AvWeek: Explore other options beyond F-35

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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hb_pencil

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Unread post11 Oct 2012, 22:45

rkap wrote:Even in Afghanistan in more recent times "fast Jets" have not proved effective in strongly defended situations" with mountains around etc. Early in the Afghan War it was a slow AC130 Gunship that saved the day in "Shahi Kot Valley - the Taliban stronghold" when coalition forces almost ended up in trouble similar to Russian forces who lost 600 men when they tried to take the valley. From what I read coalition forces were withing hours of meeting the same fate until the AC130 arrived. The " F15's, Hornets etc. using stand off weapons were not much help at all. There and gone - miss and they could not do another run etc. Especially after a few "Stingers" came up at them when they ventured in close. [The A10 I talk about is not the A10 of 1977. It would need upgrades.]
All this not my opinion - the opinion of those who served in Vietnam and those who were in the Shahi Kot Valley and thought they would die. Are you calling them "armchair tacticians".


Frankly, this claim is indefensible in the face of the reality in Afghanistan; you're basing your view off of a highly biased reading of an operation that occurred in 2002, when we have over a decade of experience and development that suggests otherwise. CAS today is far more accurate and effective than in 2002, and provides an invaluable capability. Your view is certainly not shared by of people that I personally interviewed who were on the "front lines" at different levels.

The vast majority of CAS has been carried out by fast jets (F-16) and have been critical and extremely effective at undertaking operations. Advances in precision guided munitions, sensor systems and the organization of CAS has often made it the decisive capability in a battle, even during danger close. That was certainly the case in 2006 during Operation Medusa, where Canadian/American forces engaged the Taliban in the Panjwai valley. Canadian forces were certainly attacking Taliban soldiers in "prepared" and strongly defended positions. During the operation, Air power was a critical determinant in the battle, primarily supplied by aircraft like the F-16 and A-10.

Certainly the AC-130 provides capabilities not available to other aircraft. In particular it is very persistence and carries an extremely heavy armament. However it can only operate in relatively benign environment. Against modern MANPADs like the SA-24, it is vulnerable. Moreover the lethality of modern jets have increased substantially in the past decade. Back in 2002 the USAF was limited in their weapon selection for A2G, especially towards smaller weapons. Now it possesses systems like SDB, which offer similar effects to 1000lbs class weapons, but at a size and weight that allows aircraft to carry a number of the munitions. Moreover the tools available to coordinate CAS are light years ahead of that available in 2002; strikes today are far more accurate and effective than before.

So claiming that Aircraft like the F-35, F/A-18 or F-16 are somehow unable to play a decisive role in CAS is just not accurate.
Last edited by hb_pencil on 11 Oct 2012, 22:53, edited 1 time in total.
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maus92

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Unread post11 Oct 2012, 22:51

Looks like the average LRIP-III Super Hornet (E/F) REC Flyaway was $58.4M in 1999$, which is about $80.7M in 2012$, with a build quantity of 36 (15-E, 21-F.) Full rate production begins after LRIP-III.
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Unread post11 Oct 2012, 23:10

maus92 wrote:Looks like the average LRIP-III Super Hornet (E/F) REC Flyaway was $58.4M in 1999$, which is about $80.7M in 2012$, with a build quantity of 36 (15-E, 21-F.) Full rate production begins after LRIP-III.


Comparisons between the F/A-18E LRIP and F-35 LRIP are not very fair. The key difference was the F/A-18E's relatively flat learning curve, which was a byproduct of its evolutionary development model . McDD decision to reuse a very large portion of the Legacy Hornet's design and components (70% of its avionics for example) meant there was very little learning curve effects. They basically built the F/A-18E using the same supply system, employees and manufacturing line as the F/A-18C. Thus most of the efficiencies were already discovered and the labour costs remained relatively flat. For example the flyaway cost of a F/A-18E/F betweeen 2000 and 2005 after 62 aircraft produced was $62, $65, $59, $62 and $65 (in millions of dollars. USN Budget materials,2002 and 2005). given its position in production and the amount produced (over 150 aircraft), an new production line would have at least seen 30% or more reduction in price during these years.

The F-35 is different because it is a completely new build aircraft: so you see a fairly distinct learning curve occurring and prices will have a more dramatic improvement in price over time. That is why you are seeing a production price that was once 125 million decline to 90 million in recent buys, and will likely reach 65 million by 2020.
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maus92

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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 00:21

It doesn't seem that any comparison between the F-35 and the F/A-18E/F will be deemed "fair." The fact remains that the F/A-18E/Fs are highly capable, if not the most advanced strike aircraft flying today - that incidentally cost substantially less than their european and domestic competitors.

