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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #425 on: May 20, 2019, 13:04:53 »
Would anything work for RCAF except prospect of good new fighters within, say, six years? Start of major piece, yet another by a serving American officer:

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[USAF] Help Wanted: Experienced Fighter Pilots Apply Here

According to the Air Force, the military organization has a few job openings — over 2,000 — in the pilot department, especially if you have experience. In his three-part series, Mike Benitez does a wonderful job illustrating how the service got to this position and how the lack of experienced pilots degrades its lethality and disrupts its ability to replenish the force through basic pipeline training. A year after War on the Rocks published Benitez’s articles, I hope to offer a “front line” perspective as one of the pilots the Air Force is attempting to retain.

I am one year from being promoted to major. Eighteen months after that, I’ll be at the end of my service commitment. I have over 1500 hours flying, 300 of which are combat. I have been an instructor pilot for over two years, and I love my job. I am exactly the person the Air Force is attempting to retain, and they’re offering a $35,000 annual bonus for a three to 12 year commitment. Shouldn’t this be an easy decision? To continue the vocation I love with an employer that values my skills and is willing to pay me for them? Unfortunately, this is not the case because the active-duty Air Force has a messaging problem and an identity crisis.

We Want You (to Have No Control)

The Air Force is in desperate need of experienced pilots, especially fighter pilots. The RAND corporation has mathematically proven that the only way to ease the Air Force’s pilot shortage crisis is through the retention of experienced pilots. The failure of the Air Force to meet retention goals despite generous bonuses is well-documented in recent years. From my perspective, one of the main reasons pilots hesitate to sign these bonuses is the associated uncertainty. Once the commitment has been signed by the pilot, no guarantees are made by the Air Force regarding the member’s ability to remain in flying assignments or how long they and their family will live in a given location. Around the water cooler in the squadrons, the bonus is treated and talked about as a trap. The Air Force says that the organization needs experienced pilots, however the solution is not to bribe the pilots but rather to implement an appropriate policy. No one likes ambiguity, and the solution is making guarantees [emphasis added]. For a large percentage of fighter pilots, guaranteeing the ability to stay in flying assignments communicates that their skills are valued and would go a long way in convincing them to continue serving. Show you care and value them, their skills, and their families, and they will stay. As Capt. Danny Dees said, “in order to halt the present retention trend, we need to develop a sense of commitment . . . our rated force toward the service and conversely, the service toward our rated force.” This especially will be crucial if the force follows through with multiplying from 312 squadrons to 386, with seven additional fighter squadrons.

Who Am I?

Maj. Roger Garrett explains that the problem pilots face is that the “biggest measure of success in today’s Air Force is promotion.” As a fighter pilot, my biggest measure of long-term success is time in the jet. I don’t look at the chief of staff of the Air Force and wonder in awe how he did it or what his keys to career success were. I walk into the bar and find the oldest and meanest looking fighter pilot and ask him “how in the hell did you get so lucky? Tell me how I can fly for as long as you did!” The epitome of this ideal is Lt. Col. Rob “Sweetness” Sweet, a Desert Storm veteran and former prisoner of war who still flies A-10s in the 476th Fighter Group.

A survey conducted by an Air Command and Staff College student found,

    The dilemma perceived by pilots…is one of being forced to choose between two unacceptable alternatives: they can enhance promotability and job security by giving up what they enjoy and getting a staff or rated supplement job, or they can continue in rated duties and unnecessarily jeopardize their promotion opportunities.

The report continues:

    [M]any of the airline pilots, as well as Air Force pilots who plan to . . . [separate], indicated they would have remained in the Air Force if they were given an opportunity to spend a career performing flying duties and be equitably recognized for doing so.

These statements are not from 2019, but from a survey in 1979 during another pilot retention crisis. The time was different, but the problem is the same. The majority of men and women currently in cockpits joined the Air Force to do one thing — fly — and that should be ok. The time and dedication it takes to learn the job and continue to adapt to new tactics and threats is endless, challenging, and rewarding.

However, when I tell people that I only want to fly, the common response is that “you’re an officer first and you should want to lead.” What they perhaps don’t realize is that fighter pilots lead through execution...

