Budget Doesn’t Delay F-16 Life Extension Upgrades

Budget Doesn’t Delay F-16 Life Extension Upgrades

The Air Force is surging ahead with work to extend the service life of its fleet of F-16 fighter jets despite recent budget cuts to programs aimed at upgrading the planes, service officials said.

The service is in the early phases of a Service Life Extension Program, or SLEP, for about 300 of its fleet of 976 F-16s designed to add eight to ten years of additional combat life to the aircraft, said Maj. Sean Tucker, F-16 program element monitor.

The SLEP, which aims to change the service life of an F-16 from 8,000 flying hours up to 10,000 or 12,000 flying hours, is currently conducting durability testing at Naval Air Station Fort Worth, Texas, where many Air Force F-16s are based.


The idea with the durability testing is to determine what structural modifications might be needed to strengthen the airframe, Tucker added.

“We strain and stress the aircraft in a manner that will simulate flight hours. We keep stressing it past a breaking point, allowing us to see what modifications we are going to need to do for our active fleet,” he said.  “Then we’ll determine what’s needed to extend the service life – which could be bulkheads reworked, replaced or beefed up with additional material.”

The durability testing might result in the installation of new skins or a new fuselage for the aircraft, Tucker added.

The SLEP program, which has been underway for several years, plans to finalize a design by 2015 and be producing add-on kits or needed hardware for the planes by 2017. While the initial F-16s were designed and produced in the 1970s, many of the most modern F-16s were produced in the 1990s.

The last F-16 was delivered in 2005, service officials said. A SLEP could extend the service life of some F-16s into the 2030s, Tucker explained.

The SLEP program is taking place in a broader budget context wherein F-16 upgrades have been reduced or cut. The fiscal year 2015 budget proposal cancels funding for an F-16 upgrade program known as Combat Avionics Program Extension Suite, or CAPES.

The CAPES program consisted of electronic warfare suite and intelligence broadcast system upgrades, among other things.  The $1.9 billion CAPES effort was still in development and had not yet been applied to aircraft.

There are other upgrades to the F-16 which are going forward. One in particular, called operational flight program, improves weapons capability of the plane, adds a friend of foe identifier and installs automatic ground collision avoidance system, Tucker explained.

These upgrades, which are slated to unfold sequentially over the next few years, also plan to integrate the F-16 aircraft with the AIM-9X Block II missile which, among other things, brings lock-on-after launch capability, service officials said.

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This is smart and so is extending the life of the F-15 into the 2030s this blog posted that info several days ago. Since Obama stopped and in essence killed off the F-22 fighter to replace it the F-15 will solder on for many many years its still a Great fighter with over 300+ kills with ZERO losses in air to air combat. Same for the F-16. In my opinion we should kill all but the C model for the F-35 and keep Eagle and Falcons going till a real F-22 replacement can be produced.

Ohh and don’t forget this bad budget did cut a lot of F-16s out of the fleet as well as upgrades them. ANG gets hit hard.

US forces have only made about 30 air to air kills with F-15s. Israelis around 80, and the Saudis have scored a couple. The Israelis may have lost a couple to air to air, but that’s debated. Everyone has lost a few to SAMs.

So, what makes the older F-16’s unworthy of a SLEP? Fatigue is flight time regardless of when build. All other time is on the ground. Why not fix up (defense economic stimulus) and GIVE outright to poor allies close to real threats to create a tiered defensive shield?

Or export to kill the Skyhawk rehabilitation market.

Could just kill the F-35 sense it really isn’t all that much better than what the Delta winged version of the F-16 could have been.

That was the really sad part about Lockheed winning the JSF program. Boeing can’t really make a stealth version of the F-15 or F-18, they are just too far from being the right shape, but Lockheed could easily make a stealth version of the F-16. They’d probably be doing that right now if they didn’t have the F-35 work that it would threaten.

They moved funding over from the CAPES to fund the life extension. These F-16s will have their lives extended, but they won’t get the advanced avionics that they really need for a long time.

Keep the C-model? The most expensive one that still can’t land on a carrier? Stop taking drugs.

If the Air Force went ahead with the CAPES program, those F-16’s would make the “Junk Strike Fighter” look bad.
So of course they won’t do it. Once you up-grade the F-16’s & F-15’s avionics with state of the art AESA radar & advanced IRST systems those aircraft would fly rings around the F-35A and Congress would find out and CANCEL the F-35 and the Air Force & LM would look bad. Can’t have that know can we?

Why is everyone so upset with the F-35? I quite like it. In all its forms.

