Will Eagles Soar Again?

 

Two articles tease a new F-15 fighter variant to bridge the huge gap between aging fourth-generation fighters and the too expensive, too few in number, stealthy F-22 and F-35. The first is cautious and notes the plane has not been pitched, as it might be, like the new run of F/A-18 Super Hornets. The second is a full-length sales pitch. This, in turn, was picked up and summarized on Popular Mechanics’ website. It makes sense, including dollars and cents, at first glance.

The basic problem the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps face is arithmetic. The stealthy aircraft, on which they bet, ended up too expensive to field in the numbers needed. The F-15 and F/A-18 fleets are aging. So how can the gap be filled? The Navy, after the none-too-subtle shove from the Commander-in-Chief, is buying a new set of updated Super Hornets. The Marines, apparently, will get low mileage Navy jets, to replace worn-out equipment. These will meet most missions, at a fraction of F-35 operating costs. But, what of the Air Force?

The Air Force brass has fought desperately to prevent consideration of updated F-15s with supercruise engines or semi-stealthy modifications. These would clutter the simple procurement picture being painted to Congress. But Congress and the last administration balked at the unit prices, development issues, and simple picture of all fighter requirements being met by two super-duper planes. This has put the Air Force, including the politically potent Air National Guard, at risk.

Fortunately, foreign sales have prompted continued production and refinement of the venerable F-15. So, now the idea of an updated F-15 with much larger ordinance capacity is being floated. It may be both a replacement for old Air Guard homeland air defense planes and a non-stealth platform for lots of missiles directed by forward stealthy jets. The new stealthy aircraft give up external weapons racks, so may need a way to deliver more than they carry.

The F-15 and F/A-18s create competitive pressure on F-35 prices and deliver value quickly in two other ways. First, the lack of new lengthy research and development requirements mean more real defense, sooner, for the taxpayers’ dollar. Instead of years of testing, without combat-ready aircraft on airfields, your dollar today goes into an assembly line. This gives us the second short-term benefit. Instead of money going mostly to researchers and CEOs, the taxpayers’ dollars go into skilled labor jobs, as workers are hired back, or newly hired, to build combat-ready aircraft. More planes for the same money, and more jobs, some might call that “winning.”

Boeing Is Pitching the US a New F-15, Using Its Super Hornet Game Plan

FARNBOROUGH, UK — Boeing is quietly pitching the U.S. Air Force a new F-15 fighter jet using the same business strategy that convinced the Trump administration to buy more Super Hornet warplanes for the Navy.

Dubbed the F-15X, the new variant of the venerable jet offers more modern flight controls, cockpit displays, and radar, according to military and industry sources with knowledge of the plan. The plane would also pack a lot of firepower, carrying more than two dozen air-to-air missiles, the most of any U.S. Air Force aircraft.

Exclusive: Unmasking The F-15X, Boeing’s F-15C/D Eagle Replacement Fighter

Although it has been framed as a Boeing solicitation to the USAF, the opposite is actually true—the USAF began the discussion over a year and a half ago. Since then, ongoing talks have been kept incredibly hush-hush, along with the details of the aircraft involved—until now.

According to sources familiar with the discussions, The War Zone has learned about the F-15X’s origins, its intended capabilities and features, and where it would fit inside the USAF’s tactical airpower ecosystem.

Ah, you can smell that sweet sales pitch cooking!

The F-15X came out of a quiet USAF inquiry to Boeing and Lockheed Martin about fielding an aircraft that could seamlessly plug into their existing air combat infrastructure as part of better-defined high-low capability mix strategy—one intended to specifically help counter the service’s shrinking force structure.

The airframe would have to be cost-effective both in terms of operation and acquisition, very low-risk, and most of all, it would need to be non-disruptive to the larger F-35 procurement initiative. If anything else, it had to be seen as complementary to the F-35, not as an alternative to it.

