|Quoting SeJoWa (Reply 36):|
Once things don't go our way in a serious conflict, and there's not enough of everything, attitudes can change very quickly.
Mission planners will put the appropriate assets on a mission based upon their value and the level of risks involved. If the mission is too dangerous for a particular asset, then they either find other assets that can do the job, or pull in more assets to protect and mitigate risks.
|Quoting SeJoWa (Reply 36):|
Also and crucially, with the right upgrades, there's plenty of potential in the platform.
Except when the aircraft is at its limits of being upgraded.
|Quoting SeJoWa (Reply 36):|
Just as stealth of varying levels decays as an advantage over time, non-stealthy platforms can make gains.
If certain systems make stealthy platforms more vulnerable, they will make any non-stealthy platform even more vulnerable.
|Quoting SeJoWa (Reply 36):|
It would be foolish to relinquish the upside inherent in a force of heterogenous platforms.
It's even more foolish to ignore the issues regarding a force that is not homogenous in capabilities.
We have this issue today; for example, not all F-16's can employ the same weapons as effectively as other F-16's in the USAF
's inventory. Some airframes are fully capable of employing the HARM missile to its fullest extent, while others can't. At a more higher up level, say in a coalition campaign, this causes a lot of headaches; for example, and we had this in the past, certain coalition partners, while contributing assets, could not be fully integrated with other coalition partners because their assets didn't have certain capabilities while a similar asset the USAF
has the level of capabilities required.
This creates issues with force planning; it sometimes means certain units are used more heavily and thus additional strain is placed on those assets, while other assets sit on the ground waiting a call for another mission because they aren't capable of performing the planned mission.
Even at the flight line level, it is important that assets have the same level of capabilities. For example, with F-16 units, they are typically either a 18 aircraft or 24 aircraft units. There are two different configurations, a training configuration, which is either an air-to-air configuration, basically a clean airplane with no wing tanks, no centerline tank or possibly a centerline tank, and an air-to-ground configuration that’s going to consist of two wing tanks along with wing pylons in order to carry ordinance on the wings.
If it’s an operational unit, most likely it’ll have an ECM pod on the centerline station, so it’s a dirty configuration. It’s a configuration that’s limited in Gs. It’s limited in AOA. It’s limited in what you can do with the airplane training-wise as you can't push the aircraft as hard you want during training as a result. The benefit out of having that dirtier configuration with wing tanks, ECM pod, pylons in the wings is that it’s actually in the deployment configuration that if you had to go to war tomorrow, it’s ready to go.
With operational units, generally, a 24 aircraft unit is able to probably do a normal turn cycle of a 12 aircraft on the first go and then ten aircraft on the second or third go and then you’d have two or three spares available to keep up with the operational tempo.
A key challenge maintenance has in that kind of situation is they would have to have a ratio of air-to-air configured jets and air-to-ground configured jets, something like eight air-to-ground and four air-to-air and then probably one spare per configuration, and all it does is add to complexity on the flight line.
It takes a period of time to shift from one configuration to the other, so you basically have a mixed fleet from the standpoint of two basic types of configurations, air-to-air and air-to-ground in your units so that you can deal with the complexity of the challenges the unit might deal with everyday. Multiply this by the number of units that may be deployed, plus the fact that you have different types on the flight line, and it creates an incredible strain with mission planning and supportability.
The beauty about the F-35 is that theoretically you’re going to have one configuration, you’re going to have 24 F-35's sitting on a ramp in the same basic configuration with no wing tanks, there are no pods to attach, you don’t have to attach pylons. The training configuration is the same as the deployment and war configuration. That means that instead of having 4 configurations, you only have 1 configuration to worry about, which increases the number of assets available for missions, even though the total number of assets is reduced or the same.
If you are a maintainer trying to keep operational tempo up in a unit, this has real impact. As an concrete example, notionally, a normal turn on a day-to-day training kind of schedule for an F-16 unit will be 24 permanently assigned aircraft squadron.They’re going to probably try to put up a 12-front, maybe a 14-front, 12 airplane or 14 airplane on their a.m. schedule.
