Chinese Radar May Pierce F-35 Stealth Armor: Report


Increasingly sophisticated radar in China and Russia may soon be able to pierce the stealth armor on F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, according to a news report.

The stealth coating on the U.S.-made fifth-generation fighters shields the aircraft from high-frequency radars operating in the Ku, X and C bands and some of the S band, but not from low-frequency systems utilizing L, UHF and VHF wavelengths, according to an article by Dave Majumdar at USNI News.

China and Russia are now working to develop low-frequency radars with more computing power designed to track stealth aircraft with more precision — enough to target them with a missile, according to the report, citing an unnamed former senior U.S. Navy official.

“Acquisition and fire control radars are starting to creep down the frequency spectrum,” the official told USNI News. “I don’t see how you long survive in the world of 2020 or 2030 when dealing with these systems if you don’t have the lower frequency coverage.”

To be sure, the Defense Department is aware of the increasing sophistication of enemy air defenses, known in military parlance as anti-access, area-denial, or A2-AD, environments.

The Pentagon’s latest annual report to Congress on military and security developments in China notes the country is continuing its military build-up and views defense against stealth aircraft and drones as “a growing priority.”

The People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, has long sought to control the flow of information in the event of war to thwart data-hungry adversaries such as the U.S. It considers the strategy of “information dominance” a critical form of defense against countries that it views as “information dependent,” according to previous assessments.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, sent an uninvited spy ship, probably the type 815 Dongdiao-class intelligence collection vessel Beijixing (pennant number 851), to this year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise, according to an article by Sam LaGrone of USNI News.

China is participating in the event — the world’s largest naval exercise, held off the coast of Hawaii — for the first time this year, with four vessels.

The head of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Samuel Locklear, this week described the presence of the surveillance ship as “a little odd,” though it “hasn’t created any difficulties in the exercise,” which ends Friday.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • iknow

    This report is probably about 5 years late.

    But hey, late is better than never.

    It will shine some light on the incredibly ignorant and ill-informed defense magazine writers (more like BSers) across the country.

    • LOL

      LOL. A lot more than 5 years.

      Try 10 as a start.

  • lance

    Told many the Russians and Chinese have radars that make the much vaunted stealth fighter visible. Take the JSF w/o stealth its slower carries less and less maneuverable than the F-16 it was meant to replace. More of a reason we need to keep F-15s and F-22s who can be more maneuverable and can carry alot of missiles in service and cut this billion dollar mistake off.

    • Frank

      The F-35 is slower or less maneuverable than a combat ready F-16??? You seriously need to research these sources you are taking at face value like Pierre Sprey and that garbage 2008 RAND report APA and the media keeps circulating around (that RAND themselves denounced it already).

      And low Frequency Radar isn’t the great stealth detector everyone thinks it is. This is just a no-brain journalist looking to stir controversy to get his article attention. VHF and UHF radar is a horrible radar (even with modern triangulation and filtering). The Antennas are huge making mobilizing extremely difficult (and it cannot be shrunken down without affecting signal quality), targeting for missiles is poor, locating a target is poor, return data is limited, its subjected to all sorts of false detections from weather to dust to bugs, its easy to jam and because the antenna has to be so large, its a nice fat target for an incoming tomahawk.

      • Araya

        “”And low Frequency Radar isn’t the great stealth detector everyone thinks it is. This is just a no-brain journalist looking to stir controversy to get his article attention.””

        All True but this doesn’t mean what the low Frequency Radar are not a Problem the are just a piece of modern IADS and can be used as early warning systems for the enemy. And them such a Radar is based on an enemy DDG how is peer definition a mobile platform the situation become really problematic as long as you didn’t fly at very low altitude. It is always better to overestimate the enemy them to underestimate him and to take countermeasures.

        “its a nice fat target for an incoming tomahawk.”

        Why not a JSSAM-ER or a JSOW-ER how is much more effective them an old-school Tomahawk how is an easy target for tactical air defense why non-stealthy. The Tomahawk is not ineffective or even useless but no longer the weapon of choice to deal with High End IADS as long as you not will fire hundreds or thousands of them to saturate the enemy tactical air defense.

    • Araya

      Lance the F35 can carry far more weapons them the F16 did. And the F35 is also comparable them not even more maneuverable them a clean F16 and definitively far more maneuverable them an armed F16. As Frank said you read too much APA Propaganda, so please do your homework and learn to distinguish between clean and armed performance parameters. The F35A can carry enough internal fuel to fly 2,220 km+ (Combat Radius 1135km+) with full internal A2A armament the F16 can just fly 1100km in A2A Configuration(Combat Radius 550 km). And what means the Speed so the F35A/B/C are also faster them an armed (not clean) F16 how can only reach is max speed of Mach 2 (2120km) at high altitude, with minimal Fuel load and more important without any Weapon ! The F35 instead can reach Mach 1, 6+ in Combat A2A Configuration and with a 100% Fuel load. And what means the F15E so this much larger airframe can carry more Weapons them the F35 did and fly faster but is range is combat range also smaller and with Weapon’s not much faster them the F35 and definitely not more maneuverable them the F35 and both the F16 and the F15 are not stealthy !

      • Dec

        Araya, you are the one who have been misled by propaganda. The F-35 carries far fewer weapons than the F-16 does.

  • xXTomcatXx

    I view this as good news. Your forcing the two largest adversarial countries in the world to spend money on developing new systems to counter yours. In effect they’re admitting that their current systems do not work against our current (arguable, I know) threats. The same systems which they’ve proliferated throughout the world to smaller adversaries. So while China and Russia will quickly (a few years) field a way to counter the F-35, it will be some time before smaller states can acquire similar systems. It’s the natural cycle of defense development. No system goes unchallenged. Hell, even the SR-71 was being countered by the Soviets after a while.

    • iknow

      LOL. There was an “emergency meeting” among high-ranking Pentagon officials and GW Bush’s cabinet members a few years BEFORE the F-22 had entered serial production. The meeting was called because China had demonstrated how a vastly cheaper radar set up can detect the F-22 and the B-2.

      What year was it?

      • xXTomcatXx

        LOL, you are so confused. This has nothing to do with detection. Every first world country in the world has lower frequency detection radars for early warning. This is being able to employ them as part of a fire control system. China’s currently deployed fire control systems operate in G-band. Which is part of the SHF band. Which is all well above UHF and VHF.

        Go read. Get a clue, and come back.

        • tiff

          Actually u r the one who needs to get a clue Tomcat. If things were as simple as you’ve naively postulated, there wouldn’t have a need to gather top dogs for a meeting in the first place

          The leverage is, in actuality, the exact opposite of what you mistakenly believed. Other countries can spend relatively small amount of money to neutralize the ultra expensive F-22 and F-35, which by the way are nowhere near real operational status.

          You’ve been reading too much false rumors and sub-sub-amateur gossip. You believe what u want to believe as a clueless cheerleader, but u can’t handle the truth. Don’t pretend that u know anything about other countries. Get the facts about local screwups first.

          • xXTomcatXx

            So much information and facts to digest in your post. It may take me a while to confirm.

            PLA’s Radar capabilities…

            And more specifically the one you and iknow/LOL/tiff are talking on and on about. The HT-233.

            I’m well aware.

          • biens

            Nowhere in those articles did I find any support for your claim.

            What’s the total cost and operating expenditure for the F-22 and F-35?

            What’s the cost for China or Russia to building anti-stealth radar networks?

            Use your common sense.

          • Dec

            I don’t actually believe that you actually believe that xXTomcatXx actually read the articles himself. The stuff we are talking about here doesn’t actually require reading those articles because it’s common knowledge that China and Russia can spend far less to neutralize the real or imagined threat from the F-22 and the F-35.

            Personally, I believe that both the Chinese and the Russians actually know that the F-22 and the F-35 are overrated, unreliable and not even ready for real combat.

          • tres

            Actually the whole world knows it. But US lapdog states don’t have a choice when the mafia in Washington tell them to buy.

    • iknow

      Oh btw, China and Russia have already fielded counter-stealth radar networks for a number of years. They have even exported similar equipment to other countries … Iran, Vietnam, Malaysia,

      • xXTomcatXx

        You’re referring to this HT-233 engagement radar, correct?

        It still requires a MASSIVE (non discreet) transmitter. With A LOT of power. As a result they’re big juicy targets for HARM and any other radar tracking ordnance.

        • Jay Gibbs

          If it radiates, it can be detected. What is detected, will be targeted and destroyed.


          • tiff

            Simpletonian Response Indeed.

            Neither of the 2 statements is necessarily true.

          • Jay Gibbs

            In what reality are you living in? Of course they are true. Every war in history has borne those basic tenets out.

          • biens

            The F-22 radiates IR; so does the F-35.

            That means …?

    • Dfens

      The SR-71 wasn’t being countered very well by the Soviets. They never hit one with a missile not to the day it was retired. We’d be flying them over Ukraine right now if they were still in service.

      • Ben

        They never hit one because the SR-71 stopped violating soviet airspace after a M-31 got a solid lock on one in 1986. Had it done so, there were several occasions where the Migs would have shot them down.

        I’m a huge Blackbird fan, but it was too unsurvivable to operate towards the late 80’s. Here’s a good article illustrating the point:

        • Dfens

          Another internet expert.

