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Not directly related to the F-35 but interesting nonetheless. The AF released some info about the recent F-22 deployment to Germany. Included was the fact that the support team consisted of one C-17 and 60 airmen. That seems like a pretty small footprint for such an advanced aircraft.

On the subject of manpower, has any information come out about what the nominal personnel requirements will be for an F-35 unit (squadron / wing)? Curious as to how it stacks up similar units flying other aircraft.

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The F-22 deployment is just four aircraft, so does that make a difference?

-Gregg

Not sure what you mean? Yes, it's only 4 aircraft but just 60 guys and a single C-17 sortie to support such an advanced aircraft seems pretty impressive to me. I would have thought it would have taken much more.

I was curious what the anticipated personnel requirements are for the F-35. I know it's in it's early stages and I'm sure there are more heads to help get things on track, just wondering what the stated headcount is for a F-35 unit once it's operational.

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Not sure what you mean? Yes, it's only 4 aircraft but just 60 guys and a single C-17 sortie to support such an advanced aircraft seems pretty impressive to me. I would have thought it would have taken much more.

I was curious what the anticipated personnel requirements are for the F-35. I know it's in it's early stages and I'm sure there are more heads to help get things on track, just wondering what the stated headcount is for a F-35 unit once it's operational.

I think it's about the same. I think a 6 jet harrier det. On a MEU is about 60 including the pilots.

F-35 is closer to a harrier squadron Size as opposed to hornet

Edited by TaiidanTomcat
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I wish the Air force would buy the F-16 block 60 and produce more raptors and develop a strike raptor, this and drones would be a better mix than the F-35, ever heard of the saying jack of all trades master of none, anyone remember the F-111

"The F-16 is a jack of all trades and a master of none, but it's one of the most valuable platforms in our arsenal because its got a lot of flexibility."

- Lt. Col. Scott Vanbeek, Commander 140th OSS, Colorado ANG.

Both the F-4 and F/A-18 are considered to be "jack-of-all-trades, master of none."

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"The F-16 is a jack of all trades and a master of none, but it's one of the most valuable platforms in our arsenal because its got a lot of flexibility."

- Lt. Col. Scott Vanbeek, Commander 140th OSS, Colorado ANG.

Both the F-4 and F/A-18 are considered to be "jack-of-all-trades, master of none."

All those aircraft sound terrible, and I doubt they will have any commercial success

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...develop a strike raptor...

Not required. The Raptor already has a pretty impressive, unique strike capability, filling some very specific requirements for the Combatant Commanders. Based on the success of F-22 operations in Syria, I think the Raptor's strike capabilities have been fully validated.

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and I hope its the magic hammer they want it to be

What, doing the same job that F/A-18s and F-16s are doing?

continuing raptor production was a better idea

Canceling the F-22 early was a terrible move, but not for the reasons you think

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I was really hoping you could shed some light on this gem.

cost overruns and complications with new technology. Is it true, I don't know you tell me?, I believe the F-35 will be successful, I think eventually it will be able to do everything they say. My only confusion here is 3 things, 1. if its G-loading capability is less than a 4th gen fighter, how does it dogfight (I know, it hits you with a missile before you see it) but what if? 2. How can it replace the A-10 3. Why couldnt we buy the F-35 and have more F-22 built at slow rate production?

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cost overruns and complications with new technology. Is it true, I don't know you tell me?

Its your rodeo cowboy, how are they are similar?

, I believe the F-35 will be successful, I think eventually it will be able to do everything they say. My only confusion here is 3 things,

1. if its G-loading capability is less than a 4th gen fighter, how does it dogfight

It "dogfights" like everything else does these days, helmet cueing. Let the missile do the turning.

“The difference is in what people understand is important in air combat. It is the situation awareness that you have is important—that is all important. Manoeuvrability is important when you are defensive and that is the only time when it comes to be important. Manoeuvrability since helmet-mounted sights has become far less important in offensive situations, because with a helmet-mounted sight and an off-boresight missile you do not have to manoeuvre to somebody at 6 o’clock. You can actually shoot them when they are in your 6 o’clock almost—that is the difference. I would say it is a difference in what is important in air combat capability.”

– Air Marshal Brown

How can it replace the A-10

We have better ways to kill tanks these days... oops my bad. I forgot the A-10 had morphed from a Tank Killer from the start to a CAS provider from the start. The same way everyone else does CAS these days that don't have A-10s. You also have the Marine Corps which is pretty "big" into the whole CAS, thing its never had the A-10 and used Hornets and Harriers all these years and is going full on F-35. So it certainly seems possible.

Basically the A-10 would go away (and this has been covered in many ARC topics, some of them insanely informative) the F-16 would take up the rest of the mission, and eventually the F-35 replaces the F-16. There are fewer than 250 A-10s at this point left I believe.

3. Why couldnt we buy the F-35 and have more F-22 built at slow rate production?

I'll leave this to others.

