F-35: Super Hornet hedge

The F-35 compared with other modern jets.
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F16VIPER

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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 01:49

Any comments?

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/fligh ... hedge.html

Future concepts of sea-based airpower confront navies with difficult problems. Some are a matter of pragmatics, such as the vessel design limitations that forced a certain red-faced prime minister to revert to the Lockheed Martin F-35B earlier this month.

Other problems are more operational. It does not matter if the US Navy ultimately decides to buy F-35Cs - the same carrier-based fighter recently de-selected by the Royal Navy - or funds new upgrades for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

If the West's consensus intelligence assessment can be trusted, China's guided ballistic missiles can keep the US carrier battle group thousands of miles away from Taiwan, the only foreseeable flashpoint of potential conflict. For this pivotal scenario, the USN's internal argument between an investment in stealthy but short-legged F-35Cs and non-stealthy, short-legged F/A-18E/Fs becomes academic.

This leads to more unsettling questions. What is an aircraft carrier really worth in 2020? And what is the value of carrier-based aircraft with an unrefuelled range shorter than the distance between Chicago and Washington DC?

These are hard questions with harder answers. In development today are unmanned, carrier-based bombers that have the range and survivable design characteristics to participate in any conflict no matter how far the carrier is driven from the scene of action. But which politicians would be willing to gamble on whether these aircraft will be available and ready to work when called upon?

The prudent course seems to be gathering momentum. It is basically a hedging strategy: develop upgrades to keep the Super Hornet fundamentally viable, while investing in the leap-ahead, unmanned bombers that will arrive at some point in the future.

The problem is there is no additional money to pay for the Super Hornet upgrades. Any dollar spent to keep Boeing's programme viable must be one less dollar spent on another system. Unfortunately for Lockheed Martin, that system is most likely to be the F-35C.

It is nearly time for the USN to make a hard decision. Just like UK Prime Minister David Cameron, navy chiefs will have to accept the criticism that comes with having originally invested in the wrong technology. However, it will serve the taxpayer's interests in the long-run to choose the most sustainable path to the future of airpower at sea.

(This article first appeared as the main leading article in Flight International 12 June)
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 02:03

What is with people trying to convince the USN to forgo the only LO fighter they could possibly get for the next couple of decades?
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 02:31

How about accelerate development with more funding for the F-35C (with future extras) and BuggaBoing! :D

Anyway AFAIK the X-47B development seems to be going according to schedule.
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 02:53

How about a two-seat UCAV controller that the Israelis and Indians would also snap up....
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 04:51

[quote="F16VIPER"]Any comments?....quote]

Trolling, not worthy of a reply!.... but..... I was curious as to the author, as follows; ...He retired recently after two decades of state service in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.


Perhaps he should stick to writing about "Tree Hugging"! :lol:
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 05:34

F16VIPER wrote:If the West's consensus intelligence assessment can be trusted, China's guided ballistic missiles can keep the US carrier battle group thousands of miles away from Taiwan, the only foreseeable flashpoint of potential conflict.



This sentence is what the entire article rests on: one scenario that in itself is extremely unlikely to occur. There are plenty more scenarios that are far fare more likely to occur, where the F-35's capabilities will be critical for future conops.

Furthermore there is no consensus about the Chinese capabilities. If anything it reminds me a bit of the whole missile gap debate in the late 1950s, or the British fears on German dreadnoughts in the 1908; extremely vague reports about their capabilities inflated by "experts" who want additional spending or new capabilities. In hindsight it was pretty apparent that these claims were extremely exaggerated.
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 06:46

count_to_10 wrote:What is with people trying to convince the USN to forgo the only LO fighter they could possibly get for the next couple of decades?


Boeing has a lot of institutional inertia in the USN. Plus, the Navy has never been the F-35's most enthusiastic customer because it isn't *exactly* what they wanted. The plan was that the F-35 would replace the F/A-18C/D models; but by the time that happens, there won't be that many left to replace. There's also the matter of overlap: the F-35, Hornet, and Superhornet all do pretty much the same thing, so there's some argument for just keeping the Superbug and moving on to whatever comes after the F-35 in the hope that maybe the USN could have its own program. That's wishful thinking IMO due to costs. Besides, if the good-enough Superhornet suited them in the 1990s, I see no reason why the good-enough F-35C shouldn't suit them now.
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 07:17

'1st503rdsgt' said above: "...the F-35, Hornet, and Superhornet all do pretty much the same thing..." unbelievable.
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 07:27

1st503rdsgt wrote:
count_to_10 wrote:What is with people trying to convince the USN to forgo the only LO fighter they could possibly get for the next couple of decades?