          • Ben

            Lol, so where do you get your facts from? Because apparently books and reputable internet sites aren’t legitimate anymore.

        • zbigniewmazurak

          Yeah, but that was against the very high altitude MiG-31 interceptor, not IADS.

        • IronV

          Disagree with you and your article. And I’m hardly in the minority…

      • xXTomcatXx

        “wasn’t being countered very well by the Soviets”???

        The Foxhound and the R-33 did and excellent job.

        • Dfens

          Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

        • IronV

          The MiG 31 did not present a credible threat to the SR-71. Your favorite blogger’s speculations and your exaggeration of those speculations notwithstanding, the SR-71 was retired for interagency political and budgetary reasons, period.

          • Stratege

            >The MiG 31 did not present a credible threat to the SR-71.

            Is it joke? Please explain why you think that SR-71 was invulnerable to the MiG-31 and the most advanced Soviet SAM of the same era(S-200 –… )

          • IronV

            I didn’t say the SR-71 was “invulnerable” to the MiG-31. I said the MiG-31 wasn’t a credible threat. Was it POSSIBLE for the MiG-31/R-33 combo to shoot down a Blackbird? Yes. Was it LIKELY? No. There is seldom a 1:1 correlation between a weapons’ claimed capabilities and the actual performance of that weapon in real world conditions. Put bluntly, I don’t accept the blogger’s credentials or analysis.

          • Araya

            The Soviet fired over the time a lot of SAMs against the SR71 but no one ever hit a SR71 simply because why no Soviet Missile was able to get the SR71 in is No-Escape-Zone and I’m not even them sure them the actual S300PMU2 or S400 should be performant enough to hit a SR71 from long distance. And what means the Mig31 so this airframe is at last just an improved Mig25 on the paper like all Soviet/Russian Airframes Superior to Western Airframes but in the reality the thinks look as the should all know them West Technology meets Russian Technology different.^^

            With other Words the Mig31 is hypothetical like as the Mig25 before capable to deal with the SR71 one the Paper but the reality is a different question. So the Mig31 is not faster them the Mig25 and is range at high-sped also not so great and is primary missile the R33 was also designed to shoot down enemy Bombers like the B52 and not Mach 3 SR71. The R33 is slow and not very maneuverable and is NEZ should be against the SR71 really small. So the decision to kill the SR71 was mainly driven by stupid politicians and budgetary question as like as the collapse of the High End Enemy Soviet Union and the stupid assumption what the Russian will become Friend’s. And let’s be honest the SR71 is not the only victim of this insane assumption, so a lot of weapons fallen victim to peace dividend like the B2, the F22 etc.

          • Stratege

            >The Soviet fired over the time a lot of SAMs against the SR71 but no one ever hit a SR71

            You may be confused with a firings by the the Vietnam and China with their older generation “SA-2” (S-75) SAMs. Yes, it performed fairly well against old surface-to-air missiles…
            But look what capabilities the S-200 SAM had. Yes, it’s was not deployed everywhere to cover the whole Soviet airspace…
            But, as far as i known, the SkunsWorks made clear that the SA-5 was considered a extreme threat to the SR-71 and the pilots were worried if they thought they might be getting in range of it. This apparently began to limit the SR-71 operations especially after when SA-5s started getting exported outside the USSR.

            >I’m not even them sure them the actual S300PMU2 or S400 should be performant enough to hit a SR71 from long distance.

            You must be kidding…

      • thatmrgguy

        One of our Auto-track radar crews tracked one across either Arizona or New Mexico in the late seventies. Crew of radar were admonished to never tell about it,( but you know how that goes.), and the air crew got yelled at for letting the radar track them.

        I don’t know for sure, but I would assume the SR-71 had radar jammers.

      • Stratege

        >The SR-71 wasn’t being countered very well by the Soviets. They never hit one with a missile not to the day it was retired.

        Myth. SA-5 (S-200) SAM was more than enough to counter the SR-71. Just compare the parameters of the SR-71 and S-200’s missile.
        Blackbird wasn’t hit by a SAM because it wasn’t used in operations deeply inside the Soviet air space.

    • ajspades

      One thing that should not be overlooked is that these radar and SAM systems are inherently defensive and tactical in nature, while air power is offensive and strategic. Meaning while potential adversaries spend money, manpower, time, & resources on a defensive technology, we continue to advance in offensive means.

    • oblatt22

      Sort of like when you buy a broken down Edsel to force the other guy to buy a Ferrari. And the other guy gets all the the girls and can pay for it with the interest on the loan you had to take for the Edsel.

      Yea I can see how that would work in losertown LOL

    • rtsy

      An arms race with China and Russia is NOT a good thing when they are the ones paying our bills and fueling the European portions of NATO forces.

      It is also a race China and Russia are WINNING. Not only are they spending less to counter our much more expensive abilities, they are both advancing in their respective spheres of influence while we are cleaning up after two lost wars.

  • Dfens

    Hell, you’d think stealth was the first improvement in military technology to come along ever. The sword existed before the gun. Should we go back to swords because now we have tanks and you can’t hurt a tank with a rifle?

    • Nick

      Yeah, because swords are sweet. Just ask Jack Churchill.

      • Jay

        Pfft. how ’bout bagpipes! they seemed to have worked during the D-day landings

  • Kole

    Low Frequency radars are notorious for emitting too much to hide. Any system with one will be jammed or shot at with HARMs. You might be able to see us, but we will see you too.

    • Dfens

      And they’re easy enough to spoof. We were doing that with B-52s in the 50’s. The race goes on. It didn’t start with stealth and it won’t end with stealth.

      • Bernard

        Spoofing and jamming can be combined with stealth. Stealth isn’t going anywhere. They’ll just need ECCM escorts.

    • The one armed man

      They also aren’t precise enough to guide missiles and are too large to be moved easily. I would also imagine LF radars were taken into account by the guys making stealth tech. Or is the DOD that incompetent?

    • BILL D

      Isn’t that the whole reason of purchasing the F18 growlers, to safely lead in the super stealth planes ?

    • Geo

      That’s the best point I’ve heard so far. You won’t be able to see us for long.

      • LOL

        also one of the most laughable and absurd points so far.

        no need to see you for long. once the F-22s are exposed, the element of surprise is already lost.

        and no, they can see you for as long as they like unless your HARMs are immune to detection, a pipe dream that even idiots at the Pentagon wouldn’t bother to indulge.

        • Beno

          I think there is some confusion here.

          HARM is an anti radar missle that is designed to follow a radar emmission back to its source and blow the hell out of it. the latest version is designed to lockthe coordinates from one emission and track to that point so your dead even if you turn off your radar.

          Obviously the only counter is not to run your radar, which is just fine too.

          • LOL

            LOL. I don’t know what’s so hard for you to understand. Any object in the sky that reflects EM waves is subject to detection by radar. That includes HARMs. Based on LM’s claims, the F-22s are stealthier than HARMs. What’s the logical inference when the F-22s can be detected?

            I don’t want to go into the logistics of the use of HARMs or why your conjectured use of HARMs is delusional in real conflicts with a country like Russia or China.

          • Jay Gibbs

            So you detect a HARM ( and probably dozens more) streaking toward your IADS, what are you going to do to stop them? Shoot them down with super-expensive, fighter-sized SAMs that have never even been proven in battle? It’s simple. You are immobile. We can see you, we know where you are, and we will target you, again, and again, and again, until we blow your entire IADS off the face of the planet. And then you will die. We are aces at this very thing. We’ve done it in every war before now, and we’ll keep doing it.

          • Rahat

            HARMs have an est. range of 150 kilometers. The Russian S-400 has an operational range of 250 km (48N6 missile). So technically, an advanced SAM system like the S-400, guided by LF radars, will easily out range, and out guns a HARM shooting F-35. Further, they can easily add a CIWS to these radars, and add another extra layer of defense to the system.

            Besides what’s the point of buying $100+ million stealth aircraft when they can be detected and destroyed by SAMs. If we have to fly low, and fire HARMs, why can’t we just buy more F-16s/F-15s? They’ll do the job…

          • Jay Gibbs

            My point was, regardless of what we use to do the job, the job will get done. Period.

            Also, you can’t make the supposition that LF radar can “guide” an S-400. The most up to date radars associated with the S-400 are the, 92N2E “Grave Stone”, and the 96L6 “Cheese Board”. These are VASTLY different frequencies and power levels as compared with low frequency radars. These technologies are not magic. You can’t simply plug and play these bits of electronics together and expect perfect results. More than likely, they’d have to build an entirely new missile system, based on a low frequency radar.

          • NathanS

            Isn’t that what JSOW missiles are for? The ER model has a stand-off range of 560km.

          • Dylan

            That’s assuming that the aggressor is immediately detected at maximum range, which is improbable. And as has been mentioned, the tactics for utilizing the F-35 and other stealth platforms is (and has been) to lead them in with Wild Weasel aircraft (F-16, F-18, etc..) in areas heavily saturated with air defenses that would severely degrade their stealth advantage.

          • JohnnyRanger

            LF radars can DETECT. They can’t (yet) TRACK (well) or GUIDE. So unless you’ve got a CAP nearby – and hey, maybe you do – you probably have better than even odds of loosing a volley of HARMs at the LF emitter without getting shot down.