Wow, really Aidan? Are you new here?

The forum could write a 1,000 page book on why it’s a piece of crap.

The older models trend towards the most flight hours? Or aren’t as upgradeable as more recent models? The F-16 is already one of the most exported aircraft in the world. There are probably few who can afford to fly it who don’t already have it.

Don’t mistake the product for the process. The F-35 is a great design, the process of getting it produced, not so much.

That’s a pretty small market…

Because hating the F-35 is the what’s in fashion these days. Like how hating the F-22 was in fashion several months ago when everybody was saying how the F-35 would make it for the early end of production.

The F-35 has its flaws for sure, but it also has its advantages, and if the government can negotiate a good contract there isn’t any reason why Lockheed shouldn’t be able to get the FRP cost down to $85 million or so.

Minus the VLO stealth and STOVL capability. And do you think upgrading the F-16 with F-35 level sensor fusion and networking will be an easy task? It won’t be. You’d probably have to gut most of the plane to start.

Yes the F-35 doesn’t have the F-16’s sustained turn rate. Few modern fighters do. Yet if that was all that mattered biplanes would still rule the skies.

The A and B models are the most important out of the three variants as seen by their planned IOC dates. If the Navy had their way they’d ditch the F-35C if it would better their chances at getting the funding for a new fighter program to supplement and eventually replace the F/A-18E and F/A-18F. Think of how the F-111B gave way to TFX which became the F-14. Yet in today’s political and economic climate? Those are bad odds even in the unlikely event the DoD and Congress let them abandon their part of JSF.

If it’s any consolation William, I hated the F-35 since 2004 and have remained 100% consistent. :)

Me too, but was a F-35B Fanboy till about 2007. IMHO only a modern STOVL fighter will be able to survive because of the lack of long runways after the first 2 hours.

See Gripen E.
. http://​www​.aviationweek​.com/​A​r​t​i​c​l​e​.​a​s​p​x​?​i​d​=​/​a​rti

it can’t fly, it can’t turn, it can’t dogfight, it can’t carry anything, it’s overweight, it’s slow, it can’t land on a carrier, it has short legs, it has a single engine, cockpit has poor visibility, it’s software code is crap (all 27 billion lines of it). it’s helmet doesn’t work, and this piece of c r a p won’t be fully operational until 2037 at the earliest!

So, it’s a very poor design being mismanaged by a corrupted and/or incompetent Lockhead Martin

Except it is flying, it can turn as well as an F/A-18, it can carry 5000 lbs of weapons internally plus external hardpoints. It’s not slow compared to an F-16, F/A-18 or any number of other designs when they’re carrying external stores. The software code is still a work in progress, the helmet is still a work in progress, and you pulled that 2037 date from nowhere.

Once again money to keep the aerospace bussines in cash-yet we suffer the cuts with broken promises, so the cash can keep the wealthy pudding on

Gripen E isn’t STOVL.

Lance —

Your proposal (minus the ‘keep the C variant’ part perhaps) sounds half-way prudent with respect to a longer-term USAF recap and modernization standpoint, but does nothing to address the number 1 near and mid-term TACAIR recap and modernization crisis.

USAF/DoD (via Congress) stopped F-16 procurement back in FY98 because they were being sold, I mean told (not to worry) that the game-changing JSF (F-35) would be operational around 2010–2012 and estimated they’d receive orders for something like 1,200–1,300 USAF units by 2020 alone.

Today however, and for at least the next 10 yrs, there will be deepening tacair crisis by way of an increasingly hollowed out force structure and a mere illusion of deterrence being presented. So yeah, come up with an accelerated near-term stopgap measure to augment modernized force structure and bolster deterrence and then your plan would be more sound.

It seems like everybody forgets how the F-14, F-15, F-16, F/A-18, B-1, AH-64, C-5, C-17 and many more all had their fair share of problems in development and bugs to work out once in service.

You are doing a cherry to apple comparison. When it’s about payload the hardpoint are supposedly present and able to carry crazy weight but I’ve yet to ear of any extensive testing on them beside some lightweight dummy missile years ago.

But when it comes to performance, the hardpoint are gone and you are comparing a loaded SH against a f-35 with 2 small 2big ordonance bomb bay and I am suppose to believe it’s as good as the SH? Again, a typhoon can handle 4 ordonances and almost supercruise at speed over mach 1.2; how do you think f-35’s kinematics performances are going to compare?

Waiting for a real apple to apple comparison. Maybe in 7 years.

