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No More New Fighter Aircraft Types?



 
 
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  #1  
Old April 11th 04, 08:59 PM
W. D. Allen Sr.
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Default No More New Fighter Aircraft Types?

"...The total cost of LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP.'s Joint Strike Fighter
program to develop a new tactical fighter will rise by $45
billion, or 22.6%, to $245 billion, the Pentagon said. In a
regular report to Congress on major weapons programs, the U.S.
Defense Department said the sharp rise in costs for the new
jet, also known as the F-35, was due mainly to revised
contractor labor and overhead costs, design delays, and a
postponement in the start of procurement from 2006 to 2007.
(Reuters 04:58 PM ET 04/05/2004)...."

Are we getting to the point in history where the development of new fighter
plane models is going to cease?

History has seen the demise of the chariot, the battering ram, the military
dirigible, the battleship, and even the hypersonic transport. So are we
pursuing the last fighter plane in the F-35? The unit price of modern
fighters is such that only a very few countries in the world can even afford
a fully effective air force. Also, we now know the key to success in air
combat is pilot training, not having the hottest airplanes. Witness two Navy
F/A-18s on a bombing mission in Desert Storm shooting down two Iraqi
interceptors while enroute to their target.

Today only three entities apparently can afford to develop new fighter plane
types. They are Russia, the European Union, and the good old USA. Other
nations like Communist China, India, or Israel seem to do little more than
develop variations on existing models. Even so, neither Russia or the EU
have been able lately to compete with the USA in new model development.

So is it becoming more and more difficult to justify a new model fighter
today, either in term of performance or cost. Will the F-35 be the last of a
breed?

WDA

end


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  #2  
Old April 12th 04, 04:24 AM
Henry J Cobb
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W. D. Allen Sr. wrote:
Are we getting to the point in history where the development of new fighter
plane models is going to cease?


Fnord!

I can't find the "United States military will only be able to afford one
airplane" quote.

Can somebody help me out here?

-HJC
  #3  
Old April 12th 04, 11:26 AM
Thomas Schoene
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Henry J Cobb wrote:
W. D. Allen Sr. wrote:
Are we getting to the point in history where the development of new
fighter plane models is going to cease?


Fnord!

I can't find the "United States military will only be able to afford
one airplane" quote.

Can somebody help me out here?


Norman Augustine, from _Augustine's Laws._ (And I think a version before
that in "The Widening Gyre" published in n_International Security_)

"In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one
aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy
3-1/2 days each per week except for leap year, when it will be made
available to the Marines for the extra day."

Of course, many of these so-called laws were actually intended to point out
the fallaciousness of simple extrapolation of statistical data.

--
Tom Schoene Replace "invalid" with "net" to e-mail
"Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right, when
wrong to be put right." - Senator Carl Schurz, 1872




  #4  
Old April 12th 04, 03:39 PM
Henry J Cobb
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Emmanuel Gustin wrote:
What is needed, clearly, is a revised approach to aircraft
development. The USA is now trying to fund two fighters, the
F"/A"-22 and the F-35, which are both highly ambitious and
complex. With hindsight, it should have developed a single
middle-class fighter (designed for carrier use; the USAF can
use a lightened version) instead of a high/low mix, and the
approach to design should have been more evolutionary.


Can we call it a Super Hornet so people think it's just an upgrade of an
existing fighter?

-HJC
  #5  
Old April 12th 04, 03:58 PM
Ed Rasimus
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On Mon, 12 Apr 2004 13:55:05 +0200, "Emmanuel Gustin"
wrote:

Considering that Sweden (population 8,8 million, GDP US$231
billion) could still afford to develop JAS39 Gripen, I think that
the demise of the fighter aircraft for financial reasons does not
yet need to be feared.


A good example. But, it also is an example of drawing conclusions when
comparing apples to oranges. Certainly Sweden has a history of
developing, producing and operating exceptional aircraft, but the
neutrality of Sweden means that the aircraft are by definition going
to be defensive in purpose and home-based in operation. We won't be
finding much force projection going on for the Swedish military.

The result is a fairly straightforward high agility, interceptor with
limited ground attack capability and a fairly traditional sensor
suite.

What is needed, clearly, is a revised approach to aircraft
development. The USA is now trying to fund two fighters, the
F"/A"-22 and the F-35, which are both highly ambitious and
complex. With hindsight, it should have developed a single
middle-class fighter (designed for carrier use; the USAF can
use a lightened version) instead of a high/low mix, and the
approach to design should have been more evolutionary.


While the stake in McNamara's heart never kill him? Must we also
administer a silver bullet and still wear garlic around our necks?
Your suggest sounds a lot like TFX--the horrendous "one size fits all"
development projection that got the US the F-111. An airplane the Navy
aborted in the third trimester and which the AF could not effectively
operate for twenty years after deployment. The under-powered A, the
vacuum tube unmaintainable D, the unsustainable E and finally the
almost capable F model....ahhh yes, I remember them well. Great
examples such as Mt. Home which housed 84 airplanes disguised as a
three squadron (18 UE per squadron) wing and still could barely
generate 0.5 sorties/aircraft/day figured on their "authorized
equippage of 54 airframes.

No thanks. Air dominance and ground attack seem to work best with
dedicated air frames in a hi/lo mix--the USAF has done quite nicely
with F-15/16 and the Navy seems to have concluded that the "good ol'
days" of F-14/A-6 operations were better on both sides of the mission
than the F/A-18 business.

