Author Topic: USAF Woes  (Read 178361 times)

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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #450 on: January 30, 2020, 13:32:27 »

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #451 on: February 04, 2020, 19:40:27 »
Revolution in military aviation affairs coming? Conclusion of a post today:

Quote
Big Equipment Shake-Up Coming for US Air Force–Slashing And Burning Old Airframes

...the US services/Pentagon are thinking really hard about how to deal with the future, and what difficult choices will have to be made. Anything similar in the Canadian Armed Forces/Department of National Defence?
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/02/04/big-equipment-shake-up-coming-for-us-air-force-slashing-and-burning-old-airframes/

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #452 on: February 10, 2020, 15:36:54 »
The shrinking coming if Congress allows, note F-35A, F-15EX at end:

Quote
Air Force makes reductions to B-1s, A-10s, Global Hawk drones and more in FY21 budget request

For the past several months, Air Force leaders have hyped the fiscal year 2021 budget as a pivotal one, where the service would be forced to make near-term and possibly contentious sacrifices to its existing posture in order to ramp up investments in technologies needed to counter Russia and China.

But the budget request the Air Force released on Feb. 10 seems a compromise between the service’s more radical force planning organizations in the Pentagon and the combatant commanders around the world, who fought back against making major cuts that could greatly impact readiness.

On the whole, the Air Force states that it will realign $4.1 billion in spending over the next five years, divesting some of its oldest aircraft and putting the savings toward future technologies like joint all domain command and control. In FY 21, it will begin retiring a portion of its B-1 bombers, A-10 Warthog attack planes, RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drones, KC-135 and KC-10 tankers and C-130H planes.

However, the service’s budget plan is less ambitious than it has telegraphed over the past six months, with the Air Force ultimately deciding against divesting entire aircraft inventories, making no cuts or cancellations to major ongoing procurement programs, and ultimately keeping research and development funding stable.

“We didn’t get everything we put on the table. Some was walked back,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said of the budget in January. “But we got a lot of what we put on the table.”

...hypersonics prototyping fell from $576 million in FY20 to $382 million [emphasis added], and funding for the Long Range Standoff Weapon decreased from $713 million to $474 million.

The service maintained funding for the B-21 bomber, Air Force One replacement, T-7A trainer, and Next Generation Air Dominance fighter programs at about the same levels as FY20. In FY21, the Air Force requested $2.8 billion for the B-21, $801 million for Air Force One, $249 million for T-7 and $1 billion for NGAD.

The Air Force will keep F-35A procurement stable, buying 48 jets at about $5.8 billion. Despite ongoing problems with the KC-46’s camera system, the service will continue buying planes at a rate of 15 per year, spending $3.1 billion in FY21. It will also purchase another 12 F-15EX planes for $1.4 billion [emphasis added]...
https://www.defensenews.com/smr/federal-budget/2020/02/10/air-force-makes-reductions-to-b-1s-a-10s-global-hawk-drones-and-more-in-fy21-budget-request/

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« Last Edit: February 10, 2020, 15:40:18 by MarkOttawa »
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Offline Jarnhamar

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #453 on: February 10, 2020, 16:19:03 »
Why on earth would they retire A-10s?
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Offline BurmaShave

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #454 on: February 10, 2020, 18:50:35 »
Why on earth would they retire A-10s?

I imagine those will be the the ones that didn't get re-winged. 173 got new wings out of 282. Stands to reason those 109 that didn't will be retired.

As to why they didn't re-wing all of them, its role has been somewhat cannibalized. On the high end (non permissive environments, "smart bomb" truck, arrival time) by the F-35 and F-16, on the low end (loiter time, cost, manning, maintenance) by drones/UAVs/RPA/whatever-the-heck-we-call-em like Reaper.
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #455 on: April 25, 2020, 13:56:38 »
Too many Colonels. The link below is for the leadership at Eilson AFB. You will see the issue on clicking the link.

https://www.eielson.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #456 on: April 25, 2020, 14:21:49 »
Too many Colonels. The link below is for the leadership at Eilson AFB. You will see the issue on clicking the link.

https://www.eielson.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/

So it looks like they have Cols doing the job of a LCol in our Wings.  But, theirs are a lot bigger both in terms of personnel and aircraft. 
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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #457 on: May 13, 2020, 11:13:56 »
This problem just goes on:

Quote
USAF abandons 80% mission capability rate goal after F-22, F-35 and F-16 fail to hit target

The US Air Force (USAF) has abandoned mission capability rate goals for its Lockheed Martin F-22s, F-35s and F-16s, after none of the fighters hit the target.

