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889091
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USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Sat May 15, 2021 8:40 pm

https://www.popularmechanics.com/milita ... gyLJcuXtfQ

Don't shoot the messenger, but here's an excerpt from the article:

"Now, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown wants to shrink the number of fighter fleets from seven to just four, according to DefenseOne. Under the plan, the F-15C/D, F-15E, A-10, and F-22 would take one-way flights to the Boneyard. The F-15EX, F-35, and F-16 would all fly on, joined by a new air superiority fighter: Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD)."

The F-15C/D/E we sort of had a heads up with the F-15EX order. The Warthog has had black clouds hanging over its head for as long as I can remember. But the F-16 outliving the F-22? Is it a numbers thing, considering the low number of Raptors in active service now?

To be fair, the article didn't specify an exact timeframe, but it's interesting nonetheless.
 
mxaxai
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Sat May 15, 2021 10:41 pm

889091 wrote:
But the F-16 outliving the F-22? Is it a numbers thing, considering the low number of Raptors in active service now?

I guess it depends on two things: How quickly can NGAD replace the F-22? And how quickly can the F-35 replace the F-16?

In the case of NGAD, it's more of a technological issue getting the fighter from CAD to a prototype to serial production. Once serial production is up and running, it should be fairly quick to get 150 new aircraft to replace the F-22. Assuming EIS in the early 30s, the F-22 could be gone by the mid-to-late 30s.

In the F-16s case, it depends more on how many F-35 the USAF can afford each year and how quickly they can retrain pilots and mechanics. The current USAF plan seems to be to acquire a total of ~1,700 F-35 until the early 40s, or ~75 per year. So we will likely see some F-15 and F-16 in US service until the late 30s or even the early 40s.
 
RJMAZ
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Sun May 16, 2021 6:24 am

The F-117 lasted 25 years. The F-22 will be retired for all of the same reasons.

The F-35 can currently perform 90% of the missions of the F-22 at a fraction of the hourly operating cost. Once the improved engine is fitted to the F-35 it will be able to perform 100% of the F-22 missions. It will be hard to justify keeping a small subfleet of expensive F-22's once the US surpasses 1000 F-35 aircraft. I think the F-22 will be retired BEFORE 2030 to the shock of enthusiasts.

This doesn't even take into account NGAD. I expect multiple squadrons in service by 2030. Complete secrecy to avoid uneducated social media commentary. The avionics and cockpit will be a simple copy and paste of the F-35. The air frame has flown and I expect thy are only waiting on the new engines.

The F-16 will be kept around due to the low hourly operating cost. However this may suddenly change when Boeing offers the T-7 with capability to match the F-16. With approximately half the operating cost it will be an easy financial decision where the upfront purchase cost is quickly recovered.
 
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keesje
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Sun May 16, 2021 10:44 am

Political games. All congressmen will step in to defend their local ANG communities, bases. USAF will then come up with the budgets required to preserve the current fleets. Done.
 
VMCA787
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Sun May 16, 2021 11:26 am

As good as the F22 is, it really makes sense to retire the fleet. First of all, the fleet is too small, the MR figures are right around 50% and it is facing a major avionics upgrade in the not too distant future, very limited role in missions it suitable for and finally, the $/FH is sky-high. All those factors taken into consideration make it a very expensive proposition to keep around. The ANG might see an F-22 in their inventory for a short period of time, but it won't be for the long term. The NGAD and the F-35 will become the mainstay of the USAF fighter community.
 
texl1649
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Sun May 16, 2021 12:29 pm

VMCA787 wrote:
As good as the F22 is, it really makes sense to retire the fleet. First of all, the fleet is too small, the MR figures are right around 50% and it is facing a major avionics upgrade in the not too distant future, very limited role in missions it suitable for and finally, the $/FH is sky-high. All those factors taken into consideration make it a very expensive proposition to keep around. The ANG might see an F-22 in their inventory for a short period of time, but it won't be for the long term. The NGAD and the F-35 will become the mainstay of the USAF fighter community.


The F117, B2, and F22 were all, basically, first of their class stealth aircraft, and all cost a fortune to procure and operate/maintain (ironically, the F-117 perhaps a bit less so). If the USAF had gotten the planned 750, or even 400+ then I’m sure this wouldn’t be the case, and a series of upgrades planned/would have been made, but that is all water under the bridge now.

