The Air Force’s future fears

The Air Force’s future fears

Although lawmakers and defense observers continued to bang their heads on their desks this week over the Pentagon’s official messaging — bad stuff might happen someday if stuff happens but we won’t say what — there were a few telling details if you listened closely.

The Air Force in particular seems to have been the most forthcoming about the specific fears it has under the DoD budget nightmare scenario. Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told House lawmakers on Wednesday that he might be forced to eliminate “hundreds” of aircraft and “thousands” of airmen, and he and other top leaders even named a few names.

The Air Force’s C-27J Spartan cargo plane, for example, is hanging in the balance. The airlifter originally was an Army program; its entire existence was an unsubtle complaint about how poorly green-suited ground-pounders felt they were being supported forward in Afghanistan by the blue suits. There was time, in fact, when ground troops were getting as much small-aircraft, rough-field support from contractors like Blackwater as from their own Air Force, which loves glamorous strategic bombers more than boring ‘ol cargo planes. OK, ancient history — that food fight over, now Schwartz told lawmakers he is worried about whether the Air Force will be able to buy the 17 additional C-27s it originally wanted. More personally, Schwartz said he worries whether he’ll be able to keep his promise to former Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey about taking care of this program.

But Air Force officials have said aren’t even sure when they’ll use the C-27s as envisioned for forward support or whether to give that job to the C-130 Hercules — it’s all tied up in the always-pending, never-finished rolling “review” that may or may not ever appear.

Another program in doubt is the Light Attack Armed Reconnaissance bird, the Air Force’s theoretical small, slow crop duster of death that was supposed to help troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Although companies are lining up to try to sell the Air Force their offerings for this — including Hawker Beechcraft’s much-discussed AT-6 and Boeing’s suggestion for a new version of the old OV-10 Bronco — top acquisitions officials told lawmakers Wednesday the program may never be.

Any one of these items could be the kiss of death, but all of them taken together constitute a tough set of hurdles for any new program to clear: Congressional committees have zeroed out its funding. Maj. Gen. Jay Lindell told the House Armed Services Committee’s air power subcommittee that the aircraft’s acquisition strategy “has not been approved at this time. It is on hold.” His colleague, Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, told lawmakers that “given the budget constraints we’re under, we are looking at everything, and LAAR is certainly not an exception.”

It goes on: The generals confirmed the Air Force’s legendary U-2 reconnaissance aircraft will go away in 2014 or 2015, by which time they hope versions of the Global Hawk unmanned surveillance jet will be ready to take its place. And although the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps say they’re waiting on a new integrated schedule to codify the official future of the F-35, Carlisle admitted Wednesday the Air Force already knows its date for initial operating capability will probably slip from 2016 to 2018.

That means a service life extension program for newer-model F-16s, pushing them from life spans of 8,000 flight hours per jet to about 10,000 hours. Carlisle said the Air Force will SLEP between 300 and 350 of its Block 40 and Block 50 F-16s — though it has enough aircraft that it could upgrade around 600, if it ever needed to.

Lindell said officials expect that to cost about $9.4 million per airplane, enabling the fighters to stay in service until around 2030. “We expect some viability out of the F-16 fleet if we’re going to spend that much money to SLEP the aircraft,” he said.


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But Obama wants to spend money on Green Energy scams and his bummy underclass welfare voters.

How about buying a couple hundred Eurofighters to replace aging F-16s?

Maybe we should ask the banks for the 700 Billion back from TAPRP too.


How about some new F-15E’s instead of the Euro fighter. The F-15E is more capable ground attack plane. Nothing against the Euro fighter.

Replace the F-16’s with new Gripen NG’s and get 3 for every 2 F-15E’s for the same money.

How about 100 anti-gravity time machines? That’s the ticket.

Bet the SLEPs will cost more and provide fewer flight hours than predicted. Also availability is going to go into the toilet. If I remember correctly the Navy was looking at $24M per aircraft to eek out another 3000 FT/Hrs per. So the cost per flight hour would be similar to buying a new aircraft with the latest avionics but you would get an old tired jet with old systems and with questionable avaiability and the potential for further unknows to be discovered operating well beyond the designed service life. Sounds like another excellent plan. SLEP well.

I’d hold out for Klingon Birds of Prey! Or perhaps Enterprise-class starships! :-) If you are going to fantasize, go for the gold ring!

I have it from a reliable source that if you use one of these puppies at Warp 9, orbiting around the sun, you have a time machine and you can trade off the risk of the antigravity drive for good budget and schedule performance and lower risk to the program management office! ROTGLMAO!

Dont know if the court is open for suggestions, but I suspect that the bar is! LOL!

But its lower risk, higher probability of “looking good” on Powerpoint for SPI and CPI, and the PM can tout all of the cost savings on his OER! SLEP is at the very best a necessary evil since normally SLEP means you try to identify the “long poles” in an aging aircraft system, address them, and then keep the rest of the parts flying. (Unfortunately that still just means, as you say, a tired old jet with a few new parts).

