Monday, July 11, 2016

What I've Been Doing

Is what I'll be doing for a little while longer.

No deadline considerations, just quality ones.

I've had a few enquiries as to why the long time 'light blogging'. I hope to come out from under a rock someday and hit some of the big topics anyway, but here's what I've been spending my off-work hours doing since the weather was still cold (for Texas).

I designed what we call 'the shed' (~500sq ft) for construction at the secret location of stately Mac Manor somewhere in the wilds of Parker County Texas. I have played general contractor for the heavy stuff, am but doing the insulation, drywall, trim and paint, and also building the large bay barn doors myself. The foundation slab is twice typical thickness with 2ft deep perimeter and cross 'rails' with up-sized rebar so it isn't going anywhere. Believe it or not, the most time consuming part of the project (so far) was finding a concrete contractor who would take the job.  Couldn't find one forever. Seems the job was too small for the guys who do real house foundations and too complex for the guys who pour patios and driveways.

I would have done the electrical, but my main breaker box at home was so full I needed a new panel and the wiring had to be dragged all the way from the other side of the house AND a buried cable run was needed to get 110v/220v to the shed. Better to pay someone who does this kind of stuff all the time, I say.    

Framing the roof. If I had known how complicated a cathedral ceiling, and storage area over the side room, would make the insulation and drywall job I may have simplified it some. Live and learn.
 Back side, Roof on!
Drywall beginning. I had to temporarily hang the doors I built to keep the Spring storms from blowing through. The table you see on the sawhorses is 4' x 8' and was where I built the template for the bi-fold barn doors (80 lbs per panel plus or minus).
 Stone selected and delivered:
 Finally! the brick came. It matches my house and is part of the last batch the company will ever make. I didn't do this a moment too soon.
 No finished photos will be posted except maybe from the back. You'll have to take my word for it-- it is IMHO-- freaking awesome! (And the neighbors seem happy since I knock off at 10 every weeknight.) I'm now re-hanging the barn doors permanently so I can put an A/C in there and finish the drywall.
Have you  ever tried to finish drywall joints when the air AND the wall is about 100 degrees F? Fugeddaboutit!

Friday, July 01, 2016

F-16 and F-35 parallels: Boy Reporter Gets Few Facts Right, Story Wrong

Hat Tip: 'tbarlow' @

This is just too funny and too easy to debunk for me to pass up. I just gotta point out the stupid involved. Kyle Mizokami tripped over a thread in Reddit and built a nice 'on the one hand, but on the other hand' F-35 "narrative" for Popular Mechanics that is so lame it answers the question as to why most media writers aren't paid as much as they think they're worth. It is a shame too, because with really very little research, and demonstration of a minimal understanding of economics--specifically the 'time value' of money and proper use of deflators -- he could have contributed significantly to killing the false narrative that the F-35 program is 'plagued by (fill in the blank)'. Instead, he tries, and fails to make the F-35 look bad, using numbers that when applied correctly only make the point that the F-35 program, and the problems that have been encountered are in no way unique.

Here's the PM story:
A New York Times newspaper article describes a beleaguered American fighter program enduring delays, escalating costs, and technical problems. Another article about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter no doubt, right? Nope. It's an article from 1977 about the F-16 Fighting Falcon.  
The F-16 was the original multinational fighter. Developed by the United States with Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway as partners, the fighter was designed to be an agile, lightweight, daytime fighter to replace aging fighters such as the F-5 Freedom Fighter and the F-104 Starfighter. At $6,091,000 per unit—$27.1 million when adjusted for inflation—it was also supposed to be inexpensive.  
Many of the F-16's past problems are mirror images of the issues we see in the F-35. According to the article, the Air Force expected the F-16's research and development costs rose by some $7 billion to reach $13.8 billion by 1986. Adjusted for inflation, that's $54.7 billion in today's dollars. F-35 R&D costs, on the other hand, are estimated at $107 billion dollars to date.  
Like the F-35, the F-16's problems arose from technological issues and design challenges. The fly-by-wire mechanism of the F-16, in which an aerodynamically unstable but highly maneuverable aircraft was tamed by computers to keep it flying, was an expensive problem that was eventually solved. Like the F-35, the F-16 had problems with its engine and also had to be modified to placate U.S. allies who wanted a fighter capable of air-to-ground missions, a real multi-role fighter.  
Still, as similar as the problems between these two planes are, the F-35's problems are much more intense. The F-35 was originally slated to cost $50 million apiece—nearly twice the original cost of the F-16 at today's prices—but the three versions of the plane currently run anywhere from $112 to $120 million each. The F-16 encountered months of delays, but the F-35 A/B/C models will, on average, be delayed half a decade. 
Yes, America and her allies have been down this road before, but this time it is a lot rockier.
First, the 'costs' narrative whereby Mizokami attempts to make it look like the F-35 is MUCH worse than it's predecessor....when it is not that different at all.

RE: The F-16's “$6,091,000 per unit—$27.1 million when adjusted for inflation”.

I don’t know where he got the $27.1M inflation unit cost value (though given the depth of research he shows I suspect he just found a number) but it strongly correlates with Contemporary Opportunity Costs between 1976-77 and 2015. In terms of a project’s Economy Cost (relative share of the GDP used: the correct figure for 'projects') that 1977 F-16 unit cost would equal $58.2 million in 2015 dollars. [Note: Calculators I used for the interested are here.]

RE: “the Air Force expected the F-16's research and development costs rose by some $7 billion to reach $13.8 billion by 1986. Adjusted for inflation, that's $54.7 billion in today's dollars. F-35 R&D costs, on the other hand, are estimated at $107 billion dollars to date”

This is an odd disconnect from Mizokami's unit cost claim and the R&D figure he used for the F-16 DOES equal about $54B in 2015 Economy Cost, so who knows why the author came up with a lower number for the unit cost of the 1977 F-16 in “today’s dollars”. It was widely touted early in the F-35 program that we could develop three aircraft for the cost of 1.5 to 2 aircraft. Craptastic! RAND policy pieces non-withstanding, let's note that the estimated F-35 R&D costs that Mizokami uses (and we will watch these estimates as they become 'real') are running about 2 times that of the 1977-era's F-16 R&D costs when adjusted for inflation. That seems pretty reasonable, considering the F-16 is the cheapest of the 'Big three' aircraft designs (F-16, F-18C/D, AV-8B) whose capabilities drove the requirements for the F-35 design.

Even the F-16 as we know it today involves much more content and cost as Mizokami indirectly acknowledges than that of the 1977 F-16, so how about we consider all the additional ‘content’ the F-16 now has that it didn’t have in 1976-77? What was the later ‘development cost added’ that came with the later ‘value added’? We can't compare apples and apples directly, but we can get an idea about unit costs at least . In 2012, it was said that the F-16V would be less than half the “then” cost (Richard Aboulafia) of the F-35. Anyone remember the 2012 F-35 unit cost? It was $125-150M a copy depending upon who’s chart you’re looking at in whatever FY$’s being discussed. (see charts lifted from's voluminous archives to the left) That would make the F-16V somewhere in the $60M-70M range in 2012 dollars. Guess what that is in 2015 dollars? Go ahead do the calculations). That's right. the F-16V would probably cost $70M-$80M (Economy Cost) in 2015 dollars. Note that also does not include the same 'content' that comes on an F-35.




People who rail about F-35 costs fall into one or more of three camps:

1. The willfully ignorant or gullible who’ll fall for anything.
2. The liars who have their own agendas
3. The internet's village idiots.

Enough about dollars. How about some history instead of Mizokami's stories?

RE: "Like the F-35, the F-16 had problems with its engine and also had to be modified to placate U.S. allies who wanted a fighter capable of air-to-ground missions, a real multi-role fighter."

1. The AF ALWAYS wanted the bells and whistles that were finally delivered with the first Block 30 F-16s. It wasn't the 'allies'. Don't believe me? Just look at what then recently retired Gen John Vogt who had commanded USAFE was saying about what was needed while the F-16 was in early development via a Euro 'Hit piece' from the period:
This rather poor documentary looks even sillier now than it did at the time, given the successes of the F-16 (airplane and program) that came soon thereafter. But it's value in illustrating how the stripped down version of the F-16, the day-time knife-fighter that the faux reformers wanted, was a politically driven, and not operational requirements-driven configuration endures. Of course, we could also simply review the history of the development to see the USAF always wanted more on board the F-16. This was made possible only by advancements in small electronics technology that then had to be developed for military aerospace. And TANSTAAFL.

RE: "The F-16 encountered months of delays, but the F-35 A/B/C models will, on average, be delayed half a decade."

'Delays' are a measure of the difference between 'time planned' and 'time scheduled' to reach some meaningful achievement. If you want to compare the F-16 development with the F-35's, then the baseline F-35 Block 3 will be achieved two years faster (with about 1600 fewer aircraft produced) than the F-16's Baseline Block 30. The biggest difference between the F-16 and F-35 programs is the differences in size of the initial 'brass ring' being sought.   

Finally, a minor nit to pick about the F-16 so-called 'engine problems'. If Misokami cared to do some research, he'd find that the problems never really affected the F-16 like the F-15, partially because of the installation, and partially because the F-15 was the lead user o the PW F100.

Misokami's story could have been a good one. In any case, if Mizokami read a little more widely, he would have known about this part of F-16 development 'history' over NINE Years ago.

Yes, that's right. All has proceeded as I have foreseen.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Law of Unintended Consequences and F-35 H8ers.

Hillarity ensues.

My apologies for not posting more, but I’m swamped with higher priorities and will continue to be for a while yet. There’s been a lot going on that I’d like to really get into the weeds on with some in depth posts. Those can sit for a bit without harm and I notice the internet seems to do just fine with most of the ‘news’ without me having to add my 2 cents worth. It does seem others often have things covered pretty well.

But here’s a little story breaking that I haven’t seen anyone pick up on yet….and it is just too delightful to let lay unnoticed and unloved.

Flashback to the A-10 Fanbois Faction whining up a delay in the A-10 ramp-down to retirement.

Then remember how the AF bluntly stated this delay will impact the F-35 by hindering the training-up of the maintenance force. (Those bodies gotta’ come from somewhere, y’ know.)

Recall how there’s a whole bowl of granola (what ain’t ‘flakes’ is ‘fruits and nuts’) trying to ‘stop’ the Vermont National Guard “Green Mountain Boys” from transitioning from the F-16 to the F-35. That Sprey-hosting crowd is currently pursuing a lawsuit that has so far soundly lost every court challenge, but they keep appealing their ‘lost’ cause. They even snookered a local city into helping subsidize their antics and they just asked for and received even MORE ‘joe public’ money. (How do most of the citizens feel about that ongoing rent-seeking, eh?
Enter last week’s unsurprising announcement that the F-35 will be based at Eielson AFB (well OK, many Canadians were probably shocked because they’ve been told for years that the F-35--or any single engine fighter--isn’t any good at operating over vast expanses of cold nothingness). Buried on metaphorical Page 2 of that Eielson announcement has the AF accelerating the deployment of F-35s to the Green Mountain Boys at their Burlington VT ANG base.
This, as you can imagine has the ‘Stop the F-35’ snowflakes in a very unhappy place.

