F-15X: USAF Seems Interested

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

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Unread post01 Sep 2020, 16:31

You can read behind the lines here in a number of ways...You could read it as accelerating and expanding the F-15EX buy. They're focused on "readiness"? Then they've already painted themseleves into a corner, by saying the EX will be ready in half the time. But he mentioned "taking losses" and lots of them. Well, the F-35 is going to be a hell of a lot more survivable, that's for sure. Thus, more F-35's.

People will argue that defense budgets will shrink no matter who gets elected, and there's some truth in that. But if Biden gets in you can bet he'll prioritize the military just like Obama did - not at all. In that case, I think you'll see the F-15EX cut altogether and a reduced F-35 buy announced by USAF.
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element1loop

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Unread post02 Sep 2020, 03:03

mixelflick wrote:You can read behind the lines here in a number of ways...But he mentioned "taking losses" and lots of them. Well, the F-35 is going to be a hell of a lot more survivable, that's for sure. Thus, more F-35's.


I read that as his current assessment of what happens if air war breaks out tomorrow and the current USAF legacy fleet takes an on-going attrition hit with still insufficient F-35A and F-22A support or numbers for attacks available. And not over weeks, or months, but potentially over a year or more of attrition. Not (necessarily) A2A losses either, more like targets of CM and BM strikes, plus mission losses, etc.

He needs more resources to push out F-35A squadrons faster so more capable aircraft can attack more capable targets, for fewer losses, and prevent their ISR targeting for their weapons working, by dominance in the air, rather than tactical supremacy. F-22A upgrades can't be sped-up, only delayed until the fight is through. And F-15EX isn't going to prevent the attrition or resolve it.

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Unread post02 Sep 2020, 03:50

This explains why the F-15EX is likely becoming less and less attractive to the USAF........ 8)


QUOTE:

F-35 program costs are evolving, and these savings matter
By: Steven P. Bucci   


Last month, Congress held an oversight and accountability hearing regarding the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s burdensome logistical IT system. The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General reported earlier this year that millions of additional dollars were spent in the form of labor hours by military personnel who manually tracked the plane’s spare parts since its electronic logistical system didn’t. The congressional review was undoubtedly warranted, especially as the F-35 program office phases in a newer system over the next two years to replace its legacy IT platform.


But noticeably absent from this testimony, was a more fulsome discussion (and understanding) about the affordability of the program and how both acquisition costs and the price to fly the aircraft are significantly trending downward at a time that matters most.


In an era of increased military competition against peer adversaries and during a period of tremendous budgetary constraints in the United States, incremental savings across a large enterprise such as the F-35 program matter. The Defense Department understands this well. It has smartly leveraged its buying power, driving down the cost of each F-35A to approximately $80 million one year earlier than planned — now costing taxpayers less than some of the less capable fourth-generation aircraft, and on a par with others. The F-15EX, for example, costs nearly $88 million, and gives our forces no help in a fifth-gen fight.


Why spend more for less? This is critical because over the next five years, the number of F-35s purchased will more than double to approximately 1,200 aircraft. That translates to increased capacity and capability for the United States and its allies as they operate in the Indo-Pacific and European theaters.


Congress recognizes that the costs to acquire the aircraft have been significantly reduced, and it has now rightfully turned its attention to the costs associated with sustaining the aircraft. But most lawmakers missed the opportunity during July’s hearing to more fully explore a key statement made by the F-35′s prime contractor, Lockheed Martin.


Lockheed announced that it has reduced its share of the aircraft’s sustainability cost per flying hour over the past five years by nearly 40 percent, plummeting the costs to fly the aircraft to nearly $5,000 less each hour than earlier hourly costs.


The company says it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build state-of-the-art tools, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, which has led to labor efficiency gains as well as improvements to supply response times and data quality. The company implemented robust asset management tools and robotic automation to eliminate manual tasks, while placing a concerted focus on improving the reliability of aircraft parts to meaningfully reduce future repair requirements and material costs.


