US military, technology, arms, tactics

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brar_w
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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 20 Feb 2021 07:24


NRao
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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 20 Feb 2021 08:43

A complimentary blast from the past




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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Mort Walker » 20 Feb 2021 08:46

Raytheon Formally Opposes LM Acquisition of Rocketdyne

“They are a huge supplier to us,” [Raytheon’s CEO Gregory] Hayes said of Aerojet. If Lockheed Martin is allowed to buy the company, “you don’t have an independent supplier on the solid rocket motor side. It gives us pause as we think about the competitive landscape going forward.”

Hayes said Raytheon will make its case to regulatory agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Defense. “We will see how this whole thing plays out,” he said.


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 20 Feb 2021 08:51

This was a roll the dice kind of acquisition for Lockheed with all its current cash and the more than $140 Billion in backlog. With Northrop OATK acquisition, I just don't see this ever going through given how strong Raytheon is in the missile business. Northrop had/has a tiny missile business, Lockheed in contrast is the exact opposite. Not to mention that they have been killing it of late in terms of competition. So making a case that it isn't about competition and margins is going to be much harder. Raytheon looking into Lockheed's work isn't something new. This smells a lot like when Raytheon went thermonuclear on Augustine's play on putting together the Lockheed-Northrop merger which was also a step too far. Aerojet would be jackpot for Lockheed and give it a near term monopoly on hypersonic weapons and better margins on a whole host of missile programs. Raytheon has already lost the AMRAAM replacement and a string of other losses. Many of those losses involved Lockheed and Aerojet as the winner.

Just a bad deal overall for competition at least in the short-medium term. There are so many other small and innovative space based companies with expertise in rockets and space technology that they should be targeting right now instead trying to go for such a brazen SRM and integration margin play. From Aerojet's perspective one can see the motivation. Their main competitor just got acquired and now has a significantly enhanced pool of funds and technologies to leverage in order to be more competitive. So naturally, they would want to align with someone who has similar or greater resources and the ability to share technologies and IP. But the overall impact on the SRM industrial base is probably not worth it and will lead to short term disruption in many vital areas and competitions before others invest and catch up.

Rocket maker Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings said on Friday it had received a second request from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for a regulatory review of its proposed takeover by Lockheed Martin.

The FTC review is part of a process under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act to scrutinize potentially anti-competitive mergers. A second request by the FTC could indicate heightened antitrust scrutiny, as the vast majority of deals reviewed by the government and the Department of Justice are allowed to proceed after the first preliminary review.

The $4.4 billion deal, announced late last year, has raised eyebrows because it would give Lockheed - the No. 1 defense contractor - the ownership of a vital piece of the U.S. missile industry.

Aerojet produces 70% of the solid fuel rocket motors and other propulsion products used in everything from antiballistic missiles to air-to-air missiles.

LINK

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 21 Feb 2021 20:18

Excellent summary of the current state of the B-21 with some new quotes from its PM. Notably, first aircraft about to enter final assembly, while work on the second (static testing) already started. Rollout should happen by early 2022 with a short flight from Palmdale to Edwards to follow after a few months (post rollout) officially kickstarting the flight test campaign which should be fairly short (roughly 3-4 years).

Full avionics suite already flying onboard a dedicated flight test aircraft so much of that being de-risked ahead of formal integration into the first article (F/35 program which not only created a radar test bed but also created a seperate cooperative test bed in different EW, IE/EO and RF sensors were integrated so that their cooperative employment can be developed and refined ahead of formal aircraft integation and flight testing).

Structured from the outset to drive down risk, rather than “inventing on schedule,” Walden described exhaustive testing both on the ground and in an airborne avionics laboratory, hosted aboard a business jet-class airplane. The flying lab will shake out sensors and other electronics to ensure they work individually and cooperatively before being installed in an actual B-21. The concept is similar to the concept of the Cooperative Avionics Test Bed—nicknamed “CATbird”—used by Lockheed Martin in developing avionics, apertures, and sensors for the F-35.


No significant schedule slippage due to covid related challenges though they had to make significant changes to how they operate. Very initial estimates of first flights were late 2021, with a mid 2021 rollout. However since the program was awarded they've had to stop work for approximately 90 days due to a formal protest from Boeing/Lockheed, and then they've had to solve (which they said they've done) at least one design related challenge in terms of the engine/inlet integration. Those two (and probably other unknown issues) factors are probably responsible for a 4-6 month slip in the first flight estimate.

They are focusing on producing at scale and ramping up production. The authors estimate that the program could deliver the 100 targeted aircraft by 2032 assuming they stick to a ramp. The current negotiated contract covers options for the first 21 aircraft (which includes a few dedicated test units) spread over 5 production lots so a 2032 completion would mean a 3+ X ramp up post early lots low rate production. It appears from a couple of prior interviews that the focus was always being able to produce efficiently at a decent scale allowing for timely retirement of the B-1 and B-2 fleets. Of course the latter would depend upon how quickly the B-21 can be certified for the Nuclear Attack mission which generally tends to be a much slower and deliberate process.

Although the Raider is still in development, “we view the B-21 as really a production program, not so much just a test program,” Walden explained. To the extent possible, the test aircraft are being built on production tooling, using robots, particularly for composite structures, but also with “touch labor.”

To reduce development risk, the B-21 was conceived to be more about integration than invention, Walden explained. “We have not lost sight of the fact that we have to integrate software and hardware. … We are doing that today.”

The Air Force is “not getting something experimental” in the B-21, former service acquisition chief Will Roper said in a January exit interview with Aviation Week and Space Technology.

The B-21 “is being designed for production innovation, for maintainability and sustainability … and those are the things I’ve tracked the most,” Roper said. The first flight is “in no way, shape or form … just to prove out the flight sciences. … All of that has been worked concurrently.”

The bomber should transition to production at scale “very quickly,” Roper said.



Full Article:
The Raider Comes Out of the Black


Image

Image


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 22 Feb 2021 07:32

FYI


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby V_Raman » 22 Feb 2021 10:01

...

Navy must go with at the very least 12 NLCA-mk1s/Trainers. Apart from excellent LIFT aircraft, it will generate immense operational data for ADA/HAL. This was mentioned by the PD, TEDBF as well in the interview.

...

Getting that 12 could make it credible for the USN trainer bid as well

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 22 Feb 2021 10:59

Not sure if we are talking of the same rec. USN has issued an RFI that:

Request for Information (RFI), Serial Number 20-0001/UJTS, is a continuation of on-going market research conducted in support of the Undergraduate Jet Training System (UJTS) program.


and

According to a program official, as of 2019 the Navy would start considering T-45 replacement options in 2022 or 2023. The Navy planned to phase out the T-45 beginning in 2035. In order to prevent a shortage of available T-45 training aircraft, the replacement aircraft must achieve initial operating capabilities in 2035 and be operational in 2042.


IF, big IF, that is true, then by then a lot will be diff.