Let’s say they have an a.m. and a p.m. schedule, they’re going to try to put up a 12-front. What this means is 12 airplanes on the schedule with probably two or maybe three spares. That’s a total of 14 or 15 total airplanes dedicated to the a.m. go and of those 14 or 15 airplanes, configuration-wise, four of them are going to be on the air-to-air training lines and then eight or ten, depending on how many front lines there are, will be an air-to-ground configuration and then their spares will be divided equally. So probably one air-to-air spare and either one or two air-to-ground spares depending on frontlines.
And then on the p.m. go, you will probably have airplanes come back and some will need repair, and you are not going to plan to fail here. What you will do is plan is to do a 12-turn ten-plan and that way when the morning aircraft come back and plan to fly the afternoon go, you're not already out of airplanes because you've already broken a couple airplanes from the first go. Theoretically if all 12 airplanes came down code one good to go, then you basically now have five spares to use in the afternoon go.
But if you needed to repair two or three in a 12-front, then you probably would’ve spared those out and so you may be down to the point where you can’t even turn, say put an afternoon go of ten airplanes, so you want to try to schedule to be successful, not to fail.
And so bottom line is four air-to-air lines, eight air-to-ground lines, and then spares divided equally. Chances are you’re going to have either two or depending on the air-to-ground configurations, you might have three or even four different configurations based on the training requirements for that day’s missions.
It becomes a very difficult challenge to schedule and move jets around in order to accommodate the training requirements for the individual pilots that are flying that day, and that’s the goal is to meet the training requirement for the pilots. In a wartime situation, this becomes even more critical.
With F-35 on the ramp, this changes. Because you have a standard configuration for all of your 24 aircraft on the ramp, and that configuration is capable of both training and deployment, it eases the maintenance burden. Let's say you have the same a.m. and p.m. schedule with a 12 front; you can deploy your 12 aircraft in the morning, and the other aircraft are available as spares for whatever mission or capabilities is desired. In the afternoon, the aircraft that deployed during the morning can be turned around and act as spares for the afternoon aircraft. If you have aircraft needing repairs, it won't affect your operational tempo as much as it did before.
Operationally deployed, once you get in a theater and you’re ready to go, it’s a very simple task of uploading any additional ordinance that you did not carry into theater initially, you would upload that ordinance and the airplane is ready to go. You don’t have to upload anything that you airlifted in. Everything’s ready to go.
In a nutshell, you’ve now allowed maintenance to focus much more on getting the entire flight line geared for operations rather than having a portfolio of capability that you’re maintaining.
In a larger campaign with multiple units participating, the effects multiply; the force commander could actually focus very much on getting more ops done for his diversity of strike options rather than having less ops time because all the complexity of maintenance and operational support. The force commander would have so much more flexibility on the day-to-day schedule if you had all of your airplanes configured in one single configuration. You would be able to pull the airplanes available that are on the schedule that day and be able to insert them into any line that you wanted to.
|Quoting checksixx (Reply 37):|
So is the idea that somehow there will be some maintainer shortage because we keep the A-10 around. That's laughable.
If you haven't been paying attention, the plan was to retire the A-10 by next fiscal year (FY2015), and have the maintainers undergo retraining for the F-35 so that they are ready for IOC in 2016. That gives a year for maintainers to be retrained and ready to go on the F-35.
Cutting A-10 means the USAF
would save $3.5 billion and free up hundreds of experienced personnel for other career fields.
|Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 38):|
So why have attack choppers which are even more vulnerable? They are more expensive and when one goes down you lose 2 crew instead of 1.
Attack heli's have one key advantage; they can hover and provide fire from within a few feet of friendly forces on the ground. They can also fly nap of earth as well to minimize their exposure as well.
Also, it depends on how their employed. Do something like the March 2003 raid during Iraqi Freedom, and send attack heli's deep into enemy territory without support with limited intelligence is a recipe for disaster.