Warplanes: June 8, 2002


The US Air Force has revealed data from secret simulator tests showing that the Russian Su-30 (now being flown by India and China) can defeat the F-15 Eagle every time in a head-on shoot out. The Su-30 first fires a radar-guided Beyond Visual Range missile such as the AA-12 Adler (or improved versions of the AA-10 Alamo), then executes a diving turn to move at right angles to the US fighter. Because US radars are doppler (designed to detect changes in relative motion), this maneuver makes the Russian plane invisible to the US fighter's radar. While Russian pilots have been practicing this for 20 years, only the Su-30 with its thrust-vector technology can pull it off so easily. Once reaching this point, the Su-30 simply flies under the F-15 and takes a second shot with a heat-seeking missile. As the F-15 is silhouetted against the sky, it is an easy target for the missile to spot. The new Russian AA-11 Archer has a high-off-boresight capability (meaning it can see and accept as a target an American fighter that is to one side of the Su-30), the Russian fighter can fire this missile and then escape the F-15's engagement range. The tactic doesn't work against the F-22 and F-35 (which are stealthy and have better radars), causing some to say that the Air Force leaked the information in order to avoid any Congressional effort to cancel those programs.Stephen V Cole


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