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  • The F 22 was supposed to be the fighter of the future for the United States Air Force, it was designed to go up

  • against future fighter jets from the Soviet Union.

  • Instead, the U.S.

  • became embroiled in low intensity conflicts in the Middle East.

  • Although the F 22 saw action in Afghanistan and flew overwatch in Iraq and Syria, it was generally

  • overkill for most missions in these countries.

  • The F 22 order started out as seven hundred and fifty planes when the program began in the 80s, but Lockheed

  • Martin only ended up building one hundred and ninety five.

  • Now the F-35 is the future of the Air Force fighter fleet.

  • The F-35 is America's most expensive weapons system.

  • About 270 have been delivered so far, and the Air Force plans on buying one thousand seven hundred and sixty three over the

  • course of the program.

  • International allies are also buying the F-35A, which helps bring down the overall price.

  • The jet tells you everything that's happening in the battle space.

  • So now you've got a lot of time to sit back and make far better decisions, weigh better decisions than I ever did

  • as an F-16 pilot about where to put my airplane and how to accomplish the mission that I've been assigned to do.

  • But the high operating costs of the aircraft could prevent the Air Force from buying as many as were envisioned when the

  • F-35 was first selected.

  • Costly stealth features, design bloat and delays have possibly pressured the Air Force to look for

  • alternatives to fill in the gaps.

  • The F-35 was designed to revolutionize fighter procurement for the Air Force.

  • It was going to take the missions of several aircraft and do it all.

  • The maintenance was going to be cheaper and easier due to cutting edge computer software back at its inception.

  • The Pentagon had in its mind that this aircraft would be a master of all trades.

  • The F-35 has sold exceptionally well.

  • 10 countries have all ordered the aircraft for their own air forces, and more potential buyers are considering the fifth

  • generation offering from Lockheed Martin.

  • Because of the large number of orders, the cost per F-35 has gone down to 80 million per aircraft.

  • That's actually reasonable when it comes to cutting edge.

  • Jet fighters were positioned now to deliver anywhere between one hundred and fifty five to one hundred and sixty five

  • F-35 annually.

  • Without a doubt, the biggest cost challenge that we face in the airplane is the

  • life cycle, sustainment, cost of the jet.

  • What I can tell you about that is the Air Force is laser focused on that.

  • It is a constant topic of conversation with our teammates in the joint program office.

  • It comes up in every international discussion that we have that we've got to find ways to make the airplane

  • more affordable. But the operating costs for the aircraft, which is around 36000 per hour, is still

  • about ten thousand dollars more expensive than older fighters in the Air Force inventory.

  • Once it lands it, that's not where it stops.

  • You know, that's not where the operating costs stop.

  • There are a ton of sustainment and maintenance things that go into the F-35 because it's such a

  • software intensive fighter that it will be everything that it was promised to be.

  • But it will be a totally transformative combat aircraft that just does things which we don't

  • think of right now as things that fast jets do.

  • We when we were talking about the cost per flying hour of an F-35 and includes all of those sorts of

  • capabilities that in other airplanes, the F-16, 15 are not organic

  • to the platform itself.

  • They're things that hang either on centralized stations or on wing stations to help the airplane accomplish

  • its mission. The Joint Strike

  • Fighter concept seemed like a great idea on paper back in 1990, one basic airframe that is

  • modified to meet the requirements of several branches of the U.S.

  • military, the F-35, a for the Air Force, the B for the Marines, and the C for the Navy.

  • In practice, the concept is run into many problems.

  • For instance, the helmet that is used to fly the airframe, there's been problems with

  • that. There's been an F thirty five that has caught on fire on the flight line.

  • And then anything that you can think of that would just normally go wrong on a manufacturing line.

  • All of the logistics and supply items that go into that.

  • I mean, there's just been a hiccup pretty much at every turn in developing this this weapons platform.

  • The manufacturing of the F-35 involves almost every state in the US, thousands of jobs and the involvement of

  • international partners.

  • From an economic point of view from an F-35, it's about twenty two hundred fifty four thousand jobs

  • across the United States.

  • Forty eight states are involved in the manufacture of the F or support of the F.

  • Thirty five eighteen hundred suppliers across the US.

  • Forty nine billion dollars annually.

  • Just a very strong economic engine for the United States, even though from the get go the thirty five has had

  • some problems. You now see more lawmakers backing the program overall because they a

  • lot of states are so involved in its manufacturing process.