            The obvious, glaring, gaping hole in my argument is that my notional stealth aircraft, which is raining HARMs down upon the enemy like the wrath of God, is maintaining its stealthy profile by carrying the HARMs internally. Which neither the Raptor nor the Lightning can, you know, DO.

          • biens


            The Raptor and the Lightning can’t even fly safely for extended period of time, for crying out loud.

            Has target acquisition and fire control software been made available to the F-35 yet? I don’t think so.

          • reality

            And do you remotely believe that detection will be at max range of the s-400’s range? Really? At best it will “probably” be a closer range detection for the enemy which will then yes, get blasted with harms that it has a less than reasonable chance to shoot down, better to shut down and if mobile somehow move. Anyone that .looks at this intelligently should understand that stealth was never the be-all, end all. It is an advantage that forces the enemy to counter, and they are. The Germans were working on new battle tanks every year no matter how successful their Tigers or Panthers were, modern militaries should be doing the same albeit with incredibly long lead times for their weapon systems.

          • S O

            Actually many radars are on masts. Often times it’s enough to simply depress the mast while the vehicle is behind a building. At most the building will be blown up.

            And Harm doesn’t need to make notes of a coordinate- it cannot discern the range to the emitter anyways. It only needs a vector and an anchor location of itself. The rest can be done via INS.

          • Megaforce

            HARM is practically a passive radarsearching missile like the old Air-to-Air missiles who follows a fighters radar, but with a broadband radar detector so the can attack radars with different frequences. Modern radar systems therefore uses frequence-stepping to avoid HARM-missiles. The new Russian systems uses several radarbands both for stepping and for seaching for stealth planes.

    • LOL

      LOL. Utterly nonsensical. That’s as idiotic as saying red colored lights emit too much to hide while blue lights emit very little. And if anti-stealth radars can detect the F-22, they can detect HARMs. In fact the currently deployed anti-stealth radars have been designed with the capability to lock on small missiles.

      • The one armed man

        Care to back that up?

    • and

      HARM missiles cannot be guided onto low frequency radars to my knowledge.Jamming: radars can of course be jammed but any source of jamming exposes itself and some SAMs do have home on jam capability.
      Russia has developed SA-15 (Tor) and Pantsyr systems to provide hard kill option against HARM, etc. Of course any such SAM combination in sufficient numbers is extremely expensive……..

      • NathanS

        If it’s true that existing HARM missiles may not be able to lock onto low frequency radars, their location is revealed to AWAC and other surveillance aircraft, or MALD missiles (i.e. decoy missile that “look” like air-craft and their purpose is to thus reveal the location of air-defense systems).

        As for jamming – it works the same way noise-cancelling headphones do – by transmitting the same wavelength out of phase, thus cancelling the returning radar signal – so to the sender it appears like there was no response. It doesn’t “paint” the aircraft at all necessarily.

  • LetsLobRob

    Back to the drawing board.

    • LOL

      will need to talk to Chinese lenders and see how much the US government can borrow.

  • OriginalK

    Could it be that’s why the US has invested in small super stealthy drones? To loiter waiting for the anti-stealth radars to turn on in order to take them out first? Nah, the defense establishment are all just big stupids.

    • nick987654

      That’s what the X-47B could be used for but they don’t want to put in into service. They want a much bigger and more expensive UCAV instead, maybe not even stealthy..

    • NathanS

      You’re right – it would be stupid for the defense establishment to develop this when they already have the ADM-160 MALD missile to do this.

      They are low-cost missiles that have the same signal characteristics as existing allied air-craft. You fire them throughout the enemy air-defense to determine where the SAM site locations are.

  • nick987654

    Upgrading the F-35 airframe for more low-frequency stealth may eventually be a good idea for the future. Maybe it could be possible to turn it into a tailless delta with the latest advancements in aerodynamics.

    The new variant could be common for the AF and Navy (except for the landing gear and arresting hook), which would reduce production costs. It would probably be much faster than the F-35C, which is a good thing.

    That new variant could be put in production after the F-35B production has finished, say around 2028.

    If it were possible, around half of the F-35s produced would be more stealthy and faster ( especially with a variable cycle engine) for the long term. For around 5 billion in development it could be a good deal if it were possible.

    • LOL

      You know zilch about the properties of electromagnetic waves.

      Why not attend some physics classes at your local community college if you are so interested in defense tech.

      You are wasting our time and embarrassing yourself in the process.

      • nick987654

        Wow that was a stupid answer. And in fact I am quite interested about physics. It is even one of my passions.

        Only engineers working directly in stealth and aerodynamics would know if modifying an F-35 like that would be possible or not, certainly not a know-it-all like you.

        And I am not saying that it is DEFINITELY possible, and I am not saying either that it would be as stealthy as a real 6th gen brand new design.

        • LOL

          nick, read my lips, it’s DEFINITELY NOT POSSIBLE.

          because of the properties of electromagnetic waves – size of the object vs wavelength of the radar beam.

          that’s why I told you to attend some physics classes.

          • nick987654

            I DID attend physics classes. In fact I am a telecommunications engineer. Although I admit it was a long time ago and I haven’t worked in that area ( I have worked as a programmer ). I continue to be interested in physics.

            With a delta design ( comparable to Boeing’s F/A-XX design possibly ), the F-35 would have a shape that would have less scattering at lower frequencies. If you take the example of the super hornet, it didn’t become stealthy, but its RCS was still lowered by an order of magnitude.

            Would it be possible to convert an F-35 to that kind of design? The F-16 was converted successfully to a delta ( F-16XL). LM has proposed also the F-16X and FB-22 ( some of them without tails ) . Also one of the super hornet initial proposal was a delta canard. It would cost probably no more than 5 billion to do that on a plane.

            Maybe it would be possible to gain some level of stealth. At the same time the CV variant would have some supercruise capability instead of being so slow. And the CV and CTOL variant would have a high level of commonality ( they would use the same wing ).

            Only engineers working for Boeing and Lockheed would have the competence to determine whether it would be possible or not.

          • CharleyA

            What LOL is attempting to tell you is that in general, a fighter sized aircraft with vertical stabs is easier to detect with VHF radars. You can reduce the detection range by removing the Vstabs and enlarging the aircraft somewhat. But that would mean a new airframe, not merely a “redesign” of the F-35. It would make more sense just to go with a clean-sheet design like the F/A-XX. Anyway, with the track record of the F-35 program, it doesn’t make much sense to mod an already compromised design that is not performing to its original KPPs.

          • nick987654

            I see well what you mean but the new variant would have no horizontal and vertical tails and the wing would have a more stealthy shape (along the lines of those proposed for the F/A-XX). Possibly the wing would start at the air intake to have a long leading edge and no chime ( small LERX ).

            If you want a larger plane, expect the cost to be significantly more. Taking into account the R&D of the F/A-XX the unit cost would be around twice as much as an F-35 produced in much greater number with the Air Force and allies.

            With a delta the F-35 would also probably have a higher ceiling.

            The F-35A performances are acceptable, it is more the C that is slow. The new wing would help for that.

            The USN abandonned large fighters in the late 80’s when the F-14 production stopped because they are not cost effective and it is not possible to fill the carrier air wings with such expensive planes.

            And another advantage of the F-35 is that the future variable cycle engine will probably be designed to fit it.

            Again I am not saying that this modification to the F-35 would definitely be possible.

          • CharleyA

            To reduce RCS in the VHF band, the physical size of the aircraft needs to increase. You are correct that it would cost more than a smaller aircraft, as is generally the case when weight/size increases, so do costs – although if you are optimizing a design for one variant vs. three, you’ll probably realize some development savings. The F-14 was retired for two reasons: one, it was packed with high maintenance, 1960’s technologies, and two, with the evaporation of the USSR, it was thought that its inherent range and dash speed were no longer required. It is becoming clear however, that the current CVW desperately needs a longer ranged AS fighter that has a robust strike capability. That is why a larger F/A-XX type with much greater internal fuel and weps carriage is desired.

          • nick987654

            Well prepare your wallet because it will cost a lot.

            The USAF has more than twice the budget of the Navy for its tactical planes and managed to afford only 187 F-22s. If you want an even bigger plane than that with more internal fuel, plus probably an IRST, more modern engines etc, how many will the Navy be able to buy?

            With a variable cycle engine, the subsonic range of the F-35 can be increased by up to 35%, which would give a range of about 875nm. Plus the possibility of air refueling. That’s pretty good.

            The F-35 should also be able to carry 6 internal air-to-air missiles later, which would be sufficient in most cases. A modified F-35 with faster aerodynamics and variable cycle engine could well supercruise at mach 1.3+ with a top speed of mach 1.8+ maybe. This is a useful speed because everything is carried internally.

            This being said I agree that the current F-35C is too slow for the long term, but I doubt a large fighter-bomber would be affordable.

          • CharleyA

            Ideally, the F/A-XX would leverage what is good from the F-35 program, but be free of aerodynamic compromises introduced by the -B variant / one single large engine. Not sure how you can improve the F-35’s basic aerodynamics when saddled with the above. The F/A-XX should have weapons bays large enough to carry a standoff ASM / LRASM – the LRASM won’t fit into F-35A/C bays.

            The F-22 program was poorly managed, allowing unrealistic/creeping specifications which led to high costs. The high cost led to curtailment of the buy, the classic death spiral. It is also BTW, not really a long range fighter.

            If enough design discipline is enforced, the F/A-XX need not be any more expensive than the F-35C is turning out to be – excepting R&D.

