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End of the line for the F-117 in 2008? Plus other Kills

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posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 10:21 PM
Interestingly enough, the F-117 is also capable of carrying HARMs on SEAD missions..

posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 01:52 AM
This must be breaking news because the last I heard they were only going to retired some of the F-117s not all of them. And they were still going ahead with rigging 16 B-52s with jamming pods.

posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 07:49 PM

Originally posted by NWguy83
This must be breaking news because the last I heard they were only going to retired some of the F-117s not all of them. And they were still going ahead with rigging 16 B-52s with jamming pods.

According to the AWST blurb the B-52 standoff jammer is DOA and the Nighthawk is also gone. I suspect that they are casulties of the F-22.

posted on Jan, 7 2006 @ 01:13 AM

Originally posted by FredT
According to the AWST blurb the B-52 standoff jammer is DOA and the Nighthawk is also gone. I suspect that they are casulties of the F-22.

I read an article over at, well the EW guys are pissed that the B-52 SOJ might be killed. And there are only going to be 183 Raptors, these kills are most likely because of the fighter mafia's F-35. Which by the way may be cut by as much as 1/3. Long live the UCAS!

[edit on 7-1-2006 by NWguy83]

posted on Jan, 7 2006 @ 01:22 AM
I really thought the Fighter Mafia had learned something by having to beg the USN for EW platforms. I guess they'll never learn. Makes me wonder what they're gonnd do to the tanker program to get more fighters. Maybe they'll pass all the tankers to the Army or Marines.

posted on Jan, 7 2006 @ 01:22 AM


USAF will be prohibited from acquiring more than about 183 F-22A fighters, the aircraft USAF considers the heart of future aerial combat. That is about half of the 381 Raptors needed for the minimum deployment of one squadron for each of the service’s 10 air expeditionary forces. The decision kills plans for building an FB-22 bomber, too. In effect, DOD reaffirmed last year’s sudden program cut, though it extended production to 2010.

The Air Force’s next generation ISR platform—the E-10—is a goner. DOD said no to a multi-aircraft effort; the Air Force will be allowed to build a single E-10 to test new radars and other technologies. Some suggest USAF will have to hitch a ride on the Navy’s new multimission maritime reconnaissance aircraft and otherwise make do with its venerable AWACS and Joint STARS.

C-17 transport production will end at 180 aircraft, despite the fact that service officials have long claimed the Air Force needs at least 222 of these advanced airlifters. The Pentagon now says a recent mobility study determined that 180 is “adequate.” One idea is that commercial aircraft could be called in to close any future capabilities gap.


Damn no E-10s(AWACS and Joint STARS roled into one aircraft) and only 183 Raptors and 180 C-17s. Who let the "special" people on the QDR board?

Mod Edit: New External Source Tags – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 10/1/2006 by Mirthful Me]

posted on Jan, 7 2006 @ 01:27 AM
Why don't we just have the Army absorb the USAF again, and we can go back to an Army Air Corps. Those are the dumbest things I've seen them do yet.

I'm sure some dealing will be done, and some projects will be saved/increased, but good lord, what were they thinking? How can they even CONSIDER flying the 135s much longer?? The NEWEST of them flying is from the late 60s, or VERY early 70s. The oldest are from about 1962 or so.

[edit on 1/7/2006 by Zaphod58]

posted on Jan, 7 2006 @ 01:46 AM
They are also probably going to kill SBIRs High, our next gen missile warning satellites. Either kill or reduce funding for SST, which will track enemy satellites. And reduce funding for Space Radar, which would be our 'all seeing eyes' that could track and using SAR produce images at the tactical level. Space Radar in my opinion, really is the most important non-weapon system in development.

posted on Jan, 7 2006 @ 01:52 AM

Originally posted by Zaphod58
How can they even CONSIDER flying the 135s much longer?? The NEWEST of them flying is from the late 60s, or VERY early 70s. The oldest are from about 1962 or so.