But I suspect that no small part of the cost getting out of control
is due to so-called "management", techniques which are now
also eating their way into military culture. The litigious American
mind has long had an excessive reverence for the written word
(whether it is the Constitution or "Do not dry pets in this microwave
oven!") and appears to be easily seduced by the trappings of
bureaucracy. Granted, the multi-national Eurofighter bureaucracy
cannot be any better! There is a risk-averse tendency to break
down development in phases, phases in stages, and stages in
substages, ad infinitum, all surrounded by due process and a mass
of tests. In theory, these serve to eliminate risks and get the best
possible aircraft; in practice they stretch development time and
increase costs. The justification is that the complexity of modern
aircraft requires delegation of the work. In practice, according to
Conway's law, every dividing line in the organisation adds
complexity to the final system.


Gotta agree 100% here. Certainly the project management culture
increases costs while attempting to minimize risks. What you don't
address, however, is the over-lay of political decision interference.
While a free-market capitalist business model might be successful with
the phase/stage/substage sequence, when you throw in the political
posturing, competition for budget dollars, mis-information campaigns
and general pacifism of nearly 50% of the American electorate, you
really get a screwed up program.


Ed Rasimus
Fighter Pilot (USAF-Ret)
"When Thunder Rolled"
Smithsonian Institution Press
ISBN #1-58834-103-8
  #6  
Old April 12th 04, 05:06 PM
Tarver Engineering
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Default


"Ed Rasimus" wrote in message
...
On Mon, 12 Apr 2004 13:55:05 +0200, "Emmanuel Gustin"
wrote:


No thanks. Air dominance and ground attack seem to work best with
dedicated air frames in a hi/lo mix--the USAF has done quite nicely
with F-15/16 and the Navy seems to have concluded that the "good ol'
days" of F-14/A-6 operations were better on both sides of the mission
than the F/A-18 business.


The F/A-18 is the solution to USN's problems and a fine example of a
procurement that faced the realities of the times.

We can't very well expect to keep F-35 costs down by migrating
electric/electronic systems from the F-22. That alone is reason for the
price of the F-35 to adjust upwards by 1/3. These days I would look to tha
F-35 to migrate technology to the F-22, if the F-22 survives it's current
review.


  #7  
Old April 12th 04, 05:34 PM
phil hunt
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On Mon, 12 Apr 2004 13:55:05 +0200, Emmanuel Gustin wrote:

What is needed, clearly, is a revised approach to aircraft
development. The USA is now trying to fund two fighters, the
F"/A"-22 and the F-35, which are both highly ambitious and
complex. With hindsight, it should have developed a single
middle-class fighter (designed for carrier use; the USAF can
use a lightened version) instead of a high/low mix, and the
approach to design should have been more evolutionary.


That sounds resonable. And at the same time, a STOVL ground attack
aircraft replacing the A-10 and Harrier.



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people who openly support the RIAA" -- comment on Wikipedia
(Email: zen19725 at zen dot co dot uk)


  #8  
Old April 12th 04, 05:36 PM
phil hunt
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Default

On Mon, 12 Apr 2004 08:58:55 -0600, Ed Rasimus wrote:

No thanks. Air dominance and ground attack seem to work best with
dedicated air frames in a hi/lo mix


Wny? Why not standardise on one fighter?

--
"It's easier to find people online who openly support the KKK than
people who openly support the RIAA" -- comment on Wikipedia
(Email: zen19725 at zen dot co dot uk)


  #9  
Old April 12th 04, 06:03 PM
Tarver Engineering
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Default


"phil hunt" wrote in message
. ..
On Mon, 12 Apr 2004 08:58:55 -0600, Ed Rasimus

wrote:

No thanks. Air dominance and ground attack seem to work best with
dedicated air frames in a hi/lo mix


Wny? Why not standardise on one fighter?


The USAF loses power under that scenerio.

I'd say a few USAF super bugs might get the point across.


  #10  
Old April 12th 04, 06:32 PM
Ed Rasimus
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Default

On Mon, 12 Apr 2004 17:36:33 +0100, ess (phil
hunt) wrote:

On Mon, 12 Apr 2004 08:58:55 -0600, Ed Rasimus wrote:

No thanks. Air dominance and ground attack seem to work best with
dedicated air frames in a hi/lo mix


Wny? Why not standardise on one fighter?


A good question. Start by acknowledging that modern tactical aircraft
are not simply airplanes that fight. They are complex weapon systems
that bring together not only the airframe but the sensors, the
weapons, the defenses, etc. All of these components come with their
own baggage of trade-offs, compromises that must be made to get the
job done. For example stealth has become a desireable asset, but
building a stealthy airframe often means loss of manueverability.

An air superiority system needs high thrust/weight ratio, high
manueverability, reasonable range, short response time etc. It also
needs a sensor suite that can find, sort and allocate weapons to the
enemy. Ideally it should have longer reach than the enemy platform and
possess sufficient stealth to allow first-look/first-shot.

The ground attack system needs a different sensor suite and must be
capable of carrying a meaningful payload. It has to feed data into the
complex ground attack weapons. It needs range, but might do without
some of the agility. It might be larger, heavier and less stealthy
than the A/A airplane.

The naval aircraft needs the durability to operate off the boat. The
weight of landing gear, arresting hooks, launch attachments, etc.
aren't necessary for the conventional ground-based system.

Add a bit of advantage to multiple source procurement as well and you
can begin to build a compelling argument for a mixed force. It's going
to be a compromise. Too diverse a force and you get overly
complicated. Too singularly dependent and you incur too much
performance compromise.


Ed Rasimus
Fighter Pilot (USAF-Ret)
"When Thunder Rolled"
Smithsonian Institution Press
ISBN #1-58834-103-8
 




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