reply to post by Bruce78
Who, exactly, is the enemy for whom we need a plane that costs 10 times as much as a latest generation F-16?
Aircraft cost is a funny thing. It's not quite like a car. Most cars are lucky to last ten years before ultimately falling out of resale
circulation. Aircraft will see about 40 years these days, and endure forces hundreds of times greater than a car.
Aircraft outlive their engines, waveguides, and computer components. Further, aircraft costs are very frame specific. They wear and tear differently
- their fuel consumptions are different and vary depending upon the missions.
Your initial investment may be higher with some aircraft - while the long-term costs of cheaper alternatives may add up in the end. Especially if you
start factoring attrition in a war - survivable aircraft that return to fly another day are a better investment than the ones you send in under cover
of their own debris.
Consider, for example: A single F-23A can strike directly at targets that would require several sorties from a wing of F-16s to systematically clear
out Anti-Air. For some targets - such an approach isn't even possible without the LO and low-drag supercruise offered by the F-23A (even a B-2
wouldn't be able to touch the target that a F-23 equipped with terrain following radar could).
The function of aviation warfare has shifted in a time where the army is, effectively, a police force and the enemy is faceless.
We don't need battalions of aircraft ready to stave off a Zerg-Rush of Chinese proportions. We don't need a hammer to crush a fly. Today's
politically charged atmosphere is not conducive to such methods.
We need highly capable airframes that can deliver on target, on time, and without warning.
At least - when you're talking about that role of an aircraft.
If you want something to replace the F-15/14 for Nation/Fleet defense - you're looking at some different standards. The 23 would work for Fleet
Defense, where you're concerned about defending a few hundred billion dollars worth of equipment and training with four aircraft (two aircraft on CAP
and the two on Alert 5 ... forget the Alert 15 and 30 aircraft - they won't make it off the deck in a bad scenario).- but nation defense has a lot of
airspace to cover - and operating hundreds of airframes gets very expensive compared to the plausibility of an areal assault on our nation (not
impossible - but hard for satellite intelligence to miss carriers or masses of intercontinental bombers and their bases... and us not appropriate our
In which case - the argument for F-16s, 18s, or something else is much more sensible as a "work horse" aircraft.
At the same time - you don't shave with a steak knife.