In September 2018, former US secretary of defense James Mattis ordered the USAF and US Navy (USN) to increase mission capable rates for those aircraft and Boeing F/A-18s to more than 80% by the end of September 2019. The mission capability rate is the percentage of aircraft that are able to perform at least one mission over a period of time.

USAF chief of staff nominee General Charles Brown says the service has dropped that readiness goal.

“The Office of the Secretary of Defense determined the fiscal year 2019 80% mission capable rate initiative is not an FY2020 requirement,” he said in written testimony sent to the US Armed Services Committee and released on 7 May. “As a result, the air force returned to allowing lead commands to determine the required [mission capability] rates to meet readiness objectives.”

After initially making rosy projections about the F-35 reaching 80% mission capability, the Department of Defense (DoD) gradually walked back its forecast. In July 2019, it said F-35s and F-22s would fail to meet the goal. Nevertheless, F-16s were supposed to hit 80% mission capability by September 2019. In the end, not one of the USAF’s fighters achieved the mark.

The F-16’s mission capable reached a high of 75% in June 2019, F-22s reached a high of 68% in April 2019 and F-35s hit a high of 74% in September 2019, says Brown in his testimony. The USN reported in September 2019 that its fleet of F/A-18s surpassed the 80% mark [emphasis added].

“From April 2018 to February 2020, overall readiness increased 16%, and pacing-unit readiness – those units required in the first 30 days of Combatant Command war plans – increased 35%,” he adds.

Despite improvements, the end goal was not reached for a variety of reasons, says Brown.

Maintaining ageing aircraft is an extremely difficult and expensive task, while new, technologically advanced weapons systems present their own challenges [emphasis added],” he says. “We developed and are now implementing a Strategic Sustainment Framework that will both improve materiel readiness and set the conditions for long-term cost reduction by developing multiple sources of supply, enhancing our repair network capabilities and capitalising on conditions-based maintenance, plus other commercial best practices.”

Details of the new Strategic Sustainment Framework were not disclosed.

F-35s and F-22s are notoriously difficult to maintain because of complex designs and stealth body coatings, which must be periodically preserved by hand. In particular, the relatively new F-35 remains plagued with design and production problems resulting in some 873 deficiencies, according to the DoD’s most-recent Office of the Director of Operational Test & Evaluation report, released to the US Congress on 30 January.
https://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing/usaf-abandons-80-mission-capability-goal-after-three-fighters-miss-target/138318.article

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #458 on: May 16, 2020, 13:12:17 »
More on USAF arsenal plane (aka "bomb truck") thinking, plus nuclear weapons command and control:

Mark
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Looks like won't be funding for clean-sheet design for arsenal plane--B-52, modified transport?

Quote
New Arsenal Plane Still ‘Very Nascent,’ [friend said: "Is that like a bit pregnant?"] Roper Says

A potential “clean sheet” Arsenal Plane for Air Force Global Strike Command could be done with the Digital Century Series approach, but the budget likely won’t allow for such a new start in the near future, service acquisition chief Will Roper said.

Speaking with reporters via a Zoom roundtable, Roper said he is working on a “variety of options” for Air Force Global Strike Command, and one of them is potentially a new Arsenal Plane concept, but it is in a “very nascent” form.

“My job is to have options so that the number of bombers can be achieved,” Roper said of the goal of 220 bombers USAF leaders have been voicing lately.

“The warfighters pick the mix and the quantity,” Roper explained. He’s looking at B-52 upgrades, “ramping up the B-21” stealth bomber buy, and other things “on the back burner” for AFGSC, but there have been “no significant changes made to our portfolio” of programs for long-range strike.

While the Air Force could “absolutely” design a new bomber using the model of the Digital Century Series—using digital twinning and digital threads that would simultaneously create a new aircraft design along with the factory to build it—it’s probably too swamped with other new starts right now, Roper said.

