posted on Jan, 15 2009 @ 01:03 AM
The F-16 shouldn't have ever been a bomb truck to begin with. The Air Force has been screwing this aspect up for a long time. They tag on
additional equipment, avionics, etc to try and get these planes to be able to take on as many different missions as possible. The end result is a lot
of really expensive aircraft that does everything and excels at nothing. Sure...the F-16 is a great fighter....but it's nowhere near as good as it
would be if its design had been left to its original intent, to build the best air-to-air fighter possible. In fact, if they had done this with the
F-15, they wouldn't even have the F-16. Originally, the F-15 was going to be a single engine, lightweight fighter that could pull amazing maneuvers.
That was before it was gold plated. So they tried again with the F-16, and the result was only slightly different.
For further evidence of this, just look at the A-10. What makes it such an amazing aircraft? Because the Air Force instinctively hates the CAS
mission (although maybe not as much anymore as it used to). It always reminded them of their days as the Army Air Corps, something they wanted to
distance themselves from. But they couldn't let the Army takeover the CAS mission themselves cause that would mean less money for them. So they
built the A-10. And nobody wanted anything to do with it. Because of that, nobody added anything to it. They didn't insist on trying to get it to
everything or adding their piece of technology to it. And the result speaks for itself. An aircraft that is designed for one mission. And it does
it with amazing results for far less money than on of your multi-role, gold plated machines.
When it comes to UAVs, they should definitely take over the role of CAS in my opinion. The best CAS platforms in the inventory are not F-16s/F-15s.
Far from it. They are A-10s and AC-130s, neither of which are exceptionally fast. Speed is not a very minor negative when it comes to performing
this mission. But time over target is huge and an F-16 can't even compare in that department.
Ideally...in my opinion...the Air Force would get over this multi-role platform # and focus on having a manned fighter dominate the air-to-air market
and not have every other mission added onto it and becoming a detriment to it's capabilities (The technology simply isn't there and won't be for a
long time to make a UAV a realistic replacement for a manned fighter). They probably only need one good air-to-air fighter, and maybe one good manned
CAS platform till the UAVs come along to an even greater degree (A-10 can probably fill that role for the time being), and the UAVs can basically take
over the CAS mission altogether.
Unfortunately, I don't think the Air Force will ever refocus on making aircraft designed to excel at a single task. There's far too much
bureaucracy and politics involved. What I think we will see happen is the UAVs becoming the bulk of CAS, while the new manned fighters (F-22/F-35)
are still given the multi-role gold-plating that prevents them from realizing their full potential as air-to-air killers. And throughout it
all....they better do something about their bomber fleet, cause once the B-52 stops flying....that's all going to #. It'll be a cold day in Hell
before the B-1/B-2 will be able to compensate for that loss.
As my last though....I don't think the technology is close to there to replace manned A to A fighters with UAVs. Nor do I really think we should
ever completely hand that over to them. It would be a sad day indeed if the entire fighter fleet was unmanned and someone figured out how to jam your
signals...leaving your skies defenseless save what ever SAMs you've got laying around.