So why is the AF accelerating the F-35 basing in VT?
“The accelerated timeline is intended to help the Air Force address a shortage of active-duty fighter aircraft maintenance workers, officials said.” (link)

Like I said, the bodies have to come from somewhere.
If the AF can’t transition the A-10s out of the fleet at the needed rate, that pretty much leaves the F-16’s having to speed up their conversion pace to make up for it.
Bottom Line: 'A-10-forever' Anti-JSF faction has hosed a 'NIMBY luddite' Anti-JSF faction.


BTW: The Green Mountain boys don’t fly out of a backwater grass strip in some idyllic mountain meadow. They fly out of the very nice and relatively busy Burlington Int’l Airport, where jetliners fly in and out with far greater frequency than the ANG does it's F-16s and soon to be F-35s.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Northrop Grumman's B-21 Bomber Concept Revealed

Newly released B-21 unclassified computer art? Deja Vu Baby!

The artist's concept revealed by the Air Force for the newly-revealed B-21 "bomber" (will that moniker survive or will it become something else when it is all said and done?) is "Deja Vu all over again". Cool.

Contrast the B-21 computer sketch just released:

...with the first artistic rendering of the B-2 for public release:

Someone has a sense of humor...and history.

Note the similarities between the two in what is obscured and what is revealed. Both illustrations mask the exhaust design completely and 'shadow' the aft window areas. The B-2's debut drawing had more details shown for the intakes, but there may not be any details to be masked in the B-21's design....or some interesting details left out perhaps?

Both illustrations give ZERO indication of what the underside shape or volume may be. The B-2's leading edge rendering gives a hint to what had become one of its most critical design features: the 'toothpick' leading edge (P.64). I do see something that I find kind of surprising in the B-21 illustration (not going to say what it is until maybe after I talk to some folks) but I wonder now if there's a critical design feature hinted at here that will only come out in time just like the B-2's 'toothpick'?

I'll let our potential enemies' minds boggle over the possibilities. I'll also just enjoy the possibility that the data from original B-2 high-altitude design optimization seems to have come in handy for Northrop Grumman in preparing their winning design.

Minor Snickers

1. So much for all that cranked-kite speculation eh?
2. The conspiracy nuts are going to have a field day with the revelation there has been no prototypes built.    

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

LRS-B Contract Award to Northrop Grumman Found to be Correct

Which means the protest was found not too valid. Hooray for sanity!
Read about it here.
Ignore the grossly incompetent journalistic failure in the last paragraph. Laura just forgot to ctl-alt-desnark at the end.

Update @ 22:56 Central: The Defense News piece I linked to has since been updated. the offending paragraph I was referring to is no longer last. It read in (offending) part, with the offending bit highlighted:
The timing of the news raised questions about implications to the protest decision, but the Air Force maintained that the official, Richard Lombardi, was not involved in the LRS-B source-selection process and was not the service acquisition executive at the time. The Air Force reassigned Lombardi to duties outside the acquisition portfolio and referred the issue to the Inspector General.
It is a known and verifiable fact that Lombardi was not the responsible "service acquisition executive" at the time. It is known that he was brought in as the responsible executive's replacement, and we know who Lombardi replaced by name and when. Lara Seligman (or her editor) needs to save the 'maintained' verb for unverified assertions.
As to maintaining Lombardi was not involved in the source selection at all, we know 'you can't prove a negative', but you can at least research your subject to get a feel for the probability or possibility that something IS or IS NOT true. For example, I may maintain Lara doesn't strangle puppies for entertainment in her leisure time, but a modicum of research on my part would probably prove it to be VERY UNLIKELY, and therefore not worth mentioning.      

Monday, February 15, 2016

GAO's LRS-B Findings Tomorrow?

Tomorrow was the planned release of the GAO's findings on Boeing's LRS-B contract protest. It technically is two days later than the required timeframe/due date, but the deadline was on Sunday and today was a Federal holiday. Will the tempest-in-a-teapot over someone's second-hand ties to a Northrop (or Northrop Grumman) pension that emerged last week delay the announcement? I think it would be pretty silly for it to cause delays, since the person involved had nothing to do with the source selection: he was THAT guy's replacement AFTER the selection was made.

But we live in the 'stupid era' and lawyers are involved. 

What wouldn't have raised an eyebrow a couple of decades ago will set off a storm of controversy because...well because the coddled, noisy elements of society are particularly ignorant and easily manipulated these days and soapboxes have never been so cheap.

Standing by......

FYI: GAO's findings, whatever they are, are not binding on the DoD. But if the DoD wants to go against them, it will require varying degrees of political capital to be spent. Should be interesting... if it is not boring...when the news is finally let out.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

LRS-B Cost Story Not Really About LRS-B

DefenseNews has a young posse of correspondents that are pretty hapless when it comes to analysis, but they still manage to do some actual reporting from time to time. If you can stand having to read around the speculation, hearsay, and opinions coming from the usual anti-defense sources who seem to feed DefenseNews and most other D.C. media outlets, you can pick up some odd useful stuff.

... In last year’s budget request, the Air Force included about $12.6 billion in its research, development, technology and evaluation account for the next-generation bomber from FY17 through FY20, according to official budget documents. But for the same time period, the service’s FY17 funding profile for LRS-B is about $9.1 billion – a significant drop of about $3.5 billion.  
Budget observers took to Twitter Tuesday after the initial budget rollout to lambaste the Air Force for cutting resources for the bomber. However, the reduction simply reflects the service’s updated cost estimate for the program since awarding a contract to Northrop Grumman Oct. 27, Air Force deputy for budget Carolyn Gleason told reporters Tuesday at the Pentagon. ...

Now the real news here isn't that the estimated program cost dropped nearly 28% with better newer data, or that some people over-reacted to the budget change and ASSUMED the worst.

The REAL story is:
  1. How much cost estimates can and do vary wildly depending upon assumptions made and external factors...even over short periods of time.
  2. No cost estimate involving the design and fielding of new technology in an unstable funding environment is any more 'REAL' than ANY other.
These two points should be kept in mind whenever one hears a cost estimate asserted in the press and is received as gospel. Many fonts of these estimates, such as Todd Harrison, who is now a go-to CSIS soundbite source, need to start assuming some mantle of humility in their cost and budget assertions, if only to at least PRETEND that someday they will be held accountable for their applying inconsequential knowledge to consequential things.

I submit that ALL such cost estimates should be prefaced from this day forward with...

 the 'Doc' Brown Disclaimer:


Thursday, February 04, 2016

10 years of Blogging

I know, I know. Lately I've been on my longest hiatus ever.

I needed the downtime after spending most of the non-holidays in November and December closing out a 4 year project-from-hell, and am still wrapping up the paperwork in the aftermath. But I hope to return to 'normal' blogging as of today, with some posts that close out old series and try to introduce some new topics, staying with the more substantial topics if I can resist the urge to swat intellectual flies.

I can't imagine how other people have lasted as long as a decade doing this stuff at the rates of posting I've witnessed and I marvel at their productivity (and in some cases wonder what in the h*ll could they fit into their lives other than blogging). It can be a grind if you let it be. But while the emphasis here may shift, I shall attempt to 'endeavor to persevere'.

Next up: DOT&E's 2015 Annual F-35 Report: A User's Guide

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Faux Reform's Camel Already Has Her Nose Under the LRS-B Tent

The Faux Reform Crowd are hilariously heavy-handed. May it ever be so.

Embedded in the bottom in an otherwise very fine article at Breaking Defense about Northrop Grumman winning the LRS-B contract we find this nugget from Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA):
“We need to keep the Long-Range Strike Bomber on track and hold the Pentagon to its promise of delivering a tested, reliable airplane for $550 million a copy [in 2010 dollars],” Speier said in a statement. “The Rapid Capabilities Office has made some good decisions to use proven technology and accept the recommendations of independent weapons testers and auditors in their development process. But there are warning signs, including a clerical discrepancy that resulted in a $16.7 billion misreporting error to Congress.”
(I suspect this and the oblique 'emerging critics' reference early in the piece were Sidney's contribution. He likes to cite politicians as if they are soothsayers.)

LOL! Well THAT didn't take long. 

A clerical error, in only one of many documents, on a number everyone knew beforehand, and was corrected as soon as it was noticed, after being so out of place it was noticed quickly is a 'warning sign'? I got Jackie's warning sign for her right here: It's called the revolving door between faux military reform operations and Prog legislators teamed in a pernicious self-licking ice cream cone with Punk Journalists That IS the "Faux Reform Message Machine".
I could take these people if they were honest with their arguments, but if they were honest with their arguments they couldn't stand the laughing.
Mmmmmmm. #SmellsLikePogo

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Twisting F-35 Factoids to Spread Untruth? I Smell POGO

The F-35 Ejection Seat Non-Story Self-Implodes on its Own Ignorance and/or Deception

Alternate Subtitle: “Do I now have to start checking my Twitter feed more than once a month or so?”

Back on the 15th, the faux military ‘reform’ F-35 Ejection Seat narrative got a boost in circulation when it hit the Political website ‘Roll Call’. The author clearly didn’t understand what was or was not important on the subject of ejection seats, and quite frankly, the story RC was pedaling wouldn’t hold up to even the most casual review by anyone who has ever been AIS (A**-in-Seat) in one while “slipping the surly bonds”… or worked on or around them while on the ground…or worked/trained in aircraft safety or reliability. When the meme first emerged in a DefenseNews story on October 1, I thought at the time that the story’s timing and meme might be a POGO aka ‘Straus Military Reform’ disinformation piece. Given the machinations to keep the ‘story’ going in spite of its idiocy being proffered, I am now even more convinced of same.

This post WAS going to be a straightforward point-by-point ‘fisking’ of the faux F-35 seat story as breathlessly reported at Roll Call, but the story became so bizarre in the spreading of it—and the speed of it--that the story had pretty much fisked itself before I could take the time to do it for you.

Does Ignorance or Ideology Inhibit Defense Reporting?

Yes. Next question?

I didn’t (still don’t) have time to completely disabuse all of the people who reported all of this drivel as ‘revelation’. At most it could be called a ‘realization’...that those reporting are ignoramuses when it comes to system and flight safety, fighter aircraft design, risk management, and apparently ‘technology’ in general. 

The author of the Roll Call piece linked above got the bit in his teeth over the other ‘story’ linked to above that was first written up by an seemingly earnest 'noob' at Defense News named Lara Seligman and a guy named Aaron Mehta.
Mehta is someone I’ve had on my ‘faux military reform’ radar for a little while. Mehta’s moved from being someone who produces shaky policy pieces for a so-called ‘good government’ non-profit attempting to influence defense policy to now 'reporting' often on non-profit policy pieces posing as news in defense media.