What make you think that a “stealth” f-16 would be manufacturable while a f/a-18 can’t? Because it’s lockheed?

I think they are many, many stealth technology whose patent does not belong to Lockheed.

Not a reason to desperately hang to a project named JSF because whatever you do you’ll end up with bad surprise, and cost more than expected.

I don’t think that mismanagement –which have been honestly acknowledged by some– was of such order of magnitude with the project you named; IMHO this is not a valid argument to justify going further.

>Like how hating the F-22 was in fashion .…..

Euh no. There are basically two things that I do not *liked* with the f-22.
–Prohibitive operating cost that are not mass production friendly. Yes cost matters, and maintenance downtime too.
–Until the f-22 will have a real fight and win it’s only theoretically the most leather fighter jet in the world; it will be a champion when it is *proven* to be a winner but for now it has yet to see a single combat. Not something that I don’t like per see but when it’s advertised as being the best thing since sliced bread it sound like propaganda to me.

Did cancelling the order making sense? It was a good idea only if there were an improved version coming. But instead they closed down the whole production line without any publicly known replacement in the near future. Now that it’s a silver bullet, it’s being treated as such; there is a clean room recently announced dedicated to upgrade its avionics.

So in short I do have a personality problem with the f-35 while I only consider myself ( too much? ) critical of the f-22.

That’s fundamentally two different things.

In the real world cost matters.

And I don’t even hear about the higher cost/less flying hours versus the greater maintenance/more down time trade off. Gets worse with each new generate of combat aircraft. Not much of an improvement over biplanes.

Hanging external ordnance on the F35 neutralizes its stealth capabilities. Plus, aren’t we developing fire-and-forget missiles that could hang from a 737 or be dropped out of a transport and go find and kill their targets? Why all the white scarf stuff?

Carrying stores externally will eliminate “stealth”.

Air Force and Navy need to do whatever they can to keep the F/A-18 and F-16 platforms flying. The F-35 is nowhere near combat ready, and if we have a medium to high lever action break out tomorrow we’ll need what we have NOW.

The idea that Hagle is trying to kill planes (like the A-10) because the F-35 will EVENTUALLY replace them is laughable. IMO the F-35 will never be a replacement for the A-10. Remember — a universal aircraft will universally do nothing well.

Exactly, the F35’s strength is not in spped or turn rate, it is in sensor integration, sensor fusion and low observability. The Bloody Red Baron made a heck of a lot of kills with guns but the modern battle is more about missiles and who sees who first.

Good point, @taxpayer. The 777 class seems pretty stealthy, No one can find the Malaysian one yet. It has long legs and carries a big payload. It could just loiter somewhere and drop long range A/A missiles which a JStars could guide.

I think dedicated manned fighters are about finished as a genre.

That is not how it was when they started the F-35 program. But ever since the aircraft has been piling on the pounds and poor aerodynamic design lead to excessive drag, and now it maneuvers like a cow, only now maneuverability dosn’t matter.

The fact is that maneuverability matters very much both close in and BVR combat. Running away every time combat is imminent is not a solution.

Add up all the problems of the F-14, F-15, F-16, F/A-18, B-1, AH-64, C-5, C-17 and many more and you still don’t get the all the problems of the F-35.

And finally when you have everything fixed maybe in 30 years according to Lockheed the F-35 is still just a crap design.

The F-18 and F-16 need to be upgraded because something needs to stand between the enemy and our airfields and it cant be an F-35.

You cant fly CAP with an F-35 because its only combat tactic is to avoid combat.

2 things. The viewability of the compressor face and the ease with which the sides of the aircraft could be fitted with chines and similarly angled vertical stabilizers. The F-16 nearly has chines all around now anyway. The only real trick is putting the slanted verticals on it.

Yeah, like that is such a huge problem. Hell, if the F-18 can land on a carrier anything can. It’s really only a matter of how much bigger they make the LEX’s on the F-35. Their problem is the bigger they make them the more they compromise the stealth. They could make them as big as those on the F-18 and it would still have better stealth characteristics than that old piece of junk.

Of course, the bigger they make the LEX on the F-35 the more problem they have with the verticals breaking off like they did with the older F-18’s. You’d think given the fact that both the F-18 and the F-22 had that problem they would have not designed it into the F-35 too, but when you get paid by the hour there’s no reward for being smart.

