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Lockheed to Offer new Fighter to Japan Using Hybrid of F-22 & F-35 Tech

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posted on Nov, 29 2018 @ 02:34 PM
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originally posted by: RadioRobert
a reply to: mightmight

And as a general rule, you buy (and operate) aircraft by the pound, so the odds of a B-58 sized aircraft being purchased and operated in large enough numbers to replace F-15's etc as a tactical fighter are near zilch.

I'm thinking just the F-15C/Ds. The fleet is not that impressive, probably less than 200 F-15Cs in combat squadrons at this point.
PCA procurment should be comparable to the B-21. So 100+.

Air Forces has been shrinking for decades, dont see why it wouldnt be done. The Air Force is ready to give up on the F-15C/D with or without it anyway.




A somewhat smaller F-111-sized platform aimed at those missions would probably be welcome by TAC air. But there's merit to the idea of canceling such a program for the smaller platform and using all that development and procurement money for even more Raiders where you already have sunk costs in a platform that can already perform those roles where/when needed.

Yes no doubt. But not enough pork. No way Northrop can have everything.

B-21A Bomber variant
B-21B Escort AtA variant
MQ-L ISR/AEW and EW

no brainer but not in this universe




posted on Nov, 29 2018 @ 03:14 PM
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a reply to: mightmight

They need something that can completely eliminate the F-15 lineup. That's how you save enough money to buy enough of them to actually do it.
Otherwise, a program to buy 100 "F-111"-X costs too much per airframe, gets cut, leaves you with a boutique run of aircraft that are no longer in production that are expensive to operate, and you still have to keep the F-15 logistics open on top.
They need to run 300+ airframe target on whatever is next. Whether that's in an international program, or homebuild, that's the only way to buy and operate modern combat aircraft on a budget.

So options:
a) kick all the C/D's to Guard and/or Reserve. Zero-hour the newer F-15's and F-16's and buy more new builds from Boeing and LM and put off new tac air using money to seed new technology. Continue F-35 as planned. Cheapest, gives time for new programs to mature, gets new airframes the fastest, but leaves you flying Eagles as a substantial part of your force for an extended role in advanced threat environment and leaves you farther away from a six gen platform (~2040). Makes 6 gen eventually cheaper. Leaves you with F-22, F-15, F-16's, F-35 fleets to support, but immediately improves your availability rates and number of airframes.

b) kill all Eagle support, push more 16's to Guard/Reserve, keep the F-16's relevant with their cheaper operation costs, use the same amount of money in "plan a" to expand and expedite the F-35 buy replacing Eagles at a one-to-one level on top of existing requirements which lowers costs for everyone in the program. Makes "6 gen" less urgent, but still unaddressed until ~2040. Expensive now, punts six gen program costs and lowers costs for eventual follow-on programs. F-22, -35, -16 structure. Lower footprint logistically.

c) go all in on a 5.5/6 gen replacement in the near term (2030) and replace the Eagles on an expedited timeline. Most expensive and risky. Leaves you operating ancient an upgraded in the meantime. Pushing bleeding -edge leaves you with a chance for F-35-like delay and overruns on top of supporting the expensive Eagle fleet until it's ready. Leaves you thin on numbers.

The aim for the six gen program has to include replacing any existing Eagles AND the Raptors for a chance to survive, imo. There just isn't enough money to fund everything or an "ideal" solution.



posted on Nov, 29 2018 @ 11:57 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

Why are you assuming the Air Force is even trying to retain the capabilities provided by the F-15Cs?
Threat environment has changed and so have requirements.

I do think just retiring the F-15Cs without a direct capability replacement would actually make sense for once.
The US Air Force uses the F-15C in an Air Defense role. Neccessary when the Soviet Union was around, these days actually not usable in a near peer conflict.
The only relevant player that could seriously threaten US Air Supremacy in a prolonged conflict happens to be located on the other side of a vast ocean. The reality is that in a conflict with China, the US will run out of usable air bases before it runs out of fighter jets to deploy there. Give it another decade and the 5th Gen Fighter Fleet and associated Support alone will max out every runway the US can find between the Phippines and Japan, even if the Chinese wont strike beyond the First Island Chain.
Where does US TacAir deploy from if they get a (lucky) hit on Andersen AFB? Hickam?! The Pacific is not freaking Europe with a runway every five minutes and you cant count on Japan, South Korea and the Philippines to be in it too.

No matter what capability replacement solution you want to push for the F-15C fleet, it will be the wrong tool for the job.
Thats why i say, switch, replace them with PCA. PCA is the platform you actually going to need in the Pacific. Not just for B-21 escort but to do TacAirs job with less platforms and smaller logistical footprint.
As you said, the money isnt there. Thats why they have to focus on what they actually need.
Brainless generational upgrades of the existing force structure are inpart responsible for the mess the Air Force finds itself in.