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Not required. The Raptor already has a pretty impressive, unique strike capability, filling some very specific requirements for the Combatant Commanders. Based on the success of F-22 operations in Syria, I think the Raptor's strike capabilities have been fully validated.

I think I remember a couple of years ago someone posting something about "F-22s will NEVER carry bombs, they are AIR DOMINANCE FIGHTERS!!!1!!1"

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cost overruns and complications with new technology. Is it true, I don't know you tell me?, I believe the F-35 will be successful, I think eventually it will be able to do everything they say. My only confusion here is 3 things, 1. if its G-loading capability is less than a 4th gen fighter, how does it dogfight (I know, it hits you with a missile before you see it) but what if? 2. How can it replace the A-10 3. Why couldnt we buy the F-35 and have more F-22 built at slow rate production?

1. The F-35's G-loading is comparable to that of a 4th generation fighter.

While the Thunderbirds and Viper Demo Teams show off 9-G maneuvers at airshows, they're doing that with clean aircraft. An F-16 weighed down with missiles, bombs, external tanks and targeting pods is limited to only 4-5 Gs. Even if the pilot punches off the tanks and bombs, he can't jettison the targeting pods, and those are limited to 4-5 Gs.

The F-35 carries missiles for the same reason most F-16s and F/A-18s do - for self protection. It's first line of defense is to be very difficult to detect.

2. The same way the F-16 and F/A-18 [already have.

CAS is a mission, not an aircraft. From DoD Joint Publication 3-09.3 (emphasis by DoD):

"Close air support (CAS) can be conducted at any place and time friendly forces are in close proximity to enemy forces. The word “close” does not imply a specific distance; rather, it is situational. The requirement for detailed integration because of proximity, fires, or movement is the determining factor. At times, CAS may be the best means to exploit tactical opportunities in the offense or defense. CAS provides fires to destroy, disrupt, suppress, fix, harass, neutralize, or delay enemy forces.

Each Service organizes, trains, and equips to employ CAS within its roles as part of the joint force. As a result, a variety of aircraft are capable of performing CAS. The joint force commander (JFC) and his staff must be capable of integrating CAS capabilities into the concept of operations (CONOPS)."

To perform CAS you need

1) the right weapons (type and number) to put on target

2) "responsiveness" to put those weapons on target in a timely and accurate manner, and

3) "communications" to get the info you need to discriminate the bad guys from the good.

Everything else is either a subset of those three or the "how'' it is done. (technique). In the old days, 'low and slow' was a compensation technique for insufficient amounts of 1, 2, or 3. We now have greater variety, capability and training assets with which to perform CAS than at any other time since the US flew its first combat airplane.

A-10s use the same bombs, missiles and sensor pods as F-16s, F-15Es, F/A-18s, AV-8Bs and B-1Bs. While supporters of the A-10 are quick to point out the 30mm gun, they fail to mention that the GAU-8 was the backup weapon for tank killing in the 1970s (the A-10's primary, and historically most successful tank-killing weapon has been the AGM-65 Maverick). Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs, aka "smart" weapons) were still relatively new in the early 1970s when the A-10 was being designed. Targeting pods were massive, limited only to the F-111 and F-4 and these weapons were designated towards high value targets behind enemy lines.

In the 1980s, the peak of the A-10s role as tank killer, an A-7D could disable a tank by tossing a "dumb" Mk84 2000-lb bomb at it. The accuracy was such that the bomb would land close enough to rip the treads off the tank. In 1991, F-15Es crews figure out that they could kill a tank by lasing it with their self-contained LANTIRN system and dropping a 500-lb GBU-12 on top of the tank, where the armor is thinner. A GBU-12 doesn't care if the target is a tank, an aircraft hanger, an artillery piece or a concentration of enemy troops; the ability to score such direct hits permitted any LANTIRN-enabled aircraft to strike ground targets with precision. One of the best CAS platforms in Afghanistan were the LTS-equipped F-14s.

The basic LANTIRN was modified into LANTIRN Targeting System (LTS), the navigation pod was removed from the two-pod system and the targeting pod was improved for Tomcat use. The LTS featured a Global Positioning System and inertial measurement unit that provided the pod line-of-sight cueing and weapon release ballistics and eliminated the need for external cumbersome and time consuming boresight equipment.

Unlike the early versions, the LTS performed all weapon release calculations and presented release cues that it had generated to the aircrew. The LTS also had a masking avoidance curve display (preventing firing the laser at the jet) and eventually a north orientation curve and 40,000 feet capable laser. The latter became very useful allowing F-14s to employ LGBs above potential threat systems and it came into its own in the higher terrain in Afghanistan during OEF.

The LTS could also generate coordinates for any target located on the FLIR, and a latter software modification, known as T3 (Tomcat Tactical Targeting) increased the accuracy of the coordinates produced by the LTS and allowed generated coordinates for GPS/INS guided weapons (JDAM, JSOW and WCMD). The first combat use of this was in OEF[jargon] when an F-14 generated coordinates for a B-52 that dropped CBU-103 WCMD (Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser), which is basically an INS-guided cluster bomb from over 40,000 feet. These weapons scored hits on a vehicle convoy that had stopped after the first vehicle was destroyed by the Tomcat with LGBs.

