Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now
100

Table of contents Future focii Short answer - Important: stealth, sensors (radar & IR), data fusion, networking, long-range weapons. Unimportant: dogfighting with guns. Future counter-detection and counter-measures - Important: RF and IR stealth, lasers, hard-kill defenses How will stealth fighters fight each other? - including THE MOST ...


93

That same thinking, "dogfighting is dead", got the USAF and USN in serious trouble in Vietnam. The U.S. Armed Forces were convinced that the next major war would be against the Soviet Union directly, in theaters including Europe, Alaska and Canada, and as a result, fighter designs succeeding the very successful Sabre and Super Sabre day fighters used in ...


38

Yes, there has: In the Iran-Iraq War, Wikipedia: The war also saw the only confirmed air-to-air helicopter battles in the history of warfare, with Iraqi Mi-25s flying against Iranian AH-1J SeaCobras on numerous occasions. The first instance of these helicopter "dogfights" occurred on the first day of the war (22 September 1980): two Iranian SeaCobras ...


31

Non-holographic radar systems such as those used in fighter aircraft and active guided missiles only point in one direction at a time. Normally, when the radar is in search mode, a mechanism inside the radar makes the beam move from side to side (possibly up and down as well), so it has a wider field of view and can pinpoint the direction of any aircraft it ...


30

Using infrared sensors, a fast-moving airplane can be spotted at several 100 km distance if it flies high enough. The friction heating of the fuselage nose and leading edges will stick out against a cold background. Next, by networking radars and combining the radar data in a sophisticated computer program, stealth aircraft can be tracked reliably even in ...


28

The night fighting in WWII was mainly between the RAF and Luftwaffe, with the Luftwaffe fielding most of the night fighters due to necessity (the others too had some fine night fighters, though none had their need as much as the Germans). The first stage in (trying to) shoot down enemy aircraft is to find them. This was mainly done by the ground based ...


25

Merge Assuming neither aircraft tried for a head-on guns snapshot, the goal of the jet against the prop will be to go out of plane with the prop post merge and deny the prop a quick guns solution. By far the easiest way for the jet to go out of plane is to extend and then take the fight vertically. This means that the jet is in full AB coming into the ...


23

You question is a question of rules of engagement. Shooting down a downed pilot in a dogfight is not only not OK, but also illegal. According to Article 42 of Geneva Conventions, No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent. Of course, war is war and this kind of attacks have been practiced ...


21

Dogfighting isn't dead. Even though generation 4.5/5 airframes have great missile capability and stealth, there are times when there is no substitute for bullets. Close quarter gun fire is pretty much immune to chaff and flares. Being able to maneuver into position to engage another aircraft with guns is essential in many circumstances and training for ...


21

There are so many inaccuracies and omissions in @aeroalias' answer that I take it upon myself to add another answer. Early Years (1939 - 41) Up until the start of the war, aircraft were located by listening stations. By feeding each ear with a super-sized, moveable ear trumpet, both direction and elevation of an approaching aircraft could be determined by ...


19

While dogfighting may be extinct in Afghanistan, its certainly not extinct in Russia, China, Europe, India, etc. Nations do not arm to fight the current threat, they arm to discourage possible future threats and project power abroad.


17

If your opponent is directly behind you, you have lost the fight. The point of basic fighter maneuvering, or BFM, is to keep your opponent off your tail and hopefully get on his. Everything you would learn as a fighter pilot centers around ensuring you would never have to use a rear-firing weapon. In addition, visibility directly behind the pilot is ...


16

Note: This answer is from the original version of the question, which specified a P-51 and an F-22. What chance would a P-51 have against an F-22? None whatsoever. The F-22 pilot would spot the P-51 on radar as soon as it came over the horizon, pop off an AIM-120D or similar missile at a range of 100 miles, and depart, without the P-51 ever coming within ...


16

The existing answers are, of course, correct that most current UAVs do not have much in the way of options for defending themselves against attacks by fighters. This, however, is due primarily to the design missions of most current UAVs, which are reconnaissance and attacking lightly-defended ground targets. Their mission is literally to be an expendable ...


15

When in a dogfight, you cannot shoot straight ahead without moving into a position which anticipates where your adversary will be when the bullets hit him. This means you need to turn tighter, to get into his circle. When both aircraft have similar specs, this is harder than it sounds. The Russians once tested an idea which looked obvious at first: Svivel ...


