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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Upcoming/Planned articles

I plan to write articles on the following topics if anyone has any suggestions on future topics let me know.
- YF-23 vs YF-22 Advanced tactical fighter competition did the Air Force choose the right plane?
- Is the dragon's roar worse than its bite? pt II China's Navy
- Prompt global strike
-America's most wanted (non-serious article)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

America's most wanted

As of late, I have been really busy. I hope to write more articles soon. But in the meantime I thought I'd have a little fun....

1,) Osama Bean Laden
FBI Bounty = $629,847,531,923,003,600 Zimbabwe dollars or $50,000,000 USD
2.) Kim Jong Il
3.) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stealth combat

Future conflict:

Cruising at 45,000 feet and at mach 1.7, a Lockheed Martin F-22A prowls the skies over Northern Alaska. It's powerful AN/APG-77 AESA radar is the most advanced fighter radar in the world. Suddenly the pilot hears a faint warning noise. He turns and looks at his liquid crystal display to find that a faint radar contact is approaching from 40 nautical miles away. AWACS confirms the identity of the aircraft is an enemy PAK FA. The PAK FA is stealthy with an frontal rcs around .01m^2 but, it's not stealthy enough to evade the Raptor's radar. The raptor pilot selects his AIM-120D missile gains lock and fires. The AIM-120D closes the distance of 40 nautical miles in 60 seconds at 4,000 feet per second. The AIM-120D slams into the PAK FA utterly destroying it. The difference between the Pak Fa's rcs .01m^2 and the Raptor's rcs of .0001m^2 is the difference between life and death. Whoever can evade being detected and achieve missile lock first wins in this new era of 5th generation technology. This is the future of stealth combat.

The term stealth is complicated. It generally means the aircraft can operate without giving enemy forces signs of its presence. Stealth is achieved through a variety of factors. Basically, the goal is to reflect as few radar waves back to the source as possible. This is achieved through an aircraft's shape and materials used in its construction. The stealth technique used to cloak 5th generation stealth fighters is called planform alignment. Planform alignment is a technique where the flight surfaces of an aircraft have identical angles that reflect the radar waves away from the source. This allows for aerodynamically viable airframes that are able to maneuver as well as reflect radar waves. Different planes have different degrees of stealth. Depending on which surfaces of the airplane are facing the radar, the smaller or larger the plane's rcs will be. Most stealth aircraft maintain the smallest rcs from the front view; side and rear rcs sizes tend to be larger. Thus, in a dogfight pilots will face the enemy with the front of their aircraft in order to lower their chances of detection.

The following figures are taken from Global Security & Air Power Australia
RCS signatures for X band radars
F-22A Raptor: front aspect rcs .0001m^2, side & back rear rcs .01-.001m^2
F-35 Lightening II: front aspect rcs .0015m^2, side & rear rcs .01m^2
PAK FA: all around rcs .01m^2 (estimated)

Stealth aircraft can still be detected (given a REALLY powerful radar); its a matter of who can detect who first. The stealthier an aircraft is the longer it takes to detect. For example, the AN/APG-77 AESA radar can detect an aircraft with an rcs of 1m^2 from 150 miles away and a target with an rcs of .01m^2 from around 46 miles (40 nautical miles) away. Once the enemy is detected, missile lock is not an issue. Today's air to air missiles are incredibly lethal. If the target can be found then achieve missile lock can be achieved on fairly stealthy targets. The main problem for one who wishes to shoot down stealth aircraft is that they would have to track every insect, bird, and flying animal in the vicinity. Stealth aircraft have such small radar signatures they are automatically disregarded as a threat. The F-22A has a radar signature comparable to that of a honey bee. A system that can quickly determine the difference between a bird and a stealth fighter is needed. Such a task is not easy. At the speeds in which most stealth fighters fly, by the time you detect them (and assuming they have not already killed you) you only have seconds to shoot it down before it slips out of your radar.

Currently, the United States possesses the best AESA radars and aircraft avionics. Israel is not far behind the U.S and the Russian Federation behind Israel. One of the factors in determining how powerful a radar is how many transmit/reviver (tr) nodes a radar has. The AN/APG-77 has about 1,500 tr modules (F-35 uses an upgraded version of AN/APG-77 called AN/APG-81 which has increased ground attack capabilities). The PAK FA uses an upgraded form of the Irbis-E radar system which will feature 1,500 tr nodes.

