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MiG-21 - still unpleasant surprise at Cope India exercise

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  • MiG-21 - still unpleasant surprise at Cope India exercise

    Draft copy of the exercise Cope India report says:
    While the superb performances of IAF Sukhoi-30s were somewhat anticipated, the performance of MiG-21Bison came as a major “unpleasant surprise” to the USAF officials. It also validates the claim of the Russian officials that they are capable of successfully converting “second generation” late-model MiG-21bis fighters to “fourth generation combat platforms”. Inherently the significant positive attributes enjoyed by MiG-21s were their dog fighting ability in WVR (Within Visual Range) combat. Even the earlier models had a low corner velocity of 556 kilometers per hour and at Mach 0.5 had an instantaneous turn rate of 11.1 degrees per second. The MiG-21Bison with more powerful R-25 engines not only considerably bettered this performance but it may also be credited with “jackrabbit” acceleration, a very critical attribute in WVR combat.

    Something in-line to:
    http://www.amazon.com/Fighter-Perfor...6439329&sr=1-1

    Among many fourth generations attributes added to the IAF MiG-21Bison design, the incorporation of HMS (Helmet Mounted Sight) and high-off-boresight R-73RDM2 NBVR/WVR (Near Beyond Visual Range/Within Visual Range) AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles) have turned it into a “Great Equalizer” in the WVR combat scenario. Conceptually a small number of MiG-21Bisons maintaining “radar silence” can be guided towards their aerial target by a couple of Sukhoi-30s by secure data links in accordance with MFFC (Mixed Fighter Force Concept). Upon entering into an WVR combat envelope the MiG-21Bisons armed with HMS and deadly NBVR/WVR missiles had the capability of destroying even fifth-generation fighters alike F/A-22 Raptor as assessed by high-profile Fighter Analyst Ben Lambeth of RAND Corporation. According to Lambeth “in visual combat everybody dies at the same rate.” F/A-22 also has to slow down if forced into a WVR combat scenario and loses the advantage of its super-cruise attributes. The situation further complicates if the IAF Sukhoi-30s have acquired the capability of providing target illumination for RVV-AE (AA-12 Adder) BVR missiles being launched from IAF MiG-21Bisons at extended ranges.

  • #2
    This just goes to show what many of us already knew, the MiG 21 is a good dogfighter. The aircraft is also small and if using the right engine, impossible to spot by its exhaust. Not mentioned is the Rules of Engagement. Whomever gets them right is at a great advantage. Naturally, if you have access to an AWACS, you can engage the MiG 21 at long range and take it out.

    In a perfect world, the USAF would have a Fighter in the inventory that could take the MiG 21 out in a dogfight. What we found out over North Vietnam is missiles don't always kill as advertized, so the ROE in these exercises may be off.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

    Comment


    • #3
      The MiG-21 is a fine aircraft and I had the opportunity of flying a couple of versions of the aircraft. While I have not flown the MiG-21 Bison, it still shares some of the issues of the earlier versions.

      The Tumansky R-25 gets its high thrust by using a second fuel pump to inject attritional fuel into the afterburner. However the use of this boast is has a limit of 1 minute operation for training and 3 minutes for an actual wartime emergency. Using the boosted afterburner beyond the time limit can cause the engine to overheat and potentially destroy itself. Also use of the boosted afterburner requires the engine to be removed for inspection upon landing. Every minute the boosted AB is use counts as one full hour of engine runtime on the logbook. This further shortens the already limited cycle time of the engines between industrial-level overhauls and adds great cost. It should be noted that with the extreme thrust of the boosted AB, the MiG-21bis has a better than 1:1 thrust-to-weight ratio for dogfight, but with the limits noted.

      The fuel load of the MiG-21 Bison has not been increased beyond the original MiG-21bis and as such is fairly limited. For a point defense fighter this is not as much of a concern, however, if the MiG-21 has to cover much distance to get to the fight it is at a distinct disadvantage. In my experience it was not uncommon to have sorties of only 35 minutes when using the MiG-21 afterburner extensively. Also, even with the new canopy the MiG-21 still has very limited aft visibility which is not a good attribute for a visual fight.