From last year but nothing has changed:


The problem, he [Air Combat Command chief Gen. James Holmes] said, is that “I don’t know what my budget will be at the end of the 2020s, but I can assume that it won’t be radically different from what it is now.” If the Air Force is to stay at about 55-60 fighter squadrons, and a growing number of them will be filled with F-35s and the anticipated Penetrating Counterair Aircraft, “then I have choices I have to make. Something has to go,” Holmes said.

To keep the F-15s in the fleet only through the end of the ‘20s means the decision can be postponed until about 2022. “But if I’m going to … go forward with the Penetrating Counterair Aircraft, then I have to prove to people that I can afford it, and so I have to plan.”

www.airforcemag.com...



posted on Nov, 30 2018 @ 01:46 AM
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a reply to: mightmight

The risk of pushing for PCA earlier than 2030 and leaving the Eagles in service for another decade is if/when the PCA lags. Then when you retire the Eagles on schedule, there is a deficit of airframes and no clear path forward short-term. I think they'd better served shoring up the F-35 program and using it as the "replacement" airframes for the F-15. Push PCA back and let the systems and requirements mature before sprinting toward the "6 gen" goal.

We're basically #'d if th balloon goes up with China. They can just overwhelm most theatre defense with IRBM's. The big hope is cruise missiles and the B-2/21 fleet can do enough damage to airfields, bridges, rail, harbors, etc to slow a ground wave. I don't think PCA will be relevant. Even if you can keep airfields open on Japan or the Phillipines, a 1,000 mi combat radius barely touches past the eastern quarter of China. It's a big map. There won't be enough of them to keep a meaningful presence over Korea. Laying Skipjacks and Flounders in sea lanes might be one of the biggest roles tac air can play if you can manage to choke off the flow of POL. But shortage of fuel won't stop the hordes on foot.
The Navy will have its hands full chasing down their surface fleet and degrading all the atoll bases. They'll be useless or worse in close, excepting the sub fleet.
We have to address theatre air and ABM defense effectively before we can offer a real solution to airpower in a full-on war. Or buy a lot more than 100 Raiders and operate them from outside the immediate theatre until the bad guys start running low on expendables and you can piece the airfields back together.



posted on Nov, 30 2018 @ 03:00 AM
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China's biggest vulnerability is their lack of air defense in their Western Region at the moment. Afghanistan, as big of a cluster**** as it's been over the last 2 decades, will show its worth in this regard. China can **** off and do whatever in the SCS but they've got a long way to go to protect themselves from a total conflict if they decide to pop off on Taiwan and what not.

The future of Air Doctrine will depend on how China develops itself in the future.



posted on Nov, 30 2018 @ 03:46 AM
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Sorry, but that's just not true on a variety of fronts.

Between border disputes with Bhutan/India and dozens of cold war air bases literally built into mountains while they were exchanging fire with India and Russia in the late 60's, there isn't some open back door. The only advantage in a western approach is the terrain and there is near-zero interest in operating VLO platforms down low terrain-masking for a variety of reasons.

The vast majority of strategic targets don't lie in the West, and it's 2,000 miles from Bagram to say Lanzhou. Another 600 miles to Beijing. Another 400 to Shanghai.
edit on 30-11-2018 by RadioRobert because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 30 2018 @ 06:24 AM
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a reply to: RadioRobert


The risk of pushing for PCA earlier than 2030 and leaving the Eagles in service for another decade is if/when the PCA lags. Then when you retire the Eagles on schedule, there is a deficit of airframes and no clear path forward short-term. I think they'd better served shoring up the F-35 program and using it as the "replacement" airframes for the F-15. Push PCA back and let the systems and requirements mature before sprinting toward the "6 gen" goal.

It would be a risk if there were a capability shortfall. But the capabilities provided by the F-15C would not get replayed anyway. They would be sacrificed for an entirely different capability set.
One going away while the other is delayed shouldn’t mean much as long as the Air Force can do without the capabilities of PCA post 2030.
Sure, there will be an airframe deficit. But so what? The Air Force will buy dozens of F-35A each year during the next decade. They should have close to 500 F-35As in the inventory by 2025 and more than 800 by 2030. Of course not many wont be allocated to combat squadrons but at to that 150 or so combat coded F-22s and they are already out of usable runways in the Pacific. Perceived or actual airframe deficits will be irrelevant if you cant deploy more than at best half your fighter inventory anyway.


We're basically #'d if th balloon goes up with China. They can just overwhelm most theatre defense with IRBM's.

