Variants for different customers or mission profiles
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Elite 1K

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Unread post09 Jan 2020, 02:13

The Cost of Replacing Today’s Naval Aviation Fleet

Under the assumption that F-35B/Cs would have a 30-year service life, an additional $36 billion would be incurred in the final decade of CBO’s projection period when they would need to begin being replaced. Because it is unlikely that the Navy and Marine Corps would simultaneously develop two entirely new aircraft, CBO assumed that replacements for the F-35B and F-35C would be substantial upgrades akin to the upgrade from the Hornet to the Super Hornet. Procurement of replacements for the F-35B/C would continue after 2050.

Another group of about 500 fighter/attack aircraft—the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets—are expected to reach the end of their service life beginning in the early to mid-2030s. According to CBO’s projections, the Navy would develop a new aircraft—currently called the FA-XX—to replace its Super Hornets. Production of that aircraft would begin in 2032 and cost $67 billion for the first 448 aircraft purchased through 2050.

CBO hints that it could be cheaper to just buy F-35Cs for F-18E/F replacement (after the initial 18 sqns). That could really depend on how fast FA-XX is developed but it does give some insurance against developmental delays. This is also relevant since fighters will occupy half of the total costs. The oldest F-18E/F units are 22 years (in 2019).

I read this as a potential of an upgraded F-35B which may be cheaper than developing a new F-35B replacement. Considering age of the oldest F-35B is only 7 years (in 2019) - see page 14, that's going to be a 2040s/2050s issue. The timeline also suggests FA-XX will not have a STOVL variant.


Elite 5K

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Unread post09 Jan 2020, 05:16

Current plan is to equip each CVW with two F-35C Squadrons. Yet, that will be completed. Before the F/A-XX ever enters service. So, odds are good the USN will just continue to buy additional F-35C's in the meantime....

That should be no surprise as that is what the Super Hornet is doing today....(i.e. replacing Hornet until the F-35C is available in numbers)
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Elite 5K

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Unread post09 Jan 2020, 05:39

USNI Looks at CBO report: ... the-future

FightGlobular says at least the 'LIGHTING' may be on the cards (yes I know): "Source: US Navy F-35C Lighting II aircraft aboard USS Abraham Lincoln ... 363120.jpg
Why bother: ... 49.article
A4G Skyhawk: &


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Unread post10 Jan 2020, 08:03

weasel1962 wrote:The oldest F-18E/F units are 22 years (in 2019).

But those Block I's wouldn't dictate the timeline since the new build Block III's are replacing them.
And the Service Life Modification program is supposed to run for the next 15 years at a peak rate
of 40/aircraft delivered a year.

So crazily, as CBO identified, the Navy could be in a position for another service life extension.

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