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Thread: Was the F-15 the best choice for Japan?

  1. #1
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    Was the F-15 the best choice for Japan?

    it seems the Tornado, F-14 and F-18 competed for it in the 80s. In retrospect was the F-15 the best choice among these 4?



  2. #2
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    Yes. All those other airplanes have either been retired or in the process of being replaced. the F-15 will soldier on for some time.

    Granted, I don't think their F-15s is as well suited for maritime strike as some of the other choices, but I believe Japan already had dedicated maritime strikers.
    F-14 and the Tornado probably would have been more expensive to operate

  3. #3
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    I would say, "yes". They have no carrier, so the other two seem pointless. Very interested in this F-22/35 hybrid they've been offered though.
    Last edited by St. John; 21st April 2018 at 10:56.

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    Totally. The JASDF became the largest operator of the type outside of the U.S. MHI manufactured over 150 examples. F-4/F-1 took the ground attack role that the F-15 could not fulfill. Maybe cost was the reason they chose to pursue the development of the F-2 over the idea of acquiring an "F-15EJ" derivative. From what I read, the F-2's cost went way over planned figures. The USSR was basing MiG-25s right next door at the time. When the decision to buy the F-15 was made, Lt. Belenko had yet to make his famous flight.

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    The Japanese were wise to go F-15J followed by additional development. I wouldn't doubt that their stealth is a development of F-15 going on the basic layout of their demonstrator.
    Go Huskers!

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    Last edited by MadRat; 21st April 2018 at 18:30.
    Go Huskers!

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    The Japanese 5 gen tech demonstrator is so bland and boring to look at. It has shades of the Boeing X-35. It is not sleek.

  8. #8
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    Yes. Absolutely.

    The Japanese needed an Air Superiority Fighter.

    In the UK Range and altitude were primary and a lack of dogfighting ability (or de-prioritisation at the very least) was excusable*
    Likewise USN needed Range and altitude (and the ability to land on a carrier) so the F14's flaws and costs were bearable.
    For their (USN) lo end Range and AAM load out likewise excusable (they had the F14 to do that)
    Continental Europe dogfighting and the ability to do strike and short range air-to-air trumped range, single-engine and AAM load out so since F16 was cheaper than F15 that made sense
    The Canadians and Aussies needed much shorter field performance so a carrier-based design had attractions for them which pragmatically made F18 a better choice

    But the Japanese needed Range, AAM capacity, Two engines and dogfighting all in one airframe and they had no need for short-field performance. Nothing else Western came close to the mighty Eagle on those terms.

    * I imagine I'm typical of most kids growing up in the UK during the Cold War in wishing that the RAF had F15s instead of Tornado F3s, but with a bit of distance and reflection it wasn't a terrible decision.

    PS: I'm hoping that the Japanese Technology Demonstrator is a scaled demonstrator; if that this is stretched by another 10% it could suddenly look a lot more elegant.
    Rule zero: don't be on fire

  9. #9
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    Maybe the F-14 would have been a better choice *if* the Japanese were willing to pay for better engines than the TF30s. But chances are that would have made it significantly more expensive than the F-15 they did buy.

    Tornado would have been okay but it would still suffer from mediocre performance at high altitudes. Not ideal if they ever had to try to intercept MiG-25s.

  10. #10
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    I imagine I'm typical of most kids growing up in the UK during the Cold War in wishing that the RAF had F15s instead of Tornado F3s, but with a bit of distance and reflection it wasn't a terrible decision.
    Well the main reason for selecting the ADV was cost; to keep the per-unit Tornado costs in line the UK had to meet its original target of 385 airframes. As early as 1976 the ADV was being described as 'satisfactory' for the role envisaged which was faint praise. An F-15B with UK radar and systems would probably have been better in every way except cost.

    Also around the same time AST.403 requirement emerged for a tactical high-agility successor to Jaguar and Harrier, for which the F-16 was pencilled-in. So the lack of dogfighting capability in the ADV wasn't seen as critical as it wouldn't be mixing with MiGs.

    Fomr the Flight archive, 1976 airframe prices listed by the UK MoD in response to Parliament queries: F-14 £10 million, F-15 £7 million, ADV £6.5 million projected. Plus additional costs for the US options in fitting UK equipment and increase in unit costs for the 220 IDS on order.
    Last edited by Cherry Ripe; 23rd April 2018 at 10:46.