“Do we have enough budget to put something like that in? Right now, I don’t think we do,” he said. “I think we’re pretty limited with the nuclear recap, [the] Space Force standup, as well as all the modernization programs we have to get ready for a China/Russia fight.” These include hypersonics, the Advanced Battle Management System, and Joint All-Domain Command and Control. There are “a lot of cutting-edge objectives that are in the Air Force’s job jar on behalf of the Joint Force,” he said.

Bombers have been adaptable to lots of missions, and “a bomber makes a great missileer, as well. So I think the role of bombers will continue to evolve as we keep thinking through more exotic weapons and payloads that will help us in the high-end fight.”

Roper added that he’s “super-delighted that the Space Acquisition Council is just as excited” as he is about the concept of the Digital Century Series being applied to spacecraft. “So, I’m very happy to share the new religion I’ve gotten over the past year and a half.”
https://www.airforcemag.com/new-arsenal-plane-still-very-nascent-roper-says/

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Offline Colin P

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #459 on: May 16, 2020, 16:22:26 »
Building a low threat operation aircraft, with high payload, long loitering times based on a commercial airframe would be a good bone to throw to aircraft companies. You likely need maybe 20 airframes.

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #460 on: May 16, 2020, 18:45:53 »
Building a low threat operation aircraft, with high payload, long loitering times based on a commercial airframe would be a good bone to throw to aircraft companies. You likely need maybe 20 airframes.
Fair selection of sturdy, proven designs out there, assuming the payload can be dropped out the back, rather than bomb-bay style. Equally, if a bomb-bay makes more sense, how much of a nuisance would a B-52 Mk II be to build, assuming the Good Idea Fairy can be kept away?

Is there anything in the commercial market with a high(ish) transit speed and a very economical "loiter" option?

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #461 on: May 20, 2020, 11:11:04 »
Lots more on the Century Bomber, note Pratt & Whitney Canada turbofan in running for new engines--what will our Liberals and lefties think of Canadian power for a nuclear-capable aircraft?

Mark
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Pratt engine made by Pratt & Whitney Canada--to power B-52s carrying nukes? And hypersonics.

Quote
USAF Opens Bidding Phase Of B-52 Re-Engine Competition

The U.S. Air Force has kicked off a three-way competition to re-engine the entire 76-aircraft B-52 fleet from 2021 to 2035.

The request for proposals (RFP) released on May 19 invites bids from GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce to supply 608 engines to replace each of the eight, 60-year-old, 16,000 lb.-thrust P&W TF33 turbofans on the heavy bomber.

GE can choose between the CF34 or Passport engine or offer both. P&W has proposed the PW800. Rolls-Royce will offer a military version of the BR.725.

The Air Force RFP lays out a two-step selection process. In step one, companies must submit “virtual” prototypes of their engine, meaning a digital design with integrated models for manufacturing, performance and sustainment.

Step 2 calls for the traditional engine source selection process, which will be informed by the data from the virtual prototypes and an integration risk analysis completed in the first step.

The Air Force has said the TF33 engines that now power the B-52 cannot be sustained practically beyond 2030. The Cold War jet, meanwhile, is expected to continue operating beyond 2050, outliving the B-2 and B-1B fleets scheduled for retirement in the 2030s.

Armed with a new class of hypersonic and long-range missiles, including the nuclear Long-Range Stand-Off Weapon, the B-52 will perform the standoff mission [emphasis added], while the B-21 penetrates into contested airspace.
https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/aircraft-propulsion/usaf-opens-bidding-phase-b-52-re-engine-competition

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #462 on: June 01, 2020, 12:49:39 »
One way to approach the arsenal plane, further links at original:

Quote
US Air Force looks to up-gun its airlift planes

Humble airlift planes like the C-130J Super Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III could become heavily-armed weapons trucks capable of airdropping large bundles of munitions that deliver a massive blast.

So far, the Air Force has conducted two successful tests of “palletized munitions” from the C-130 and C-17, said Maj. Gen. Clint Hinote, the deputy director of the service’s Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability cell.

“It’s all about capacity,” Hinote explained. “You’ve got to create enough capacity so that a long-range punch is really a punch. What we see is that no matter how big our bomber force is, the capacity that the joint force needs is always more and more. And so this is why we think that there is a real possibility here for using cargo platforms to be able to increase the capacity of fires.”

