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  • Red Flag Briefing Videos Disappear
    Posted by David A. Fulghum 7:45 PM on Nov 10, 2008

    Two video clips that showed an off-the-record briefing by a senior F-15 pilot to retired generals on the latest Red Flag exercise seem to have disappeared from their original place on YouTube.

    The discussions included some interesting, possibly classified, and certainly embarrassing details about fighting against the F-22, as well as the performance of the Indian air force’s Su-30MKI and the French air force’s Rafale in September’s Red Flag exercise (Aerospace DAILY, Nov. 6).

    But don’t despair, the videos can still be seen on an Indian posting that’s also on YouTube -- http://www.youtube.com/user/IIindianII.

    The video segments of most interest concerned a weakness that U.S. F-15 pilots found in mock combat with both the F-22 and the Su-30MKI. When either of the latter aircraft go into a post-stall, thrust-vectoring maneuver too aggressively, it provides a fleeting opportunity for a conventional aircraft to make a quick,  downward, vertical maneuver and close head-on for a single-pass, cannon-range engagement.

    A long-time F-15 pilot tried to put the maneuver and its implications into perspective.

    “Air-to-air combat is all about maintaining more energy than your opponent,” he says. “If a young pilot is overly aggressive, he can fly [a thrust-vectoring aircraft] into a place where’s he’s energy deficient,” he says.

    That means a rapid change of direction has turned into a post-stall maneuver. With the F-22’s two-dimensional thrust vectoring, the aircraft can still climb, but slowly. An F-16 or F-15 ascends vertically then flips into a dive directly at the Raptor before it can get its nose (and cannon) pointed at the attacker.

    The Su-30MKI has three-dimensional thrust vectoring that is less efficient because the much larger aircraft creates so much drag that the aircraft starts sinking rapidly. The attacker doesn’t have to climb,  it simply rolls into the vertical attack.

    Opponents with an altitude advantage, even if they’re flying a conventional aircraft, can attack while the thrust-vectoring aircraft has slowed to turn its nose toward the attacker. “If you’ve maintained [your high energy], for a moment there is an opportunity,” the F-15 pilot says.

    The USAF pilot says that as soon as the younger pilots learn to avoid getting excited and stay out of the low-speed turn, they’ll start beating the U.S. F-15s and F-16s with regularity because the Su-30MKI is a more capable aircraft than an F-15 or F-16 with a conventional radar.

    The clips also had the U.S. pilot expressing his opinion that French pilots flying Rafale with sophisticated avionics used the event to gather electronic intelligence about the Su-30MKI’s Russian-built radar.

    Tags: Red Flag, India, Su-30MKI, F-15, F-16

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