Detection ranges for X band radars (front aspect)

F-22A and F-35 can detect PAK FA 40 and 30 nautical miles away respectively
PAK FA can detect F-22A 15 nautical miles away
PAK FA can detect F-35 28 nautical miles away

The potential for stealth fighters to achieve beyond visual range kills exists. The technology just needs to be refined. Stealth fighters will be engaging each other at much shorter distances than 4.5 generation fighters, as detection will take longer.



Sunday, July 4, 2010

Why so much controversy? The truth about the F-35

More up to date argument for F-35 (Link here)

Recently Lockheed Martin has been taking a lot of heat from media around the world. Air Power Australia, an Australian think tank, describes the F-35 as "pathetic" and unable to beat older 4th generation fighters. The parliament in Denmark has called a vote to suspend their involvement in the JSF program all together. Some go as far to say that the entire 382 billion dollar program should be scraped all together. Is there any merit to these concerns?

The F-35 is the product of more than 100 years of American innovation and aeronautic development. Since its creation in 1993, the JSF program has become the most expensive military project in human history and involves international participation from 8 nations. The U.S military alone plans to acquire 2,443 of the jets for the Air force, Marines, and Navy. The F-35 is designed to provide western nations with the next generation of affordable stealth strike aircraft. The F-35 has 3 variants: one variant for the Air force with conventional landing and takeoff (CTOL), one variant for the Marines with vertical take off and landing abilities (VTOL), and a variant for the Navy with short take off and landing (STOVL) capabilities. Because all of these variants originate from the same basic design, initial estimates suggested that as much as 80% of the parts used in the panes are identical, reducing costs even further. The United States as well as much of the free world has pinned the responsibility of establishing total air superiority on the F-35 for the next 30 years. Is the JSF program living up to its promises?

After wining the contract to build the JSF in 2001, Lockheed Martin started refining the design of the X-35, the prototype of the F-35. Since 2001, Lockheed has been falling behind schedule. Due to ineffective management, the projected production cost of the F-35 has skyrocketed. In 2002 it was projected that an F-35A would cost $50 million dollars, by 2010 each F-35A is estimated to cost $80 million in 2002 dollars (89 million 2010). Further concerns mounted when the Chinese hacked their way into the Pentagon's data base and downloaded terabytes of data on the project. And if this wasn't enough, many have asserted that the F-35 isn't even up to the job of competing with modern fighter jets let alone competitors from the future.

The source of many of these assertions of poor performance from the F-35 can generally be traced back to Dr. Dr Carlo Kopp of Air power Australia. Kopp claims that the F-35 is inferior to almost all modern 4.5 generation fighters. He vehemently disapproves of his country's decision to purchase the F-35 and pushes the Australian government to keep requesting the American F-22A. In his reports he says that the F-35 isn't stealthy enough to penetrate Chinese airspace, not maneuverable enough to win a dogfight, and doesn't carry enough ordinance to make it an effective air superiority fighter. Too be honest, Dr. Carlo Kopp is too biased. I have read articles from several think tanks and none are as opposed to the JSF as Dr. Kopp. Furthermore, in the majority of his articles he commonly makes the case that Russian aircraft and equipment are far superior to their western equivalents. I do think a lot of Russian equipment is underrated by the West. However, the degree in which he frames Russian technological superiority is too much. He states that the 4.5 generation Su-35BM Russian Flanker is far superior to the F/A-18E and F-35, some of America's best 4.5 and 5th generation fighters respectively. "Australia is however pursuing the opposite path in its planning for the future region, acquiring 'interim' F/A-18F Super Hornets, and seeking the Joint Strike Fighter long term, neither of which are competitive against advanced Flanker variants." The F/A-18E super hornet is certainly competitive against the Su-35BM. In several respects the super hornet is actually superior to the Su-35BM. However, to say that the Su-35BM is superior to the F-35 is nonsense. The F-35 would see the Su-35BM from more than 80 miles away; at more be able to immediately fire an AIM-120D and destroy it. The Su-35BM would not even see the F-35 even from the side aspect until 53 miles away. (28 miles from the front aspect) On the other side of the spectrum, the U.S air force has conducted tests in which the F-35 was pitted against all fourth generation fighters currently available and was AT LEAST 4 times more combat effective than existing 4th generation fighters.

