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Subject: Mig 31/SAM 10 question.
glenn239    12/6/2004 12:54:25 PM
The Mig 31 Foxhound is credited with datalink capability; One fighter can not only pass sensor/communication information to the others in the flight, but direct other’s missile attack as well. Its radar also can engage up to 4 targets simultaneously. Given the paucity of resources for electronic equipment within the Soviet Union at the time, does it strike anyone else as unusual that the Mig 31 would have the 4-target engagement feature? After all, with only 4 long range missiles on board, either the 4 target capability was wasted as the fighter assigned 2 missiles per target for a higher probability of a kill, or each target only received one missile, and hence had a higher chance of escaping. If the target were cruise missiles, then it’s hard to picture a common situation where the fighter couldn’t engage them in sequence. In either case, quite a bit of rare computer processing capability was tied up in a specialist interceptor, when models such as the Mig29 and SU27 could have greatly benefited from extra money sunk into their attack avionics. What I’m wondering is if the Mig 31’s datalink capability was compatible with the SA10 Grumble system. If so, then could not the SAM battery use the Mig’s powerful radar, ability to look down/shoot down, and simultaneous engagement capability to devastate intruders, even those out of direct LOS of the SAM battery? Also, would not the SAM remain invulnerable to HARM fire while doing so? Would the SAM 10 have to lock on to the Foxhound in order to be able to attack using the Foxhound data?
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displacedjim    RE:Mig 31/SAM 10 question.   12/6/2004 1:22:21 PM
There is no indication whatsoever that any fighter AI radars are used to direct SAMs. While it doesn't sound impossible on its face, it's not done. Remember, FOXHOUND can also carry other radar guided air-to-air missiles, not just four AA-9s, so a capability to simultaneously engage four targets is not wasted capability. On top of that, while I'm not disagreeing with your point in making the following comment, I just feel like mentioning the computer processing power in the MiG-31 radar is probably on the order of a 50Mhz 80486. I'd bet even the F-35's radar is only something like a 300MHz Pentium II. Displacedjim
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glenn239    RE:Mig 31/SAM 10 question.   12/7/2004 9:18:16 PM
True, it's not done - but was it also not the case during the 1980's that the MIG31's known ability to direct other fighter's missile attacks wasn't "done" either? Technically, the MIG would be doing nothing that it wasn't designed to do in real life - merely handing off track data to a SAM instead of another MIG31. The SAM, on the other hand would have to be designed with a compatibility with the MIG radar in mind - the actual radar paint of the target that the missiles are homing on is from the Foxhound, not the SA10.
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displacedjim    RE:Mig 31/SAM 10 question.   12/7/2004 10:28:50 PM
I am again not trying to reject your idea, merely making some specific observations. I realize you picked the S-300 as a representative example. In the specific case of the S-300 it would require a complete replacement of the current guidance system. Many FSU/Russian SAM systems (and many Western SAMs as well) use radars at the launch battery/battalion to track both the target AND the missile, and pass guidance commands to the missile based on both trajectories. Thus either you need separate target tracker and missile guidance radars, or else a combined target engagement radar, in order to prosecute the engagement. In the case of a MiG-31 or other fighter aircraft with their inherently limited look angle capability using a nose-mounted radar they'd pretty much need to be behind the SAM launcher (in relation to the target) to do this. Many long range air-to-air missiles are guided at least initially in this fashion as well. I think this is because of the limited range ability of the less-capable radar receivers within the missile of locking onto only the reflected energy off a distant target. Instead they are commanded initially by the launcher (ground or air) at least until they come within the range capability of their own onboard receiver. Of course in the more generic sense of your idea, it is possible. However, I think the tactic utility is hampered by at least this issue. Displacedjim
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displacedjim    RE:Mig 31/SAM 10 question.   12/7/2004 10:36:00 PM
Oops, I guess originally you did address this issue by talking about a datalink to the missile. It does seem reasonable that could send sufficient information to the missile to get it in the ballpark flying inertially into the neighborhood of the target, at which time the MiG-31 could then track both the target and the missile and obtain sufficiently accurate data to pass via datalink to engage, or else switch over to semi-active missile guidance, or even if so equipped the missile could switch to active radar guidance and the MiG-31 could drop tracking of the target. Hmmm, it does sound doable, I wonder if we're missing something? Displacedjim
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gf0012-aust    RE:Mig 31/SAM 10 question.   12/7/2004 10:50:11 PM
If you're talking about the missile getting hand offs from the Mig, aren't you in effect going to have to change the guidance system in the missile? In effect it would become a data driven "beam rider"?? Isn't it similar in concept to what the USN did with their first cruise missiles fired from subs in the 50's? ie, one sub did a launch, at a notional way point, a second platform was able to do the hand off and guide the missile to target with it's own FCS.