This is significant because the number of hours flown each year will increase by approximately 140,000 hours over the next five years alone. Those savings add up.


And more can be done. The F-35′s manufacturer believes it can further drive down its cost share to fly the aircraft by approximately an additional 50 percent. This is all the more significant when considering that the military services and aircraft’s engine maker, Pratt & Whitney, are responsible for more than one-half of the total sustainment costs of the program.


If a similar level of savings can be achieved by the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Pratt & Whitney, those savings can be confidently reinvested back into the program to ensure enough aircraft are being procured to deter and, if necessary, fight our adversaries. As the military services and foreign countries consider future threats and the capabilities needed to impede adventuresome opponents, these savings matter.


These savings come at the same time the DoD reports that the aircraft’s mission-capable rate has increased from the mid-50th percentile to the low 70th percentile from just a couple of years ago. And further improvements in the aircraft’s mission-capable rate should be forthcoming as repair backlogs and mismatched spare parts are corrected by a new IT logistical system.


A theoretical military principle suggests that steady quantitative changes can lead to a sudden, qualitative leap. After many, many years of sustained focus to drive down F-35 costs, the program may be representative of that maxim and allow the Defense Department to fully realize the advantages of the F-35′s game changing technologies.

https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/com ... gs-matter/
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Unread post02 Sep 2020, 07:19

Corsair1963 wrote:This explains why the F-15EX is likely becoming less and less attractive to the USAF........ 8)

QUOTE:

F-35 program costs are evolving, and these savings matter
By: Steven P. Bucci

... A theoretical military principle suggests that steady quantitative changes can lead to a sudden, qualitative leap. After many, many years of sustained focus to drive down F-35 costs, the program may be representative of that maxim and allow the Defense Department to fully realize the advantages of the F-35′s game changing technologies. ...

https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/com ... gs-matter/


Yeah, read that earlier today, not buying the last paragraph logic. What will matter is what occurs when its deployed and actually fighting. How will it do then? There was an interesting article on that topic and surrounding efforts here:

US Air Force works to let foreign militaries rearm, refuel and repair F-35A in the field

By Garrett Reim 2 September 2020

https://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing ... 55.article
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Unread post02 Sep 2020, 16:38

The more foot dragging on the F-15EX, the better its going to look for the F-35's numbers. Magnifying this will be shrinking defense budgets, possibly even high end combat where only the F-35 can excel.

I say if it's one or the other, we need more F-35's. More time needed to stand them up? Then so be it I guess, you can't say USAF leadership didn't see that coming. Which makes you wonder if anyone who made these botched decisions (leading to the current predicament) - was ever held accountable?
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Unread post02 Sep 2020, 16:42

The USAF will cut all sorts of other items before you ever see cuts to the F-35 or B-21 programs.
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Unread post03 Sep 2020, 02:09

wrightwing wrote:The USAF will cut all sorts of other items before you ever see cuts to the F-35 or B-21 programs.




.....and for very good reason! 8)
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sferrin

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Unread post03 Sep 2020, 15:20

mixelflick wrote:Which makes you wonder if anyone who made these botched decisions (leading to the current predicament) - was ever held accountable?


They got their bonuses and moved on.
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Unread post03 Sep 2020, 16:21

sferrin wrote:
mixelflick wrote:Which makes you wonder if anyone who made these botched decisions (leading to the current predicament) - was ever held accountable?


They got their bonuses and moved on.


Sadly, I think that's true.
The individuals behind this (either on the instigation side or the acquiescence side) are all gone.

But that IDIQ contract seems to be purpose built for a quick off-ramp for culling buys.
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Unread post04 Sep 2020, 14:38

I hope Gates chokes on his pension. They should discontinue it immediately. What would you do to someone who botched a big decision while working for you? You'd fire him, that's what.

