Eurofighter Talks Down F-35
8:20 AM on Jul 22, 2010
When Eurofighter people state - as they did yesterday at the show - that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter doesn't match the low radar cross section (RCS) of the F-22, they are not just pulling numbers out of their ears. "There has been plenty of analysis across the industrial partnership," they say. "Low RCS is not the same as invisible."
EADS-Germany has a long background in stealth, based on the organization that designed the Lampyridae stealth fighter in the 1980s - a design so similar to the Lockheed F-117 that the US sent a high-level engineering team to Germany to determine that there had not been a leak.
Eurofighter people also said yesterday that - in their simulations - "when there are ground-based radars and AWACS in the picture, the low-RCS aircraft usually ends up in a dogfight."
Reason: the LO aircraft uses mission planning and electronic surveillance measures to avoid the big radars, flying a so-called "blue line" track that minimizes the time that its peak side-on RCS is illuminated.
But what the Eurofighter people pointed out yesterday is that it is not that hard for the defender to reverse that process and determine where the LO intruders are most likely to go. "Even if you have low-end fighters you can concentrate them in the gaps."
Another aspect of the electronic battle is reflected in the design of the wide-field-of-regard active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the Typhoon. Like other AESAs, the Captor-E radar can be used as a high-power jammer in X-band - used by fighter radars and some SAM tracking radars - but fixed array AESAs requre the pilot to keep closing with the threat in order to jam it, which is counterproductive and not good practice. The swashplate "repositioner" on the Typhoon and Gripen radars allows the radar to deliver full power off-boresight.