More on this...........
USAF rules out new F-15s and F-16s to narrow ‘fighter gap’
By Stephen Trimble
Delays and cost overruns for the Lockheed Martin F-35 have not changed the US Air Force's plans to deactivate about 250 fighters later this year, says Chief of Staff Gen Norton Schwartz.
The USAF, however, has begun destructive tests on Boeing F-15s and Lockheed F-16s to prove the viability for a potential service life extension programme, says Schwartz, who spoke to reporters on 30 March after a breakfast speaking event hosted by the Air Force Association.
"At 10-15% of the cost [of a new fighter] you could perform a SLEP," Schwartz says, "which would get us close to where we need to be in, we think, a more affordable way".
Schwartz also rejected buying the latest version of the F-15 and F-16 -- or "fourth-generation-plus" fighters -- despite a new two-year slip nearly 90% projected cost overrun for the F-35.
"To be sure, we do not think it prudent to utilize precious procurement dollars for anything but fifth-generation aircraft," Schwartz says.
The USAF has terminated Lockheed F-22 production with 186 aircraft in inventory after 2011, leaving only plans to acquire 1,763 F-35s over the next 30 years to modernize its fighter fleet. Meanwhile, the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review set the tactical aircraft requirement at about 2,000 fighters.
During the F-35's projection lifetime in production, however, the USAF faces a growing fighter inventory gap made even more complicated by the Lockheed's cost and schedule problems.
Last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported alarming trends. Twelve Air National Guard units today patrol US airspace with F-16s scheduled for retirement by 2020. As of late 2008, only one of the 12 units was scheduled to receive F-35s by 2020 to continue flying the mission.
The increasing gap in the fighter inventory prompted a US lawmaker to predict the air force's dependence on the F-35 will be a "monumental mistake".
"When these F-16s and F-15s are no longer able to fly and the F-35s still has problems because somebody hasn't figured it out, you're going to have air guard units that are not going to have planes," says Representative Frank LoBiondo, who represents a district that includes an F-16 base, during a 24 March hearing.
But Schwartz repeated the USAF's long-standing policy that buying F-15s and F-16 today is senseless because they will be obsolete long before they can be replaced by a modern fighter design.
To bridge the gap, the USAF considers it more logical to perform a service life extension programme (SLEP). But Schwartz added an important caveat. The USAF still has not determined whether the SLEP would be technically or financially viable.
"I think it's pretty clear our strategy is to pursue service life extension to the extent that that is required rather than purchase new, four-and-a-half generation while we are bringing on F-35," he says. "We do not think it is a wise to dissipate the limited pool of resources that we have available for F-35 by procuring new lesser capable aircraft that will last as long."
DoD: Next 'Bomber' May Be a Family of Systems
By JOHN T. BENNETT
Published: 29 Mar 2010 16:22 Print | EmailT
he U.S. Defense Department is examining how to fit "complementary" tools on the "family of systems" that would replace a long-range bomber concept terminated last year, Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter said March 29.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates in April 2009 canceled a years-long effort to establish requirements and a formal development program for a new long-range bomber. Gates felt the department needed to stop that work, which was led by the Air Force, and begin a new look at how the U.S. military could best fulfill all the missions envisioned for a new deep-penetrating bomber.
After months of examining, Pentagon officials in recent months have said they expect to replace the former long-range strike aircraft concept with a "family of systems," each designed to conduct specific kinds of missions. Speaking to an industry audience in Arlington, Va., Carter said it is likely that the platforms will be designed to do tasks deemed "complementary" to one another.
Then-Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley in the mid-2000s used terms like long-range strike and persistent ISR when describing the service's mission requirements for a new bomber aircraft. Carter used the same phrases in his National Aeronautics Association presentation and added two more to things the "family of systems" will do: "prompt global strike and electronic attack."
The former refers to a next-generation weapon that can be launched quickly to take out fleeting targets anywhere around the globe; the latter refers to offensive and defense missions like jamming enemy signals.
Although Carter said officials "are still thinking through" what the family of platforms will have to look like, he said some of them likely will be "dual-use."
