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Author Topic: "B" is for bomber, right?
Member # 7135

posted 10-26-2000 11:17 PM     Profile for FLBEE   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
And "f" is for fighter--
So why is the F 117 given the F when all it does is the B type stuff?

Dumb question I know, but these are the things that wake me up in the middle of the night lol.

Posts: 26 | From: Lehigh, FL, USA | Registered: Oct 2000  |  IP: Logged
Kurt Plummer
Member # 358

posted 10-27-2000 03:00 AM     Profile for Kurt Plummer   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote

When these were dreamed up as USAAC/USAAF standards I wouldn't be at all surprised if some element of payload or delivery method wasn't also specified.

B-17 4-8Klb gross payload hi 'level' bomber, Theatre Range.

A-20 2-5Klb gross, 'medium' (to lo) level bomber. Intermediate Range.

SBD Scout Bomber Dive Bomber (duuuh, IIRR) etc. Medium Range, 'multirole' (delivery method).

With this in mind the actual use of /any/ prefix code is somewhat dated because the mission will dictate the profile and the weapons and so much of the game is ideally achieved as a dumptruck, completely outside the threat or indeed designated 'mission' (F/A/B) envelope.

Also, the manufacturer production codes and USAF internal service ones that pilots use for a given airframe document or system will vary /highly/ from what is 'common knowledge' fed to the U.S. public. I believe that the 117 derived from internal Lockheed documentation on the jet and when it came time to print the final, operational, manuals; it was deemed to expensive to reprint everything.

WAPJ has stated a couple of times that the F-117 -is- cleared to use the AIM-9, but that it simply never does so for operational 'value based' reasons. This plus it's special penetrability factors makes it a fighter IMO but one whose role is more critical to the number of aircraft it enables than the risk inherent to ACM.

Given that todays and especially tomorrows smart weapons will require less integrated packages against small-numbered target sets and also that you /cannot/ be considered 'self sufficient' without a really good EW suite, an ARM that exploits it and a similar, BVR radar/MRM-LRM (which encompass two or three previously separate missions); I would prefer a complete reclassification based on what and at how long a standoff the given primary mission is achieved than the continued confusion (look at the 'F-16C' .40 is a precision bomber, .50 is a SEAD, .30 is 'multrole' yet is really neither precision or SEAD capable) of the current designation system.

For this I would probably need to use a two-letter coding to reflect likeliest mission roles while 'ignoring' past (nuclear) associations with one term in particular.

SE=Strike Enablement.
Anything whose -direct- presence in the combat area, however deep direct 'enabled' the rest of any given package to accurately hit it's targets. This would obviously include the F-15 and F-22 for instance but also applies to sea and/or land launched cruise. It would also include an RQ-1 if it was directly feeding target image and BDA restrike data to the incoming strikers.

Strike Support
Anything which /indirectly/ (without exposure to combat) supports the arriving package/flight efforts. Tankers and SOJAM and AEW/ABCP for instance but also commited

Direct Strike
Any aircraft which delivered it's munitions within a sliding radius of the target. 10nm JDAM to 25nm JSOW. As a function of the total numbered:weight ratio of weapons carried.

Weapons Carrier
Anything which exceeded the above's definition on delivery radius as a function of total munitions delivery weight. A B-1 is a heavy munitions carrier, whether it launches 200nm JASSM or 8nm WCMD. But so to is a properly employed F-15E, IMO.

This could also be classified by total numbered aimpoints hit or by a scaled value for selfdefence penetrability but weight of carriage vs. standoff is easier (and more 'brilliant').

Special Mission
To include all the SOF, CSAR and probably elements of the BAI/CAS missions (AV-8B, JSF STOVL and A-10 come to mind, as does B.40 Falcon when operating in support of those missions).

General Support
MRE's to the Moon and also tanking that is inter-theatre dedicated to the logistics mission.

Coding like this is already done, on a priority numeric basis aboard AWACS and via feeds to the joint ASOC where it allows the commander to order and stack threats, refueling and on-the-fly target foldering at a glance.

It makes it easier to ignore the public values of 'F=role?' confusion.

