F-15X: USAF Seems Interested

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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marsavian

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Unread post12 Nov 2019, 18:58

The project should be shelved and the original comprehensive SLEP program returned to which was not expensive according to testimony, ~$10m. F-35 can make up any temporary slack. F-15E should be replaced by PCA, buying new ones will delay and limit this.
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Corsair1963

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Unread post13 Nov 2019, 01:08

marsavian wrote:The project should be shelved and the original comprehensive SLEP program returned to which was not expensive according to testimony, ~$10m. F-35 can make up any temporary slack. F-15E should be replaced by PCA, buying new ones will delay and limit this.



The USAF said upgrading old F-15C's wasn't a cost effective solution. So, clearly buying new F-15EX's is even less so....
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weasel1962

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Unread post13 Nov 2019, 09:38

https://www.dvidshub.net/news/351423/17 ... le-drivers

The 173rd Fighter Wing exists to supply trained F-15 pilots to the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard, and the wing coined the phrase, “where America’s air superiority begins” in homage to being the sole schoolhouse of F-15C training.

With that in mind, the majority of the pilots at the wing are more experienced and of a higher average rank than other units; they have to be in order to pass along lessons learned, best practices, and competent flying to brand new Eagle drivers.

Back in the late nineties it led to an interesting conundrum for some enlisted Airmen who had the flying bug but no avenue to earn a spot in the cockpit without leaving the unit.

Because all of the pilots in the unit are required to be certified instructor pilots, there wasn’t a program in place to bring on new accessions, said Lt. Col. Tyler Cox, an instructor pilot with the 114th Fighter Squadron, the 173rd FW’s flying unit.

All of the pilots at the unit came from either the active air force and from other guard units.

In 1996, a senior at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Ore. and enlisted drill-status guardsman, asked then wing commander, Col. Billy Cox, if there was a way he could get a pilot slot without leaving the state? That student was Col. Todd Hofford.

“He started looking into the possibility of Kingsley getting pilot slots,” said Hofford, who is today the vice-wing commander of the 142nd Fighter Wing and a longtime F-15C pilot, upon thinking back to how he got his opportunity to fly fighters for the Oregon Air National Guard. “It just so happens that I got picked up in Portland; right after I got picked up they held their first interview board and that’s when [Lt. Col. Tim Ebner] applied and got selected.”

Ebner, Lt. Col. Tyler Cox, Lt. Col. Quentin Lebkowsky, and Lt. Col. Ryan Bocchi all became pilots as a result of that program, transitioning from the enlisted ranks to the 114th Fighter Squadron.

Pilots selected to join the unit this way spend about a minimum five years in training before they return.

For Cox the road began in 2003 when he was selected. He then attended officer school, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals, and finally the B-Course at Kingsley Field in 2005. This is where the path for wing pilots forks; as a newly minted Eagle driver they are not ready to become an instructor pilot and they have to go to another unit for seasoning.

“Then I moved to Portland,” he said. “I went up there for about three years—was an alert pilot—was a squadron pilot—started doing my upgrades and was a combat-qualified pilot for them.”

In 2009 it was finally time to return home having learned enough to progress to the ranks of instructor pilot. Although it varies on a case-by-case basis, that five-year period is probably the minimum amount of time a person could expect to be away from the unit before returning.

“I’ve got a multitude of memories that were amazing,” said Cox, upon reflecting on those years. “I think one that stick out was just going through UPT; it’s the hardest school you’ll probably go to, it’s the most challenging, the most stressful but at the same time it’s the most rewarding. I look back on it now and I’d go back in a second.”

For Cox the cycle is coming full-circle. In March he will sit on a hiring board to select the next individual, or individuals, to follow in his footsteps.

“I’m going to put a strong emphasis on military service and the enlisted Airmen at Kingsley Field—they are who this program is designed for,” said Cox. “I want to get anybody that has any inkling that they want to be a pilot to submit a package.”

In order to qualify, an applicant must have a bachelor’s degree, or be within a very short timeframe of receiving it, they must be less than 33 years of age when they enter pilot training, must have an Air Force Officer’s Qualification Test score, and completed the Test of Basic Aviation Skills.