Lockheed fighting with USAF over what they own in terms of software upgrades etc. for the F-35 tells you all you need to know about their attitude toward cost effective upgrades; it’s the opposite of Saab, basically. I do think the YF-23, if it had been selected somehow in an alternate universe, would have been a lot more cost affordable to upgrade, maintain.

At 40 years old, with maybe 5,000-7,000 flight hours left on the frames, maybe they can sell the ‘lightly used’ aircraft to Germany as a stopgap solution around 2045 from AMARG for whatever need arises a la P-3/F-18 if other programs drag out/get cancelled etc.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Sat May 22, 2021 4:07 am

RJMAZ wrote:

This doesn't even take into account NGAD. I expect multiple squadrons in service by 2030. Complete secrecy to avoid uneducated social media commentary.


What American fighter has gone from no prototype to multiple squadrons in 8 years.

Also, are you sure you’re pro democracy?
 
RJMAZ
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Sat May 22, 2021 5:13 am

kitplane01 wrote:
RJMAZ wrote:

This doesn't even take into account NGAD. I expect multiple squadrons in service by 2030. Complete secrecy to avoid uneducated social media commentary.


What American fighter has gone from no prototype to multiple squadrons in 8 years.

No prototype? NGAD flew last year. So 2030 is 10 years after the first flight which is plenty of time.

The first F-15 first flew in 1972 and it was in service 4 years later in 1976. By 1982, 10 years after the first flight there were over 500 F-15's in service.

The YF-16 prototype first flew in 1974. The production F-16 entered service in 1978. 10 years later in 1984 there were around 500 F-16's in service.

I can name dozens more. The Hornet, Super Hornet and Gripen are all single service fighters that had multiple squadrons after 10 years of the first flight.

The F-22 is really the only counter argument where a single service fighter took a long time to enter service. All the flaws will come out after it has been retired and people will understand why production stopped so quickly.

The F-35 and Eurofighter can't be used as examples of long development durations for the NGAD program. They are the first multi service, multi national fighters and in the case of the F-35 it was 3 different aircraft.

The NGAD is just a big, twin engined F-35A with a bit more wing sweep to make it optimised for higher speed. The avionics, materials, construction techniques, stealth coatings and engines will all be from the F-35. The USAF fully recognises the long development cycle of the F-22 and F-35 and has made it a priority to de-risk the NGAD program by using as much proven technology as possible.

kitplane01 wrote:
Also, are you sure you’re pro democracy?

Uneducated civilians should not be involved in high tech classified programs. The cost of adding oversight in time and money is far greater than the military stuffing up the actual development. Adding public oversight could expose the true capabilities of a platform 5 years earlier allowing the enemy to develop countermeasures 5 years earlier.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Sat May 22, 2021 5:43 am

RJMAZ wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:
RJMAZ wrote:

This doesn't even take into account NGAD. I expect multiple squadrons in service by 2030. Complete secrecy to avoid uneducated social media commentary.


What American fighter has gone from no prototype to multiple squadrons in 8 years.

No prototype? NGAD flew last year. So 2030 is 10 years after the first flight which is plenty of time.


My bad. Somehow I thought it was a technology demonstrator. The headline I'm looking at says "prototype".

RJMAZ wrote:
The first F-15 first flew in 1972 and it was in service 4 years later in 1976. By 1982, 10 years after the first flight there were over 500 F-15's in service.

The YF-16 prototype first flew in 1974. The production F-16 entered service in 1978. 10 years later in 1984 there were around 500 F-16's in service.

I can name dozens more. The Hornet, Super Hornet and Gripen are all single service fighters that had multiple squadrons after 10 years of the first flight.

The F-22 is really the only counter argument where a single service fighter took a long time to enter service. All the flaws will come out after it has been retired and people will understand why production stopped so quickly.

The F-35 and Eurofighter can't be used as examples of long development durations for the NGAD program. They are the first multi service, multi national fighters and in the case of the F-35 it was 3 different aircraft.


And the P-51. But can you name any from the last 40 years? I think the only examples might be the Grippen, Super Hornet, and things developed in China. But I'm willing to be educated.



kitplane01 wrote:
Also, are you sure you’re pro democracy?

Uneducated civilians should not be involved in high tech classified programs. The cost of adding oversight in time and money is far greater than the military stuffing up the actual development.[/quote]

When you write "uneducated civilians" you really mean "the voting public".

And the program which you now class "high tech" you described as "The NGAD is just a big, twin engined F-35A with a bit more wing sweep to make it optimised for higher speed. The avionics, materials, construction techniques, stealth coatings and engines will all be from the F-35." The F-35 which is exported to three zillion nations.
 
