F-15 Eagle Thread

Jura

General
LOLz!!

...
... “we would welcome that programmatic outcome.”
:
“Lockheed Fatigue,” Need for Affordable Tactical Mix Drove F-15EX Decision
3/23/2019
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Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan had little to do with the Pentagon Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office's push to buy new Boeing F-15s in the Air Force’s fiscal 2020 budget—a move the service ultimately allowed—because of worsening fighter fleet shortfalls, a senior defense official said March 22.

CAPE deemed a mix of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters as an acceptable way to achieve needed capacity, and the F-15 was picked over Lockheed Martin's F-16 in order to nurture the fighter industrial base, he explained at a background briefing with reporters.

The official said he wanted to provide context for the F-15 decision because it has sparked so much interest and raised questions. Many, including a group of
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, believe money spent on new F-15s could instead help buy more fifth generation F-35s. The Air Force has maintained for nearly 20 years it would not buy any new fourth-generation aircraft because they couldn’t survive against enemy air defenses in the coming decades.

CAPE staffers “came to the table and said, ‘Look, we need to re-look at the mix because of those capacity shortfalls and affordability issues,’” the official said last week. The Air Force is struggling with capacity because F-15s and other older jets are aging out of the inventory, he added.

“We can simply buy more capacity with a mix of planes … than we can if we went to an all fifth-gen portfolio,” he asserted.

In addition to the F-16, Lockheed Martin also continues to improve the F-22. It has enjoyed a monopoly on new-build USAF fighter production since the 1990s. Before Boeing won a string of high-profile military contracts last year, Lockheed had a similar streak that led to the coining of the phrase “Lockheed fatigue”—meaning some were concerned the company was netting too many major contracts.

While the official didn’t mention Lockheed by name, he defended the choice of the F-15 by saying it is “desirable” to have as many qualified sources for future competitions as possible.

“If you look at something as important as the tactical aircraft industrial base, and [as] we look forward into sixth-gen production and competition … maintaining diversity in that industrial base is going to be critical,” the official said.

Nevertheless, “the DOD remains fully committed to the F-35,” he added. “We need that plane for the future high-end fight.”

“The F-15 is never going to be a stand-in weapon,” the official allowed, but “a stand-in weapon with sensors communicating back to a standoff platform that carries a lot more munitions is a pretty powerful combination.” The F-15 carries more munitions on its racks than the F-35 can internally, but the two are comparable when counting the F-35’s external stations and capacity.

The official said that CAPE worked with “internal cost estimates on the prices” of the F-15 and F-35 in its deliberations. He said he was unaware of any fixed-price offers from Boeing, saying he has not “paid much attention to the acquisition side of the house.”

Other options for the standoff mission exist. The official acknowledged that the Air Force is “absolutely pursuing” both the concept of an arsenal plane and munitions-carrying standoff drones, “particularly for the heavier munitions for which we’re going to need greater legs and greater weight,” but suggested the F-15 is a nearer-term solution to the capacity problem.

He also said putting the money against a new, perhaps smaller bomber than the B-21 would expand the Air Force's penetration capability, but would do nothing to address “base defense in the Pacific” or “homeland defense” missions which must also be addressed under the National Defense Strategy.

The F-15 is also potentially applicable in “counterterrorism … or defensive postures,” he noted.

“There is a mission set for which we do need the capabilities” of a tactical aircraft, he asserted, “but for which we don’t need a penetrating aircraft that’s more expensive.”

The Air Force agrees that the F-35 costs more to operate than the F-15, the official said, and that’s why a mix of the two makes sense. When a reporter asked if the calculus would change if the F-35’s unit cost and sustainment cost falls substantially below that of the F-15 in the coming years, the official simply replied, “we would welcome that programmatic outcome.”

And although the Block 3F is the baseline version of the F-35, “until Block 4 is complete, anything we buy in the interim will have to be retrofitted,” adding further cost, the official asserted. However, from his perspective, there’s no correlation between “concerns over Block 4 [F-35] modernization and the decision to buy the F-15X.”

The F-15s will be “additive” to the Air Force’s budget, he also noted. The service “could not afford” to buy 72 F-35s called for in its “The Force We Need” force-sizing construct that was released last fall.

