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Thunderbirds/Blue Angels: Aircraft Roadmap?  
User currently offlineChrisNH From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 4165 posts, RR: 2
Posted (9 years 6 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3908 times:

The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels have been flying the F-16 and F/A-18 for decades. I know that there's obviously alot of time left before something new comes along. But when that time comes, what will these respective teams be flying? Any ideas?

Chris in NH

42 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineGarnetpalmetto From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 5426 posts, RR: 52
Reply 1, posted (9 years 6 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 3891 times:

My guess would be F-35s for the Thunderbirds and F/A-18Es for the Blues.


South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (9 years 6 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 3887 times:

Yeah, the Blue Angels are using the oldest legacy Hornets that were first built and used for test and eval - I would be surprised to NOT see them transistion into the same Early first build Super Hornets available as A) they are easy for the pilots to transistion into being of a similar cockpit and flight performance, and B) the USN has put so much of it's image into the Super Hornet that it's really the only logical choice. Add into that the increased maintainability of the Super Hornets, my money is on them in the next 5 years.

As for the T-Birds, I think the F-16 is a great platform and since the JSF's won't be online and all the bugs worked out for most likely 10 years, I think we'll see late model F-16 upgrades before any other platform.


User currently offlineUlfinator From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 317 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (9 years 6 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3868 times:

I have to agree with AirRyan on the late-model F-16s for the T-Birds. The only other aircraft the airforce has they could use would be the F-15 and maybe the F/A-22 now that it is comming on line. Some thing tells me though that the Raptor is a bit too spendy to use in that capacity though.

User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (9 years 6 months 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3854 times:

Quoting Ulfinator (Reply 3):
Some thing tells me though that the Raptor is a bit too spendy to use in that capacity though.

Considering (IIRC) F-15's were NEVER a consideration, that statment is valid.

I think it would be intresting to see them get the latest versions of the planes they are flying now, then the JSF for both, get back to the f-4 days when they had the same A/C so that way you could compare apples to apples when seeing their shows..not the disparity you have now where you know each fighter has capabilities the other doesn't.


User currently offline10boomer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 57 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (9 years 6 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3826 times:

Considering that the T-birds are one of most boring air demo teams out there, the AF shouldn't waste money on new jets. I think the T-birds should go back to using trainers, maybe the T-6, I'm sure it's capable of flying the yawn of a routine that they fly now.

[Edited 2005-06-22 01:25:31]


Fly Gucci
User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (9 years 6 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3797 times:

Quoting 10boomer (Reply 5):
Considering that the T-birds are one of most boring air demo teams out there, the AF shouldn't waste money on new jets. I think the T-birds should go back to using trainers, maybe the T-6, I'm sure it's capable of flying the yawn of a routine that they fly now.

OUCH!!! I'm no BIG fan of the t-bird routine, but this is tough.. Maybe this is more rationale to get 'on the same page' as the Blues... See who can REALLY fly the better show..


User currently offline10boomer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 57 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (9 years 6 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3790 times:

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 6):
OUCH!!! I'm no BIG fan of the t-bird routine, but this is tough

Stop me when I'm lying. I've seen an Italian C-160 put on a more exciting show than the Thunderbirds. I can't comment on the Blue Angels, I've only refueled them, I've never seen their show.



Fly Gucci
User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (9 years 6 months 5 days ago) and read 3740 times:

Quoting 10boomer (Reply 7):
I've never seen their show.

Well, I feel sorry for you then, you are missing something. Don't get me wrong it's not the best thing since sliced bread, but I think it is better then the T-birds. I have never seen the "Italian C-160". I can imagine that the next question (in all fairness) begs to be asked.. do you know if the t-bird show you saw wat a 'low' show or a 'high' show? The low show is without a DOUBT coma inducing, but the high show is ok  Smile


User currently offline10boomer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 57 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (9 years 6 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 3691 times:

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 8):
do you know if the t-bird show you saw wat a 'low' show or a 'high' show?

I've seen just about every routine they've done since they flew T-38s and you're right, OK is about as good as it gets.