"F-35 enjoys a significant Combat Loss Exchange Ratio advantage over the current and future air-to-air threats, to include Sukhois". - USAF Major General Charles R. Davis

The F-35 dominates ALL existing 4th and 4.5 generation fighters. THERE IS NO QUESTION! The real question that remains is if the F-35 can stand up to future 5th generation threats from China and Russia. Recently, the Russian Federation conducted test flights on the only 5th generation fighter built outside the United States, the Sukhoi Pak FA. This might give some insight into what the future may hold for the F-35. Sukhoi has not released too much information on the Pak Fa. From what has been released, the Pak Fa has excellent maneuverability, trust to weight ratio, and payload capacity. However the critical piece of information, its the size of its radar cross section (rcs), has not been released. Without this critical piece of information, it is hard to determine how it compares to the F-35. Initial estimates say that the Pak Fa has an rcs around .01m^2.

List of rcs for modern aircraft (front aspect)
N = normal rcs; R = reduced rcs; S = stealth
- F-15C 5m^2 N
- Mig 29 5m^2 N
- Su-35BM 2m^2 R
- Dassualt Raffale 2m^2 R
- Eurofighter Typhoon 1m^2 R
- Pak Fa .01m^2??? S
- F-117 .025m^2 S
- F-35A .0015m^2 S
- F-22A .0001-.0002m^2 S

When compared with other stealth fighters this rcs estimate for the Pak Fa seems initially large, however, this is the first stealth aircraft Russia has ever produced. The U.S has been making stealth aircraft for over 20 years. Additionally the Russian engineers admit to having trouble in reducing the radar cross section because of the shape of the air intake inlets. Don't be fooled however, .01m^2 is small enough to evade most radars at least initially. As the the aircraft gets closer to the source emitting the radar, the signal becomes easier to detect. In the future of stealth combat, rcs size is critical. Whoever can achieving missile lock first has a much higher chance of defeating its opponent. The state of the art AN/APG-77 radar used on the F-22A is extremely powerful with 1,500 TR modules. It can detect aircraft with an rcs of 1m^2 at 125-150 miles away. (Note: the previous figure is an estimation due to the classified nature of the AN/APG-77) The AN/APG-81 radar system is an upgraded version of the system used on the F-35 with 1,200 TR modules. The N050 BRLS AFAR/AESA which has 1,500 transmit\receive modules (upgraded N035). Basically, the F-35 will be able to detect the Pak Fa first and destroy it due to its lower rcs. At a range of 50 miles the Pak Fa reportedly has an rcs of .01m^2.

If it comes to visual range combat, the Pak Fa has an advantage. Even though the F-35 has good maneuverability, the Pak Fa posses astounding agility. The Pak Fa possesses 2 thrust vectoring Saturn AL-31 engines (upgraded combat versions, prototype has different engines). The F-35 intentionally did not incorporate thrust vectoring and supermanuverability. Rather, it pinned its success on a new technology, the helmet mounted display (HMD). The HMD allows the pilot to achieve a missile lock simply by looking at a target. This technology greatly reduces the importance of supermaneuverability in a dogfight. (at least that is the claim) A pilot equipped with an HMD can literally look bellow the floor of their cockpit and fire a missile at an enemy below their plane. Pilots with HMDs no longer have to have their plane facing the enemy to fire a missile (using older HUD system). The HMD allows F-35 pilots to shoot 90 degree off bore sight shots with their heat seeking AIM-9X sidewinder missiles. This ability helps make up for the F-35s reduced maneuverability. Thus,the F-35 has the advantage in beyond visual range (bvr) combat and is a strong contender in visual range combat as well. All in all the F-35 should be able to handle the Pak Fa. The Russian Federation does not have the funds to produce the Pak Fa in the numbers needed to seriously threaten U.S interests. Russia and India plan to procure 200 Pak Fa jets for themselves and 600 for export, in total, 1,000 jets. However, assuming Lockheed can deliver on its promises, the U.S will posses 2,243 F-35 jets of all variants along with 187 F-22A raptors.