Kurt Plummer

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posted 10-27-2000 05:34 AM     Profile for warthog   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Man my answer may seem small compared to Kurts but here goes. The F-117 was deginated such because this was a "black" project and they didn't want anything tying it to a "stealth type precision bomber" even the letter prefix. If any documents "slipped" through the system it would lead people in the wrong direction (they would think it was a new fighter). It was a misdirection tactic and once the prefix is given to an aircraft it is never changed even if the mission is expanded.
Posts: 128 | From: Hill AFB Ut. | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged
tony draper
Member # 519

posted 10-27-2000 05:39 AM     Profile for tony draper   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I understand that one of the reasons that the usaf had such poor kill ratios in the early stages of the viet nam war was their habit of designating aircraf that where bombers ie thunderchief, as fighters, any truth in this...tony d
Posts: 1280 | From: england | Registered: Oct 1999  |  IP: Logged
Jedi Master
Member # 3223

posted 10-27-2000 08:08 AM     Profile for Jedi Master   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I don't have the time to read Kurt's post, so I'll just assume he covered more than necessary.
Anyway, the US has a long-standing history of nonsensical designations. "F" is "fighter" (replaced "P" for "pursuit" right before Korea), "A" is "attack," "B" is "bomber," "K" is "tanker," "C" is "cargo," "E" is "electronic warfare," "H" is "helo" (duh), "D" is "drone," "U" is "utility" (except the U-2, some disinformation there), plus others less commonly used.
Many "F" planes were not fighters, although they may have scored A-A kills: F-100, F-105, F-111, F-117.
Some "A" planes have scored AA kills: A-10 (with gun and LGB!), A-4, lots of WWII-era.
Then there are the fighter bombers. Only the F/A-18 is designated in a logical manner for that. By that convention, they should have F/A-16s and the F-15E SHOULD be the F/A-15. The F-14 would now be called F/A-14.
The JSF would get an F/A-24 designation. Although the official designation hasn't been announced, I'm fairly certain it will be F-24A/B/C, not counting any twin-seaters that may show up as D/E/F.
Oddly, the / is an anomaly. Other vehicles with multiple uses just stick letters together, like KA-6, KC-10, EC-135, AC-130, AH-64, UH-60, EB-57, etc.
Oh, and in case you're wondering where the F-112, 113, 114, 115, and 116 are, they're captured/stolen/bought/defected Russian planes used in Nevada for real-life testing of our radars, ECM, and weapons. It's sort of a poorly-kept secret. What better way to disguise the F-117 in its early days, when it flew in the same area, then by making it appear to be another "semi-secret" Russian plane! No one sees these planes, of course, but the designations can be heard on ATC freqs from time to time.
The Jedi Master

Posts: 477 | From: Coral Springs, FL, USA | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged
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posted 10-27-2000 10:36 AM     Profile for warthog   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Let me expand on my answer a bit because, I was rushed this morning when I posted last but, now that I'm at work I have more time
Whenever an aircraft is inducted into the AF inventory a TREMENDOUS amount of paperwork is generated on that aircraft I.E TOs (Technical Orders) funding documents, equipment tracking records, just to name a few. Each one of these carries the aircraft designation on them and by using F-117, and the cover story of an A-7 upgrade, it keep a lot of hard question from having to be answered! Part of the A-7 upgrade story included the statement the avionics being tested could be used on the next generation fighter...the F-117! So you see it was a lot of smoke and mirrors
Also, I don't know if you know it or not, some of our "allies" will not allow bombers to be stationed in their country, only so called fighters. By using the F prefix we "get around" this bit of international politics!
Tony, it was not so much a low kill ratio but who got credit for the "kills". You have to remember back then our bombers fell under SAC and the fighters fell under TAC. Well, because the F-105 and most of the other light bombers fell under TAC they got the credit for the kills and that made SAC look like it was doing as well as TAC! It was all in who got the credit on paper!

Posts: 128 | From: Hill AFB Ut. | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged
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posted 10-27-2000 12:27 PM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
The Russians had their share of problems with prefixes. In the 1930s the prefix generally indicated the intended role of the aircraft. Istrebityel (Fighter) types were I-x (where the x is a digit) and Bombardirovchik (bomber) aircraft had a B preceeded by a letter indicating the type of the bomber. SB was "Skhori Bombardirovchik" (fast bomber) and TB was "Tyazholi Bombardirovchik" (heavy bomber)

Shortly before WW2 began the Soviet government switched to using plane designations beginning with the first two or three letters of the chief designer's last name.(possibly to express the state's gratitude for their efforts) That's where the various Yakovlevs, Mikoyan-Guryeviches and Ilyushins came from.

To add to the confusion there were aircraft like the "ANT" series of clumsy, fixed-gear heavy bombers/troop transports in the 1930s. I always thought they were Antonov designs until I found out that ANT stands for "Andrei Nokolayevitch Tupolev"! Apparently Tupolev's OKB came up with its own short-lived designation before it was phased out because of new regulations. All WW2 and post-WW2 Tupolev designs were designated "Tu".

[This message has been edited by MonsterZero (edited 10-27-2000).]

Posts: 442 | From: Worth, IL USA | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged
Member # 7135

posted 10-28-2000 09:27 PM     Profile for FLBEE   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Posts: 26 | From: Lehigh, FL, USA | Registered: Oct 2000  |  IP: Logged

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