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N328KF
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Thu May 27, 2021 3:58 pm

What about the possibility that USAF just wants to retire the platform because they have something better in mind and aren't showing all of their cards?
 
RJMAZ
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Fri May 28, 2021 3:04 am

N328KF wrote:
What about the possibility that USAF just wants to retire the platform because they have something better in mind and aren't showing all of their cards?

But the uneducated public want to see all of the cards as they do not trust the military to make the right decision.
 
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bikerthai
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Fri May 28, 2021 3:40 am

How quickly they forget that the F117 was flying years before they made it public. Oh, perhaps those folks were not born during that time?

bt
 
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LyleLanley
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Fri May 28, 2021 5:09 am

Military brass not being entirely forthcoming about their (classified) reasons for wanting to continue a program that has (very obvious) reasons for continuing its development? Color me shocked
 
ThePointblank
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Fri May 28, 2021 8:21 am

The F-22 has been extremely expensive to operate and sustain. Upgrades for fairly minor tweaks are costing billions of dollars, and the aircraft is a bit of a maintenance headache. I can very easily see the USAF decide they want to divest themselves of the fleet because it is becoming a major sinkhole in the USAF's maintenance budget.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Fri May 28, 2021 12:13 pm

I can't say that I'm shocked that a bleeding edge stealth fighter developed in the 1980s has issues with no growth margin and high maintenance. The F-22 was a cold war creation when money was no object. Almost everything about it was designed with the goal of being the best of the best with no compromises for affordability. And, before anyone chimes in about the F-23, it would have been no better in this regard, even if the production version would have been slightly larger than the prototype.

There was an opportunity to redevelop the F-22 concurrently with the F-35 by essentially using systems that were being developed for the F-35, including the skin and engines, to modernize it and give later production jets better growth margin and lower sustainment costs. It was seen as too expensive, and with reasonably good logic.

I hope that NGAD is better in all regards.
 
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bikerthai
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Fri May 28, 2021 1:19 pm

Just some context.

The F-22 was designed during the time of CAD wireframe. The F-35 was designed during the time when CAD solids begin to take hold.

Now we are in the middle of advance CAD solid capability that even middle school student may have access to. Combine that with digital manufacturing and pre-assembly, you better have an airplane that is easier to build and maintain. Not including the complexity of stealth and high temperature composite material of course.

I can do on my laptop from home in a day what it would take a couple of weeks on a mainframe work station at the office 20 years ago.

bt
 
LightningZ71
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Mon May 31, 2021 1:38 am

Not only that, but, with that same laptop, you could drive a 3d printer and an auto lathe and have a scale, real world model by the next morning to compare computerized airflow simulations with in a wind tunnel. You can have major design issues resolved and iterated in under a week.

In the very near future, you will be able to come up with a general layout, feed it to a special purpose, limited scope AI, to have it spit out a workable design in hours.
 
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Kiwirob
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Mon May 31, 2021 5:43 am

RJMAZ wrote:

The F-35 and Eurofighter can't be used as examples of long development durations for the NGAD program. They are the first multi service, multi national fighters and in the case of the F-35 it was 3 different aircraft.



What about the SEPECAT Jaguar and the Pavania Tornado?
 
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bikerthai
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Mon May 31, 2021 12:50 pm

LightningZ71 wrote:
Not only that, but, with that same laptop, you could drive a 3d printer and an auto lathe and have a scale,


Before the 3-D printing, you have the 5 axis NC milling machine.

Just look at how quickly it is for those guys at Orange County Cycles creat parts for their custom bikes. Talk about fast prototyping.

I mean the computerized CNC machine has made high end bicycle components cheap enough that the small machine shops can build quality component to compete with Shimano and Campy.

bt
 
checksixx
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Mon Jun 14, 2021 9:31 pm

The plan has always been to replace the F-22 with the NGADF. Not sure why they think this is new. They've also taken another liberty...no one said the F-22 was being retired early! Not once did anyone say that, Defense One just made that assumption. They don't seem to know their facts either..."Various allies have expressed interest in buying the plane, but U.S. law prohibits its export." 100% False. There is no law in place that prevented export of the F-22. In fact, Japan was nearly a customer, but chose to allocate the money to fund an export variant to the F-35 procurement.
 
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Aesma
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Tue Jun 15, 2021 10:23 am

Yeah and "various allies" might have wanted the plane 20 years ago, when the US was expected to fly them for long and in numbers.

