Ozair
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Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:58 am

The unclassified summary of the MITRE study has just been released and has some interesting findings for how they asses the USAF should look by 2030 and is focused on fighting a conflict in the Indo pacific region.
MITRE Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

The Office of the Secretary of Defense selected the MITRE Corporation to conduct an independent study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories through 2030, as directed by the Fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The study primarily focused on the demands of sustained, high-intensity combat operations in the Indo-Pacific theater. MITRE’s study analytically explored basing needs, threats to bases, mission requirements, and the aircraft needed to perform those missions.

...

https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/y ... fly-f-35c/

The big and interesting highlights include
- No reduction in F-35A per year quantities and to begin replacement of A-10s first and then F-16C/D. Don’t allow other fighter procurement to impact the F-35 acquisition program.
- Acquire an F-15NG variant to replace all existing F-15C/D/E aircraft in the USAF inventory at a rate of approximately 24 per year.
- Accelerate the T-X and then acquire the F/T-X for some portions of homeland defence, to approx. 15 squadrons (400 aircraft).
- Build four large bases in the Australia/PNG region for improved rear area access and basing for bombers and tankers.
- Don’t retire the KC-10s until KC-46 deliveries normalize and then continue acquiring KC-46s at an economic minimal rate to replace aging KC-135s.
- USAF should have a new strategic airlifter program or C-17 life extension program in place by 2030.
- Raise readiness to 80% across the fleet including fighters and bombers.
- Don’t retire any bombers until the B-21 is available in sufficient numbers (more than 50 aircraft).
- An expectations that the ratio of fighters will be 55-45 percent 4th-to-5th generation fighters.

Certainly the increase in F-15NG to replace all current F-15s and especially the F/T-X acquisition for homeland defence are rather controversial suggestions. It would certainly be an interesting prospect of the USAF building four new bases in northern Australia/PNG region. The A-10 supporters won’t like the quick retirement of that platform but given the study is focused on an indo/pacific conflict it makes sense given the A-10 just doesn’t have a role/the range in that arena.

There are twelve pages so have a read of the source link to get a more comprehensive view.
 
mmo
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:04 am

Another interesting/controversial issue raised was the increasing of bases in the Indo-Pacific area. OZ has already signaled their unwillingness to expand any basing for US forces.
If we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane!
 
Legs
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:26 am

I'm not so sure about the bases in Australia. The Government here has welcomed the increased Marine contingent that are based near Darwin with open arms, and I suspect that if and/or when a serious request is made, it would be granted without much of a fuss. Australia is certainly more likely, IMO, than many other countries in the 'Rear Area' identified in the report..

Also, this is one of the first reports that I've read that call for either a new strategic airlifter or a C-17 SLEP. Surely the life-extension program for the C-17 would be the cheaper, lowest risk option of the two?

And Ozair, I think you pasted in the wrong link. Here's a link to the Air Force Magazine article with the report summary: http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pag ... cific.aspx
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:00 am

Legs wrote:
I'm not so sure about the bases in Australia. The Government here has welcomed the increased Marine contingent that are based near Darwin with open arms, and I suspect that if and/or when a serious request is made, it would be granted without much of a fuss. Australia is certainly more likely, IMO, than many other countries in the 'Rear Area' identified in the report..

Agree that the chance of a base in northern Australia is quite likely especially as Australia continues to support US policy in the region. Australia already has a number of bare bases so any one or multiple of those could be expanded and built with the infrastructure required. Noting the news this week talked about Intermediate range missiles I see the prospect of bombers and tankers as politically acceptable than missiles.

Basing in somewhere like PNG would be interesting. I wonder how long it would take to build a base there to the level required and how accommodating PNG would be. They could certainly use the economic benefits such a base would add but PNG has a whole set of problems and issues that the US is unlikely to want to be entangled with. Australia already funnels enough cash there that likely isn't used anywhere near as effectively as it should be.

I'm also surprised the report didn't talk about basing closer to the South China sea, perhaps even the US going back into the Philippines with numerous large facilities, it seems the likely place to base a large number of fighters and supporting infrastructure.

Legs wrote:
Also, this is one of the first reports that I've read that call for either a new strategic airlifter or a C-17 SLEP. Surely the life-extension program for the C-17 would be the cheaper, lowest risk option of the two?

Certainly a C-17 SLEP would be cheaper but I wonder if the intention would be to design something better suited to the pacific region. Even the C-17 is a little short on legs for the payload range a conflict in that area would require.

Legs wrote:
And Ozair, I think you pasted in the wrong link. Here's a link to the Air Force Magazine article with the report summary: http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pag ... cific.aspx

Thanks Legs for that pickup and apologies for posting the wrong link, that must have confused a few people!

mmo wrote:
Another interesting/controversial issue raised was the increasing of bases in the Indo-Pacific area. OZ has already signaled their unwillingness to expand any basing for US forces.

I think Australia would take more US forces, just the ones we are happy to accommodate. The other significant infrastructure that would likely be required in Northern Australia, almost certainly Darwin, is expansion of the port to handle a significant number of warships including US carriers. It would seem the best place to regionally house them given the potential for local defence in the event of a conflict in the wider area.
 
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smithbs
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:01 pm

Interesting report. MITRE is apparently no slouch at advocating an enormous defense budget - it seems to take the maximum approach with every program. I think this is the "gold plated" scenario and is probably ammo to try to get more funding out of Congress.

As for more basing in that region, sure maybe Australia could take a bit more but you'd have to spread them out eventually to places outside of Australia. The question is who would be willing to sign on for a US base. Philippines? Malaysia? Indonesia? All are kind of dubious and in the long term unreliable in my estimation.

One could always take the long-term approach, though - sponsor building/expansion of bare bases with an eye to rapid deployment there if (God forbid) something does happen. Putting down concrete as a future contingency is probably more palatable to those local nations.
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:54 pm

It really is pretty fascinating to read those summary recommendations. I'd be curious if the next cargo aircraft specs can be blended in (BWB style?) to a next gen tanker, but the USAF seems obsessed with seeking large stealth tankers.

The T/FX option I have also not seen advocated yet, officially. Perhaps we should wait to see what Boeing/saab are actually able to deliver, price/performance/reliability wise, before we start speculating as to how it might fit to intercept Bears up in Alaska.
 
Reddevil556
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sat Aug 10, 2019 4:08 am

Bases in Australia would be huge, probably cheaper to operate forces out of Darwin over Hawaii or Guam. I remember the Aussies we’re recruiting experienced infantrymen from the US Army about 5 years ago. I guess it wouldn’t be bad economic move to have a permanent US presence in Australia.

Could the C17 get an new engine to boost its performance, something like a GTF?
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hmmwv
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:41 am

I'm sure USAF has looked at returning to the Philippines to counter China, however given the current political environment I doubt Duterte will allow a US base.
 
mmo
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:41 am

hmmwv wrote:
I'm sure USAF has looked at returning to the Philippines to counter China, however given the current political environment I doubt Duterte will allow a US base.


Actually, both Clark and Subic would be perfect places. CRK has been taken over by some duty-free and other businesses so I don't see a motivation for the government to do that, plus the introduction of commercial air to CRK has taken off and really relieved a lot of stress on MNL. Subic is another issue. The Government plans have not worked out as planned and the USN would most likely be welcomed back with open arms. But with the current leader, I'd be skeptical of anything which was said.