          • nick987654

            There will probably be only one next generation variable cycle engine, it will be in the F135 class and will be adapted to the F-35. If you want other engines you will have to use an older generation engine. 2 smaller engines would not provide more thrust than the variable cycle engine, so you can’t make the plane significantly larger/heavier than the F-35.

            The F-35 can carry 4 LRASMs externally. That would not increase the RCS too much due to the fact that they are stealthy and that the pylons are designed to have a reduced RCS.

            Also the JASSM almost fits inside the bays ( the JASSM is 4.27m long vs 4.1m for JSOW and the bays are relatively large ). A slightly shortened variant of the LRASM could eventually be made to fit. If that were possible it would be a good idea because it would give the F-35 a long range strike capability in stealth mode, and another variant of the missile could eventually be made for land attack.

            The super hornet has also had some development problems. The plane was relatively simple compared to the F-22/F-35 so you can’t really compare these programs. They had quite a lot of problems with the wings despite the fact that they had extensive experience with the legacy wing.

            Thinking that the F/A-XX will necessarily be developped more easily than the F-22 is a bit naive.

            If an upgraded F-35 is not feasable, I would rather go for a medium size single engine plane with a faster aerodynamics/better stealth and slightly longer bays than the F-35 and as much in common with the F-35 as possible.

          • CharleyA

            If a variable cycle engine is developed, there is no reason not to expect the technology to be adapted by other engine programs. BTW, two smaller engines provide redundancy to a number of systems beyond the power plants. The F-35 is a single because of the STOVL / lift fan drive requirement. The Navy preferred a twin.

            Just because a store is stealthy does not mean it will not effect the overall RCS of the platform when mounted externally.

            “Almost fits” means it doesn’t fit. The LRASM is being designed now – if there was a way to make it fit in a F-35 bay and retain its performance, they would do it.

            The Super Hornet had development issues, as any other aircraft. It suffered from wing drop – just as the F-35 suffers from wing drop. The issue on both A/C have been mitigated to a level deemed acceptable. The SH also suffered from weps separation issues, resulting in a kludge that increased drag and fuel consumption. That solution was also deemed acceptable. If the SH program had the resources that JSF currently has, the Navy would have redesigned the wing.

            It is not naive to say that good program management usually produces a better result. Insulating the PMO from “influence” is not easy, but it can be done with strong leadership from both inside and particularly outside the program.

            The Navy has paid in blood in its transition to the jet age. Once the Navy replaced all its single engine designs with twins, its horrendous accident rate finally decreased to where it is today. You cannot convince me that going backwards to single engine designs is a good thing. Although jet engine reliability has improved over time, they still fail on a regular basis. I read a lot of incident reports containing precautionary engine shutdowns – lots of them. This option is not available on a single engine jet.

          • nick987654

            If you want to develop another variable cycle engine, that will add significantly to your R&D cost.

            I don’t know whether a slightly shorter LRASM would fit, but the bays are relatively large and could accommodate a missile of signicant size. The JSOW is relatively narrow compared to the Mk84 JDAM. The JSOW-ER, which has a range of around 300nm, should fit inside.

            Today’s engine are much more reliable than in the past, you can’t compare the level or reliability of an 60’s era engine and that of a 2020’s era.

            The SH’s wing could have been redesigned completely but it goes to show that Boeing doesn’t make miracles.

            Before you embark in a new development program, it is very easy to underestimate how difficult it is going to be. Designing a very fast plane that can land on a carrier with a high level of stealth will be a very hard task.

          • CharleyA

            R&D is good.

            Thank you for confirming that the F-35 bays are not large enough for the LRASM.

            In general, newer jet engines are more reliable than those in the past – we should hope so. But any turbine can fail, and they do on a regular basis, wit the F135, the RR Trent, the GEnx – all recent designs. Luckily, with the latter two, there were at least one additional engine to avert disaster. Had AF-27’s catastrophic failure occurred anytime after V1, the outcome could have been very different for the pilot.

            Ah, so its all about Boeing… The SH was designed and developed by McAir before Boeing acquired them. Weak. The Navy judged that it was not cost effective to redesign the wing. I personally think that was a mistake on the Navy’s part.

            Developing a carrier aircraft is hard, but the US manufacturing base has been doing it for quite some time. The trick will be balancing an appropriate level of stealth with an appropriate level of performance. There were lesson learned from the A-12 debacle, and there will be additional lessons (re)learned from the JSF program. It is management’s responsibility to apply those lessons.

          • nick987654

            Huh… I never said the LRASM could fit inside the bays. I said that eventually, it could by shortening them a little bit, I am not sure. The width of the bays are relatively wide and could well be enough for the width of the LRASM. I am not sure about the width, but the Mk-84 with the JDAM kit is relatively wide ( around 25” ).

            “550 mm in body width”

            550mm is 21.6”.

            For BGU-31:
            “wingspan: GBU-31, 2 ft. 1 in.”

            2 ft. 1 in = 25”

            In fact the size of the bays are an advantage of the F-35. They could for instance have 3 AMRAAMs each and Lockheed even said a few years back that possibly more than 8
            4 SDBs could fit per bay.

          • nick987654

            typo error: more than 4 SDBs per bay, not 8 of course.

          • OldRealLife

            OK Then… Sounds like you guys have figured all the answers to your hypothetical invincible Super-Delta- Lightning-Hornet 35D thing – in your head.

            Now all you need to do is get the real world Physics to cooperate with your grand plan.

            Oh yeah, then there is the small matter of:
            -selling the concept to the DOD
            -the budget
            -the manufacturing base
            -all that pesky R&D stuff
            -project management in cooperation with 3 services who are constantly throwing in additional contradicting requirements

            … And your one your way to realizing your dream

            Maybe there’s a different venue for you to look for – that’s a little more in line with discussing possibilities of what life might be like.

            The discussion in this thread is more about current events of the Here & Now.

          • nick987654

            It is not my “dream”. All I am saying is that the Navy should make a Analysis of Alternatives including also a modification to the F-35.

            Starting a new aircraft from scratch is likely to end like the F-22 program with very few units being built.

            – that variant would be produced AFTER the Marines have finished building their F-35Bs. So there would be no STOVL requirement anymore.
            – that variant would probably be slightly better than the F-35A ( probably capable of higher altitude and more stealthy ). So why wouldn’t the Air Force want
            it if it costs roughly the same as the F-35A thanks to commonality with the Navy’s variant?
            – That variant would cost less to develop than a new plane for the Navy. The Navy intends to buy 500-600 of those planes to replace the Super Hornets so unit cost is absolutely paramount.

            The development would be done by the Navy for the most part as they are the ones who would benefit the most from the modifications ( especially more speed than the F-35C ).

            Another thing is that with this upgrade the F-35 production could continue a few more years beyond 2037, say until 2042-2045, because the plane is better. And at that point ( in 2045 ), the production
            could even be reverted back to the STOVL version to replace the old F-35Bs. So you wouldn’t have to develop a new STOVL plane, which is always a PITA to do.

            Is it possible to modify an F-35 like that? I don’t know. But again, the F-16 has been succefully modified to the XL variant with not much budget ( with only the manufacterer’s funds ).
            And LM has proposed several FB-22 concepts. I don’t think changing the fuselage would be necessary so the modification costs could be kept relatively low ( around 5 billion ).

          • tesla

            Truly, a single engine Navy airframe that has a failure becomes a fish.

      • Firehawk

        LOL go crawl back into the shithole you came from!

  • veester

    ‘Increasingly sophisticated radar in China and Russia may soon be able to pierce the stealth armor on F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, according to a news report.”

    Our solution:
    “China is participating in the event — the world’s largest naval exercise, held off the coast of Hawaii — for the first time this year, with four vessels.”

    The U.S. is naive if not ignorant of their intent. This is grade school logic.

  • @MagutBergamasco

    Can I ask a question? Forgive me for this but I am very stupid and ignorant, but please waste some of your precious time helping me. So why is it that if stealth technology is so overrated and easy to counter China and Russia are spending billion in building a stealth aircraft 20 years after F-22’s first flight?

    • idontknow

      Where did you get the idea that China and Russia are spending billion in building a stealth aircraft 20 years after F-22’s first flight?

      • citanon

        J-20, J-31.

        • idontknow

          how much have they cost so far?

          when did they start developing those?

        • LOL

          that’s not exactly what’s being asked.

          read the question again

          • citanon

            Oh look, another muppet who knows zero about stealth or EW, but makes ignorant condescending comments on the internet. LOL indeed.

          • LOL

            Unlike you, I don’t count false information as knowledge.

          • citanon

            Says LOL< as he spreads some more bullshit. ROFL>

          • LOL

            You are being modest. You are spreading it better by ROFL. And you seem to enjoy rolling back and forth on it.


          • Citanon

            Well you’d certainly know about rolling back and forth in it. Enough to make a second account I see. :D

          • biens

            LOL is correct. Neither China nor Russia are spending billion(s) on stealth aircraft. Moreover, neither are doing it “20 years after F-22’s first flight.” They started a lot earlier than that, with Russia being the first country to propose stealth jets.

            You are being way too confident about what you actually know.

      • @MagutBergamasco

        What about the T-50? Does the shape give you a hint? To me it looks like they are trying to build something stealth..ish.

