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originally posted by: RadioRobert
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.