Now nobody would want them !
 
mxaxai
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Tue Jun 15, 2021 10:37 am

checksixx wrote:
"Various allies have expressed interest in buying the plane, but U.S. law prohibits its export." 100% False. There is no law in place that prevented export of the F-22. In fact, Japan was nearly a customer, but chose to allocate the money to fund an export variant to the F-35 procurement.

This article would suggest otherwise https://www.reuters.com/article/us-arms ... JU20090910
Japan, Israel and Australia have shown interest in buying the supersonic, radar-evading F-22 Raptor, designed to destroy enemy air defenses in the first days of any conflict and clear the way for other missions.

Foreign sales were banned by a 1998 law aimed at protecting the “stealth” technology and other high-tech features said to have made the F-22 too good for money to buy.

I suppose Japan could have received some end-of-the-line aircraft but at that point the F-35 was a more sensible choice.
 
checksixx
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Wed Jun 16, 2021 3:09 am

mxaxai wrote:
checksixx wrote:
"Various allies have expressed interest in buying the plane, but U.S. law prohibits its export." 100% False. There is no law in place that prevented export of the F-22. In fact, Japan was nearly a customer, but chose to allocate the money to fund an export variant to the F-35 procurement.

This article would suggest otherwise https://www.reuters.com/article/us-arms ... JU20090910
Japan, Israel and Australia have shown interest in buying the supersonic, radar-evading F-22 Raptor, designed to destroy enemy air defenses in the first days of any conflict and clear the way for other missions.

Foreign sales were banned by a 1998 law aimed at protecting the “stealth” technology and other high-tech features said to have made the F-22 too good for money to buy.

I suppose Japan could have received some end-of-the-line aircraft but at that point the F-35 was a more sensible choice.


Terribly sorry, but the article is wrong. What I stated is correct. There is no law that prevented export of the F-22.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:01 am

mxaxai wrote:
checksixx wrote:
"Various allies have expressed interest in buying the plane, but U.S. law prohibits its export." 100% False. There is no law in place that prevented export of the F-22. In fact, Japan was nearly a customer, but chose to allocate the money to fund an export variant to the F-35 procurement.

This article would suggest otherwise https://www.reuters.com/article/us-arms ... JU20090910
Japan, Israel and Australia have shown interest in buying the supersonic, radar-evading F-22 Raptor, designed to destroy enemy air defenses in the first days of any conflict and clear the way for other missions.

Foreign sales were banned by a 1998 law aimed at protecting the “stealth” technology and other high-tech features said to have made the F-22 too good for money to buy.

I suppose Japan could have received some end-of-the-line aircraft but at that point the F-35 was a more sensible choice.

The law was that US government funds could not fund an export variant of the F-22, so the entire cost of development, testing, production setup, etc would entirely be shouldered by a potential export customer. That just made it cost prohibitive from a standpoint of any potential customer.
 
mxaxai
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Wed Jun 16, 2021 10:33 am

checksixx wrote:
There is no law that prevented export of the F-22.

Making exports prohibitively expensive prevents them just as effectively as an explicit ban. Considering how superior the F-22 is said to be, for what other reason would potential allied customers choose not to buy.
 
texl1649
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Wed Jun 16, 2021 1:25 pm

The F-22 is a fantastic capability but there's no doubt the electronics are not really cutting edge at this point, the surface coatings/materials are expensive, and as well some of the capabilities are relatively outdated (such as thrust vectoring). If Lockheed had an interest in developing with a foreign partner technologies used on the F-22, it would probably be with the good folks in Japan/Korea as we have seen discussed, not an 'export model of the F-22.'

The core of the aircraft and engines/computers etc. are over 25 years old now.
 
checksixx
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Re: USAF Wants to Give the F-22 Raptor an Early Retirement

Wed Jun 16, 2021 10:14 pm

mxaxai wrote:
checksixx wrote:
There is no law that prevented export of the F-22.

Making exports prohibitively expensive prevents them just as effectively as an explicit ban. Considering how superior the F-22 is said to be, for what other reason would potential allied customers choose not to buy.


The law enacted to prevent the funds approved by Congress from being used to fund an export variant design in no way changed any cost. It simply meant that a FMS customer would have to fund that development. Japan was very close to being a F-22 customer, but ultimately chose to invest fully in the JSF program at the time. Israel and Australia both wanted to buy, but only if the US would fund the variant. But no costs were increased to prevent sales. You could actually look up the law for yourself if you wanted too.

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