Boeing has a lot of institutional inertia in the USN. Plus, the Navy has never been the F-35's most enthusiastic customer because it isn't *exactly* what they wanted. The plan was that the F-35 would replace the F/A-18C/D models; but by the time that happens, there won't be that many left to replace. There's also the matter of overlap: the F-35, Hornet, and Superhornet all do pretty much the same thing, so there's some argument for just keeping the Superbug and moving on to whatever comes after the F-35 in the hope that maybe the USN could have its own program. That's wishful thinking IMO due to costs. Besides, if the good-enough Superhornet suited them in the 1990s, I see no reason why the good-enough F-35C shouldn't suit them now.

The F/A-18E/F is actually LO, but doesn't have LO pylons/stores to match. Its also relatively cheap, compared to other jets like the F-14D or the F-15E and obviously the F-22 raptor. If the F/A-18F cost $130m do you do think the Navy would be as happy with a "Good Enough" jet? I don't think so.

There really isn't that much overlap is role between the F-35, F/A-18C/D & F/A-18F platforms. The F-35 is a LO strike flighter that wont have the A/G maturity at IOC of the Super Hornet. Compared to the F/A-18C, The Super Hornet (esp. Block III F414-EDE engines) has better range and fuel economy. The Super Hornet is a 4.5 Gen AESA equipped, advanced data linked platform. I'm not sure how much the Navy brass really considered the F/A-18E/F 4.5 Gen features back in 90s when options like a NATF/F-22N was on the drawing board. Once the F/A-18E/F became the F-14 replacement, then the advantage of the 4.5 Gen systems increased.
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 07:39

spazsinbad wrote:'1st503rdsgt' said above: "...the F-35, Hornet, and Superhornet all do pretty much the same thing..." unbelievable.


Jeez, I'm not referring to capability, I'm referring to roles. Do I really have to specify the obvious differences that everyone here is already aware of?
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 07:45

F16VIPER wrote:Any comments?

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/fligh ... hedge.html
...
If the West's consensus intelligence assessment can be trusted, China's guided ballistic missiles can keep the US carrier battle group thousands of miles away from Taiwan, the only foreseeable flashpoint of potential conflict. For this pivotal scenario, the USN's internal argument between an investment in stealthy but short-legged F-35Cs and non-stealthy, short-legged F/A-18E/Fs becomes academic.
...

(This article first appeared as the main leading article in Flight International 12 June)


If use of ballistic missiles was the primary threat in an engagement, we have these things called "tankers" that could push the range of a F/A-18F or F-35 to thousands of miles and destroy the capability to launch the guided ballistic missiles.

The Navy has Aegis RIM-161 Anti-Ballistic Missile systems in the destroyers, close to the carriers. This would allow the fleet to move in closer to the fight.
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 08:52

'1st503rdsgt ' said: "Jeez, I'm not referring to capability, I'm referring to roles. Do I really have to specify the obvious differences that everyone here is already aware of?" Yep - and thanks for the clarification.
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 12:56

neurotech wrote: The F/A-18E/F is actually LO, but doesn't have LO pylons/stores to match.


Go look at a SH (without pylons) and an F-35 side-by-side and then tell us which jet is LO. It's not even close.

neurotech wrote: F-35 is a LO strike flighter that wont have the A/G maturity at IOC of the Super Hornet.


At IOC, the F/A-18A/B didn't have the A/G maturity of the F-4 nor the A-7. At IOC, the SH didn't have the A/G maturity of the F/A-18C/D. At IOC, F-35 will not have the weapons variety, but it will be a significant advancement in range, sensors, and overall capability.

neurotech wrote: Compared to the F/A-18C, the Super Hornet (esp. Block III F414-EDE engines) has better range and fuel economy


The E/F has always been an aerodynamic dog. It has 'more range' because it carries more fuel. In some configurations, the C/D has better range because it has far less drag. On internal fuel alone, F-35B is comparable in range to an E/F with a single centerline; F-35C is substantially better.
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 14:46

Boeing had a show-and-tell the other day at its St. Louis facilities:

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-d ... ornet.html

"But one area where the Super Hornet is somewhat lacking is transonic acceleration. With the new enhanced engines which produce more than 20% more thrust than the existing power-plants being developed by General Electric, that could change. Mark Gammon, Boeing senior manager for F/A-18 advanced capabilities, says that under certain flight conditions, acceleration times are reduced by a factor of four. The engines are also more fuel-efficient and durable than the existing F414 variants.

Should the Navy buy the new engine, the existing Super Hornet inlet has a 10% margin for increased mass-flow, so it could be retrofitted to the existing fleet with ease, Gammon says."
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Unread post08 Jun 2012, 15:14

under certain flight conditions, acceleration times are reduced by a factor of four

That' is so vague as to be almost meaningless. Sort of like "Under certain conditions your income will increase 4X faster!" :roll:
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