Vietnam would also a great option, but there is a lot of history there which still has to be resolved. Thailand would also work but with the increase in tourism and MRO set up at UTP, it might be a problem.
'
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Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:49 am

texl1649 wrote:
It really is pretty fascinating to read those summary recommendations. I'd be curious if the next cargo aircraft specs can be blended in (BWB style?) to a next gen tanker, but the USAF seems obsessed with seeking large stealth tankers.

Agree a BWB transport would bring some serious efficiencies.

texl1649 wrote:
The T/FX option I have also not seen advocated yet, officially. Perhaps we should wait to see what Boeing/saab are actually able to deliver, price/performance/reliability wise, before we start speculating as to how it might fit to intercept Bears up in Alaska.

I expect MITRE's plan for F/T-X would be for the lower 48. A lower operating cost and no conversion costs must be very appealing. Agree though that T-X needs to get going before F/T-X is pushed forward.

Would be interesting to see what mods they would make to the T-X though. Probably the GE404 would stay, put an AESA with proper cooling in the nose, perhaps an IRST, MADL datalink and then all it needs is probably 4 AIM-120s (or new AAM) to be effective. Not sure it would even have a gun.

mmo wrote:

Vietnam would also a great option, but there is a lot of history there which still has to be resolved. Thailand would also work but with the increase in tourism and MRO set up at UTP, it might be a problem.
'

Vietnam certainly has no love for China right now but I think, even with the rapprochement, that a large US base would likely be a step too far. I don't see Thailand agreeing to this, a large permanent base conducting operational missions against China would be a very big political issue.

Reddevil556 wrote:
Bases in Australia would be huge, probably cheaper to operate forces out of Darwin over Hawaii or Guam. I remember the Aussies we’re recruiting experienced infantrymen from the US Army about 5 years ago. I guess it wouldn’t be bad economic move to have a permanent US presence in Australia.

With RAAF Tindal and Darwin enhancement of two of the RAAF bare bases, Scherger and Curtin, could be enough to meet the objectives and both are decently located south Asian operations. There is also the Delamere Air Weapons range which has recently been upgraded and is perfect for training.

Reddevil556 wrote:
Could the C17 get an new engine to boost its performance, something like a GTF?

Possible. Any order would be for about a 1000 engines so would certainly be of interest to any of the primes.
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sat Aug 10, 2019 12:49 pm

I don't think a re-engine program for the C-17 is real likely, at least not this decade. For reference, the KC-135 (CFM56), and C-5 programs took several decades longer to bear fruit than the present Pratt C-17 engines have hung under the wings, and of course the B-52 has been waiting for the better part of 75 years for something newer (fuel efficiency/technology don't seem to drive AMC/MAC decisions quickly). The issue is also that the C-17 might have to have another significant SLEP to the wing boxes I think, as well (I think only later build models had the strengthened center wing box/fuel tank included).

Even with the stretches/wing updates the C-141 received it never got new engines. With the imminent end of the 757 over the coming decade for operators, the F117's will be an orphan globally but that is still a large orphan fleet (200 plus quads). Anyone interested might find this link amusing as to DOA C-17 derivatives that were proposed over the years;

https://www.avgeekery.com/2015314three- ... -took-off/
 
Reddevil556
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:38 pm

texl1649 wrote:
I don't think a re-engine program for the C-17 is real likely, at least not this decade. For reference, the KC-135 (CFM56), and C-5 programs took several decades longer to bear fruit than the present Pratt C-17 engines have hung under the wings, and of course the B-52 has been waiting for the better part of 75 years for something newer (fuel efficiency/technology don't seem to drive AMC/MAC decisions quickly). The issue is also that the C-17 might have to have another significant SLEP to the wing boxes I think, as well (I think only later build models had the strengthened center wing box/fuel tank included).

Even with the stretches/wing updates the C-141 received it never got new engines. With the imminent end of the 757 over the coming decade for operators, the F117's will be an orphan globally but that is still a large orphan fleet (200 plus quads). Anyone interested might find this link amusing as to DOA C-17 derivatives that were proposed over the years;

https://www.avgeekery.com/2015314three- ... -took-off/


That’s why the GTF came to mind, there will be a huge market for those engines for at least the next 20-30 years. I would imagine the fan diameter is not drastically different (I can look up the specs later on). Also the C-17 is a globally utilized aircraft whereas the C-141, C-5, and B-52 were solely operated by the USAF. There could be more pressure to optimize the C-17. I wonder how much range could be added by hanging GTFs on there? Or would the weight of newer engines offset the gains?
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texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sat Aug 10, 2019 3:01 pm

Reddevil556 wrote:
texl1649 wrote:
I don't think a re-engine program for the C-17 is real likely, at least not this decade. For reference, the KC-135 (CFM56), and C-5 programs took several decades longer to bear fruit than the present Pratt C-17 engines have hung under the wings, and of course the B-52 has been waiting for the better part of 75 years for something newer (fuel efficiency/technology don't seem to drive AMC/MAC decisions quickly). The issue is also that the C-17 might have to have another significant SLEP to the wing boxes I think, as well (I think only later build models had the strengthened center wing box/fuel tank included).

Even with the stretches/wing updates the C-141 received it never got new engines. With the imminent end of the 757 over the coming decade for operators, the F117's will be an orphan globally but that is still a large orphan fleet (200 plus quads). Anyone interested might find this link amusing as to DOA C-17 derivatives that were proposed over the years;

https://www.avgeekery.com/2015314three- ... -took-off/


That’s why the GTF came to mind, there will be a huge market for those engines for at least the next 20-30 years. I would imagine the fan diameter is not drastically different (I can look up the specs later on). Also the C-17 is a globally utilized aircraft whereas the C-141, C-5, and B-52 were solely operated by the USAF. There could be more pressure to optimize the C-17. I wonder how much range could be added by hanging GTFs on there? Or would the weight of newer engines offset the gains?


There's more, and less to it than that. The C-17 engines also have to have dramatic thrust reverse capabilities, and tolerance to debris from rough fields. The GTF is anything but a quick turn/highly durable to debris/rough operation engine as it exists today, and Pratt is also not particularly motivated to work to build/certify it on the now dormant C-17 product line. Sure, some global operators have a handful (less than 40 frames) but it's a miniscule market overall, especially when there is pressure to continue to evolve/PIP their civilian engines (with NMA and NSA looming in the next decade, as well as ultrafan).

Remember, the DoD hasn't replaced the TF33's on the B-52's even yet, though obviously those have also been a misfit toy fleet vs. civilian operators for decades. They're still procuring, and will for a decade or more, PW4000's for the KC-46, whose last delivery to a civilian customer was....I dunno, 5 years ago?
 
mmo
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sat Aug 10, 2019 7:00 pm

texl1649 wrote:
Even with the stretches/wing updates the C-141 received it never got new engines.

https://www.avgeekery.com/2015314three- ... -took-off/


The problem with the 141 was cracks and the window frames and other areas in the aircraft. The fix was just too expensive to do especially with such a high time aircraft with TF-33 engines. IIRC, I think the C-17 is looking at the same or some of the same engines. The aircraft is flying much harder than anyone ever thought, so I think a new design will be the solution.
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texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:13 pm

I don’t disagree mmo. Much of the cost of the C-17 was it’s extremely capable floor. A cheapened, re-engined model with a lighter floor loading capacity might have been interesting, especially as a somewhat new-altogether twin but it was not to be.
 