Where's Mehta fit in? Where does Donnelly? We'll have to just keep watching for now.
 The creative use, abuse, and misinterpretation of what the facts in hand (and those missing) ‘mean’ are what makes the whole F-35 Ejection Seat/Helmet ‘story’ reek of the typical output that comes from the POGO/Straus ‘P.A.C.E.’ generator. While one might get the same writing result that we've seen simply by not knowing WTF one is writing about, one wouldn’t then subsequently double-down on the stupidity when called out on it in the comments. If you count the incremental updates to DefenseNews articles along with the subsequent new stories there and elsewhere, you could make a case for the faux military reform message machine having ‘triple-quadruple-downed’ as the participants have progressively dug their rhetorical heels in on ‘THE STORY!’.

The Roll Call 'Story'

As good a place as any to begin deconstructing the idiocy spreading around the web is with John M. Donnelly’s 19 October Roll Call piece. My favorite hyperbolic bit in the Roll Call ‘story’, one that pretty much defines the nature of the 'journalistic' problem we are dealing with was:
“…pilots are rotated backward into a position where they face all but certain death from the rocketing parachute's force snapping their heads…”.

Ahem. Philosophical Fighter Safety Tip O’ the Day:
IF you are ejecting, you are already facing “all but certain death”.
Anyhooo… I tweeted in a couple of places that this story smells like POGO, and then posted this comment over at
I may find the time to go into more detail on this someplace else, but there are several notable things about this story, and none of them have to do with what is being said right now.
The first thing is that none of the numbers being tossed about indicate what the DIFFERENCE is between legacy (including ACES II) systems and the F-35's MB seat. ALL ejections have serious risks involved which is why they generally only occur when the aircrew determine the risks of staying onboard are greater. 
The second thing is that the some of the lower concern weights are outside ANY measured probability of survivability for ANY legacy systems. Those seats were for a much narrower percentage of body shapes and sizes.
The third thing is that unlike legacy systems, the F-35 seat is designed for a 'kinder-gentler' ejection to make the seat safer for women of ANY weight at ALL ejection speeds. The greater S-curve of the female spine makes it more prone to 'snapping' with the more violent extraction of older seats. So this also means the average male pilot cannot leave the plane as fast as he used to even if it is more advisable....because EQUALITY!

The last thing I have time to talk about here is that this non-story had all the feel of a POGO fueled P.A.C.E. attack. And I suspect it now even more after checking the self-licking ice cream cone at play in Donnelly's Twitter feed.
Only thing missing is the likely e-mail, phone call or text that POGO's "Straus" operation fed him in the first place. I created a hashtag for this kind of crap. If you tweet (I've only played with it) and find this story elsewhere, retweet with #SmellsLikePOGO or #SmellsLikePogo (I covered both punctuations JIC).
I had tweeted Roll Call’s Donnelly piece thusly:

Little did I suspect at the time that Donnelly would even bother replying with:

Which I only know about from the e-mail notification. For by the time I noticed the email and followed the feed, Donnelly's response had-- oddly enough--'morphed'.

It’s always nice to have context to subvert an anti-defense faux-reform meme handed to you with the meme.

My first thought from the initial RC response was: Hey! I know that statistic—I HAVE the report it came from (a DoD IG report #2015-090).

My second thought was:
He should probably have somebody explain it to him. Somebody who knows something this time.
The IG report referenced in the tweet that was dumped down in the memory-hole  IS EXTREMELY helpful, but probably NOT in the spirit in which it was invoked.
The report has some great background and references, most of them are publicly accessible. This stuff is useful for several reasons addressing problems with the false 'F-35-Ejection-Seat-as-Greek-Tragedy' narrative in several areas.

First,collectively the documents are of great benefit to help us scope the magnitude of the ‘Ejection Safety’ question itself.
Secondthe report clearly identifies the expected performance and ejection limitations of existing ACESII and NACES seat systems for a variety of aircraft when using helmets with just some of the devices and capabilities that are already built into the F-35’s helmet. Per the report, the ejection safety performance of existing systems (Pgs. 14-16) turns out be at best equal and in some ways worse than the F-35 system with the F-35 helmet design: as it now exists.
Legacy systems cannot now, nor have they EVER been able to support use by an aircrew member weighing less than 136lb, so the fact that the F-35 system won’t either at the moment--while it is still in development--is hardly a scandal or even 'news'. It would be ‘news’ for about 5 minutes if it looked like it couldn’t be done, then I suppose someone could turn it into a ‘scandal’ if there was evidence of no wrongdoing being wrong-done.
But there isn’t any indication of same, so…………where’s the story? Going beyond the small aircrew restrictions common to all the modern systems, is there any 'there' there that makes the F-35 ejection system unnecessarily more dangerous than legacy systems? The DoD IG report provides some dreaded context ought to send the purveyors of Too Dangerous F-35 Ejection meme scurrying. Not that it will, just that it ought to.

Per the IG Report, one current ejection system combination (Pg. 17) has a lower maximum safe ejection speed limit than the F-35’s current limits. We also learn The Air Force is working on certifying a new ACES system that will probably be retrofitted into legacy systems, and quite frankly it wouldn’t surprise me to find out in the future that this faux ‘issue’ isn’t also being promoted in one way or another by unidentified promoters of the improved ACES system. Don't know if there are such forces at work, just know it wouldn't be surprising given the specifics of the DefenseNews unnamed 'expert' statements.

Third, the DoDIG report provides very important references where we find ejection survivability standards and it places terms like ‘serious risk’ and ‘unacceptable risk’ within some actual framework of meaning. Perhaps the most important key paragraph for slapping down this whole F-35 ejection risk scare-fest is found in the last paragraph of page 16 of the DoD IG report:

Using MIL‑STD‑882E, which defines the safety risk acceptance process and assuming that a major or fatal injury would be designated as a catastrophic consequence, the probability of occurrence would be identified as a 1D (catastrophic/remote). This level of risk is usually accepted by the program management office; in this case the aircraft Program Executive Offices.

The PEO for the F-35 has accepted the risks for pilots weighing more than 136lbs. Those familiar with the risk assessment and risk management processes can probably envision what the categorization "1D" actually stands for, but it will be helpful to place it in proper context for the rest of the world by showing why and how ejection risks and category "1D" are positioned among all the other categories within the System Safety construct.

Here is Mil-Std-882E (current release) Table 1: Severity Categories.
Since an ejection can ALWAYS result in ‘death’. There can only be ‘Cat 1 Severity’ involved in ANY ejection. So the next variable of interest for us is now within the probability side of the equation. As seen in Table 2 from the same Mil-Std-882E we find:
So then, what else COULD any ejection be other than a Level D category of probability?

Answer: There isn't one. 

Each ejection seat gets one ride outside the airplane, and each airplane only gets one ejection maximum in its lifetime (duh!). You can’t say you can assume it will never happen, and you sure as he** don’t design airplanes such that ejection system use would be ‘likely’.

Bottom Line: Category 1D is both the best you can do, and the worst you can accept for any ejection system.

This means there is always “Serious Risk” (as the Mil-Std-882E matrix above shows) involved in ANY use of any ejection system. Since it is always true, then it is hardly ‘news’ is it? (But 'Serious Risk!' DOES make a great punk-journalism hook for a politically fueled “hit piece”, eh?)

If you want to get really silly about it...

We could drill down even further into the data available, and ignore the fact that the F-35 ejection system is still being ‘worked’ to make it as safe as it possibly can be (the ‘requirement’ remember?). If one is so desperate to find an F-35 controversy that one would now debase themselves wallowing in the minutia and splitting hairs about WHERE in Category 1D the F-35 system currently lies relative to the legacy systems for pilots weighing more than 136 lbs, that’s easy enough to do to get an idea if they are at least of the same order of magnitude.

Assuming Gen Bogdan’s statement in testimony this week where he said that every time a pilot steps to the plane his risk of neck injury during ejection is “1 in 200,000” meant he was saying a serious neck injury or death would occur (he could have meant even minor neck injury), and that an average mission would be an hour long, this is how it stacks up against the AVERAGE legacy numbers the the DoD IG came up with for many different aircraft for the Navy (F-18 variants) and the Air Force (listed in report on page 6), then the comparison would look sort of like this:

There’s a lot of ambiguity in the figures in the report that prevent any direct comparison of history with any future risk calculations. First, these legacy numbers from the IG report are DoD IG calculations from 20 years of ejection history: they are the 'rates experienced' and not the product of a statistical analysis of all the risk factors involved.

We must also assert quite a few important caveats for using these numbers in any comparison to be made against future risks. Off the top of my head, some of them are:
1. The DoDIG numbers are ‘averages’ for many different aircraft/seat/headgear combinations, so there will be a range of values for each aircraft type by user within the average provided that we have no visibility into as to variations within the sample set and what if any correlations exist that would affect any comparison with other data. Just look at the variance between USAF and USN numbers for an example of variance even within the history.
2. The number of events--even over twenty years--is extremely small given the flight hours flown. If like a pair of dice is rolled for one outcome, even if the next ‘roll’ could be made under identical conditions, it probably would have quite a different numerical outcome, just not one that varied in any statistically-significant way. For an ejection, the factors are many, the combinations and permutations are astronomical. You should expect gross numbers to vary grossly.
3. The number of ejections that occurred over the past 20 years, the type and combinations of injuries and causes include those ‘induced’ for reasons other than the system performance, including human error, and all of them occurred in a combination of operational environments and event conditions that cannot be exactly replicated. The future will be different. We can only guesstimate by how much.     
4. These numbers are very small, and official risk analysis yields similarly other very small probabilities. Any time we are dealing with very small ‘long-tail’ probabilities it is important to remember the confidence in those same probabilities goes down. I suspect this is the reason that one comment from the Air Force System Lifecycle Management Center (pg. 33) that asserted the past could be used to predict future ejections was not included in the report (not just journalists have problems with statistics).
There's more but I don't want to belabor the point for the small return on the effort. Now remember we also don't know the actual number Bogdan was referring to with that nice round 1 in 200,000 probability, and what the actual boundaries are of the phenonema falling under his defintion. I suspect the number he used included minor neck injuries as well since he flatly stated 'neck injuries', but even assuming the worse, the round prediction number Bogdan used falls somewhere between the USN and USAF 'major injury or death' categories for all forms of injury that occurred in the past.

We just went through a lot of la-di-da navel gazing just to observe that 'yes the predictions and the history of risk appear to be about the in the same 6th significant digit order of magnitude'. Any bets there still will be people who will try to claim the variation between the two is 'significant'? There's always somebody. Tell them get all the numbers they need to actually conclude something, but until then to STFU.     

