Tag Archives: missiles

40-year old Falklands, Iraq, Libya veteran Sea Dart missile makes its last firing

Introduced some 40 years ago, Sea Dart missile, a ship lunched anti-aircraft  and anti-missiles with a range of around 80 miles, was fired for the last time on Apr. 13.

The test firing, as part of the large Joint Warrior exercise off Scotland’s East Coast, was to demonstrate that the system was still effective after all these years.

HMS Edinburgh the last of the Royal Navy’s Type 42 Destroyers fired the Sea Dart as both as a Solo and as a salvo of 2 missiles at aerial Mirach target drones, which can fly at 10ft or 40,000ft for up to 90 minutes and are around 13 feet in length.

Image credit: Navynews.co.uk

Edinburgh’s Weapon Engineering Officer, Lt Cdr Stephen Carbery, in Charge of Sea Dart said: “This system has been at the heart of maritime operations for three decades, defending units and task groups from air attack since the Falklands conflict in 1982 through to Libya last year”.

HMS Edinburgh is due to be deployed for the last time next year and will usher in an end of an era both for Sea Dart, which is being replaced by Sea Viper, and the Type 42 Destroyer, which is being replaced by the new Type 45 Destroyer.

Image credit: Navynews.co.uk

The first Type 45 Destroyer, the HMS Daring, has commenced its first deployment “East of Suez” and is currently defending the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group along with its US counterparts.

Image credit: Navy News Facebook Page

Sea Dart first saw combat in the Falklands conflict in 1982, downing seven aircraft, and then saw action again during Gulf War 1 when a missile fired from HMS Gloucester shot down an Iraqi Silkworm missile as it headed for the USS Missouri in what was the first time a missile shot down another missile in combat.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Fighter generations comparison chart

The appearance of the new J-20 (unofficially dubbed “Black Eagle”) raised many questions about the Chinese stealth fighter. Some experts think it will be more capable than the F-22; others (and I’m among these ones) think that the real problem for the US with the J-20 is not with the aircraft’s performance, equipment and capabilities (even if the US legacy fighters were designed 20 years earlier than current Chinese or Russian fighters of the same “class”); the problem is that China will probably build thousands of them.

Anyway, comparing the US and Chinese fighters, everybody referred to “fifth generation planes” bringing once again the concept of “fighter generation” under the spotlight.

Generations are a common way to classify jet fighters. Often, generations have been “assigned” to fighters in accordance with the timeframes encompassing the peak period of service entry for such aircraft.

The best definition I’ve found so far of fighter generations is the one contained in an article published in 2009 by Air Force Magazine, that proposes a generations breakdown based on capabilities:

Generation 1: Jet propulsion

Generation 2: Swept wings; range-only radar; infrared missiles

Generation 3: Supersonic speed; pulse radar; able to shoot at targets beyond visual range.

Generation 4: Pulse-doppler radar; high maneuverability; look-down, shoot-down missiles.

Generation 4+: High agility; sensor fusion; reduced signatures.

Generation 4++: Active electronically scanned arrays; continued reduced signatures or some “active” (waveform canceling) stealth; some supercruise.

Generation 5: All-aspect stealth with internal weapons, extreme agility, full-sensor fusion, integrated avionics, some or full supercruise.

Potential Generation 6: extreme stealth; efficient in all flight regimes (subsonic to multi-Mach); possible “morphing” capability; smart skins; highly networked; extremely sensitive sensors; optionally manned; directed energy weapons.

In order to give the readers a rough idea of the type of aircraft belonging to each generation based on the above breakdown I’ve prepared the following table with the help of Tom Cooper / ACIG.org and Ugo Crisponi / Aviatiographic.com, who provided the profiles. It’s not meant to show all the aircraft theoretically belonging to a generation and includes only the profiles available at the time of writing…

As I’ve already said on Twitter, what such a table should let you understand at a glance is that capabilities and appearance are inversely proportional: former generations aircraft look much better than more modern fighters…..