  11. #11
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    The range issue alone made the F-15 the best choice.
    Plus it's large enough to have significant growth potential in avionics and weapons fit.

    As far as the Tornado ADV...just ask yourself why aren't they still in use?
    Not a bad aircraft, just not as capable as the Eagle (but quite a bit noisier if my experience with other Tornadoes is accurate).
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

  12. #12
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    Was the F-15 the best choice for Japan?

    Short answer - no.
    When you're out of Tomcats, you're out of fighters!

  13. #13
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    Japan had another look at the F-15 in the mid-1980s as a basis for FS-X but went with the F-16 purely on cost grounds. Other than price the only practical downside they identified for the F-15 was its lack of stealth potential ( yes they used that term even in 1985 ) and since the F-16 met the requirements and was also non-stealthy they went with the smaller airframe.

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    Meh.. Japan should just bite the bullet and order up a F-15SE 2.0 version.
    There is no need to suck their treasures dry with a new insanly costly fighter program.

    Atleast new F-15's could happen quickly enough.
    Thanks

  15. #15
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    Stealth technology was basically revealed in 1984-ish when the F-20A program caused troubles flying in civilian airspace without the transponder on. Northrop advertised it as an asset.
    Go Huskers!

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    What "Stealth technology" did the F-20A have?
    "The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese."

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    What "Stealth technology" did the F-20A have?
    Almost certainly none

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    Almost certainly none
    Sales?
    "The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese."

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    Something smells about this F-22/F-35 hybrid idea. It is hard to believe that the USG would ok the sale of an a/c that has technology based on the F-22 that was never cleared for FMS. Not to mention the cost of said aircraft would be dramatically greater than just re-opening the F-22 line, and we have all heard repeatedly that this is too expensive. Which begs the question, if a FMS based on F-22 tech is now ok, why not just have Japan help fund the cost of reopening the F-22 line and hardware updates, and drive the per airframe cost down by doing a joint US & Japan buy? Seems like a win-win that way.

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    In the early 1980s I had a long briefing on the F-20 on behalf of a client. The aircraft had no RCS-reduction features.
    Mercurius Cantabrigiensis

  21. #21
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    It is hard to believe that the USG would ok the sale....
    Most of the items that held the F-22 back were avionics in nature. If you threw all the F-35 avionics at the new plane then this would not be an issue.
    "The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese."

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpudmanWP View Post
    Most of the items that held the F-22 back were avionics in nature. If you threw all the F-35 avionics at the new plane then this would not be an issue.
    That still leaves the cost issue. With FMS cleared, this hybrid is basically an F-22C (unless you go with deeper bays), so why not just co-fund the line restart and F-35 electronics & coating upgrade? More planes for U.S., and a much improved cost & timeline for delivery than a cleansheet (which a physical hybrid would actually be).

  23. #23
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    That may in fact what LM proposes (ie restart with F-35 avionics). Guess we'll find out as time goes on.

    One thing they need to address is range as the current F-35 easily out ranges the F-22.
    "The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese."

  24. #24
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    That may in fact what LM proposes (ie restart with F-35 avionics). Guess we'll find out as time goes on.

    One thing they need to address is range as the current F-35 easily out ranges the F-22.
    My solution to the Japanese requirement is a fuselage plug into the current F-35, extend the airframe perhaps 2.5 meters giving it better area rule, change the sweep of the wings to improve supersonic performance and increasing size and fuel carriage while retaining all F-35 avionics and sensors. Perhaps either a modified F135 with smaller fan for better supersonic performance or use the new AETD but either with the thrust improvements coming to the F135 be able to deliver an engine with the required performance.

    The fuselage plug addresses longer range through greater fuel carriage, larger or longer weapons bay for more missiles (perhaps a novel staggered solution required to fit eight 3.7m missiles) while retaining all F-35 avionics and sensors maintains commonality with their emerging fleet.

    Given the Japanese already have a production facility for the F-35 changing that to accommodate a modified version would be easier than an all new line and there would obviously be a lot of parts commonality.

    The F-22/F-35 hybrid that uses the F-22 as the basis is a rabbit hole. There is nothing the F-22 provides over the F-35 other than supercruise at high mach. The changes to the F-35 I have proposed above should be able to deliver that, with an increased internal payload, at a significantly lower cost than any foolish attempt to restart F-22 production…

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ozair View Post
    My solution to the Japanese requirement is a fuselage plug into the current F-35, extend the airframe perhaps 2.5 meters giving it better area rule, change the sweep of the wings to improve supersonic performance and increasing size and fuel carriage while retaining all F-35 avionics and sensors. Perhaps either a modified F135 with smaller fan for better supersonic performance or use the new AETD but either with the thrust improvements coming to the F135 be able to deliver an engine with the required performance.