Fly Gucci
User currently offlineHamfist From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 614 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (9 years 6 months 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 3649 times:

Q: What is the mission of the Thunderbirds?
A: The mission of the Thunderbirds support U.S. Air Force recruiting and retention programs and to reinforce public confidence in the U.S. Air Force and demonstrate to the public the professional competence of Air Force professionals. The Thunderbirds also represent the United States and its armed forces to foreign nations and project international goodwill.

Give the quote from their website and the millions who turn out to watch them, I doubt they are overly concerned about the handfull of people who think they are boring. As for comparing apples, going out of their way to have the same jet for both teams doesn't seem to support the cause.


User currently offline10boomer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 57 posts, RR: 5
Reply 11, posted (9 years 6 months 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3632 times:

Quoting Hamfist (Reply 10):
The Thunderbirds also represent the United States and its armed forces to foreign nations

And in doing so they should provide an accurate representative sample of our true capabilities as an Air Force. People seem to forget the underlying agenda at international airshows, it's about checking each other out and seeing who can do what and who has what. When the USAF participates in international airshows we should be providing the global military community a glimpse of our true capabilities and to give pause to those who wish us harm. If we want to do recruiting in our own backyard that's fine but when we take it on the road we need to be the best.



Fly Gucci
User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3603 times:

Yeah, the AF is becoming too politically correct here with the Thunderbirds - they might as well save some fuel and just watch the Blues.

User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 3575 times:

Quoting Hamfist (Reply 10):
As for comparing apples, going out of their way to have the same jet for both teams doesn't seem to support the cause.

As far as demonstrating the diference in their misions, you are right. Then again (carrier landings aside) what IS the diference? They both have to provide for the defense (ACM) of their base be it an air base overseas or a Carrier god knows where.. They both have to provide some level of ground support and attack, so what do they ultimately do diferently?

Quoting 10boomer (Reply 11):
And in doing so they should provide an accurate representative sample of our true capabilities as an Air Force.

Ummm your KIND of loosing me on this one.. Its bad enough you got F-15 Jocks who run chase for the F-22 making is sound like it's the best thing since the wright flyer, you really want to let everyone know JUST how good we are? I like a LITTLE reserve, infortunately the Thunderbirds are WAY on the wrong side of this one.

Quoting AirRyan (Reply 12):
Yeah, the AF is becoming too politically correct here with the Thunderbirds - they might as well save some fuel and just watch the Blues.

I bet you sleep with sheckelstoned don't you?


User currently offline10boomer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 57 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 3545 times:

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 13):
you really want to let everyone know JUST how good we are?

I did say "sample", right? There has to be enough there to command respect but at the same time not showing the whole bag of tricks.



Fly Gucci
User currently offlineHamfist From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 614 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (9 years 6 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3490 times:

10boomer,

I think you're out in left field with the desire to show capabilities to other nations. Besides, you as an operator should realize that other nations are already keenly aware of our capabilities. Additionally, the fact that the team mission states that they "also" represent the United States does not infer that they are present at airshows to demonstrate specific capabilities--one could hardly expect that to be conveyed in a 45 minute aerial demonstration! It's not like they are going to drop bombs or shoot down drones over a crowded airfield. Lastly, when you consider the team conducts 88 shows per season and only does an international tour every other year, I doubt any team of this nature is going to devote alternate training time for the 10 out of every 176 demonstrations that happen outside the U.S.

The bottom line is that the T'birds fly around this country eight months out of the year primarily to get 18 year old kids interested in the Air Force and to reassure the rest of the professional capabilites of the USAF. If you want bombs and missiles, you could always take some leave and attend one of the airpower demos at Eglin or Nellis.


User currently offline10boomer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 57 posts, RR: 5
Reply 16, posted (9 years 6 months 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3475 times:

Quoting Hamfist (Reply 15):
I think you're out in left field with the desire to show capabilities to other nations.

Correct me if I am wrong, but one of the primary functions of a well trained, well equipped military is to act as a deterrent and it would be rather difficult for a military to act as a deterrent if their capabilities are in question.

Quoting Hamfist (Reply 15):
Besides, you as an operator should realize that other nations are already keenly aware of our capabilities

Are they? When was the last time the USAF engaged in combat operations with a military of any consequence? There are many in the world that have been embolden by the successful attacks on the US and our interests. As I stated before one of the purposes of a powerful military is not having to use it.