The above is about "Undergraduate Jet Training System (UJTS)"

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 22 Feb 2021 11:24

The USN does not want a trainer aircraft that has to be capable of taking off from, or landing on an aircraft carrier.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 25 Feb 2021 00:24

A good summary/update on Boeing's T-7 Red Hawk for the US Air Force. The first static test aircraft is being assembled. SAAB is moving production of its parts from Sweden to the US and the first flight worthy production aircraft is going to roll out in 2023. Once initial units go to Edwards and other flight test bases, the first squadron to be delivered to the US Air Force's designated air-base in time for a 2024 operational date. They will start off at LRIP of 1 aircraft a month, and then transition to 4-5 aircraft a month once FRP is approved post Milestone C decision by the Pentagon.

Boeing has had preliminary discussions with the US Navy in supplying the T-7 for its T-45 replacement needs, and prelim discussions on meeting the Aggressor and/or Red Air or light attack roles also happening.

Ground Test T-7A Next-Gen Trainer Taking Shape


The two eT-7As, the pre-production aircraft used to verify Boeing’s performance proposals to the Air Force, have been flying to explore some parts of the flight envelope and will continue to do so through the rest of this year, Dabundo said. Beyond that, “we will keep them active,” he said. Flight testing of initial production aircraft will be done at both St. Louis and Edwards AFB, Calif.

Dabundo said Boeing has had some preliminary discussions with the Navy about the T-7 potentially answering its need for a T-45 replacement, but “that’s not a program of record, yet,” he said. “We hope to play a role” in that project, he added. There has also been some interest in a light combat version of the T-7, or for use as an Aggressor aircraft, but such discussions are also very preliminary, Dabundo said. He declined to discuss what kind of combat payload such an aircraft would be able to carry.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Manish_Sharma » 25 Feb 2021 00:34

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2 ... ssion=true

The U.S. Air Force Just Admitted The F-35 Stealth Fighter Has Failed

David Axe

The U.S. Air Force’s top officer wants the service to develop an affordable, lightweight fighter to replace hundreds of Cold War-vintage F-16s and complement a small fleet of sophisticated—but costly and unreliable—stealth fighters.

The result would be a high-low mix of expensive “fifth-generation” F-22s and F-35s and inexpensive “fifth-generation-minus” jets, explained Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown Jr.

If that plan sounds familiar, it’s because the Air Force a generation ago launched development of an affordable, lightweight fighter to replace hundreds of Cold War-vintage F-16s and complement a small future fleet of sophisticated—but costly and unreliable—stealth fighters.

But over 20 years of R&D, that lightweight replacement fighter got heavier and more expensive as the Air Force and lead contractor Lockheed Martin LMT packed it with more and more new technology.

Yes, we’re talking about the F-35. The 25-ton stealth warplane has become the very problem it was supposed to solve. And now America needs a new fighter to solve that F-35 problem, officials said.

With a sticker price of around $100 million per plane, including the engine, the F-35 is expensive. While stealthy and brimming with high-tech sensors, it’s also maintenance-intensive, buggy and unreliable. “The F-35 is not a low-cost, lightweight fighter,” said Dan Ward, a former Air Force program manager and the author of popular business books including The Simplicity Cycle.

The F-35 is a Ferrari, Brown told reporters last Wednesday. “You don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays. This is our ‘high end’ [fighter], we want to make sure we don’t use it all for the low-end fight.”

“I want to moderate how much we’re using those aircraft,” Brown said.

Hence the need for a new low-end fighter to pick up the slack in day-to-day operations. Today, the Air Force’s roughly 1,000 F-16s meet that need. But the flying branch hasn’t bought a new F-16 from Lockheed since 2001. The F-16s are old.

In his last interview before leaving his post in January, Will Roper, the Air Force’s top acquisition official, floated the idea of new F-16 orders. But Brown shot down the idea, saying he doesn’t want more of the classic planes.

The 17-ton, non-stealthy F-16 is too difficult to upgrade with the latest software, Brown explained. Instead of ordering fresh F-16s, he said, the Air Force should initiate a “clean-sheet design” for a new low-end fighter.

Brown’s comments are a tacit admission that the F-35 has failed. As conceived in the 1990s, the program was supposed to produce thousands of fighters to displace almost all of the existing tactical warplanes in the inventories of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

The Air Force alone wanted nearly 1,800 F-35s to replace aging F-16s and A-10s and constitute the low end of a low-high fighter mix, with 180 twin-engine F-22s making up the high end.

But the Air Force and Lockheed baked failure into the F-35’s very concept. “They tried to make the F-35 do too much,” said Dan Grazier, an analyst with the Project on Government Oversight in Washington, D.C.

There’s a small-wing version for land-based operations, a big-wing version for the Navy’s catapult-equipped aircraft carriers and, for the small-deck assault ships the Marines ride in, a vertical-landing model with a downward-blasting lift engine.

The complexity added cost. Rising costs imposed delays. Delays gave developers more time to add yet more complexity to the design. Those additions added more cost. Those costs resulted in more delays. So on and so forth.

Fifteen years after the F-35’s first flight, the Air Force has just 250 of the jets. Now the service is signaling possible cuts to the program. It’s not for no reason that Brown has begun characterizing the F-35 as a boutique, high-end fighter in the class of the F-22. The Air Force ended F-22 production after completing just 195 copies.

“The F-35 is approaching a crossroads,” Grazier said.

Pentagon leaders have hinted that, as part of the U.S. military’s shift in focus toward peer threats—that is, Russia and China—the Navy and Air Force might get bigger shares of the U.S. military’s roughly $700-billion annual budget. All at the Army’s expense.

“If we’re going to pull the trigger on a new fighter, now’s probably the time,” Grazier said. The Air Force could end F-35 production after just a few hundred examples and redirect tens of billions of dollars to a new fighter program.

But it’s an open question whether the Air Force will ever succeed in developing a light, cheap fighter. The new low-end jet could suffer the same fate as the last low-end jet—the F-35—and steadily gain weight, complexity and cost until it becomes, well, a high-end jet.

If that happens, as it’s happened before, then some future Air Force chief of staff might tell reporters—in, say, the year 2041—that the new F-36 is a Ferrari and you don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day.

To finally replace its 60-year-old F-16s, this future general might say, the Air Force should develop an affordable, lightweight fighter.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 25 Feb 2021 01:16

David Axe still at it!

