2015/01/28

Dogfighting 3

So, my last post went completely off the rails. Part of the point I wanted to make was that active defence lasers may see dogfighting become more necessary as missiles will be shot down where ballistic projectiles may be "immune" to laser defences.

Lasers themselves work by heating up the offending projectile so that the projectile's fuel or payload detonate. Self-propelled projectiles, like missiles, have the additional issue that even a small hole in the side can completely screw up propulsion even if the fuel doesn't ignite out the side.

There may be a push towards relatively tough projectiles without explosives, or with very hard to set off explosives. Everyone has seen the traditional mortar shells being shot down by the HEL. Mortar rounds appear to use anything ranging from TNT to PAX-21. However, as the laser technology improves, explosive projectiles (especially of the extremely hot, like missiles, or low velocity, like mortars) will become less and less viable in a modern conflict.

Back to dogfighting, the idea that I (and I assume others have had) is that being able to target opponents outside of your immediate front is a tremendous advantage. Indeed, it is one that would make traditional dogfighting a very different game. It would still, of course, be an advantage to be behind your opponent. But t-boning an opponent would become a much riskier proposition.

Let's go over some things here:
Aircraft typically roll far faster than they can pitch or yaw. This means, in the terrain clear environment of the sky, that at least one axis of a potential turret is already accounted for.

To have an opponent stuck to your tail is death. Chances are you'll be relying on your team mates to take them out or use a potentially risky manoeuvre known as scissoring. Honestly, there's a lot of stuff there that has been written about elsewhere.

The cannon of the plane should be mounted such that it could turn 90 to 110 degrees, from directly forward to directly vertical. The fighter itself may take a maneuverability hit from this design. However, as part of a wing, the dangerous "area" for an opponent to occupy is no longer a series of lines, but instead a series of volumes; vastly harder to avoid and much easier for the friendly wing to maintain total airspace control.

The traverse of the turret should be capable of tracking a fighter, such that the extremely high rates of fire are less necessary than before. With computer controlled aiming and yaw-ing (whatever). With a smaller gun and no pilot, the aircraft can improve its maneuverability to make up for the added weight and size of the turret. The drone parts need not worry about G-forces.

The projectiles this gun would fire would have to be tough enough to withstand solid lasering, but still carrying enough destructive capacity to reduce a fighter.

Not sure how to end this. But yes, a turreted fighter that's capable of engaging targets in a volume ahead of it may be the way of the future.

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