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glenn239    RE:Mig 31/SAM 10 question.   12/8/2004 12:44:35 PM
I myself doubt the capability exists (or we would have heard of it by now). The reason I selected SA10 (or 12) was threefold: First, they were designed and produced for the for the same branch of the Soviet armed forces - the air defense forces, not the air force or the army. With Soviet doctrine of the era being highly focused on the primacy of surface-directed intercepts and control, it seemed less of a stretch for them to patch their interceptors into the SAM net than it would for us. Next, the design criteria for the MIG31 was to provide strategic air defense against saturation cruise missile attacks. So exploiting it's inherent datalink capability to net with the Grumble seemed a natural thing to do - how else could one or two Foxhounds cope with a raid of 40-60 cruise missiles except by directing ground fire? Scrambling in more fighters might take too long. Finally, the SA10 system, being track via missile and already datalinked into the defense net, seems to me to already have most of the capabilities necessary. As I see it, the MIG would pass off target data to the SAM radar via datalink. The SAM would lock on to the transmitting MIG and triangulate for a firing solution. I don't think the MIG would have to track the SAM's - the SA10 could do that. Since the target would be low and quite some distance from the SAM battery, the actual trajectory of the missiles should be somewhat ballistic, meaning that the firing unit should be able to track and communicate with them until virtually the last moment before impact. The major techinical hurdle would be ensuring that the SAM missile was able to home in using the MIG's radar reflections of the target. The attack would still be the SAM's normal track via missile, not a beam rider - think of the MIG as simply another "missile" in the loop. The payoff, IMO, is that a combined arms approach exploits the strengths of both the MIG and the Grumble. The MIG's contribution is the ability to lookdown/shootdown very accurately over huge swaths of territory at very high speeds. It's angle of ingress and egress cannot be predicted beforehand, meaning that ECM assets will not be as well positioned to deal with it as they would against a known or suspected SAM sight. It also is far less vulnerable to HARM fire than a surface battery. The SAM's contribution is being able to supply dozens, if not 100's, of missile shots, thus allowing the MIG to shoot at as many targets as feasible as it screams across the front at high speed. It also has a very large advantage in raw processing power, meaning that it's ECCM ability should be superior to the MIG's on it's own. Now, assuming this system works, and a Foxhound with an SA10 battery in range catches a squadron of, say, 12 Tornado aircraft making an ultra-low penetration. Barring an intercept by an escorting fighter, is there any reason why it could not shoot down every single one of them?
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gf0012-aust    but..   12/8/2004 10:12:07 PM
"Now, assuming this system works, and a Foxhound with an SA10 battery in range catches a squadron of, say, 12 Tornado aircraft making an ultra-low penetration. Barring an intercept by an escorting fighter, is there any reason why it could not shoot down every single one of them" assuming it can be done (??) the issue is do you have enough confidence in the capacity of your ADS to discriminate between friendlies and enemies in a complex air environment. Since time immemorial, (and certainly it was a phliosophy that was part of the structured air defence of the battle of Britain) - friendlies avoid IADS kill boxes so that they don't get slotted by accident. The greater benefit is where your ELINT/AEWAC's/COMPASS/RIVETs can successfully do a handoff from a SAM as an adjunct to battlefield management. It has the luxury of a greater standoff capability - and hence reduces it's own vulnerability to complex air space full of conflicting electronic signals. (??)
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glenn239    RE:but..   12/9/2004 1:00:19 PM
"The greater benefit is where your ELINT/AEWAC's/COMPASS/RIVETs can successfully do a handoff from a SAM as an adjunct to battlefield management." The main question that comes to mind is whether such such aircraft as Russian AWACS, etc. are sufficiently survivable on the modern battlefield. The MIG25 demonstrated during both Gulf Wars an ability to survive in an extremely hostile environment. The SA10 was designed with this in mind as well. But a Russian AWACS? I would question its ability to do so vs F15 or F22 fighters.
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HJ    AWACS survivability   12/22/2004 9:30:19 AM
Some survivability is gained by virtue of long standoff range of an AWACS and High Value Unit escorts tasked with defending it at high risk to themselves. Operating over a late generation SAM system would help as well. US hasn't developed a long range AWACS killer missile as did the Soviets so flip the question around and ask how survivable is the US AWACS?
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HJ    Squadron of Tornadoes?   12/22/2004 9:44:02 AM
Back to your squadron of Tornadoes; first off, going low is rather unpopular these days, but regardless of altitude, squadrons don't fly 12 aircraft together except in airshows. With today's PGMs, strike packages are smaller and in high threat areas, they'd likely do a multi-axis attack thereby compounding the Air Defense problem (if it hasn't been neutralized by SEAD or AEA).
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