Capt. William “Basher” Piepenbring is an A-10C instructor pilot. He currently serves as a line IP in the 25th fighter squadron Osan Air Base, Korea. The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force.
https://warontherocks.com/2019/05/help-wanted-experienced-fighter-pilots-apply-here/

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Offline dapaterson

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #426 on: May 20, 2019, 13:14:27 »
Pilots want to fly.

That Air Forces around the world do not understand this speaks poorly of their institutional leadership.
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Offline Dimsum

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #427 on: May 20, 2019, 14:52:21 »
Pilots want to fly.

That Air Forces around the world do not understand this speaks poorly of their institutional leadership.

Yes.  And since Air Forces are led by and large by Pilots, one would think that they, of all people, would understand this. 

But then again, if they only let the Pilots fly and leave the "leading" to others, then Navigators would be the leaders, and no Pilot wants that to happen (again).    :rofl:
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline dapaterson

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #428 on: May 20, 2019, 14:54:10 »
I don't know; with advances in AI, letting GPS box command might be a marked improvement.
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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #429 on: May 20, 2019, 17:10:46 »
There are two types of pilots:  those that do this for the flying and those that do this as a mean to progress in rank and position.  Those that do this for flying are your tactical leaders.  They lead in the execution.  Those wishing to progress in rank lead in the strategic planning.  Both have an important role.  The two groups don’t really understand each other (“Why wouldn’t everyone want to fly for life” and “Why wouldn’t everyone want to be he CDS one day”). That’s why pilots in senior leadership positions don’t necessarily understand and definitely not support the “flyer for life” concept.

Offline Good2Golf

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #430 on: May 20, 2019, 17:18:44 »
There are two types of pilots:  those that do this for the flying and those that do this as a mean to progress in rank and position.  Those that do this for flying are your tactical leaders.  They lead in the execution.  Those wishing to progress in rank lead in the strategic planning.  Both have an important role.  The two groups don’t really understand each other (“Why wouldn’t everyone want to fly for life” and “Why wouldn’t everyone want to be he CDS one day”). That’s why pilots in senior leadership positions don’t necessarily understand and definitely not support the “flyer for life” concept.

There are some notable exceptions to the ‘two types of pilots’ rule, although few and far between and one of them retiring last Friday doesn’t help their dwindling numbers.   Overall though, I agree with your postulate.

Regards
G2G

Offline Dimsum

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #431 on: May 20, 2019, 20:14:04 »
There are two types of pilots:  those that do this for the flying and those that do this as a mean to progress in rank and position.  Those that do this for flying are your tactical leaders.  They lead in the execution.  Those wishing to progress in rank lead in the strategic planning.  Both have an important role.  The two groups don’t really understand each other (“Why wouldn’t everyone want to fly for life” and “Why wouldn’t everyone want to be he CDS one day”). That’s why pilots in senior leadership positions don’t necessarily understand and definitely not support the “flyer for life” concept.

Similar thing with ACSOs, although I think there's also a third type - the one who wants staff/educational opportunities more than "flying for life", but not necessarily command positions. 
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #432 on: May 21, 2019, 08:54:26 »
IMO the limiting factor is the insistence that as you progress you must command either a flight,a squadron or a wing. I think allowing pilots to fly without being forced into a command position. I think the Israeli Air Force allows this. So you might have a Colonel piloting his aircraft commanded by a major who is squadron commander. Although with rank inflation a chronic problem that squadron commander might be a Colonel since wing commanders seem increasingly to be Brigadier Generals.

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #433 on: May 21, 2019, 10:02:55 »
The only benefit on doing this would be increase in pay even as a professional flyer.  The “fly at all cost” folks don’t care about rank but do care about their bottom line.

Offline Loachman

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #434 on: May 21, 2019, 17:02:28 »
The failure of the Air Force to meet retention goals despite generous bonuses is well-documented in recent years. From my perspective, one of the main reasons pilots hesitate to sign these bonuses is the associated uncertainty. Once the commitment has been signed by the pilot, no guarantees are made by the Air Force regarding the member’s ability to remain in flying assignments or how long they and their family will live in a given location. Around the water cooler in the squadrons, the bonus is treated and talked about as a trap.

