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Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:02 pm

Another study released on the capability of the US Military to fight and win a near-peer conflict in the Indo pacific area. The United States Studies Centre’s mission is the following,
The United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney is a university-based research centre, dedicated to the rigorous analysis of American foreign policy, economics, politics and culture.


I don’t think anyone is in doubt on the issues facing the US Military in conducting a near-peer conflict in the region. The lack of real investment over the last 25 years has left the current force aging and costly to maintain. The question is whether the US can either spend the amount required to bridge the current capability gap or if eventually they will withdraw from the indo-pacific region and return to a more isolationist policy likely to the determinant of long term allies in the region.


AVERTING CRISIS: AMERICAN STRATEGY, MILITARY SPENDING AND COLLECTIVE DEFENCE IN THE INDO-PACIFIC

Executive Summary headings
America no longer enjoys military primacy in the Indo-Pacific and its capacity to uphold a favourable balance of power is increasingly uncertain.

Over the next decade, the US defence budget is unlikely to meet the needs of the National Defense Strategy owing to a combination of political, fiscal and internal pressures.

A strategy of collective defence is fast becoming necessary as a way of offsetting shortfalls in America’s regional military power and holding the line against rising Chinese strength.

...

https://www.ussc.edu.au/analysis/averti ... do-pacific

The full report can be downloaded here
https://united-states-studies-centre.s3 ... acific.pdf

To make it relevant to this thread some of the air based recommendations and findings include,

Air power is a critical component of the conventional balance of power in the Indo-Pacific. For America to deter opportunistic aggression by the Chinese military, the US Air Force and carrier air wings of the Navy must be able to project combat power across the vast geographic distances that characterise the regional security environment. This requires bombers, fighters, aerial refuelling aircraft, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms to operate effectively during times of crisis. Beijing’s establishment of sophisticated anti-air and area-denial capabilities, however, means that American air power must develop new ways to surveil, strike and survive in a highly-contested region, and, by extension, hold the elements that comprise China’s anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) network at risk. Unfortunately, the technological advantages that America developed in the 1970s and 1980s — such as stealth technology and precision strike weapons — are inadequate against Chinese systems that can threaten US aircraft at significant distances. Compounding this challenge is the fact that force development, particularly in the 2000s, did not produce the amount or kind of Air Force and Navy aviation platforms that are likely to be required for conventional deterrence in the Indo-Pacific today. Looking to the 2030s, changes will need to be made to the size, composition and capabilities of America’s air power fleet in order to maintain a favourable balance of power in the region.


On basing and hardened infrastructure in the region,
According to some analyses, coordinated attacks by PLA ballistic and cruise missiles on American air bases could destroy “up to 70 per cent” of their aircraft in the opening stages of a conflict. Others have described the damage to runways, maintenance facilities and associated infrastructure that would prevent their use for over a week in certain combat conditions. As air bases close to potential areas of conflict, such as the Taiwan Strait, have come under threat, mastering the vast distances of the Pacific Ocean has become a greater factor in America’s ability to efficiently project military power. Only two air bases — both on Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands archipelago — are located within the 1,000km unrefuelled range of US tactical fighters from the Taiwan Strait. For American land-based air forces to reach the Strait, they would have to operate at longer ranges and rely on vulnerable air-to-air refuelling “that would substantially reduce the sortie generation rate and on-station time of the aircraft employed”

One way to offset this growing challenge is to selectively harden runways, aircraft shelters and other supporting regional infrastructure. As the threat to US basing has grown, military leaders and defence strategists have repeatedly testified on the need to invest in military construction and the hardening of facilities. But the United States has lagged in building resiliency across its bases in the Indo-Pacific. According to a 2014 estimate, the US military had only 207 hardened aircraft shelters across four bases in the Western Pacific, with most located in South Korea — an increase of just 2.5 per cent over the previous 12 years. The Air Force has 15 hardened shelters at Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa; all other bases are either unhardened or shared with allies and partners that may not allow access to their facilities during a US-China conflict. If a major conflict broke out today, the Air Force could operate up to 190 aircraft from Kadena, the vast majority of which would be “parked in the open”. By comparison, between 2000 and 2012, China — which has 39 air bases within 800km range of Taipei — grew its hardened aircraft shelters from 92 to 312, representing an increase of nearly 240 per cent


Lots more in the article.