        • Ben

          The T-50 is definitely designed to be stealthy. Not to the degree of the F-22, but close.

          • LOL

            It’s just a demonstration / transitional model. Russian designers are smart enough not to follow the dumb ways and ideas of their American counterpart.

          • Ben

            … So you’re saying the Russians spent a fortune designing a stealthy shaped airframe just to turn around and say “GOTCHA!” to the US by making the production model something totally different and not stealthy at all.


          • LOL

            the Russians didn’t have a fortune to spend on anything.

            the Chinese had quite fortune at their disposal, but they had refused to spend more than a fraction of a fraction of what the dumb-ass Americans have poured into the F-22 and the F-35

          • LOL

            should also mention that despite China’s modest spending, they have succeeded in creating two prototypes that are, according to Australian analysts, just as good or better than the F-22 and the F-35.

          • citanon

            So you’re not only an expert in radars but knows the finances of the Chinese military as well? Thats pretty impressive. To store so much “insight”, your rear end must have a pretty big hard drive shoved up in there complete with its own power supply. Now that I think about it, that’d pretty much explain your attitude as well.

          • biens

            Actually what he has posted isn’t expert knowledge, but common knowledge, ie, the stuff that the typical reader should know if he follows the news regularly.

            Perhaps you know too little.

          • Ben

            There’s absolutely no way you could type that up with a straight face.

          • David

            Sure, which is why Russia ties to steal and reverse engineer much of our military technology. The same US technology that has consistently beat up on russian junk in the middle east. Dumb American ideas like computers and GPS….

          • Riceball

            To be fair, what the Russians sell to Middle Eastern countries isn’t the same as what they themselves use, it’s pretty well known that the Russians (or Soviets as the case may be) sell export models of their stuff to their friends and allies, we do the same. I don’t know if they have levels of export equipment but from what I understand the stuff they sold to the Middle East were usually stripped down export models without a lot of the bells and whistles that the same planes and tanks used by the Soviet/Russian military have.

            In addition to the actual quality of the equipment sold to the Middle East it could be argued part of the reason why they performed so poorly (against Western tech) is that the training of the operators is sub par at best. I’ve heard stories about the quality of the training and the performance of allied troops from the ME during Desert Storm and none of it was flattering. I’d be willing to bet that 1v1 a USAF pilot in an F-15 would beat a Saudi pilot in an F-15 because of training.

          • Jay Gibbs

            Well, the Indians were quite unimpressed your your, “demonstration / transitional model.” They publicly shat on it, actually.

            How droll.

    • Godzilla

      Stealth is not useless. But if you look at the Russian and Chinese designs they are taking aerobatic performance into account in the design to a much greater degree that what was done for the F-35. The Russians learned the lesson with the Mig-15 and Mig-25 which had crap maneuverability and were supposed to rely on missiles to hit the target. The success designs like the Mig-21 and Su-27 were a lot more agile. In the US more or less the same issue happened with the F-105 Thunderchiefs and F-111 in Vietnam and this led to 1980s designs like the F-15 and F-16 which had a lot more agility. It seems someone ‘forgot’ the lesson again.

      I know missiles are a lot better today but visual confirmation of a target is necessary more often than some people would like to admit.

    • hibeam

      You were correct about the value of my time so I have to assume your statements about your level of intelligence were also correct. Where were we going with this again?

      • hialpha

        Dude, you crack me up. Seriously funny.

        • biens


    • xXTomcatXx

      Beautifully posted.

    • Charles

      Simple: because US radars are still built using super high-frequencies, which are great for targeting, unless you design stealth aircraft.

      Hence – we designed aircraft we have difficulty detecting. So are the Chinese and Soviets.

  • hibeam

    When the Chinese downloaded all of the details of the F-35 I was worried something like this might happen.

    • LOL


      Those radars had been in place even before the F-22s came off the assembly line.

      You don’t actually need the design details of the plane when you design anti-stealth radars. It helps but it’s not essential.

  • Big-Dean

    Here’s a consideration, sheer power can over any stealth a/c.

    Land based radar system has the advantage of potentially unlimited power output. You throw enough power out there and you can get a return on anything, then you can simply disable it with microwave bursts.

    • LOL

      Already been implemented.

      Some people have had a lot of fun with the skin of the F-22 while it was deployed in Japan. It was allegedly a main reason why the F-22 were withdrawn from Japan after just 3 months of “deployment”

    • David

      Yeah, I guess you’ve never heard of H.A.R.M.. You keep pinging away with that super powerful radar of yours in an armed conflict so H.A.R.M. can destroy that radar in a matter of moments and then what?

    • Frank

      Land base radars are no match for a low altitude Tomahawk.

  • citanon

    Countering stealth with long wavelength radars is a pipe dream. Here’s why:

    UHF, VHF, and to a lesser extent, L band radars are better able to counter fighter shaped aircraft because they work at longer wavelengths. The intrinsic trade-off is that wavelength inversely proportional to frequency, so longer wavelength = lower frequency.

    When you go lower in frequency, you’re on a direct collision course with Moore’s law, because modern digital signal processing systems are so fast, that they can actually sample, fully deconvolute and actively cancel incoming radiowave via active means. This can effectively turn the aircraft invisible until it is so close to the radar that the reflected signal overwhelms the emitting power of the onboard EW systems.

    The X-band is not nearly as vulnerable because it’s about 10-100x as fast but the VHF, UHF, and L bands are now comparatively slow compared to modern equipment.

    Of course, no one in the public knows if the F-35 or the F-22 actually have such systems on board, but the Rafale does have such a system, and it was designed in the 80s and 90s. Since then, technology has advanced, so if Rafale’s systems can pose a challenge for radars, one could hardly imagine what modern systems can do.

    Stealth is not magical, but it is by no means easy to defeat. Not all elements of stealth are readily apparent from the shaping of the aircraft. Not all elements of stealth are passive. Those who say that EW is incompatible of being carried onboard stealth aircraft simply have ZERO understanding of EW. EW is ENHANCED by stealth.

    This is why both our adversaries and our allies are so desperate to develop stealth aircraft of their own. We would be fools to throw away our lead in this area.

    • idontknow

      what was your PhD thesis about?

      no, I didn’t think so either.

    • ajspades

      Working models of what have been in place for 20 years?
      The F-117 was an early example of a highly specialized design that worked fabulously while it was relevant, so we moved on.
      Anti-stealth is a misnomer, since radar is designed to detect stuff, and stealth is designed to conceal stuff. Newer radars are just better at what they do and may be designed to exploit perceived vulnerabilities with some aspects of aircraft design.
      Stealth is still a valuable aspect of air-to-air or strike aircraft. Reducing detection range is an improvement, it can save lives. Would you prefer we not do stealth because it is difficult?

    • citanon

      What that article calls “passive radar” is really just a receiver antenna that is not linked to the emitter. It still depends on emitters that can be located and attacked, still uses radio frequencies that can be counteracted by EW techniques and still faces signature reduction from the stealth treatment.

      Multistatic networks of antennas will clearly be a part of newer generation air defenses, but they are not magic and something has to emit. That works great…. On airplanes that don’t shoot back.

      Oh, and the crap the Czechs and Ukrainian were selling? About the only thing those units could tell you is that an airplane is in the middle of your city vaporizing your command centers and air defense sites. Stuff that, you know, you could look up and see.

      Ultimately the future air war will be won by forces that have the greatest mobility, concealment, data collection and information fusion. Now, if only America had designed a stealth fighter that could fly around undetected, soak up information like a sponge, share it in secret with all of its buddies and fuse all that data together and carry a bunch of stand off weapons to take down enemy networks in the air and on the ground.

      Oh…. Wait… :D

      • zbigniewmazurak

        The F-35 will not be “undetected”, because it is NOT stealthy from any aspect except the front – and even that only in the X, S, and K/Ku bands.

    • S O

      “Those who say that EW is incompatible of being carried onboard stealth aircraft simply have ZERO understanding of EW. EW is ENHANCED by stealth.”

      Yes, but it also reduces it permanently and even more when activated. The F-22 is apparently largely devoid of ECM, especially so compared to Typhoon and similar new aircraft which make use of towed decoys, expendable steering decoys, plenty IR/UV missile approach sensors etc..

      • citanon

        Not exactly. ECM can work on a couple of different ways.

        For electronic surveillance systems like radar to detect you, they need to be able to get a signal from airplane that is higher than the background noise. (In the case of radar, that’s specially “shaped” radio waves reflected from your airplane, in the case of passive surveillance, it can be emissions such as your own radar, your radio, etc).

        ECM needs to mask the signal from your airplane. There are two ways of doing it:

        1. You can increase the noise by broadcasting a high powered signal. This is how traditional ECM worked.

        2. You can decrease the signal. This is much more complicated, but increasingly enabled by modern technology.

        3. You can do something really naughty like injecting malware into enemy EW systems.

        The AESA on the F-22 and the F-35 can both do ECM, probably using a combination of the three measures depending on the situation. The other ECM capabilities of these planes are classified, so we can only speculate. There are plans to eventually give the F-35 the same NGJ pod as the Growlers, but it’s not a high priority for the moment.

        Ok, for outright jamming (raising the noise floor), what is the advantage of having a stealth aircraft like the F-35?

        1. It can get in closer before turning on its jammer. This allows it to put more power on target.
        2. Once it turns off its jammer, it disappears. There’s nothing for air defense missiles to hit.