What follows is a lengthy pitch, establishing the need and showing how the F-15X Acme Eagle (well, I made that up) is just the ticket. Very cool photos and illustrations keep you scrolling. You’ll want one for yourself by the end. This pitch is in the military section of a gearhead webzine, but it was summarized on Popular Mechanics.

Here’s What We Know About the F-15X Super Eagle

The F-15X will be packed with weaponry, more than any dedicated stealth fighter. The new jet will also have an astoundingly long lifespan, and be considerably cheaper to fly during than other fighters.

The War Zone has details on the F-15X, whose existence was revealed a week ago. For one thing, the F-15X does not carry more than two dozen air-to-air missiles as originally reported. It carries “just” 22 missiles thanks to Boeing’s new AMBER missile racks. Still, this level of armament would enable the F-15 to act as a missile carrier for stealth fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, carrying many more missiles than either newer jet could.

So now the general reader is in the loop. Maybe he will post about it on social media. Maybe she will tell her member of Congress about this sensible idea, during the August recess. Apparently the House Republicans have a different calendar than us, since they left Washington last evening (July 26th), and won’t be back at their desks until after Labor Day!

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  1. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    One option I saw that was introducing the B1 as a flying missile truck, armed with a boat load of AMRAMS.   As the AWACS and F22’s and F35’s pick up the incoming bogies, the B1 fires a slew of missiles to thin out the threat…..

    • #1
  2. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    This development is very interesting and telling.  We have modern gasoline tractors, but we want to buy a new harness and bring back our mule Sally.  And the most telling reason is fire power.  Stealth is great.  But lots of missiles is critical.

    One suspects something else is afoot.  Drones, ‘slama jama’ Eectronic Counter Measure drones, may be a factor.  Send the drones (bait) up to draw them out and mix it up and then stand back as enemy air forces engage.   Then jump them with lots and lots of missiles fired from a distance.  Surround them and flood the zone.  Rinse.  Repeat.

    What does this say?  Adversaries are cracking and defanging stealth?  Adversaries plan or might soon have a drone defense that has to be scrubbed with non stealth fighters to gain control?  F-22 and F-35 need air cover as they engage with a few missile batteries?  Perhaps a fight with non-peer adversaries will require F-35/F-22 to remove ground anti-air missiles, but once removed will not be required to maintain air superiority which can be done with F-15’s?  Or maybe the F-35 lacks sufficient range and conventional, longer range fighters will still be required?   Does this reflect the evolution of focus to China, Asia, and greater operational range requirements?  The Air Force is planning a combined platform engagement strategy, drones, stealth fighters and non-stealth fighters.   Is this the manifestation?

    Not sure what this means   But it is not just made up.   Something is amiss, awry, or on.

    • #2
  3. D.A. Venters Member
    D.A. Venters
    @DAVenters

    Why wouldn’t the Air Force consider acquiring the updated F-18’s?  I know in recent history the two branches have rarely flown the same planes, but they did in the Vietnam era (F-4’s, A-1’s, A-7’s and maybe others.) 

    • #3
  4. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    James Madison (View Comment):

    This development is very interesting and telling. We have modern gasoline tractors, but we want to buy a new harness and bring back our mule Sally. …

    What does this say? Adversaries are cracking and defanging stealth? ….

    …..Not sure what this means But it is not just made up. Something is amiss, awry, or on.

    There was a snippet a coupl’a years back about Lockheed getting a patent on some new radar concept based on quantum entanglement. 

    https://www.wired.com/2008/05/lockheeds-spook/

     

    Per Wired.com:

    So, what’s the big deal? As the patent states, a quantum radar could defeat stealth aircraft, spot camouflaged objects and more

    Since then I haven’t heard a peep.  Does that mean the program has been successful and gone dark like the original stealth fighter?     But there was a blurb out of a Chinese newspaper that asserted that China has developed quantum radar.   

    Per Popular Mechanics (Sept 2016):

     Quantum radars defeat stealth by using subatomic particles, not radio waves. Subatomic particles don’t care if an object’s shape was designed to reduce a traditional, radio wave-based radar signature. Quantum radar would also ignore traditional radar jamming and spoofing methods such as radio-wave radar jammers and chaff.

