USN may Continue Superbug Production

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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lookieloo

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Unread post29 Oct 2013, 19:34

US Navy considers extending F/A-18 procurement into fiscal year 2015
http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articl ... 15-392306/
The US Navy is considering ordering additional Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft in fiscal 2015, despite current plans to cease procurement in the current 2014 fiscal year, which ends on 30 September.

In a pre-solicitation notice posted on FedBizOpps.gov, the Naval Air Systems Command says it “intends to solicit and negotiate a fixed-price” contract with Boeing for up to 36 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and E/A-18G Growler aircraft in FY2015.

The notice comes amid concern about ending F/A-18E/F production in a time of uncertainly about the readiness of the Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter...
I'm not sure what's changed recently regarding "uncertainty" about the F-35. Seems even less certain that continued Superhornet production necessarily means reduction in F-35C orders. Guess we'll just have to see how those hook trials go.
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geogen

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Unread post30 Oct 2013, 01:35

Some observers of TACAIR procurement had actually been critical of USN's discontinuation of E/F orders in FY14, which made FY13's trailing orders more expensive and any probable FY15 reorders probably more expensive as well -- i.e., the stop Program, restart Program, paradigm.

So it makes sense at least to those advocating for and concurring with any decision to procure 'stopgap' E/Fs in FY15, and potentially even FY16. Additionally, it could even buy a year for any hypothetical USMC decision to augment LRIP F-35B procurement with an E/F option -- e.g., to conceivably replace ground based geriatric Hornets needing to be recapitalized.

As for the USN's 'uncertainty' part of the equation... besides uncertain unit Procurement Cost; the F-35C's IOC uncertainty vis-a-vis reliable tail-hook/carrier-landing capability could probably be one example, among other possible at-sea operational factors being at issue.

Personally, I'd be in the camp considering a split Super E/F + F-35A (CTOL) for USN in the interim.
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maus92

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Unread post30 Oct 2013, 01:45

Notwithstanding any unknown/unpublicized issues with the aircraft, the F-35C has the least commonality with the other versions, and is probably going to be the least produced version - so theoretically its cost is not going to decrease as much as the -A or -B. That means a new Super will cost 2.5 times less than a -C when it enters FRP. From the article: "F-35s could cost up to $125 million each, according to one defence aviation analyst, while Super Hornets cost “in the mid-$50 million range,” according to Boeing’s website." That's real money, and the Navy has to buy lots of other things besides airplanes - plus quantity has a quality that should not be discounted.
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aaam

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Unread post30 Oct 2013, 03:19

geogen wrote:Some observers of TACAIR procurement had actually been critical of USN's discontinuation of E/F orders in FY14, which made FY13's trailing orders more expensive and any probable FY15 reorders probably more expensive as well -- i.e., the stop Program, restart Program, paradigm.

So it makes sense at least to those advocating for and concurring with any decision to procure 'stopgap' E/Fs in FY15, and potentially even FY16. Additionally, it could even buy a year for any hypothetical USMC decision to augment LRIP F-35B procurement with an E/F option -- e.g., to conceivably replace ground based geriatric Hornets needing to be recapitalized.

As for the USN's 'uncertainty' part of the equation... besides uncertain unit Procurement Cost; the F-35C's IOC uncertainty vis-a-vis reliable tail-hook/carrier-landing capability could probably be one example, among other possible at-sea operational factors being at issue.

Personally, I'd be in the camp considering a split Super E/F + F-35A (CTOL) for USN in the interim.


Well, USMC has not bought the Super Bug because they felt it's procurement cost and the logistical issues involved in introducing a new type were not worth it, given the limited improvements the Super Bug brought them over more legacy Hornets. That may still hold true. They're already pushing back the out of service date and adding new capabilities to the Harrier in order to accommodate delays in the -35B the plane they really want.

Now, the E/F's slim export possibilities drop to zilch if it goes out of production, so maybe there's some industrial policy going on here, Of course, you can't come out and say that...

What use to the USN would be F-35s that couldn't operate (I mean intentionally :wink: ) from a carrier? :
Last edited by aaam on 30 Oct 2013, 03:30, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post30 Oct 2013, 03:27

maus92 wrote:Notwithstanding any unknown/unpublicized issues with the aircraft, the F-35C has the least commonality with the other versions, and is probably going to be the least produced version - so theoretically its cost is not going to decrease as much as the -A or -B. That means a new Super will cost 2.5 times less than a -C when it enters FRP. From the article: "F-35s could cost up to $125 million each, according to one defence aviation analyst, while Super Hornets cost “in the mid-$50 million range,” according to Boeing’s website." That's real money, and the Navy has to buy lots of other things besides airplanes - plus quantity has a quality that should not be discounted.