While the article is critical of US Military forces and overall political will it is important to note that China, the perceived main threat in the area, will have its own issues (economic, military, climate change, domestic unrest and just feeding their population) over the projected timeframes.
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Mon Aug 19, 2019 5:40 pm

The US really is energy independent at this point, and as such needs to pull out of the Middle East, let Europe fend for itself now (prop up Britain vs. Germany/Russia/Turkey), and focus on more of an alliance with Australia, Japan, Philippines (long term), and yes S. Korea. It will take sustained decades long investment, trade relationships and strategy to counter China’s goals.
 
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kc135topboom
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:14 am

The USAF just took delivery of the last rewinged A-10, so they should stay until at least 2035, or so. Replacing the A-10 with the F-35 has been discussed to death. The A-10 is loved by the Grunts and the F-35 just doesn't have the capabilities to compete with the A-10 down in the mud.

The KC-46, and Boeing, have a long way to go before they can even replace the retired T-41A/B/C (Cessna-172), let alone the KC-10 or KC-135. Before the USAF retires the KC-10s they should look at removing the air refueling mission and just make it a long range trash hauler. That supplements the C-17 and the C-5. Let the KC-135 soldier on as the primary tanker until the KC-46 can find its way around the flight line.


The FT-X is a good idea. But the first uses of it should be in USAF, USN, and USMC Aggressor Squadrons, then move on to homeland defense. But the FT-X should be a single seater to allow for aggressor type avionics, a weapons system, and more fuel. Since the Boeing TX is air refuelable, the FT-X should keep this capability. The current requirement for the T-X is just 351 airplanes. a FT-X would more than double that number for US forces alone.

Bases in Oz should be built on existing and active RAAF bases, not at some retired RAAF base out in the outback. It is far cheaper to expand the RAAF base than rebuild an abandoned one. USAF deployments to Oz currently go to RAAF Bases anyway, so they already have much of the infrastructure.

Bombers? Yeah, despite the capabilities the Bone has (ability to go fast is good), it has no nuclear delivery capability. So retire it and go with the only game in town, the B-21. Keep the B-2 longer than currently planned, and when the combined fleet of B-2As and B-21As reaches 40-50 active airframes, begin retiring the B-52H, don't waste money reengining it.

The current fleet of F-15s and F-16s is getting up to collecting social security age (for airplanes). Replace all F-15s and F-16s with a mix of new build F-15NGs, and F-16NG, and the F-35.
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:48 am

Thx KC-top boom. Wish you’d post more again! Good feedback. Agree on bases in Oz. Disagree on some of the other stuff, but not enough to nitpick.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:51 am

kc135topboom wrote:
The USAF just took delivery of the last rewinged A-10, so they should stay until at least 2035, or so. Replacing the A-10 with the F-35 has been discussed to death. The A-10 is loved by the Grunts and the F-35 just doesn't have the capabilities to compete with the A-10 down in the mud.

Yes the A-10 is planned to fly until the mid 2030s but it will be replaced by the F-35 in due time. The issue with the A-10 remains that it cannot operate in the threat environments expected in the indo pacific region, nor does it have the range or speed to operate there. If the USAF intends that to be the primary threat region for development of its capability then the A-10 is the odd man out.

kc135topboom wrote:
The FT-X is a good idea. But the first uses of it should be in USAF, USN, and USMC Aggressor Squadrons, then move on to homeland defense.

That is the intent, the study states they should increase production to get it to the training units faster and by so doing free up later production for the F/T-X.

kc135topboom wrote:
Bases in Oz should be built on existing and active RAAF bases, not at some retired RAAF base out in the outback. It is far cheaper to expand the RAAF base than rebuild an abandoned one. USAF deployments to Oz currently go to RAAF Bases anyway, so they already have much of the infrastructure.

The study identifies the need for 24 bombers and 18 tanker aircraft to be based at each of four bases. Right now both RAAF Darwin and RAAF Tindal could not hold that number of aircraft, let alone double that to accommodate the number required by the USAF to win a conflict.

The RAAF base bases are functioning bases, just do not have the built up infrastructure to handle large numbers of aircraft. It would probably be cheaper to build on those bare non day to day operational sites than on existing in use bases.
An image of Scherger in Northern Queensland. It just needs hardened shelters and other defensive measures.