For instance, an aircraft designed for electronic attack missions also could be armed with complimentary jamming equipment, he said. And a long-range strike aircraft could be fitted with sophisticated ISR sensors.
Some of the family's platforms, Carter said, will be "stand-off systems" while others would be "stand-in." And some will be "reusable" where others "could be expendable."
The Pentagon's senior acquisition, technology and logistics official also said that, as Pentagon officials decide how to move forward with the family of systems concept, they will factor in industrial base implications.
Officials "have to keep in mind," he said, "that if certain capabilities [within U.S. defense firms are] allowed to whither, it will be hard to replicate them."
Carter added that the Pentagon "has a special responsibility to segments of industry," and promised DoD officials that, as part of the family of systems program, the department "will be looking at all the contributions each segment can make."
Got it already under this thread here.............
Originally Posted by Gubler, A.
............entitled USAF Future Bomber!
Plus I assume they'd also get stuck with any new aircraft for the next 30 years or so, whereas life extended airframes would have a much shorter period of service life remaining.
Looks like he was on Strategy Page having some fun in another F-35 argument....sorry, discussion.....Hope he's having an interesting time wherever he is off to.
Originally Posted by buglerbilly
US Air Force Eyes Service-Life Extensions for Older Fighters
By JOHN REED
Published: 2 Apr 2010 15:43
U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz confirmed that the air service has begun stress tests on its fleet of F-16 Falcons to help determine how to keep several hundred of the jets airworthy through the end of the decade to hedge against delays in the delivery of the service's 1,763 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
"We're conducting destructive structural assessments on our F-16 and F-15 aircraft to make sure that our engineering estimates are accurate with respect to" the planes' remaining service lives, Schwartz told reporters after a March 31 Air Force Association-sponsored speech in Arlington, Va.
"I think it's pretty clear that our strategy is to pursue service-life extensions [SLEPs] to the extent that is affordable rather than purchase new generation four-and-a-half aircraft while we're working hard to bring on F-35," said Schwartz. "I do not think it is wise to dissipate the limited pool of resources available for F-35 by procuring less capable aircraft that will last as long" as the F-35s.
Some lawmakers are pressing the Air Force to buy new so called 4.5 generation fighters, such as Boeing's F-15SE Silent Eagle or Block-60 F-16s to prevent a fighter gap.
He went on to say that, if viable, SLEPs could cost the Air Force only 10 percent to 15 percent the cost of buying new fighters such as Boeing's F-15SE Silent Eagle or Block 60 F-16s. However, if the costs spike higher than those numbers, the service may have to rethink that plan. Still, Schwartz was adamant that the Air Force cannot afford to purchase new jets based on older designs if it wants to keep its F-35 buy on track.
"We do not think [it makes sense] to utilize precious procurement dollars to buy anything but fifth-generation aircraft," said Schwartz.
The Air Force is retiring 250 of its oldest F-15 Eagles, F-16 Falcons and a handful of A-10 Thunderbolts this year in a move expected to save $3.5 billion over the next five years.
A Defense Technology Blog
Next-Gen UAVs and Weapons Planned
Posted by David A. Fulghum at 4/9/2010 8:44 AM CDT
Unmanned designs and electronic attack capabilities will be heavily represented in planning for the sixth generation of U.S. warplanes.
“We’re looking at our next generation Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs) more as standard trucks that would be modular and able to be configured to support several possible missions,” says Maj. Gen. Tom Andersen, Air Combat Command’s director of requirements. “Generally, we’re likely to see much less on-board processing. “Also key will be machine-to-machine communications and automated decision making aids so that [information] can be limited to decision quality data. It also will help us with the manpower intensive backend [of RPA operations] if people can limit or automate some of the activity that eats up those manhours.”
Upgrades to Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars could turn them into fighter-sized directed energy weapons for both manned and unmanned aircraft.
“An issue with most directed energy concepts is that usually you can’t see the [HPM] weapon’s point of impact nor the effect on the target,” Andersen says. “So how do you boresight that weapon and produce a known effect? Is that effect temporary or permanent? What does the strike planner want and what can he trust? How do you treat it like a real weapon so that the joint force commander knows the capability it will deliver?”