Not that I'm advocating killing the C (yet), but one thing that would help the B is that logically, the ones they had to give up when they were ordered to buy the C will be restored, which will further drive down costs of that version.
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Unread post30 Oct 2013, 08:45

aaam, thanks always for the reply and one-of-a-kind insight...your finger is obviously on the pulse of numerous areas if US aviation history and programmatics, etc.

With respect to your comments on the USMC vs Super Hornet... I guess my insinuation/assessment was that any hypothetical sudden change in tact by USMC decision makers could conclude that a 'mix' of Super Hornet procurement (joint-trained/sustained by USN(?)) might suddenly be calculated as actually being more reliable and more cost-effective, at least as part of a medium-term capability upgrade and gap-filler.

For example, it could be argued that an FY15/FY16 procured Advanced Super Hornet-lite F (with advanced computer, enhanced displays, CFT, updated radar capabilities and even bolt-on MAWS) and equipped with a Litening SE pod on the centerline, could enable significant increases in tactical operations flexibility and capabilities by USMC in the medium-term and at an affordable price.
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Unread post30 Oct 2013, 16:09

All those add-ons need to be developed and tested first, so FY2015/16 is out of the question.
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Unread post30 Oct 2013, 18:39

geogen wrote:aaam, thanks always for the reply and one-of-a-kind insight...your finger is obviously on the pulse of numerous areas if US aviation history and programmatics, etc.

With respect to your comments on the USMC vs Super Hornet... I guess my insinuation/assessment was that any hypothetical sudden change in tact by USMC decision makers could conclude that a 'mix' of Super Hornet procurement (joint-trained/sustained by USN(?)) might suddenly be calculated as actually being more reliable and more cost-effective, at least as part of a medium-term capability upgrade and gap-filler.

For example, it could be argued that an FY15/FY16 procured Advanced Super Hornet-lite F (with advanced computer, enhanced displays, CFT, updated radar capabilities and even bolt-on MAWS) and equipped with a Litening SE pod on the centerline, could enable significant increases in tactical operations flexibility and capabilities by USMC in the medium-term and at an affordable price.


What *could* happen is the Navy transfers some -C/Ds to the Marines to replace beaten up
-A+/C/Ds, and the Navy gets more Supers. That would help the Marines with short to mid term inventory problems while the F-35B is introduced, keeps the F/A-18 line open (and part of this IS industrial policy,) and continues to provide the Navy with options if funding remains scarce or further technical difficulties are encountered.
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maus92

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Unread post01 Nov 2013, 01:05

The Navy withdrew its pre solicitation notices for both Super Hornet / Growlers, and the GE engines:

"The US Navy has backpedaled on its intention of acquiring more Boeing F/A-18E/F aircraft in fiscal year 2015, cancelling a 17 October pre-solicitation order for up to 36 of the aircraft.

The navy issued a cancellation notice on the federal procurement website FedBizOpps.gov today, putting the brakes on the earlier notice, which was for both F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and E/A-18G Growler aircraft.

The navy also cancelled a 17 October pre-solicitation notice to procure up to 84 General Electric F414 engines, which power both the Super Hornet and Growler, according to FedBizOpps.gov.

"The pre-solicitation was removed from FebBizOpps because, currently, there is no fiscal 2015 or subsequent requirements for additional F/A-18E/Fs or E/A-18Gs," the navy tells Flightglobal in a statement."

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articl ... er-392426/
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Unread post01 Nov 2013, 23:49

SpudmanWP wrote:All those add-ons need to be developed and tested first, so FY2015/16 is out of the question.


Actually, an FY15/FY16 with CFT (plumbing), new displays and new computer could absolutely be a valid play. CFT could naturally be integrated if/when available, perhaps in time for IOC.

The radar mode enhancements will be incrementally updated according to plan and requirements, of course.

Other bolt-on upgrades, such as Litening SE pod and off-the-shelf IRST pod would be as simple as 1,2,3.

Bolt-on MAWS/MLD upgrades would need to be developed and integrated as part of a follow-on option, yes. But an FY15/16 advanced Super is absolutely doable as a stopgap option.
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Unread post02 Nov 2013, 16:00

U.S. Navy says notice of possible F/A-18 orders posted in error
Andrea Shalal-Esa

"(Reuters) - The U.S. Navy erroneously posted a notice about a possible order of up to 36 more Boeing Co (BA.N) F/A-18 fighter jets or EA-18G electronic attack planes due to "pre-decisional and internal budget discussions," a top Navy admiral said Friday...."

""The posting was the result of pre-decisional and internal budget discussions and was posted erroneously," Dunaway {NAVAIR chief] said of the incident, which triggered fresh questions about the Navy's tepid commitment to the $392 billion program - the Pentagon's largest weapons program..