The pod also featured an internal computer with ballistics data for the various precision munitions carried by the F-14. Data is fed to the pod by the Tomcat’s AWG-9 (F-14A and F-14B) and AN/APG-71 (F-14D) radar, but the LTS in turn only sends video and guidance symbology to the crew's cockpit displays. This means that few wiring and software changes had to be made to the Tomcat in order for it to operate the LTS. All pod controls are in the RIO’s cockpit, but the bomb release button is situated with the pilot. The LTS had a price tag of around 3 million US Dollars each and due to these high costs, only 75 were bought for fleet use. Typically, an F-14 squadron brought 6 to 8 pods with them on deployment, which would be permanently fitted to the non-TARPS jets.

The AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING targeting pod is an Israeli-designed precision targeting pod system currently operational with a wide variety of combat aircraft. LITENING significantly increases the combat effectiveness of the aircraft during day, night and under-the-weather conditions in the attack of ground and air targets with a variety of standoff weapons (i.e., laser-guided bombs, conventional bombs and GPS-guided weapons. LITENING is compatible with A-10, B-52H, F-14A/B/D, F-15E/D, AV-8B, F/A-18, and F-16 Block 25/30/40/50.

The AN/AAQ-33 Sniper ATP is a single, lightweight targeting pod with much lower aerodynamic drag than the legacy systems it replaces. It possesses advanced targeting technology and its image processing allows aircrews to detect and identify tactical-size targets outside threat rings for the destruction of enemy air defense mission, as well as outside jet noise ranges for urban counter-insurgency operations. It offers a 3-5 times increase in detection range over the legacy LANTIRN system. It is currently flying on the U.S. Air Force and multinational F-16, F-15, B-1B, CF-18, Harrier, A-10, B-52 and Tornado aircraft.

The F-35's targeting system is based on Sniper.

Some critics here have argued that the AF hates CAS. This is bullsh¡t. For starters, they can't actually prove their claim to be true. They say that the AF has always tried to get rid of the A-10. False. In 1990. at the end of the Cold War and a shift in Army's doctrine placed more emphasis on deep strike rather than CAS (plus the addition of the M1, MLRS and AH-64 to the Army's own inventory made them less dependent on AF CAS). The A-10 is not suited for deep strike, but the F-16 can do that as well as CAS. The AF already had a bunch in service with more on the way, it had shown to be a very capable bomber both in Gunsmoke competitions and the Israeli strike on Iraq's nuclear program, LANTIRN was a promising system at the time and planned for use on the Block 40 and higher models. The AF presented this to the Army, who replied that as long as they could get CAS, they didn't care what aircraft they used.

The A-10 didn't get a second lease on life due to its performance in the Gulf War. When a squadron of A-10s engaged the Republican Guard, the A-10s got all shot up, two shot down in a single day and the damaged ones were stuck on the ramp getting fixed or scrapped instead of doing something useful like, oh, i dunno, dropping bombs or firing missiles. B-52s were sent to take care of the Republican Guard and the A-10s were re-tasked other targets and flew at higher altitudes. So whenever I see someone brag about how much damage it can take and still get home, I look at them and want to ask "Are you new?" Every time one of your planes is shot up, if it's not a write-off, it's now stuck on the ramp. So you're either down airplane(s) and you still have to fly missions, so you're flying the same number of missions with fewer airplanes, or you have to either divert manpower from turning around the jets that work to fixing the broken jets. Either way, you lose combat effectiveness.

Desert Storm showed that even against an adversary a long way from peer, low altitude operations suffered the worst losses. It was a tactic generated from the belief than long range SAMs were the biggest threat, therefore hiding from radar was a good plan but statistics show that it's safer to take your chances against the radar SAMs, because you can detect radars, they take time to lock, can be jammed, can be targeted and the missiles take a lot longer to reach you. Now when you throw in modern IIR MANPADS and short-range SAMs that won't go barking off on the wrong course at the first hint off a flare, low altitude operations are just out against a peer adversary. Modern AAA is also infinitely more deadly now than it used to be. Losses from low altitude operations in an A-10 against a peer adversary would be epic.

After the Gulf War, the A-10 was reassigned to the FAC-A role and re-designated OA-10. They were later replaced in this role by JTACs and they went back to the ground support role. Since 2001, the AF has been performing CAS and ground support to the detriment of it's other missions. In fact, there are actually more A-10s in service than their are of the pointy-nose, zoomy F-15Cs that they Generals love so much. Not to mention that the current CSAF is an A-10 guy. But hey, why let that get in the way of a good whine?

But time has caught up with the A-10. The airframes are old and they've racked up a lot of combat hours (a fleet-wide problem for the AF). They had to undergo an upgrade program to make them compatible to the current AirBattle Space and give them targeting, communications and weapons capabilities that other aircraft have. And they're not survivable against modern and emerging IADs.