There are quite a few inaccuracies which are generally easy to spot. No the USAF did not want the F-35 to cost (TCO) as much as an F-16. It wanted an aircraft that was larger, more capable, had more range, carried more payload, and was more survivable. The single engine lightweight stealth fighter plan didn't survive the requirements process for more than 15 minutes because it needed to accomplish missions, delivery payload, get to a target and stay alive. In fact the F-16 continues to grow and the most recent iteration is closer to a medium fighter then to a light fighter. And it is still incapable of meeting the F-35A's specified requirements of range and payload with a requisite set of mission systems (even if you remove stealth). The F-16 with 2 large EFT's, 2 CFT's, a Sniper Pod, a Jammer pod can perhaps get to 80% of the F-35A's combat radius with 2 JDAM'S and two wingtip AMRAAM's. It can't do that 80% with 2 x 2,000 lb bombs which is what the F-35 is built to support. This is just a basic level of comparison. IN all practicality the F-16 won't come close to the F-35A range/payload envelope in most realistic combat employment scenarios. So the myth of a LW SE 5th gen stealth analogous of the F-16 was long abandoned for something more practical and in line with what the USAF actually needs (as opposed to what it needed in the 60's and 70's).

The current plan, as explained in my earlier post, is to see what to do with the F-35 delta that was left behind after they took an additional 5-6 years to reach rate production. Factoring in a delta of 30 aircraft a year (on account of a slower ramp) this leaves 150-200 (at least) orphaned F-16's (out of a total force of 900+), mostly in the ANG and Reserve forces, that cannot be replaced by the F-35 until after the current POR delivers (which is 2036 IIRC). So either they buy the F-35A at a higher rate per annum (A) or they find something else to replace those F-16's (B) or see if they can hold on to them for additional years (C). Option A is cost prohibitive because a faster buy just doesn't mean more cost for more aircraft. It also means more cost for infrastructure at new air-bases, more cost for depot facilities, and just an overall increase in the CAPEX required to buy at a rate of 70-80 aircraft per year vs 50-60 aircraft per year. It is not a linear cost growth because you aren't adding more aircraft at the same units and locations. Option B is likely going to be a mix of upgraded F-16's, perhaps some new F-16's and a new light attack aircraft based on the T-7. Option C seems unlikely now given that some of these aircraft can't make it and with lowish residual life left in them capability upgrades don't show the same ROI as hey do with younger aircraft (the block 50 fleet).

On top of this, the current USAF CS wants to do a fleet mix study. This is important because its been a while since the last one was done. This can potentially given them a larger pool of aircraft to replace with what he is calling a 5- gen aircraft (for lack of a better word). Say they have 200 F-16's that they want to replace with something else. Now what if they also want to transition the A-10 units to them? What if they can better balance the 4th gen (including 5- gen), 5th gen, and 6th gen if they transition the A-10 squadrons to something else that is lower TCO allowing them to afford a better high end mix (F35 and NGAD ratio)? This is something worth doing. I think the A-10 units need to transition to new build F-16's (Block 70) and I'd argue that a lot of the ANG and AF Reserve F-16 units can transition to a T-7 derived light attack aircraft focused on a single mission (like low intensity conflict land attack). That opens up a flatish budget to optimize the NGAD fleet and save the F-35's and NGAD for the higher end fight.

The competition to the F-35A in the USAF isn't a dumbed down F-16 or a new 4+ generation fighter. It is NGAD which appears to be racing for a 2026 production decision. If they can get that program in production in the next 5 years, it will then begin to compete with the F-35 for annual orders towards the early part of the 2030's (assuming a 3-4 year LRIP phase). That is a pretty good problem to have (having to chose allocation of resources between 5th and 6th gen fighters).

Manish_Sharma wrote:But it’s an open question whether the Air Force will ever succeed in developing a light, cheap fighter. The new low-end jet could suffer the same fate as the last low-end jet—the F-35—and steadily gain weight, complexity and cost until it becomes, well, a high-end jet.


Classic strawman. The USAF(the service equips and trains airmen, it doesn't execute O plans which is dictated by regional commands) is not in the business of developing something that David Axe may want - "light, cheap fighter". It is in the business of translating a national security strategy + COCOM demand signal into operational requirements and then funding for those requirements. Range, payload, combat systems, survivability, weapons capacity etc are all dictated by the type of threats you need to prepare to face which come from the COCOM's not from the USAF.

If PACOM wants a long range aircraft capable of launching a 2,000 lb bomb from inside an IADS protected zone, is the USAF to provide it a vanilla F-16 that can just carry air to air missiles (original F-16 design)? Last I checked, the pacific is vast and has limited basing capability. Should the USAF, continue to design aircraft and frame requirements as if they are fighting a central and eastern European conflict? David Axe isn't the customer. The reason the F-35 carries more, and carries it farther, is because its requirements were framed with future operational need in mind. NGAD will likely outrange the F-35 by 30-50%. It will likely be even larger. Not because they want to just piss David Axe off, but because that is what they expect to need in the 2030s and beyond timeframe.

The USAF did field a heck of a lot light and cheap aircraft and they are being used around the world. It is the MQ-9 fleet and they managed to go from hardly any RPA's to the world's largest RPA fleet in a matter of a few decades. Times change. Based on USAF needs and expeditionary requirements, they don't need a cheap, light, limited-capability fighter in numbers. That need is almost entirely met by the unmanned aircraft, and in the future attritable aircraft, fleets.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 25 Feb 2021 06:40

David Axe is alive and kicking. Has to put food on the table.



Looks like this study should be completed within this calendar year. IF that is right, and the proposals are approved, then I expect they can have a flying '5th-Gen minus" flying by 2027/28

Brown Launching Major TacAir Study with CAPE, Considering ‘5th-Gen Minus’

Feb. 17, 2021 | By John A. Tirpak

The Air Force is launching a months-long study of tactical aviation requirements, seeking a force mix that addresses both near- and long-term requirements, which will be available in time to inform the fiscal 2023 budget request, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said Feb. 17.

He wants the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation shop involved so the study will have credibility and buy-in from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

USAF needs a fifth-gen capability, comparable to the F-22 and F-35, and a “sixth-gen” capability such as the Next-Generation Air Dominance fighter, but it also needs “a mix for the lower-end fight,” Brown told reporters on Feb. 17.

Although he acknowledged that former Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper opened the possibility of buying more F-16s for this purpose, Brown waved away that idea. The F-16, he said, lacks open mission systems capability, and gets operational flight program updates—new software—too infrequently{this is a feature of the Digital Design (DD)}. The aircraft was designed in the 1970s, and he is more interested in a “clean sheet design,” which he referred to as a “fourth-and-a half/fifth-gen minus” aircraft. The TacAir study will decide just what is needed, and in what numbers.

The study will parallel Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III’s Global Posture Review {was ordered Feb4, 2021}, and the two assessments will “inform” each other.

“Right now, I wouldn’t say they’re aligned,” Brown said, noting this is another reason why he wants the CAPE involved. The TacAir study will require a lot of modeling and simulation, he said. The Global Posture Study will also lay out the “priorities of the department” and inform the direction of the TacAir assessment. To do it in “a vacuum … would be naïve,” he said.

Asked specifically about buying new F-16s, Brown said, “Actually, I want to build something new and different that’s not the F-16; that has some of those capabilities, but gets there faster{another feature proved in all DD efforts so far}, using our digital approach.”