Image

Dispersed basing also spreads the US firepower across multiple bases, ensuring that one base being attacked and rendered inactive for a period of time doesn’t eliminate all the long range bombers/tankers in the region.

kc135topboom wrote:
Bombers? Yeah, despite the capabilities the Bone has (ability to go fast is good), it has no nuclear delivery capability. So retire it and go with the only game in town, the B-21. Keep the B-2 longer than currently planned, and when the combined fleet of B-2As and B-21As reaches 40-50 active airframes, begin retiring the B-52H, don't waste money reengining it.

The equation changes if you introduce the nuclear aspect. A china scenario with nuclear weapons is very much a one sided conflict, both sides lose but the US has such overwhelming overmatch on nuclear weapon stocks that China ceases to exist. The study is based on a conventional conflict and I think we can keep the discussion to that aspect.

The study advocates for not replacing the B-1s until there are sufficient B-21 numbers but acquiring enough B-21s to replace them and then some. The B-52s are handy today due to their long range and large weapons capability. Plugging 20 JASSM into the battlespace from each B-52 really changes the dynamics of a conflict as well as increases the ability for other airframes to operate within the IADS zones.

kc135topboom wrote:
The current fleet of F-15s and F-16s is getting up to collecting social security age (for airplanes). Replace all F-15s and F-16s with a mix of new build F-15NGs, and F-16NG, and the F-35.

The study again advocates for acquiring the F-15EX to replace all current in service F-15s but doesn’t talk about the F-16 in any form. An F-16NG would be a non-starter for the US especially with the F-35 hitting its current production targets. It provides no additional capability and the USAF has enough F-16s for the missions they need it to fulfil.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Wed Aug 28, 2019 2:06 am

Esper doesn’t mention any specific countries but the article talks about improvements to existing facilities in Thailand, something in Singapore (which would likely be quite expensive or have a limited ability to take many additional aircraft, moving back to the Philippines and perhaps even operating out of Vietnam (which would be a significant change). All the above are better options for fighter aircraft basing closer to the region.

For the southern region where bombers and tankers would likely be based the article mentions basing in Micronesia would be a good option to prevent expanding Chinese influence as well as further facilities in PNG.

Clearly though pacific basing is now being taken seriously which is a good thing both for US forces and for regional economies.

Esper calls for new basing investments in the Pacific

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper today called for expanding base locations in the Pacific while continuing regular freedom of navigation operations in the region, as part of a broader attempt to stymie China’s influence.

Esper, speaking at the Naval War College, called the Indo-Pacific theater “our priority theater,” as the department continues its shift towards an era of great power competition.

“Many of you spent most of your career fighting irregular warfare or engaging with it,” Esper told the audience. “But times have changed.”

In the Pacific, “allies and partners want us to lead… but to do that we must also be present in the region,” Esper said. “Not everywhere, but we have to be in the key locations. This means looking at how we expand our basing locations, investing more time and resources into certain regions we haven’t been to in the past.”

...

https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/20 ... e-pacific/
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Wed Nov 13, 2019 9:17 pm

Anyone like to take a guess at what platforms will be in the firing line for the FY2021 budget?

US Air Force plans platform cuts for FY 2021 budget request

Key Points
1. The US Air Force is planning platform cuts in its FY 2021 budget to free up money for modernisation
2. The service wants to free up money to prepare for near-peer competition and move away from platforms that were more valuable during previous combat in uncontested airspace

The US Air Force (USAF) will propose retiring platforms as part of its fiscal year 2021 (FY 2021) budget request to free up funding for important modernisation efforts.

Will Roper, USAF assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics (AT&L), said on 12 November that the service is assessing which systems have value 5-10 years into the future and which ones will be increasingly applicable to only counter terrorist or low threat environments. The USAF is transitioning to future warfare in contested environments against near-peer nations such as China or Russia and away from battle in uncontested airspace over Afghanistan and Iraq.

Roper said the FY 2021 budget will focus on digital transformation, getting enterprise cloud computing across the USAF, and connecting the development environment among service coding hubs such as Kessel Run and Kobayashi Maru. The USAF, he said, wants to connect these facilities to a combat cloud so it can write code and deploy it at the pace its operators need.

The USAF continues to promote its new strategy of prioritising connecting platforms and operators instead of building world-class weapon systems. In addition to cloud computing, Roper said the service wants software defined radios and networks at the tactical edge so it can respond quickly to new threats. The USAF also wants to create internet-type effects, which Roper said is completely different from the USAF's current model of building dominant platforms that enemies cannot shoot down.