Recently U.S intelligence estimates say that the Chinese will possess stealth fighters by the year 2018. However, before that US intelligence also said that nobody would have stealth fighters besides the U.S until 2020 or 2025. Guess what the Russians had it by 2010. Score one for military intelligence, again. I would not be surprised if the Chinese came out with a stealth fighter before that. Officially, the Chinese government has said many things. They are clouding the J-XX program with misinformation. Other names for the Chinese stealth fighter program include: J-X, J-XX, XXJ, J-12, J-13, J-14, and J-20. Deputy Commander He Weirong stated that he expects the Chinese stealth fighter to be in service between 2017-2019. As defense secretary Robert Gates said, " 2020, the United States is projected to have nearly 2,500 manned combat aircraft of all kinds. Of those, nearly 1,100 will be the most advanced fifth generation F-35s and F-22s." China will just be putting the first jets into service by that time. Even on a quality basis, it is reasonable to presume that the F-35 would have AT LEAST a slight advantage. If its anything like the Pak Fa, the J-XX will have a larger rcs (as it is their first stealth fighter) and not as advanced avionics as its American counterparts.

The F-35 will be able to secure air superiority for the United States and it's allies for the next 30 years assuming no radical developments render stealth technology useless.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is the Dragon's Roar worse than its bite? Part I China's Nuclear Capabilities

Recently the media/news has been showing China's increased militarization. At the current rate of growth The People's Republic of China will become a powerful military adversary. But at the moment how powerful are China's armed forces?


Intro (video clip)
This video clip is from an excellent documentary about the development of nuclear weapons called Trinity and Beyond. This particular segment shows China's first nuclear test in 1964.

China possesses a myriad of nuclear missiles. However, most of these missiles are short range and theater range ballistic missiles. China fields 990-1070 SRBMs (short range ballistic missile). China's SRBMs such as the CCS-6 and CCS-7 have ranges of 300-600km and have low yield warheads. Most of these missiles are designed to hit targets across the Taiwan strait.

China also deploys around 300 of the more powerful IRBMs (intermediate range ballistic missile). These missiles can hit targets 1,700-3,000km away and pose a significant threat to U.S bases in Korea, Japan, Guam, and in the Pacific. China posses a large number of these missiles and continues to expand its IRBM missile programs. This reflects China's defense strategy. At the moment and for at least several years China will not have significant power projection capabilities hence its status as a Great Power not a Super Power like the United States. China is mainly interested in keeping foreign powers out of the area in a potential conflict over Taiwan. IRBMs would play a critical role in keeping regional control. The most alarming type of IRBM that is currently being developed by the PRC is the ASBM or anti-ship ballistic missiles from modified CCS-5 IRBMs. China is researching mobile retry vehicles (MRV) which would allow them to target U.S fleets within 1,700km of China. To counter U.S fleets would employ the Aegis missile defense systems from Ticonderoga class cruisers.

China has developed a few kinds of ICBMs that are capable of hitting the United States such as the DF-5. China owns 20 DF-5 missiles each are fitted with a single massive warhead with a yield of 4 to 5 megatons. The major problem with the DF-5 is because its liquid fueled its takes 30-60 minutes to prepare for launch while solid fuel rockets take less than 5. Additionally because accuracy of the missile is bad (can be off by 1km or 3,300ft) it has to be fitted with a single large warhead to compensate. This means that China can only hit a total of 20 targets with its entire stock pile of DF-5 missiles. China is also starting to field more advanced solid fuel ICBMs in limited numbers. The DF-31 and its upgraded variant the DF-31A are a significant improvement over the DF-5. It is unknown if the DF-31 will feature a single large warhead or multiple smaller reentry vehicles with greater accuracy. U.S Air Force Intelligence has determined that fewer than 15 DF-31s exist of each variant. The DF-31 is a silo based version of the JL-2 SLBM developed for the Type 94 SLBM submarines. The Type 94 submarine is China's latest SLBM submarine. A total of 5 are planed to be built and each Type 94 can fire 12 JL-2 missiles.