Even if the F-15X winds up being a two-seat aircraft, the additional manpower costs still make it cost-effective, the official asserted. A source close to the issue said the nomenclature F-15CX would apply to one-seat versions of the new airplane, while F-15EX—as it is called in the Air Force budget—refers to a two-seat model.

The genesis of the new F-15 buy came in a report done at Congress’ behest in 2016, the official said. The Pentagon was tasked to complete a “fighter force mix assessment,” and CAPE undertook that study in collaboration with the services.

“The report showed that through the 2030s, a mix of penetrating assets and standoff munitions would meet the needs” of the DOD, the official noted. It was incorporated into last fall’s budget reviews.

By October, “the Air Force had agreed with our analysis, and had come to the table,” the official said. The service approved of the plane's pricing and capacity, and—recognizing the need to address mix issues—the Air Force agreed to buy the F-15. Then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis signed off on the idea in late fall. It was CAPE, not Mattis, that “brought the idea to the forefront,” the official added.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan didn’t have any involvement in putting the new F-15s in the budget, the official argued.

“We worked with the [Standards] of Conduct Office,” he said. “We put in place a pretty strict regime, of keeping anything related to Boeing out of [Shanahan’s] purview during the budget review process.”

While Shanahan was “involved in broad capability … or broad force-shaping discussions, when it came to any specific platform involving Boeing, those conversations were held strictly away from him,” the official continued.

Discussion of the right fourth-gen platform followed quickly after deciding to pursue a mix of capabilities.

“The conversation turned to, ‘How are we going to maintain a robust industrial base?’” the official said. “For the future of [the DOD], it’s going to be good to have multiple providers in the [tactical air] portfolio, and that’s what led our way into the F-15X decision.”

It was not a preordained decision, he insisted: “We didn’t look directly at Boeing.” The choice followed Mattis’ approval of the mix idea, he said.

Nevertheless, the official said without elaborating that the industrial-base consideration was not the “tipping point” in the decision. Asked if industrial-base concerns will increasingly drive procurement choices, the official said DOD does generally “think about capability development or investment profiles.”

He added he was unaware of any White House involvement during the decision-making process.
 

Jura

General
gee
USAF Plans To Fly New F-15 With Empty Back Seat
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isn't dated April 1
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’s two-seat
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aircraft will be flown with an empty back seat by squadrons now flying single-seat F-15Cs, the U.S. Air Force confirms to Aerospace DAILY.

Although derived from an international version of the two-seat F-15E, the Air Force plans to acquire at least 144 F-15EX aircraft, including 80 over the next five years, to replace an aging fleet of mainly single-seat F-15Cs.

Boeing designed the F-15EX to operate in both the air superiority role of the single-seat F-15C and the fighter-bomber role of the F-15E. The latter includes a back-seat station for a weapon systems officer to manage the munitions and sensors for land attack while the pilot in the front seat concentrates on flying and air-to-air engagements.

The F-15EX comes with two functional cockpits, but the pilot can manage air-to-air and air-to-ground missions alone in the front seat, the Air Force says. F-15EX aircraft delivered to squadrons now flying single-seat F-15Cs will not be staffed with an expanded cadre of weapon system officers, which would leave the back seat of the two-seater empty.

“Fighter squadrons that receive the F-15EX are projected to retain their current mission and crew composition,” an Air Force spokeswoman says in response to questions by Aerospace DAILY.

Although the role of former F-15C pilots flying F-15EXs would expand under the current plan, the Air Force does not expect an increase in training costs during or after the transition.

“There should be no need to expand aircrew training requirements,” the spokeswoman says.

Boeing offered the Air Force a single-seat version of the F-15X for the F-15C replacement, which was designated as the F-15CX concept. The Air Force decided to buy only the two-seat F-15EX, which minimizes nonrecurring engineering costs.

The F-15EX is a straightforward derivative of the F-15QA ordered by the Qatari air force. It features a lightened wing, but still carries the same load of weapons and sensors as the F-15E. The F-15EX also includes other upgrades added since the Air Force last ordered the F-15E in 2001, including fly-by-wire flight controls, the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System, the Advanced Display Core Processor II mission computer and a new cockpit with a large format display.
 