...

https://www.janes.com/article/92527/us- ... et-request

The obvious candidates for me are the B-1B, KC-10 and F-15C fleets and the controversial selection is the E-8 JSTARS. I think the A-10 will continue on at least for the next five years or so even though it is limited to low threat environments. If the USAF is smart they will wait until McSally likely loses her senate race in 2020 to retire the A-10 as she has bene an outspoken critic of the retirement for a number of years.
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:13 pm

With the new wing sets the A-10 doesn’t really cost a ton to operate in the grand USAF budget scheme of things. The others I totally agree on, Ozair.

The B-1 has to be the closest to ‘doesn’t have a mission at this point’ as well. Non-stealthy long range bomber flying large bomb loads subsonically doesn’t seem like a very good fit at this point, especially with the B-52 re-engine in the mix, and B-21 coming onboard. Plus, the things just haven’t ever really worked right. The F-15C fleet the USAF is trying to get replaced but being an election year who knows on the EX.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:19 am

This is a significant improvement for Tindal, which previously was essentially just a fighter base, into a very large facility to support large aircraft and especially US bombers. Will be interesting to see how this impacts the local area but given the very large and advanced training areas in Northern Australia no surprise this investment is being made.

It also plays into this thread about strengthening the Pacific region and improving basing options. Would be good to see some subsequent announcements from the US side on additional infrastructure around the region.

NT RAAF base set for $1.1 billion upgrade

The Morrison government will spend $1.1 billion upgrading the NT's Tindal airbase to accelerate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter rollout and boost military ties with the United States.

The improvements will include major runway extensions, fuel stockpiles and engineering to support large aircraft, like US Air Force B-52 strategic bombers and RAAF KC-30 air-to-air refuellers.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce the upgrades at the base near Katherine on Friday, with the funding expected to deliver a potent air combat capability.

"It will be integral to our alliance with the United States, and increase the reach of Air Force capabilities in the Indo-Pacific," he said in a statement.

...

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/66417 ... e/?cs=9397
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Mon Feb 24, 2020 8:57 pm

A short video with Gen Charles Brown on where he sees the future of airbase defence in the Pacific area. While he likes THAAD and Patriot he acknowledges the cost curve is simply too great to use an expensive interceptor to shoot down a comparatively low cost cruise missile. Additionally the logistics of moving those units into location on top of his other logistical needs would be significant. DEW is his preference and he is keen to focus first on airbase defence before they really look at airborne based lasers.

How to defend Pacific air bases?

https://www.defensenews.com/newsletters ... kly-extra/
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:20 pm

We are a long ways from a deployed directed energy system that can protect an airfield from something like a hypersonic strike/swarm. Israel doesn’t even have that for their urban areas. I’d be nervous to be living around such a system, frankly; it’s a lot of power to trust your computers to not erroneously direct.
 
DigitalSea
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:06 pm

texl1649 wrote:
We are a long ways from a deployed directed energy system that can protect an airfield from something like a hypersonic strike/swarm. Israel doesn’t even have that for their urban areas. I’d be nervous to be living around such a system, frankly; it’s a lot of power to trust your computers to not erroneously direct.


We have no choice - as our competition grows, so will our appetite for risk in order to stay ahead.
 
SuperiorPilotMe
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue Feb 25, 2020 7:08 pm

Dutchy wrote:

- 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.


If it was the “F-15CX” I would agree, but with the “EX” not nearly as much as you think. There’s a very significant bomber capability gap between StratAir and TacAir right now, especially given how hard Mud Hens have been used. EXs would be a great interim filler until a better solution is found (whether a new stealth TacAir platform of some type, or even B-21). By the time that “interim solution” is up those EXs might be pretty well worn anyway.

What’s more puzzling is the whole T-X saga. For years the Air Force debated if we even needed a next gen trainer, if upgraded T-38s (which were upgraded to C standard not long ago at all) and especially ground trainers might be a sufficient future. Then in 2017-2018 we suddenly needed a new trainer, which after a microscopic timeframe was awarded to Boeing. Along with a tanker drone bid (itself also dubious) and a helicopter bid. And now advocating F/T-X in a dubious role with extant platforms available (Cessna Caravans, drones or an extensive fleet of F-16s).

I’m sure this coinciding with the inauguration of a President explicitly “pro-1%” and simply loves corruption has nothing to do with this. Then again, it’s not like it would be different with another contractor. I just find the apparent Trump-Boeing love affair curious.
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Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Thu Mar 12, 2020 9:15 pm

No surprise to any of us that the USAF bomber force is shrinking and in a reasonably poor state of readiness. Not sure there is much to be done about this in the near term as it is a result of the low funding through the 90s and 2000s and takes years to remedy.