        So now, what happens when you have several F-35s networked together, turning on or off NGJ pods at random to cover radar sites while flying unpredictably at 600 mph? The air defense sites end up being jammed all the time without ever getting a good track on the jamming aircraft. This creates major headaches for counteracting the jammers.

        I’m sure the Air Force and the Navy will introduce these types of capabilities as necessary, but the bottom line is this: just because you are LO or VLO, doesn’t mean you cannot choose to be very loud at precise moments, and if you are, doesn’t mean that the very next millisecond you can’t go back to being LO or VLO again.

        • S O

          “For (…) radar to detect you, they need to be able to get a signal from airplane that is higher than the background noise.”

          No, natural (Doppler) and intentional modulation as well as much data processing makes sure this is incorrect.

          “There are two ways of doing it: ”

          In addition to you actually counting to three, that’s simply no comprehensive list. You could also manipulate (add to) the return to fake being something different, for example. You can also create false targets without much emission power.

          It’s confusing hwo you suppose the F-35 would make use of a NGJ pod; there’s afaik no indication for this whatsoever. There’s also no indication for the NGJ pod being LO enough to maintain F-35 LO rating. The F-35 radar will be limited to a front cone of emissions, whereas legacy jammer pods tended to have front and rear cones. Plans rarely work in wartime; you also need to cover your ass.

          And then there’s the issue of a jammer emitting and thus allowing triangulation (even for altitude) by multiple passive radars – giving away the location.
          In many regions (such as Mid East) you could then on most days and nights lock on a high-flying plane at impressive ranges with E/O, UV and IR sensors fromt eh ground – and engage it with a wide range of hard kill systems.

          “just because you are LO or VLO, doesn’t mean you cannot choose to be very loud at precise moments”

          Except that beign LO or VLO largely restricts your options for having the necessary gear with you in the first place.

          Seriously; get off the high-tech cult. It’s ridiculous to believ stuff will work out as advertised. it hardly ever did in wartime.
          Did you know Sparrow III was once believed to kill hostile aircraft at night through clouds before they could even open fire? It made “gun” sound like “ballast”.

          • citanon

            Not exactly. ECM can work on a couple of different ways.

            “No, natural (Doppler) and intentional modulation as well as much data processing makes sure this is incorrect.”

            It doesn’t matter what you do you still need a good signal to noise ratio. It gets better with lock-in amplification etc, but not magical.

            Yes, you can also spoof.

            “It’s confusing hwo you suppose the F-35 would make use of a NGJ pod; there’s afaik no indication for this whatsoever. There’s also no indication for the NGJ pod being LO enough to maintain F-35 LO rating.”

            They started work on a version of the NGJ pod but it’s been delayed. See for example:

            And yes, you can make it LO with shaping. The hardest part is the turbine that provides power, but there are ideas around for that.

            “The F-35 radar will be limited to a front cone of emissions….”

            I strongly suspect that the radar is not the only ECM feature on there. It’s just the one that’s publically talked about.

            Also, only Bill Sweetman and the APA morons think F-35 is frontal aspect stealth only. It is emphatically not.

            “And then there’s the issue of a jammer emitting and thus allowing triangulation (even for altitude) by multiple passive radars – giving away the location.”

            You get the same problem with jamming from any aircraft, which is why you want to team up in a network of randomly emitting LO jammers if you want to make your jammers more survivable. When that day comes, the Growler will no longer suffice. The Navy will have to go with the F-35 or a UAV.

            “In many regions (such as Mid East) you could then on most days and nights lock on a high-flying plane at impressive ranges with E/O, UV and IR sensors fromt eh ground – and engage it with a wide range of hard kill systems.”

            The US military already anticipates at 30 mile hard bubble for modern IADs even with LO. Doctrines and weapon loads are configured for operating outside that zone. You are not going to get optical systems to go out much further than that and do the job of radar, especially from the ground where the denser atmosphere interferes with IR transmittance:

            SDB I and II for example, have ranges well in excess of 30 nmiles. It’s a BIG sky out there.

            “Except that beign LO or VLO largely restricts your options for having the necessary gear with you in the first place.”

            Again, you can make stealthy pods. You just have to have the right shaping. Further more, you don’t have to broadcast as much power, because you can get close before you turn on the loud speakers. Remember power density scales as R^2.

            “Seriously; get off the high-tech cult. It’s ridiculous to believ stuff will work out as advertised. it hardly ever did in wartime.
            Did you know Sparrow III was once believed to kill hostile aircraft at night through clouds before they could even open fire? It made “gun” sound like “ballast”.”

            It’s not a cult. It works. People look at older gen BVRAAMs and think they will never work. Then the AMRAAM came on the scene. How many gun kills have there been since the 90s? How many missile shots by contrast?

            People thought you need VID to engage enemy targets. FF to post GWI – no longer true.

            People thought the SFW was a pipe dream. The weapon of 7 consecutive miracles. Then all 7 miracles happened exactly like the designers planned the first time it was used in combat.

            People have tried doing various degrees of stealth for 50 years and never got it working. Then the F-117 came along.

            People said that precision guided munitions were too expensive. Look at where we are today.

            People….. you get the idea.

    • tesla

      Egads, stealth radars dont emit RF? Seriously? What do you think they use ? Star trek receivers? Duhhhh please.

    • biens


      you are making some silly crap up here.

      quote “The X-band is not nearly as vulnerable because it’s about 10-100x as fast but the VHF, UHF, and L bands are now comparatively slow compared to modern equipment.”

      that’s total bullshit.

      anyone with some undergrad exposure to EM theory can tell instantly you are a phony.

  • hibeam

    In a shooting war I wonder how long big fat stationary high power radars are gonna last? Like about 2 seconds would be my guess.

    • LOL

      that’s some high power hyperbole BS.

      enlighten us how your weapon of choice to destroy such high power radars in 2 seconds.

      • LOL

        edit: meant to type “enlighten us ON your weapon of choice …”

      • David

        Ever hear of H.A.R.M.? Is your super duper radar, which I bet you don’t know how it works, equipped with force fields and anti missile systems? Because if not it is an easy and exposed target. Oh by the way H.A.R.M. stands for high speed anti radiation missile, they’ve been around for quite some time not that you would know.

        • Dec

          Apparently you don’t know anything about HARM other than having heard about it. I am not going to get into the details because I don’t believe you have the necessary education to understand it.

      • David

        The radar’s high power makes it an east target. H.A.R.M. loves those high power emissions.

        • Jay Gibbs

          Any land attack weapon, from a Tomahawk to a Hellfire would obliterate such a radar. What’s more, the US and it’s allies have decades of experience in jamming and spoofing all forms of electronic detection. What we cant’ hide from with stealth, we jam. What we can’t jam, we destroy. Fairly basic logic tree.

          • Dec

            Misplaced confidence and arrogance due to your ignorance about the flaws and limitations of the Tomahawk, as well as the history of failures in technology.

            About 60% of the Tomahawks used in Iraq failed to reach the intended targets.


    I think one of the Scandinavian countries (Finland or Sweden) did it by having a “node” network of radars working together. Not bigger, stronger radars. Just a few lines of central computer code. This is nothing new.

    We should stop with the F-35, while we’re behind(it will never be the modern F-4) and put this money into whoever Kelly Johnson’s modern day counterpart is an keep it in the black (as best as possible).

    • xXTomcatXx

      You mean strong emitting radars. Like the kind HARMs are fond of finding?

    • spidennis

      “and put this money into whoever Kelly Johnson’s modern day counterpart is an keep it in the black (as best as possible).”

      Maybe that’s what this whole F35 spiral out of control budget thing is all about? Funneling money into that dark hole? I mean really, how can you get money into a black project anyway? It’s magic, or the art of misdirection at work here? Everyone sees the big moves of the F35 focus but it hides the little move of the real work down the little black hole. Plus now the world thinks we have a turkey but they won’t see what it’s backed up with? Would make a good story line for a novel anyway ….

  • LOL

    Real or Fake story?

    F-22 shot down by China’s J-10 and both sides have kept tight lips over the incident. Pictures of the F-22 wreckage allegedly appeared on Chinese websites but were promptly removed, allegedly by internet monitors.

    The English is barely readable. No idea about the author and the translator. FWIW.

    • Ben

      They’d be parading it all over the news if it were true. The wreckage photo in the article was of the F-22 that crashed at Nellis on takeoff back before they were even operational.

      • LOL

        That’s not a photo of the wreckage in China. As I said earlier, they had been removed by Chinese authorities shortly after appearing on Chinese websites. The removal of the pictures lends credibility to the story. China’s internet monitors don’t bother with photoshopped pictures, according to those who follow Chinese media.

        • Jay Gibbs

          All the F-22 tail numbers are accounted for.

          • shhh

            According to whom? You or the constantly lying US government?

      • Dec

        They wouldn’t make it public if they had actually downed the F-22. They would want the US government to spend hundreds of billions acquiring hundreds of the plane so that their far cheaper J-10s could shoot them down.

  • XB-70

    They may be able to detect them but low frequency radar looks at a very small piece of sky and it is nearly impossible to get it to work with a fire control system. Oh and it picks up tones of clutter on the radar scope. So we should be good right now.