Another claim that others make is that the Marine Corps model, where Marine Air is centered around the infantry is the way to go. This betrays a lot of ignorance. If what they saw were true, then what does that say when the Marines have never expressed any interests in anything like the A-10 for the CAS role? The Marines have used the F-8 Crusader (single engine fighter), the F-4 Phantom (supersonic, no gun), A-4 (single engine, light weapons load, small guns), A-6 (no gun), Harrier & Harrier II (single engine, light weapons, very fragile, no internal gun), F/A-18 (supersonic multirole fighter with a 20mm gun) and they're placing all their eggs into one basket - the F-35B. If the Marines are the masters of CAS, why didn't they get A-10s? Despite operating a minority of a minority of the overall US air power, the USMC has the political pull to get the MV-22B, the F-35B, even their own trademarked camouflage before the rest of the DoD. If they wanted the A-10, they wouldn’t have had any problem getting them.

We're told that Marine Air centers around the infantryman and therefore they are the “masters of CAS.” However, this claim about the Marine Air’s role is not entirely true. The tasks of Marine aviation actually fall into the following six functional areas:

• Antiair Warfare

• Assault Support

• Offensive Air Support (OAS)

• Air Reconnaissance

• Electronic Warfare, and control of aircraft and missiles.

Planners initially consider the functional area, not the means (i.e., particular weapons systems), when analyzing the fundamental requirements of accomplishing any given objective.

OAS involves air operations that are conducted against enemy installations, facilities, and personnel in order to directly assist in the attainment of MAGTF objectives by destroying enemy resources or isolating enemy military forces. Its primary support of the warfighting functions is to provide fires and force protection through CAS and DAS. The application of OAS can sometimes be decisive by directly or indirectly affecting an enemy’s center of gravity. OAS allows the commander to influence the battle by projecting firepower to shape events in time and space. It also allows the commander to shape the battlespace by delaying enemy reinforcements, degrading critical enemy functions, and manipulating enemy perceptions, which ultimately results in protection of the force. Marine fighter/attack squadrons (VMFAs), Marine fighter attack (all weather) squadrons (VMFA[AW]s), Marine attack squadrons (VMAs), Marine light/attack helicopter squadrons (HMLAs), and Marine unmanned aerial vehicle squadrons (VMU) provide OAS during OAS missions. OAS includes two categories: CAS and DAS.

(1) CAS is an air action performed by fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces. CAS requires detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of friendly forces.

(2) DAS. DAS is an air action against enemy targets at such a distance from friendly forces that detailed integration of each mission with fire and movement of friendly forces is not required. Close coordination of the fire and maneuver of friendly forces is a qualifying factor for a DAS. DAS is not unlike Air Interdiction.

Thus, CAS is not the primary mission of Marine Air. It is a subset of only one of six core missions. Much like how CAS is a subset of the USAF’s Global Strike core mission:

• Air & Space Superiority

• Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance

• Rapid Global Mobility

• Global Strike

• Command & Control

In contrast to tactics, which is the art of winning engagements and battles, military strategy is the art of winning wars. Strategy is implemented by combatant commanders and is always joint in nature. The MAGTF makes a strategic contribution when it is used as an element of national power to accomplish national policy objectives. Since Marine aviation is bonded to the MAGTF by mission, organization, and employment, its strategic contributions are normally encompassed within the MAGTF support it provides. For example, a sea-based MAGTF strategically positioned near a world “hot spot” may be the ideal force to indicate U.S. political concern or resolve on a volatile issue. If the strategic objective is to show a U.S. presence in the area, Marine aviation operations become a visible show of force without physically landing U.S. troops ashore. In this case, Marine aviation’s contribution to the strategic objective would be dominant, but it is still performed in support of the MAGTF’s mission and not considered an independent action

Success at the operational level can promote success at the tactical level.

The employment of aviation at the operational level during Operation Desert Storm served to disrupt Iraqi command and control, degrade defenses, and demoralize troops. The success of Operation Desert Storm’s operational goals contributed to tactical successes during the ground operations phase. Success at the tactical level can foster success at the operational level; however, success at the tactical level can prove indecisive unless linked to operational goals. A good example of success at the tactical level fostering success at the operational level would be the Allied efforts in the South Pacific during World War II.

