Tag: F-35

Counterintuitiveness – Psyched vs Calm


Pic: source

Counterintuitive Series: Psyched vs Calm

Counterintuitiveness makes life more interesting. It also briefly reveals gaps or lags in our understanding or mindsets.

From time to time, life demands that we get charged for something. Could be the commencement of a big project, a project with a tight deadline, a school or college assignment due the next morning, a job interview, and so on. And we feel the need to get psyched about it. Get in the zone, get charged up, and whatever other phrases there are for it.

And there seem to ways to do it to. The most common of course, being chugging down an energy drink or copious amounts of coffee.

The only problem with many of these methods, is there is a guaranteed crash after the initial ‘charge’. And sometimes, that can be worse than not having consumed or performed whatever ‘charge-up’ action. Like staying up all night working on the assignment and falling asleep in the morning and ending missing class itself. Or worse.

Calming down seems to have more than the same benefits that ‘charging up’ options offer, but without the subsequent crash.

But that’s the tough bit at least I often grapple with. The calming down. Most people suggest meditation, though that is sometimes easier said than done.

A few things that work for me, include standing against a wall or cupboard for a minute. Or lying down in a reclined position with arms stretched out and closing eyes for a minute or two.

And of course, brain dumps really work. Writing down each and every thought and to-do that comes to mind.

Before complex or creative projects, even a short nap helps clear the head and even make sense of some of the complexity.

Compared to the psych-you-up options, calmer ways to get in the zone often provide similar (or better) results, are more efficient, make you expend less energy, and are effective longer.

Leaving you with my favourite counterintuitive trivia question for some years now:

Q: Fighter jets normally take-off off aircraft carriers at a speed of around 270 km/hr.
What might be the approximate speed at which they approach the aircraft carrier to land?+

A: Most of us would imagine they would approach to land on an aircraft carrier at a much lower speed, given the short runway on the carrier. However, they approach at take-off speeds (~270 km/hr) or higher, because if they miss all of usually four arresting cables on the carrier that help it stop, they would need to take-off before they reach the end.

For more posts on ‘counterintuitiveness‘.

And remember, as US Marines probably say..

‘Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.’

+ except aircraft like the Harrier, Osprey, some F-35s and such of course.

Tejas: A Fighter Plane 33 Years In the Making

Tejas: A Fighter Plane 33 Years In the Making

In the early 1980s, there was a plan to build India’s first fighter aircraft, under the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program. After innumerous technological and process roadblocks, and possibly governmental delays, the LCA,  named Tejas (‘radiant’), was inducted into the Indian Air Force a few days ago.

Being in love with fighter planes since I was a toddler, I couldn’t resist the urge to compare our indigenous baby with the best of the world. I am sharing some glaring shortcomings, in the hope that its next versions surpass the best in the world.

Before I get to it, let me take another moment to drool at her in the picture above. Isn’t she just beautiful?!

Ok, back to business, I’ll start with picking three of my favorite fighter planes in the world. They are the USAF F-22 “Raptor“, the USAF F-35 “Lightning” and the SU-37 “Flanker” (or Flanker-F).

F-22, F-35 and SU-37

Image: F-22, F-35 and the SU-37

While it isn’t a fair comparison, pitting the new kid on the block with veterans, that is just what I am going to do. Let’s see how the Tejas compares.

Speed and Service Ceiling:

Comparing specifications of the Tejas with those of the above three, the Raptor’s top speed is Mach 2.25, with a service ceiling of over 65,000 feet. The Lightning’s is a slow Mach 1.61 with a service ceiling of 50,000 feet. The Flanker’s is a whopping Mach 2.35 with a service ceiling a little over 59,000 feet. In comparison, our Tejas has a respectable top speed of Mach 1.8 with a service ceiling of 50,000 feet.

Range:

The Raptor has a flying range of approximately 2,960 kms, the Lightning, 2,220 kms, the Flanker, a cool 3,300 kms. The Tejas has a 3,000 km range. Not bad for the new kid.

Some concerns:

The Raptor and the Lightning are stealth fighters. However, contrary to some misleading news articles in the last few days, which said the Tejas was a stealth fighter, it is not one. Specifications of the Tejas do boast of some stealth features such as its inherent small physical form, leading to a comparatively smaller radar signature, and radar-absorbent coatings and body composites and some design modifications which further reduce its radar impression.

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Image: source

However, given that its weapons are external, and the fact that its body design isn’t at sharp angles to deflect radar, it would still make it easy to spot the jet, unless with primitive radar equipment.

Recent, fifth-generation fighters, and even some earlier jets include features which allow for better angles of attack. For instance, the Raptor has thrust-vectoring nozzles, as well as horizontal stabilizers at the back, which allow for a 60° angle of attack. The Lightning, despite the seemingly maneuverable appearance, thrust vectoring nozzle and lift fan (see image below), has a 50° angle of attack.

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Image: The F-35’s thrust vectoring nozzle and lift fan – source

The Flanker, with thrust vectoring engines and beautifully designed frame, has a deadly 180° angle of attack. Your eyes might light up like mine always do at the mention of the ‘Cobra maneuver’. This post, wouldn’t be complete without a video of Pugachev’s Cobra maneuver.

Even with the canard delta wing and possibly a thrust vectoring engine, the French Dassault Rafale too only has a 29° angle of attack. The Tejas however, lacks any of the above features, but still is capable of a 28° angle of attack.

From an improvement point of view, I would say that Hindustan Aeronautics and the Aeronautical Development Agency still have some way to go in terms of getting the next versions of the Tejas at par with the best in the world. So while the toughest hurdle (of actually getting the first one service ready) is now behind us, it’s only a matter of time before the world will be dropping at the specifications of India’s own fighter planes. After all, look what we achieved with our space program, in the shortest time span and in the most economical way.

But that said, the global investment into defense research and readiness is as astronomically high as it is stupid. The collective budget is sufficient to eradicate all the world’s problems, from that of sustainable energy, medical research, poverty and global warming; many times over. But till we become smart enough to spend that money to benefit mankind instead of wasting it on defense expenditure, let’s hope no country ever needs to use its fighter fleet.

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Image: source