Total Nuclear Arsenal

PRC SRBM force: 990-1,070 missiles
PRC IRBM force: ~300 missiles
ICBM and SLBM force: ~100 missiles

Nuclear Arsenal capable of targeting continental United States
Total Peoples Republic of China ICBM and SLBM nuclear arsenal yield: ~160 megatons
~100 warheads

PRC DF-5A force 20 warheads = 80 megatons
PRC Type 94 submarine fleet 60 JL-2 missiles ~60 warheads = 60 megatons
PRC DF-31 >15 missile force >15 warheads = >15 megatons
PRC DF-31A >15 missile force >15 warheads = >15 megatons

Compared with United States of America ICBM and SLBM force

U.S Ohio-class submarine fleet 336 Trident II SLMB equipped w/ 1,344 warheads total (capacity for 2,688 warheads but SORT Treaty only allows 4 warheads per Trident II SLBM missile although 8 can be fitted): 944 W86 each 100kt and 400 W88 each 475kt MRV warheads = 284.4 megatons (capacity for 568.8 megatons w/out SORT treaty)

U.S Minute Man III ICBM force 450 W87 warheads, SORT treaty only allows one warhead per ICBM (Minute Man III can hold up to 3 warheads) = 213.75 megatons (capacity for 641.25 megatons w/out SORT Treaty)

Total United States ICBM and SLBM nuclear arsenal yield : 498.15 megatons, 1,794 warheads. (1.21 gigatons w/out SORT)

China is expanding its territorial influence but in terms of power projection and targeting the continental United States specifically, The Peoples Republic of China is limited. It can only strike 100 targets in the continental U.S while America can hit 1,794 targets in China.

1.) ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2008

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is the Dragon's Roar worse than its Bite? A millitary evalutation of The People's Republic of China

This upcoming series of articles will assess China's current and future military strength in the fields of: Air Power, Naval Warfare, Land Warfare, Nuclear Systems, and Cyber Warfare. I am currently compiling information and the articles will appear shortly.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Are 4.5 Generation Fighers feasible?

Terminology used

4th generation fighters - fighters produced around 1970-1990s. Extensive use of BVR (beyond visual range) missiles, high powered radars, maneuverability, and are designed to achieve air superiority. Examples of 4th gen. fighters: F-15C, F-16, Su-27, Mig 29, Mirage 2000

5th generation fighters - 2005 to present. In order to qualify as a 5th generation fighter the aircraft MUST be stealth and usually features high powered radar like AESA radar, supermanuverability i.e. thrust vectoring, supercruise, and helmet mounted displays. Examples of 5th gen. fighters: F-22A Raptor, F-35 lightning II, Sukhoi PAK FA T-50

4.5 generation fighters - fighters produced 1990s to present. Aircraft that blend 4th and 5th generation technology such as AESA radar, thrust vectoring, helmet mounted displays, and feature a REDUCED radar cross section. This makes them significantly harder to detect with older 3rd and 4th generation fighters but they are still detectable with modern radars used in other 4.5 generation and 5th generation fighters. Examples of 4.5 gen. fighters: Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, F/A-18E Super Hornet, Su-35, JAS 39 Gripen, J-10

Are 4.5 Generation Fighters feasible?

"In this modern era of stealth combat, there are two kinds of fighters. Stealth fighters and targets." - Eric R. Branyan VP F-35 mission systems

Many nations around the world are in pursuit of 5th generation fighters. However, due to the enormous funds needed to produce 5th generation fighters and the use of advanced stealth technology many nations cannot develop 5th generation fighters. Thus, many countries have taken a "more balanced" approach by fielding 4.5 generation fighters which are designed to blend the best aspects of 4th and 5th generation fighters at a reasonable cost. The fundamental problem of 4.5 generation fighters are they will become obsolete within 5 to 10 years.

Many countries still purchase 4.5 generation fighters without any long term goal of acquiring 5th generation fighters. This will become problematic for many nations including Germany, France, Austria, and Spain. Within 5 to 10 years both the F-35 and T-50 will be in mass production and available to nations around the world which will make 4.5 generation fighters obsolete. At ranges of over 100 miles the 5th generation fighters will be able to gain missile lock on 4.5 generation fighters and destroy them without the 4.5 gen. fighters even knowing an enemy presence was in the area.

Many countries who are capable of gaining 5th generation fighters such as Germany continue to ignore the realization that 4.5 generation fighters will become obsolete. Germany could easily purchase F-35s but chooses to field the 4.5 generation Eurofighter Typhoon. The Eurofighter has an rcs (radar cross section) around 1m^2 compared to a normal fighter such as the F-15C which has an rcs of 5m^2. This may seem good comparatively but in reality against 5th generation fighters this is still detectable and large enough for advanced air to air missiles like the AIM-120D and R-77 Vympel to gain lock. The F-22A features an rcs of .0001-.0002m^2 (F-35 rcs is .0015m^2). No missile in the world could even come close to gaining lock on such as small target. This essentially means that 5th generation fighters will be able to engage 4.5 and 4th gen. fighters with impunity.