Reddevil556
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:14 pm

What about a clean sheet design with two options? Something like a C-17 also available in a scaled down twin engine version. Use most of the same parts but offer the larger version (C-17) and the little brother (C-2 like)?

I am far from an expert but it seemed the production line ended too soon. I know to restart production would be insanely expensive, but with C-17s getting used and abused I am surprised production didn’t last trough a 2nd generation of the aircraft.
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Dutchy
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:45 am

Reddevil556 wrote:
What about a clean sheet design with two options? Something like a C-17 also available in a scaled down twin engine version. Use most of the same parts but offer the larger version (C-17) and the little brother (C-2 like)?

I am far from an expert but it seemed the production line ended too soon. I know to restart production would be insanely expensive, but with C-17s getting used and abused I am surprised production didn’t last trough a 2nd generation of the aircraft.


A400 might be an option to relieve the C-17 somewhat and to complicate it.
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Dutchy
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:10 am

From an absolute amateur perspective:

The big and interesting highlights include
- No reduction in F-35A per year quantities and to begin replacement of A-10s first and then F-16C/D. Don’t allow other fighter procurement to impact the F-35 acquisition program.
:checkmark: I still see some problems with the A-10 being replaced with the F-35, too expensive, too vulnerable at low altitude.

- Acquire an F-15NG variant to replace all existing F-15C/D/E aircraft in the USAF inventory at a rate of approximately 24 per year.
It feels like a step back, why would you invest in this option, especially, if you want 15sq of F/T-X. Perhaps more F-35's.

- Accelerate the T-X and then acquire the F/T-X for some portions of homeland defense, to approx. 15 squadrons (400 aircraft).
:checkmark: This is a good proposal, frees up F-35 for more high-intensity work, and perhaps a good career path for a fight pilot --> F/T-X --> F-35 --> F-22

- Build four large bases in the Australia/PNG region for improved rear area access and basing for bombers and tankers.
Seems like massive overkill. Australia seems more than happy to host some bombers and/or tankers on a regular basis, why need 4 large bases in Australia?

- Don’t retire the KC-10s until KC-46 deliveries normalize and then continue acquiring KC-46s at an economic minimal rate to replace aging KC-135s.
:checkmark: seems logical to me.

- USAF should have a new strategic airlifter program or C-17 life extension program in place by 2030.
I would consider the A400 instead of developing a new airlifter, in order to free up some C-17's or have them work less hard so a life extension program could be postponed or avoided altogether.

- Raise readiness to 80% across the fleet including fighters and bombers.
:checkmark: seems logical to me. Less sexy to invest in maintenance than invest in shiny new toys, but not less important.

- Don’t retire any bombers until the B-21 is available in sufficient numbers (more than 50 aircraft).
:checkmark: seems logical to me.

- An expectations that the ratio of fighters will be 55-45 percent 4th-to-5th generation fighters.
:checkmark: seems logical to me. Don't know about the exact ratio, but domestic "easy" stuff and first hitters in a war.
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Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:45 am

Dutchy wrote:
Reddevil556 wrote:
What about a clean sheet design with two options? Something like a C-17 also available in a scaled down twin engine version. Use most of the same parts but offer the larger version (C-17) and the little brother (C-2 like)?

I am far from an expert but it seemed the production line ended too soon. I know to restart production would be insanely expensive, but with C-17s getting used and abused I am surprised production didn’t last trough a 2nd generation of the aircraft.


A400 might be an option to relieve the C-17 somewhat and to complicate it.

The study is considering the potential for how the USAF can posture for a conflict around South Asia and specifically indicated a strategic transport for a reason, they need long range. The A400M would have too little range, with a reasonable payload, for what the USAF would need.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:06 am

Dutchy wrote:
From an absolute amateur perspective:

The big and interesting highlights include
- No reduction in F-35A per year quantities and to begin replacement of A-10s first and then F-16C/D. Don’t allow other fighter procurement to impact the F-35 acquisition program.
:checkmark: I still see some problems with the A-10 being replaced with the F-35, too expensive, too vulnerable at low altitude.

- Acquire an F-15NG variant to replace all existing F-15C/D/E aircraft in the USAF inventory at a rate of approximately 24 per year.
It feels like a step back, why would you invest in this option, especially, if you want 15sq of F/T-X. Perhaps more F-35's.

- Accelerate the T-X and then acquire the F/T-X for some portions of homeland defense, to approx. 15 squadrons (400 aircraft).
:checkmark: This is a good proposal, frees up F-35 for more high-intensity work, and perhaps a good career path for a fight pilot --> F/T-X --> F-35 --> F-22

- Build four large bases in the Australia/PNG region for improved rear area access and basing for bombers and tankers.
Seems like massive overkill. Australia seems more than happy to host some bombers and/or tankers on a regular basis, why need 4 large bases in Australia?

- Don’t retire the KC-10s until KC-46 deliveries normalize and then continue acquiring KC-46s at an economic minimal rate to replace aging KC-135s.
:checkmark: seems logical to me.

- USAF should have a new strategic airlifter program or C-17 life extension program in place by 2030.
I would consider the A400 instad of developing a new airlifter, in order to free up some C-17's or have them work less hard so a life extension program could be postponed or avoided altogether.

- Raise readiness to 80% across the fleet including fighters and bombers.
:checkmark: seems logical to me. Less sexy to invest in maintenance than invest in shiny new toys, but not less important.

- Don’t retire any bombers until the B-21 is available in sufficient numbers (more than 50 aircraft).
:checkmark: seems logical to me.

- An expectations that the ratio of fighters will be 55-45 percent 4th-to-5th generation fighters.
:checkmark: seems logical to me. Don't know about the exact ratio, but domestic "easy" stuff and first hitters in a war.


The study is focused on the pacific theatre and more succinctly likely the South China Sea. The A-10 simply has no real ability to operate in that region. The ranges and transit times would be too much for that aircraft. Perhaps if you base it closer off rough strips but that leaves it vulnerable, as well as those aircraft/ships that need to support it. Additionally in a maritime focused conflict it doesn't really have the weapons/sensor suite to combat the threat.

The F-15NG is about bolstering numbers to reduce the average fleet age as well as providing aircraft that have a decent payload range for the expected theatre of operations. It certainly isn't an F-35 but would likely still have a role to play in a long range conflict.

The F/T-X plan is really about pushing the ANG squadrons to the F/T-X. It likely doesn't come at the expense of the F-35. An active duty pilot would train on the T-X, move to F-35 or F-22 and then perhaps come back to the F/T-X if they went to the ANG after leaving active duty.

The USAF would need four bases to stage the assets required as well as provide sufficient dispersement. You don't want everything sitting in a single huge base that is likely more prone to attack, or be put out of action, than four distinct bases. Bases also reach a limit on the number of ops they can sustain at any one time. Locating across multiple allows aircraft from each to meet up for coordinated attacks instead of a formation waiting for all aircraft to launch from a single base.