Yeah… because Eurofighters would be great as a forward cargo support aircraft.

Replacing F-16’s with anything that isn’t quite a bit more capable (the Eurofighter isn’t) makes little sense… upgrade the current fleet.

I was just looking at the price of the Eurofighter and the F-15SE. The Eurofighter is $124 million (90 million euros) and the F-15SE is $100 million according to Wikipedia. So I re-ask my question this way. How about buying 200 F-15SEs to help the Air Force maintain its numbers? In addition to the planned F-35A purchases. Does anyone know the price of the F-16IN Super Viper? Or would it be better to buy that instead of the F-15SE? Or we could take Tee’s favorite plane :) The Gripen NG.

I like to buy something similar to a Battlestar. Say an antigravity aircraft carrier that is not limited to the oceans. They could hover at 50,000 feet and launch their fighters anywhere around the Earth :)

See: http://​i1106​.photobucket​.com/​a​l​b​u​m​s​/​h​3​6​7​/​M​o​n​a​s​ing

$169B of the $245B paid out through TARP has been paid back, with an additional ~$18B in interest. I don’t deny TARP was bad, just not as bad as people make it out. So its about ~70% paid back, and even if no one else paid them back the program would end with 75% paid back… this is actually a pretty decent efficiency rate relative to other Government programs.

I’m open to considering this option, however the F-15SE doesn’t exist. It would have to be developed, tested, verified, all that sort of stuff, before you could have have a unit cost estimate that meant much.

So spend a lot of money on new planes that we have no maintenance footprint for? Sounds like an awesomely bad idea.

I personally don’t see the loss of C-27J or theoretical LAAR as a big deal. In fact, even if funding came through I’d kill it in favor of future bomber, hypersonic cruise missile, F-22’s and x-37. I guess we’d have to push the F-35 dog along as well.

We are wrapping up our war with rock-chuckers and have to start thinking about China and fighting actual nation-states again.

I think you’re cost of operation over the life of the Gripen is where you’d lose, you’d lose commonality to the existing fleet leading to facilitation costs to write off existing spare F-15 parts in inventory and purchase support and maintainance equipment for the Gripen. As an alternative to the F35 you can ignore those costs, but relative to the F15 you really can’t.

I think this goes a long way to showing where the Air Force’s priorities are in protecting more glamorous capabilities at the expense of theater capabilities most valued by the Army which is dependent on them. 50 years of the Air Force fighting for preminence of fixed wing aircraft that’s consistently led to them shirking those responsibilities and leaving the Army wanting, and looking for alternatives.

How about buying 200 the F-16IN Super Viper? Replacing some of the oldest F-16s instead of upgrading them. Maybe have a net gain of 100 fighters.

That would be a logical possible hedge, unless of course you are Lockheed who would see it as a threat to F-35, so DoD would come up with some “rationale” as to why F-16IN is woefully inadequate for “the future threat”

…what exactly is an X-37 going to do?

F-16 would be better for a number of reasons. The Desert Falcon exists in production. The NG and SE do not. The F-16 logistics train is in place as is training and pilot familiarity. For those reasons it would be the cheapest option. All are good planes, but we could cut a check and have the F-16s rolling off an assembly line in weeks.

Yeah, you haven’t paid attention to real spending numbers at all, have you?

How about buying 200–300 of the F-16IN Super Viper?

Amen to that, brother!

The IN was just a tailored offer for the Indian Air Force. Really pretty much is a Desert Falcon. Same engine. AESA. IRST. Made accommodations for some IAF avionics/datlink upgrades is all l think. Probably tweaking the design a bit got around some of the licensing issues not really sure. Article talks about the Desert Falcon

This quote:
By 2030, according to internal USAF analyses, the service could be as many as 971 aircraft short of its minimum required inventory of 2,250 fighters. That assumes that all planned F-35s are built and delivered on time and at a rate of at least 48 per year. The shortfall is due to the mandatory retirement of F-15s and F-16s that will have exceeded their service lives and may no longer be safe to fly.

From: http://​www​.airforce​-magazine​.com/​M​a​g​a​z​i​n​e​A​r​c​h​i​ve/

Since all F-35As will be bought as planned in the above quote. Why don’t we buy the F-16 Desert Falcon with F-15SEs to reduce the 971 shortfall in fighters? I would even suggest buying more F-22s as well if a GOP Administration takes over in 2013 and they re-start the production line. But removing the F-22s as a potential purchase wouldn’t buying a mix of F-16 Desert Falcons and F-15SEs still give us the best of Gen 4.5+ fighters?

This is all going away if we pull out of Afghanistan by 2013 which was floated today.

That’s a terribly expensive idea that promotes wasting funds. The money saved by the C-27 and the LAAR would more than pay for themselves in fuel expense, let alone cost per flying hour.

The C-27J certainly has it’s uses. The LAAR seems like something we needed five years ago however. By the time we finally get the thing we won’t have a use for it beyond donating to the Iraqi or Afghan air forces.