Many critics say that the high cost of 5th generation fighters make them unfeasible. Yet many 4.5 generation fighters cost almost as much or even more than the American F-35. For example, the Eurofighter costs 91.2 million dollars (63 million Euros exchange rate fluctuates keep that in mind) vs. the F-35 which will cost 83 million. The F-35 is a economical and exceptionally lethal strike aircraft. Current simulations show that the F-35 is at least 4 times more effective than existing 4th and 4.5 generation fighters in air to air combat. It doesn't make any sense to purchase 4.5 generation fighters if you can get a hold of 5th generation fighters which are significantly more effective and are in some cases cheaper. Unless of course you are some country like South Africa and have no neighbors that would have 5th generation technology any time soon.

Related Reading:
The Future of 4th Generation Aircraft in the 21st Century

1. Dogfights of the Future . 2008. History Channel

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Worth 150 million Dollars?

Recently the media has tried to convey the large sums of money "wasted" on the F-22A Raptor. Political cartoonists have shown the government throwing piles of money on the Raptor. Why? Well it turns out that the government has reason to do so.

The F-22A is the finest air superiority platform ever built. It has the smallest radar cross section of any fighter aircraft in the world (.0001-.0002m^2). It has supermaneuverability, internal weapon bays, AESA radar, F-119 engines capable of supercrusise at mach 1.8 and full after burner at mach 2.25, it is thermally shielded against heat seeking missiles, and will soon feature an H.M.D by 2011. In combat simulations Raptor pilots fight 5 or more F-15C's, the current air to air fighter of the USAF, on a regular basis. During the Red Flag training exercise the Raptors preformed brilliantly. There is no doubt that the raptor is the best air superiority fighter ever built. However, how practical is it to have F-22s?

Fighter aircraft have become more and more expensive throughout the decades. Back in Vietnam the F-4 Phantoms costed 2.4 million dollars. The F-15 which succeeded the Phantom costed 29 million dollars. And the raptor 1 million dollars. The main concern is even the U.S cannot afford to pay for 700 F-22 raptors (originally planed). Currently, the plan is to build a total of 187 F-22As. The USAF protested Congresses decision to eliminate the Raptor program. The USAF argues that if it was able to maintain 300 raptors it could provide air supremacy over the continental United States. RAND, a prominent think tank, issued a report to Congress about restarting F-22A production. Should Congress reverse its decision, RAND calculated the cost of restarting Raptor production and building 75 Raptors would make the fly away cost of each Raptor 225 million. (150 million before production stops) Honestly If Congress had the guts to keep the Raptor program going costs would have continued to drop as mass production ensued.

However the most important contribution of the F-22 was the technology used in the F-35 its cheaper more cost effective cousin, was refined on the F-22. The F-22 allowed for the progression of new technology. The F-35 features a more durable cheaper radar absorbing coating and the same platform alignment stealth features of the F-22. So in the end Raptor was an important project as it allowed for the more practical cheaper F-35 to be produced. However, by no means is the JSF equal to the Raptor as a dogfighter. History will tell if the F-35 can stand up against future 5th generation threats. Betting that the JSF will be able to establish air superiority for the next 30 years is somewhat of a risk. The F-22A is a much safer choice. The Raptor uses the very best American technology and its design features no compromises. The F-22A was built from the ground up to be the very best air superiority fighter possible.

In conclusion, I believe Congress should have diverted additional funds for Raptor production even if it means taking the funding from the JSF. Congress should have given the USAF their 300 Raptors. These Raptors would provide a safe guard against future 5th generation threats from Russia and China. Additionally, the F-22A would be given the role of penetrating enemy airspace and taking out radar stations so the less stealthy F-35 could go on through with reduced risk. The American F-35 is stealthy enough to penetrate CURRENT radar systems. In terms of long term viability, the F-22 is once again the safer choice; it has an rcs 10 to 15 times smaller than the JSF. But in the end, 187 Raptors is a formidable force. I do think the JSF will be able to handle most threats the United States will face for the next 3 decades. I just think its better to have some kind of insurance.