AESA radars also may be the core of a new jammer and self-protection suite similar to the Navy’s next-generation jammer program.
“There is no next generation jammer per se for us,” says Brig. Gen. Dave Goldfein, ACC’s director of air and space operations (A3). “There are capabilities that we’re looking for, but there’s no program of record. I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface on AESA. We haven’t got it on the F-35 yet so that we can wring it out, but I think it is going to have tremendous capability for both electronic attack and electronic protection.”
The capability will allow aircrews to find, avoid and neutralize enemy emitters on the battlefield. Remotely piloted aircraft are also certain to be part of the offensive mix, ACC officials say. Rather that working toward a single, elegant but expensive solution, they are looking for multiple ways of attacking a foe electronically.
The next generation of aircraft will follow an incremental approach.
“It will be logical, sustainable and affordable,” Goldfein says. “Long Range Strike, Sixth Generation Fighter, follow on to the MC-12 and MQ-1/9 will have evolutionary but multiple capabilities such as ISR and electronic attack-protection and strike.”
A Defense Technology Blog
Afghanistan and Future Wars - What's the Connection?
Posted by David A. Fulghum at 4/9/2010 9:00 AM CDT
U.S. Air Force planners, charged with fitting requirements into a shrinking budget, are looking at the common needs for irregular and conventional and cyber wars.
So far, the operational pull from Afghanistan is for small, precise weapons.
“The requests I have been getting is in the arena of limited effect [grenade size explosions without fragmentation] kinetic weapons that are all-weather, day/night, high precision and low collateral damage,” says Brig. Gen. Dave Goldfein, Air Combat Command’s director of air and space operations (A3).
Specifically, troops want bombs that create grenade-size explosions without fragmentation that can make the best use of intelligence by destroying a very small area – perhaps one room in a house.
“We have been doing that with different warhead fills and putting a composite body on the weapon and delivering it with a laser,” Andersen says. “We find the energy dissipates in single-digit feet instead of going out to 40-50 ft.”
Those small, air-launched weapons of 250-lb. or less also would allow an increase in the number of bombs that future manned or unmanned aircraft could drop in a single mission. Or it could carry the same number of bombs, but the decrease in payload weight would allow unmanned aircraft to fly higher, faster and farther.
“We’re working on the capabilities document for the follow-on to the MQ-9 [Reaper], Goldfein says. “If you line up the master schedules, it’s a capability that is delivered in 2020. You’ll hear modularity, sustainability, affordability, and it will be built with the idea of operations in civil air space in mind with see and avoid, for example. It will be much more suited for bad weather, operate in the mid-altitudes around 20,000 to 30,000 ft. It could be weaponized and carry sensors and it would have to be monitored. Stealth will be an affordability issue. It will probably be difficult.”
Recent low-intensity conflicts give some clues how advanced unmanned aircraft may be used in large-scale future wars.
ACC officials learned a lot from Israel’s current defensive preparations and Russia’s attack on Georgia. Some lessons are exotic and some are doing the basics well, they say. Georgia had a primitive, un-integrated air defense network. But the Russians didn’t develop an electronic order of battle and flew into battle un-briefed on Georgian air defense. Another piece of data about future tactics is Israel’s planning for their communications and military networks to be disabled by electronic attack in future conflicts.
That’s a lesson the American are taking to heart.
“We also are making sure that we can still fight with our networks degraded,” says Maj. Gen. Tom Andersen, ACC’s director of requirements. “If I lose my connectivity to locations in the [combat area], how do I continue to deliver [critical information]? There are a couple of major projects that commanders are focused on. One that reported out at the four-star and service secretary level was the ability to operate in denied environments. That includes the survival or quick reconstruction of datalinks, secure and insecure communications including radars, long-distance transmission, sharing of information, the ability to tie into command and control systems and the coordination of real time decision-making and the ability to adjust to dynamic targets. That’s what we’re training toward.”
USAF Mulls Retiring Old C-5s, Backs C-130 AMP
Apr 12, 2010
By Amy Butler
The U.S. Air Force is planning to trim its buy of C-5 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) kits made by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics by 20 aircraft, indicating the service is likely to retire 20 aircraft if approved by Congress.