Bogdan Testimony Sidebar: FYI and BTW, the Congresswoman asking LtGen Bogdan the fumbling question about survival odds and who introduces the news 'report' claims that we've been dealing with here into the hearing is none other than the current POGO/Straus Military Reform Project director's last employer. Rep. Jackie Spieirs (D-CA) had employed Mandy Smithberger as a staffer just prior to Smithberger returning to POGO/Straus to take over the reins from good ole' Winslow Wheeler. That would appear to very nicely close the loop on the Scary F-35 Ejection story's purpose and intent. Just another reason this Smells Like POGO. I want to know more about the 'revolving door' operation being run out of POGO, don't you?

Fourth and finally, the DoD IG report itself, released just earlier this year, makes the VERY important and explicit point about not ‘evaluating’ the F-35’s ejection system at this time because it is still under development. A point that apparently NONE of the handwringers so far has thought was important enough to give them pause in their little 'group writing project'.

If Schrödinger had been a fighter pilot, we would have never heard about his cat.

Now, here we are in the warm-afterglow of the sub-committee hearings, and the meme being pedaled seems to have shifted to journalists and progressive pols know more about ejection risk, and risk in general than those who do this stuff for a living'. Which is extremely funny. 

The critical phenomenon under examination is not the probability of an aircrew surviving an ejection once initiated. It is the probability of an aircrew surviving the mission, each and every mission. The probability of surviving each and every mission means surviving an ejection as a subset of the critical phenonemon must involve at least TWO* probabilities.  The first is the probability you will need to eject in the first place, and the second probability is the probability you will or will not survive the ejection event. The second probability is called a 'conditional' probability. Neither the probability of survival or probability of perishing during an ejection actually exist (estimates are not 'existence') unless and until the need for ejection occurs in the first place. 
It is irrational to focus on the risks incurred only after an ejection is underway and ignore the probability of the need to eject. The probability of survival depends on both, and each are meaningless (to the pilot the most) without the other.      

*We can eliminate considering all prior variables if we assume the pilot gets in the plane and takes off in his ejection seat-equipped airplane in the first place.  

Any risks that are calculated (versus known or proven) and weighed as being acceptable or unacceptable are just a contributor to some overall aircrew survivability standard that cannot be exceeded. Within the overall survivability standard, the requirement is merely to design the plane to make the ejection as safe as possible, because as we have already observed, it is impossible to make it ‘safe’ in terms the average man-on-the-street envisions safety.

Bonus material

History Charts
I repackaged some of the ejection safety history found in the DoD IG report, just so I could look at it from different angles. Note the wide variety of the internal data between AF and Navy operations in the report affected how I viewed some of the rollup stats here. No conclusions to draw from it, just observations. Enjoy.

About that DoD IG report...
The report itself is a product of Congressional hand-wringing over HMD(evice) equipped helmets. The DOD IG’s “Objective” was to determine:
…whether DoD aircraft ejection seats meet aircrew survivability and equipment airworthiness requirements for pilots and aircrew wearing helmet‑mounted displays (HMDs), night vision goggles (NVGs), or both during flight operations.”
The important finding to this objective:
“DoD ejection seat equipped aircraft with aircrew wearing HMDs and/or NVGs meet airworthiness criteria in accordance with DoD Military Handbook 516B, “Airworthiness Certification Criteria,” (MIL‑HDBK‑516B) and have been certified safe‑to‑fly by the appropriate Navy and Air Force acceptance authorities. However, both Services noted that there is an increased risk of neck injury during high‑speed ejections with HMDs and/or NVGs above 450 Knots Equivalent Air Speed (KEAS), and an increased potential of neck injuries for low‑weight pilots. To mitigate these risks, both Services placed warnings, notes, cautions, and restrictions in the flight manuals.”
The rest is about ‘updating the paperwork’, philosophical questions about the flexibility to operate in a responsive manner under handbooks and guides vs. one-size fits all mandates, etc.

The really interesting thing in the report is the back and forth between the agencies involved. The report is better with the responses incorporated, and one can see where the IG report would have gone awry without those responses. It is interesting to see what responses were incorporated, and which were not. There were a few points the safety guys made that the IG report authors blew off (best one: people rarely have time to remove devices from existing helmet systems when required for ejection.) 

There are some odd turns of the phrase in the report as well. Things like "unfortunately" there not being any lightweight pilots who have had to eject in the last 20 years.

Additional reading:
In any of the media reporting on F-35 and other helmet weights, the subject of how that weight is distributed rarely comes up, yet the effect on the balance of helmet when devices are attached is a very important factor (See here and here for examples) and the F-35 helmet design has a far better weight distribution than legacy systems and is therefore more ‘comfortable’. This better balance would suggest the F-35 helmet is a probably a safer helmet at the same weight and possibly even at a slightly higher weight than legacy systems. Time and data will tell.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Dave Majumdar's F-35 'Punk Journalism'...Again

Whereby 'boy journalist' double downs on David Axe's 'Dogfight' B.S, ignores reality and dances around Libel in just a few paragraphs. 

But hey! Its always fun to watch someone debase themselves for pennies a word right?...right? 
Today, Dave Majumdar, once a promising aero reporter, apparently needed some rent money. Why else would he fabricate another F-35 click-bait hit piece for the lower-brow crowd, (update: the Punk is now the 'Defense Editior' of the digital rag) rehashing the pap that David Axe used to set off a disinformation cascade? Now I could spend all night Fisking Majumdar's craptastic article to include "27 8x10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence" but there's only a couple of things worth my time, nailing Dave to the wall, that should cast the rest of his 'pap' under the proper spotlight. The first is his apparent (willful?) inability to discern information from 'spin':    
Meanwhile, proponents of the F-35—primarily Lockheed Martin and the JSF program office (JPO)—tried to dismiss the results—aggressively calling out the War is Boring outlet by name. The company and the Pentagon claimed that the tests were not truly representative because the F-35 test article involved in the trial versus the F-16 was not equipped with a full set of avionics, didn’t have its stealth coatings, and did not use the jet’s helmet-mounted display and, moreover, was not equipped to simulate high off-boresight missiles like the AIM-9X Sidewinder. Besides, the F-35 was designed to fight from long-range—the JPO and Lockheed claimed.Both sides of the debate are correct—but neither side is telling the whole story. As a good friend on the Hill recently told me: “In political communications, facts are an interesting aside, but are completely irrelevant. What we do here is spin.” That’s exactly what’s happening here—both sides are selectively cherry picking facts to make their case—spin.

Dave...Tell your 'friend' to F.O.A.D.

"Tried to dismiss the results" Dave? Facts are not "an interesting aside" to people who design and build weapon systems.  What the JPO and LM responded with was 'The Truth'. It was a post-stall agility test, testing for areas where it might be worthwhile to 'open up' the control laws (CLAWs) and was not a 'dogfight'. 

The Testing in Question was Described Ahead of Time Last Year 

Not only was what the JPO/LM response the TRUTH, it was one that was KNOWN and in the public domain the year BEFORE the test ever occurred and therefore it is also a delightfully 'provable' truth. I buried the lede with this point in an earlier post, but I recreate an excerpt here:  
From the 2014 AIAA paper "F-35A High Angle-of-Attack Testing"[1], authored by a Mr. Steve Baer, (Lockheed Martin "Aeronautical Engineer, Flying Qualities" at Edwards AFB), and presented to the Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Conference held between 16 and 20 June 2014, in Atlanta, Georgia we find that F-35 High AoA testing was designed to follow in the following progression:  
"The test objectives for high angle-of-attack testing are as follows:
1) Characterize the flyqualities [sic] at AoAs from 20° to the control law limit regime with operationally representative maneuvers.  
2) Demonstrate the aircraft’s ability to recover from out of control flight and assess deep stall susceptibility 
3) Evaluate the effectiveness and usefulness of the automatic pitch rocker (APR)  
4) Evaluate departure resistance at both positive and negative AoA with center of gravity (CG) positions up to the aft limit and with maximum lateral asymmetry.  
5) Assess the handling qualities of the aircraft in the High AoA flight."
Now, in case a 'punk journalist' or other factually-challenged reader wanders by (am I psychic or what?), we need to be clear that #5 has nothing to do with "dogfighting". We know this because Mr. Baer makes two points shortly thereafter within the paper. 
The first point is relevant to the state of the testing at the time of his writing. I observe that this paper was written during Objective #4 testing and published at about the time it concluded. This observation is supported by the paper's passage [emphasis/brackets mine]:

With intentional departure testing [Objective #4] wrapped up, the team will soon move into departure resistance [Still Objective #4] and plan to remove the SRC now that these systems have been verified. In this phase of testing, the jet will test the CLAW limiters with much higher energy and rates than previous testing, fleshing out and correcting areas that may be departure prone. Lastly, select operational maneuvers [Objective #5], such as a slow down turn and a Split-S, will be used to gather handling qualities data on high AoA maneuvers. With the completion of this phase, the F-35 will be released for initial operational capability in the high AoA region.

Note: 'SRC' is a 'Spin Recovery Chute'.
Clearly the testing was not yet at step #5 at the time of writing but to emphasize same, the author followed the above paragraph with [brackets/emphasis mine]: 
While the flight test team will explore legacy high AoA maneuvers for handling qualities, it will be the Operational Test and Evaluation team that will truly develop high AoA maneuvers for the F-35. In the operational world, a pilot should rarely be taking the F-35 into the high angle-of-attack regime, but the ability to do so could make the difference between being the victor or the victim in air-to-air combat....
So with this paragraph, not only does the author expound on the exploring of "legacy high AoA maneuvers" that is to come, he specifically identifies Objective 5 test "Handling Qualities" objectives and assigns the kind of testing that will "truly develop high AoA maneuvers for the F-35" (vs. 'legacy' which may be differed 'from') to the Operational Testers and NOT part of the Edwards AFB Developmental Test Team activities.
In a nutshell, just within these two paragraphs that Baer wrote in early/mid 2014 is precisely what the JPO/LM stated in their official response to Axe's so-called 'article'. 
Therefore the "reasonable man" may logically and confidently conclude the LM/JPO response:
  • WAS NOT simply something that was contrived in response to Axe's made up bullsh*t but...
  • WAS accurately asserting what the testing was truly about..
Go ahead Dave, spring the few bucks to buy a copy from the AIAA. Have someone with the requisite knowledge explain it to you.
Majumdar's incompetence takes him into another reprehensible act, whereby he uses David Axe's idiotic output as the justification for insinuating Billie Flynn lied to him:
The company has repeatedly made assertions about the F-35’s performance that have later proven to be false. One example I can cite immediately is when Lockheed test pilot Billie Flynn told me how a fully laden F-35 has better high AOA performance and acceleration than all comers save for the F-22. The test report that David Axe managed to obtain clearly shows Flynn’s assertions to be false. 
Nice one. Does 'Majumdar' mean 'A**hat' in English? Aside from the fact Majumdar implies Flynn is a liar, there's also the comparatively minor commission of a non-sequitur to boot.  