I’d say the F-15SE has a lot in common with the latest F-15E variants. However the idea of replacing F-16s with F-15s simply unaffordable in the numbers you would need. It is almost as silly as the idea of replacing them with Eurofighters.

There is sound thinking behind the concept of the hi-lo mix, and personally I think continued development of the F-16 is good enough until the F-35 comes online.

Its funny hearing the Air force complain about losing aircraft for current wars it plans to surrender in anyways.

Every western country is cutting defense expenditure to better enable them to compete with China, while the generals are planning the opposite. Apparently having lost two wars to “stone throwers” they have no problem with economic capitulation.

Replace all of our F-16s with F-16IN Super Vipers, give them super cruise capability and use similar landing gear that the Gripen uses. Replace all of our F-15Cs with F-22s, replace the B1-B & B-52s with the B-1R.

Aloha Mahalo Nui Loa, sorry for whats happening to my beloved USA, you all made China 2011 Military Power, better then our defense your out numbered in their air force,they have every thing we got,and better, they have no problems about Spending for their Defense, we do since world war II, Cut, Cut, Cut, since then its still cuttind our Defense, God Bless you, and God Bless America,Aloha

Obvious troll is obvious.

The AF has become a pencil-pushing (or computer pecking) empire. Swartz is the supreme bean counter who has alloweds of thousands of contractors to convert positions to DOD civil service when initial intention s were to cut active duty and use contractor to save money. Just remember the bean counters would not miss any planes for months take a computer away and see what happens..

Dropping 17 C-27J You will save around 500 million$ in theory, but you have to use C-130 with increased cost per hour (to use the Herc to carry a pallet is not really economic), please note that 70% of the C-27J plane is US content. For sure You will not make happy your the US Ally wiith some bounce back on other (more important) cooperation program.

Cancel F-35 to afford all this?

Roll the Air Force back uder the US Army and then there won’t be any problem supporting the green suits!

So the bottom line is that TARP only actually cost 245 — 169 or $76B? Hmmm…. and how much is really needed to keep things afloat with the very austere DoD budget recently offered up? And how many upgraded F-15Es would a piddling little $76B purchase?

Aside from that…I think even the esteemed and honorable Mr Dirksen from the soverign state of Illinois would recognize $76B as “real money”! LOL!

And spend the savings on training and logistical support. We are not set up to operate European acft.

So, redesign the F-16 to accept the changes and give it enough thrust to supercruise when carrying a war load. Really?

Replacing all F-15Cs with F-22 was the original plan until the bean counters got involved. F-22 production was cut from 750 and eventually ended au at the 187 or whatever it was. And we wonder why unit cost rose so much.

The B-1R really does not bring enough to the table to warrant the expenditure. I like the concet, but its proposed range and lack of LO technology hurts it.

Why would you replace strategic bombers with a regional bomber? Where are you going to base them in the numbers that you need?

Do not forget that airlift supports more than one service. It is called US Transportation Command for a reason. And I have a hard time believing the Army would do any better at supporting the DoD than the USAF.

TJ’s on the right track..

While it’s optimistic to replace all our block 40/50 with new F-16IN+, FY12 should have been the year to begin supplementing the reduced and delayed LRIP procurement Program with ‘financed’ F-16+ and/or F-15E+.

AF might be able to buy 10–12 F-16 per yr, if decided on today, but probably not at those rates until the FY14 budget. Perhaps another 5–10 F-15+ could be procured as well to supplement the F-35 procurement’s strategic gap. This ‘SLEP’ program talked about has already been counted on in order to make viable some of the later blocks through the 2020s, so this is truly NOT some sort of ‘Plan B’ stopgap in the mid-term. It’s already been counted once as part of the maintained force structure, so USAF can’t count it twice. And it certainly does nothing to shore up the widening capability and deterrence ‘gap’ in the interim period as said LRIP aircraft are scaled back and delayed into operational service.

Yet this doesn’t even take into account FRP order reductions which will be inevitable and probably so at a drastic level number of reductions. Wait until Armed services committees’ and USAF have tackle that little stopgap issue once it’s too late. So in short, definitely, it would seem prudent to get on the ‘Plan B’ now and at least partly pre-empt a far greater deterrence-gap and hollow force structure in the mid-term.

Regarding the F-15C/D fleet? They are apparently expensive to maintain and will require substantial upgrades to remain viable for another 15 yrs after any upgrade. I’d advocate NOT upgrading them and retire the entire fleet by 2018–2019 or so. Apply those monies towards a new-build ‘off-the-shelf’ F-15E+ procurement of say 60–70 units to bolster the legacy F-15E structure. Brand new engines alone = reduced maintenance costs over the next 10–15 yrs too.

Regarding the B-1R: I actually agree with your view on that. My gut feeling says it’s the best cost-effective alternative. It should be developed in Black budgets imho and accelerated in operational status as an alternative to the hypothetical NGB Program. I’d contemplate GE-132 engines or a next-gen advanced augmentation F110 motor, new canopy and cockpit, perhaps an upgraded variant of F-15E’s computer and maybe even the APG-82 radar. Only a regional bomber? Well, with 1 internal fuel cell it would have ‘good enough’ intermediate range and then the obvious solution of course would be to develop long-range super-sonic ordnance as compensation for the stand-off strike range.

