F-57 Wraith

From IIWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
F-57 Wraith
Role Stealth Air Superiority Fighter
Manufacturer Layartebian Defense Corporation
Designer Ares Group, Soviet Bloc
First flight 1997
Introduction 2005
Status In-Service
Primary user Imperial Layartebian Air Force
Imperial Layartebian Navy
Number built 1,130
Unit cost $180,000,000
Variants F-57A, F-57B

The F-57 Wraith is a 5th generation, twin-engine, twin-seat, advanced superiority stealth fighter. Designed by the ARES Group, the fighter's original designation was the F/A-77 Kovas. Introduced in mid-2005, the F-57 is the premier stealth fighter in the Imperial Layartebian Military. Serving both on land and at sea, the F-57 has seen combat consistently since its introduction into service.

Development

Origins

Development of the F-57 began in the mid-1990s when the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program began in 1994. The program's aim was to produce a stealth fighter with the air-to-air performance of an F-15 Eagle but also a decent air-to-ground performance so that the plane could be multirole. At this time, the F-16 Falcon and the F-18 Hornet were both stealing the show over hostile territory during the Conquests.

The ATF program saw four prototypes, the YF-21 Gray Shadow, the YF-22 Raptor, the YF-23 Black Widow II, and the F/A-77 Kovas. The YF-21 Gray Shadow looked to be the initial front-runner. Based on the A-5 Vigilante, in some part, it offered speed, agility, and initiated the idea of thrust vectoring.

However, when the prototypes were flown in 1997, it was apparent that the Kovas was going to win. The Kovas was a meld of all three of the other aircraft. It carried a better payload assortment than the YF-22 offered, more agility than the YF-21, and it was as stealthy as the YF-23. Unlike the other three models, it also was the most likely candidate for naval service.

Rigorous testing continued for the next four years and in 2001, the program was over with the Kovas as the declared winner.

Production

The F/A-77 Kovas went into production on August 9, 2002 and the first aircraft were rolled out six months later as the F-57 Wraith. On January 7, 2005, the F-57 reached its initial operating capability and by the end of the year, two squadrons were already in service. In early 2013, the final production models were completed and delivered to the Imperial Layartebian Air Force. A total of 1,130 aircraft have been produced, 769 for the air force and 361 for the Imperial Layartebian Navy. They have largely supplemented the F-14 Super Tomcat on carrier decks. One of each was a replacement for aircraft lost due to mechanical failure.

Because of the high volume of F-57s required, the Layartebian Defense Corporation constructed the aircraft at six different plants, two in Venezuela, one in Georgia, one in North Carolina, and two in Quebec. The latter two began production in 2007, relieving some of the burden on the other plants.

As of March 1, 2013, there are no further orders for the F-57 Wraith however; the production line is not being destroyed. Plans for its mothballing are currently underway.

Upgrades

Initial production aircraft were all of the Block 1 variety. Block 1 variants were the initial production example and they were quickly upgraded by the summer of 2005 to the Block 5 variety.

Block 5 F-57s have full air-to-air capabilities and limited air-to-ground capabilities in that they can only drop guided or unguided bombs. The Block 10 upgrade came in late-2006, which brought the F-57 Wraith up to its full war fighting capability. All Block 10 aircraft are capable of full air-to-ground roles including the maritime strike role, which the F/A-77 Kovas lacked.

In late-2009, the aircraft were upgraded once again to the Block 15 standard. Under Block 15, the F-57's datalink system was improved, allowing it to act as a mini-AWACS for other fighters. Its datalink capabilities allow a single aircraft to target an enemy fighter and transmit that information to neighboring aircraft, allowing them to engage without turning on their radars.

The Block 20 standard was introduced in 2012 and the upgrade is expected to be completed in June 2013. Under the Block 20 standard, the F-57 Wraith has the ability to use its jammer in a directional fashion and at increased range. Further upgrades also modified the maintenance requirements on the aircraft, allowing it to be maintained to the same level in half the time. The Block 20 standard also upgraded the datalink system to allow the F-57 to transmit guidance signals to the BGM-246 Swordfish anti-ship missile, allowing the fighter to redesignate targets for the massive, anti-ship missile. This allows a submarine or a ship, for example, to fire their weapon way over the horizon, keeping themselves unexposed during a major, naval clash.