That’s not really true. The F-35 isn’t a good dog fighter, and it is ironic that Lockheed it taking the same position McDonnell Douglas took on the F-23 now on the F-35. Now they say a stealth airplane should hit and run and not get involved in dog fights, which is true. The only real difference is that the F-23 was super fast and could hit and run well where the F-35 is super slow. Plus when they design that ultra long range radar guided missile for the F-35 can pick off in coming jets almost as well as if it were a ground station with long range radar guided missiles. So there you go.

All ordinance isn’t the same. The Typhoon can supercruise with a few air-to-air missiles, four of which are carried conformally on the corners of the fuselage like the F-15, so the increase in drag is limited. Now add external fuel tanks or air to ground weaponry. Those add a lot more drag.

I hate to break it to everybody but the Super Hornet doesn’t exactly have great kinematics beyond low speed handling and high AoA maneuvers. It can’t match the sustained turn rates or acceleration of the F-16. Nor the performance of the F-15 at higher altitudes and higher speeds.

Yes but not all wars require stealth like Afghanistan and most of the operations in Iraq. Then you can carry external stores if you need to. Or once the enemies air defenses have been reduced to almost nothing.

The entire wing on most C-5s had to be replaced because the original didn’t meet specs. The C-17 was overpriced, underperforming, and very close to cancellation before the program was put back on track. The F-14 saw many important features like the F401 engines cut due to high costs plus there were a number of crashes. There was a time when dozens of F-15s were sitting on airfields without engines due to production problems. Early F-16s had an unacceptable crash rate due to engine issues. The classic F/A-18 didn’t meet initial range and payload requirements plus suffered some severe structural problems during its career.

And the Soviets/Russians had their share of problems as well. The initial T-10 “Flanker-A” prototype was a disaster until redesigned into the Flanker-B. The original MiG-29 had unacceptably short range and lacked the FBW controls of other new aircraft. Russian engines have always worn out quickly compared to ours.

The F-35 has a lot of problems seen in scale of such a large program. Yet it isn’t the first.

So by your standards the F-16, F/A-18, and all sorts of other designs are super slow? Yeah you could get to Mach 2.0 in a very clean F-16, by using up almost all of your fuel.

What you say about the F-22/F-23 is the very reason WHY the USAF wanted both the F-22 and F-35. The F-22 had the unmatched flight performance that everybody is criticizing the F-35 for lacking. It’s the same with the F-15 and F-16. The F-15 has achieved the vast majority of the USAF’s air to air kills in the past conflicts as it was designed to do.

Yeah…
The compressor face is a neon “right here” sign on the F-16 just as much, if not more than the F-18. Ever looked down the “gaping maw” of a Falcon?

Yeah and the high development costs don’t mean it is going to be as horribly costly in full-rate production as everybody thinks it will.

The F135 will soon have 5% more thrust, which will enable the F-35A to supercruise. 90+% of F-35s produced will have 46000+lbs of thrust.

The F-35B will be a bit slower but it doesn’t matter that much because it will be used primarily a strike plane.

The F-35C won’t be able to supercruise at all but it would still be relatively good in a/a.

The biggest advantage of the F-35 lies in its ability to find concealed targets on the ground, thanks to its stealth and very advanced sensor fusion. It will be an order of magnitude better that even an upgraded F-16 for that.

Besides there has been many instances in the past of air forces being destroyed on the ground. The F-35 will be good for that, contrarily to other non steathy planes which would have a very hard time entering enemy airspace.

William all the cost estimate that I can see for the f-35 is between 80 and 85 $M. That’s significantly more expensive than a f-16 and f/a-18 that it intent to replace. And the same apply for the operating cost.

All these cost increase compared to its predecessor would not be so bad if the f-35 was meant for a niche replacement; do I need to say that thousands of them are going to be manufactured?

Beside experiencing cost overrun there are no conclusion to take whatsoever from other programs, and not all the programs perform the same. There is a difference between having to replace a wing of an aircraft that is working; while it’s not the most successful design ever, compared to a design where I call its problem more “fundamental”, that is to request a jack-of-all-trade master at (almost) everything and to have its lowest bidder to screw up its weight calculation. And then comes more common problems, like design tool failure, software problem and so on. If f-35’s problems were solely about that, that wouldn’t be so bad. I am impatient to ear about the conclusions from the software experts hired by the pentagon about its software issue.

As for the C-17, at least according to the GAO, the critics were more about the necessity to have hundreds of C-17 for moving equipment because according to them relying on civilian freighter would save billions of dollars (1993). And there were this controversy about C-17 and C-5 that can/can’t land on a given number of airfield. And also its requirement have changed as it was first expected to operate in intratheater environment and to perform LAPES. And while it could not perform its original airdrop requirement (see chapter 2:2.6) it’s nowhere close to be compared to the f-35’s requirement being lowered again, again and again.