     According  to Global Times, the 14th Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) developed the radar system last month.

    File under the heading of  “Things that make you go Hmmm”

     

    • #4
  5. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    James Madison (View Comment):

    This development is very interesting and telling. We have modern gasoline tractors, but we want to buy a new harness and bring back our mule Sally. …

    What does this say? Adversaries are cracking and defanging stealth? ….

    …..Not sure what this means But it is not just made up. Something is amiss, awry, or on.

    There was a snippet a coupl’a years back about Lockheed getting a patent on some new radar concept based on quantum entanglement.

    https://www.wired.com/2008/05/lockheeds-spook/

     

    Per Wired.com:

    So, what’s the big deal? As the patent states, a quantum radar could defeat stealth aircraft, spot camouflaged objects and more

    Since then I haven’t heard a peep. Does that mean the program has been successful and gone dark like the original stealth fighter? But there was a blurb out of a Chinese newspaper that asserted that China has developed quantum radar.

    Per Popular Mechanics (Sept 2016):

    Quantum radars defeat stealth by using subatomic particles, not radio waves. Subatomic particles don’t care if an object’s shape was designed to reduce a traditional, radio wave-based radar signature. Quantum radar would also ignore traditional radar jamming and spoofing methods such as radio-wave radar jammers and chaff.

    According to Global Times, the 14th Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) developed the radar system last month.

    File under the heading of “Things that make you go Hmmm”

     

    Thus far, quantum is all in the minute details and complex calculations.  Shadow boxing and predictions on big data.  More like a dog’s ability to smell than physical observation.  Heisenberg.  The Chinese claim they have quantum radars, … I doubt it.  But, this may be at play when one plans a decade or more in the future.  I think the real issue is weapons capacity.  Someone else pointed out a B1 bomber could carry loads of missiles to be fired from the rear and directed forward by F-35’s or even F-15’s.  

    The comment on F-18 Super Hornets is interesting – the Super Hornet is a specialized deck craft.  F-15’s require less robust landing gear – but the new F-15 might be able to handle green field or road landings – another possibility.  

    So many questions, so little time!!!

    • #5
  6. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    I recently got a few frames into one of those clickbait stories about the P-51. According to the article, the cost of a P-51 in today’s dollars was something around $600,000 and they could manufacture something like 350 a month. The P-51 was one of the top fighters of its day.  Granted today’s aircraft are much more sophisticated, but it got me thinking. If I recall correctly from a discussion on WWII by Victor Davis Hanson, one of the advantages that Britain had going for it during the battle of Britain was that it could turn out Spitfires and Hurricanes at a greater rate than the Germans could build their aircraft. The German planes were considered to be somewhat superior in performance, but could not be replaced quickly enough. Could it be that we should be considering the efficacy of having more of the less-sophisticated craft? (Not advocating for P-51s)

    • #6
  7. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    JoelB (View Comment):
    The German planes were considered to be somewhat superior in performance, but could not be replaced quickly enough.

    Nor could their pilots.  Like the Japanese, the Germans tended to keep their top pilots on the front lines, which almost guaranteed their eventual death.

    OTOH, we tended to rotate our top pilots to training positions, which meant our average pilots were better than their average pilots.  In the long run, superiority across the board beat out higher quality in smaller numbers.

    As a Russian (typically attributed to Stalin) once said, “Quantity has a quality all its own.”

    • #7
  8. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    D.A. Venters (View Comment): Why wouldn’t the Air Force consider acquiring the updated F-18’s?

    Given the long history of fielding (and supporting/maintaining) a rather large fleet, I suspect updated F-16’s would make more sense.  But what do I know…?

    • #8
  9. D.A. Venters Member
    D.A. Venters
    @DAVenters

    philo (View Comment):

    D.A. Venters (View Comment): Why wouldn’t the Air Force consider acquiring the updated F-18’s?

