Author Topic: USAF Woes  (Read 139358 times)

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Offline Fishbone Jones

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #375 on: October 11, 2018, 14:16:34 »
Way out of my lane, but I find it interesting that Mattis, of all people, thinks that writing a memo demanding a certain percentage availability rate will actually result in that number. Did he provide the corresponding budget and miracle wand? Would it not have been a better metric to hold the air force to X number of concentrations of aircraft available and ready to be deployed (together with parts, weapons etc). Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the RCAF aspiration to have a 6 Pack ready to go on a warning order and X number ready to scramble for NORAD air intercept, rather than percentages?

I'm on the same lane as you, however, I highly doubt that this is something Mattis decided over morning coffee. Most everyone here knows what goes on behind an order from the top. There are briefs, back briefs, progress reports, analysis reports and many other things that are taken into account. Mattis didn't get where he is by telling people to do things he knows nothing about. Perhaps it might not be possible to reach 80%, but, guaranteed, they'll be a lot better off, platform wise, than they are now. It will also expose the hold ups to the light of day where they can be dealt with. Again, I doubt that this whole thing was launched on an idea and a hastily prepared memo. I've seen lots of goofy command requests from floppers, but Mattis isn't one of those guys, IMO.
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #376 on: October 11, 2018, 14:24:01 »
To add to FJ's comment, I doubt that it came as a surprise to any of the recipients.

Offline CBH99

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #377 on: October 11, 2018, 18:38:53 »
I'm on the same lane as you, however, I highly doubt that this is something Mattis decided over morning coffee. Most everyone here knows what goes on behind an order from the top. There are briefs, back briefs, progress reports, analysis reports and many other things that are taken into account. Mattis didn't get where he is by telling people to do things he knows nothing about. Perhaps it might not be possible to reach 80%, but, guaranteed, they'll be a lot better off, platform wise, than they are now. It will also expose the hold ups to the light of day where they can be dealt with. Again, I doubt that this whole thing was launched on an idea and a hastily prepared memo. I've seen lots of goofy command requests from floppers, but Mattis isn't one of those guys, IMO.


Agreed FJ.

I'm wondering if this order isn't almost a "reviewing" the system to find out where the weak points really are, so the weak points can be addressed & held accountable.  Is it the front line maintenance personnel?  Lack of spare parts?  Lack of certain support from contractors/suppliers? 

If the focus is 80%, but they can't get there because of "Problem A and Problem B" - that really helps iron out where the problems lay.

And while I don't mean to sound "skeptical" in a cynical way...I wonder if this isn't part of the same strategy for the 355 ship navy, and an extra 70 squadrons for the USAF?  As in - announce a very ambitious goal, knowing full well it might not be achieved - but they'll be far better off afterwards even if the goal isn't achieved.
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #378 on: October 12, 2018, 12:42:01 »
Perhaps it is as simple as this?

Situation:

Mission: You will have 80% of the following aircraft ready to fly on July 31 2019

Execution:

Support:

Command and Control:


The statement needs to be short, clear and to the point.
You will soon be told why it can't be done.... and then you can figure out how to get what you need to make it happen.

The alternative is that you get lost in bafflegab and nobody understands what it is you are trying to accomplish.
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #379 on: October 12, 2018, 12:58:34 »
Its like saying your unit will have 100% of your assigned vehicles road ready. Its embarrassing when your unit pulls out and trucks begin breaking down. For aircraft spare parts are an issue specially if you are dumping old aircraft and your new ones haven't arrived.

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #380 on: October 12, 2018, 13:32:18 »
Its like saying your unit will have 100% of your assigned vehicles road ready. Its embarrassing when your unit pulls out and trucks begin breaking down. For aircraft spare parts are an issue specially if you are dumping old aircraft and your new ones haven't arrived.