Quoting Hamfist (Reply 15):
Additionally, the fact that the team mission states that they "also" represent the United States does not infer that they are present at air shows to demonstrate specific capabilities--one could hardly expect that to be conveyed in a 45 minute aerial demonstration!

When an air demonstration team representing the USAF's best of the best goes to an air show and are blown away by the Red Arrows and the Tricolori, it only stands to reason that some might be left with the impression that we aren't as good as we think we are. Perceptions are everything, when I was at Air Fete in 2000 I saw the Italian Air Force roll a C-160, and as an operator, do you know what went through my head? If these guys can do that in a cargo plane, what can they do in a fighter? When the air demo team from the supposed best Air Force in the world puts on a luck luster performance what do think is going through the minds of the foreign militaries at that show? The United States Air Force by virtue of it's reputation is always under the global microscope and irregardless of what the Thunderbird's mission statement says, they represent our capabilities as an Air Force.

Quoting Hamfist (Reply 15):
It's not like they are going to drop bombs or shoot down drones over a crowded airfield



Quoting Hamfist (Reply 15):
If you want bombs and missiles, you could always take some leave and attend one of the airpower demos at Eglin or Nellis.

Delivering ordnance! Where did that come from? that's ridiculous. I, in no way, shape or form implied that should take place in order to demonstrate our ability.

The Thunderbirds should save the "Ambassadors in blue and the spirit of international goodwill" crap for the brochure, and go out and prove why the USAF is the best damn Air Force in the world, because the wide eyed freckled faced kid from small town USA isn't the only one we need to impress.



Fly Gucci
User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (9 years 6 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3463 times:

Quoting Hamfist (Reply 15):
It's not like they are going to drop bombs or shoot down drones over a crowded airfield.

(Whiny child voice) Awww, why not!?!?!


User currently offlineHamfist From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 614 posts, RR: 3
Reply 18, posted (9 years 6 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3460 times:

10boomer,

I'm mistaken...left field was too generous...you're in the upper deck beyond the foul poll on this one!

So, what you're saying is the the British Hawk aircraft instills fear in the rest of the world? When was the last time that aircraft took out a target?

Or are you saying the T'birds should add more risk to their maneuvers so others fear our capabilities? Well, who (other than German airshow spectators) live in fear of the Italian Air Force?

What next...rolling a cargo plane is the measure of merit for capabilites? Uh-oh...better not mess with us, or we'll start dropping pallets on your @$$! Belive me, nobody at that airshow started shaking in their boots just because they witnessed this. If you think so, you really need to get out of the boomer seat more often.

It sounds to me like you're more concerned with the abililty of these teams to entertain you than to function in their intended roles. It's fine if these other air forces want to take their "STUNTS" to a different level, but not a damn one of them can send a B-2 from Missouri to do a flyover and return home in a single flight. Not a one of them could build nearly 100 B-1's (even though many are not longer used). How many of them could provide the airlift capability of the United States? How many of them could field as many fighters or build an aircraft like the F-22?

Yeah, the military acts as a deterrent...but that doesn't mean every single unit has to spend every moment of every day making deterrence a priority! So, we haven't engaged in anything of consequence recently...well, I know your KC-10 generally stays out of the hot areas, but I bet you wouldn't tell the widow of Captain Eric Das that his mission was not of consequence!


User currently offlineHaveBlue From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2124 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (9 years 6 months 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3443 times:

They put on a decent, yet tame show. I love watching the TBirds and Angels, but as an avid airshow goer and pilot my complaint has been for years that they, and the F-14/F-15/F-16/F-18 demos are pretty sterile. They are not nearly wringing the peformance out of the planes that they could. I'm not talking about anything earth-shattering, but the F-15 demo for instance is the same low key, cookie cutter style demo that they have been flying since I was a kid 20 years ago. The demo is E X A C T L Y the same each time, and as much as I love to see a fighter fly and hear the engines and all, the routine is weak.

