New US Air Force study asks: What’s right number of F-35s?

Program progress, politics, orders, and speculation
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

spazsinbad

Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 26380
  • Joined: 05 May 2009, 21:31
  • Location: ɐıןɐɹʇsn∀¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Warnings: -2

Unread post08 Sep 2021, 09:42

New US Air Force study asks: What’s the right number of F-35s? [LONG article best read at source]
07 Sep 2021 Valerie Insinna

"WASHINGTON — A new tactical aircraft study underway could make certain what has until now been a suspicion: The U.S. Air Force is unlikely to purchase all of the 1,763 F-35A jets in its program of record. The service is undertaking the study as it readies its fiscal 2023 budget and grapples with reducing the types of fighters it flies from seven to four main platforms by 2030, as prescribed by the service’s chief of staff....

...The Air Force has maintained that the F-35 program of record remains unchanged, but the ongoing tactical aircraft study is set to provide alternative models of what its fighter inventory could look like, potentially including proposals with fewer F-35s....

...Asked recently whether the Air Force should buy a low-cost fighter to replace some of its F-16s instead of purchasing F-35s, [USAF Secretary] Kendall was noncommittal. “One of the things I think we need to do is take a little bit of time now to sort through the options carefully and do some of that analysis,” he said during an Aug. 13 interview with Defense News. “Make sure we’ve got the requirements right, make sure we’ve got the concepts right for the future and then move as quickly as we can to field those capabilities.”...

...The Air Force’s tactical aircraft study is meant to help the service identify the right mix of fighters needed to thwart advanced threats in 2030 and beyond, while at the same time establishing a plan for drawing down the large number of legacy aircraft types that put pressure on operations and maintenance accounts. The study was first acknowledged by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown in February. “I don’t know that I’ll come to an answer that here’s the exact mix,” Brown said at a May event. “I want to get us shaped in a direction because right now we have seven fighter fleets. My intent is to get down to about four.”...

...Reports vary on how low the F-35 program of record could fall.... In a statement, Lockheed Martin spokesman Brett Ashworth said the cost of the F-35 shouldn’t be the only criteria for evaluating the aircraft’s value. Instead, the Air Force needs to consider the “cost per effect.” [why does LM have to chime in about 'how F-35s are effective?]

“The F-35 is the only aircraft in the world with the ability to get to the fight undetected, then gather, synthesize and share information with not only other aircraft, but units on the ground as well,” Ashworth said. “The F-35′s procurement costs include the sensors necessary to accomplish this mission, as well as the modernization and sustainment costs to maintain them. No fourth-generation aircraft can offer a similar capability. And the fight of tomorrow will only be more difficult and dangerous as next-generation threats evolve.”

Not all analysts agree the F-35 should be targeted for cuts. While the Air Force is right to reduce the number of tactical aircraft platforms it flies, it’s undervaluing the capability a stealthy, highly networked fighter like the F-35 would bring to a battle with a sophisticated adversary like China, said Rebecca Grant, an aerospace analyst with IRIS Independent Research.

“Let’s get the most sophisticated war-fighting platform that’s in full production, and let’s buy all of those,” she said. “Put the money into F-35 because you know that platform is useful for your newcomers — your unmanned [aircraft], your [expendable drones], your hypersonic weapons.”

Instead of following Brown’s plan to pare down the fighter fleet to four platforms, Grant contended the Air Force should retire the A-10, cancel the F-15EX program and replace all of its F-16s with F-35s.

“Stop making [a] self-imposed affordability number from 20 years ago their key war-fighting requirement,” she recommended. “Stop designing the future war-fighting force with cost as the dominant variable while throwing out [the requirement for] penetrating enemy airspace.”...

...The particulars of how many or what types of fighters the Air Force will need are uncertain, but one thing is clear, said Kelly [Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mark Kelly]: Going forward, the service will have to walk a tightrope, balancing the capability and number of aircraft it needs with what it can afford. “I don’t see any of the programs accelerating or expanding into these big exponential increases in a buy, just because of the realities of the budget,” he said."

Source: https://www.defensenews.com/digital-sho ... -of-f-35s/
A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos?view_as=subscriber
Offline
User avatar

ricnunes

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3466
  • Joined: 02 Mar 2017, 14:29

Unread post08 Sep 2021, 10:07

spazsinbad wrote:
Instead of following Brown’s plan to pare down the fighter fleet to four platforms, Grant contended the Air Force should retire the A-10, cancel the F-15EX program and replace all of its F-16s with F-35s.

“Stop making [a] self-imposed affordability number from 20 years ago their key war-fighting requirement,” she recommended. “Stop designing the future war-fighting force with cost as the dominant variable while throwing out [the requirement for] penetrating enemy airspace.”...


AMEN to that!
It seems that there's some common sense left in humanity.

And of course I fully agree with what Rebecca Grant said above.
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
Offline

optimist

Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1464
  • Joined: 20 Nov 2014, 03:34
  • Location: australia

Unread post08 Sep 2021, 11:52

Doesn't defense news have an editor? Meanwhile, defense news also reported that the budget committee said. 'Buy what you want.'
https://www.defensenews.com/air/2021/09 ... -aircraft/
And importantly, the amendment included language that would allow the secretary of defense to waive the caps, if “procuring additional quantities of a variant of an F-35 aircraft above the applicable quantity limit [is] required to meet the national military strategy requirements of the combatant commanders.”

Well that was a waste of time reading. :doh:
"A new tactical aircraft study underway" followed by speculative BS from Todd Harrison, an aerospace and defense budget expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Followed by Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with the Teal Group.

But they did ask Kendall, who told them to F ' off
Asked recently whether the Air Force should buy a low-cost fighter to replace some of its F-16s instead of purchasing F-35s, Kendall was noncommittal.

“One of the things I think we need to do is take a little bit of time now to sort through the options carefully and do some of that analysis,” he said during an Aug. 13 interview with Defense News. “Make sure we’ve got the requirements right, make sure we’ve got the concepts right for the future and then move as quickly as we can to field those capabilities.”
Aussie fanboy
Offline

magitsu

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 931
  • Joined: 12 Jun 2015, 22:12

Unread post08 Sep 2021, 17:33

Not a good look when an aerospace analyst (Rebecca Grant, an aerospace analyst with IRIS Independent Research) who few have ever heard before clearly has more common sense than the top dog.

It was weird to see CQ come barging through the door with a public appearance that he bought former USAF acquisition chief-nerd Will Roper's hype projects hook line and sinker.

He and HASC chair Smith won't be remembered fondly outside of Boeing friends.
Offline
User avatar

XanderCrews

Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 7408
  • Joined: 16 Oct 2012, 19:42
  • Warnings: 1

Unread post08 Sep 2021, 18:20

Theres so many conflicting ideas out there, we honestly won't know how many F-35s are going to be bought and built until the line closes down, whenever that is. Grant said it right, and its amazing the kind of clarity she displays.

If we buy Roper's hype then costs and sustainment are notions from a by gone era anyway right? just throw the aircraft when it hits a certain number of hours and build another one.

I don't buy for a moment that the USAF will be able to just magically make a low cost airplane. I've been watching that drama unfold for decades now, hows that working out? did we just "forget" to apply that magic to other programs?

have we thought about just making the high cost things magically cost less?

Image

just apply magic and wait.

Image

have you thought about just making and buying only cheap fighters? or maybe have you thought of only investing in things that make money? has the coach tried calling only the plays that will win the game? Have you tried inventing only things that will be massively popular? have you tried just hitting a hole in one every time?

"oh, you wanted the 'great things that always work' stuff I keep hidden in the back" yes of course, of course. sorry to waste your time all these years... The USAF can just dust off the old "cheap fighter that will work just the way we want, on time and on budget" stuff they keep in the back of hangars under tarps.

Again in my mind there is absolutely no reason based on past performance to believe the USAF is capable of producing anything on time or on budget. No idea why some kind of "better than an F-16, yet not as much as an F-35" is ever going to work even if its attempted, and the "savings" is automatically gone from the start as it creates yet another fighter fleet to sustain as the USAF speaks about divesting fleets to save money.

> we need to neck down to 4 fighter fleets to save money
>we should add another fighter fleet to save money
Choose Crews
Offline

charlielima223

Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1355
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2014, 19:26

Unread post09 Sep 2021, 04:28

my :2c:

NO ONE knows what the next big conflict is going to be. Is it going to be against a bunch of 3rd world terrorist with rusty cold war left overs? Is it going to be a an insurgent group with captured gear and equipment from a toppled government? Is it going to be a state actor that is well funded and highly motivated military with some of the best foreign gear money could afford? Is it going to be 3 giants duking it out in the parking lot? Pick only one aircraft as the end all be all for all your outlined requirements and you still wont have what you need when what you were expecting isn't what happened. Yes you can have the jack of all trades but at the same time you're going to have the master of none. An F-35 isnt the best economical platform for going after Jihad-jerry riding around in a pickup truck (or an MRAP left behind because Biden administration is a bunch of F-tards). An A-10 isnt getting close to the front lines when there is a sophisticated layered IADS. If you want a heavy load to go far in a semi-permissive environment an F-15EX is a better choice than the F-16. If Charlie-Chan is zooming around in his latest J-20 a pair of F-35s could suffice but an pair of Raptors or a super secret squirrely NGAD would be better.

I like to look at it when I go camping. Sometimes I'll have tools that are multi-purpose built but I still carry tools that are built for a specific task. I am not going to use a buck knife to cut down a small tree and I am not going to use my hatchet to skin a or gut my catch. Yes the serrated edge on my e-tool can be used as a saw but if I really need it to saw some wood I have a wire-saw or my buck knife if I need to make some notches. All those tools can be used in a variety of ways but some are more purpose built for others for that specific task that needs to be done.

So what is the right number? Let me consult my magic 8 ball... "cant say now"
Do we need a 1 for 1 replacement for the F-16? I dont think so but we need enough to maintain an adequate force size. We have seen what happens when you dream big but buy small.
Offline

Corsair1963

Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 7786
  • Joined: 19 Dec 2005, 04:14

Unread post09 Sep 2021, 06:47

The NGAD won't be ready until ~ 2040. Nor, is there anything available to replace the vast majority of the existing 4/4.5 Generation Types.

So, this idea that the US won't buy or export the current project numbers of F-35's is well "laughable". Odds actually favor them producing many many more....
Offline

hornetfinn

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3669
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2013, 08:31
  • Location: Finland

Unread post09 Sep 2021, 07:08

ricnunes wrote:
spazsinbad wrote:
Instead of following Brown’s plan to pare down the fighter fleet to four platforms, Grant contended the Air Force should retire the A-10, cancel the F-15EX program and replace all of its F-16s with F-35s.

“Stop making [a] self-imposed affordability number from 20 years ago their key war-fighting requirement,” she recommended. “Stop designing the future war-fighting force with cost as the dominant variable while throwing out [the requirement for] penetrating enemy airspace.”...


AMEN to that!
It seems that there's some common sense left in humanity.

And of course I fully agree with what Rebecca Grant said above.


Agreed with that. It seems like exactly the right idea. IMO, this is what future USAF aircraft fleet goal should look like:

F-35 with full buy to fully replace F-16s and F-15s
F-22 to be replaced with NGAD at some point (IMO, during 2030s at earliest)
B-21 replacing B-2s and B-1s during 2030s
B-52 to be kept as they are relatively cheap and versatile platforms
Something like current AC-130J for CAS and ground attack in permissive environments
Next gen drones especially for ISTAR, EW, communications and ground attack/CAS/COIN

Just keep it simple and lean. IMO there is no need or reason for any "5th gen minus" or 4th gen fighters. I don't see any possible cost reductions in having more aircraft types. Nobody has yet made a real and modern fighter jet which has really significantly lower overall costs compared to F-35A. Even existin and relatively simple aircraft like new versions of F-16 and F-15 can't do that. I don't see that happening with any new aircraft design. Maybe an armed version of T-7 Red Hawk would be cheap enough for that, but the usefullness of that would be really questionable.
Offline

Corsair1963

Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 7786
  • Joined: 19 Dec 2005, 04:14

Unread post09 Sep 2021, 07:43

hornetfinn wrote:
Agreed with that. It seems like exactly the right idea. IMO, this is what future USAF aircraft fleet goal should look like:

F-35 with full buy to fully replace F-16s and F-15s
F-22 to be replaced with NGAD at some point (IMO, during 2030s at earliest)
B-21 replacing B-2s and B-1s during 2030s
B-52 to be kept as they are relatively cheap and versatile platforms
Something like current AC-130J for CAS and ground attack in permissive environments
Next gen drones especially for ISTAR, EW, communications and ground attack/CAS/COIN

Just keep it simple and lean. IMO there is no need or reason for any "5th gen minus" or 4th gen fighters. I don't see any possible cost reductions in having more aircraft types. Nobody has yet made a real and modern fighter jet which has really significantly lower overall costs compared to F-35A. Even existin and relatively simple aircraft like new versions of F-16 and F-15 can't do that. I don't see that happening with any new aircraft design. Maybe an armed version of T-7 Red Hawk would be cheap enough for that, but the usefullness of that would be really questionable.



No brainer really....
Offline

hornetfinn

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3669
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2013, 08:31
  • Location: Finland

Unread post09 Sep 2021, 11:11

Corsair1963 wrote:No brainer really....


Yep and I think even USAF generals know this. This is very clearly political maneuvering IMO. I think problem is finding something for Boeing as there seem to be quite a lot of political support for them. I think that's why USAF will likely keep F-15 in the mix somehow and the same is true for A-10.

Return to Program and politics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 27 guests