a reply to: Zaphod58
I wonder what the leaks about the T-50 and the J-20 are indicating in terms of stealth capabilities. I personally have a hard time seeing the T-50
achieve an RCS that's much lower than a F-15SE or an ASH's, though the J-20 and J-31 look a little more promising.
From what I gather, Trump is basically advocating a return to a Reagan/Eisenhower-style "build up a formidable military but don't actually use it"
approach to defense spending, and just as he's advocating an expansion of the US Navy's fleet, and I'd honestly be shocked if and expansion of the
fighter fleet (both USAF, USMC, and USN) isn't also a part of that plan.
*WARNING: CRAZY, CRACK PIPE SPECULATION LIES AHEAD*
It's increasingly apparent in the era of stealth that a high/low approach to procurement makes the most sense, since stealth can get so expensive so
quickly. Right now, the "high" side of things is in pretty good shape. We have a handful of F-22's for day one dominance of a peer state's airspace,
and the F-35 roll out will eventually mean that most US service branches will have more 5th gen fighters than the rest of the world combined.
No, where our fighter wing is in really rough shape is on the "low" side of things. The F-15s and F-16s are hitting the wall hard, and the original
hornets aren't much better off. We need to replace our 4th gen fleet, and we need to do it quickly and cheaply. At the same time, it's not exactly
clear that the Any use and basic naval/marine strike roles actually require a full-fledged 5th gen aircraft, especially since those are roles that
tend to have less money and resources for maintenance and upkeep.
Furthermore, the DOD is in a real pickle as far as what to replace them with. Fort Worth will be going at full tilt for decades churning out F-35s
(as it should!). That means that a big F-16 buy will be an utter non-starter. At the same time, new F-15s are expensive enough that re-opening the
F-22 line at Marietta almost starts to make sense, since nearly $150m/airframe for an F-15SE doesn't make any sense if you could get an F-22 for
Here's where the ASH comes in.
Boeing, in the ASH, has managed to build 19/20ths of the F-15SE for 2/3rds the price(along with vastly cheaper maintenance costs), and the ASH
arguably has a better, more proven, and more mature avionics suite to boot. Furthermore, re-training F-15 and F-16 pilots to fly the rhino wouldn't
be too much of a stretch at all (doubly-so now that it looks like the new USAF trainer will basically be a power wheels F/A-18), and the ASH would be
a perfect Any bird to replace the rapidly self-disassembling F-15/16 fleets.
The clincher: Boeing is in a bit of a tight spot (relatively speaking) as 747 sales fell off the cliff, 737MAX sales are lower than expected, and the
777MAX/MoM/737 replacement are all years away from generating revenue. The ASH r&d is mostly paid for now, and it's essentially a turn-key solution
to the DODs 4th gen woes. If the sales volume was there, would it not be possible to see a tri-service mass purchase of ASH's to at once replace not
just the USN/USMC hornets, but the USAF's vipers and eagles too, to hold over both the USN and the USAF until the 6th gens realistically hit IOC in
2035? With that big of an order, and with Boeing's experience with mass-production (and desire to add revenue to offset slow airliner sales), you
might be able to get the unit cost of the ASH down to $70m or even $50m if you negotiated hard enough.
It wouldn't be the first time that big, heavy McDonnell Douglas bird flew for all three branches.