A future Block 25 upgrade is planned for 2017, which will give the F-57 the ability to use newly designed weaponry that is expected to be available. Other upgrade details remain highly classified.

Design

Characteristics

The Wraith was designed for performance as much as it was designed to be stealthy. Though the aircraft can carry external ordinance, at the expense of both performance and stealth, it was originally designed to fly with just its internal weapons bays full. In this configuration, the Wraith has a radar signature akin to that of a ball bearing and very little drag. This allows it unmatched performance in the areas of acceleration and agility.

The Wraith's G-limits are limited to -4G and +10G but structurally, the aircraft can handle up to +13G, owing to the advanced construction techniques pioneered by the ARES Group. The airframe on the F-57 is very strong and navalized variants are further ruggedized to handle the stresses of carrier landings.

Because the Wraith offers more lift and more power than the F-15 Eagle, a fully loaded Wraith can be wheels up from a standstill in less than 270 m (886 ft). It can operate from any runway in the world so long as the runway itself is a maximum of 500 m (1,640 ft) in length. This includes highway airstrips.

Powerplant

The Wraith is powered by two, afterburning, turbofan engines. Equipped with a pitch-axis thrust vectoring of ±25°, the Wraith can conduct snap-like maneuvers at high speed, allowing it to make pinpoint turns in a dogfight. The engines used on the Wraith produce up to 26,375 lbf (117.32 kN) dry and 39,565 lbf (176 kN) with full afterburner. The Wraith has three afterburning stages and it can supercruise on military power, without the need of its afterburner. The top speed of the fighter is Mach 1.25 at sea level and at altitude Mach 2.4. Testing revealed that though the aircraft could fly at Mach 2.6, it was dangerous and hazardous to the design to do so. The Wraith can operate at altitudes of up to 65,000 ft (19,812 m) and its rate of climb is on the order of 56,300 ft/min (286 m/s).

The engines are fed by an internal fuel capacity of 23,479 lb (10,650 kg) or 3,558 gal (13,469 L). While the Wraith cannot carry conformal fuel tanks, it can carry up to two external fuel tanks rated up to 600 gal (2,271 L) each, giving the Wraith a total fuel capacity of 31,400 lb (14,243 kg) or 4,758 gal (18,011 L).

Avionics

The avionics suite on the Wrath is where the primary differences from the Kovas lie. Like the Kovas, the Wraith is equipped with an advanced, AESA radar, an IRST, and a laser designator; however, the different avionics of the Wraith give it a more multirole function with expanded air-to-ground capabilities over the Kovas. For example, the Kovas considered maritime strike a tertiary role whereas the Wraith has full maritime strike capabilities.

The Wraith's main method of detection is its radar, the AN/APG-90(V)-2. The AN/APG-90(V)-2 is an AESA radar with 2,000 T/R modules and a peak output of 30 kilowatts. It has full air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities, including over maritime environments, enabling the Wraith with this role.

For passive detection, the AN/AAS-48(V)-1 IRST is mounted on the aircraft's nose just forward of the canopy. This IRST provides passive detection of aircraft at medium to long range and its laser rangefinder is used for dogfighting to provide accurate, instantaneous information to the aircraft's cannon.

The final detection system is the AN/AAQ-40(V)-2 Electro-Optical Targeting System. The AN/AAQ-40(V)-2 is derived from the AN/AAQ-40(V)-1 EOTS that debuted on the F-35 Lightning II. The EOTS serves as a combined, fuselage-mounted unit for electro-optical targeting, forward and down-looking infrared, and laser designation and tracking. The EOTS can also function as a self-defense unit by detecting the thermal signatures of ground-launched surface-to-air missiles, supplementing the aircraft's missile warning system. In many ways, the EOTS serves in the same capacity as the AN/AAQ-23 Sniper Targeting Pod but it is lighter and mounted into the aircraft's fuselage, which provides less drag and no penalty to an aircraft's radar cross section.