Bingo.

The CF "Pilot-Get-Well" programme of the late nineties had this same fatal flaw. I was one of those eligible for the full $75000 amount (others were eligible for $50000, and some for $00000). I'd also just reached my pensionable point. Who in their right mind would trade that freedom for such uncertainty?

Only one guy in 400 Squadron did, and he was planning to stay in until CRA regardless of what happened.

As it was to be paid in three annual chunks and not spread over the full period, much more than was necessary would have been lost to the taxman anyway.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #435 on: May 30, 2019, 12:41:00 »
USAF LCOL suggests mixed fleet of F-15EXs and #F-35As to replace F-15Cs (note homeland defence/NORAD role, some nice graphics in big piece):

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F-15EX and F-35A: The Future of American Air Superiority
...
The optimal solution may include a mix of F-15EX and F-35A to replace the F-15C. This involves starting F-15EX procurement immediately to address F-15C readiness concerns and assess the viability of transitioning some, but not all, F-15C squadrons to the F-35A. If the assessment is positive, the Air Force could begin the 3–5-year transition cycle to build infrastructure supporting the F-35A and cross-train personnel at selected bases. Additional F-15EX and F-35A aircraft would then be purchased between 2025–2029 to complete the divestment of the aging F-15C fleet. While this will result in high procurement costs, the Air Force will return on its investment close to 2040 by divesting the F-15C and its high annual operating cost. The F-15EX will provide superior firepower and magazine capacity to complement the advantages of stealth provided by the F-35A and F-22. This option spreads procurement costs over several budget cycles, addresses readiness and capacity concerns, provides increased capability, allows time for F-35A basing to establish required infrastructure, and lowers annual operating costs by getting rid of 40-year-old fighters...

Brad Orgeron is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Air Force, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.


https://warontherocks.com/2019/05/f-15ex-and-f-35a-the-future-of-american-air-superiority/

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #436 on: June 04, 2019, 16:26:05 »
B-1B blues:

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B-1 Lancer readiness is in the toilet, here’s why

The state of the U.S. Air Force’s B-1B Lancer fleet is bad — really bad — and lawmakers on the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee want the service to come up with a plan to fix the problem.

The United States’ long-range strike capabilities “may be placed at increased risk by aging structural problems with the B-1," according to the panel’s markup of HR 2500, the House’s version of the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill, released Monday. The Lancer isn’t getting the resources and attention necessary to improve its mission-capable rates.

The situation has gotten so bad, according to the subcommittee, that the number of B-1 aircraft that are fully mission-capable is now only in the single digits. What’s more, B-1 aircrew are being rerouted from flying the bomber to other aircraft, because there aren’t enough Lancers for their necessary training...The Air Force has 62 B-1 bombers. In fiscal 2017, the most recent year for which aircraft readiness data is available, the Air Force said that the Lancer’s mission-capable rate was 52.8 percent, meaning about 32 or 33 bombers were ready to fly at any given time.
https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2019/06/04/b-1-lancer-readiness-is-in-the-toilet-heres-why/

Earlier:

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USAF Upgrade, Service Life Programs Point To New Roles For B-1Bs

Nearly 18 years of almost continuous deployment as one of the world’s largest and most unlikely close air support aircraft have taken a toll on the U.S. Air Force’s B-1B bomber fleet.

...Air Force must first address the wear and tear imposed by the activity of the last two decades on the B-1B’s structures and engines, even as some experts call for reassessing the aircraft’s value in the event of a high-end conflict erupting before 2036, the fleet’s scheduled retirement date.

But the focus now is mainly on repairs. Starting in fiscal 2018, the Air Force began a program to extend the service life of the bomber fleet’s 289 GE Aviation F101 engines through 2040...
https://aviationweek.com/military-trainers-light-attack/usaf-upgrade-service-life-programs-point-new-roles-b-1bs

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« Last Edit: June 04, 2019, 18:57:03 by MarkOttawa »
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #437 on: June 04, 2019, 18:33:06 »
I hope this will get top priority from the fighter mafia. Might as well do a full makeover which will be cheaper than a piece meal fix ie engines todat,wings and air frames later.