    Given the long history of fielding (and supporting/maintaining) a rather large fleet, I suspect updated F-16’s would make more sense. But what do I know…?

    Perhaps you’re right.  I’m sure there is a good reason.  I was simply thinking that if there is a factory line operating now to turn out new upgraded F-18’s to help the Navy fill the gap, maybe that would be a convenient thing for the Air Force to get in on  You are right, though, that the Air Force would have to retrain a ton of pilots, mechanics, make contracts with new parts suppliers, establish a whole new support network.

    And as James Madison (the Ricochet member, not the 4th President), said above the F-18’s landing gear would not be ideal for the Air Force.  And the opportunity for an F-15 that can handle a variety of runways may be too good to pass up.  Still, the Marines use land-based F-18’s (right?), and I’m fairly certain other countries like Canada and Australia use them from ordinary runways.

    • #9
  10. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    D.A. Venters (View Comment):
    And as James Madison (the Ricochet member, not the 4th President),

    You mean they’re not the same person?  Dang . . .

    • #10
  11. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    At some point, the Air Force is going to have to move to more unmanned combat air frames. How they do it is beyond me. But the benefit of reducing the cost by taking the man out of the aircraft is too tempting.

    • #11
  12. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    D.A. Venters (View Comment):

    Why wouldn’t the Air Force consider acquiring the updated F-18’s? I know in recent history the two branches have rarely flown the same planes, but they did in the Vietnam era (F-4’s, A-1’s, A-7’s and maybe others.)

    The F/A-18 Super Hornet is total garbage. It’s got early 1960’s aerodynamics patched up. Compromises for carrier compatibility kill it as a land-based fighter.

    The YF-17 was the weaker entrant against the YF-16 in the AF lightweight fighter competition. It was based on some older Northrop concepts. The YF-16 won and became the F-16.

    When the Navy wanted a smaller fighter than the F-14 to fill out numbers on carriers, particularly in the attack role replacing the A-4, they were not going get a new design. The single-engine F-16 was not appropriate for carrier use. So they dusted off the YF-17 and it evolved into the F/A-18. 

    Flash forward 20 years. The navy had a massive failure in replacing the A-6 with the A-12. After that, the navy was in the doghouse. They needed a new fighter to replace the F-14 but were not going to get it due to the A-12 fiasco. So they came up with a scam. Say they were just buying more F-18 but make an essentially completely new plane that was large enough to do the job. To pull off the ruse, however, it had to look like the F-18, so they scaled up the F-18 to make the super hornet. But there were two huge problems. Firs, you are starting with 1960s aerodynamics. Second, aerodynamics do not necessarily scale, so they had to kluge up patches like the toilet in the US embassy in Australia in the Simpsons:

    https://youtu.be/BdDdeS997hM?t=45

    • #12
  13. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    JoelB (View Comment):

    I recently got a few frames into one of those clickbait stories about the P-51. According to the article, the cost of a P-51 in today’s dollars was something around $600,000 and they could manufacture something like 350 a month. The P-51 was one of the top fighters of its day. Granted today’s aircraft are much more sophisticated, but it got me thinking. If I recall correctly from a discussion on WWII by Victor Davis Hanson, one of the advantages that Britain had going for it during the battle of Britain was that it could turn out Spitfires and Hurricanes at a greater rate than the Germans could build their aircraft. The German planes were considered to be somewhat superior in performance, but could not be replaced quickly enough. Could it be that we should be considering the efficacy of having more of the less-sophisticated craft? (Not advocating for P-51s)

    Quantity has a quality of it’s own.

    Quote attributed to Josef Stalin

    Actually one of the developments we are sure to see is huge swarms of tiny autonomous drones.

    • #13
  14. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Stad (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):
    The German planes were considered to be somewhat superior in performance, but could not be replaced quickly enough.

    Nor could their pilots. Like the Japanese, the Germans tended to keep their top pilots on the front lines, which almost guaranteed their eventual death.