He assumes that, “Not everybody will agree” with the study’s findings, but said, “We … want a point of departure, a point of dialog.” There will be risk associated with whatever optimum force mix emerges. “My job then is to articulate what that risk might be,” he added.

The Air Force’s fighter fleet averages 28 years old, and “that’s not going to compete well with adversaries,” Brown noted. “That’s why this force mix study is so important: to bring down the average age{DD allows him to achieve this goal pretty quick}, to have something relevant not just today, but well into the future.”

Brown acknowledged that the Air Force is unlikely to be able to afford 386 combat wings, but said it might be possible to obtain the combat capability of that capability without as many actual aircraft.

“I want to … get as close as I can to a 386 capability with the force size I have and [the] dollars available,” he said, but there has to be solid analysis for the resulting force mix. He’s told the Air Staff and major commands, “I have a degree in engineering; it’s all about numbers and facts … That’s what I expect from the Air Staff, don’t give me emotion, bring me the facts.”

Brown said he has no doubt the major commands “understand I’m the Chief,” and said he is making “enterprise-level decisions” about the force structure. Those decisions are “not going to be popular,” he said. But, “If I don’t do that, we don’t accelerate change. I’m not sorry about that. There will be some folks who don’t like me, or don’t like what I decide, but I want to move forward with what I think is best for the Air Force.”

Combatant commanders have a different perspective, he noted, and are focused on a horizon of two or three years. Brown said he’s worried about that, too, but he also has to think about the “next 15-20 years. This is why I say we have to balance risk over time. I should not own all the risk … [it] has to be shared [with] the combatant commands and the services.” He said he’s thinking about the COCOMs that are the fifth successors to those now in the job, and he wants to “set them up for success.”

Not every mission will have everything it needs, Brown said. “That means tough choices.” The Air Force has to “look across portfolios.”

Brown acknowledged the F-35 is having engine wear issues, and said this will play in the TacAir review. The Air Force has the largest and “most mature” F-35 fleet, and is seeing F135 engines “failing a little faster in certain areas,” due to their “high use rate” and heavy deployment pace, given their relative newness in the fleet, he said.

Options are being looked at in maintenance and depot to mitigate the problem, Brown said, noting he has three- and four-star generals studying the issue.

But one big solution could simply be to use the F-35 less, Brown reported.

“I want to moderate how much we’re using those aircraft,” he said. “You don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays. This is our ‘high end’ [fighter], we want to make sure we don’t use it all for the low-end fight … We don’t want to burn up capability now and wish we had it later.”

There’s “going to be some tension associated” with that approach, and “I fully expect that,” he said.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 25 Feb 2021 07:06

If it is anything like the light attack study, then it will be done only when the solution they are looking for is "ready".

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 25 Feb 2021 07:38

^^ I have about 3 posts that I had planned on responding to!!!

Going Digital Will Take Courage; Fighter Study Looks to 2040s

Feb. 24, 2021 | By John A. Tirpak

The transformational acquisition ideas championed by former Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper will survive his departure from the service{excellent news. Was not sure}, but it will take “courage” to implement them, USAF acquisition leaders said at AFA’s virtual Aerospace Warfare Symposium. They also said the Air Force’s new tactical aircraft study—in parallel with a Joint Staff study—will take a decades-long look at aviation requirements.

“We all believe strongly in digital acquisition,” acting Air Force acquisition executive Darlene Costello said in a Feb. 24 press conference at vAWS. The strategy “fits nicely” with the advanced capabilities the Air Force needs to pursue, and digital engineering, agile software development, and open architectures will be the hallmarks of all new programs, she said, so Roper’s initiatives will continue.

With regard to digital, “e-systems,” such as the Next-Generation Air Dominance fighter or the Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft, top uniformed acquisition official Lt. Gen. Duke Z. Richardson said it will take courage to get full potential from them. Such programs would design and field a limited number of systems—with an abbreviated service life{15 years - for NGAD}{NO MLU}—and be rapidly replaced with the next in the series{one every 4 years}, under the concept Roper put forward{it is still a proposal!}.

“Because we don’t want to engineer a lot more structure into something” to make it last a long time, “It’s going to require courage on our part. As a nation, we’re really going to have to commit to doing this{this is critical to achieve 'when it is ready'}, because when it … times out, it will have to have another one right behind it. And if we’re not willing to have that courage, then we shouldn’t start it,” Richardson said.

The follow-on series “might be a variation of the series we just bought,” Richardson noted. “And really, the only way you can do that with speed is with these digital tools.” The digital models can be quickly altered to “pursue some new part of the threat that we weren’t seeing” and add a new feature to the design.

The tactical aviation study Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. announced last week will be a view of USAF’s combat aircraft requirements over several decades, Richardson explained.

In his remarks to defense writers Feb 17, Brown was “talking about the age of the fighter fleet,” which averages 29 years now, Richardson said. “We’ve got a Chief here who is fully embracing … digital acquisitions … He’s thinking, ‘is there a way to refresh my fighter fleet quicker?’”

The TacAir study will be about establishing “what the fighter fleet will look like, and making sure he has the right tool for the right job. He would not want to apply one tool to every job, especially if it’s an expensive tool.”

Brown said he would conduct the study in cooperation with the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation shop to get an independent view of costs, so the Air Force’s plans will have validity when measured against those of the other services in an ongoing Joint Staff review of tacair. He also said he would consider a clean-sheet “generation five-minus” aircraft for some less-demanding missions, to free the F-35 for the most highly-contested missions requiring peak capability. He specifically ruled out buying new F-16s for less-demanding missions, preferring digital, clean-sheet approaches.

While some interpreted Brown as suggesting the Air Force may back away from the F-35 program, Costello said there has been no deviation from the planned acquisition of 1,763 of the fighters for the Air Force{much to the chagrin of Axe I am sure}.

While Brown said the tacair study should be concluded in time for the fiscal 2023 budget deliberations, Richardson said the TacAir timeline will look ahead 30 years, and isn’t focused on the short term{however, the proposed roll out is a brand new 'NGAD' every 4 years}.

“We’ve got a lot of programs we’re trying to move forward,” Richardson said. Brown’s timeline is “not within the FYDP,” or future years defense plan. “His time horizon is out to 2030 and beyond, even 2040. He’s thinking, ‘what will my force mix look like [then]” so, think about it from that perspective … way out there.”

Richardson’s hoping the study will identify “a whole list of programs that we should go after. I’m also hoping … it will also show us the phasing of it, so if we do something for a lesser threat, it will also inform us … when we might even want to start that.”

Work is being done now to find the knee in the curve that will distinguish between “expendable” and “attritable” unmanned systems, to develop affordability plans, he said.