This guy was trusted to make the right call(s). That's what he got paid the big $ for, and he blew it...
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sferrin

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Unread post07 Sep 2020, 16:06

https://www.defense-aerospace.com/artic ... hters.html

The Department of Defense, United States Air Force (USAF), Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), Propulsion Acquisition Division (LPAK), anticipates issuing a solicitation for its F-15EX Propulsion Procurement Lots 2-8.

The requirement is for a complete propulsion system (e.g. engine and associated components) that is fully integrated into the F-15EX weapon system in order to meet propulsion and aircraft production delivery schedules.

For the purpose of this Synopsis/Presolicitation Notice, the term “integration” shall be interpreted broadly to encompass completion of all work necessary to incorporate your company’s engines into the F-15EX weapon system, including without limitation all design, development, modification, documentation, testing, and airworthiness certification.

While this integration effort may execute concurrently with engine production, airworthiness certification of the F-15EX to operate with your company’s engines would need to occur before time of delivery.

The estimated total quantity is up to 461 engines with anticipated delivery beginning June 2023.
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Unread post08 Sep 2020, 00:59

sferrin wrote:https://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/release/3/213181/usaf-issues-pre_solicitation-for-461-engines-for-new-f_15ex-fighters.html

The Department of Defense, United States Air Force (USAF), Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), Propulsion Acquisition Division (LPAK), anticipates issuing a solicitation for its F-15EX Propulsion Procurement Lots 2-8.

The requirement is for a complete propulsion system (e.g. engine and associated components) that is fully integrated into the F-15EX weapon system in order to meet propulsion and aircraft production delivery schedules.

For the purpose of this Synopsis/Presolicitation Notice, the term “integration” shall be interpreted broadly to encompass completion of all work necessary to incorporate your company’s engines into the F-15EX weapon system, including without limitation all design, development, modification, documentation, testing, and airworthiness certification.

While this integration effort may execute concurrently with engine production, airworthiness certification of the F-15EX to operate with your company’s engines would need to occur before time of delivery.

The estimated total quantity is up to 461 engines with anticipated delivery beginning June 2023.


You forgot to include.......

QUOTE:

The Government reserves the right to cancel this acquisition, either before or after the closing date. In the event the Government cancels this acquisition, the Government has no obligation to reimburse an offer for any preparation costs.
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Unread post08 Sep 2020, 01:07

Scrap Old Planes Or ‘Risk Losing High-End Fight:’ CSAF Brown

"His greatest challenge will be to build the coalition in Washington, and particularly on Capitol Hill, that will support new ways of rapidly developing capabilities," says former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.


WASHINGTON: New Air Force Chief of Staff CQ Brown, in his call to ditch legacy aircraft to fund new network-centric tech so the US can best Russia and China, faces the same daunting obstacles as did his predecessor: Congress’s fierce embrace of the status quo and DoD’s bureaucratic inertia.

The hurdles to Brown’s strategic vision may be even higher now because of the looming budgetary crunch in the post-COVID-19 environment and the magnitude of the overarching DoD acquisition trough. Add a possible change in administration — which almost always results in at least four to six months of budget uncertainty as a new president nails down priorities — and you’ve got some impressive obstacles to overcome.

“2022 is going to be a blood bath … the Air Force has, and DoD has, lots of bills to pay,” one Air Force insider told me today. The question will be whether Brown can understand and manage “how all the money flows, because that’s the power.”


Brown articulated his strategic vision in an eight-page missive, “Accelerate Change or Lose,” released late yesterday. While following the path laid down by his retired predecessor, Gen. David Goldfein (who had long ago begun grooming Brown as his successor), Brown has upped the ante with his forthright assessment of the strategic crossroads facing the service.

“If we don’t change – if we fail to adapt – we risk losing the certainty with which we have defended our national interests for decades. We risk losing a high-end fight,” he wrote.

“CQ is rightly focused on the high-end fight and that dominance in air and space cannot be assured,” former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told me in an email today. “His greatest challenge will be to build the coalition in Washington, and particularly on Capitol Hill, that will support new ways of rapidly developing capabilities.”