I watched the episode of Mail Call starring R. Lee Emery, in which they talked about the KC-135. Well the maintenance crews all said these aircraft require a lot of down time. And it looked like only B-2s and Air Force One receive as much love and care as the KC-135. Really they should have been retired in the early 90's at the latest.

posted on Jan, 7 2006 @ 01:58 AM
They had three KC/C-135s from 1958 that flew until the 90s. The ONLY reason they were retired was because as they went into the depot for major checks, the corrosion was getting so bad, it was gonna cost more to fix them than to fly them for a year.

posted on Jan, 10 2006 @ 07:13 AM

Originally posted by ghost
You all do realize that the F-117 is going to be 27 years old by then?! It will have served about as long as the legenday SR-71 Blackbird Spy Plne. The first F-117 flew in June 1981! That is quite a record for a combat aircraft. Also, the F-117 are all origional airframes. Unlike most combat aircraft, there are no B or C models of the F-117.

[edit on 5-1-2006 by ghost]

Actually, no, no I don't realize it because from what I believe the SR-71 has served for much longer than the F-117, afterall, the Blackbird was operational in the mid '60s. So in what form has the SR-71 been around as long as the Nighthawk?

Shattered OUT...

posted on Jan, 10 2006 @ 12:41 PM

Another program budget decision—this one No. 720—makes a raft of significant and potentially controversial decisions on mainstays of the Air Force fleet:

The Defense Department plans to accelerate retirement of key Air Force aircraft, including nearly half the B-52 bomber force and the full U-2 spy plane and F-117 stealth fighter fleets, in a bid to save $16.4 billion and boost spending for the services’ prized F-22A fighter aircraft program.

The fiscal maneuvers detailed in the 14-page PBD would allow the Air Force to inject an additional $1 billion into its prized F-22A program, stretching production through fiscal year 2010—two years longer than previously planned—and raising total acquisition numbers from 179 aircraft to 183.


Well it looks like this was to get more money for F-22. I didn't know they also wanted to retire almost half of the B-52s.

Mod Edit: New External Source Tags – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 10/1/2006 by Mirthful Me]

posted on Jan, 10 2006 @ 12:48 PM
That's bloody brilliant figuring by the ******* Fighter Mafia. Let's decimate our long range heavy strike capability, re-engine our tanker fleet that was completely built by 1964 or so and keep flying them until they fall out of the sky in large numbers, simply to get FOUR more of their beloved F-22s. But BY GOD we'll have air superiority, IF WE CAN GET THEM THERE, for our non-existant bomber force to hit targets.

posted on Jan, 11 2006 @ 05:38 AM
Zaphod, you beat me to it. That proposal has got to be bonkers! When reading that these cuts were proposed to increase funding for the F-22 I was thinking 'ok, hows that going to work?' then I read on about it being in order to buy 4 more airframes, bizarre!

I would hope that, in addition to this, the extra money would be used to get the F-22 full A-2G capability as well or it makes no sense as the F-22 is currently not configured for dropping bombs.

posted on Jan, 11 2006 @ 05:42 AM
My father used to just about have a heart attack everytime the Fighter Mafia was brought up. Now I understand why. Even WITH A2G capability, it's going to be another F-117, only worse! The only thing they've successfully dropped the last I heard was the Small Diameter Bomb, and that's like 500 pounds.

posted on Jan, 11 2006 @ 02:50 PM

Editor's note: The original version of this story, published Jan. 9, erroneously reported that program budget decision No. 720 cuts a total of $16.4 billion from B-52, U-2, and F-117 accounts. The correct total is $2.6 billion.

The reporting error was the result of misinterpreting the PBD's end-strength reductions as dollar amounts. regrets the error and has reprinted the story in full, with correct numbers, below.

The Defense Department plans to accelerate retirement of key Air Force aircraft, including nearly half the B-52 bomber force and the full U-2 spy plane and F-117 stealth fighter fleets, in a bid to save $2.6 billion and boost spending for the services' prized F-22A fighter aircraft program.


Well at least the cost savings makes a little sense now. $16 Billion for 4 Raptors, they would have been made of Platinum and Gold. I read they want $1 Billion for fuel.

posted on Jan, 11 2006 @ 05:03 PM

Originally posted by Zaphod58
I really thought the Fighter Mafia had learned something by having to beg the USN for EW platforms. I guess they'll never learn.

One aspect is that the AESA radar system in the Raptor is supposed to have sig. jamming and offensive electronic attack capacities. Perhpas this was another factor?

posted on Jan, 11 2006 @ 09:43 PM
What they need to do is make the F-22A capable of launching the HARM missile, with the F-117 retired we will have no stealth aircraft capable of launch Anti-Radar missiles. Good luck trying to take out a modern SAM site with an F-16.

posted on Jan, 12 2006 @ 02:45 AM

The F/A-22 is is much the same straights as the F-117 in tha ALL of the block/spiral upgrades to the jet to enable it to fulfill the electronic attack/infowar and high precision autonomous targeting went out the door as part of this 'compromise' to get the 183 jets.