Asked about a “major redesign” of the B-21 bomber referenced in Air Force Magazine’s current issue, Costello said that while the bomber did indeed require a redesign—the article describes changes to the aircraft’s inlets—the program is proceeding on cost and schedule. Richardson said such issues are “part of the development process” and there’s no reason to suspect a “schedule break” on the B-21 because of it.

vAWS 2021

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Rakesh » 25 Feb 2021 07:50

https://twitter.com/TheDEWLine/status/1 ... 08705?s=20 ---> In a pre-recorded panel discussion for AFA's Air Warfare Symposium today, General Timothy Ray, head of Global Strike Command, says this about the Northrop Grumman B-21 ---> "It would take me years to integrate a new stand-off missile on the B-2. It will take me months with the B-21."

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 25 Feb 2021 08:01

^^ I have never heard anyone claim the B-21 to be an 'ePlane', but from a few older articles, I think it is. Which is why it allows months, and not years, to integrate.

SecDef visits B-21 facilities in Florida

Aug, 2020:

During the visit, engineers explained how the B-21 Raider uses digital engineering, prototyping and modern software development. The team also described to Esper how the B-21 Raider incorporates lessons from past programs to improve producibility and maintainability, which will enable more efficient production and sustainment. Furthermore, the use of open systems architectures preserves the ability to effectively adapt to future threats.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 25 Feb 2021 08:07

The reason it will take weeks to months on the B-21, is because they've gone in and created technologies and standards beyond just the generic open architecture approach of the 1990's and early 2000's. Weapons have been integrated using UAI for more than half a decade now (it achieved TRL-9 a while ago). So it is not a particularly new capability for the USAF.

Instead of being brought into UAI compliance (which is an expensive and time consuming process for older aircraft, especially smaller fleets like the B-2), new aircraft, and new baselines of newish aircraft are going to be UAI compliant from the very start. B-21 is an example of the former. The F-35 is the latter with UAI deferred to block 4 (UAI wasn't mature to be included in F-35's development baseline) with its new mission computer. So if you aren't UAI compatible then the major integration challenge is to get you to integrate with UAI. Once that is done, individual weapons integration is then a breeze. So instead of multiple heavy lifts every time new weapons need to be added via the OFP route they just do one push to get onboard UAI and then everything else becomes easier. of course, it only pays off if you are planning on integrating a lot of weapons on the platform. Which is probably why the B-2 is not a great candidate for UAI. Most of the weapons barring just one (LRSO) or two it needs are already integrated so the ROI is probably not there.

F-15E and F-16 are both UAI ready with their most recent releases. UAI addresses each aspect of the weapon, platform mating. From the physical integration, to the mission planning. Most of the hardware testing is focused on seperation and store release, and not physical integration. New weapons (like USAF's SiAW and Norway's JSM and UK's Spear) will be UAI from the start.

Next versions of UAI are focusing on Air to Air, and sensors. It is likely that the AIM-260 will be the first A2A weapon to be integrated using UAI. That explains why they don't have to release years of schedule and dev. insertion plans and why they can get away with plans for keeping the thing secret, to an extent, even after it has been operationally fielded (otherwise the integration test campaign on 4th gen aircraft like F/A-18 would have been cost prohibitive (due to classification).

Image

F-35 is going to be fully UAI compliant in its next TR drop (Block 4) which will come in 2.5 years.

Image

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 25 Feb 2021 09:27

Very true. In total agreement on UAI.


However, even UAI is *merely* a (very, very small) subset within Digital Design (DD)(or call it Digital Engineering). No matter what area of expertise (not just UAI), they *all* are a subset within DD. DD encompasses - literally - everything. It is a boat load of libraries - UAI is just one.

Without DD one would be manually looking up what is UAI (as an example) complaint and what is not. DD saves one that trouble - all that is embedded within the software and therefore readily available to an engineer.

IF an engineer decides to replace Aluminum with Titanium, DD will take care of every aspect of that mod (test, costs, life cycle, what have you - absolutely nothing is left to imagination). There should be no need for anyone to look up tables or anything else.

DD *should* 'know' what weapon is UAI compliant, etc and accordingly help the designer make decisions.

Roper's use of Matrix was not an accident.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 25 Feb 2021 09:38

The B-2 was developed in the 1980's. "DD" that existed then may be different from "DD" that exists now. Marketing aside, not everything that is good is a result of "DD" or needs to be tied to it. UAI is proven with umpteen integrations under its belt. SDB II and JASSM are both operational and fully UAI compliant. Same for many J series weapons now. You don't need "DD" to speed up the weapons interface and integration process and it isn't about replacing aluminum with titanium or anything like that. It is simply about how the weapon and the platform are designed, from the ground up around a set of architecture, hardware, and software standards that were defined more than a decade ago.

And to answer your earlier point, no the B-21 is not using the most recent "DD" standards that are used on the NGAD, T-7 and a whole host of IR&D. None that will earn it the tacky "e" designation. Northrop is doing its aero capstone on a different effort though the GBSD is using the latest standard (but it is an ICBM). They've even published their preliminary work on AIAA. The B-21's technology baseline was frozen in the early to mid 2010's. Still a decade and a half more advanced than the F-35 block 3F but too early for some of the more recent investments to have been fully used because those capabilities themselves were not mature enough to support a milestone decision and migration to a full fledged EMD program. Bob gates drew the technology line in the sand for the LRS-B. Gave about 3-5 years for the two teams to establish a tech. baseline and do prototyping. After that, only the top most leadership (I think it was SecAF or CSAF) had the authority to change requirements or alter the TB. And nothing was altered since it was frozen and final RFP was established.
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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Mort Walker » 25 Feb 2021 09:38

UAI is the standard for interfaces not just for armaments, but subsystems within aircraft. It standardizes a whole bunch of DoD-MIL-STDs for future subsystems and weapons where you don't have to wait for an entire cycle of development. It will provide a standard for an API, electrical, and mechanical interface. If DoD is successful in this, it will have implications for a similar interfaces for civilian transportation systems and potentially reduce costs down the road for customers who may buy cars where modules from different manufacturers can be used. Saves from waste and is more "green".

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 25 Feb 2021 09:46

Mort Walker wrote:UAI is the standard for interfaces not just for armaments, but subsystems within aircraft. It standardizes a whole bunch of DoD-MIL-STDs for future subsystems and weapons where you don't have to wait for an entire cycle of development. It will provide a standard for an API, electrical, and mechanical interface. If DoD is successful in this, it will have implications for a similar interfaces for civilian transportation systems and potentially reduce costs down the road for customers who may buy cars where modules from different manufacturers can be used. Saves from waste and is more "green".


Exactly. And UAI is now proven. It achieved TRL-9 a few years ago. LJDAM, and other J series weapons, and the JASSM/LRASM family are UAI compatible. The Small Diameter Bomb II is now operational as the first weapon to be designed, and integrated (F-15E) using UAI from the inception of the program. Norway's JSM will be the first non US weapon to achieve UAI integration with NATO fleet of F-16's and F-35s. At the weapon system level other hardware has also achieved full capability. Multiple racks are now UAI T1 compliant and accept UAI weapons without requiring systems work. It extends to other sub-systems as well.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 25 Feb 2021 09:53

There is no one "DD" - so, not surprised that Northrup has their own. However, IF they are indeed using a DD (which I am assuming based on what I posted), then it better include UAI - no matter how old or recent. UAI is just a weapon's library - a set of look up tables.