LM acknowledged that LRIP-4 F-35s will be 7% over target costs. The targets are: -A, $111.6M; -B, $109.4M; -C, $142.9M - not including power plants. These are the most recent figures, at least until LRIP-5 is finalized and data released. It should be noted that LM improved its overages from the previous 11-15% on earlier production lots to 7%.

http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.asp ... 401134.xml
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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 00:37

velocityvector wrote:
count_to_10 wrote:rkap, you are talking about situations were any CAS is basically useless. If the F-35 can't see something at several miles range, no other aircraft is going to see it at close range.

Respectfully, that is simplistic. A loitering, relatively stationary, system should enjoy greater probability detecting the enemy given dwell-time opportunities. A fast-mover dependent on a single human pilot aboard, even with F-35 surveillance capabilities, may be at a distinct disadvantage in discovering a well-concealed enemy vice other platforms. Now if you can get a flight of F-35 wagon training over a suspected target and sharing information possibly with slower systems involved, well, that could be better. It all depends.

How much extra loiter time is going to help here?
Unless I'm mistaken, the F-35 will be doing most of the searching over it's entire viewing area automatically, giving the pilot possible contacts to review; how are even multiple people using just their eyes supposed to compete with that?
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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 00:57

count_to_10 wrote:
velocityvector wrote:
count_to_10 wrote:rkap, you are talking about situations were any CAS is basically useless. If the F-35 can't see something at several miles range, no other aircraft is going to see it at close range.

Respectfully, that is simplistic. A loitering, relatively stationary, system should enjoy greater probability detecting the enemy given dwell-time opportunities. A fast-mover dependent on a single human pilot aboard, even with F-35 surveillance capabilities, may be at a distinct disadvantage in discovering a well-concealed enemy vice other platforms. Now if you can get a flight of F-35 wagon training over a suspected target and sharing information possibly with slower systems involved, well, that could be better. It all depends.

How much extra loiter time is going to help here?
Unless I'm mistaken, the F-35 will be doing most of the searching over it's entire viewing area automatically, giving the pilot possible contacts to review; how are even multiple people using just their eyes supposed to compete with that?


The -35 is also net-centric so its individual capabilities are multiplied by some uncalcuable number. So long as they can keep datalinking secured, and "unjamable" then when this cake is fully cooked, it's going to be worth its weight in platinum. (even if its not loitering, it could pass along data from its "sweep" to other -35s in the rear)
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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 02:18

maus92 wrote:Looks like the average LRIP-III Super Hornet (E/F) REC Flyaway was $58.4M in 1999$, which is about $80.7M in 2012$, with a build quantity of 36 (15-E, 21-F.) Full rate production begins after LRIP-III.


LRIP my backside. How many SH MYP lots have been built?

Do you work for NAVAIR or Boeing?? Oops, sorry...one and the same.
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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 03:57

quicksilver wrote:
maus92 wrote:Looks like the average LRIP-III Super Hornet (E/F) REC Flyaway was $58.4M in 1999$, which is about $80.7M in 2012$, with a build quantity of 36 (15-E, 21-F.) Full rate production begins after LRIP-III.


LRIP my backside. How many SH MYP lots have been built?

Do you work for NAVAIR or Boeing?? Oops, sorry...one and the same.


From the 1999 Navy procurement doc, URF cost for the Superhornet was $72,567,484 in 1999$ or $100,348,285 in 2012$.

In fact the price he quoted looks like just the Airframe/CFE cost :shock:
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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 04:55

velocityvector - Respectfully, that is simplistic. A loitering, relatively stationary, system should enjoy greater probability detecting


You sum up a simple situation very well. Raised by others earlier in the forum. The Mafia as usual resort to personal attacks or go off topic or respond with complicated tactics as if everything can be planned to suit the F35. Not much time for complicated tactics when you unexpectedly encounter enemy and you are in a situation where you could be wiped out within minutes in a real war. All theory. Nobody denies the F35 will be excellent in in some situations but a Swiss Army Knife is no substitute for a good pair of pliers, a good wrench or a good knife at times.
It is obvious a modern A10 type platform equipped with similar IR capabilities and suitable modern defensive systems and a radar etc. that can travel slow and low and loiter with a pilot who can talk to the ground troops and see what they are seeing - an aircraft that can take a few rifle rounds without coming to grief - has a heavy cannon that can use "shock and awe" to keep the enemies heads down - can come around again or loiter has advantages in many situations. It amazes me how the F35 has in some peoples minds become the ultimate Air Superiority fighter, the ultimate attack aircraft, a mini AWAC and now the ultimate CAS machine. And pigs might fly.
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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 05:05

rkap wrote:The Mafia as usual resort to personal attacks or go off topic or respond with complicated tactics...


