Roper Hints NGAD Could Replace F-35; Why? Life-Cycle Costs

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spazsinbad

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Unread post15 Jan 2021, 05:18

Roper Hints NGAD Could Replace F-35; Why? Life-Cycle Costs
14 Jan 2021 Theresa Hitchens

"The NGAD program "represents a chance to design an airplane that is more sustainable than the F-35, if in fact the F-35 cannot get its cost-per-flying-hour down," said outgoing AF acquisition head Will Roper.

WASHINGTON: The F-35 fighter jet’s exorbitant life-cycle costs means the Air Force cannot afford to buy as many aircraft as it needs to fight and win a war today, which makes the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program all the more important, says outgoing Air Force acquisition czar Will Roper.

“I think the F-35 program is a long way from being at a sustainment point that we need. I think it’s a long way from being an affordable fighter that we can buy in bulk,” he told reporters today.

“That’s the reason why Next-Generation Air Dominance is so important to the Air Force,” he said. “It doesn’t just represent a next-generation fighter with bells and whistles that we will need in warfighting. It doesn’t just represent a completely different acquisition paradigm. It also represents a chance to design an airplane that is more sustainable than the F-35 if, in fact, the F-35 cannot get its cost-per-flying-hour down.”... [Is this a WARNING SHOT to the HEAD or just a warning shot?]

...“I very much hope for the future of the program, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t prepare for the worst. And so you can see that the movements that we have made in the TacAir portfolio have set the Air Force up to have options, so that our eggs are not in one proverbial basket,” he said.

Roper explained that Air Force fighters have to be ready to establish air dominance on day one of a war (along with satellites to secure establish communications.) “If they don’t win the day, then there will be no time for the rest of the services to join.” This is why the quantity of F-35s available matters, he said, as well as the quality of its capabilities.

“As to the quality, I think everyone feels pleased as the F-35 goes through testing, but it’s very much focused on Block Four as the next step that has to be taken. Quantity goes directly to whether the cost-per-flying-hour can come down,” he said. “And right now the F-35 has a good ‘sticker price,’ but its cost of ownership is not where it needs to be, making the quantities that the Air Force may need to purchase in question.”

Prime contractor Lockheed Martin’s ongoing Block 4 update includes both hardware and software to enable the aircraft with faster computers, more missiles, a panoramic cockpit display, longer ranges, as well as the capability to team with drones. But the Government Accountability Office found a $1.5 billion increase in the F-35’s Block 4 upgrade costs for 2019 — now up to $12.1 billion. On top of that, the update has experienced numerous delays. Indeed, GAO begged to differ on the quality issue: “The F-35 aircraft in the field have not met standards for reliability and maintainability, indicating that the program is not delivering aircraft at the level of quality expected,” the report said.

“Work on Block 4 upgrades continues and will bring more capability to the warfighter through an agile development process based on incremental software upgrades, providing continuous improvements and further widening the gap over legacy platforms,” a Lockheed Martin spokesperson said in an email.

That question about affordability, in turn, “is why,” the report says, “other tactical aviation options are appealing to have in the mix, so that the Air Force has options number one; and number two, there’s competition, there’s pressure, on industry to improve, which would not be there if there was only one show in town.”

Lockheed Martin “understands the importance of F-35 affordability, both with regard to production and sustainment, and is focused on offering this unmatched capability at a cost similar to that of legacy aircraft,” the spokesperson said. “We are currently delivering F-35s at or below the cost of less capable fourth generation aircraft, while also lowering the sustainment costs by 40% over the past five years.”


Roper said fixing the F-35’s myriad issues requires the Air Force, its software development teams, the Joint Program Office, and Lockheed Martin all “to run the same direction and at the same pace to make a difference.” He reiterated that the service’s top software hub, Kessel Run, is “fully dedicated to helping on the sustainment of the system.” Kessel Run is working a replacement for Lockheed Martin’s long-troubled Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) used to track parts and schedule maintenance, called ODIN (for Operational Integrated Data Network.)