Agreed that it is embarrassing.  But in the meantime it might get you closer to 90% of your assigned vehicles being roadworthy.  And ease some of the problems that occur when you only have 80% of your assigned fleet available.  Some compromises will not have to be made when trying to get your unit relocated.
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Offline Colin P

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #381 on: October 15, 2018, 15:57:18 »
Up to 10% of the F22 fleet damaged by one Hurricane. You would think that in this age of ultra-expensive and irreplaceable fighters, they would have hardened shelters for them instead of regular hangers. You could likely build a lot of hardened shelters for the cost of just one aircraft.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/10/nearly-10-percent-of-the-us-f-22-inventory-was-damaged-or-destroyed-in-hurricane-michael/

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #382 on: October 17, 2018, 09:27:18 »
After investigators gained access to the hangers they found most of the aircraft were not as badly damaged as was initially thought.

https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2018/10/15/air-force-hurricane-damage-to-tyndall-f-22s-less-than-we-feared-but-unknown-how-many-will-fly-again/

« Last Edit: October 17, 2018, 09:37:51 by tomahawk6 »

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #383 on: November 19, 2018, 13:46:32 »
Focus needed--excerpts from fairly lengthy piece by a serving USAF major (imagine that in Canada)--further links at original:

Quote
Heed the Grail Knight: Can the Air Force Choose Wisely?

Previously, I outlined what I perceived to be the erosion of mission-based culture in the Air Force. The overwhelming response tells me I was not wrong — it was one of the most-read War on The Rocks articles ever. While reaffirmed in a recent article that applied machine learning analytics to surveys, Gen. David Goldfein’s squadron revitalization team offers the most sobering assessment yet. While potentially startling to outsiders, it was no surprise to insiders that the team discovered that “many units struggled with clearly defining and communicating their purpose.” Air Force leaders have made some small strides in the right direction, but more can be done.

The 2018 National Defense Strategy provides a lens to refocus the force, however there is a problem. With more mission than Air Force there are only three possibilities: increase the force, reduce the mission, or find a better way to successfully execute assigned missions. Department of Defense leadership has testified that upwards of 5 percent annual budget growth — above inflation — is required for the next several years to implement the strategy. However, flattening defense spending appears to be gaining undeniable bipartisan support. Fortunately, there is a significant opportunity on the horizon.

Some factions in Congress also appear serious about assessing and debating the roles and missions of the U.S. armed forces. Given the disparity between strategy and resources, so should the Air Force. Rather than start with proposals on what to cut or what to change, I hope to pave the way for a broader conversation among airmen about the importance of such choices. Heed the caution of the Grail Knight from Indiana Jones: “You must choose, but choose wisely, for while the true grail will bring you life, the false grail will take it from you.” The Air Force has been down this road before, and it fundamentally influenced the service, both physically and culturally — it chose poorly...

Rock Bottom

A byproduct of failed compromises in Congress, in 2013 the Department of Defense faced sweeping across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration. Beyond the initial grounding of a significant portion of its combat fighter and bomber squadrons, 20,000 more airmen were cut. However, the most controversial move was the attempt to retire the A-10. Platform and mission aside, the process-of-elimination rationale spoke volumes about the Air Force’s priorities and what it valued as an institution.



As in times past, the Air Force seemed to blunt the impact of their actions with more words. In 2013 the Air Force rolled out its latest rebranding with five core missions: air and space superiority; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; rapid global mobility; global strike; and command and control. A long and winding road of progress, or was it? A pilot once testified to Congress that military aviation had four purposes: reconnaissance, fire control for artillery, aggressive action (i.e. fighting), and transportation. While that doesn’t sound fundamentally different than today, realize he testified in 1913 [emphasis added].

What should be clearly understood has become abstract. Today’s Air Force is a sprawling conglomerate of organizations with a wildly diverse spectrum of missions that a majority of airmen don’t even understand...

