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View Full Version : USAF now considering C/B-17



SS Tiger
12-19-2005, 04:52 PM
quote: What has got the generals excited is using C-17s as a flying aircraft carrier. Well, sort of. The C-17s would carry pallets loaded with “Dominator” UAVs. The idea behind “Dominator” is persistence, a one way UAV that carries two or more missiles, and lots of sensors for finding targets. The Dominator could cruise around for 12, 24 or more hours. After that, it would self-destruct, or dive into a target. The air force has been working on the Dominator for two years now, and there’s no guarantee that it would ever be built. It will be expensive for a disposable weapon, as it will have many of the characteristics of a UAV like the Predator, that costs over four million dollars each.

The concept, apparently, is that the C-17 would get as close to the combat zone (taking enemy air defenses into account) as possible, and dump the Dominators out the back of the aircraft. Current plans call for a C-17 carrying twenty or more Dominators. Now that would be a formidable amount of ground attack air power. A dozen or more Dominators, that would cruise at about 250 kilometers an hour, could cover a huge area, which would become a no-go zone for enemy forces below.

And there’s still the possibility of dropping JDAMs from C-17s as well…

Link (http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/20051218193941.asp)

Sounds like a good Idea as the B-1s and B-2s cost alot to operate and the BUFF is getting old. Having parts interchangeable with the C-17s would save alot of money.

pdf27
12-19-2005, 06:15 PM
Sounds like a good Idea as the B-1s and B-2s cost alot to operate and the BUFF is getting old. Having parts interchangeable with the C-17s would save alot of money.
Until such time as you actually face an enemy with air defences, in which case it becomes a highly expensive way to kill a lot of aircrew. The B-52s might be getting old but in performance terms they're a hell of a lot better (faster, higher flying) than the C-17s. That counts for a lot.

Bladensburg
12-19-2005, 06:22 PM
The other question is what do you do if you don't need to fire from the UAVs? Do you just throw several million dollars away unused or (prefered option) nosedive it onto some "enemy" civvies "because they might become insurgents". :twisted:

SS Tiger
12-19-2005, 06:22 PM
Yes, but soon the B-52 will face a parts shortage. The C-17 will have spares for years to come and having a main cargo type and a main bomber type using the same airframes will save on part costs, also maintenance crews can be used with both types.

12-19-2005, 08:20 PM
Hey cool article, thanks!

BTW, SS Tiger you got a frickin' awesome avatar.

SS Tiger
12-19-2005, 08:50 PM
Hey cool article, thanks!

BTW, SS Tiger you got a frickin' awesome avatar.

Thank you very much! :wink:

Eagle
12-19-2005, 11:28 PM
Wow... it's a good and smart idea.

But of course you need to have aerial supremacy, and, if the C-17 would be in enemy airspace, the enemy wouldn't have SAMs? if a C-17 is launching anti-vehicle UCAVs they would be launched over a large number of enemy vehicles or troops, and the most possible, if they are a very big number of units, is that those vehicles or troops that are under the C-17 is that they would have SAMs in order to defend themselves of an aerial attack, don't you think?

I don't know if it could be efficient enough.

pdf27
12-20-2005, 12:13 AM
Yes, but soon the B-52 will face a parts shortage. The C-17 will have spares for years to come and having a main cargo type and a main bomber type using the same airframes will save on part costs, also maintenance crews can be used with both types.
So what? Boeing will still have the drawings and parts are cheap even if you have to get them made up specially. The US has a lot of custom toolmakers that could do so if they had to.

SS Tiger
12-20-2005, 05:40 AM
SAMs are taken out by F-117s and other light bombers I belive, also commando units may take care of some.

I guess you could get custom made parts but then you would be making B-52 parts and still making C-17 parts anyway. So it would be possible to keep both but it would be more costly I think.

Man of Stoat
12-20-2005, 07:08 AM
SAMs are taken out by F-117s and other light bombers I belive, also commando units may take care of some.

Yes. All mobile SAM sites will be taken out, including every little bloke with a Stinger missile. Guaranteed. 100%. Or your money back. :roll:

SS Tiger
12-20-2005, 07:21 AM
SAMs are taken out by F-117s and other light bombers I belive, also commando units may take care of some.

Yes. All mobile SAM sites will be taken out, including every little bloke with a Stinger missile. Guaranteed. 100%. Or your money back. :roll:

I don't think any shoulder mounted weapons could hit a C-17 at cruise altitude, 90% of SAM batteries would be taken out. The last 10% is for the chaff and flair to deal with. Very rarely you lose an aircraft like the C-130 a while back, but that’s one of the risks of war.