In addition, perhaps a next-gen development of the current UCAV Program could involve a slightly larger scale sized UCAV to supplement B-1R. That would seem to be much cheaper and still a ‘viable’ next-gen deterrence mix vs the proposed and uncertain strategic NBG..

I haven’t been able to locate an article that has the per plane cost of the F-16 E/F Desert Falcon. Does anyone know this figure?

The quote below shows we will have a 971 fighter shortfall by 2030 and with the assumption that the Air Force buys all the F-35As it wants. I’d like to reduce this 971 by buying a mix of F-22As (re-start the line in 2013), F-15SEs, and with F-16 E/Fs. Perhaps even 100 to 200 of a 6th generation fighter in the years after 2025.

“By 2030, according to internal USAF analyses, the service could be as many as 971 aircraft short of its minimum required inventory of 2,250 fighters. That assumes that all planned F-35s are built and delivered on time and at a rate of at least 48 per year. The shortfall is due to the mandatory retirement of F-15s and F-16s that will have exceeded their service lives and may no longer be safe to fly.“

Original contract in the day for the UAE was 6.4$ billion for 80 aircraft which works out to about $80 million a pop but that was 10ish years ago. It also doesn’t get into flyaway or what kind of cost specifically. They aren’t cheap regardless, none of the advanced gen 4 aircraft are regardless of the stupid things that get posted here by people there is no buying 2 or 3 advanced gen 4s per F35.

We don’t know what the ultimate unit cost for an F35 is going to be. So it’s tough to do a real accurate comparison. We do know it’s going to cost alot. The question becomes do we risk trading capability for known costs? Are we really going to get more capability for that increased cost? When are we going to get this capability? And most importantly in my opinion how much value should we actually be placing on that capability?

The Gripen’s maintenance cost per flight hour is 1/2 of what a F-16C costs. So in the long run will be much cheaper than either the F-16 or F15.

6th generation fighter: 144, F-22: 293, F-15SE: 72, F-16 E/F: 480 = Total 989 fighters.
This would bring the total of F-22s to 480. So by 2030 we would have 6 squadrons of a 6th generation fighter, 20 Sqr of the F-22s, and buy an additional 3 Sqr of F-15SEs, and 20 Sqr of F-16 E/Fs to bring total Air Force fighters to 2,268. Assuming a Squadron is 24 planes. Is that correct? Six flights of 4 planes in a flight.

More Deathstars and R2D2s

William C:

I was right with you until you got to the end and stated;” until the F-35 comes online”. The latest numbers on the F-35B’s that were flown out to the Wasp indicate that they cost between $270 — $300 each. Throw in the 30–40% increase in O&S predicted by the USN and clearly continuing down the road with the F-35 to replace all our aging aircraft becomes very problematic.

We’re a huge distance from the advertised price per aircraft of $65 million each and with dwindling numbers being ordered by the combined US services due to the need to reduce spending the economies of scale needed to get the price to an affordable level will NEVER happen.

Meanwhile the F-15, F-18, and the F-16 are in production, affordable and capable now. All three of these aircraft can benefit from the technologies developed for the F-22 and the F-35 (AESA, EOTS-DAS, DSI Inlets, fiber mat stealth materials/carbon nano-tube composites, etc).



If you look back at the F-16XL you’ll discover that it supercruised by accident in testing back in 1988 using old engine technology.

BTW — it also happened to have superior range, payload and speed to the supposedly better F-35. :-)


I agree with the fact the F35 is expensive but that article on AW does point out most of that money has already been spent so there is nothing to be done for it. Plus part of Sweetman’s #s are BS. When he talks about cost savings for the F414 as compared to the F135 and points out how a two engine design could have been built cheaper for just the A and C he is making a BS argument. If operationally you want a STOVL aircraft you have to have the single engine, some times operational reqs outweigh cost effectiveness. That’s a whole other debate. All he is really doing is pointing out including a STOVL variant drove up program cost. That’s a given and no real surprise to anyone.

The only real way to save serious money is to cancel the whole program. Once we have sunk all the R&D $ there are no real savings to be had. The flyaway costs on the F35 aren’t really going to be any different than advanced gen 4 aircraft, they’re all going to come in around $100 million-ish which is right where the gen 4.5s or 4.75s or whatever are at now. I don’t see the program getting canned realistically.

The Air Force has to step up to the plate and provide close air support and logistics to the Army as needed, not when the Air Force feels they should be needed. The Navy and Marines have had one of the best Close Air Support systems in the world and the Army and Air Force need to rachet up the quality of their support to save lives.

I am all for the Air Force being brought back under the control of the Army and living in the real world during combat operation. There is a difference between a bed with clean sheets, and a fox hold or a mobil command post.