The Gulf War contains recent examples of tactical events that impacted the operational level of war. During the first 6 months of Operation Desert Shield, 1st Marine Division spent a great deal of time scrutinizing the 8-year Iran-Iraq war. Planners learned that Iraqi artillery was very effective in trapping Iranian soldiers in confined areas called firesacks, where thousands of Iranians perished. The firesack, like our engagement area, is an area along an enemy avenue of approach intended to contain and destroy an enemy force with the massed fires of all available weapons. Studies of the two obstacle belts in Kuwait and the positioning of more than 1,200 Iraqi artillery pieces behind those obstacle belts indicated that when the Marines attacked, the Iraqis meant to trap them in at least two firesacks. Marine planners also recognized that their available aviation ordnance was not sufficient to destroy the Iraqi artillery during the first phase of Operation Desert Storm. Therefore, planners designed a series of combined-arms raids to defeat the Iraqis’ plan before they even attacked into Kuwait. Operation Desert Storm kicked off on January 17, 1991. On January 19th, Marine aircraft conducted their first raid. Coalition forces were going to move an artillery battery, escorted by a light armored infantry company, close to the Kuwaiti border at night. A Marine EA-6B Prowler EW aircraft was to be stationed inside Saudi airspace to jam the Iraqis’ radars until after the entire artillery battery had fired on a designated target. As the artillery battery started to withdraw, EA-6B aircraft would stop jamming just long enough for the Iraqis to detect the battery’s movement before it began jamming again. The intent was to cause the Iraqi artillery to respond to Marine indirect fires. Once the Iraqis began firing, a Marine forward air controller (airborne) (FAC[A]) in a Marine F/A-18 Hornet detected the Iraqis’ muzzle flashes and directed a flight of Marine F/A-18s to roll in on the firing Iraqi artillery. The plan’s goal was to convince Iraqi artillerymen not to man their artillery pieces for fear that every time they did so Marine aircraft would attack them. By the third week in February, after a series of these raids, the plan’s goal was achieved. UAVs showed Iraqi artillerymen abandoning their howitzers as Marine aircraft began attacking their positions. These successful raids at the tactical level had dramatic effect at the operational level. The fear of an attack from aviation assets made Iraqi artillery ineffective in the final phase of the war. This undoubtedly saved many lives, negated the need for CAS (which is responsive instead of proactive) and contributed to the strategic success of Operation Desert Storm.

A good example of success at the tactical level can proving indecisive unless linked to operational goals would be the claim that CAS is crucial to COIN. We just spent the past 14 years involved in a COIN in Afghanistan and while there were plenty of successful CAS missions flown, the strategic mission there failed. The Taliban are still there. The country is no less unstable than it was before. CAS made no strategic difference because historically CAS doesn't win wars. From WW2 to Desert Storm, it's been proven that long range, deep strike has a greater affect toward achieving victory. It is for this reason that CAS is a subset mission.

The differences in the USAF’s missions and the USMC’s missions are simple; USAF has a strategic mission (which require tactical assets to achieve) in the battlespace and Marine aviation is designed primarily as a tactical instrument. So the USAF employs its tactical air assets in a tactical manner similar to how the Marines use their tactical air assets, yet the critics say they need to be more like the Marines. To me, that says a lot about the critics.

So because of both the tactical and strategic missions they fly, and they reached the that effective CAS is not wed to low level only, the Marines gave night vision, radar and the ability to use PGMs to their AV-8Bs decades ago. Marines fly a LOT of CAS and they're good at it, but Marine Air doesn't revolve around it. The Harrier was always in advance of the A-10 in capabilities and versatility. The recent A-10C upgrade reflects those same findings.

We’re told we need to keep the A-10 to fight savages or "cavemen" like IS or the Taliban. That’s not a reason, that’s moving the goalposts. Not only does it ignore those situations where we’re not fighting “cavemen”, it ignores the fact that more than ½ of soldiers and Marines killed or injured since we started fighting these cavemen have been killed by IEDs. And yet, we’re to believe that the A-10 is the end-all, be-all savior? Even in situations where you're fighting "cavemen" the A-10 is overkill. You don't need a 30mm round to destroy a Toyota Hilux and a human will be no less dead from getting hit from 20-25mm rounds than they would be from a 30mm round.

Why not retire the A-10 now and divert those funds to something that’s both truly suited for a low-threat COIN environment and much cheaper to operate than the A-10 is, something like the A-29B or OV-10X? That takes care of the CSAR-escort requirement as well (Oh, wait...Congress questioned the need for just this sort of aircraft three years ago). The cost argument goes completely out the window when you start talking about the millions every year it takes to maintain a fleet of aircraft in order to "save money" to kill a guy with an AK. Especially when we have so many other assets to do it.

3. F-22 production was supposed to have been at a slow rate to get us to 381.

Former SecDef Gates canceled F-22 production in 2009 to finance the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

F-22s, when delivered to the squadrons, they were delivered with a “Bill of Sale” of sorts that listed the final cost of that aircraft.

Early production F-22s ran an average of $130M per copy. By the time the last ones were picked up from the factory, the price per Raptor was down to $101M per copy.* And those newest build jets were damn good too.

That’s for an order of 183 Raptors. The minimum USAF requirement was for 381 F-22s. That’s to equip 10 rotational expeditionary forces, each with one squadron of 24 Raptors. Those 240 Raptors would be supported by 60 training aircraft, 15 test and evaluation aircraft, 32 for backup, and 34 for attrition during the aircraft’s service life (roughly 10% of the fleet).