The Pentagon’s April 2 Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) is the first public acknowledgment of the reduction in C-5 AMP numbers (Aerospace DAILY, April 5).
The Air Force had sought to retire some of its oldest C-5s to save money for maintenance.
And an excess of C-17s provided by Congress, against the desires of the Air Force, will allow for the retirements without affecting the readiness of the operational fleet.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said March 30 that the long-awaited Mobility Capabilities Requirements Study (MCRS) found that the number of strategic airlifters needed is in the low 300s.
The Air Force is buying 223 C-17s. Schwartz indicated in March that the service could begin retiring 17 C-5s in Fiscal 2011.
Originally, all 112 C-5s were slated to receive the AMP, with only the Bs, one C and an A undergoing the re-engining program for now. It is possible more re-engining kits could be added to the 52 now planned to support the Air Force’s need to boost reliability of the entire fleet.
Schwartz also said that 19 of the oldest C-130 Hs also should be retired.
Also in the April 2 SAR, the Pentagon notes that the C-130 AMP program is finally being properly funded, driving the overall price up 17.9%. The new price is $6.35 billion for 220 kits.
This estimate now includes the pricing for depot installations, spares and training systems.
Boeing had designed the AMP kit, and the Air Force has completed testing. However, lukewarm support from the Air Force prompted a delay in the decision to proceed with producing the kits.
The SAR acknowledges a one-year delay in production. The Air Force had plans to conduct a competition to select a contractor to build and install the kits. It is unclear if that plan has changed.
Military Tech, Organizations Will Merge
Apr 13, 2010
By David A. Fulghum
Next-generation aircraft and sensors are being planned that combine surveillance, intelligence gathering, tactical cyber and other electronic attack and directed energy. For example, a burst of high-power microwaves could leave a person unharmed but kill his mobile phone.
“There are three trends that are bringing about what I call the ‘information in war revolution,’” says Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the Air Force’s first deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). “The first is the ability to rapidly compress and decompress data due to advancing computing speed; the second is the ability to transmit this data using very clever means — like transmitting only the parts of a video or radar picture that have changed — and then finally the ability we have now to bring all these technologies onto one platform, like we do with our Remotely Piloted Aircraft and will do on our future manned aircraft.”
Those advances in technology are increasing the speed of information and changing the way the Pentagon designs aircraft, its organizations, and even the military’s long-developed cultural habits of collecting data, analyzing it, and then distributing the information to those who need it.
“In the past we had a specific aircraft for collecting data, then a separate organization for analyzing it, and then another organization and system for distributing it,” Deptula says. “And this was at all levels of operations.
With today’s technology we can do all of that from one aircraft — near real time and at the speed of light — from across the globe. Today the trends are blurring traditional lines to the point where we are now able to integrate a sensor-processor-distributor-kinetic-non-kinetic shooter-penetrator all on one aircraft — or perhaps even more attractive — distributed on a set of multiple aircraft in a ‘fractionated’ system. That is a concept that may allow us to achieve greater degrees of survivability in the face of advanced threat systems.”
In short, the traditional fighter, bomber and ISR aircraft will disappear, or at least no longer denote the mission. This is not a multirole, he cautions, but instead “rather a more advanced ‘integrated mission composable’ approach.”
However, advanced jamming tools and techniques may render relying on linking separate capabilities on separate aircraft more and more problematic, therefore integration of multiple function attributes on single aircraft could actually become more attractive.
Cyberwarfare also is part of ISR’s future. “A big part of the job in exploiting operations in cyberspace entails computer network exploitation,” Deptula says. “Wrapped up in the mission set of 24th Air Force is the exploitation piece, and the Air Force ISR Agency capabilities are vital to that task.
Within a few weeks of the stand up of 24th Air Force [the cyber-attack force], we established an ISR group of about 400 people in direct support of that command’s cyber-activities. Today it is known as the 770th Provisional ISR Group, and in June it will become the 659th ISR group, located at Fort Meade, Md. [the home of the National Security Agency].”