The rest of Majumdar's 'article' is crap too, just not worth bothering with in light of the above affronts to reality. A 'great' day for aero journalism, eh?

[1] AIAA #2014-2057

Sunday, September 06, 2015

“Fighter Aircraft” Design Part 2: Driven by Operational Requirements

Most important characteristics of a fighter aircraft?...It depends upon ‘when’ you ask the question

(Part 1 here)

Updated and Bumped: Part 2 is now complete.

Before any discussion about whether or not a fighter is ‘good enough’ to be an ‘effective’ and therefore ‘successful’ fighter design, there has to be a discussion on WHAT makes a fighter aircraft design effective and successful in the first place. While many may think they know the ‘magic mix’ that makes a fighter design a good one, the problem with the ‘many’ thinking they ‘know something’ is that the ingredients, and to be more precise, the mix of ingredients have been evolving continuously under pressure of technological and operational developments that span the entire history of fighter design. As I indicated in Part 1, for this part of the series we will use “The Characteristics of a Fighter Aircraft”, a 1977 paper by Prof. Gero Madelung to guide us through fighter development into the 1970s. At the time of his preparing this paper, Prof Madelung was the Managing Director of Panavia, the company formed expressly to develop and build the Panavia Tornado aircraft.

The First ‘Characteristic’ Emerged Quickly

Prof. Madelung tells the history of fighter development in terms of the development and application of technology in response to the operational requirements over time, beginning with the first ‘challenge’ that had to be overcome (all text in [brackets] throughout this post are mine):
The initial generation of fighter aircraft (in W.W.I) had first to solve the problem of developing an effective armament, the art of maneuvering flight having been provided by the Wright Brothers only a few years earlier. The unarmed early airplanes were nevertheless providing effective reconnaissance and were as such already "fighters”. The Wright Brothers thus delivered probably also the world’s first actual fighter to the U.S. Army Signal Corps. The "armed fighter" was only a reaction to an earlier airborne threat [Zeppelins] to the land and naval forces.
The initial armament by hand-held guns was soon overtaken by the aircraft-mounted machine gun, but it was difficult for the pilot to control the airplane with one hand and to point the gun with the other, especially if a propeller in the front was in the way of the natural line of sight.
The solution of taking a weapons operator or "gunner" along was detrimental to the fighter’s rate of climb and speed. The other solution of reverting to a "pusher installation'' of the engine also resulted in a heavier airplane.
The truly ingenious solution was that of firing through the tractor-propeller with a rigidly mounted gun and to accurately point and aim by controlling the direction of flight and attitude of the aircraft. The propeller was protected first by local armour and later by a synchronizing system.
This system was, I believe, invented by R. Garros of France in 1915, met instant success and set a pattern which is still
[as of 1977] valid. I am recounting this well known history because I believe that it really started the fighters as a special breed of airplanes.
Prof. Madelung further observed that the thrust of fighter design for the next two decades appeared to be maximizing the fighter’s “1g SEP” (Specific Excess Power) or Rate of Climb to get higher than your opponents as a priority over other parameters, which drove increasing engine horsepower by an order of magnitude (10 times the WWI horsepower ratings) during that time while increasing weight only by a “factor of 3.5”. The size of the aircraft changed little during this period and most were sized around the pilot it would carry.  Prof Madelung observed that the aerodynamics of the aircraft were held “subordinate” to structural load-carrying considerations,  which meant that external bracing, and fabric covering over wood and steel tubing structure remained the norm.
To summarize this era, we find that (aside from getting as much climb performance out of the spindly early fighter designs) the single dominant characteristic of a fighter during this rather extended timeframe was ‘a machinegun aligned to the direction of flight’.
The alignment of gun and plane simplified the attacker’s problem of ‘attack geometry’ by reducing the variables involved. This simplification of the problem enabled the fighter pilots of the era to methodically plot and execute a path of attack, within some predictable level of certainty, that would at least enable him to fire his gun(s) in a direction that would place bullets on target.

Aerodynamics, Propulsion and Structural Design Matures

Prof. Madelung continues:
By the early 30's however the designers of airliners and bombers started to really apply aerodynamics including retractable landing gears and combined this with higher wing loadings and stress-skin aluminum structures. They were outspeeding the contemporary fighters which did only about 230 mhp [sic] with an engine of 600 hp. The fighter community had to react since it could not justify its existence for long by pointing out how excellent they remained in fighting their own kind. This started a revolution in fighter requirements and for the next 25 years these were reoriented towards excelling in maximum speed. It also started the introduction of mechanical complexity with all sorts of variable geometry features: retractable landing gear, hydraulic system, flaps and slats - soon used as maneuver devices, cooling flaps and variable pitch propellers.
The first fighter coming -very close to this new concept in 1939 was, I believe, the Russian Polikarpov “Rata”, which was only lacking the aluminum stress-skin and the closed canopy. In the following year appeared the ME-109 and the Curtiss P-36 followed shortly by the Spitfire… …all of which had without much increase in engine power a speed advantage of some 30% over the previous fighters. Early combat encounters proved the superiority of the new design
[approach] despite its higher wing loadings.
Complexity Drives Engineering Costs.
(Pg 20)

So it was the advancements in larger aircraft design that drove a “revolution” in fighter aerodynamics and structural design before WWII. Ever-increasing speeds in turn drove increased complexity of systems and structures to achieve those speeds and control the aircraft at those higher speeds. Implied here is also the fact that to fly faster, the aircraft also had to fly higher as well.  As an illustration of the kind of investment in time and money the increase in complexity required, we need look no further than the relative engineering costs that came with technology changes of the era. Where we find that by the time airframe construction techniques moved to widespread use of monocoque construction, aircraft engineering costs were approximately 2 ¼ times higher than for an aircraft in the ‘wood and fabric’ days.

If there is a recurring theme in this history, it is that requirements have, and do, drive complexity. That complexity has impacted design in different ways over time, including (in general) an increase in wing-loading as a by-product of the necessary complexity. We will see that the trend persisted to at least up until the F-15/F-16 era.

The Jet Fighter Arrives

Madelung now tells us that the constantly increasing ‘need for speed’ made the next pivotal point in fighter design recognizable beforehand:
Once the philosophy of maximizing fighter speed had been accepted, it was soon recognized that propulsion by propellers (and reciprocating engines) would be limiting this to some 450 mph. [propeller efficiency plummets as tip speed approaches the speed of sound.] Work on the first jet engines started at about the same time when the second generation fighters emerged, and took only 10 years, to the mid-40’s, to completely take over the propulsion of fighters. In this period the reciprocating engines were developed to high performance up to about 2800 hp and with turbo-supercharging for altitude performance.
Yet the first operational jet aircraft in 1944, the ME-262, immediately had a speed advantage of about 100 mph with two jet engines of only 2000 lbs thrust each. Relative to the fastest bomber, the B-29, the advantage was almost 200 mph. The airframe and aerodynamics of these first jet fighters were at that not really advanced over the contemporary aircraft apart from the thinner symmetric airfoil, tapered spar caps made of steel and a nose landing gear with a breaked
[sic] wheel. I was an apprentice at Messerschmitt when production of the ME-262 had started and I recall that the advent of the jet engine was welcomed as a move towards mechanically more simple fighters. The reciprocating engines with their increasing number of cylinders, already 48 cylinder engines were under discussion, their supercharging and their cooling system were getting increasingly more complicated. The jet engine had fewer moving parts and bearings, and the podded engine installation of the twin jet was mechanically very neat.
Madelung noted also that the new engines were not so ‘neat’ for the operators who had to learn a whole new way of managing their operation and power output. Today, FADEC-equipped jet engines are simpler to operate than many light sport propeller-driven aircraft.  The sudden jump in speed achievable by the jet engine performance drove fighter design right into the next technical developments that were necessary:
Again combat experience of the speed advantage was positive, despite another increase in wing loading. The associated disadvantage of requiring longer runways for these fighters was accepted by the Air Forces.
It was evident that further development of the jet engine would soon push the aerodynamic design concept to its mark under limit. The propulsion break-through was however followed by an aerodynamic breakthrough with the discovery of effect of wing sweep in the early 40’s. Again this technology reached the users first with fighter aircraft, that is with the F-86 and the Mig-15 in 1948. The speed was pushed right up to M 0.9, the limit of the thick swept wing, another step of about 160 mph.

Many people thought that fighter speed performance would settle for a while at that, and this may have been better in the long run…

However, the aviation world and in particular the fighter community, was in a speed craze and daring experimental airplanes in the U.S. had demonstrated by 1947 that the sonic barrier could be overcome by brute force and skillful design in terms of thrust, reduced wing thickness and powered control surfaces.
The increased thrust requirement could be met by the jet engine by reheat, which in turn required variable nozzles and resulted in additional complexity. Wing loading had to be further increased and so were the airfield requirements. Brake parachutes were required to shorten the landing run.

Speed Limits

Prof. Madelung’s wistfulness over increasing speeds and ‘paths not taken’ is recognition that the military utility of increasing top speed past a certain point in the end provided a smaller return on time and dollars invested than it was worth, but we didn’t know it at the time:
The fighter community lost its innocence [sic] at this stage and only the major military powers, the U.S. and Russia, entered this round in the early 50’s with the introduction into service of the NA-F100 and the Mig-19, one and a half years later. The thrust of these magnificant [sic] fighters was about 3 times that of their predecessors, their speed at Mach-1 .3 about 40% higher. The single engine, single seat F-100 had about twice the take-off weight of its predecessors, at 30000 lbs equal to the twin engine medium bomber "NA-62 [North American Aviation Project Number for the B-25] Mitchell" with a crew of 4 only 12 years earlier…
So Prof Madelung observed that, for the first time, the fighters’ size and weight due to the increasing complexity grew out of proportion with the speed increase. The increases in propulsion, structure, and systems complexity needed just to be able to fly at supersonic speeds drove the weight and size growth. Let us note here that as of this time in fighter development history that the ‘day-fighter’ sub-type was the norm for fighter design and that the need to make all fighters all-weather, 24-hour weapon systems was not yet the norm.
The aviation world of Britain, France and Sweden however followed suit with prototypes which were demonstrated in the mid 50’s, capable of Mach-2 and introduction into service of these fighters started 1958 to 1960. From the technology of the F-100 and the Mig-19 it was a matter of air intake development and further refinement of engine and airframe to reach the limit speed for aluminum airframes. The first fighter prototype to reach this limit was, I believe, the Lockheed F-104, with a thin unswept wing. A wing concept which was to gain prominence in future fighter designs, particularly in the U.S. "Mach-2" was to be the limit of the fighter communities’ speed craze and only special purpose aircraft, such as the Lockheed YF-12, SR-71 and the Mig-25,· were developed for yet higher speeds. The fighters which were developed in the :mid-50’s are however still now [1977] dominating in quantity in the world’s forces, and inflation makes these complex airplanes appear inexpensive relative to anything we do in the 70’s.