Air Force Special Operations Command conducted one demonstration of the technology on Jan. 28, when a MC-130J performed three airdrops of simulated palletized munitions at at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

“In this case, munitions stacked upon wooden pallets, or Combat Expendable Platforms (CEPs), deployed via a roller system,” the Air Force Research Laboratory said in a May 27 release. “AFSOC aircrew released five CEPs rigged with six simulated munitions, the same mass as the actual weapons, including four Cargo Launch Expendable Air Vehicles with Extended Range (CLEAVERs) across a spectrum of low and high altitude airdrops."

In response to questions from Defense News, AFRL clarified that simulated long-range cruise missiles were deployed from an off-the-shelf pallet system as well as an Air Force designed crate system [emphasis added]. CLEAVER is a new weapon under development by the lab as part of a separate effort, though it may be used in palletized munitions in the future.

On Feb. 27, Air Mobility Command conducted a similar demonstration with a C-17, which conducted two airdrops of simulated palletized munitions, AFRL said.

In future demonstrations, AFSOC plans to release more advanced forms of simulated munitions as well as full-up weapons vehicles that can be configured with a warhead and terminal guidance system...


“We are in discussions right now about how do we proceed to prototyping and fielding,” he said during a May 27 event held by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

Like the name suggests, palletized munitions are a collection of weapons strapped together onto a smart pallet, which would feed the munitions tracking and targeting information as they are dropped from an airlift platform. A request for information released in February characterized the technology as “a bomb bay in a box” that could allow mobility aircraft to stay out of a threat zone and launch a mass of standoff weapons [emphasis added]...
https://www.defensenews.com/air/2020/05/27/air-force-looking-to-up-gun-its-airlift-planes/

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Offline dapaterson

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #463 on: June 01, 2020, 15:14:02 »
Interesting technological evolution: from "Oops, the parachute failed on that drop.  Good thing nobody was under it" to "Why bother with a parachute, maybe we'll hit something"
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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #464 on: June 23, 2020, 15:31:10 »
Story also covers USN, note Super Hornets:

Quote
Congress has questions about the Air Force’s and Navy’s next-generation fighter programs

The House Armed Services Committee wants to limit the amount of money the Air Force and Navy get for their respective sixth-generation fighter programs until it gets some answers.

The Navy and Air Force are leading separate efforts to develop a follow-on fighter jet to the F-35, with both services calling their programs “Next Generation Air Dominance.” Both projects are in the early stages of development, with the services hoping to ramp up activities this year.

But HASC intends to fence off 85 percent of the fiscal 2021 funding requested for the NGAD until the committee receives an independent review performed by the Pentagon’s director of cost assessment and program evaluation, according to the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee’s markup of the FY21 defense policy bill...

How’s the Air Force effort going?

Earlier this month, Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper said the service is on track to finalize a business case for its NGAD program this summer.

The Air Force envisions NGAD as a family of systems that could include aircraft, drones and other advanced technologies. But when it comes to developing new advanced aircraft, Roper wants to pursue a new strategy he calls the “Digital Century Series” that would have multiple companies continuously developing new jets and competing against each other for small-batch contracts [emphasis added].

The business case, which is being put together by the program executive office for advanced aircraft, will explore whether the Digital Century Series idea is technically feasible, how the development and procurement process should be structured, and whether it would be cheaper than traditional contracting methods.

“That is going to really help us, I hope, because we’ll show that data and argue that it is not just better from a ‘competing with China and lethality’ standpoint. It’s just better from a business standpoint,” Roper said. “If it breaks even or is less [than traditional methods], I will be exceptionally happy. If it’s more expensive — and I hope not exceptionally more — then we’re going to have to argue” on behalf of the program.

The Air Force has asked for $1 billion for its NGAD program for FY21. It received $905 million for the program in FY20.

How’s the Navy’s effort faring?

The Navy’s NGAD program, also known as F/A-XX, is more mysterious.

In its FY21 budget rollout this year, the service announced it would curtail its Super Hornet buy, purchasing a final 24 F/A-18E/Fs and then using the savings from a planned 36 jet buy from FY22 to FY24 to invest in its own future fighter.

Little is known about the Navy’s requirements
[emphasis added--RANGE, RANGE, RANGE]. The service completed an analysis of alternatives in June 2019, as well as broad requirements and guidance for a concept of operations.

