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Subject: An Idea on Air Defense
VGNTMH    4/26/2007 11:29:05 PM
I was thinking about fighters and SAMs ..... The advantages of fighters over SAMs for air defense include: • Range, fighters have a much longer range than SAMs. • Visual verification, fighters can visually verify that the target is a enemy not a low flying Lear Jet! • Fighters are reusable. • Fighters can escort transport aircraft. • Fighters can do other things other than air defense. The disadvantages of fighters for air defense include: • Cost, including both up front capital cost and especially the ongoing cost of training pilots and maintaining aircraft which have to be flown frequently in peacetime to train the pilots. • Fighters, at least CTOL fighters, are dependant on long fixed runways to operate. This means that they cannot easily be forward deployed, and, because they also lack persistence, this in turn means that they are not always available. • If fighters have to close to visual verification range, even the most sophisticated may suffer unacceptable casualties from 50/50 WVR engagements with enemies with relatively simple and lethal IIR guided, trust vectoring, helmet sight cued AAMs. The advantages of SAMs over fighters for air defense include: • SAMs are persistent as they are actually organic to the land or naval forces or infrastructure they protect and are also thus instantly available . • Low cost, especially low ongoing costs as few personnel are required and most training can be done via simulation. (Though the cost would increase with the area to be protected...) • Some SAMs can do other things that fighters can't, such as ballistic missile defense or C-RAM. Cons of SAMs: • Short range compared to fighters • Poor sensor height/range/visibility. • Can't visually verify targets. • Single use, resulting in very high costs for some engagements, such as defending against small UAVs. • Can't escort transport aircraft. I was thinking: Why not combine the two and develop a reusable, vertically launched, area air defense UCAV, somewhat analogous to the German World War II Bachem Natter? This could be: • Launched vertically, from sealed tubes. • Deployable with land or naval forces. • Powered by a turbojet or throttle-able liquid fueled rocket. • Controlled by a line of sight data link (overcoming one of the problems of a UCAV, as the data link will only need to be LOS, not satellite). • Armed with IIR guided WVR AAMs such as the AIM-9X or IRIS-T. • Partly or wholly recoverable, perhaps by a GPS guided aerofoil such as some special forces use for delivering supplies, or such as that used by the I-View UAV, or perhaps it could land on an undercarriage if a runway is available. • Have a radar of much greater size and power than a SAM (as it is recoverable). • Refueled and rearmed quickly (something which the Natter couldn't!) It could also perhaps: • Have distributed electro optical/TV/IIR sensors like the F-35 will, to provide all around images. • Be employed together with JLENS tethered AEW aerostat balloons to overcome the sensor height problems. • Have a parachute, such as an ALARM anti radar missile uses, which the UCAV could use to loiter for a while if it is launched and doesn't discover a target. What do people think? Does this concept have any merit? A reusable, vertically launched, area air defense UCAV would seem to have many of the advantages of fighters (range, visual verification, low per round cost) and of SAMs (persistence, availability, low peacetime cost), and some advantages which neither fighters or SAMs have (safe visual verification).
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B.Smitty       5/21/2007 9:10:19 PM
Interesting idea. 

A poster on another site suggested and enhanced, ground launched version of the Miniature Air Launched Interceptor (MALI).   This is an adaptation of the Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) that has a limited supersonic capability.  The idea would be to fire off large numbers of these missiles ahead of predicted raids and have them semi-autonomously hunt for badguys.  They could be cued via datalink from ground sensors or AEW and would, in essense, form large, mobile, smart minefields. 

These missiles might cost roughly as much as an AIM-9X (MALD was only supposed to cost $30k), use many of it's components including seeker and warhead, have up to an hour's endurance, and several minutes supersonic.  The combination of endurance and numbers would make up for individual missile performance. 

Ground launch might require a rocket booster to get it to altitude & speed.

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VGNTMH    MALI   5/22/2007 2:16:45 AM
So the Miniature Air Launched Interceptor is basically a low cost, non reusable, supersonic, turbo jet powered cruise missile interceptor, with a data link, which has some endurance and loitering ability coming from the use of a turbo jet?

That sounds interesting. Not exactly what I was getting at as it is not reusable, but still very interesting.

Does anyone have any information or photos on the MALI? I did a basic Google search but there does not seem to be much information on the MALI except the Northrop Grumman press releases from 2002, without photos.

I guess what I am talking about could be described as a MALI with:
· A recovery mechanism, such as an aerofoil, so that either the entire vehicle or the expensive parts such as an small AESA could be recovered and reused.
· AIM-9Xs to fire, leaving the vehicle intact.
· Better sensors, such as a small AESA.
· Surface launch ability, that is a rocket booster or even a catapult.


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VGNTMH    Loitering SAM or Air Defense UCAV   5/22/2007 2:31:38 AM

Or possibly based the loitering SAM/air defense UCAV on the Israeli Harpy drone?