Basically, Congress and Lunchmeat know full well how utterly worthless the F-35 is and so can only justify it's existence by doing to the F-22 what they did to the F-15C.

Namely taking a perfectly good airframe and leaving it with baseline avionics architecture tht dates to the mid-80's rather than simply stuffing the F-35 suite onboard. This is particularly important for the radar since the F-22's 'tile' vs. the F-35 'button' system makes it harder to get phase-on-TRM in sufficient density to do the InSAR mapping by which you can measure terrain slope and target (building etc.) elevation differences as a function of interferomtrically comparing the polarization differences in pulses on arrival.

While the 1,200 transmit receive modules in the APG-77 (F-22) are /vastly/ more powerful than the 800-900 on the F-35; they are not as sensitive to fine-grain 'texture' differences in the hi-rez mapping modes. Rather like a blindman feeling the surface features of a human face to 'get to know you better', this could also adversely effect some NCTR modes which now supposedly rely on 2 dimensional pulse-extinction mapping (multi centroid phase cancellation which leaves a common 'thumbprint') as well as more traditional JEM methods.

The same can be said for the proposed Raptor AIRST fairing which looked a /lot/ like that of the EOTS on the F-35.

i.e. The AF cannot kill the Raptor's A2G ability without also messing up it's A2A 'principle role'. And vice versa. Something which the elimination of the current spiral upgrades assures to the point of leaving the jet with little more capability than a late model MSIP Eagle (say the F-15Cs up in Alaska with the APG-63V(3) and the MIDS/IDM Datalink).

That said, the F-22 can and does drop GBU-32 bombs and has recently even shown the ability to do so from a lowend supersonic cruise point. That's roughly 80% of a BLU-109/116 (2,000lb) class munitions (GBU-24/27/31) real penetration,.around 2.5-3m. Even as the 1.6m penetration effectives for the GBU-39 (the 285lb Small Diameter Bomb or SDB) is about 1.6m. Which means that we can still hostage basically all current, /static/ targets.

The only problem being that the radar or FLIR target mapping lets you compensate for the 'stereo error' as the GPS satellite signal is bent by anaprop in the high atmosphere. Which in turn is critical for getting the 2.65m average JDAM accuracy that we have been seeing from what is nominally a 10m 'semi precise' weapon. The B-2 has the GATS system and the APQ-181 to make say "Well, if the radar (slant angles) say I am here, and the GPS says I am here, let's update the INS before releasing compensated targeting data to the spindle and munition IMUs."

The F-22 will not have that option, and so you are left with either meteorologic compensation for local atmospherics (something which can be quite good from presurveyed sites, but only locally TO those sites) as a function of loading antenna polarization and receiever filter computations before launch. OR going to some kind of WAGE/DAMASK type system which is effectively a 'fourth satellite' that compensates the other three (and is heard by the munition, post launch). As a function of prepointing a cheap strapon seeker into a guidance basket where the weapon automatically scans the scene and picks it's own differential aimpoints.

All of which takes time to preplan in terms of fragged ATO vs. on the fly 'live' target foldering in flight. And makes the F-22 significantly less flexible than it deserves to be.

In terms of SEAD/DEAD, I think you folks are all significantly behind the loop in that, even where hardkill is considered the best option, most weapons will NOT use the Anti-Radiation Homing to get there. Both because it destroys good trajectory control (range and speed) if you sniff straight down the lobe. And because it's better to image the target than to rely on the threat not to have dummy emitters and ARM-pits (literally raised backwalls designed to protect radars from explosions in all but a very narrow sector of approach and airburst). As such, /any/ missile with reasonable speed can theoretically act as a standin for HARM and will certainly better the JDAM (Mach 1.25 vs. Mach 3.5 average flyout vs. a generic SA-x. The site may die, but the weapon will win the chicken game with the Raptor, first).