Well the USN could deploy half the AEGIS-BMD ships in the Pacific theater to protect the Marianas. Maybe the Chinese will run out of IRBMs before they run out of interceptors. So basically yes, everything closer to the action will get hit sooner or later.


The big hope is cruise missiles and the B-2/21 fleet can do enough damage to airfields, bridges, rail, harbors, etc to slow a ground wave. I don't think PCA will be relevant. Even if you can keep airfields open on Japan or the Phillipines, a 1,000 mi combat radius barely touches past the eastern quarter of China. It's a big map.


Depends on the scenario I guess. I don’t think a ground war [in Korea] is a given if there is a conflict between the US and China. In fact it would be pretty stupid for the Chinese to do so, if I were them it would do my best to keep US allies in the region out of the conflict. I don’t see South Korea joining a US / Japanese (?) action against China if China doesn’t strike them.

Generally speaking, I not sold on the escort idea either. The best escort for a B-21 are AtA missiles in its bomb bay, not yet another wingman.
As I see it, PCA will be most useful battling Chinese Air Supremacy inside their A2AD umbrella. The platform should have the range, stealth and weapons load to reach, stay and fight over the East and South China Sea. Sure, they‘d need tanker support too, but its much less of a logistical demand to refuel one platform carrying 20+ AAMs internally with a 1000+ miles combat radius than do the same for ~6 F-35As.

Escorting the B-21 will barely come into play. The B-21 wont spent its time sneaking over East China but being overtasked with degrading the A2AD umbrella and the Chinese fleets.
Sending in the Navy to attack inside First Island Chain without softening them up first would result in a considerable number of surface combatants sunk. Nothing the US couldn’t afford in a major conflict but probably more than the US populace is willing to stomach.

The best platform by far to fight the Chinese is and always will be the strategic bomber carrying Stand Off weaponry. Its mindboggling to see the US dragging its heels procuring these weapons in relevant quantities and moving to more advanced versions. An arsenal of say 1000 JASSM-XR would be much, much more relevant to the war effort than some AirGuard unit flying F-15s over F-16s.

Which is the core of the problem the US fails to address. They are unwilling or at least way too slow to adapt to changing circumstances. The Chinese have come up with a plan to fight the US in the Pacific theater and continue to develop and procure the tools necessary for it. The US on the other side has not. Development and procurement are still basically unaffected by demands and necessities created by the Pacific theater.

Half the US armed forces is stuck in their own made up world of empire building low intensity conflicts, while the other half just wants to replay Cold War with yesterdays force structure - preferably in Europe against Russia. Barely anyone has come to terms with the fact that at least half the arsenal is next to useless in a conflict against China and nobody is looking at what the US would need to develop and procure in meaningful quantities to fight China in 2040. Hint: Its not 2000 freaking F-35s. Its exactly zero tacair F-whatever.
If you think things are bad now or will be ten years from now, imagine the People’s Liberation Army at the turn of the century if they continue at their present pace.



We have to address theatre air and ABM defense effectively before we can offer a real solution to airpower in a full-on war.

Same problem as with the standoff weapons. The tech is mostly there but not enough missiles are being procured. ERAM stocks will be sort of decent, but SM-3 inventory is pitiful and will remain so for the forseeable future. The Navy keeps whining about the lack of Aegis-BMD capable ships, but ignores the fact that they don’t have the missiles pack the VLS of the the existing BMD ships in a wartime configuration. Havent looked at the numbers in detail since last year but at this point the Japanese Navy is in better shape than the US Navy when it comes to BMD.



posted on Nov, 30 2018 @ 11:12 AM
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a reply to: mightmight



Sure, there will be an airframe deficit. But so what? 

Well, if we're going to continue in a state of perpetual combat action, you need enough horses to rotate through to keep them fresh. Otherwise, you're going to grind down even your new shiny toys real quick. It's less, "the Eagle brings something irreplaceable" and more "love the one you're with" if you don't fund additional airframes in the shortterm.



Perceived or actual airframe deficits will be irrelevant if you cant deploy more than at best half your fighter inventory anyway. 

If only the Pacific was the sole need for tac air!