The effort is now in the concept development phase, during which defense companies explore ideas “that balance advanced air dominance capabilities and long-term affordability/sustainment,” Navy spokesman Capt. Danny Hernandez told Defense News earlier this month.

Congress has signaled that it may not be willing to allow the Navy to stop buying Super Hornets in future years. HASC inserted language into the FY21 defense policy bill urging the Navy to continue buying new Super Hornets, warning the service that next-generation fighter procurement does not always proceed according to plans [emphasis added].

“The committee recalls the Navy curtailed F/A-18 procurement approximately 10 years ago with aspirational goals to maintain strike-fighter inventory levels with planned procurement of F-35C,” the committee said. “That plan was not realized due to F-35 program execution and subsequently required the Navy to procure additional F/A-18E/F aircraft to reduce operational risk. The committee expects a similar outcome may occur with the Navy’s current plan for FA-XX due to affordability and technological challenges.”

The bill also directs the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Department’s inspector general to provide more information on the operational risk incurred by not buying additional Super Hornets, as well as F/A-18 squadron adherence to maintenance practices.
https://www.defensenews.com/air/2020/06/23/congress-has-questions-about-the-air-force-and-navys-next-generation-fighter-programs/

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #465 on: June 24, 2020, 15:05:06 »
Taking advantage of airlines woes?

Quote
US Air Force considers ways to recruit commercial pilots

The US Air Force (USAF) is considering ways to recruit pilots from the commercial side of the aerospace industry.

The service’s Air Education and Training Command has not yet established new career paths, but is exploring the idea of recruiting experienced commercial pilots or civilians within commercial pilot training programmes, Air Combat Command chief General James Holmes said during a Mitchell Institute webinar.

The concept aims to take advantage of the growing pool of trained commercial pilots, many of whom have been grounded or are facing layoffs due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on airlines.

“Can we bring a pilot [who is] already a commercial-experience pilot, and can we put them through a short programme in the air force to make them an air force pilot?” says Holmes.

The Air Education and Training Command is also considering recruiting pilots who are much earlier in their commercial careers, he says.

“They’re also looking at ways to go out into civilian pilot training programmes and work with them to design the equivalent of our programmes where we could take people out of some of those university or school-based programmes and bring them straight into the air force,” says Holmes.

Recruiting from the commercial world remains conceptual at this point. In the short term, the USAF is focused on retaining military pilots who just six months ago would likely have departed the service for more lucrative jobs as commercial airline pilots.

“People that were reaching the end of their service commitment or had reached it, and were planning on moving to the airlines, are now thinking through that decision,” says Holmes. “I think that some of those will decide to stick around with us for a while longer. Some of them will sign a longer-term bonus and decide to commit and some of them will make a year-to-year decision and wait and see what happens in the environment. It gives us a chance to try to convince them to stick with us, which is an opportunity for us.”

Each year about 900 pilots in the USAF reach the end of their 10-year service commitment. Holmes hopes that the service can convince all of its pilots this year to recommit.
https://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing/us-air-force-considers-ways-to-recruit-commercial-pilots/138945.article

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #466 on: July 23, 2020, 14:51:15 »
Authors say "Digital Century Series" for USAF should be drones, not fighters (further links at original):

Quote
Air Force ‘Digital Century Series’ Is Stuck In The Wrong Century
Acquisition chief Will Roper wants to replicate the rapid-fire development of new fighter jets in the 1950s. He should focus on new drones instead.

The Air Force’s new approach to fighter development harkens back to the Cold War’s Century Series, which created a half-dozen jet designs in less than a decade to gain an edge over improving Soviet aircraft. The new “Digital Century Series,” brainchild of wunderkind acquisition chief Will Roper, aims to use modular “plug and play” hardware and software, computer-aided design, and virtual modeling & simulation to rapidly field new fighter variants, with less of the cumbersome integration and real-world testing that bog down modern R&D.

Roper is right that that the US military needs to accelerate fighter development. In the time it took the Pentagon to fully field the F-22 Raptor, Russian air defenses advanced six generations, from the short-range early models of the S-300 to the latest S-500 that can reportedly shoot down stealth aircraft over 280 miles away. Roper is also right that the DoD needs to innovate through design, speed up introduction of new technology, and increase competition in aircraft development. Pursuing these goals through manned multi-mission fighters, however, is more likely to undermine U.S. airpower than elevate it.