    OTOH, we tended to rotate our top pilots to training positions, which meant our average pilots were better than their average pilots. In the long run, superiority across the board beat out higher quality in smaller numbers.

    As a Russian (typically attributed to Stalin) once said, “Quantity has a quality all its won.”

    Neither the Germans or the Japanese had the resources to train pilots on the scale required to fight multi front wars. Plus both nations depended on imported oil. And much of the initial flight training for the USAAF was conducted by civilian flight instructors.

    On a related note, If you want to see how creative American industry could be, check out this 40 minute video on assembling a P47 in the field using hand tools and packing materials.

     

    • #14
  15. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    D.A. Venters (View Comment):
    And as James Madison (the Ricochet member, not the 4th President), said above the F-18’s landing gear would not be ideal for the Air Force. And the opportunity for an F-15 that can handle a variety of runways may be too good to pass up. Still, the Marines use land-based F-18’s (right?), and I’m fairly certain other countries like Canada and Australia use them from ordinary runways.

    Naval aircraft have landing gear that works just fine on any runway.  The difference is it has to be a lot more robust then on USAF aircraft.  Naval aviators plant their planes on the deck with a force that would collapse the gear of a USAF fighter.  Pro tip. If you fly commercial and the pilot floats the plane down on the runway, chances are he was a USAF pilot. If the pilot plants the plane on the runway with, ahem, authority, chances are he was a Naval aviator.

    • #15
  16. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Stad (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):
    The German planes were considered to be somewhat superior in performance, but could not be replaced quickly enough.

    Nor could their pilots. Like the Japanese, the Germans tended to keep their top pilots on the front lines, which almost guaranteed their eventual death.

    OTOH, we tended to rotate our top pilots to training positions, which meant our average pilots were better than their average pilots. In the long run, superiority across the board beat out higher quality in smaller numbers.

    As a Russian (typically attributed to Stalin) once said, “Quantity has a quality all its won.”

    So the other problem for the Germans in the Battle of Britain was if shot down, landed in Allied control, prisoner of war.  The Brits were frequently back and flying by the next day.

    • #16
  17. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    D.A. Venters (View Comment):
    And as James Madison (the Ricochet member, not the 4th President), said above the F-18’s landing gear would not be ideal for the Air Force. And the opportunity for an F-15 that can handle a variety of runways may be too good to pass up. Still, the Marines use land-based F-18’s (right?), and I’m fairly certain other countries like Canada and Australia use them from ordinary runways.

    The heavy landing gear, etc. mean reduced payloads, maneuverability, etc.

    The Canadians and Aussies preferred the two-engine F-18 over the single-engine F-16 due to engine failure concerns for remote patrols over vast uninhabited landmass as well as Arctic and Pacific patrols. That’s not a concern for most of the F-16’s customer base. 

    More interesting is the failure of foreign customers to buy the land-specific F-18L. This was a combination of not wanting to depart from what worked for the US and  concerns in Switzerland and Finland of using existing hardened shelters (that required folding wings) and possible use of improvised runways.

    • #17
  18. Travis McKee Inactive
    Travis McKee
    @Typewriterking

    I’ve long watched with interest as nations like Singapore and Argentina kept the A-4 airframe relevant to modern combat with upgrades into the “Super Skyhawk” and “Fighting Hawk.” I wondered if the United States would enter a period it too would try to stay relevant by upgrading older airframes, and watched the Silent Eagle bid with interest a few years ago. 

    Besides the Skyhawk, there were F-4 Phantom variants that could reportedly compete with next-generation aircraft, with Turkey and Israel leading the way on these programs. If budget concerns push us toward finding economical means of just maintaining parity with rival powers, we may have to learn from these past developments. 

    • #18
  19. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Stad (View Comment): “Quantity has a quality all its [own].”