Depends on the scenario I guess. I don’t think a ground war [in Korea] is a given if there is a conflict between the US and China

If it's anything but a skirmish over the Spratly's they have little reason not to settle all their old scores while the iron is hot. Roll into Vietnam, Tibet, Korea, Bhutan and just say "make me move".. Not sure Kim wouldn't see it as an opportunity if the US is tied up even without Chinese influence. Even in a "limited" scenario vs Spratly holdings, it'd be hard to keep Japan and Korea out of it. You either let the US use those bases uncontested or you strike Japan, Korea, and Philippines along with Guam. Best way to tie up any assets in Korea and keep them out of China and the Spratly's is a "real" action across the 38th. I imagine they'd prefer to just do things with overwhelming force so that we're effectively deterred from doing anything but bitching and moaning about it. If it comes to a real shooting war, then they probably are tempted to just go 7 Dec on set up their "Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere" 2.0 knowing we can't be everywhere at once. Then dare the us to commit to Korea and Vietnam et al on the ground. Do we have the stomach/capability to push them back to antebellum? If not, they win without a war at all.

Escort of the Raider is a losing proposition, imo. SEAD/DEAD? Sure. Trying to establish limited local air superiority in windows of time in support for ground/naval forces or strategic strikes? Probably. Actually tying fighters to bombers is a losing proposition in that sort of war. Not enough legs or tankers for everyone. Best way to kill Chinese air is on the ground.

There is serious concern in naval circles about the shortage in total VLS cells afloat and available. Even if you packed them all, there aren't enough to make sustained naval action possible. We don't have enough missiles, and even if we did and could fill the magazines, we can't deploy them in a coherent manner. They are hoping they can get the triple-threat Standard (SM-6) to replace most everything in the loadouts. Cruise missiles will become primarily air- and sub--launched while they pack the SM-6 in most cells and hope the networking survives to let the AEGIS ships be the eyes for all the dispersed VLS capable ships. If they get the money...

Carriers won't be much use offensively even ignoring the DF-21. We haven't sent a carrier against someone who can actually project force in a long, long time. Meanwhile the navy spends it's money on trying to recap with brownwater, short-leg LCS and Super Hornets mostly useless in the Pacific...



posted on Nov, 30 2018 @ 01:48 PM
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Hey. I'm rather time compressed, so I'll just do a quickie post.

1. The PCA won't replace the F-15 1:1. It will be too expensive and aerial warfare is changing. IMO, probably 300 PCA will be built. This isn't a huge disaster because...

2. The USAF has been open the NGAD will include UCAV components. A PCA will manage a number of unmanned aircraft. A PCA may fly into battle with a half dozen or more unmanned wingmen. They need now carry the full kit of the PCA: some will carry sensors. Some will carry a handful of A2A weapons. Some might even carry HELs, if General Atomics gets their way.

2a. TBH, I think the F-35 will be the last 'lower end' capability manned fighter. We'll probably get a D model, but that will be it. We'll still get the very high end fighters, albeit in smaller numbers, for a while though so we can keep the 'man in the loop' for the foreseeable future.

3. The PCA needs the range and you can't get that out of a small fighter. Fighting in the south china sea and almost anywhere in the western pac will require far longer ranges just because the tankers are now really in danger with the Chinese going stealthy. Tankers will still be used, but...J-20 is just the first gen stealth platform for China. Far more advanced is coming.

4. PEA, again, imo, is likely to be a payload rather than an airframe. Cyber warfare has a different mission than EW: one sneaks and the other (broadly speaking) is like turning your stereo up to 150 dB: it's not exactly a great way to hide. The PEA payload will be loaded onto multiple platforms, some unmanned, some manned. Power and antenna requirements are the biggest issue, I'd speculate.

RR & MM have some good points, but you can't get from here to there based on the requirements as presented with a small fighter.

More later if I have time. Sorry I didn't address everything directly.



posted on Nov, 30 2018 @ 02:47 PM
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There is still a numbers problem unless they are purchasing large numbers of VLO "Have Raider X" to supplement their manned aircraft strength. I doubt those airframes are going to end up much cheaper than manned alternatives. They're also mostly useless in the Pacific. So you're again up against the budget deciding when and where you spend.

Pushing your next gen purchases out town while you mature the needed tech let's you recap faster now with F-35's and makes the next series cheaper. That's what I'd advocate. Go all in on the F-35 and Raider. Those programs are mature and ready. Accelerating those buys let's you dump the Eagles, Bones, and B-2 entirely, saving money there to allow the purchase of large numbers of aircraft better than anything we're currently facing.

Continue development on bleeding edge tech with seed money while you recap, but don't push the next program to acquisition until we recap. You can run a 5gen Have Raider wingman just fine from an F-35 or Raider. Those programs are relatively mature. That should be the next program on the table. Semi-autonomous wingmen within a MADL network.