On one hand you got the C-17 that can fly, land and carry a payload, but just not as expected compared to a f-35 whose requirement are being lowered so it can *merely* do its most primitive task like flying, and that include removing a lost of safety.

Once again there should not be direct comparison between all these programs as they are all different. But what is more concerning with the f-35 is like that there have been no lesson taken from history, like Lockheed was buiding its first aircraft since 50 years and that it was the first 5th generation, with the first AESA radar, and with a long list of first like the Avro Arrow. While sensor fusion will bring interesting capability and it really have a complexity of its own, there are tons of problems that should just not systemically be experienced.
https://​www​.fas​.org/​m​a​n​/​g​a​o​/​g​a​o​9​5​2​6​.​htm

I was expecting the f135 engine to produce more lbs of thrust without afterburner than the competition but to be able to supercruise? I am really wondering what is going to be its fuel consumption; surely lower compared to itself but compared to a f-22? I always thought that the f-35 had an aerodynamic of a truck.

I might fall from my chair. ;-)

Got a link?

You cant hit and run if you cant run. Even a Mig21 can run a F-35 down and kill it.

There was a time when Soviet aircraft didn’t carry radars at all and all our radar equipped aircraft were effectively perfect stealth. The same claims about not needing decent aerodynamic performance were made by the F105 because it too could just use hit and run tactics.

The result was a slaughter of the F105 that achieved the ignonimity of being withdrawn in the middle of a war due to unsustainable casualties by enemy aircraft one and two generations older.

Both the air-force and navy know that the F-35 can never gong to be anything but the most permissive combat situation with no air or sam defenses. They have seen what happens already.

According to test pilots the F-35A can supercruise at M1.2.

A bit more thrust is relevent because drag decreases significantly after mach 1.1. So with 5% more thrust the F-35A will have some supercruise capability, maybe around Mach 1.25.

It may sound not much, but is more speed really needed? And don’t forget that the F-22 has TWO engines, and flies higher ( more temperature gradient ) and faster (more friction) so it has a significantly higher IR signature.

In fact flying in SC at M1.25 with a minimal IR signature is fast enough and if you want more air to air capability you should invest in better missiles after.
http://​www​.airforcemag​.com/​D​R​A​r​c​h​i​v​e​/​P​a​g​e​s​/​2​0​1​3/J

The F-35 will be an excellent strike plane, with a STOVL variant, and a decent fighter for many services and air forces.

> And don’t forget that the F-22 has TWO engines, and flies higher ( more temperature gradient ) and faster (more friction) so it has a significantly higher IR signature.

What I understand is that the f-22 can produce more IR signature by flying higher and faster. That doesn’t mean that the f-35 is more suited for low IR signature, and I doubt that flying at lower altitude will make ground detection harder as you are just closer to these sensors. I don’t have a lot of technical knowledge in that area but to me it sound like marketing BS designed to sell more f-35.

And it’s interesting to note that the f-35 can only do that “supercruise” for only 150 miles. Either there is no fuel left or the stealth coating peel off. I bet for the former.

“The F-35, while not technically a “supercruising” aircraft, can maintain Mach 1.2 for a dash of 150 miles without using fuel-gulping afterburners.“
http://​www​.airforcemag​.com/​M​a​g​a​z​i​n​e​A​r​c​h​i​v​e​/​P​a​g​es/

Your right William, I meant to say ” STOL ” and put up the wrong one.
The Gripen E can land and take off from an 800 meter stretch of highway, and can be rearmed and refueled in 10 min. by 5 techs from the back of a truck

Getting an accurate flyaway cost for any of these aircraft is very difficult to do. There are a lot of conflicting figures out there which often use different pricing methods which may or may not be accurate.

But what variant of the F-16? The advertised flyaway cost of the F-16IN offered to India a few years ago was claimed to be just over $50 million not factoring in costs for support/weaponry/etc. Yet the costs of several past deals for Block 60 F-16s have been substantially higher than that. The price of current F/A-18s is even tougher to pin down.

The price of the Rafale is somewhere around $85–90 million and the Eurofighter is at least $10 million above that. A fully modernized F-15E variant will cost you well above $100 million based on past export deals.

The F-35’s price tag also factors in things like EOTS, which would be the equivalent of buying a Sniper XR targeting pod for another aircraft, not exactly a cheap piece of equipment.

