I would not put any money in the F-117 without first validating the number of added Raptors I got for retirement of it. If you save 600-800 million
bucks in the early drawdown, you SHOULD be able to apply that to a post 2010 plus-up for which lead item purchases NOW could further be used to reduce
Raptor fleet costs.
That in turn will get you a helluva long ways towards having a believable GSTF if not '2 per AEF' wing structure, no matter what you use to bomb
The alternative being to use the money to develop fully capable A2G radar modes and integration of the AIRST as recoupled spiral upgrades.
The U-2/RQ-4 thing I'm frankly ambivalent about.
It will certainly bring sales from the PacRim and EU because they are all just beginning to understand the power of spying on their neighbors and
'good friends'. Commercially as much as for NatSec reasons.
In a minor theater war it can similar have /enormous/ leveraging capabilities, provided you honestly measure it's capabilities as a function of
flight hours (28 at 500nm last I heard) rather than 'sortie numbers'. But this is about the limit of things as nations like China have shown the
willingness to abrogate any gentleman's agreement regarding 'National Assets' and the RQ-4 is nothing if not completely exposed to later S-300 and
equivalent systems and will be a veritable Christmas Tree Angel to DEWS.
Of course the very same thing can be said regarding the U-2.
I also am somewhat unsure of the progress on TCDL/CDL and the types ability to provide pseudolite comms relay and the progress of the MP-RTIP is now
/critical/ if we are not going to go with the E-10 or a similar multimission heavy platform.
Concentrating on how well the RQ-4 can do the U-2 mission may thus be a highly unwise idea because it has many more roles in the BAMS/ADSAM-AEW
Gapfiller, ACN and even forward area TMD missions (if they activate the pylons with the black mechanical intercept capability as I suspect is
None of which roles the U-2 can really do well, simply because of the damn pilot and prior strat-recce only mission focus.
This could be important. Because while we have 35 U-2 available and 51 RQ-4 'planned'; last I heard there were only 7 operational testbeds and a
2-3 Block-10 delivered production representative systems.
Since one of the many deficits that led to 9/11 (and was with us as early as 1991) was a lack of endurant ISR, it seems to me that we need to be doing
_whatever we can_ to make this system come together more quickly with more intensive and type-specific mission systems.
Rather than staging a coup-de-U-2 wagon circling to preserve the decorum of a past-it Dragon Lady.
P.S. IMO, there is no real way to guarantee the viability of single airframe theater reconnaisssance in anything approaching what I beleive a
second-quarter 21st century air war is likely to see in the way of brilliant/hunting missiles and beam weapons of all kinds.
As such, I tend to prefer mosaic systems which densely populate a given area and, through the use of robotics and optical LO are able to defy the
ability of an enemy to kill the CONSTELLATION EFFECT, quicker than they themselves lose sited Air Defense.
As such, I prefer the UCAV for the majority of TCT/TST work because they can use higher definition EO and Imaging Radar options from shorter range
while maintaining a direct engagement capability as well.
It is unfortunate that we do not plan for _that_ kind of a contingency as well. Because it will begin in 2015, when the majority of RQ-4s are less
than 10 years old.
I read this while reading another article. The USAF Chief of Staff wants to keep flying the F-117 and U-2 until the Global Hawk and F-22 have proven
that they work and can perform the missions that the Nighthawk and Dragon Lady currently perform.
The Air Force will continue to fly the Lockheed Martin [LMT] U-2 Dragon Lady surveillance aircraft and F-117A Nighthawk stealth attack platform
until their replacements, the Northrop Grumman [NOC] RQ-4 Global Hawk and Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, have proven their merit, the
Air Force chief of staff said on Tuesday.
"Until the Global Hawk is ready, then taking the U-2 off line doesn't make any sense, because the combatant commander still has a requirement for
long-look radar capability as well as [signals intelligence] and [electronic intelligence]," said Gen. Michael Moseley.
Moseley, who has led the Air Force since last September, made the comments to reporters on April 11 during a breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C,
sponsored by the Defense Writers Group.
While the U-2 design is old, the mission it performs is too important to get rid of it wthout some PROVEN replacement for it. The F-117 has already
had some major upgrades to it to make it stealthier, and has more upgrades planned to give it more weapons capabilities. Both platforms have more
life ahead of them. I'm glad to see the CSAF recognizes that, and wants to keep them. I hope he can get support for this and keep them going.