I get a chuckle at the thought of the USAF top leadership wringing their hands over the potential loss of C27 or LAAR. Those two programs are godsends from a budgeting standpoint. They dont want em, dont need em, but can hold them out as sacrificial lambs, while crying about the loss of airframes. Everyone knows what systems are important to the airforce, and those two aint it.

Any word on the ‘older block’ F-16s currently in the force-structure? There was apparently some ongoing study to evaluate whether or not the ‘wing crack’ issues could be addressed sometime around 2016 in order to extend the older blocks’ lives as well — minus some of the avionics upgrades. I’ve pondered that the ‘older block F-16′ will probably be among this group of ‘hundreds’ of aircraft being given the pink slip, rather than finding currently unfunded funding for any necessary SLEP work. Besides, the older the bird, the higher the annual maintenance bill and more time in the hangar. Yet another argument for why the older F-16 fighter jets — not being designed to be radically life extended in the first place — should instead be ‘recapitalized’, either by an operational, mature, affordable F-35 (on a sufficient replacement ratio to meet requirements); or by a new-build stopgap 4.5 gen alternative to meet such requirements as a hedge, in the interim.

Also, does anyone know of the current status of the F-15C/D ‘golden Eagle’ Program?? Were they included in any discussions at this hearing? It would be of obvious interest to hear if funding was being continued on that crucial ‘SLEP’ Program being a platform critical to the long-term Air Sovereignty and Air superiority mission especially since the F-22 line was prematurely ended. A flag should have gone up in Congress in my opinion when it was apparently decided that AF funding would not be continued to integrate a modern IRST capability on the F-15 fleet. OK, no IRST, how about at least the Sniper pod integration as part of the Golden Eagle package? The question would have to come up then; whereby if these very expensive to maintain old-F-15C/D were for whatever reason not to undergo robust avionics upgrades, or SLEP in sufficient numbers to maintain requirements, what is the interim stopgap Plan B to replace them??

My personal position is that the very expensive to maintain old F-15s should be phased out by the end of this decade and replaced with new build — more affordable to maintain — F-15E+ on about a 1:2 replacement jet for retired F-15C/D ratio. The next-gen avionics, tactical flexibility and capabilities contained in a new build F-15E class, coupled with readiness and reliability, would more than offset a 1 for 2 replacement ratio let alone save in costly maintenance.

STemplar, Chao, ExUSAF et al

I’m late to the discussion here, but this was definitely a healthy brainstorming session from just about all participants.

It would be a great thing in my honest opinion if the USAF had ‘affordable’ block-4 F-35A operating in IOC by 2016, and being pumped out the door at a rate of 75 units per year. But this expectation and game plan has unfortunately been altered radically, going forward.

There are simply two outcomes. Just stay the course and continue to wind down the F-35 production expectations further, each and every year for the following year’s outlook… probably coming to a full-rate-production rest of around 25 units per yr at best. Or, adjust and accelerate Plan B planning ASAP to come up with some form of supplemental 4.5 procurement during the remainder of F-35 LRIP and early FRP — partly as a hedge. If the latter contingency, then such an accelerated plan would allow for a more seamless recapitalization process (without a cataclysmic TACAIR implosion event), if for any reason it was decided by top brass to suspend the F-35 altogether in search of an alternative next-gen strategy.

Is the plan to upgrade and SLEP 300 F-16 a Plan B? No. It was an expected and already planned Program to necessarily keep viable at least the later block F-16 elements well into the 2020s. That is, there is no net-gain by this announced plan — only a verification of what was necessary force structure wise to supplement the 5th gen build up into the 2020s. A plan B would by definition therefore, have to address and offset the rapidly increasing mid-term fighter shortfalls due to the realities of the F-35 Program gap (as predicted by some and apparently a surprise to others).

My advocacy in-line with such an accelerated ‘Plan B’ implosion-preemption contingency would involve some form of long-term financing or Leasing of the remaining LRIP F-35 in order to free up procurement funds on the front-end to acquire a mix of off-the-shelf F-16+ and F-15E+ variants (the F-15SE concept being quite a few years away yet). My gut feeling is that it should have been commenced in FY12 (or even as early as FY10 to offset the F-22 line kill), but I feel the push now could be for at least some supplemental procurement stopgap under FY13.


The C-27J (which should properly be designated C-27B; the C-27J label is an industry term) made sense when it was an Army-only program to replace the Sherpa. After the Air Force grabbed it away, the C-27J became a plane in search of a mission — so where else to put it but in the Air National Guard which has powerful friends in Washington? Giving up 17 of the planned 38 C-27Js would save possibly $ 1 billion, which is big money to me but not much in the context of sequestration. Keeping the C-27J program — notwithstanding the fact that many fine people are part of it — would be a waste whether we were facing huge budget cuts or not.

– Robert F. Dorr

I’d fully agree with that assessment.

Thanks for the link, ST.

I understand that roughly 45 (V)3 radars are currently under contract to upgrade initial C/D platforms. Do you know if the new data links will be delivered at the same time or if that is a project yet to be funded? Beyond that, I’m more curious if a definite political commitment was discussed or made at this recent hearing to expand funding for certain number of ‘Golden Eagle-lite’ aircraft for extended life?