The original Century Series was intended to master the critical emerging technologies of its time: revolutionary improvements in hardware for jet propulsion and supersonic flight, which were central to the Cold War competition between nuclear-armed bombers and defending interceptors. With the advent of long-range missiles, space-based targeting, and cyber operations, manned fighters no longer hold that same strategic importance. The equivalent technologies today might be unmanned aircraft, man-machine teaming, and command-and-control networks to reorganize forces on the fly in real-time. Instead of using the Digital Century Series to marginally improve well-understood technologies for manned aircraft, it should pursue unmanned aircraft designs to master these new advancements [emphasis added]

The worst of all possible force designs

Digital Century Series fighters are intended to have brief production runs and short service lives to enable rapid learning, a cycle in which the experience with each variant leads quickly to improvements in the next. By modularizing systems and containerizing software, the idea is to change only a few features in each new variant, while maintaining much of the aircraft common with its predecessors and successors. This approach may be attractive to engineers and weapons buyers, but it will undermine the emerging combat concepts called Joint All-Domain Operations, which aims to create adaptable options for friendly forces and strategic dilemmas for our adversaries.

Unlike a ship or a widebody aircraft, manned fighters don’t have a lot of room for incorporating new capabilities. If the Century Series’ starting point is an aircraft like the F-35, the process of changing features would likely make each successive generation less multifunctional and more specialized. Unless new systems require very little space and power, the only way to fit them in will be to take some existing systems out. The alternative would be to redesign multiple parts of the aircraft simultaneously–an idea which goes against the program’s design ethos.

It’s likely that all the aircraft in the Digital Century Series will share a common airframe, using modularity and containerization to enable easier and faster evolution between variants. But because modular components need to accommodate a range of potential configurations and must be relatively self-contained, they are necessarily less efficient in terms of space, weight, and power compared to fully-integrated systems. As a result, the new aircraft would probably not be able to incorporate all the mission functionality of today’s fighters [emphasis added].

Digital Century Series fighters will therefore be more specialized than their predecessors. That limits commanders’ options – unless the Air Force builds lots of different specialist aircraft, each optimized for a different mission...

We need an unmanned Century Series

The Air Force could get the numbers it needs by shifting the Digital Century Series to unmanned aircraft. For example, the XQ-58 Valkyrie is expected to cost $2 million each, a fraction of even an inexpensive fighter like the T-7A Red Hawk trainer, about $20M, let alone a $100-million-plus F-35 or F-15EX. By focusing on unmanned aircraft, the Air Force would be more likely to achieve its goal of opening up aircraft competition to 10 or more U.S. companies, rather than the three or four that can realistically build manned fighters.

Unmanned platforms would make the most of the Digital Century Series approach by placing fewer design and testing constraints on developers. Unmanned vehicles would also enable the Digital Century Series to employ and mature technology for small batch manufacturing. Lying between artisanal prototyping and mass production, engineers using this technique construct a vehicle using off-the-shelf components that are integrated using middleware built from open source code or 3D printing. The resulting aircraft would contain a large portion of existing well-understood components, reducing test requirements and supply chain challenges. A manned aircraft would be less likely to harvest these benefits...

Bryan Clark is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and Director of the Hudson Center for Defense Concepts and Technology; Dan Patt is an Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute.
https://breakingdefense.com/2020/07/air-force-digital-century-series-is-stuck-in-the-wrong-century/

Mark
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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #467 on: July 31, 2020, 12:52:06 »
Might USAF go really big on F-15EX? If only RCAF could get it...

Quote
F-15EX Could Replace Strike Eagle Fleet, in Addition to Older C/D Models, USAF Says

The Air Force may replace its 218 F-15Es with F-15EXs, which could expand the new program to over 400 aircraft, according to service documents justifying the sole-source contract to Boeing. The Air Force also claims buying the F-15EX will save some $3 billion in military construction and support costs versus buying more advanced F-35s.

The revelations and assertions were contained in an F-15EX Justification and Approval (J&A) document, which was dated March 2018 but not released until mid-July, to coincide with the sole-source award to Boeing of the first F-15EX contract. The program, as it’s currently structured, could be worth up to $22.9 billion if all options are exercised.

