Australian F-111s facing early retirement

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Unread post30 Apr 2004, 20:21

Hi all,

I was just reading an article about Australian F-111s facing early retirement and it was talking about how stupid this idea is and the DoD had no solid ground to stand on regarding the idea.

I know a little about the F-111, first I read that the programme proved to be a failure, but then I found that the aircraft was flying with USAF,USAFE and Australia and it saw action over Libya, then from the article I knew that the F-111B navalised version was the failure, I already know that from it the F-14A was born.

The question is: Could anybody tell me about the F-111 history, you know, versions, roles, etc......, and then tell me what do think about the Australian decision.
The article was from Air International Magazine vol.66 no.5, May 2004.
under:"RAAF F-111s face early retirement", has a very nice article about FMS F-15s: I,S,K,T,J and DJ.
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Elite 2K

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Unread post01 May 2004, 03:28


PLZ refer to the USAF Air University website, plus a google search for 'aardvark' and/or 'TFX'.

The 'vark turned out to be a super low-alt, high-speed penetration fighter-bomber. Never a 'fighter'.

The thing has better legs than the current F-15E, is more suvivable than the B-1, can drop all the super smart weapons in USAF inventory, etc.

But it's OLD! Parts must be custom made now. New engines are required. etc. Great plane, but it's time has passed.

Viper pilot '79
"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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Unread post02 May 2004, 10:50

It was also the result of Robert McNamara's (sorry to rub salt in the wounds of our distinquished Nam vets!) requirement to have a joint Navy/USAF strike/fighter (the TFX). It ended up being way too heavy for carrier ops so the Navy bailed. Grumman fiddled with it some and developed the F-14 out of what it learned. The early USAF versions went to Vietnam and had some problems that led to a number of crashes. These were eventually ironed out and with the fielding of Pave Tack it became USAFs premier precision deep-strike platform.

Gums is right in that it's time has indeed passed but I would've like to have seen the Spark Vark improved and updated. Nothin' beats a jammer that can hang with the strikers for the entire mission. That whole E/A-6B joint squadron nonsense was a waste of manpower and money, IMHO. Perhaps the USAF would consider a purchase of a hundred or so of the "Growler" version of the Super Bug? They bought a Navy plane once before and it turned out pretty well.

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Unread post03 May 2004, 01:48

Yeah, whatever happened to the Joint Prowler Ops? I know they made a big deal a few years back over the first all-USAF crew to do their best Swabbie impression, but that was it. I didn't hear much more about AF guys flying and/or hitching rides in the Prowler. Yeah, the SparkVark died before its time. Big mistake that was. Even so, one could deem basically the entire Wonder Lemon program a mistake. "McNamara's Edsel" it was. The few bright spots were towards the end of Vietnam, The Gulf War, and most especially, Operation El Dorado Canyon (Lybia, 1986.) Nearly everything the 'Vark could do, the Strike Eagle can do better, so yes, its time has come. Maybe the Aussies will buy some Strike Eagles as replacements.


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Unread post06 May 2004, 17:05

Yeah, even when it was New it was a maintenance PIG!!!


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Unread post06 May 2004, 17:41

F-111 = Maintenance pig.

But like Gums says it did great work in its day in USAF service and if the airframe / parts / expesnse / $ per flying hour could have been worked out, it would be even better with the new family of smart weapons now. It did some great things.

In the downsizing of the 1990's the F-111 made an easy target for budget cutters. It was the most expensive small mover... $ per flying hour around. The USAF had to cut from 40 some wings down to 25-26 some wings and still keep killing ability. Combine that with the post DS and post cold war hype about a safer world and it's days were numbered. Also add to that, any ( if there were any ) tac bomb comps it lost to the F-15E. ( like I said don't know, but if it did lose some, that is just more info to decide to kill it. ) . I have heard comments from some ex F111 types saying they liked the F-15E way better. But I don't know if you like it as a back seater, puking your guts out doing a low level penetration because the F-15E is bumpy down low and an F-111 with it's swing wing is pretty smooth low and fast. Anyway, running through the hills real fast zipping in and dropping a string of dumb ballutes just ain't the way we do most of our work these days with LGB's and JDAMs dropped up high out of the range of small SAMs / MANPAD, AAA and trashfire. Once you manage the A2A threat and the big SAM threat, you don't need to go low most of the time.

RAAF is a small air force. Those F-111s have been grounded more than a few times for one major problem or another. No bucks, no buck rogers. You could make all those F-111s fly. With todays modern, cheaper , computer controlled CNC and heavy CNC gear where you could build parts on demand, it could be done. Just that it requires $$. And even though RAAF is small, it is no less available to the influence of politics and it's own aerospace experts ( Aussies have a fair sized aerospace component building industry both foreign and domestic owned ). Add ex-defense now industry consultants and it is going to be real messy there over the next 10-15 years on the topic of airpower force shaping. Any consultant white papers you read on this subject aren't pure as the dirven snow. New air frames are more profit dollars for somebody vs. profit generated from refirb work / sustainment of old airframes.

While I don't believe in export of the F-22. Due to the amount of range needed in that part of the world to engage a threat, (even though RAAF has tankers ), a small number of F/A-22's would be helpful and put the sting on any possible air threat in a decisive way. Including a contempt of engagement long strike ability with JDAM 32/35/38 / SDB. And in the long haul wouldn't be that much cha ching to sustain over time for a small number of jets.

O.T. I am waiting for Mitsubishi or Kawasaki to ask for lincense build stuff in the next 10 years to do an F/A-22J a la the way the F-15J was done. :twisted: No one can bleed tech industry advantages to foreign sales better than our industries. :x
- ELP -

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Unread post09 May 2004, 11:27

One of the best sites web for the'Vark' is :D
Asif Shamim Editorial staff & Patch Gallery Administration

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Unread post14 May 2004, 10:33

elp wrote:O.T. I am waiting for Mitsubishi or Kawasaki to ask for lincense build stuff in the next 10 years to do an F/A-22J a la the way the F-15J was done. :twisted: No one can bleed tech industry advantages to foreign sales better than our industries. :x

Since this was turning into an interesting O.T. discussion, I've moved replies to elp's post to the following new topic:

"Export of F-22 or Low-Observable Technology ?"

Stefaan Vanhastel Webmaster.

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