For more information please visit the Pilot Opportunities section of the 173rd Fighter Wing website at the following URL: https://www.173fw.ang.af.mil/About-Us/P ... rtunities/
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Unread post14 Nov 2019, 01:27

CSIS Suggests Major Aircraft Retirements as Routes to USAF’s $30 Billion Shift

The Air Force could save the $30 billion it plans to shift from “legacy” programs to more relevant ones in the fiscal 2021 budget request by retiring eight major aircraft, wrote Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The funding shift has been telegraphed by Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Undersecretary Matthew Donovan in recent weeks.


Goldfein said the $30 billion will be poured into four areas: Nine billion into “connect the force;” $9 billion in “offensive and defensive space;” $9 billion into ”generating combat power;” and $3 billion into “logistics under attack.”

Starting with the $30 billion figure quoted by Donovan to Air Force Magazine and by Goldfein at a recent Air Force Association Capitol Hill breakfast, Harrison also drew on the CSIS analysis, “The Air Force of the Future: A Comparison of Alternative Force Structures.” Harrison determined that just over $29 billion could be freed up by early retirement of eight major aircraft: the B-1 and B-2 bombers; the A-10 attack aircraft; the KC-10 tanker; the RC-135 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft, the E-3 AWACS, and the U-2 spy plane. He published the analysis in a Nov. 12 article on the CSIS website.


Harrison cautioned that these retirements are not the only ways to find $30 billion for new priorities in the Air Force’s budget, and further noted that his list is “not a recommendation,” but merely the identification of “potential targets for cuts based on previous actions and comments” by USAF senior leaders. Other partial routes to a $30 billion shift could come from retiring portions of the F-15 or F-16 fleets “as F-35As are fielded to replace them,” or reducing the MQ-9 fleet as the US winds down Middle East operations, Harrison said. Partial retirement savings, though, are “minimal” compared with wholesale fleet eliminations, he wrote. The MQ-9, at a 90 percent mission capable rate and an operating cost under $800 per hour, is very efficient, and USAF might consider investing in expanding its capabilities, he said.


Moreover, Harrison wrote, the longer the phase-out, the less the savings.


Donovan told Air Force Magazine in a recent interview that the National Defense Strategy mandates that USAF make a priority of modernizing both the Minuteman ICBM and the bulk of the bomber fleet. Global Strike Command’s “Bomber Vector” called for phasing out the B-1 and B-2 in the 2031 timeframe. Goldfein, however, said in September that some of the more maintenance-intensive B-1Bs might be retired to pay for upgrades on the rest. Donovan has mentioned the A-10 as another aircraft that might not be affordable in light of higher priorities in the competition against China and Russia.


Harrison also cautioned that Congress has its own ideas about what aircraft are relevant to the future fight, and noted that USAF’s attempts to retire the A-10, U-2, and RQ-4 Global Hawk have all been rebuffed by Capitol Hill.


The savings Harrison cites are based on USAF’s own Total Ownership Cost database, and recent budget documents, as well as his own “projections for how reductions could be phased in.” In each case, the retirements would happen over a three-year period, from fiscal ’21 to fiscal ’23, and the savings would accrue across the future years defense plan that ends in fiscal 2025.


Harrison’s potential hit list is as follows:

•KC-10 Extender: The Air Force has 59 of these large tankers/cargo aircraft, and could save $2.0 billion over the FYDP by retiring them ahead of 2024, which Harrison said is when they are scheduled to depart anyway. Without having a replacement in hand, though, USAF could see a “temporary shortage of tanking capacity.”

•B-1B Lancer: Retiring the B-1B early could save $4.8 billion over the FYDP (and more over the next six years of avoided operations), but cause a “temporary reduction” in the number of available bombers and strike capacity. There would be no impact on nuclear deterrence because the B-1B’s nuclear mission was eliminated in the 1990s. The B-1s are 32 years old and average a grim mission capable rate of 52 percent, he said.

•B-2 Spirit: The famous stealth bomber averages 25 years old and is available for its full mission only 61 percent of the time, Harrison said. Retiring it by fiscal 2023 could save $2.9 billion over the FYDP, but leave USAF without a penetrating bomber capability until the first B-21s come online in the mid-to-late 2020s.

•A-10 Thunderbolt II: The 281 A-10s in USAF’s inventory average 38 years old—all of which are either being re-winged or have already had the modification—and have a mission capability rate of 73 percent. Though USAF would lose its dedicated close air support airplane, other jets can do the job, and USAF could save $6.7 billion over the FYDP, in part by canceling the re-winging effort.