For self-defense, the Wraith mounts the AN/ASQ-238(V)-1 Electronic Countermeasures Suite. The ECS is a full-spectrum suite of passive detectors and active jamming systems. The suite includes a long-range radar warning receiver, a laser warning receiver, a missile approach warner, an RF jammer, and an IR jammer. It gives the Wraith the ability to fly entirely passively into a battlefield, determine where its threats are, and either engage or evade them as necessary. The missile approach warner allows the crew of the Wraith to know when all types of missiles are targeting them and the system is linked to a variety of expendable countermeasures systems.

The Wraith is equipped with a standard load of seven AN/ALE-47 dispensers. Each dispenser houses up to thirty chaff or flare expendables. Up to five different variations per dispenser can be managed. To supplement this load, the Wraith can also mount two to four AN/ALE-58 high-capacity chaff/flare dispensers on its outer-wing and wingtip hardpoints. Each dispenser gives the Wraith an additional one hundred and sixty expendables but this comes at the expense of stealth and these aren't often fitted.

The Wraith is also equipped with two AN/ALE-55 towed decoy dispensers. Each dispenser has two decoys, which can further confuse radar-guided missiles. Lastly, the Wraith carries four AN/ALE-57 expendable decoy dispensers for a total of 24 expendable, miniature decoys. Like the AN/ALE-58 dispensers though, both the AN/ALE-55 and the AN/ALE-57 require the use of hardpoints.

Cockpit

The cockpit on the F-57 Wraith is identical to that on the F-58 Viper. This is done to ensure commonalty between the two fighters and also to allow pilots the easy ability to swap between aircraft. It reduces maintenance cost and further aligns the fighter with Ministry of Defense standards.

It is a glass, digital cockpit designed to reduce the load on the single pilot through a highly developed, human-machine interface (HMI).

The HUD of the Wraith has a field of view of 30 degrees by 30 degrees with a size of 4.5 in (11.43 cm). It features standard symbology compatible with those used on the MFDs and its brightness and colors can be altered by the pilot according to the situation outside of the cockpit. The HUD also benefits from added protection (a rubber buffer strip) that will effectively shield the polycarbonate of the canopy when it flexes during a bird-strike and should prevent it shattering. In the event of a bird-strike, the HUD will collapse to provide safety for the pilot.

Additionally, the Wraith has six liquid crystal display (LCD) panels. Their screens are in full color and they also contain anti-glare features. Two of the six are 3 in (7.62 cm) by 4 in (10.16 cm) and are used for a variety of system's information and communication information. The main multifunctional display (MFD) is 8 in (20.32 cm) by 8 in (20.32 cm) and can be used for radar, navigation, situational awareness (SA), and many other of the aircraft's systems. The other three MFDs are 6.25 in (15.88 cm) by 6.25 in (15.88 cm).

Like the F-16 and, also the F-22, the Wraith features a side-stick controller and two throttles with the stick built on the right side of the cockpit and the throttles on the left. The Wraith is a fully hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) system.

Interior lighting of the Wraith's cockpit is fully compatible with night vision goggles (NVG). The crewmen of the Wraith sit on an ACES II zero-zero ejection seat that is reclined to reduce the stress of G-forces on the pilot during maneuvers. The cockpit is also climate controlled and it is linked to an on-board oxygen generating system that supplies breathable air to the crewmen. Lastly, the canopy of the Wraith affords excellent visibility and is a single-piece system that is lined with gold film to reduce its radar signature.

The pilot's helmet also mounts a Helmet Mounted Display or HMD, allowing the pilot to use his head to direct both air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry. In a dogfight, the use of an HMD is extremely valuable for off-boresight shots of infrared guided missiles. It will allow the pilot the ability to fire these missiles against aircraft on their extreme positions in any direction simply by looking at them and using the HMD cues, the controls of which are located on the flight stick.

The RIO of the fighter has the same controls as the pilot allowing him to fly the plane in the event of an emergency. There is a safety system installed that the RIO has to activate in order to operate the controls of the aircraft to ensure that he cannot accidently take over controls during a pilot's maneuvers.