45x radar-upgraded F-15 units in the first tranche would be a start, but there has been some expectation for an expanded fleet of 150+ C/D models to receive said ‘Golden Eagle’ (now Golden Eagle-lite without an apparent IRST or possibly jamming pod capability) upgrade? Any updated info on this aspect? If no articulated discussion on this or detailed commitment, would have me wondering if the greater F-15C/D SLEP component of USAF’s expected future force structure is potentially in the can. If so, I’d support canning the whole C/D force by the end of the decade and replacing with perhaps 60–80 new build F-15E+, intended more as a multi-role platform and less Strike emphasized. The new build would blow the upgraded F-15C/D away in terms of built-in modern capability and tactical flexibility, with the added benefits of reduced maintenance costs and higher reliability.

Even despite China and Russian now renewing their arsenal, I think it is ok to downsize our airfleet for a period, if it helps the budget for while.

If the threat becomes more serious we can surge back with near future technology.

For them to use mass airpower against us could easily be countered with a few ICBM’s detonated midair in the pacific

the problem with canning anything existing and buying new is that you don’t save any money unless you eliminate something else. This article is about SLEPs so clearly the USAF has no plans to do anything except cobble together some capability until the F35 ramps up. The longer the F35 hangs in there the more pointless it is to cancel it. Once it is developed and you’ve sunk that R&D $, you aren’t really saving anything in unit costs. So it boils down to what to SLEP and how to SLEP.

Only issue with that strategy (besides the obvious fleet downsizing which nobody denies) is that you can’t just simply flick a switch and ‘surge back’ with near future technology ;) It would take a year to go through the political process to fund the line start-up, another year and half to get a viable manufacturing line and skilled labor sufficient to ‘surge’ to viable annual rate production, and then another two years to get the first batch of jets rolling off the line and into certification flights and crew training. By the time any credible modern force structure could be ‘surged’ in terms of deployable Fully operational capable squadrons, it would probably be 8 yrs. It’s much more prudent and less expensive to phase out old jets when they’ve reached their life expectancy (if not put them into storage earlier, or sell them), and regularly recapitalize them with lower quantitative numbers of replacement jets albeit in more reliable, modernized, robust off-the-shelf capabilities. That model would portray much more credible deterrence as well, which would lessen the odds of someone trying to exploit you at a weak state with old, outdated jets sitting in the hangar.

And negative with the Nuke airburst strat too…not a valid retaliatory move no matter what… eg if someone has decided to cease the opportunity and surprise you one day, putting their true cards on the table with intentions and capabilities to knock you off the chart. Now that might sound hawkish, but the reality is that we’re not quite at a point in global security and evolution where we can unilaterally start doing away with a major component of basic deterrence and capabilities. I’m personally in the camp of thought cheering on that point in history, where we as major powers will demobilize our collective modern forces… but unfortunately, I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

Definitely agree with ‘eliminating’ the older block F-16s in the near-term, which were being counted on and expected to supplement the ‘required’ force structure into 2020, ditto for eliminating older F-15C/D intended to supplement the ‘required’ force structure into the 2020s — save perhaps 45–50 cherry picked airframes receiving (V)3 (which could be sold or donated as well). And yes, eliminate some of the LRIP F-35A orders going forward being procured under prolonged ‘concurrency risk’, and in fact ‘LEASE’ and/or long-term finance said remaining LRIP F-35 acquisitions given the unexpectedly higher Unit costs heading into austere budget realities.

Right there, a lot is being eliminated while new-build, modern, reliable and reduced cost maintenance 4.5 gen airframes can better supplement the mid-term down-sized force structure. That is, eliminate ‘hangar’ queens adding to a rapidly growing hollow force under the current ‘stay the course’ recapitalization scheme… and replace with capable, modern types as a hedge (w/ pipeline open and seamlessly delivering) against uncertain added shocks from any unexpected, abrupt F-35 down-sizing in FRP or further delay/cancellation.

So get an entirely new logistics/maintenance/operations platform to offset a current fighter…like parts/engines/simulators/tactics and overall total system knowledge. Even if the Gripen hourly maintenance costs half, there is still a lot of time between now and then where you are still losing money for buying a totally new system that is only meant to offset current aircraft aging. The Gripen is not a fifth gen fighter, nor is intended to be a fifth gen fighter. It would actually be cheaper to just purchase new F-16s with all the new hardware/software and continue the growth of the aircraft.

This is offset by the fact that the Gripen is not manufactured by Lockheed who would pack any future F16 contracts to the gills with overruns and fraud.

Exellent point! The Air Force may want to consider transitioning to a Space Force (heresy to some) and emphasize possible new Global Strike mission platforms that provide a sub-orbital capability for delivery and give the CAS mission to the Army (heresy again). Serious consideration should be given to development of an Army LAAR, not an Air Force LAAR. Additionally, there are LAAR options available from vendors that are not in the usual club of major contractors that can not only out perform anything the big boys can build but also at a huge reduction in cost. Will any of this happen? Who knows but positive and workable solutions are available. Maybe they will be worked out before our warfighting capability diminishes to an unacceptable level.