•E-8C JSTARS: The 16 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar aircraft are already slated for retirement, to be replaced by an as-yet undefined Advanced Battle Management System. They perform the Ground Moving Target Indicator mission, and have a mission capable rate of 67 percent. Early retirement would save $2.7 billion over the FYDP, but leave USAF with a “temporary gap in GMTI” and Battle Management Command and Control until ABMS becomes available.

•RC-135V/W Rivet Joint: The “RJ” performs signals intelligence, and variants provide specialized optical and electronic reconnaissance. The 25 jets in the fleet average more than 56 years old, and it, too, is waiting on obtaining an ABMS. The Air Force could save $3.5 billion over the FYDP by retiring it by fiscal 2023, but would suffer a gap in “theater and national-level electronic and signals intelligence collection capabilities.”

•E-3 AWACS: The AWACS fleet, at 39 years old on average, has a mission capable rate of 66 percent. The air battle surveillance system fleet is undergoing a modernization, but foregoing it and retiring all the aircraft by fiscal 2023 would save $5 billion, leaving USAF with a gap until a replacement capability, now not even defined, comes along.

•U-2 Dragon Lady: At an average of 37 years, the U-2 spyplane fleet has a mission capable rate of 77 percent and a heavy utilization rate of 600 hours per aircraft per year. Retiring it would place heavier demands on the RQ-4 fleet, which itself has a “ute” rate of 1,000 hours per aircraft per year. Getting rid of all the U-2s would save $2.2 billion over the FYDP.

http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pag ... Shift.aspx
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element1loop

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Unread post14 Nov 2019, 06:27

Corsair1963 wrote:CSIS Suggests Major Aircraft Retirements as Routes to USAF’s $30 Billion Shift
http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pag ... Shift.aspx


Proposing to removing such bomber and tanker capability and capacity at this point, just to make such a piddling saving, compared to the capabilities lost, is nuts.
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Corsair1963

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Unread post14 Nov 2019, 08:11

element1loop wrote:
Corsair1963 wrote:CSIS Suggests Major Aircraft Retirements as Routes to USAF’s $30 Billion Shift
http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pag ... Shift.aspx


Proposing to removing such bomber and tanker capability and capacity at this point, just to make such a piddling saving, compared to the capabilities lost, is nuts.



They surely know the Congress wouldn't let them cancel a fraction of those programs. So, my guess just another attempt to secure more funding....

Like when the USN proposed to retire the USS Harry S. Truman early... :shock:
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Unread post14 Nov 2019, 13:44

You can probably sell off some of the capability, but I'm not so sure it is all bad. U-2 is no longer necessary, although they may keep a few in reserve for specialized uses. KC-10 is a valuable asset that can be run privately. So on paper they 'retire', but contractors can maintain them a bit cheaper. No capability lost, but they leave the books. Realistically the reductions are basically zero as you are still paying an operating budget for them. But bean counter look good with the psuedo-reduction.

How close are the AWACS and JSTARS replacements? RC-135V/W was re-engined with CFM-56 engines, so is that killing off the best 135's?

A-10 should retire or be sold off. It's a hazard to operate in the current battlespace.

I would love to see B-1B retained as a swing-role between precision bomber and as a fast-deployment refuel capability. It can get in and out of places at speeds no other tanker can. The B-2A retirement proposal surely was a middle finger.
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sferrin

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Unread post14 Nov 2019, 14:28

madrat wrote:U-2 is no longer necessary, although they may keep a few in reserve for specialized uses.


The USAF would disagree.

https://www.businessinsider.com/u2-drag ... ged-2019-6

Some thought the Global Hawk would take over the mission but that idea lasted for about five minutes.

madrat wrote:KC-10 is a valuable asset that can be run privately. So on paper they 'retire', but contractors can maintain them a bit cheaper.


Maintained privately but owned and flown by the USAF?
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Unread post15 Nov 2019, 22:56

sferrin wrote:Maintained privately but owned and flown by the USAF?

We already use some private contractors for this.
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Unread post16 Nov 2019, 00:18

Omega Aerial Refueling Services is an example, but its fleet is tiny, and seemingly only supports training missions.

Also there is some interest to outsource communiation service to some future mega LEO satellite constellation. Those thousands of small satellites will be lot more resilient than a single asset. Maybe they will put on some surveillance payload on it.

Commerial satellite services are getting a lot investment. Small satellites can do sub-meter resolution imaging and Synthetic Aperture Radar mapping, which is quite amazing. But satellite data needs downlink and processing to be useful. It is not realtime.
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