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Fighter Purchases and Age

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posted on Mar, 14 2008 @ 09:24 PM
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I found and interesting yet scary article tonight. It's talking about the purchasing of fighters for the US military. Some of the numbers they throw out there are VERY scary. For example, in 1986 fighter procurement fell from a high of 399 to 60 in 1993. The US Navy purchased 171 fighters in 1986. That fell to 36 in 1993, then climbed to current levels of 40-50 a year.

By contrast, the US Air Force in 1986 bought 228, by 1993 that had crashed to 24, and fell to 0 in 1995. In 2003 it climbed back up to 21, all 21 being F-22s. The average age of those fighters has gone from 11 to over 20.

In 10 years the cost of operating the F-15 has doubled. It's estimated that the cost to repair the $12,000 longeron was $250,000 in labor. It required peeling the skin back, and removing ribs to get access to the longerons, and then putting them back together. The average age of the 441 F-15s that were grounded is 25.5. It's expected that they will be operating 177 F-15s until 2025 at which time they will be 40-45.

In the late 1990s the F-16s suffered several crashes due to engine related problems. There are 63 that have been grounded due to structural cracking. The average age of the F-16 fleet is 16.7 years.

The F/A-18 by contrast is a relatively "young" 13.6.

The B-52 fleet is 46.6 and the KC-135 is 46-48 depending on the model of tanker.


The gleaming icon of American military supremacy is the jet fighter, streamlined and lethal as it shrieks through the sky. On November 2, 2007, one of those fighters broke into pieces in the air. The pilot ejected safely, but the Air Force grounded an entire class of aircraft -- 441 A/B and C/D models of the F-15 Eagle air superiority fighter -- for most of two months. Training flights were canceled, homeland-security patrols were transferred to other aircraft, and pilots were stuck on the ground in simulators while maintenance crews conducted a series of frenzied inspections.

"There were daily conference calls with the accident investigation board," said Maj. Joe Harris, commander of the Air National Guard's 142nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron in Portland, Ore. "We were released to fly, and then they grounded us again." Getting their base's 20 F-15s back in the air took Harris's mechanics "over 5,000 hours" of work, he said -- 250 hours per plane.

news.nationaljournal.com...#

nationaljournal.com...


[edit on 14-3-2008 by NGC2736]

[edit on 3/14/2008 by Zaphod58]




posted on Mar, 14 2008 @ 09:51 PM
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I guess you can reset the numbers on the crashes.

Look at this thread:

www.abovetopsecret.com...

Another F-16 goes down.



posted on Mar, 14 2008 @ 09:56 PM
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It's only gonna get worse. Our operational tempo is higher than it has been in years, especially for the F-16 since they had to step up and cover for the F-15s while they were grounded. ALL of our planes are past the age they SHOULD have been retired at.



posted on Mar, 15 2008 @ 05:14 PM
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Do the F16`s also expierince cracking problems???!!!


Man that is just not good and especialy not cool.

I sincerely hope that the US is fully aware off what for drama that is playing right now because someday this will come back at the US and haunt them forever.

[edit on 15/3/2008 by James R. Hawkwood]



posted on Mar, 15 2008 @ 06:10 PM
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The current Top Gun class has been cancelled because of fuselage cracks on their Agressor F-16s. Thirteen of fourteen are grounded due to them. This is the first time EVER a Top Gun class has been cancelled. The next class, due to start in October is in jeopardy of being cancelled as well if repairs can't be completed in time.

The current cracking problem stands at roughly 3% of the fleet for the Block 25/30/32 aircraft. It's at almost 18% for the Block 40/42 aircraft. For all blocks it seems to be happening mostly around the 4500-5000 hour mark. The Block 25/30/32 aircraft seem to be mostly cracking around one of the bulkheads. The Block 40/42 aircraft are cracking right at the wing root fairing supports.



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 03:59 PM
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This to me seems like a very serious problem, and I honestly do not know how we should be dealing with it. I think we can replace the F-15 with the F-22, but I do not have the same level of faith in the F-35 program that others might. I would almost be tempted to have the USAF purchase about 150 more F-22, new build F-16s with AESA or have the USAF buy the F-18 E/F with AESA. I am just not 100% sold on the F-35 yet.



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 05:04 PM
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One reason for not being sold on the 35 is the simple hgh cost of the plane by the time it hits markets. give me a twin engine gryphon any day over that as it balances the need for tech as well as operations better then most planes out there.



posted on Mar, 24 2008 @ 08:36 PM
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Instead of Airframe enhancement and upgrade programs the US should invest in whole new aircraft.