Armament

The Wraith was designed, first and foremost, to be an air superiority fighter. In that sense, the ground attack role is purely secondary. However, owing to the need for multirole combat aircraft, the Wraith has the ability to drop air-to-ground munitions very effectively, more so than any other aircraft in the ATF program. It has the ability to carry guided and unguided bombs and missiles. However, owing to its air superiority nature, the Wraith is not designed to fulfill the role of close air support or CAS. In combat, the Wraith's contribution to CAS would simply be a few bombs and not an extended loitering time.

Cannon

All Wraiths are equipped with a single GAU-20/A Impulse Revolver Cannon with 475 rounds stowed internally. The GAU-20/A is the Layartebian designation of the Amastoli-designed Model 278 Autocannon. It fires a 27x151mm shell out of a 70-caliber barrel at varying rates of fire.

The aircraft's laser-designator can be used for ranging and targeting of the cannon just like on the GSh-30-1.

Internal Hardpoints

The Wraith's primary method of transporting munitions is internally, in two fuselage and two side bays, just like the YF-22 Raptor and the YF-23 Black Widow II.

The two side bays are solely for the carriage of light, air-to-air missiles. They are limited to just 275 lb (125 kg) each. Only one missile can be carried per bay at this time and they M-169 Brimstone|AGM-169 Brimstone

The two fuselage bays are for a wide array of ordinance. They are limited to 2,600 lb (1,180 kg) each. Munitions must conform to the bay size of 180 in (4.57 m) in length, 40 in (101.6 cm) in width, and 24 in (60.96 cm) in height. They can carry air-to-air missiles as well as air-to-ground missiles, and guided and unguided bombs. A typical air-to-air loadout would be six to eight air-to-air missiles while a typical multirole sortie will have two air-to-air missiles and two guided bombs. Various combinations can be made thanks to the spacious interior of each bay.

External Hardpoints

Though the Wraith is primarily tasked with a stealthy insertion into enemy airspace, there may come a time when stealth is not a priority. In such a situation, the Wraith can carry ordinance on six external hardpoints, all of which are on its wings.

Each inner wing hardpoint is rated for up to 4,410 lb (2,000 kg) of ordinance. Any combination of air-to-air missiles can be carried as well as air-to-ground missiles, guided and unguided bombs, fuel tanks, ECM pods, and sensor pods.

Each center wing hardpoint is rated for up to 2,095 lb (950 kg) of ordinance. They can carry the same types of ordinance as the inner wing hardpoints except for fuel tanks.

Each outer wing hardpoint is rated for up to 500 lb (227 kg) of ordinance and they are limited to just air-to-air missiles, ECM pods, and sensor pods.

Operational History

Post-Conquests

Though the Wraith entered service in 2005, it did not see actual combat until 2009. There first introduction into combat was Operation MINX, the invasion of the Isle of Man. F-57 Wraiths exclusively flew combat air patrol sorties, guarding against a counterattack from the Goodrule Third Spanish States.

In 2010, the Wraith saw significant and heavy combat during the Goodrule War against the Goodrule Third Spanish States. During these intensive operations, Wraiths from the Imperial Layartebian Air Force shot down fourteen Goodrule aircraft in air-to-air combat. The first kill of the Wraith was achieved by CPT Adam Fordham who shot down a single CL-32A Buitre fighter during a major air battle. The next day, he shot down another CL-32A as well as a CE-32 Cuervo fighter. Owing to the advanced nature of the Goodrule Air Force, most aircraft were destroyed on the ground by cruise missiles in the very opening stages of the war.

During the Adanese War, the F-57 Wraith flew endless combat air patrol sorties. Though they did not achieve any air-to-air kills, they demonstrated the ability of the Empire of Layarteb to maintain total and dominant air superiority. During the war, several Russian reconnaissance aircraft were intercepted and escorted out of Turkish airspace by F-57 Wraiths.

