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MQ-9 Reaper UAV to replace F-16s?

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posted on May, 19 2008 @ 03:45 PM
Buy 7000 of them for 50 billion dollars.

Kill the F-35.

Save money, have 500 Reapers per division. Die horse, DIE.

[edit on 19-5-2008 by lpbman]

posted on Sep, 16 2008 @ 11:09 AM
My view is that the Reaper is a complimentary weapons platform intended for regions with reasonable air superiority. It will not replace an F16 but provides a new paradigm. It is ideally suited to the insurgent warfare encountered in both Iraq and Stan.

In this role, it has two primary benefits over existing conventional warplanes. The first is that it can stay on station in an effective manner for vastly longer periods than manned aircraft. The second is that it costs significantly less than a conventional manned jet to both build and operate.

A third benefit may be partly related to it's slower speed, and that would be the ability to gather intelligence in higher resolution and allow for better analysis to occur in real time.

The plane is lightweight and propeller driven allowing for sufficient fuel to maintain long flight periods. The plane does not have to return to base to change flight crews. These factors can provide continuos airspace coverage at low cost.

The planes themselves cost significantly less than conventional jet aircraft. Even with the ground stations, they cost about a quarter in the low quantities currently manufactured. Ramping production will reduce unit cost and that disparity will only increase.

Pilot and sensor teams can work from their home base, massively reducing overseas personnel costs and inherent logistics. Pilot loss is non-existent, thus reducing training and replacement costs. As pilots do not have to endure G-Forces and other physical rigors, a much greater population of pilot candidates is also available.

The low performance frame and propulsion systems are likely more mechanically durable and significantly less expensive to repair and maintain than jet based systems.

The new paradigm and expected result of this is that these systems can be employed in vast numbers under current budgets to provide significantly improved air support and intelligence to ground forces. Consider a Predator/Reaper assigned to each platoon on patrol and the potential increase in effectiveness that it will bring to each unit.

posted on Sep, 16 2008 @ 11:54 AM
reply to post by lpbman

Yeah, and lets defend them against SAMs and enemy fighters with 187 F-22s and invisible force fields.

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. 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.

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