As the article intimates, given the workload the Bomber fleet has undergone over the last 20 years there is every chance that even the B-52s, as they move through a modernisation, will be unsustainable due to unforeseen corrosion issues and any modernisation reduces an already small fleet. An option could be to pump a lot of money into theB-1 fleet and bring it back up but the clear preference is to push along the B-21 given it and the B-2 are the only platforms now/expected to be capable of surviving in a high threat environment.

America’s bomber force is too small and getting smaller

America’s bomber force is now in crisis. In the Air Force’s fiscal 2021 budget request, one-third of the B-1 fleet is set for retirement, B-2 survivability modernization is canceled and the new B-21 is at least a decade away from contributing significantly to the bomber force. The venerable B-52 requires new engines and other upgrades to be effective. The number of bombers are at their lowest ever, but demand for bombers increases every year, particularly in the vast and most-stressed region of the Indo-Pacific. Bombers are the preferred weapon system there because of their long range and huge payload capacity.

At the end of the Cold War in 1989 and just prior to the Gulf War in 1990, America had over 400 bombers. After these proposed cuts, there will be only 140.

This decline is curious in light of recent Air Force declarations and testimony before Congress. In the document “The Air Force We Need,” Air Force leaders insisted last fall they need five more bomber squadrons — about 65 more bombers. Just last month, the Air Force chief of staff testified that the need is for “200 bombers, of which 145 would be B-21s.” These numbers have been validated by think tanks such as MITRE Corp., the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Rand, and the Mitchell Institute.

...

https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/com ... g-smaller/
 
SuperiorPilotMe
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Thu Mar 12, 2020 10:11 pm

This incidentally is why the F-15EX is a great buy, it could pick up alot of the slack in the interim.
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Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:51 pm

SuperiorPilotMe wrote:
This incidentally is why the F-15EX is a great buy, it could pick up alot of the slack in the interim.

I don’t think the USAF considers the F-15EX in any way a strategic aircraft or even suboptimal replacement for a bomber, the payload range difference is just too great. Additionally the EX is intended to move to ANG units operating the C in an A2A role and it will be many years before enough pilots rotate through a dedicated EX A2G training syllabus. The F-15EX thread also illustrates how an F-15 can potentially load one of the developmental hypersonic weapons while a single B-52 can carry many (probably ten to twelve).
 
SuperiorPilotMe
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:22 am

Ozair wrote:
I don’t think the USAF considers the F-15EX in any way a strategic aircraft or even suboptimal replacement for a bomber, the payload range difference is just too great.


That’s very true but as far as interim bomb trucks go there aren’t alot of alternatives. Besides most if not all sorties are tactical in nature anyway, it’ll help a little save the actual strategic metal.
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ThePointblank
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Fri Mar 13, 2020 3:34 am

SuperiorPilotMe wrote:
Ozair wrote:
I don’t think the USAF considers the F-15EX in any way a strategic aircraft or even suboptimal replacement for a bomber, the payload range difference is just too great.


That’s very true but as far as interim bomb trucks go there aren’t alot of alternatives. Besides most if not all sorties are tactical in nature anyway, it’ll help a little save the actual strategic metal.

The squadrons the F-15EX are going to are all air superiority squadrons tasked with CONUS defence.

These squadrons and their bases neither have the support infrastructure to support an air to ground mission, nor the training infrastructure and ranges to support continuous pilot training for air to ground. And there's no money in the budget set aside to acquire said infrastructure and training facilities to do so.
 
SuperiorPilotMe
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:55 pm

True, but that doesn’t exclude future production for frontline squadrons (likely rotating Mud Hens out, if that happens) or pushed out of air superiority squadrons by F-35s to attack squadrons in the NG. Either way it’s Gen 4 legacy fighters, F-35s or B-21s for your bombing roles, or shore up existing types, and all of those represent extremely serious, what-its-like-being-in-America-right-now-running-like-decapitated-chickens-trying-to-face-CORVID19-level compromises right now, at least for the time being.

But putting EXs into the front lines until F-35s displace them is *some* solution. Remember just because current EX production is earmarked for the NG squads doesn’t mean it’s somehow physically impossible to make more for frontline squadrons.