Choose Wisely

Today, the Air Force has been tapped to re-enter the ring with major competitors. It is currently rethinking the structure of the wing, developing a force presentation model, getting serious about distributed operations away from large vulnerable airbases, and being operationally unpredictable. While notable, all of this is meaningless without experienced aviators, skilled aircraft maintainers, adequate unit support, sufficient parts to keep aircraft flying, and ample munitions to wield the hammer of airpower if and when called upon.

The Air Force cannot afford to wait with bated breath for a fiscal windfall to solve the systemic problems it has. Right now it has too many missions to effectively prioritize, which has diluted both the combat capability, and to an extent, the culture of the service. If everything is a priority, then nothing is. At some point, the resources required mean necessary yet unpopular choices will need to be made. As Winston Churchill once said, “Gentlemen, we are out of money; now we have to think [emphasis added, CAF?].”

Prioritizing the Air Force’s roles and missions is not just a fiscal necessity — it’s a cultural imperative. The Air Force needs to focus on reducing missions that are on the fringe of its purpose, reinvigorate its inherently innovative base, while being receptive to imaginative new ways to return to its roots of expeditionary airman in order to meet the missions that justify its existence as a military branch.

Change is hard, but required. Let purpose be the guide; task, mission, and culture will follow. Strategy is about choices, and the time before the Grail Knight has come. This time, let’s believe the Air Force will choose wisely, and the true grail will bring its culture back to life.

Maj. Mike Benitez is a U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle Weapons Systems Officer with over two decades of service in the Air Force and Marine Corps. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School, a former Air Force legislative fellow in Congress, and a Contributing Editor at War on the Rocks. The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. government.
https://warontherocks.com/2018/11/heed-the-grail-knight-can-the-air-force-choose-wisely/

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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #384 on: November 22, 2018, 04:03:34 »
The USAF already gets a big slice of the pie they just need to manage what they better particularly procurement. Not to mention closing air bases and consolidating what they have,as the Army has done. They made some bad decisions like closing the F22 production line. It would cost some bucks but reopening the line and produce more would be smart given the threats out there. I would also buy upgraded F15's both fighter and strike models.They didn't want to keep the A10,but its perfect for close air support.

https://www.saffm.hq.af.mil/FM-Resources/Budget/

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #385 on: November 23, 2018, 22:51:39 »
To fix the pilot shortage the USAF has tapped their Academy graduating class. Including ROTC graduates might help to fill the pilot shortage as well.AFROTC graduates around 2000 annually. They could also expand their OTS program to help with the shortage.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #386 on: December 11, 2018, 12:12:34 »
Transport pilot problems (RCAF?):

Quote
Alarming number of mobility pilots decline bonuses to keep flying; overall bonus ‘take rates’ up slightly

Mobility pilots are declining aviation retention bonuses in alarming numbers, despite the the Air Force’s attempt to keep them in uniform with an infusion of cash.

Mobility pilot take rates dropped six percentage points, to 37.9 percent, in 2018. That’s nearly 10 percentage points lower than in fiscal 2016, when 47.6 percent of mobility pilots signed up for the bonuses.

In the past, Air Force officials have said that they hope 65 percent of eligible pilots will take the bonus in any given year.

Overall, a slightly higher percentage of pilots accepted a hefty bonus to remain in the Air Force in fiscal 2018, compared to a year ago, as the service rolled out a major expansion of the highest bonuses.

Because fewer pilots were eligible to make that decision, however, the overall number of pilots signing up to extend their service as part of the Aviation Bonus Program was down compared to fiscal 2017, and some critical groups of pilots saw significant declines.

The Air Force in May announced that, for the first time, some bomber, fixed-wing combat search-and-rescue, special operations, mobility and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance pilots would be eligible for the same maximum bonus that were previously given only to fighter pilots. To receive that maximum $420,000 bonus, pilots would have to agree to serve 12 more years.



But turning on the cash spigot appears to have had limited effect.

According to statistics provided by the Air Force, the overall percentage of eligible manned aircraft pilots agreeing to take the bonuses — known as the take rate — increased from 44 percent in 2017 to 45 percent in 2018. That halted two years of declines, after the take rates dropped from 55 percent in 2015 to 48 percent in 2016, and to 44 percent in 2017.