Chasing hard after a 6gen, DEW-ladden B-58 for PCA is idiotic right now (which basically assures we'll decide to do that while the fleet rots). It just takes money away from mature programs and the fleet in being. It's a repeat of the JSF debacle that got us here. Only it won't be determined to be "too big to fail", and we won't be able to pass the costs sharing along with foreign partners to mitigate the pain.
We killed legacy upgrades to AESA and MADL, killed legacy SLEPs, killed cruise missile programs, killed advanced AAMS, killed the F-22 line, etc, etc for 30 years to spend the money on JSF chasing the next big step "just around the corner". Now it's finally here, and instead of catching our breath, we're going to do the exact same thing chasing the 6 gen dream.



posted on Dec, 1 2018 @ 03:32 AM
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a reply to: RadioRobert


Well, if we're going to continue in a state of perpetual combat action, you need enough horses to rotate through to keep them fresh. Otherwise, you're going to grind down even your new shiny toys real quick. It's less, "the Eagle brings something irreplaceable" and more "love the one you're with" if you don't fund additional airframes in the shortterm.

Ok but in this regard the F-15C fleet is a unique case since the US uses them exclusively in the AtA realm. Whether or not the F-15C squadrons remain would have no direct impact on the current iteration of bombing some Islamist somewhere.

Lets get real here for a second. The US Air Force has two front line F-15C wings left. 18th Wing at Kadena with 2 squadrons, 48th Wing at Lakenheath with 1 squadron.

I’d argue Kadena needs to be scaled back yesterday. The base is located 400 miles from the Chinese mainland and will be blanketed by the PLARF as soon as hostilities occur.
Lakenheath can be scaled back to. Two F-15E squadrons are part of 48th Wing, they could build up a third if they feel the need to, by reducing the numbers of squadron at Seymour, possibly deactivating the Air Force Reserves 414th Fighter Group. Long term I’d switch all F-15Es at Lakenheath to F-35s but that’s another discussion.

Whats left are 6 National Guard Squadrons used primarily for Homeland Air Defense. The Air Force has already proposed to replace those F-15Cs with F-16s, since its basically irrelevant which platform covers Air Policing and the odd lost Tu-95. You can reduce the Oregon Air National Guard to one squadron and get by with 100 F-16s for the rest. I’m sure the Air Force can find those somewhere.


If only the Pacific was the sole need for tac air!

You don’t want to arm for yesterdays wars. The demand for close air support has declined significantly over the years. This is not the 2000s anymore with hundreds of thousands of troops deployed overseas. Of course there will always be some demand, but the US troops levels in Afghanistan and in Iraq/Syria sure as hell don’t warrant the procurement of hundreds upon hundreds, if not thousands of fighter jets.
In fact, these days new technological solutions actually offer viable, cheaper alternatives to TacAir for fire support. Take look at Israel of all places, they’re in the process of building up artillery units equipped with precision guided long range missiles to provide an organic fire support / interdiction capability for the ground forces. If the IAF can stomach walking away form the mission, so can the Air Force.


If it's anything but a skirmish over the Spratly's they have little reason not to settle all their old scores while the iron is hot. Roll into Vietnam, Tibet, Korea, Bhutan and just say "make me move"..


Well they could if they want to end up like Nazi Germany I guess. Or Napoleonic France. Picking a fight with every neighbor usually ends badly.
China may be able to handle the US in a conflict. With Japan pitching in the task gets massively more daunting. If the FPDA nations get involved their chances look bleak in a long lasting conflict. If they start multiple front ground wars on top of it all they are in a world of hurt. But I doubt very much they have the logistical capacities to deploy their ground forces on multiple fronts at the same time.
And those nations you mentioned are not entirely defenseless either. South Korea and Vietnam would be able to fight comprehensive defensive campaigns and trade territory for time to wait for international support. Buthan is basically has a defense agreement with India. I really don’t think the Chiense want to open that can of worms.

As for the possibility of keeping Japan and South Korea out of the fight – its hard to tell how the chips might fall. If the Chinese are smart, they try diplomacy first. I’m fairly certain South Korea really doesn’t want to go for another round on the peninsula with outright Chinese involvement. Neither are they to keen on fighting alongside the Japanese. They might take a Chinese offer of continued peace as long as the US doesn’t operate from their territory. And the US might even want them to, they don’t have the stomach for a ground war in Korea either.

As for Japan, not so simply either. Would probably depend on the government in power at the time but there are constitutional issues to consider too. I can see Japan opting for a purely defensive strategy, severely limiting the involvement of the JSDF in offensive anglo american operations. But you are probably right, their involvement would be more likely than not. If anything just to stick it to the Chinese again.
But something else to consider – they are actually not that many airbases in South of Japan. China could render them useless too if they had to.

The US currently has no bases in the Philippines atm. There are some agreements to go there in case of war, but it would come down to the government at the time. These days, not a change in hell.


imagine they'd prefer to just do things with overwhelming force so that we're effectively deterred from doing anything but bitching and moaning about it […] Do we have the stomach/capability to push them back to antebellum? If not, they win without a war at all.