Please discard the AL/TI example - it has been misunderstood

MW,

Very true. However, DD has ALL that embedded in DD. No one needs to tell an engineer all that - the DD system knows it.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 25 Feb 2021 09:59

UAI is a mandate and not a contractor choice. Basically, anything that was conceptualized or started after the 2010's had UAI compliance built into it from the start. Platforms that had their initial TB's defined ahead of that were left out. They have to catch up. The F-35 Block 4 is using a mid 2010's TB (I think it was TRL-7 by 2015 or 2016) so that is why it had to introduce UAI compatibility in the hardware refresh. It is a requirement that they've all agreed to much like the OMS work that has happened since UAI was developed. The current OMS standards are essentially UAI on steroids.
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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 25 Feb 2021 10:02

WRT "NGAD", here are a few things that I have heard:

* All 3 vendors are working together
* The naval NGAD will arrive first - the one flying
* The designer *may not* build. L1 bid will build (this could be somewhere in an article)
* They will built at most 84 copies per version (proposed by Roper)
* Life of each version: 15 years (proposed by Roper) (this means no MLU)
* After design of V1 is complete, V2 in 4 years (proposed by Roper). Every 4 years a new V (to last 15 years, in quantity of 84)

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 25 Feb 2021 10:06

brar_w wrote:UAI is a mandate and not a contractor choice. Basically, anything that was conceptualized or started after the 2010's had UAI compliance built into it. Platforms that had their initial TB's defined ahead of that were left out. The F-35 Block 4 is using a mid 2010's TB (I think it was TRL-7 by 2015 or 2016) so that is why it had to introduce UAI compatibility in the hardware refresh. It is a requirement that they've all agreed to much like the OMS work that has happened since UAI was developed. The current OMS standards are essentially UAI on steroids.



I agree 100%.

ALL that is embedded as a simple library for the DD software to access.

AND, *any* future enhancements, mods, changes, whatever, means that that library is updated and shared.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 25 Feb 2021 10:07

The USAF is on the record of stating that it flew the NGAD demonstrator. The one flying, is not a naval NGAD but an AF program funded by the USAF that has an unclassified NGAD program that is an order of magnitude larger than the Navy's (probably more). The USAF's NGAD program is set for a significant change in acquisition course pending a congressionally mandated CAPE analysis of the entire program. Most of Will Roper's plans are unlikely to stand scrutiny but the AF will likely retain some of the good ones and be quick to drop others and get in line. Congress has already come down hard on his ABMS approach so the USAF will do well to develop a more survivable acquisition plan (Congress, and not an ex acquisition official, writes the checks).

The program was established by the Obama administration and will continue under Biden. If they can enter production by 2025/26 then it would be a monumental achievement. We will have to wait and see if that happens but if it does, it wouldn't be the work of one acquisition official who sprinkled some fairy dust and out popped a 6GFA. It would be the result of an effort that was conceived in the early 2010's (once they knew the F-22 battles were lost) and formally funded starting 2015 under a combined partnership featuring USAF and DARPA (and since 2016 the Navy). It also benefits from constant technology development and maturation investments via the F-22 (1990's and early 2000's), the F-35 (2000's and early 2010'), B-21 (2010's) and other programs that were broadly within this range. Tech maturation never really stopped once the F-22 production was terminated and this has allowed them to pick things up go faster. Even unclassified spending on USAF's NGAD pointed towards it being a program that was prototyping hardware and not something that was just doing tech development for a future fighter. They may have taken a procurement holiday (when F22 was terminated and before F-35 ramped up) but they never took an S&T/R&D holiday. In fact those investments were significantly increased to support the JSF, and the NGB and later the LRS-B effort. Many folks saw these funding plans and pointed to that a number of years ago given how quickly NGAD funding went from low millions for concept studies to hundreds of millions (which was highly unusual) and eventually topped $1 billion in development a year. That volume and trajectory of funding was pretty rare for a Pre M-B effort.

But the plans of flying a demonstrator (or two) that captured some of the technologies developed for the 6GFA effort were not new. The advanced prototyping funding was publicly revealed nearly 6 years ago. Only the timing, and "what they were prototyping" was a secret. We now know a few things about that. The USAF flew the NGAD X or Y demonstrator, and it likely flew it in late August of last year (some attribute first flight to August 21). We don't know who is building it, who is designing it, and how many demonstrators are planned. The X/Y distinction is also hazy but critical to understanding maturity (hence still hazy). With the type of money they are asking each year, it will be difficult to keep the plans secret in the long run so perhaps expect full program details (acquisition) as early as the FY-23 budget request next February/March if indeed they want to keep to the rather aggressive schedule that is being speculated.
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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Mort Walker » 25 Feb 2021 10:48

NRao wrote:There is no one "DD" - so, not surprised that Northrup has their own. However, IF they are indeed using a DD (which I am assuming based on what I posted), then it better include UAI - no matter how old or recent. UAI is just a weapon's library - a set of look up tables.

Please discard the AL/TI example - it has been misunderstood

MW,

Very true. However, DD has ALL that embedded in DD. No one needs to tell an engineer all that - the DD system knows it.


NRao-ji,

You are correct that Digital Design has all of that embedded, but UAI defines DD as "the standard" in clear terms for production. Think of it this way, UAI is DD.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 25 Feb 2021 23:48

NRao wrote:There is no one "DD" - so, not surprised that Northrup has their own.


For digital engineering, there is a standard that each vendor has to comply with. Standards around fidelity, cross-collaboration, security, access, interoperability and particularly how they interface on the cloud. They are required to do so because these tools are removing existing processes and fairly well known and understood tools so must at minimum do no harm. Within those standards, the USAF-Research Lab is the authority that each vendor interested in either using a third party digital design tool, or creating one for itself, must work with to make sure they are certified to be used on a program of record. Each of the major primes has worked with both OTS tools, and more bespoke suites and tools all of which have to go through a demonstration phase where they've worked on projects, partnered across the SC and with the AFRL, to demonstrate that the tools can do what they claim and that the AFRL is satisfied with the end product. Northrop's aero division is running a project just now. Lockheed concluded its a year or so ago IIRC and is now fabricating a full scale UAV to demonstrate it in real life (rollout expected in the coming weeks/months). Boeing obviously did that with the two T-7 pre-production prototypes. Upcoming builds on Skyborg, and a whole host of other programs (GBSD for example) have taken these through even EMD (though Skyborg isn't an EMD program) so in non aircraft applications they've matured even faster.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 26 Feb 2021 19:03

I've had a number of posts describing this very thing but hopefully the direct quotes from the head of the US Air Force should settle this.