Yes it's more expensive, but in the long run it'll probably cut down on potential for accidents. I mean there's just so much you can keep a plane flying for. Things like the A-10 enhancement program was stupid, when a plane needs to be retired, retire it and get a new one going. This would probably push development and technology a lot further and bring new innovation in.

Why fix what isn't broken right? Well cutting corners to save cash will usually catch up to you, as we see with the F-15's.

That's just my opinion though.

Shattered OUT...



posted on Mar, 6 2009 @ 01:26 AM
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This just gets better. The GAO has released a report stating that the Pentagon has been neglecting the domestic mission and ignoring the ANG fighter problems. Of 18 bases that are handling the Alert mission, 16 are ANG. Of those 18, 14 will have to suspend operations between 2010 and 2020 because their aircraft will have reached the end of their useful life. Twelve sites are using F-16s that will reach the end of their service life between 2015 and 2012. As for replacing them with F-22s or F-35s the ONLY base that will receive their aircraft soon enough is Shaw AFB.

The report states that the USAF is facing severe aircraft and personnel issues within the next few years that will jeopardize their mission to defend the Continental United States. This mission has largely been done by the Air National Guard in recent years, but the USAF has treated them like the dumping grounds for their older aircraft. The ANG frequently gets aircraft that are in good condition, but are the oldest ones in the active fleet.

This is probably going to start a tug of war in Congress over what to buy in the future. The USAF wants to buy F-35s and F-22s and that's all for fighters. Congress is pushing to buy upgraded F-15s and F-16s as well as F-22s and F-35s.

The Air Force, despite being blasted by the GAO for falling short of the mission, are planning to ask permission to retire 137 F-15s and 177 F-16s earlier than planned. Most of these would come from the ANG.

The Defense Department claimed in 2008 that defending national airspace was one of their highest priorities, but the report shows that the USAF has concentrated on overseas deployments and operational activities in the war zones since 2001, and almost ignored their mission of national defense.



posted on Mar, 6 2009 @ 07:37 AM
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Maybe (just maybe) the US have realsied that the future wars will not require the large numbers of aircraft that they currently have and this is a way of just reducing numbers. Besides, more modern aircraft are allegedly more effective, so replacing one for one is not usually the goal.

I am just curious, but are there any stats available which show how many US aircraft have been concurrently deployed in operations. Take that number, divide by the entirity of the fleet (minus trainers) and you'll get a figure of "effectiveness". If x% of your fleet, support and pilots are just going to fly around Kansas, then is there a point in keeping that x%?

I know this is a simplistic reply, but not out of place methinks.

Regards



posted on Mar, 6 2009 @ 03:10 PM
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It does make sense to cut the fleet, but not at the expense of the mission. There are better ways to go about doing it. Letting your fleet get to the point where you can't fly anymore because it's too old, then going about replacing it is absurd. They shouldn't replace it 1 for 1, but they need to be buying tankers, and something other than F-22s to keep up the missions that are necessary.



posted on Mar, 7 2009 @ 07:11 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


Buying new tankers for the USAF is far too long overdue. (Its infact too late for 80 to 90% off the tankerforce)

If the KCX had been deceided in 2007, then the last KC-135 would have been replaced in 2084 due to production and rate off replacement/guidelines.

Now with the never ending delays, the last KC-135 might get replaced in the 22nd century!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



posted on Mar, 7 2009 @ 11:27 PM
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The tanker deal has completely fallen off the radar. It's going to be AT LEAST 2011 before we see any tankers at this point. That's for the first bird.

The president of GlobalSecurity.org, which is supposed to be a think tank, has this to say about the tanker replacement:


"Frankly, I hope the tanker deal is one thing that does not survive the transition," said John Pike, president of GlobalSecurity.org, a defense-research firm. "Basically, there's really nothing wrong with the existing KC-135 tankers, and any case for replacing them is completely made up."

www.globalsecurity.org...

So the fact that we're flying 50 year old planes, with no replacement in sight, and a huge number of them that can't even fly means nothing is wrong.



posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 11:58 AM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58

So the fact that we're flying 50 year old planes, with no replacement in sight, and a huge number of them that can't even fly means nothing is wrong.



Yes and no - the current KC-135 fleet can be extended to another 50 operational years for a fraction of the cost of a new fleet of aircraft.

The reason the tanker RFP was made in the first place was to throw Boeing a bone during the aviation economic downturn post-911 - it was supposed to be easy pork barrel spending to sustain the manufacturers military capability during a period where its civil market was taking a huge hit.