And just to be clear I am *not* a Boeing fanboy. The moderator staff here understands that well, and few other things.
Stop the stupids!- Claus Kellerman
 
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kc135topboom
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:27 am

The VTANG is transitioning from thier F-16C/Ds to the F-35A right now, the first ANG squadron to do so. They will change missions from A2A to A2G, leaving the only A2A squadron in New England to the MAANG F-15C/Ds. So the MAANG should transition to the new F-15EX at sometime soon.

With the NHANG getting KC-46As, the RIANG already equipped with the C-130J-30, New England will have the world's most modern Air Force. The MEANG will still fly the KC-135R while the CTANG flies the C-130H.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Thu Mar 19, 2020 2:30 am

kc135topboom wrote:
The VTANG is transitioning from thier F-16C/Ds to the F-35A right now, the first ANG squadron to do so. They will change missions from A2A to A2G, leaving the only A2A squadron in New England to the MAANG F-15C/Ds. So the MAANG should transition to the new F-15EX at sometime soon.

Not sure why you think the VTANG only do A2A. The 134th conducted multiple deployments to Iraq as part of OIF with the sole purpose being CAS. They are a multi-role unit and will continue to be a multi-role unit now they are transitioning for the F-35.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue May 05, 2020 11:22 am

Some commentary on the US Bomber force and its need to be sustained and increased, as has been published in other articles recently. Is this indirect lobbying to increase the B-21 fleet number or just general observations of how bad the state of the US Bomber fleet is and how much is needed if the pivot to the Pacific is real?

America must build bomber capacity to compete in the Pacific

...

Tough choices are needed to rebalance the Air Force toward longer range and more payload to compete in the Pacific. To do so, the Air Force will need to retain and modernize as much of the legacy bomber force as possible, as well as ramp up production rates for the B-21. To employ these platforms effectively, it should continue efforts to expand its operational and basing flexibility. It should also pursue weapons that maximize use of bomber weapons bay volume instead of relying upon weapons optimized for fighters.

...

https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/com ... e-pacific/
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Tue May 05, 2020 7:56 pm

I dunno, sometimes I think 'branch' folks get stuck into a mode of thinking aligned with how they were trained decades ago, and that's how I read that piece, ozair. Yes, we have to pivot to asia-pacific, but really, what scenario involves waves/hundreds of manned USAF bombers of any type attacking Chinese facilities? I can't really see one short of a nuclear war, and in such a situation I don't think...we really want to build up for a MAD defensive manned capability; we have the ICBM's.

In reality I think the pivot to Aipac makes the USN more critical, but they need to shift their thinking akin to how they needed to do so prior to WW2; then it was away from dreadnoughts/battleships, and now it's away from supercarriers. Regardless it will result in a de-emphasis in USAF capabilities relative to the older postures.

Selling B-21's and other high-end gear to Australia/Taiwan/Japan etc. makes a ton of sense, but I otherwise disagree with his commentary.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Wed May 06, 2020 1:56 am

texl1649 wrote:
I dunno, sometimes I think 'branch' folks get stuck into a mode of thinking aligned with how they were trained decades ago, and that's how I read that piece, ozair. Yes, we have to pivot to asia-pacific, but really, what scenario involves waves/hundreds of manned USAF bombers of any type attacking Chinese facilities? I can't really see one short of a nuclear war, and in such a situation I don't think...we really want to build up for a MAD defensive manned capability; we have the ICBM's.

So without taking this too off tangent I don't think China considers themselves to ever be capable of winning a nuclear war with the US. From what is on this wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_and ... estruction they haven't developed their nuclear forces into more than a token deterrence. From that I assume they consider any future conflict to be primarily conventional in nature. China's aims, at least for the next ten to twenty years, appears to be total control out to the second island chain and perhaps strong influence out to the third island chain. In that context then, in response to Chinese military aggression in that region, whether it is a Spratly islands land grab, retake Taiwan, a push to control some territory or, wild assertion, attempt to take the Philippines, US Bombers launching large numbers of cruise missiles, both anti-ship and land based against for example naval facilities, in a mostly naval conflict would be very influential. It comes down again to the principals of airpower, being more flexible than naval based assets, allows concentration of force, surprise, sustainable etc.

texl1649 wrote:
In reality I think the pivot to Aipac makes the USN more critical, but they need to shift their thinking akin to how they needed to do so prior to WW2; then it was away from dreadnoughts/battleships, and now it's away from supercarriers. Regardless it will result in a de-emphasis in USAF capabilities relative to the older postures.