  • And of course, last year that manufacturing process was brought even more stateside

  • after Turkey was removed from the program as a as a combat aircraft.

  • The F-35 is definitely not a failure.

  • It's one of the most capable combat aircraft in the world and it will only get better from here on out.

  • It's more expensive than it should be.

  • It's more expensive than it was promised to be, partly just because of the level of ambition that was

  • poured into it. The cost of the F-35

  • program so far has been roughly one point six trillion dollars, although the F-35 is an incredibly

  • capable aircraft, the Air Force appears to have decided to diversify its fleet.

  • The F-15EX an upgraded version of the F-15 that first flew in the 1970s is on the acquisition block

  • in the Air Force, received its first 15 X on March 11th of twenty twenty one.

  • In recent comments by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen..

  • Charles Brown Jr. illustrated the possibility of procuring a light fighter to be a replacement for the aging

  • F-16. As General Brown has said on multiple occasions, the Air Force,

  • in concert with other key elements of the Department of Defense, are taking a good, hard look

  • at what the right fighter force mix should look like.

  • The idea that, you know, because there are some affordability challenges that the

  • U.S. is somehow going to just bail on this program is mad.

  • Of course, they have to consider the future flights it makes because the sums don't add up and they haven't had it up for a

  • long time. And good on General Brown for grasping the mettle on that.

  • Publicly, we've heard from Boeing saying that the T7 could be modified to have a combat role.

  • And it also there's an implication also if allies and international partners do buy into the program as

  • well, because then they could create more than they could build this network of aircraft and

  • really create a huge inventory and make it a global program similar to the F-35.

  • It is an option for and for another replacement down the line.

  • It's just a question of what is the T7 capable of.

  • Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force continues to invest in other technologies such as unproved or semi automated

  • drones that could be used in combat.

  • Recently, Boeing Australia flew an untrue drone as part of its loyal wingman program.

  • And and we're excited about the prospects of how that capability moves forward and and

  • not just how it supports our our Royal Australian Air Force customer, but how it supports the global market.

  • The F-35 isn't going away.

  • The United States has invested far too much time, money and energy into it.

  • I think everyone wishes always that we could make the machine move faster.

  • We're happy with what we've done with the airplane so far.

  • But there are certainly challenges ahead in terms of the entirety of the enterprise, the government and industry team

  • working together to ensure we get the capability that we need that is supportable and at a price point

  • that that is workable for not just the Air Force, but also our Navy and Marine Corps

  • partners, the seven partner nations that are part of the F-35 enterprise in the growing, ever growing

  • list of foreign military sales customers.

  • The F-35 program is, in essence, too big to fail also because with respect to things like

  • concurrency, the way the program was spread across lots of different state districts to make it too big to kill and

  • Yeah all of these different aspects that overall increased program cost and delays.

  • So, yes, it's an example in many ways of how not to manage a program.

  • But as a combat aircraft, what has been produced is ahead of anything being fielded by any competitors.

  • And it will be the cornerstone of U.S.

  • tactical air power for a long time to come.

  • But the promise of E series aircraft, which refers to the digital engineering that is used to design them,

  • could revolutionize how the Air Force buys aircraft.

  • So when looking at this E series designator and a replacement, the Air Force is

  • already looking to companies that are working in this way in these innovative ways to

  • bring in open architecture and digital engineering from the get go.

  • So that way later on, the costs will not be will not be skyrocketing and it will be something that they have to deal with

  • in the long term. Look at what the Russians, the Chinese are doing, for example.

  • You know, it's very easy, comparatively speaking, at least, to make something that looks and flies

  • like a fifth generation jet.

  • It is unbelievably difficult to make something that actually works like one is supposed to.

  • A lot of like minded nations have chosen the F-35 to be their standard bearer for

  • their various arms, whether they be air forces or otherwise.

  • And so despite the challenges that we face in ensuring that we have the right kind of combat capability that

  • we need and we can fix the airplane when we need to fix it and that we can afford it, it is absolutely an

  • imperative that we get this right, because the United States, the three joint services within the

  • United States, all of our partners and our foreign military sales customers are absolutely counting on the

  • capabilities that this airplane provides.

The F 22 was supposed to be the fighter of the future for the United States Air Force, it was designed to go up

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The Future Of The F-35 And The U.S. Air Force Fighter Fleet

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/15
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