    The F-22/F-35 hybrid that uses the F-22 as the basis is a rabbit hole. There is nothing the F-22 provides over the F-35 other than supercruise at high mach. The changes to the F-35 I have proposed above should be able to deliver that, with an increased internal payload, at a significantly lower cost than any foolish attempt to restart F-22 production…
    What you have described is a new aircraft. No way that is cheaper than a restart with new coating and avionics. Stretched fuselage, new wing sweep, etc., is going to require new tooling, new structural testing, new flight testing, etc.

  26. #26
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    What you have described is a new aircraft. No way that is cheaper than a restart with new coating and avionics. Stretched fuselage, new wing sweep, etc., is going to require new tooling, new structural testing, new flight testing, etc.
    There is no way that any airframe that fulfils this requirement will not require an extensive flight testing program, whether that airframe has the shape of an F-22 or an F-35.

    If the design resembles the F-22 that is all it would look like in appearance, it will not share the same stealth internal structures, it will not share the same engine, it will not have the same avionics.

    At least with an F-35 derivative there is a common design set to work with as well as an active production team. While wings and a fuselage may increase somewhat there is already a large body of skilled people who are familiar with the airframe.

  27. #27
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    What "Stealth technology" did the F-20A have?
    None intentional. But it was small and had extensive use of carbon fiber in its day, making it remarkably smaller in RCS than the F-5E it was to replace.

    I'm not sure who broke the quote system, but it's a shame. Manually inserting quotes is a PITA.

    That still leaves the cost issue. With FMS cleared, this hybrid is basically an F-22C (unless you go with deeper bays), so why not just co-fund the line restart and F-35 electronics & coating upgrade? More planes for U.S., and a much improved cost & timeline for delivery than a cleansheet (which a physical hybrid would actually be).
    Which is why a conversion of F-35A or F-35C makes far more sense. I'd think an F-35C, being the bigger wing would certainly help add substantial lift for high altitude performance. Sure, it also has more drag in the lower altitudes. But the lift generated makes the angle of attack and deflection angle of the control surfaces work less hard therefore improving drag at high altitude. Add in ADVENT technologies to give it the thrust up there and you have a win-win situation.
    Last edited by MadRat; 24th April 2018 at 02:31.
    Go Huskers!

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadRat View Post
    Which is why a conversion of F-35A or F-35C makes far more sense. I'd think an F-35C, being the bigger wing would certainly help add substantial lift for high altitude performance. Sure, it also has more drag in the lower altitudes. But the lift generated makes the angle of attack and deflection angle of the control surfaces work less hard therefore improving drag at high altitude. Add in ADVENT technologies to give it the thrust up there and you have a win-win situation.
    The F.35C is a case study on why adding wing area to an airframe is a terrible idea, The entire aircraft has to be designed with a specific.planform and area, The “C” suffers from massive wave drag hefting around those wings on a compact fuselage. It is not worth slightly improved sustained turn performance and stall speed for compromised performance in every other metric.

    This whole exercise is a save face for Japan to kill the X-2 project. L-M will offer what does not exist and in the end, Japan will deem any X-3 cost prohibitive and order more F-35. Sadly, based on the current situation those F-35 will cost considerably more just to save their national aerospace industry. They would be better served modifying the F-35 to Japan specific needs with input from Mitsubishi. If they are gong to pay millions more to make the aircraft in Japan, get something out of it.

  29. #29
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    X-2 was the proof that Japan possesses capabilities to produce aircraft with technologies comparable to F-35. After the design details of X-2 were known, USG bureaucrats could not muster a valid objection to the sale of F-35 to Japan.

    And becoming the first FACO in the western Pacific sets Japan up as the go-to depot for the region for the next 50 years.
    Last edited by djcross; 24th April 2018 at 03:44.

  30. #30
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    The X-2 did not "prove" anything of the sort, especially on the engine tech or avionics front.

    Why would the USG object to the F-35 sale to Japan? They have always been an important export partner, especially in military tech (F-15/16, AWACS, aegis, etc).
    Last edited by SpudmanWP; 24th April 2018 at 04:18.
    "The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese."

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