Could the Soviets have built a Phantom-esque fighter?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Riain, Nov 13, 2010.

  1. Riain Well-Known Member

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    The 60s Soviet fighters were woefully underarmed and short on range. Is it possible for the Soviets to build something like the Phantom to enter service in about 1965? I'm thinking it should have AA3 and AA2 missiles, possibly a gun, possibly 2 crew, definitely plenty of range and definintely a comprehensive electronics suite. I'm thinking that it would need to take advantage of tricks like conformal and wingtip missile carriage to make up for Soviet deficiences in engine, aerodynamic and electronic performance.

    I am aware that the Soviet operate their fighters differently, hence why they built the planes they did. I also know the Mig 23 is their Phantom type plane, but it didn't enter mass prodction until 1972. So please don't tell me these things, I'm interested to see if the Soviets could do it, not why they didn't or did.
     
  2. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator

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    There is no technical reason that the Soviets couldn't have built a multi-mission aircraft like the F4. They had lots of non-technical reasons not to build one, starting with no need for the mission envelope.

    The USSR produced the MiG-21, the MiG-25 & the Tu-22M Backfire. Any country that could build them could build a Phantomski.
     
  3. AmericanCataphract Evil Underlord

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    Make the Soviets focus their tactical doctrine less on tactical attack craft and more on deep interdiction into enemy airspace, attacking NATO supply dumps and transport facilities in West Germany behind their defense lines. Do this and the need for a Phantom equivalent arises shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis. It may be until 1968 or 1970 before it enters service, but the idea will be fleshed out as soon as the realization that a strategic thermonuclear exchange is undesirable sinks into the heads of Soviet politicians and military leaders (which will naturally lead to them thinking more about tactical doctrine).

    If they develop a facsimile of the "strike package" concept, then you'll have a need for a large, long-range, well-armed plane to escort the strike package and fight for air superiority over a wide front, using the best radar and electronics to grant all-weather capability. Basically, that's what the role of the Phantom became at some point during Operation Rolling Thunder, as it largely deserted its patrolling naval interceptor roots. Once the Su-24 comes along, it'll further validate the strike package and make it a focal point of Soviet doctrine, much as the Panavia Tornado did for NATO air forces.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2010
  4. Riain Well-Known Member

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    I get the feeling that one reason the Soviets didn't build anything like the Phantom until the the 1972 Mig 23 is that they couldn't. I think that the mixture of fuel and weapon load needed for long range/combat persistence plus the thrust to wieght ratio and wing loading needed close combat when it got there may have been beyond the Soviets in the mid 60s.
     
  5. AmericanCataphract Evil Underlord

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    Well, we know for sure that they could build big, as with the MiG-25 that first flew in 1964 and the Tu-28 Fiddler which did so in 1959. This could theoretically give enough fuel for long range and a big weapons load, as well as space for the best avionics and radar. As for the issue of wing loading - all they have to do is implement a large delta wing, and accept a slightly lower top speed (as that will mean they can use lighter materials, which will lower the top speed but also reduce wing loading. I'm thinking Mach 1.8 or so.). While the delta isn't ideal for maneuverability, that's slightly less of an issue for the sort of aircraft we're imagining. Keep in mind the Phantom was expected, in a full-scale shooting war, to be making full use of BVR radar and missiles, and was never intended for knife-fighting ranges. Skillful pilots were able to make it work in the ROE-dominated airspace above Vietnam, as were the Israelis with their Mirages. Get better Soviet pilot training and it can certainly work.
     
  6. NothingNow Banned

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    The Su-15 was almost there. Make it a bit more maneuverable, and give it a second seat and a better radar, like the Smerch, and you've got a Phantomski.
    That said, as mentioned before, there needs to be a doctrinal reason for it, or else it isn't going to happen.
     
  7. tallwingedgoat Well-Known Member

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    If the Soviets wanted to, they could probably build the Su-19 earlier. This was the Su-15 with a new wing for extended range and greater manueverability.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Just Leo Well-Known Member

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    I don't think TsAGI would approve of the aerodynamics of the Phantom. And they had no reason to do so.
     
  9. Riain Well-Known Member

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    The SU15 could possibly be a Phantomski, it entered service in 1966 which is the right time. But it took until 1971 to get the version with 4 AAMs, and by then the F14 was 3 years from sqn service and the F15 4 years from sqn service. If the Su15 started out with the cranked wing, 4 AAMs (6 would be better) and an internal gun in 1966 then it could be the Phantomski.
     
  10. Mote Well-Known Member

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    The Phantom proved, however, that aerodynamics are meaningless with sufficient thrust.:D
     
  11. AdA Well-Known Member

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    Yak28 ?

    The Yak28 comes to mind. It was built as a long range precision strike aircraft (Yak28I), Reccon (Yak28R) Interceptor (Yak28PM) and EW (Yak28PM). It did this from 61, and required 4 variants to do all jobs, Vs the 3 variants of the F4 (RF, G; and the regular fighter bomber versions.)
    It's difficult to say if the Yak28PM was a worse fighter than the F4C, since both rellied on missiles and we lack data for the effectivness of the AA3 on combat conditions. But you could replace a force of F4 with Yaks, provided you used a mix of fighter and bomber/recce/EW types. The F4C/D/E where dual role, but the URSS didn't believe in dual role units, trainning their regiments for single missions and building their aircraft accordingly.
     