Would they win? Lets say they somehow manage to make some meaningful territorial gains somewhere. As I wrote above, I don’t really think that would work, but whatever. I don’t think you would have to go in and liberate those territories by force.
The Second German Empire learned that lesson in 1918.
China can be handled very similarly actually. The country is dependent on import of raw materials, crude oil, ores and agricultural products. Nearly all of it gets imported by sea. It would be trivial for the US to close down the shipping lines. If you have the stomach for it, simply sit back and wait five years for the problem to solve itself so to speak.
The *only* problem would be to ignore calls for peace for that long.

[continued below]



posted on Dec, 1 2018 @ 03:33 AM
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[continued]


There is serious concern in naval circles about the shortage in total VLS cells afloat and available. Even if you packed them all, there aren't enough to make sustained naval action possible.


I don’t agree. Well, depending on the timeframe of the conflict I don’t.
If we are talking about hostilities lasting a couple of weeks and conducted by naval assets stationed in the general theater, sure the US Navy is overstretched.
If we are talking general war with the US Navy redeploying everything afloat to the Pacific theater within a month or two, they have more than enough VLS cells available.
Say 50 Burkes, 10 Ticos, 2 Zumwalts, 2 SSGN, 30 SSNs ~ close to 7000 VLS cells.
The actually relevant question is whether or not the Navy would have the time to concentrate the fleets. If China strikes there would be a public outcry for action and significant pressure on the military to do *something* as soon as possible. But Seventh Fleet alone wont be up for the task and if the initial engagement go south, there will be considerable pressure to settle before it gets any worse.

But If the US would be able to transition the conflict from a short, sharp series of engagements to years long conflict with many nations joining the war effort on their side, I don’t see China prevailing in the end.

They really need a short, victorious war fought with the assets at hand to be successful. In a conflict lasting two, three years the US Navy would be able to rearm VLS combatants. Emergency wartime production could be ramped up, less so for ships and aircraft but certainly for missiles. The US would be able to draw on the resources and manufacturing capacity of most nations around the world while China would experience critical shortages in its industries rather quickly. Don’t see that working out.

Of course there are many wild cards too – Cyberwarfare may very well reign supreme in a conflict against China, if they can successfully attack the power grids in the US it will be almost meaningless who wins the Air and Naval battle.


Chasing hard after a 6gen, DEW-ladden B-58 for PCA is idiotic right now

This already getting way too long so I just address this point: I dont see any indication of PCA getting true 6th Gen.

Again, maybe we need to discuss what 6th gen is supposed to be, but everything I’ve seen on it points to at best a 5.5 Gen aircraft. But in truth its not a generational advancement of the fighter jet. Its an entirely different tool in the shed.
Size aside, the B-58 is not a good comparsion. The only relatively modern concept I can think of (apart from ww2 era heavy fighters and such) comparable to PCA would be the XF-108 Rapier. With emphasis on stealth instead of speed of course and a deeper magazine.
Just imagine for a second how the Air Forces inventory would look like today if they had build the Rapier in the 60s and afterwards replaced it with a 4th Gen Aircraft. They could have had PCA 30 years ago.



posted on Dec, 1 2018 @ 04:14 AM
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a reply to: anzha
And let me be even clearer in response.
I never said that.
I was responding to a poster who was about to go down the well beaten path of telling people that you cannot export the F-22. I was correcting him and pointing out that in fact you hypothetically could to certain countries (Canada, Australia and Britain were provisionally cleared) as the early groundwork was laid nearly 20 years ago by the formation of the LOEXCOM committee. What stopped it was the fact that the Obey amendment was never repealed. I even stated that it was now irrelevant for the F-22 anyway. That ship sailed about 5-6 years ago. Now lets get back on track.



posted on Dec, 1 2018 @ 04:54 AM
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a reply to: mightmight



Whether or not the F-15C squadrons remain would have no direct impact on the current iteration of bombing some Islamist somewhere. 


I'm not arguing for keeping the F-15's. But whatever we replace them with means fewer airframes available for everything else. If it's F-16's, there are now a few wings worth of F-16's (and associated personnel) available to rotate into sandastan.



. Take look at Israel of all places, they’re in the process of building up artillery units equipped with precision guided long range missiles to provide an organic fire support / interdiction capability for the ground forces


Convincing the US Army to commit to new (needed) artillery is it's own discussion. Beyond that, you still need tac air (or strategic in a pinch) for interdiction beyond the FEBA, and artillery makes a poor ISR platform where tac air can provide various levels of information unavailable to the guy on the ground, hunting the mobile missile launchers and artillery units before they engage, sending the heads up about the red tank batttalion approaching or dug in five miles out behind a ridge, etc. PGM systems like MLRS are amazing capabilities, but are not sustainable. Artillery 's advantage is sustained fire support.