A Rebalancing

It would be hard to find a better illustration that all the handwringing these days over increased costs and complexity is not a ‘new’ sport and that things will always look simpler and less expensive in retrospect than what Prof. Madelung wrote here in 1977. He then discussed the state of fighter design drivers in the 1977 milieu:
The question arises why, having reached the “ultimate performance" in terms of speed, new fighter designs were actually required. It is not surprising that the requirements picture was at first hazy for the follow-on generation, the development of which only started toward the end-60’s sand early 70"s with one notable exception [AV-8 and STOVL].
The following new requirement areas were however becoming apparent:
1. In the late 50’s concern was mounting relative to the vulnerability" of fighter forces relying on these long 9000 ft runways...
2. Another new requirement which became important to the fighters in their fighter-bomber role was that of low level/high speed penetration. In fact, most of the early Mach-2 fighters are usable in this role due to their high wing loading. The F-104 with appropriate navigation equipment and plenty of external fuel is
[1977] still widely in service for this task, a task which is of particular importance in Central Europe. 
Under ‘area .2’, Prof Madelung discussed the technology developments that came out of this new requirement including “fan-jet engines with greatly improved fuel consumption and the terrain following radar system”. He also made a point to emphasize the importance of, a practical scheme for the variable sweep wing” that “allowed the retention of optimum high speed/low level dash performance with a gain in cruise performance at all altitudes and greatly improved air-field performance.” Prof Madelung continued:
3. Another new requirement which emerged in the late 60"s called for a better balance of performance in air-to-air combat. The high speed capability of the Mach-2 fighters of the mid-50’s turned out to be of little practical use as there were no bomber and recce aircraft flying at such speeds (apart from special purpose aircraft which. could not be intercepted anyway by a tactical fighter), and air-to-air combat could actually be sustained only in the lower transonic regime with these airplanes. A better balance of performance could be achieved mainly by a decrease in wing loading, which would provide for higher turn rates in the speed and altitude regime of dog-fights, at the expense of increased wetted surface and of a heavier airframe, i.e. trading rate of climb and low level dash performance. It is a tribute to aviation technology that the new generation of fighters actually improve also the latter two performance regimes while making a big step forward in turn rate and as a fallout in airfield performance.  
4. Finally the new fighters would require a "look-down" capability of the radars in their air-to-air role in order to be able to fight the low level intruders. …
So the trend shifted for the first time in decades to not a more ‘maneuverable’ and ‘balanced’ fighter design, once the practical upper limit of aircraft speed was reached:
The four U.S. designs, the F-14, F-15, F-16 and F-18 and the Viggen have low wing loadings (50 to 70 lbs/ft2·) to optimize turn rate. The latest three U.S. designs, the F-15, F-16 and F-18 have at the same time thrust to weight ratios in excess of one, resulting in a big step forward in dog-fight capability. They employ advanced materials including composites and very advanced engines. The latter two designs are introducing a new aerodynamic feature, the "strake", to improve the lift of the thin, unswept wings at high angles of attack. In the case of the F-15 this dog-fight capability is combined with fairly long range air-to-air missile intercept capability which results in a very big fighting machine, with a wing area of 650 ft2, as big as the F-14 fleet defence fighter….In Europe most of the forces have emphasized the requirements (1) and (2), that is low level/high speed penetration capability associated with excellent airfield performance. The defence environment of these countries requires instant and effective response, day and night and all weather in the land battle. The latest fighter engine technology with the magnificant [sic] thrust to weight of about 8.0 and variable sweep with considerable use of titanium were applied in the Tornado to improve payload-range by a factor of about two for this mission, and to cut runway requirements to 60%. This twin engine fighter with plenty of avionics, a crew of two and a wetted surface of only about 1850 ft2 is smaller than an F-4 Phantom, about in-between the big and new U.S. fighter with wetted surface of about 2800 ft2 and the small fighter of about 1400 ft2. At the same time this aircraft will provide first-class long range air-to-air capability with an air defence avionics fit and long range missiles. 

What Was to Come after 1977?

Prof. Madelung then ruminated on what would be the NEXT developments in fighter aircraft design, and as it happens he was largely prescient, foreseeing most developments that have since occurred or are emergent at this time, I see only one complete ‘miss’, a tail-sitting fighter did not come about. But that may have been due to the collapse of the Warsaw Pact as much as anything else. Who knows what would have happened otherwise? But I’d say he had an amazingly complete vision of what would be the major requirements that would drive those developments.
The outlook into the more fighter-specific areas is difficult because of the attendant operational trade-offs which depend upon projected structures of threat and friendly forces. The "haze'' obscuring the real future requirements is still very thick, apart from the broad scope of ECM, the air-to-ground weapons area and the requirement to reduce unit cost.
In any case it will be increasingly necessary to “destill"
[sic] the essentials for future combat effectiveness, rather than relying on the simple formulas like maximizing rate of climb or speed or turn rate. We have already seen two breaks in such simple and general formulas. The trade of quality versus quantity will remain most difficult.
Prof Madelung predicted increased use of the post-stall flight regime:
In fighter aerodynamics and control we will probably open up the post-stall regime for another increase in dog-fight maneuverability….
But he also saw under what conditions that post-stall maneuverability might not be so important: recognizing other development could obviate the advantage:
…As long as weapons remain installed in the classic fighter style requiring turning of the whole aircraft for pointing of the weapons, this post-stall maneuverability may also be of interest to other than dog-fight missions….
He recognized the potential of thrust vectoring in exploiting the post-stall maneuvering capability:
…Post-stall maneuvering will require some form of auxiliary control such as used on VTOL aircraft or missiles, for example by thrust vectoring. It will also require an air intake and engine suitable for angles of attack of 90°. Both techniques are basically available…
Project GunVal Concept: Cannon Turret on F-89.
The turret rotated and the guns elevated 90 degrees. Sanity
inserted itself before the system ever flew. (Northrop Photo)   
Madelung reluctantly (based upon past experiences) brings up the possibility of Off-Boresight Capabilities (OBC) AND helmet mounted sights:
…Another next generation fighter may be (the return of) some form of pointing the weapons other than by the pointing of the entire aircraft. I hesitate to put this forward since all earlier attempts involving some form of weapons-turret and a gunner have been failures when used on fighters. The fixed guns operated by the pilot have been a tremendous success due to the light weight and low volume and due to the accuracy of firing achieved with this installation. However the rate of pointing of the fixed weapons is slow, even a fighter with a turning rate of 18°/second will take some 6 seconds for 90° change of directions. Modern weapons installations on ships and cars will do 90° in less than one second. One approach to overcome this problem is to program, with the aid of a helmet sight, the projectile or missile to turn at very high “g” after being fired from a conventional fixed launcher. It may be rewarding to find a simple way of achieving this with a gun since this form or armament is still the most economic one.
Helmet Mounted Sights may not have required all that much of a leap in imagination given the then state of the art and the known initial goal of employing them on what would become the F-15, but taken in context of all his thoughts on the future it is still impressive that he thought them significant.

Stealth Was Seen as Too Hard for Aircraft

Madelung recognized the advantages of reduced RF and IR signatures, falling short in his vision only because he was not aware of the revolution in stealth that was underway as he spoke:
Yet another design feature may be that of reduced signature for radar and IR missiles. For a full-fledged fighter with all its other requirements these appear to me pretty difficult additional ones.However one should bear in mind the advantages of small aircraft size in this context as well as for reduced probability of visual detection and last but not least for a better chance of not being hit. The next generation of fighters should, and not only for these reasons, be of moderate size.As the control of UAVs by manned aircraft seems to be brought up more and more as ‘the future’ Prof. Madelung’s observations on the topic seem particularly ‘timely’:Finally this outlook has to cover the prospects of unmanned fighter aircraft: adding up all the interface design features which are required to allow the pilot to control an aircraft, as well as the features to provide for the appropriate environment and safety, a lot of sensors and computing capacity could be provided instead, using microprocessor technology. The ''cruise missiles" are paving the way in this direction and I expect that the fighter aircraft designers will have to take this development very serious. The manned fighter will have to concentrate on the more difficult tasks which cannot be readily programmed. One could imagine combined systems of manned fighters and unmanned aircraft like a hunting party with hounds, the latter being "programmed" to track and harass under the command of the former.
Recognizing the limits to the return on investment from increasing aircraft capabilities, he foresaw a shift to more capable weapons such as AMRAAM and ASRAAM etal. And the interest in even more advanced weapons continues unabated.
The future of both the manned and unmanned fighter may however depend largely on the development of more effective weapons and methods for the air-to-ground battle in order to achieve a better balance of cost effectiveness.
Prof Madelung then concluded:
Some 75 years ago the Wright Brothers had the vision, skill and persistence to develop the prototype of powered aircraft, and gave birth to a new dimension of mobility and spirit of mankind. The fighter aircraft is one of the grim but magnificant [sic] outgrowths of this new dimension and will continue to participate in a lead role of aeronautics if the "fighter community" will maintain and develop its vision, skill and persistence offering-new and cost effective qualities and performance rather than retiring to marginal improvements.

To Recap the Part 2  'SoFar'

Operational requirements other than ‘maneuverability’ drove fighter design for far longer than post-stall ‘Supermaneuverability’ has been part of the definition, and ‘maneuverability’ was and still remains only one of the required hallmarks of fighter design.
Further, while ‘maneuverability’ has always been a requirement, the definition of same evolved over time. ‘Maneuverability’ only increased in importance relative to top speed and ability to climb after the option of increasing the top speed and climb rates for fighter aircraft reached their practical operational limits.
Most important to the current and near-term future of fighter design considerations are:
1. ‘Maneuverability’ as it is currently interpreted to include post-stall controllability is a relatively new construct in the history of fighter design development and even in 1977, the limitations of post-stall maneuvering, and developments that could render it less effective or even ineffective were already foreseen. 
2. Low Observable aircraft were seen as unachievable by a noted aircraft designer at the same time the US was developing the first Low Observable (LO) aircraft in the form of the F-117. We do not have Prof. Madelung’s thoughts on the ramifications of this development, but he obviously grasped the significance of LO in even mentioning the possibility of LO weapons (a couple of examples of same I was supporting or flight testing by the early-mid 1980s’.)



Given that ‘supermaneuverability’ appears to be the current ‘top dog’ requirement in the general public’s mind and that misperception seems to be running amok in the background of any public discourse on what defines ‘maneuverability’, in the coming paragraphs we will discuss ‘supermaneuverability’ by leveraging a series of technical papers written by W.B. Herbst in the 1972 and early 80s’. As Dr. Herbst coined the term ‘supermaneuverability’ in the first place, his thoughts should provide a solid basis for further discussion on the benefits and limits of post-stall maneuverability.