“I would say that, as expected with a new chief, Gen. Brown is trying to clearly define his flight plan. He’s consistent with his predecessor and seems realistic about the challenges his vision is going to face. Only time will tell how this all plays out,” summed up one industry executive.

Brown’s focus appears to be: “(1) force an end to bureaucratic inertia within USAF; (2) make final 2022-2026 POM trade-offs; and (3) negotiate as many 2021 aircraft retirements as possible,” one defense industry consultant told me today.

The Air Force insider noted that his biggest challenge in making those budget trade-offs will be “balancing out mission priorities,” going “faster” on buying new weapons, and paying for an expensive upgrade to the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad with a diminishing budget.

DoD is currently in the final throws of sorting out its annual Program Objective Memorandum (POM) for the 2022 budget cycle that lays out its five-year budgetary plan, which must be approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget before it goes to Congress as a funding request in February or so.

And up to now, as Breaking D readers know, Congress has not been willing to cut legacy aircraft — and the guaranteed jobs in their districts — to fund desired Air Force capabilities for All-Domain Operations that are software-centric rather than platform specific. Instead, lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill have put limits and prohibitions on cuts to elderly aircraft (for example, refusing to countenance the retirement of any A-10 Warthog close air support planes).

Brown’s missive focused squarely on the new capabilities required for the Air Force to support DoD’s vision of a new way of war.

“We must contribute to the Joint Warfighting Concept, enabled by Joint All-Domain Command and Control, and place capability in warfighters’ hands faster—through innovation, experimentation and rapid prototyping, and a collaborative approach with our service and industry teammates,” he wrote

As Breaking D readers are well aware, the Joint Warfighting Concept to define how the services and Combatant Commands will work together to fight an integrated battle across the air, land, sea, space and cyberspace domains is being fleshed out by service chiefs and the Joint Staff for delivery to Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the end of the year.

And the Air Force has the lead in developing an approach, and the technologies, to enable Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) linking all sensors to all shooters in near-real time. This week, in fact, the service is undertaking the second of its “on-ramp” experiments testing new technologies aimed at building the JADC2 backbone via the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System. The experiment will run through Sept. 5, and is centered on a Northern Command and Space Command wargame scenario that includes a cruise missile attack on the homeland and attacks on US satellites.

“There’s not much new here. The services always want the latitude to make weapons investment and sustainment decisions purely on the basis of capability and strategy, rather than jobs,” veteran aircraft analyst Richard Aboulafia of Teal Group told me in an email today. “However, Congress is in charge of paying the bills, so while service chiefs may lament their lack of control, the reality is that they’ll never get the control they want. Still, General Brown is certainly correct in highlighting the risks of this approach in terms of not getting the Air Force new technologies and capabilities.”

Mark Gunzinger, Mitchell Institute director of future aerospace concepts and capabilities analysis, agreed that Brown is looking squarely at the risks and welcomed his blunt words.

“More outspoken is a virtue in this environment, and the Chief is absolutely right. Our military, not just the Air Force, must “speed up change” or risk losing a future conflict with China or even Russia. Not just changes to technologies our military brings to the battlespace, but changes in operational concepts—how our forces fight together and with our allies—changes to force management policies and structures, and changes to how our forces train and exercise together,” he tells me in an email today.

“It will also require changes to how resources are allocated across DoD….unfortunately, I don’t see this happening.”

Brown hinted in his vision document that he would like to see changes not just in how DoD allocates resources but actually defines service roles and missions — as he also did in testimony to the Senate during his confirmation hearing.

“We must also use this opportunity, given the stand-up of the U.S. Space Force, to evaluate and adjust internal U.S. Air Force structures and decision processes to include a renewed look at service-assigned roles and missions internal to the Department of the Air Force and even within the Joint Force,” he wrote.