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #438 on: June 11, 2019, 15:48:50 »
Another major piece on F-15EX and F-35A--some excerpts, pity we don't see this sort of very detailed and quantitative public analysis in Canada.:

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The Wrong Fight Over Fighters: Understanding the F-15X Purchase

Since the March release of the 2020 defense budget, the Pentagon’s decision to purchase new F-15X fighters to replace geriatric F-15Cs has occupied a disproportionate share of defense coverage, analysis, and congressional attention. Confusion reigns, as initial explanations by the Pentagon, convinced almost no one and were often met with befuddlement because the Defense Department did not adequately explain the purchase to Congress. Why, seemingly out of the blue, the Pentagon was asking for more fourth-generation aircraft when then Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson had previously stated that achieving the proper mix of fighter aircraft meant buying stealthy fifth-generation planes, “not new fourth-generation aircraft.”

In the absence of a convincingly argued case for the F-15C replacement decision, the public debate devolved into a fight between Boeing’s F-15X, the modernized fourth-generation fighter, and Lockheed’s F-35A, the stealthy fifth-generation alternative. Framing the F-15X purchase as an either/or proposition vis a vis the F-35 makes for a compelling story but does not accurately capture the complexities of the case for replacing aging F-15Cs. Policymakers and observers have focused too often on comparing the capability and physical characteristics of each aircraft. In reality, Pentagon officials made the decision primarily based on mission requirements, short-term readiness concerns, and the long-term costs of operating the fighters.

Even so, because the comparison between F-15X and F-35A is shot through with uncertainties, the decision to purchase F-15Xs should be viewed as neither a slam-dunk nor a harebrained idea. However, the brouhaha over F-15X and F-35A distracts from far more important debates the nation should be having about the future of American airpower. The most valuable commodity in politics is time, not money—and the F-15C replacement debate represents a massive opportunity cost for an Air Force with nowhere near the capacity and capability to carry out its missions according to the National Defense Strategy.

“Out of the Blue”

The Pentagon proposes to buy 80 F-15Xs over the next five years, likely expanding to an eventual buy of 144 or more to “refresh” the F-15C/D fleet—and potentially the F-15E fleet down the road. The Air Force did not request these aircraft. Rather, the Pentagon’s independent cost-estimation shop—the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation Office (CAPE)—ran its own analyses and eventually brought the Air Force around to its position, whether through convincing or by fiat. Either way, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis signed off on the decision...

Costs of Replacing the F-15Cs

The Air Force has long known that its 235 F-15C/D Eagle air superiority aircraft face the end of their service lives in the mid-2020s. Most of these aircraft serve in Air National Guard units conducting the homeland air defense mission, intercepting Russian military aircraft [emphasis added, i.e. NORAD] and civilian aircraft that stray where they shouldn’t...

The Air Force has long known that its 235 F-15C/D Eagle air superiority aircraft face the end of their service lives in the mid-2020s. Most of these aircraft serve in Air National Guard units conducting the homeland air defense mission, intercepting Russian military aircraft and civilian aircraft that stray where they shouldn’t.

As a baseline, the 30 year-old F15C fleet currently costs $42,000 per hour to operate, and that rate is growing quickly, which means that either the F-35A or the F-15X is cheaper to operate after about a decade. CAPE pegs new F-15X cost per flying hour at $27,000. Given extensive experience with the modern version of the F-15 airframe, those costs may be slightly higher or lower, but they are relatively well known. F-15Xs would enter service in the "mature phase" of the bathtub. In comparison, according to recent testimony by CAPE director Bob Daigle, the F-35A currently costs $44,000 per flying hour. However, the F-35A remains in the "immature phase" of the bathtub, and the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin plan to drive the cost per flying hour down to $34,000 per hour by 2024 and are shooting for $25,000 per hour by 2025, according to the head of the program. Achieving the ambitious goals for F-35A operating costs will not be easy. As the program head noted, “the 25 by 25 wasn’t generated by the program office nor by CAPE. It was a stretch goal given to us by our leadership.” And while the F-35 program has made steady progress on driving costs down, the F-35 still faces significant problems with spare parts availability, the Automated Logistics Information System, and depot-level maintenance.