    • JJ Murray

      Actually low frequency radars are what are used for looking at LARGE areas of the sky. Things like the Tall King and Spoonrest radars which could pick up the F-117 are lower frequency radars.

      • The one armed man

        That may be possible but that’s why the F-117 has been retired and stealth improved.

  • captain obvious

    Do you all understand the course of war? You arent sending in a shit ton of JSF, bombers, and escorts on day 1 to go up against a fully functioning air defense system. Who gives a shit about what radars they have, it’ll be the primitive radars that are more easily hidden that will get chip shots on the jets. Just like during the Persian Gulf. Those S300 & S400 systems can detect stealth but not when they are risking being picked up by SIGINT and a rain of JSOW and HARMS is coming down to piss them off. Not to mention state of the art jamming technology that isnt released yet until that zero hour comes. Do you think we are ever going to show our ace in the hole when the time isnt right for it? Why display a technology so the enemy can start countering it? You all may fail to understand that this is also a public display to get arm chair commanders in debates about things will be irrelevant if we were ever to get into a conflict with china or russia.

  • hibeam

    Chinese Radar May Pierce F-35 Stealth Armor: In other news. F-35 Stealth Armor might defeat Chinese Radar. Stay tuned for more provocative headlines.

  • hibeam

    I know quite a bit about Radar so let me boil this down for you. We are making our aircraft harder to spot. The Chines are putting on coke bottle glasses and trying to spot us anyway. Don’t expect this contest to stop anytime soon.

    • LOL

      There was never any contest. China and Russia had deployed fully operational anti-stealth radar networks before the F-22s had all come down the assembly line. They are now onto their 3rd generation anti-stealth radar models.

      • hibeam

        Ground based stationary radars. What oh what can we ever do to counter ground based stationary radar sites? Does anyone have any ideas?

        • LOL

          By having the F-22 self-destroy before it enters enemy radar range?

          Like it or not, that’s the only solution right now.


          • LOL

            forgot to mention that the solution applies to both F-22 and F-35, though the F-35 is better at it than the F-22.

            the way things are going, neither Russia nor China will be able to claim credit for downing the F-22 and the F-35. Lockheed Martin and contractors will be the sole record holders.


            PS. That’s assuming China’s hushed-up downing of the F-22 in 2009 was not true.

        • iknow

          Who said anti-stealth radars must be ground based and stationary?

        • JJ Murray

          Well for the past 50 years or so we’ve been doing a pretty good job against them with EW aircraft like the EA-6A and B and now the E/F-18 combined with the old Shrike and Standard Arm and now the HARM.
          Of course the USAF already dumped their EF-111s and the Marines are planning to dump their EA-6Bs but hey, no one ever said leadership wasn’t vulnerable to a fad.

  • Jerry

    The know-it-all comments following this article mostly seem to assume that Russia and China will eventually want to make war on the US. This is paranoia (and a trap set by defense-spending promoters). China, for ex., has one–yes, one–aircraft carrier, and that is a cast-off one bought used from France.

    • JJ Murray

      Well Jerry – the whole reason they are building and buying the F-35 is to keep up with or ahead of – wait for it —– Russia and China. So I guess the folks who want this airplane are planning to be able to fight them too.
      Keep in mind that doesn’t mean I support the F-35 because I don’t. I think it’s the aircraft version of a bridge too far.

      • David

        Actually the program was intended to lower costs by having a single airframe replace multiple airframes. This would reduce supply chains and make things easier and less expensive to maintain due to commonality. This in theory is a great idea but in practice well like most things it isn’t working as well as in theory to this point.

      • David

        Funny thing is the US is already far ahead of both of the mention nations.

    • Muttling

      Have you ever considered the fact that China and Russia export their radars? It wasn’t a Serbian built system that took out the F-117 in 1999. It wasn’t Iraqi built air defenses were fighting in Gulf War I and Gulf War II.

      • David

        It wasn’t a Russian system that took it out either. It was complacency by flying a stealth aircraft in broad daylight day after day following the same route that got it shot down.

    • Godzilla

      “China, for ex., has one–yes, one–aircraft carrier, and that is a cast-off one bought used from France.”

      Actually the Chinese bought it as scrap from Ukraine after the Soviet Union collapsed. It was a husk with no engines or weapons or anything inside. They basically added all that and refit it. They are in the process of building two more carriers. This has been said by Chinese naval strategy leaders for yonks. That the plan is to have three carriers.

    • ian

      chines carrier bought from france????? says a lot for the level of accuracy of many posters on this site.

  • Beno

    Having a huge highly advanced Radar emplacement that MIGHT get a fix on F35 isnt really much good. Because you need to get that into the missle too. Otherwise your standard missle will just not see the plane and well… miss.

    LO ( low observability ) makes everything more difficult for an adversary on every level. It is not and never has been about some fictional 100% invisibility.

    But making it just that more difficult to get a lock and for any weapon to reliably hit. Whilst our weapons will lock and hit every time will make the ultimate difference.

    • JJ Murray

      Actually these don’t have to be huge systems and the highly advanced part really is just in the signal processing, not in the radar itself. Keep in mind that the F-117 was vulnerable to being picked up by lower frequency radars built in the 50s and 60s which didn’t even have that advanced signal processing. That’s because the stealth “equipment” (for lack of a better overall term) isn’t designed to work against these lower frequencies in the first place. Sort of like flares which are designed to work against seekers in a specific frequency range. They are either useless or much less effective against a seeker that does not operate in that range.
      That’s why you want to maintain an electronic warfare capability because it is a lot easier, faster, and cheaper to develop new jamming techniques than it is to change the entire stealth platform of a type/model/series that runs over $300M apiece for the USMC B model.

  • JJ Murray

    THIS is why you don’t get rid of your EW assets. The Marines plan on dumping the Prowler by 2019 and replacing the majority of their aircraft with F-35s which by the time they REALLY show up will most likely already be vulnerable. So you’ll have spent over $300 Million a copy to have fewer aircraft on the flight line that wind up being just as vulnerable to SAMs as the AV-8s and F/A-18s they replaced but now you won’t have any aircraft to provide them electronic coverage. And SOMEONE in leadership thinks this is a smart idea.

    • Jay Gibbs

      You’ve heard of the EA-18, right?

  • TonyC.

    The point of the story is to say that stealth is effective against current air defense radar bands, but can be detected with lower frequencies. The WWII radars started at the lower frequencies, but had range problems. The indicates that stealth will still be a valuable asset even if it can be detected at some range (giving the enemy air defenses alot less time to react). The sophistication of air defenses will give rise to strike drones to deal with them prior to any manned aircraft entering the area.

    • S O

      The British Chain home radars had metres of wavelength, and 300 km range: Certainly no range problems.

      It’s the angular resolution, not range or rangefinding that’s difficult with low frequencies/long wavelengths.

      The novelty now is that there’s a growing chorus of voices claiming that long wavelengths radars have been taught a good-enough angular resolution for targeting.
      You still need a (passive) radar capable of sensing the echo in a missile to exploit this, though.

      Then again, all this may be irrelevant, for ‘stealth’ aircraft cannot be stealthy to IR sensors, and IR can be used for terminal missile guidance against them (difficult at higher Mach numbers than about 3 and requires good IRCCM, though).

      • blight_asdf

        How sensitive is IRST at the ranges we are talking for BVR?

        • S O

          IRST range can be huge outside of clouds, and signal processing is easier with the sky as background than earth.

          IRST doesn’t only apply to the aircraft itself; supersonic objects also cause useable IR signatures of the surrounding atmosphere. I’m sorry, but I forgot some of the vocabulary about the effect.

          Against a high-flying F-22, we’re speaking about larger detection ranges for a fighter IRST than Sparrow range.
          Keep in mind F-22s won’t detect RCS-reduced opponents at very long distances if their radar is in LPI mode. The effective LPI radar range might end up being smaller than IRST range at times.

  • Tom

    Anyone who thinks that stealth is the main asset of the F-35 is mistaken in my opinion. It’s AESA is it’s main asset, not just as a detection tool but also for ESM, ECM, and electronic attack … stealth only helps it do its job better by being harder to detect by radar, not invisible. It means that the opponents radar is going to have to work a lot harder, making it easier to destroy, damage, manipulate, or disable that radar.

  • Muttling

    We’ve known for decades that stealth is weak against low frequency radars and that Russia/China/North Korea/etc have always been running low frequency radars. This is decades old news.

    The F-35 and F-22 aren’t “stealth” they are low observable and more difficult to spot, but they can be spotted.

  • hibeam

    We need to get to work on a jet so stealthy the Chinese can not download all of the design files.

  • Michael Shatto

    Easy if you can get the specifications off the internet or hack the manufacturer’s and Pentagon computers for it.
    Of course, the conspiracy crowd think this is “Military-Industrial Complex” propaganda to get funding for the next generation of stealth airplanes.

  • dennis

    Oh yeah! It was going to stop radar insignia, and the costs were going to be well worth it, they said. What a big waste!

  • dan

    This is what happens when it takes 20+ years to field a new weapon. Gives them plenty of time to come up with a counter to it.

  • NRO

    The low frequency transmitters are located hundreds of miles away from targets. The low frequency radar receivers are located near the target. The materials and coatings of stealth cannot easily deflect or absorb the low frequency signals. On the other hand, these low frequency radar transmitters use extremely high power and large antennas — a radar transmitter unit would be large and not easy to hide.