As for the possibility of keeping Japan and South Korea out of the fight – its hard to tell how the chips might fall. 

Japan, Korea, Phillipines, Vietnam, Malaysia, et al each have their own claims and interests in the Spratlys (the most likely source of a "limited" conflict).




China can be handled very similarly actually. The country is dependent on import of raw materials, crude oil, ores and agricultural products. Nearly all of it gets imported by sea.

It's the weak link, but not as bad as advertised. They get about about half of what they need domestically. Russia and Kazakhistan combine for almost 20% of imports. It's possible to shift their usage with investment (they already announced a plan to double their intake of Kazakh oil). If they secure and tap the Spratlys to expand their own production, secure SEA which produces about 20% of their daily need, enforce austerity measures and rationing (especially in occupied territories), they aren't in jeopardy unless we actively start hitting refineries and pipelines, mining harbors, etc.

I think the most likely scenario is they simply take the Spratlys. They are already building airfields and missile platforms on atolls. They just continue building new ones the one day claim it all and shut down the sea lanes and dare anyone to do something about it. We're halfway there with the new ADIZ. They take it without firing a shot and play defense. Someone else has to decide to fire the first shot. Who is going to open up a shooting war in those circumstances?
if it goes hot, it'll be the 30's and 40's all over again. Swallow up Korea, SEA, and the South China Sea, install puppets or administer the areas and make your self as independent as possible.



posted on Dec, 1 2018 @ 05:29 AM
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Directly on topic, Japan's F-3 program is still entirely in flux, while Boeing received a proof of concept contract for an advanced Eagle upgrade.



posted on Dec, 1 2018 @ 09:12 AM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

RR:

Why do you think 6th gen tech isn't mature or won't be mature by, say, 2025?

The Kratos Valkyrie cost about $20M for the original examples, supposedly had a unit cost of $5M, and will cost $2M (so sayeth the contractor
if bought in lots of 100 or more. You could crank out 40 Valkyries for the cost of a F-35, if the contractor isn't full of shbt. That would give you 24,000 lbs of payload vs 18,000. To be sure, the Valkyries are in no way an equivalent. It does give an idea of where they are going with the Loyal Wingman and the post F-35 low end fighter replacement.

Have a very high end and then a massive swarm seems to be their plan.

MM: Why do you think the PCA will not be 6th gen? How do you define 6th gen, in your opinion? What technologies are required to be considered 6th gen?



posted on Dec, 1 2018 @ 11:45 AM
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a reply to: anzha

Valkyrie costs will actually climb slightly, but it will be because of the customer, not that particular contractor (those numbers are marketing style statistics designed to prey on politicians who write the checks. It's not so much BS as "creative accounting". Those costs are for an empty airframe. It's a bit like saying the F-35 only costs $40M -- if you only want it to takeoff and land with out a radar, rwr, ew suite, das, etc.) They'll also be prone to higher operational losses than manned aircraft. Valkyrie and Makos are great examples of maturing technology. As I said, that should be the next acquisition program.



You can run a 5gen Have Raider wingman just fine from an F-35 or Raider. Those programs are relatively mature. That should be the next program on the table. Semi-autonomous wingmen within a MADL network. 


Having said that I don't think either Valkrie or Kratos are going to be extremely large runs or lengthy programs. They are extremely limited. You're going to need larger, more expensive partners to push that technology to it's potential. But those small runs and that experience should be the next steps taken to mature that tech. Having 8 Valks (say four with NGJ, four with their two SBD's each) accompanied by two F-35's rewrites SEAD doctrine.
It's not a natural fit, however, because neither Mako or Valkyries have the performance to stay with the F-35. You'll need to hand them off.
What they need is a higher-performance, much higher payload wingman with the same goals. That's not going to be cheap.

Re: PCA, your vision of a PCA (stealthy B-58, supercruise, deep magazine, DEW) is an acquisition loser. A slightly smaller version is probably the current program direction, and it's a loser right now, too. History will repeat itself.
I doubt you'll see it before 2030, it's big and expensive, and if they do push it immediately, it will be subject to delays, limited capability, and the fact there isn't enough money to go around right now so the purchases will be low-/slow- production. It'll be a larger F-35 debacle. They pushed JASTJSF at the cost of almost everything else tac air related because it was only ~10 years away from maturity (according to the marketing). They went forward thinking "we'll be delivering F-32/35's by 2005 so skip upgrades and new airframes". Problems arose in the flyoff, and "it is going to be cheap and quick fixes to the low-risk Lockheed proposal in series production and delivery by 2008. So all, in, skip recap and upgrades... In fact, it's getting pricey, so let's cut F-22 production because the F-35 will be almost as capable, is just around the corner and will be even cheaper." Took another decade to recover from that and deliver airframes that still aren't fully mission capable. Put tac air behind the eightball for 20 years, and it's currently crippled.