“I’ve made a lot of the Air Force available, above and beyond the normal call of duty, to the program,” he said.... [MUCH MUCH MUCH MORE at the JUMP (mostly about other stuff ABMS etc.) URL]

Source: https://breakingdefense.com/2021/01/rop ... cle-costs/
A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos?view_as=subscriber
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element1loop

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Unread post15 Jan 2021, 08:27

“And right now the F-35 has a good ‘sticker price,’ but its cost of ownership is not where it needs to be, making the quantities that the Air Force may need to purchase in question.”


Given US Congress blocks every proposed USAF retirement it's all a bit academic isn't it? Capability development and spare funding will come to a grinding halt from that first. And good luck getting NGAD before 2068, the A-10C will need its 5th set of wings before then. Get your priorities right!
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XanderCrews

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Unread post15 Jan 2021, 15:58

LOL

I'll call that bluff.


Ok go for it. Just start producing NGAD, surely the entire US procurement system is now magically solved and you'll churn out a 1,000 of these things in 5 years and they'll be cheaper and easier to integrate, produce, and take care of!because reasons!

The F-35 humbly surrenders. Begin NGAD production immediately. Its IOC right? I mean we are hearing even the very proven and safe F-15EX has years of testing at Edwards for certification ahead of it. EX isn't even IOC but lets do NGAD

I bet if you speed things up you can have NGAD flying for war in... 2033.

That'll show em!

This is like threatening a college athlete with replacement using an infant. "in 20 years you'll see!!"
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XanderCrews

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Unread post15 Jan 2021, 16:09

element1loop wrote:
“And right now the F-35 has a good ‘sticker price,’ but its cost of ownership is not where it needs to be, making the quantities that the Air Force may need to purchase in question.”


Given US Congress blocks every proposed USAF retirement it's all a bit academic isn't it? Capability development and spare funding will come to a grinding halt from that first. And good luck getting NGAD before 2068, the A-10C will need its 5th set of wings before then. Get your priorities right!


yep. and people often get this wrong. if the F-35 for some reason stopped being produced, they won't replace the F-35 in service (see F-22) theyll start desperately trying to replace the old stuff the F-35 was supposed to replace (see the expansion of the SH in the USN, and F-15EX for the USAF when F-22 failed to replace F-15 entirely.)

I know theres a slew of critics who desperately want to declare the F-35 Dead on Arrival, but I don't think they understand how the replacement system would actually work, and of course how many partner nations are relying on F-35. A "well we can have something else in 15 years for you, and it will be cheaper like we promised with the F-35!"

Am I the only boring guy who thinks its probably easier to keep working the F-35s costs down than producing an entirely new program to "replace" it???

what a scammer LOL
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Unread post15 Jan 2021, 17:31

Ridiculous statement..

Totally contradicts the USAF's "all in" committment to the F-35, and not going to help in selling it abroad. NGAD instead? Sure, maybe in 10 years. Even if its only 5, that leaves a MASSIVE capability gap. It's ironic to me that right as the program is gaining traction and maturing into a world class weapons platform, this attack comes (from within)!

Lockheed got the unit cost down just like they promised, even beating it and in record time. USAF doubts them now, why?

Weak
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ricnunes

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Unread post15 Jan 2021, 19:34

How can this Roper guy claim that the NGAD will be cheaper to operate (sustainment costs) than the F-35??
Last time I checked, the NGAD doesn't even exist (it's still a 'paper plane'). There isn't even a concept or prototype NGAD flying today (or even a 1:1 scale mock for that matter). And as such it will take DECADES before the NGAD is a reality and reach IOC and this even if a NGAD prototype would fly today - Just look at FCAS/NGF or Tempest for example.
Heck there isn't even a guarantee that the NGAD will ever become a reality (although something will eventually come up in the future).

Apparently all that it's known so far about NGAD is that it will likely be a quite bigger plane compared to current fighter aircraft and specially compared to the F-35 and guess what? The tendency is that the bigger the plane the more expensive usually is to operate it (sustainment costs)! (just look at F-22 vs F-35, F-15 vs F-16 or F-14 vs Legacy Hornet, etc...)

Resuming, claiming that NGAD will be cheaper to operate than the F-35 is ridiculous at best!