Takeoff. Split S. Immelman. Four point aileron roll. Dirty pass. Photo pass. High speed (not really) pass. Vertical climb while doing aileron rolls. Minimum radius turn. Land. And all the while, very rarely using hardly any power or really 'performing'.

The best F-18 demo I ever seen was at Jacksonville NAS back around 96-98. A Canadian CF-18 did a routine, and man he was working that airplane. He pulled so hard in the low level, high speed turns that he was actually 'skidding' thru them, they weren't rounded curves. It was amazing. I've only once seen an American F-18 do half as good, and I'm very patriotic.

And the same could be said for our 2 teams. They all put on a nice, sterile show. Its all very safe and serene. And I understand that they want it to be real safe, no bad press about accidents or embarrasments and nobody crying for airshows or performances to be banned. And no accidents and safety is of course good and optimal, but the shows just leave so much to be desired. And they never change.

I just wish we could get a comprise between what kind of shows our fighters give, and what fighter demos at Paris and Farnborough give when they're trying to impress prospective buyers. I don't expect our best military test pilots to wring every bit of performance out at an airshow stateside, but somewhere in between a Paris show routine and the yawners we have now would be nice.



Here Here for Severe Clear!
User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (9 years 6 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3435 times:

Quoting Hamfist (Reply 18):
Uh-oh...better not mess with us, or we'll start dropping pallets on your @$$!

I bet a MOAB drop @ an airshow would make an 'interesting' demonstration  Wink


User currently offlineDeltaGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (9 years 6 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3426 times:

The way it was explained to me by a former Blue Angel (obviously a little biasted), quite a long while, was that-

The Air Farce gives the Tbirds a list (so to speak) of things they CAN do, and that list is about 1" long.

The Navy gives the Blues a list of things they CAN'T do, and that list as well is 1" long....but it leaves alot more room to give a hell of a great show.

We all know the A-10, F-16 and F-15 are very capable aircraft. But when I see them sitting on the airshow ramp before their demo, I almost have to look for a pillow. It's the same 'motivational' AF music, narrated by some Tech Sgt from Oaklahoma or somewhere. It's the same boring routine, no real effort or thought put into it. The jets have tremendous capability, but the public gets the same watered down show every time. We know the Tbirds can put on just as good of a show as the Blues, just gotta let em. At least the Navy can get out there with an F-14 of F-18 and show a thing or two and not worry about having to report to Wing about it a week later.

DeltaGuy


User currently offlineHaveBlue From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2124 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (9 years 6 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3422 times:

True DeltaGuy, in my post I was going to allude to the difference between Navy and AF demos but got sidetracked. I've seen some pretty good F-14 demos, and I've always held that the Blues show is better than the TBirds show, but even with the Navy demos they could do better and still be safe. That being said, the Navy does seem to give their pilots more leeway.

One of the best pictures I ever took was in 1990 at DAB. I was working at the Jet Center fueling planes the day after our airshow, and back then the best part of the airshow was arrival and departure days. Everything, and I mean everything, did a show coming and going. The fighters, the trainers, the tankers, the cargo planes, the helos.. it was awesome. Instead of the airshow routines where theres a bunch of civies and an A-10, F-15 and headliner, you got to see everything do go arounds, burner passes and wing waves.

On this particuliar Monday back in 1990, the F-14, a ERAU grad (same field) was leaving. He did several high speed, and I mean HIGH SPEED passes. I was on top of my fuel truck taking pictures. On his final pass, he was going faster than I'd ever seen a plane go before. I snapped a photo as he got almost abeam me and then let the camera hang from its neckstrap and plugged my ears, something I never do. Because I thought, though I knew it was illegal, that he was supersonic, it just looked that fast.

Well, the picture I took had the F-14 with a perfect, 70' in diameter conical shock wave condensation cone. It started just behind the cockpit, and encompassed the entire aircraft save for the tips of the vertical tails (the rear tip, as they are slanted backwards) sticking out just a bit. Its beautiful.

It is a fact that the pilot lost his Gold Wings for that, as the tower clocked him at .98 Mach. But man, what a pass.