"We really need PCA, but we have limited budgets for tac air. Let's cut our F-35 buy to keep PCA on schedule... It's almost ready, just need a little more cash... Okay, we're way over budget and behind schedule... We'll need more money... Okay, we have the first 6 airframes, but they aren't mission capable... Just a few more dollars or years needed"
And then it overruns every other program and we end up with a vastly smaller airforce with low availability or Congress steps in and axes it before it gets that bad because it isn't too big too fail.

If we'd slow-rolled the F-35 program and waited for systems maturity, we'd have saved half of the program costs to date, and we'd be about six or seven years away from fully capable F-35's rolling off the line instead of two years away. We'd also have more F-22's and new and/or upgraded legacy platforms with higher availability rates in the meantime with a healthy force structure.

USAF has to learn from its mistakes and create a healthy force structure before chasing the next dream of "newer, even cheaper to operate, game-changing" aircraft that is "just around the corner" . They need to be all-in for the F-35 now that it's basically healthy, and same on the Raider for strategic air.

Consolidate and catch our breath. Replace the Eagles with F-35's. Get enough F-35's on the rolls to get availability up and operating costs down. Get experience with a "Have Raider/ALIAS" follow-on program, like Kratos is offering so we know exactly what we want in it's big brother or offspring. Then take a hard look at where we're at for your vision of PCA.

Is there a hole in capability for a stealthy F-111 sized platform for interdiction, long -range and -loiter ISR/strike/patrol? Yes, definitely. But there's no money. We have holes everywhere. And the Raider should be able to fill that gap in the meantime with even greater capability. Putting most of that money into expanding the F-35 and B-21 buys gives you more capability for less. It actually lowers costs on two programs that are vital, and lets you cut the Eagles, B-2, and Bone faster which saves even more. Is it ideal to use your strategic bomber as a tactical weapon? No. But we've been doing it since the 60's (well, mid-forties technically).
If you really want that range capability for tac air, combine that program with the less capable/risky semi-autonomous or optionally manned larger "Have Raider/ALIAS" follow-on program.

Regardless, I don't see a stealthy, DEW-equipped B-58 in a healthy future for the USAF right now.



posted on Dec, 1 2018 @ 04:55 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

I suspect, if the B-21 is the example, then the USAF has learned a lesson about the procurements. They were saying the right things about it.

The RCO is also managing the NGAD procurement, I'd suspect the same will apply there.

Given they are saying they are trying for mature or near mature systems only to be included in the B-21, I would suspect the same would follow for the PCA.

We will see if they actually deliver on those words.

IIRC, BTW, the F-22 was canned to make way for what became the B-21. not for the F-35.



posted on Dec, 1 2018 @ 05:50 PM
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originally posted by: anzha
a reply to: RadioRobert
MM: Why do you think the PCA will not be 6th gen? How do you define 6th gen, in your opinion? What technologies are required to be considered 6th gen?

Well what PCA are we talking about? If it has a usable DEW armament it could represent the paradigm shift of a new generation. But i dont think DEWs are in the cards yet. Or to be more precise, offensive systems with a decent enough power output / range arent ready yet. Defensive Systems are a different story and those will be availabe within a couple of years - as pod based solutions for almost any platform.

The Air Force might want offensive DEWs on PCA at one point in the future and build the platform accordingly, but i dont think DEWs are anywhere close to get them on a heavy fighter within 5 to 10 years. Post 2030 if i had to guess, AFRL had it at "2029+" for the first workable systems last year and thats way too late for PCA if they are already looking at tech demos or even prototypes.

And everything else in the cards of the platform its just a continuation of 5th Gen level tech. Somewhat improved naturally but nothing revolutionary about it. As said, different tool in the box.

Anyway, the discussion cant move forward until we know if PCA is on track or gets delayed post 2030.
But i think this is still accurate:
www.flightglobal.com...

And its not like this matters. Calling it 5th or 6th Gen doesnt change a thing about the platform.
edit on 1-12-2018 by mightmight because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 1 2018 @ 10:00 PM
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a reply to: mightmight

All that talk about concurrency in that article makes me think they actually learned nothing from the F-35 program.




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