(maybe that Roper guy has money invested in Boeing stocks??)
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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Unread post15 Jan 2021, 21:38

ricnunes wrote:How can this Roper guy claim that the NGAD will be cheaper to operate (sustainment costs) than the F-35??
Last time I checked, the NGAD doesn't even exist (it's still a 'paper plane'). There isn't even a concept or prototype NGAD flying today (or even a 1:1 scale mock for that matter). And as such it will take DECADES before the NGAD is a reality and reach IOC and this even if a NGAD prototype would fly today - Just look at FCAS/NGF or Tempest for example.
Heck there isn't even a guarantee that the NGAD will ever become a reality (although something will eventually come up in the future).

Apparently all that it's known so far about NGAD is that it will likely be a quite bigger plane compared to current fighter aircraft and specially compared to the F-35 and guess what? The tendency is that the bigger the plane the more expensive usually is to operate it (sustainment costs)! (just look at F-22 vs F-35, F-15 vs F-16 or F-14 vs Legacy Hornet, etc...)

Resuming, claiming that NGAD will be cheaper to operate than the F-35 is ridiculous at best!

(maybe that Roper guy has money invested in Boeing stocks??)


The US is really good at "shiny kit syndrome" the "next big thing" etc. remember you don't need as much X because Y is coming, then you won't need as much Y because Z is on the way. They constantly undermine their own programs with pipedreams that inevitably fall short because everyone is good in the honeymoon phase.
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Unread post16 Jan 2021, 00:11

Snipped from a post I offered on the PCAP thread back in November; still germane. Me thinks Ms Grant nailed it —

“NGAD Strategy Faces Hill Headwinds”

“...I think experts on the Hill aren’t convinced on Digital Century Series for three reasons: it doesn’t provide force structure for the Air Force, the business case is a naïve bet on out-year operating cost savings – that’s an act the Hill has seen before, and it never pays off,” Rebecca Grant, founder of IRIS Independent Research, tells me in an email. “And finally, it’s premised on a colossal misunderstanding of the R&D environment of the 1940s and 1950s that gave rise to the original Century series.”

https://breakingdefense.com/2020/11/nga ... rd%20Brief
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ricnunes

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Unread post16 Jan 2021, 02:00

Thanks for the link quicksilver!

Jezz, that Roper guy is even more delusional than I initially thought. So he wants to replicate the Century-series fighter/interceptor aircraft concept and 'adapt' it for the XXI century :doh:

Did someone explained him how much a 'flop' the Century-series interceptors really were?? The F-100 was basically outdated the moment it came into service. The F-101 failed miserably in its intended role which was to be a bomber escort fighter and had to be adapted to be a bomber interceptor or basically only useful for intercepting heavy Soviet bombers that got close to North America and this in order to be of any use. The F-102, another failure that basically got its a$$ kicked in Vietnam and had to be redesigned as the F-106 which again was only used as a bomber interceptor over North America. Then we had what was probably the most successful commercially speaking of this series which was the F-104 since it became the main NATO fighter aircraft but its real combat performance was questionable at best (namely in Vietnam and Pakistan/India).
Finally we have what IMO was the best performing in real combat - even in air-to-air combat - of all the century series aircraft which was the F-105 and guess what?? This one was designed to be a (nuclear) bomber!!

Also, I wonder what would be of the USAF during that era without its non-century series fighter aircraft, the F-4 Phantom (namely during Vietnam)?!

Anyway, someone should also explain Mr. Roper that he's not living in the 1950's anymore and developing a fighter aircraft is way, way and way more complex today than it was during the 1950's (and they need to be very complex in order to survive against modern and future threats) and this alone is probably 90% or more of the reason why we don't see fighter aircraft being 'pumped out' every couple years or so.

Me things that Mr. Roper seems to be the 'reincarnation' of Mr. Pierre Sprey :roll:
Last edited by ricnunes on 16 Jan 2021, 13:52, edited 3 times in total.
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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Unread post16 Jan 2021, 02:24

Frankly, contrary to his claim (“not political”) I thought he was just making a case to remain in his job.

And...

Program bashing by government bureaucrats has risen to the level of “very sophisticated art form” in that no one can prove them wrong on virtually any claim; the information is all protected by classification or other limits on distribution.
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Unread post16 Jan 2021, 02:48

XanderCrews wrote:Am I the only boring guy who thinks its probably easier to keep working the F-35s costs down than producing an entirely new program to "replace" it???


Nope.