BDL
12-20-2005, 07:59 AM
I don't think any shoulder mounted weapons could hit a C-17 at cruise altitude, 90% of SAM batteries would be taken out. The last 10% is for the chaff and flair to deal with. Very rarely you lose an aircraft like the C-130 a while back, but that’s one of the risks of war.

I doubt the C-17 could stay at cruising altitude with the rear ramp down for long, so it would have to be below cruising altitude.

You cannot simply say that 90% of SAMs will be taken out - you cannot guarantee that. Rapier can apparently track the stealth bombers (one was tracked coming into Farnborough for an air show a few years back), and if they can track it, they can hit it, what if the enemy shoot down a large number of attacking bombers and the SAM sites are not destroyed?

By the way 'losing an aircraft is part of war' may well be true, but I doubt the aircrew being asked to pootle round at low altitude over enemy territory with their rear ramp down for hours on end would see it like that :wink:

Firefly
12-20-2005, 08:19 AM
This is something I feel I can comment on.

In the current threat environment, i.e. the Gulf region, there is no medium to high level threat to speak of. So anything you can hang a JDAM off is fairly safe from harm. As far as I'm aware no aircraft has been lost at these higher altitudes to enemy fire. This would give a long loiter time with a higher payload than Fighters currently are able to carry.

I think the proposed system would be automatic using these drop and forget drones, most likely these would be launched high and outside any threat envelope.

Whether or not this would be needed in the Gulf is a diffrent story, but the system may have merit if its feasible in any future conflicts, although I would be uncomfortable launching a mass of drones programmed to target at will near any population centres etc.......

I dont think we will see the Dominator for a very long time to come though.

Firefly
12-20-2005, 08:21 AM
The other question is what do you do if you don't need to fire from the UAVs? Do you just throw several million dollars away unused or (prefered option) nosedive it onto some "enemy" civvies "because they might become insurgents". :twisted:

I read in a publication that these thingies would be used in a conflict situation only, not as a patrol option etc, think of them as very smart cruise missiles.

Firefly
12-20-2005, 08:36 AM
SAMs are taken out by F-117s and other light bombers I belive, also commando units may take care of some.

I guess you could get custom made parts but then you would be making B-52 parts and still making C-17 parts anyway. So it would be possible to keep both but it would be more costly I think.


SAM's are engaged by all sorts of things. Cluster Bombs, Aircraft cannon, JDAM's etc.

However for a best bet option you can use these:

AlARM (http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/missile/row/alarm.htm)
HARM (http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/smart/agm-88.htm)

I'm not sure special forces are ever needed to take on SAM batteries though. And you never need to kill all the SAM batteries anyway. Only the ones into and out of and at your target area. Even then, if only they are shut down, they arent a threat anymore!

Firefly
12-20-2005, 08:43 AM
SAMs are taken out by F-117s and other light bombers I belive, also commando units may take care of some.

Yes. All mobile SAM sites will be taken out, including every little bloke with a Stinger missile. Guaranteed. 100%. Or your money back. :roll:

Stingers arent really effective at medium to high level, they dont get much above 10-15000 feet. So if your toodling along at 25000 your not going to be Stingered. Landing and take off is a worry in some places though.

Stinger (http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/stinger.htm)

cpl condor
12-20-2005, 04:35 PM
the Stingers was more effective than the designed think of, if you want,
ask the afghans. They shot a very much of that. 8)

festamus
12-20-2005, 05:10 PM
Firefly - PM for you.

Eagle
12-20-2005, 09:40 PM
SAMs are taken out by F-117s and other light bombers I belive, also commando units may take care of some.

Yes. All mobile SAM sites will be taken out, including every little bloke with a Stinger missile. Guaranteed. 100%. Or your money back. :roll:


If I would being posting yesterdey, I would posted exactly tha same as you, Stoat... The SEAD maneuver, with F-15, F-16, F-18, F-117, B-1, B-2 and B-52, is only effective agaisnt the main batteries of SAMs, but the light portable missiles as the SA-7 Strela, the Blowpipe and other kinds of similar missiles is practically imposible to destroy with a SEAD.

Firefly
12-21-2005, 05:37 AM
the Stingers was more effective than the designed think of, if you want,
ask the afghans. They shot a very much of that. 8)

No, they are as effecvtive as designed for. Let me see, Afghanistan, hmm Mountains, low flying Helos, low flying aircraft.