“He’s saying that they need to revisit the allocation of roles and missions among the services, which is both controversial and true,” said Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “There are some missions (and force structure) the Air Force needs to transfer to the other services for better efficiency and mission effectiveness, and there are some things in the other services that need to be consolidated in the Air Force and Space Force for the same reasons. The costs of personnel and acquisitions are so high now that we can’t afford the same level of redundancies across the services that we once enjoyed.”

Harrison elaborated in an email today that one “great example is ICBMs and their associated helicopter units and security forces. This logically belongs in the Army because the Army already operates the only other silo-based missiles in the military (GMD), it already has a fleet of helicopters and a training pipeline of pilots, and it has a large component of ground security forces and vehicles.”

“On the flip side,” he added, “there are missions and forces in the other services that may be a better fit in the Air Force, like land-based maritime surveillance aircraft in the Navy (P-8, MQ-4, etc.) because their capabilities overlap so much with other Air Force systems (RQ-4, JSTARS, etc.)

While the consensus is that Brown faces a steep climb to get over the top of both the budgetary and roles and missions mountains, analysts also widely agree that normally a new chief is granted a honeymoon period. And if ever an Air Force leader needed a honeymoon, they say, it is Brown as he heads into the tumultuous next couple of years.

https://breakingdefense.com/2020/09/scr ... saf-brown/
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Unread post09 Sep 2020, 01:44

A Better Way to Measure Combat Value

By Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula USAF (Ret.) and Douglas A. Birkey

Sept. 1, 2020


QUOTE:

In a recent hearing, a senator posed this concern about operating cost of the F-35: “It comes down to an issue of numbers: The Air Force would like to see 1,763 F-35 aircraft, but if it costs $35,000 an hour, how can we afford that going forward?”

The senator missed the broader issue: To derive the same mission effects as an F-35 would require multiple, less-capable aircraft and higher risk to the mission and the aircrews.

Indeed, William A. LaPlante, former assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, warns of “overreliance on traditional units of assessment.”

“While cost per flying hour is a common metric … such measures are far from infallible,” he said. “For example, we actually saw cost per flying hour decrease during sequestration because we were flying less. Modern operations—including fifth-generation technology and distributed family-of-systems approaches—require a far more rational and informing cost-capability analysis.”



If aircraft like the F-35 and B-21 can successfully meet the same mission goals with smaller teams and less support overhead, the cost to conduct specific missions will be less. As one U.S. fifth-generation fighter pilot explained, “Five to eight years ago, we would plan an entire force package of about 20 to 30 [fourth-generation] aircraft, all to maybe have a slim hope of taking down a modern surface-to-air (SAM) threat—just one SAM. Now, we train to accomplish the same mission with far greater certainty using just a few F-35s, while continuing to execute a host of other tasking.”


On the first night of Operation Desert Storm, 20 F-117 Nighthawks struck 28 separate targets. Their ability to penetrate enemy air defenses without a large number of escort aircraft, coupled with precision strike technology, allowed the F-117s to destroy targets with just one or two bombs per target. By contrast, the first non stealth aircraft attack package in that same war employed 41 planes—only eight of which dropped bombs—to hit a single target during the same exact time frame. Each non stealth strike asset required multiple escort aircraft to jam hostile air-defense radars, suppress SAM threats, and counter enemy fighters. While the legacy, non stealth strike aircraft were individually less expensive than the stealth F-117s, it took so many of them to accomplish a single task that the overall mission cost was far higher. The Nighthawks flew less than 2 percent of the air campaign’s combat sorties, while striking over 40 percent of the fixed targets.

The Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) uses key performance parameters (KPPs) to differentiate and compare competing systems during the acquisition process. Cost-per-effect should be one of these KPPs. Investing in new capabilities and concepts of operation that achieve objectives—such as delivering bombs on target, attaining air superiority, or gathering information across the battle space—will yield the greatest cost-per-effect.

Cost_of_Aircraft-1024x907.png



https://www.airforcemag.com/article/a-b ... bat-value/
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Unread post09 Sep 2020, 13:28

That "Less is More" document really puts it into perspective.

Should be distributed on Capitol Hill...
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