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Discussion in 'UFO and Aliens' started by Debi, Jul 10, 2019 at 9:07 AM.
How fighter jets could track UFOs | Daily Mail Online
Aircraft mounted infrared tracking systems are nothing new, a number of 1960s generation Western jets used them. The Russians used the technology on some of their later a/c such as the MiG-29. The range of the system is limited (compared to radar) and it can be adversely affected by bad weather. On the plus side, it's a passive system that does not generate a detectable/jammable signal as does radar. Its effectiveness is also not degraded by radar defeating stealth technology of adversaries. The use of IR tracking was eliminated with the advent of advanced, automatic radar targeting technology.
Not sure how much having an IR system would have helped the USN F-18 crews track the "tic tac" UFOs, they were trackable by both shipboard and airborne radars. I think this technology is being added to US a/c primarily because the Russians and Chinese are finally developing effective stealth aircraft.
On the other hand, no information is bad information, if it can be integrated and assessed. Knowing whether these "UFOs" have an IR signature might lead to a better idea of what they really are.
But in any case, I'm surprised that these sensors are not already part of the default configuration for fighter jets. Were they ever? But maybe I'm just naive or behind the times. Though it does kind of remind me of when the Air Force and Navy were caught with their pants down during the Vietnam War dogfighting with the North Vietnamese without cannons and armed only with unreliable air-to-air missiles. - the thought being in those days that cannons were obsolete. So perhaps they are being a bit more proactive today in (re-)introducing IR sensors in the face of potential stealth technology threats.
The other side of that coin is too much information is equally bad, leading to information overload and aircrew workload issues. That was a big study area in the USAF in the 90s as more advanced systems were introduced. My human factors buddies in the Human Systems Integration Office were in their glory. The F-35 was designed from the start to deal with the problem, its ability to assimilate, process, and distribute data is very impressive, but sadly it has many other issues.
The problem in SEA wasn't necessarily as much a lack of guns on US tactical aircraft as it was our pilots' lack of dogfighting training and being taught to rely on the early, unreliable AAMs. Of all the tactical a/c that flew in SEA, all had guns except the handful of F-102s sent initially for air base defense and the early Phantoms. The USAF corrected that on an interim basis with the addition of 20mm gun pods on their F-4s in the mid 60s, then eventually internal 20mm in later (E?) models. I don't think the USN ever put a gun on their Phantom, but they did on the F-14.
You know your history and there is lots of debate that has centered on this topic..
US fighter aircraft did have cannon. But I want to make a case that none of these aircraft were designed specifically as air-superiority fighters. The overall closest aircraft the Air Force and Navy had to an air-superiority fighter at the time was the F-4 Phantom. The Navy's F-8 Crusader is arguably an exception. The F-5 may be another. But for whatever reason, neither aircraft was used to the extent that the Phantom was in carrying out CAP missions over North Vietnam. So I will stand by my claim that the US was ill-prepared for air-superiority in the early stages of the war because the best they had, i.e. the Phantom, was armed with unreliable 1st-generation air-to-air missiles and without cannons. This was also compounded by the level of training, gaps in radar coverage and command-and-control.
Both sides in the conflict claimed favorable kill ratios. Against the F-4 the VPAF claimed a 0.5 : 1 ratio in their favor. The US claimed 2.5 : 1 in their favor. But given the vastly inflated body-count figures on the ground, there is no reason by default to put any more veracity into US claims in the air. And, of course, the same could be said of VPAF claims. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. But in any case, the narrow margins indicated a clear need for improvement.
The USAF and Navy had plenty of time and resources to adapt training and tactics over the span of the conflict. The very successful Wild Weasel tactics agains SAMs is an example. But I'm convinced that one of the primary reason for the less than spectacular record against Migs by the US air forces was simply the fact that the US military did not have a single aircraft designed specifically for the classic air-to-air combat role. If better training, radar coverage and command-and-control alone had been sufficient adaptations to the type of aerial combat seen during the war, then we would not have seen the emergence of the F-16 and F-15, both of which were designed foremost as air-superiority fighters.
No agreements on any of your points. If you look at all the "Century Series" fighters in use when the US went to war in SEA, one was a fighter (F-105) in name only, one (F-104) was a short range, point defense interceptor, two (F-102, F-106) were designed to take out bomber swarms using purpose built (some even nuclear) missiles never designed to be used against fighters, and one (F-101) designed as a long range escort fighter that eventually joined the F-102/F-106 in ADC duties protecting the continental US. Only the F-100 could have been considered an air superiority fighter, and it was a bit long in the tooth by the late 60s. The first US air-to-air victory in SEA was a guns kill of a MiG-17 by an F-100.
As I'm sure you know, the Phantom was a USN aircraft foisted off onto the USAF by McNamara as part of his "commonality" concept. When USAF eventually got their unique Phantoms, they did have a 20mm cannon, but their pilots were not trained in air-to-air gunnery. I remember reading Col Robin Olds refused to allow his pilots to use guns against MiGs early on for fear their lack of training/experience would lure then into a turning fight against the lighter, more nimble MiGs.