Without any rumours of a truly major advance in seeker capabilities (micromechanical AESA arrays for A2A and A2G multirole) for AMRAAM; right now, there are probably three ways this could go-


Which effectively integrates elements of the Meteor propulsion group with the forebody of HARM-VI/Quickbolt. Giving you a digital strapdown navigator with GPS plus a conformal MMW seeker which leads to very 'tight' target lane geolocation in which to point the seeker. On a Mach-4-5 sustained missile. The problem here is that the HARM body roughl 14 feet long. While the F-22 main bays struggle to accomodate the just shy of 13ft long AIM-120 'between the facets'.


In which it has ALWAYS been a part of the system-of-systems CONOP approach to give the Miniature Air Launched Decoy a Preemptive and Reactive _LETHAL_ mode option. Rather like the Delilah or the old AGM-136 Tacit Rainbow. The reason for this was likely that the original UDS/UOS concept for a 'SEAD UCAV' (predating JUCAS as a purely DARPA led project) did not envision the precision to direct-engage targets with precision Range-Known accuracy. So that if you launched a killer decoy from a jet which could carry perhaps as many as eight of them, you could either saturate the threat with a 'wolf among the sheep' of an prompted engagement. Or simply set a missile to hovering over the site radar, daring it to come back up from distances for which dummy-load and seeker-slop wouldn't matter. This is all the more IMPORTANT now, because included a couple of white papers which specifically mentioned that the ALR-94 was not fully integrated for a potential SEAD mission in the rush to get the jet through development (and specifically Blk.3/3.5 software upgrades). Obviously, if the Raptor has only a basic ability to steer around threat WEZ cones, you cannot cue weapons, passively as you would with a fully functional ELS. OTOH, the ADM-160 has _230nm_ worth of genuine downrang capability vs. the roughly 50-70nm that the HARM is officially credited with in prebrief high-lofts. Added to the fact that you can again probably carry the same X4 on a BRU-61 Smart MER (X8 internally) as you do the GBU-39, and you have the option to fling a few downrange and then 'give chase' as the MALD itself steps up the pace to about Mach 1.4 for 5 minutes as part of it's purpose designed ability to mimic the Raptor signature and performance thresholds. Whether you shoot a genuine missile from under the Raptor's own wing. Lobshot an HSARM (Higher Speed ARM btw.) from an F-Teen a long ways further back. Or look at an AGM-158B (with 600-800km of reach and thus the ability to be in the target area /hours/ beforehand) as the cued coordinate attacker, the fact remains that you don't absolutely have to have a 'smart airframe'. Just one which can FQ survive impaling itself on the enemy missile poles from high altitude long enough for a 'brilliant bullet' to save it the trouble of a direct kill.

Advanced Tactical Laser/HPD/Net-Jam-

Though right now this system is based on a COIL (Chemical) concept stuffed into a C-130 sized platform on a palletized 'super gunship' basis with only about 15-20nm worth of standoff through the worst of obscurrant hazing bands in the 10-20K range; the likelihood is fairly high, especilly if an 'F-35D' eventuates as a Naval JSF with a USMC shaft driven turbogenerator, for a 'digital' diode pumped replacement in a much smaller if still hefty installation by 2015. The smaller the package, the easier it is to take it to altitude (the reason for the 620 square foot wings) where range can go up to 60-100km in a fashion that more or less makes the question of counter-vulnerability to S-300/400 class weapon kinematics moot. At least if you're a LO asset. Lasers also make excellent antenna zappers, both because the sail area (which is hot to begin with to a FLIR) acts like a mirror for excellent tracking confirmation and because the gridded mesh or flat plate dielectrics make for relatively easy burnthrough targets that can be systematically slashed to ribbons (something ARM's often have a hard time doing).

Obviously, standforward assets like network UCAV with conventional or HPM based 'jammers' can also be considered a real threat if you are trying to concentrate total Jx energy on multiple sidelobes without worry about the safety of a manned platform.

That only leaves recce which is one of those areas best covered on a 'corporate' basis of constant presence off a low value platform, constanly sweeping an assigned area i.e. the original premise of the unmanned drone from the Vietnam days. Because loiter on the cheap is how you make

The F-117 is a pig. The F404-GE-F1D2 remain asthmatically low on thrust and the aeroperformance, despite a relatively low loading ('lifting body' 784 square feet) is pure delta wth a vicious deep stall and poor directional control plus a lot of bleed at even moderate alphas. Problems magnified to extremes by the lack of LE wing surfaces and the butterfly tails so far back on the humped centerline. To this must be added the shallow and narrow bays with their rather intemperate flow conditions precluding both multi-carriage (without lowering the trapeze anyway) of small munitions. And denying the use of glide kits on heavyweight bombs.