      As mentioned by the OP eight years ago, during Cope India2004, the F-15 pilots were impressed by the MiG-21, but much of the reason was the BVR capability which had been incorporated and not the overall performance of the aircraft. Having said that, the latest F-15C aircraft, with the APG-63(V)2 radar, is a much better aircraft. In addition, as I have said before, the F-15 has on-board systems for beyond-visual-range target ID which allows it to use the full range of its radar and missiles.

      So while the MiG-21 Bison is a fine aircraft, the Indian Air Force is not buying any more MiG-21s for the simple reason that it is no longer a modern fighter, even after adding upgraded avionics.

      And of course the F-15 in all air forces has a combined air-to-air combat record of 104 kills (including SEVERAL MiG-21s) to 0 losses as of February 2008. No air superiority versions of the F-15 (A/B/C/D models) have been shot down by enemy forces. So it doesn’t take a “perfect world” to have a USAF fighter that will take on a MiG-21 in actual combat.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by PitchRate View Post
        The MiG-21 is a fine aircraft and I had the opportunity of flying a couple of versions of the aircraft. While I have not flown the MiG-21 Bison, it still shares some of the issues of the earlier versions.

        The Tumansky R-25 gets its high thrust by using a second fuel pump to inject attritional fuel into the afterburner. However the use of this boast is has a limit of 1 minute operation for training and 3 minutes for an actual wartime emergency. Using the boosted afterburner beyond the time limit can cause the engine to overheat and potentially destroy itself. Also use of the boosted afterburner requires the engine to be removed for inspection upon landing. Every minute the boosted AB is use counts as one full hour of engine runtime on the logbook. This further shortens the already limited cycle time of the engines between industrial-level overhauls and adds great cost. It should be noted that with the extreme thrust of the boosted AB, the MiG-21bis has a better than 1:1 thrust-to-weight ratio for dogfight, but with the limits noted.

        The fuel load of the MiG-21 Bison has not been increased beyond the original MiG-21bis and as such is fairly limited. For a point defense fighter this is not as much of a concern, however, if the MiG-21 has to cover much distance to get to the fight it is at a distinct disadvantage. In my experience it was not uncommon to have sorties of only 35 minutes when using the MiG-21 afterburner extensively. Also, even with the new canopy the MiG-21 still has very limited aft visibility which is not a good attribute for a visual fight.

        As mentioned by the OP eight years ago, during Cope India2004, the F-15 pilots were impressed by the MiG-21, but much of the reason was the BVR capability which had been incorporated and not the overall performance of the aircraft. Having said that, the latest F-15C aircraft, with the APG-63(V)2 radar, is a much better aircraft. In addition, as I have said before, the F-15 has on-board systems for beyond-visual-range target ID which allows it to use the full range of its radar and missiles.

        So while the MiG-21 Bison is a fine aircraft, the Indian Air Force is not buying any more MiG-21s for the simple reason that it is no longer a modern fighter, even after adding upgraded avionics.

        And of course the F-15 in all air forces has a combined air-to-air combat record of 104 kills (including SEVERAL MiG-21s) to 0 losses as of February 2008. No air superiority versions of the F-15 (A/B/C/D models) have been shot down by enemy forces. So it doesn’t take a “perfect world” to have a USAF fighter that will take on a MiG-21 in actual combat.


        Hi Bob,

        Have you had any interactions with Indian Fighter Pilots. If so I would like to hear your opinion on them. How would you rate them ?

        Comment


        • #5
          The only major problem with this is that if they didn't greatly extend the range then, a bit tongue in cheek, you'd only really have to worry about it if you were dumb enough to fly over the airbase it was stationed on. Range has always been a big problem with the 21.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Slim View Post
            Hi Bob,

            Have you had any interactions with Indian Fighter Pilots. If so I would like to hear your opinion on them. How would you rate them ?
            Slim - no sorry I haven't had a chance to meet any of the IAF pilots or seen them fly so I can't rate them.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by PitchRate View Post
              Slim - no sorry I haven't had a chance to meet any of the IAF pilots or seen them fly so I can't rate them.


              Thanks for your reply Bob.

              Do you feel the performance of IAF aircraft in Cope India reflects pilot training as much as the equipment they are flying ? or is the aircraft the bigger contributor ?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Slim View Post
                Thanks for your reply Bob.

                Do you feel the performance of IAF aircraft in Cope India reflects pilot training as much as the equipment they are flying ? or is the aircraft the bigger contributor ?
                My personal view is that it reflects Indian pilot capabilities more than aircraft capabilities. The Indian Su-30s are on a par with the F-15C used in the 2004 Cope India referenced so the equipment was about equal. In that case it's mostly about pilot training. (The F-15C avionics has been upgraded since then).