The biggest headache is that the F-35 was late and that orphaned a number of F-16's that were expected to be replaced by it by now (but now won't). The FY-21 request from the USAF was for 48 aircraft in the main budget, and 12 aircraft in the UPL. Congress gave them all 60. Add to that 12 F-15EX's. That gets them to 72 aircraft. Perhaps if they play around they can climb that up to 80 / year (combined) with flattish budgets. But that is the peak and likely best-case. Between these two aircraft families (F-35A and F-15EX) they won't get to 110 a year that they need (it is actually more than 110 a year if you factor in growth) to make a sizable and timely dent to the average age of the fleet. So there is room to find something that is much cheaper and can come at a rate of 20-30 aircraft a year. It could be a new type of UCAV, or it could be a T-7 derivative or a combo of multiple 4+ gen, T-7 and UCAV. The T-7 program is being built for a peak production capacity of 60 aircraft a year. At that rate it would deliver all the current trainers to the USAF in under half a decade so by the end of the decade they could have options to leverage that established, paid for, production line for a derivative that should cost much less than an F-16V. This delta is the crux of what the TacAir study is going to look at and I'm sure there will be some conservative and some quite radical recommendations that eventually come out of it (if anything comes out of it at all).

TacAir Study Will Determine If F-35 Production Surge Needed


The Air Force remains committed to the F-35, and it is the “cornerstone” of USAF’s force planning, but the new tactical aviation study will decide if USAF should surge its production of the jet, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said Feb. 25.

In a press conference at AFA’s virtual Aerospace Warfare Symposium, Brown disputed recent media reports that have pronounced the F-35 a failure.

“The F-35 is the cornerstone of our … fighter capability,” and of USAF’s plans for the future, Brown asserted. The TacAir study he unveiled last week will simply look at what systems will be needed to complement it, he said. The age of most of the fighter force—averaging 29 years—compels USAF to “look ahead … 10, 15 years in the future” at the right mix of aircraft for the missions expected in that timeframe, Brown said. The study will develop “where we think we need to go, and how we get from where we are today to … the future.

He also acknowledged that, at the current purchase rate of 48 to 60 airplanes a year, it will be the mid-2040s before the Air Force’s planned buy of 1,763 F-35s from Lockheed Martin is complete.

“I’m not sure that’s fully appreciated,” Brown said of the long production run. If the service sticks to 1,763, the Air Force may “need to accelerate” the ramp rate, conditional on the funding that Congress will allow.

“I can’t commit” to a surge in production yet, Brown said. “To get there faster, we’re going to have to have a spike” in production, but it will also depend on whether “our … defense industry partners” can produce at the rates USAF needs, he said. “I can’t [decide] this myself.”

He acknowledged there are “cost pressures” related to the F-35—the service has complained about the cost per flying hour—and said this is something the Air Force is “working [on] with Lockheed Martin.”

The Air Force was directed to buy the Boeing F-15EX because F-15sC/Ds were rapidly aging out, the Pentagon wanted to create some competition for the F-35, and Pentagon officials were concerned that Lockheed Martin couldn’t build the F-35 in sufficient quantities to equip the services in a timely manner.

When the F-35 buy rates were forecast at the outset of production, the Air Force said it expected to be buying upwards of 110 of the fighters a year by 2018, with the goal of buying out its last Lightning IIs by the early 2030s. However, the service has requested only 48 F-35s in each of the last four budgets, that figure having been later increased to 60 annually by Congress.

Brown specifically ruled out raiding the F-35 accounts to buy the Next Generation Air Dominance fighter, now in development.

“We’re not going to take money from F-35” to fund NGAD, he said. The NGAD will be financed “from some of the other … parts of the fighter force,” he said, adding that he will continue trying to “bring down … some of the older aircraft” to get the average age of the fighter fleet down, but neither does he want “a big gap in capability as we go forward.”

“We want to keep the F-35 on track,” he said, but he also is keeping an eye on the threat, and won’t permit USAF to “just build something” without trying to overmatch adversary capabilities.

Asked if there will be two variants of the NGAD—one for Europe, where combat ranges are small, and one for the Indo-Pacific, where distances are great—Brown said “the goal is to provide … as much range as possible.” A longer-legged aircraft “provides you additional options” for basing, and will require fewer tankers, adding to the force’s flexibility.

The TacAir study, which will be done in partnership with the Joint Staff, evaluating all the services’ aviation plans, will also look at what a future fighter squadron looks like, and whether squadrons will be a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft, Brown said.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 26 Feb 2021 21:02

New images of Lockheed Skunks Works wind tunnel testing an unknown UAV design -

Image

Source: https://twitter.com/TheDEWLine/status/1 ... 5152911366

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 27 Feb 2021 00:03

LakshmanPST wrote:@Brar_w sir...
OT to the thread...
Can you give a brief summary of total no. of jets in USAF and planned replacements...???


Sure here's a quick summary (numbers are not exact as I'm using my notes/memory)

Legacy/4th/4+ gen. (1600+ aircraft)

- F-16 C/D - roughly 900 aircraft (all blocks) split roughly 60:40 between active air force units, Guard and Reserve AF.
- F-15C/D - Around 220 aircraft split 40:60 between active air force units, and Air National Guard (which has around 60% of the entire fleet)
- F-15 E - 200+ aircraft all with the Active Air Force
- A-10 - around 280, split roughly 50:50

5th Gen: (450+ aircraft)

- F-22A - Aprox 180 with one or two squadrons in the Guard/Res and the rest all Active AF
- F-35A - Should be around 270-280 now depending upon COVID deliveries. One guard and one reserve squadron has transitioned to F-35 so far

As far as replacements :

- 100% of the ANG F-15C/D's are being replaced by the F-15EX. That's at least 144 aircraft to cover the current guard transitions plus attrition as some squadrons are at less than 100% strength. It is likely that as they conclude that, the one air-wing in the active air-force that still flies the F-15C/D will convert as well though they could also transition that unit to the F-35.

- F-16 C/D - Many Active AF units transitioning to the F-35A and this will happen at a rate approximately 1 air-wing a year (50-60 aircraft) until such time that the USAF decides to stop buying the aircraft (current production is planned till mid to late 2030s)

- A-10 - Some are currently planned to be replaced by F-35A's, and others are going to get life extension and soldier on. Long term replacement is probably less certain even for the units currently earmarked for F-35 transition

- F-15E - No replacement but since these are 20,000 hr airframes, they have a couple of decades though it is possible that they could just keep the F-15EX program alive post 2030 and replace some of the oldest F-15E's as well

- F-22A - Officially there is no replacement as NGAD is currently scheduled to work alongside F-22A through 2040s. I suspect, that the F-22A will be retired once the NGAD hits FRP. It is expensive to sustain 2 air wings worth of operational fleet when they have to be fragmented and dispersed to multiple areas.