To meet affordability by amortizing the development costs and producing them most efficiently, the AF should have produced at least 600 aircraft at a rate of 32-44 F-22s annually; a solid 15 year production run. Had the production line stayed open longer, the price per airplane would have dropped more.

No business spends $28B to develop a product expecting a handsome return over a long production cycle, then terminates the program after only a few hundred. That’s corporate negligence. The graveyard spiral of dwindling numbers caused increased unit costs on the B-2 to the point where we spent as much to develop it (about $25B) as we spent on production (about $24B) for only 21 B-2s.

*This is why Block 60 F-16s and advanced F-15s were never a part of any fighter road map; they would have cost as much as F-22s, but without the LO or overall performance increases.

I think I remember a couple of years ago someone posting something about "F-22s will NEVER carry bombs, they are AIR DOMINANCE FIGHTERS!!!1!!1"

F-22A-SDB-Drop-070905-F-9999W-011-S.jpg

2007

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The First Ever F-35 assembled internationally makes maiden flight.

On Sept. 7, the first F-35A assembled outside the US, made its very first flight from Cameri airbase.

The aircraft, designated AL-1, is the first of eight aircraft currently being assembled at the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri, in northwestern Italy. As already explained in a previous post, the FACO will assemble the first Italian F-35As and the remaining F-35A and F-35B for the Italian Air Force and Navy, and build F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

First-F-35-Italy.jpg

The 5th generation multirole aircraft was given the low-visibility roundel and markings of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), as well as the 32° Stormo (Wing) emblem and code “32-01.”

During the flight, that lasted about 1,5 hours, the F-35A was escorted by a Eurofighter Typhoon.

The Aviationist’s contributor Simone Bovi took the exclusive images that you can find in this post.

First-F-35-Italy-escorted.jpg

The first F-35A is expected to be delivered to the Italian Air Force by the end of the year.

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The AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING targeting pod is an Israeli-designed precision targeting pod system currently operational with a wide variety of combat aircraft. LITENING significantly increases the combat effectiveness of the aircraft during day, night and under-the-weather conditions in the attack of ground and air targets with a variety of standoff weapons (i.e., laser-guided bombs, conventional bombs and GPS-guided weapons. LITENING is compatible with A-10, B-52H, F-14A/B/D, F-15E/D, AV-8B, F/A-18, and F-16 Block 25/30/40/50.

The AN/AAQ-33 Sniper ATP is a single, lightweight targeting pod with much lower aerodynamic drag than the legacy systems it replaces. It possesses advanced targeting technology and its image processing allows aircrews to detect and identify tactical-size targets outside threat rings for the destruction of enemy air defense mission, as well as outside jet noise ranges for urban counter-insurgency operations. It offers a 3-5 times increase in detection range over the legacy LANTIRN system. It is currently flying on the U.S. Air Force and multinational F-16, F-15, B-1B, CF-18, Harrier, A-10, B-52 and Tornado aircraft.

Thanks for the informative post. Based on this, can one assume that the Sniper is superior to the LITENING and if so, is the LITENING in the process of being phased out? Also, I've heard things here and there that seem to indicate that (when mounted on fighters), some of these pods have air to air modes. Any info?

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Other minor detail, the A model is a 9g fighter WITH combat load of fuel and internal weapons. No 4th gen does even close to that. The B and C are similarly 7g airframe WITH combat load. The only other guy that comes close to that is the F-22.

Today Italy, tomorrow the world! 2016 will see the IAF getting theirs as well.

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Other minor detail, the A model is a 9g fighter WITH combat load of fuel and internal weapons. No 4th gen does even close to that. The B and C are similarly 7g airframe WITH combat load. The only other guy that comes close to that is the F-22.

Today Italy, tomorrow the world! 2016 will see the IAF getting theirs as well.

This.

Congrats to Italy, Majority of Dutch Birds are coming from there.

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ok, so some more questions, is the A-10s slower speed an advantage for CAS, slower speed+less negative Gs and Lateral Gs when engaging enemy thus making it more maneuverable down low? do you believe the A-10s greater gun ammo capacity gives it an advantage? What are your thoughts on the X-32, was the Boeing Deign better/worse/same?

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ok, so some more questions, is the A-10s slower speed an advantage for CAS, slower speed+less negative Gs and Lateral Gs when engaging enemy thus making it more maneuverable down low? do you believe the A-10s greater gun ammo capacity gives it an advantage? What are your thoughts on the X-32, was the Boeing Deign better/worse/same?

The gun capacity gives it a major advantage. The ability to use 30mm in situations where no other weapon can be used due to potential fratricide is in my opinion the major advantage of the A-10. The A-10s ability to get in low and not have to be overly concerned about heavy machine gun fire and even 23mm AA is another advantage. Another is the pilots experience with air to ground, I've seen nearly every airframe in our inventory plus most of our allies perform in a CAS role and given the choice I'll go with A-10s in nearly every situation.

But I am just an Army guy.