Supermaneuverability: The Roots 

In 1972 W.B. Herbst coauthored a paper titled “Design for Air Combat” [1]. In it the authors recognized and demonstrated there were limits to the pursuit of conventional maneuverability and an increasing need to trade off various metrics of performance to define individual combat effectiveness. This raised the prospect of broadening the scope of the very definition of maneuverability (aka ‘agility’) as a phenomena under examination:
[P. 7]  Thus far we have considered the air vehicle maneuverability only. The simulations were based on short range air-to-air missiles of equal maneuverability. An increase of missile maneuverability would improve the aggressive capability of kill. However, would it allow to relax the maneuverability of the air vehicle and thus allow to lower the cost of the weapon system at constant weapon system effectiveness?
The authors found a diminishing return on improving missile maneuverability at that time however:
[P. 8] The engagement of equal opponents (aircraft maneuverability 1:1) with equal weapons {relative weapon maneuverability = 1) results in a ratio of firing opportunities equal to one. A weapon improvement by a factor of 10 increases the system combat capability only by a factor of 5. 
[P. 9] Improved weapon maneuverability pays off only to a limited extend because a superior missile is of little use in a defensive combat situation. Air vehicle maneuverability is still required to neutralize a position advantage of the opponent.
I find the authors’ conclusions in this case premature but informative nonetheless. They provide sufficient information that with the additional knowledge we have from certain developments that actually occurred since their limited exploration to see that they were using excessively conservative missile characteristics and using a far too crude approach to modeling the impact of improved missile capabilities.
To explain what I mean, let us first look at the author’s technical approach to describing missile maneuverability:
Realtive [sic] weapon maneuverability was expressed as the ratio of the areas behind the target in which the weapons considered can be successfully launched [‘successfully’ means launch and actually hit the target] 
This is the graphic that accompanied the discussion:
Only Rear-Aspect attack was considered 

The authors attempted to measure the relative lethality of the gun against two ‘advanced’ missile systems.  One was an IR missile with ‘better’ characteristics than a then state of the art AIM-9 (Presumably the AIM-9D or E):
Viper is a medium-range/dogfight missile with a motor burn time about double that of Sidewinder and a minimum effective range of 200m-300m. The motor is a new unit being developed by Kongsberg Vapenfabrik. The missile's launcher is equipped with an infra-red search unit to acquire targets and then point the Viper IR head in the correct direction. The launcher also houses a cooling unit for the IR heads. Viper is designed to lock on to targets within a squint angle of ±15° while on the launcher, compared with Sidewinders ±2°. [Ref. 5]
The prototype Viper was to be ready by the end of the year and service entry was scheduled to occur around 1975-76. It never materialized. The AIM-9L with its all-aspect engagement technology and even larger ‘look-angle’ greatly surpassed the Viper’s capability. While Germany continued it for a short while as a hedge against the AIM-9L program failing, it was ultimately cancelled. So the short range missile used in the authors’ study significantly under-represented the short-missile capability that did emerge.
The ‘Advanced Missile’ referenced may have been an early study concept for what eventually became the AIM-120 AMRAAM, but even in its earliest forms the AMRAAM had a range far in excess of the numbers Herbst and Krogull modeled, So the engagement envelope for the ‘Medium Range’ missile can be seen to have been hyper-conservative as well.
Aside from the over simplification of a rear aspect engagement by resolving it into a 2 dimensional area instead of a three-dimensional volume for comparison, the limitation to a ‘rear aspect only’ problem disregarded any capability to attack from a forward hemisphere.
This speaks to the possibility of a far greater increase in a fighter-weapon system effectiveness increase than the authors perceived in 1972, and from what we know about how air combat has evolved in the interim, the real difference in the effectiveness that was modeled and what actually fielded is found in the ability to attack from regions around the target that were never anticipated.

Herbst and Krogull, in looking at combat capability of various fighter design approaches also found:
“At equal thrust/weight ratios the SEP [Specific Excess Power] concept with its higher wing loading yields lighter and consequently cheaper aircraft at the penalty of decreased close-in combat performance.”[P. 8] 
This led the authors to consider the importance of combat capability as a ‘fleet’ measurement rather than a unit measurement. This led further to the observation that because of the diminishing return of increased maneuverability compared to the costs of achieving that maneuverability, from a TOTAL fleet capability, at the time of the writing it MAY have made sense for a nation to procure larger numbers of less-capable ‘SEP-concept’ aircraft than an insufficient number of more-capable aircraft.

In the paper’s   Summary and Conclusions [P. 10] several points come to the fore. First:
Increasing thrust/weight and decreasing wingloading has a progressive effect on weight and cost. This leads to combinations of T /W [Thrust to Weight] and W/S [Wingloading, Weight/Wing Reference Area] which cannot be realized with the present state of technology.
Asymptotic Limits: the diminishing
return and infeasible regions. 
Within the paper, the authors repeatedly refer to the pursuit of ‘higher’ performance in terms of inevitably reaching the ‘asymptotic limit’ of same. While the authors used a very specific, and by today’s standards rather conservative ‘baseline’ configuration and threat (Mig-21 ‘like’), to model the effects of different technical approaches, 4th generation aircraft that have appeared in the interim look to be only further along essentially the same curves.

So when you hear or read of despair over the fact that ‘traditional’ combat aircraft kinematic performance hasn’t advanced much in the last 40 plus years, you know those spreading the ‘woe’ have no idea there really hasn’t been any value (capability/cost) driving a universal need to go faster, turn harder, or fly higher. Nor do the same people ever seem to grasp the relative value of the advances that have been pursued instead (computational power, sensors, radars, precision weapons, stealth, etc.). There’s an irony in this mix, as the same people who complain about how expensive weapon systems are seem to be oblivious to the cost avoidance achieved by resisting the frivolous pursuit of unnecessary speed, maneuverability, and operating altitude.

The authors at the time concluded that lowering a design wing loading seemed to trump increasing thrust to weight ratios, but I note here that the advantage seems to be viewed as one of lower cost and, as the authors noted, a DEFENSIVE advantage was seen:
Defensive capability - as opposed to offensive capability calls for lower wing loading rather than higher thrust to weight ratio.
As noted earlier, the authors saw some limited advantages to increasing missile maneuverability to allow relaxation of aircraft maneuverability, but in their conclusion they pointed out (again) that even so, it was seen as of use “if decreased aircraft survivability is acceptable.”  As we will see further along in this series, this conclusion from the authors’ fairly limited early exploration was in retrospect, a ‘flag’ warning us to look for an emerging, greater truth.

Supermaneuverability: The Realization (From a European Perspective)

Eight years after he coauthored Design for Air Combat, Dr Herbst published a more ‘tailored’ paper, 'Future Fighter Technologies' [Ref. 2]. This paper was tightly focused on the application of his (and others’) lessons-learned towards the fielding of a new European Fighter design (We’ll call it a ‘Eurofighter’ for convenience –wink,wink, nudge, nudge).
In the introduction of his paper he was quite assertive in stating that going forward, there was not much sense in pursuing better Energy Maneuverability than the 1980 state of the art, and that close in combat was perhaps becoming obsolete as a viable tactic:
The design of fighter aircraft used to be a race for performance. There was the race for maximum speed, followed by the aim for maximum climb performance, and eventually concluded with the emphasis on sustained turn capability. As a result, the installed thrust-to-weight ratio (T/W) continuously increased and has now exceeded the value of 1. Unfortunately, there is a progressive effect of T/W on weight and cost and even an asymptotic limit. Though this limit is shifting with airframe technology, more thrust per engine has to be paid for by more cost per unit of thrust, thus further accelerating the price for increased performance. The analysis of war games indicates that the cost-effectiveness of a fighter fleet would suffer from the introduction of aircraft employing T/W ratios of more than 1.2. In Fig. 1, fleet deterioration is presented against increasing vehicle performance at constant budget, e.g., against decreasing fleet size. Beyond a performance level equivalent to T/W=1.2, the red fighters-assumed to employ a T/W of 0.7-would outnumber the higher performance blue aircraft. This performance level, however, is already achieved by current fighter aircraft. The race for energy-performance has reached its limits.
There is also competition to the airframe designer by the new generation of medium range missiles (MRM) to be introduced soon. MRM's plus multi-target and shoot up/down capabilities of radar weapons may even tend to make the classical fighter concept questionable.
Dr. Herbst identified three key requirements a ‘future’ Eurofighter must satisfy:
In Central Europe there is a need for a new fighter concept which would have to satisfy the following three largely contradicting requirements: 1) interception of intruders under all-weather conditions beyond visual range with MRM's [Medium Range Missiles], 2) air superiority against a superior number of maneuvering offensive targets with short-range weapons, and 3) short field performance for base survival...
Note the automatic default to unavoidable short-range combat within requirement number 2. This is a pretty solid ‘tell’ that “Stealth” was, unsurprisingly NOT going to be a prime design driver at the time the paper was published. Dr. Herbst expanded on the requirements and what they meant to the design under consideration:
The driving airframe parameter to satisfy requirement 1 turns out to be high-speed maneuverability in particular. In a MRM environment with multi-target capability on both sides, supersonic performance is important to achieve an advantage…
…The air superiority requirement leads to a requirement for superior close combat capability with short-range weapons, e.g., for subsonic maneuvers performance. Unfortunately, there is that contradicting problem with conventional aircraft which achieve their maximum rate of turn at a speed very different from that constituting a smallest turn radius. Also, it is well known from many manned and unmanned combat simulations that it takes about 3 deg/s rate of turn* advantage to be superior; however, the current level of about 25 deg/ s (maximum sustained) is very difficult to exceed by conventional means. Without any thrust support, short field performance primarily is a matter of wing loading. Optimum maneuver and cruise performance prohibits low wing loadings for trapezoidal wing aircraft. Low-aspect ratio delta wings lend themselves to, and are even dependent upon, considerably low wing loadings. However, a low wing loading may constitute a problem for low-level high-speed penetration missions (ride quality).
*See here for my reliance on a similar figure in evaluating possible F-35 sustained turn performance. Dr. Herbst’s reference is a mere 1 degree/sec different (approximately) from our other references.
Dr Herbst identified three technologies that offered a solution in “combining diverging requirements such as high supersonic speed, subsonic combat capability, and short field performance.” They were Digital Fly-by-Wire Control, Delta Wings, and Supermaneuverability. Only the last is of interest to us in this discussion.  This is the first known reference to the term Supermaneuverability, in English anyway [Ref. 4?], and so we defer to Dr. Herbst’s description for our definition thereof:
This is a term for combined post-stall (PST) and direct force (DFM) capability. PST represents the ability of the aircraft to perform controlled tactical maneuvers beyond maximum lift angle of attack up to at least 70 deg; DFM represents the ability of the aircraft to yaw and pitch independently of the flight path, or to maneuver at constant fuselage attitude. DFM has been the subject of various analysis, design studies, simulations, and even flight tests. DFM has been developed by McAIR in conjunction with the vectored lift fighter (VLF) concept. PST has been developed and analyzed by MBB. PST and DFM are tactically related, supplement each other, and constitute a combined new and superior air combat feature.
Dr. Herbst dropped a few of what was then ‘new’ tidbits for use in Supermaneuverable designs:
...In particular, high yaw rates and high pitch down rates are required to perform PST maneuvers of tactical value... 
...Beyond about a 30-deg angle of attack, an additional reaction control system becomes necessary at least for pitch and yaw. The most suitable solution would be the deflection of engine thrust, e.g., a vectored nozzle, since any PST-maneuver is flown at high-power settings... 
...The most difficult design problems prevail in the 30-50-deg angle-of -attack regime. Beyond 50 degrees, flight and control conditions are primarily ruled by thrust rather than aerodynamic support or disturbances...
In its earliest conceptual design stages, the EF2000 had that ‘reaction control system’ planned, but the vectored thrust feature was dropped when BAE took over the design lead as the other governments involved dropped interest in the project. I understand the feature is being looked at again for the plane as a retrofit.