But even though the take rate ticked up, overall number of pilots signing up for retention bonuses dropped from 476 to 418, the statistics showed.

The Air Force is intensely worried about the shortfall of roughly 2,000 pilots, or about 10 percent of its overall pilot population, which could hurt its ability to accomplish all its missions. That kind of shortfall, which places an even greater burden on the pilots who remain, threatens to “break the force,” Secretary Heather Wilson said last year. The service has rolled out a series of programs to try to plug that gap, and a major part has been offering extremely generous retention bonuses to entice pilots to stay and pass up opportunities to fly for deep-pocketed commercial airlines...
https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2018/12/10/alarming-number-of-mobility-pilots-decline-bonuses-to-keep-flying-overall-bonus-take-rates-tick-up-slightly/

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #387 on: January 13, 2019, 13:01:08 »
And what will DoD itself, Congress want/be willing to pay for? Videos at original:

Quote
Space Force, F-15X, Light Attack: What Will the Air Force Seek in Latest Budget?


A Beechcraft AT-6B Wolverine experimental aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The AT-6 is participating in the U.S. Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X), a series of trials to determine the feasibility of using light aircraft in attack roles. (US Air Force photo by Ethan D. Wagner)

The U.S. Air Force is currently coordinating its budget for fiscal 2020 as the Defense Department has solidified a top-line figure.

Acting Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said Wednesday that the Pentagon has negotiated its figure but did not disclose the amount, according to Defense News.

Estimates have fluctuated in recent months on how much the DoD needs in its total budget -- from $700 billion to $750 billion -- to cover future defense spending.

A year after the National Defense Strategy trickled down through the ranks, the services each have had the opportunity to flesh out their most important priorities for the pending budget cycle, experts tell Military.com. The Air Force's outline shows how the service sees its mission going forward.

"The balance in different airframes are going to reveal a little something about what missions and capabilities the Air Force is prioritizing," said Susanna Blume, a senior fellow in the defense program at the Center for a New American Security. She served previously as deputy chief of staff for programs and plans for Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work.

"I think the announcement to pursue 386 squadrons was interesting, but [their initial] analysis didn't tell you where the rubber meets the road -- which of these mission sets, which of these capabilities, are more important -- so I think that the budget may be very revealing there [emphasis added]," Blume said, referring to the service's goal of increasing its capabilities with 74 additional squadrons over the next decade [good luck with funding]...

In December, news surfaced that the Pentagon is weighing inserting the Trump administration's proposed Space Force under the Department of the Air Force. Whether that could take a chunk out of the service's next budget has not been clarified.

Blume said what the Air Force puts money toward in terms of new potential programs -- such as F-15X -- will show whether the service is serious about taking on new strategies...

Light Attack


The service was supposed to publish a final request for proposal (RFP) last month for a light attack aircraft, but it never happened.

A draft RFP was issued in August: The service began alerting defense firms hoping to compete for the light attack aircraft program that it would start soliciting bids in December.

But an Air Force spokeswoman on Wednesday said results from last year's experiment to produce more concrete findings on how a light attack airframe fit into the service's mission plan are still being analyzed...

Air Force officials have said the most viable aircraft for the mission are the Textron Aviation AT-6 Wolverine and Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano.

F-15X

The Pentagon is considering an advanced "F-15X" fourth-plus generation fighter for its inventory.

Bloomberg Government reported last month that top leadership will ask for more than $1 billion to buy roughly a dozen aircraft. The request would mark the inclusion of a new F-15 in the Air Force inventory for the first time in more than 20 years. If purchased, the new aircraft would replace the F-15C/D models.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in September she would rather see more fifth-generation planes, such as an increased buy of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, before the service considered another fourth-generation model [emphasis added].