"We took immediate actions and retracted the solicitation," said the admiral, who oversees the Navy's aviation programs. He did not address the Navy's position on the F-35 program...."

"The incident caught officials at the Pentagon's F-35 program office and elsewhere in the U.S. military by surprise, since there are no plans to buy more F/A-18s in fiscal 2015 and production of the planes is slated to end in 2016.

However, Boeing and its supporters in Congress have sought to continue selling the Navy more of the company's F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers as a hedge in case the carrier variant of the F-35 fighter jet runs into further delays or technical challenges.

The C-model of the jet is the furthest behind in development of all three models being built by Lockheed....."

"POSSIBLE DELAYS

Several U.S. defense officials called the incident "embarrassing". One said notices posted on the federal procurement website were generally vetted by four or more individuals before being posted.

The incident is particularly troubling to the U.S. Marine Corps, which is concerned that the Navy could undermine the F-35 program. The Marines, which have an urgent need to replace their current aging fleet...."

"... [IOC] dates could be delayed if Congress does not rescind sequestration and a further 10 percent cut in funding is implemented in fiscal 2015. The Navy's plan for meeting that target calls for a two-year pause in F-35C orders, according to multiple sources familiar with the proposal.

One industry source said the Navy's decision to cancel the notice reflected the determination of senior Pentagon officials to "protect the F-35 at all cost out of fear of international partners walking away from their commitments".

The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Pentagon was "destroying the industrial base by not allowing for fair competition within the market...."

"Unlike the other military services, the Navy's fleet of fighter jets is relatively young, bolstered by repeated increases in F/A-18 and EA-18G procurement in recent years, including 44 added to the Navy budget by U.S. since 2007.

Pentagon and F-35 program officials have warned that any moves by the Navy to postpone its purchases of F-35s would drive up the cost of the remaining planes to be bought by the Air Force, Marine Corps and U.S. allies...."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/ ... nnel=11563

This little slip-up basically confirms what we already knew: there are active discussions within the Navy about the value of participating in the F-35 program vs. its other needs, and atm, powers at OSD are forcing the Navy to stick to the plan.
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Unread post02 Nov 2013, 22:13

Were EPE extant, I'd give it some thought, especially if the F-35C hook trials don't go well. Otherwise, don't care. The USN is going to be a carrier short for some time, so there's no need for an interim purchase of superbugs to bolster numbers.
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Unread post06 Nov 2013, 02:22

lookieloo wrote:Were EPE extant, I'd give it some thought, especially if the F-35C hook trials don't go well. Otherwise, don't care. The USN is going to be a carrier short for some time, so there's no need for an interim purchase of superbugs to bolster numbers.


Unless you want to recapitalize (maintain prudent fleet modernization plan) for some of those geriatric and cracked legacy Hornets urgently needing to be replaced, as they were originally expected and estimated to have been replaced on schedule, per requirement?
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Unread post21 Dec 2013, 01:29

geogen wrote:
lookieloo wrote:Were EPE extant, I'd give it some thought, especially if the F-35C hook trials don't go well. Otherwise, don't care. The USN is going to be a carrier short for some time, so there's no need for an interim purchase of superbugs to bolster numbers.


Unless you want to recapitalize (maintain prudent fleet modernization plan) for some of those geriatric and cracked legacy Hornets urgently needing to be replaced, as they were originally expected and estimated to have been replaced on schedule, per requirement?


I've heard horror stories about just how cracked they are, including an A that taxied in and pretty much went unflyable on the spot. Squadron maintenance refused to work on it because of the amount of money that would need to be thrown at it.
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Unread post22 Dec 2013, 02:19

southernphantom wrote:
geogen wrote:
lookieloo wrote:Were EPE extant, I'd give it some thought, especially if the F-35C hook trials don't go well. Otherwise, don't care. The USN is going to be a carrier short for some time, so there's no need for an interim purchase of superbugs to bolster numbers.


Unless you want to recapitalize (maintain prudent fleet modernization plan) for some of those geriatric and cracked legacy Hornets urgently needing to be replaced, as they were originally expected and estimated to have been replaced on schedule, per requirement?


I've heard horror stories about just how cracked they are, including an A that taxied in and pretty much went unflyable on the spot. Squadron maintenance refused to work on it because of the amount of money that would need to be thrown at it.

When I was around F/A-18s, we'd spend up to $4m on SLEP'ing a F/A-18A/B for a project, then at the end of the project contract we'd return the jet to the Navy (or Marines). $4m is a lot of money to spend on one jet and I'm not sure that most squadrons' maintenance can afford anywhere near that kind of money on a single airframe. I don't think they can spend even $1m on a maintenance repair without a bunch of paperwork. The result is a bunch of unflyable jets.

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