All that tarp, spending, imagine that no more room service, u gunna have seperate ur trash n throw it away in dining facility n take dishes to the little window for them to clean em.this is an outrage!

I’m a Crew Chief in the USAF.…I agree with you 100%.

No first use of nukes policy! Besides no industrial base left to put aircraft in production except Boeing and Lockheed. Domination by 2 down to only one producer is the result of your downsize.

Shades of Jimmy Carter and Billy Clinton, the other two IDIOTS that treid real hard to destgroy Our Military Machine. Now we have another IDIOT that is well on his way to do the very same thing along with his Congress in full support

Did anyone remember that the F-15 and F-16 airframes are no longer in production? We’re could buy those 1970’s aircraft even if we wanted. It is training and leadership that win wars…not the worthless equipment Uncle Sams buys. Generals and admirals always want new toys while the Chiefs know it’s training and hard work that wins the day.

Mid-airburst of ICBM’s! ROFLMAO! Why not bring back the old Genie missile while we’re at it. No disrespect intended but I think you’ve been watching too many SciFi flicks there, my friend. Nuclear weapons are not tactical weapons–even the so called tac-nukes are very, very, very powerful weapons–not to mention the non-explosive effects. Plus the US has NEVER renounced a possible first use and while highly unlikely we ever would use them first–NOT denying first use is the cornerstone of US Defense Policy. That’s a corner the Russians have tried to paint us into for decades.

Gee, maybe we should realize the fact that we should have never, never gone into Afghanistan. The “Stonethrowers” are kicking out butts like they did to the Russians and the British before them.
Or, perhaps, we could save some money by bringing our troops home from Korea, Japan, England
and germany. Or stop wasting our money by deploying our carriers in the mideast (to support Israel)
not to protect our interest concerning oil. Let’s face it 70 percent of the defense dollars spent
are unnecessary. Lobbyist’s (former military generals) from Lockheed, Boeing, etc are making fools of us and wasting our tax dollars. Let the Department of Defense hold a cake sale if they want money to buy new,
unwanted, expensive toys. Bill A (30 year Chief).

I am concerned about our military might. Firepower wins wars. Without it, we lose. Superior Tech and advanced equipment keep the future enemy away. We are degrading our Miltary, equipment, and manpower to the extent that we can be weak in the years ahead. I have to believe that there is a plan to destroy our economy, Military, and divide and conquer. Never has the American people placed blinders on and refuse to believe we can be destroyed. We have become so complacent in our world that we refuse to believe we can lose our freedom. Our enemy’s are arming themselves to the top with new weapons while we are mothballing, and storing our equipment. That makes us vurnable to conquer. Our Trojan Horse .

Wow, lots of statements, no data to back it up. Yeah, we’re in a constrained environment, but please, China has a little way to go before they threaten us militarily. Economically, maybe. U.S. invading China, or taking her on on her own turf, oh yeah. But that’s always been the case. BUT, can she threaten us? That’s the question.

“Extended artillery” vs. “strategic warfare”? No thanks. We’ve forgotten what REAL war is. Too busy occupying third world countries. High tech warfare hasn’t gone away; we just haven’t engaged in it. US troops have not suffered any attacks from enemy airforce in how many decades? Just because the last couple of wars have been against a primative, ground-pounding insurgency doesn’t mean the USAF doesn’t have a mission; typical short-sighted vision that led to creation of the USAF in the first place. Do your history homework, read about the first Gulf War, Op. ALLIED FORCE, and modern strategy against true world powers, and then say but the AF under the army; heaven help us as we concentrate on the short fight, vs. the deep fight…the REALLY deep fight. Geez.…

Why would they remember something that you just made up ?

Lockheed makes the F-16 also. Win/Win for them.

Lockheed must be having an orgasm. First you perturb the F-35 to death through some of the most elegant presentations of things that don’t work. Then you get paid to re-design/Fix that. While you are waiting we will give you the SLEP for X number of F-16s. The light attack bird is a hoot. If you check the performance envelope of the P-51 it can do everything nicely — too bad Packard went under.

How do we pay for all this? EASY!- 1st we quit subsidizing the rest of the World’s defense, in particular Europe and South Korea. The Soviet Union is not there anymore to invade Europe, so why are we still protecting them? In the case of South Korea, what we are really doing is not protecting them from Norht Korea, we are keeping them from kicking North Korea’s @$$!!! Move all of out troops from South Korea and Japan to Alaska. All of our troops in Europe and Middle East, bring home to protect our southern border and lay waste to the Mexican Drug Cartels. We also do away with WELFARE and most foreign aid, and we quit buying oil/energy from other countries and drill our own. I guarantee you this would be a great start to help jump start our WORN OUT Defense. In my comment above, that is just a start and a stop gap measure to quickly get our air power back up to par, then we should push full speed ahead on 6th Generation fighters/bombers.