While we focus on tactical fighters, the USAF also has the largest UCAV fleet in the world, and MQ-Next which is the replacement program for the MQ-9 is many times more critical than any 4+ or 5- or whatever else is the flavor of the month. These aircraft get used and are in constant demand. They also alleviate the need for many fighters and tankers that you would have otherwise needed. The USAF and the larger military can live without having the A-10. Even the F-15C. But they can't live without the persistent ISR and strike options the MQ-9 fleet provides, in near constant orbits across the globe. So replacing that with a more modern and capable system is a pretty high priority, or at least should be many times higher than any advanced F-16, or even F-15EX etc etc.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 27 Feb 2021 06:44

Mort Walker wrote:You are correct that Digital Design has all of that embedded, but UAI defines DD as "the standard" in clear terms for production. Think of it this way, UAI is DD.


Understand, but differ. Since DD (the framework) has multiple libs, the (open) standards are defined by each lib. DD is certified by the version of each lib it uses.



Meeting with Air Force Digital Engineering Enterprise Office (DEEO)(aka DEEP) in 2 wks.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 27 Feb 2021 06:46

Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks @DepSecDef wrote:In my first weeks, I've been assessing the alignment of @DeptofDefense budgets to @POTUS and @SecDef priorities. Top issue: advancing the capabilities needed to deter, and if needed, to compete and win in the face of Chinese military modernization.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Vayutuvan » 27 Feb 2021 07:08

That is a low number. As per my reckoning, the total is less than 3000. For some reason or other I remember a figure like 7500 aircraft. Tom Clancy effect, maybe.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 27 Feb 2021 07:53

Kelly Worries F-35 Flying Costs Won’t Hit Target, and That China May Get NGAD First

Feb. 26, 2021 | By John A. Tirpak
Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mark D. Kelly isn’t confident that F-35 operating costs will be tamed to $25,000 per hour by 2025, which is the service’s goal. He’s also concerned China will field advanced fighter technologies like those in the Air Force’s developmental Next-Generation Air Dominance system before the U.S. does.

“I’m not brimming with confidence” that the $25K by ’25 goal will be met, Kelly said of the F-35. “I haven’t lost confidence,” he told reporters in a press conference during AFA’s virtual Aerospace Warfare Symposium, and that’s why he’s about to hit the road to visit operating locations, the depot, and other facilities, to “have conversations” about how the goal can be reached. The idea is not to “talk about how we feel” but get to a “plan of action and milestones” to achieve the $25K target.

“But as I sit here today, I’m not overly confident we’ll get there,” Kelly said.

Sustainment officials with Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-35, told reporters Feb. 23 they believe they can reach the goal under a new Performance-Based Logistics proposal, which the Air Force is evaluating. The F-35 Joint Program Office rejected an earlier version of the PBL pitch, which company officials had previously said was the only way they’d hit the cost per flying hour target. The target is expressed in 2012 base-year dollars.

Kelly also said he’s concerned the nation won’t have the “courage” to field a new fighter based on NGAD technologies before America’s “pacing threat” adversary, China, starts deploying one.

“I for one am confident … that the [NGAD] technology will get fielded,” and that adversaries who come up against it will “suffer a very tough day, and a tough week and a tough war,” he said.

“What I don’t know … is if our nation will have the courage and the focus to field this capability before someone like the Chinese fields it and uses it against us,” he said. There’s a “keen focus” on NGAD technology, and “we just need to make sure we keep our narrative up and articulate the biggest benefit we’ve had as a nation to have leading-edge technology ensuring we have air superiority,” because the nation’s joint military forces “are designed” to operate with control of the air. “It’s less designed to operate it without it,” he added.

Kelly raised the issue of NGAD himself at the end of the press conference, expressing surprise that no one had asked him about it. At AFA’s virtual Air, Space and Cyber conference, former USAF acquisition chief Will Roper revealed that an NGAD prototype has already flown, but no further details of the program have since been revealed. The new aircraft is sometimes described as a “6th generation” fighter, designed to be fielded rapidly, serve only a handful of years, and then be replaced by the next iteration of technology, under Roper’s construct.

Asked about Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.’s revelation of a new tactical aviation study, Kelly said it’s important to think of it as a “clean sheet” analysis, and that less-capable aircraft that may be looked at would fulfill less-taxing missions.

Alert missions to defend the national airspace, or in parts of the world where air defenses are light, “don’t require a 5th- or 6th-gen capability,” Kelly said. And to apply a high-end fighter to those missions requires “a significant jump in investment as well as cost per flying hour,” he said. The study will prove a 10-15 year “lens” about what is really needed, he said.

Kelly echoed Brown’s comments about the service not having lost confidence in the F-35 , saying it will serve the nation “a lot of years,” as well as in partner nations’ air forces.

“We need to make sure that calculus of the capability [and] capacity of our F-35 fleet goes into the TacAir study,” as to “what’s going to round out the rest of our stable,” Kelly said.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby LakshmanPST » 27 Feb 2021 08:33

brar_w wrote:
Sure here's a quick summary (numbers are not exact as I'm using my notes/memory)



Thanks Sir... Never thought they're replacing A10s as well, with F35... Always thought F35 is replacement only for F16...
Everything falls in place now...

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 27 Feb 2021 08:38

Vayutuvan wrote:That is a low number. As per my reckoning, the total is less than 3000. For some reason or other I remember a figure like 7500 aircraft. Tom Clancy effect, maybe.


Oh no hasn't been that large for a while. The Gulf War fleet was massive but they have trimmed down quite a bit since then. They've invested heavily in building the RPA/UCAV fleet since then. At some point you run out of forward bases so that limits your numbers. The Department of Navy also maintains 800-1000 fighter aircraft as well across the Super Hornet, Hornet, Growler, F-35, and Harrier fleets so that's an additional layer of Tac-Air that's available. I expect the tactical fighter fleet to shrink further over the next 15 years. The Pacific is not really kind to short range tactical aircraft. The Bomber fleet will have to grow and supported by UAV's. Tac Air will have to pay for that expansion.

LakshmanPST wrote:
brar_w wrote:
Sure here's a quick summary (numbers are not exact as I'm using my notes/memory)



Thanks Sir... Never thought they're replacing A10s as well, with F35... Always thought F35 is replacement only for F16...
Everything falls in place now...


It was one of the things that was added just because they needed to mark certain units that would be retiring aircraft by so and so date and getting new aircraft by a particular time in the future. Since the F-35 was the only acquisition program that was still on (or expected to be online), they just added the A-10 replacement to that program. It is not set in stone. I can foresee a lot of the A-10 fleet eventually being retired and perhaps replaced by new build F-16's if that is still an option. Otherwise UCAVs. But some will surely be replaced by F-35A's. Not a "role" replacement but just units transitioning to a new type of aircraft and carrying new missions. Would be the same when the F-16 CJ's retire and are re[placed by F-35A's as well.
Last edited by brar_w on 27 Feb 2021 08:41, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby V_Raman » 27 Feb 2021 08:39

the main rationale for these super carriers is the massive pacific ocean. if they have long range UCAVs - then even carriers might come down in number


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