In 2011, the F-57 Wraith saw considerable action during the Persian-Russian War. They flew combat air patrols as well as strike missions, marking the first time that the F-57 was used in the strike role. They achieved only two air-to-air kills owing mostly to the Russian domination of the war in the northern parts of Persia, where fighters were engaged in heavy air-to-air combat. Along the coastline, fighters were largely kept out of the fight. It was also in late-2011 that the Wraith demonstrated its maritime strike ability when two F-57s destroyed a Persian Saam-class frigate.

F-57 Wraiths saw little action during the Mato Grossan Wars mainly because of the lack of air threats. Their main purpose was to guard Mato Grossan skies against intrusion by Bavinese aircraft, which they achieved easily considering no Bavinese aircraft were sent into the warzones.

Layartebian Wraiths saw considerable action over the skies of southern China during the Sinaean-Layartebian War and performed countless sorties in support of the Layartebian mission. During the campaign, the Wraith was used in all manner of roles and the Wraith achieved some significant air kills.

Variants

Prototype Models

  • F/A-77 Kovas - Main land-based prototype, also known as the YF-57A, became F-57A
  • F/A-77N Kovas - Main carrier-based prototype, also known as the YF-57B, became F-57B

Production Models

  • F-57A/B Wraith - Main production variants ($180 million)
    • Block 1 - IOC aircraft with limited air-to-air capabilities
    • Block 5 - Full air-to-air integration and limited air-to-ground capabilities
    • Block 10 - Full air-to-ground integration
    • Block 15 - Improvement to the datalink system
    • Block 20 - Improvement to the ECM system to allow for directional jamming and improvements to the datalink system for BGM-246 Swordfish guidance as well as maintenance improvements
    • Block 25 - Proposed upgrade for 2017 with new weapons integration, advanced avionics modifications, and next generation countermeasures

Operators

 Layarteb (1,128)

The Imperial Layartebian Military is the only operator of the F-57 variant of the F/A-77 Kovas.

Accidents

Owing to the excellent construction and design of the Wraith, only two aircraft have been lost to all causes, one F-57B in 2008 and one F-57A in 2012, both due to mechanical failure. In both instances, the pilots were able to eject safely.

No pilots have been killed in any incident with the Wraith.

Specifications (F-57A)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 (pilot and radar intercept officer)
  • Length: 73.49 ft (22.4 m)
  • Wingspan: 51.51 ft (15.7 m)
  • Height: 20.34 ft (6.2 m)
  • Empty weight: 42,990 lb (19,500 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 86,500 lb (39,236 kg)
  • Powerplant:LDC-TF-18A afterburning turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 26,375 lbf (117.32 kN) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 39,565 lbf (176 kN) each
  • Fuel capacity: 23,479 lb (10,650 kg)

Performance

  • Maximum speed:
  • Combat radius: 500 mi (805 km)
  • Ferry range: 3,231 mi (5,200 km)
  • Service ceiling: 65,000 ft (19,812 m)
  • Rate of climb: 56,300 ft/min (286 m/s)
  • Maximum design g-load: -6/+13 g structural but limited to -4/+10 g via electronics
  • Takeoff distance: 275 m (900 ft)
  • Landing distance: 488 m (1,600 ft)

Armament
  • Guns: 1x GAU-20/A Impulse Revolver Cannon with 475 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 2x under-fuselage internal bays, rated at 2,600 lb (1,180 kg) each; and, 2x side-fuselage internal bays, rated at 275 lb (125 kg) each; and, 6 external hardpoints: 2x inner-wing, rated at 4,410 lb (2,000 kg) each; 2x center-wing, rated at 2,095 lb (950 kg) each; and, 2x outer-wing, rated at 500 lb (227 kg) each for a total capacity of 19,760 lb (8,963 kg) of internal and external ordinance.
  • Missiles:
  • Bombs:
  • Other: 2x 300-gal (1,136 L) external drop tanks, 2x 370-gal (1,400 L) external drop tanks, 2x 450-gal (1,703 L) external drop tanks, 2x 600-gal (2,271 L) external drop tanks

Avionics

  • Sensors
  • Countermeasures

Links