    Not sure how useful they are but this puts 981 [F-16] aircraft in storage. Usable? Parts? Who knows? Just spitballin’ here…

    • #19
  20. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Steve C. (View Comment):
    On a related note, If you want to see how creative American industry could be, check out this 40 minute video on assembling a P47 in the field using hand tools and packing materials.

    Read an interesting book a couple years ago about the industrial machine in WWII [Title escapes me at the moment – maybe Arsenal of Democracy?]  Anyway, there were constant engineering revisions being made to the bombers, and production was slowed to a trickle because of the constant changes being made to the production line.  They finally solved the problem by not changing the production line for minor revisions – they built the airplanes to a standard completion, then flew them off to a secondary factory where the revisions were retrofitted into place before delivery to the military.

     

     

    The book is “Freedom’s Forge:  How American business produced victory in World War II” by Arthur Herman.  The specific story is in Chapter 13, “Agony at Willow Run”.

     

    • #20
  21. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    Reminiscent of the F20 Tigershark program.  Dead on arrival, but it would have been interesting to see how that old design could have competed with updates. 

    • #21
  22. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    @stevec Fascinating video. Any idea how many P-47s were actually field assembled this way? I wonder if this video does not make it look a lot easier than it actually was.

    • #22
  23. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    James Madison (View Comment):

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    James Madison (View Comment):

    This development is very interesting and telling. We have modern gasoline tractors, but we want to buy a new harness and bring back our mule Sally. …

    What does this say? Adversaries are cracking and defanging stealth? ….

    …..Not sure what this means But it is not just made up. Something is amiss, awry, or on.

    There was a snippet a coupl’a years back about Lockheed getting a patent on some new radar concept based on quantum entanglement.

    https://www.wired.com/2008/05/lockheeds-spook/

     

    Per Wired.com:

    So, what’s the big deal? As the patent states, a quantum radar could defeat stealth aircraft, spot camouflaged objects and more

    Since then I haven’t heard a peep. Does that mean the program has been successful and gone dark like the original stealth fighter? But there was a blurb out of a Chinese newspaper that asserted that China has developed quantum radar.

    Per Popular Mechanics (Sept 2016):

    Quantum radars defeat stealth by using subatomic particles, not radio waves. Subatomic particles don’t care if an object’s shape was designed to reduce a traditional, radio wave-based radar signature. Quantum radar would also ignore traditional radar jamming and spoofing methods such as radio-wave radar jammers and chaff.

    According to Global Times, the 14th Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) developed the radar system last month.

    File under the heading of “Things that make you go Hmmm”

     

    Thus far, quantum is all in the minute details and complex calculations. Shadow boxing and predictions on big data. More like a dog’s ability to smell than physical observation. Heisenberg. The Chinese claim they have quantum radars, … I doubt it. But, this may be at play when one plans a decade or more in the future. I think the real issue is weapons capacity. Someone else pointed out a B1 bomber could carry loads of missiles to be fired from the rear and directed forward by F-35’s or even F-15’s.

    The comment on F-18 Super Hornets is interesting – the Super Hornet is a specialized deck craft. F-15’s require less robust landing gear – but the new F-15 might be able to handle green field or road landings – another possibility.

    So many questions, so little time!!!

    The extra weight, of stronger landing gear and structural reinforcement needed to survive repeated carrier landings and launchs, is all dead weight which could be fuel or ammo for the Air Force. Hence F-15 instead of F/A-18. 

    • #23
  24. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Reminiscent of the F20 Tigershark program. Dead on arrival, but it would have been interesting to see how that old design could have competed with updates.

    One of the worst things to happen.  IIRC, a challenge was issued by either Ford or Carter for defense contractors to come up with a low-cost, high production volume fighter aircraft.  The F20 supposedly needed much fewer ground crew to maintain, and with upgraded radars and weapons, actually became a somewhat formidable platform, close to that of a front-line, Russian fighter.

    However, we didn’t adopt the plane as part of our Air Force, and foreign companies didn’t want to buy something we didn’t buy ourselves.  Even Chuck Yeager, touting the effectiveness of the plane, couldn’t save it . . .