Jura

General
now
US Air Force defends F-15X buy to skeptical Inhofe, Reed
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U.S. Air Force officials on Thursday defended their reversal to pursue Boeing’s F-15X, a fourth-generation fighter jet, saying it will not derail plans to buy
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, a fifth-generation fighter jet.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee on
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, the service’s top official said the decision to seek eight F-15X aircraft is a short-term patch, as 800 fewer F-35s are operational than planned. They pitched the move as the most cost-effective way to replace the retiring F-15C Eagle, using the same hangers, equipment and maintainers.

“We absolutely [are] adamant that the F-35 program, the program of record, absolutely stays on track and we don’t take a dime out of the F-35,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, calling the jet the “quarterback of the joint penetrating team.”

Goldfein also reassured lawmakers who recalled the cancellation of Lockheed’s fifth-generation F-22 Raptor that there would be no repeat. The plan is still for its fleet to be made up of 80% fifth-generation aircraft by the 2040s, he said.

Both the panel’s chairman, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and ranking member, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., questioned the decision, after years of strongly declining to request F-15 or F-16 funding, to ask for $1.1 billion for the F-15X in 2020. The budget includes 48 F-35s in 2020 and $7.9 billion for 80 F-15s over five years.

“It seems to me that we’re getting back into the fourth generation that we’re hoping to be out of,” Inhofe said. “Sometimes we forget what happened to our F-22s. Started out that was going to be 750, ended up being 187, and we paid dearly for that ever since then. That was a huge mistake, should not have happened.”

Reed likened the service’s reversal to other “abrupt Air Force changes of direction” on the A-10, Compass Call, U2 and Global Hawk, and asked of the F-15X: “It it a wise acquisition?”

To manage its aging fleet and fulfill its missions, the Air Force would need to buy 72 aircraft a year, Goldfein told lawmakers. Three of its four fourth-generation aircraft will last into the 2030s, but not the F-15C.

An F-15 variant was the most cost-effective means of maintaining fourth-generation jet capability, already bolstered by recent Saudi and Qatari purchases of the platform.

Amid questions from another skeptic, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Goldfein said the F-15X would have a 20,000-hour service-life expectancy — but he was adamant that would not impact the F-35.

“Ma’am, if we ever get to a point where we are trading F-15s for F-35s, that is a bad choice,” he said. “The F-15 is not an F-35, it will never be an F-35.”
 

Jura

General
Mar 28, 2019
gee
USAF Plans To Fly New F-15 With Empty Back Seat
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isn't dated April 1
here's more about the two-holler and the game-changer:
F-15EX vs. F-35A
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Two jets from different eras, with different missions, strengths, and weaknesses, face off in a battle for today’s funds.









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hello, I talk to myself! anybody here? LOL
 

Jura

General
None of the articles are offering any new information that we have not already discussed. If there are any area not already discussed please lead the way.
actually,

"Major constituencies for F-35 production: Texas, California, Georgia, Florida. Major bases and instal-lations hosting or supporting the F-35A: Utah, Arizona, Florida, Nevada. Lockheed has placed F-35 subcontracts in all 50 states."

and

"Major constituencies for F-15EX production: Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Washington. Major institutions hosting F-15 activities: Georgia, North Carolina, and Oregon. Boeing’s military and commercial entities do business in all 50 states."

at the bottom of the chart:
 

Brumby

Major
actually,

"Major constituencies for F-35 production: Texas, California, Georgia, Florida. Major bases and instal-lations hosting or supporting the F-35A: Utah, Arizona, Florida, Nevada. Lockheed has placed F-35 subcontracts in all 50 states."

and

"Major constituencies for F-15EX production: Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Washington. Major institutions hosting F-15 activities: Georgia, North Carolina, and Oregon. Boeing’s military and commercial entities do business in all 50 states."

at the bottom of the chart:
Are you suggesting that politics rather than merit will ultimately decide?
 

Jura

General
Are you suggesting that politics rather than merit will ultimately decide?
oh I just wanted to open that topic; I wouldn't know the power of the respective interest groups, I thought LockMart lobbyists were much stronger though, was surprised the USAF would be getting F-15s with an empty seat LOL! instead of more F-35s
 

Brumby

Major
oh I just wanted to open that topic; I wouldn't know the power of the respective interest groups, I thought LockMart lobbyists were much stronger though, was surprised the USAF would be getting F-15s with an empty seat LOL! instead of more F-35s
I think it is reasonable to view the possibility of undercurrent driven by politics but is beyond us to make any determination. The split production of the LCS line is a good example where politics trump reason.
 
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