Says the guy who drones on about other people's Vietnam stories and the 5 years he spent as a reservist some 40 years ago. :lmao:
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archeman

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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 07:10

It is obvious a modern A10 type platform equipped with similar IR capabilities and suitable modern defensive systems and a radar etc. that can travel slow and low and loiter with a pilot who can talk to the ground troops and see what they are seeing - an aircraft that can take a few rifle rounds without coming to grief - has a heavy cannon that can use "shock and awe" to keep the enemies heads down - can come around again or loiter has advantages in many situations.


So why isn't the A10 a good candidate for the role that you are describing above? The good air frames are being re-winged right now, better targeting pods will come along in time. So why would we need a different manned slow loiter vulnerable platform? We have one already.
We have A10s AND F-35s AND drones of various capability in the future, what is the beef?
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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 08:04

archeman wrote:So why isn't the A10 a good candidate for the role that you are describing above? The good air frames are being re-winged right now, better targeting pods will come along in time. So why would we need a different manned slow loiter vulnerable platform? We have one already.
We have A10s AND F-35s AND drones of various capability in the future, what is the beef?

The F-35A is supposed to eventually replace the A-10. I have my doubts since replacing the F-16 will be hard enough, but the possibility seems to just hurt some people's feelings.
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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 14:16

maus92 wrote:
avon1944 wrote:I have often wondered why the design hasn't been frozen and each variant be pursued independently. The F/A 18 program eventually was stopped in the conversion of the F/A-18A-D to the F/A-18E/F. Gawd, even congress got the message to forget the commonality. So now we have the F/A-18A/D that has only 35% commonality with F/A-18E/F! The unit price for F/A-18E/F, is about the same as the current F-35s, or euro-fighters. As long as commonality is enforced on the program will escalate in development and in cost.


Super Hornets are substantially cheaper than twin engine eurofighters, and (much) less than F-35s will be for several more years, possibly more.


Not after you add the extra sensors, jammers, decoys, EFTs, etc... that they need, to perform their mission(and the extra support aircraft- tankers, Prowlers/Growlers.....).
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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 15:33

munny wrote:
quicksilver wrote:
maus92 wrote:Looks like the average LRIP-III Super Hornet (E/F) REC Flyaway was $58.4M in 1999$, which is about $80.7M in 2012$, with a build quantity of 36 (15-E, 21-F.) Full rate production begins after LRIP-III.


LRIP my backside. How many SH MYP lots have been built?

Do you work for NAVAIR or Boeing?? Oops, sorry...one and the same.


From the 1999 Navy procurement doc, URF cost for the Superhornet was $72,567,484 in 1999$ or $100,348,285 in 2012$.

In fact the price he quoted looks like just the Airframe/CFE cost :shock:


I went back and looked at some NavAir press releases: LRIP-III was funded in FY 1999, not in FY2000 - the URF number I used incorrectly.
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Unread post12 Oct 2012, 15:59

wrightwing wrote:
maus92 wrote:
avon1944 wrote:I have often wondered why the design hasn't been frozen and each variant be pursued independently. The F/A 18 program eventually was stopped in the conversion of the F/A-18A-D to the F/A-18E/F. Gawd, even congress got the message to forget the commonality. So now we have the F/A-18A/D that has only 35% commonality with F/A-18E/F! The unit price for F/A-18E/F, is about the same as the current F-35s, or euro-fighters. As long as commonality is enforced on the program will escalate in development and in cost.


Super Hornets are substantially cheaper than twin engine eurofighters, and (much) less than F-35s will be for several more years, possibly more.


Not after you add the extra sensors, jammers, decoys, EFTs, etc... that they need, to perform their mission(and the extra support aircraft- tankers, Prowlers/Growlers.....).


Extras, of course, that the F-35 will also need- like jamming pods, external fuel tanks, support aircraft like Prowlers, Growlers, tankers, AWACS....
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