And the USN is moving that way with its work on unmanned vessels,

The head of the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Forces Command has ordered the service’s surface force to develop a concept of operations for both the large and medium unmanned surface vessels in development, according to a Dec. 19 message seen by Defense News.

https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/ ... ned-ships/

The Navy’s 355-ship force-level goal is the result of a Force Structure Assessment (FSA) conducted by the Navy in 2016. A new FSA, referred to as the Integrated Naval FSA (INFSA), is to be published sometime during the spring of 2020. Statements from Department of the Navy (DON) officials suggest that the INFSA could result in a once-in-a-generation change in the Navy’s fleet architecture, meaning the mix of ships that make up the Navy. DON officials suggest that the INFSA could shift the fleet to a more distributed architecture that includes a reduced proportion of larger ships, an increased proportion of smaller ships, and a newly created category of large unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) and large unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). Such a change in fleet architecture could alter the mix of ships to be procured for the Navy and the distribution of Navy shipbuilding work among the nation’s shipyards.

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/RL32665.pdf (well worth a read in full)

Even with those force structure goals the USN is going to need USAF support for any future conflict and long range large payload bombers with precision weapons seem a great choice. As strong a supporter of the F-35 as I am I would consider a reduction in that buy to increase the bomber force as a reasonably wise investment (but would of course rather see other existing jets retired before the USAF made that decision).

texl1649 wrote:
Selling B-21's and other high-end gear to Australia/Taiwan/Japan etc. makes a ton of sense,

I think I have said in the past Australia is a, albeit remote, possibility for the B-21 but I cannot see Japan or South Korea going that way and especially not Taiwan. I'd like to see how the invasion of Taiwan goes 15 years from now with a host of Directed Energy weapons for air defence on the island. It is probably an easy sell given it would be used for defensive purposes and would likely significantly reduce the cruise missile threat and keep their key installations in operation.

texl1649 wrote:
but I otherwise disagree with his commentary.

I don't agree with a lot of the articles I post but generating discussion and seeing others points of view is the intent, hence I appreciate the reply and your thoughts.
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Wed May 06, 2020 9:00 am

Ozair - the new frigate awarded to the FREMM design frigate is a big piece of the smaller ship piece. It has a healthy amount of armament, but more importantly it can produce 12 MW of power, which is huge. It could be the first platform for directed energy weapons.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Wed May 06, 2020 10:38 am

JayinKitsap wrote:
Ozair - the new frigate awarded to the FREMM design frigate is a big piece of the smaller ship piece. It has a healthy amount of armament, but more importantly it can produce 12 MW of power, which is huge. It could be the first platform for directed energy weapons.

I was disappointed with that award or more precisely with the candidates and the requirements. I would have loved to have seen double the vertical launch cells, or at least a larger number of smaller cells dedicated to ESSM for better self and fleet protection. I'm not sure the FFG(X) will have that much excess power, the EASR will require some significant power generation and often it isn't so much about the power generation as the cooling capacity.

I would love to see a DEW on the FFG(X) though, would go a long way to improving both self protection and close in defence.
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Wed May 06, 2020 2:54 pm

I do appreciate the article Ozair but I respectfully disagree that large quantities of B-21's (which are really not 'strategic bombers' in the sense, as they are more akin to FB-111's in ability, but high altitude and stealthy) will assist in any conflict with China. It's going to be powered by 2 fighter jet engines, and weigh about the same as an FB-111. It's probably going to have an unrefueled range around what the B-2 has; 5000-6000 miles.

https://www.rand.org/blog/2019/12/b-21- ... y-not.html

To me, for both the RAAF and USAF it would make more sense to focus on the arsenal plane ideas discussed here;

https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/austr ... ks-bomber/

One option could be an ‘arsenal plane’—a large aircraft, possibly a converted commercial airliner or military transport like the C-17, that can carry a lot of ordnance. It’s simply a bomb truck, but for long-range stand-off munitions. The US actually has one already in the B-52, which can launch long-range stand-off weapons against defended targets and deliver mass ordnance directly on undefended ones. There’s a reason why the US is keeping the B-52 after it retires the much younger B-1 and B-2 fleets. But nobody seems to be working on converting an airliner to a bomber, and in any conflict we’d want our C-17s doing their airlift role.