No engagement above 15000 feet, unless your counting the height of the mountain?

Suggested reading is this FM 44-18 Chapter 5 Stinger employment (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/44-18/Ch5.htm#s1p4)

I'm sure you will find no instructions for shooting down high flying targets in it, but if you do please give me a shout.

http://img393.imageshack.us/img393/8479/97stinger2rd.jpg

One other big thing to remember is the size of the Stinger and how much fuel it carries.

http://img473.imageshack.us/img473/7966/pat7s4ao.jpg

Now this is what you would have to carry on your back to kill a high flying aircraft. You would need pretty strong arms to hold it straight I think.

Hopefully, Ive debunked the myth of the mighty Stinger.

Firefly
12-21-2005, 05:38 AM
SAMs are taken out by F-117s and other light bombers I belive, also commando units may take care of some.

Yes. All mobile SAM sites will be taken out, including every little bloke with a Stinger missile. Guaranteed. 100%. Or your money back. :roll:


If I would being posting yesterdey, I would posted exactly tha same as you, Stoat... The SEAD maneuver, with F-15, F-16, F-18, F-117, B-1, B-2 and B-52, is only effective agaisnt the main batteries of SAMs, but the light portable missiles as the SA-7 Strela, the Blowpipe and other kinds of similar missiles is practically imposible to destroy with a SEAD.

Can you please explain what SEAD means to you Eagle?

pdf27
12-21-2005, 12:55 PM
This is something I feel I can comment on.

In the current threat environment, i.e. the Gulf region, there is no medium to high level threat to speak of. So anything you can hang a JDAM off is fairly safe from harm. As far as I'm aware no aircraft has been lost at these higher altitudes to enemy fire. This would give a long loiter time with a higher payload than Fighters currently are able to carry.
Point I was trying to make is that once you actually face any kind of defence system you´re screwed. The only advantage of the C-17 is that it is currently in production and can lift a lot. It is chronically vulnerable to defences (far more so than even ancient bombers like the B-52). That means the C-17 bomber would be very much a one-trick pony - useful only for dropping large tonnages of stand-off precision weapons against undefended targets. For a seriously expensive aircraft (IIRC the C-17s are over $100M each) how many do you think you could afford, and how much could you do with that fleet size? For that kind of cash, you could afford to get something much better - most likely increasing the number of B-1s in service (IIRC quite a few are in storage) and the general maintenence and mechanical health status of the fleet.

Firefly
12-21-2005, 01:06 PM
I know what you meand PDF, but the concept is not to face a defence system, rather to degrade a defence system with these, essentially amrt cruise missile-armed UAV's.

You are right that they wouldnt be any more or less effective than a B-52 if they actually overflew territory. But outside the envelope, they could drop a fair number of these things that would then fly into the envelope.

I would imagine they would be launched maybe 1-2 hundred miles away, if they do have a 24 hour life this would be reasonable I think and a C-17 could carry far more than a B-52 etc.

Its a fair concept, I'm just not sure when it may become a reality. Also, the C-17 wont really have to be modified if they are just shoving them out the back.

festamus
12-23-2005, 04:57 AM
I think cost of ownership and operation would be a factor here. The B-52 airframes aren't getting any younger, and could probably do with some high bypass turbofans (they seem to talk about getting four on there frequently).

I guess by using a C-17, you get a modern aircraft with modern cost of ownership, using fuel at a far more reasonable rate. And for the times when you aren't dropping loitering munitions out the back, you have a valuable airlift asset that you'll utilise a hell of a lot more than a B-52.

Yes, the performance is less, but more than adequate to fly over MANPADS type threats. And for the more hardcore air defences, well, are you really expecting to fly a B-52 over those any more successfully? Somehow I think neither will be flying overhead until the SEAD types have done their bit.

The B-52 is nice for putting massive tonnage of bombs onto target, but this isn't a trick needed. All you need is a carrier to haul these things out there, and hey presto you have a whole DAY'S worth of precision bombardment.

Same applies for using a B-1: Why do you need a swing-wing afterburning heavy bomber to drop these things? The C-17 might not be cheap to buy, but operating is a huge portion of the life-cycle cost of any platform, and the C-17 can see a lot more return on the initial investment (e.g. performing the air-lift mission even in peacetime), for lower per-hour cost. Oh, and using C-17 as the platform to carry these loitering munitions is probably preferable as a means of support for keeping open the C-17 line.