A400Ms as already indicated don't have the payload/range for what the USAF would require.
 
Spar
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sun Aug 11, 2019 4:15 pm

Dutchy wrote:
An expectations that the ratio of fighters will be 55-45 percent 4th-to-5th generation fighters.
:checkmark: seems logical to me. Don't know about the exact ratio, but domestic "easy" stuff and first hitters in a war.

In the case of the F-15 vs the F-35, the 5th generation fighter is cheaper to buy and cheaper to operate than the 4th generation fighter, and does everything the 4th generation fighter will do. So why the 4th generation fighter?
 
mmo
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sun Aug 11, 2019 6:03 pm

Spar wrote:
In the case of the F-15 vs the F-35, the 5th generation fighter is cheaper to buy and cheaper to operate than the 4th generation fighter, and does everything the 4th generation fighter will do. So why the 4th generation fighter?


Care to back that up with reliable sources? Or just an opinion?
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texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:49 pm

My suspicion is that any F/T-X will need substantial upgrades, coming closer to 40MM than the present forecast cost of the trainer (including upgraded engine, avionics, and probably a larger wing). At a certain point, it would seem inevitable some sort of “F-21” (F-16) would be proffered by Lockheed as a low end mix option, if it were to be considered at all for procurement.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:02 pm

texl1649 wrote:
My suspicion is that any F/T-X will need substantial upgrades, coming closer to 40MM than the present forecast cost of the trainer (including upgraded engine, avionics, and probably a larger wing).

It really depends on what the projected role of the F/T-X is going to be. Is it a simple lightweight fighter that will be used for air to air missions, is it intended to take on a battlefield CAS role in low threat scenarios, or both?

A simple lightweight interceptor shouldn’t require much in the way of modification other than what I suggested previously but a CAS jet will need additional work, and weapon integrations, to realistically replace current aircraft.

How far the development of the F/T-X goes will also impact the lower end of the fighter market as it may sit very close in capability to Tejas, (also with an F404) second hand Gripens and F-16s, F/A-50s and the recently announced M-346FA while likely being significantly cheaper than most given the high volume production run and commonality with the T-X.

texl1649 wrote:
At a certain point, it would seem inevitable some sort of “F-21” (F-16) would be proffered by Lockheed as a low end mix option, if it were to be considered at all for procurement.

I doubt the F-21 will ever see USAF service. It isn’t much cheaper if at all than the F-35 and, at least for US service, wouldn’t provide significant additional capability over an already in service upgraded F-16.
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Mon Aug 12, 2019 3:32 am

I have always seen the A-10 as one of those great lower cost weapons like the sidewinder missile. They should not be put out to pasture but maybe just in the ANG, for the middle east type of close air support it strikes fear in the enemy almost like no other plane. Meanwhile the F-35 is pretty pricey to have a lot of bullet holes inserted into it. Yes the F-35 will probably have to clear the skies initially but on day 10 of a conflict the A-10 seems to be well fitted to the mission.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:06 am

JayinKitsap wrote:
I have always seen the A-10 as one of those great lower cost weapons like the sidewinder missile. They should not be put out to pasture but maybe just in the ANG, for the middle east type of close air support it strikes fear in the enemy almost like no other plane. Meanwhile the F-35 is pretty pricey to have a lot of bullet holes inserted into it. Yes the F-35 will probably have to clear the skies initially but on day 10 of a conflict the A-10 seems to be well fitted to the mission.

There is no such thing as "Day 10" of a conflict these days; today, opponents can be as deadly or create no-go zones for aircraft right up to the very end of the conflict.

Best case situation is to just stay out of the enemy's weapons envelope so they can't engage you.

Also, the A-10 doesn't fit the potential future war in the South China Sea, as mentioned earlier. Too slow, too short legs to effectively operate in the region for one.
 
SuperiorPilotMe
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:05 pm

[twoid][/twoid]
mmo wrote:
Spar wrote:
In the case of the F-15 vs the F-35, the 5th generation fighter is cheaper to buy and cheaper to operate than the 4th generation fighter, and does everything the 4th generation fighter will do. So why the 4th generation fighter?


Care to back that up with reliable sources? Or just an opinion?


Hooray we have two threads about this!

Seriously an interim solution is needed. The Cs are timed out. Reroll Mud Hens into the ANG and reduce forward deployed squadrons, build new F-15s, at this point I’m like whatever mang.
Stop the stupids!- Claus Kellerman
 
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smithbs
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:25 pm

For the transport issue, I don't see the point of new engines the C-17. The C-17 is a kind of strategic airlifter that can make a tactical assault landing from out of theater, which is an interesting capability that has led to a lot of customization. For everyone else, and in the days before C-17, making a tactical landing required it to be an in-theater move with a C-130 or C-160. With over 200 C-17s in inventory, the USAF is well stocked in this regard, and it is a useful capability if one was looking at a conflict that was a reprise of the Pacific Campaign of WW2, considering the ranges between island groups.

But for moving stuff around the Pacific, I see two basic options:

Option A: An aircraft with a better payload/range capability than C-17, but I think rough field capabilities could be tossed. If you say that the tires will only ever kiss concrete, then you could certainly get a C-17-type payload further. And that could only be a clean-sheet design, maybe something more slick like a refined Il-76, or maybe blend the capability in as a C-5 replacement as well, as that issue will eventually need attention too. This would also allow the C-130s and C-17s to do what they do best.

Option B: Just live with the C-17. The range is decent - you'll just have a bit of payload limitation. The USAF has 223 for goodness sake - so what if you have to make more flights - the fleet is there. And when it turns out that the opponent has air defenses that are too stiff (not very hard to do), the C-17 will not be making tactical assaults anyway.
 
Noray
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:54 am

Dutchy wrote:
From an absolute amateur perspective: [...]
I would consider the A400 instead of developing a new airlifter, in order to free up some C-17's or have them work less hard so a life extension program could be postponed or avoided altogether.

Blasphemy! He's said it again!
Didn't we read in this forum at least a hundred times that the US has sufficient transport capacity and will never ever have a need for this monstrosity of an aircraft?
Oh, there you are:

smithbs wrote:
For the transport issue, I don't see the point of new engines the C-17. [...] With over 200 C-17s in inventory, the USAF is well stocked in this regard, and it is a useful capability if one was looking at a conflict that was a reprise of the Pacific Campaign of WW2, considering the ranges between island groups. [...] The USAF has 223 for goodness sake - so what if you have to make more flights - the fleet is there. [...]

So the real amateurs must be the authors of that study, who wrote:

Intertheater airlift capacity with the C-5M and C-17 fleets will be stable through 2030, however C-17 retirements will begin in the early 2030s. With the closing of the C-17 production line in 2015, strategic airlift is the only critical U.S. airpower capability that is neither in or near production. To avoid a rapid decline in strategic airlift capacity in the mid 2030s, new production (or a service life extension program) must be in place by 2030.

Airbus will keep the A400M production line alive until 2030 in hope of gaining new customers. I guess they have an idea of what they're waiting for.

Ozair wrote:
Dutchy wrote:
Reddevil556 wrote:
What about a clean sheet design with two options? Something like a C-17 also available in a scaled down twin engine version. Use most of the same parts but offer the larger version (C-17) and the little brother (C-2 like)?

I am far from an expert but it seemed the production line ended too soon. I know to restart production would be insanely expensive, but with C-17s getting used and abused I am surprised production didn’t last trough a 2nd generation of the aircraft.


A400 might be an option to relieve the C-17 somewhat and to complicate complement it.

The study is considering the potential for how the USAF can posture for a conflict around South Asia and specifically indicated a strategic transport for a reason, they need long range. The A400M would have too little range, with a reasonable payload, for what the USAF would need.

That's probably why Dutchy didn't suggest the A400M as a strategic transport for South Asia, but as an option to free up some C-17s; I'd say wherever the C17 is oversized.

Thinking of South Asia, what also comes to my mind is that the A400M is active as an aerial refueler in that region, another role that was emphasized in the study.
https://twitter.com/airforcenextgen/sta ... 0376215552
https://twitter.com/TheAirTimes/status/ ... 0020412416

smithbs wrote:
Option A: An aircraft with a better payload/range capability than C-17, but I think rough field capabilities could be tossed. If you say that the tires will only ever kiss concrete, then you could certainly get a C-17-type payload further. And that could only be a clean-sheet design, maybe something more slick like a refined Il-76, or maybe blend the capability in as a C-5 replacement as well, as that issue will eventually need attention too.

An AN-124 replacement will be required as well. You may be able to sell a few to Europe.
 
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:33 am

Noray wrote:
Dutchy wrote:
From an absolute amateur perspective: [...]
I would consider the A400 instead of developing a new airlifter, in order to free up some C-17's or have them work less hard so a life extension program could be postponed or avoided altogether.

Blasphemy! He's said it again!
Didn't we read in this forum at least a hundred times that the US has sufficient transport capacity and will never ever have a need for this monstrosity of an aircraft?
Oh, there you are:

Acquiring the A400M is 2030, or even before then, does not meaningfully reduce the workload on the C-17 to the point a SLEP or new development is not required.

Noray wrote:
smithbs wrote:
For the transport issue, I don't see the point of new engines the C-17. [...] With over 200 C-17s in inventory, the USAF is well stocked in this regard, and it is a useful capability if one was looking at a conflict that was a reprise of the Pacific Campaign of WW2, considering the ranges between island groups. [...] The USAF has 223 for goodness sake - so what if you have to make more flights - the fleet is there. [...]

So the real amateurs must be the authors of that study, who wrote:

Intertheater airlift capacity with the C-5M and C-17 fleets will be stable through 2030, however C-17 retirements will begin in the early 2030s. With the closing of the C-17 production line in 2015, strategic airlift is the only critical U.S. airpower capability that is neither in or near production. To avoid a rapid decline in strategic airlift capacity in the mid 2030s, new production (or a service life extension program) must be in place by 2030.

Airbus will keep the A400M production line alive until 2030 in hope of gaining new customers. I guess they have an idea of what they're waiting for.

Noray the recommendations by MITRE are very clear. The USAF, as the study clearly states, is after a C-17/C-5 replacement capability, which currently isn't in production with a vendor the USAF could acquire from. Not a transport that flies half the load half the distance.

Image



Noray wrote:
Ozair wrote:
Dutchy wrote:

A400 might be an option to relieve the C-17 somewhat and to complicate complement it.

The study is considering the potential for how the USAF can posture for a conflict around South Asia and specifically indicated a strategic transport for a reason, they need long range. The A400M would have too little range, with a reasonable payload, for what the USAF would need.

That's probably why Dutchy didn't suggest the A400M as a strategic transport for South Asia, but as an option to free up some C-17s; I'd say wherever the C17 is oversized.

Why do they need freeing up? The study made it clear that the aircraft based in the Northern Australia/PNG area would be bombers and tankers. The vast majority of supplies required by those bases would be transported via sea with only small supplement by air.

If the USAF requires transports to fly into the combat region the C-17 is perfectly positioned to do so given it could fly with a meaningful payload into the region from Northern Australia and return without the need to refuel.

Noray wrote:
Thinking of South Asia, what also comes to my mind is that the A400M is active as an aerial refueler in that region, another role that was emphasized in the study.
https://twitter.com/airforcenextgen/sta ... 0376215552
https://twitter.com/TheAirTimes/status/ ... 0020412416

The USAF isn't short on tankers and given the USAF uses the boom refuel method an A400M isn't going to be very useful for refuelling USAF bombers, other tankers and USAF fighter aircraft...
 
Noray
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:42 am

Ozair wrote:
Noray the recommendations by MITRE are very clear. The USAF, as the study clearly states, is after a C-17/C-5 replacement capability, which currently isn't in production with a vendor the USAF could acquire from. Not a transport that flies half the load half the distance.

It's very clear that you're misquoting the study, which says

(or a service life extension program)


Never mention the XXXX in Ozair's empire ...
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:46 am

Noray wrote:
Ozair wrote:
Noray the recommendations by MITRE are very clear. The USAF, as the study clearly states, is after a C-17/C-5 replacement capability, which currently isn't in production with a vendor the USAF could acquire from. Not a transport that flies half the load half the distance.

It's very clear that you're misquoting the study, which says

(or a service life extension program)


Never mention the XXXX in Ozair's empire ...

And yet I mentioned a C-17 SLEP earlier in my post. How about you step back and look at the problem objectively instead of trying to fit a specific aicraft into the mix...
 
Noray
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:53 am

Ozair wrote:
Noray wrote:
Ozair wrote:
Noray the recommendations by MITRE are very clear. The USAF, as the study clearly states, is after a C-17/C-5 replacement capability, which currently isn't in production with a vendor the USAF could acquire from. Not a transport that flies half the load half the distance.

It's very clear that you're misquoting the study, which says

(or a service life extension program)


Never mention the XXXX in Ozair's empire ...

And yet I mentioned a C-17 SLEP earlier in my post. How about you step back and look at the problem objectively instead of trying to fit a specific aicraft into the mix...


Yeah:
Acquiring the A400M is 2030, or even before then, does not meaningfully reduce the workload on the C-17 to the point a SLEP or new development is not required.

But even I didn't suggest that a new development isn't required, since I mentioned a possible AN-124 replacement in my earlier post. Nonetheless, a new develepment is very expensive; postponing it to the latest possible point will free money for other purposes. Meanwhile, the A400M will become a mature platform.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:12 am

Noray wrote:
Ozair wrote:
Noray wrote:
It's very clear that you're misquoting the study, which says



Never mention the XXXX in Ozair's empire ...

And yet I mentioned a C-17 SLEP earlier in my post. How about you step back and look at the problem objectively instead of trying to fit a specific aircraft into the mix...


Yeah:
Acquiring the A400M is 2030, or even before then, does not meaningfully reduce the workload on the C-17 to the point a SLEP or new development is not required.

But even I didn't suggest that a new development isn't required, since I mentioned a possible AN-124 replacement in my earlier post. Nonetheless, a new develepment is very expensive; postponing it to the latest possible point will free money for other purposes.

Agree 100% that a new development will cost a lot of money. When you have a fleet that comprises 285 strategic air transports you have the impetuous to spend money to get what you want. The C-5Ms are apparently slated to last until the 2040s so any new development started by 2030 is going to be primed to replace both the C-17 and C-5M. Many nations have spent as much or more for less capability...

As for postponing the replacement. If we look at the sums it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Say the USAF acquires sixty A400Ms in the late 2020s, with volume discount they get the aircraft for US$160 million each, noting it will have to be built in the US somewhere... That ends up being US$9.6 billion just to acquire the aircraft. Add the spares, infrastructure cost, training etc you are easily north of US$12 billion. Instead of spending that cash on an interim capability, as well as introducing a whole new fleet to the sustainment budget, it makes more sense to use that funding to replace the two current aircraft in your inventory with a single jet, reducing your overall sustainment load as well as acquiring an aircraft that is designed exactly to your requirements.

Noray wrote:
Meanwhile, the A400M will become a mature platform.

Sure, it is going to meaningfully increase in payload range though? It won’t get a different engine likely ever. It is designed for a specific payload and strengthening the airframe to handle a greater payload is going to come at the expense of range. The aircraft has great capabilities for those nations acquiring it but it doesn’t fit the way the USAF fight and the likely global nature of the conflicts the USAF are/will be involved in.
 
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smithbs
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:34 am

Noray wrote:
So the real amateurs must be the authors of that study, who wrote:


What are you getting after, besides to fake a disagreement of some sort? The main diff I have with the study is the gold-plated budget they are proposing, which is why I think this study is mainly for budget justification in Congress.

The thrust of my post was to assess what the USAF has now (the world's largest heavy lift fleet by a wide margin) and what a C-17 brings to the table - and what it doesn't in a wide theater like the Pacific. You can either build to your exact requirements, which was my Option A, or just make do with the enormous fleet you have, which is Option B. I never doubted the future C-17/C-5 replacement program - that will happen, no doubt about it. However, what exactly that program will put out is a great topic for discussion. My vote is a C-17-size cargo bay without the rough field capability, thereby stretching the payload-range graph to the right.

Chillax.
 
Noray
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:09 am

Ozair wrote:
Noray wrote:
Meanwhile, the A400M will become a mature platform.

Sure, it is going to meaningfully increase in payload range though? It won’t get a different engine likely ever. It is designed for a specific payload and strengthening the airframe to handle a greater payload is going to come at the expense of range. The aircraft has great capabilities for those nations acquiring it but it doesn’t fit the way the USAF fight and the likely global nature of the conflicts the USAF are/will be involved in.

Are you telling us that the transportation needs of the US forces are so heavily specific to the US that they wouldn't have any use for the A400M? There are many similar routes that are flown by US C-17s as well as European A400Ms. Think of US/Canada - Europe or Europe - Middle East/North Africa. Much of it being routine logistic flights with standardized pallets.

Not trying to turn this into another A400M thread, though.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:43 am

Noray wrote:
Ozair wrote:
Noray wrote:
Meanwhile, the A400M will become a mature platform.

Sure, it is going to meaningfully increase in payload range though? It won’t get a different engine likely ever. It is designed for a specific payload and strengthening the airframe to handle a greater payload is going to come at the expense of range. The aircraft has great capabilities for those nations acquiring it but it doesn’t fit the way the USAF fight and the likely global nature of the conflicts the USAF are/will be involved in.

Are you telling us that the transportation needs of the US forces are so heavily specific to the US that they wouldn't have any use for the A400M? There are many similar routes that are flown by US C-17s as well as European A400Ms. Think of US/Canada - Europe or Europe - Middle East/North Africa. Much of it being routine logistic flights.

Not trying to turn this into another A400M thread, though.

To keep it on topic I'll answer this from two perspectives.

First, the US has enough strategic and tactical transports now that they don't need an additional capability. They can abuse the C-17 for their purposes and it remains cheaper to do so than introduce a whole new type into the fleet. Same reason the KC-10s will go before the KC-135s, because the smaller fleet is not sustainable. The MITRE study also emphasised this point.

There are important correlations between fleet size and operating cost that should inform future procurement decisions. The most commonly cited operating cost metric, cost per flying hour, does not capture a fleet’s fixed operating and support (O&S) expenses. Total expenses (fixed plus variable costs) are not linear: Per aircraft average O&S costs rise dramatically when fleets are smaller than approximately 150 aircraft. Average O&S costs are far lower and level off in fleets larger than 150. This is generally true for all manned aircraft, regardless of mission type.


Second, in the context of the pacific theatre and future needs the US Services and the USAF has made it very clear they are seeking capabilities to enhance their operations in that region. If the USAF evaluated their requirements for operating from the continential US, and regional pacific bases, to the South Asian region the solution is likely a large long range transport with capabilities beyond their current fleet.

smithbs wrote:
I never doubted the future C-17/C-5 replacement program - that will happen, no doubt about it. However, what exactly that program will put out is a great topic for discussion. My vote is a C-17-size cargo bay without the rough field capability, thereby stretching the payload-range graph to the right.

Agree would be an interesting topic for discussion.
 
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seahawk
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:31 am

You could strengthen the fleet with a some 747-8Fs. The palletized cargo they work fine.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:52 am

seahawk wrote:
You could strengthen the fleet with a some 747-8Fs. The palletized cargo they work fine.

Why own those though? Probably more economical to contract that capability when required and if necessary the US Government can enact the Civil Reserve Air Fleet Program to handle rapid mobilization as they did with both Gulf Wars.
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:12 pm

Ozair wrote:
seahawk wrote:
You could strengthen the fleet with a some 747-8Fs. The palletized cargo they work fine.

Why own those though? Probably more economical to contract that capability when required and if necessary the US Government can enact the Civil Reserve Air Fleet Program to handle rapid mobilization as they did with both Gulf Wars.


The C-5 fleet will continue to be problematic, even after the AMP/RERP improvements. There are only around 50 of them and I think around 35-40 are mission capable any given day. How many times does an Abrams tank need to be positioned across an ocean overnight, realistically? Not many, I would contend, and it’s unlikely to be needed often in the next decade or two either, as the US is unlikely to suddenly face a major armor conflict it is jumping into in Asia (we have tons of armor pre-positioned in the Middle East anyway).

A truly logical/apolitical move to own/operate 25-30 748F’s and 20-25 of the best C-5M’s would I think pay off within a decade, while also preventing mis-use of the C-17’s, but I doubt it is likely to be considered before the line closes toward 2025. With the new AF1’s (89th) coming online around 2022-2023, they will basically have the new 748’s in the inventory, so it again would only make sense for pilot training/commonality, too.
 
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seahawk
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:20 pm

777F would also work, just take a bit of pressure from the C5/C-17 when hauling normal cargo to and from established airfields. The 748F with the nose door, is a bit more flexible though when it comes to outsized cargo.
 
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smithbs
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:26 pm

Ozair wrote:
seahawk wrote:
You could strengthen the fleet with a some 747-8Fs. The palletized cargo they work fine.

Why own those though? Probably more economical to contract that capability when required and if necessary the US Government can enact the Civil Reserve Air Fleet Program to handle rapid mobilization as they did with both Gulf Wars.