There’s also a conceptual problem with the arsenal plane for our purposes. Since it isn’t stealthy, it needs to operate in tandem with an aircraft like the F-35. The fighter would operate far ahead of the arsenal plane which carried a large magazine of long-range munitions to be cued by the F-35’s sensors. So, in practice, it wouldn’t provide any greater range than the F-35, which gets us back to where we started.

That leaves a potential unmanned aircraft. The role we’re looking at is one that UAVs would be well suited to fill. Yet, strangely, efforts to develop a long-range strike UAV have been fitful and there is nothing on the market. For example, the US Navy started a program for an unmanned surveillance and strike aircraft and both Boeing and Northrop Grumman developed designs with varying degrees of stealth. But the Pentagon then decided the role of the aircraft would primarily be air-to-air refuelling.


While the phases of KC-x, y, and z have been revised endlessly, and the USAF is now focused on a new big stealthy tanker, less stealth and more multi-mode long range stand off weapons abilities to me is what is really needed, whether under the auspices of the USAF or USN. It would also then, perhaps, be an efficient long term option for a derivative to replace the C-17 and C-5 fleets, which will be essentially exhausted in 20-30 years. Getting 'rid of' B-52's or buying lot's of expensive B-21's seems wasteful.
 
texl1649
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Wed May 06, 2020 3:22 pm

I think we are just in the 'honeymoon phase' of what the B-21 will wind up being. I'd posted this in the main B-21 thread;

The FB-111 was, after all (in perhaps a bit of irony) a supplemental type developed due to USAF concerns about B-52’s wearing out (cracks/fatigue)...and was retired when the B-1B made it un-needed (again, the irony is palpable). A 120,000 lb MTOW and 35K lb ordinance payload is probably, if I am guessing right, in the range of what this aircraft could deliver based on the renderings (that’s what the FB-111A spec’d out at).


https://theaviationist.com/2020/01/31/l ... -released/

The aviationist site is apparently down now but it's still true that this is their basic conclusions from the images released in January by USAF: "Single truck MLG’s, this looks more akin to an FB-111 size delivery platform than a B-1, let alone a B-52."

Given the budget constraints defense budgets will face over the next 5 years (post covid), ramping up more B-21 purchases in lieu of adding longevity and abilities to the B-52 stand off force, while working to procure something akin to a long term arsenal plane/tanker seems very risky.
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Wed May 06, 2020 3:47 pm

Ozair and Texl1649- We might disagree on things, but at least the Military threads there is discussion and debate in a reasonably civil manner. I thank both of you for your excellent comments.

I think the USN saw the MQ-25 as solving a vital need, but also putting the toe in the water with unmanned carrier operations. A tanker today, loyal wing man tomorrow, stealth fighter in the future. Best to have successes. But we need multiple successes.

Ozair, at least the frigate looks like a winner verses the disaster of the LCS series and the DDG1000.

We are at the beginning of autonomous ships, subs, tankers, fighters, bombers, reconnaissance, helicopters, and vehicles. At the same time our military has not updated their existing equipment for decades and we are now playing catch up. On tankers, the KC-46 is finally going to update about 1/3 of the the fleet. But shouldn't we also do a stealthier tanker UAV as a big part of the tanker capacity. The loyal wing man concept looks promising as UAVs.
 
Ozair
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Re: Study of U.S. Air Force aircraft inventories

Thu May 07, 2020 9:44 pm

Another commentary piece on the USAF bomber fleet, this time focused around the concept of BTF and how it will improve overall management of the Bomber fleet.

Balance the operations tempo of the small and aging bomber fleet

...

The bomber task force approach, also known as BTF, offers a tailored support package of personnel and aircraft to enable combatant commanders’ objectives. The scalable nature of a BTF increases the number of possible operating locations due to its smaller and more agile footprint, which equates to greater flexibility for the distribution of bombers across all geographic combatant commands. The inherent flexibility of a BTF complicates potential adversaries’ decision calculus by projecting combat power from a variety of locations.

...

The B-1’s limited return has reduced the operational tempo on the B-2 and B-52 communities, which were bearing the load of combatant commander taskings. Careful balancing of the operations tempo in the small and aging bomber fleet is critical as the U.S. Air Force acquires the B-21 Raider and transitions to a B-52 and B-21 fleet. Long-range standoff platforms are fundamental to America’s lead in the air throughout the 21st century, and they are foundational to our ability to project power and defend the nation.

...

https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/com ... ber-fleet/

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