Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Giovanni de Briganti: Shillin' for Euros?

This is Giovanni de Brigante (with an 'e'):

Giovanni de Brigante. 1920s Air Racer Source: Corbis

He was one of the daring European air race pilots of his day. He probably understood his flying machine, how to extract the most performance from it, what was critical to the successful operation of the plane and where its technological standing was relative to the existing state of the aeronautical art in his time. He probably knew what he was talking about when it came to bleeding-edge technology of the day.  

This is Giovanni de Briganti (with an 'i'):

Giovanni de Briganti: Aero 'Jpournalist' (graphic by SMSgt Mac)
This Giovanni de Briganti is… none of the above.
This Giovanni de Briganti pens what is IMHO best described as Euro-propaganda with an aeronautics angle. He's written some incredibly stupid things about ‘some’ advanced aerospace projects. To this observer, it appears his targeted  ‘some’ projects are selected according to a ratio inverse to amount of advertising space purchased on his website. (Just Sayin'!)

His latest (perhaps even “Euro-sponsored”?) piece is a doozy.  We could take him to task for trying to pass off the simplistic logic he uses to redefine fighter generations, or how he relates a simplified (for simpletons?) narrative on the state of the F-35’s HMD (a better one here). among other things. He manages to repeat every Euro-canard program’s PR trope on sensor-fusion and interoperability in going down the list of ‘5th Gen’ capabilities as well.  
But to save time and really highlight that Mr. de Briganti knows NOTHING about the key technologies involved and which he feels empowered to write about, let us use his own words concerning Low Observability, aka ‘Stealth’.
Only part of two paragraphs are necessary to show Giovanni de Briganti is a complete tyro when it comes to modern fighter technology.

de Briganti's first revelatory failure:  

In any case, detection by radar matters less and less because by switching on its radar a fighter becomes as visible as someone turning on a flashlight in a dark room.
Which seems almost verbatim what the once-highly respected Thomas S. Amlie* tried to claim concerning the B-2’s ‘Low Probability of Intercept Radar’ (LPIR).  F-22 and F-35 AESA radars are of the very latest generation of Active Electronic Scanned Array (AESA) systems. AESA’s are such a good idea, ‘4th Gen’ aircraft makers (including LM with the F-16) are scrambling to field AESAs on older aircraft. Installations on older designs can be problematic from a power/cooling perspective so there may tend to be more trade offs in radar performance to make the newer radars compatible with older systems, but that is beside the point. The point is, there is a tremendous effort going on to come up with ways that  would make AESAs more ‘detectable’ because finding them, tracking them, and locking on to them is for all practical purposes, nearly impossible to do reliably. And that my friends is NOT at all the same as becoming  “as visible as someone turning on a flashlight in a dark room”.

If Mr de Briganti had anything close to a clue concerning AESA radar technology, he seems to have lost it. Mr. Amlie was wrong because he didn’t know about new and then mostly classified technology. Mr. de Briganti apparently isn’t aware of twenty-year (plus!) old unclassified technology because....he's ignorant?    

de Briganti’s  second failure:  

So the preferred detection sensors are optical, like Infra-Red Scan and Track (IRST), and in this case the large and very hot exhaust plume of the F-35’s 45,000-lb thrust engine is as visible as a blowtorch in the same dark room.
Heh.  I’ll just repeat part of the observations I made over at Solomon’s SNAFU! blog a little while back (Typos corrected of course) :

IRST tracking is a short range capability. Just like for visible light digital detection systems, digital infrared detection requires at a minimum 1 pixel with detectable contrast to surrounding pixels. (Analog systems, such as the human eye require 1/2 arc-seconds 'width' contrasting against the field of view).These are clear-sky minimums. Any kind of moisture in the air between target and detector, or behind the target will reduce detection range. Typical operating altitudes commonly have a lot of this moisture equal or above them.
The total target contrast is attenuated by the physical properties of the atmosphere itself. The major constituent gases 'absorb' Medium IR frequencies, and those just happen to be the part of the bandwidth emitted by the jet exhaust. The Low IR and High IR bands aren't absorbed nearly as much, so the management of these emissions is accomplished by selection of outer mold line shaping, coating colors and surface textures. And then you get to F-35 formations, tactics and sensor fusion. Sneaking up on an F-35 with an IRST will be a very dangerous game for the attacker …

…. Just because you can see a LO asset doesn't mean you can engage it. If you can engage the LO asset, it doesn't mean you can actually hit it. Think about it -- there's a reason why we've [US have] never gone in big on IRSTs for air-to-air combat.

So much for the hyperbolic blowtorch.

He should read more. Suggested topic: Kill Chain. Then he couldn't help to write less drivel.

Now the only question is: are we prepared for the 'gems' he'll present in his "Part 2"?

*If you want to read where Amlie really ‘stepped in it’ (his failure was that his technical knowledge of radar was past its expiration date and he wrote his argument down for the world to see) get a copy of the book The "Pentagon Paradox" and read Appendix C (pp355-56) for his letter (with equations!) describing how a dish antenna system would always be detectable. Too bad a LPIR radar doesn't use a dish.  Mr.  Amlie passed away fairly recently, and I find it fitting that the obituaries seem to have overlooked this singular event, as it probably did not rise to be worthy of mention on the balance sheet of an otherwise outstanding career.


Our home project said...

They are both de Briganti with an "I" me
In general I feel disagreement could be expressed less abrasively.

SMSgt Mac said...

Heh. When I first went to the link where the pic was they had it misspelled then (now?). Anyhooo, I was told the Euroshill hisself was using that pilot photo on his Twitter file.

SMSgt Mac said...

P.S. I save 'abrasive' for the more egregious offenders of truth and logic. De Briganti qualifies.

I need to update some of this post, as I've decided a PhD would be a waste of time for me, but the 'civility' part still applies: