Monday, June 20, 2005

The Bigger They Are...

...the harder they fall.

You know what happens when you get a little too complacent in your superiority, don't you? Pretty soon people start catching up to you...and even passing you.

The media made a big deal of it when, a couple or so years ago, a squadron of very new Indian Sukhoi fighters took on an American F-15 squadron in a combat exercise and more or less kicked the snot out of them. The response?

India: The American planes are surprisingly dated.
The media: The administration is wasting time, effort, and money on questionable military adventures (i.e. Iraq) and its nuclear arsenal when it should be concentrating on maintaining the edge.
The Pentagon: Remember, this was just a game. We had to play with our gloves on. We'd hate to make those poor Indians look bad, wouldn't we? If it were a real combat situation, woo-EEEE!!!

Well, the illustrious USAF, and the F-15E fighter, have just been embarrassed again, this time by a "hapless" Eurofighter Typhoon trainer (i.e. the two-seat practice version). A couple of Strike Eagles thought they'd bully the little limey, and they wound up with their tailpipes painted and egg all over their faces.

I just love this quote from the linked article:

A chance encounter over the Lake District between a Eurofighter trainer and two F-15 aircraft turned into a mock dogfight, with the British plane coming off best - much to the surprise of some in the RAF. The episode was hushed up for fear of causing US blushes.

Gee...I'm so happy our allies are helping us maintain our dignity. Lord knows we couldn't do it on our own...


Don Snabulus said...

I remember a segment from an old Johnny Carson show where they would give children the beginning of a quote and the child would supply the last of my favorites was:

The bigger they are, the harder they are.

(Oh yeah, those airplane thingies are really something too)

Pandabonium said...

The F-15 type first flew in 1972, so it comes in 2nd against many newer designs, such as the EU fighter, Sukhois and Migs (the Germans build their own Mig 29s now).

But it is still a very powerful weapon and quite effective at what the USA uses it for, namely bombing the hell out of 3rd world countries.

“There is no safety in unlimited technological hubris” - McGeorge Bundy, National Security Advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

Pa've said...

Honestly, the F-15 despite its record, is a little dated as regards to what the US has to offer in its arsenal, like the Joint Strike Fighter, but then, there are days when pilots are just not up on their game. I have often heard that Israeli pilots are the best in the world. I believe that this was determined by combat simulations when Israeli pilots came to the US to train.

You can have the best plane in the world, but if you haven't had enough coffee before your mission, oh well.

Yes, it is true that US fighters have not engaged the creme de la creme of fighter pilots, but I hope that is because those pilots remain our allies.

Catfish Johnny Redbeard said...

Was Starscream involved at all?

Pandabonium said...

Starscream? You bet. Most people don't know this, but Japan's Mitsubishi manufactures its own version of the F-15 under contract and they have over two hundred of them, almost as many as the USA.

But even fewer people know that they are all Starscream transformers. Don't tell the Chinese.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I read a whole bunch of comments that people posted in reply to that article. One common theme that popped up a lot was:

"It doesn't matter if the F-15E can't dogfight. It has state-of-the-art avionics and missiles. Dogfights are a thing of the past."

Funny...that's what they were saying about the F-101, F-105, and F-4 (all big, heavy, clumsy "missile fighters") in the late 50s and early 60s. The North Vietnamese showed just how mistaken they were. After a lot of expensive planes were brought down by cheap MiG-17s, 19s, and 21s, the following changes took place:

a. The F-4E model was developed, which included a gun (missing in earlier models) and enhanced maneuverability
b. The Navy and Air Force introduced Top Gun and Red Flag, respectively, in which pilots learned to dogfight through realistic combat training.

After that, every major air combat fighter design produced in the U.S., including the F-5(A and E), F-15, F-14, F-16, YF-17/F-18, F-20, and now the F-22, was designed from the start with dogfighting in mind. Heck, even the planned "air superiority" version of the F-111, much vaunted throughout the 60s, was scrapped, since it handled like a brick.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly people forget history.

Don Snabulus said...

I think if you asked any Air guardsman in Portland, you would discover that six F-15s are better than two.

I watched a special on the F-22 on PBS. Even though the program touted how great the bidding competitors did in creating a tremendous aircraft, I was left feeling like we were asking for a horrendously expensive swiss army knife when we might need to keep our relative forks, knives, and scissors separate for better operations.

I leave it to you to figure out which items the F-15, FA-18, and Harrier are. Maybe you don't give a fork.

Seymour said...

Yeah, the F-15 is wayyyyyy past its prime, but remember, the Oregon Air Guard was kicking ass in F-4's vs 15's in the Air Force's version of Top Gun. (I totally can't remember what its called now) This was back in the early 80's. In any dogfight, its the skill of the pilot which determines the result.

And all that cute stealth tech isn't gonna do any good when you're at gun range.

Anonymous said...

Eltigris: Seymour I believe its the William Tell competition, and the Oregon air national guard walked away with most of the awards year after year. I guess one way to take it away from them is to disband them. The topgun equivalent in the Air Force is fighting against the "Red Aggressor Squadron" I would say the older experienced pilots would still be about even or better with the old F-15s. The air force is always trying to make them "fat" so they can do multirole ground attack. I would want to see an F-16A model with the C model electronics suite packed in ...the F-16A model was designed as a dogfighter pure and simple and years ahead of its time. Together with the later electronics suite it would have the long reach. Plus it was less than half the size of a F-15, and hard to spot. F-16 pilots called the F-15 eagle ...the "Rhodan" But such daliances will never be tested ..since going back is not "sexy" in the military industrial complex, and it would ahve been *cheap*. Another no no.

Anonymous said...

Eltigris: You would know if Starscream was involved ...there would be alot of gloating monologue, then a scream...followed by a quick retreat and complaining all the way home.