The heavily redacted document notes that the contract for Boeing posits a “rough order of magnitude” purchase of 200 airplanes, but the “most probable quantity” would be 144 fighters. However, it also notes that while the program is “initially” intended to refresh the aging F-15C/D, a decision to similarly replace the F-15E Strike Eagle fleet with the EX “has not been made, but remains an option.”

An Air Force spokesman said the Air Force’s position on the F-15E hasn’t changed.

“That decision has not been made,” the spokesman said. “Air Force leadership will determine that. The F-15E will continue to perform its mission for the foreseeable future.” The spokesman was not immediately able to say if the Air Force is conducting an analysis of alternatives regarding replacement of the F-15E fleet.

The Air Force fields about 234 F-15C/Ds, which are dedicated to air superiority, and 218 F-15Es, configured for ground attack while retaining air-to-air combat capability. Boeing recently described the F-15EX as a “multirole” aircraft [emphasis added]. The Air Force’s previous statements that it is seeking up to 200 F-15EX to refresh the F-15C/D fleet indicates it is not planning to replace the Eagle on a one-for-one basis.

Plans dating back to the early 1990s called for the F-15C/D to be replaced by the F-22, but that aircraft’s production was terminated prematurely by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in 2009, at less than half the planned inventory of 381 airplanes. Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III subsequently said the F-35 would have to pick up some of the air superiority mission, given the age of the F-15 and its looming retirement.

The F-35 was planned to replace the A-10 and F-16 in USAF service, while the F-22 was to replace the F-15C/D and the F-117 in the stealthy strike role. The Air Force has never identified publicly how it planned to replace the F-15E. Production of the E-model followed the C/D by almost exactly 10 years, so the F-15E will likely start reaching its planned retirement age in the early 2030s. The E-model was strengthened in some ways over the C/D version to help it sustain heavier loads.     

The J&A document makes the case that the F-15C/D fleet is becoming unsafe to fly, and that a service life extension program would not be cost-effective. The document places a premium on speed-to-service, saying that no other company could produce a new fighter to replace the F-15C/D in a timely manner [emphasis added], and that it would take years to qualify a second source besides Boeing to make F-15s. 

The service can “leverage” the several billion dollars of investment of other F-15 customer countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in advanced versions of the Eagle. The J&A document quoted the F-15 system program office as saying the EX will enjoy “90-95 percent commonality” with the F-15QA for Qatar.

The service asserted that wargaming and operational analysis shows that “a mix of fourth-generation capacity and fifth-generation capability is necessary in balancing near- and mid-term readiness with future needs.” USAF has “further concluded that performing a refresh of the existing F-15C/D fleet [long redaction] is the only way to improve readiness and to maintain the USAF fighter aircraft capacity.”   

Making a virtue of necessity, the Air Force also argued that the EX saves money over buying the F-35, setting aside the differences in their capability.

“Utilizing a different airframe that is currently in production would require a cost-prohibitive and time-consuming effort to replace the existing F-15 air combat infrastructure,” the Air Force said in the justification. “Indeed, the USAF estimates that refreshing the F-15C/D fleet with F-15EXs will save USAF $3 billion over the FYDP [Future Years Defense Program] compared to replacing the fleet with F-35s, by avoiding significant transition costs required for a new aircraft (i.e., MILCON, aircraft-unique facilities, operator and maintenance transitions costs, etc.).”

USAF estimated it will take “six months or less to transition from the F-15C/D to the F-15EX” given the commonality of the aircraft, their components, and ground support equipment, while transitioning from “F-15s to the F-35 (or any other airframe) will take approximately 18 months for an Active-duty squadron and 36 months for an Air National Guard squadron.” The document also emphasizes that, “no other aircraft will satisfy the USAF requirement to refresh the F-15C/D fleet [emphasis added].”..
https://www.airforcemag.com/f-15ex-could-replace-strike-eagle-fleet-in-addition-to-older-c-d-models-usaf-says/

Mark
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Offline CBH99

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #468 on: August 01, 2020, 04:25:36 »
So up to 400 brand new F-15EX's, alongside roughly 90 or so F-35's a year for the foreseeable future.
The USAF fighter force is looking to be in pretty darn good shape! 


Now if Boeing could just unf**k itself, and just build a tanker that works (shouldn't be hard, since the Pegasus is supposed to be replacing tankers that have worked just fine for decades) - USAF is in tip top shape it seems.
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