As usual Oblat you don’t have a clue. The F-105 is a fighter-bomber which has good aerodynamic performance for the role it was designed to do. That role was flying at low altitude at supersonic speeds carrying a nuclear bomb which it would lob at the oncoming Soviet hordes.

In Vietnam they were used with large loads of dumb conventional munitions against all sorts of targets. Yet despite being a different class of aircraft these “slaughtered” F-105s still killed more MiGs than they lost to those MiGs. Stealth? F-105 flights were tracked by ground based radars which directed the MiGs to their target. If you’re going to make claims about the air war over Vietnam you should know a basic fact like that.

F-105 production had stopped at some 800 aircraft due to the Air Force’s adoption of the F-4 Phantom II. The F-4 was better at what the F-105 was doing in Vietnam and could be used for many other tasks as well. Outgoing F-105s squadrons were replaced by F-4 squadrons with the last leaving in 1970. The exception were the F-105Gs used in the SEAD role which served for the remainder of the American involvement in the conflict.

Regarding the supercruise distance, the same kind of thing ways said about the F-22 ( that it could supercruise for only 100nm ). I find that kind of data rather dubious.

You will notice also that the next variant of the F135 with 5% more thrust will be able to handle higher temperatures, so it is likely to help for supercruise.

AFAIK the problem of the stealth coating peeling has been solved.

As for the RCS, the frontal signature will probably be of the same order as the F-22. From the side it will be higher, but detection range is proportional to the 4th root of the RCS. This means that if th F-35 has twice the RCS of an F-22 from the sides, it will be detected 20% further, say 36nm instead of 30nm, doesn’t make much difference.

You can afford more F-35s than F22s. The F-35 might not be as impressive performance wise but the F-35 can compensate with higher numbers (something lie 75% more when if is in full rate production), and better avionics, and is a much better striker. And it can be exported, so it can bring back billions in revenues to the US.

Apparently if it’s faster than a person can run it is super fast.

A lot of Arm Chair Generals that have no idea what there talking about. Nonetheless, the F-35 is going to be an extremely capable machine when it enters Squadron Service over the next few years. Just can’t wait to see a lot people eat crow after it does ;o)

If, you only knew what you were talking about! Question: Can the Mig-25 run down and kill an F-16 or F/A-18 Hornet????

Good luck trying to use the MiG-21’s radar to get a lock on the F-35. And the MiG-21’s small internal fuel supply won’t last long at full afterburner.

We should be glad the Middle Eastern airforces kept the F-15 and F-16 lines open. American-exclusive aircraft are very vulnerable to the whims of the public, driven by cost overruns. Though the –35 may end up antagonizing body politics in the US and foreign countries on the hook for development costs…

I’d like to see our Air Force get rid of radars in fighter jets. They are an expensive luxury that has outlived its usefulness in an environment where stealth is the top priority. We have networks like “Link 16″ that can provide AWACS and ground based radar contact coordinates to our fighters. There’s no need for 100 lbs of useless and very expensive equipment. The F-35, that was supposed to be a low cost fighter especially should not be equipped with radar. Hell, what’s the point in equipping it with all of those passive sensors if it’s got to have a radar announcing the location of its presence to the world?

Ironically if they’d designed the F-35 to have wingtip weapons/fuel pods those could be both stealthy and increase internal storage. Plus that storage could be allocated for either weapons or fuel as desired for the mission. As an additional bonus, there are several ways that those wingtip pods can reduce drag and in cases where they don’t produce a net reduction in drag they can be dropped like other external stores. Yet the way the US military ignores these wingtip pods you’d think we’d never had an airplane equipped with them.

You are correct, but can you imagine how much a “commercial” airplane would cost if the US government bought it? First of all, it would be too expensive for any “for profit” company to risk their own cash to develop, and then once they’d milked the US taxpayer for 3 decades of design and testing at 10 times the estimated costs we’d get an airplane that didn’t do 90% of what they said it would do. The fact is, we could buy military aircraft that are cheaper and make more sense if we’d find a better way to buy them than offering some “for profit” company $1.10 for every $1.00 they spend in development and production.

they are trying to cut the military so much that we won’t have anything to fight with.

Are you kidding? They aren’t cutting the military at all. They are getting rid of anything that might get in the way of the big weapons development programs so they can funnel more money to the defense contractors. We won’t even miss the soldiers they get rid of, because the defense contractors aren’t going to produce any new weapons at the end of these development programs anyway. Our nation’s defense is nothing but welfare for the rich.

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