    • #24
  25. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Stad (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Reminiscent of the F20 Tigershark program. Dead on arrival, but it would have been interesting to see how that old design could have competed with updates.

    One of the worst things to happen. IIRC, a challenge was issued by either Ford or Carter for defense contractors to come up with a low-cost, high production volume fighter aircraft. The F20 supposedly needed much fewer ground crew to maintain, and with upgraded radars and weapons, actually became a somewhat formidable platform, close to that of a front-line, Russian fighter.

    However, we didn’t adopt the plane as part of our Air Force, and foreign companies didn’t want to buy something we didn’t buy ourselves. Even Chuck Yeager, touting the effectiveness of the plane, couldn’t save it . . .

    We sure missed out there. 

    • #25
  26. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Reminiscent of the F20 Tigershark program. Dead on arrival, but it would have been interesting to see how that old design could have competed with updates.

    One of the worst things to happen. IIRC, a challenge was issued by either Ford or Carter for defense contractors to come up with a low-cost, high production volume fighter aircraft. The F20 supposedly needed much fewer ground crew to maintain, and with upgraded radars and weapons, actually became a somewhat formidable platform, close to that of a front-line, Russian fighter.

    However, we didn’t adopt the plane as part of our Air Force, and foreign companies didn’t want to buy something we didn’t buy ourselves. Even Chuck Yeager, touting the effectiveness of the plane, couldn’t save it . . .

    We sure missed out there.

    The F-16 did pretty well. F-20 would have obsolesced out by the 1990s. The name of the game since the 1980s is multirole. What sales would it have made that the F-16 did not? Would it have lost sales that the F-16 made (e.g., Gripen looks a lot better compared to an F-20).

    • #26
  27. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Reminiscent of the F20 Tigershark program. Dead on arrival, but it would have been interesting to see how that old design could have competed with updates.

    One of the worst things to happen. IIRC, a challenge was issued by either Ford or Carter for defense contractors to come up with a low-cost, high production volume fighter aircraft. The F20 supposedly needed much fewer ground crew to maintain, and with upgraded radars and weapons, actually became a somewhat formidable platform, close to that of a front-line, Russian fighter.

    However, we didn’t adopt the plane as part of our Air Force, and foreign companies didn’t want to buy something we didn’t buy ourselves. Even Chuck Yeager, touting the effectiveness of the plane, couldn’t save it . . .

    We sure missed out there.

    The F-16 did pretty well. F-20 would have obsolesced out by the 1990s. The name of the game since the 1980s is multirole. What sales would it have made that the F-16 did not? Would it have lost sales that the F-16 made (e.g., Gripen looks a lot better compared to an F-20).

    Fine with more F-16 and F-18 and F-15. We need lots of planes. That is my point. 

    • #27
  28. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    JoelB (View Comment):

    I recently got a few frames into one of those clickbait stories about the P-51. According to the article, the cost of a P-51 in today’s dollars was something around $600,000 and they could manufacture something like 350 a month. The P-51 was one of the top fighters of its day. Granted today’s aircraft are much more sophisticated, but it got me thinking. If I recall correctly from a discussion on WWII by Victor Davis Hanson, one of the advantages that Britain had going for it during the battle of Britain was that it could turn out Spitfires and Hurricanes at a greater rate than the Germans could build their aircraft. The German planes were considered to be somewhat superior in performance, but could not be replaced quickly enough. Could it be that we should be considering the efficacy of having more of the less-sophisticated craft? (Not advocating for P-51s)

    I recall reading an article years ago for which the author interviewed an F-15 pilot.  He loved the plane, but said it would sure be nice to have a wing man, referring to the cost.

    • #28
  29. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    The F-15 is 104-0 in aerial combat.

    • #29
  30. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    The F-15 is 104-0 in aerial combat.

    Pretty good batting average.  Though I did see an article somewhere that an F-22 made them look pretty bad.

    • #30

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