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Any aircraft is capable of fratricide:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/inexperience-cited-in-canadian-friendly-fire-death-u-s-report-1.836783

Taking hits and making it back to base is good for keeping the pilot alive, it's not so great when your plane never flies again. I believe this was well covered by Trigger's post up yonder ^

Alvis 3.1

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Fascinating forum on this controversial aircraft (F-35). There is stuff all over the internet as to how good or not so good F-35 is or may be. But looking at the RCAF and our needs to replace our CF-18's leads me to worry and think.

I have read that RCAF/DnD says our CF-18'swill be operational until 2025. But what does that mean? I've read how many of our CF-18's have now been G limited to reduce any higher G maneuvering and as result for example the CF-18s we sent as a political move to the Baltic states last year to fly Combat Air Patrols to save the Baltic states from the evils of Putin (not and was just idiot talk by world leaders) have been withdrawn because of the limited G ratings on them. I have no idea if and or how much of this info about our CF-18s is currently true. But I do know this, they are and have been great combat aircraft, not just for RCAF but the USN/USMC and other air forces. But they are geriatrics now and I worry that our CF-18 fleet will be mostly nonoperational before 2025. I guess the RCAF may be able to keep what 5-10-15 that can then still fly by then, up to shadow Russian Bear's up north just outside our air space and as such will be fine. It won't take much maneuvering to keep a gun sight on a Bear. But after that our RCAF will no longer be a combat ready air force and since most conflict which uses air power are today mostly political and stupidly political at that, Canada will then have even a lesser voice in said affairs than we have today and ours is that of a mouse. Currently one crying "LOOK AT ME ROAR!"

So how long will our government and DnD take to make a choice for our next fighter? What should we go with? How soon may such a new steed fill the RCAF's airbases? I fear if we go F-35 we won't see our first one until well after 2020, and we only plan to buy 65 or IMO with our silly politics I bet we buy even fewer oh maybe 35-40. I have grown to have ZERO faith in any government in Ottawa, regardless of party making the right and most appropriate choice to keep the RCAF combat capable for the next 40+ years. Now I feel that the RCAF could probably get F-18E/F Super Hornets in latest blocks painted in our markings, and ready to serve our needs probably within 2-3 years and I feel that the RACF could build a CF-18E/F force structure of more than 65 Super Hornet air frames. I can picture (and look I'm no expert but just a military aircraft buff) Canada buying of say 48 CF-18E, 16 CF-18F and to round out operational abilities add 16 ECF-18G, plus add 6-8 spares. This force structure will give us more than enough air frames for our basic NORAD needs and an ability to send aircraft for expeditionary/NATO needs.

As for stealth, well lets look at how Canada will likely use these aircraft. Canada is not likely to send combat aircraft to conflict without US forces. So our detachment to any order of battle will be only a minor addition, but a political one that will give our government of the day a voice in the situation at hand. By mixing CF-18E with F's and ECF-18G will give our pilots a strong force protection, a full combat air v. air and air v. ground ability and to inter-operate fully with US and other Nato forces. The need for stealthiness for the RCAF is not as high as it may be for USAF/USN/USMC. As for our NORAD role stealth is not needed as any potential adversary will not likely be using front line or even 5th. gen. fighters to invade our air space. Our Norad role will be to intercept and shadow Russian bombers on the edge of our air space and not likely any other nations. You really don't need an F-35 to intercept a bomber nor to shoot it down if need be.

The F-35 may or may not be a better aircraft, who knows with all the stuff pro and con on it. But from how I feel about Canada's government and it matters not what party is in power, we will probably go cheaper than need be and may need to be required. Again IMO 65 F-35 are too few for 40+ years of RCAF service. Again I bet if we go F-35 we don't by more than 36-40 F-35 when its all done as such and then why bother? We can buy more Super Hornets,and start to get them in service if we don't wait much longer probably before 2018-2019, then phase out our older CF-18's more quickly or keep a few better conditioned ones in reserve squadron status for Norad roles. The RCAF will be fully combat capable for Norad and Nato needs for 40 or more years then. Plus the RCAF will have commonality with legacy CF-18's. Costs of maintenance will probably be lower than F-35. Twin seaters for training first and for combat roles that will require the back seater is a benefit over the F-35. BTW Super Hornet have air to air refueling to use our drogue fueling of our CC-150 and CC-130 tankers as well as can employ F-18E/F as a buddy tankers. Going F-35 means IMO that Canada will probably be out of the tanking of our own combat aircraft. RCAF will then use USAF/USN tankers for most of our Norad plus all of Nato/expeditionary roles. We will then also pay for civilian tankers for much of our Norad roles. Civilians will not likely put their assets anywhere near a combat zone. Asking the USAF or USN to tank our jets when they are already stretched for their combat force needs would be so typically Canadian cheap. Going CF-18E/F, ECF-18G keeps us able to tank much of our own if need be.