  12. Riain Well-Known Member

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    I can't imagine a Yak 28 turning and burning with F8s, F4s, Mirages and Lightnings.
     
  13. AdA Well-Known Member

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    Yak28s did play turn/dive/climb games with German F4F late in their careers. Go to airvectors site for a report. A Phantom dogfighting a Lightning? The British fighter was to give some F16 and F15 pilots a few nasty surprises in it's goldem years, so imagine how a 1964 Lightning F6 would kick a 1964, no gun, no slats, F4C...
    (The Yak28P is a 61 design, and the PM came in 64, so it's comparable to the early model F4B and C.)
    The original concept for the Phamtom was to engage BVR targets with AIM7 missiles and to finish off bombers with AIM9. Ditto for the Yak28PM, but with half the missile load and more fuel.
    If the Yaks had operated over Vietnam they would have circled, got a clue from a ground station, poped up just enought to fire a couple of AA3 and run away at low altittude.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2011
  14. Riain Well-Known Member

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    A popup GCI is the opposite of Phantom-esque, a Phantom-esque fighter would be operating over enemy territory or the far edge of friendly territory, away from tight ground control.
     
  15. AdA Well-Known Member

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    Given an offensive scenario. The vietnamese AirForce was outnumbered and on the defensive, ence the tactics I mentioned. The reason F4 would not need GCI was the presence of AWACS aircraft, not any merit on the Aircraft. . IRIAF F4 used defensive tactics and cooperated with their integrated Air Defence network during the Iran Iraq war whenever they lacked the strengh to go on the offensive.
    In the 60s the USAF tested the F4 against the F106 and the F4 came out a looser in the air to air role. It was the F4 capability as a IDS aircraft that made it worth to improve it as a fighter. Is it a much better aircraft than the Yak28? Sure. It's a great multirole machine, maybe the greatest ever, but what makes multirole attractive is cost saving, not pure performance. A Lightning is a better fighter, a Delta Dart a better interceptor and a Buccaneer a better strike aircraft. But a phantom can do all those jobs decently and save hugely on long term fleet cost. The russians just built cheaper planes in large numbers.

    My point was just that for every mission the F4 performed, there was a Yak28 version for the same job, at a earlier or contemporary date. The Russians had the Phamthom requirement covered...
     
  16. BlairWitch749 Banned

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    I would have a hard time doing that by the date requested... maybe not a phantom par say

    but maybe Iran dumps the shah somewhat earlier; and turns over an f-14 or two for the right price to the Russians and they just copy the damn thing

    and f-14 would certainly fit the bill for a multi role aircraft, and if copying they could probably get it into service earlier than the mig 29 in otl
     
  17. Riain Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't put the Yak 28 in the same league as the Phantom at all, and since the Soviets built 1180 of them compared to for example 11500 Mig 21s or 5000 Mig 23s I don't think the Soviets thought too much of them either. For starters it was barely supersonic, it's bombload was only 3000lb, its missile load was 2 AA3s. This is hardly Phantom-esqe.
     
  18. AdA Well-Known Member

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    This is from airvectors site: Go to Yefim Gordom's or Bill Gunston books if you find the source suspect.

    YAKOVLEV YAK-28P "FIREBAR":
    _____________________ _________________ _______________________

    spec metric english
    _____________________ _________________ _______________________

    wingspan 11.6 meters 38 feet 2 inches
    wing area 35.25 sq_meters 379.03 sq_feet
    length 20.6 meters 67 feet 9 inches
    height 4.3 meters 14 feet 1 inch

    loaded weight 16,400 kilograms 36,155 pounds

    max speed (clean) 1,840 KPH 1,145 MPH / 995 NT
    service ceiling 16,000 meters 52,500 feet
    range 2,150 kilometers 1,335 MI / 1,160 NMI
    _____________________ _________________ _______________________

    For the Yak28I
    Typical weapons loads included a 1,200 kilogram tactical nuclear weapon; a single 3,000 kilogram (6,600 pound) or 1,500 kilogram (3,300 pound) general purpose (GP) high explosive bomb; two 500 kilogram (1,100 pound) GP, incendiary, or cluster bombs; four 250 kilogram (550 pound) HE or cluster bombs; or eight 120 kilogram (265 pound) GP bombs.

    The 28I coul carry an internal load up to 3000Kg. By 64 upgraded 28PM carried two AA3 plus two AA2. 1840 km/h is not "barely supersonic".
    The 28 was replaced by a number of superior, specialised aircraft. The Su15 was a better inteceptor, the Su17 and Mig27 better strike aircraft and the su24 a better longe range strike aircraft. It was a option for single vs multirole. Currently multirole is the fashion, but is that a economic or a tactical advantage?

    The USAF could have gone "russian style" and instead of phamtoms bought a mix of:
    F5 frontal fighters
    F104G Strike aircraft
    RF104G Recce aircraft
    F106C/D improved interceptors
     
  19. Riain Well-Known Member

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    Yes I read that, 1145mph is optimistic and even then isn't the 1450mph of the Phantom or Lightning, nor is 1200kg the 7000kg of the Phantom, nor is 2 AAMs the 8 AAMs of the Phantom, it isn't even the 3 AAMs and guns of the Mirage III or the 2 AAMs and guns of the Lightning.

    And yes the USAF could have gone the FA route, easily in fact, but the question is could the Soviets have gone the Western route and built a long range offensive fighter by about 1965. I'm not convinced that they had the ability even if they wanted to.