Dr. Herbst summarizes his 1982 paper's findings thusly:
The design of a new fighter has become more challenging since a pure increase of conventional performance does not seem to pay off any more. However, a new concept evolves from the combination of three key technologies: electronic digital control, the aerodynamic advancements of delta wings, and "supermaneuverability." Such fighter concept would feature excellent supersonic performance, thus improving the use of future MRM's, a conventionally unachievable level of short-range air combat capability, and extremely short field performance combined in one design.
The differences in Dr. Herbst’s research between 1972 and 1980 reveal a change in perspective as to the lethality and 'worth' of fielding advanced A2A missiles. He found in 1980 that if the combatants’ conventional agility were equal, the ‘Supermaneuverable’ fighter would dominate a ‘conventional’ fighter by a factor of "3 to 1" if missiles, or missiles and guns, were the armaments used. This later research was performed in the wake of the AIM-9L development and recognition of the future MRM developments that brought us the AMRAAM and others--and it shows.

We now include excerpts from Dr. Herbst’s third paper (1983’s “Dynamics of Air Combat”) on the subject of fighter aircraft design and agility, mostly because the findings and observations in the paper are more assertive and expansive than the 1980 paper on the evolving nature of A2A combat and the advantages of Supermaneuverability. Again, there will be no recognition of the impact of Low Observable design on air combat as this paper comes well before the known existence of America’s Stealth programs. I will keep commentary on these excerpts to a minimum as they are largely more of the same or expansion on that we’ve already discussed. First:
New short and medium-range air-to-air weapons have been analyzed by means of computerized and manned air combat simulation. As a result of their peculiar capabilities, air combat maneuver characteristics are expected to change significantly. The all-aspect capability of new short-range weapons leads to a dominance of head-on engagements and thus to an increase of importance of instantaneous maneuver capability over the classical sustained performance.
Typical flight conditions are analyzed in terms of turn rates, rates of climb and rates of longitudinal acceleration and in terms of the resulting power and energy management. The guidance and performance capabilities of new medium-range weapons lead to a maneuvering-type combat in the supersonic speed regime...
...Significant changes in air combat characteristics will occur owing to the development of the following new air-to-air weapons and fire control systems: 1) all-aspect capability SR missiles; 2) all-aspect capability** guns in conjunction with unorthodox aircraft maneuvers and coupled fire/flight control systems; and 3) new radar guided MR missiles... 
** Dr. Herbst uses the term ‘all aspect’ in relation to ‘guns’ to mean they can be effectively employed against a target flying towards, away, or across  in relation to the firing aircraft. 
Note the change in importance of Thrust to Weight by 1983 compared to 1972:
How will these new weapon capabilities influence the combat characteristics and thus the design requirements of fighter aircraft, in particular the requirements for maneuverability? The analysis of future air combat and fighter design requirements has been the subject or several years of work at MBB. The results are based on extensive computer combat modeling and on manned combat simulation and even on flight testing. SR combat with rear aspect weapons was characterized by sustained turns. Conversion to a firing solution was a matter of sustained turn rate margin vs the opponent. Combat effectiveness, therefore, tended to be very sensitive with regard to a variation of T/W and also to wing aspect ratio and wing loading. With all-aspect weapons, however, combat effectiveness proves to be significantly less sensitive to classic energy maneuverability parameters and more sensitive to attained unsteady performance. 
[For medium range combat] Aircraft maneuverability was considered to be of minor importance and high speed was sometimes a penalty in a head-on situation against a similar armed target. Air combat modeling using the new generation of MR missiles indicates that combat effectiveness can be significantly improved if maneuvers at high supersonic speed are employed. The change in SR combat characteristics toward unsteady maneuver performance in the low subsonic speed regime and the need for supersonic maneuverability in MR combat are contradicting design requirements. This presents a design challenge if both missions have to be satisfied with the same fighter aircraft...
…The significant observation throughout a large number of simulated engagements with all-aspect weapons is the dominance of frontal firing opportunities…
… Predominantly, the most effective prelaunch maneuvering tends to lead to an almost head-on firing situation, independent of the initial condition (except tail-on initial conditions). There is a small difference between duels and multiple engagements. There is also an influence on actual missile hits; beam attacks tend to yield a smaller probability of target hits. Direct, head-on passes happen rarely because of missile seeker characteristics and missile off-bore sight capability….
…The ability to aim the aircraft fuselage independently of the flight path provides a very effective way of solving the gun, snap shooting problem, and permits successful frontal hemisphere firing opportunities. Fuselage aiming-if properly designed and mechanized-makes the gun a very effective frontal hemisphere weapon and thus compatible with future missiles.
Contemplate how the following paragraph would be affected if High Off Boresight missiles had been imminent in 1983:
With all-aspect weapon capability there are no sanctuary spaces remaining around the target. There is a certain level of kill probability whenever the target is within range and within a certain off-bore sight cone. In this situation a pilot may not have a choice of maneuvering defensively or offensively. In many cases the only way to survive is to respond aggressively and to achieve an earlier firing opportunity. As a result, both opponents would engage in a sequence of head-on passes. After each pass, provided a mutual weapon exchange was unsuccessful, both aircraft would try to reverse as quickly as possible, even at the expense of energy. Any loss of energy could be replaced as appropriate later on.
We may use this structure/description of A2A combat in future F-35 capability discussions and so it is included here:
Starting at high subsonic speed, it has been observed in many simulated engagements that SR combat develops in the following three phases: 
a) by slowing the aircraft into a better turning speed regime and thereby maneuvering into a head-on situation (this may be accomplished by gaining altitude, by throttling the engine, or by means of speed brakes, or by a combination of all three means); 
b) by repetitively turning into each other at lower speed, with a possible loss of altitude; and 
c) in proximity to the ground, by low-speed clinch or target pursuit depending on the outcome of phase b.
…Its [short range combat’s] most significant feature is the continuous change of flight conditions throughout the entire engagement and the repetition of a typical cycle with 1) conversion of kinetic energy into altitude (if possible) and a simultaneous buildup of turn rate; 2) loss of speed for even higher (instantaneous) turn rates; and 3) conversion into firing position at decreasing rate of turn and increasing speed. 
Herbst did not ignore medium range combat in his discussion. I intend to refer to this part later as well in any F-35 discussions :
MR missiles are frontal hemisphere weapons by design and definition. In comparison with SR combat, firing ranges are much larger than aircraft radii of turn. Therefore fighter aircraft would not pass each other and would not reverse their position. However, they would employ very dynamic maneuvers in order 1) to achieve a firing position (with regard to aspect, speed, and altitude) which provides a target hit with a minimum counterhit [sic] probability; 2) to stay out of, or maneuver out of, the opponent's missile envelope after their own launch while maintaining the required look angle for  midcourse guidance; and 3) to sustain sufficient energy after the initial combat maneuver for reattack [sic] and to continue fighting against other opponents in a multiple situation…
…Of course, opponents would employ similar tactics. Thus a combat develops which is characterized by dynamic high-speed ·maneuvers in a relatively large airspace…. 
…There is no loss of energy, and therefore no need for a recovery of energy. This is a result of the relatively small maneuver power margin and the high basic thrust demand for supersonic flight… 
Any increase in T/W would significantly improve the maneuver capability and contribute to combat success, respectively….
Herbst summed up his most important major points as follows:
New short- and medium-range weapons must be expected to change air combat characteristics significantly. Short- and medium-range combat maneuvers are very dynamic in terms of a continuous interchange of speed, rate-of-turn, and rate-of-climb. Short-range combat is drifting to lower speed; it is characterized by extensive use of attained maneuvers and a fluctuation of total energy. Medium-range combat takes place at supersonic speed. It is characterized by very careful energy management and constant total energy. Consequently, design requirements for fighter aircraft will change. …
Thus even in its earliest heyday, the Supermaneuverability concept’s contributions to a successful air combat engagement was already being affected by the advances of newer, more capable air weapons that were changing the rules of the game before the first fighters leveraging same were fielded.
In our next installment (Part 3) we will take a hard look at what by 1996 was seen as the ‘Practical Limits of Supermaneuverability’. Post 1982-3, the advancements in computer modeling permitted far more sophisticated and higher-fidelity examination of the problems under examination. It should be interesting to review the more modern findings.    

1. Design For Air Combat; W. B. HERBST, B. KROGULL; AIAA 4th Aircraft design, flight test, and Operations Meeting,AUGUST 7-9, 1972; AIAA Paper 72-749

2. Future Fighter Technologies; W.B. Herbst; AIAA Journal of Aircraft, Vol 17, No. 8, August 1980, Article 80-4077; pp 561-566.

3. Dynamics of Air Combat; W.B. Herbst; AIAA Journal of Aircraft, Vol 20, No. 7, July 1983; pp 594-598

4. Herbst, W.B., "Zur Beurteilung des taktischen Nutzens von PST/DFM fUr die Luftkampffabigkeit eines zukiinftigen TKF,"MBB Rept. VF 1477, 1978 (“To assess the tactical benefits of PST / DFM for the air combat ability of a Future TKF) TKF= Taktisches Kampfflugzeug aka Tactical Combat Fighter?.

5. FLIGHT International, 7 June 1973, p. 871.

Nowhere in this series of posts, or in any other posts the reader will find here, is the assertion made that ‘maneuverability’ (however one defines it) is "unimportant"-- in the past, modern day or immediate future . This must be stated unambiguously up front because I've seen the tiresome broad-brush accusation of same made too-often when anyone dares challenge some closely held belief as to maneuverability’s relative importance to fighter design or dares challenge the vague reasons why many of the  uninitiated think “maneuverability” is important.