But my most pessimistic feeling and I hope it's wrong, is that our government will drag the crap out of all of this next fighter stuff and run out of time on our CF-18's. That, as well as knowing Canadian politics and IMO add a dose of Canadian society ignorance, remember all too many of us Canucks believe we are only peace keepers to ploy us out of having a combat aircraft role. Funnily or more so sadly seeing us then have to pay the USAF to detach a sqd. of USAF fighters to CFB Cold Lake and another to CFB Baggotville to do our air space protection. Oh but, but, our government will say that these USAF fighters will be under our command. They will say costs will be cheaper and that these USAF sqds will be like having our own RCAF ones. BUT NO, IT WOULD NOT! They will still be USAF assets first and we will have less of a political voice. Does what I say sound strange? YES! but with this nation's politics, it would not surprise me.

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Thanks for the informative post. Based on this, can one assume that the Sniper is superior to the LITENING and if so, is the LITENING in the process of being phased out? Also, I've heard things here and there that seem to indicate that (when mounted on fighters), some of these pods have air to air modes. Any info?

IIRC, LITENING's still being used on F/A-18s and Harriers. IDK what the Navy/Marine Corps plans are for LITENING or any follow on pods. A-10s were still using it in OEF, so there's a mix of Sniper and LITENING out there.

Back in 2011(?) the FL ANG mounted some Sniper pods on the centerline of some of their F-15s to test it out as a "poor man's IRST." It didn't go fleet wide and now LM is pushing a larger, self contained IRST pod for F-15s and F-16s.

ok, so some more questions, is the A-10s slower speed an advantage for CAS, slower speed+less negative Gs and Lateral Gs when engaging enemy thus making it more maneuverable down low? do you believe the A-10s greater gun ammo capacity gives it an advantage? What are your thoughts on the X-32, was the Boeing Deign better/worse/same?

The A-10 is perfectly fine in an uncontested environment, such as Afghanistan, where there is no anti-air threat. One of the A-10's problems is that it's underpowered (A-10s have to fly with throttles wide open all the time) and it can't accelerate worth a damn, especially when it's carrying a payload. So it's an easy target for anyone with a halfway decent MANPAD and against a Tor M1, the A-10 is a sitting duck. Much like how the Su-27 was designed to kill the F-15, the Soviet Union and later Russia developed anti-air defenses to specifically kill things like the A-10.

The large ammo capacity is fine in, again, an uncontested environment. Back when the A-10 was just entering service, during the TASVAL exercises to simulate a European engagement, A-10s were getting "killed" left and right. It wasn't until the A-10 pilots switched to standoff attacks with AGM-65s that their survivability went up. This was proven real-world in 1991 after the failed attack on Republican Guard units in Iraq. The AGM-65 scored more confirmed tank kills than the GAU-8.

As for the X-32, it makes no difference. It had problems with ingesting hot exhaust in a hover (which could only be achieved by removing panels and parts from the plane to lighten the weight) and Boeing changed the design mid-program.

A lot of people say "OMG, we should have gone with the X-32, we NEVER would have had all these problems!"

Bullsh!t.

The F-32 airframe would have had its own problems, true, maybe fewer, but then again, maybe more (No one ever considers that). And all the software problems that the F-35 has had; the cost overruns and delays? The F-32 would have had those problems too.

A lot of critics will say that we should scrap the F-35 and start over. With what? The mission requirements won't change, so you'll get something that looks like the F-32/F-35. And starting over now, you just throw out all he work that's been done and you've wasted all the money that's been spent on it to date. Besides, the F-35 is the result of just that sort of thinking.

The JAST (what became JSF and later, F-35), was predated by several programs from the late 1980s and early 1990s:

- Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) 1990-1993 / USAF Program for an F-16 replacement

- Advanced Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing (ASTOVL) 1983-1994 / DoD program for an AV-8 replacement

- Advanced Tactical Aircraft (ATA) 1983-1991 / Navy program for replacing the A-6. Later known as the A-12 Avenger II

- Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter (NATF) 1990-1991 / Navy's version of the ATF ("F-22N" "F-23N"). NATF is one of the reasons why the YF-22 won over the YF-23

- Advanced-Attack/Advanced/Fighter-Attack (A-X/A/F-X) 1992-1993 / Follow on to the failed ATA; USAF expressed interest to replace F-111, and later F-15E and F-117

The A-10s ability to get in low and not have to be overly concerned about heavy machine gun fire and even 23mm AA is another advantage.

Not true. A-10s got chewed up by anti-air in the Gulf War and we've been spoiled by enjoying 14 years of uncontested airspace because there was little to nothing that the Taliban had in Afghanistan. But ISIS does have anti-air capabilities and A-10s are no longer being sent into Syria for this very reason. A-10s were delayed from operating in Libya until day 8/9 of operations there due to the ground fire threat. Only six A-10s were deployed and they flow sorties on only 4 days out of 12 of Odyssey Dawn. The bulk of the workload was performed by F-16s, F-15Es, B-1B, F/A-18s, Harriers, Mirage 2000, Tornado and a ****load of tankers

Edited by Trigger
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