"In any of the fights that we have been asked to plan for, more fifth-gen aircraft make a huge difference, and we think that getting to 50-50 [fourth- and fifth-gen aircraft] means not buying new fourth-gen aircraft. It means continuing to increase the fifth generation," she told Defense News.

But according to Bloomberg, the Air Force isn't pushing the F-15X concept [emphasis added].

Before he became acting Defense Secretary, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and other top leaders floated the new F-15X proposal.

Others have touted the proposal, which would produce a fighter equipped with better avionics and radars and would carry more than two dozen air-to-air missiles.

"If I was king for a day, I would buy some of those new, fourth-gen-plus airplanes, and I think they would be great for air defense alert [emphasis added--NORAD!]," retired Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle told Military.com in September...
https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/01/13/space-force-f-15x-light-attack-what-will-air-force-seek-latest-budget.html

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #388 on: January 24, 2019, 14:20:08 »
The USAF and drones/UCAVs--start and colclusion of a lengthy piece very much worth the read, raises quite a few major issues:
Quote
The Alarming Case of the USAF’s Mysteriously Missing Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles
The USAF has them but isn't telling us they do, or they don't. Either way we are in trouble. Here's why.

he United States Air Force appears to have passed on the greatest leap in air combat capability since the advent of the jet engine—or at least that’s how it looks.

Unmanned military capabilities are all the rage these days, with concepts ranging from insect-sized flying drones, to unmanned sub-hunting patrol boats, to notional pilotless hypersonic aircraft. Yet for some reason, the Air Force seems interested in nearly every application of unmanned warfare but the most relevant one of all, the type that could effectively and efficiently replace budget-busting tactical fighter aircraft while also leapfrogging our potential enemies when it comes to air combat capabilities for decades to come.

The concept in question is not nearly as exotic as some may want you to believe. In defense terms, it is a relatively simple proposition: Build a stealthy, flying-wing unmanned aircraft similar in size to current manned fighters and design them to strike fixed targets deep inside highly defended airspace.

Beyond this rudimentary but critical capability, these aircraft should also be designed to interact with one another and sense the battlefield around them using existing sensor technology, communications concepts and computing power. This will allow them to react to unplanned threats and even work as a team to avoid or destroy these threats and other targets of opportunity with inhuman efficiency. This package of capabilities is commonly referred to as an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle, or UCAV.

Before we dive in, let's define a critical set of terms relevant to unmanned military vehicles:

    Man-in-the-Loop — A person is actively controlling the vehicle via a direct control interface. Examples of this concept are Predator and Reaper unmanned aircraft, which have pilots looking at a screen showing the aircraft’s forward view and flying it in a traditional sense. Navigational and tactical choices are made by the vehicle’s human controllers entirely.
    Semi-autonomous — The vehicle works on autopilot and follows commands that are pre-programmed or given to the vehicle via a desktop computer-like interface. The vehicle may have a certain amount of artificalintelligence, but it will ask for approval or direction before making key decisions. TheRQ-4 Global Hawk is a semi-autonomous vehicle.
    Autonomous — The vehicle goes about its mission without any real-time human direction. Navigational and tactical decisions are made solely by the vehicle based on preprogrammed software and mission parameters. Such a system could find, fix and finish a target without external direction by a human controller.

Chapter 1: The Very Public Birth of the Modern UCAV

You may think truly pilotless robotic flying machines—ones that can replace manned fighter and attack aircraft—sound fantastical. You would be wrong. In fact, this basic capability was proven over a decade ago in the guise of a Boeing Phantom Works and DARPA-led program that centered on a pair of technology demonstrator aircraft, designated X-45A...

The fact is that there has never been a more critical time for the US military to leapfrog its potential enemies technologically than right now, and UCAVs could do just that. We continue to stubbornly run the same old fighter development race with our potential foes, which is one expensive game to play. The sad part is that UCAVs offer America a great opportunity to disrupt the strategic paradigm instantly by starting to play an entirely game altogether, one that our potential foes are far less prepared to play, at least for the foreseeable future.