Ditto. No reason for DoD to own a fleet of 748F or 777F directly. Far cheaper to just contract those.
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:28 pm

It could, but loading army gear through a side door two flights up is a bit trickier than commercial carriers, palletized is probably only about 60 percent of it. I’d love to see a breakdown, by aircraft/type, as to how AMC loads are split between tracked vehicles, wheeled, or palletized cargo.
 
mxaxai
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:11 pm

Some thoughts:

- the entire concept is somewhat reminiscent of the WW2 pacific theater, save for the use of improvised forward bases. Truk and Rabaul look like good locations for combined Air Force / Navy bases.

- only 50 B-21 are expected to be delivered until the mid '30s. That seems like a very slow production rate, considering that there are over 150 bombers in the US inventory. The study acknowledges that the B-1 and B-52 can only attack with stand-off weapons. With this in mind, the high speed capability of the B-1 is obsolete and they will likely be the first to go. The range of the B-52 is invaluable in the pacific theater. I wonder if the B-21 has sufficient legs for the pacific.

- the study notes that the recommended "rear bases" are too far away for fighters. This also means that multirole fighters are increasingly useless in a ground attack role, placing even more weight on bombers and/or aircraft carriers. Navy and Marine Fighters consume the bulk of the refueling capability despite their "mobile bases".

- the proposed T/F-X doesn't have the range for US homeland defence. Not if supersonic intercepts are expected. The F-16 can at least carry large external tanks but the T/F-X is not designed for that.

- the report puts a lot of emphasis on keeping production lines open. I'd count the current F-15X acquisition to that. KC-46 production at 10 per year is very slow; amazing to see 767 production planned 50 years after its first flight. We see the same happening in Europe and also Russia.


- regarding strategic transport, the fundamental problem seems to be the abuse of the C-17 for all sorts of intra- and inter-theater missions. I see four options:
1) Buy a smaller aircraft. This could be A400Ms to replace the C-17 on lighter tactical missions, or C-2s to do the same on strategic missions. Either choice would free up the C-17 fleet to focus on what it does best: Carry heavy loads over long distances into small airfields. Unlikely, since the US will not spend enough on foreign equipment to reach the minimum fleet size of 150 aircraft. Sadly, since the C-2 is optimised for pacific ranges.

2) Buy a commercial aircraft. 777F or 748F could take the job of hauling pallets and light vehicles so that the C-17 can focus on outsized loads and tactical missions. Unlikely, since the Air Force is incapable of operating civilian aircraft, or pallet loaders. Also can't carry enough fish. \s

3) Build more C-17, or at a minimum increase their lifespan and mission readiness. AFAIK production could be reopened fairly easily. The most likely option of them all. Will probably happen approximately 2 years before the fleet is grounded due to fatigue - see the current F-15 debate. Re-engine is probably not worth it, although a slight range increase could be useful in the pacific.

4) Develop a new jet to replace the C-5 (and possibly the C-17). Probably the most expensive option. I see zero benefit to develop a new C-17-sized jet, seeing how capable the C-17 already is. A new C-5-sized jet could replace the very old Galaxy and relieve the C-17 on heavy inter-theater missions. In a way, this would be similar to what a commercial transport offers, except that this new jet could also carry tanks and helicopters.

Sorry for the long post ...
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:48 pm

mxaxai wrote:
Some thoughts:

- the report puts a lot of emphasis on keeping production lines open. I'd count the current F-15X acquisition to that. KC-46 production at 10 per year is very slow; amazing to see 767 production planned 50 years after its first flight. We see the same happening in Europe and also Russia.

3) Build more C-17, or at a minimum increase their lifespan and mission readiness. AFAIK production could be reopened fairly easily. The most likely option of them all. Will probably happen approximately 2 years before the fleet is grounded due to fatigue - see the current F-15 debate. Re-engine is probably not worth it, although a slight range increase could be useful in the pacific.


Boeing has received orders thru the 4th production lot (9-2018) - 52 planes in total of the 179 in the contract. Delivery rate originally was to be 15/yr from 2017-2027, up to 36 could be delivered this year, but more like 30 in total based on current 3-4 month rate.

The C-17 line is gone, the 90 acre Long Beach site was sold in July. So not easy to reopen.
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:49 pm

C-17 line is dead and buried as mentioned (as is Pratt's ability to make new engines for it). The funeral is over, and the annual grave site visits are attended by fewer each time.

A putative New Tanker Transport program will/would be interesting, but IOC is realistically 2035 or later (probably 2040-ish). With USAF generals discussing absurdities like low earth orbit for a KC-Z, it's very tough to envision how the primes (LMT/BA/NG) are going to put together a bid/program to create what everyone probably realizes makes sense; a longer ranged 777/787 size platform that can haul/deliver gas or freight. The priorities are as they have always been; Tacair, bombers, trainers, then cargo/tankers.

https://aviationweek.com/defense/usaf-m ... chief-says

“I actually don’t know if the next version of tanker operates in the air or operates at low Earth orbit,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s manned or unmanned, and I actually don’t care that much as long as it brings the attributes we need to win.”

The service will look at a variety of options for future systems, including what will give the U.S. an asymmetric advantage against its adversaries.

“It might sound a little bit odd that the commander of Air Mobility Command is talking to Air Force Space Command about development of the next tanker, but it makes perfect sense to me,” Goldfein said.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:48 pm

mxaxai wrote:
Some thoughts:

- the entire concept is somewhat reminiscent of the WW2 pacific theater, save for the use of improvised forward bases. Truk and Rabaul look like good locations for combined Air Force / Navy bases.

It does feel very WW2 and the difficulty of distance hasn’t changed. As for the basing, Rabaul isn’t a good candidate, the Tavurvur volcano is simply too unstable for it to be a viable option. Chuuk also likely doesn’t have the space available to expand to the size the US would require, if the locals would even welcome it. I'd also be wary about what a rise in sea levels would do to some of these potential locations (similar to a lot of these spratly island outposts that may end up being well below sea level in the next 20 years).

mxaxai wrote:
- only 50 B-21 are expected to be delivered until the mid '30s. That seems like a very slow production rate, considering that there are over 150 bombers in the US inventory. The study acknowledges that the B-1 and B-52 can only attack with stand-off weapons. With this in mind, the high speed capability of the B-1 is obsolete and they will likely be the first to go. The range of the B-52 is invaluable in the pacific theater. I wonder if the B-21 has sufficient legs for the pacific.

I expect the B-21 production rate will be approx twelve a year but that will likely take a few years to get to that rate. IOC is currently meant to be 2025 (probably six aircraft with trained crews) but I don’t believe they will make that.

B-21 was designed with the pacific theatre in mind so I expect the range will be sufficient for what they want to do and agree the B-1s are likely the first to go but that has been the plan for awhile.

mxaxai wrote:
- the study notes that the recommended "rear bases" are too far away for fighters. This also means that multirole fighters are increasingly useless in a ground attack role, placing even more weight on bombers and/or aircraft carriers. Navy and Marine Fighters consume the bulk of the refueling capability despite their "mobile bases".

I don’t think the suggestion is that forward based fighters are useless, just that their basing is at greater risk of attack.
Forward bases are vulnerable, but rear bases may place fighters beyond their useful or even maximum operational radius. Assuming combat mission duration and radius is the same for all, fighters with larger weapons payloads offer greater combat power over time.