Here Here for Severe Clear!
User currently offlineChrisNH From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 4165 posts, RR: 2
Reply 23, posted (9 years 6 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3405 times:

If there is (or has been) a building consensus that the Blue Angels do 'a better routine' than the Thunderbirds, isn't there ANYONE in the U.S. Air Force UPSET by that perception...enough to DO something about it? I mean, geez, my daughter gets pissed when her brother can do a flip on the trampoline and she can't. She's out there trying to equal that feat and better it. And the Air Force just lets this perception ride along??? This is 'Aiming High?' I laugh at car commercials because they are so stupidly overblown in terms of hyperbole about their products. This trumps that.

Chris in NH


User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 24, posted (9 years 6 months 16 hours ago) and read 3357 times:

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 13):
Quoting AirRyan (Reply 12):
Yeah, the AF is becoming too politically correct here with the Thunderbirds - they might as well save some fuel and just watch the Blues.

I bet you sleep with sheckelstoned don't you?

Not familiar with who/what that is - is she cute?  Smile

Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 22):
It is a fact that the pilot lost his Gold Wings for that, as the tower clocked him at .98 Mach. But man, what a pass.

He very likely could have been on his way out of the Navy anyways and as a fighter pilot, wanted to leave on a good note rather than a mundane, boring one.

I've known a few AF pilots who were otherwise on their last flight piss of the Wing Commander with a few moves - they were actually on their 2nd to last flight and didn't care if this was their last!!  Smile

The bottom line is, and for whatever reason it certainly appears to be the majority opinon that the T-Birds show isn't as good as the Blues. Regardless as that is actually the case or not, perception is often reality and to remember who the targeted audience really is, perhaps a change or two might be in order?


25 Post contains images TedTAce : I don't think so; what do you think?
26 Hamfist : ChrisNH, Well, I just recently ended 8+ years as an ATC-type in the Air Force and I'll be the first to admit that I too think the Blue's put on a bett
27 Post contains images HaveBlue : I know Ham, but when other nations fighter and team demos are a bit more spirited and innovative, it wouldn't hurt to vamp ours up a bit. And I love
28 Post contains images ChrisNH : Hamfist, that's an excellent and well-thought reply. Thank you for that! You're clearly much closer to all of this than I am...simply an air show ent
29 Post contains images Flyf15 : I thought something a little different when I read the title of this thread. Anyways, after 15 minutes of work, heres where the Blue Angeles are heade
30 10boomer : Hamfist, It's not about the hawk, it's not about the C-160. It's about having the balls to be the best you can possibly be. You can think I'm crazy, y
31 Hamfist : 10boomer, OK...no sports analogies. Here's something that's more applicable...given the topic, I think you're having trouble seeing the forest because
32 Post contains images AirRyan : Damn - what's that? Let's face it gentleman - both teams are a relative waste of gas and time. When's the last time we ever had any "real" recruiting
33 Hamfist : AirRyan, I agree, the Air Force doesn't need help finding pilots...it just needs help learning how to keep them. Fortunately, with airline hiring like
34 TedTAce : Big point... Let's just say 'I know' Show a highschool kid Top Gun for the first time, then introduce him to a navy recruiter. That recruiter will se
35 Duce50boom : Wow, I never thought I'd see the day where a "former ATC officer" tries to convey the finer points of being an aviator to someone who is called that f
36 Hamfist : Deuceboomie, I do understand what 10boomie was saying and I also understand the mission of the demo teams. That's why I'm not the one crying about the
37 Duce50boom : ham, who is crying about their routine? All I hear on this thread is that the Blue's show is much more entertaining than the chicken's. When you go to
38 EBJ1248650 : Response to the following: I have to agree with AirRyan on the late-model F-16s for the T-Birds. The only other aircraft the airforce has they could u
39 BigFish : Hamfist, You said: [quote]You can knock my controllers all you want, but at the end of the day, there's nothing more complicated about your job than w
40 HaveBlue : Pure gold BigFish! And agreed.
41 Lt-AWACS : Having seen the Thunderbirds last weekend (while giving static tours) at the TIK airshow I can again say they are not as good as the Blue Angels, who
42 HaveBlue : And actually last year both teams were going with 5 aircraft shows for the most part, and it definitely leaves a lot to be desired. For their show to
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