14

In short, the onboard Radar Warning System computer analyzes the data and determines whether the missile has locked onto the aircraft. In general, aerial warfare is very complex and it is very difficult to explain in the real situations. Basically, the radars use different modes while engaging aircraft (from other aircraft or ground based SAM batteries): ...


14

Modern Air Combat Maneuvering takes place between about 350 to 600 KIAS; There is no specific speed but each aircraft has a specific optimal cornering velocity which gives it the greatest rate of turn in order to maximize its maneuverability. Pilots will seek to maintain this speed when entering a merge as it can give them the greatest maneuvering advantage ...


13

It's kind of a mix of the two. Flight controls on aircraft have what's known as trim. All (or nearly all) airplanes have elevator trim; many also have rudder trim and aileron trim. The trimmer for each control is used to balance constant forces needed on that control. To take an example that's more widely applicable than launching missiles: when you ...


13

Machine guns were fairly effective weapons in WWII and shortly after. However, this was only because the attacking aircraft were also armed with machine guns. Even then, the fighter aircraft could be effective against not only the armed bombers, but also against the fighter escorts. Bombers of the time did typically have tail gunners. However, this only ...


12

Some good answers here, in complement to which I would like to submit a very interesting paper (alternate link - pdf!) I came across on the promise vs. reality of BVR combat, which has been predicted to replace dogfighting since the 50s, if not 40s. In short, history has shown that despite all advances, battlefield realities have consistently forced ...


12

No, rocket missiles are recoil-less weapons. When firing a gun, the charge burns inside the chamber and the generated gasses do not escape before the shell leaves the barrel, so the reaction force is transferred to the body of the gun. When firing a rocket missile however there is open space behind he missile and the reaction force only accelerates the ...


12

Can a UAV defend itself? There were attempts to install defense systems on drones but such weapons have not proved effective, at least up to Nov. 2012 (see the article below). "In 2002 the Air Force fitted some of its early-model Predator drones with short-range Stinger air-to-air missiles. But even with the right weaponry the robots were likely a poor ...


11

Short answer: No. The drone needs sensors, and if the designers were preoccupied with outfitting it for its main mission and did not include anything to detect an incoming threat, a drone is a sitting duck. But even with complete situational awareness it still is close to a sitting duck. Even with sensors onboard, the options are limited. If you have IR ...


10

FIrst, stealth does not make an aircraft invisible- it just makes them harder to detect. Stealth (or correctly, Very Low Observable (VLO)) aircraft can and are detected by radars and other surveillance mechanisms. Stealth aircraft are usually optimised for low observability in some radar frequency (mostly in Ku- and X- bands). This means that they can be ...


10

Wasn't aware of that battle during the Iran-Iraq war but gunships can and do carry air-to-air weapons. The Apache can carry an air-to-air version of the FIM-92 stinger missile and the USMC's new AH-1Z Viper can carry the same as well as the AIM-9 Sidewinder series of missiles. The 20mm rotary cannon comes in pretty handy for close in bandits as well. ...


9

http://youtu.be/9DYsYKFNSHo Ignore the actual purpose of the video and why the pilot is firing in the first place. You can clearly see that the missile separates from the aircraft before igniting the thrusters. Since the missile starts its thrusters without contact to the aircraft, no recoil is experienced.


8

Dismissing missiles for a moment, let's focus on fixed guns. Rear-firing cannons simply make no tactical sense. If you have an enemy fighter on your six, and in gun range, you need to pitch, roll, circle, and generally maneuver like crazy to throw off his lead aim to avoid getting shot out of the sky. The very last thing you want to do is to fly in a ...


7

The manufacturers aren't trying to increase their aircrafts maneuverability. The F-35 is far less maneuverable than the fighters it is replacing. Modern selling points include stealth, multi-role, reconfigurability, avionics, price, and data. It is all about Situational Awareness. General Hostage of USAF says: People focus on stealth as the determining ...


7

That is the aural conversion of the input of an AIM-9 missile's infrared seeker head. The missile allows the shooter to operate it in either a caged mode, that is where the seeker head is slaved to the angle and azimuth of the radar antenna, or uncaged mode, where the seeker head can freely seek out and track a bright infrared source like a jet engine on a ...


6

That is the signal from the heat seeking missile sensor that confirms the sensor has a good lock on target and the missile can be launched.


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible