Military Aviation > Military Aircraft

What Does the USAF Do Now?

(1/3) > >>

BigsWick:
Guys,

I'm wondering what shutting down the F-22 production lines will mean for the USAF. I can't believe 183 (?) F-22s will be enough to fill the need once current F-15s are withdrawn from service due to age and hours on their airframes.

Is the USAF now going to depend upon the F-35 to fill the need?

Could Boeing/McDonnell Douglas reopen the F-15C production lines or offer a new Eagle model that would be cheaper than an F-22?

Could an Air Force version of the F/A-18 Super Hornet be an option?

Does the USAF believe the nature of warfare has or will soon evolve to the point that large numbers of F-15/F-22 type aircraft are no longer needed?

Any opinions?

AVIATOR:
See my post last week for the answer to this Big.

http://www.flightforum.org/index.php/topic,2986.0.html

BigsWick:
Interesting read, Aviator

Shortly after the F-22 was chosen over the F-23 I remember reading where many military aviation analysts believed that the F-22 would either be the last manned air superiority fighter built for the US or it would be built in numbers where perhaps 1/2 were manned, 1/2 were ROVs.

The growth in the use of and dependence upon ROVs/UAVs is certainly undeniable, but I have to ask if we aren't setting ourselves up to repeat mistakes we've made in the past. In the mid 1950s it was thought by many that guns were no longer needed on fighters because of combined closing speeds and the development of AAMs. Experience in Vietnam (and to a lesser extent the 1991 Persian Gulf War) proved this wrong. A few short years later (early 1960s) the US military began phasing out traditional dogfight type aircraft from front line service in favor interceptors and missile equipped jets for use in knocking down Soviet bombers. Again, the decision was proven during Vietnam to have been too hasty.

Technology's push often causes us to look in less traditional directions, but I wonder if this is necessarily a good thing. Take the F-22. I'm not an expert, but I've seen the plane up close and personal, and it is awesome- at least at air shows. Nevertheless, production has been halted. The original number requested was something like 750. That was cut to 339, now the USAF has got 183. So, is that it? Is there no alternative or plan to bolster the number of F-22s? Would the USAF had been better off in the long run if it had pressed for an updated Eagle (F-15X), one with cutting edge avionics and perhaps thrust vectoring and engines capable of super cruise, and left the deployment of an F-22 style plane for a future generation to decide if it was needed?

I guess a broader question would be has the apex of the air superiority fighter been reached, and do we now find ourselves at the dawn of a new era, one where the traditional fighter will soon join the cast iron cannon, cavalry, and the battleship as weapons of bygone eras? In a future war can air superiority be achieved and maintained using UAVs, especially if we are fighting an enemy with a traditional air force? If not, and we no longer have large numbers of tactical aircraft with which to fight, what are our alternatives?

I don't mean to ramble on too long, but I think a lot about these things and believe a lot of other members here do too. Thanks for listening.

AVIATOR:
Absolutely refreshing read Big. So rare on here to see a big article actually composed by the member themselves.

See another article I put up this week in regard to what you are talking about. The use of UAV s where the US doesn't have control of the air space. Even in that scenario they are talking about stealth and speed in the future and not manned flights.

http://www.flightforum.org/index.php/topic,3038.0.html

The main consideration in the US is the competing aviation companies. For the US military to turn their back on any company and it's product is to put that company into bankruptcy and see it cease to exist. These companies and their skilled labour force are the backbone of the US air superiority and Obama is on a dangerous path to losing that by these radical cost cuts.
It is the reason that huge orders have been placed in the past. To keep them going.

Webmaster:

--- Quote from: BigsWick on August 18, 2009, 12:22:58 AM ---I'm wondering what shutting down the F-22 production lines will mean for the USAF. I can't believe 183 (?) F-22s will be enough to fill the need once current F-15s are withdrawn from service due to age and hours on their airframes.

--- End quote ---

There will be some 40 F-15s selected for a comprehensive life extension and upgrade package, featuring the latest AESA and other technology. Uhm, maybe if you google "F-15 Golden Eagle" you'll get some more details.


--- Quote from: BigsWick on August 18, 2009, 12:22:58 AM ---Is the USAF now going to depend upon the F-35 to fill the need?

--- End quote ---

No and yes. No, it will be a force reduction, the USAF has to get leaner and meaner. Yes, the F-35 should fill part of the gap, however it's unclear how and where as there will be probably less F-35s than F-16s as well. Hence the call for new F-16s by some experts. On the bright side, as the A-10 will no longer be replaced by the F-35, due to A-10C and the UAV/UCAV, there should be more room for F-35 acquisitions to fill the fighter 'gap', but I don't know... Still, the main answer is the USAF will have to do with less planes, however they should be flying more due to longer maintenance cycles than currently the case.


--- Quote from: BigsWick on August 18, 2009, 12:22:58 AM ---Could Boeing/McDonnell Douglas reopen the F-15C production lines or offer a new Eagle model that would be cheaper than an F-22?

--- End quote ---

The F-15 line is open, but for the F-15SG/F-15K and other possible foreign orders of the Strike Eagle derivative. There's the F-15SE concept for a stealthier Eagle. So it's a possibility. However the point is they aren't getting more planes until the government agrees. Now from a tax payer perspective, if that would be the case, it better be before the F-15/F-16 totally goes out of production. From the usaf perspective, why not get more F-35s quicker.


--- Quote from: BigsWick on August 18, 2009, 12:22:58 AM ---Could an Air Force version of the F/A-18 Super Hornet be an option?

--- End quote ---

Yes and no. Boeing is developing a lighter version for foreign customers, which would make it a good air force multi-roler. However, it will be costly without any further orders from abroad (most likely, it doesn't get any). So they might as well go for advanced F-16s then! IMHO the USAF should be getting some Growlers though, part of the HARM capable F-16s can then go to the ANG units.


--- Quote from: BigsWick on August 18, 2009, 12:22:58 AM ---Does the USAF believe the nature of warfare has or will soon evolve to the point that large numbers of F-15/F-22 type aircraft are no longer needed?

Any opinions?

--- End quote ---

You've answered that yourself. Some very good points! I've said all I have to say about ROV/UAV/UCAV/UCAS elsewhere on the forum already, but I like your broader view. I don't have much to add and it wasn't long or boring to read at all. It's almost like an editorial in a good aviation magazine.

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version