Weekend Roundup: Stealth Woes and Laughing at Osama

Happy Kentuck Derby Day/Mother's Day weekend.

Enjoy these links if you haven't seen them already.

Air Force officials are linking the problems with the F-22 Raptor's oxygen generating system to last November's fatal crash of an F-22 in Alaska. Meanwhile the service has expanded the investigation into the oxygen systems to include other fighters and the T-6 Texan trainer.

Oh and I hope you've seen Osama bin Laden's home videos which show the al Qaeda leader obsessing over media coverage of himself while swaddled in a blanket at his Pakistani hideout.

And lastly, check out this interesting report on China's J-20 stealth fighter. It drops several conversation grenades, including the following:

The available data supports the proposition that the J-20, once fully developed, will be a high performance stealth aircraft, arguably capable of competing in most cardinal performance parameters (i.e. speed, altitude, stealth, agility) with the United States F-22A Raptor, and superior in most if not all cardinal performance parameters against the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
And:
If the engines deliver 40,000 – 50,000 lb class thrust performance, the J-20 will be viable as an air combat fighter, air defense interceptor and deep strike fighter. If thrust performance falls below this benchmark, the aircraft would lack the agility for close air combat, but still be very effective as an interceptor or bomber.
And:
The strategic impact of a mature production J-20, even if limited to strike roles alone, would be profound. With sufficiently good stealth performance to defeat air defense radars in the L-band through Ku-band, the aircraft could easily penetrate all air defense systems currently deployed in Asia. Even should the aircraft be tracked by a counter-stealth radar, the high altitude supersonic cruise penetration flight profile makes it extremely difficult to engage by fighter aircraft and Surface to Air Missiles. The only fighters deployed in the Pacific Rim with the raw performance to reliably intercept a supersonic J-20 are the F-22A Raptor and Russian MiG-31 Foxhound.

The size of the J-20 and resulting fuel fraction indicate that the aircraft will be able to cover the "First Island Chain" without aerial tanker support, and with tanker support, reach targets across the "Second Island Chain" on subsonic cruise profiles. Nearer targets would be accessible on supersonic cruise profiles [9].

And finally:
The strategic choices available to the United States and its allies for dealing with the J-20 are very limited; such is the potency of all aircraft combining stealth and supersonic cruise capabilities. These distill down to the deployment of large numbers of F-22A Raptor fighters in the region, and the development and deployment of "counter-stealth" radars operating in the HF, VHF, and UHF radio-frequency bands. Funding for the production of the F-22A was stopped in 2009, following an intensive political effort by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. There is no program to fund the development and volume production of "counter-stealth" radars.

The incumbent U.S. Administration has thus committed itself politically to a path in developing air power for the U.S. armed services and allied air forces, predicated wholly on future opponents operating obsolete Soviet era air defense weapons and fighters. The unveiling of the Russian T-50 PAK-FA and Chinese J-20 over the last two years has not produced any significant changes in U.S. planning, which may challenge the United States and its Pacific Rim allies’ strategic advantage in conventional air power.

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