMPs.

    7) As EX Red Flag 08 was a multinational event designed to enhance the synchronisation of diverse airborne assets as part of a unified coalition-based air tasking effort, emphasis was not placed upon one-upmanship or pitting one participant’s competitive air combat skills against the other to prove one’s invincibility. For the IAF, therefore, one of the greatest lessons learnt was that it too has to, sooner rather than later, create a realistic training environment within India by virtually replicating a substantial part of the Red Flag exercise model, especially with regard to acquiring the necessary ground-based infrastructure like a fully instrumented range for dissimilar air combat and engaging in effects-based offensive knowledge-based warfare using standoff precision-guided munitions. Thus the stage is now set for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to have its own state-of-the-art, fully instrumented facility at a cost of US$80 million in the state of West Bengal, which will be used in future for staging multinational air exercises similar to the Red Flag series of exercises hosted by the US Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base. As per present plans, the IAF, like the USAF, has adopted the cluster approach under which it will equip the air bases in Kalaikunda, Hashimara and Barrackpore, and the air-to-ground ranged at Dega near Kalaikunda and at Chandipur-on-Sea. By 2011 it should be possible to put to test this gigantic state-of-the-art infrastructure in ‘no-holds barred’ exercise scenarios involving not just the Su-30MKIs and PHALCONs, but also participating assets from friendly countries like Singapore’s F-15SGs, Block 52 F-16C/Ds and G-550 AEW & C platforms, as well as France’s Rafales and the UK’s Eurofighter EF-2000s.
     
  11. JoeMcFriday

    JoeMcFriday New Member

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    Whoever the 'kill' ratios favored, the commentator manages to leave out that Colonel Fornof said more than once that the Sukhoi was a superior aircraft to the Eagles and Vipers used.

    He also said that as the Indian pilots gained more experience, that gap would widen in the Indians' favor against all current fighters except the F22.

    He openly praised the IAF contingent on their capability and professionalism again on more than one occasion.

    It is hardly unbiased to critique what Col. Fornof said and leave these words of praise out.

    It certainly lessens the credibility of the writer's claim to exposing 'what really happened'.

    Cheers,
    Mac
     
  12. Haavarla

    Haavarla Active Member

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    Red Flag 2008 has been debated to death on various Aviation forums.

    The important fact to remember is the the Colonel Fornof did speak infront of a senior crowd of Retired USAF pilots and some US base personel..
    If he could have forseen all this would have made the news, he would certainly done his homework better and made his statments differently, and not that they beaten the IAF pilots to the floor.. in the Mountain exercise. Not the best diplomatic comment..

    I'm refeering to some of his tecnical errors about the MKI's too..
    Where he states that the TOMANSKY:frown engines are very susceptibly to FOD:frown, which obvious is not the case..
    sinse all Flanker have Saturn and Salut produced Lyulka AL-31F series engines that are cleared to operate out of a 'class B airbase' enviroment which mean not only tarmac slicker condition, which pretty much all western aircraft is depended on.

    How much learning curve and expirience the IAF pilots got out of RF2008 is imortant, but keepeing tabs on any encountering on exercise like that is in short redicules, and ultimatly unimortant.
    It is only media frenzy..
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  13. Bonza

    Bonza Super Moderator Staff Member

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    FOD susceptibility could be a consequence of the intake configuration on the Flanker as opposed to the engine type though, couldn't it? That's what I took it to mean anyway - if I recall correctly I've read somewhere that the MiG-29, with its similar intake configuration, had perforated intake doors fitted specifically to reduce FOD risk while on the ground. If that's accurate, then it's possible the low-slung engine bays are the source of the issue, rather than the engines themselves. Happy to stand corrected on that though, as it's just supposition on my part. :)
     
  14. Humming Drone

    Humming Drone New Member

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    That's correct - Mig 29 has hydraulic doors closing the main inlets during engine start, taxi, and take-off.
     
  15. wormhole

    wormhole New Member

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    Doesn't it have small inlets above the wing w/c serve in such situations?

    Re the Red Flag in question, there was a demand by certains sectors in India that the USAF issue an apology.. the best they got was a statement that Col. Fornoff comments were not meant for external release or something to that effect. Amazing how much this video ruffled Indian feathers.
     
  16. STURM

    STURM Well-Known Member

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    Asking for an aplogy is IMO pushing it a bit to far. Given India's desire to be recognised as an economic and military power, and the pride they put in their MKI's and their training, it is understandble that they would be slightly 'annoyed'

    With regards to the MKI's radar being used on silent mode at Red Flag, this was also done by the MKI's that were in the UK. According to Air Forces Monthly, the Americans had a SIGINT aircraft in the UK trying to pick up what they could at the time of the exercise.
     
  17. Haavarla

    Haavarla Active Member

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    Hey don't shoot the messenger.:)
    I only copy Fornof exact words: He said the Tomansky Engines are very suceptible to FOD.
    Even better, he claimed 'The Russians make the IAF send those engine to Russia for repairs..
    Ah well, never mind. As i said this have been up many times before, nothing new to it..

    And yes i agree, those FOD screen doors are there for that reason, but i'm not sure Fornof was aware the Flankers have those..
    I'm not sure what you mean with the air intakes on the Flanker are low.. what about the F-16 for comparison?
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2011
  18. Bonza

    Bonza Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh, not attacking you mate, sorry if it came off that way. Just wondering out loud if that could be what he was referring to when he was talking about FOD...

    When I say the air intakes are low, I mean just that, they're low, underslung on the fuselage. I don't know how substantial this would be when it comes to FOD hazards, but just that it's a possibility. Not sure about the F-16, I did some googling and came across a document about FOD which can be found here:

    http://ftp.rta.nato.int/public//PubFullText/RTO/TR/RTO-TR-AVT-094///TR-AVT-094-06.pdf

    On page 6-10 it notes:

    However, these other needs may dictate that the intake be positioned where it is more prone to ingesting foreign objects, such as the low-positioned belly intake on the F-16 (see Figure 2). In this case, the risk has been reduced by ensuring that the intake entrance is in front of the nose landing gear, so that debris is less likely to be projected into the intake by the nose landing wheel.

    So I guess that's one way of managing it, with the inlet doors on the MiG-29 being another... I notice the Eurofighter has its intake positioned ahead of the landing gear, too. I don't know really. Just thinking out loud. :)
     
  19. Haavarla

    Haavarla Active Member

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    I see your point.
    Didn't all the flankers with a two set nose wheel have a special cover protection or screening on it to prevent any FOD entering the Intakes?