Perhaps you could combine:
• A UCAV based on the Harpy drone
• JLENS or an Israeli aerostat, for sensor height and cueing
• An air defense or air situation combat data system, presumably one pre integrated with the aerostat
• A lightweight mini radar with look down ability, on the SAM/UCAV
• Sensors from a Sniper or Litening pod, for all round visibility and visual verification
• One or more WVR AAMs as armament

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B.Smitty       5/22/2007 11:09:15 AM
The beauty of the MALI approach is that the weapon should be dirt cheap and requires little more than a HMMWV based rail launcher.  A reusable weapon will likely be significantly more expensive.    Large numbers of MALI armed light trucks would be harder to destroy via traditional DEAD techniques than a larger, more complex and more expensive weapon and launch/recovery system.

One drawback is that its relatively modest speed might make it more susceptible to laser-based DIRCMS.

OTOH, don't know if a sealed tube, reusable system is workable.  You'd need to perform at least launch and recovery training with them, and once recovered, they'd need a way to be rearmed, refueled and fired.  I think i'd just go with a rail launcher. 

Also, I would be concerned about how many launch/recovery cycles you'll get out of a relatively large weapon that uses parachute-based recovery

At some point you'd have to ask, why not just build a somewhat larger STOVL UCAV that can be used for strike and CAS as well as air defense, and can perform controlled takeoffs and landings. 

Maybe something as large as an X-45A that used a lift fan ala F-35B, but could be struck down and transported via truck, C-130, or self deploy.   It would be large enough to carry Predator class EO/IR sensors, an AESA radar, would be stealthy, and might have enough space to carry a pair of 1000lb JDAMs, multiple SDBs, or maybe four AMRAAM/AIM-9Xs.  It could be used as a Harrier supplement on small deck carriers and amphibious vessels. 

Granted, this would be a lot more expensive than either MALI or your proposal, and thus likely not available in the same numbers, but it could be used for far more than just air defense (an area the US already excels).

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TrustButVerify       5/22/2007 2:30:18 PM
The biggest beef I have against fixed defenses is the "schwerpunkt" problem; unless you have amazing mobility, putting one or two holes in your screen can allow a torrent of attackers in. IMHO fixed defenses are still important for point defense, but at the border should form a "screen" allowing for detection of hostile aircraft and the quick dispatch of interceptors. It's here that the UCAV you're talking about fits into place; the question is really one of range and speed. (At the FEBA, on the other hand, I think SAMs are still be best option.)
There's also a question of response time and vulnerability. How quickly can your UCAV get into the air? As quick as an SA-5 or an SA-11? Will your UCAV be in the air quickly enough to cope with fighter escorts?
I think the aerostat concept might be useful for quick-launch of the devices for point-defense applications, too.

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B.Smitty       5/22/2007 3:57:10 PM
Well, in talking about an air-breathing MALI/UCAV the situation is a bit different from a regular SAM site.  A MALI might have an hour or more in the air at Mach .9 - which is nearly 600nm.  

A larger UCAV could go even further, and stay up longer.  

They're really more like semi-disposable or disposable air defense aircraft than SAMs.

A handful could be sent airborne to form a constant "SAMCAP".  More could follow when a raid is known to be inbound. 
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french stratege       6/5/2007 1:18:30 PM
This concept is for sure interesting.There is years I think also about that.
Also for air defense of warship as an alternative for carrier.
Indeed for exemple, a stealth UAV with 3 internal MICA or ASRAAM with a AESA radar similar of AGP 79 would weight 2,8 tons in combat with a 3,4 tons engine
A STOVL version would be 30% heavier.
Other concept like loitering missile are possible.
For high altitude air defense, a ground base radar allow tracking at long range.Is more vulnerable to SEAD? It depends technology and use of decoys.Also IR guidance systems can be used on ground.
A ground radar could be carried  by a vehicule and move while tracking to be less vulnerable to SEAD.With 3 vehicules, one emmit during few seconds, and switch tracking to other moving.Or you could combined with radar on stealthy helo or STOL type small UAV.
A airborne radar on fighter could also be vulnerable to antiradiation anti air missiles as US study has proven.
Main advantage of a UAV system is that it allow fast concentration and also look down capacity in area low altitude ground air defense is weak.
Is it more effective than long range SAM missiles with datalink? Yet to be proven.Indeed no problem to field antiair missile of 400 km or more range with modern active autodirector and datalink.
Only to use semi ballistic lofting trajectory.
For navy, there is always the problem of tracking targets beyond horizon so an airbone radar make sense.
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Herald1234    Recompute the size of your robot interceptors, FS.   6/15/2007 2:49:38 AM
Once again you assume too much.
Sheesh you can't even get the dry weights right.
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murabit821       6/15/2007 7:22:56 AM
this UCAV can be  launch in some kind of rocket capsule(or UCAV construct with flap wings and attached rocket engine) for rapid deploy to combat  area

on mobile tracked launcher
different rocket capsules (UCAV missiles) with different power, different speed of attached rocket engine

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