If F-35 operating costs flatline at $34,000 in 2024, procuring F-15Xs instead of F-35A would save $1 billion by 2030 and about $3 billion by 2040. However, if the Air Force and Lockheed were to drive F-35A costs down to F-15X levels, there is almost no difference between the long-term business case for the two aircraft. In short, whether one assumes a worse or a better case for operating costs for the F-35, the “savings” in buying the F-15X rather than the F-35 is relatively minimal over the long haul in the grand scheme of the U.S. defense budget...

In addition to the relatively minimal differences in long-term operating costs, analysis shows that differences in initial costs don’t move the needle all between the options. The five-year upfront costs of both the F-15X and F-35A are remarkably similar. According to Air Force budget documents, the F-15X will cost an estimated $80 million per plane. F-35As currently cost $89 million a copy, and the Air Force will likely meet its near-term goal of $80 million a copy. Other upfront costs are also similar...

Reading between the lines—given the nearly identical procurement costs and the uncertainty about long-term operating costs—Pentagon officials placed an extremely high value on how quickly on the transition timeline for F-15C replacement options. Officials, including Gen. Goldfein and Secretary Wilson, noted the transition from F-15C to F-15X would likely be very smooth. As Goldfein sums it up: “it allows you to use the same hangars, same construction, same base, same operating equipment which is 90 percent common, same maintainers, same operators and no time and minimal cost to make a transition.”  In a May hearing, Air Force military procurement chief Lt. Gen. Arnie Bunch testified, “the time to transition from an F-15C to an F-15X we estimate at three to six months, while the time to transition from an F-15C to an F-35 could be anywhere from 18 to 36 months and would require MILCON and other attributes that are not in the budget.”

The fact that transitioning squadrons from the F-15C to the F-35A could take from one to three years effectively erases Lockheed’s ability to deliver 80 aircraft slightly more quickly. Of course, 18 to 36 months is a vast range. Using the lower bound of 18 months, the delay to transition from F-15Cs to F-35As might be matched by Boeing’s slower F-15X delivery timeline. At the higher bound of 36 months, the transition could be delayed by years, worsening the existing readiness problem created by aging F-15Cs and tilting the near-term analysis of operating costs in favor of the F-15X.

Capabilities and Missions

... the mission of homeland air defense, which the F-15C replacement aircraft will perform, does not require a ton of eye-watering capability. As one defense official explained, this is a “mission set for which we do need the capabilities” of a tactical aircraft, “but for which we don’t need a penetrating aircraft that’s more expensive [emphasis added, i.e. NORAD].” And, even if there were a major conflict with Russia or China, it’s not the case that F-35s involved in homeland defense could be just added to the front-line force. In such a scenario, it’s unlikely the defense secretary or the joint chiefs would recommend (and the president accept) the idea of stripping fighter squadrons from homeland defense to send abroad. In this respect, arguments over the comparative capability of the F-35A and F-15X somewhat miss the point.

... The Air Force faces massive shortfalls in both the health and capability of its fighter fleet. Alongside the need for high-end capability, the Air Force simply needs more tactical aircraft immediately begin building a healthy force. As Air Combat Command chief Gen. Holmes mentioned, buying too few fighter aircraft per year means the Air Force will continue to pay ever-increasing amounts for smaller numbers of operational aircraft: “buying 48 F-35s a year will merely create a force, 30 years in the future, that averages 30 years of age per airplane.” General Goldfein has explained the exact same phenomenon: “[The F-15X buy] helps us to get at our target, which is 72 aircraft a year, which is what we need to be able to drive aircraft age from its current 28 average years to 15...

Rick Berger is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on the defense budget, the National Defense Authorization Act, military appropriations and acquisition reform, as well as on other national security budget-related issues. @bergerrichard
https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2019/06/11/the_wrong_fight_over_fighters_understanding_the_f-15x_purchase_114494.html

Mark
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