The Navy fighters also assume the bulk of the refuelling because their ranges are less than land based fighters especially when you factor in the reserve fuel required for carrier ops. The study also hasn't really mentioned the use of unamnned platforms, such as the loyal wingman concepts. Forward basing loyal wingman might do a lot to allievate the issues of long range fighter jets. Additionally a longer range F-35 is expected in the mid 2020s, likely pushing past 1100nm A2A combat radius, which will make a difference to basing and tanking requirements.

mxaxai wrote:
- the proposed T/F-X doesn't have the range for US homeland defence. Not if supersonic intercepts are expected. The F-16 can at least carry large external tanks but the T/F-X is not designed for that.

I expect the F/T-X would receive some modification, as well as be capable of carrying external tanks if required, for that role. I’d expect wing pylons for tanks and perhaps two AAMs. Even conformal tanks would be an option that would likely reduce drag. I haven't seen an actual F/T-X concept, is this available anywhere?

mxaxai wrote:
- regarding strategic transport, the fundamental problem seems to be the abuse of the C-17 for all sorts of intra- and inter-theater missions. I see four options:
1) Buy a smaller aircraft. This could be A400Ms to replace the C-17 on lighter tactical missions, or C-2s to do the same on strategic missions. Either choice would free up the C-17 fleet to focus on what it does best: Carry heavy loads over long distances into small airfields. Unlikely, since the US will not spend enough on foreign equipment to reach the minimum fleet size of 150 aircraft. Sadly, since the C-2 is optimised for pacific ranges.

As I have already indicated I don’t see this as viable and the study makes it clear it is better to acquire aircraft in larger numbers to reduce O&S costs. In that context then, at least a C-2 acquisition would make better sense given it uses essentially the same engine as the C-17 but I still don't think that makes sense.

mxaxai wrote:
2) Buy a commercial aircraft. 777F or 748F could take the job of hauling pallets and light vehicles so that the C-17 can focus on outsized loads and tactical missions. Unlikely, since the Air Force is incapable of operating civilian aircraft, or pallet loaders. Also can't carry enough fish. \s

The USAF already contracts commercial companies to move stuff for them. I still don’t see why they need this dedicated infrastructure themselves. How would they be able to retain the aircrew once they were trained as they would all likely flow direct to civilian jobs once their minimums were reached.

mxaxai wrote:
4) Develop a new jet to replace the C-5 (and possibly the C-17). Probably the most expensive option. I see zero benefit to develop a new C-17-sized jet, seeing how capable the C-17 already is. A new C-5-sized jet could replace the very old Galaxy and relieve the C-17 on heavy inter-theater missions. In a way, this would be similar to what a commercial transport offers, except that this new jet could also carry tanks and helicopters.

I doubt a new transport will be C-5 sized. I can see it being probably being sized between the two but closer to C-17, I just don’t think that size is now necessary. With a new aircraft you could probably get closer to the C-5 payload without the need for the same airframe size. If they go BWB then they also get some significant flight cost reduction but perhaps at the expense of maintenance.

mxaxai wrote:
Sorry for the long post ...

Love the long posts!
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:55 pm

texl1649 wrote:
With USAF generals discussing absurdities like low earth orbit for a KC-Z, it's very tough to envision how the primes (LMT/BA/NG) are going to put together a bid/program to create what everyone probably realizes makes sense; a longer ranged 777/787 size platform that can haul/deliver gas or freight. The priorities are as they have always been; Tacair, bombers, trainers, then cargo/tankers.

https://aviationweek.com/defense/usaf-m ... chief-says

“I actually don’t know if the next version of tanker operates in the air or operates at low Earth orbit,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s manned or unmanned, and I actually don’t care that much as long as it brings the attributes we need to win.”

The service will look at a variety of options for future systems, including what will give the U.S. an asymmetric advantage against its adversaries.

“It might sound a little bit odd that the commander of Air Mobility Command is talking to Air Force Space Command about development of the next tanker, but it makes perfect sense to me,” Goldfein said.

I was thinking about this as well but from a ransport perspective. The USAF has indicated they are also lookig at LEO supply dumps so perhaps supplying forward bases from LEO removes some of the transport problems.

Within a decade, U.S. troops may get some supplies from prepositioned stocks in space — if the Air Force’s mobility commander can make his vision come true.

https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2 ... de/150246/

I don't want to consider the likely insane cost of this but for moving equipment/resupply rapidly to the pacific theatre via pre-positioned space dumps removes some of the air transport problems.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:00 am

This article from Forbes adds some interesting info to the discussion on the role the US Army could play in a Pacific conflict that is primarily thought of as USN/USMC/USAF based. Shore based precision fire and hypersonic missiles, perhaps Army adaption of the LARSM and the forward deployemt of THAAD are all suggested.

How The U.S. Army Can Play A Much Bigger Pacific Role Deterring China

The main focus of U.S. defense strategy has shifted from defeating violent extremists—terrorists—to opposing aggression by other great powers. Those other powers are understood to be China and Russia. Pentagon planners now spend much of their time figuring out how to deter Russian adventurism in Europe, and Chinese expansionism in Asia.

The general thinking is that Europe will be mostly an Army-Air Force show, because any Russian military move westward would occur on land, and the only seas close enough to facilitate Navy-Marine Corps participation (the Baltic and Black Seas) would be too dangerous to enter in a major conflict. So Washington is moving to expand the Army’s presence in Poland and the Baltic states while increasing the number of stealthy Air Force and allied F-35 fighters in the region that can support ground operations.

The Western Pacific region around China, on the other hand, is assumed to be mainly a Navy-Marine Corps show. Although the Air Force has a major presence in Guam, Japan and South Korea, and the Army plays a pivotal role in defending South Korea, sea-based forces are deemed a more flexible and survivable way of resisting China’s military moves. Just as the Navy’s role in a European conflict would be limited by geography, so the Army’s role in a region defined by vast expanses of ocean is deemed to be modest—at least, beyond Korea.

This all seems fairly obvious if you look at maps of the two regions. However, maybe it isn’t as obvious as it appears in the case of a Pacific mission for America’s Army. The reason is that both China’s and America’s strategies for the Western Pacific revolve around a series of islands stretching from the Kamchatka Peninsula in the north to the Malay Peninsula in the south. Some of these islands could provide basing opportunities for U.S. Army units equipped to defeat Chinese naval and air forces seeking to traverse the so-called “first island chain” and break out into the Pacific.

Suitably equipped, these Army units could also help disrupt China’s efforts to secure the seas between the first island chain and the Chinese mainland, a move aimed at denying access to U.S. naval forces.

...

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthomp ... 211bba58f9
 
texl1649
Posts: 994
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:18 am

Over the centuries, land/shore based artillery (and fortifications) has always wound up a critical year to ten years behind naval (mobile) firepower, and the same would almost certainly happen again.

The prospect of pre-positioned Army supplies (think food/ammo) or Jet-A in low earth orbit is absolutely insane, and the cost to keep sending up LEO orbiting stocks annually for such inanity should get any general giving it thought an immediate retirement letter.

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