The USAF could flex a sizeable portion of its resources into advanced UCAV development and procurement, throwing our peer state competitors down the developmental cliff in the process. To put it simply, if we are no longer enjoying vast superiority in manned tactical aircraft capabilities vis-à-vis our potential foes, than why continue down that path when we have the ability to leap in another direction completely?

So there you have it. Either the USAF has a secret UCAV capability, but only in relatively tiny numbers, which handicaps many of the concept’s innate advantages, or the alternative is even worse; the USAF has not pursued the technology to any significant degree at all. Even if the better of these two possible realities is true, the veil of secrecy surrounding such a classified UCAV program has likely resulted in highly skewed procurement and strategic decisions that we may not be able to recover from for many decades.

In the end both theories result in a nation that is less well defended than it would be with a large-scale and disclosed UCAV program underway and the longer this game-changing technology remains buried or undeveloped for whatever reason, the worse off America will be.

Contact the author Tyler@thedrive.com
http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/3889/the-alarming-case-of-the-usafs-mysteriously-missing-unmanned-combat-air-vehicles

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #389 on: January 26, 2019, 14:49:44 »
Looks like USAF would really like F-15X:

Quote
If the money is there, new and improved F-15s could be coming soon to the Air Force

The U.S. Air Force intends to buy a new version of the F-15, known as the F-15X, as long as the FY 2020 budget is large enough, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told Defense News Saturday [Jan. 26].

And regardless of whether the service does buy the new jets this year, Goldfein said the new aircraft won’t be taking money from the Lockheed Martin F-35.

“I’m not backing an inch off of the F-35” Goldfein said. “The F-35 buy that we’re on continues to remain on track. And I’m not interested in taking a nickel out of it when it comes to buying anything else in the fighter portfolio.”

The FY2020 defense budget has been the focus of speculation for months, and the Pentagon has still not released a final topline figure.

Original planning had called for a $733 billion topline, which dwindled down to $700 billion after calls from President Donald Trump to slash federal spending and then ballooned up to $750 billion after the intervention of then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

In December 2018, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told Defense News that “all options are on the table," and on Saturday Goldfein acknowledged that the service had built multiple budgets as different figures were proposed.

“We built the [$]730[billion] budget, and we went in and did a drill said what if we only get [$]700[billion] and what do we subtract, and what if there was a [$]750[billion] budget?” he said.

Goldfein would not directly confirm that the Air Force has the money in the budget for the new planes. But he hinted strongly that the service would pull the trigger on acquiring them [emphasis added].

The F-15X is an improved model from Boeing, teaming a new airframe with an improved radar, cockpit, electronic warfare suite and the ability to carry more missiles, bringing in upgrades that have been developed for the F-15s sold to Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Late last year, Bloomberg reported that the Air Force was planning to request $1.2 billion for 12 of the fourth-generation jets in the 2020 budget request. The report said the aircraft would go to the Air National Guard to replace the olders F-15Cs, which date to the 1980s.

And that age is why the Air Force is looking at a new variant. The service currently has about 230 F-15C and D model aircraft in service. However, Goldfein acknowledged those aircraft don’t have the lifespan to make it to 2030 [emphasis added] like other current fourth-generation aircraft, such as the F-15E, the F-16 and A-10.

“It [has] performed brilliantly, but the cost growth runs to a point to where you’re spending too much money," Goldfein said.

The Air Force’s decision to buy new F-15s came as a surprise late last year, as Air Force leadership had previously pushed back on the Boeing sales pitch. As recently as September 2018, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said that the Air Force needed to prioritize buying fifth-generation aircraft.

"We are currently 80 percent fourth-gen aircraft and 20 percent fifth-generation aircraft,” she said at the time. "In any of the fights that we have been asked to plan for, more fifth-gen aircraft make a huge difference, and we think that getting to 50-50 means not buying new fourth-gen aircraft, it means continuing to increase the fifth generation.”

