We all know that loyal wingmen have been a hot topic in the Air Force for the past 10 years. At present, China, the United States, Australia, France, Russia, and many countries in India are successively testing loyal wingmen. Generally speaking, there are two main categories, one is represented by the US Air Force’s XQ-58A Valkyrie UAV, and the second is our Attack-11 UAV, Russia’s S-70, and Europe’s neurons, and the Indians are now developing both classes of drones at the same time.
Judging from the currently envisaged tasks, the loyal wingman has four combat uses, providing front sensors for the manned aircraft, providing additional pylons for the manned aircraft, blocking the knife for the manned aircraft in an emergency, and one for large escort the target. If these goals can be achieved, as you can imagine, this is obviously a new revolution in air combat.
The Americans envisioned such a combat scenario. An F-22 fighter was grouped with three Valkyries. One of the Valkyries carried a radar module forward for searching, while the F-22 fighter kept the radar silent at the rear. In this case, even if the opponent uses reverse radar positioning, the real location of the F-22 fighter cannot be found, and only a Valkyrie drone can be found, and the F-22 will continue to hold the tactical initiative.
However, the realization of the Valkyrie is not as good as the U.S. Air Force imagined. The small turbofan engine installed by the Valkyrie has a maximum thrust of only 2,000 pounds, which is about 0.9 tons. The maximum flight speed of this drone is only Mach 0.9. , its cruising speed is only Mach 0.72, which is not as fast as the Mach 0.85 standard of the third-generation aircraft, let alone a high-speed fighter like the F-22.
In terms of weapons, Valkyrie can only mount two GBU-39 small-diameter bombs. This mounting level is only equivalent to a quarter of the minimum stealth mount of the F-22 fighter, and there is one more point. Deadly, such a Valkyrie does not have the ability to mount air-to-air missiles to assist F-22 and F-35 in air combat. Because everyone knows that in order to expand the launch of air-to-air missiles, the envelope fighter needs to accelerate or climb with afterburner before launching medium-range air-to-air missiles, but the Valkyrie with a maximum speed of only Mach 0.9 has no way to achieve this. Tactics, so the Valkyrie said it was a wingman, but in fact it was a large model aircraft that would follow the F-22.
Loyal wingmen will indeed set off a new revolution in air combat, but the current Valkyrie is still far from my opinion. In comparison, our attack-11 UAV, Russia’s S-70 is fully capable of achieving loyal wingman, the four combat purposes we mentioned earlier, strictly speaking, attack-11, S-70 They are not drones specially developed for the concept of loyal wingmen, but a stealth unmanned attack aircraft that can interact with advanced fighter aircraft such as the J-20 and Su-57.
Assault-11 and S-70 itself are equipped with a complete set of avionics, as well as sensors including radar, it can carry out combat missions completely independently, and the current Valkyrie comparison, it is basically equivalent So an aircraft shell, it does not have high-level sensors installed, and the radar level is relatively low.
The reason for this, including the fact that it uses a small turbofan engine as mentioned earlier, is still cheap. A human attack aircraft is not even much more expensive than a Tomahawk cruise missile. It is somewhat naive for the Americans to want the horse to run and not to graze. The S-70 is completely different. The huge 20-ton body can also mount about 2.8 tons of ammunition stealthily. This mounting capacity is basically equivalent to the American F-35, and it is precisely to achieve such a capability. The cost of the S-70 is as high as 1.4 billion rubles, which is about 150 million yuan.
However, it is not unacceptable for such a stealth unmanned attack aircraft with independent combat capabilities. Like the American MQ-9 Reaper UAV, it costs almost 100 million yuan, especially in the implementation of ground strike missions. At that time, stealth unmanned attack aircraft such as Attack-11, S-70, and European Neurons can be fully competent alone. He does not need human fighters to participate. The attack aircraft to perform the ground attack mission, on the contrary, is superfluous. So I personally think that the formation flight of the attack-11 UAV and the two-seat version of the J-20, the larger use of this grouping operation, should be to explore the combat style of the next-generation fighter air combat.