The United States Air Force will always maintain air superiority through modern air vehicles and extraordinary folks! Regardless of what our leadership decides, USAF will prevail!

Lord give our leadership wisdom and no campaign funding!

Why would you want to put more people into harms way than need to be?

It’s this hubris which makes decline inevitable.

I guess we will start having to use swords and camels in a few years

Replace all our aircraft with unmanned UAV. Turn the pilots into engineers.

When are we gonna cut foreign aid and illegal immigration aid and put it where it belongs; the DoD? It is a major mistake to cut DoD programs that will keep us ahead of the competiton. Do you think we are done with the Cold War yet? No. It will one day show its ugly face again. We are going to be behind the power curve in the future. I shake my head at the decisions of our leadership sometimes. The ideas are never what we want that actually do the job. Why don’t we get to vote or have a say in the decisions that affect US!!!!!!!!!!

Before Cutting Defense Budgets, Foreign Aid should be cut or discontinued, That money can be used in the United States, Aid should start at home first. WAKE UP AMERICA.

What do you think is more likely to maximize LM shareholder value — F-35 or F-16? The option that is “Less” than the other is not a “Win”.

Turn the C-27 program over to the Army and let them buy fewer tanks to pay for them. It’s the noble thing to do.

Every time the US draws down defense and a crisis comes up our troops are put at risk using outdated, antiquated equipment. WE had to play catch up in WWI, WWII, Vietnam etc. etc. It’s time to stop waste on procurment and military contracts. Many advance technology clothing items etc. can be baught off the shelf. Contractors should develop quality and WORKING equipment the 1st time.

Isn’t it amazing how knowledgable people OUTSIDE of the 5-sided puzzle palace can see the forest for the trees? Fighting a budget war the DoD is SURE to lose, it keeps on pluggin’ for all of the new doo-dads. What BS. A few observations: PLEASE don’t send us to war in piss-ant puddle jumpers like OV-10s or AT-6s; GIVE US SOMETHING WE CAN USE THAT WILL BE EFFECTIVE AND WILL KEEP US FROM DYING, the A-10!!!! The bomber forse is not worn out, leave it the heck alone! We do NOT need a half-assed C-130, the C-27J (what a crock of an acft, basically nothing more than a whoopee C-123); we DO need to fund a major munitions buy or all of the acft in the world won’t be worth squat without ammo to drop and shoot! Admit that the F/A-35 would really be used as an interdicter (really: can anyone see it in the CAS role?) for targets behind the FEBA, and decide if that’s a realistic role for a MANNED penetrator on the battlefield of the future.

obama sucks the life out of a free country with his welfare mentality.

rid of Obama and his cronies and problem is solved. We need a President that is pro U.S.A. not a leftist that doesn’t care what happens to America and won’t protect it.

Tacair Command — There was also the F119-PW-100 turbofan engines for the B-1R variant to give a higher top speed at 1,675 mph or Mach 2.2.

give the marines the A-10, which is their mission anyway.….scrap the F-22.…continue with the F-15, which is an undefeated platform.……re-evaluate the A-4 for navy use and bring back the A-6 for bomber missions.…we have tons of assets just backing in the arizona sun.….

use our assets at davis montham

So we give the Marines an aircraft that can’t operate from LHA/LHD class ships, scrap 150+ of the best air-superiority fighters in the world and go back to F-15s, reintroduce the A-4 despite the fact that the F/A-18 can do all of it’s missions, and much more, then restore a bunch of old A-6s because of their limited advantage over the E/F Hornet?

Harriers on LHA/LHD are a bit of a joke. The first thing the marines always do is get off the ships and base somewhere reasonable. Piss poor sustainment, vulnerable and expensive the only reason the marines fly from the dinghies is that they are convinced they are princesses riding unicorns.

Once you get past all the self promotion and hype in reality F-22 is a poor design and awful manufacturing, leading to terrible maintenance problems. Only the advent of the F-35 disaster has made it look any good.

You’re just as clueless as ever Oblatski. The reason the Marines get off their ships is because that’s their job. LHDs and LHAs primarily serve as a staging point to deploy Marine ground forces via helicopter or LCAC. The on-board complement of AV-8s or F-35Bs provides a lot of versatility to Marine air support.

The F-22 has had some teething problems, perhaps more so than the previous generation of aircraft, but from a design standpoint it is extremely capable. Of course I’m sure you’d just love to see us revert to P-51s or better yet not have any sort of military.

I find it difficult to believe that the handful of AV-8’s that an LHA can operate is a relevant amount of combat power, considering that one or more CV’s would provide that support, as well as land based TACAIR and many times even bomber support.

Remember that people on welfare and other government entitlement programs provides the DemocRATS with a good voting base.

Noticed how McCain also agrees with cutting the Tricare for Retirees, he is a RINO

air force should buy the F-35A block III & F-22a block 35 version, retire old aircraft, 1200 & 480 initially when the economy is in good sailing then buy more, reduce non essential items go for MUSCLES not FATS


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