                Now, having said that, I have not had access to the classified post exercise reports. I have said in the past it is not wise to take comments by various pilots after an exercise and draw too many conclusions.

                In these situations US pilots are briefed not to say ANYTHING derogatory about pilots from the other countries they are flying against. They tend to go out of their way to "be nice and say nice".

                On the other hand other countries tend to want their pilots to say how good they are against the Americans as it tends to be good press for the home market. The U.S. is almost always considered the A-team and saying you were close to to the A-team is good news.

                So without access to the actual exercise it is difficult to say what actually happened during the exercise engagements.

                Bob

                Comment


                • #9
                  ...the MIG-21 has always been and will continue to be a potent point defence fighter and there can be no doubt about this, as it wrote most of the rules about what you require in a point defence fighter whn it debut in service all those years ago. The issue is the age of the fighter and the unacceptable attrition rates associated with the type.

                  I can definately see a correlation with what the original poster said about using the Bison with trailing SU-30MKI's sweeping the horizon with their radar and using datalinks to guide the Bison onto a target. This is also being trialed by USAF with their Golden Eagles and F-22's performing pretty much the same function. (in this case, the F-15's using the suprior range of their APG-63(V3) AESA radar to plot and transfer target info to the F-22 using Link 16 and possibly in the future the MADL system. I think it makes for a suitable solution to how to get the ebst out of older resources by networking with new technology.

                  Just my two cents...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The problem I have with the F-15 guiding the F-22 to the target is first, when did they get a data 16 link between the two aircraft? Second, the F-22 is supposed to not need friendly radar beams so much. They are supposed to ride in on threat waves they picked up. I guess similar to wild weasel tactics. Third, just how close does the F-22 have to get to fire its missiles? I just became aware that AMRAAM is having problems. Why are we staking so much money that the "next" radar riding missile will give us better performance? Suddenly the lack of dog-fighting maneuverability seems important...

                    Pruitt
                    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                      The problem I have with the F-15 guiding the F-22 to the target is first, when did they get a data 16 link between the two aircraft?
                      Why would you put a non-stealthy data-link on the F-22? It is much smarter to put the Multifunction Advanced Data Link on the F-15. Of course there is always the secure radio. Do you know how many Russian or Chinese fighters have to use the radio for coordination because they do not have intra-flight data-link?
                      Second, the F-22 is supposed to not need friendly radar beams so much. They are supposed to ride in on threat waves they picked up. I guess similar to wild weasel tactics.
                      There are several ways to employ the F-22’s weapons systems

                      The F-22′s ability to fly into enemy airspace undetected is unprecedented. Further, the fact that it can do so at high-speed, in a single slashing supersonic attack is a major advantage. Yet in order to ensure this capability remains intact, the best way for the F-22 to enter enemy airspace is to do so emissions silent. Even though it’s AESA radar and emitting systems have advanced low probability of intercept (LPI) modes, it still is better to remain as silent as possible when flying beyond the forward lines of battle of a very sophisticated enemy. Further, the F-22′s passive ALR-94 electronic service measures (ESM) suite is capable enough that it turns the aircraft into a mini-EC-135 “Rivet Joint” electronic intelligence (ELINT) aircraft. The ALR-94, and its receiving antennas based strategically around the F-22′s airframe, can not only sense the direction of the enemy’s radio frequency emitters, but it can actually classify and triangulate their exact location for immediate targeting and subsequent destruction. Once again, this is a passive system and does not require the F-22 to use its high-power APG-77 radar. In other words, if anything sends out a radio signal, such as those used by an integrated air defense system to pass information, or especially an enemy search radar or SAM site attempting to search or engage enemy targets, the F-22 will know not only what it is, but exactly where it is. Such high-fidelity real-time targeting information allows the F-22 and other aircraft that are connected to it via MADL to prosecute a variety of air defense related targets. Using the F-15's very powerful APG-63(V)3 gives the team of F-22/F-15 much increased capability against any target which is not transmitting.
                      Third, just how close does the F-22 have to get to fire its missiles?
                      The range of that AIM-120 varies greatly with the altitude and speed of the launch aircraft. When fired from an F-22 in supercruise at 50,000, the AIM-120 range will be at its longest. The unclassified range is listed as greater than 20 miles and as greater than 65 miles. The actual ranges of the AIM-120 are classified.