But, Goldfein said Saturday that the decision to possibly refresh the F-15 fleet comes down to the need for more fighters in service, regardless of generation [emphasis added]...
https://www.defensenews.com/newsletters/2019/01/26/if-the-money-is-there-new-and-improved-f-15s-could-be-coming-soon-to-the-air-force/

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #390 on: February 05, 2019, 12:50:11 »
Very good and detailed piece on F-15X (further links at original)--a few excerpts"

Quote
F-15X Will Come In Two Variants, And No, It Won't Cost $100M Per Copy
We have new details about the F-15X and the USAF's motivation for making a dramatic institutional shift to procure the proven fighters.

Since breaking the F-15X story last July, pretty much everything our original exposé discussed has come true. After many discounted that original report, last December Bloomberg reported that the F-15X would indeed appear as a procurement program of record for the Pentagon's 2020 budget proposal, which is due to be released at any time. Comments by heads of the USAF and industry have since confirmed this eventuality. Still, that report was thin on details, leading to quite a bit of confusion about what would be included in the USAF's initial investment into the F-15X and what was exactly planned for the program overall. With that in mind, we have new details that answer some of these questions and paint a finer picture of what the F-15X will look like when it rolls off the production line, in one of two distinct forms, as well as what the new Eagle variant will mean for the United States Air Force.

...buying a few F-15Xs now to begin recapping the F-15C/D fleet, the youngest of which is now well over three decades old, will have no impact on the future F-35A force structure. The idea that advanced Eagles complement F-35s, and vice versa, isn't just held by some in the top rungs of the USAF, either.

With that out of the way, let's talk about numbers. The December report from Bloomberg said there would be $1.2B set aside in the 2020 defense budget proposal to procure a dozen F-15X aircraft. This led many to believe the price of each F-15X would be $100M. This is more than the unit cost of an F-35A, which is slated to hit $80M apiece in the not so distant future.

According to sources close to the discussions, this is flat out incorrect. The money being set aside in 2020, possibly around $1.1B, will include an initial order for F-15Xs—likely eight aircraft—with the rest of the money being spent on non-recurring costs, including setting up and managing the program and to pay for a relatively tiny amount of development work needed to bring the aircraft's systems and software in line with the USAF's exact specifications.

Keep in mind that this relatively minuscule developmental cost is only possible because other countries have spent roughly $5B over the last couple of decades to continuously evolve the F-15 into what it is today. So basically, the USAF is getting this for free. In contrast, bringing an all-new fighter into existence costs tens of billions of dollars in development work that spans decades.

The big question then is how much will these jets cost? Our sources familiar with the discussions say they will cost "less than an F-35 is ever forecast to cost, best case," let alone what it is priced at now. This indicates that Boeing is going to cut the USAF one hell of a deal on these jets, which will help keep the F-15 production line open and Boeing's historic St. Louis plant building fighters well into the latter half of the next decade [emphasis added]. This assessment is based on the Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation's (CAPE) numbers, not just some blue sky pitch from Boeing...

As for how many jets would be procured under an F-15X initiative, our sources close to the discussions say between 150 to 250 aircraft depending on what the USAF wants to do with its overall force structure. The most likely number is roughly 230 airframes to replace the F-15C/D force one a one-for-one basis. Procurement would likely start with eight aircraft, which could be delivered very soon, with roughly 18 to 24 procured each year after that. Oh, and there are two variants of the F-15X that are being offered by Boeing and will likely be procured. One is dubbed the F-15CX and the other is known as the F-15EX.