Tactically, the result of longer LOS lines on low band radars and the lack of critical flight performance if you DO get engaged with negative EM performance in all but 'cruise' making all evasions downwardly mobile for both knots and G, would leave the 117 flatplating the airframe hotside to all defenses for extended periods just to reach an altitude where there would be a /little/ lift under the wings. Bluntly, you don't want to go into well defended target area at high altitude on the 117 as the nominal increase in ballistic munition flyout range and sensor graze angles are unexploitable within the GBU-27/31 munition classes.

I myself have often wondered what the heck the F-117 /was/ designed for as it's lousy legs make it unsuitable for use in the ME or PacRim. Yet the IRADS system would be completely worthless in 99.99% of (low scud and often mist in the morning and late evening) _summer_ NATO conditions. It is effectively a handbuilt fleet of followon Have Blue 2 FSD (VLO) demonstrators. Seemingly optimized for the Desert Southwest where CAVU is the norm.

Comparitively, the F-22 is born for strike simply because it has the lift and thrust to ignore 'at drag' conditions of A2G internal loadout. And like all LO assets, it's fighter performance only matters as a funtion of ignoring what would be a forced-engagement threat to other airframes. However; the lack of decent avionics will leave the U.S. Forces still fighting the 1960's model of subsonic-to-X (2hrs for every 300nm) radius mission CONOP which is NOT where you want to be as a force with perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 as many assets as the F-16 you are replacing.

'Tactical bombing' only matters when your platform can hang around after making a 4-5hr transit flight from a basing mode 700-1,100nm away. As long as there is a pilot sitting on an iron-hard bangseat, that automatically disqualifies the design as you will kill aircrew flying 10-12hr missions at about the same rate as you over your deployment kit of spares and fuel for what remains ONLY 1-2 missions per day worth of utilization. Comparitively, BUFF and similar assets give you cabin stretchout and even relief crew options but can only cover ONE point of supported ground force or drone targeting which is more or less like trying to kill cockroaches in a darkened football stadium with a sledgehammer and a single flashlight.
The sad part is that the ACC still has strong elements of 'SAC' in it and so the _theater bomber_ we need will likely end up being overengineered for radius and payload if not performance. Even as the fighter mafia are busy destroying the JUCAS by blowing it out of scale economics on a SMALL, LOITERING, munitions carrier.
It remains to be seen whether keeping the F/A-22 line hot will lead to a post-Iraq followon order to specifically replace the 117 role and whether that mission system will be kept economical using the existing airframe and a new MES. Or if we will be stuck with another grotesquery of a DRF/ETF (Strike Eagle) concept that eventuates as an FB-22.
My personal preference is for a tripling of the UCAV buy, a tenthing of the F-35 order. And a complete retirement of the B-1B as well as B-52 in favor of a dual-engine followon using basic stealth, a large sonic-cruiser lifting body, and a MODERATE combination of external cruise (X4 JASSM) and internal ballistic (X4 GBU-31, X20 GBU-38, X80 GBU-39) munitions on a Mach 1.4 to 2,000nm radius design.
Because the UCAV has the ability _as a total force_ to put as many bombs over 10 ground combat teams as the equivalent (gas pass) bomber could manage over one. And yet the ability to sling FRSW or JASSM minicruise in support of a Naval Engagement Taiwan from Guam) in creating a 'second axis of threat' could be critical to leveraging shortrange naval tacair and single-deck response forces. While the AF GSTF deployed from CONUS (B-2 showboat force) and tacair 'flowed in' after.
I can only hope the USAF really IS 'roadmapped' along similar lines and that this is NOT, in fact, a paper chase designed to look good until somebody puts the plug back in the monetary bathtub which Iraq is currently swirling-around-drain on.
Honestly, we have had two solid decades of BUR and similar nonsense which did NOTHING but pass-buck on trimming our forces to a leaner, meaner, less 'adventurous' level of post-Cold economics. And if we don't put the armed forces on a choke chain soon, we will be in as bad a shape as the FSU was, back in 1990.


posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 06:37 PM
Finally. I'm sick of the US military procrastinating the use of New Technology. We should have been using the F-22's a while ago. =|

The way I see it, do away with the F-117, make room for something better.

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