                      http://www.af.mil/information/factsh...et.asp?fsID=79
                      http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/missile/aim-120.htm
                      http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/m-120.html
                      I just became aware that AMRAAM is having problems.
                      The “problem” is two years old and involved ignition of the rocket motors when cold soaked. Since this motor had been around for many years this was not a design issue and has been fixed as evidence by the procurement of the AIM-120D for FY2012 and FY2013.
                      Why are we staking so much money that the "next" radar riding missile will give us better performance?
                      The AIM-120 is not a “radar riding” missile which describes the AIM-7. With the AIM-120 the aircraft passes data to the missile just before launch, giving it information about the location of the target aircraft from the launch point and its direction and speed. The missile uses this information to fly on an interception course to the target using its built in inertial navigation system (INS). This information is generally obtained using the launching aircraft's radar, although it could come from an infrared search and tracking system (IRST), from a data link from another fighter aircraft, or from an AWACS aircraft. A new missile is being considered because: the AIM-120 has been in production for 22 years and is an old missile and because in the air-to-air arena the Russians have several good long range missiles with long ranges. In addition you want a missile with long range even in the visual arena where in a tail chase an AIM-120 has at least twice the range of an AIM-9.
                      Suddenly the lack of dog-fighting maneuverability seems important...
                      Which aircraft “lacks dog-fighting maneuverability” and what is your reference for that statement? Any aircraft can be shot down. For example if the F-22 is facing 7 opponents it will run out of missiles and have to run. When facing a multi-boggy environment there is always the possibility of an undetected fighter getting a good shot at an F-22. However, the F-22 with its thrust vectoring is an excellent dog fighting aircraft. The F-22 is not invincible but it is currently the world best air-to-air fighter. It would be nice to have a few more and my guess is that there are several foreign countries that would gladly pay the FY2011 unit cost of $137 million if they were allowed to purchase the F-22.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I am basing my comments on years of reading European based Air Force magazines. It would seem they report "flaws" more than official US magazines with ties to the Defense Department.

                        Years ago it was reported that the data link mentioned worked very well between F-22 aircraft, but could not communicate with older aircraft like the F-15 and F-16. If you pay as much as we do to acquire an F-22, shouldn't it be able to communicate with older aircraft? Now we have to refit all the older aircraft with a system to talk to the F-22? That sounds like a flaw with the F-22.

                        Voice radio can be jammed. The Soviets have a tactic where they are given vectors to search where they turn off radar and radios. They search with infared systems. I don't see where the F-22 is stealthy in heat signatures. Approaching at supersonic would also give off quite a heat signature.

                        I am glad to see the AIM 120 is still in use and is more effective than a Sparrow. The article I read only said the AIM 120 had not been purchased for a couple of years because of motor problems in extreme cold. I would be glad to see if this problem is fixed and they start purchase again. Not all items in a budget are actually bought. Purchase can be delayed or cancelled.

                        I was under the impression that the AIM 120 had its own radar which provided terminal guidance, hence my use of radar riding.

                        I believe it was RAF pilots that were stationed in Europe that found themselves flying with F-22's so fighter pilots being fighter pilots, they did a bit of air to air sparring. It would seem the Eurofighter can compete with the F-22 in the merge. Once again for the price being paid, I had hoped for better dog fight ability.

                        Pruitt
                        Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                        Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                        by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Pruitt View Post

                          I am glad to see the AIM 120 is still in use and is more effective than a Sparrow. The article I read only said the AIM 120 had not been purchased for a couple of years because of motor problems in extreme cold. I would be glad to see if this problem is fixed and they start purchase again. Not all items in a budget are actually bought. Purchase can be delayed or cancelled.


                          Pruitt

                          http://www.strategypage.com/dls/arti...12-22-2012.asp
                          Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Although the quoted article is dated Dec 22, 2012 that is actuall old news. Here it the release in 2008:

                            TUCSON, Ariz., April 28, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) and the Norwegian defense company NAMMO have begun qualifying an alternative rocket motor for the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile. The new motor will be interchangeable with the AMRAAM propulsion system and will maintain the same performance as the current rocket engine.
                            http://raytheon.mediaroom.com/index....mplate=release

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