The F-15CX will be a single-seat configuration, while the F-15EX will be a two-seater with a fully missionized rear cockpit complete with a wide-area flat panel display, helmet-mounted display, and full flight controls. The F-15EX will cost a couple million dollars more than its single seat stablemate...
http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26305/f-15x-will-come-in-two-variants-and-no-it-wont-cost-100m-per-copy

Mark
Ottawa
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 13:17:21 by MarkOttawa »
Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #391 on: Yesterday at 19:11:58 »
USAF seems serious about F-15X--as does Boeing on pricing:

Quote
Air Force Wants Eight Upgraded Boeing Fighters Along With F-35s

    Five-year plan calls for buying 80 of the F-15X planes
    Rival Lockheed talks down plane’s capability versus its F-35


The U.S. Air Force’s next budget will request funds for eight new F-15 fighter-bombers from Boeing Co., beefing up its inventory with an upgraded version of a plane it last bought in 2001, even as it pursues the more advanced F-35 from rival Lockheed Martin Corp.

The F-15s will be proposed in the fiscal 2020 budget, expected around March 11, as the first of a potential 80-plane purchase over the next five years, said people familiar with the Air Force’s plan.

Even though the request has White House support, it’s likely to raise questions from skeptical lawmakers about why the Air Force, which has spent years saying it needs the “fifth-generation” F-35, now wants more F-15s as well.

Boeing has kept its F-15 production line in St. Louis going with continued sales to allies including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The new F-15X for the U.S. would be a variation on planes sold to Qatar but would be able to carry heavier loads of air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons than current F-15s, or the F-35s.

Hypersonic Missiles
With its internal weapons carriage, the F-35 probably can’t accommodate planned heavier weapons, such as hypersonic missiles that are now under development. On the other hand, the F-15X would lack the technological advances of the F-35, including its stealth profile to evade the most advanced Russian and Chinese air defense systems, as well as its sophisticated sensors and data-sharing capabilities.

The Air Force will propose buying the F-15X without reducing the fleet of 1,763 F-35s that it has long planned, the people said. The service would purchase 48 of the 84 F-35s that were called for last year in the Pentagon’s plan for 2020, with the remainder going to the Navy and Marines, according to program documents.

Still, Lockheed has been quietly reminding lawmakers and congressional staff of its arguments for the F-35 as the better choice, including through a “fact sheet” distributed in December. That was followed by an attack on the F-15X by five senators who wrote President Donald Trump last week calling the Boeing plane “outdated.”

“The U.S. Air Force fighter budget is unlikely to grow by much, so the fear is that replacing the F-15 fleet, rather than upgrading the old F-15s, would take cash away from F-35 procurement,” Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with the Teal Group of Fairfax, Virginia, said in an email.

Boeing said in a statement that it’s “ready to provide a highly survivable advanced variant of F-15 to the Air Force at an affordable cost.” A spokesman for the Air Force declined to comment on the proposal until the president’s proposed budget is released.
Budget Officials

The planned F-15X purchase originated from an assessment of the Air Force’s needs by career analysts in the Pentagon’s independent cost assessment office. It’s won favor from White House budget officials who agreed it would fill a niche for an aircraft capable of carrying a heavy load of ordnance, according to one of the people.

Chicago-based Boeing has offered the aircraft, including engines, for about $80 million per plane under a fixed-price contract with the first deliveries to come in 2022 [emphasis added]. By comparison, the F-35 from Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed is estimated to cost $89 million each in the latest contract with a goal of $80 million by 2020.

Lockheed’s December “fact sheet” said the F-15X would cost $90 million each and have less range, acceleration and time to remain over a target than the F-35.

Lockheed spokesman William Phelps said the document was prepared for a Dec. 13 congressional briefing and was consistent with ones the company has produced for years comparing the F-35 to older fighters.

Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed’s chief executive officer, told analysts in January that she’s hearing “directly from leadership in the Pentagon” that the F-35 is “well-supported across-the-board” so it wouldn’t be affected by a potential F-15 purchase.

Still, two of Lockheed’s strongest congressional supporters, Republican Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, drew up the letter to Trump warning against underfunding the F-35 that’s built in their state in order to buy the F-15X.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-19/air-force-wants-eight-upgraded-boeing-fighters-along-with-f-35s

Mark
Ottawa
Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.