Last I looked F-35 cost per hour was high (for a single with the thrust of a twin) but the capability was 10 times better than the 'alternative' 4th-gens at comparable cost per hour level.

Roper should have left it out. It's not helping any US service's capability development to talk like that about F-35A. The far bigger problem and source of needless operating expenses to maintain operationally obsolescent capabilities is on Capital Hill. They're so overly concerned/cautious on replacement planning that they won't clean the procurement sewer of the prior money-wasting clog, to get newer capabilities into service and lowering NET service costs to affordable levels. They should not be blocking every retirement proposed by USAF, but it seems to be a kneejerk reaction to always block every retirement, or make it as expensive as possible to remove from service. How can USAF reduce costs on already obsolete expensive to maintain aircraft if they can't even remove them from service to fund new capabilities and develop those, to their planned scheduling?

How an NGAD could prosper into service is beyond me, unless the anti-retirement nonsense in Congress ends first. And why would USAF need NGAD when F-22A and F-35A still have no credible challengers, qualitatively or quantitatively. Is USAF's 'NGAD' version even a multirole Strikefighter? I thought it was an F-22A replacement proposition, given there's no sign of an F-35A replacement this side of 2045. Even F-16 hangs about until ~2045.

And will NGAD have GAU-30? ... if not, why not? A GAU-30 should be mandatory on everything flying today, plus a titanium bathtub.

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Unread post16 Jan 2021, 02:55

ricnunes wrote:(maybe that Roper guy has money invested in Boeing stocks??)


I am wondering if he's angling for a job with someone else with this cr#p.
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KamenRiderBlade

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Unread post16 Jan 2021, 04:57

Where did they find this Roper character?

He obviously has an agenda.
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Unread post16 Jan 2021, 14:05

KamenRiderBlade wrote:Where did they find this Roper character?

He obviously has an agenda.

Missile guy picked to run a new unit DoD Strategic Capabilities Office. (Bob Work's DepDefSec term under Obama admin)
https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies ... ill-roper/

https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Ar ... rd-offset/

Here's one overview of what he was up to:
https://twitter.com/TheDEWLine/status/1 ... 1727264768

Outsized influence through good comms skills. At least the Century Series idea looks immediately terrible. The rest we'll have to wait and see. Surely some of his doings had to be done, like trying to fix the software development pipeline. Apparently apolitical enough to have some people want him to stay (which he's offered to alongside the customary resignation letter). Certainly does produce some naive optimist reek.
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Unread post16 Jan 2021, 15:26

quicksilver wrote:Snipped from a post I offered on the PCAP thread back in November; still germane. Me thinks Ms Grant nailed it —

“NGAD Strategy Faces Hill Headwinds”

“...I think experts on the Hill aren’t convinced on Digital Century Series for three reasons: it doesn’t provide force structure for the Air Force, the business case is a naïve bet on out-year operating cost savings – that’s an act the Hill has seen before, and it never pays off,” Rebecca Grant, founder of IRIS Independent Research, tells me in an email. “And finally, it’s premised on a colossal misunderstanding of the R&D environment of the 1940s and 1950s that gave rise to the original Century series.

https://breakingdefense.com/2020/11/nga ... rd%20Brief





In case people don't realize how scathing that quote is, thats a headshot LOL


I didn't even realize this was the "digital century series" guy LOL. even funnier now

a quick note on the bolded part, there seems to be a kind of chronic misunderstanding of history that is currently rotting the American mind. A bunch of people think they can simply declare something like the past and get the same response. its deeply and darkly comical. She's pointing out that one can't simply declare something like something when there is no underlying similarities, in this case there is no "technological gold rush" like the atomic age brought us. another great example is the "green new deal" (again the past) and also saying climate change is like world war II and needs a similiar national response and attitude. fewer than 10 percent of the US population was even alive during world war II. which means we are asking people to harken back to a time more than 90 percent of Americans were not around for or to even grasp onto. Thus American "memories" of world war II are largely synthetic. our image of world war II is basically the hollywood movies we've watched and the idealized, synthesized version thereof.

Image

Another world war II-ism that seems to be popular: "punch nazis" what is a "nazi" exactly? how are they wondering around America? not sure. the definition is hazy. but we are to punch them. I know this much.
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