    • S O

      Multistatic radar? Well, this only makes a difference under some circumstances, especially when the air war is over a large land mass such as Eastern Europe.
      It’s very different at sea, or for battlefield air defence purposes.

      • NRO

        Not exactly.  The Russians in concert with the Yugoslavians were able to put up a system that resulted in the downing of one of our F-117’s during the Bosnian crisis.  As a previous member of the NRO, I know.

        • Brian B. Mulholland

          Oh, ho. That loss was the result of a multistatic system? Are you free to say more?

  • JohnD

    Trillions spent on this F-35 turkey and the designers missed this one?? Now the AF wants the Millennium Falcon as their next aircraft!! These guys need to fight the next war tomorrow, not in 10 years!!

    • The one armed man

      Um…no. The program is expected to cost 1.1 trillion over 55 years. And why are you so sure the designers missed this one?

  • oblatt22

    It clear that the F-35 will not be an internationally competitive aircraft. But that doesn’t matter. As the US moves into its post superpower role its military doesn’t need to be internationally competitive anymore.

    Contractors have adjusted to this fact by realizing that the competitor to the F-35 is not the euro-fighter the T-50 the Su-35 or the J-20 its the super hornet and the F-15.

  • rogelio

    Most likely the US itself was the one who fed this countries how to track their stealth features. In a first place whom they are doing their stealth business? Don’t be cheap!!!.. Those classified information should ONLY be done here inside USA and for exclusivity.
    Any product once it was sent to China for manufacturing – that’s it!!! DONE DEAL.

  • Koba

    Czech Republic has “radar”, able to pierce any stealth airplane since late 80ties. It was called “TAMARA” and it was a passive receiver – i.e. cannot be hit by anti-radar missile. Now the third generation is available. Unfortunately nobody from NATO or DARPA had interest. See:

    • Chris

      Very good remark, we did experiments with a Tamara system back in the 80’s , and we were impressed by the quality of detection and of tracking. It has definitely a very big potential system, even if fully passive. As they must have integrated more advanced signal and information processing I am concerned about the potential of these fully passive systems when coupled with anti-aircraft defense systems… big pb for Fxx whatever they are!
      Do not forget that you are using all type of emitters of opportunity, with the possibility to create your own emitters when necessary. Very smart approach !!!

  • S O

    I’d like to stop the ‘HARM can deal with it’ assumptions here.

    AGM-88 HARM is reputed to cover 0.5-20 GHz. 0.5 GHz ~ 1.5 mm up to 60 cm

    In other words; HARM could not engage the English Chain Home radar stations of 1940 Battle of Britain fame (12 m wavelength) or Germany’s counterpart, the Seetakt radar (81 cm wavelength).

    Such extremely long wavelengths allow detection of LO/VLO aircraft, and this is the reason why A-12 and some other ‘stealth’ aircraft designs used a flying wing delta (trianguar) layout; maximization of the wavelength to which the design is susceptible.

    The long wavelengths also make it difficult to use small receiver or transmitter antennas – hence the difficulty to create an ARM or AAM seeker that fits.

    These long wavelengths are not only difficult to use (bulky antenna), but they also don’t give very accurate info on detected objects.

    As a result, these radars tend to serve as early warning devices only, and other radars or IR sensors can then be focused on the spot where something was detected, increasing their odds of detecting and locking on something very much.

    Stealth/VLO/LO in aircraft and ships is still going to make life hard for radar missile seeker development. That’s part of why we keep hearing more and more about IR sensors in anti-aircraft missiles. The Russians with their dual R-27 seeker strategy and the French with theirs for MICA did what they did for a reason or two.

    • Jay Gibbs

      What you say about HARM may be true, but that doesn’t make the system invulnerable to GPS/INS and TV/DSMAC-guided weapons, like the JSOW, JASSM, SLAM-ER, Tomahawk, etc. The newest ARM in the US inventory, the AGM-88E, also has a GPS/INS guidance package, in addition to man-in-the-loop midcourse updates.

      Whether the HARM gets it, or the JASSM- if it radiates, it will be detected and targeted for a missile strike.

      • S O

        You’re overconfident. Russians and Chinese are more in a league with the Serbs than with the Israelis.
        AWACS, J-STARS and satellites might be knocked out, incoming PGMs mgith be soft-killed or hard-killed and the face of long wavelentgth radar surveillance may be entirely passive radar receivers exploiting the returns of very much spaced rather cheap long wavelength emitters.
        Multiple emitters could be synchronised and intentionally phase-shifted (AESA effect) using now quite affordable atomic clocks as time indicators (in case GLONASS is out).

        Remember; there’s always a countermeasure or exploitation in EW. There’s no reason to have confidence in lasting EW superiority in a high-end peer conflict.

  • Kostas

    Let’s suppose that there is a way to detect the LO planes from a distance with a low frequency radar. How are you going to engage these targets? You cannot fit a low frequency radar on a missile. Moreover the future of IR missiles is questionable given the vullnerability of its sensors to DIRCM/directed energy weapons, like the ones under development for F35.

    • S O

      Normal wavelength radars can lock onto VLO planes if they learned its position from a long wavelength radar. They focus a high powered pencil beam in that direction if need be. An a small, weak radar seeker only needs to come close enough till it can lock on as well.
      Besides; sensor fusion (passive/active radar, IR, possibly UV) is fashionable in PGMs now; Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missile, SM-2E surface-to-air missile, AGM-88E anti-radar missile, RIM-116, various BVR AAM developments etc.

      • Kostas

        Low frequency radars lack accuracy, they can be used only for early warning that “something” is “somewhere” over there, in no way for missile guidance. Beam focusing has certain limitations, AESA radars excell in that but they offer only a rough 30% increase in detection range against stealth. If you know something more I would be very interested in seeing some references. If a weak radar needs to get really close to detect a stealth, then it is practically useless.
        Sensor fusion increases the resistance to countermeasures, it doesn’t increase the range of its sensors.

        To summarize: the greatest value of stealth technology is that makes very hard the shoot down by missiles.

        If the enemy develops its own stealth aircrafts, I see future airfights ending up in heads-on gunfights, like the medieval jousting.

  • @hung_whale

    And this is why the Russians and the Chinese are trying to duplicate US stealth technology.

    I bet their radar is about a sophisticated as my old Nintendo.

    • S O

      It’s rather the other way around. The F-22 uses a 1990’s CPU:

      The newer aircraft designs use newer hardware. It’s arrogance to believe foreigners who create a competing product years later would create an inferior product.

    • biens

      hung_whale, you ve just hung yourself.

      you did it well though.

  • stpaulchuck

    the F-35 is another overpriced white elephant

    • Peter

      Thank Jack Murtha and the congress for this albatross. It might a good idea with thHagel and this President to be able to fire white flags.

    • biens

      Calling the F-35 “overpriced white elephant” sounds like a compliment, considering the piece of junk is virtually useless.

  • jjschwartz

    Who cares? The F-35 is a piece of expensive junk anyhow. Still wonder how the American taxpayer got saddled with that POS that is incapable of doing almost anything.

    • William_C1

      And you know this how exactly? Do you happen to be a F-35 test pilot? Do you have classified specs and knowledge? Or are you just listening to the “Russia Strong!!!” crowd?

      • Dec

        Tell us how YOU happen to know that the F-35 is not an expensive piece of junk, despite expert assessment, test results and performance records to the contrary.

        Were those PhDs and former fighter jet designers all lying?

        What are your credentials?

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    One of the posts above made reference to cost control of the FA/XX by design discipline.
    That implies that DoD can forgo an institutional habit of constantly tweaking the specs, and trying to incorporate each new possible technology as it comes within reach (or appears to.) I can believe that engineers can do anything, but I can’t believe that the institutional culture of DoD can change that much.

  • Mark, E8 Ret

    weelllllll, if the enemy didn’t know what to pursue between this guy and the press publishing it….

    Guess they never heard of loose lips sin ships.

  • me_to

    Stealth is only a method to DELAY detection, to try to make the time between spotting a jet and acting against it as short as possible…

  • Steve Dixon

    I seem to remember another Aircraft with an extended gestation period back in the 60’s that attracted IMMENSE criticism from all and sundry. Too heavy, wings fall off, can’t manouvre, not designed for the job it was to do etc. That aircraft turned out to be The AMAZING F-111 – the fastest bomb-truck at low level in the world. Nothing could catch it when it was down in the mud – NOTHING!! Not bad for an airframe originally intended as a Carrier-borne launch platform for the AIM54 Pheonix.
    The F-111’s initial performance, reliability wise, was dreadful BUT when it came into service and the bugs were sorted it turned out to be a WONDERFUL weapon of war.
    My point is that the days of designing, testing and getting into service a warplane in under 6 months (P-51 Mustang) are OVER and the F-35 family will no-doubt end up being the standard by which future warplanes will be judged. I also think Australia will eventually buy/lease the F-35B’s for the new Flat-tops (eventually). :-)

  • nubwaxer

    the f-35 and f-22 are only 2 of the wasteful defense contractor welfare programs. drones have made manned aircraft obsolete. americans are now anti war because of the total cost associated with wars of choice and resulting in mostly unintended negative ends.
    we should provide kurds and others all that military gear that went to police forces across the country. we don’t need much more than WWII surplus to fight the jihadis we created.