Unfortunately, they made it an RFP instead of a straight out single-source purchase. And Boeing came in with the poorer product. And thats after all of the scandals etc.

So no, I don't see a new tanker fleet in the offing any time soon - a modernisation of the current fleet would be more than enough to maintain a great than adequet refueling ability for the USAFs operational requirements.



posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 12:45 PM
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reply to post by RichardPrice
 


ON PAPER our tanker fleet is more than adequate. That's the problem. People look at the numbers, and say there's nothing wrong with them, when in reality there IS. In September of 2008, there were 453 KC-135s and 59 KC-10s. At the start of FY08, there were 85 KC-135E's flying, of those 13 went to the boneyard. Another 56 are in "non-flyable storage". Of those 56 half of them will never fly again, because the engine struts are too corroded.

That leaves 384 KC-135s and 59 KC-10s. That's a total tanker force of 443 aircraft. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, well before the USAF started selling an retiring tankers, we would routinely have fighters sit for weeks at a time waiting for a tanker to become available, because they were all on critical missions. Once or twice the fighters waited so long, they tacked onto their squadron on the way BACK from their deployment.

Whatever reason they may have started the tanker replacement, it IS needed.



posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 12:51 PM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by RichardPrice
 


ON PAPER our tanker fleet is more than adequate. That's the problem. People look at the numbers, and say there's nothing wrong with them, when in reality there IS. In September of 2008, there were 453 KC-135s and 59 KC-10s. At the start of FY08, there were 85 KC-135E's flying, of those 13 went to the boneyard. Another 56 are in "non-flyable storage". Of those 56 half of them will never fly again, because the engine struts are too corroded.

That leaves 384 KC-135s and 59 KC-10s. That's a total tanker force of 443 aircraft. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, well before the USAF started selling an retiring tankers, we would routinely have fighters sit for weeks at a time waiting for a tanker to become available, because they were all on critical missions. Once or twice the fighters waited so long, they tacked onto their squadron on the way BACK from their deployment.

Whatever reason they may have started the tanker replacement, it IS needed.


Please quote where I said that the current tanker fleet is adequet - I didn't, I said that it could be made adequet for a fraction of the cost of a new fleet.

Tanking gas is not a new art, its a solved problem. Upgrade the current airframes, give them the overhauls they require, spend the money - don't buy new planes to do a job that new planes are not needed for.



posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 01:07 PM
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Except that if we don't currently have enough tankers, then how can the current fleet be made adequate without buying more airframes? It can't. The only way to get enough tanker support is to buy new tankers, even if it's a smaller number to start with to supplement the KC-10 and KC-135 fleets.

Upgrading the KC-135 is only going to get us so far, and during the upgrades some aircraft will be identified that will cost too much to upgrade, and will be retired or placed into flyable storage. Which means that we'll have that many fewer planes, but the numbers will be the same. Every upgrade the USAF has done has lost at least a handful of planes to corrosion and age.

Please explain how we can make the fleet adequate without buying new planes if it is already too low.



posted on Mar, 9 2009 @ 08:52 AM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
Except that if we don't currently have enough tankers, then how can the current fleet be made adequate without buying more airframes? It can't. The only way to get enough tanker support is to buy new tankers, even if it's a smaller number to start with to supplement the KC-10 and KC-135 fleets.

Upgrading the KC-135 is only going to get us so far, and during the upgrades some aircraft will be identified that will cost too much to upgrade, and will be retired or placed into flyable storage. Which means that we'll have that many fewer planes, but the numbers will be the same. Every upgrade the USAF has done has lost at least a handful of planes to corrosion and age.

Please explain how we can make the fleet adequate without buying new planes if it is already too low.


Hint - take a look at acquisitions vs disposals over the next 20 years. Its very enlightening...



posted on Mar, 9 2009 @ 03:27 PM
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reply to post by RichardPrice
 


I've seen the way that their purchases and acquisitions are going now. They want all the new fighters they can get, and are giving just the barest nods towards airlift and refueling. And Congress is getting behind them NOT buying more airlift or tankers. John McCain was trying to get the 8 C-17s that they just authorized blocked, and doesn't see a need for more tankers at all.

It makes me wonder if when you reach a certain point you become totally disconnected with the troops on the ground, or what's going on with them or with the aircraft.



posted on Mar, 10 2009 @ 03:01 PM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
Except that if we don't currently have enough tankers...


Can you indicate how many tankers are required then.

Cheers



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